Explorer of the World Q & A Series – Luna Rodriguez Natal

Welcome to Hostelfy.me’s  Explorer of the World Q & A series! This month’s featured explorer is Luna Rodriguez Natal, a 24-year-old traveler from the city of Móstoles in Madrid, Spain.

10576955_10154510089445604_183157750195996024_nPhotograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

This intrepid journeywoman has voyaged to 11 countries in Europe. Her adventures have taken her to Spain, England, Italy, the Vatican City, Malta, Germany, Czech republic, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, and France. Read on as this soulful European explorer tells us all about what inspired her to hit the road, what’s next on her bucket list, and what makes living a life dedicated to  travel worthwhile.

Want to become an expert traveler like Luna? Get inspired and read her interview below!

How did you get started traveling? Why do you travel?

I’ve always taken excursions around my country when I was younger without thinking that traveling would eventually become the motor that would move my life.

The point of no return was the first time I went abroad in 2002. I was 12 and attended a college in England to improve my English.

architecture-2656_1920Photograph by Public Domain Pictures via Pixabay Commons

It was an experience changed my life. I met people from other countries. I encountered different cultures and languages for the first time. I was also able get a chance to travel and explore London, which is still one of my favorite cities.

The experience was so different from what I’ve always known that I immediately fell in love with everything. When I returned home, I kept dreaming about going back again. It was in that moment that I became curious about what it would be like to visit other cities, other countries. That was how my ‘need’ to travel started, and after having visited 11 countries, I know that this ‘need’ will never end.

10458441_10154500189925604_2853953900576996908_nPhotograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

What do you love most about travel?

There isn’t just one thing that I love about the act of traveling, rather it’s a combination of many reasons. I travel because I want to discover the world. I’ve always been a curious person and always loved learning and speaking different languages. There’s also a sense of feeling complete whenever I discover different types of architecture, tasting new cuisines, and meeting and getting to know people from different cultures.

What has been your most memorable and rewarding travel experience?

My most memorable experience was during my time in France as an Erasmus student. I lived in France for nearly five months to finish my studies. I managed to learn a totally new language (French) and meet people all over the world. More importantly, I was lucky to live with people who were also foreigners and get to know all about them and their countries. I also had a chance to travel a lot during those five months. Aside from traveling within France, I was also able to visit cities in Switzerland and Italy.

1518265_10153772893675604_1156882820_oPhotograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

What’s your favorite travel destination? Why?

That’s a tough one. I really don’t think that I can answer that question with one city and be satisfied with the answer. I would definitely say London is one of my favorite cities; it feels like home there. But Rome or Praga (Prague) are places that also totally got me due to their charming appearances and their incredible history and cultural heritage.

26519_10150174269410604_7041493_nPhotograph (Prague) courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

What has been the biggest challenge about traveling? How do you overcome it?

The biggest challenge has always been managing to earn the money to actually travel. I’ve always solved this situation by finding inexpensive hostels, flights, and food. I am always encouraging people to travel. It is not necessary to have a bunch of money to do it!

How do you fund your travels? (i.e., save money for trips? work-related?)

Normally I’ve always tried to find a job to earn enough to fulfill my next trip.  Also, as I am still studying, I’ve always been lucky to have some study grants that have definitely helped to keep me traveling from one place or the other.

Do you stay in hostels when you travel? If so, how do you decide which hostel to stay in? What do you consider most important when choosing a hostel? (ex. Price, location, etc.)

Yes, I do. I normally sleep in hostels when the price is better than hotels, and the location is good. I am really not too picky about my accommodation as long as it fits in my budget and it is well-located.

(Editor’s note: Hostelfy.me is the booking site dedicated to helping travelers get great travel deals and find the perfect hostel for their needs!)

Do you have any funny / weird hostel experiences? If so, what?

Actually not yet. It wasn’t that long ago that I started staying in hostels, and so far everything has gone normally. What I’ve discovered is that I really like sleeping in hostels because there are more possibilities to get to know other people. Plus, hostels usually have a nice ambience.

10304966_10154456768375604_4794278376678751146_nPhotograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

 What are the TOP 5 things that people should do when they travel ?

1) Visit all the cultural heritage sites, as well as admire the different architectonic styles;

2) Speak, or at least try to speak, the language of the new country;

3) Get involved in the culture;

4) Meet people from the place, share knowledge, and maybe try to become friends with these new and interesting people. Because you never know when will you be back again.

