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A Math Genius and a Russian Beauty?

What do you get when you combine a math nerd (Harvard-Applied Mathematics Degree) and a Russian-born business guru?   AcoupleTraverlers.com of course!   (Luci says that they are going to have smart kids…not sure what that means.)  In this week’s installment of our 7 questions series to get to know other couple travel bloggers better, we want you to meet Dave and Vicky.  They set out to backpack, wander and eat their way through the back roads of Asia and Europe.  And the best part is, you are invited along for the adventure.

Blog: www.acoupletravelers.com

Twitter: @coupletraveler

Facebook: Acoupletravelers

One of our fave parts of their blog is of course their Pinterest page.  Check out the food pins!  But don’t do it on an empty stomach, you may end up licking you screen.  Not a good look for you.

Lets get to know them a little better:

Russian beauty1)     Tell us a little about yourselves.  How long have you been together?  How did you meet?

We met way back in high school, in the library of all places (He said: haven’t been in one since). One thing led to another (she said: I liked his taste in books) and we ended up fighting…I mean dating for 1.5 years. Until college that is. Then we were actually just fighting so we broke up albeit stayed in touch over the years, to wind up back together senior year. Just in time to move into an apartment together in DC. Since then we’ve been dating for 3 years and looking forward to another 3.

1000Fights:  Love it!  You guys are getting a great start.

backpack airport2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner, who would it be?  (this person can be living, historical or mythical?.)

He Said: Hercules would be pretty cool. I always remember watching that tv show as a kid and really enjoying the adventures as well as the battles. Maybe he’d introduce me to Zeus? Here’s to hoping Vicky writes Xena…

She Said: Ariel the mermaid. I used to love watching the Little Mermaid cartoon and movie when I was little and would dream about discovering the seas with her. She would definitely make a great scuba diving partner, to say the least!

3) What has been your favorite destination in your wanderings?

He said: I go back and forth between loving nature or wanting to be in the cities. It’s a bit of a grass is greener mentality that I’m working on. Still, favorite city has probably been Tokyo, Japan. It was dynamic but also tame in a way. On the other end of the spectrum maybe Jiuzhaigou in China for it’s peace, tranquility, and spectacular landscape.

She said: So far favorite destination has been Japan, for the sushi alone. Oh, the fish! The delicious, fresh fish. Best meal of my life hands down has been with our couchsurfer in Tokyo at his favorite sushi restaurant. Japan as a whole was incredibly modern, efficient, and beautiful with polite and friendly people the whole way through. It was our first stop on our trip and we had some amazing experiences with our couchsurfing hosts.

4)  Harvard-Applied Math and Boston U-Business.  Holy cow you two are smart!  What has travel taught you?

He said: The biggest thing I’ve noticed with travel is the amount of downtime I have, which results in a lot of reflection. I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life but travel is enabling me to sit back and think for a minute instead of being so distracted all the time and moving from one day to the next without even time to process. Overall I think I’m realizing how independent I can be and what I can accomplish on my own. I have no regrets about opting to take time off and am very confident in us being able to support ourselves through our own ventures.

She said: Travel has taught me that it’s definitely possible to get out of the daily grind of the 9-5 office life and still be learning and developing your skill sets. You don’t need to be in a classroom or office environment to learn, you can learn by observing the people around you and the different experiences you have. It has taught me to be more patient and go with the flow more. Sometimes you just need to take a deep breath and let things go. Got on the wrong bus? We can get out at the next stop. Missed our train? There will be another. With more free time travel has shown me that you can be happy almost every day, especially when you are making all the choices and do not need to systematically get up and do anything.

Japanese man5) We love your buck-list!  But there is one item on your list that we are really curious about: take a vow of silence for 5 days?  Explain?

He said: As I mentioned before some of my best travel moments are just spent reflecting. This is aided by removing distractions such as belongings, long to do lists, and technology (I have no phone, no tv…). Taking this to the extreme would be to removing communication and simply try to meditate for a bit. At the very least, it will keep Vicky from nagging me for an entire 5 days.

She said: This would be the most difficult thing to cross off a bucket list – no talking for 5 days – that would be intense. On the other hand, I do believe that it could be a unique way to reach peace within yourself and have time to reflect on everything in your life. I don’t imagine it would be easy but it could be a really interesting experience.

6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: Cliché but going to go with world hunger. How could I not? It blows me away that some countries are obese and others are malnourished and NEITHER is living a healthy life style. How does this make any sense? Why are we not shifting food from one part of the world to the other…there’s plenty to go around.

