Liebster Award: I’ve been nominated!

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Liebster AwardWhat’s the Liebster Award?  It’s an opportunity for travel bloggers to get to know other travel bloggers.  My blog is not purely about travel, but since it is one of my passions, somehow I qualified.  Big thanks to The Vagabond Beat for nominating me for the Liebster Award through his travel blog.  When I first got the notification that I was nominated, I confess I was expecting something like this.

SONY DSC, Rolls Royce, award


But that would just be another thing to take care of.  This is much more fun.  I need to answer eleven questions which will let you, my dear Reader, get to know me a bit better.  Then I will nominate some other up-and-coming bloggers for the award and set them questions to answer.  You can find those at the bottom of this post.  So let’s get into it.

1. Describe one of the strangest characters you’ve met on the road.

This question I actually left to the last because it’s the hardest to answer for me.  My first instinct was to say, “It’s me.  I’m the strangest character I’ve ever known and I’m everywhere I go!”

Twisties, blue tongue, Kas Sommers

Who’s strange?

But I have it some more thought.  I’ve met so many people and dogs and donkeys and birds and fish and whales and Disney princesses and Maori princesses and …

So giving up trying to think of just one, I decide a picture is worth a thousand words and here he is (he’s much bigger than he looks but I’m closer to the camera).  I met him in Rocamadour in France:

Eagle, Rocamadour, Kas Sommers

Eagle VS Kas

2. What is your favorite travel-related book?

Toni, He Went With Marco Polo, book

My favourite travel book

This is an easy question to answer.  He Went With Marco Polo by by Louise Andrews Kent.  I read this many times while I was growing up.  Somehow it got lost – perhaps when my father died or when my mother moved house.  I mourned it and searched second-hand book stores for it for years.  And one day, it came to me.  My husband found a copy online somewhere and bought it as a surprise for me.  Yay, Tonio and Marco, Venice and Cathay, we meet again.

I have been to Venice a few times now and it’s almost as I imagined it.  Walking by the canals which must look pretty much as they did in Marco Polo’s time, catching the ferry to the Lido, I thought of poor Tonio rowing his gondola to catch the fleet before sailing to the mysterious East.

DSC00201 DSC00206 DSC00204

The closest I’ve come to Cathay (now called Beijing) is Hong Kong and Marco Polo could not even comprehend that place.

Hong Kong harbour, ferry

Hong Kong Harbour

Hong Kong, umbrella, monsoon

Hong Kong in the monsoon season

Hong Kong, fig tree

It rains a lot, but it’s warm in Hong Kong during the monsoon

3. Describe a memorable meal from your travels. Where and what did you eat?

Cocotte Cafe

Cocotte Cafe – avoid the tourist streets

Before I became vegan, I loved to eat scallops.  We found a small cafe in the back streets of Trouville-sur-Mer, away from the tourists, no one spoke English and our French is limited.  But I was able to let them know I wanted scallops and they informed me the words I wanted were “Coquilles Saint Jacques” and served them in a garlic sauce.  Heavenly! I just stabbed at the menu for dessert and took a chance I would get something nice.  What came out was a rice pudding.  Now I love rice pudding, but I couldn’t eat it at that time, so they took it away and replaced it with something else delicious.  I don’t recall what that was but their amiability and helpfulness made that meal memorable.  The Coquille Saint Jaques were so good, we went back the next night so I could have the same thing again!  Four years later I was again in Trouville-sur-Mer with my mother and sister this time and I took them to Cocotte Cafe and they love it too.

4. Describe your most terrifying travel experience.

Fortunately I’ve never yet been in a completely terrifying situation where I was running from a bull elephant charge or caught up in a war zone.  But for white-knuckle fear, where you just want it to Stop now! the bus ride in Sicily between Messina and Taormina in a large vehicle travelling along the edge of a cliff, … *shudder*.  One of those times when you just close your eyes and try to tell yourself that the driver has done this before and must know what he’s doing and please, let it be over!




