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TWIPPERS OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: David and Veronica from The GypsyNesters!

Current city:  Ventura, California

Age:  David 58, Veronica 54

Total countries visited: Our current count is 54,and we are always looking to add to that total.

What makes you interesting:  Hmm, can’t say we have been asked that before. We have had quite a life, married for 35 years, living in Nashville, St. Croix, New York, and now Southern California, and having dozens of different jobs through the years, along with all of the stories from our explorations. It’s all in our book GOING GYPSY: One Couple’s Adventure from Empty Nest to No Nest at All.

What brands do you love: We love our iPhone, can’t imagine traveling without it. As for travel companies, we love Backroads, Viking Cruises, Road Scholar, Discover Corps., Country Walkers, and VBT for amazing adventures that are well planned and cater to folks like us that want to be more than just tourists. When we visit a destination, we want to do more than just take a quick look.

How has travel changed you or how do you hope it will change you:  There is great quote from Mark Twain:  ”Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” We have found this to be very true. Our greatest discovery in our GypsyNester journey has been that people all over the world are basically good and decent, friendly and welcoming.

What destinations are on your bucket list and why: There are still a few. We call ourselves “greedy travelers” because the more we see, the more we want to see. Antarctica would have to be near the top of our list since it would make all seven continents visited for us, but there are plenty of others as well. We’d love to see New Zealand, Scotland, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the South Pacific, or almost anywhere else that we haven’t been.

What are your travel pet peeves:  The fact that we are both sitting here trying to think of something must mean that there really aren’t any big ones. There are always little things, but we have become quite good at letting them slide.

Describe the last time you tried something new:  It wasn’t the last time, but certainly the worst. Eating silkworms in China certainly stands out, but not in a good way.  Of all the crazy things we’ve eaten (and it is quite a few, we have a whole category on our website) it is by far the nastiest. Thoroughly disgusting, but we found the humor in it, even at the time.

What is the best part about having a travel partner:  We discovered that by trying and experiencing so many new things together we really reconnected as a couple and found those crazy kids that fell in love decades ago.

It’s 2050, list all the places you are most proud to have visited and why:  One thing we really like is visiting places that were not allowed back in our younger days. Russia, China, Cuba, Poland, Czech, Estonia, Slovenia, and Hungary, were all forbidden so were extremely interesting to see. But that wouldn’t be our proudest, that would have to be our voluntourism experiences. We have had the chance to help while traveling in Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and right here in the states, and hopefully by 2050 will have added significantly to that list.

Next travel destination:  We are off to Hawaii, which will mean that we both have visited all 50 states.

TWIPPER OF THE MONTH

Twipper of the Month – March 2018: Doreen Pendgracs from Chocolatour!

TOM – Doreen Pendgracs

Mix wanderlust and a love for chocolate, and you have Doreen “The Chocolate Queen” who’s looking to pave the way for a new type of traveling; Chocolatourism. Starting from a love of chocolate, Chocolatour has evolved into a personalized brand of hosted chocolate dinners, chocolate and wine pairing events, chocolate tours, and chocolate chats with Doreen as your host.  And while most of us can only use a word or two to describe chocolate, Doreen wrote an award winning book, Chocolatour: A Quest For The World’s Best Chocolate.  The Chocolatour mission, “to educate, entertain, and inspire chocolate lovers to gain greater knowledge of the world of chocolate through travel,” and she does just that. Through her travels she has learned to appreciate cultural differences and personalities, but nothing has stopped her sweet tooth and to appreciate the best chocolates the world has to offer. Furthermore, she proves that there is more to chocolate than just its sinful goodness.  Doreen’s unique and sweet (literally) way of traveling makes her Twipper of the Month for March.

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Doreen Pendgracs from Chocolatour!

Current city: I live an hour north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Age: Old enough to appreciate cultural differences and personalities

Total countries visited: 35

What makes you interesting: I travel the world in search of the best chocolate experiences. That means I search out the most fascinating and innovative chocolatiers, chocolate makers, chocolate events and attractions and chocolate spas. Yes, I’ve been slathered in molten chocolate from head to toe in a growing number of countries and love it! I’m also a terrific listener. Maybe that’s partly thanks to being a Toastmaster for the past 17 years. But I truly love hearing and telling people’s stories.

What brands do you love: I love NAOT footwear and have worn them for years. Comfort and fashion combined to perfection. I love MAXIM ice-cream bars as they are coated in really good quality chocolate. I love the APPLE brand and have an iMac, MacBook Air, iPad, and iPhone and love how they all communicate and share via the iCloud. I also love WESTJET Airlines and fly them as often as I can for their great pricing, reliability, and friendly staff.

