We had the good fortune of connecting with Nazanin Nikoukary and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nazanin, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Iran, where I was born and raised, is a Middle Eastern country rich in art, culture, and history. Buffeted by both internal and external political forces, many Iranians cannot travel outside the country. However, my family and I were US citizens and this gave us the privilege of traveling whenever we wanted. I was able to visit other continents and regions of the world from a young age and learn about new cultures and lifestyles in a personal way. I believe this extensive early travel, as well as interactions with people with very different lived experiences, shaped who I am today. From a young age, I was gently reminded that the world did not revolve around me and that not everyone shared my values or perspectives. Travel opened my eyes not only to boundless natural beauty, but also to the beauty of these different perspectives. For me, traveling has always been like opening a new door and leaping into a magical new world. Each country and each new town boasts a unique experience; and these experiences positively transform you, broadening your perspective on the world around you.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My passion is undoubtedly traveling and exploring new destinations. But, blogging has not been my career. As I mentioned in my earlier interview, I work as a dental hygienist. This is a rewarding and enjoyable career, and if you ever want a dental cleaning or a dental check-up, you know who to contact. LOL. But, all jokes aside, it can be challenging when your passion and field of work are not the same. Balancing work and travel can be challenging, and the global pandemic and travel restrictions amplified these challenges. I could not travel nearly as much as I would have wanted, and I was largely limited to short road trips from my San Diego home base. The last year underscored to me the importance of not taking life for granted and embracing the small moments and joy, in its many forms. I want my readers to know that travel blogging for me is more than simply visiting fancy hotels and restaurants and snapping appealing pictures. Instead, it is about getting to know the people of that country and learning about their unique culture. Travel teaches me these things, but I also learn invaluable information about myself. By blogging, I can share these experiences and hopefully embolden my readers to engage in this same exploration and introspection.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
highway 1, is a classic California road trip that you should take at least once in your lifetime. So I will take my friend on a road trip up north to carmel by the sea. We would stop at Malibu for some nice lunch with amazing views of Pacific Ocean, then spend our first night in San Luis Obispo. The next day we would go for early hike at bishop peak, and then a great healthy avocado toast at mint and craft. We would spend few hours strolling the streets of San Luis Obispo before heading to carmel. For lunch we would stop at Nepenthe Big Sur, another great stop with breathtaking views. For two nights, we would stay in Carmel. There is a Michelin star restaurant called Aubergine that we would dine for dinner. And some other great ones such as La Bicyclette and Continetta Luca that we would have lunch and dinner. For sightseeing 17 mile is must, with stops to take pictures and maybe some mini hikes. After our second day we would drive back south to Santa Barbara for some wine tasting. Santa Barbara has a lot to offer, so many great places to eat, drink and enjoy nature. I actually took my dad on this road trip not long ago, for all the details and where we stayed you can check my website 😉

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My sister who always supports me. She always encourages me to follow my passion.

Website: https://platesanddestinations.com/about
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/platesanddestinations/

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