Tripper of the Week Natalie T: Bay Area Foodie, Former Expat & Adventure Lover

Natalie T, a Bay Area Tripper, shares her experiences living abroad, her adventures in Machu Picchu and celebrating with locals in Thailand. Meet our Tripper of the Week....

What would we learn about you over a cup of coffee?

You would probably first notice that I'm a tea drinker. :) Within the first five minutes of our conversation, I'd probably ask you about any recent trips or upcoming travel plans. I love travel, get restless if I stay in the same place for too long and aspire to live and work in a different country every couple of years. I'm very interested in technology and media so we'd probably talk about apps we can't live without, fun gadgets or hilarious YouTube videos we've seen. You would probably be able to tell that I'm from California because I'm very easy going and say “dude" a lot.

You've traveled to over 30 countries. Of all of the stamps in your passport, which one makes you smile most when you look at it?

My trip to Peru in 2006 always brings a smile to my face. I usually enjoy big city breaks or beach vacations, but this trip was my first true outdoor adventure. Hiking the Inca Trail was challenging, but seeing Machu Picchu at sunrise was definitely worth it! I also remember that the local buses didn't make complete stop for passengers. Drivers would simply roll by and open the doors so you could throw your stuff on and jump in. It was hilarious and quite a workout!

Currently you're living in the San Francisco Bay Area. What are your favorite places to take first-time visitors?

This is one of my more ambitious agendas when the weather is nice: I'd take visitors to the Ferry building for coffee in the morning, then we'd board the ferry to Tiburon and have brunch at Sam's Anchor Cafe. You can get a great view of the bridges and the city skyline from the ferry as well as Sam's huge outdoor deck.

In the afternoon, we would either head over to Golden Gate Park, rent some bikes, explore the gardens and museums and end with Happy Hour at Park Chalet - OR - We would head over to Dolores Park, grab some Bi-Rite and enjoy the view/people watching and maybe cruise around the alleys to take a look at the Mission street art.

In the evening, we would head over to Chez Panisse in Berkeley to get a taste of real California cuisine - OR - stay in SF and head to NOPA for their famous flatbread dishes or Zuni Café for their amazing roast chicken.

In addition to the Bay Area, you've lived in San Diego, Paris and London. Can you share one or two restaurants or cafes every traveler to each of those cities should try?

Stone Brewery, San Diego, CA, US – It's kinda out of the way, but Stone is my favorite craft brewery in town. I'm a big fan of the Stone Cali-Belgique IPA and sitting in their huge beer garden on a sunny day.

The Holly Bush, Hampstead, London, UK – This is hands down, my favorite pub in London. It's kind of hidden away on a hill on the edge of Hampstead Heath and it has everything you could ever want out of a proper English pub, including lots of wooden nooks and crannies to explore and a beautiful dining room upstairs for more formal dinners if you're feeling fancy.

Hotel du Nord Bistro & Bar, Paris, France- Bohemian by day, swanky by night, this 1930's art-deco bistro is my favorite spot to people watch. Their menu changes almost daily based on the local and seasonal produce and meat available. It's situated close to Canal St-Martin so if you're looking to mingle with French hipsters, you've found the right spot.

You love interacting with local people on your travels. What has been your favorite experience with locals so far?

My favorite local experience was participating in the Loi Krathong ("Floating Crown") Festival in Bangkok, Thailand in 2007. I traveled with a friend who was born and raised in the city, and her family cooked a traditional Thai meal for us, explained the history of the festival and provided us with materials to make our own krathongs, or lotus-shaped decorative arrangements of banana leaves, flowers and candles. We then headed to the river to make a wish and release the krathongs. Celebrating with the locals and seeing all the decorations floating along the river was one of the most fascinating moments in my travels so far.

We heard you hosted some Trippers recently. We'd love to hear about it!

At a Tripping event last year, I met two Trippers who I keep in regular touch with. I had just returned from living and working in London for a couple years and Olivia, a fellow Tripper, mentioned she was in the process of moving there. I gave her some tips on living in London, and we met up while I was out there a couple months ago. Another Tripper, Melody, helped me with my move to Hong Kong by putting me in touch with some of her friends and giving me an awesome list of places to eat and things to do in her home city. Tripping is definitely a great way to make meaningful connections with people from all around the world!

Where are you traveling next?

I'm moving to Hong Kong for business school and to live and work in a different market, but I'm taking a month off beforehand to travel around the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia. If anyone has any recommendations, let me know!

Happy Travels, Natalie!

Trippers, if you have tips for Natalie leave a comment or connect with her via her Tripping profile.

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Interview by Anis Salvesen.