The Coolest American Accents (Study English in the USA series)

As part of my series of posts to examine the English language through accents, I wanted to turn my attention to the U.S. You see, I’m definitely not an American per se, even though many people tell me that I sound American. My accent is a bit of a melting pot and several people have found it hard to place. That’s because I’m not a purebred, really. I’m a bit of a mutt (having lived in India, England and the U.S.).

But I’m definitely fascinated with the American accents, and if you’re studying English in the USA you may have encountered some of the coolest accents in the country. I’m still learning them (from movies, of course) but here’s what I’ve discovered so far:

Minnesota: I can’t mistake the Fargo accent. Nope, no chance of that, unless your completely deaf. Some may not think it cool but I get a kick out of anyone pronouncing the “O” sound (as in potat-OH). This accent is influenced by Scandinavia as well as Ireland and Britain.

Brooklyn Versus Southern: One viewing of My Cousin Vinny and you’re hooked. And let’s face it, there’s nothing short of brilliant in the way Joe Pesci’s Brooklyn accent (“I’ve got a judge that’s just achin’ to throw me in jail! …I ain’t slept in five days…”) is at odds with the Judge’s more genteel Southern accent (“You will rise” …as in “r-hai-se”). This is one movie where you’ll hear expressions like “I’ve been stiffed.” In my opinion, this movie gives one a first rate education on American accents in general, and class distinctions.

My Cousin Vinny

Joe Pesci plays a wanna-be lawyer and has a mean Brooklyn accent in “My Cousin Vinny”

Californian English: While English has always been the language norm in the sunny state of California, it was influenced by the influx of populations from the Northeast and Midwest. The Los Angeles accent is considered unaccented and the “reference” English for a lot of the areas. Think Valley Girl or Surfer (e.g. Blue Crush). While I couldn’t identify a Cali accent to save my life, I do know it’s very pleasant and musical.

New Jersey: Okay, I live in Jersey, but I don’t speak Joisy. Some people find this accent quite annoying, but I think it’s one of those quirky cool accents you come to accept. The best movie I can think of that exemplifies this accent is John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (“Hey, yooz guyz! Dere’s de dawg!”).

What’s your favorite U.S. accent?

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This sponsored post is part of the Kaplan, Learn English series



 

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Some of my Favorite English Accents (Learning English in the UK Series)

Some of the best aspects of traveling –for me at any rate– are the accents. Watching the Olympics got me thinking quite a bit about a country I lived in—and loved. I would have given anything to stay for a few more years in London.

As a musician, I’ve loved any trace of lilt, Cockney and Welsh…although I am still very hard pressed to identify and of these accents without some guidance. While I was living in London, I tried to learn the English accents as best I could, with little success. There really are a ton of accents across the board (if you’re studying English in the UK, your best bet would be to travel to as many parts of the country as possible to soak up the variations so you’ll become a pro), and here are some of my favorites (most of my English accent knowledge is based on movies and pop culture):

The “Beatles” Accent: One of my favorite accents is the Liverpool accent. Chalk it up to listening to the Beatles, or just listening to Paul McCartney speak. Formally known as “Scouse,” it is highly distinctive and has little in common with the accent of the surrounding counties. Some Scouse speakers will use “me” instead of “my” (e.g. give me five bob back” instead of “give my five bob back”) and make frequent use of the “e” sound.

My Fair Lady: Eliza Doolittle’s accent in what may be my all-time favorite movie is just pure perfection Cockney. A Cockney accent is typically spoken by people born in a certain area (the sound of Bow bells in the city of London, according to Wikipedia) and frequent references have been made in literary works including Chaucer.

John Cleese in “Fawlty Towers”: This TV series has left me  in complete splits not only because of the farce of Cleese, but because of the melting pot of accents. One could argue that the fictional hotel setting in the “English Riviera” in the town of Torquay shows Cleese with a quintessential upper class London accent  (a posh one, showing good breeding…with all the enunciations). I haven’t encountered too many people who spoke as well as Cleese does, but I’ve certainly heard this at the theater where enunciation is of the utmost importance.

