Continuing on with my travel theme as of late, I thought I’d share with you my ABC’s of traveling, which I’ve seen floating around the interwebs — like at Grounded Traveler, Ali’s Adventures, and Travels of Adam. Okay, here goes…
Age you went on your first international trip?
Considering that I was born abroad (in Greece, to be exact), you could say I’ve been travelling internationally since the day I was born. But if you want to consider the first trip outside of my birth country, I guess that would put me between 1 and 2 years old traveling with my family to Singapore. (Mom, Dad — can you correct me there?)
Update: I stand corrected! My first trip out of Greece was a flight when I was 6 months old to Sweden, so that my parents could pick up their Volva from the factory in Malmo (and drive back home to Athens).
Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where?
Oh geez. I’m terrible at telling apart beers and am a really poor judge of good and bad beers (Reinheitsgebot or not).
Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why?
I’ve loved just about everywhere I’ve traveled to for different reasons, but our trip to the Yucatan Peninsula several years was the perfect mix of relaxation, sun, and culture. I’ve never felt so relaxed before or since. I guess out of all the places I’ve visited, my least favorite was Warsaw. Not that the city didn’t have it’s own charms, but I wouldn’t exactly call it one of my highlights.
Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”?
Briefly meeting Angela Merkel at the end of my first year in Germany definitely made me say “wow”. Say what you want about her politics, but she exudes charisma and charm in a way that really surprised me.
Favorite mode of transportation?
Since moving to Germany, I have developed a love of train travel. I don’t have to worry about security checks, cramped quarters, plugged ears, dry air or motion sickness, yet I can travel to the far reaches of Europe for relatively reasonable prices. Sign me up!
Greatest feeling while traveling?
Experiencing something that is completely unique to the place I’m visiting, and feeling like I’m getting a peek into the culture.
Hottest place you’ve traveled to?
In terms of mixing heat and humidity, Malaysia definitely takes the cake.
Incredible service you’ve experienced and where?
Journey that took the longest?
After college I spent a year living and working in Uganda, and the trip there from Seattle was one of the longest I’ve ever undertaken: Seattle to New York, New York to London, London to Nairobi, Nairobi to Entebbe. I don’t even remember how many hours it was in total, but it was ridiculous and epic.
Keepsake from your travels?
As readers of this blog, you know I tend to go a little crazy with photographs, so I save suitcase space and money by capturing keepsakes with my camera.
Let-down sight, why and where?
After visiting Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico City, we shuffled ourselves off to the Anahuacalli Museum, which is a collection of indigenous artifacts gathered by Diego Rivera. We were really hoping for more insights into Rivera as an artist, and were disappointed to discover that the collection has little to reveal about him.
Moment where you fell in love with travel?
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly, but my first trip abroad without my family was to Paris when I was 16 years old, and this certainly left an impression on me.
Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in?
I don’t remember the name of it anymore, but in 2003 I stayed in a gorgeous 5-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur for work and don’t even want to know how much it cost!
Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
Passport stamps, how many and from where?
Oh geez, way too many to count. At the moment I don’t have access to all my previous passports, which includes my baby passport, my renewal at 16, and my renewal at 21. But how about my current passport? Since 2007 I’ve gathered 23 stamps — from Germany, Scotland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Switzerland, and Poland. But keep in mind that the majority of travel I’ve done in that time period has been within the EU, and you don’t receive too many stamps anymore for that (unless that’s your port of entry from outside the EU), especially if you’re traveling by train!
Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?
The Catacombs in Paris are by far the most unique tourist attraction I’ve ever visited. To quote from my previous post on it…
The Catacombs are tunnels beneath Paris that were originally used for mining, but when the overcrowded cemeteries started creating unsanitary conditions and spreading disease (around the 18th or 19th century), the bodies were transferred to the tunnels. The bones of over six million Parisians are now housed in the Catacombs and the endless tunnels are stacked with skulls and bones. Super interesting, but definitely not for the faint of heart!
Recommended sight, event or experience?
I spent some time in Budapest last summer and highly recommend it as an alternative to your typical European vacation destination!
Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling?
Maybe you’re sensing a theme here, but my answer is food! Of course it’s not always necessary to spend an arm and a leg to have amazing culinary experiences, but once in awhile it’s a real treat.
Touristy thing you’ve done?
Going on a safari in the Masai Mara was super touristy, but also a truly beautiful experience.
Unforgettable travel memory?
Finally arriving at Machu Picchu after several days of hiking along the Inca Trail, and having the ancient ruins practically to ourselves. It might have just been exhaustion, but the sight definitely brought tears to my eyes.
Visas, how many and for where?
I’ll have to guesstimate on this one since I don’t have my old passports with me: At least 2 for the year I spent in Uganda, 1 to travel to Kenya, 1 for Tanzania, 1 probably for Rwanda. 1 for the summer I worked in Sierra Leone. And 6 residence permits allowing me to work in Germany.
Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
I loved the Spätburgunder I discovered at a wine tasting at the Weingut Meyer-Näkel, a family run winery in Ahrtal (near Bonn).
eXcellent view and from where?
The view from the top of Pico del Teide, the volcano at the center of the Canary Island of Tenerife, was well worth the day long hike.
Years spent traveling?
Pretty much my entire life, and now that I live in the center of Europe, the travel is never ending!
Zealous sports fans and where?
German football fans take the cake, without a doubt.
What are your ABC’s?