Taormina is beautiful though and totally worth the scary bus ride.  A bit of retail therapy buying one of these:PICT0952and I almost forgot about the ride back.

5. What inspired you to start traveling?

Travelling began at a young age with my parents.  As a child, we always took camping and caravanning holidays all over the eastern states of Australia.  Not for us the go-to-the-same-place-every-year type of holidays.  We did have a “shack” a couple of hours drive south of Sydney where we spent shorter breaks like Easter, but for longer holidays we went opal mining at Lightning Ridge or snorkelling around Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

Heron Island, snorkelling - Kas floating

This is how I spent my first holiday at Heron Island

My parents had a huge coffee-table book from the Readers Digest with stories of strange exotic places like Bhutan and Mongolia and I used to read it from cover to cover.  Combine that with He Went With Marco Polo and I was itching to get out of Australia and see the world.

When I had to start planning and paying for my own holidays, they were similar excursions.  I bought a van kitted out as a camper and crossed Bass Straight to Tasmania for a driving holiday.  And then finally, I got to actually travel to another country when I flew over the Tasman Sea to New Zealand.  OK, it’s not all that foreign to an Australian, but it is a different country (I fell in love and am still in love with the place).

6. Why do you continue traveling? Have your reasons changed since you started?

It’s a hunger to see the new, learn a bit of another language, taste different foods, see wildlife and landscapes, surprising architecture and lifestyles and clothing.  There’s also a bit of wanting to be in a place where no one knows who I am and I can be whoever I want to be.  Shake off the familiar shackles of the society in which I live and obey the rules and try something else.

7. If you could only listen to one album on a 19 hour bus ride, what would it be?

Probably some barbershop or a cappella teach tracks for songs I’m learning.

Guildford Harmony, barbershop, chorus, Kas

Love those four-part a cappella harmonies

8. It’s time to empty the ol’ backpack and stay put for a while. City, mountains, forest, desert or beach?

Wah!  This is too hard.  I know a city with mountains, forest and beaches all practically within walking distance.  Can I have them all?  (I am not crazy about deserts.)

I’m going for a small city with a choice of ocean beaches or bay-side beaches, not too hot, mountains on the doorstep, forests everywhere, wait, … I think I’ve described Wellington.


Wellington – not always sunny, often windy, but the coolest capital city on earth

9. Describe a travel destination that totally defied your expectations (good or bad).

Hotel Chelsea, New York

The name says it all

NYSE, New York Stock Exchange, bull

It’s a bull market!

It has to be New York.  Hugely influenced by television and films, I expected New York to be a bit frightening, with everyone carrying guns, drug dealers on every corner, rude people shoving past in a hurry.  But to my surprise, New York felt safe and of course, the people are the same as they are all over the world.  Mostly friendly, with time to help out a stranger.  A group of teenage girls on the subway having a giggling conversation could have been from London, Brisbane, Paris, Tokyo, anywhere.

We were there in 2004 so not all that long after the World Trade Centre was attacked.  Ground Zero was quite an emotional experience.

Twin towers, World Trade Centre, Ground Zero

Ground Zero

10. You’ve got an hour layover at an airport. How do you spend the time?

Looking for wifi and checking emails, browsing the shops and not buying anything.  The travel gadgets stand always draws my gaze – so many ingenious little things.  Maybe I do need a collapsible backpack or a tiny fan or an ultraviolet bacteria and pathogen-killing water wand.

11. What’s one destination you have returned to or plan to return to again and again? Why?

The country that has won my heart is New Zealand.  I’ve been there half a dozen times and would live there in a heartbeat if I could.  The people are so friendly and informal, the environment is stunning.  The culture is very easy to slip into – books, films, museums, outdoor sports, cafes, brunch.  Great scientific and engineering innovations.  World-leading social reforms such as votes for women and same-sex marriages.

This hobbit hole would do me just fine and I could find a job on the post in the Green Dragon.

Hobbit Hole, Hobbiton, Matamata

Green Dragon, Hobbiton Green Dragon’s jobs bulletin board

Wow, some of those questions were hard to answer!  The Liebster Award is a chance to get to know other travel bloggers.

