Category Archives: About me

How I seized the opportunity to leave my job to travel full-time

During the last two years I touched all seven continents as a solo female traveler, I saw the whales feeding in Antarctica and I jumped in 3 Celsius degrees cold water at Deception Island, I trekked beautiful places in Patagonia and I walked on a glacier, I saw the happiest people on Easter Island and the famous moai, I gazed at the clearest sky in Atacama desert and climbed an active volcano at 5600m altitude, I visited the surreal Uyuni salt flats and I rode a bike on the Dead Road in Bolivia, I flew with a hang glider over Rio de Janeiro, I jumped the highest bridge bungee in the world in South Africa, I visited villages in South East Asia, I was amazed in Japan, I jumped the highest swing in New Zealand after trekking for 8 days and much much more.

How I got the wanderlust bug (forever!)

By 23 years old I had never visited other countries except for Romania, I had a horrible job which I hated, and I was studying a Master in Applied Geophysics which was a complete disappointment and a waste of time. One day I wrote a friend of mine who was studying in Paris asking him to buy me a book I couldn’t find in Bucharest, L’ecume des jours by Boris Vian. After studying 11 years of french in school I’m at least able to read a book in french. But he said no, he doesn’t want to buy me the book, I should come there and buy it and so I can visit Paris too. And that was a good incentive for my first trip.

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From my little salary I bought a ticket with a low-cost company and I went to Paris, and as cliché as it sounds, I completely felt in love with the city and the experience of wandering alone in a foreign country. After Paris, I traveled to London to meet a someone I was in love with and visited Budapest to watch Roger Waters in concert. But my salary was too little to travel as often as I wanted. Until one day when I decided to quit and I applied for the job I was dreaming about in university.

Sailing the seven seas

At the beginning of 2012 I went to Geneva for the interview and I lived one month in Paris to be trained to use the software the company was using. I was going to work with a helicopter and I had to pass survival tests in order to do that. I was processing data on a seismic research vessel with projects around the world which got me on the beach in the Carribean, crossing Panama Canal, seeing wild reindeer in Norway, visiting the Faroe Islands and also seeing the Northern lights two years in the row. Also, I was working in five weeks rotations, meaning that after working hard for five weeks I had other five weeks for myself, for traveling. That’s when I went to Peru for three weeks and when I participated in a photography tour in India. Little by little I wanted to see more of the world and to spend more time visiting the places where I had the crew changes instead of just scratching the surface.

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This is not a story about quitting a job I hate, but about having a good job but wanting something else from life, about seizing the opportunities and following my dreams.

On the Labor Day in 2014, the vessel was anchored 1km far from the Bahamas in order to do the crew change with a small boat. I could see the beaches of Nassau and I imagined how wonderful would have been to be there. But although the vessel was taking me to amazing places sometimes I couldn’t even touch them. So I decided I have to see the world closer. Those days I was reading all sorts of articles and blogs about traveling and beautiful destinations around the world. And when the opportunity came to terminate the contract with the company I didn’t think twice. I took the salary package and I withdrew all my pension funds from Luxembourg and went traveling.

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“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.”
― Roman Payne, The Wanderess

Deciding to quit and go traveling was one of the most liberating things I ever did, now I could see the world on my terms. It was hard to pick the places to see and to set a budget so I decided not to make a very detailed plan and go with my feelings. Also, after checking few “round the world” tickets I decided not to buy one because that would restrict my freedom and I couldn’t change the places to visit. I wanted to start as soon as possible but first I visited my brother in Italy, my sister in Germany, I went to Moskow and broke up with my boyfriend and I participated in a photography tour in Prague. Finally, I decided for a place to start and I bought a one-way ticket to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, the place from where 90% of the trip to Antarctica take off. Also, I decided to travel alone, and that gave me even more freedom and challenge.

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Patagonia chilena

Antarctica to New Zealand

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu

I chose to travel from Antarctica to Alaska stopping in each and every country on my way there for as long as I had money left. I decided to go to Antarctica first because that was the most expensive part and also the most surreal one, although I didn’t plan it in advance and I took a last minute deal from Ushuaia.

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Mikkelson Bay in Antarctica
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Torres del Paine in Patagonia
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Hang gliding over Rio de Janeiro

After many months on the road and also a small break from travels when I went home for my friends weddings I decided to postpone the idea of Antarctica to Alaska and see other cultures from other continents although I hope one day I will continue from where I left. My travels took a different direction and for the next half year or so I traveled to South Africa, South East Asia, Japan and New Zealand.

Follow your heart and your dreams!

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

Before starting my travels I was getting passionate about photography and I was participating in photography tours in India and Europe in order to learn more and practice. During my travels, I became more and more passionate about it and I learned a lot. I like most to photograph people but also nightscapes and landscapes. I have now lots of stories, photographs, tips and pieces of advice ready to be put in front of those who are passionate about traveling and photography.

To wander is to be alive!

“A person does not grow from the ground like a vine or a tree, one is not part of a plot of land. Mankind has legs so it can wander.” 
― Roman Payne, The Wanderess

There’s no better day than today to start making your dreams come true. To decide to do what makes you happiest. If you have a passion follow it! The world is big and is amazing so take your camera and backpack and go wandering!

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Bucegi mountains in Romania
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On top of Lascar Volcano in Atacama at 5600m altitude

Highlights of my 2015

I started 2015 with an amazing idea to travel from Antarctica to Alaska visiting most of the countries while zigzaging my way from south to north. It took me most of the year (with some breaks) to get to Bolivia and Brazil and then I decided I want to see something totally different and I flew to South Africa for New Years Eve. It wasn’t a race to get to Alaska, it was a dream, maybe a bit of a challenge, but as money were less and less I abandoned my idea and went to meet other cultures also.

Nonetheless , my 2015 was amazing and here are the highlights of it, in chronological order and described in moments:

1.Antarctica

I woke up one morning with the screeching sound of something touching  Expedition, our ship. It wasn’t morning yet but it wasn’t totally dark either, a new day was coming. I looked on the porthole window both scared and curious and what I saw is one of the most beautiful views I ever laid my eyes on. The icebergs and pieces of icebergs around us, totally different than the day before, the light before sunrise, the shapes and sounds were making everything surreal, and for me that’s how Antarctica is : surreal. He woke up, watched the magic outside, placed a kiss on my forehead and went back to sleep. It felt warm and magic. It felt like being in another world.

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2.Torres del Paine

The third day of the W trekking is mainly uphill at the beginning. And you go up and up and sometimes you look behind and you are amazed. That’s how beautiful it is. And it makes you forget the park it’s like a boulevard with way too many tourists. It was me , and music, and the guys I ignored a bit those days because of the music and the talk I had with myself, completely absorbed by the beautiful nature.

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3.Bahia Inutil

After seeing so many penguins in Antarctica and already passing Punta Arenas I decided to go back and get the chance to see the King penguins. And that day was a bit of an adventure, but a good and memorable one. We crossed the Magellan Strait but one the way back we got a bit stuck, as the waves were too big to cross it back. The view was beautiful, it was so cold and windy, and I was happy I finally saw those penguins and although people were panicking around I felt free and capable of every single thing I decide to do. I was speaking Spanish also, my broken funny Spanish people compliment all the time (except when a linguist told me I speak a medieval Spanish :)) ).

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4.Perito Moreno

Such a famous glacier and such a rainy day. I was in waterproof but 80% wet, that’s how heavy it rained. But if you just stop trying to find the perfect spot, between all the people and all the selfies, just focusing on the immensity of the glacier, on all the sounds of cracking ice and ice falling in the lake, you realize the rain plays also a part in the magic and feeling wet of rain will always remind you of something special. And I smiled . A truly genuine smile. Because the world is amazing.

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5.Fitz Roy

Still my favorite mountain, although later the Amphitheatre in South Africa amazed me a lot. I still have on my retina the image of the mountain, the lake and how we stayed there for two hours and still didn’t want to go back. How we said we will wait just a bit more for the clouds to pass. And they passed few times but it was too beautiful to leave it behind. How cold was the water and how alive I felt.

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6.Candelario Mansilla

This was definitely a challenge and an adventure, 24 km with 24 kg. Took a bus from El Chalten, a boat, got exit visa from Argentina and walked and walked (first 6km painfully uphill), met a guy from USA on the boat, we crossed many little rivers, me full of mud and with wet shoes, he clean like a spring flower because was always behind, all day us and the maps.me app to be sure we are on the track. But when we got closer we felt the trekking and the mud and dust and tiredness are completely worth it because the landscape it’s completely beautiful. Later that evening I ate one of the best dinner ever (as I trekked all day with only 2 boiled eggs and a carrot in my stomach).

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7.Easter Island

Rapa Nui. For me it’s always Rapa Nui and people don’t know what I’m speaking about. Watching sunset during my first day there with beautiful happy people around. On a very tiny beach. Dog trying to eat my camera as I was doing a time lapse. I empathised with those young guys and I felt there are no worries in the world worthy of my attention. Rapa Nui is one of the most magical places I ever saw.

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8. 5592m altitude

I ended up spending almost two weeks in Atacama, each and every day with a beautiful story. But the one I like the most is the one when after struggling to breathe and very slowly climb Lascar Volcano I’m not tired anymore, I’m just happy to be there, the highest I ever got with my own feet,the first active volcano I climb, ignoring the sulphur smell and smiling huge smiles.

