TravelTwang - Meet the Experts

TravelTwang gives you Expert Travel Knowledge from travel experts, local residents and experienced travellers. This means that the information you read is 100% impartial and based purely on real life experience.
You can meet and read about some of our experts in the biographies below:
Bill Martin

Bill Martin, our Europe and cruise expert

Bill Martin Bill Martin spent his early life in Belgium before completing his education in England. Cutting his teeth as a Copy Editor with Avon Cosmetics, Bill learnt his craft working with a small West End agency in London during the 1980s, writing travel brochures and promotional copy for clients such as American Express, Sea Goddess Cruises, Travelscene, NCL, TWA Getaway and Cunard. Pointing his compass in a different direction in 1990, he headed the European Copy Team at Hasbro, working on brands as diverse as Monopoly, Disney and Trivial Pursuit. A Freelance Copywriter since 1999, his travel writing has included projects for Voyages of Discovery, Swan Hellenic Cruises, Orient Lines, Thomson Holidays, Solo’s Holidays and The Royal Plaza in Montreux.

Conrad Freethy

Conrad Freethy, our Spain & France expert

Conrad Freethy Right from my earliest memories of driving through France & Spain with my parents, travel has always seemed endlessly exciting. A particular memory is a honey shop in the hills of south eastern Spain... entering the dark & dusty shop interior you navigated between randomn barrels each with a small sampling bowl on top containing that particular honey and a wooden tasting stick. Fruit flavours, flower flavours, some dark, some light, some thick & some runny. It was a veritable Alladins cave of sticky sweetness for any young child. And the excitement didn't end there... one year on leaving the shop we were confronted by a man waving a gun at us! Apparently we had parked in front of his garage door and were not the first tourists to have done so that day. Fortunately, my father spoke some Spanish and managed to calm the situation... a lesson that later inspired me to always learn at least a few useful words when visiting a new country.

Currently 52 countries visited but many many more on my wishlist as well as plenty of others on the re-visit list.
By the way, the Spanish for don't shoot is "no dispares"!

Honor Dargan

Honor Dargan, our Japan expert

Honor Dargan Honor has been living in Tokyo since 2001 and has come to the point where she calls this city home... much to the indignation of her mum! She says it's a city with many flavors and a quirky personality to match. That's why she loves it! Honor developed her own site, TokyoTopia, because she knew from her own experience how easy it is to miss out on the good stuff in Tokyo if you don't know where to look. Her goal is to help you take the stress out of visiting a huge megalopolis like Tokyo so you can get on with making the most of your vacation. That's why here tagline is Tokyo Made Simple. Not a bad goal hey?

Lois Ronberg

Lois Ronberg, our Antipodean expert

Lois Ronberg A native New Zealander, I grew up in a stunning, fantastic country. I always had a keen interest in geography, with a wonder about how other people lived and existed in ‘’lands far away.’’ My first overseas trip was to Fiji, aged 17 years. What a culture shock for a ‘kiwi’ youngster, one which definitely gave me the wanderlust for overseas destinations. By far the best part of travelling is the people you meet in a diverse array of destinations; cities with historic, interesting buildings, and outdoors - mountains, rivers, lakes and villages all bring different travel experiences and memories, this keeps you stimulated to see more. A keen, amateur photographer I am ‘camera ready’ usually taking too many photos: is that possible? My favourites are cathedrals and historic buildings, stained glass windows, people going about their local, community activities and unusual doors and windows! I usually do budget travel and accommodation which leaves me more holiday money to pay for attractions, events and fine, local cuisine. I’ve enjoyed three different price-range cruises and recommend them enthusiastically. I often travel on my own but much prefer company as there is some-one to talk to about all you see, adding to your appreciation. Now, over 60, I look back on travel in many countries, all over the world, and look confidently to more ‘’exploring years’’, with interesting destinations being ticked off my list. I’m self-employed in the UK as a live-in carer and I so love it, most of the time. Every year I return to New Zealand for summer activities and get outdoors for camping and fishing, spending valued time with my special family and friends. I love local New Zealand wines, beers and Pacific-rim cuisine. You can’t beat a kiwi bbq!! In my working and private life I have varied experiences; correspondent for a large, daily New Zealand newspaper, advertising features writer for a regional newspaper, news editor for a regional radio station, self employed restaurateur and take-away bar proprietor, taxi owner, fundraiser, Lioness Club member, Special Olympics official, tourism promoter, as well as doing a variety of craftworks. I like making cards, sewing, knitting and of course travel writing. Most challenging, stimulating and where I am most comfortable is my role as mother, nanna and family member, while appreciating fantastic friends all over the world.

