1. Tell us about yourself and where we can find more about your travelling.
My name is Marina, I was born in Moscow, Russia but for the last 4 years I’ve been living in the States.
Interestingly enough, my old travel blog is somehow ‘guilty’ of me being here. Back in 2008 I was running a travel blog on TravBuddy.com (not sure if the site is still around as I haven’t logged in in ages). The idea was quite simple: you post your blog and travel reviews but also meet other travellers – at home or abroad. It seemed like fun, and I started blogging. Then I met some TravBuddies who came to Moscow and I showed them around. The most memorable was by far a group of senior travellers from the Netherlands who stopped in Moscow before embarking on a long Transsiberian journey.
And one day on TravBuddy I met my future husband who at that time was planning a big road trip across Europe and was thinking about adding Russia to his itinerary. I totally screwed up his plans, and instead of him driving around Poland and Czech Republic we ended up going to England and visiting Stonehenge, Bath, York and Felixstowe – we spent just a day in London since we both had been there many times before, and basically ever since that road trip we’ve been together.
Back in Moscow I was a PR person for a British executive search company. Here in the States I’ve decided to work for myself. Right now I am involved in several projects, but my main focus now is Campbell Con, a pop culture convention I am doing this fall. I am not travel blogging at the moment but for the last 3-4 years I did a lot of travel writing for several media outlets including Aeroflot Inflight Magazine and Vorkug Sveta.
If you want to follow my travels the best place now would be Instagram: @bellaturista
If you want to see a more professional side of me please feel free to visit my website.
- How many countries have you visited and where would like to settle down at some point (I know you fall in love in so many places, but choose one and tell me why)?
Let’s see… If I counted it right, I’ve been to 22 countries. I know it may not be a lot but I am not going for some big sexy number. I’d rather spend some quality time in one country than see like 5 of them in one week. As for settling down… well, it is a good question. Ever since I moved across the world with just one suitcase I realized that settling down is overrated. The very idea of settling down sounds kinda tragic – it means you choose a place to die, and I am not ready for that! I might be house hunting in the States right now but I’d also like to get an experience of living in Europe or South America.
- What do you miss most, aside from your family, from your home country?
I expected it to be food but it turned out not. Here in the States I can get pretty much anything I want. I miss my late grandma’s pastry a lot just because I miss her. I miss my childhood and all the happy memories I had growing up with the people who are no longer here with us. I guess it is just aging. I live in California and sometimes I miss seasons, snow, summer rains but again you can drive to the mountains to get your snow fix or fly back East and enjoy beautiful fall colors. There are days when I miss just being able to walk to the store or stroll around town instead of driving.
- What is the most common misconception that people have about you?
Oh you’d better ask them:))) My birthday was about a month ago, and many people including those who know me pretty well wished me to stay as positive as I am now. It totally took me by surprise! I am Russian I can’t be positive!
- Is there any place which you wouldn’t visit again and why?
One of the places that didn’t impressed me much was Manchester. I don’t think I want to go back. Also, I feel I don’t want to go back to some places where I had a very good experience. For example, on my last trip to Russia I took my mom and my aunt to Yaroslavl. It was my aunt’s 75th birthday and everything was simply perfect. I just want to keep those memories.
- Where did you meet the friendliest people and how did you feel about being around them?
I meet nice people pretty much everywhere I go – from Ukraine to Brazil. When I was in Rio de Janeiro, it struck me how much cariocas enjoy life no matter their status. It was amazing!
- Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?
I love travelling but I hate packing that’s why I always pack last minute. Here in San Jose I live 10 minutes away from the airport, and I start packing 2 hours (sometimes less) before my flight. Sometimes it is ok, sometimes not.
- What has been the most under-rated country/place you have been to and why? Most overrated country/place?
I think out of all places I’ve been to the most underrated one was North Korea. Sure, it is a not a popular tourist destination, and I’d like to see many things changing there but the nature is fantastic. There is much more to it than their dictatorship regime. As for overrated places, I’d think it is Hollywood. It is just a dirty place that saw better times.
- Tell us about a favourite dish from the world and one from your country that everybody should try.
Japan is still on my bucket list but I’d say sushi. And tacos. And pumpkin pie. And borscht. And pasta. Oh, did you say just one? As for Russian food, I guess I’ll pick savory pastry (cabbage pirozhki, anyone?) and pelmeni.
- What is your favourite author and what did you like about his style?
Oh this is a tricky one:) My husband is a writer. If not being biased, I’d say Ivan Bunin (if I could write just one sentence like him I’d be in heaven), Francis S. Fitzgerald (‘Tender Is The Night’ is my all time favorite), Ernest Hemingway. I also enjoy Irvin Shaw and Thomas Mann. Lyudmila Ulitskaya is always with me on my Kindle.
- What is your favourite music?
It depends. I might be pretty sophisticated and listen to Richard Wagner (my cat hates it though – he gets scared). I enjoy piano music a lot, and often listen to it when I work.
- You have a chance to ask one question to anyone in history and get an honest reply – what is your question and to whom?
A good question. I think my answer would depend on when you ask. I just finished watching a great miniseries about the second US president John Adams. It would be great to go back in time and talk to the founding fathers and also their wives – those women were remarkable! I’d like to ask them how they carried on when everything seemed to go wrong and if they ever felt scared and felt they’ve taken on way too much.
- One thing you don’t like about other travelers or traveling?
As I mentioned before, I hate packing and unpacking, and I hate luggage that’s why I am a last-minute packer and I always unpack the moment I arrive no matter how tired I am. Other travelers. and people in general.. well, I like everyone as long as they don’t cause trouble.
- What has been your most valuable lesson learned from travel?
The world is much smaller and people have more in common than we think. Also, when you travel you learn how precious life is and you start embracing every single moment.