Talk to a Traveller: Justine Cross

Byodo-In Temple, Hawaii

What I really like about this blog is how it is introducing me to the people – travellers, locals, professionals, neighbours – who are sharing their stories with me. Justine is a true wanderer in her heart and this wanderlust is well reflected in her blog Wanderer of the World. Although her hometown is the quirky, cool city of Bristol in England; the nickname ‘Wanderer’ lovingly came from her mother because she has slowly been making her way around the world by seeing at least three new places abroad every year since 2013. Aside from reading her travel blog (because like why wouldn’t you?), you can also find Justine on Facebook and Instagram!

And before she goes on her next trip, she agreed to talk a bit more about her love for Hawaii, dislike for Venice and finding parks or some pieces of nature in every place she goes to. And with that I give the floor to Justine.

Justine in Hawaii

What is the first trip you remember taking?

I was 6 when we went to Venice in Italy. I only remember vague snippets, such as posing near a large anchor by the side of the Grand Canal (my sister lost her hat in the wind), and feeling puzzled by the naked ‘David’ statue… oh come on, I was only 6!

What kind of trips do you prefer?

Although I do all kinds of travel – from solo, to family, to couples travel – there is always one common factor. Which is that I love exploring outside in nature wherever I am. Even in large cities, I’ll always check out the parks and outside spaces. So I guess you could say I’m something of a nature-lover. Some of my most favourite outdoorsy experiences have been stargazing and sunset watching from the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii (it’s safe to say that 13,000 ft up in the air makes for an awesome sunset!), and exploring the Eleouthkia Park in Cyprus (this is in my top two because it was a totally unexpected place. We were just looking to kill time before heading home and found this park, which was not only beautiful, but also completely empty and FREE!)

Eleouthika-Park-Cyprus

What is your favourite place in the world?

Without a shadow of a doubt, Hawaii! We spent a few days on two of the islands – O’ahu and The Big Island a couple of years ago. Hawaii was such a beautiful place, the people were so friendly and the culture is just something else entirely. To be fair, any group of people who love nature as much as I do are valued highly in my books! If you’re going to head to Hawaii (and I recommend that you do), make sure you see the following:

  • Pearl Harbor Memorial near Honolulu
  • Byodo-In Temple near Kaneohe
  • Mauna Kea on The Big Island
  • Volcano National Park on The Big Island

Each of these experiences are incredible!!

And what is the worst place you have been to?

I’m sorry to say that this would be Venice. But I’m not talking about the trip I took when I was 6. I actually went back to Italy a few years ago for my first solo trip, which saw me wandering around 7 cities in 7 days (yeah I know… I’m a crazy lady!) Anyway, one of the cities I found myself in was Venice. In all of the guidebooks, travel blogs and Instagram photos, Venice is always depicted as this beautiful, serene, water-locked place. And don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful. But so damn BUSY! I was travelling during Autumn, so no Summer crowds; yet, there were thousands upon thousands of people. And sadly, when you mix this with tiny bridges, tiny alleyways and someone who is slightly nervous in large crowds… eep, disaster! That said, I’m not ready to give up on Venice and I do hope to head back later in life but maybe try to see the lesser known parts of the city instead… we’ll see…

Boats and canals in Venice, Italy

Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined?

Los Angeles… it was dirtier than I expected it to be!

What has been the biggest culture shock you have ever experienced during your travels?

When I’ve travelled to countries like Norway and Iceland and saw their food prices! £12 for a small pack of diced lamb? £6 for an egg sandwich? £8 for a hotdog? Crazy, crazy prices that I’ll just never understand…

What are the places you dream of visiting the most?

Bali – for meditation, beaches and snorkelling
Japan – for the culture and Buddhist temples
South Africa – for the wildlife

I’d also love to go back to Hawaii again (because HAWAII), but I’d probably like to see some of the other islands next time.

Byodo-In Temple, Hawaii

What was the most important lesson that you learnt during your travels?

Learn to read a map and ensure you know exactly where you’re going. As a newbie traveller a few years ago (during my solo Italian adventure), I’d tried to ensure I’d done adequate planning. But my letdown was not completely investigating where my hotel in Verona was supposed to be. On the hotel website, it said it was a couple of minutes from the train station so I thought I didn’t have to check Google Maps or anything. It turns out that their “couple of minutes” didn’t include a 30 minute walk AROUND the train station in order to get to the main road where the hotel was based. I ended up having to buy a city map as I got completely lost, and then had to spend a fair amount of time trying to understand the damn thing. I like to think I’ve learned a lot since that trip! *facepalm*

Why do you travel? What forces you to leave your comfort zone?

Because it’s a feeling like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. Every time I visit a new place, I’m struck with such a huge wave of happiness, which lasts for as long as I’m exploring that place, AND for the many years after when I’m remembering all the amazing experiences I’ve had and all the beautiful places I’ve seen.

What is one thing (or more) you don’t like about travelling?

Carrying my luggage! Ha! Seriously though, what’s worse than trying to find your hotel or apartment, having just spent several hours on a plane and getting through security, whilst lugging around a 20kg bag? I sadly haven’t learned the art of packing lightly yet!

On your blog, what has been your favourite article to write?

Oh wow, that’s a tough question, I love writing so many of my blogs! But if I had to choose, it would be my article on How I Fell in Love with Hawaii. It was quite a personal article on exactly what Hawaii meant to me, and allowed me to dive deeper into the Hawaiian culture that I respect and admire. When writing the article and when reading it now, it’s very clear just how much Hawaii really did steal my heart…

And for the end, a round of quick “best of” 😉 Just give me a couple of words descriptions, where necessary. So, where did you have your…

best meal

Hilo Bay Cafe in Hawaii (the Mango Cheesecake dessert was amazing!)

best tea

Cox and Baloney’s Tea Room in Bristol, England (they have 14 different flavours of tea!)

best view

From the top of Monte Baldo in Malcesine, Italy (it overlooks the stunning Lake Garda)

Monte Baldo in Malcesine, Lake Garda, Italy

best stay

An isolated cabin in Iceland (with its own private hot tub!)

best transport experience

Train travel in Italy (they definitely know what they’re doing over there…)

best shopping experience

The souks in Marrakech

best sunset

From the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii

best hike

Lydford Gorge in Devon, England

best snorkelling experience

At the Sea Caves in Ayia Napa, Cyprus (the water was totally crystal clear!)

best museum

Moco Museum in Amsterdam (it’s a complete haven for Banks enthusiasts!)

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