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Celebrity Travel: Go Away With Maria Sten

By Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency on

(EDITOR'S NOTICE: Sten refers to the Great Blue Hole (Belize) and the Blue Hole (Egypt). The names are similar but they are two different places.)

Actress Maria Sten moved from Copenhagen to New York City when she was 18. Her latest role is as journalist Liz Tremayne in the new DC Universe series, "Swamp Thing." "Liz is incredibly scrappy and she never backs down from a challenge," says Sten, 29. "She's also overly curious by nature and always wants to know everything that's going on around her. You'd probably get no sleep at all (traveling with her), but you'd have a hell of an adventure." Based out of Los Angeles, Sten stays in touch with fans on Twitter ( and Instagram (

Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?

A. I've been traveling since before I could walk, but I distinctly remember Bali, and I loved it. I was probably 7 years old at the time. My mom tells me stories about how I always made friends with the locals on our trips, before I could even speak English, and it's quite possible I may have ended up in the local village learning Balinese dance from a woman who just happened to be the sister of the gardener who worked at the hotel we stayed at and she just happened to be the reigning Balinese dance champion. It happens.

Q. Do you speak any foreign languages?

A. Danish is my first language and then I learned French and German in school, but it goes away when I don't get to keep it up. Growing up in Denmark and traveling so much definitely has given me an ear for languages. We learned English in third grade. And once you know one language, it's easier to learn another. I'm currently diving into Spanish.

Q. Where did you travel to in Africa?

A. I've been to Egypt and Sierra Leone and they're obviously quite different. In Sierra Leone, I was excited to explore the West African culture. In Egypt, I went to Sharm El-Sheikh, which is right on the Red Sea and has some of the best snorkeling and diving opportunities in the world, so that was more about the adventures. I went snorkeling at the Blue Hole. The marine life is incredible. I also went horseback riding through the desert and camped out to see the night sky. I still have to go back for the pyramids.

Q. What other trips stand out?

A. I recently came back from Peru. My friend and I sort of just hopped around Peru for a week to see as much as we possibly could because you can honestly spend months in Peru and still find new things to see. We went to Lima, then a tiny village in the Sacred Valley called Ollantaytambo with the most amazing food scene and, of course, we hiked Machu Picchu. But the Amazon was special. We canoed deep into the rainforest one day and ended up on a lake and found a few caimans floating around. We climbed around on hanging bridges above the treetops. The Amazon is like a pocket out of time and space -- completely its own world. If you ever want to really grasp the concept of what an ecosystem means, the Amazon is the place for that.

Q. How often do you travel alone?

A. I travel mostly alone, actually. There's a kind of serenity that comes with exploring a new place by yourself, taking in these new impressions purely through your own filter. I've gone on so many solo trips, I can't actually remember my first one, but I did Miami and Cabo alone. I also go to Sequoia National Park by myself all the time. It's close enough to do in one day from Los Angeles, but far enough away that you can still feel like you're alone in the world. Walking off on a trail amongst those giant trees is just the best kind of recharge I can think of. I always make sure to send my location to a friend so someone knows where I am and then I just take off and enjoy the freedom of being off the grid, even if it's just for one day.


Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?

A. I have a few, all for different reasons, but Belize was pure magic for me. I had my mom with me and we rented a car, drove the 3-1/2-hour drive across the country and ended in the rainforest, where we stayed at an eco-lodge right in the middle of a jaguar preserve. We never actually saw one, though. But I went zip-lining, visited an ancient Mayan pyramid, listened to Garifuna music by the beach and ate all the local organic food. There are also a wide variety of different ethnic groups living in Belize, which is a pretty small country, but they seem to have figured out how to coexist.

Q. What are your five favorite cities?

A. New York, London, Santiago de Cuba, Todos Santos (Mexico) and Hopkins (Belize).

Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?

A. I'm itching to go to New Zealand. And then I'm also looking at a horse trek through Namibia or Tanzania, whichever I can fit in first.

Q. What would be your dream trip?

A. This 10-day horse trek in Africa is something I've been dreaming about since I was 9 years old. But I can plop down and be happy anywhere that has a quiet beach and a magical sunset.


(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)



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