Where the experts holiday: René Zografos, author of Attractive Unattractive Americans

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

René Zografos is one of Norway’s most well known journalists and bestselling authors. Half Norwegian, half Greek, Zografos is also an accomplished photographer and musician, and has worked for magazines and newspapers, as well as for artists, designers, publishing houses around the world. Genuinely interested in everyday people’s opinions, he decided to spend seven years travelling the world to hear them out about the one and only “greatest country on earth”: America. The result? Attractive Unattractive Americans – a collection of thoughts, opinions and observations on the good old US of A. 

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What do you like to do on holiday?
I like to explore and see new places. I rarely stay at just one location on the same vacation. I always talk to the local people about where to go what to eat. I like to dive and hike. Don’t misunderstand: I can have a relaxing day on a beach reading a book, but not too many of them in a row. A great freedom feeling is to rent a motorcycle and hit the road – you won’t believe how many amazing places I have discovered from a two-wheeler.

Where did you last go?
Greece, and right before that Indonesia.  I also recently had a week by the fjord where my cabin is in Norway.

Do you know where you’re going this year?
It looks like I’m on my way to the United States to talk about my new book, Attractive Unattractive Americans, which was just released. I definitely hope to visit Asia again soon – probably Thailand.

Of all the places you’ve been to, what was your favourite and why?
It depends if we’re talking about cities or everywhere else! I just love the cities of Florence and Siena in Italy, also London in England and Paris in France, because they are genuine. The atmosphere in cities like that is amazing. Ta Chai Island in Thailand may have the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. The nicest people in the world tend to be from Thailand, Myanmar, Canada and North America. Our mother earth is quite extraordinary and there is beauty almost everywhere we go – we must just keep our eyes open.

Which destination do you wish to travel to, but haven’t yet been?
Some of the small islands in the Pacific Ocean – also, I must go to Tahiti.

In your own country, what would you recommend tourists see that isn’t in the travel guides?
Go to our capital, Oslo, in the summer months of July or August. From there you will have a short distance to the best thing we have to offer: climbing, hiking, beaches, nightlife and good restaurants. If you also manage to visit the south parts of the Norwegian coastline, you will discover fairytale-like small cities with only white houses and very friendly people. Since we have cold winters, many people stay inside more at that time of year. But if you like mountains and skiing, then Norway could be worth a trip in the winter – we are among the best skiing destinations in the world.

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How do you plan your holiday? (Guidebooks/website/agent/recommendations etc)
Good question: I’m terrible at making plans. I actually don’t like to know what’s going to happen in front of the journey. But sometimes I use online resources to find good locations and accommodations, like WikiTravel and TripAdvisor. But no humans are alike, so what another person enjoys, I might not. I think it’s therefore better to experience for yourself.

How often do you go away?
Some years only three to five trips a year. Others, up to 20.

Who do you travel with?
Friends, my girlfriend, alone and with work colleagues (writers and/or photographers)

Where do you see tourism in your country, in 10 years?
I’m half Greek and half Norwegian. In Norway, I don’t think there will be a lot changes. We are among the most expensive countries in the world and therefore the trip isn’t always worth the money (but at the same time, the scenery in Norway is breathtaking). Greece is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and has a nice warm climate with friendly people. I will be surprised if Greece doesn’t recover from the crisis during the next 10 years.

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Thanks René! Attractive Unattractive Americans [Renessanse Publishing] is available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in brick-and-mortar bookstores nationwide now.

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