We’re a married couple with a global story. Shelley was born in Seoul, South Korea, but immigrated to Canada when she was 2 years old. Agri was born in Albania, and lived in Greece and Italy, before moving to Canada when he was 19 years old.
We met in Canada in 2006, moved to South Korea together in 2009, got married in 2010 and the rest is, as they say, history.
Both of us had a love of traveling before we met, but it’s much more fun to wander the globe together. So, in 2012, we packed up our lives and fulfilled a long dreamt wish – to travel around the world for 1 full year. We visited 25 countries on our trip, and checked a few musts off our travel wish list, including trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, taking a hot air balloon ride in Cappodocia and taking a wildlife safari in the Serengeti. Our time was unforgettable, and while we’re way behind on blogging about our trip, we hope to get all our stories down with time.
Until then, we’ll be enjoying our life as expats in Seoul, South Korea, continuing to explore the world as much as we can and hopefully checking a few more of the items off our wish list.
To find out more about our Round The World journey, check out our interview on the wonderful Budget Your Trip website, which we used to track our expenses, while traveling. You can check it out here.
We named the blog “Travel-Stained” because we believe that there’s a big difference between traveling and ‘being on vacation.’ Being on vacation usually involves a comfortable bubble that is not so different from home. It usually includes chain hotels where service is very familiar, ‘safe’ dining experiences, guided tours to the most well-known tourist destinations and very little contact with locals outside of a service environment.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this, and we’ll happily take an all-inclusive vacation package to Cuba anyday…but we think that at it’s best, travel has the capacity to mark you. It’s when you stray from the well-known tourist trail, risk eating at street side food stands that don’t necessarily look ‘clean,’ and throw yourself into the local experience as much as possible, that travel truly becomes magical – and this is what we strive for most in our travels – to allow our lives and perceptions to be touched, marked and stained by the world.
Shelley: I took my first international trip when I was just 10 years old. My parents took our family to Hawaii and back to the motherland, South Korea. South Korea was still a developing country then, and I distinctly remember seeing pit toilets for the first time, and eating chestnuts and sweet potatoes that had been roasted on top of fires in garbage cans. Of course, all of that is rare in Seoul these days, but I still crave those sweet potatoes whenever I see them.
My next big trip was to Communist Russia, when I was 13 years old. It was a school trip (some school trip, eh?), and I still can’t believe that my overprotective parents sent me there on my own. Little did they know, they were creating a monster, because that’s when I was bitten by the travel bug, hard.
Since then, I’ve somehow managed to travel to 56 countries and see 36% of the world (or so Tripadvisor tells me). My favorite travel experience is sitting in a cafe for hours sipping coffee, while watching the locals wander by.
Agri (the Bear): I love football (soccer), history and chess. I’m 30 years old, but I’ve already lived in 5 different countries: Albania, Greece, Italy, Canada and South Korea. I’ve had the good fortune to visit over 40, and does it ever irk me that Shelley has been to 10 more than me!
Needless to say, I think I was born with the travel bug. I speak English, Albanian and Italian fluently, and a little Korean when absolutely necessary (usually food related). My favorite travel experiences usually involve thrills, food and history. I am highly irritated by the pace of Shelley’s coffee drinking, and sometimes resort to gulping it down when she’s not looking to speed up the process. I will (likely) write posts only when pressured to do so.