2015 in Review

WordPress recently sent me an annual report for my blog. Here are some of the highlights:

These were my five most viewed posts of the year. Interestingly, almost all of them are over two years old, so I either have writing with staying power–or my most recent writing leaves something to be desired. ūüôā

  1. Gettin’ My Shining On at Congress Hall,¬†
  2. Dear Heidi, 
  3. My Trip to Peru, August 2012, 
  4. Dubrovnik: A Tour of King’s Landing (and other locations),¬†
  5. The Inca Trail Day 4: Arrival at Machu Picchu (My Trip to Peru, Part 7), 

I posted 61 new articles in 2015, the majority of which were posted between June and July. Hardly any articles were posted between January and May–lingering winter blues, perhaps? It may also be because I was busy during that time period trying to finalize my novel for publication. In any event, I’ll try to be more consistent this year.

Well, that’s it for 2015. Thank you to all of my loyal readers and I hope you have a happy New Year!

Looking Back

As 2013 winds to a close, I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at the past year, during which this blog has come a long way: on this day last year I had three followers and only posted sporadically. As I began posting with more frequency (concentrating on my travel stories) my audience grew, which in turn inspired me to post even more frequently, and so on . . . it’s the circle of life. ūüėČ

This year has been very rewarding for me as a writer and I want to thank all of you for inspiring me to stick with it. I’ve never been much for resolutions, but if I were to make any, they would be to work harder on getting my novel published and to set aside more time for visiting the blogs of everyone who has visited mine.

In 2014 I will continue writing and sharing the journal from my recent trip to Mexico, and I am considering a trip to London this summer to see the Monty Python reunion (and build a trip of the UK around it). Until then, and in keeping with the tradition of year-end countdowns, here is a countdown of my own (or I should say count-up since I’m starting with #1). The following posts were my most popular of 2013 based on “likes.”

  1.  Photo of the Day: Overlooking Dubrovnik РA happy accident photo.
  2.  The Vintage Reel Award РMy acceptance of this award from my fellow blogger at The Vintage Postcard touches on some fond childhood memories.
  3.  The Inca Trail Day 3: Almost There (My Trip to Peru, Part 6) РThis was my favorite day of the Inca Trail hike as we passed by numerous remote Inca ruins that the average tourist will never see.
  4. ¬†Dubrovnik: A Tour of King’s Landing (and other locations)¬†– This is my most-viewed post by a wide, wide margin. Perhaps I should start tagging all of my posts with “Game of Thrones.” ūüôā
  5.  Eurotrip 2009 Part 2: Munich РRecounting my adventures in Munich, Germany, including stops in Dinkelsburg and Nordlingen.
  6.  The Inca Trail Day 2: Detour Through Hell (My Trip to Peru, Part 5) РAlthough this was the worst day of my trip to Peru (hiking up a mountain through freezing sleet), it is probably my favorite post because it represents some of the best storytelling of any of my travel writing.
  7.  My Trip to Peru, Part 2: Here and There РMy time in Cusco as well as excursions to Maras and the Inca ruins of Moray.
  8.  Photographs and Memories РThis poem is a tribute to my grandfather.
  9.  Eurotrip 2009 Part 4: Lucerne РThe beautiful city of Lucerne, Switzerland and breathtaking views from the top of Mount Pilatus.
  10.  Hiking the D&R Canal РPhotos from my hike along the D&R Canal in Princeton, NJ.

And here are ten of my most-viewed posts:

Well, that’s it for 2013. I wish all of you a Happy New Year. See in the blogosphere!

100 Followers . . . and a Facebook Page

My blog just passed the 100-follower milestone this week, which is pretty amazing to me. I never expected anyone outside of a few family members to read any of my posts–and I even have trouble getting them to follow me. ūüôā

This blog has come a long way from the single follower it had back in December, and I am grateful to everyone who has visited. My previous efforts at writing blogs usually began with a burst of output that slowly trickled down to the occasional post before finally becoming the internet version of a ghost town. This time, however, your readership has motivated me to continue producing content. It really does make a difference when you know that your writing is finding an audience, and I have all of you to thank for that.

But more than¬†getting my own writing out there, I’ve also discovered some awesome blogs that I now follow and I have enjoyed interacting with bloggers in the community who share my interests. It has been a great experience.

To celebrate my milestone, I’ve decided to heed the advice of some of my fellow bloggers on how to build my audience by creating a Facebook page as a supplement to this blog. I resisted having a Facebook page for the longest time, but I figure the time has come to give it a go.¬†In addition to showcasing my own posts, this page will enable me to spotlight posts of interest from my fellow bloggers, and I also plan to share other relevant items that may not be right for the main blog, as well as additional photos related to my travel posts.

