This week for UCL Backpackers, Rhiannon spoke to Deana Kotiga, a second-year Anthropology student, originally from Croatia
Where did you last visit?
“I last went to Andalusia in Spain. I did a bit of road tripping there, stopping off at Seville, Cordova, Màlaga, Granada and Jaén.”
What’s your favourite place you’ve travelled to?
“Well, there are a lot of places that I really like and all of them are connected to some kind of special experience. But one of my favourite places was definitely Portugal. I cannot wait to explore the country again for longer than I did last summer. And also, Croatian islands are just true gems.”
What is your best memory of a trip?
“Myself, a Mexican and a Chilean mate doing a road trip on the Croatian coast. Although I was in my own country, this was the best trip I have ever experienced. It was August, so high tourist season, and we didn’t have a single room booked. We kind of just went on a whim, without any kind of plan at all. It ended up being wonderful!”
What is your travelling essential?
“It’s got to be sun cream. Even though you might think that your skin is used to the sun because you like to call yourself a ‘true Mediterranean’ – it’s not! Two pairs of good trainers are handy, even if the first ones are really high quality, you will get blisters. And you know, an open mind and an open heart, as cheesy as it sounds, couch surfers will not poison your meal and/or steal your belongings!”
What’s your dream place to visit?
“There’s too many of them. South America is where I’d like to visit most. Maybe an unknown isolated island with a hundred people who all know each other, to live there and work in a beach bar, that sounds like a dream.”
Do you have a funny travelling anecdote?
“Hm, there are a lot of them, especially when travelling alone – I find people treat and approach you differently then. On one of my more recent holidays, I was sitting in Jaén on a really big and beautiful square eating my lunch. It was quite warm, 20C, (basically summer in UK terms…) and there were three or four other people in the square. So there I am eating my sandwich, enjoying the sun and the quiet, when two old Spanish men approach me, walking really slowly, complimenting me on my looks. I was a bit taken a back, as you can imagine. I was, God knows why, quite popular among the over 70s in Spain. While trying to understand the incomprehensible Andalusian accent, one of them notices my Topshop knee-ripped jeans. It took me half an hour to explain to him that, no I was not homeless, and no I did not need him to buy me some new trousers. Pablo and Juan, as I learned, left me alone only after I showed them my iPhone. They were clueless about what this little white thingy could be. To be honest, I was a bit scared they were going to rob me. I mean, looking back on this situation, two men in their mid 70s are unlikely to rob anyone, but as my Dad says ‘always be wary’. That’s what I mean by ‘have an open mind’, maybe if I hadn’t tried to make them leave, I would have heard some great stories.
All image credits: Deana Kotiga