by Jae-Ha Kim, Tribune Content Agency, December 29, 2016
Olympian Kelsey Robinson helped Team USA win the bronze medal in volleyball at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, but her love of basketball is evident by the number on the back of her team jersey -- 23. The number, of course, is in honor of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, but it also makes her feel close to her Chicago-area roots, says Robinson, 24. When not training with the Women's USA Volleyball National Team in California, Robinson plays professionally in different leagues throughout the world. Currently, she plays for the BAIC Motor Beijing Volleyball Club in the China Volleyball League. Fans may stay in touch with her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/Krobin32) and via her website (http://www.apassporttoplay.com).
Q. There was so much talk about how the Olympics in Rio were going to be a disaster due to the lack of infrastructure. How was the experience for you?
A. For me, I enjoyed my entire experience in Rio. I think they did a great job of making sure we had everything we needed as athletes. The people of Rio were what really made the entire tournament so special. It's a culture that loves to celebrate and embraces sport in every aspect, so it was really special to be a part of.
Q. Where has your pro career taken you?
A. Basically, since there is no professional volleyball league in America, we go to other countries such as Brazil, Turkey, Italy and Russia to play during the time we aren't with the national team. Currently, I'm playing professionally in the China Volleyball League.
Q. What untapped destination should people know about?
A. One of the places that I'm absolutely crazy about is Puerto Rico. Literally, it is so close to the (mainland) states, you barely have to go too far. And while most people think about San Juan as their immediate stop, keep going. I played professionally in Ponce, which is in the south. For me, it is the best part of the island because you are a quick drive to the west coast for some great surfing. You are pretty close to a harbor, too, so we often took out a boat for like $20 a day into crystal-clear blue water. You can drive into the mountains, go rope-swinging into waterfalls or there are the islands off the east coast. These are breathtaking. It was like swimming in pool water. Ask a fisherman to take you over for a pretty decent price and he'll come back and pick you up when you're ready. When you're done head up to the local restaurant at the port and grab some fried plantains and a cerveza, of course.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. When I'm back home in Chicago, my favorite weekend getaways include Green Lake, Wisconsin. We have a boat on that lake and it's been one of my favorite places growing up. I love being near the water or on a boat anywhere. When I'm in California, I'd say Big Sur. I just got to go up for the first time this past summer and I completely fell in love. We went to a spot high above the clouds to camp and there was absolutely no one there. The sunset was one of the best I'd ever seen in my life. When I'm living overseas, Paris, Barcelona, Positano and Berlin were among my favorites. Paris is super trendy and there's so much to see! I loved the feel of everything and the people. Barcelona has a ton of soul. There's great nightlife and authentic food that made it easy for me to have such a good weekend traveling solo.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. I'm in the process of planning a trip to Tahiti and Mo'orea. I'm dying to go! Anywhere that I can be in or near the ocean I'm the happiest person you'll ever meet.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. My biggest items include Vega One protein, Yerba Mate tea -- a little piece of home for long trips -- and then your standard laptop, headphones and my favorite Fuji Film camera for lots of photos. I write in my downtime.
Q. What would be your dream trip?
A. When I retire, I'm building a van and I'm going to travel Australia and Indonesia with it. Haven't figured out the details on how to get it everywhere, but a girl can dream. I'd also love to go to New Zealand. That's a bucket-lister for sure.
Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A. The worst was when my dad took me for spring break to Atlanta, because he was working there. He had to be at the hospital for 30 minutes and then had promised me we would go explore for the rest of the day. I brought along my schoolwork. Soon 30 minutes turned into a couple hours, which turned into even more. We left eight hours later. I was very upset, but I finished my entire science fair project, so pretty solid day at least.
The worst? There are too many to even count. The best are the unexpected, unplanned trips. The ones that just happen while on a train or driving through a city and you just stumble upon something so gorgeous that takes your breath away or makes you take a step back and appreciate how lucky you are.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
This article is written by Jae-Ha Kim and Tribune Content Agency from Celebrity Travel and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network.