September + October Travel Updates: Italy, Spain and Scotland from That Backpacker

So I completely dropped the ball on September’s update, but if you have a look at the travel schedule below, you’ll understand why! September was a super hectic travel month and things didn’t really slow down until I got back to South Korea in mid-October, so this is going to be an extra long update to let you know what’s been going on around here!

Where I went

Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek, Song Kol, Cholpon-Ata, Karakol, Issyk-Ata Gorge

England: London

Scotland: Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow

Germany: Leipzig

Spain: Cadaqués, La Vall de Bianya, Mollet de Peralada, Santa Pau, Girona

Italy: Bologna, Forlimpopoli, Forli, Faenza, Modena

South Korea: Seoul

Some of my travel highlights

Just being in Kyrgyzstan!

What can I say? Kyrgyzstan is unlike any place I have ever been to before. Travel there isn’t necessarily easy, but each day brought a new set of highs that I didn’t think was possible. We kicked off our trip in the country with a horse trek to Song Kol Lake, where I saw some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever set eyes on. I’m talking sweeping valleys, snowcapped mountaintops, and tiny yurt camps hidden hours from the nearest accessible road. It was incredible. And then we have the World Nomad Games that blew me out of the water. I saw sports that I didn’t even know existed – hello kok boru!

Attending the Social Travel Summit in Inverness

I don’t go to many travel conferences throughout the year, but the Social Travel Summit is one that I always look forward to. Unlike other events, this is a smaller and more intimate gathering of bloggers and industry, so it’s easier to get to know people, participate in workshops, and catch up with old friends. There were so many great talks and panels this year and I walked away with a fresh perspective. Also, this year they threw a party in a castle, so there’s that!

Going on a Food & Drink Tour of Edinburgh

After attending the Social Travel Summit, I joined a short press trip focusing on food and drink in Edinburgh, and this turned out to be such a great way to explore the city. Some of the highlights included learning to blend my own whisky at the Scotch Whisky Experience, discovering that I love gin and tonics at the Edinburgh Gin Distillery, and going on a walking food tour where we sampled everything from haggis to fudge. Once the press trip was over, I ended up renting an AirBnB and staying an additional week there so that I could get to know Edinburgh a little better!

Finding inspiration at the Video Summit Leipzig

The whole reason behind my trip to Germany was to attend the Video Summit Leipzig, which just launched this year. There aren’t a whole lot of video conferences out there that really focus on sharing knowledge peer to peer, and this is one of the reasons why I found this conference so valuable. I got to attend workshops and listen to talks from videographers whose work I really admire and I left feeling charged and ready to experiment and try new things.

Learning more video skills

So this month I finally switched over to Final Cut Pro X and it has been incredible! I’m one of those people who gets intimidated by new technology, but I felt like I had outgrown the previous software I was using and it was time to move onto bigger and better things. It’s made such a huge difference in the video editing process, and hopefully you’ll noticed that in some of the videos that we have coming out on our YouTube channel later this year.

Going grape stomping in Costa Brava

After my quick trip to Germany, I hopped over to Spain where to food eating adventures continued. Again, this was part of a joint blog trip between Costa Brava, Spain and Emilia-Romagna, Italy, that I was super excited to be on because it had a culinary angle. One of the coolest things we did on the trip was a visit to La Vinyeta, where we got to take part in grape picking and grape stomping. It was the most involved winery tour I have ever taken, and I also loved that the wine tastings were very casual; it felt like you were enjoying a glass of wine with friends as opposed to doing a guided nosing and tasting.

Eating my way through Emilia-Romagna

From there it was over to Emilia-Romagna where I feel like I ate my weight in cheese. My first trip to Italy was to Lombardia so it was cool to explore a different part and try some new flavours. So what did we do? We learned to make pasta from scratch, spent the night at an agriturismo set on a vineyard, gained a new respect for the traditional balsamic vinegar making tradition, laid eyes on wheels of cheese larger than a newborn baby, and drooled over fancy cars at the Enzo Ferrari Museum. More to come on the blog!

Cool contest and travel opportunities

#MyBestInTravel Photo Competition (Open globally)

Lonely Planet wants you to submit your favourite travel photos from this year for a chance to win a trip to Canada. Why Canada? Because Canada has been named the #1 Best in Travel destination for 2017. I have to say, I’m feeling a little bit of pride for my home country. You have until December 6 to submit your entry.

Beautiful Destinations Videographer (Open globally)

Do you follow @BeautifulDestinations on Instagram? Well, they are currently looking for a videographer to travel the world and help them film, you guessed it, beautiful destinations. Sounds like a pretty cool job if you ask me.

Currently reading

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

This is a lengthy read and I’ve been engrossed in it for the last couple of months. The Poisonwood Bible tells the story of an American family of missionaries who leave their home state of Georgia behind and end up in the Belgian Congo during the country’s most turbulent decades. I’m halfway through it and it’s full of suspense so I’m really curious to see how things will turn out.

What’s coming up?

After an insanely busy two months (and lots of work to catch up on!) I said no to November travel commitments. That means I’m spending most of the month enjoying my new neighbourhood in Seoul, filming lots of videos highlighting Korean food and cool attractions, and also writing and video editing like crazy.

Then at the end of the month Sam and I are heading out to Taipei! It’ll be my first time in Taiwan so I’m really excited about this trip. Some of my must do’s include: street food at the Shilin Night Market, visiting the Toilet Restaurant, and perhaps taking an overnight trip to Jiufen. If you have any other suggestions for my time in Taiwan, feel free to share those in the comments below.

How about you guys?
What have you been up to lately?