Paul Baderman

Paul Baderman, our Greece, Turkey, USA & Caribbean expert

Paul Baderman For me, the anticipation, planning and travelling is as much a part of the experience as the destination. I have always enjoyed driving and so what better place than the USA to take my first great adventure. Armed with a road map (no SatNav in those days!) and my trusty second hand Plymouth Arrow, I clocked up 26,000 miles cruising the Lower 48, quite an experience for a lone 18 year old. The freedom of waking up in the morning without any fixed itinerary is something very special and comes highly recommended. This trip took 6 months, but shorter trips to some of the many Greek islands are, for me, the ultimate in friendly relaxation. There’s something about a small airportless island that simply insists you unwind and reminds you of the simple pleasures in life. Having said that, as a Private Pilot, I don’t mind airports – I rather like them actually. I still get a buzz when arriving at any airport and always make a beeline for the observation deck, sadly all too few and far between these days. I have also been known to dabble in the slightly slower form of transport that is sailing. This gave me my first insight into the beautiful southern Turkish coastline, villages and ultra friendly locals. Top travel moment? Impossible to say but one which always comes to mind is crossing the Rio Grande from Texas into Mexico on donkey-back. Perhaps not quite as thrilling as a helicopter landing on New Zealand’s Frans Joseph Glacier, but for me was the essence of travel at its purest.

Terry Emery

Terry Emery, our Africa & S.America expert

Terry Emery Maybe being born in a holiday resort (Brighton) gave me a taste for travel. Maybe not being allowed on the mined beaches during the war gave me a frustrated desire for sandy, sunny exotic shores. Maybe a 13-course celebration lunch on a French school-trip sparked my taste buds for foreign flavours and the wonderful revelation that wine was better than Tizer. Whatever the source, ‘abroad’ has never lost its excitement while ‘going places’ still discovers new delights at home (Britain and London - a great city). The log count is now around 40 countries on five continents (and fringing Antarctica), many repeatedly, thanks to the constant holiday dilemma of new pastures vs ‘must go back there’. After university (Birmingham), work (advertising in the 60’s ‘Madmen’ era) provided a business reason/excuse to travel including fascinating multi-cultural meetings of a US international group plus the exoticism of the Far East (Sony, Japan). Marriage produced children and family Mediterranean holidays - though still early days, so we stayed once in the only hotel in Benidorm. Empty nest time came, free-lance work offered office-routine relief, and the discovery of Africa followed. Drop me blindfold into the centre of Rift Valley Africa and I would, I claim, instantly know where I was. The sounds, the smells, the particular kind of heat, even the feel of sun-burnt bush grass underfoot tells you. So that’s high on the ‘repeat’ list. But then, close behind, comes the exact thermal opposite. A birthday treat to Iceland, Lapland dog-sleds and snowmobile trekking, the phenomenal glaciers and icebergs of Argentian Patagonia, mean that one end of the thermometer is as attractive as the other. I’ve always been a generalist, not specialist - everything, everywhere and everyone is interesting, so the very best holidays combine things, safaris with beaches, Indian tigers with Nepalese Himalayas, food and wine with great cathedrals. But gradually, I suppose three strands emerged. Just about top is the wildlife, natural environment aspect. The sheer physical beauty of a wild animal moving through its own domain is awesome. The quite incredible range of species … the astonishing uniqueness of some but also the surprise at seeing something viewed in Africa recur in Borneo or South America. Or how about ‘compare and contrast’ the Victoria and Iguazu Falls (or Gullfoss in Iceland with Dovedale in Derbyshire). Then there are the works of man. Notably the cities where humanity is compressed, often for the bad, but also ideal for affording an insight into a country and its people. They show the past - an early highlight for me was touching a temple door in Rome that priests had pushed open two millenia ago. They reveal character - the amazing calm of a temple in Kyoto, the sheer can-do exuberance of New York’s ever-changing skyline. They offer a buzz and excitement of people just living their lives. And there has to be relaxation. My childhood means that has to include water -ocean/lake/even canals, my aging bones now crave sunshine, food and drink has steadily risen in the must-have scale (classic or regionally exotic have equal appeal). But even then you can have the twist of a ‘seaside’ which is actually the shore of Lake Malawi. One aspect of being a writer is that for me, describing places for others brings them to life more vividly than photos or videos. So setting these notes down has almost been a holiday in itself.

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