Who is this guy?
I’m Robb (with two B’s) and if I had to pick a hometown it would be Wellington, New Zealand. I grew up in both NZ and Australia, yet I never really felt like I solely belonged to either. Case in point – I support Australia in the rugby, but New Zealand in the cricket. Some may say I have that the wrong way around, but I’m not one to change allegiances!
My first travel experience was a school trip to Japan when I was fourteen. I spent the first week in Tokyo, where I turned down opportunities to explore the city in favour of playing with my new Game Boy. Shortly after we visited Nara – one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and Hitachi – where I stayed with a host family and attended classes at a Japanese high school.
It was that trip where I learned two important life lessons. The first was that I really don’t like sashimi. I mostly ate croissants during that trip, because I hadn’t discovered kushiyaki yet. The second was that by staying in my comfort zone, I wasted a good portion of that trip. I could have seen a lot more of Tokyo had I been a bit more open minded. Sure, I was a fourteen year-old, socially awkward introvert. But that’s not a mistake I’d like to repeat as a thirty-something, socially awkward introvert.
Whenever I travel, I now do so with the attitude that I will never return to which ever country I’m in. There are some countries I’d happily return to for more (Italy, Israel, and Turkey in particular), but if the opportunity arose I’d almost always choose somewhere new.
Which trips are you documenting?
I started this blog so that my friends can keep track of what I’m up to during my 2017-18 Italian gap year. However, I wrote a journal during my 2013 trip when I went to Israel to attend a couple of weddings, which was basically a two-week trip bookended with six more weeks in other places. I also kept a journal for my trip to Indonesia in 2015, however I never finished it at the time. I’ve uploaded entries from those trips, and filled in the gaps for my 2015 journal.
Between these trips I’ve done a few NZ-based trips, largely showing a Canadian friend of mine around, but I never kept a journal for these.
Upon arriving in Italy, I’ve accepted a volunteer position which has me travelling all over the country teaching kids English. I’m documenting side-trips which happen along the way, but I won’t be going in-depth about work itself – especially the kids I teach. Even though I never use full names, I’d rather err on the side of caution when protecting the privacy of others.
What’s with the gap between 2013 and 2017?
I didn’t get around to starting this blog until I was just about to leave NZ – I have friends and family wanting to keep track of my 2017-18 adventures, so I created the blog for that. Adding my 2013 and 2015 journal made sense also.
My journal entries are… not great. So they need tidying up before publishing. Unfortunately I ran out of time to do so before leaving, so whilst I’m focusing on my current adventures I’ll try to upload older entries when I can.
(Update July 2017 – There’s also a gap between the start of my 2017 trip and the start of my job. This is because I wanted to document my work adventures more urgently than my pre-work adventures. )
What do you look for when travelling?
I basically plan all of my trips around sporting fixtures. I love collecting match tickets as well as passport stamps, so whenever I get the chance I’ll join the locals in cheering for the home team. It’s not the most important part of my trip, but it does offer some easy structure (spend x amount of days in y, then arrive in z the day before this match…)
I’m very interested in history (as a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist) so most of the places I visit are related are historic sites or excavations. I do enjoy museums, but if given the chance to see something standing or see something in a cabinet I’ll choose the former.
I also love walking – perhaps my favourite thing to do during downtime is to put my map in my back pocket, walk a few blocks away from the main roads, and then just wander around aimlessly taking everything in. If I can find a nature walk nearby, and if I have the time, I’ll try to fit in a short hike also.
Lastly, I love trying different beers. I’m definitely a craft beer enthusiast, but if a mass-produced beer tastes good I won’t let pointless snobbishness get in my way on enjoying it. I don’t drink very often, but I do try to have a least one local beer when I travel, and so far the only country where I’ve not done so doesn’t have a brewery at all.
Why are you moving to Italy?
It’s basically tradition for New Zealanders to “go on their OE” (Overseas Experience) at some point, spending a year overseas typically in the United Kingdom. Whilst I’ve yet to visit the UK, the idea of spending a year in a country where we speak the same language and have very closely linked cultures doesn’t really appeal to me. I definitely want to check out the UK some day, but living there doesn’t feel like an adventure to me.
On my first big trip, Italy was the definite highlight of all the countries I visited. I especially enjoyed not having to speak English – I’m not fluent, but I spoke enough Italian that I could get by in a lot of situations. A year there would be a great way to improve my fluency whilst getting to see the stuff I missed last time, as well as being close enough to other countries I’ve yet to visit.