BeNicoMa Feature: Introduction of Chelletravelfoto Blog & Photography

The second BeNicoMa Feature is played and I have the honor to introduce Michelle from Kentucky to you who can be found as @chelletravelfoto on instagram and via http://www.chellexplore.com for the blog. Get in touch with the American way of travel, in a narrow shedule. As you will see, if there is a will there always is a way!

In case you read this blog from time to time and use the sources, you have already heard of the opportunity to be featured on the instagram feed and here, when you won the overall voting in the follower voting. It is the second time that the BeNicoMa Feature was played and this time I want to introduce a nice traveler lady from the USA to you. This opportunity is not just interesting for me, since I get insight into the travel habits of other colleagues – it might also be interesting for your own inspiration and help to connect with like minded hobby artists.

The second Winner is Michelle and in the following interview you find some points that keep her going, some motivation, how you can do it yourself although you might face a tough shedule and of course, some of her outstanding photography, she used to document her adventures with… And this is the winning photo, that received the Feature!

BeNicoMa: Hi Michelle, congratulations on the BeNicoMa Feature (Click to view the other winners). A well deserved victory with so many impressions from all over the world. How did you get infected with the travel virus, at what age and what was the first experience, that you can remember, that got you hooked?

Chelletravelfoto: Thank you so much! As for the travel virus, I have always been very interested in history and nature – and I think these are two things that one gets to experience in depth while traveling. As a child, I was always fascinated with reading “National Geographic” magazine and watching all the nature documentaries that I could, and I think these contributed to my dreams of traveling. When I was 13, I had managed to save up about $700 from babysitting jobs that I put in a shoebox labeled “travel”, and I presented this to my mom and asked if I could buy a plane ticket to England. She generously allowed me to indulge in my dream, and that was my first international trip. I would say that trip was the first one that truly got me hooked, and it all began because I wanted to see where my favorite childhood stories had taken place!

BeNicoMa: You have seen Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas… What was your favorite travel so far and why?

Chelletravelfoto: It is so hard to pick “favorites” among locations, but I think I am most inclined to say that at this moment South America has my heart. I studied Spanish in University, and am now working on my Master’s degree in Spanish Education. I think my sincere curiosity and interest in the language, peoples, and culture of Hispanic countries has me most intrigued in these destinations. Each South / Central American country I have been to is so vibrant, colorful, and full of friendly and lively people – it definitely has me hooked.

BeNicoMa: Nice to hear that, although I haven’t seen those 5 continents so far, I can agree, that the Latin American life is very beautiful – Pura Vida! I for myself am not interested in shopping anymore, although it’s great to restock the closet while in the USA. It’s the culture and the experience you find with people from different cultures that keeps me going. I experienced that one has to leave the comfort zone to experience a travel that remains on the memory. But we are all different in this regard. What keeps you going and what is your motto while you travel?

Chelletravelfoto: Initially, I wanted to travel to see beautiful sights, historic landmarks, or stunning natural settings. Over time though, my goals shifted a bit towards wanting to experience cultures and the “real” part of the destination, not just the places that make photos look beautiful. I agree that leaving your comfort zone is great for not only personal development, but for broadening your viewpoints and understanding of the wider world around you. There have definitely been many times while traveling that I have felt sad, angry, confused, and uncomfortable, but I think that is all part of what it truly means to travel.

What keeps me going is knowing that I can truly experience different cultures by interacting with the people and environments, even though I may have to leave the “comfort zone” to do so. I don’t know that I have a motto necessarily, but I do know that I try to visit at least one “off the beaten track” city on each trip that I take. Going to Italy and only seeing Rome for example would not truly allow one to experience Italy for all that it is.

BeNicoMa: Well said! In your personal description I saw that you are from Kentucky. How is life in the middle of the USA and what is special about it? When I’d go there one day, is there anything that I would need to see? Please feel free to advertise your home as if you’d have to give an interview to a tourists office 🙂 I believe the storm-chasing might be interesting in the Midwest, have you ever done that?