5) Try the local food

new-zealand-225540_1920Photograph (New Zealand) by Martin Str via Pixabay Commons

What’s on your bucket list?

1) Pursue doctorate studies in New Zealand, hopefully next year. That would be amazing. Since I could be there for three years, I could possibly visit some nearby countries like Australia, Japan, China, and maybe do a tour around Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and more.

2) Visit the USA. Maybe work for a while if there is not other option, then quit the job and have the summer off to discover the country.

3) Visit a Buddhist monastery

4) Backpack through India

5) Enroll in one of the “Tournado Tours” in the USA

6HPhotograph by Ryan McGuire of Bells and Design via Gratisography (Free to use collection)

 Any advice for aspiring travelers?

Be open minded, always look for totally new experiences, make friends, and try different ways of travelling. Choose the experiences which you love most and share them with other travellers! Carpe Diem!

1517640_10154163192710604_4296789547114011441_n Photograph courtesy of Luna Rodriguez Natal

What travel quotes do you live by? 

Los viajes son pequenas vidas” by Domenic Cieri

(Trips are like living little different lives)

No aceptes nunca como compañero de viaje a quien no conozcas como a tus manos” by Rómulo Gallegos

(Never accept a travel companion you don’t know as well as the palm of your hand)

Want to know more about Luna and her adventures? Check out her Trip Advisor profile here 

We’re scouring the globe in search of intrepid travelers to feature on the Hostelfy.me blog! If you love to travel, have a ton of stories, experiences, and advice to share just send us an email at lola@hostelfy.me with “Traveler Q&A” on the subject line. 

 

City Profile: Istanbul Food Trip

One of the most exciting aspects of traveling is trying out the local cuisine. Istanbul, for foodtrippers, taste-test junkies, and just plain old food lovers, is a 24-hour gastronomic feast. A fusion of Eastern and Western delights, the delicacies of Istanbul will invade the senses. From traditional Turkish and Mediterranean fare to international dishes, there is something to be found for every kind of palate.

6193137266_10eb4c7f56_z                                                                Photograph by Maisy Mouse via Flickr Commons

The gala of food can be found anywhere and everywhere in Istanbul, such as the Divan Yolu and Akbiyik Caddesi in the Sultanahmet, but for a true ‘taste’ of variety, head to the Beyoglu. Walking along the Istiklal Cadesi, you’ll find an array of restaurants and eateries. Ranging from doner kebap places to international style taverns, there’s little chance of leaving this area on an empty stomach.

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                                                                     Photograph by Damien Roue via Flickr Commons

Another prime area for food aficionados is the Kumkapi fish market. With rows and rows of fish restaurants, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered some strange “fish wonderland.” At nights, the area is ablaze with firelamps, fairylights, and glittery tambourines. It’s also a prime shopping location, with stalls and wandering sales people selling everything from rugs to rag dolls. Here you can get your fill of fillet kebaps, tamarind juice, arabic hummus, fish chowder soup, and ayva dolmasi (stuffed melon).

For those wanting to do a cook’s tour of the city, check out the local markets. If you still havent had enough of fish from the Kumkapi, check out the Eminou waterfront where you can literally, buy the ‘catch of the day’ from the fishermen who’ll even cook their catch for you for the all-inclusive price of 1 Euro. Another great area is the Egyptian market on wednesdays, where you’ll find a diverse selection of spices, dried fruit, sweets, and yes, fish.

Istanbul is a city for the senses and food is its most tangible delight. With specialty restaurants, historic markets, and mouth-watering street food, eating is not only a passion and a pleasure in Istanbul–it’s a way of life.

Creative Hostels for Backpackers and Travelers

Hostels are more than just a place to rest your weary head–these are places that can make or break your trip! Aside from providing a place where you can rest up and meet fellow travelers, these hip spots will make your trip that much more memorable!

1. Jumbo Stay Hostel, Stockholm, Sweden

 

Hostel that’s inside–you guessed it–a jumbo jet!  

2. KEX Hostel, Reyjavik, Iceland

 

What makes this hostel stand out are the super cool events and international and local live act! A must-visit for music geeks!

3. The Adventure Brew Hostel, La Paz, Bolivia

 

Beer? Bed and brewery? Fun party vibe? Yes, yes, and yes!

4) Hostel Celica, Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

This former prison is now a place you can spend the night! Now, you can tell all your friends that you spent time in jail. Talk about badass!

5) The Overstay Hostel, Bangkok, Thailand

 

 

Artsy type? Love graffiti? Then the Overstay Hostel, which part art space and part hostel,  is the place for you.