Starting a blog often feels like toiling on a great product and then sending it off into an abyss, wondering if anyone besides those closest to you will ever read it. (Who you may have coerced into reading it. Who then promptly tell you that it is definitely, absolutely, the GREATEST thing they have ever read. You should probably turn it into a book. Thanks family, I know you mean well!) Realistically, however, the interweb is a rather large place, and it’s often surprising when anyone outside your immediate circle finds their way to your small corner of the internet. Which is why I am delighted that Little Blue Earth has nominated A Suitcase Full of Books to join the Liebster Award network of beginner bloggers!

The nomination by Little Blue Earth really did come out of the blue (groan, sorry, I couldn’t help it), but after poking around Esther’s blog, I can safely say, I think we’d be fast friends. Thanks to the historical fiction novels of my favorite author, I fell in love with the idea that it is often the whims of individuals that have caused sweeping changes in history. This in a sense is the reason behind Esther’s blog. Through her focus on personal stories of individuals from diverse cultures we can put a face to “others” and learn to cohabit peacefully on the only planet we have, our Little Blue Earth. I hope you join me in following her blog.

So, What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award is essentially a networking chain letter, started in 2011, disguised as an online award given to bloggers by other bloggers looking to recognize the efforts and content of those new to the industry. And why shouldn’t we reward each other? There’s a lot of work that goes into producing a blog. Not only is there the writing and editing, but there’s the time spent out having the experiences we write about, the photography and the photography editing, and then there’s the learning curve of the blogging program and also the social media marketing! It’s nice to get recognition from our colleagues. It’s a great way to valiantly cheer each other on as we all work to deliver creative information to the world. Finally, the word liebster is a German word that means “sweetest, kindest, beloved, dearest, pleasant, cute, endearing, affectionate.”

Who is A Suitcase Full of Books?

Answers to Little Blue Earth‘s Questions

What inspired you to start your travel blog?

When I was young, my grandfather, Frederick Bettlehiem, made a deal with me. He would send me one of his stories if I would send him something I wrote. He had fantastic and funny stories of his time spent in WWII work camps, as a resistance fighter, and the time he spent fighting for Israel to be recognized as a country. My simple school papers were no match for his memoirs, so, sadly, it was rare that I sent him anything. Now that he’s passed away, and blogs exist (if only they had then!), a blog seemed like a great medium to share photographs and stories of my travels with my remaining grandparents. And I’m happy to say that they are my biggest fans!

What is your favorite mode of transportation? Planes, trains, or automobiles?

Trains. Hands down. I live in a place where the only way out is by plane or boat. I love to travel by Ferry boat, but this isn’t always practical, so unfortunately I have way more experience with planes that I wish I had. I have no problem with flying, but I HATE airport security. What a waste of time. Not having access to trains make them exciting. I find train stations much less of a headache than airports and I don’t get the same motion sickness I do with cars and boats. I also love being able to relax and just watch the scenery of a new place go by.

My dream is to someday ride an old train with cabins, but so far my favorite train ride was on the refurbished steam engine that took us between Swanage and Corfe and back in Dorset. This is a pleasant 20 minute ride with a spectacular view of Corfe Castle from the rail. The train also has one car with couches and comfortable arm chairs should you choose to pay 1£ more.

Swanage Steam Engine Railway
Swanage Steam Engine Railway, Dorset, England

Do you prefer photography or videography to document your travels?

After producing my first travel video, I think I like photography a little more at the moment. The video process was fun, but I realized exactly how uncomfortable I am in front of the lens. At least with a still photo, it’s not quite as obvious! I plan to work on my skills for both photography and videography though, because both are fun.

Cities vs Nature?

Nature. I’m definitely much more at ease in the woods or on the water than I am on the streets of New York, or any city for that matter. When I travel I prefer to spend my time in the countryside. On my last trip to Britain it was a relief to head out to Dorset after a week in busy London. I guess this is only natural as I live in a rain forest.

kayaking in the Tongass Rainforest
Just another day at home, kayaking in the Tongass Rainforest

What was the biggest obstacle you faced when starting your travel blog?

I need more hours in the day! With a full time job, the desire to exercise, socialize with friends, and do any of the other numerous things one must do to keep life in order (if only the laundry and dishes did themselves!) blogging time is limited. I have had to scale back from my ambitious one post a day when I started to one post a week for now.

Tourism is changing world-wide, having an impact on our environment and economy. How are/will you contribute to ethical and sustainable tourism?

When I shop during my travels I prefer to search for local made products and crafts rather than the made-in-china for tourist shop trinkets. I’d rather support the local economy. I spent a day searching out local artisans on Prince Edward Island and I not only came home with some great gifts and souvenirs but also wonderful memories of meeting very kind locals. And I’ll have a post coming out soon about historically locally made products of Holland.

Do you prefer to travel solo, with a close friend, or in a group?

