This week’s goin’ gal is Ayelet Weisz, from All Colores. Check out her tips for the best places to see in her home country, seeing wildlife in Argentina and more!
GGG: Hi! Welcome to Girls that Go! Who are you, where are you from and how did you get started traveling internationally?
Thanks! I’m Ayelet and from All Colores travel blog, and I live in Israel. I’ve always wanted to travel internationally and spent most of my life believing it was out of reach for me. My first trip was a surprise, fairy tale opportunity to join a relative in New Zealand – and it got me wanting to see more of the world. It made me see that it was possible to reach that far, and I started being more proactive toward making travel a reality.
GGG: Your blog is called All Colores. Can you give us a little background explanation of this title?
I started my blog for friends and family when I traveled to Argentina and the United States, so the name reflects both countries’ languages.
The phrase “all colors” represents all opportunities to me, it represents that anything is possible. As a feminist, it represents a desire for a world that accepts all people, no matter how alike or different they are than what the hegemony decided is the “right way” to live. No matter what your color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, profession, marital status, etc – I want everyone to have an equal opportunity to live a healthy, fulfilling, empowering life.
My tagline is “one woman’s life-hugging travel blog,” and that’s about being present, living our passions, exposing ourselves to different lands and cultures, connecting with others – and embracing the rich diversity that exists in the world, which, again, is what the title is about. And it doesn’t matter if it’s in my own town or on the other side of the world.
GGG: You love winter in all its glory! Where’s a spot you’d love to head where you haven’t been yet to spend a snowy holiday?
I read once of a traveling family that chased the summer throughout the world for a whole year. I would love to do something similar with winter. I would also love to see Yellowstone National Park in the States in the winter. I think the geothermal wonders mixed with the winter wonders would be pretty special to experience. I would love to learn about the science behind it, as well as take 4 million photos or so every day.
I think the ultimate winter wonderlands, though, would be in both poles – Antarctica and the Arctic. Of course, that means ice, not snow, but ice is fun too. I would love to learn how to create ice sculptures.
GGG: Cool! (Literally.) You’ve written a lot about the joys (and stumbles) of public transportation. What’s your favorite country to use public transportation in, and why?
Outside Israel, I used public transportation mostly in Argentina, which I enjoyed most of the time because the buses are very comfortable – especially the long-distance ones, that I actually tried to avoid initially – and the views are spectacular.
However, my favorite place to use public transportation was actually Los Angeles, California in the States. I kept hearing and reading how impossible it is to move around LA using public transportation alone, yet the more I researched, the more possibilities I found. I planned on using public transportation throughout my entire time in southern California, yet plans changed.
As the trip approached, it turned out there were several wonderful people willing to drive me around and travel with me – so I went with them. I did get to use the subway in LA twice, an option that didn’t even occur to me before as I mostly use buses at home, and that was extremely exciting.
At the subway station there was a map with all the places you could reach from that station – and I thought it was fantastic, because you can bypass LA’s infamous traffic. It was such a great discovery. I hope to go back and explore the public transportation there more thoroughly one day.
GGG: There are a lot of amazing things to see in your own home country of Israel. What would be three “must-sees” for someone who has never been?
Even though Israel is a tiny country – it can supposedly fit 20 times inside California – there’s so much to see and experience here. I recently wrote a report about the 48 must live Israeli experiences, which readers can get for free on my site, and I still didn’t cover everything. My first inclination is to say “You must see snow in Israel!”, because I don’t know if anyone ever connects Israel to snow.
However, I suppose anything in old Jerusalem would more likely be a “must see” for most people. I don’t know if there’s someone who comes to Israel for the first time and doesn’t go to Jerusalem. Many people relate Israel to the rich history of the area and to the three major religions, and you can find all that in Jerusalem, alongside modern amenities. Jerusalem is picturesque too, with its stone buildings and alleys. If you come in December, there are lots of freebies and discounts in every touristy and cultural spot you can think of, from lodging to food to museums, 3 days every week.
If you come during a holiday, though, I recommend experiencing it in an Israeli kibbutz. It’s a special experience that lets you have a feel of the past mixing with the present, old generations and traditions with new. You can order a place in a kibbutz dining room as you would in a restaurant. I recommend booking a seat in advance.
Also, I think the Dead Sea would likely be a natural “must see”, given that it is the lowest point on earth – if you don’t count the bottom of seas and oceans, of course. It is said to have healing qualities, so pretty much anyone who goes there covers her or himself in mud. If you prefer your special water experience to be an underwater experience, I would head to Eilat, our southernmost city, and visit an entire underground park in the Red Sea, where you can find special flora and fauna. There are also dolphins in Eilat, and that’s always a plus in my opinion.
GGG: Great! Lots of good options. You’ve traveled through a number of national parks; do you have any fun wildlife encounter stories to share with us?
National parks are so much fun! The closest I ever got to wildlife was in Peninsula Valdes, located in the Argentine province of Chubut. I was fortunate, because I came there in mid September, once a few hundred penguins had already arrived. Someone who was there a week or two before me didn’t see any penguins at all. I got to see the first couple of the season. A few months later, they already had babies.
The most exciting part was seeing the penguins so up close and personal. I have photos of myself with penguins, where I can literally reach out and hug them – which, of course, is a major no-no. It was a lot of fun to watch their behaviors and interactions with one another, and see how they walk and pose.
Actually, though, I got even closer to raccoons in the Argentine side of the Iguazu than I did to the penguins. I’ll be writing about it in the blog in the next few weeks, yet the penguins were extra special. I just love penguins.
GGG: As a woman traveling alone in a variety of countries, what are the key practices you have to stay safe?
I believe that women have many reasons to travel alone. I think it’s an amazing, liberating, exciting, enriching experience, and I highly recommend it. That said, unfortunately, space is usually less safe for women than it is for men, even in countries that consider themselves the most modern countries. Even though it is known that most assaults happen by people we know and not a stranger that jumps at us from the bushes, I do think you need to take a few precautions – and then go explore and have the time of your life.
First of all, read about the area, read what others wrote about safety there – and ask questions. You can ask questions on message boards or contact travel bloggers who’ve been to where you’re going. Then, when you’re at your destination, ask locals you feel you can trust, like the staff at your hostel or hotel or someone you bonded with on a tour or at a store. Ask fellow travelers in hostels, tours, tourist attractions. Another traveler might have been here before, or been here longer, or researched when you preferred spontaneity.
I would take under consideration who you’re talking to, though, because perspective might influence the answer. A long time traveler might not be worried about the same stuff as a newbie traveler. Some men – and women – might not even understand your concerns. I think it’s important to ask anyway, because it’s not about what others might think of you (and forget after a minute), it’s about you feeling safe and taking care of yourself, so you can have your wonderful experience.
In addition, I highly suggest taking self defense classes – in general, but especially before a first big solo trip. I had a lot of fun taking a class like that, and hope to return to that, to remind myself what I learned and learn new moves.
GGG: Where are you on your way next and what colors can we look forward to seeing on your site?
I’m currently exploring my own country, Israel. It’s easy to forget sometimes how special our own surroundings are. I just finished sharing the history and natural beauty of a northern Israeli corner on the blog.
Now, you can expect to see a lot of green on All Colores as I move toward sharing my experiences from the Iguazu Falls and their surroundings in Argentina and Brazil. There are a lot of trees there, so there’s a lot of green around the falls. Plus, there’ll be plenty of other colors from the diverse birds park on the Brazilian side of the falls.
Then, if everything goes well, you can expect to see plenty of winter colors early in 2013. Stay tuned….