What people say when they travel with you: “When you travel with Doreen Pendgracs, it is a first-class experience. Doreen works with tourism officials to arrange every detail and special extras for the trip and makes sure that accommodations are always up to her high standards. Even having to deal with three days of rain in Miami, Florida, couldn’t dampen her enthusiasm and it was the best time to take the bus tours she’d arranged for us.” And from another friend and colleague: “I was honored and delighted to be Doreen’s travel companion/interpreter on the inaugural Chocolatour to Belgium, France and Switzerland. I was most impressed with her organizational skills, her contacts, and her ability to find great places to stay and great deals for travel. She researched everything before we left Canada and booked interviews with key chocolatiers in all three countries. The entire trip was educational, but most of all, fun!” And from another friend and colleague: “Being stranded behind a mudslide on your way to visit cacao farmers in the Ecuadorian jungle isn’t so bad when you have Doreen along to entertain you for eight hours. She even had the wherewithal to bring snacks, and the generosity to share them with our fellow passengers in the taxi.”

So far, where have you tasted the most delicious Chocolate: I guess if I had to pick one country, it would be Switzerland. Switzerland makes the most amount of milk chocolate, and they are the highest consumers of chocolate in the world (according to some polls.) They really know their chocolate, and make exquisite chocolate creations of every variety and from a wide range of cocoa origins.

What is the longest period of time that you have been away from home and where did you go: The longest time I’ve been away from home has been six weeks. We went to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. I absolutely love Vancouver Island as it is a nature lover’s paradise. Clean air and water, magnificent forests, and plentiful wildlife. What could be better?

What is your favorite mode of transportation when you travel: My favourite mode of transportation is flying first class on long haul flights. I think my most memorable flight was to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Etihad Airlines. The quality of service was absolutely amazing and having a comfortable bed to stretch out on during the 13+ hour flight was fantastic.

What are your travel pet peeves: I have two. One is when you are in a hotel room and the alarm goes off at 6 am because the cleaning staff had neglected to delete any settings made by the previous guests. I think hotel staff should be trained to always ensure the clock is set correctly, and that any previous alarm settings are deleted when they clean the rooms between guests. My other pet travel peeve is encountering fellow travellers who do nothing but complain because something is “different/not as good as at home.” Travel is and should be an adventure. If you don’t want to take chances and seize the opportunity to encounter and experience different customs and foods, stay home so you don’t spoil it for the rest of us.

What have you learned about yourself during your travels: That I truly love people. I enjoy meeting people from different countries and cultures and feel that I am the person I am today because of the incredible travel experiences I’ve had over the past 40+ years.

Next travel destination: Scottsdale, Arizona later this month. I was there quite a long time ago (BB — before blogging!) And so, a return visit to explore their chocolate scene and familiarize myself with what’s new in their lodging and culinary scenes will be terrific.

TWIPPER OF THE WEEK

Twipper of the Week: Stephanie Sack from Barge Lady Cruises!

Current city: Chicago

Age: 43

Total countries visited: 8 and counting

What makes you interesting: I am a northside Chicago native, hardcore hot yoga junkie, passionate self-taught Paleo chef, Europhile medical and recreational cannabis supporter, PANK (Professional Aunt No Kids), true crime podcast addict, and all around wacky gal.

What brands do you love: ModCloth for street chic clothing; Airbnb for its innovations in global hospitality and travel marketing; Burning Man for its dynamic representation of inspirational creativity; Daybreaker for producing the best sober raves around the world; Atlas Obscura for positioning local discoveries as accessible for all.

How has travel changed you or how do you hope it will change you: As someone who is relatively late to travel, I am consistently amazed, blessed, and honored by the local, secret, and offbeat experiences exclusively available to me as a traveler, which helps me stay youthful and present. Travel is one of the fountains of youth from which I drink often!

It’s 2050, list all the places you are most proud to have visited: Anywhere with a Bikram-style hot yoga studio is where I plan to get my sweat on between now and 2050!

What are the top reasons should someone travel with you: I can always find the most awesome events in any city.  Recently, while in San Francisco, I attended a screening in an underground movie theatre of Akira, the classic Japanese anime, with a live techno soundtrack commissioned for this one-off screening.  YAS!!!

Describe your most unique or funniest travel experience: 15 years ago, I was in London with some other young folk, and somehow we found the most amazing underground nightclub! The music, space, lights, crowd – all of it was right out of David Bowie’s “Young Americans”.  We danced for hours, made a ton of friends, and had an epic time.  The next time we went to try to find the club again and literally could not locate where we had been.  I am convinced we entered a portal to some killer nightclub from another dimension!

If you wash up on a deserted island with your luggage in hand, what’s the one thing you’re thanking God you packed and why: Almonds.  I always have almonds at the ready when I travel.  They just solve a bunch of problems!

Next travel destination: San Francisco, for a one-night-only listening party to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon!

Twipper of the Month – January 2018

Twipper of the Month – January 2018: Tony Giles from Tony the Traveller!

16-bungee jumps, 3 skydives, and a near-death experience in the rivers of Zambia aren’t the only things that make Tony interesting and our Twipper of the Month for January 2018What makes him remarkable is the way he chooses to live life with no excuses.  His inabilities to neither see nor hear are not an excuse for him to go after his dreams and travel the world.  Since the age of 19 he began writing about my journeys and publishing two books, Seeing The World My Way and Seeing The Americas My Way,  and one version in Polish. He also has his own travel show documentary on BBC and interviewed for many publications. At 39 and 125 countries later, Tony is determined to visit every country in the world and maybe even the moon. He’s a reminder that with the right mindset we can go anywhere we dream about.

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