Meet Camie Juan – Winners Interviews!

wild spirit

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

Wild-Spirit is a personal and lifestyle blog, wherein I basically just write about my life, what interests me, my personal point of view and opinions, where I share photographs and a few artsy stuff here and there.

I live by my motto of “Je ne regretted rien.” And very much like Edith Piaf, I live my life with no regrets. I take life day by day, I take risks, I live it to the fullest and my mistakes are what has shaped me throughout the years, I live my life with no inhibitions, and that is what being a Wild Spirit is all about, that is what my blog is all about.

Why did you first decide to set it up?

I’ve been a blogger for years, but I decided to set up Wild-Spirit and stick with two years or so ago during a turning point in my 20’s, a time I was growing up and starting to live freely. As a fickle teenager, I was always changing usernames/blog names, but I finally stuck with Wild-Spirit and took my blogging a bit more seriously since then.

How long have you been blogging for?

Since I was about 13, I believe! It’s been 10 years. Can you imagine? My first blog was on DiaryLand.com, you can check it out. It’s basically the same website, same interface, and design ever since I started 10 years ago. It’s quite amusing! So I’ve been on different blogging platforms, but continually kept the theme of my blogs pretty much the same: Personal and lifestyle.

How are you preparing your for your trip?

Well, I’ve been prepared for this my whole life, to be quite honest! Haha

  1. Non-stop research on Germany and places I want to visit
  2. VISA applications – I had my interview recently and will find out in a few days if I am granted a VISA! (Cross your fingers and toes for me!)
  3. Talking to my mom’s German husband for tips/do’s & don’ts in Germany (Be a smart and safe traveller!)
  4. Mentally (and emotionally) preparing myself for this trip that I just used to day dream about – I’m trying not to have all these expectations, good or bad. I want to just surprise myself once I’m there.

What are you most looking forward to?

I look forward to experiencing being in a totally different country that is the complete opposite of what I am accustomed to, without expectations of what the food will be like or how the people are. I’m looking forward to surprising myself with whatever I’ll learn and gain certain knowledge only few of us in the world have a privilege of learning through travelling. And as a history fan, I’m looking forward to learning a bit more of German history, albeit 10 days doesn’t seem enough to learn everything, it’s still a start!

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

Everyone knows that Germany and one of the biggest world war events go hand in hand. The holocaust was a picture of many, including prejudice, discrimination, and racism. I already have my own notions about past and present Germany, World War II, etc. but many still go on with their lives unknowing and completely ignorant of that part of history. It’s my hope that through my exchange, I can open the eyes and the minds of these people… Even if it’s just one person. Sometimes it only takes one person, to change their mind about their views and beliefs, and that can somehow start a domino effect, and that would’ve been enough.

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I plan to do all three, actually! Video recording, lots of photos and written words and integrate them not just through blog posts but through other social media (Instagram and twitter) as well.

If anyone knows of great prepaid sim cards with great data that I can use while in Germany, let me know! 🙂 I want to keep all social media accounts updated as much as possible!

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

It’s really exciting! But also scary! I will be exchanging with Tine from Lunch For One, and hopefully her readers will welcome me with open arms! It’s not just me who finds the blog exchange exciting, but rather some of my readers as well. They can’t wait to see the adventures Tina will embark on during her stay in the Philippines!

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

I’ve travelled to neighbouring countries of the Philippines but never outside Asia!

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

I actually only heard of HI when BBE started. I’m so thankful to have discovered HI, though! Now I can actually plan trips without worrying about expensive lodging. Honestly, knowing HI exists makes me happy!

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

My readers are my biggest supporters aside from family. You wouldn’t believe the vast amount of tweets, messages and emails I’ve been getting congratulating me and expressing their joy and excitement for me! It’s really sweet! It’s been two weeks since the official announcement of winners was made and I still get congratulatory messages. It’s surreal! Everything is happening so fast and there’s not much time to plan so I’ve been so busy! I’ve sort of lost track of blogging, but I’ll get back to the swing of things soon!

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

  1. Keep an open and adventurous mind!
  2. Have fun, but keep your guard up because it’s not always safe around, especially in the Manila area.
  3. Filipinos, in generally, love foreigners and so Filipinos will LOVE you!
  4. Filipinos are really welcoming and nice, so don’t be alarmed if you’re treated instantly like family…
  5. Much like any city, be wary of your surroundings. Don’t flash expensive products such as your iPhone or iPods because they pose a pickpocketing thread. Carry small change instead of large bills. And be careful of being scammed, sometimes cab drivers will scam you into paying more money than you should. The meter shouldn’t lie, no matter how much traffic or whatever reason they give. The meter is what you follow.
  6. The weather can get pretty bipolar, it’s scorching hot one day and raining the next, so bring lightweight clothing and a jacket for the rain. June is the start of our rainy season.

Things to explore in the city/country:

  1. The food, especially the most famous street food and my favorite, Taho, because Tina is a sweet tooth!
  2. Maybe try Balut if you’re feeling really adventurous. Alright, alright… You can skip the duck/chick, but eat the rest. It’s really not that bad, because the yellow part is basically just egg yolk. If you don’t know what Balut is, you can Google for a photo, I’ll skip posting a photo here in case you guys are easily grossed out…
  3. Bargain shopping at Greenhills or Divisoria (although I wouldn’t recommend Divisoria if you’re going alone. Not even I go alone.)
  4. Explore Old Manila with Carlos Celdran, you honestly cannot go wrong! 

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

  1. Spend at least two to three days at one of our famous beaches! Cebu, Boracay, Palawan! Nothing spells ultimate relaxation like crystal clear water, white sand, and the sound of the waves hitting the shore. Just thinking about it makes me want to go to the beach right now.
  2. Visit the Chocolate Hills. Our Department of Tourism recently came up with the slogan: “My Humps. More Fun in The Philippines” for the Chocolate Hills! I have a good chuckle every time I see that advertisement… I’m easily amused.
  3. Old Manila, China Town, places with architecture and stuff you don’t normally see/find in Europe!

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

I find that being able to connect to total strangers and somehow affect their lives in a positive way is the most humbling and rewarding thing, especially when it goes both ways. I have a great relationship with my readers and they have helped me grow so much over the years, as much as I hope I have helped them as well. It’s a wonderful support system.

As a blogger or as a writer, I have a voice, an influence, and knowing I can use this talent for good assures me that in this life where I’m constantly trying to find solid ground as to who I am or what my sole purpose is, at least I know I’ve done something right.

Visit Camie’s blog here.

Travel With Your Taste Buds (Part Two)

We have several keen foodies among our 16 winners, so we can’t wait to see what food they choose to sample on their blog exchange. Here, we have chosen a few desserts from around the world – and we’d love for you to guess where in the world they are from! Do you recognize any, or can you name any of them?

103-150-Nanaimo-Bars-1500x1000058 low fructose sugar cookiesMehan's Kitchen 037

cnc2macaroonsB1halohalostrawberrycheesecake

Bloggers – are there any you would like to try out? 

* please note – these images do not belong to us, and are purely for reference purposes only. They are believed to be in the public domain – however if you feel it infringes your copyright, let us know and we will remove as soon as we can.

Our BBE Winners

So, now you’ve met all 16 of our fantastic winners. We thought we would put them all in one post together (in case you’ve missed reading one or two of the interviews). They are all busy preparing for their trip – so in case you haven’t checked out their blogs yet, you can do so below!

Remember, you will be able to keep up with all of the following bloggers posts (in one place) on our main site (bigblogexchange.org). We will be displaying each bloggers RSS feed on the ‘wall’ section – so make sure you take a look. Remember – they will be blogging over on their exchange partners site!

Chee (from Malaysia) – visit her blog here.

chee

 

Jeremy Fowler (from Canada) – visit his blog here.

Jeremy Fowler

Rosario (from Argentina) – visit her blog here.

blue • heaven

Katherine (from New Zealand) – visit her blog here.

Kapcha The World, International Travel, Photography, Culture and Food Blog

Natalia (from Brazil) – visit her blog here.

360meridianos - Destinos exóticos, mochileiros, viagem de volta ao mundo, intercâmbio.

Audur (from Iceland) – blogs here.

I heart Reykjavík - your first stop on your journey to Reykjavík - I heart Reykjavík

Ali (from Israel) – visit her blog here.

TheSweepingSwallow

Didi (from South Africa) – visit her blog here.

My Adventures & Learnings in Sweden (and beyond). The diary of a South African YIPPIE! - Take a journey of planting, cultivating and harvesting life's treasures with me…

Liesbet (from Belgium) – visit her blog here.

Liesbet à Paris

Claire (from France) – visit her blog here.

The Green Geekette - Blog Montréal - Beauté, Bio, Voyages, Geek

Sara (from Spain) – visit her blog here.

MindfulTravel bySara

Tina (from Germany) – visit her blog here.

Lunch For One - Essen, Backen und around the world

Andy (from USA) – visit his blog here.

Home - Backpacking Diplomacy

Kisty (from Singapore) – visit her blog here.

The Style Mermaid

Camie (from Philippines) – visit her blog here.

{ Wild - Spirit }

 

Sophie (from UK) – visit her blog here.

Challenge Sophie

 

Travel With Your Taste Buds!

So, now you’ve all got to meet our fabulous bloggers – we thought we would explore a few different topics that inspire travel in different people. Several of our bloggers have expressed that they love to travel with their taste buds, and love sampling different world cuisines – so we thought we’d ask you whether you do the same?

Which cuisines will our bloggers be sampling? Can you guess where each dish is from? 

SeafoodPaellaPaulphoto

SONY DSCusa_food_hotdog_3chopsx2pastiesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sausages-and-BierSome-Simple-steps-to-make-pancakestraditional-Belgian-chocolates-main-1croissant1-enlarge(07czf3)

malaysian_cuisine_restaurant_london_fitzrovia_jeremy_clarkson_3

* please note, these photos do not belong to us and we do not take credit for them. They are used purely for reference purposes.

Meet Ali Karp – Winners Interviews!

Have you visited our Israeli blogger Ali Karp’s website The Sweeping Swallow yet? If not, you can do so by clicking here. Everyone was so inspired and impressed by the number of places she has travelled to and how she immerses herself in local culture. We decided to send over a few questions so that we could get to know her a little better and find out her thoughts about her impending trip to Iceland. And, here – are her answers.

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

I am a Collector of People. It was a friend, very dear to me, who called it. And he is right, I do collect people and their stories. I am at the cusp of some things uncertain and often times uncontrollable in the times which lie ahead of me. My world, like yours, rocks to find a settling place among all the change. It is in these moments, where I try to be still and listen to my instincts. They are there for a reason, and mine are telling me to keep on collecting. My collecting involves capturing my travels through photography and writing. I focus on documenting the experiences which ‘speak to me’, as well as those which challenge me to the core. With it, I hope to be a beacon of positive influence, helping to wield people’s attention to the lives outside of their own. I understand that this can be both a blessing and a burden. But perhaps that is why a compassionate ear is one of my simplest of gifts to give. I hope, I think, I believe, in babysteps and ripple effects. The people I speak of, the places in which they live, the cultures which they engage in – I can only try do them justice through my words and photographs: The trails and tales of the unknown traveller.

Why did you first decide to set it up?

My most recent travels took me to the most rural parts of South Africa, where electricity and water supplies were scarce, as was education and basic housing – What does not challenge you, doesn’t change you. I was commissioned to review, document and photograph 7 different stops throughout South Africa, where the lodgings were all Fair Trade accredited and together formed the Fair Trade 21 Day Travel Pass –  voted one of the top 25 most ethical travel experiences in the world. On my return, I was to help these backpackers and lodgings with their promotional material. It was decided that I put together a blog documenting my personal experiences which I acquired on this travel route. This blog is not about reviewing the places I visit, but rather describing the experiences which captured my attention, as well as my heart in the moment. I did this in the hopes that whoever reads my blog posts would be enticed to go out and experience these moments for themselves.

TheSweepingSwallow

How long have you been blogging for? 

Since February 2013 (just over 3 months)

How are you preparing your for your trip?

Because of my late admission as a winner, it has been quite an emotional rollercoaster! I was very overwhelmed. After Iceland I intend to continue further with my travels, and therefore from one end of the world (Iceland) I will be making my way down under to Australia. I have been sorting out passport details, buying supplies, most importantly reading Auður Ösp’s blog for travel tips on Iceland!! 🙂 I have also been working extra hours to earn as much money as I can for the months ahead. And how could I forget – deep breaths!

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world? 

One of the main issues I have come to understand in this world is a lack of tolerance amongst us people. We are afraid of the unknown, often resulting in us becoming stuck or almost stagnant within our comfort zones. Being a beacon or an ambassador for tolerance is one way in which I believe we can encourage and promote positive change in this world. I approach this opportunity with an open mind as well as an open heart. As much as I take from this experience in Iceland (and my travels after), I also want to be able to give (and share) back my experiences with the people I encounter a long the way.

alikarp

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I plan on recording the trip primarily through my writing and photography. I am open to try out recording videos and engaging with multimedia – however – I am interested in introducing different forms of literature (poems, photojournalism, stories etc…)

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs? 

I am excited about swapping blogs, Auður Ösp’s blog is so appealing to the reader – I hope that my work is able to do her current standard justice! 🙂

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before? 

This is definitely not the first time I have travelled. I was born and raised in Israel, later immigrating to South Africa. My travelling has taken me to Turkey, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Mauritius, Namibia and Lesotho 🙂

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited? 

I had heard of Hostelling International before I embarked on the Fair Trade 21 Day Travel Pass, and have read many of HI’s posts over the past few months since my heart has taken to travel writing. I am excited as well as overwhelmed. I can feel my nerves at the idea of travelling the world for an indefinite period of time, however I am open and welcoming of change.

ali

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

I am announcing to my readers about my trip to Iceland and Australia this week. All my Visa’s were confirmed yesterday – on Monday the 13th of May, so now that I know that everything is in order and is for definite – it is time to reveal my plans to those who are willing to read about them!

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country? 

Israel is a country which has been a country which has been questioned and contended with for its entire existence. Auður Ösp, I wish you a magnificent trip. I hope that you embark on this journey with the idea in mind of embracing difference, entertaining change, and accepting a challenge! There is so much history in my country, as well as so much history which is in the process of being made. The people are passionate, the culture is spicy, (and often so is the food!).

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do? 