Chelletravelfoto: Life in the Midwest is generally great. While there are times I get bored or annoyed with my surroundings, I think traveling has made me have a greater appreciation for what we do have here. I live in a clean, safe, and family-centric area, and have access to all of the creature comforts in the world. It is easy to complain about all the little things, but overall it is a great place to work and live.

Living in Kentucky specifically, I have a large amount of pride for my home state. It is essentially the “gateway to the south”, and has several things about it that are quintessentially American. The rolling fields (i.e. wide meadows or cornfields), the horses, the white picket fences, the southern hospitality – all of these things work together to make Kentucky awesome.

Kentuckians definitely have a lot of pride in their state, and I can understand why! If you come to visit I’d definitely recommend visiting the city of Lexington – “the horse capital of the world” – going to a horse race at Keeneland, visiting a few distilleries on the Bourbon Trail, and then heading up to the Northern part of the state to try some goetta and learn about the history of the Underground Railroad in the area. I’d also definitely recommend a visit to Mammoth Cave (the world’s largest cave system), and Red River Gorge for some hiking and rappelling with incredible views!

Storm chasing is more common in the prairie or central states- I have not done that but I am scared of tornadoes!

BeNicoMa: Many thanks for all the advice, I checked your recommendations and obviously never heard of it, but it sounds pretty cool, for me it is the caves, the Bourbon and the Hiking, and the next morning the special German-American breakfast… 🙂

What destination claims the top spot on your bucket list of places that are still to discover for you and what activity would you like to do there?

Chelletravelfoto: Argentina is the main place that is on my radar right now. Seeing Iguazu Falls has been on my bucket list for years, and I would love to be able to go there, visit the city of Buenos Aires, see the Perito Moreno glacier, and then journey down to the southernmost town in the Americas, Ushuaia.

BeNicoMa: Sounds like a great plan, it’s on my list as well, plus snowboarding in Patagonia. As far as I know, Americans do not have lots of vacation. How do you manage to get around like you do? What is your profession, that allows you to travel and how long is your average journey?

Chelletravelfoto: It is true, most Americans have just 10 days of vacation per year, if they are lucky. The way I have been able to travel has been from a combination of things. When most people look at my travel photos for example, they do not realize that they have been taken over a period of about 8 years. Essentially though, I work, save, travel, repeat. There is no “magic formula” really, just a strong desire to explore this world.

Studying Spanish has also opened a lot of doors for me too. I went to Europe in the summers during my time at University, and in one of these instances I studied abroad in Spain. After graduating school, before I found a job, I backpacked through South America for 30 days. I then worked for two years in an office job, and lived with my parents to save money for traveling. I then left my job, moved to Spain for the rest of the year, and did a lot of traveling from there. While I worked in corporate America, I was able to take a 20 day trip throughout Asia by combining two different calendar years’ worth of vacation days, and then this past summer I studied abroad in Costa Rica for 2 months. I would say my average trip is 20 days. If I’m going to spend the money to fly there, I want to stay in the place as long as I can afford to be away. Most people are surprised to know that I have never had a free flight from miles, I have never worked for the airlines, and I have never had a scholarship. All of my trips have been funded by me simply making travel a priority 🙂

BeNicoMa: I really like your spirit and honestly I do it pretty similar. I always try to combine the work at a certain place on earth with the traveling and so far it always worked good – but there is so much more to see. I didn’t start with 13, but this is pretty decent and cool!

This last part is solely for you. You can tell a story or give information about you, that you’d like to share. Many thanks for your time and effort. I am happy to have you around. Have a great week!

Chelletravelfoto: I am currently working on starting up a new travel blog, called Chellexplore please check out my new website and let me know any questions or feedback you may have! Thank you!

BeNicoMa: Many thanks for this interview Michelle, I enjoyed it a lot and your a likeable colleague 🙂 – Guys check out Michelle’s Travelblog via Chellexplore it”s well structured and you will find worthy information on your planning of your own journey there!