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9.Salar de Uyuni

It’s cold, so crazy cold but I want to jump in this immensity of white. So I change my ski trousers and my goose feather jacket with summer colorful clothes and I jump, for this place is surreal too.

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10.Real Beni

Real Beni is the name of a natives community in the amazonian jungle north of Bolivia and although I really love the kids from that community and I fancy the idea of seeing them again, the special moment I have in mind is the one when our host, Cupertina sang to us. She’s the grandmother of all the children I met. At night, near the river, listening the wind and watching the clear skies, with a million mosquito bites, with a million thoughts, I hear she starts to sing and she gets all my attention. She sings a song about love, and choices, about nature and life. I feel nostalgic.

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11. Flying over Rio

More exactly flying over the ocean next to Rio de Janeiro. And turning, and increasing or decreasing speed as my instructor showed me. Freebird. Too short but life it’s made up of moments.

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12.Iguazu Falls

As the legend says:

“Once upon a time, a Guarani warrior named Caroba, who was in love with a pretty Indian maiden named Naipi, took her into his canoe and fled the village, paddling for all he was worth down the Iguazu River.

But Caroba was not the only one who was enamoured of the fair Naipi. She had also attracted the romantic attention of a forest god. When the forest god saw Caroba paddling downriver with Naipi, he was angry.

To try to stop Caroba, the angry forest god made the land under the river disappear. Naipi fell out of the canoe and dropped over the edge. She landed at the bottom, and turned into a rock. Caroba turned into a tree that overlooks this rock. Where the river bottom disappeared or fell away is the site of Iguazu Falls.”

Everybody it’s going back for the train but I linger there hypnotised. It’s not a cliche, it’s one of the most powerful sites I ever saw.

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The brazilian side of Iguazu Falls

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The argentinian side of the falls – Garganta del Diablo

 

 

 