Definitely go see and try to understand how the different cultures live together in one country. Go to the markets – you will find yourself taking the most beautiful photographs. Visit the Old City (Jerusalem), float around the Dead Sea, have a splash in the Kineret (Sea of Galilee) – just watch out for the rip tides! If you are looking to visit a Kibbutz, there is one about 2 hours from my home town (Haifa) known as Tiberius which is up in the North, they often have nice parties there on the weekend. AND ABOVE ALL ELSE: visit the beaches, the water is incredibly warm!

alikaa

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

This is a hard question. Above all, it is the process of reflection that I engage in as a blogger which I find the most rewarding. Often, it is about understanding the experience for myself, and what it has meant to me. I learn so much about the world around me, that often I find myself realising (like in my previous trip through South Africa) that my brain has undergone so many 180′ flips with regards to the world around me and how I perceive it. This allows me to grow. I learn so much about other people, and most of all I learn a lot about myself. I feel like a better person. All the more richer, well-rounded, grounded and accepting than I ever would’ve been otherwise.

 

 

What Destination Are You Looking Forward To?

Once the exchange begins, you will be able to follow the journeys of our 16 bloggers on this blog, their blogs and on social media (#bigblogX). You will be able to see first-hand (well, almost) what the country they are visiting is like – and experience their trip with them.

So, we wanted to ask you – which destination/blogger are you looking forward to following? Are there any destinations in the list below you’ve always wanted to visit and can’t wait to see being written about?

Argentina

argentina

France

paris_pic

Brazil

brazil

Belgium

Belgium-Wallpaper

South Africa

Cape-Town-South-Africa-21

Spain

Spain-July 2007 Valencia Region Costa Blanca Coast Peñiscola City

USA 

new-york-city-s-getting-a-tech-upgrade-66f014f1fe

Philippines 

phillipines

Singapore

Singapore_Marina_Bay_sands

Malaysia 

malaysia

Germany

Germany_1008

Canada

canada

United Kingdom

united kingdom

Iceland

Northern-Lights-Iceland

Israel

beautiful-israel

New Zealand

largepictures_nature_large_34102

* please note, these photographs do not belong to us and we do not take credit for them. They are used purely for reference purposes only.

Meet Katherine – Winners Interviews!

In her own words, our lovely New Zealand Blogger Katherine explains a little about herself, in preparation for her trip to Argentina! Check out her blog here

Hi I’m Katherine, I’m a kiwi born in Wellington, who grew up in the UK just outside of London, and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. I love to travel and have been doing so since I was about 2 years old. I definitely see myself as a bit of a nomad and always seem to have a case of the itchy feet so am always looking for that next adventure, whether it be local or international.

6k

My blog is called Kapcha The World (www.kapcha.co.nz), which I started almost 2 years ago now. It’s a travel, photography and culture blog I use to record all the fabulous and exciting places I travel to and all the amazing and interesting people I meet. I have been writing for many years though and always get involved in writing opportunities when I’m living abroad like expat newspapers, or local magazines.

My first major travels were when I was 19 years old and I spent the year backpacking on my own through 13 countries in Asia and Australasia. I travelled on my own but I never felt lonely, as I met so many wonderful people along the way. I think meeting people, especially locals, is the most important thing about travelling. It enables you to leave the tourist label behind and experience local life first hand.

1k

When I travel I tend to avoid tour groups and instead opt for more cultural or local opportunities like cooking or dance classes, local photography groups, or simply taking a walk around the town or city and chatting to people and finding out about the city or landscape around me. Although I have never worked with Hostelling International before, I did stay in quite a few Hostelling International/YHA hostels during this trip. The people who worked there were always friendly and happy to help when I invariably had 50 million questions to ask about places. My experience was great and I would highly recommend them.

2k

For the Big Blog Exchange, I’m really excited to be swapping with Rosario from Argentina. I’ve never been to South America before so I am looking forward to be heading somewhere new. I’ve hired out just about every book from the library on Argentina and have even started listening to Latin America Spanish tapes in preparation for my trip.

4k

Argentina is such a huge country and I know I cant’ see everything in the time that we have there but the highlights on my list would have to be Buenos Aires, Iguazu Waterfalls, Cordoba, Colonia del Sacremento and the gaucho town San Antonio de Areco. Other than experiencing Argentinian life, and learning to tango, I think the thing I am most looking forward to is sampling the beef – apparently it’s the best in the world, and then following it with some amazing local red wine. Rosario’s blog is great and I’m looking forward to swapping with her. I especially love the video she created for the BBE of her home city, Buenos Aires. I can’t wait to follow in her footsteps.

3k

Quiero comer, beber y bailar tango en mi viaje por Argentina.

Rosario is off to my home country of New Zealand. It’s a beautiful little country that has so much to see. My recommendations would definitely be to see the Bay of Islands (for its beaches and natural beauty), Waitomo Caves (glow worms and rafting), Hobbiton (the home of the Lord of the Rings Hobbits) and Wellington (culture, food, art, shopping) in the North Island. In the South Island (my favourite island), I would recommend the West Coast, especially the drive between Greymouth and Westport (I think it’s the best in the world), Karamea, and Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, Abel Tasman National Park, the Marlborough Sounds (including the wineries), Kaikoura (whale watching) and Queenstown for some adrenalin, skiing and great nights out.

My favourite way to record my trips is definitely using photography (I always have a camera on me) and social media channels like Instagram (http://instagram.com/kapcha), Facebook (www.facebook.com/kapchatheworld) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/kapcha). I find this is a great way to document where you are and what you are doing whilst on the road and then following it up with longer blog posts when I am home. I have been posting lots on my social media channels about the Big Blog Exchange and through that got lots of votes and congratulations when I won. I have a loyal group of followers on my blog who are excited to hear about, and a little jealous of, my trip to Argentina. I’ve had many offers to fit in or carry my suitcase, and as much as I would love to be able to bring them all along with me, I’m excited to be heading out alone, to get out of my comfort zone and discover all that I can about Argentina.

5k

The Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. I think that blogs are a great resource and I love how many there are out there now to read and get inspiration, information and ideas from. Travel creates opportunities for learning about the world and different ways of life. It can open dialogues between nations which helps to eliminate preconceived perceptions of the world we live in, and create an environment that is more accepting and open to people from other nationalities.

I hope that through The Big Blog Exchange, the 15 bloggers and I, are able to broaden our horizons and perspectives of the world and not only learn about new countries and cultures, but become more knowledgeable and welcoming to not only our exchange country, but all the bloggers and readers from around the world and the different ideas and values that they may have. I hope that through my travels, I inspire people to travel, to learn, to be more accepting, and to step out of their comfort zones and experience a different way of life. I encourage people to immerse themselves in the culture and vibe of a country, to meet the locals and above all else enjoy themselves. It’s the most important thing about travelling after all.

Argentina, estoy ansiosa por verte pronto!

Meet Natália Becattini – Winners Interviews!

Have you met our lovely blogger Natália from Brazil yet? She blogs over at 360meridianos and is exchanging with Claire from the Green Geekette. Natália will be jetting off to France on the 7th June – and so in preparation for her trip, we thought we would ask her a few questions so that we can get to know her a little more!

