Boarding Pass – Sara Rosso

Sara Rosso is digital strategist, writer and photographer based in Italy. Author of Ms. Adventures in Italy, Sara seeks adventures around the world through food (gelato, anyone?). And speaking of food, Sara is co-founder of World Nutella Day, which celebrates the chocolate hazelnut spread every February 5th. Enjoy her beautiful look at the world in today’s edition of Boarding Pass! Thanks, Sara!

{henna hands at Indian wedding}

last trip taken:
I went to the US & London for work, but my last trip taken for pleasure was Thailand over Christmas/New Year’s. I had been wanting to go for a long time and it was the perfect time to leave snowy Milan for some sun and delicious food. Thai food is quite scarce in Italy so I was glad to eat it every day, and the hospitality in Thailand is great.

{a monk using a cell phone, tiny bells hang at a temple in Thailand}

next trip on deck:
Heading back to the States again for work, and a physically close trip will be Rome & Puglia, but our next longer trip will probably be somewhere in Africa or China. Still trying to narrow it down where to exactly (would love your readers’ suggestions!)

{Cherry Tomatoes at a farmers market in SF, Surfer girl in Ocean Beach, San Diego | California}

one place you would go back to again and again:
California. I was born there but it’s no longer where I live, and every time I go back I am struck by its beauty. I love landing at SFO airport – a scenic landing right on the water with a great view of the Bay Area. I suggest renting a car and driving from the top to the bottom of the state along the coast, then turning around and going up the inside part of the state – you’ll see a completely different California every few hundred miles.

{evil eyes in an Istanbul market}

place you’d most likely recommend a friend go visit:
Istanbul. I think it doesn’t get enough attention and it’s really fascinating. I was completely enchanted by the city, and that was during a cold and rainy weekend in January. There’s such an intersection of cultures, religions, and cuisines there (not to mention the city spans two actual continents). I can only imagine the Bosphorus on a nice day in May. And I love breakfast there.

{breakfast in Istanbul}

preferred method of transportation:
I like taking public transportation and trains when possible (we didn’t have a car for 6 years here in Italy and didn’t miss a thing) but when it comes to out-of-the-way airports and unfamiliar territory I don’t mind getting a car or taxi to make sure we the initial arrival is relatively quick with luggage. I backpacked around Europe and I got plenty of practice getting lost and lugging around bags to not miss it anymore. After getting settled I love wandering the streets on foot and if you haven’t taken a tuk tuk (in Thailand or India) it’s a fun experience.

{patterns at the Grand Palace in Bangkok | Thailand}

place you’ve never been but dying to go:
Morocco. It’s been on my radar for some time, and a few times we almost purchased tickets but didn’t. I think it will happen pretty quickly, and it’s so close to Italy so we can do it on a long weekend for just a taste. I think I would love the colors, the scents, the food, and I know I love some of the music – I’ve been listening to Rai music for years.

{an old chair in the campagna & country, a roundabout on Favignana island | Sicily}


place you’d never go back:
I started traveling young and I’ve been to 25 countries now, so I’m sure many places have changed a lot since I first visited them and it would be interesting to see how they compare to my memories. I hate saying never, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never go back to the Golden Triangle in Thailand. I start to get itchy when I find myself in a location surrounded by all tourists. I’d much rather explore Burma/Myrnamar or Laos far away from the touristy areas.

{Santa Margherita Ligure’s cathedral at night & a taxi stand | Italian Rivera}

most memorable trip in 2 sentences or less:
India for 15 days with 2 of my best friends for a friend’s sister’s wedding. We got the perfect combination of family with 5 days in a gam/village with no other non-Indians around for miles, 5 days of chaos and partying in Mumbai for the wedding, and then 5 days in Goa celebrating New Year’s and relaxing with more friends.

how do you prepare for a trip?
I’m not the type of traveler that researches a ton before deciding where to go or looks for discounts when deciding on a location – most of my destinations have been on my “To Visit” list for some time. By the time I’m packing for a trip, I’ve probably found several online resources, and I usually search local food blogs for some tips on what to eat and where. Most of the historical things you can find in almost any guidebook; it’s the other things that take some research and digging. I make pdfs of many articles and put them on my iPad.

