An Interview with Ariane Colenbrander

Ariane Colenbrander

Name: Ariane Colenbrander
Home Base: Vancouver
Blog: Vancouverscape

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My name is Ariane Colenbrander, and I’m the editor-in-chief of Vancouverscape, an award-winning, Vancouver, BC travel, tech and lifestyle website. I’ve been travelling since I was a baby, the product of an American father and a Belgian mother. We spent many summers on the Belgian coast with our grandparents, enjoying boardwalk activities such as low cruiser bikes, ice cream and beach time. By the time I was out of high school, the travel seed was permanently planted. I saved up an entire semester to travel to Europe for three months, purchased a Eurail pass and off I went, first spending a month in Paris with relatives before embarking on a couple of months of adventure from London to Barcelona. After that life-changing summer, I made sure to save money each year for a major trip and soon life wasn’t complete until I had an airline ticket, a new writing journal and passport on my desk.
Ariane Colenbrander ShellAriane Colenbrander -

When and how did you discover your passion for travel?

Through my parents! They met overseas and took my brother and I everywhere. We’d alternate summers between Martha’s Vineyard (I grew up on the East coast) and Belgium. One year, we rented a tiny Renault and followed the Tour de France around, finding excited fans at each stop. On another trip, we had a layover in Reykjavik, Iceland, long before it was trendy to visit. We never ventured out of the airport, but I vividly recall having checked out the gift shop, with the salted fish, strange fibre art and clothes, thinking this is a place I must one day return to!

How has travel changed your life?

It was through travel that I met my husband. We were both in Petra, Jordan, and in a miraculous moment (the one day that his tour group allowed members to roam around on their own), I met that tall blond Dutchman as I was headed down a pathway that he was ascending. Even before having met him (1996), I’d spent time in Holland. At the start of a three-week trip in 1994, I met with an advertising firm in Amsterdam that needed my graphic design skills on a freelance basis while in town. The entire trip turned into a highly-lucrative vacation and I was able to write off pretty much everything while there. To back up, I stayed with a friend I made while travelling through Turkey the previous year who opened up his couch to me after we spent time riding through the Turkish countryside on rented mopeds on one chilly October day. 

What is your biggest pet peeve while travelling?

I’ll throw it out there even though it’s a delicate matter: crying babies on flights. I know it’s inevitable, but arriving after a quiet flight makes all the difference in the world (I’ve been bumped to business and first class before, so I know what quiet sounds like).


What is the one thing you absolutely never travel without?

Passport? Camera more likely!

What is the most unique experience you've ever "accidentally stumbled upon" while travelling?

In the tiny village of Gümüşlük, Turkey, I was invited to a wedding one night that turned into a two-day extravaganza complete with champagne on a docked yacht, dancing, being fed my weight in divine food, and music. Gümüşlük’s mayor showed up and was happy to greet a few of us Westerners. It was seriously the most random night I can recall throughout my travels.
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If you were going on a one-week rest and relaxation vacation somewhere you've previously been, where would you go and why?

Maui. Great snorkeling, lush vegetation and a BBQ’s all we need (my husband is the commander of the grill). Picking up mahi mahi steaks, a good bottle of white wine and watching the sun set with those huge palm trees gently swaying in the breeze is about the most relaxing thing we’d do all over again.

With the Canadian dollar being a little weaker than it once was, what is something unique you do to stretch your dollars while travelling?

It’s often said that travel writers are constantly travelling but never on holiday. If we find a beautiful spot that we’d like to explore a bit longer, I reach out to the tourism board and see whether there’s an accommodation that they’re looking to feature close to where we’re based. Another option is finding an apartment where we can make our own meals (at least breakfast and dinner). It’s fun to find local ingredients and make a go of it, even though in places like Venice, Italy, our dollar wasn’t spared back in May — even at the local fish market!
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If you could pack only a carry on sized backpack for an extended trip, what would you pack?

Socks, undies, scarf, bathing suit, couple of t-shirts, one pair of jeans, one long skirt, one blouse, one extra pair of shoes, slippers, toiletries, camera, smart phone, chargers

What kind of mistakes did you make when you first started travelling?

Not putting all my valuables in a travel pouch. I learned that the hard way in Lisbon, Portugal back in the 90’s.

What is your most embarrassing travel story?

Flying out of Boston back ‘home’ to Amsterdam and arriving at Logan Airport a day too late! My husband and I were having so much fun during our two week trip there that we confused the departure and arrival dates on our flight itinerary. We never bothered to question it until we arrived for our flight. Luckily both flights (on Icelandair - yet another chance missed to visit Iceland!) that following day were available!

What's the craziest thing you've ever eaten while away?

Pigeon in Marrakech, Morocco

Of all the places you've been, what was your favourite destination and why?

Tallinn. It was for my 40th birthday and it got underway in Oslo as we were given champagne on the flight over. The city has a gorgeous old center, the beautiful onion-domed, sketch-worthy Alexander Nevsky cathedral and is surprisingly Western in accommodations and level of cuisine. You can also take a fast ferry service over to Helsinki for the day and explore the city on a tram car route that loops around the city.
Want to read more of Ariane's travel adventures? Check out her blog Vancouverscape