Eric Idle/ Monty Python: The well-breed, genteel accents of most of the Monty Python cast of characters speak to their Oxford/ Cambridge education: very proper and elegant, often quite musical. Eric Idle’s accent stands out from the rest and is considered Geordie, which is from Northeast England. You can hear this in the way words end (e.g “er” often becomes “a” in the Geordie dialect, so “brother” becomes “brotha”). 

To this day, I will not forget Eliza Doolittle’s rendition of “The Rain in Spain”; credit, PBS.org

Are you an accent buff? If so, what are your favorite English accents?

This sponsored post is part of the Kaplan International Series.

 

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My Three Favorite Value Day Spas in New York City


If you’re a New Yorker with a standard 9-5 (or a travel blogger who’s a wee bit weary of carrying a backpack around the world), you’ll appreciate the art of the spa. In a city with over three million people, you’d expect that most of them could use some TLC when if comes to their bodies. After all, with the crazy traffic, the pedestrians who walk at the “ogling” speed, and police car sirens you’d be hard pressed to be relaxed.

The pressure is “on” for so many that the spa seems like an ideal escape. Here are three spas I love for their value and service.

OASIS DAY SPA

Oasis Day Spa Aromatherapy Massage

My first brush with this day spa was more than eight years ago, and I haven’t stopped going back. The spa has three locations in New York City and each one is nice and cozy…a bit like a bed and breakfast! In fact, that’s the reason I keep going back to Oasis: the prices are just right (around $125 for a 60 minute deep tissue massage), the menu is relatively stable with creative seasonal offerings (I recently had a delicious cool stone massage that was perfect for the summer…instead of hot stones they use cool ones; you’ll feel as though you sipped some Starbucks Refreshers!).

The massage therapists are excellent and very friendly, and you won’t feel as though you’re in a stuffy environment. It’s a truly unbeatable value spa. The spa is currently having a semi-annual sale too.

What to get: The deep tissue massage is excellent, as is the acupuncture treatment. Also, try the hot/cool stone massage if you’re feeling more creative.


RED DOOR SPA

Red Door Spas Fifth Avenue New Flagship

Lobby

Red Door Spas Fifth Avenue New Flagship Ladies Room

Ladies Room

The flagship store and spa on Fifth Avenue just relocated to a new location, 663 Fifth Avenue—the former home of Cornelia Day Spa. Forget the beautifully outfitted halls and posh interiors and massage talent (these all exist): the highlight of this spa is the magnificent outdoor penthouse terrace. It occupies two full floors of the Ferragamo building, and visiting the Spa will take your mind off pretty much everything from your financial records to the kitchen sink.

The prices, believe it or not, won’t break the bank, plus you can relax and get your hair and nails done at the flagship too. Indulge in treats from the Spa Cafe, while you’re here.

What to get: Opt for a starter 60 minute massage. Najla, a massage therapist, does great work.

EXHALE SPA


From core fusion to yoga, Exhale Spa serves top notch facilities, instructors and massage therapists under one zen roof. With various locations in New York City, from Meatpacking to SoHo, it’s hard not to find an Exhale Spa near you. What I really enjoy about Exhale is the peace and quiet: there is a hush in its locker rooms, and the entire process never seems rushed. As for the prices, they’re very reasonable: a 60 minute massage is $145, and an entire day of restoration which includes a 60 minute True Facial, 60 minute Fusion Massage, a Pure Manicure and Pure Pedicure is a heavenly $310.

What to get: You can mix and match yoga, pilates and core fusion classes with your massage–that’s what sets Exhale apart. A yoga class is relatively inexpensive (a single class is $26), so why not bundle both during your visit to truly relax?

 

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Top Four Romantic Destinations in the UK

The UK is a great destination for a romantic break for two. Nothing says ‘I love you’ better than whisking them away on a romantic trip. With charming towns and cities and beautiful countryside for a romantic retreat, whatever type of break you fancy, there is sure to be the perfect UK holiday destination for you to escape to for your next vacation.

