Tag Archives: traveler

I Heart North Beach, San Francisco

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It’s been over a week since my last post and I have a really, really good excuse. I spent the past week attending the 2012 Book Passage Travel Writers and Travel Photographers Conference in Corte Madera, California. The event is a gathering of the “crème de la crème” in the world of travel writing and photography – all under one roof to teach some 80+ participants who are ready to soak up the knowledge through four days of networking, morning sessions, luncheons, intensive afternoon workshops, and evening “conversations” with travel personalities and authors of note. All of the faculty – from Pauline Frommer to NatGeo photographer Robert Holmes – available and ready for endless questions from us budding travel writers, authors, photographers and creative souls.

I’ll share more about Book Passage soon, as my brain is still absorbing it all (and the title may well be “I Heart Book Passage”) but I want to start by saying: I left my heart in North Beach, San Francisco.

I had signed up for a pre-conference Travel Writing Intensive field class with Don George, who happens to be National Geographic Traveler’s Editor at Large, not to mention an amazing author and established travel journalist, co-founder of the conference and super nice human being all around. Led by Don, we experienced “a day in the life of a travel writer” and the chosen area was North Beach, an Italian neighborhood in San Francisco, filled with sidewalk cafés, pastry shops, amazing bookstores and all sorts of ethnic restaurants. So eclectic and so me!

Between sips of macchiato and bites of cannoli, I found it hard to concentrate after lunch and write those few paragraphs for class, to be critiqued at the end of the day. The breeze of hilly North Beach, the chatter of people walking by, the glorious 80-degree sun shining on colorful murals and even the handsome Italianesque man who followed me around and asked me to sit with him while I was “on assignment” scoping out a local bar, all conspired against me… I just didn’t want to head back to the ferry and end this fabulous day. And I dreaded returning to the oppressively humid, concrete jungle of Washington DC.

As the Grand Dame of travel writing Georgia Hesse said at the opening of the conference, gushing with advice from her decades as a travel writer and editor: “Sitting at a sidewalk café is never a waste of time.”

Now I just need to move to a place that has them.



S&S ABROAD with Brendan Van Son – Travel Writer, Photographer & Editor

The life of an expat is fascinating – to pack up, move away from “home” and make a new life is no small feat. It’s an experience available to the few of us in the world who have the privilege of freedom and choice.

Over the past few years I’ve met some incredible expats, both on the road and from connecting to an amazing network of travelers in person and online. People like you and me, who took a chance to create a new life, through travel. They moved away from their “patria” for reasons as wide as the universe –  a better chance at success in their fields,  more quality of life, or to satisfy their need to explore. Some are nomads, others picked a new country and called it home. They all have one thing in common: the courage to pursue their dreams.

Though this “Abroad” series, I will profile some of these unique individuals. They’re willing to let me peek into their lives abroad – why they moved, what they do and how travel has transformed them beyond work. My goal is to continue to inspire through my blog, and what’s more inspiring than knowing that anyone can press the redirect button on life?

They are writers, teachers, photographers, computer nerds and much more.

Meeting them fuels me and I hope it does the same for you, whether you wish to live abroad or not. (Plus you get to read about someone other than me!)

For the first profile in this “Abroad” series, I’m happy to introduce writer, photographer and travel-entrepreneur Brendan Van Son. I first heard of Brendan when I stumbled on a post he wrote, ranking travel blogs into a Top 100 list. I sent him an email to introduce myself (hello, what about me?!) and he was quick to respond, inviting me to submit my work for his new digital magazine, Vagabundo, which aims to showcase the sea of fresh talent that’s out there. I loved his down-to-earth, tell-it-like-it-is personality. Plus, he’s managed to turn travel into work – through publications of his own and through his blog.  I’ll stop now – read on to find out more!


NAME: Brendan Van Son

PATRIA: Canada

OCCUPATION:  Photographer, Author, Editor



Brendan, you’re originally from Canada. Where are you currently living and how long will you be there?

Yes, I’m from a small town called Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, but I’ve been on the road for 3 years now.  I don’t actually live anywhere.  I’m a nomad of sorts, a week here, a couple days there.  At this exact moment I’ve just arrived in Madrid, Spain.

What triggered your desire to leave home and travel the world?

I decided to start travelling once I realized that all my career ambitions revolved around which job would allow me the most opportunity to travel. I gave up a lot of “good” career options to seek out my own career discovering the world.

What’s your travel style, do you structure your time in any way in each destination?

I’m a backpacker, and not a long-stay traveller at all.  Since I work from the road I stay a little bit longer than most tourists, but not much. Generally I stay 3-5 days somewhere >> Continue reading »