Blogger Chris Owen

Photo:Chris OwenWhere was your photo taken?
At Misty Fjords, Alaska on the wing of a seaplane that I had used to tour for the day. In this photo we had landed on a pristine lake where the only sound we heard was a bear or beavers fishing. Or so said the guide — it might have been Uncle Zeb splashing around in the bushes for all we know.

Where do you live now?
Orlando, Florida aka Paradise to this guy who spent a few too many cold, angry winters farther North.

Scariest airline flown?
Spirit Airlines from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale and just last July. It was like being on a prison plane. “We leave in 5 minutes, seated or not!” and I think they meant it. Gilda, the Nazi cabin attendant was overheard saying “I can’t wait until we get the stand-up seatinig” with glee.

Favorite city/country/place?
St Thomas, U.S Virgin Islands where I will live some day. I have friends who already made the jump and they just love it there.

Most remote corner of the globe visited?
Mt McKinley in Alaska, the highest peak in North America. I did not climb the peak but did wave at the ants below as we flew around them in a plane much like my dad had when I was a little kid.

Favorite Guidebook series?
Frommers, but I have to tell you, I used guidebooks once and that was about it — and that was a long long time ago. I like going places recommended by friends or travel writers as best bets, out-of-the way places and hardly ever touristy attractions except for the “I did that” factor.

Worst hotel experience ever?
The Colby Hotel in Colby, Kansas. Winter of some year when I was a little kid. We drove through a bizzard from Kansas City to way Western Kansas at about 12 miles an hour the whole way. Got to the hotel and we were the only ones in it and everything was shut down. We burned furniture in garbage cans outside to cook with and melted snow to have drinking water.

Dream travel destination?
Egypt including a cruise on the Nile. I’m pretty sure I was of royal ancestry in a previous life but won’t know for sure until I arrive there some day. Yes, I really mean that. In 8th grade a Social Studies teacher made us do exacting hand drawings of pyramids and other structures. I was hooked then and probably always will be until I get there… or get back, depending on how it all plays out.

Favorite means of transportation?
Cruise ship/liner of course! No matter what happens on land, I always have a nice cozy cruise ship to come back home to at night. The last Non-US hotel I stayed at was in London and I didn’t like it one bit. I was quite a hit in the hotel lobby though asking where I get “more of these pieces of money” referring to the odd bills with strange faces and coins of strange sizes.

Have you ever had an unexpected layover? What did you do?
At Chicago, Midway. I had flown in for a job interview and was scheduled to fly out the same day. When I got there I had the fastest interview in history and that guy was gone. I found out later after lake-effect snow shut everything down why he wanted out so fast. I was stuck there for two days. I pretended I was a traveling talent agent looking for new acts. You’d be surprised the things people will do/sing/play if they think they have a chance to be famous.

Blogger Joel Bullock

Introducing another new blogger at Gadling, Joel Bullock . . .

Where was your photo taken? My photo was taken at Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m standing in front of a piece of roller coaster track from the Intimidator.

Where do you live now? I live in North Carolina. It’s not only a great place to live, but it’s also within a day’s drive of many of the best theme parks in America.

Scariest airline flown: I’ve flown a good bit for work and for pleasure. Ironically, my first flight ever was by far the scariest. It was a short flight from BWI to Buffalo in a little commuter jet that was being tossed around by a stormy night. I’m sure it didn’t help that it was my first flight, but I haven’t experienced a ride half as turbulent in all my travels since.

How did you get started traveling? I got started traveling to theme parks in my early 20′s. I visited them occasionally as a kid, but I was terrified of roller coasters for most of my childhood. On a trip to my local theme park I was dragged onto the park’s full lineup of coasters by my high school girlfriend. After that day I was hooked. I have now traveled to more than 30 amusement parks all over the United States.

Favorite city/country/place: It’s tough to pick just one. My favorite theme parks are the Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Florida and Williamsburg, Virginia. Both parks are beautifully themed, have world-class roller coasters, and provide a top-notch guest experience.

Most remote corner of the globe visited: I ventured deep into a wild cave in West Virginia. It was an other-worldly experience.

