Nina Kogej is our adventurous neighbour from Slovenia and she usually travels with enthusiastic off-road driver Simon. Nina has started her journey at very young age and she just loves it. Nina and Simon are running successful website where they share their travel stories. They usually travel with backpacks or by their 4X4 vehicle, with a DSLR camera and GoPro always handy as their must have travel tools. Now let’s proceed to the interview.
Q: Nina, where are you now, at home or abroad?
A: I am at home unfortunately. Well, not that I don't like it, but it would be nice to be exploring a new place right now.
Q: How long have you been travelling and how did you start?
A: I have been traveling from the age of three. I was lucky to be born in a curious family and we traveled a lot around Europe in a remodeled van, where we had beds in. Ever since high school, I've been traveling on my own, but now I travel with Simon, my husband.
Q: Did someone have an influence on you to change your life and start travelling?
A: I guess I can “blame” my parents to give me the travel bug and showed me there's much more to see than our backyard. My parents always encourage me to see the world and to see it with my eyes wide opened.
Q: I know you started traveling from a very young age. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
A: My mum and dad were a lot into new adventures and that is why we traveled each year. I was taught about different cultures, traditions, habits, food, way of live and that grow in me and now it is like I was born with curiosity.
Q: What do you prefer; hotels, hostels or private accommodation and why?
A: Hmm, that is a tricky questions, as all depends from destination, from the mood and from money we saved. Because Simon and I both have 9-5 jobs, we nowadays like some more commodity, so staying in a hotel is nice. But on the other hand, we also like camping – if we travel by our own vehicle or renting one, we do a lot of wilderness camping too.
Q: How do you fund your trips?
A: As mentioned before, we both have full time jobs, so we try to save as much as possible when we are home and working. We don't go out much, we cook ourselves and we even have our own veggie garden… I guess we are totally committed to save as much money as possible to be able to travel.
Q: How many countries have you visited so far?
A: Just 2 weeks ago I visited my 45th country. It could be a larger number, but I felt in love with some of the visited countries and I keep coming back, instead of exploring some new ones. But I don't mind - I don't travel to tick off countries, but to experience and learn as much as possible.
Q: Where are you going next and what will your activities be there?
A: We plan to go somewhere in January, but so far we don't really have any destinations picked. It would be nice to avoid winter and cold days, so we will probably end up in some warmer place if we will get a budget plane ticket.
Q: If you can choose one country and one city (doesn’t have to be in the same country) which you would recommend visiting and why?
A: I guess all depends of your interests… But if you are like us, liking nature and wilderness, we would say Oman. We rented 4WD there and traveled off-road a lot, having some of the best times of our lives. We felt so free, pitching a tent on a sandy beach or under a high sand dune… Pure magic!
As for the city – my favorite city is still Istanbul. It is extremely touristic place, but when I was there for the very first time (15 years ago), it was not so popular yet and I just felt in love with its vibe, history, people, food, charm…
Q: Are there any places you don’t want to visit and why?
A: I don't really have a place, I don't want to visit. If I had the time and money, I would visit as much as possible. I am always opened to new ideas and new adventures, so if it sounds good, I'm always ready to go.
Q: What is your favorite travel app for your smartphone or tablet?
A: I will sound pretty silly now, but I don't have any. I am still a little bit old-school and I just go with the flow. I do check some travel blogs for some firsthand tips and that is all I need.
Q: What camera and lens do you use?
A: We have two Canon DSLR cameras (EOS40D and EOS60D) and using 4 different lenses. We like photography a lot and we might be buying the 5th lens any time soon.
Q: What did you learn on your travels, and how has travelling changed you?
A: Because I have been traveling almost all my life, I cannot really see the changes in me, but I do think I cherish my life more. If you travel with your eyes open, you can always learn and grow. Seeing in what kind of circumstances some people live, you are always grateful having a roof over your head, clean bed, food on your table, clothes…
Now a few questions about your visit to Croatia.
Q: What attracted you to visit Croatia?
A: Being from Slovenia, Croatia is our neighbor country, so we were there as kids for summer holidays.
Q: What places did you visit?
A: My family normally spent holidays near Umag, so I know Istria really well. I have also visited Plitvice and Krka national park with my parents. Simon and I have explored Velebit, Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Rab Island. Well, Simon actually has his relatives on Rab Island, so he spent all his summers in grammar school there. We still need to explore the rest of the country - I hope to do a tour around Croatian islands, as Rab is the only one I have visited.
Q: What was your favorite moment?
A: I think my favorite memory was when Simon took me to Rab Island. I did not even know what to expect, but when I was there, I was becoming more and more impressed over it. I loved walking around the old Rab town. And I guess visiting Rab was also nicer, because of Simon’s uncle, aunt and cousins.
Q: Would you like to come back and if so what would you like to see and do?
A: I would definitely like to come back to Croatia and to explore it deeper. I like to travel to learn about local traditions and habits, also food, and I hope we can visit Croatia once, just to get more involved in their local life… maybe learn to cook a traditional dish, looking for truffles, going fishing etc.
Q: Any funny/interesting stories from your Croatia visit?
A: I think my funniest stories are connected with Croatian language. I understand mostly everything, but when I try to talk, it is a bit harder. Sometimes I do some silly mistakes, using the wrong words and at the end we are all laughing.
Q: Did anything bad happen to you while you were here?
A: No, nothing bad happened when I was traveling around Croatia. I have never felt unsafe and I only have good memories on all my travels there.
Q: What did you not like in Croatia?
A: Well, being from Slovenia, I do noticed, that you have menus in restaurants in different languages, except in Slovenian language. I guess people still think we understand everything, but the truth is, that younger generation, including me, are not really good in Croatian language and we would feel much more welcoming, if we can get a menu in Slovenian too – especially in Istria, where many Slovenian tourists are.
Q: What do you think about Croatian people?
A: Getting to know locals, I don't have anything bad to say about them. But I guess if you are nice to them, they are nice to you too.
Q: And what about the sea and the beach? Would you recommend it?
A: Definitely! Croatia, especially Dalmatia, has some of the most amazing beaches in the world. I often say to my friends, they don't need to go far to enjoy crystal clear waters.
Q: How was the food?
A: Croatian food reminds me a lot on my home. After all Slovenia and Croatia were both part of Yugoslavia and we do have some similarities.
Q: Do you have any tips for travellers thinking of visiting Croatia?
A: Well, I do have one – don't think, but go, as you will not regret it!
Q: Do you wish to add anything else that’s not covered by my questions but it’s worth mentioning?
A: Maybe I would like to point out, that Istria is becoming a real trendy destination. It is always great to visit it and explore it – we are still planning to return to explore more about its cuisine, waterparks and wine cellars.
Q: Where can we find you online?