Giulia and Guido here.
We are two passionate travellers from Italy, currently living in Auckland, New Zealand.
We love travelling with no hurry, moving slowly and exploring each country with an open mind and curious eyes.
We love history and geopolitics, so we are always well aware of the social and political situations of the countries that we are visiting.
We love talking to local people because we believe that’s the best way to get to know the culture of the country we are in as well as to find out more about everyday life and perspective over history and current affairs.
We love sharing our stories and experiences not to show off and tell you about our personal life, but to facilitate your journey and to help you get around even when it seems too hard or impossible to be done.
That’s why this travel blog, Mignon Travels, will give you:
- Clear indications on how to get around by public transport or by car
- Clear indications on how to cross some borders by land
- Costs and procedures for some types of visas
- Travel costs
- Historical hints of visited places
- Meaningful stories and lively images, which may not be perfect
- Interactive maps with articles per locations
- A platform for every traveller to share their questions or updates
We met in a small village in the Italian Alps called Macugnaga many years ago, but we started exploring the world together only in 2018.
After short trips in Scotland, England, and Italy, in October 2018 we went to Iran for two weeks.
We had such a great time there that we didn’t want to leave. People are extremely welcoming and generous, mosques and other buildings are stunning, and the country is rich in history.
Of course, we were well aware of the political situation and dress code there, but that didn’t stop us from asking questions and listening to different points of view. You can read more about our time in Iran here.
We explored Iran travelling as locals do, that means using public transportation and shared taxis. Guido was quite used to it thanks to his previous trips to Marocco, Myanmar, and Jordan, but for Giulia this was quite new and she had to adapt to no fixed timetables. She had travelled to Peru and Japan in the past, but it had been quite a different story!
By the way, we both loved it because it gave us the opportunity to move as local people moves and so to meet them and have real experiences.
Following our dreams…
That’s why in 2019 we decided to take some time off from work – more about our jobs below – to travel overland one of the most fascinating roads in the world: the Silk Road. We hit the road for five months and we went from Milan to Beijing and then back to Milan via Moscow following the Trans Mongolian Railway.
This was a combination of two dreams. Guido had dreamed about the Silk Road for four years, and Giulia had the Trans Mongolian Railway at the top of her bucket list.
Why not taking two birds with one stone and live a life-changing experience?
This blog exists thanks to that long journey and it evolved with it. We spent long hours talking about the project, writing articles, drawing map lines to make it useful and meaningful to you, dear traveller.
You can explore our long journey along the Silk Road and the Trans Mongolian Railway in many different ways, but you definitely want to start here and then click on the interactive maps to explore the world!
This journey changed us somehow. It made us more aware of the world, of countries and cultures too often ignored and forgotten. It changed our concept of time and it made us slow down.
Coming back to Europe wasn’t easy. Going back to work wasn’t easy. Living through Covid-19 and its lockdowns wasn’t easy.
We were also living in two different countries: Giulia came back to Milan, Italy whereas Guido went back to Edinburgh, Scotland. We didn’t see each other for 6 months and then Giulia moved to Scotland as soon as the borders opened in June 2020 and we lived there till the beginning of 2022 when we moved to New Zealand.
What does slow travelling mean to us?
To us, slow travel is an approach to travel that emphasizes the connection with food, culture and local people. Instead of solely going to the main tourist spots, we like to discover the hidden gems and learn about the culture of the place we are visiting. We like to speak with local people and focus on what they do everyday rather than visiting a place just to take the best picture for Instagram. That doesn’t mean that we avoid the tourist places all together but that those are only one part of our journeys. If you go to Rome, visit the Colosseum but reserve part of your time to speak with locals and learn something about Italy (when in Rome….). Don’t rush from one tourist attraction to another one but live an unusual cultural experience! We truly believe it will have a much longer lasting impact and will make your trip truly unique. That’s why in this blog we:
- Try to avoid personal stories focusing the attention on locals rather than on us
- Give you unusual tips. You can find all the information about the main tourist attractions in the tourists guides if you need.
- Travel overland using public transport when possible
- Promote local cultures
What do we do for living?
We have to say that we both had chosen our professions carefully in order to combine passion and travelling.
Giulia is a language teacher. She has been teaching English and Italian since 2015 working both online and locally in Milan and now in Auckland. In 2021 she opened her own business to share Italian history and culture with learners around the world. That’s why she called it Italian Time Zone, so that you can tune in with Italian everywhere you are! You can find more info about her podcast and courses on her website www.italiantimezone.com
Guido is an Intensive Care nurse. He lived and worked in Scotland for 6 years and he is now practicing in Auckland. He has also volunteered in Greece and would like to work for a NGO in the future.
Our jobs gave us the chance to be flexible and to travel a lot. Being a nurse and having worked in the UK has given Guido the opportunity to get a work visa for New Zealand. Being an online language teacher has given Giulia the chance to keep her work while relocating and to find a qualified job in New Zealand as well.
If you’d like to do the same and need some advice, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re happy to help!