Welcome to Around the World in Seven Questions, a series where I interview bloggers from around the globe about their travel aspirations and inspiration! Today’s featured blogger is Christine, one of the faces behind food+travel bloggers, Travel Gluttons.
Christine says… “I am Christine, a forty-something French who moves around the world with her husband and two children. A life enthusiast, I am attracted to happiness and tiny details many would not even notice. I am always learning something new, love to travel and taste the local food and of course write about all of it.”
around the world: christine cognieux
Tell us about yourself! How did you get started traveling?
I am a blogger on my spare time, freelance content creator and writer, and editor-at-large for an online publication, Travel Gluttons. My parents always loved to travel so I started early with them, camping in Spain, in Germany, as well as in France. When I was 14, we went to Dubrovnik in Croatia. It was still part of the former Yugoslavia at that time. I had an incredible time there and this trip really got me hooked on traveling.
Where are you now?
I have been living in the Hague in the Netherlands for the past three years. It’s a great place to live, very layed back, with an incredible food and culture scene. There is always something happening, wether it’s a food truck festival, a music fest or a artsy market. I love that it’s so close to the sea. I never actually went swimming (way too chilly for me) but it’s great to walk on the beach or just have a drink or a bite watching the sun go down. The sunsets here are spectacular.
Have you lived abroad? Do you have advice for travellers looking to work and live in a different country?
At 19, I spent a year as an au pair in the US. It was one of the best experience I had. I learned a lot about myself and it really opened my mind to the world. I then lived 8 years in total in the US, then one year in Shanghai (China), one in Singapore, three in the Netherlands. Living abroad is such a rich experience. I feel it has changed me in so many ways. You have to keep an open mind, get very creative sometimes, especially in Asia when you find yourself in a supermarket with only Chinese characters on products and not a soul who speaks English. I learned to be flexible and patient and it made me more respectful of others. I take people as they are and things as they come.
What is your favourite destination, and why? Do you have any recommendations? Any funny stories?
In Europe, I just love Italy, its food, its history, its landscapes, even its language. Everything is enchanting. In Asia, I fell under Bali’s spell. I would love to go back to explore it further, especially around Ubud and Seminyak. This island has an incredible charm and a magnetic beauty, so do its people. We hired a driver who knew exactly where to go, and how to drive ! It saved us a lot of time and hassle and was really cheap.
What is your ultimate travel destination? Have you been there, or do you have plans to go there anytime soon?
I am dreaming of New Zealand. I am attracted to raw nature, wide landscapes and animals (well friendly animals, not too keen on big spiders and snakes). I would just love to spend a month or more exploring this country and learn about its culture. There seems to be so much to see, do and such a variety of scenery.
What is the craziest travel-related thing you have ever done? Let’s leave super illegal out of this but otherwise……… tell us everything 😉
On one of my first travel as an adult, I went to Mexico with two friends, another French girl and a Belgian girl. One evening, we got invited to a birthday party by locals. It was a lot of fun, hanging out with the kids and the entire family, trying to hit a pinata and tasting some incredibe local food. Looking back, my friends and I were kind of inconscious to follow strangers, at night, in Mexico but we were lucky. They were nice and we just had a good time. Another day, we took the local bus to go from Cancun to Tulum. At that time (it was in 1992), Tulum was just a small village with no resorts, but an incredibly beautiful temple overlooking the white sand beach. We had the beach for ourselves and it was just amazing. No Instagram to share it with the world. Just us!
Do you prefer to travel solo, or with someone? Why? If you travel with friends, do you think your friendship is stronger for that reason? If you travel alone, do you find it difficult to meet people on your travels?
I usually travel with my husband and children or with a group of friends. I enjoy the sharing part of the travel, exchanging on what we see, eat, or do. I find it more fun and fulfilling. I hate to eat alone and I tend to keep to myself if I am solo. It also seems easier to try out things when you are with someone.
Traveling with friends can be tricky. You have to know the people quite well, stay flexible and keep an open mind. I usually follow the flow.
What is on your travel agenda for this year ?
I visited Andalusia in March with my husband and two children and we loved it. The food is delicious especially the Iberica jamon and the variety of tapas is incredible. The white-washed villages are splendid and what about the Alhambra of Granada?! As we are moving back to France this summer, the rest of the year remains a big question mark! After 5 years of being away from our home country, we might just enjoy rediscovering its incredible food and wines before going on new adventures.