If you’d like to follow me on Facebook, you can do so by clicking the ‘like’ button in the right column, or you can check out the page at¬†https://www.facebook.com/michaelanthonyrappa.

Thank you once again for your readership!

Liebster Award

liebsterI have been nominated for the Liebster award! It’s always nice to be recognized by my fellow bloggers in the community.

The aim of the Liebster award is to get smaller blogs with less than 200 followers a bit of recognition, share some love and spread the word. There are some rules to follow though. You’ve got to play the game!

‚ÄĘ Post the award on your blog

‚ÄĘ Thank the blogger presenting you with this award and provide a link back to their blog

‚ÄĘ You then need to write 11 random facts about yourself

‚ÄĘ One good turn deserves another, meaning, you then need to find 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers who you think are deserving of the award so that you can then nominate them! In other words, keep the love going and help small, new blogs get out there and get noticed!

‚ÄĘ Finally, the award presenter will ask 11 questions of you which you need to answer and then you, in turn, ask your nominees 11 questions, and so it goes.

Here we go…

First, I would like to thank willc88 for nominating me for this award. I am always honored when someone takes the time to give my blog a shout-out, it encourages me to keep going. I look forward to reading more of his fascinating posts about life in Mexico City as my visit draws nearer. Please check his blog out here.

My 11 random facts:

1. I’ve visited several countries around the world but in my own country I’ve barely left the East Coast. In fact, the farthest west I’ve ever traveled is Fontana Dam in North Carolina, and since NC is on the East Coast, that’s not very far at all. This is something I’m hoping to remedy in the coming years with a cross-country drive out to Yellowstone.

2. I play the saxophone. Actually, I played until I graduated high school and then never picked it up again until my 40th birthday when I received a new sax as a gift. Playing again was like riding a bike, and I quickly joined a community band for about two years. I’m currently on hiatus from playing, but hoping to pick it up again soon.

3. My first trip to Europe in 2007 at the age of 36 was the first time I had ever left the country (not counting a trip just over the border to Niagara Falls, Canada in 2002). It was also the first time I had flown in 18 years.

4. I celebrated my 36th birthday in Munich, Germany.

5. I still have virtually every poster I’ve had since I was a kid, and most of them are hanging in my office, a room my wife calls¬†Man World. The oldest poster is from the 1976 version of¬†King Kong.

6. I wrote my first story in 2nd grade (I was about six years old), a haunted house collaboration with two classmates.

7. I’ve had the same best friend since I was five years old.

8. I once nearly drowned in a lake when I was very young. I was rescued by a friend’s father.

9. I love to cook. My specialties are Italian and Mexican dishes, as well as Asian stir fry. I also enjoy making creative meals out of whatever happens to be in the kitchen.

10. I play tennis and hockey.

11. I’m a TV and movie junkie. There are four DVRs in my house capable of recording a total of 11 programs at one time that can be watched in any room in the house.

Blogs I would like to nominate…

Alas, most of the blogs I follow either already have over 200 followers or have already won the Liebster award, so this list is going to be quite short. I will try to add more blogs to this list over time (I have a folder full of links to over 200 blogs I’m planning to visit as time permits).

  1. Rosemarie in Europe 2013 Рa blog about an epic trip to Europe, including a hiking tour of the Italian Dolomites, with great photos.
  2. Living in the Langhe¬†– This blogger is living the dream: to drop everything, pack up, and buy a house in Italy. I’m living vicariously through his posts. ūüôā

And the questions I must answer….

1. If you could live the life of anybody in the world for a day, who would it be any why?

An astronaut, because outer space is the one place I’ll never have a realistic chance of seeing in my life.

2. Coke or Pepsi?

I gave up soda years ago, but I’m pretty much addicted to iced tea.

3. What is the worst thing you’ve ever eaten?

I’m not a very adventurous eater, so I don’t try too many new things. But there was this one dish I ordered when our group stopped at a restaurant in a rest stop in Germany. It was a rice dish but it had tons of mushrooms (which I didn’t realize when I ordered it) and it was awful.

4. If you were to go and live in another country, where would it be?

That’s a tough choice, Italy or Germany would be great, but I think the country I’m most drawn to is Switzerland.

5. If you had to give up one for the rest of your life, would it be beer or meat (pasta if you’re veggie)?

That’s easy: beer. I can’t live without bacon but I could live without beer, especially since I prefer something like prosecco anyway.

6.¬† What’s your dream job?

To be able to stay home, write, and earn a living off my writing.

7. If you could only ever listen to one album again what would it be?

I was going to cheat and say Pink Floyd’s Discovery box set, but I’ll go with Dark Side of the Moon, though Springsteen’s¬†Born to Run also deserves strong consideration.

