For the last year, this blog has been dead as I decided I no longer fit in with the travel blogging community. I have been blogging for more than ten years now, and what first drew my to it in the mid 00s was the community and communication, the commenting for real interest and interaction between the like minded.

For the same time I have been blogging, I have been working in marketing related roles, many of which included selling experiences to people (event management & marketing was my first career). As my career proceeded, I learnt more and more about digital marketing, social media and how to harness these as marketing tools.

Now, a lot of people - that is, virtually anybody running a travel blog - dreams of making money with their blog, and that has killed blogging in my opinion. It's not just about ad revenue and sponsored trips - it's about how social media has evolved and influenced blogging and journalism. These days, you have to be super chirpy, positive and yes - sell yourself, your lifestyle and content to 'make it', whatever that means.

Ten years ago, I wanted to be writer. Then I realised that I hated having to write according to other people's standards. I don't want to write an article because 'it sells' - however, I'm fine if that same job is classified as marketing collateral. Art and creativity and business are two very different things for me (not saying I don't enjoy my work!).

I travel the world. I work freelance. Sometimes, these to things are related, but very rarely. For a living, I mostly translate business and marketing documents, and every now and then, if I feel like it, I might write for a publication that I enjoy working with, and that gives me the space to write what and how I like it. It's rarely travel related because the way I travel isn't very glossy. Thousands of people live as digital nomads without trying to make money from blogging - and even more life a life full of travel with a regular job or are nomadic with 'offline' jobs.

I don't travel with rose tinted glasses. Things others might gloss over, I pull out my magnifying glass for. Top sights are rarely interesting to me. I don't enjoy travelling in remote or very poor areas (nor do I classify as hipster flash packer). I like to write about cultural differences and anomalies, things that are shocking, emotionally upsetting, things that change my limited view of the world, and share and discuss these experiences with others. Not because I lack the marketing skills and knowledge, but because I want this to be a space that is totally different from my work.

Let's bring back that kind of honest conversation, shall we?

Visiting Paris in summer, but can't stand the long long lines at all the popular attractions? Here's something else for you!

I recently spent a week in Paris, the city that was my first „big“ city, way before London was a thing for me. Now, I've visited Paris about a two dozen times, because it's exactly in the middle between where I grew up and my choice hometown of London. After attempting to get into the catacombs two days in a row and being faced with a 3 – 4 hr wait in the queue in the boiling sun, my friend suggested we check out the Paris Opera house - the traditional one near the metro "Opera", not the modern high tech Opera Bastille.

The opera house is open for visitors from 10 am -  5 pm during the week. The entrance fee is €10, but it's definitely worth shelling out a little extra for the audio guide, which is a fancy multimedia guide (admittedly, with sometimes difficult navigation) - it's a lovely tool to explore this beautiful space in your own time!

Being a fan of all things theatre and stage performance, I like to see plays wherever I travel, but when that's not possible, a lot of operas and state theatres allow visitors on guided or self-guided tours. Whether you like theatre or not, it's worth a visit to get a glimpse of life of Paris' high society in previous centuries, different art styles and Chagall's stunning and surprisingly modern ceiling painting in the auditorium. The guide even throws in a bit of pop culture – this is the opera that the Phantom of the Opera was (fictionally) set in!

P.S.: Catacombs, I'll return to you one winter, when all the holidaymarkers are gone!

I recently spent 10 days in Romania, more accurately, Transylvania. It was absolutely no exception to my completely positive experiences of travelling in Eastern Europe - it was organised, clean, fun and the people really lovely! Apart from a bit of Dracula touristyness here and there (mostly at Bran castle, which is touted as "Dracula castle", although it's got little to do with said cruel ruler).

For our last weekend, we stayed in Sibiu. Sibiu, or "Hermannstadt" in German, is one of Transylvanias' seven fortress towns founded by Saxon settlers. In 2007, the town was the first in Eastern Europe to be "European Capital of culture", and it's easy to see why.

Apart from housing several great museums from everything to an open air folk museum to the Brukenthal museum with lots of big name artwork, the mixture of Romanian, Hungarian and German culture is prevalent everywhere. Many houses in the city centre date back to the 15th century and are currently being restored, probably to provide more space for cute cafes and restaurants. While it seems more and more places in Western Europe keep closing down, it's a breath of fresh air to see this part of the continent booming!

remains of the old city wall and gates

Yet, even though we visited during a major festival, the city was not overrun by visitors and there are still many beautiful corners left to explore that make you feel like you stepped back in time several centuries. Unless you decide to get lost on purpose, it's easy to miss them. So do explore the quiet allies, you won't regret it!

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