Liebster Award rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link to their blog on your own blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog as a feature image, graphic, or widget.
  3. Answer the eleven questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  4. Nominate five to eleven blogs with less than 1,000-ish (doesn’t have to be exact) followers that you feel deserve the award.
  5. Ask a new list of eleven questions for your nominees to answer.
  6. List these rules in your post.  Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  7. Publish the full post on your blog.
  8. Notify your nominees with a link to your Liebster post so that they can learn about it.

Here are my five nominees for the Liebster Award:

  • Laura and Will at because they are compassionate and fun.
  • Denise at MyJourneyAroundTheGlobe because she’s so young and fearless.
  • I don’t know her name, but that young lady at MicroGalactic ’cause she’s a food and travel blogger – two of my favourite things.
  • Stephanie from Gliterature because she’s awesome!
  • Hilary from When Can We Go – travelling with a family and blogging takes a special kind of person.
  • That chap from TravelDestinationsBy7AM because he likes Paris.

 Here are eleven questions for them to answer:

  1. What is the strangest thing you have eaten while traveling?
  2. Not counting passport and money, what’s the one travel essential that you can’t leave home without?
  3. After some time on the road, what do you start craving from home?
  4. Books or e-reader – which do you prefer while you’re travelling?
  5. Have you had a travel experience that has profoundly affected who you are as a person?
  6. Planes, trains or automobiles?  What transport do you prefer or love?
  7. Which fictional character would be your ideal travelling companion?
  8. What is your favorite foreign curse word or phrase?
  9. Fill in the blank: the world would be a much better place without ______ .
  10. You have an unlimited travel budget for 24 hours. What is your itinerary?
  11. What is the number one item on your personal bucket list?

I can’t wait to read your Liebster Award blogs and discover more about you.

6 thoughts on “Liebster Award: I’ve been nominated!

  1. thevagabondbeat

    Thanks for posting your answers, I truly enjoyed reading them! I have always wanted to do a full Silk Road journey from Venice to Cathay, and if I ever get around to it, I know what book to read on the way, if I can find it! Although, it seems pretty clear that my next travel destination ought to be New Zealand! Cheers!

    1. kassommers

      New Zealand is the best – give yourself as long as possible. You really want to spend time in both islands from the sub-tropical north to fiord land and the glacier regions in the south and all parts in between. I love it!

    1. kassommers

      Yes, Valerie, that ride down the mountain in Capri through those narrow streets was very frightening, thinking that at any minute we would roll over on a corner, or scrape a rock wall, or flatten a pedestrian.

      We’ve had a couple of terrifying car rides too – the middle of Rome the first time I drove on the “wrong” side of the road; ditto for you driving from Paris to Deauville and return when I left my wallet behind; driving around the side of a volcano in Hawai’i with my husband on the cliff side and me driving as close to the cliff as possible so I wouldn’t hit the cars coming at me.

  2. Julia mcNee

    Well covered question and answers,but I thought no.4 was Capri . What was the worst or most adventures thing you’ve eaten?

    1. kassommers

      Thanks, Julia. I’ve been on some terrifying bus rides. I had to choose between Capri, Sicily and going to see an inland glacier in New Zealand.

      A couple of funny things come to mind. Passing into family legend now, was a road trip across Spain with my two youngest children. I bought something with a picture of a cow on the front, thinking it was milk (in my pre-vegan days), and we pulled into a rest area to have breakfast. Tried to pour the milk onto cereal and it turned out to be some kind of cream. So I tried adding water to the bowl thinking that might break down the cream and turn it back to a milky consistency and ended up with a bowl of water and cereal with lumps of cream floating in it. On a different day in Spain, we bought something that looked like a bagel, assuming it was some kind of bread, only when we came to eat it, it was very strange, and burned the tongue, like it was glazed with whiskey. Inedible! In the end, we decided it was not made for eating, but was part of the ritual of the bullfight taking place that day – to see how many “bagels” could be placed on the bull’s horns and get away with your life.


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