Happy to continue the series with Chris Christensen
1) Who Are you?
Chris is the host of Amateur Traveler which is an award winning online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. In 2015, Chris won a Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism from the Society of American Travel Writers and was called the “Best Independent Travel Journalist” by Travel & Leisure Magazine in their annual SMITTY Awards. He also co-hosts This Week in Travel with Gary Arndt and Jen Leo. This Week in Travel has won 3 North America Travel Journalists Association awards.
He is also the owner of BloggerBridge.com which is a new startup connecting bloggers and industry contacts.
He has worked for years in technology startups in Silicon Valley. He was formerly the Director of Engineering for TripAdvisor’s New Initiatives group and was the EVP Engineering at LiveWorld where his team built and ran online communities and events for companies including eBay, HBO, TV Guide, Expedia, Marriott, A&E, History Channel, the NBA, NBC, ABC, Disney, Microsoft, WebTV and American Express.
2) What do you like about what you do?
The interesting travel part is pretty great. I have been on 5 continents in the last 5 months. A cruise around the horn in South America, a press trip in Thailand, a small group tour in Morocco, a conference in Spain and a small boat cruise in Alaska.
3) What don’t you like about what you do?
Actually making a living as a travel blogger / podcaster / writer is not an easy thing to do. I have actually been making a living as a software engineer. Many travel journalists these days cobble together 2 or 3 different ways to make a living.
4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.
The main content of the Amateur Traveler is the podcast which talks about a different destination every week. We talk about everything from what to put on your Chicago dog when you visit the Windy City to going to Tonga and swimming with whales. The show is generally an interview with someone who lives in, visited or wrote the guidebook about a particular destination. The show will turn 10 years old July 2nd.
Amateur Traveler is used to teach English as a second language at Oxford. f you want to get a job with the Thailand Foreign Service you will be given an English proficiency exam that will require you to listen to two episodes of the Amateur Traveler. You will be graded on your understanding of them. Oddly enough the two episodes are on Yorkshire and on Narrow Boating in England and Wales.
5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
- Istanbul still stands out for me as an amazing destination for someone like me who is a huge history buff. Egypt for similar reasons was simply amazing. We traveled there on the first Amateur Traveler group trip.
- I have done one trip to sub-saharan Africa to Tanzania which was also amazing.
- There is nothing quite like being in a herd of zebras and wildebeests in Ngorongoro Crater.
6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
- On a business trip to Shanghai, I stayed in the Marriott Tomorrow Square which looks like a rocket ship and rises above the sprawling city with great views to the Pudong on a clear day.
- I stayed in one of the newly renovated suites at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. It had it’s own jacuzzi and massage room. It also had a walk in closet, which I can’t imagine needing on vacation.
- The third would be the parador in Rhonda Spain in the old town hall, a beautiful room right there on the cliffs that make the city famous.
7) Your top 3 most memorable food / wine experiences to date and why?
- Well… crickets in Oaxaca may be one of the most memorable dishes I have ever had, although not necessarily a favorite.
- One of my consistently favorite restaurants is Peppers Mexicali Cafe in Pacific Grove. There are many more expensive restaurants in the Monterey Bay area, but this is where I go.
- My favorite meal would probably be something simple and great like eating $1 street tacos in the zocalo in Merida, Mexico during the weekly fiesta. The best meals are not necessarily the most expensive.
8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?
- When I was in college, on a trip to western New York we tried Buffalo Chicken Wings with a bottle of sweet Liebfraumilch wine. No chef in their right mind would make this pairing.
- A hotel in Athens drove us out of the city a day early. The entire hotel smelled and the sheets had cigarette burns.
- We stayed above a German beer hall near Hanover Germany on the eve of Pinksterfeest (Pentecost). We tried to sleep while large groups of drunken Germans carried on below.
9) Can you offer the readers 3 destination/ food / accommodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?
- The best thing about food in San Jose and the Silicon Valley is the variety. We have great Mexican, Chinese, indian, Afghan, Thai, Cuban, and Vietnamese food to name a few. Try them all.
- A great place to both eat and stay is Santana Row in San Jose. Stay in the Hotel Valencia and eat at one of the many restaurants in this piazza style neighborhood.
- San Jose is in the heart of Silicon Valley so do something nerdy like visit the Tech Museum or the Computer History Museum.
10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?
Glad to have you Chris, Thanks a lot.
I must admit when behind my computer screen I don’t like to be distracted by pod casts or even music.
Before this interview I knew you better from your photo’s. I would like to invite the reader to look at your Flickr Portfolio and at the same time would like to ask you to either upload more photo’s there or tell us where you are hiding the good stuff 😉
Finally it is a reason for Jen Leo to appear here as well to make the trio complete!