Favorite guidebook series: I don’t use guidebooks for my trips. I mainly rely on the Web for my theme park travel research.

Most recent trip: My last theme park trip was to Kings Dominion where I rode my 200th roller coaster. I grew up going to the park, but I hadn’t been back in six years. It worked out that Intimidator 305, one of the tallest roller coasters in the World, was my 200th. So, it was a pretty neat homecoming.

The ideal vacation is… I would love to visit all of the great theme parks in Europe. An ideal vacation would be a two-week odyssey where I’d bounce from park to park everyday. It would be the theme park version of The Amazing Race, minus the challenges, prize money, and Phil Keogahn.

Person you’d most like to interview for Gadling? I would love to interview my favorite steel and wooden roller coaster designers. Famed Swiss designers Walter Bolliger and Claude Mabillard (known as B&M) would be my top pick. Their revolutionary steel creations have had a profound effect on the amusement industry. Not to mention, they’re a lot of fun. It would also be a thrill to interview American-based wooden roller coaster designers, The Gravity Group. They’ve found ways to make an old dog, wooden coasters, do some really cool new tricks.

Blogger Julie Gerstein

Where was this photo taken: Condesa neighborhood, Mexico City

Where do you live now: Brooklyn, New York

Scariest airline flown: I’m of the opinion that flying is part of the travel experience — not just a means to an end. I find flying to be exciting and glamorous and do my best to elevate the experience however I can.

I’m lucky to never have had a truly bad flying experience. That said, my scariest flying experience was the flight I took to sky dive in New Zealand (with fellow Gadling blogger Mike Barish). Nothing is more frightening than taking off in a plane you KNOW you won’t be landing in.

How did you get started traveling?
I worked all through college and never had the time or money to travel. When I graduated, a boyfriend and I had lofty plans to head to Cuba via Mexico. But when we got to Mexico we fell in love with the place and couldn’t leave.

This was during the historic 2000 Mexican election, and my travel partner and I decided to become international observers during the election. We were stationed in a small Zapatista village for two weeks in the remote mountains of Chiapas. So I went from no travel experience to roughing it pretty hardcore in a short amount of time.

Favorite city/country/place: Mexico City is magical to me. I love its wild energy and gritty charm — and tacos. But it’s really hard to pick just one place. I love the bike culture of Amsterdam, the quiet beauty of Croatia and the maniacal “Blade Runner”-ness of Tokyo.

Most remote corner of the globe visited: I went to Salta region of Argentina, which is the Andean Northwest of the country — and traveled through the Quebrada de Cafayate. It’s so remote that most people don’t have cars — and even the POLICE hitchhike to get in between towns.

Favorite guidebook series:
For sheer aspirational living, I love the “Wallpaper” city guides. But for real down and dirty details, I tend to stick with “Lonely Planet.”

Favorite foreign dish or restaurant? I love eating. I’m a strict vegetarian — so eating while traveling can be challenging and sometimes boring, depending where you are (pro tip: Buenos Aires is a terrible place to be veg!)

A surprisingly fun place to eat — Ljubljana, Slovenia. It continues to emerge as a travel destination — and that means more and more varieties of ethnic food can be found there. I ate some really good Mexican in Ljubljana.

Favorite travel book
By far, my favorite travel book is Paul Theroux’s “Dark Star Safari.” It chronicles his overland journeys from Cairo to Capetown over a six month or so period. Theroux heads into deeply uncharted — and in some cases — unsafe territory in order to experience the wealth of culture and beauty Africa has to offer.

Traveler’s resume — where have you been? So far, I’ve been to around twenty countries on four continents. But I’m itching to travel even more. In the 70s, my dad traveled the Hippie Highway across Turkey and down to India through Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s gone places most of us couldn’t even think of traversing now, and I’d love to someday, somehow follow in his footsteps. Up first though: expanding my traveling repertoire to Africa — the cave churches of Addis Ababa sound like a must-see and I’m dying to check out Botswana.

