7 Questions with a Backyard Explorer

101909 - Andras Susana HeadshotAndreas Susana isn’t your typical travel and tourism writer. He doesn’t live out of a suitcase, hop planes or mark off countries as he makes his way around the world. Instead, Andreas does something that almost seems counter intuitive to the travel writer style: He sticks around his home territory in Graz, Austria, and visits a different castle, museum or exhibit every single day.

I’m intrigued by Andreas’ passion to explore his own backyard and his desire to journey into the culture and history of his neighborhood. And even though he’s not running to catch a plane, I am grateful that he took the time to answer a few questions about his outlook on travel and how we can all benefit from taking advantage of our local tourist attractions.

What is your travel style?

I prefer to use public transport means, especially railways. Having breakfast and watching the sun rising from a train are for me some of the best ways to start a new day. During my train trips I do the research for my next visits in a museum or an exhibition. It is also the time for writing for my website or for tweeting on Twitter.

At my destinations I love to meet local people in order to learn more about their places. Sometimes it is just a meeting in a café or a visit in a gallery. Sometimes I have the chance to join guided tours for special interest groups. I am also always looking for invitations to private tours in castles and museums featured by their owners.

Why are you fascinated by castles and museums?

I am curious to learn about all aspects of our life, and museums and exhibitions are a good way to do this. It is an easy way to get in touch (though you are often not allowed to touch) with documents, tools and ideas of all peoples and periods. Actually it is a much better way than to read books or to watch TV as you have a more interactive component while walking through museums and exhibitions.

Castles are a kind of resort for me. I love to refill my mental batteries by roaming along the wide corridors of a former king’s residence looking at all those pieces of art and these special kinds of timelines made by paintings showing the former owners.

101909 - CastleWhy do you visit an exhibit every day?

At the beginning of my journeys my travel habits were more or less chaotic. I didn’t have a plan of how to set all these fascinating sights of the world in a row. So I looked for a structure and motto for my travels and after some experiments the idea was born to try to visit a different exhibition every day. Generally I link such a visit with a small walk through the town so I always see much more than an exhibition.

When did you start traveling like this?

I started to travel when I was 15. In the first years I was only able to travel during the holidays and on the weekends. Four years ago I started my career as a freelance travel writer. Now I have the time to go everywhere I want but at the moment I have limited my radius to Austria and its neighbor countries. There I try to visit especially places which are related to Austrian history.

Though it is important for me to broaden my mind by visiting as many landscapes and cultures as I can it is also a strong point for me to get in-depth knowledge of a certain country. Therefore I’ve decided to limit the amount of countries for the next few years.

What has been your most memorable travel moment?

I don’t think we should make rankings with our experiences and moments. My aim  is to make always the best with a situation. So I have memorable moments nearly every day. To write down these moments is also the main aspect of my writing style. I don’t write big essays about the sights of a place. I prefer to put down the essence of a place and how this new experience has influenced my thoughts. Of course this evokes a very subjective writing style. So I prefer to say I am publishing travel notes not travel guides. Coming back to your question: I guess nearly each place is notable. You have just to search for the striking fact.

101909 - Andreas by SignHow do you decide what you will visit next?

As I love to visit exhibitions and new sights (for example new opened theme parks) right after their first opening day, their time tables rule my schedule. I also often get invited to exhibitions or to certain sights. This also influences my itinerary.

Why should people take the time to visit castles, museums and exhibits in their hometowns and when they travel?

You get a clue about your past and in this way about your present. You learn a lot about the history of your traditions, legends and even terms. Finally you are able to understand all the news which is coming to our ears every day and you are not so afraid by bad headlines.

Well, I know there is still the need to make personal experiences in real life too, but with all the information you will be getting from museums and exhibitions, you will be much more prepared and interested for all these fascinating things you can discover in the world.

Photos courtesy of Andreas Susana. (1) Self portrait (2) Schloss Mirabell, Salzburg (3) Even though Andreas loves to visit museums, it’s not always easy figuring out how to get to them.


31 Responses to “7 Questions with a Backyard Explorer”

  1. Gwen McCauley

    What a great perspective on life and travel. As someone who spends a lot of time exploring her own locale, I can appreciate the pleasure that Andreas gets from his unique approach to travel.

    And he gets to sleep in his own bed most nights! Now that’s a definite bonus.

    Thanks so much for this wonderful article about a unique man.

    Gwen McCauley

  2. Denise LeCroy

    What a great perspective Andreas has. More of us should take advantage of the discoveries just waiting to be uncovered in our own backyards. I am fortunate to live in an historically rich city (Charleston, South Carolina) and this article has inspired me to get out and see more of it!

    Thanks for this superb interview!

