Anita Sane is a part-time traveler, a passionate photographer, and a mature career woman traveling mostly solo for more than 10 years. The Sane Travel, founded in 2015, is all about giving inspiration for readers' own journeys, no matter how big or small. The aim of the blog is to give readers confidence in their ability to travel solo and independently. Every post is filled with practical information and stunning photos for ideas for readers' future travels.
She has visited 52 countries, mainly in Europe and Asia. She is a skilled travel planner, planning and executing her travels by herself. Based in Latvia, Anita is blogging in English so her main audience is English-speaking people in different countries. Anita holds an MBA degree from Riga Business School.
Anita was kind enough to answer a few of our travel questions below.
TA: How many years have you been traveling and what got you hooked?
Anita: I have traveled all my life, but started traveling independently and solo in 2005 with a trip to Paris. I love learning about the culture of different countries and challenging myself with doing everything myself for traveling independently.
TA: Do you specialize in a particular type of travel?
Anita: Solo, independent, and photography travel.
TA: What is the best vacation you've ever taken?
Anita: Visiting Yunnan province in China. It has it all: nature, historic architecture, and culture of minorities of China.
TA: What's one place you've always wanted to visit?
Anita: Currently I want to go to Colombia very much.
TA: What are some of your favorite travel blogs and communities?
Anita: I like many travel blogs. I will mention just one: Heather on Her Travels . My favorite virtual travel community is Female travel bloggers group on Facebook. I have attended four TBEX travel bloggers conferences.
TA: Which underrated destination deserves to be more famous?
Anita: My home town, Riga, the capital of Latvia, is definitely underrated, I think. If there is just one reason for visiting Riga, it is the fact that the city has the finest and largest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in the world, with over 800 houses built in this style. Almost 440 hectares of the historical Centre of Riga are inscribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage List, recognizing its great collection of outstanding Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) architecture. Janis Krastins, a professor of architecture, said: "In Brussels you pass one or two Art Nouveau buildings when you walk down the street, but here, Art Nouveau is everywhere you look." I am Latvian and sometimes I have a feeling that Latvians are too self-critical and reluctant to praise their own country so I want to make my contribution to making Riga more famous.
TA: What would be your #1 recommendation for a place to travel in 2019?
Anita: My number 1 recommendation for travel in 2019 is to visit Rainbow Mountains or Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park in Gansu province, northwest China. It's hard to believe your eyes that those colourful mountains are real. Yes, they are and they are so beautiful. The site was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009 and is the favourite destination for many Chinese and some international tourists. It is also one of the 'Top 10 Geographical Wonders of the World' selected by National Geographic.
As it is quite far, about 1,700 kilometres from Beijing, make sure to also visit other sightseeing places of the area: Zhangye Great Buddha Temple and Binggou Danxia Scenic area. Gansu is also part of the Silk Road so you can explore the province even further than that. Recent infrastructure developments of the province, including a new Airport in Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province and high speed train to Zhangye from there, makes travel much easier.
TA: What are the top 3 websites you use for research/inspiration when planning a trip?
Anita: I get inspired by pictures of the places I see, so Instagram is number one for travel inspiration for me. Seeing pictures inspired my trips to Rainbow Mountains in China, Bastei Bridge in Germany, and Mount St. Michel in France, for example. For practical trip planning purposes, I use Google Maps a lot working out itineraries and public transport options when available. For choosing the best hotel deals, I use Hotels Combined a lot.
TA: Which country has surprisingly good food?
Anita: From my recent trips, France really stands out in terms of food. French people love food and eating and it's reflected in the number of restaurants and the quality of food. Even a ready-made salad in Carrefour supermarket tastes really good. If you are visiting Mont St. Michel, try a puff omelette cooked over a wood fire in Michelin starred La Mère Poulard restaurant.
TA: What is the most beautiful and affordable city you've ever visited?
Anita: From my recent trips, I would like to point out Romania as being very affordable and beautiful. I would especially recommend visiting Sibiu in Transylvania, about 280 kilometres from Bucharest. Its old town is beautifully restored and easily walkable.
For the best views, climb the Council Tower located between the Small Square and the Great Square. The tower was built at the beginning of the 13th century and has changed its face during the ages. It was rebuilt in the late 16th century after a major earthquake. In its current form, the Council Tower has seven floors. At the top, you can enjoy postcard views over the city.
Southwards you can enjoy the Large Square, the main shopping street and Sub Arini Park. Northwards and eastwards you can admire Terezian district, the railway station, and Gustereitei Hill. Also notice the Sibiu Lutheran Cathedral nearby. Tip: if you want to have good pictures, ask for a window opening handle instead of shooting through the glass.
From my Asia experience I would like to mention the historic capital of Vietnam -- Hue. It's worth visiting because of the Citadels built in the first part of the 19th century. Four citadels or defended enclosures made up the city: Capital City, for official administrative buildings; Imperial City for Royal palaces and shrines; Forbidden Purple City for royal residences; and Tran Binh Dai, an additional defensive work designed to control the movement on the river. A fifth fortress, Coastal Bastion, was constructed a little later to protect the capital against any assaults from the sea.
In the early years of communist rule after the war, the Citadel was neglected and seen as an embarrassing vestige of the imperial rule. But over the last 20 years, the Vietnamese government has realized the old city is a lure for tourists and has been slowly fixing it up. There is contradictory information on the internet about the state of the Citadel and the value of visiting it. I guess the negative reviews are older. There is still lot of work to do to restore its beauty but in my opinion, in the last few years a lot has been done to make this place well worth visiting.
TA: What are the best places to travel solo and why?
Anita: As I mostly travel solo, the main considerations for me to choose my travel destinations are safety, costs, and availability of public transport.
From the safety point of view, I feel safe in all Europe, South East Asia, China, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, just to name a few. As car hire is quite expensive for a single traveller, I look for places where you can easily travel by public transport instead. Germany is a good example for that. But l I have travelled to countries where I had to hire a car, like the U.S., for example. It's good if the locals speak English in the country I plan to visit but it is not a must. I have travelled in China a lot where English speakers outside Beijing and Shanghai are scarce.
So in the end I don't have many limitations for choosing my solo travel destinations except safety, which is must for me.
TA: If you could only give a traveler one piece of advice, what would it be?
Anita: Try independent travel. You can do that.