Serendipity: Finding The Universe With Independent Travel Cats

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According to the result that I’ve found when I googled the meaning of serendipity, it is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

Rambling about the meaning of serendipity, you might as well think that I was actually talking about the movie with John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. But it isn’t quite the case, although I actually like the movie. 😉

The thing is, I got connected with a couple travelers with each of them maintaining a different blog: Finding The Universe and Independent Travel Cats.

Yes, this time I’ll cover two blogs in one post. Why? Because Laurence from Finding The Universe and Jess from Independent Travel Cats have become an item since 2014. 😀

Meet Laurence and Jess, Finding the Universe with Independent Travel Cats!

You see, when I give the title “Serendipity: Finding The Universe With The Independent Travel Cats”, it may sound like a clickbait. Well, it IS a clickbait. But actually not really…

I mean, almost everything about these two bloggers is a serendipity. Even for me! Once I received their answer for the interview, I felt like it wasn’t enough to the point that I had to send an additional e-mail that was quite long. 

Even when I received the answer, it still surprised me in a way that I was like, whoaaaa! 😀

independent travel cat (3)
Laurence (the man behind Finding The Universe) and Jessica (the woman behind Independent Travel Cats).

Laurence and Jessica Norah have maintained their blogs separately until they started dating in 2014 after they met in the autumn of 2014 in Rimini, Italy at a travel blogging conference.

That’s the first serendipity. You know what Rimini is? Rimini is the city where Matteo Brighi comes from! For those who are not really familiar with Matteo Brighi (which I assume a lot of you!), I have mentioned his name here.

I’ve been fangirling and mentally married to him ever since I was 11. See why I got so excited by reading Rimini as the first point of their meeting?

Okay, back to Laurence and Jessica…

Laurence has dual nationality, UK and Seychellois while Jessica is originally from Ohio in the United States. Currently, they are based in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

Both of them are not new to blogging, as they are full time professional travel bloggers and photographers.

Finding the Universe, the blog found by Laurence has been on the world wide web since 2010. The name itself came over a night of thinking where Laurence likes the idea that there’s a positive force in the universe. You know, the kind of concept where if you do good things, good things will come back to you.

And while he also loves space travel, his favorite books are also by Douglas Adams. Hence, everything related to exploring the universe. Put all that together, and voila… Finding the Universe! 🙂

That’s one for background of Finding the Universe, there’s another story for Jess and Independent Travel Cats. The blog named Independent Travel Cats was actually the result of Jess wanting to focus her blog primarily on independent travel advice and her love of cats.

Independent Travel Cats has been out there since 2013, and it’s always been a couple’s travel blog. The twist is that the partner did change as Jess formerly maintained the blog with her prior partner, Ethan.

Until now, Ethan has a good relationship with both Jess and Laurence. And Jess’s two cats, a 5-year old Dodger and a 3-year old Dash currently live with him since Jess and Laurence moved to Europe. Because of this, Jess and Laurence try to visit them at least once a year.

You see the pattern here? Yup, second serendipity… The cats!

After Rimini, I can actually relate with the name of Jess’s blog. Why? Because not only that I also have two cats myself, Disco and Chiban, but also because if anything, I always describe myself as an independent traveler with a cat’s characteristics.

A serendipity for me as a reader! 

While doing the research through their blogs, I can actually put two and two things together. I was particularly interested to their life story when I did the skim reading through their blogs.

I mean, from the background story of the Independent Travel Cats that has always been a couple’s blog yet the partner has changed… I mean, isn’t that finding the universe all about? 😛 

So now we know that each one of them maintain different blog under different brand even though it is correlated with one and another, but what’s the value they offer that make their blogs actually complete each other?

San Francisco Sunset
Sunset in San Fransisco, where Laurence and Jess lived before they moved to Edinburgh.

Here’s what… Initially, Laurence started Finding the Universe as a journal for friends and family to keep up with his travels. But then it has evolved into a more practical travel and photography resource hub.

For this, you can find a lot of photography tips like the best photography locations in Edinburgh or the tips to improve Lightroom Classic CC Performance. Being a professional photographer, of course there’s a lot about photography that we can learn through Finding the Universe. 😉

As for Jessica, she had more of a focus from the outset on providing high quality useful advice to travelers on Independent Travel Cats. Even now that she maintains the blog together with Laurence, the blog still keeps providing such useful tips like the travel itinerary to London or how to make your own perfume in Paris.

Not only that they complete each other as a couple, but also their blogs complement each other with the contents! 🙂

Their love has been declared on board… 

Now that we know they met each other in 2014, at a travel blogging conference in Rimini. Back then, Laurence was invited to speak on social media and travel photography.

They didn’t really talk during the conference, but they were placed on the same short press trip for 2-3 days afterwards and got to talk a lot more there. They got along well and talked a lot, but Jess wasn’t sure that it would somehow develop into anything from the first meeting.

In the contrary, Laurence felt the ‘sparks’ because of Jess’s “enthusiastic nodding” during his talk while he also felt like he had met Jess before. During the same press trip, he also took a lot of Jess’s pictures along the way.

Two months later after the press trip, Laurence flew to San Fransisco, where Jess used to live back then to see if the spark in Italy was real. 10 days in California eventually led to the beginning of their romantic relationship as well as the forging of their travel blogging lives.

Bride and Groom on Queen Mary 2 deck
Their wedding picture on board the Cunard Queen Mary 2.

In August 2015, they tied the knot on board the Cunard Queen Mary 2, approximately halfway between the UK (where Laurence is from) and the USA (where Jess is from). And that actually gave me an idea of getting married at sea once I find the right partner to marry with. 😛


One word that sums up what travel means to Laurence and Jess: ADVENTURE

I mean, not only the wedding location that is geographically thoughtful, but also I bet it would be totally unforgettable. Getting married by the Captain and the whole ship explore… It’s like Jack and Rose without the tragedy and only happy story! 

The BeauTravel on Finding the Universe

The first time I checked out Finding the Universe, I was intrigued to check out the post on 14 things you might not know about Laurence here.

As you know, I’ve always been nosy and I somehow always judge the bloggers by their ‘About Me’ section. I was actually laughing on the very first point, his confession as he used to want to be pilot until he took his first solo flight after an instant training. After that, he decided he didn’t want to be a glorified taxi driver. I literally giggled on the term glorified taxi driver. 

Why? Because back when I was a flight attendant, everytime I got another Indonesian flying partner in my area, we always referred the flight deck crew as ‘chauffeurs’ in our language. So that’s the third serendipity! 😛

The other thing that made me actually write an additional e-mail to confirm was the part where he mentioned that he was on honeymoon with Paul McCartney. 

Given Laurence’s current job, I thought he was in charge as a photographer for Paul McCartney’s honeymoon with Nancy Shevell. As it turned out, it actually happened when Paul McCartney honeymooned with his second wife Heather Mills circa 2002 when Laurence was only 22.

Laurence’s parents worked on the hotel at the privately owned island in Seychelles where they went for honeymoon. Laurence’s father was the hotel manager at the time, and Laurence went there for the summer after he completed his college degree at the University of Nottingham. Laurence was helping Paul McCartney with a boat as he was the only one with any sailing experience on the island.

Okay, enough about the 14 things about Laurence that you can read it by yourself directly on his blog, now I’ll be focusing on some of blog posts that I checked out on his blog.

As a Potterhead myself, of course I couldn’t help to skip his post on The Harry Potter London Location. Despite the fact that I’m not close to afford to go anywhere around Europe right now, let alone the UK, London has always been on my bucket list. Not only because I’m a Potterhead, but also because I’m a Gooner. *cry*

Apart from that, as I know Paris is probably one of the most instagrammable cities in the world, you may want to check out Laurence’s the best photography location in Paris.

independent travel cat (1)
Eiffel Tower.

I’ve never been to Paris myself, but I heard that taking pictures in a place like Eiffel Tower could be a bit tricky as well. So of course, maybe you need some tips from the pro like Laurence if you plan a visit there! 😉

The BeauTraveler on Independent Travel Cats

If there’s anything that I got from lurking on Jess’s blog, I am simply inspired and I hope life can lead me to many wonderful experiences like it does to Jess.

I agree with her statement as she vowed in 2012 that she would make time for travel no matter how busy, broke, or occupied she might be in other areas of her life. That’s the life motto that I lead on now that I am broke. 😛 

If Laurence has got his post on Harry Potter location in London, I got goosebumps when I checked out Jess’s Comprehensive Guide to the Top Harry Potter Sites in Edinburgh. Especially when I saw the picture taken in Nicolson’s Cafe where it was written that J.K. Rowling wrote the early chapters of Harry Potter there. Not sure it had something to do with the weather here as I checked it out, or simply the Harry Potter-effect in which you got goosebumps everytime.

As I mentioned before, one of Independent Travel Cats’ purposes is also to provide useful tips to travel independently. And one of them is to travel blog independently. As I have recently rebranded my blog from Ransel Ungu to The BeauTraveler as I want to reach more English-speaking readers, I also find Jess’s Six Steps To Branding A Travel Blog really insightful.

After branding my blog, I think blogging has become not only exciting, but also challenging at the same time because I really want to focus on my initial purpose when I created this blog for the first time. 🙂

As a history junkies, I was totally wowed by the fact that Jess has provided us with some blog posts on travel history from Marco Polo to Thomas Cook. They were sublime! 😀

I think, if anything, Jess has succeed to apply her tips on branding a travel blog as she knows how to provide not only useful, but also insightful contents focusing on travel.

What’s Next for Finding the Universe and Independent Travel Cats?

According to Jess, the one that I wrote to most of the time, they’ve been home in Scotland for the rest of 2017. However, they are planning to travel a lot in 2018.

One that they are really excited about is the Seychelles, as Laurence grew up there. This will be the first time for Jessica to visit the archipelago so he just can’t wait to share the beauty of this place with Jess, while also catch up with his friends and family. 

As they mentioned that they’re planning to travel a lot next year, I’m quite sure they will be planning out more destinations apart from Seychelles. And after stalking their blogs not-so-quietly, I wonder if they are planning to visit Indonesia anytime soon as I see that they’ve never been here before. 😉

New year, new destination right? 😛

I didn’t notice that I have written such a long blog post to cover the couple and their blogs… But you can always check them out more on Finding the Universe and Independent Travel Cats.

Supposedly that’s a wrap for now… Hope you get more and more inspirations to travel through my weekly feature, The Wander Lover Series: Worry. Story. Glory. 

Cheerio! 😀

 

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17 thoughts on “Serendipity: Finding The Universe With Independent Travel Cats

  1. Great post! I absolutely love the idea of getting married at sea! I’m from California and my partner is from Uruguay but we live in Spain… maybe we’ll have to consider this option!

    1. i think you should consider the idea, after all a wedding should be something you wouldn’t forget in your whole life. it won’t hurt to have something symbolic like getting married at the sea when where you come from is separated by the ocean. 😀

  2. Fantastic post. I do follow the couple on the blogging circuit and there photographs and articles are totally amazing. Great post to share about the guys 🙂

  3. What a really cool way for a European and an American to get married – right in the middle of the pond. It’s also cool to use the Captains Privileged of marriage at sea. You also prompted me to ask two questions of myself (1) a European or an European and (2) who authorizes captains to marry at sea? I always just assumed that was long standing maritime law, but apparently it’s done on a state by state basis.

  4. What a great story of love and a love of travel. How fun that Laurence actually met Paul McCartney. Now, I wish I could do it all over again and get married at sea. Instead, our honeymoon was on a cruise. Thanks for the great feature of two great travel bloggers.

  5. Quite an interesting post! I have been fascinated with serendipity myself. My own definition of serendipity? It was meant to be! I hope the magic lasts for quite a long time but common interests in travel, blogging, and photography are helpful.

  6. The story of the Independent travel cats is at once intriguing and interesting. The serendipity factor seems to figure again and again with fascinating regularity in their lives. Loved reading your account about two individuals and two independent blogs meeting and merging together. A fascinating read indeed.

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