Twippers of the Week: Frank and Lissette from The Travels of BBQboy and Spanky.
Current city: Rovinj, Croatia
Total countries visited: 45
What makes you interesting: We don’t just travel full-time, we live in different places for extended periods of time. Earlier this year, for example, we were in South Africa for three months where we hiked Table Mountain, paraglided over Cape Town, and bungeed from the highest bridge jump in the world, Bloukrans Bridge. We met the friendliest people there and fell in love with the place. The opportunity to be somewhere for a longer period of time gives us insight on places that we would never have as tourists on a two week vacation. We’ve spent extended periods of time in Budapest, Prague, as well as in Brasov (Romania) and have become huge fans of Eastern Europe which I think is an area often misunderstood. We’re now in Croatia for three months, another of our favorite places. One of the things we started doing after our first year of travel was to join gyms everywhere we go. The idea was to get back in shape but it’s ended up being a great way to meet people and get to really know a place. It fits in perfectly with the way we travel.
What’s your Travanality? Frank is somewhere between a Maverick and a Purist: nature is what gives him the most peace and he feels happy hiking and being outdoors. Lissette is both an Urbanite and Soulager: she loves the vibe of a city (she’s originally from New York) but she’s also into yoga, meditation and is much more insightful on matters of the soul than Frank is. We’re also both Epicurean – we love good food and wine and believe both are a huge part of experiencing a different culture.
Describe your unique or funniest travel experience: There’s been a few. We hiked the rim of the crater of Lake Maninjau (in Sumatra) to arrive in a small village where some kind of party was going on. There were children with pellet guns and they started shooting at us, thinking it was damn funny. We got out of there pretty fast. Another time we took a bus from Santo Domingo to Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic and we got dropped off on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in the dark. Youths in motorcycles came up to us and I thought we were in trouble. No, they were just offering a ride across the mountains to our final destination. Another time we met a drunk German (a police officer from Stuttgart) on a train in Thailand who insisted on drinking with us while pulling out and displaying every souvenir he had collected from his travels through China and Vietnam. We also drank with ladyboys in Thailand and made friends with a pack of soldiers in Colombia. We seem to meet really interesting and/or crazy people everywhere we go.
What are the top reasons should someone travel with you: We’re adventurous, fun and enjoy talking to people. In the end those are the ingredients that lead to interesting encounters.
What is the best part about having a travel partner: The biggest thing is having someone to share experiences with. We’re also different and because of that both of us are exposed to things we probably wouldn’t do traveling on our own like going on yoga retreats and taken cooking lessons (these are things Lissette likes). On the other hand, we’ve hiked and had more adventurous-type experiences because that’s what turns Frank craves.
Where and when were you the most culture shocked: Frank has had a few experiences with culture shock in his life. When he was 9 he moved from rural Quebec to Lusaka, Zambia where he lived a few years. He was one of the few Caucasian children in the class and he barely spoke English. That was a big culture shock. He went to Morocco in his teens and was shocked by the aggressive beggars, some with leprosy, others with bulging white eyes (some kind of disease). He was afraid to leave the hotel. It was like being in a bad zombie movie. As an adult, he experienced culture shock in Sumatra where people weren’t used to seeing Caucasian foreigners. Everyone wanted to take a photo or talk with him. He felt like it was very invasive. All cases of culture shock but each very different.
Best travel advice: Keep your mind open and allow yourself time. We love our way of travel (what people refer to as “slow travel”) because we integrate ourselves into our destinations. We’ll lived in the suburbs of Prague, in the middle of Romania, and in small-town Thailand. All very foreign places where very little English was spoken yet we ended up making each home for a few months. Each place holds memories we’ll never forget. So don’t rush a place. The other thing about slow travel is that it’s less expensive and sustainable. We’ve been traveling full-time now for two years and are saving money at the same time, it’s something I occasionally write about on the blog. We love the way we travel.
Next travel destination: We want to explore Spain, Portugal and Morocco after our three months in Croatia, followed by Japan in November. We’ve never been to Japan and look forward to it. That will be followed by some more travels in Asia (most likely Malaysia) and then our return to Africa in February where we hope to see Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia.