Traveller Tales: The Crowded Planet

Tell us a bit about yourself and the focus of The Crowded Planet.

We are Margherita and Nick, an Italian-Australian couple. We met ten years ago while working in London. Our mutual passion for travel is what brought us together, and since then we’ve never stopped. We travelled full-time for a couple of years and we’ve been based in Italy for the last four, travelling for about 4-6 months each year. In June we’ll take off again indefinitely, and as it is we don’t have much of a plan.

The Crowded Planet was born because writing and taking photos about our travels has always been our passion. We love nature and adventure, so we decided to choose these two themes as our topic. At first, we thought we’d write an ‘outdoor’ travel blog, all about skiing, camping and climbing – but to be honest, I find these blogs a bit boring to read. So, we’ve tried to take the theme further, featuring not only stories about national parks, hiking and other outdoor stuff, but also street art, alternative sights and urban nature. Basically, we’d like to show that you can find nature and adventure everywhere, if you know how to look!

You have one hour in a city. Where would you be and how would you spend it?

I would borrow an idea that Nick had during his recent press trip to Dresden. He spent a day asking random locals on the streets where to go, and following their tips. So, I would go up to someone looking completely different from me – say a young mum or an elderly person, and ask them where I should go!

Where would you travel to for £100 or less?

Here I have a couple of ideas. If I fancied some nature, I’d head up to the Alps for a couple of days hiking, staying at mountain huts. £100 would get me 2 nights half board and train transport there and back from Milan. But if the weather was cold or miserable I’d head to a European city for a short break. Perhaps somewhere affordable, like Lisbon or Athens – £100 would be just about right for a few days.

Someone offers you the chance to try one local exotic drink or a portion of local street food. Which one would you choose?

I’d definitely go for the food. I don’t really like spirits and as ‘local exotic drinks’ usually include some kind of spirit, I usually give them a miss. Now, food is a completely different story! I love eating street food; one of my favourite destinations is Penang just because of the huge street food variety! I don’t think street food makes you sick. I mean, it can do, but it’s usually healthier and tastier than restaurant food because it’s made right in front of you.

Care to share one of your most awkward/funny moments whilst travelling?

I have a pair of Rayban Aviators I bought in 1998, paid for with my own pocket money (I was 15 at the time). I am very absent-minded so I’ve forgotten them in hotels/restaurants/bars countless times. Yet, they always find their way back to me. The most incredible episode happened whilst I was boarding a ferry from Argentina to Uruguay. You need to clear customs before you get on the ferry, so I had already been stamped out of Argentina and into Uruguay and I was just about to step on the ship, when I realised I had forgotten my sunglasses at a bar back into the terminal. I snuck out and past Uruguayan and Argentinian border guards, only to find the bar waitress wandering around, sunglasses in hand, looking for their forgetful owner. I got them back and snuck back into the ferry – luckily no one noticed!

Would you like to share a photo that represents a cherished memory? Where was it taken and what were you doing?

This picture was taken last summer in Madagascar. We travelled around the country for 5 weeks always using taxi-brousse, the local version of buses, basically a mini bus packed to the brim. One day this little girl decided to use me as a pillow and slept on my legs for about 4 hours! I can’t say it was comfortable, but she was really sweet and nice – we had a conversation in broken French as she woke up. Her name is Claudine and she’s nine years old.

What is one of your favourite travel quotes, and who said/wrote it?

I don’t really have a favourite quote. I’m not a big fan of quotes and ‘inspirational’ style posts, perhaps because I love travelling so much I don’t need to be inspired further! However, there is a book I love; Travel with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuszinski. The last chapter pretty much describes who I am – a lover of travel for the sake of travel itself.

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