Chester UK

Photo Credit: Friars Balsam

Chester

The historic Roman city of Chester is a great romantic destination. Situated in the north west of England, right next to the Welsh border it is a beautiful city that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Enjoy walking hand in hand around the Roman rows, the original indoor shopping mall or for unique and unusual shops visit Rufus Court just off Northgate Street or Brook Street just outside of the city center for a great vintage shop. For history buffs the stunning Chester Cathedral is a must see and the gardens around the Cathedral are full of benches making it a lovely place to stop for a picnic on a sunny day. If you fancy taking the pace a little slower, try spending a summer’s afternoon in Grosvenor Park, a lovely Victorian park with beautifully manicured flower beds and views of the River Dee. In the evening, a trip to Dutton’s Wine Bar for a relaxed meal and glass of wine is the ideal way to end a perfect day.

York UK

Photo credit: Flickr

York

Anyone who loves anything traditionally British will love the city of York! Enjoy taking a walk down by the river and around the city walls. When you have worked up an appetite the only place to head to is Betty’s Tea shop in the center of the city. There is always a queue outside, but the traditional charm is so worth the wait! Choose from a menu of British treats like afternoon tea, little sandwiches with the crusts cut off, scones with jam and cream and the mouth watering cakes. I can think of no better place to go to treat the one you love!

Durham UK

Durham: photo credit Tim Rawle

Durham

Durham is a hidden jewel in the north east of England. There are lovely riverside walks to be enjoyed that are so quiet it will be hard to believe that you are in a city at all. A walk up the 300 plus steps to to the top of Durham Cathedral’s tower might not sound like fun but the view from the peak across the stunning landscape is so worth it and could be a lovely place to ask the one you love for their hand in marriage. Afterwards head to the amazing Bistro 21, situated out of town for a delicious cheese soufflé followed by steak and thin cut chips. Simply amazing!

Llandudno UK

Photo credit: Flickr

Llandudno

Llandudno is a great town on the north Wales coast. It oozes traditional seaside appeal with a lovely Victorian town and lovely beach making it a great place for a weekend break for two. Enjoy a stroll down the promenade or walking barefoot in the sea. For childhood fun, wander down the pier and try to win a kitch teddy for your other half!

For great holiday cottage accommodation in the UK visit http://www.sykescottages.co.uk/.

 

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Travel Blogger Spotlight Series: Katy Stewart from Starry-Eyed Travels

This week’s travel blogger spotlight shines on Starry-Eyed Travels‘ Katy Stewart, who talks candidly to us about her life, decision to be a travel blogger, and other pursuits. Thanks for taking the time to be a part of this series, Katy!

 

Katy Stewart from Starry-Eyed Travels Travel Blogger Spotlight Series

BUTTERFLYDIARY: So, you’re a travel blogger. How did this happen? Was it a decision you consciously or unconsciously made?

 

KATY STEWART: It was quite accidental, actually. I was training to be a teacher when I got ill and had to stop my training for a while. I was at home feeling sorry for myself and I decided I needed to do something. I’d always wanted to be a writer, so I figured it was a good time to try. I wrote a few things for other blogs first and when they got accepted, I decided to set up a blog of my own. Starry-Eyed Travels is now over a year old and has gone way beyond the very humble aspirations I had for it – and this week I will finally complete my studies and become a qualified teacher!

 

BD: Congratulations! Which places have you visited that truly left a lasting impression on you? Why?

 

KS: Oh, so many! If I have to narrow it down, I’d say Machu Picchu – the sheer majesty of it after the four day hike was completely overwhelming and I still can’t believe I was really there. La Paz in Bolivia also has a special place in my heart – it’s crazy, chaotic, exhausting and gritty, but I love everything about it. As a contrast, I will also never forget the view of New York City at night from the Empire State Building – that was a bit of a travel dream come true.

 

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu. Credit: Starry-Eyed Travels

Atacama Desert, Chile

Atacama Desert, Chile. Credit: Starry-Eyed Travels

 

BD: Which celebrity would you pick to travel with? Why?

 

KS: David Attenborough – because he is wonderful and has been to so many places, he would be the perfect tour guide to some more intrepid destinations. Also he has the best voice – I would love him to narrate my trips!

