Discoverer Spotlight

Discoverer Spotlight: Where to Next with @nextination

Esther Garcia's Instagram feed is an explosion of colors and light, and Esther herself is just as bright as any fantastic background she positions herself in front of. Hopping from Moscow to Bali to Lapland, this global jetsetter stumbled into travel blogging a few years ago and is crushing it. A website full of posts offering tips on things to do, history and her own adventures, with a envy-inducing Instagram to match, we can't wait to see where she goes next.    

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Esther Garcia-Sagrado, and I’m a Spanish travel influencer and founder of Nextination.es, a travel and lifestyle website and Instagram feed. Currently I am based in Moscow, where I have lived for the last four years, and before that, I have lived in Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, London and Madrid.

What drew you to become a travel blogger?

After living a year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, I decided to start a blog, like a diary to write about all the places I went, fashion trends, restaurants I liked, a little bit of everything I guess so my friends and family could follow my adventures. My blog was really basic and was more for personal use than anything else. Then, I moved to Shanghai and the city and the cultural shock motivated me to write about what it was like to live in China, about Chinese traditions and culture, what to see and to do in Shanghai, and I wrote about all my travels around China and around Asia: Philippines, Cambodia and Thailand. It was really pleasant to see that people I didn’t know started to follow my blog and ask me many questions and travel tips when visiting China. Then I realized that I was becoming a travel blogger without knowing it.

During this time in Shanghai, I created my Instagram feed and I started to experiment and mix my media content between the blog and Instagram, so both complement each other.

What’s your favorite thing about being a travel blogger?

I feel so lucky and grateful to be able to travel the world and discover other places, culture, traditions and different gastronomies, but what I love most about travel is getting to know people from all over the world — local people and foreigners that also travel the world. It is so rewarding.

You’ve lived all around the world — what's been your favorite city to live in?

To be honest, all of them are so different, with their pros and cons. I have been asked this question many times and I can tell you that the more places you know, the more difficult the answer is. It is not the same to visit a city for a couple of days or for few weeks, than actually live in a city for a while. You get to know the deep ends, the dynamics and the pace of the city and you’ll discover many things that you’ll love but many others you’ll dislike. It all depends on which stage of your life you are (single, married, kids, work, etc.) and you can enjoy all of them.

For example, Rio de Janeiro was great for going to the beach every day, the relaxing way of life, the samba and the music in Lapa neighborhood. Rio de Janeiro was also a good place to explore other regions in Brazil and Argentina. But it lacked good infrastructure, public transportation and cultural life. On the other side, cariocas –locals from Rio de Janeiro — are really happy and friendly people, always available to help you, to show you around and dance with you.

On the other hand, Shanghai with its 20 million population is very futuristic with all those skyscrapers. It's trendy and chic and you have the possibility of sipping a cocktail at the 100th floor in some rooftop bar with stunning views of the skyline. Also, the night life in Shanghai is amazing and there are tons of expats living there. But the downside is the congested roads, the noise, the chaos, difficulty to communicate with locals if you don’t speak Chinese and of course, the quality of the air.

Moscow — where I’m now — is an organized life versus the chaos of Shanghai. It is not as big as Shanghai, but its 12 million is not a small number either. This city has been totally unexpected in a good way. The city is beautiful the whole year round, but winter is like a fairytale here. The food is amazing and I have discovered food from Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia or Azerbaijan that it is also very good. Russians love to go out, they spend a lot of time in the streets despite the weather. Restaurants close late and some of them are open 24 hours, same as supermarkets or pharmacies.

There are lots of things to do in Moscow: a lot of museums, amazing restaurants, great shops and big and beautiful parks. Also the city is full of theatres where you can see ballet, opera, concerts etc. The city is also very well prepared for kids — my current stage of life. Many places have a small playground for kids inside restaurants, and also, all of them have high chairs and kids menu. There are also many places in the city, where they have ballet or music for small kids.

But, in order to reply to your question, I have enjoyed all the places I have lived in the past, but as they say, home is where the heart is. In my case, Madrid is the best city in the world to live.

What three countries would you recommend a first time traveler visit and why?

That is a difficult question because I guess it depends on the likes of the person, languages they can speak, budget, etc. I would say somewhere in Europe — Spain, Italy or France because it is easy to move from one point to another. There is easy access to many places, a lot of interesting sightseeing, great food, nice people and nice weather.

Another country could be Indonesia, specifically Bali, as I love this Indonesian island. Or if you like the snow, another amazing place to go is Lapland in Finland during winter to see the Northern Lights.

What’s the one thing in your carry-on that you can’t live without?

Although it sounds bad, I have to say that I can't travel without my iPhone and the external power bank! During the flights I enjoy my music with Spotify, watch some of my favorite series on Netflix and read some books on Kindle. In addition I manage all my trips with apps (for flights, hotels, etc.), I research and plan the places I want to visit in advance and then I create a Google Map with them. And I shoot all my pictures and videos with my iPhone and post them almost in real time on my Instagram feed, so if I forget my phone at home it can be a really disaster.

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