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

360meridianos is about three friends – Rafael, Natália and Luíza – discovering new places and learning from the world. We try to inspire people to step out of their comfort zones through travel. We believe that it’s impossible to go out and see the world and remain the same person you were before.

We made a small video presenting ourselves and the blog:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/65753467″>The Big Blog Exchange</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/360meridianos”>360meridianos</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Why did you first decide to set it up?

We start blogging during a round the world trip we did in 2011. It seemed a nice way to keep our family and friends informed about what was going on in our lives.

How long have you been blogging for?

We are blogging since October 12, 2011. It was the same day that we arrived in Madrid, our first destination of the round the world trip.

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How are you preparing your for your trip?

Well, I have to say that I am ready to go. As I don’t need a visa or any kind of vaccination to go to France, all I have to do is to search about the beautiful places I am going to see. I already bought a travel guide and did some online reading. I am very excited and looking forward to see everything with my own eyes. I am also thinking in different ways to share my experiences on Claire’s blog.

What are you most looking forward to?

Well, I think that I will make some people shocked when I say that the thing I am most looking forward it is not the Eiffel Tower. But that is only because I have been in Paris before.  Now that I know which places I will be travelling to, I am very excited with the prospect of visiting Carcassonne. I love History and and visiting a medieval ville is something very interesting for me.

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I was very happy when I got my itinerary, because the HI National Association in France noticed that I like culture and gastronomy and made a plan based on my interests. So, besides Carcassonne, I am also looking forward to visit the markets, try the food, the cheese, the wine, the French Riviera (how perfect it is that I am going during summer?)… There are so many exciting things that I just can’t rank them all.

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

As I said before, its impossible to see the world and remain the same. The 16 winners will certainly be changed by this experience. We will learn about a new culture, meet new people, try different foods, experiment the life outside our confort zone. Then, we will share everything we learn about the world in each other blogs, writing to people we never had the chance to write before. Hopefully we will be able to inspire these people and make them learn with our experience. This is how the exchange is going to change the world: changing people first.

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I am planning to use everything I can. I will try to do some video blogs, but also use a lot of photos to illustrate my experience. And, of course, I will write about it, even though writing in English is quite a challenge for me.

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

Of course! The opportunity to write for someone else’s blog is the most innovative aspect of The Big Blog Exchange. That is what make this program so unique. The exchange will give us the opportunity to reach people that would never know our blog.

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

I got the travel bug many years ago, during a backpack in Brazil’s coast. Then I  lived for almost 50 days in South Africa, lived for 6 months and in India and did a round the world trip. This is not my first time travelling, but I am always as excited as if it were.

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Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

Yes, Rafael, Luíza and I always stay in HI hostels in our trips, specially in Brazil and in the rest of the Americas. I like the idea of offering high quality accommodation at low cost and it is always very easy to meet other travellers in a hostel and make new friends from all over the world.

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

Yes, all my readers and friends are very excited about it. We wrote some posts about the competition and we have a few more planned in the future. I felt that everybody was very happy when we announced that we were chosen. Now they are curious about how I am going to share my experiences and, of course, what Claire is going to say about Brazil.

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

This was actually the subject of a post on our blog. As we are going to receive Claire here, I made a list with some essential  brazilian experiences for foreigners with an English translation on the side of each item. The best part is that the readers are also posting their ideas about what they think she should try. We have some classic suggestions, such as go to a Samba party or a attend a soccer game, but also very local things, like eating a warm pão de queijo. The food is, actually, one of the best things in Brazil. I think she should try as many fruits and juices as she can, because they are delicious. For lunch, our classic rice and beans or a traditional Brazilian barbecue.

I know that maybe Claire won’t have time to do everything that was suggested there, but maybe it is a good start point.

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

Rio de Janeiro is a must, even during winter. I am glad that she will be able to see the Christ, the Cable Car, the Lapa district and the beach of Ipanema. São Paulo, on the other hand, is all about the night. There are many restaurants, bars and clubs to explore. If she likes history, the city center is also a good place walk a little bit. Bonito is perfect for sports and ecotourism, so she will be able to see our exuberant nature. And Iguazu Falls must be amazing! I am going there for the fist time few days before travelling to France, so I think I will have to came back later and tell her how is it like.

1e

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

Being a blogger became an important part of our lives. It is something that we do with passion, something that is really worth spending time with. We write about something we love and that is why winning the BBE was so special. It was a kind of recognition for our hard work and a way to show us that we are doing a good job.

Of course, we have this signs that the blog worth a lot every time when a reader come to say that we inspire him/her with our travels and lifestyle, or that we helped them to plan a trip with our tips. I mean, reaching people we never saw in our lives is the best reward we could have.

Celebrating The Americas!

The jury really had their work cut out choosing just four bloggers from the Americas region. Every single blog was so strong, creative and amazing in it’s own way!

Here are the top 25!

1 3
Little Chief Honeybee
1859 
2 4
Jeremy Fowler
1417 
3 9
Territórios
1110 
4 18
360meridianos
592 
5 21
aventure-se.com
525 
6 22
Viajando com Eles
517 
7 23
Rotas & Destinos de Viagens
512 
8 28
Mochilando Por Aí
451 
9 29
Blueheaven
444 
10 30
Fetch & Femme
434 
11 33
Preciso Viajar
416 
12 34
Extra Pack Of Peanuts
403 
13 35
Backpacking Diplomacy
378 
14 51
Partiu intercâmbio
300 
15 52
Samara Enroute
298 
16 62
Vontade de Viajar
247 
17 65
inthisalone
234 
18 68
AnnaBeatrip
227 
19 69
Marina Nebro: Arts and Culture
222 
20 70
Frolic Hunter
213 
21 73
Destination Roadscape
200 
22 77
Traveling Triplets
195 
23 84
Stupid Ugly Foreigner
182 
24 89
Ultimate Sports Talk
165 
25 95
Federico Bongiorno – Positive Viajes
148 

Do you have a favourite blogger from this region?

Meet Liesbet Maroye – Winners Interviews!

We hope you are enjoying the winners interviews installments, and are excited to meet all of our 16 winners. We have been amazed so far at how creative each of the bloggers have been with expressing their answers, and with Liesbet – this is no different! She has kindly answered our questions using a mix of video, images and text! Enjoy!

Liesbet will be swapping with Didi from SwedishGarden (South Africa) – you can find her blog here.

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about? Why did you first decide to set it up? How long have you been blogging for?

How are you preparing your for your trip?

– I hope to exchange a lot of information with Didi, my exchanging partner!

– I already have plundered the library to get some books about South Africa.

– I will surf on the world wide web, maybe I could find something there J

– I will let me inspire by experiences from other bloggers, readers and maybe the HI crew from Hostelling South Africa

What are you most looking forward to?

Too much for 10 days. I really want to experience as much as possible from South Africa, and live a little bit the Didi-way of life …

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

The fact that people read your blog means that they feel connected with you, they appreciate (or not J) what you are writing, what you want to share, they like to see your vision on the world. By sharing what I will be living, seeing, experiencing in South Africa, my European/Asian/American readers will have a glimpse on the South African culture, habits, way of life. Feeling connected with someone, knowing the person that brings the message, makes you appreciate more about the country, world … I will be helping change the world by offering a window to what I see, believe and live. And this in a – for me – totally different culture.