  3. Evelyn Hannon

    From the first time I began to follow Andreas on Twitter I understood that here was a ‘truly unique and dedicated’ travel writer. I wish I had his expertise and perseverance — neither rain nor sleet nor … stops him from his daily reporting. I’m surprised that the Austrian Tourist Board has not yet recognized the fact that he is a wonderful “ambassador’ for his country. I for one have contacted him regarding specific information and he had it — right there on his finger tips. Brava JoAnna for thinking of interviewing Andreas and bravo to Andreas for the detailed reporting he offers us.

  4. CMcKane

    Andreas was one of the first people I connected with on Twitter and I look forward to his pictures on his site, his tweets (especially the “I’m sitting in a cafe since the train is late”) and his zeal for life.

    Although, I rarely go to museums and can only say I’ve been to one castle (it was a fake one to boot) anyone can capture the essence of what Andreas accomplishes by exploring his surroundings and that is what I try to do.

    Lovely post!

  5. Fida Wild

    Andreas is a great inspiration. Most of us like to talk about those big and exotic trips we make but forget to discover our own neighborhood. Like he says: “I guess nearly each place is notable. You have just to search for the striking fact.”
    I especially like that. Servus to Austria!

  6. Dominique

    I like Andreas’ travel style! I don’t have a lot of available vacation time to travel far away and/or for extended periods, so I spend a lot of time writing about things in my home state of Michigan…and surrounding states at Midwest Guest. I can easily get several stories out of a museum, historic building, park system, etc.
    When you’re out of town, you’re often so intent on seeing -everything- that you run around and don’t really see much of anything at all. Covering things in your home region means you can take your time and revisit sites when something new happens or you just don’t feel like doing everything in a single day.
    It sounds like I definitely need to check Andreas’ writing out!

  7. Heidi

    It’s five years or more I know Andreas and I always said: one day you will be famous and they will tell your story because you are special. I am sure he will inspirate a lot of people to do similar trips in their own aerea. I read every new ‘adventure’ of his and I often smile because he always tries to look also behind the coin. You are great Andreas!

  8. Monica

    I have been following Andreas on his many local treks for months now via Twitter and I find him and his travels fascinating.

    So often we forget to look around at our local area and all it has offer. I am thoroughly enjoying learning so much about a beautiful place that I have not had the pleasure of visiting.

    A great article! Thanks for sharing, Andreas!

  9. Nancy

    Great article! That’s so fascinating that he’s based out of Graz, Austria. That’s where I lived for a summer (love Graz!)

    I love Andreas’s philosophy about travel too.

  10. Korina K. Kuster

    Truly, without question Andreas is an exceptional ambassador for Austria’s history, romance and beauty.On his trips to museums and castles and to many other fascinating places he vividly portrays with accuracy the wonders and attractions…. Andreas has inspired me and many people everywhere to visit beautiful Austria, especially his hometown – Graz . What a fantastic job you are doing Andreas. Definitely my husband and I will visit Graz next January.

  11. Marlys Schuermann

    I’ve “met” Andreas via Twitter.From his style, I’ve detected a modest and warm person behind it.That is reflected in the way he presents his travel commentaries. Simple and fun as well as very informative. He also manages to raise one’s curiosity for more information on what he is writing about, be it a place or a castle. Really a great promoter of any country he writes about. And he certainly shows real and impressive knowledge of his subject/’s.To think that he has managed to compile quite a collection just by getting to know his on backyard. I’m not into castles, but he has managed to interest me to know more about them. Every town I now visit in Europe, I have my eyes open for a sight of a small or big castle and find out how it relates to the area’s history. Bravo to him and wish him success he truly deserves.

  12. Aislinn O'Connor

    I always enjoy Andreas’ reports from places he’s been visiting, & also his lovely photographs, so it’s very interesting to learn some more about him and the theme behind his travels. It’s also good to see from the above comments that many others also appreciate his excellent work.

    It’s so easy to overlook local places in favor of somewhere distant and exotic, so it’s fascinating to see someone share the history and culture of his local are with those of us who haven’t so far been there.

    Thank you for this interview – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it!

  13. Caitlin

    Austria is a beautiful country, no doubt about it. I never made it to Graz though I hear it’s beautiful.

    I love this question: Why should people take the time to visit castles, museums and exhibits in their hometowns and when they travel?

    It made me smile because, outside Europe, most people really don’t have castles in their hometowns! They have to go to places like Austria to see that.

    But we all have interesting things around our own regions. It might not be castles but it might be something else.

  14. Alison

    Great article. I too follow Andreas’ travels via Twitter and find them fascinating – especially as a castle and museum addict myself!

  15. Trudy

    What a fascinating way to travel? I bet very few people really explore their home areas the way you do. Great idea. I really like when you stated: “I don’t think we should make rankings with our experiences and moments. My aim is to make always the best with a situation.” What a optimistic way to look at things, not just for travel but for life in general. Great interview.

