The ABC’s of Travel
What better way to review all my travels from 2016 as well as the past few years by doing this fun little activity!
A. Age you went on your first international trip
I flew to Cusco, Peru when I was 26 and spent a month there volunteering at an after-school program and checking out the surrounding area on the weekends. I had my 27th birthday in Cusco, though my host mom forgot and we celebrated a day late!
B. Best foreign beer you’ve had and where
I’m not much of a beer drinker so this isn’t something I sample everywhere I go but I have to say that my favorite beer was Weissbier in Munich, Germany. It’s a light wheat beer that’s not as thick and heavy as, say, Guinness.
C. Cuisine (favorite)
I have two favorite cuisines: German food for their pastries and desserts and English/Irish food for their breakfasts
D. Destinations- favorite, least favorite and why
My favorite destination was Ireland. The food, the landscape, the weather, the people made it all such a memorable trip for me. My least favorite destination was Paris. Too dirty and gritty and crowded for me. If I wanted all that I could have gone to New York City for a third of the price!
E. Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
I remember when we visited Ireland President Obama and Her Majesty the Queen were preparing to visit as well. We missed seeing both of them in Dublin but we were in Killarney when Obama delivered his speech. I remember sitting in a pub having lunch and noticed that all the local Irish people were fixated on Obama’s speech. Some were even taking photos of the television! It was so unique to see first-hand how other countries were reacting to our president.
F. Favorite mode of transportation
I’d have to say my favorite mode of transportation are the highly efficient European trains. We took one from Munich to Paris and the first class seats were SO comfortable. We were able to relax and play with Stink while we sped along toward our next destination. I plan to travel by train again next time we visit Europe.
G. Greatest feeling while traveling
I love getting out of my comfort zone when I’m traveling. Whether it’s trying new foods or meeting new people I tend to be a lot braver on vacations than at home.
H. Hottest place you’ve ever traveled to
This was a toss-up between Africa and the Amazon but the winner has to be the Amazon jungle. Not because of the temperature but because of the humidity! Inside the jungle the air doesn’t move, making it unbearably hot and humid.
I. Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
One of the best service experiences we’ve ever had was on our trip to the Amazon jungle with Amazonia Expeditions. Each family has a private guide who takes you on hikes, boat rides, fishing trips, whatever you wish. Our guide’s name was Dustin, a man whose knowledge of the surrounding jungle was immeasurable.
I really wanted to see a caiman during our stay but we spent 3 nights on the water with zero luck. On the third night, instead of taking us back to the lodge, Dustin navigated us to a hidden lake where we floated under the full moon as he told us folk stories from his childhood. It was one of the most memorable experiences of our trip and far better than finding reptiles in the water!
J. Journey that took the longest
I had to go back through my old emails to verify this but my longest trip was from Cusco to Seattle, mostly because I had a dreadful 9-hour layover at JFK!
K. Keepsake from your travels
When I first started traveling I collected magnets but now I collect postcards and Christmas ornaments. I just love decorating our Christmas tree and remembering all our adventures!
L. Let-down sight, where and why
My biggest let-down sight had to be the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was SO crowded when we went, the lines zig-zagged back and forth with no end in sight. The green space around Champ de Mars was mostly fenced off and the dirt pathways were littered with dog droppings from pet owners who didn’t care to pick up after their pets. In all fairness it was a crowded weekend because the French Open tennis tournament was going on but I’m still unsure if I want to visit again.
M. Moment you fell in love with traveling
I thought long and hard about this but there was no real defined moment during my first international trip where I fell in love with traveling. I had fun, even though I got double pink eye and a nasty cold at the end, but it wasn’t until I got back that I realized how much I missed being in Peru. So perhaps it wasn’t until my return that I realized I loved to travel.
N. Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
Ahhh, the Ballynahinch Castle Hotel in Ireland. What a place! I sat for hours by the fireplace, drinking hot tea on a silver platter while reading Harry Potter, going to bed at night stinking of coal. We strolled the quiet castle grounds, enjoyed lunch in the casual pub and just relaxed. In fact I think that was the last time I actually relaxed on a vacation!
O. Obsession: what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
Animals, definitely. I just love taking photos of animals on my travels. I remember subscribing to Wildlife Fact File as a kid, wanting to be a veterinarian, knowing everything there was to know about animals. So it’s no surprise that I’ve already visited the Amazon rainforest and gone on a safari in Africa. But it’s not just the rare animals that I love photographing, it’s the common ones too!
P. Passport stamps: how many and from where
I’ve got 8 passport stamps. 2 from our trips to Peru and a special one for visiting Machu Picchu. Then I have Mexico, Ireland, Iceland, Tanzania, and England.
Q. Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
I haven’t visited any quirky attractions but there was a really odd gift shop outside a cenote in Mexico that sold lots of “unique” souvenirs. See photo below.
R. Really Frightening: where’s one place you’ve visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?
Camping in the Amazon jungle. Why I thought it would be a good idea to spend one night camping in a tent with wild animals I have NO idea. Being so close to the equator meant 12 hours of pitch black darkness. That’s a LONG time to hold your pee at night.
S. Splurge: something you have no problem spending money on while traveling
I have no problem spending extra money on accommodations, especially now that we’re traveling with Stink. Gone are the days when we could have gotten away with staying in a hostel with no air conditioning. Now we need the space and the amenities to be comfortable. A good night sleep can make or break a vacation!
T. Touristy thing you’ve done
We spent way too much money one year buying tickets to the Thanksgiving feast at Plymouth Plantation in Plymouth, MA. Totally not worth it.
U. Unforgettable travel memory
My most unforgettable travel memory was watching a mother cheetah take down a baby zebra. It was exhilarating yet sad at the same time but it was a rare sight. My guide said he had only seen a cheetah hunt 3 times before.
V. Visas: how many and for where
I’ve got one visa for Tanzania. It was $100 which I consider pretty expensive for a visa but I wouldn’t know if it is.
W. Wine: best glass while traveling
I visited an ice wine winery in Niagara Falls called Inniskillin and it was SO good. It’s a sweet dessert wine which is pretty much the only wine I drink besides moscato.
X. eXcellent view and from where
Ngorongoro Crater is by far the most majestic view I have ever seen. It’s so much wider and deeper than the photos lead you to believe. When you’re standing on the crater rim you need binoculars to see the tiny dots of animals on the crater floor. The view of Ngorongoro Crater is simply indescribable.
Y. Years spent traveling
9 years so far, hopefully many more to go!
Z. Zealous sports fan and where
I’m not a sports fan at all but would love to attend an Olympics game one day. It’s on my bucket list!