Liesbet à Paris

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

Text: in the beginning of my blog, I only reported by text. So, I think that will stay one of my principal expression methods.

But

I am convinced that it will be quite hard to just transmit all the influences I will get through writing. So I will certainly add some videos and pictures to pass the South African joie de vivre/couleur  locale, nature, projects, colours (!) … to my reader. I even thought of adding some “sound recordings” to make my readers sniff the ambiance and the sounds. I will also keep them updated by Twitter and Facebook, so they can ask me questions, react or suggest things while I’m travelling.

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

It is not my first time that I am travelling. I adore it, it is in my blood J. If it were possible, I would spend all my days in different countries to inhale as much of their cultures and influences.  But it is the first time that I will be leaving the European region. Woohow! Until now, I tried to explore as much as possible of Europe, its diversity, its culture. Nevertheless, I had fixed myself as goal to leave Europe before my 30. And now, being 26, I have the great opportunity to turn this goal into reality. So, I would like to warn the rest of the world: Liesbet à Paris will extend her explore zone

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

I definitely already have said HI to the world. Youth hostels are a great opportunity to get in touch with people from all over the world, who also want to meet other cultures, other places. They also offer a connection with the country you are visiting. Last year, we did a great roadtrip through Iceland, where we went from HI hostel to hostel. It was a great experience! The way how they interact with and respect nature, the places where the hostels are located …!

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

On this link, you can read everything I’ve posted in the run up to the exchange. And I will keep on posting. My readers couldn’t and will not ignore that I am participating in this competition. Once the 16 BBE’ers were chosen and it appeared I was one of them, I got a lot of facebook messages, mails and sms’s of readers/friends/family/fellow bloggers/other participants to compliment and congratulate me and to wish me luck with the preparations and the journey. And thanks for that!

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country? Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

Belgium it has some great cities (Bruges, Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent), villages, beaches (Knokke, Ostend …) and forests (Ardennes, Oostkantons …) to get lost in. A nice way to explore the countryside and the villages, is by bicycle. So it would be great to hire a bike and to feel the wind while stepping through the fields. And you can end up with some French fries or some chocolate. Or both. In a recently posted blog, I give a quick view on the diversity and the particularities of Belgium. Of course, there is a lot to do. But, I want to be a good blogging hostess to Didi from SwedishGarden. That is why I will try to give her some personalised suggestions!

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

I try to pass as much Liesbet-joy as possible to the people. When my reader gets a smile while reading my blog, when he gets a bright idea or a brain wave, when he becomes inspired. That are the most rewarding things for me. That I can show life, the world, the daily things through my eyes. Because: you only live once. So do the things when you can. Carpe diem. And remember: “nothing is impossible”. You just have to jump!

Meet Tina – Winners Interviews!

Our lovely German winner Tina, has kindly put together a mini ‘biography’ so that we can get to know her a little more before she heads off to the Philippines on her exchange! You can read her blog here.

Lunch For One - About Me

Tina about her Blog

‘Lunch For One’ is like a window into my kitchen, sharing my love for food, baking and cooking. I love to try out new dishes & ingredients (brussel sprouts or goatcheese for example) and exploring the world thru the cooking. The kitchen is pretty small, and there is just a  door open up to the living room. So even if my blog is a classic food blog I try to let my readers taking a look through the keyhole into my private live and whenever I travel how I explore new regions and food.

I started ‘Lunch For One’ three years ago (and can’t believe I’m still loving it), after family and friends started to ask me for my recipes. And I have to admit that I never thought of writing not in german, since its my native tongue, even if that means less readers & publicity.

And even after I struggled at some point last year with keeping up the blogging (and cooking & taking pictures) my readers got me to remember why I love blogging so much. Meeting people, fellow bloggers or readers, and leaving an impact – so everytime I’m able to help with my blog someone to try something new out it leaves a smile on my face.

lunchforone

Tina about Big Blog Exchange Project

The one thing I was fascinated about the whole project was the aspect to swap blogs. And I’m so glad I will be swapping with Cemie, as I love her blog and can’t wait to share my experience with her readers and the world.

Hopefully I will be able to blog a lot, and sharing it on twitter, facebook & instragam.

Since ‘Lunch For One’ is more focus on food and a small blog I never thought of winning so I never mention anything about it at all. But now everyone is looking forward to see how Camie & I will take on this Challenge.

Tina about Travelling

Lucky I don’t need a visa or any vaccinations since I’m probably having all that’s possible to get (blame the trip to India last year). Since I don’t know yet which parts of the Philippines I will visit, I try to not look too much into it already. But as soon as I know I will be researching a lot on the web, and hopefully everyone out can give me hints what not to miss.

ButI have to admit that I look forward to explore the beaches! Not really a “two weeks relaxing on the beach” person, but after some stressfull months at the office I hope to get a day or two just to explore the amazing beaches. But of course aswell the food (I love Mangos!), and maybe even be able to use the hostels kitchen to try out a few of the unknown vegetables for a new dish.

Living in the middle of Europe is the perfect place of travelling a lot, and luckily I was able to do just that during the last couple of years.

A big role in be able to travel was always for me to stay on a budget, which does include the use of a kitchen – and if its only for breakfast. So hostels have always played a huge role into my travels starting with a school trip when I was around 14, and fortunate (knocks on the wood) I never had any bad experiences with it.

Lunch For One - Essen, Backen und around the world

Tina about Germany

There is so much to see in my country. Starting with the beaches & islands up north with the famous “Wattmeer”, our trendy capital Berlin with the impact of our past still to spot, the landscape along the rhine, castles & the alps in the south.

Personal I want to recommend Camie a few food spots.  Like an evening out in a Munich Biergarten, bringing along your own food & just to order a “Mass” of the pure german beer. Then there is currywurst in Berlin to try, the classic afternoon “coffee & tea”, a trip to the bakery in the morning for breakfast with Brezel or the classic “Schrippe” how rolls are called in Berlin.

Celebrating Africa & Middle East!

Again, we had some amazing bloggers from this region! We loved every single one! We wish we could send you all on the Big Blog Exchange!

Top 25

1 8
The most beautifu places in the world.
1149 
2 16
Just Kicking It
690 
3 24
The Sweeping Swallow
472 
4 56
MzansiGirl – sharing the Mzansi love
271 
5 61
2 BALAYLA
249 
6 79
Swedishgarden
188 
7 87
Journey Around the world
170 
8 88
Muay Guy
168 
9 100
Wiscellaneous – my happenings & mishappenings
143 
10 102
Lanalou Style
142 
11 103
Cape Town Collectables
136 
12 105
Cupcakes and Sailors
130 
13 110
Good Thai-mes
122 
14 120
The Brew Mistress
110 
15 127
ReviewMe.co.za
99 
16 128
SnapKamera
99 
17 129
Durban Is Yours
99 
18 133
The Green Table
99 
19 146
My South Africa
85 
20 162
Christian Avenue
71 
21 180
Another-Day
57 
22 201
Drop Your Drink
49 
23 216
Wedding Anthem
43 
24 236
Tourism Tattler
38 
25 255
We-are-awesome
34 

Did you have a favourite blogger from this region? Were you part of this region, what did you think of the project as a whole?

Meet Claire – Winners Interviews!

Have you met our French green geekette Claire yet? Claire will be jetting off to Brazil in June – how exciting! Here’s a little about her (and here is her blog) :

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

When I launched it, my blog was mainly about green – such as natural beauty products – and geek stuffs, which explains why I choosed my blog to be named as “The Green Geekette”. But as my style evolved, so did my content and now my blog talks about lots of things, including travel especially since I live in Canada.

4green

Why did you first decide to set it up?

I always loved to write. Not to the extent of being a novelist but I used to be good at school in literature. Actually, I was really studious during all my university years and spend all my time to study so that’s why when I started to work, I felt the need to find something else to fill my spare time! So I decided to launch my blog in order to share my discoveries, and this is how was born my alter ego “The Green Geekette”.

How long have you been blogging for?

The Green Geekette is my first and only blog, came to life by a beautiful day of February 2010. So I am blogging for more than 3 years!

How are you preparing your for your trip?

I first ask my boss some vacations (because as we only have 2 weeks of vacation per year in Canada, it’s kind of hard to have 10 days in one shot ^^). Then I started to read a lot of blogs and websites about Brazil, and bought a Brazilian conversation guide to learn how to speak Portuguese  As I don’t need visa, my only administrative formality was to get vaccinated for yellow fever and some others stuffs for which I was not “up to date”.

thegreengeekette_preparation

What are you most looking forward to?

As I’m really a “water girl” I can’t wait to discover natural beauties of Brazil such as Iguazú Falls or doing snorkeling In Bonito. Actually I never went to South America, so I’m really excited to the idea of discover some beautiful landscapes that I never had the opportunity to see.

2green

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

I truly believe that it’s up to us to change the world, and above all that small changes can make everything happen, especially when you have the force to step out of your comfort zone by meeting new people and discover different cultures than yours.

I took the decision to leave my French life a year ago with no regrets because I wanted so badly to try something new and today I’m deeply convinced that this has been my best decision ever. According to me, everyone should go to a foreign country for at least one year because this really is an experience that makes you grow.

Understanding how people live far away from our country is really the best way to be more respectful and aware of what is our world. Because we only have one, so we have to share it, even with our differences.

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I’m planning to record my trip with as many medias as I can, including written words of course but also with pictures and videos!

1green

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

Because this adventure wouldn’t be the same if we weren’t swapping blogs, yes I’m so excited! I love the idea of being part of something bigger, not just to travel for travel (even if I love it) but also to share my culture with someone else, especially another blogger.

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

Before Canada I almost never travelled outside Europe so it’s kind of my first “big” travel so far in the world. Furthermore, I never travelled alone either so it’s a little frightening… but I’m really really  excited!

3green

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

Yes I heard a lot about Hostelling International, but until now I never went to one the HI hostels for my accommodation because I was often travelling with my whole family. But for my future travels (including Brazil of course) it would definitely be a solution to spare money and to meet great people!

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

It was such a big surprise for me to see that my readers, after voting for me were so happy for me that I won this contest. I received a lot of congratulations, asking me to come back from this beautiful travel with lots of photos, as well as some piece of advices.

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

In France, be prepared to eat and to drink a lot! Actually I don’t drink wine so I will be a terrific councilor in terms of what to drink, but from what I heard you drink some “Champagne” if you go near Reims, some “Vouvray” in the Loire Valley, some “Rosé” in the South… But above all, the more cheese you can taste, the more you will know what France is! (ok maybe I’m a little too bit cheese addict ^^) But according to me, you definitively should try raclette or tartiflette…

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/65534628″>Big Blog Exchange – From France to Brazil</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/thegreengeekette”>The Green Geekette</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

If there was only one thing: to meet other people. Actually, my blog have allowed me to meet various people for the last 3 years, and I’m proud to say that some of them became really close friends. So it would definitively be hard for me to live without this virtual part of my life… I need this place where I can share my dreams, I need those people who interact with me, I need this feeling to be part of a community. 😉

Celebrating Europe!

We had some AMAZING entries from Europe! Did you see them all! We wanted to take the chance to celebrate all of the fantastic bloggers who entered! Thank you all so much for taking part – we hope to see you again next year!

1 2
Konteóblog
2047 
2 10
Rodando Pelo Mundo
946 
3 14
tekasztorik
820 
4 19
Liesbet à Paris
586 
5 25
CouchSurfing in Hungary
470 
6 37
Hétlövet
369 
7 39
csakazolvassa
361 
8 40
The Adventures of Wheelchair Boy
354 
9 45
The Duck Whisperer
320 
10 53
Ma Première Fois En Australie
282 
11 57
Pellagie van Antwerpen Stad
269 
12 60
travellina
251 
13 64
Travel Photo Blogging
235 
14 67
I heart Reykjavík – a one person guide to Reykjavík
228 
15 71
GIRL WITH A MOVIE CAMERA
211 
16 76
The Green Geekette
195 
17 78
A Saltos Por El Mundo
189 
18 81
eastcoastshine
187 
19 85
viajararatos.blogspot.com
179 
20 90
Un Coin de Terre libre d’école
159 
21 91
El Caso Pablo
158 
22 94
Rockit Style
149 
23 98
1000 destinos antes de morrer
144 
24 113
MindfulTravelbySara
118 
25 115
Caminando por la vida
115 

Did you have a favourite blogger in the Europe region? 

Meet Sophie Roberts – Winners Interviews!

Have you met one of our wildcard winners Sophie yet? The jury was fascinated by her love of challenges and her abilty to take on any task. We hope she enjoys the challenges that the BBE will set her when she heads off to Singapore! Check out her blog here.

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

Challenge Sophie is about taking on new challenges and achieve goals. It’s about helping ourselves be the best we can be and pushing boundaries to get there. I love a challenge!  For the past 7 years I’ve been exploring my physical and mental boundaries through adventure, sport and business. This blog follows my progress in the aim to encourage others to challenge themselves, or join forces with me!

My motto is ‘One life, Live it and never give up’.

1

Why did you first decide to set it up?

I quit my job in December 2012 and left the security of everything that comes with that behind. I had no plan, I just knew I wanted to explore new opportunities and create a story that was worth it for me. The night before I walked into work and handed in my notice, I spoke to a friend that said “A ship in a harbour is safe but that’s not what the ship was built for. Go Sailing”.  We all know that when we push ourselves to do something different, whether that is going travelling on your own for the first time, getting fit and entering your first race , learning a new skill or language, or quitting your job… we achieve great things so why do we not push ourselves more often? Living within your comfort zone is safe and comfortable. Living in the unknown is unfamiliar and unsettling. My blog follows my journey as I learn to accept the unknowns and even hunt them down!

How long have you been blogging for?

4 months!

How are you preparing your for your trip?

I’m getting married 2 weeks before the trip starts, I’m also training for my first Ironman Race which involves a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride and then running a marathon so I’m trying my best to separate my time between different commitments. But generally, just getting really excited.

2

What are you most looking forward to?

Making the most of every second that I’m there.

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

By encouraging people to take on new challenges and see what they can achieve. I’ve seen it change lives before, it definitely has mine. I would love to help people take the first step by doing challenges with them so that would be fantastic.

3

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

Definitely all three!

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

Of course!  All though I don’t know too much about style and maybe Kisty wouldn’t be too keen to do my ironman training so hope it doesn’t involve swapping too much.

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

I have been lucky enough to travel before. Love, love , love it.

