Around the World with Your Loved One ⏤ Interview with Creative Duo Nuria Val & Coke Bartrina
Sooner this year, as we were departing for our gastronomic and oenophilic journey of Puglia and Basilicata, we had the chance to be joined by the creative duo of Nuria Val (@frecklesnur) and Coke Bartrina (@cokebartrina). Both passionate about travel and their loving relationship, they took this opportunity to deepen their understanding (and taste) of the Italian regions, where they also captured amazing shots of the area’s rich landscape and history. Following our journey, I sat down with Nuria and Coke to learn more about what led them to meet and build their own career out of the ever inspiring world of travel...
All images by Coke Bartrina & Nuria Val
Before we start, I would love to hear more about your early days as a traveler. How often were you traveling as a kid and teenager?
NV: I started traveling on my own when I was 17 years old, when I started working as a model, which was tough but amazing at the same time!
CB: As a kid, I was traveling almost every year with my family. I am really grateful to my parents for introducing me to other parts of the world at a young age. For me, this was the starting point for being curious and arose my desire to visit other countries.
When and where did you have your first ever travel experience outside of your home country? How did this first trip felt like?
NV: I went to Athens for 2 months. I had no internet on my cell phone, so I used physical maps to move around the city. I still remember visiting my favorite vintage stores and making friends with all store owners... As we could not speak the same language, we didn’t understand each other that much, but it remains a precious memory to this day.
CB: I was probably around 20 years old when I first travelled on my own to New York City. It was my first year as a photography assistant, which brought me to travel all around the world during that time of my life. However, the very first time that I felt the excitement of traveling by myself was when I was 17. I rode my bike for 7 days with a friend and my cousin around Spain following part of the famous Camino de Santiago. It was just us and our bikes, which was amazing!
What best and worst memories do you have from that trip?
NV: I felt mature, enabling myself to face problems, overcome obstacles and discover the world on my own, although I sometimes felt very lonely. I remember wishing that I could have spoken with my family a bit more at certain times.
CB: I remember feeling that I could accomplish lots of things by myself and that I could actually manage traveling while staying organized. We had lots of laughs and we realized that our whole trip only cost 300€, including flights! The worst was probably riding up the mountains while carrying all the gear and having to ride the bike under the heat.
Can you recall a specific moment or event that triggered your decision to start or switch your career as a world traveller and influencer?
NV: I don’t feel there was any switch. I feel I’m doing the same that I was doing when I started traveling. I was discovering, taking pictures and sharing them. At some point when I was in Los Angeles about 7 years ago, I started sharing my photos on Instagram and people quickly started following my account.
CB: I really don’t consider myself as an influencer. I consider myself as a photographer; my job takes me to different places in the world and, while taking pictures, I do travel. I have been doing so since I started around my 20’s as a photography assistant, but I began focussing more on travel and lifestyle photography when I met Nuria 5 years ago. We quickly understood that we were very good at traveling together.
Jumping ahead in time now, a few months before joining us for our journey inside Puglia and Basilicata, I remember you both mentioned that it had been a long time dream of yours to visit this part of Italy. What interested you the most about those regions?
NV: Yes! I always wanted to visit Puglia, I remember exchanging emails with the UNCOVR team and trying very hard to make it work with the schedule. I’m very happy we finally were able to do this trip! I was very curious about Puglia, about the food and about the experience of traveling with UNCOVR.
CB: We always have to organize our own trips and this requires lots of research and preparation. This time, UNCOVR took care of all the details which felt really good. For once, we could simply focus on enjoying the trip and take pictures. I personally love Italy. I love its people, food, landscapes and personality and this is exactly what I found inside this UNCOVR journey. I try not to have big expectations before traveling to a destination, but I had seen lots of pictures from this region and I was very curious to see it by myself.
Now that you had the chance to experience Puglia and Basilicata, what are your best memories from your journey with us?
NV: I love the adventure spirit of UNCOVR. I remember that day when we woke up at 5:30 to catch the sunrise and drive to Canale del Ciolo to enjoy the views. It was amazing!I also remember having a very beautiful lunch with a local family, owners of a vineyard. During the amazing lunch they served us cheese wrapped in a fig leave. It was the first time I ever tasted it and I definitely recommend it!
CB: Loved visiting Masseria Moroseta, Lecce, the oil farmer and traveling with the group in general. I was amazed when we arrived to Matera, since I didn’t know about the city’s historical background. Also, all the wineries and specially the last one we visited where we had a fantastic lunch with the family owners!
Is there a specific place or local person which or who touched you more specifically?
NV: Yes! A small village full of ceramic artists called Grottaglie. I used to do ceramics so I was very excited about this visit, since Jason (our tour host) told me we were passing by this village. It was amazing! We even bought some tableware...
CB: We spent around 30 minutes with a ceramist in Grottaglie, to whom we bought some tableware. He gave us some tips and told us very interesting stories about Puglia. I also appreciated the history of the olive oil production told by an oil farmer.
“I personally love Italy. I love its people, food, landscapes and personality and this is exactly what I found inside this UNCOVR journey.”
— Coke Bartrina
What were your favorite food and/or wine experiences?
NV: We had a very good tasting menu at Castello di Ugento, which was also one of the best accommodations the we had the chance to stay at. It was very fun, and delicious!
CB: I loved the lunch we had a Masseria Moroseta and the wine tasting at Terre di Sanvito.
Is there any book or podcast about culture and/or travel that you would recommend to our audience and why? Otherwise, could you name any readings or mentor that has considerably influenced your life or career choices?
NV: The adventures of Robinson Crusoe
CB: I would recommend reading magazines such as National Geographic, or reading Tintin and Jules Verne.
Anything else that you would like to tell our audience about the infinite world of travel?
NV & CB: It was our first time traveling with a group and UNCOVR really exceeded our expectations. We had a lot of fun and they made us feel very good and comfy during the entire trip. We hope we can join UNCOVR for another trip in the future!
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