She said: Going in the same direction as Dave, I would go with solving the problem with the shortage of water in this world. In the US we’ve have huge 6 Flags water theme parks in plenty of states with kids just throwing water around and sliding right into huge pools of it, yet there are people in other countries with barely enough drinking water. It just doesn’t seem right.

7) You knew it was coming….What has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?  We heard something about a forgotten credit card?

She said: Oh boy, don’t even get me started on that credit card situation! I completely lost my cool and flipped out. It was pretty terrible. There was a lot of screaming involved until I finally calmed down and tried to think rationally about how to fix our crisis (He Said: I believe it was me who thought rationally…this little interjection is why you always should be the last one to edit an interview). It’s not so much huge fights anymore as much as constant bickering. Dave has lost our map a handful of times, and somehow he always manages to leave our water bottle everywhere. Not the biggest deal, just annoying.

He said: It’s true several years back right before our big Italy group a credit card, through which we had booked all our hotels on, may or may not have escaped my wallet. That would have been a good time for a vow of silence. In more recent news, I lost our map for the third time. At the end of the day it’s more like 1000 travel bickers than any one big fight. Kind of like a volcano letting out some steam to avoid the big eruption.

 

Aren’t they fun!  We truly hope that we come across them in person during their travels!  Give their blog acoupletravelers a look.  Thanks again to Dave and Vicky for sharing with us a little more about their grand adventure.

Are you a couple traveling together?  Would you like to be asked probing questions and have all of you secrets posted on the Internets?  Just contact us!

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Two Must Have Travel Gadgets

Periodically the Fighting Travel Couple reviews helpful travel  gadgets and gizmos.  This installment features two items that make couple travel easier!  We are even going to give you one of our lucky 1000 Fighters one of them!  Sweet huh?

 

The Travalo

Problem:  Fancy perfume and cologne  is extremely expensive, comes in fancy glass vessels, and is heavy!  On top of that, try to get that much liquid on an airplane.  Not gonna happen.  So what to do?

Problem Solved:  The Travalo is one of the most unique  travel products we have come across.  It is a great solution for the chic traveler.  So heres how it works, take the Travalo, uncap your fave fragrance place the little Travalo over the straw of the fragrance and gently pump it full of the elixir.  Its just that easy.

The nice people at Travalo have given us one to give away to one of our loyal readers.  That could be you.  All we ask is that you leave a comment below with your fave fragrance and where would you love to take your Travalo (Milan, Tokyo, or Paris).  We will pick a random reader and send them one of these!  So, who are you wearing?  Our lucky winner will also be entered to win a $400 travel voucher from Travalo.  YES!

 

 

 

www.idmybag.com



Problem:  You, like us and 99% of the traveling world bought a black piece of luggege.  Why do we do it?  We own three large black roller bags.  Occasionally we place bets on how many other colored bags show up on the baggage claim.  So black baggers, what do you do?   Tie string onto the bag and hope that it stays put?  Spray paint your bag pink?  NO!

Problem Solved: With a bag tag or bag strap from our friends at www.idmybag.com you will never again take the wrong bag.  we we love about IDmyBag is that they use really great materials and craftsmanship.  What good is a bag strap if it rips or tears?

The real value in these tags is preventing theft.  How likely is it that a thief is going to snatch a bag with a tag like this off the carousel?  Very unlikely.    The good folks at www.idmybag.com offers custom stitching and colors!  Cool!  Want to avoid couple fights?  Buy one, better yet buy two.

 

Do you want us to review a product?  Shoot us a message. 

 

Disclaimer:  We are not paid for our reviews.  That wouldn’t be very fair?  We do receive sample products to review.   We will do our best to give you candid and honest reviews.  We always put reviewed products to the test in the field.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Adventures in Chinatown

 

I love Chinatowns.  I really do.  I am an egg:  white on the outside and yellow on the inside. Some of the best places to discover in our major American cities are their Chinatowns.  Chinatowns offer an affordable visit to another culture and country.  Taking a stroll down the busy streets offers the sights, sounds, tastes and flavors of the orient.  It is not to be missed!

Some of our favorite Chinatowns: Washington DC, Seattle, Vancouver, BC, San Francisco, LA, and Lima, Peru?!

To really enjoy Chinatowns we put together a few helpful hints:

1) Learn some Lingo

2) Check out the Art & Music Scene

3) Bings! (Chinese Dessert)

4) Hang out with the old guys!

5) Gwa-lious! (Our secrets to navigate a Chinese Fruit market)

Learn some lingo:

How to say hello in Chinese
Hello!

Learn some Chinese!  I can’t tell you how many times, flashing a little of my mandarin skills has gotten me some great authentic grub.  At one establishment in DC, I engaged the waiter on the quality of koi fish in the tank at the entry in Mandarin.  After seating us in a preferred section of the establishments, I attempted to order a fish dish. My selection was promptly rejected. “Something better for you”. That little clue to what I was presented to eat was an understatement.  So good!  A little preparation can result in a huge surprise. After engaging waiters and owners of establishments, bills have discreetly disappeared.  It is a Chinese tradition.

Some key words to help:

Hello- Ni Hao

Goodbye–sye gian

Tastes very good- Hen Hao Chur

Thank you– xia,xia

Art and Music

One of the greatest attractions in Chinatown is the art and music scene.  The Asian genre of art is 1000s of years in the making.  Chinatown festivals include “double ten” day (Oct. 10th), Chinese New Year (early spring), and many, many other regional celebrations.  These are great chances to expose yourself to Chinese Music and Art.

Wall art

Chinese pastorals of falling water, green steeps, and animals are amazing:

Ever wonder what those little square red things are on Chinese paintings?  They are the artist signature, as well as his teachers, as well as his teacher’s-teacher.  You get the idea.  Paintings with many red marks is a really good sign.

Pottery

Don’t know who Ming was or how he was awarded a dynasty, but they apparently made some really amazing pottery.

Music

Chinese Music started at the dawn of Chinese civilization with documents and artifacts providing evidence of a well-developed musical culture as early as the Zhou Dynasty (1122 BC – 256 BC). Today, the music continues a rich traditional heritage in one aspect, while emerging into a more contemporary form at the same time.  (Wikipedia)

Take a quick listen to some of the most haunting Chinese Folk music:

Bings

Chinatown is a delight to all of the senses!  Not just sight and sounds, taste too!  We could delve into the many delicant dishs that you only find in  Chinatowns…but desserts are rare. With that said, there is one really good exception, “the bing.” Bings are pretty simple: shaved ice, condensed sweetened milk, and some fruit flavors syrups. In the more authentic dojos, you can get real fruit! A passion fruit bing on a hot day is nectar of the gods!

Have your ever tried one?

YUM!

 

Chinese Chat

I really love to talk to old people. I love to chat with stringy bearded, glassy eyed gentlemen. They typically hang out in parks, around a board game, or they surround a small table with an elaborate tea set. Some of most meaningful conversations I have had in my life have been with these wise stewards. Conversation topics have ranged from expected topics: Sino-American relations, contrasting the traditional Chinese method of education.  We also covered some remote topics including the healing power of green tea, the long term harm that comes from drink beverages with ice(?????) and a particularly long and involved discussions of the virtues of breast milk.  Travel slow. Take a hot afternoon to sit in the shade of a with one of these fellows and the world will be opened to you.

The fruit

Asian fruit is so good! Some of my faves: yellow watermelon, yu longs, mega grapefruits, passion fruit. Some of these are available at different parts of the world, but there is nothing like an Asian fruit market. While living in Southern Taiwan, every morning we headed to the fruit markets for breakfast. These farmers markets offer fleshy fruits that are difficult to describe. We must offer a warning…fruit markets are usually adjacent to meat markets. These stands are not intended for the faint in heart. If seeing various family pets, snakes, and rodents displayed for purchase in non-living status, this is not the place for you.

 

Chinatown on Twitter:

 @sfchinatown  (SFO)

@312Chinatown (Chicago)

@scidpda (Seattle)

@OurChinatown (New York)

@LondonChinatown (London)

What is your favorite Chinatown?  What makes it special to you?

Leave us a comment and let us know.

 

 

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The GranTourismo!

This weeks feature on our 7 questions series is a couple that are taking an amazing journey: Lara and Terence of  http://www.grantourismotravels.com/.  Each week we try to highlight some of the great couple travel bloggers out there.  We ask a few questions, review their blog, and of course we ask them to share some FIGHTS!   Let’s get to know Lara and Terence:

First off, take a look at these stats!

365 days on the road

54,000 miles traveled

44 tours taken

499 blog posts

57,000 pictures taken

Amazing!  If you were to ask us what we want our blog to become, just take a peek at theirs!  What we admire most is not so much how many locations they visit…but how they travel.  They really  try to get to know the folks they meet on the road.  They interview people they meet.  They ask really thought provoking questions.  In addition, they also find time to do some kind humanitarian service.  Right from the front page of their blog their mission statement: “To make Travel More Meaningful”.  These are really great world citizens. (They also have really good playlists!)

Check them out:

http://www.grantourismotravels.com/

@gran_tourismo, @laradunston and @terencecarter

7 Questions with the GranTourismo:

1) How many countries visited between the two of you?

He said: We’re not those kinds of people ;) but almost 80 countries I think.

She said: We’ve travelled almost everywhere together, since we first started bouncing around the planet together around 20 years ago. When we were two years old! ;) So as a couple we’ve been to just over 70 countries I think, but then I experienced another half dozen South American countries when I backpacked around there for a year when I did research for my Masters degree.

2) If you had to travel with someone else besides your travel partner,

who would it be? (this person can be living, historical or mythical?)

He Said: Marco Polo. I want to travel back in time with him and see if he really went to China and bought a white knock-off iPhone 4. And discovered noodles.

She Said: Philosopher Alain de Botton, as he’s the only other person I know of who seems to enjoy hanging out in airports as much as I do. Or travel writer Paul Theroux. I want to find out if he really travels as spontaneously as his writing suggests, jumping off trains at the last minute. Who really does that? Oh, actually we’ve done that once or twice…

Tokyo Skyline

3) What has been your favorite destination in your wanderings?

He said: Tokyo.

She said: Tokyo. And Venice. And Damascus. Oh, and Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Madrid, Barcelona, Bangkok, Beirut, and, um, Marrakech… You asked for 10 ‘favourites’, right? (Lots of cities starting with ‘M’ and ‘B’ there… do you think that means something?)

4) If you had to eat one last meal, what/ where would you eat?

He said: I’d be in Vietnam for a good phở bo koh (Vietnamese beef stew with rice noodles), with an ice-cold beer on the side. I’ve probably done enough degustation menus for one lifetime. Marco will have the noodles too, but with a crisp Pinot Grigio.

She said: Some handmade pasta with whatever local seafood has been bought fresh that day from the Rialto Markets at a family-run restaurant we love in Venice called Antiche Carampane. And I’m going to have a crisp Pinot Grigio with that too. (The restaurant I’m talking about: http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/06/20/no-pizza-no-lasagne-no-tourist-menu/)

5) How do you pick the places you visit? Spontaneous vs. planned?

He said: Both. Dictated by the region we’re in and who has offered us a story. And dictated by Lara.

1000Fights:  Smart man!  Listen to Lara.

She said: As we’re full-time travel writers our work determines where we travel. If we’re heading to Bangkok to research a book, we know we might be there for 2-3 months, but while we’re there we might get a few magazine commissions to do stories in, say, Saigon or the Mekong, so we’ll do some spur-of-the-moment travel too. At the moment we don’t travel purely for pleasure, but, hey, some people wouldn’t call what we do ‘work’.

6) If you could solve one problem in the world what would it be?

He said: Anodyne Top 10 travel lists or poverty, whichever is easier. I’m guessing poverty.

She said: I can tolerate Top 10 travel lists, and have been guilty myself of writing a few – travellers love them and they can be fun, so I’m going to go for poverty. It’s the cause of so many other problems: crime, violence, domestic violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol dependence… yep, definitely poverty. Oh, and earthquakes. But that’s two…

7) You knew it was coming…what has been your greatest travel fight/disagreement?

He said: Venice. I used to loathe it. Now I’ve been told I love it and want to return. Or at least that’s what the tape loop Lara plays every night when I sleep suggests.

1000Fights:  See advice from above!

She said: Cape Town. HomeAwayUK (http://www.holidayrentals.co.uk/), who sponsored our grand tour of the globe, wanted us to go to Cape Town for two weeks last year, but Terence didn’t want to go. We’d heard so many horror stories from South Africans over the years who’d fled to Dubai or Perth because they’d been robbed and experienced a carjacking, so Terence wasn’t looking forward to having his camera gear stolen. But, shhh…I had my doubts too. We did end up going and we stayed in a beautiful home owned by the loveliest family, with truly stunning Table Mountain views from our bedroom balcony (check them out here: http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/11/11/time-lapse-table-mountain-cape-town/), just two minutes walk from Camps Bay beach. We loved it. Just take a look at these pics and you’ll understand why: http://grantourismotravels.com/2010/11/11/camps-bay-cape-town-the-beauty-of-being-by-the-beach/. But we also loved the place for reasons we never expected to, for the resilience and spirit of the people we met for example… but that’s the beauty of travel, right?

Thanks for Lara and Terence for sharing with us.  You can really sense that these are really down to earth people that travel to gain perspective and understanding.   We salute them.  Visit their blog!  We do think that their fights is a little on weak side.  They need some work in this area.  Now if Luci and I could just find someone to sponor us for a trip around the globe!

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