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

I’m sure you can tell I’m very excited. I haven’t stayed with Hostelling International before so I can’t wait. All new experiences.

6

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

Everyone is very proud of me being selected as one of the wildcards for this competition.  It’s a huge metaphorical ‘tick’ for me because it shows that quiting my job and taking on new challenges was the right decision even if I have missed the security at times.

4

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

Wow, London. It’s summer so you will have to have Pimms and strawberries. Go to all the markets, vintage shops. Immerse yourself in London’s culture and don’t be overwhelmed by how big it is. Take loads of photos and meet as many English people as you can and tell them why you are here, they will love it.

5

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

The fact that people read what I write!  You do something you love, because you love it and other people get something from it. Couldn’t be better. Thank you for this experience.

Celebrating Asia Pacific!

The Big Blog Exchange is not just about the 16 winners, it’s about all 1173 of you who entered the competition, took part in spreading the word and created an online community. So over the next few weeks, in the run up to the exchange, we wanted to not only introduce our winners – but also celebrate all of YOU. And say thank you for taking part!

To start things off, we wanted to celebrate all of the fantastic bloggers from the Asia Pacific region – who were all amazing in spreading the word! We loved all of your blogs, and the jury found it really difficult to choose the winners!

Top 25 

1 1
Aaren Adventure
2202 
2 5
Rohani Syawaliah’s Blog
1350 
3 6
The Style Mermaid
1206 
4 7
Miss Weirdo
1158 
5 11
The Eager Traveller
897 
6 12
PICZLoad
866 
7 13
youthgotravel
836 
8 15
Wild – Spirit
768 
9 17
Saya Minggat Dulu
665 
10 20
Fashion Ate The World
534 
11 26
aphroditeluvapple
469 
12 27
人因梦想而伟大
463 
13 31
La Rêveur Vrai – Melangkahkan Kaki Kemana Angin Mengarahkan
428 
14 32
Kapcha The World
418 
15 36
cheeChingy.com
376 
16 38
Indonesian Adventurer
361 
17 41
leftoverjinx
354 
18 42
Coretan Denina
351 
19 43
Blog Emak Gaoel
342 
20 44
jajandimana
328 
21 46
Joamar-John
319 
22 47
harrismaul.com
310 
23 48
The Notes
310 
24 49
Hairdobypea
305 
25 50
Dazzling Universe
301 

Did you have a favourite blogger in the Asia Pacific region? 

Meet Rosario Lamastra – Winners Interviews

Meet Rosario, the lovely lady behind Blue Heaven blog and one of our 16 winners. She will be swapping with Kapcha blog in New Zealand! Here’s what she had to say…

blue • heaven

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

My blog is about everything that inspires me. When I am travelling I try to search for places surrounded by art, fashion and music. When I am not travelling I write about my own city, Buenos Aires, a place that I love and that has so much to show. I love coolhunting and taking pictures on the street. I try to find the most hidden places and recommend places that are not in front of everybody eyes.

Why did you first decide to set it up?

While I was planning working for 3 months on Key West, United States, I thought that the best way to be in touch with my family and friends was writing on a blog. Instead of just having a phone-call.  When I was there, the feed back I was having was incredible and I found on my blog a personal space where I could show the places I was travelling during those months. It started being a way of communicating and now is an important place in my days.

rosario

How long have you been blogging for?

I been blogging since December of 2011.

How are you preparing your for your trip?

I have many ideas of how I will share my experience in New Zealand with all the readers. I will create some new sections that will allow me to upload at any time. My idea is to talk about what I am living NOW and AT THIS MOMENT. Show what my eyes are looking at. And share it with everybody through my posts. Talking about busiest places, but also the most hidden ones. New Zealand is not a common place to go if you are argentinean so I will make everybody feel they are travelling with me and getting to know about this incredible country.

What are you most looking forward to?

I want to talk with local people and know about New Zealand culture. How they live and which streets they walk. How the art, music and fashion of the country contrasts with the nature that surround them. I want to open my eyes, turning on my camera, observe and learn.

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

I think that knowing about another person, and in this case, of another country will make us know and also accept each other. I want to show New Zealand culture on the screen of everybody. Having a blog and being in this project means that I have the power of presenting New Zealand people and places not only for argentineans, also to the world. Discovering and talking about the world is the best way to use the power of blogs.

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I will use the 3 ways. I think recording is something essential on this experience. To put in movement what the words and pictures are trying to say. I will have some new sections that will show New Zealand in an original way.

rosario1

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

I think that swapping blogs is one of the most interesting things of the project. The idea of narrate how I see Katherine’s country, New Zealand, and how she feels about Buenos Aires is very exciting.

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

I have travelled before. The last time I travelled was on a California road trip.

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

Sure! I already went to some hostels from Hostelling International and I am very excited to stay in a new one. They are so cool!

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

They are so excited and this was one of the things that motivated me most of participating. Seeing the reaction and the feedback of everybody. At every moment they were asking me when the finalist list was going to appear because they knew that if  http://www.atblueheaven.com was a one of the winner, they were all  going to travel and know a new place.

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

Buenos Aires has so much to show. La Boca is a must. It is our history town where you can find people dancing “tango” in the middle of the streets and plenty of artistic activities. Make time to talk with local people because they will give you the best information and who knows, maybe you will be joining an argentinean group, eating an “asado” and drinking an argentinean wine.

Take a look to my video promo that gives you an idea of what is Buenos Aires about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DA-KCTi0XdI

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

One of my favourite places is the neighbourhood known as “Palermo”, here you can find vintage stores, art galleries, and plenty of places where you must stop and have a cup of tea (I have a list with the best cafes in this area that you should stop and have a break). At night you should came back and walk on the main streets. It is the coolest place in the city. You should also go to the most elegant area in the city: from Alvear Avenue up to Recoleta. You will see the old European mansions and the historical cementery surrounded by parks, cultural centers, museum and a great variety of restaurants. I will recommend to visit the Malba museum with the most important paintings in the country and sometimes, in the world! (Finish your day taking a break at the bar of the museum!).

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

http://www.atblueheaven.com is like my own house. I always try to make something new in the design, upload new pictures, and search for a new hidden place. Go to the most interesting shows and events of Buenos Aires. Being a blogger gave me the opportunity of talking about the place where I was born and where I enjoy leaving and growing everyday. It gave me the opportunity of sharing my works with people all over the world and get to know them. Being a blogger opened me a lot of opportunities in my career and gave me the pleasure of doing what I most like: writing, taking pictures, creating videos and in this case: travelling.

Meet Auður Ösp – Winners Interviews

Meet Auður Ösp, our talented blogger from Iceland who has kindly answered our questions and written an introduction to her blog! She is jetting off to Israel! 

I heart Reykjavík - your first stop on your journey to Reykjavík - I heart Reykjavík

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

My blog is about my love for Reykjavík, my hometown and the capital of Iceland. It’s a travel blog but all the travel I do takes place in Iceland.

Why did you first decide to set it up?

After the economical crash in Iceland in 2008 my financial and personal situation changed. I met my boyfriend and his wonderful daughter after being notoriously single for most my adult life and I had to start thinking about us as a family instead of just me. Our currency also collapsed so all of a sudden it was next to impossible to travel for those of us who earned our money in Icelandic krónur. So instead of sulking about it I decided to explore my own city as I was seeing it for the first time and decided to share my findings with the world.

How long have you been blogging for?

I heart Reykjavík will celebrate its 2 year birthday in May but I have been blogging on and off since about 2002.

How are you preparing your for your trip?

I’m not at this point. I’m finishing my finals these days but I decided to become a University Student again last year at an old age (at least compared to my 20 year old classmates.) When that is finished I am going on a 10 day road trip around Iceland that I’ve been planning for a while and I’m hoping that maybe after that I will find some time to plan. I do know that I don’t need a visa or vaccinations to travel to Israel so at least that’s a start!

What are you most looking forward to?

You know what, Israel has never really been on my radar so I don’t know what to expect. So I guess I’m most looking forward to flying off to a country that I know very little about (to a degree that I’m almost ashamed of) and experience all the hidden wonders it has to offer. I do know they have some good falafel so I’m looking forward to that. My friend also told me I have to find Dana International and get a photo with her so if anyone can arrange that, drop me a line!

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

There’s a slogan I cherish that says: “May is begin with me”. It means that you can change the world by broadening your own horizons and changing your ways. So I think a project like the Big Blog Exchange would change the world even if we were not sharing our experiences with everyone because traveling will always leave you better educated about the people and places around you. Education is the only way to battle ignorance and bigotry and the fact that we ARE sharing it will only leave a bigger impact.

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I don’t know at this point. Guess it will all depend on how many gadgets I can fit in my carry on.

AboutI heart Reykjavík - I heart Reykjavík

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

I’m really excited that Ali will get an opportunity to experience Iceland and my hometown Reykjavík but the thought of actually granting someone access to my blog, my baby, is a little bit difficult. Anyone who’s ever worked hard at something so personal, an extension of your being if you will, will know what I’m talking about.

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

I have travelled before. The furthest I’ve been was Southeast-Asia in 2008 but I’ve also been to Greenland twice which I love telling people about. Apart from that I’ve been to the US, Canada and many different countries in Europe. I also lived for a while in Norway, Spain and England.

Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

I have said HI to the world in three continents!

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

My readers are very excited about the trip but I don’t know if they will be following my adventures since my blog is more about Iceland than it is about me. I actually haven’t posted a single post about the Big Blog Exchange for that exact reason but I’ve mentioned it on Facebook and Twitter and such. I will probably have to write a post about it soon to introduce Ali though. After my finals and the road trip.

What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country?

The tip I would give my exchange partner is to read my blog before she arrives – it really is full of information about what to explore while she’s in Iceland. Also, she should be open and unafraid of approaching Icelanders. We are a friendly bunch even though we might look closed and reserved.

Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

Well depending what Hostelling International Iceland has in store for her she should try to experience as much of our wonderful nature as possible. She should also try our artificial thermal beach – I’m guessing that might be an experience for someone who’s used to the real beaches of Tel Aviv.

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

I’m blessed with the most awesome readers under the sun and I’m so lucky that they take the time to write me e-mails and messages to tell me that I’ve helped them enjoy Iceland. Some of these e-mails have literally brought tears to my eyes, I am so happy to be a tiny little part of their Iceland experience. Sometimes I even meet them for coffee and drinks or go on tours with them. People is the best thing about being a blogger.

Visit her blog here.

Meet Kisty Mea – Winners Interviews!

Firstly, for those who haven’t read your blog before – can you explain to us a little about what your blog is about?

Hello everyone! I’m Kisty Mea and I’m a blogger/web designer from Singapore. I run a personal and lifestyle blog called The Style Mermaid. I like to write and share about my personal style, travel adventures, design inspirations and random thoughts.

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Why did you first decide to set it up? How long have you been blogging for?

I started blogging when I was 13 years old. Having a blog was my form of escape from the ups and downs of being an adolescent. Growing up is hard, and my blogging was my outlet. In time, blogging became one of my greatest passions in life and by 2008, I moved to the popular (micro)blogging site called Tumblr and the rest is history.

How are you preparing your for your trip?

I’ve been busy fixing my documents for my VISA application and to be honest, it’s the only thing I can think of lately. But after that, I can finally start researching about the places I want to see and how to get there and the so on.

What are you most looking forward to?

There are so many things to do and see in United Kingdom, let alone London. It’s so hard to choose just one. I’m looking forward to ride the London Eye, take a photo of the mysterious Stonehenge, and maybe catch a glimpse of the Queen during the Trooping The Colour!

As you probably know, the Big Blog Exchange is all about ‘changing the world, using the power of blogs’. How do you think you and your exchange can help change the world?

Exchanging countries and culture will help us understand the world better, and we can change the world by sharing our newfound perspective. I truly believe that travel will help us realize that we all come from different places, races, and culture, but at the end of the end, we are all the same. And that is the message we hope to share to our readers and followers in this blog exchange.

How do you plan to record your trip? Are you going to be blogging through video, pictures, written words or all three?

I’m going to use all, mostly utilizing different social media channels. I’ll be using videos and written words for real-time updates, since I don’t think I’ll have time to edit all of the photos I’ll be taking throughout the day. But once the trip is over, I’ll be posting several photo diaries of my adventure.

Are you excited at the prospect of swapping blogs?

Yes, I’m very much excited. Sophie and I are into different things, and through the swap, we get to introduce new other things to our readers.

Is this your first time travelling or have you travelled before?

I’ve travelled before, but this is my first time to travel outside Asia.

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Have you heard about Hostelling International before, or is this your first experience with us (have you said HI to the world yet)? Are you excited?

Yes, I’m excited! I never had a chance to stay at a hostel before, so yes, this is my first experience with Hostelling International and I’m sure it’ll be a good one.

Are your readers excited about your trip? Have you been blogging in the run up to the exchange?

Yes, my readers are so excited for me. Some of them even told me, during the live draw, that they feel like they also won the contest. They’re looking forward about my photos of United Kingdom. I haven’t blogged properly since the announcement of the exchange, but I will in a few days. I’ve been so busy with the application.

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What tips can you give for your exchange partner? What can he/she explore in your city/country? Where should he/she go? Or what should they do?

Singapore is relatively safe and quite a charming country in Asia. Since Singapore was colonised by the British, I think Sophie won’t have a hard time adjusting since they pretty much use the same terms (lift = elevator).

If Sophie seeks that adrenaline rush and a splashing good time in Singapore, I’d recommend she go to Sentosa Island. There are a lot of sport and swim activities there; including several fun rides in Universal Studios.

Some tips:

  • If you spend at least S$100 in any establishment, ask for a GST Rebate. You’ll be able to get that rebate at the airport.
  • The public transportation is very efficient here. We have an EZ-Link card; it works pretty much like London’s Oyster card but not all cabs will accept it. If you want to ride a cab and you want to pay via credit card or EZ-Link, hail a Comfort (blue color) or CityCab (yellow color) cab.
  • Singapore is a foodie heaven; so make sure she gets a taste of their Chicken Rice or Chili Crab.

What do you find most rewarding about being a blogger?

Being a blogger means you have a voice. Through your blog, you can indirectly touch someone’s life without knowing him or her personally and although they are not required to do so, it feels good when these people would take the effort to let you know what you’ve done for them.

Just being yourself, you can change the world using the power of blogs.