 

BD: Your favorite travel drink? Dessert?

KS: Drink: a good local wine – Malbec from Argentina stands out as a particular favorite. Dessert: It depends: in Europe, it’s hard to beat good Italian gelato, but in Peru, I adored mazamorra – sweet rice pudding with a purple corn coulis – it’s the best.

 

Parade in Salta, Argentina

Parade in Salta, Argentina. Credit: Starry-Eyed Travels

 

BD: What book (travel or otherwise) can’t you live without? What’s on your Kindle?

 

KS: I try to read books related to the countries I’m visiting when I travel. Isabel Allende’s Casa de los Espiritus (House of the Spirits) kept me going as I wandered around South America – it’s quite a hefty tome, so luckily I had it on my kindle! It’s one of those perspective-altering books which takes on some big social issues, but written in an exceptionally brilliant style. It was something of a challenge to read it in Spanish, so I felt a real sense of achievement when I had finished it. I’m now about to start on Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude, also in Spanish. On a lighter note, I will always credit Bill Bryson for helping me catch the travel bug – his books are works of comic genius.

 

BD: You win the lotto. Where do you book your next flight to and why?

 

KS: Mozambique – there is a lot of Southern Africa I am desperate to explore and I would like to do a zig-zagging cross-continental trip in order to see as many places as possible. I am fascinated by the culture, history and, of course, the natural wonders, so as soon as I have enough money, that’s where I’m heading.

 

BD: What do you wish there was more of in the travel blogging community?

 

KS: Hmm, good question – there are so many good things about the travel blogging community. I suppose I would like to see more of an emphasis on high-quality writing – I care deeply about creating stories – true experiences, but good stories nonetheless – and I think that is something which should be highly valued and refined. Storytelling has been the key to communities throughout the world for thousands of years – we should try and keep that and treat writing as a real craft. Many bloggers do this already, but I think it is something which is being lost slightly in the fast-paced online world.

 

BD: Anything you’d change?

 

KS: If I could, I’d stop all the spammers and plagiarizers, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon! Of course I’m happy for people to quote my writing or share a photo attributed to me and linked back to my site, but too often, that is not the case. I come from an academic background, so I’m used to rigorously referencing anything I use that is not my own intellectual property, but that still seems to be a somewhat hazy concept in the online world.

 

Follow Katy’s adventures at @KatyAbroad.

Thanks Katy! To participate in the travel blogger spotlight series, email me at charu@butterflydiary.com.

 

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The Digital Traveler: Five Practical and Fun Travel Apps to Love and Use

Life became all sorts of fun when I switched to my iPhone, and while apps were not the center of my interests when I owned a Droid, they certainly are now that I’m traveling and pushing my Instagram buttons everywhere. Yes, of course, you knew that Instagram was one of my favorite travel apps, right? That goes without saying.

But recently, as I was traveling to the Catskills, I realized how much I enjoyed Foodspotting. I mean, really, the idea to find any particular dish while you’re on the road is simply brilliant. I’ve had some pretty good success with the recommendations –they’re never too cheesy or inflated (think of it as Instagram meets TripAdvisor meets Google Maps) and yes, I’m in digital love.

So, I got around to thinking…there must be so many other travel apps out there I don’t know about (after all, that IS the new money tree), and I stumbled upon a few. Here are some of my favorites:

Foodspotting AppFree Wifi FinderSit or Squat

TripIt.com: If you’ve ever been flustered about your concert reservations, flight schedules and hotel bookings that you’ve aggregated piecemeal all over the Interweb, this app and site takes the frustration out. It organizes all your flight, hotel and rental car confirmations in one handy umbrella. There’s an annual charge, at $49, so take note–but it’s well worth it in my opinion.

Currency Converter (XE Currency): I know I always overspend when I go overseas, but this app is pretty simple and gives you real time currency conversions when you enter it (you can specify from which currency to which).

Free Wi-Fi Finder: At last, an app that allows you to spot the free wifi spots in the area. It’s an iTunes app that works with your maps to give you locations of free wifi spots. Of course, the rub is you have to pay for data before you get free Wifi (for a few minutes, anyway). Such is life.

