Introducing another new blogger at Gadling, Melanie Renzulli…
Where was your photo taken: The Temple of Artemis ruins in Sart (Sardis), Turkey.
Where do you live now: Washington, DC, has been my home on and off for almost 20 years.
Favorite city/country/place: The more places I go, the more favorite places I have. I’m known for being obsessed with Italy, and that is definitely one of my favorite countries on earth. But I have also lived in Germany, India, and Turkey and love each of those countries for different reasons, ranging from the foods I ate to the friends I met. On the other hand, if I had to pick three cities right now, they’d be New York, Rome, and Istanbul. Then again, Paris, Mumbai, and Hong Kong are pretty cool, too.
Most remote corner of the globe visited: That’s relative, isn’t it? I mean, remoteness depends on your frame of reference. Perhaps one of the most remote places I’ve visited was Jericoacoara, Brazil, mainly because of the effort it took to get there. But other destinations I’ve visited that felt remote include the Greek island of Chios and the Konkan Coast of India. I’m sure plenty of people would consider Alabama, the state where I was born, to be a remote corner of the globe, too.
How did you get interested in travel writing? I began writing about travel in the late 1990s, mostly for dot-coms and trade publications. Around the same time, I was invited to move to Rome to work as an au pair. That was the first time that I approached travel with the idea of writing about it, too. Each day when I was there, while the child was in school, I set out to investigate the city, writing down my observations and collecting practical information (times, admission, transportation options, etc.) as I went along. After Rome, I returned the U.S. with a handful of writing clips and some Rome expertise under my belt. I managed to parlay that experience into a job as a writer for TravelChannel.com as well as two guidebook writing opportunities. I’ve been writing about travel ever since.
Favorite guidebook series: I should say the guidebooks I have written are my favorites. Indeed, they come in handy as references. But guidebooks have their own specializations that make them useful for different kinds of trips. I’m a visual learner, so I really enjoy DK Eyewitness guides, which are great for maps and cut-away graphics of architecture and art. Time Out and Rough Guides are the best all-around guides; they’ve gotten me through quick weekend trips as well as through stints as an expat. I look to Blue Guides and Michelin’s Green Guides (for which I have written) for in-depth coverage of art and history.
Scariest airline flown: Admittedly, I’m not a great flier. Take-off and turbulence always rattle me. Despite that, I don’t have any scary airplane stories with regards to plane performance. I did, however, observe a semi-scary moment years ago when flying from Amsterdam to New York on Pakistan International Airlines (the cheapest flight I could find at the time). Once the flight reached cruising altitude, the pilot made an announcement that we were in Pakistan sovereign territory and anyone caught possessing drugs of any kind could be punished by death. As you can imagine, the few passengers that had just spent their entire time in Holland partaking of a certain illicit substance were visibly shaken.
Celebrity you’d most like to sit next to in first class. The first celebrity that comes to mind is Jerry Seinfeld, because the episode that juxtaposes his and Elaine’s experiences in first class and coach is one of my favorites. That said, I’d love to sit next to a celebrity that would make me laugh the whole flight, such as Larry David, Chris Rock, Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, or Louis CK. Funny conversation makes the time pass quickly and the turbulence less of a concern.
When I’m not writing for Gadling, I’m…trying to do a little bit of everything. On the writing front, I primarily cover USA travel for a large travel website and Italy travel on a personal blog I’ve maintained since 2006. Additionally, I am the mother of two young boys, which keeps me very busy with the usual parental duties.
Dream Travel Destination. Barcelona and Tokyo are two cities I’ve always wanted to see. I’d also love to learn how to tango in Buenos Aires, tour Jerusalem and the Holy Land, swim with manatees in Florida, and visit the elephant sanctuary in Sri Lanka. The list goes on and on…