  16. @AprylZA

    Well done, Andreas! You are truly an explorer. May you continue to discover new worlds every day.

  17. SurfAnna

    I met Andreas on Twitter too and I’d like to add to the comments here that Andreas is a very kind and attentive person. It’s amazing how he keeps contact with many of his followers, frequently asking them about their personal latest news!
    Go on like this, Travelwriticus ! And thanks to JoAnna for this interview that brings us to know Andreas better.

  18. Rebecca

    I have never been to Austria but it looks stunning. we dont have that many castles in Australia so I love reading about them.
    What a wonderful idea to visit one exhibit each day. I too follow Andreas on twitter and love his delightful commentary of his travels, alas he rises when I retire so I catch up on them when I wake up.

  19. DeeAnne

    Andreas was one of the first people I connected with on Twitter, and he has been such an inspiration to me! He truly understands the meaning of finding the treasures in every single day, and he also knows that you don’t have to travel very far to get a fantastic travel experience. I love the way he digs very deep and has become an expert, rather than hopping from place to place and only scratching the surface!

    Very best,

  20. Debra Snider

    How wonderful to learn more about Andreas’ unusual and interesting approach to travel! I have enjoyed his tweets and photos enormously, as well as his delightful comments on my own travel posts. He’s also been gracious enough to let me practice my extremely rudimentary German on him. 🙂

    Thanks for this opportunity to get to know him better!

  21. Judith

    I have been friends with Andreas for more years than either of us probably cares to count, and it is great to see his talents reaching an ever-widening audience. His enthusiasm is inspiring, and his philosophy of learning about ‘home’ rather than heading off to far-flung places is something to be applauded. Bravo, my friend! 🙂

  22. Karen

    I like the fact that he travels locally and then writes about what he finds. I love following his tweets! 🙂

  23. Maria Antonia Herrera

    I met Andreas on Twitter and since then I have been following his trips to castles, museums and exhibitions. His posts about his hometown Graz and other wonderful places in Austria and Europa are very informative. On my next trip to Europa, I’ll visit Graz and Vienna. Great article !… congratulations Andreas.

  24. Bettina Wagner

    Also met Andreas on Twitter & can underline everything that is said above!

    By reading Andreas’ tweets I can see before my inner eye the beauty of the Austrian country passing by the train window, I can picture the exhibition & smell the aromatic coffee in the nearby Café … it’s like having holidays myself 🙂

    And if you have any questions about Austria, he can always help you. He gives excellent recommendations for local spots to see, places to stay, local food & drink …

    Frankly, I do not understand why the Austrian tourism board does not take advantage of this modern version of old-fashioned travel – or does it?

  25. Al Girard

    After reading so many of Andreas’ Tweets, I contacted him to tell him that I’d be in Vienna and would love to meet him. He agreed, and he arrived at the meeting place right on time. We spent a half a day walking around that beautiful city, taking photos and chatting. He is really knowledgeable about his country, and he’s passionate about everything Austrian.

    We also hopped on a tram and visited Belvedere Palace. I learned so much in just a few hours, and hope some day to visit Austria once again, to walk with Andreas and to immerse myself in that wonderful country.

  26. Brian D. Wagoner

    Particularly interesting is the “everyman” style with which Andreas approaches his travel writings. Taking trains and public transportation, much like the college student on an exploration Europe, Andreas is able to capture the same view of an historical place that we all see, or hope to see. His is the style of you and me, and he speaks from the heart through his pictures and words, bringing to life ancient history in a way that is hard to mimic. I am impressed by his attitude, and his ability to convey his spirit into the words he writes, ever unassuming and never over the top with hyperbole or exaggeration. Not content to say one place is the best in the world, or in Austria even, Andreas paces himself in such a way that the reader never gets tired, saying “nearly each place is notable. You have just to search for the striking fact.” The striking fact here is that Andreas Susana IS a great travel writer, and under the pseudonym of Travelwriticus, Andreas proves himself to be a good read with his photos a feast of sweet candy for the eyes.

  27. Lisa MacColl

    I love the perspectives that you post on Twitter. We often ignore our own cultural sites in pursuit of something “grander.”

    I need to take a second look in our own backyard.

  28. Cate

    Great interview about a great tweeter and writer. It’s good to finally read an up close interview with Andreas ( I’m a big fan of his). Andreas you are fine example of how to live your life the way you want.

    Thanks for sharing


  29. Rhiannon

    Lovely to read something about the person behind the Travelwriticus tweets. A true ambassor for Austria – and a great attitude of treating each day as an adventure and looking for the best in each situation.

  30. Toby

    That is such an interesting take on tourism. I’ve also seen something like this with Photographers: some photographers do super macro photos of stuff in their backyard and just explore the small worlds around us. I think that what Andreas does is similar — a kind of micro travel.




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