8. Why are you a blogger?

I’ve been blogging on and off for years and for many different reasons, but mostly because I just love to write. The primary features of my blog, travel stories and photos, evolved organically with the increased traveling I’ve done in recent years. Ultimately, my hope is to build an audience for my writing as I continue to seek an agent/publisher for my novel. To that end I also feature creative writing samples, but the main focus will still be travel and photography.

9. Would you rather have a girlfriend/boyfriend with the head and body of a person and the bottom of a giant fish, or a girlfriend/boyfriend with the head and body of a giant fish and the bottom of a person?

I think head and body of a person would be much more desirable than a fish head.

10. Do you have a pet hate?

I hate when people don’t take the extra two seconds to park straight and between the lines. I also get annoyed when groups of people don’t go single file when approaching you in a hallway or a sidewalk, forcing you to squeeze by them.

11. What was the last thing to make you laugh?

Last night’s Colbert Report.

And now for my questions:

I really struggled to come up with 11 questions. I tried to stick mostly with a travel theme, but I threw a few others in there as well. The first three questions I stole from the ones I answered above because I thought they were good questions to ask.

1. Why do you blog?
2. What is your dream job?
3. If you could live in one country other than your own, which one would it be?
4. What place is at the top of your bucket list to visit?
5. If you could live for a week in one era of human history, which would it be?
6. What do you like most/least about travel?
7. What is your favorite place you have visited?
8. What is your favorite food?
9. What person from history would you like to meet?
10. Do you have a favorite author?
11. What is your favorite movie?

Best Moment Award

best_momentThe Rules: Winners re-post this completely with their acceptance speech and have the privilege of awarding the next awards! The re-post should include a new set of people/blogs worthy of the award; and winners notify them of the great news!

Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered ‚Äď
Savoring the experience of quality time.

What makes a good acceptance speech?

    • Gratitude.¬†Thank the people who helped you along the way.
    • Humour.¬†Keep us entertained and smiling.
    • Inspiration. Make your story touch our lives.

My Acceptance Speech:

I would like to thank Alli from The Vintage Postcard for this honor, and I’d also like to congratulate her on her recent trip to New Zealand and the great stories and photos she has been sharing.

In my acceptance of the Vintage Reel Award I discussed some of the experiences that shaped my love for travel and the people who helped me along the way. ¬†For this post I’ve decided to talk about why I write, how my blog has grown, and my introduction into the greater blogging community.

I have operated a blog in one form or another for around a decade, usually involving spurts of writing followed by an eventual loss of interest. This blog actually began as a sports and entertainment blog years ago on blogspot, to which I only sporadically posted. After importing my blog into WordPress in 2012 I began writing about my travels, but it really wasn’t until the end of 2012 and early 2013 that I began posting with enough frequency to start getting¬†recognized¬†by my fellow bloggers in the community (it also helped that I finally learned to tag my posts).

That was when I discovered this vast new world known as the blogging community. I’ve been amazed at how supportive everyone is (I rarely see the type of flaming so characteristic of message boards on other sites). In spite of the fact that most of us are strangers from all over the world, there really is a sense of community.

So I would like to thank all of my fellow bloggers for your support. It is you who have inspired me to keep writing, to make this blog a labor of love rather than just an occasional hobby. Since the beginning of the year I have revamped my blog and turned it into a hub for all of my writing endeavors. In the process my blog has grown from just two followers in 2012 to almost sixty now–not nearly as impressive as some of the success stories I’ve seen from other blogs, but every new follower inspires me to keep going.

I have always loved to write–I wrote my first story in second grade and rarely stopped writing until graduating from college, when, as often happens, life got in the way and my writing was relegated to the back burner for much of my adult life. But that’s really just an excuse, because if you love to write, you find a way. I did manage to complete a novel over the course of the last decade, thanks in large part to being out of work for about 20 months, but it wasn’t until this blog started taking off (particularly the travel section) that I began writing regularly again, and remembering how rewarding it can be. The very act of putting my thoughts into words, of creating something from nothing, should be reward enough, but I won’t deny that it makes a huge difference from a motivational perspective to know there is an audience out there reading what I write. For that I am grateful to all of you.

I am also inspired by my visits to the blogs of my peers in the blogging community. There is so much great content out there, of which I’ve only scratched the surface. I am making it my mission to visit the blog of everyone who has visited mine. Each day I try to visit a few when I have time, but I still have a long way to go. In the meantime, for my list of nominees, here are the blogs that have stood out for me so far, in no¬†particular¬†order. Some are travel blogs, others are more creative arts-oriented or a mixture of both. ¬†All are worth a visit.

  1. Cristian Mihai
  2. traveleum
  3. (pre) concept
  4. Rosemarie in Europe 2013
  5. Living in the Langhe
  6. Bucket List Publications
  7. escapedfromyorkshire
  8. Postcard Poems and Prose