Discover Venice for a steal! – Part 1

Venice is one of the most famous cities of this planet, although it is tiny compared with many metropolitans all over the world which are equally famous. The fame is based on the special character of this city, which is built into the Mediterranean Sea and kind of an open air museum itself…

The capital of romance and love is – with no doubt – Venice in Italy. You will have this feeling of visiting & living in a big open air museum nowhere else and the special character of the water streets is unique as well, at least in Europe and within a city that has an age, historic charme and dimensions like Venice. There are many copies of this city, mostly in the US e.g. with Venice of Los Angeles – and in themeparks all over the worlds.

I don’t want to focus on facts and figures with this entry, for all of that you have the linked Wiki above and probably good traveler guides anyways. What I want to deliver here are some impressions and since I traveled there already two times (and certainly not the last time), insider knowledge for your convenience, how you can make it there and live there, even with a very small budget – in the historic center, on the island of Venezia and not on the mainland.

  • Your Trip: Plan your trip in advance and don’t haste through this city. Plan at least three to four days, directly on the island. Don’t consider a stay on the mainland, it’s not even cheaper, if you book the hotel about a month in advance.

View this post on Instagram

While you visit Venezia, which one could easily say is a museum as a whole city, to get around you have the options to either walk, take a public transportation ferry called Vaporetto, or the depicted gondolas. If you travel low budget, which is quite easy and which I'll report on my blog soon, you better don't, if you don't need to… A single ride costs 100,- € (125,- $) for two people. Can be cheaper although the experience is most likely stunning if you go through the small channels. | Read the story on http://benicoma.com ◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇ â—† TAG a user with whom you'd like to discover this place & WIN an introduction of yourself on my website! â—† To participate: TAG a user who will enjoy this picture → I have a look in your gallery. â—† Of all igers who TAG someone I pick a weekly winner who gets a shoutout. All four picks will be presented in a 4-grid to the followers monthly and they can vote the WINNER. â—† The WINNER is featured on https://benicoma.com/be-featured with three picks of their gallery and an optional interview. â—† Have fun & Good luck! ◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇ #ig_today #ig_cosmopolitan #igworldtrip #worlderlust #special_shots #igs_europe #ig_eurasia #elite_shotz #hot_shotz #ig_italy #ponyfony #bestnatureshot #travel_magazine #tv_travel #zamanidurdur #exklusive_shot #postcardsfromtheworld #allshots_ #ig_masterpiece @ig_masterpiece #Europe_Gallery #ig_iceland #igshotz_power @igshotz_power #livetravelchannel @travelchannel #beautifuldestinations @beautifuldestinations #instagramersoftheyear_europa #instagramersoftheyear

A post shared by benicoma.com (@benicoma) on

 

  • When to go: Summer is fine of course, but Venice is overrun by tourists and in between July and September is main vacation time in Italy and the city is even more frequented. Summer can be nasty in Venice, since the city sometimes stinks when it is warm and you will not be able to enjoy your stay, when you have to fight for space on all main sights. I prefer to go in late Autumn and Winter. End of October to mid of January is a good time, although it is not really warm. So far the weather was always appreciable. Rain can occur, but you will have sun as well. I have never visited Venice for the Carnival, but if you plan to do that, book about one year in advance!
  • Getting there: If you arrive by ferry or train, everything is good – you can’t take a motorized vehicle onto the island! If you have a rental car within Italy, make it a one-way and return it in Venezia. If you have an own car or a rental you plan to use after your stay as well, park it on the mainland! The pricing differs drastically and it’s possible that you pay up to 30 EUR a day for public parking if you choose to park directly at the entrance of the historic city. This is very convenient and if you can afford it, you should do it. The options on the mainland are by far cheaper and if you choose the right hub, it costs about 5 – 10 EUR a day! Before you get off your vehicle make sure you have your Vaporetto pass ready to take the bus into the historic city, directly from the parking site. It is by far the most convenient way. You can buy the ticket until 7:00 PM (weekdays) in Mestre in Via Giuseppe Verdi 14, (List of ticket offices) upon your arrival and if you are under 27 the pass costs less – show your ID to prove the age!

View this post on Instagram

Venezia is a Wonderland for your daily dose of photography. This shot shows a Vaporetto coming through at an exposure of 20 seconds. The water loses its structure and seems to be totally plane to deliver awesome reflections. Venezia at night is even more beautiful, when all the tourists sleep and just some locals are in the streets. | Read the story soon on http://benicoma.com ◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇ ◆ TAG a user with whom you'd like to discover this place & WIN an introduction of yourself on my website! ◆ To participate: TAG a user who will enjoy this picture → I have a look in your gallery. ◆ Of all igers who TAG someone I pick a weekly winner who gets a shoutout. All four picks will be presented in a 4-grid to the followers monthly and they can vote the WINNER. ◆ The WINNER is featured on https://benicoma.com/be-featured with three picks of their gallery and an optional interview. ◆ Have fun & Good luck! ◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇◇ #beautifuldestinations #igs_world #igs_europe #superhubs #mobilemag #princely_shotz #special_shots #exklusive_shot #elite_shotz #master_shots #greatshotz #hot_shotz @instagram @nikontop #ig_today #ig_cosmopolitan #igworldtrip #worlderlust #ig_today #ig_pro #Europe_Gallery #travel_magazine #tv_travel #tv_longexposure #zamanidurdur #secretplaces @theseldomseen #allshots_ #inspiring_photography_admired #artofvisuals @artofvisuals #ig_iceland117 #ig_iceland

A post shared by benicoma.com (@benicoma) on

 

  • Staying in Venice: You certainly have plentiful options via AirBNB but they are not necessarily cheaper than your average B&B which you can find offered at all common websites like Booking or tripadvisor. It’s up to you what you choose. Expect daily costs to be around 20 EUR per person in winter with the option to cook your food at home. I stayed once in Mestre, the first time I visited Venice and I would never do that again! Last time we stayed in the B&B Venice Hazel and I can recommend it for the price, cleanliness and proximity to all main sights.
  • Getting around in Venice: Many ‘Piazzas’ are touristic, some aren’t. As recommended get the Vaporetto pass – a single ride costs you at least 6 EUR. A Vaporetto is the big water bus, for up to 100 people. It’s not as romantic as the little gondola, but a ride with the gondola costs you 80 – 100 EUR for one hour and for two people. Something you’d do when you want to propose or you have sufficient funds – nothing for the traveler on a budget. The Vaporetto helps you to return to your area of choice – and to get away from there I recommend to walk the city and discover it.

 

  • Eating out-house & Groceries: The less tourists you see, the better is the food. The price range is from up to 5 EUR for a coffee (Piazza San Marco) to 0,90 EUR everywhere in the places where the locals go. Same is for Pizza which can cost you 5 EUR in the area of the University – or triple the price in the touristic areas while mostly worse in comparison. Get a feeling for yourself while you discover it. I prefer the food of Tuscany and Blogna by far, when it comes up to Italy but you can find really good food in Venice as well, you just have to have a closer look. For aperitivos I can highly recommend the area close to Ponte di Rialto, around the Rialto market place – which is lively at daytime and where you can buy great ingredients for your home cooking. The other groceries can be bought much cheaper at one of the few Coop supermarkets.

In Part 2 I will tell you a bit about the sights and options you have in regard to the sightseeing and about the tickets – because sightseeing is expensive as hell if you don’t do it properly, as is going to the toilet. I never do the average sightseeing when I am there, although it would probably be worth it. I choose to just enjoy the city itself as a great museum. On the other hand, there are plentiful options one should discover… With those first infos you will get there and around and you can easily stay a week for not more than 500 – 600 EUR for two persons if you do it right, most of the food included. Stay tuned. I will bring up the next entry for Venice in about two weeks and it will include many more impressions of the city. One last advice: Make sure you don’t act like a touristic bum while you are there, the Venezians hate it and if you see the masses of tourists you know why!

Vienna Calling!

Vienna is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, the capital of Austria, a cultural metropolis and the definition of coffee house culture. Whenever you are to central Europe make sure to hit it. The summertime is certainly the time of the year to do so!