{humpback whale jumping & a Tlingit burial ceremony | Alaska}

how do you record your travels when you’re traveling?
When I was still using film I kept a log of where I was at certain points in the roll in case the picture itself wasn’t obvious. I collect business cards at restaurants and shops, and now with my digital camera and I’ve started taking pictures of street signs or other information in between shots – it really helps when I go back and scan through my pictures, or if I want the proper name of something. I also really like looking around – I have a pretty good head for directions and I’ve been known to find places I visited just once years later by remembering surrounding landmarks or shops.

{Central Park in the fall, Hot Peppers at Union Square Greenmarket | New York}

what is your favorite thing to photograph in a new place?
I’ve gradually shifted to taking many more portraits when I visit a place as opposed to landscapes and monuments, and I always want to record any street food or memorable meals. I am also a big color fan – the more the better, so my photos are usually very colorful and I love fabrics, signs, or other decorations that are colorful.

{White Sands, Mexico}

on an average, how many pictures to you take on a trip?
It depends on how comfortable I feel whipping out my DSLR – though I always carry a second smaller camera in case I need to get a shot. On a longer trip I’m easily taking 1000+ pictures.

{Paris Café scenes}

what’s in your “designer travel kit” ?
I always travel with a Moleskine to jot down notes and ask questions, and I’ve also taken to sticking my iPad in my camera bag (I lucked out it fits with no hardship to me) sometimes it’s useful to jot down notes or draw pictures. When riding through Thailand, I had someone write hello in Thai and I showed it to people through the window when we were riding through small towns. It brought a lot of smiles to people’s faces.

Recently I started carrying a Canon 7D and my go-to lens is the 50mm 1.4, but I experiment with my 85mm and always have a zoom lens in the bag. I’d like to pare down to just the 50 and a wide angle lens (which I’m still shopping for).
what do you do after a trip? how long after a trip does this happen?
I download all my pictures and sift through them – their ultimate destination is my food & travel site. It takes me quite a while, and I wish I was faster at sharing them online but part of it is a time factor and the other is the critical work of really narrowing them down to what I feel are my best shots. A trip like India or Thailand will leave me with 1000+ shots (not counting shots deleted from on-the-spot chimping) and if I can narrow it down to 50 or 100 images I feel confident showing around, I’m happy. Needless to say, I have a backlog of pictures to post that gets hard to ignore.

{a boy eats a sandwich full of ice cream | Thailand}

favorite souvenir/thing to bring back?
I love food, so I usually bring back some weird snack/flavor combination or something that will remind me of a meal or memory. I always always try to visit a grocery store and I spend a while wandering the aisles just seeing what the locals buy and are eating. It’s always fascinating to see what shelf space is given to which types of products, and it gives you an idea how much of a sweet tooth the country has, or not. Food is fascinating to me because it’s a common denominator in all cultures and countries, but so different in its application.

I also spent about 15 years singing choir so music and dance are still a big part of my life. I like to listen to what’s on the radio and often pick up a CD to remind me of the place. Usually street markets are a good place to find out what’s popular – the stall owners usually are playing music to pass the time.

{Making Pane e Pomodoro (Bread and Tomatoes) at a party in Puglia}

What do you think the secret is of traveling and finding a great place to eat?
It’s silly advice, but look for the lines. Especially when you don’t see any tourists in them. I always keep my eye out for a crowd no matter what time of day it is, and I’ve discovered some really excellent places that way. Often I don’t even discover what people are waiting in line for before deciding to join them, but just jump in and get surprised.

Links:
website: SaraRosso.com
blog: Ms. Adventures in Italy
Eye on Italy – The All-Italy Podcast
World Nutella Day (5 years going strong!)
on flickr
@rosso on twitter

BOARDING PASS is a weekly column exploring creative ways people see the world.

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