The Olympics and Paralympics made this past summer one of the greatest in British history in my opinion. The buzz around the city was like nothing I personally have experienced before, even getting on the tube was bearable! I was lucky enough to be able to spend a day at the London Olympic village watching the Paralympics. Along with hundreds of other proud, face painted, flag waving brits I cheered and clapped the effort of all the athletes. Despite the intense sun burn, it was an amazing day!
To witness any Olympic or Paralympic event has always been an ambition for me, as I’m a huge sports fan. My degree is even in sports science! One of my new favourite blogs, and the focus of this interview, combines two of my biggest passions in life – sport and travel – and was originally designed to focus on travel throughout all the worlds different Olympic sites. A truly epic adventure, and one that has now transformed into an even greater travel blog. Want to get the scoop on this Olympic sized blog (sorry, bad pun)? Well I suggest you read on!
Hi, AND WHO MIGHT YOU BE?
1. Name? Caitlyn O’Dowd
2. Age? 27
3. Twitter Handle? @olym_wanderings
4. URL? www.olympicwanderings.com
5. Home Town? Melbourne, Australia
6. Current Location? Dordrecht, Netherlands
7. … Business or pleasure?
Well, I moved here for pleasure – to live with my boyfriend who I met whilst travelling in Japan in 2008. But now I need to be here for work, too – I work as a tour guide all over Europe. I’m studying here too, so I suppose I have the trifecta.
8. Tell us a little bit about what you’re up to at the moment. Best bits, worst bits etc.
I’ve just finished up my second season of working as a tour guide around Europe – we’re talking showing people around 46 cities in 11 countries! It seriously is the best job in the world and it’s made me fall even more in love with Europe, if that’s at all possible. I’m always buggered on the road as it’s go, go, go, so it’s always quite nice when I’m back in Dordrecht and can just be ‘normal’ with Paul. It’s a seasonal job, so that leaves me with plenty of free time over the colder months to complete my Masters in history (my thesis is on what else, the history of backpacking) and learning Dutch. I procrastinate way too much, which usually comes in the form of blogging, which I started doing for my first solo international trip back in 2007.
LETS TALK TRAVEL
9. First travel experience?
I’m always told that I chucked a wobbly in a Chinese restaurant in Sydney when I was about a year old, but I have no recollection of that whatsoever.
My first actual memories are of when I was five and my dad took part in a teaching exchange. We swapped houses with another family and we spent a year in the small town of Glenwood, Minnesota in the US. We arrived on New Year’s Eve; the temperature in Melbourne had been about forty when we’d left, and it was minus thirty when we turned up in Minneapolis! I attended school and over the summer we travelled to thirty different states; no wonder I came back to Melbourne with an American accent. And no wonder I got the travelling bug, big time.
10. Future travel plans?
I’m off to Munich and the Austrian Alps next week and in January I’m escaping the cold and spending almost a month in Thailand and Vietnam. I’m going to be seeing my family (we’re meeting ‘halfway’) and visiting a few places I haven’t gotten to yet!
11. If you could go anywhere tomorrow where would it be and why?
Well, I’m working my way through seeing all of the world’s Olympic sites so it would probably be one of the three cities I haven’t gotten to yet – Atlanta, Mexico City and Moscow. Let’s go with Mexico City then, the weather and the food are probably the best of the three!
12. If you could avoid going anywhere tomorrow where would it be and why?
I’m Australian and therefore have no tolerance for the cold. So don’t send me anywhere freezing; I completely shut down.
13. What 5 items would you not go travelling without?
OK, so my passport has to be number one. I also use my iPhone a hell of a lot, especially with directions to hostels as I’m hopeless with that sort of thing. I also hold my head high and say I can’t get by without my travel hairdryer – mine exploded in Barcelona last year and I couldn’t concentrate at work all day until I could find myself a new one. In a similar vein, I always pack an umbrella, especially living in the Netherlands. Lastly, I always look like a ridiculous tourist with my SLR camera around my neck.
14. Best bit of advice you’ve received?
I’m not a religious person but I love the Serenity Prayer that my mum shared with me years ago. I was getting hung up on the fact that I was terrible in sports class (I mean, really, really bad) and the words of it really stuck with me. It goes, ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.’ It’s made me focus on the things I’m good at and in terms of travel, it’s made me not worry about the fact that I really wouldn’t be able to cope with climbing Mount Fuji or hiking the Inca Trail… and I wouldn’t really enjoy it either!
Someone told me that they liked Belgium and I probably would too. Bleugh!
16. Best bit of advice you can give readers of this piece?
Don’t let FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) determine where you’re going and what you’re doing. I see people on my tours like this all the time. If nobody else wants to go where you want to go, consider going by yourself. Solo travel isn’t as daunting as it’s made out to be.
17. Favourite ice cream flavour?
Peppermint choc chip. It’s been that way my whole life.
18. Apple or Andriod?
Apple. I feel ashamed to say that switching from BlackBerry to an iPhone changed my life, but it felt like it did!
19. Blogger or WordPress?
WordPress. I switched over at the start of the year after debating it for ages; it was incredibly simple in the end.
20. Hostel or hotel?
Hostel, for the atmosphere and price. However, when you stay in them for eight months straight for work, you really enjoy the occasional hotel.
21. Guilty pleasure?
SimCity. Wow, I can’t believe I’ve just owned up to that.
22. Your chosen super-power?
The ability to speak all languages without the hard part of learning it. Sort of like Harry Potter and his Parceltongue.
23. Airplane seat – aisle, centre or window?
Window if the flight’s less than three hours, aisle if it’s more.
24. What song/album are you listening to right now?
I am so totally uncool when it comes to music, I have friends that just put music on my iPod that they know I like. Regular pub crawls all summer means that I’ve just heard things like ‘Call me Maybe’ and ‘Starships’ over and over again, so I need to spend some quality time with my iPod over winter!
Neil: Here’s one to get you started …
25. Thank you for answering my questions, as a gesture of thanks I allow you one whole paragraph to shameless plug of your website …
Dank je wel! Well, I started Olympic Wanderings back in 2007 to document my travels without having to write a bazillion different emails to people. Back then, I had a theme to my travelling; I wanted to see all of the world’s Olympic sites. Hence the name ‘Olympic Wanderings’! I didn’t expect to get the travel bug big time, and now I’m back in Europe again, living with a Dutch guy I met in Japan in 2008 and working as a tour guide around Europe. I blog a few times a week about whatever seems to pop into my head; my lovely (and sometimes crazy) passengers, the gorgeous cities I find myself in on my ‘days off’, the trials and tribulations of being an expat in the Netherlands and occasionally my love of sport. Check it out at www.olympicwanderings.com.
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