Larissa Olenicoff introduces herself as a travel addict and iPhone photographer in her personal travel blog 'The Blonde Gypsy'. She has been to several worldwide destinations such as New York, Los Angeles, Beijing, Singapore and London, but insists that she isn't a round-the - world traveller! Instead, she's a 'Balkan connoisseur and Master of Europe'. Originally from California, USA, Larissa has done her Masters in European Studies and has travelled extensively across Europe. Her blog has gained attention of the worldwide audience for its interesting content and spectacular pictures, shot mostly through her iPhone. Larissa's work has been featured in major publications such as Daily Mail, Harper's Bazaar and Marie Claire UK.
How would you personally define the term 'Travel'?
An exploration of cultures around the world.
As stated in your blog 'The Blonde Gypsy', you have been travelling your entire life. Which was your first travel experience? Also, please share with us your most significant memory related to it?
When I was a baby my parents were pushing me in a stroller through Europe but my first real experience with 'travel' was when they took me in high school on a road trip along the coast of France and Spain. That's when I fell in love with the concept and from that moment forward, especially after I turned 18 and was able to travel alone, I made it a priority to save money just for that and spend time abroad as often as I could.
The history and culture of Ulcinj has 'intrigued' you. While exploring this lesser-known destination in Montenegro, what attracted you the most in this place?
The same thing that attracts me most to travel in the Balkans in general - it's more wild, much less predictable than the more touristed destinations in Montenegro, and as a result, somehow more authentic.
Which are the five travel gadgets or accessories that you can't leave home without?
I like to travel as light as possible which is what initially sparked my interest in iPhone photography. With that, really just my iPhone, my Macbook Air, and a GoPro are the things I can't leave behind. If I wasn't blogging, I'd even be ok just hopping on the plane with only my passport and iPhone.
You've rafted on the Neretva River and sailed in Croatia. What other thrilling activities or sports you have enjoyed so far?
Recently I tried via ferrata here in Western Kosovo. It's basically climbing a mountain attached to a steel cable and more scary than thrilling for people like me who are a bit afraid of heights - but I made it!
What piece of advice would you like to give to travellers visiting Europe for the first time?
Soak it all in. Europe is so unique in that you can drive less than 100km and be immersed in a completely different culture than you were just an hour before. Enjoy this diversity and donâ€™t get so caught up in checking off all the tourist sights a place has to offer. Maybe you will miss a few museums, but spending that time sitting at a cafe watching life happen around you can sometimes leave a more lasting impression on you and give a deeper insight into what a place is really all about.
"You don't take a photograph, you make it." Along with sharing this quote by Ansel Adams, you have asserted your interest in photography. Your blog has many spectacular pictures. Which among them is your favourite and why?
That is like asking to choose which is your favorite child :) I like all of my photos and I wouldn't say one just stands out above another because the point is placing them together in a way which tells a story rather than trying to evoke a single "wow" from the reader.
What all locations of Europe and elsewhere would you like to cover in 2016?
I've been living in Kosovo for the past year and because of this have been fortunate to explore and write about many new places around the Balkans. I would like to venture out a bit in the remaining months of 2016 though, maybe back to Eastern Europe (Poland, Ukraine, the Baltics) or somewhere totally different like Greenland or Iceland. The Stans have been on my list for a long time now but don't see it fitting in my schedule before the end of the year unfortunately. There is always 2017.
This interview with Larissa Olenicoff is a part of Travel Trolley's ongoing 'Best of the Travel Bloggers' series. We are interviewing popular travel bloggers who encourage and inspire people to travel. Check out all the bloggers we have interviewed and learn about their interesting experiences, adventures, travel stories as well as useful holiday tips.