Where in the World is Anastasia Protopapadakis?
You don’t need a game show to find her—just check out her travel blog
Published in 2017 Florida Super Lawyers magazine
By Amy White on June 8, 2017
While many kids spent their summers covered in bug spray and eating mess-hall suppers, Anastasia Protopapadakis was forced to visit family in Greece, where she had her run of the Acropolis and Crete’s mesmerizing beaches.
“I remember thinking, ‘I just want to go to camp with my friends!’” Protopapadakis says with a laugh. “My parents were like, ‘You’re going to see your family and that’s that.’ Of course, looking back, I realize I should have appreciated it. I remember just running up and down the Acropolis. … There were no lines. Travel has always been a part of my life.”
The question “Where to next?” turned into a blog in 2016. “I would get emails from friends or colleagues after trips asking questions like, ‘Where did you go? What did you see? How did you get from here to here? Did you need a visa? What restaurants did you go to?’” she says. “I found myself writing the same email again and again. I figured, instead of driving myself crazy doing that, I should start a blog. A lot of it is ‘things I wish I knew before I went.’”
If you need practical advice about, say, how to dress for an evening spent viewing the Northern Lights in Iceland (“Overdress in layers, paying special attention to your shoes and socks situation”), or how to command elephants at a Thai sanctuary (“didi means good boy/girl”), talk to Protopapadakis.
Some of her wisdom—like the fact that baboons can sniff out just about anything—was gained the hard way. “[We] were visiting Victoria Falls, and I had a protein bar in my bag. Our tour guide said, ‘If you have any food on you, the baboons will smell it and they will chase you. Leave it in the car,’” she says. “This monkey comes swinging out of the tree and starts chasing me. I’m screaming and running, and my husband is cracking up. I remembered the protein bar and frantically chucked it. The monkey went in that direction, and I went in the opposite.”
Protopapadakis considers herself a natural investigator. “That inquisitiveness led me to travel and to the law,” she says. “When I research a trip, I don’t just call a travel agent like, ‘Plan my trip.’ I do so much work to know as much about the place as possible.”
It’s part of her personal travel philosophy.
“I like to add a charity component,” she says. “I do the required research so I won’t visit any site or attraction that exploits animals or children. I completely vet and research every single activity, tour operator, hotel, et cetera. I don’t want to visit a country and just stomp all over their monuments, eat their food, stay in their hotels and do nothing that benefits the local people.”
On a recent trip, she and husband Chad lugged 50 pink goody bags stuffed with toiletries and coloring books across Peru until they hand-delivered them to a girl’s orphanage. “You would have thought we gave them diamonds,” she says.
Her vetting ability translates to detail-oriented work at GrayRobinson, where she practices civil and employment litigation defense, ADA defense, business litigation and banking, with niched focus on areas including funeral and cemetery law.
“Funeral and cemetery law is not really unlike general contract and tort law,” she says. “The claims are the same. People trip and fall in cemeteries just like they do in banks and grocery stores, on city sidewalks. People also enter into contracts with cemeteries and funeral homes for goods and services, and then allege that that contract wasn’t fulfilled.”
Her business is her priority. “The blog is a passion project,” she says. This year alone, she’ll have set foot in Iceland, Greece, Mexico, Portugal and London. And she’s researching trips to Cuba, Egypt, Bhutan and India—“my bucket-est bucket list,” she notes.
“It’s a lot of work. I know a year in advance what holidays our firm has. I try to take advantage of those to extend a vacation so that I’m never out of the office more than 10 days. When I’m away, it’s not like, ‘OK, bye.’ I’m obviously not doing rigorous motion practice, but I’m available to clients.”
Protopapadakis takes umbrage with the vacation time Americans leave on the table. “My family in Greece always says, ‘Here, we work to live. In America, you live to work.’”
While Protopapadakis doesn’t nerd out over the analytics of who’s reading her blog, she’s happy when she gets pings outside of the United States. But she’s even happier to simply encourage travel.
“It doesn’t matter your budget, your job, your time constraints,” she says. “It’s not unlike any other commitment you make to yourself, like going to the gym or eating healthy. It is such a valuable and enriching experience to be able to immerse yourself in another culture.”
As a start, she says consider your next cup of joe.
“If you looked at where you’re spending your disposable income, and you started a travel fund and directed all your Starbucks money there, you could go. Explore the place where you live. You know how many people live in Miami-Dade County who won’t cross into Broward County? There are a lot of unexplored wonders in America.”
Other featured articles
Jack Swerling is less fearsome than his courtroom moniker ‘Mr. Murder’
Nancy Elkind on the dysfunction of U.S. immigration policy
Greg Howison raises grass-fed beef—but it’s not on his dinner plate
Find top lawyers with confidence
The Super Lawyers patented selection process is peer influenced and research driven, selecting the top 5% of attorneys to the Super Lawyers lists each year. We know lawyers and make it easy to connect with them.Find a lawyer near you