Sit or Squat: If you think an app that helps you find the nearest toilet is beneath you (no pun intended), think again. I think this is a winner!

What’s Around You (Where.com): This app shows you what’s around you–from bars, restaurants etc. Perfect for the loco!

There are so many more fun apps to love and use while you travel that it’s going to be hard to list them all, especially with more choices popping up by the dozen. So I’d love to know your favorites. Which ones can’t you live without?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top Five Romantic Destinations in the U.S.

They say that Virginia is for lovers, and the large number of couples that visit and revisit different parts of the state at various times in their courtship or partnership, leaves no doubt that this is indeed the case. Virginia is home to two of the top five and most notable idyllic destinations for a romantic break in the US.

 

The Sunrise at Virginia Beach

 

A sunrise on Virginia Beach

 

Virginia Beach, Virginia

 

Those in search of romance can do no better that travel to the resort city of Virginia Beach in the Hampton Roads. Poised at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, a vacation here is a memorable experience: there are miles of sandy beaches, parks, museums, excellent shopping and superb Virginia Beach hotels, restaurants and motels along the oceanfront.

 

The U.S. Virgin Islands

 

This is a charming tropical paradise with many different things to do in a variety of attractive locations, depending entirely on your personal preferences. The delightful National Park at St. John is free and couples can camp on the beach there. In fact, there are lots of lovely beaches from which to choose at St. John and also at St. Thomas – where there is also plenty of entertaining nightlife and some great entertainment. For couples that prefer walking hand in hand around the museums and places of interest, St. Croix holds many unexpected delights including the fascinating Cruzan Rum Distillery.

 

Kauai, Hawaii

 

A beguiling vista of mountains, beaches, cliffs and rainforests awaits couples in Kauai. Private villas and secluded beaches add to the romantic atmosphere, and couples keen on swimming, kayaking, hiking or horseback riding on the beach can enjoy the great outdoors. There are also coastal gardens and parks – ideal for picnics and sentimental reminiscences.

 

Alexandria, Virginia

 

Just six miles to the south of Washington D.C., the Old Town is the historic center of Alexandria, and among the well-preserved architecture from colonial times there is a charming collection of restaurants, boutiques, theaters and antique shops – a perfect environment for a peaceful, romantic vacation. As the capital is so close, there area also opportunities for trips to the many sights and memorials in the city, and for a more upbeat nightlife if desirable.

 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

 

The artistic and cultural center of Santa Fe is undoubtedly Canyon Road, where art galleries and artisan workshops proliferate. These are housed in quaint adobe buildings sporting floral decorations in many brilliant colors. The buildings are steeped in history and also house specialist restaurants offering top-class cuisine. There are museums and palaces to see, as well as churches and cathedrals, ideal for romantic wanderings.

 

Adding to the romance

 

Look out for special events to make a vacation even more romantic, depending on the location. For example, take a tall ships or late night dancing cruise in Norfolk, Virginia; or choose one of the many Virginia beach hotels that specialize in pampering couples. Plan a romantic, candlelit dinner at an intimate restaurant – either at the seafront or deep within a tropical forest. Above all, use a romantic vacation to take the time to renew relationships and take them to a deeper, more meaningful level.

 

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Cinco de Mayo 2012: Five Margarita Bars to Celebrate in New York City

It’s not the Mexican Independence Day (which is celebrated on September 16th), but Cinco de Mayo is well known because of the victory of the Mexicans over the French forces in Puebla in 1862.

New Yorkers, of course, celebrate the holiday with pride and a lot of margaritas. If you’re looking for popular bars and hangouts to celebrate this holiday in the city, here are a few you may want to try:

Cinco de Mayo, Mayahuel Cocktail Bar

Credit: Mayahuel.com

Mayahuel, New York City

This Mexican restaurant prides itself on superior drink and a luxurious tequila with a “deep, smoky mezcal.” Their margaritas are legendary, thanks to mixologist Philip Ward’s supervision. The restaurant is located on a rather boisterous in the East Village, perfect for people watching. 304 East 6th Street, New York, NY 10005. Phone: 212 253 5888. There are no reservations, so go early but be prepared to wait.