Wishlist

  1. See Aurora Borealis at least once again and shot a good photo of it
  2. See the Aurora Australis (TAsmania, New Zealand…)
  3. Go round the world at least once before 30
  4. Volunteer at least once in conservation sites and / or farming
  5. Travel as close as possible to the South Pole ( Antarctica)
  6. Spend at least two weeks on a beach and write
  7. Attempt bungee jumping until I can do it (South Africa-Bloukrans Bridge, the highest bridge bungee in the world)
  8. Dive in depths greater than 30 m
  9. Take the TransSiberian and TransMongolian train from St. Petersburg to Beijing
  10. Swim in the infinity pool in Marina Bay, Singapore
  11. Photograph Cinque Terre again and hike the Love Path
  12. Hike to Preikestolen, Kieragbolten and Trolltunga
  13. Drink ayahuasca in South America
  14. Take a trip around Mediteranean Sea
  15. Explore Easter Island
  16. Air ballooning trip (Capadoccia)
  17. Explore Turkey
  18. Swim in the hot Blue Lagoon in Iceland
  19. Jump at least once again with a parachute
  20. See the blue tide at night in Vaadhoo, Maldives or see bioluminescent plankton at least at one of the many places where is possible
  21. Paint my body with henna
  22. See at least one pink lake (Laguna Colorada – Bolivia)
  23. Explore the Cancun underwater museum in Mexico
  24. Be romantic at tunnel of love in Ukraine or Romania
  25. Take dinner at bird nest restaurant in Thailand
  26. See Ronda cliff side city in Spain
  27. Explore Socotra island in Yemen
  28. See the world’s largest salt flat in Bolivia
  29. See the rainbow eucalyptus
  30. See the cherry blossom in Japan or South Korea
  31. Enjoy a lavender field (Provence-France)
  32. Take the TGV train
  33. Take the Maglev train
  34. See the Foucault pendulum
  35. Visit Peru  (Machu Picchu, Paracas, Ballestas Islands, Colca Canyon, Nazca lines, Cusco, Amazonian jungle) 
  36. Explore Tierra de Fuego
  37. Visit New Zeeland and Australia
  38. Relax on the Fiji beaches
  39. See the puffins
  40. Go to as many amusement parks as I encounter in my trips
  41. Take the breath taking rides (for example the Atlantic Ocean Road in Norway and the one in the forest in Ireland)
  42. Go once more in Faroe Islands
  43. Tulip festival, Netherlands and Bonn, Germany in spring
  44. See Madrid in spring again
  45. Visit Wien, Budapest, London, Edinburgh, Paris, Geneva, Istanbul
  46. Enjoy a beer festival (Bremen-Germany)
  47. See the midnight sun
  48. See wild reindeers in Hammerfest
  49. Visit or volunteer in Galapagos Islands
  50. See pyramids (Giza – Egypt and El Castillo – Mexico)
  51. Visit and photograph India, see Taj Mahal, Himalayas, Tibetan monasteries
  52. See the 12 Apostles in Australia
  53. Write a book in Thailand
  54. Swim with sharks
  55. Swim in the Caribbean sea
  56. Have a romantic escape in Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
  57. Swim in To Sua Ocean Trench, in Samoa
  58. Enjoy the Bulgarian beach and July Morning festival
  59. Visit the ghost town in Namibia
  60. Take a long ride to the northern Norway 
  61. See Wat Rong Khun in Thailand
  62. See the colored mountains in China and Walk on the China Wall
  63. Pass the Panama Canal   
  64. Cross the Equator line 
  65. Go to a concert in another country (Roger Waters in Budapest)    
  66. Take a long trip to Italy and see Etna and Vesuvius volcanoes and Pompeii ruins
  67. Go to the underwater restaurant in Maldives
  68. Viceroy Bali Resort, Indonesia
  69. Go to a masks festival in Venice
  70. Sleep in an igloo (for example in Finland) and go on safari with huskies
  71. Sleep in an yurt in Mongolia
  72. See Valley of the Moon in Chile (Atacama)
  73. Live at least one month in a house on a beach
  74. See the Great Canyon
  75. See the frozen bubbles in Lake Alberta
  76. See the Nile
  77. See Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
  78. Swim with dolphins and turtles
  79. Go to Sarmisegetusa , Romania
  80. Visit Maramures, Romania
  81. See the daffodils blooming in the mountains, Romania
  82. Climb Moldoveanu and Omu summits and see the Danube Delta, Romania
  83. See Giant’s Causeway, Ireland
  84. Go to Madagascar
  85. Sleep in a very old castle
  86. Attempt Kilimanjaro
  87. Participate in the colored powder holy festival in India
  88. Visit one Easter Jerusalem and one Vatican
  89. Reach at least first basecamp on Everest
  90. Float in the Dead Sea
  91. A long visit to Barcelona
  92. Visit Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)
  93. See the Hill of crosses in Lithuania
  94. Dive in the Great Barrier Reef , Australia
  95. Visit Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  96. Go to Memmo Alfama, a chic stay in the heart of Lisbon
  97. See the Nugget Point, the iconic site in Otago, New Zeeland
  98. Go to Huvafen Fushi Resort in Maldives
  99. Stay at the underwater hotel in Manta Resort, Zanzibar
  100. Walk in a bamboo forest in Kyoto, Japan
  101. Stay in the Shy Gardens Hotel in Singapore
  102. See the Batu Caves in Malayesia
  103. Walk the Breathtaking Walk in Tianmen Mountains, China or Breathtaking Glass Skywalk in the Alps, France
  104. Attempt Mont Blanc or at least spend one week-end in Chamonix
  105. Visit the Coral Castle, Florida
  106. Visit Tulum, Mexico
  107. Take the railway route in Swiss Alps
  108. Dive with the jellyfish in Palau
  109. Enjoy an amusement park in USA (Galveston) 
  110. Stay a couple of days at Cambrian hotel in Alps
  111. Visit the Waitomo Caves in New Zeeland ( see the glowworms)
  112. Take the Sierra Verde train in Brazil
  113. Participate in the Shining Yi Peng Festival in Thailand
  114. See the wildlife in Pantanal, Brazil
  115. Lay on the Bondi Beach, Australia
  116. See the colorful umbrellas in Portugal in Agueda
  117. See the ancient city Jerash in Jordan
  118. See the red Laguna in Bolivia
  119. Visit a cave with paintings from the old times (Lesotho – bush men paintings)
  120. Meet and speak with a shaman
  121. Go to one of the Dalai Lama initiations and meet him
  122. Practice yoga every day although I travel
  123. Go in Tibet to meditate
  124. Learn to do massage
  125. Read at least one book in every new place/country
  126. Read the 100 best books
  127. Take a cruise to see Greenland, the icebergs and polar bears

Making my dreams come true

I spent my last three years half of the time traveling around the world with a seismic vessel where I was processing seismic data and the other half traveling with friends, alone or in photography tours. This opportunity increased a lot my desire to travel and explore our beautiful world. Recently I got rid of my job, although it was the best job I could have (5 weeks on the vessel and 5 weeks on holiday), and decided to focus only on traveling and photography. I call this “my sabbatical” but is much better than a sabbatical because I have no job to return to after one year, therefore there’s no time limit for my travel.

I studied in Bucharest, Romania and graduated the Faculty of Geology and Geophysics in 2012. The best choices I ever made were choosing this faculty, quitting my first job, applying for the second one and finally getting rid of it, just because all of them were perfectly synchronised with the best opportunities at those times.

I like to be on the road, to photograph and write and I want to improve all three of them because I never had the time to focus only on the things I like. I think my time is the best fortune I have if I use it to do the things I love the most.