This week I’ve had the chance to interview Norbert Figueroa of GloboTreks.com. Norbert is a travel lover who offers solid backpacking tips and advice, chronicles his current and past trips, and is saving up for a round the world trip sometime next year.
TravelByU: Firstly Norbert, congratulations on 100 posts and 6 months of GloboTreks.com! What has been the best thing and the worst thing about travel blogging, and where do you see GloboTreks.com in another 6 months time?
Norbert: Thanks! The best thing has been the ability to connect with other likeminded people that are looking to experience this world through travel and who are looking to grow by opening themselves to other cultures. I strongly believe in this. The worst, well, I won’t call it the worst but instead it was the most challenging. It was learning in such a short time all the technicality that blogging requires. I came into this knowing nothing about how blogs work, so I challenged myself to learn all the ins and outs and all the important details that would help me build this blog from the ground up.
I see GloboTreks expanding its audience and still delivering the same high quality budget traveler oriented content. Would love to have GloboTreks work more like a community where posts serve as platforms of a two-way communication. I’m glad the site is starting to deliver that.
TravelByU:You’ve done a fair bit of traveling in the past from Thailand to Germany to Peru, what’s been your favorite country so far, and what made it special for you?
Norbert: Wow, this one is a hard one. I still can’t make up my mind on this one, but I’m debating between Thailand and Peru. Thailand was my dream destination I always wanted to go, but Peru on the other hand managed to deliver ten times more than what I was expecting. They both blew me away. Even though they are both completely different, their culture, lifestyle, history, and their friendliness made them feel special. They made me feel happy and that I was in the right place.
TravelByU: In addition, you’re also currently saving for another round the world trip in the near future. What country that you haven’t visited previously, is at the top of your list to visit, and why?
Norbert: On top of my list is Indonesia. This is another Southeast Asian dream destination of mine. I like the exotic feel it has and I love it’s culture, ancient history, and landscapes. I’m dying to go scuba diving in Bali. I know that country will deserve a couple weeks of my Round the World. Even though I know it will not be the first stop on the itinerary, it will be the one I’ll be looking forward the most.
TravelByU: I particularly enjoyed reading your posts about your 27th birthday Incan trail adventures, what advice would you give a traveler looking to hike the trail to Machu Picchu?
Norbert: My biggest advice would be to always walk at your own pace and to drink a lot of water. Don’t try to be a hero by showing off or by trying to keep up with faster hikers. Doing that will only burn your muscles, thus making the hike a painful experience. Another advice is to arrive to Cuzco at least a couple days before starting the hike in order to acclimatize to the high altitude. Believe me, you don’t want shortness of breath and headaches while hiking. Chew coca leaves, they will help with the altitude sickness symptoms.
TravelByU: You’re an architect by trade, in your opinion what are the top three buildings or structures in the world, and why?
Norbert: Wow, this is a tough one and strongly debated by many architects and artists, but in my opinion, these buildings deserve a spot in the top three:
Jewish Museum in Berlin, by Daniel Libeskind – Visiting the building that houses this museum is an experience in itself. The building delivers a strong message that parallels the effect created by the holocaust expositions.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, by Maya Lin – This memorial says so much with so little. The silence behind these two walls represent the scar the United States got in the Vietnam War.
La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, by Antoni Gaudi – Gaudi challenged the notions of beauty in the late 19th century, and still challenges them today with his fluid gothic designs. This cathedral has been under construction since 1882 and is not expected to be finished until 2026.
Why those three? The experience of the user transcends the limits of the physicality of those spaces. They deliver a strong message and they challenge the notions of beauty in an unique way.
TravelByU: You’ve also got a lot of handy tips on your site for travelers and backpackers, including what not to pack and how to travel in a responsible manner, what is the best piece of advice you could give someone who is looking to travel or backpack, perhaps for the first time?
Norbert: For a first time traveler I would say to keep an open mind to new cultures and to appreciate the new experiences, good or bad. Doing this will make you a happier traveler and it will help you absorb the foreign cultures in a better way.
TravelByU: You’re also an active participant in the travel blog community, what are your three favorite travel blogs, and why do you enjoy reading them?
- yTravelBlog – I believe this is one of the most inspirational travel blog. Caz and Craig know how to deliver their travel stories, their ups and downs while on the road, and they also show how travel has helped them grow and become who they are.
- Art of Non Conformity – Chris Guillebeau is one of the most influential bloggers. His blog focuses more on challenging authority and building the life you want, rather than his travels (which are also impressive). He has influenced me, and my blog, in a huge way.
- Globetrooper’s Blog – Globetrooper is a site that connects solo travelers with other travelers interested in similar journeys and adventures. What I love about their blog is how highly informational it is. It often goes a step further to give you the details behind the how-to’s and the why’s behind their tips.
TravelByU: Lastly, you’ve got some nice photos from your travels on your blog, what are some of your favorite photos, the ones that bring back the best memories and/or inspire you to travel more?
Norbert: Well, the pictures that inspire me to travel more are not the best ones, composition wise, but those are the ones that remind me of either the happiest moments while on the road or moments of great reflection and growth. These are of me at Machu Picchu in Peru, at the Wolf’s Lair in Poland, and at Wat Chai Watthanaram in Thailand. I cherish those moments and look forward to build a life full of memories like those.
Many thanks to Norbert for his time, and I think you’ll agree this is one of the best interviews we’ve had so far.