Blogger Meg Nesterov


Where was your photo taken: On a plane bound for Tokyo from JFK, taken to join the elite ranks of Heather Poole’s laviators.

Where do you live now: Istanbul, Turkey. I arrived here in May to accompany my husband who is consulting on a project with Turkish company. We will eventually return home to Brooklyn, New York, where we can be found sampling the city’s many all-you-can-drink brunch specials and planning our next trip.

Scariest airline flown: Like Alex Robertson Textor, I’d have to go with La Costeña in Nicaragua to the Corn Islands. It feels like you are flying on an unwieldy bicycle, and when a fellow passenger noted that one of the controls was not working, the pilot remarked, “Oh, I don’t use that, it’s turned off!” They do serve cookies and Fanta, so not wholly unpleasant.

Favorite city/country/place: Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. After spending many childhood summers on the lake, I honeymooned there for a glorious week with my husband barbecuing, playing cards, and hiking through the woods with my grandfather.Most remote corner of the globe visited: Pisco Elqui, Chile. The town is named after the country’s favorite liquor, in an effort to reinforce Chile’s claim to Pisco over Peru. A perfect place to stargaze and think about climbing the Andes, maybe after another Pisco Sour.

Favorite guidebook series: I try to go with whatever has been most recently updated, but I like that Frommer’s guides generally have an actual, personal voice and all of their content is online.

Favorite travel author: Hard to choose just one, but I loved the books of Pete McCarthy: great insights to places and almost embarrassingly funny. McCarthy’s Bar is spot-on about travel in Ireland and the sequel, Road to McCarthy, travels everywhere from Morocco to the Caribbean. He sadly passed away a few years ago, but I still think of some passages of his books and laugh out loud.

Dream travel destination
: Playing Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? made me intrigued with Sri Lanka. I imagine days full of visits to remote temples and lying in hammocks on the beach, and nights spent in grizzled expat bars being served gin and tonics by a bartender with an eyepatch. And catching an international jewel thief, of course.

Worst place to catch a stomach bug?
An airplane. I was once suddenly ill on a London to New York flight and I can’t think of much worse than being on your hands and knees in an airplane bathroom, then returning to a middle seat.

When I’m not writing for Gadling, I’m…working remotely as a publicist for a travel PR agency in New York, handling media relations for several tour operators and hotels, and acting as “social media curator,” finding content for our Facebook page, Twitter, and eventually, blog. In Istanbul, I can be found looking for ways to escape the summer heat, playing tour guide to my visiting friends (six so far, including the inimitable Mike Barish), and bumbling my Turkish all over town.

Blogger Jason Heflin

Introducing another new blogger at Gadling, Jason Heflin. . .

Where was your photo taken: The Wedge/Little Grand Canyon, Utah

Where do you live now: Bowling Green, Kentucky

Scariest airline flown: I once flew a short commuter flight from Tanzania to Kenya. The baggage attendants at the gate tried to hustle my travel party for bogus extra baggage fees. The conversation got a bit heated and since the machine gun-toting guards at the door seemed to be friendly with the baggage workers we negotiated a rate that satisfied all parties. Yes, the bags did make it to our destination.

Favorite City/Country/Place: My favorite spot would be Interlaken Switzerland, hands down.

Most remote corner of the globe visited: One of the most remote experiences I had was hiking the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu. Camping deep in the Andes is a real treat. The milky way looked as if it were painted across the sky with thick white paint.

Favorite guidebook series: I always go with Lonely Planet. They haven’t let me down yet.

Connected or disconnected (re: phones, computer): Reluctantly connected. My iphone, laptop, and a handful of other gadgets always accompany me on every trip.

First culture shock experience: I took a summer class in Ireland my senior year in college. It was my first international trip, the first time I had spent over two hours on a plane, and my first experience with the still unmatched Irish pub scene.

Worst place to catch a stomach bug? I’m sure there are worse places, but I once got Salmonella in the Dominican Republic. When I saw the local hospital had a gravel parking lot with chickens pecking the ground I opted to fight it out in the hotel room with a bag of fluids and a lot of prayer.

The most unusual food I’ve ever eaten is… Zebra. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.