F&F: We are super, super excited to share with you, our interview with popular travel ‘Instagrammer’: Nele Blu. Or, @NeleBlu to keep it instagram correct. Or Nele, to keep it human! If you don’t already follow her – you absolutely should since her feed is full of photographs from her incredible journey around the world, and yeah, so is so nice!
Read on to learn about her, her amazing trip and also get a few tips to increase your own Instagram following (and hey, we all want that!)
Firstly, can you tell us a bit about you – where did you grow up? What was it like?
My name is Nele – I’m from Germany and I was born and grew up in the area of Lausitz, not far away from Berlin. While I used to live the usual ‘big city life’ as a teenager during the week, I had the pleasure to spend each weekend and most of my vacation time out in nature. My grandparents have always loved the country life – that’s something what has been reflected on me as well. I really enjoy city life, big cities and good infrastructure, but on the other hand I would not give up a refreshing walk in the woods or on the beach.
What gave you the desire to explore – have you always had the urge or is travelling something that entered your life later on?
When I worked as photo-editor I had to see and observe a lot of travel reports and documentaries. My wanderlust became more and more and so I had no other choice but to burst the bonds of the daily business and start my world journey!
How did NeleBlu begin?
My family and friends asked me to update them on regular basis. I started to think about a travel blog and it did not take long for me to figure out that the amount of work would just be too much. I wanted to concentrate on my journey and not on typing and blogs. A friend of mine introduced me to Instagram and there I found the compromise I was looking for. From then on I was able to quickly upload my photographs and share them with my loved ones – that other people could also be interested was something I did not expect!
NeleBlu is incredibly popular on Instagram! Was that always your intention? Or a happy accident?
The amount of fans on Instagram are really a lucky accident. I never expected that so many people would be interested in my photos. I am really happy and I enjoy all of the positive comments and emails which I receive on daily basis. It is a great feeling that so much people want to be a part of my journey and accompany me in this way. Another great part of it are all the tips and suggestions, regarding my current and upcoming whereabouts, which I receive regularly from my followers.
Have you always been interested in photography?
Yes. Since I can remember I have ran around with a camera around my neck. Even when I was young; the camera of my Grandfather was more important to me than my first puppet. Later on, my hobby became my job, where I first became a photographer and then a picture editor.
Now on to your travels! So far what are your top three places you have visited and why?
At the beginning of my world trip I visited Istanbul which was a really big surprise. I never thought that this city could fascinate me like it did. The contrasts between modern life and tradition are really fascinating. Another place which I will definitely visit again.
Also impressive was the Great Wall of China – my Number Two. From the beginning I was sure that this world wonder had to be a part of my route. Together with my Couchsurfing hosts, I drove to Simataj. My Chinese Host not only helped with translation during the trip, but also brought a part of Chinese history closer to me. Besides the historical background it is just so impressive what mankind and human-hands can accomplish.
In India there were lots of impressive encounters, but the Taj Mahal was the most remarkable for me. Thinking back I can still see it as clear as it were yesterday when I was in Agra walking towards this astonishing complex of Taj Mahal. The history is incredibly romantic but even better is the architecture and the majestic look. Definitely my Number One.
If you could return to one place – to stay a little longer – where would it be?
I’ve definitely not spent enough time in Sidney which is a really astonishing city. Even if I saw a lot, I’m sure that this city would have so much more to offer than from what I’ve guessed initially. I’m surely gonna’ visit Sidney another time later this year.
What has been the most incredible ‘moment’ on your journey – a site you saw, a sunrise, people you met?
The really wonderful thing with this journey is that it is full of unbelievable moments and events.
Something really incredible was the eruption of the Sakurajima Volcano in Japan.
There are plenty of pleasant moments with strangers – such as all of the Couchsurfing Hosts we have had! They have offered us so much warmth from the first moment, it is something that – even I as pure optimist – would have never expected
I think the most wonderful encounter I had was with Sue from Chengdu in China. Not only did she introduce us to the best places and her wide circle of friends, she also invited us to meet her Parents in Lijiang. Those days were wonderful and full of pleasure. They are also just another example of how language barriers are no frontier because her parents did not speak or understand a single word of English! I will never forget this great time.
Where are you heading next on your journey?
Well currently I am driving through the country of kangaroos and koalas! I want to see as much as I can from Australia and work a bit to refill the holiday/journey-fund. Besides others, New Zealand and South-America are my next destinations. Even though I am not sure yet when I will pack my luggage for those trips.
Best food of your trip so far?
So far the Japanese kitchen has been the best. The perfection of cooking and presentation is unbelievable. It reminds me of an art – and the best thing is that it tastes even better than it looks! Incredible!
Anywhere off the beaten track you would love to share?
Even though I’ve never planned it, from time to time I have lost track. But I enjoy letting go.
I do not like to follow strict routes, therefore I often end up in dead-ends or less interesting places! But you never know, in Bali, for example, I was introduced to the process of rice-harvest in the middle of nowhere. Initially I just wanted to ask for the way but the nice women did not want to let me go that easy! I enjoyed learning all about their daily work and we all had plenty of things to laugh about. A lucky coincidence which created a moment I will not forget.
What items have you brought with you that have been most useful?
My must have is my smartphone. I use it on daily bases to take photos, write emails, book hotels, and keep the contact to friends and family… And obviously for Instagram! Even though I appreciate having my smartphone switched off once in a while, I also know that I would not like to be without it for longer than a week.
Do you read on the road? Best book you’ve read on your journeys?
Honestly this is my first journey where I have not read any books. The preparations for upcoming destinations occupy so much time that my current easy-reads are just Lonely Planet eBooks and travel blogs from all over the world.
What has been the biggest challenge?
The long separation from my family and friends is a lot harder than expected. I have some to realise that in the future I want to spend more time with my loved ones.
Finally. Any words of advice to those looking to head off on a long trip?
I have met a lot of travellers who regret taking too much luggage. I carry just hand-luggage. Even though I had to get used to it in the beginning, I can say now that it was the smartest thing I could have done! It just makes you free and flexible. So, my dear long-time travellers, try to travel with as little as possible!
Do you have any tips for ‘Instagrammers’ out there that want to increase
I can only suggest to stay authentic and keep in contact with your followers. It will not help you to just copy other styles. The really nice thing about Instagram is, that sooner or later, you will meet like-minded people.
What is next for you, after the big journey?
I just let things come towards me. I am in the middle of the biggest adventure of my life and I am enjoying every moment and every day of it. Therefore I do not even think about an end.
Instagram | @neleblu