Tripper of the Week: Erin ParkerMeet Tripper Erin Parker - an undergraduate student at Stanford University, espresso enthusiast and avid long distance runner. Raised on two different continents, Erin is an avid traveler and this week's Tripper of the Week.
Share with us a little bit about your background.
I was born in the Philippines. My dad is half Filipino and half Austrian. My mom is Filipino. After living in the Philippines for five years, my family moved to Germany and we lived there for three years, so I still speak German but only understand Tagalog. I have three younger sisters, two are currently in college and one is 4 years old!
You've lived in a few different states in the U.S. as well as the Philippines and Germany. Tell us about your experience living in Germany.
I lived in Germany from the 1st-3rd grade. Our house was right in front of a meadow and right next to a forest. I'd walk to school every day and pass by the florist and by the second grade I saved up enough deutschmarks to buy my own plant. :) My family often took road trips all over Europe. I have a few vivid memories. One was from our family visit to a small village in Austria. At the time, my great grandmother lived in a cottage by the Alps. I remember this vast meadow and a waterfall and loved playing outside with my sisters. I also remember cobblestone streets and small shops - so instead of going to a supermarket you'd go to the butcher, the cheesemaker, the florist all separately. So idyllic!
[caption id="attachment_2824" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Neuschwanstein Castle"]
I also remember castle hopping down the Rhine River. It was enchanting. Some castles were still complete - you could go inside and explore all the rooms as they used to be. At that age I would often imagine what life would be like if I was a princess. Other castles were plain scary - they had secret tunnels underneath for the royals to escape if they were being attacked...but the tunnels were so complex that sometimes people escaping often died because it was dark and they'd get incredibly lost. My favorite castle was Neuschwanstein. We stayed at a small bed and breakfast and could see the castle from the bedroom window. Revisiting Neuschwanstein is definitely on my "life list" in the near future. :)
Currently you are an undergraduate student at Stanford University. What is your area of study and why are you passionate about it?
I'm studying Economics with a quantitative focus on finance. I'm passionate about business. My first few years at Stanford I was crazy about the financial markets, learning how to invest and manage my own portfolio, how to analyze companies, how investment banks work and their role in the economy. Now I'm more focused on learning how to build a business and how young companies gain traction and grow from "$0 to $1 million". I'm currently working on bard.li, a project that came out of Engineering 145 - Technology Entrepreneurship class taught by Professor Chuck Eesley. Working on bard.li has been amazing, it's been thrilling combining my passion for travel and business.
If you had to pick a new country to live for the next six months, where would you live and why?
Trieste Italy. Why Italy? Well, since high school I've had a fascination with the Medieval Ages and the Renaissance. I studied everything from Renaissance music, to art, to literature and it's an ongoing interest that I revisit whenever I'm wandering around a bookstore looking for ways to restart my mind after a hard week of work. One of my favorite bedside books is The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, a collection of 100 short (and often times surprisingly naughty) stories that are incredibly well crafted. Why Trieste? Coffee. Trieste is one of Italy's largest coffee ports and historically has some of the best coffee houses. (Did you know Illy is from Trieste?) Trieste is my perfect small-town but rich-in-history with damn-good-coffee escape.
Your profile mentions you are an avid long distance runner. What races have you completed and which was your favorite?
I recently completed the Big Sur Marathon 26.2 - it's hands-down my favorite. I had a PR of 4:43. Before that I ran the Nike Women's Marathon in 6:20 so the Big Sur Marathon was a completely different experience - I felt so much more alive and on top of my run. I also loved the scenery, as much as I consider myself a "city girl" the coastline was jaw-droppingly gorgeous. My second favorite race was Bay to Breakers 12K which I ran in 2010 and before that, the race that "got me into it all" was the US Half Marathon in San Francisco.
Describe your most memorable interaction with locals during your travels.
I met up with a local named Janine to go for a 10-miler around the Golden Gate Park in April. Janine was is a long-distance runner who qualified for the Olympics in college with a marathon time of 2:34! I loved the experience because Janine led me and Travis (my buddy who joined the run) on legit "secret" trails. These trails were totally hidden and not easily spotted by visitors. It was as if we had escaped to a forest filled with tall redwood trees and no sight or sign of cars, buildings, or civilization. Loved it. We also saw buffalo! I was not expecting live breathing buffalo in Golden Gate Park. And when I thought we had covered awesome ground, Janine took us to the beach. We ran on the sand, practically 3 feet away from the water. I loved the diversity of the experience and all the hilarious stories Janine told along the way - she was so full of energy and interesting facts like, "If you run down this street at a 6-minute mile pace you'll hit green lights the whole time! Any slower and you're bound to hit a red light." Oh the things that locals know. :)
Favorite place to travel?
Austin Texas! It's my second home...my home away from home. My boyfriend lives in Austin so although I've visited quite a number of times before there are always new places to explore. From the trailer food eateries to the parks and gardens to the small neighboring towns. I view myself as a local traveler, someone who can visit the same place over and over again and continually discover new aspects of the city.
Where do you plan to go Tripping next?
Hopefully Rome Italy! My sister will be studying abroad there next year so I'm really looking forward to visiting. :)
Thank you Erin for sharing your travel experiences and stories. Safe travels on your trip to Rome! Trippers, you can connect with Erin via her Tripping profile.
Photo credits: Neuschwanstein Castle photo Wikipedia Golden Gate Park photo by meganpru