It was already my third time, that I visited Vienna, one of the most beautiful cities Europe has to offer. The old houses from the times before WWII shine, as the many outstanding sights. To mention some facts here:

  • It has about 1.8 Million inhabitants and is therefore under the Top 5 (Rank 3 or 4, together with Munich) cities with German as main language, together with Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne.
  • It is by far the biggest city and capital of Austria and has the most inhabitants of all Austrian states, more than 20%.
  • The Opernball of Vienna is an world famous event where the global high society and many wannabes mix up.
  • Vienna has an outstanding Coffee House culture and is famous for the rich and heavy bakery. You have to try a Wiener Melange, when you visit the city!
  • The Prater is nothing special anymore in regard to the thrill of the offered rides – nowadays modern theme parks got much more to offer – BUT it is classy and the observation wheel is probably the only one, where you can enjoy your candle light dinner, just with the person you love – while cruising some rounds with remarkable views over the city. There are combo tickets for many different attractions and if you have some more time, you save a decent amount of cash if you buy them in advance – like in other big cities as London or New York.
  • The most important musician of the new time, who is dead already – RIP – is Falco. He has this typical Viennese accent and is one of the most famous artists of all times, singing in German language.

Enough said, you will find the rest in the article I linked up, at least the figures and facts. I want to go into detail in regard to special recommendations for you. First of all you should park your car, if you come by car, and use the public transportation, which is efficient and reliable, often faster and you don’t have the risk to get a ticket. This is all to easy because in many areas there are parking zones, where you can just buy the parking ticket on a Trafic (tobacco store) during daytime.

Try to hit the free of charge Donauinsel Fest (German) in summer time, when you love Rock Music and Electro – it will be from 26th to 28th June in 2015. I attended this event once and it was awesome, totally free of charge and a special feeling to thrive and party along this island between Vienna and New Vienna City (Wiener Neustadt).

As two Coffee House recommendations I want to introduce my favorite Viennese Cafe to you, the Cafe PrĂĽckel, which is not as posh as the Sacher or the Cafe Central in the 1st district. It has this certain charme and the cake and coffee is outstanding. But for the appearance and location in the heart of the city the Cafe Central is moderately priced and beautiful and the cake is delicious as well. That’s why I’d say, if you can just make one and have a very limited time, plus look for THE stereotype, do this one as a sight and enjoy your piece of cake. If you are in Vienna for longer or like to get to see, what it’s all about in the normal life of the Viennese, you should go to my favorited Cafe PrĂĽckel.

What else is enjoyable in this city… If you like markets, the Naschmarkt for sure. I love it! You get many different oriental ingredients, fresh fish and meat in very good quality (e.g. when you don’t have the METRO card), specialties of Austria and the normal, crappy souvenir stuff – but you don’t need to buy it, right? Check this market out, the Kebap there is actually really good, which is a predicate if a Berliner says that… 🙂

To finalize this entry I want to give you another source, I use to check regularly before I start into a big city. – Unlike.net – They have plentiful information on places that are a little off the beaten track and therefore I love them! I recommend the nightlife section as well, since I haven’t tried many locations and after the sightseeing and enjoyment I am barely in the mood to party in the nights.

My picks for you would be some outstanding buildings and going places. And as always, when I visit a big city, I totally recommend to walk it, as much as possible to see as much as possible!

  • Stephans Dom (directions)
  • The Donau Channel for urban graffiti culture and in summer to just hang out
  • The whole 1st district with…
  • The Austrian Parliament 
  • Burggarten and Albertina – the Cafe Sacher is here as well – and the huge building is the National Library 
  • Besides is the Museumsquartier with plenty different museums
  • The Viennese Rathaus and the space in front with the Burgtheater
  • And there you have the Volksgarten with the Hofburg, both top locations to stroll in the early evening, enjoying the lighting and beauty
  • The little streets around Judenplatz
  • Last but not least the Wiener Staatsoper, the place where the Opernball takes place…

There are many more things to see, best you walk all along those areas and get yourself an overview. If you click on the respective sights you can access the locations via Google Maps, a convenient way to safe those locations to your phone and make the map accessible offline – the way I do it when I am somewhere else. Have fun exploring Vienna and if you have a little more time, you can always visit the Donauturm, to have an unforgettable view over the whole city area and countryside that surrounds the city.