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My Best Blog Posts of 2012 – and a bit earlier

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Lash of Lash World Tour has launched a fun project called Travel Bloggers’ Best Dozen asking us to reflect on the past year and pull out the posts that meant the most to us.

I was nominated to take part by my friend Alexandra Kovacova of Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler and I’ll begin in style by breaking a rule: not all posts are from 2012 because I didn’t actually manage to write a dozen posts last year, busy as I was preparing and launching my book (see the tab at the top of this page if you want to know more).

So… here goes, my best dozen posts of 2012 (and a wee bit earlier).

1.           Most popular post

Perhaps living on $35 a day in New York City (if you don’t have to pay for a room, that is) sounds hard to believe and that might account for this post’s popularity. Who doesn’t love New York? And who doesn’t think it’s expensive? So you’d love to know how to see it cheaply, right?

2.           Most helpful travel tip

I’ve received a lot of good feedback from writing about language, specifically learning some of the language when you don’t speak a word. It’s amazing how hard it can be and these tips help travelers take baby steps. Even following one of these tips could help make a difference.

3.           A post that was surprisingly successful

I mostly write about solo travel because I travel on my own about 75% of the time. I realize not everyone does so I wrote about finding female travel companions and how to go about checking for compatibility. Well! Every man on the planet seems to be looking for women to travel with so this post is exceedingly popular, for all the wrong reasons, with all the wrong people.

4.           A post I thought was under-rated

Admittedly a day in the life of a small French town – my town, in this case – isn’t the most exciting story in the world. It doesn’t involve hot air ballooning or careering down raging rapids or climbing vertical cliffs or even facing hostile indigenous tribes. But to me culture is a microcosm and what matters most in the world are the little everyday things that make it up.

5.           Most controversial

It’s almost inevitable that a post that uses poverty and exploitation as its subject – as did this one on slum tourism – will be to some extent controversial. I received quite a few emails about it, some of them nasty. I did publish one lengthy comment from someone who actually lives in a slum and is involved in tourism but still, the emails came.

6.           Most amusing

While I have moments when I wish I were a standup comic there are probably good reasons why I’m not: humor is one of the hardest things to perform or write. I’d love to be funny but when I try I get all tangled up so how about a ‘slightly tongue in cheek’ look at dealing with reverse culture shock after a long trip?

7.           The post I’m most proud of

That has to be my own 2012 roundup. As I say at the beginning of that post, I’m not very good at getting personal in public. In this post I try, at least a bit, and will continue to do so but it doesn’t come naturally. Not at all.

8.           Best travel story or travel perspective

I can’t really choose a destination piece for this one because I don’t have a ‘travel story’ that fits. What I can do is share with you how I ended up on a round the world travel adventure that was supposed to last six months and eventually lasted nearly four years. Planning for six months and overshooting by several years isn’t a bad travel story.

9.           Best travel adventure

I’m not hugely adventurous although I do end up in adventure-type situations more often than I should. What I thought would be a nice little ferry ride across Lake Komani in Albania turned into a rustbucket ride on which I shared the deck with a couple of motorcycles and literally hit a mountain when the motor cut out and we couldn’t stop drifting.

10.       Best cultural perspective or insights

I recently wrote about my visit to Goree Island in Senegal which has all the ingredients of a cultural story gone wrong, including shouting, rudeness, history, race, reaction, guilt – the works. I gained plenty of insights from this encounter, although I’m still not quite sure what exactly I learned.

11.       Most beautiful

I’m afraid this one will have to wait until 2013. I’ve stopped cutting heads off and can almost get a horizon straight but I’m still finding my way around my camera and my iPhone. I won’t subject you to any of my photographic attempts yet – but soon, soon.

12.       Best photo or photo gallery

I loved these photos of the forgotten churches of Voskopoje in Albania, taken by my photographer-partner Anne. These churches are falling apart because they have so little protection and funding. They’re not that easy to get to but with tourism growing in Albania perhaps they’ll be more noticed.

And now for the rest of the fun…

I get to nominate five bloggers of my own to take part in the Best Dozen Project 2012!  Here they are and if you don’t know them, please go have a look and discover great new writers and places.

Bianca of NomadBiba

Jennifer of JDomb’s Travels

Teresa of Independent Travel Help

Connie of Conn Voyage

Jeff of NYCxplorer


  1. Teresa on January 12, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Hi Leyla.

    I think this is a great idea. Thanks for nominating Independent Travel Help!

    Post no. 4 is definitely worth reading and enjoying the photos. It looks so beautiful and seems to be a place where you can get some R&R.

    Teresa 🙂

  2. Lane on January 14, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    We will never figure out why some of our posts are popular, and the ones we think are best are at the bottom of the pile. It’s a mystery…

  3. Crazy sexy fun traveler on January 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Interesting posts. I am going to check out some of them now 🙂 Thanks for sharing and linking back to me too!

  4. Laurel on January 19, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    What an incredible year you’ve had! I personally really like posts, like the one you wrote about your town. The best travel stories don’t always have to be the most adventurous ones.

    • Leyla Giray Alyanak on January 19, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Thanks Laurel, I’m glad you think so. Then you might like the series I’m doing throughout the year – My Rhone-Alpes! It’s a bit of a challenge to myself to write at least one post a month on my region. I spoke to the Rhone-Alpes Tourisme people and they’re game to do something jointly so stay tuned. The first piece should go up this weekend!

  5. Cassandra on January 31, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    Hullo! I’m new to your site so this 12 posts served as a great introduction. I’ve had fun browsing the entries on Voskopoje and Seyssel and am looking forward to exploring more of your adventures!

    • Leyla Giray Alyanak on January 31, 2013 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks Cassandra! The next week will have more on My Rhone Alpes, and the week after that I’ll be in Gruyeres, Switzerland. Hope you enjoy those too!

  6. Ana on February 25, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Right now I will read one of your posts, very interesting!

  7. Manuel Antonio on July 12, 2013 at 11:58 pm

    When do you come to Costa Rica? The country is very good women on the road, safe and respectful. You are most welcome!

    • Leyla Giray Alyanak on July 22, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      I almost visited when I was in Panama a few years ago but ran out of time – so your beautiful country is definitely on my ‘must see’ list!

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