Rosa Mexicano

The chain has several restaurants in Manhattan, and just for Cinco de Mayo they’re debuting the Skinny Margarita which is made with Organic Silver Tequila and Organic Agave. Of course the classics La Clásica and La Única are still on the menu, as is their popular classic, the Frozen Pomegranate Margarita.

Dos Caminos

Another chain with locations sprinkled throughout New York City, Dos Caminos is a place I keep coming back to because of its fresh guacamole. It can be pricey, so be warned. New on the menu for Cinco de Mayo are “inspired cocktails” but the restaurant was too busy to disclose what they precisely were.

Mamajuana Cafe

This multi-location margarita establishment offers seriously good margaritas for a mere $6, including their famed Margarita on the Rocks and Mamajuana Mojito. Call (212) 362-1514 for reservations.

Crema

Creme takes the Margarita to another level, with its oddly unexpected flavorings to the classic. So, think Pineapple Jalapeño, Watermelon, Tamarind as garnishes to your standard “on the rocks.” There’s also a La Flaca (their version of Skinny Margarita at 103 calories) for the diet conscious.

 

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How To Find the Perfect Piece of Travel Luggage – Ricardo of Beverly Hills Case Study

As a frequent traveler, my luggage is almost like an arm extension. If something is too cumbersome, I’m just quite irritated. If a piece of luggage is just right, I feel as though I’ve found my new best friend.

Recently, I was invited to attend the Family Travel Conference hosted by Traveling Moms where they introduced us to a new piece of expandable luggage by Ricardo of Beverly Hills, which has been making luggage for 30 years. I fell in love with the super lightweight Crystal City collection, which is ideal for day trips anywhere. And….purple is one of my all time favorite colors!

If you’re a frequent traveler, here are some tips to help you find the perfect piece of luggage:

  • Check to see if it’s truly lightweight. There are a  number of pieces of luggage that promise to be lightweight but come in at 10 pounds–to me, lugging something that’s too heavy in addition to your clothes, shoes etc. is quite an important consideration!
  • Check to see if it’s a carry on: many suitcases look tempting but if you have to pay $25 or some such to check it in every time you fly, then consider if for long-haul trips;
  • Do find your style and color! With the number of choices on the market, it would be pointless to travel with a piece of luggage you’re not proud of;
  • Check all sites for the best price: there are a number of sites from LuggageOnline.com to Amazon.com that will give you some comparables, but for authenticity, buy from the source itself;
  • Take it for a test drive. While many won’t let you return a piece of luggage after you’ve used it, remember to wheel it around the store and lift it and see if you’re capable of putting it in the overhead compartment etc.


Ricardo of Beverly Hills Crystal City Expandable Luggage

This new 20 inch expandable spinner is a great carry on, because it is truly Super Light Weight and made with a flexible micro ballistic nylon fabric with a PC composite shell.

Ricardo of Beverly Hills Luggage Crystal City Collection

Ricardo of Beverly Hills Luggage Crystal City Collection

Butterscotch loves it! …and look at how big it is…

Ricardo of Beverly Hills Luggage Crystal City Collection

It has two compartments that pretty much fits everything you need for a short trip (i.e. weekend or a few days) and is expandable. The split-book style luggage gives you space to separate everything and there’s a secure elastic strap to keep everything in place. Finding the perfect piece of travel luggage becomes easier when the manufacturer has thought through the details.

Ricardo of Beverly Hills Luggage Crystal City Collection

The upper compartment has zippers that reveal a place to store your shoes or clothes, and several compartments including a TSA approved 3-1-1 Bag for all your cosmetics and stuff…super convenient.

Ricardo of Beverly Hills Luggage Crystal City Collection

Basically everything  I need to jet off in style for the weekend….The luggage also has a good handle system.

Shown above: Ricardo of Beverly Hills Crystal City 20″ Expandable Spinner Carry-on, retails for $300, on sale for $179.