Although I haven’t done a lot of solo travel, I think I prefer to travel with a close friend or two. I love having someone to share and discuss the experience with while it’s happening. While in Holland I did a little solo travel and learned a little about myself in the process. Stick around for the upcoming Holland series to read more about that.

Harry Potter World, Orlando with frineds
My very first vacation with friends was to none other than Harry Potter World, Orlando!

What is your favorite continent or travel region?

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”

~Samuel Johnson

For literary destinations, Britain is definitely my favorite place to visit because it’s where so many of my favorite characters (and their authors) originated. It’s the land of Paddington, Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter!, and The Famous Five (to name a few). I’d have to say, however, that due to my fascination with medieval history, Europe as a whole intrigues me. The medieval monarchs ranged all over the continent so there is more than a life time’s worth of places I long to see all over Europe. This summer I’ll be returning to Britain and I can’t wait to share with you more British historical-themed adventures!Paddington Bear

What is the craziest experience you’ve ever had abroad?

I was attacked by a parrot while being held hostage by a kangaroo! It was terrifying. Or at least that’s my memory of it. Pebbly beach in Australia is a great place to go to see kangaroos close up. Sometimes closer than you’d like. I was shorter than the kangaroo that came within a foot of me. He flexed his pointy claws back and forth on the brick walkway. I stood staring transfixed at the claws I was sure were going to rip into me any second. Then I felt a set of sharp claws on my shoulder! I was certain one kangaroo had been keeping me occupied while another had come up behind me! I screamed, shaking my shoulder violently…only to have a green parrot fly off my shoulder quite shocked! Then I heard my mother say, “I wasn’t able to get a photograph!”

If you had to do any of these experiences, which would you choose: skydiving, bungy-jumping, cage-diving with great white sharks, or swimming with whale sharks?

Honestly, none of them. They all sound terrifying. I’m quite alright finding the closest bookstore and reading about the experience from the safety of an armchair.

My Nominations for the Liebster Award

Thank you again to Little Blue Earth for the nomination. It is now my turn to pay it forward. As a newer blogger, I understand how much effort goes into creating a blog amidst millions of others. That being said, here are my nominations for bloggers who have created great content for the travel blogging industry:

To Be Decided

Official Rules for Liebster Award Nominees

If you have been nominated for the Liebster Award and you choose to accept it, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you:

  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. They will thank you for it and those who you nominate will also help you out as well.
  • Create a post on your blog, displaying the Liebster Award logo.
  • Write a small post about what makes you passionate about blog posting.
  • Provide 10 random facts about yourself. (Optional)
  • Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
  • Come up with 10-11 questions for your nominees.
  • List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.)
  • Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post.

[See the Liebster Award Official Rules for 2018 here.]

Questions for my Nominees

  1. What prompted you to start your blog?
  2. Favorite real world literary destination and/or fictional destination and/or travel memoir?
  3. One item you take with you on ALL your travels?
  4. Do you prefer to travel slowly, staying in one place for a while, or keep moving?
  5. Tell us about a memorable meeting with a local during your travels and did you learn from it?
  6. Based on your blogging niche, what is your dream blog post about?
  7. What is your favorite experience to date that you’ve written a post about?
  8. What is the goofiest thing you’ve done in the name of blogging?
  9. Where is your favorite place (City?, Country?, Continent?) and what makes it special?
  10. What tip would you like to leave your readers with?


  1. Cities vs Nature?
    The question is very simple. What do one like less: lots of people or lots of bugs which sting even through your winter coat? I know a person who attracts the most vicious bugs from even a mile away and in spite of that loves the woods and water. I can understand it. Somebody has to feed those little creatures anyhow they would be extinct and what would be nature without the biting bugs. I do not like either the cities with lots of people or nature with millions of biting insects. I like the indoors. My ancestry was 100% cave people.

  2. I agree with you that trains are the best way to travel. 20 years ago air travel was luxurious, comfortable seating, good food. Most of the airlines provided a “flight bags” even for tourist class passengers. One time I checked in for a flight and the airplane already left the gate. They put me on a little bus and drove me to the plane which was already on the tarmac. Lowered the stairs I boarded the plane and the plane revved up its propeller and we left. Compare that how it is now. But the trains (not in the U.S.A.) but in Europe and Japan are still civilized.
    You like the “old trains with cabins” I would add with sleeping cars and restaurants. The most luxurious is the Orient Express from London to Venice. There are lots old trains, interesting trains and train routes in Switzerland.
    I also like the high speed trains as in France the TGV, in Japan the bullet trains. I like the most the Spanish “Alta Velocidad Española” trains (with an acronym of AVE that spells “bird” in Castilian). They reach speeds of up to 300 km/h or 186 mph, and they’re so reliable they will refund the price of your ticket if the train arrives more than five minutes late.
    I would love to try out the train going From London to Paris through a tunnel under the English Channel.

      1. The bullet trains in Japan are amazing. The ride is so smooth that I spent the entire journey watching the liquid in my vitamin-C drink barely move.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: