Recently I had the pleasure to chat with the lovely Chantel Mattiola. I had been stalking/fangirling over her Instagram photos for the last few months and thought it was time for the world to know her.
Meg: Chantel, tell us a bit about yourself.
Chantel: I am currently a grad student writing my master’s dissertation on how the anti-homosexuality policies in Uganda are negatively affecting the LGBT community, working for the Human Rights Campaign, training for a marathon, and fundraising and raising awareness for LGBT rights.
Meg: That’s awesome. Seems we come from the same world. I used to do the pro-homo thing as well. It’s weird that we never ran into each other in the activist world. Let’s chat about your travel. Out of all your travels, what is the one place you’d recommend for queer travelers?
Chantel: Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. It’s a quaint little town nestled right in a valley in the Swiss Alps with stunning views from the waterfalls, to snow-covered mountains, to the hike up to the town of Wegen. There is one small church situated in the village, and when the bells ring, the sound echoes throughout the valley. It is an unbelievable sound. I went skydiving out of a helicopter here and I had the opportunity to capture sights of the valley and the alps from a completely perspective- despite losing an earring, totally worth it! Everything about Lauterbrunnen’s atmosphere is so refreshing and nothing that I’ve ever experienced before.
Meg: That sounds incredible. I’ve always wanted to go skydiving, but I think it might be one of those things that sound better in theory than in practice. When you weren’t skydiving, what was the one thing you’d recommend folks MUST see or do while they are in Lauterbrunnen?
Chantel: There is a café called Airtime. It’s pretty hard to miss it since there is only one small road in the town, but I still dream about their Swiss chocolate brownies. If sweets aren’t your thing, they had some amazing sweet potato coconut curry soup too. It’s very veggie friendly place with free wifi and the friendliest Swiss people.
Meg: You had me sold at Swiss chocolate brownies. I’m actually planning a trip to Switzerland this summer, I’m going to have to put it on my list of places to visit. Where is your favorite hotel that you’ve ever visited?
Chantel: I’d say the Sant Jordi Hostel Gràcia in Barcelona, Spain. It’s located in the bohemian, Gràcia quarter of Barcelona. Everyone in the hostel and even in the community is so chill and friendly- I met some life long friends here. It’s walking distance to everything in the city but remote from all the hustle bustle of tourists. If you’re looking for some down to earth people, hipster vibes, clean space, cheap tapas, and buckets of sangria, Sant Jordi Gràcia is where to be in Barca.
Meg: That sounds perfect, I’m all about meeting chill people while traveling. Some of my favorite people are folks I’ve met on while exploring and on the internet. You mentioned before that you’re a marathon runner. What’s going on with that?
Chantel: I run marathons in honor of all the individuals across the world fighting for LGBT rights in their own country – from Uganda to Russia, India to Nigeria, Iran to Ukraine, and all the places in between. I partner with HRC to raise funds for the international LGBT rights movement.
Meg: So what you’re saying is, you run 26 miles for a good cause, not once… but multiple times? I’m not sure if I admire you or think you’re insane. Just kidding girl, that’s awesome.
If you’d like to make a donation to Chantel’s fundraiser for international equality follow the link HERE and let her know Dopes On The Road sent you 😉
Want to learn more about Chantel Mattiola? Follow her on Instagram @channymatti