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Disclosure: A sample piece of luggage was provided to me by Ricardo of Beverly Hills for editorial consideration.

 

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Blogger Spotlight Series: A Q&A with Will Peach of GapDaemon

This week’s Blogger Spotlight shines on Will Peach, who does a bit of everything. He represents the gap year travel blog of GapDaemon as assistant editor  and also has two blogs: one on Spain (My Spanish Adventure) and the other on the slightly saucier side of travel at TravelSexLife.

 

Q.Tell us a bit about your blog. Who is the target audience (if any) and what prompted you to start travel writing?

Will Peach: Hey Charu! First off let me say thanks very much for having me and interrogating me with all these wonderful travel questions. You do know how I love a good bit of torture!

I guess I’ve always been doing travel writing – ever since I finished University four years ago and found myself living in Vietnam. Back then I was a magazine writer, but that came more out of my lust to write as a career. The travel thing just kind of fell into place alongside that I guess!

Now I wouldn’t swap it even if you put a naked Scarlett Johansson in front of me. But that would make me seriously consider.

 

Q. Which are a few of the places you’ve visited in 2011 you’ve loved and would go back a second time?

 

2011 was an interesting year for me as it kicked off in Iceland (an amazing place where I feel lucky to have so many friends) and ended up in Spain.

It was actually this year that I decided to leave my conventional life (and 9-5) and get back out on the road leading the life I do now. Since then I’ve been in Seville, Caceres, Madrid, Granada, Malaga and more in Spain and also Verona, Venice and Milan in Italy.

I’d love to go back to Italy in the summer and spent a few solid months learning Italian. I’ve been trying to do the same with Spanish and have found that I enjoy learning languages very much. Even though I always sound like a robot with my horrible pronunciation.

 

Q. What do you like most about the travel blogging community? The least?

Being part of the travel blogging community is a massive laugh. There are so many interesting and funny personalities out there that it’s always great to get in touch over social media and things like that – as well as reading everyone else’s blog stories from around the world too!

Perhaps the thing I like most is the fact that there is a massive group of young and laid-back bloggers that don’t take the whole thing too particularly seriously.

The thing I dislike the most is that unfortunately there are some bloggers out there who are a little too unwilling to help or offer support to others. My dealing with these people has been somewhat limited though I’m happy to report!

 

Q. If you had unlimited funds, where would you go to right now? What would you do?

I would probably do a peninsula tour of South America and spend weeks at a time in each place before moving on. It’s long been my dream to go there – it’s a region that’s fascinated me for some time.

What else? Perhaps I’d feel more free to go and do some volunteering around the world. I’d particularly like to get more involved with WWOOFING and development projects around the world. Having unlimited funds would mean I wouldn’t have to worry about running out of money and could give all my time (and money) to helping others.

There’s nothing particularly extravagant I would want to do!

(Oh dear I’ve just realized I come cross a bit of a hippie there).

 

Q. Name three items you can never travel without and why?

I’m certain I could never travel without my MacBook or Kindle – both things I use on a daily basis and I could never be untethered from both. They’re my world.

As for the third thing? I’m wracking my brain. I could survive without clothes, I could survive without most luxuries, hmm. Perhaps I’d say my framed picture of travel blogging sensation Matt Kepnes (aka Nomadic Matt)? That’s always a good object to travel with when one is feeling lonely and in need of a cuddle.

 

Q. Favorite travel book you’ve read recently? (can be an article too).

I’m currently making my way through Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding and wish it was rather a bit more, well, interesting. In terms of practicality it’s great – it’s just that not much of it is new to me and I was hoping for rather a few more stories.

A great travel series I think everyone would enjoy is Colin Wright’s never-ending travelogue series Exiles. Colin writes (or blogs rather) on a subscription-based model and delivers a few new chapters on his wanderings around the globe every two weeks. His book My Exile Lifestyle is a great read too – especially for young guys who find themselves in a similar position across the globe.

 

Thanks, Will! If you’d like to be profiled in the Blogger Spotlight Series in the future, drop me a line at charu AT Butterflydiary DOT com.

 

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