In this latest instalment in our travel blogger interview series, we talk to Jaz from The Life of a Social Butterfly.
Tell us about your blog.
The Life of a Social Butterfly is a UK Travel & Lifestyle Blog, sharing the whimsical beauty of destinations, affordable luxury travel, foodie delights that look as good as they taste and unique accommodation that has the power to inspire.
What do you love most about travel?
It makes me happy to be alive. Travelling to different destinations, experiencing different cultures, different foods and a different way of life broadens my mind. It inspires my creativity and has given me a positive outlook on life.
Where has been your favourite place to visit?
I studied Film and TV at university so visiting New York was a dream come true! I’d always been mesmerised by the New York skyline watching films and it really is just as stunning in real life. To visit Fifth Avenue and see Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke perform in Breakfast at Tiffany’s was one of the highlights (I got to meet her afterwards too.) Eating Italian food in Little Italy where they shot Goodfellas & Once Upon a Time in America was great too! I love gangster films!
I witnessed a terror scare in NY as the Boston Marathon bombers were heading to Central Park. It was scary witnessing the NYPD on alert in Times Square and surreal seeing all the news vans. I came to realise that this is everyday life in New York and to live there faces its own challenges.
What is your favourite place in Italy? And why?
I did mention Little Italy above…does that count?! I have only visited Italy once but I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of Puglia when I visited in March. I am a strong advocate for slow travel as I like to truly absorb the history and culture of a location rather than rushing around. Whilst many first timers to Italy tend to visit Rome and Venice, some of Italy’s busier locations, I was pleased my first time was away from the hustle and bustle. Puglia gave me true insight into authentic Italy. I mean, they even have their own special pasta called ‘little ears’ in Puglia. I wish I’d brought some back with me as I’ve been unable to find it in my local supermarkets. The Italian countryside is breathtaking with thousands of olive trees producing the world’s best olive oil (I know because I tasted it!) The working-farm masserias produce mozzarella and a whole host of delectable Italian cheeses and look like great places to stay too.
I had the pleasure of living la dolce vita at the Corte dei Massapi villa just outside the white city of Ostuni. With a glass of red wine in my hand I marvelled at the countryside around me as I sat in the rooftop hot tub. I often imagine I’m still there…(if only).
What’s your best tip for travellers and holiday-goers?
Broaden your mind by exploring some of the other cities in a location. We’re all guilty of only visiting capital cities (I’m just as guilty!) When I spoke to friends and family the only place they had visited in The Netherlands was Amsterdam and it hadn’t occurred to them to visit other areas. Beach city The Hague is one of my favourite places in The Netherlands; it’s young and trendy vibe with unique concept stores altered my perception of the city of justice that it’s known for. This year I visited the rainbow city of Rotterdam, with its bright colours, modern architecture including Cube Houses, it is completely different to the more traditional cities. I soon learned this was due to the fact Rotterdam was completely destroyed during WW2 and the city was rebuilt to reflect the city reborn. It’s The Netherlands with a modern twist!
I regularly check out Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to various destinations and sometimes I only put my dates in so I can be inspired to go somewhere new. Jack’s Flight Club is also a great way to find good deals.
How do you decide what to do when you go to a new destination?
Since I began travel blogging, I’ve soon realised I get itchy feet even before I’ve left my current location. It sure has created an insatiable desire to travel. In the past twelve months, I’ve visited Portugal, The Netherlands (three times), Spain, France, Czech Republic, Italy, Croatia, Greece as well as new places in the U.K. I tend to use Pinterest as a search engine to read blogs on a particular location to help me plan activities. Pinterest has been particularly useful for my upcoming trip to Iceland.
How do you decide which place is next on the ‘to go’ list?
Instagram has become a tool to regularly spur my next trip! I follow lots of other travel bloggers for inspiration and will often click to see more on their blogs. Matera in Italy is my current fave and my only regret was that I didn’t get chance to see it when I went to Puglia. I’ve seen that it’s European Capital of Culture for 2019 so I want to visit even more!
What’s your favourite photo from your adventures, and why?
I have so many it’s hard to choose! I think it would have to be this one of Dubrovnik, Croatia. The sunset was magical from the old city walls and had views over the Old City and Lokrum Island. It’s where they filmed parts of Game of Thrones and if you head over to Lokrum Island you can sit on the Iron Throne. The island is said to be cursed by the monks who were exiled and it is currently inhabited by only rabbits and peacocks.
What’s your go-to dinner party anecdote about your travels?
Where do I start, I’ve been spat on by a camel in the Canary Islands, eaten snails in an intimate restaurant with everyone looking and almost lost my only bikini during a storm in Corfu!
My earliest travel memory is a family holiday to Portugal, I was seven and had to sleep in a cot. I didn’t sleep for the duration of the trip as I thought the sound of the fridge was mosquitoes buzzing around my head!
During my villa stay in Puglia this year, I left for the airport to find the gate was locked and no one had a key for us to get the car out. In the end, we had a 90 minute drive to the airport, the equivalent of the time boarding gate was due to close. My first time driving abroad ending up being a sequence out of the Italian Job as I hurtled our small car at speed, flashing and beeping other drivers as I went, with my friend gripping her seat in terror! We ran to the boarding gate to find our plane was delayed and our hosts had offered us a complimentary night stay and flights the following morning… 🙂
Which Bookings For You villa tempts you the most?
Villa Butterfly, of course! This villa was made for me! It gives me the perfect excuse to go back to Puglia. Though, I would like to stay in one of the trulli houses too as they remind me of hobbit houses (I love the Lord of the Rings films!)
Florence and Tuscany have always appealed to me. At the start of the year, I did an Italian Cooking Masterclass with the Giovannini family and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the wild boar they cooked. Not only do I have a desire to stay at their Tuscan Country Relais & Spa Le Capanne villa, I’ve also been considering it as a possible wedding venue (yes, I loved the wild boar that much!)
And finally, do you have a favourite saying or quote about travel or sightseeing?
“When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been.
But she had wings.” – Dean Jackson