Inka Piegsa-Quischotte is the author of glamourgrannytravels.com, one of the truly most inspiring and engaging travel blogs out there. Inka was born in Germany and has lived and worked in the UK, Spain, Switzerland, the USA and South Africa. After a lifetime as an international attorney, she switched careers “at the drop of a hat” three years ago and has been a freelance travel writer, photographer and novelist ever since. She wants to share the fabulous places she’s seen and to encourage all “glamour grannies” of the world to go out, see, feel, smell and enjoy different cultures and countries.
I recently had the opportunity to ask Inka a few questions about her experiences as a traveler and writer.
Inka Piegsa-Quischotte: There is indeed a little episode which prompted my blog. We were in the Turkish port of Kuşadası when two middle aged American ladies, obviously in distress, approached us. Did we speak English? Could we help them? They had lost their husbands and all they wanted was to return to their cruise ship, but they couldn’t find it! What lay behind this little drama was this: the husbands had gone to the gents [men’s room] and then looked at some shop windows, leaving their better halves alone for a bit longer than anticipated. The women panicked and wanted to return to the safety of their ship, not noticing that they were standing right beside it. Problem solved. I got thinking: there must be thousands of older women who would like to see the world but lack the confidence to do so. These two were obviously totally unprepared to cope with being alone, if only for a few minutes, in a strange country. I decided to create my blog to show older women, mostly those who would travel on their own, how it’s done, give them tips and stories about suitable hotels and destinations and encourage them to see the world.
MF: What would you say is your favorite place that you’ve visited so far?
IPQ: My favorite places are Jordan and Istanbul. I love the Middle East and everything Arabic.
MF: I was in Istanbul last year and was absolutely blown away by its magnificence. I really want to visit Jordan someday too. What are the top three places on your “bucket list”?
IPQ: There are actually more than 3 things on my bucket list: I’m returning to my home in Miami in December and staying for 6 months during which time I want to see as much of the US as possible.
MF: Name a book or movie that has inspired you to travel.
IPQ: A book: a biography about Freya Stark.
MF: To be honest, I didn’t know who Freya Stark was until you mentioned her. After learning that she was a British writer who became famous for her experiences in the Middle East, her travel writing and cartography I can see why you’d be drawn to her. Her life was really interesting! Stark was one of the first Western women to travel through the Arabian Desert (sometimes alone) into areas that few Europeans, let alone women, had ever been.
What was your first experience with traveling?
IPQ: I have been traveling as long as I can remember. My parents took me to Spain when I was 10 and I have been “on the road” ever since. I went to university in three different countries, worked in four others and change homes whenever the fancy takes me. I’m a nomad at heart.
MF: If you were to show an out-of-towner around your home city, where would you take him/her?
IPQ: For the time being I call Istanbul my home. I’d show visitors the Princes’ islands and the fabulous old wooden palaces along the Bosporus.
MF: What do you always take with you on your trips? Do you have anything you can’t live without?
IPQ: What is always with me are three things: books, Nescafé (I’m addicted to coffee) and lemon cologne.
IPQ: I’m done with travel for this year because of the book I’m writing.
MF: That’s right, your book! This must be a very exciting time for you. Is there anything you can share about this project?
IPQ: The preliminary title is: City of the green-eyed beauty, subtitle: Istanbul through the works of Pierre Loti, Barbara Nadel and Orhan Pamuk. It’s a literary guide to Istanbul visiting and photographing the places in Istanbul which play a major role in the books of the above writers. So, yes, a few trips to Istanbul are on the agenda, but otherwise it’s a lot of reading and research. I’ve also lined up an interview with Barbara Nadel and am going to visit the home of Pierre Loti in Rochefort, France.
MF: That sound fascinating—I can’t wait to read one of the first copies! Finally, what advice would you give to first-time travelers?
IPQ: Don’t laugh, I’m serious: check the expiry date of your passport and the visa requirements of the countries you want to visit. You won’t believe what I have seen at immigration! Otherwise, just go and enjoy yourself.
MF: Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview, Inka. Best of luck with your book and I’m sure I’m speaking for many others when I say that I’ll miss your blogging for the next few months.
Inka will still be writing the occasional post on her blog glamourgrannytravels.com, but there’s a wealth of information, stories and tips in her archives that you can enjoy as well. Be sure to follow her on Twitter too!