Ruth at Tanama Tales nominated me to participate in the “My Travel ABCs” series and I was more than happy to participate. It’s a fun survey asking bloggers about their travel experiences, with one question for every letter of the alphabet. Here are my responses:
A: Age you went on your first international trip:
I’m pretty sure my first international trip was with my family when I was seventeen years old. We took a Carnival Cruise from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera, with stops in Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas.
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
I’m actually not the biggest fan of beer (since I hate “breaking the seal” at bars), but I had a really fun time at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany a couple of years ago. I also liked visiting the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland. I know that I don’t care for Heineken beer though. In fact, when I took the brewery tour in Amsterdam, I gave my free samples at the end of the tour away!
C: Cuisine (favorite):
I like all types of ethnic foods and always try the local cuisine. I really love Thai food so am looking forward to the day I can visit Thailand and enjoy the real thing.
D: Destinations – favorite, least favorite and why:
This is a tough one. My favorite country is definitely Spain. I hope to live in Barcelona someday—I love the art, architecture, people and culture, and the fact that it’s on the beach doesn’t hurt. I think my least favorite destination was Napoli, Italy. I made it my home base when visiting Pompeii and Capri and thought the city was filthy, the traffic (and drivers) terrible and there didn’t seem to be any interesting sights.
E: Event experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
I was in Paris for Bastille Day on July 14, 1995 and had never seen such a celebration in my life before. I remember it vividly; well over a million people were crowded around the Eiffel Tower as it was lit up with fireworks and lasers. Musician Jean Michel Jarre was there performing a concert for tolerance in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. I found this link on YouTube showing the festivities.
F: Favorite mode of transportation:
Trains! I love taking trains everywhere. I especially like the high-speed trains I’ve ridden in Europe and hope to ride on some in Asia someday too. I really can’t wait for the day that they have HSR in the United States.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
I love learning about a place’s history and culture, meeting new people, and seeing places that I’d only read about in books. This is my raison d’être.
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
I think the hottest place I’ve ever been was right here in California—in Palm Springs. There have been times in August when I’ll be relaxing by the pool and it’s over 120°F (in the shade!)
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
Probably the best service I’ve experienced was when I flew First Class from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. It was a 14+ hour flight and I remember how the flight attendants opened a bottle of Dom Perignon and jar of beluga caviar just for me! (I flew on a buddy pass so I can’t imagine ever getting such service again.)
J: Journey that took the longest:
I think the longest journey I’ve taken was with my sister when we traveled from Santorini, Greece to Interlaken, Switzerland non-stop. I had a flight to catch out of Paris but we desperately wanted to hit Interlaken before I left. I think it was a three-day voyage via hydrofoil, bus, overnight ferry, and multiple trains with no resting between the two places. It was torturous!
K: Keepsake from your travels:
I collect all sorts of things. I like small locally-made handicrafts and artwork, Christmas ornaments (or keychains that I can turn into ornaments) and recently began picking up miniature snow globes for my nephew.
L: Let-down sight, why and where:
I suppose it’s a good thing that I can’t think of an answer for this one! I racked my brain for something that disappointed me and couldn’t really think of anything.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
It was during the first backpacking trip I ever took, after graduating from college. My three-month long adventure was truly a life changing experience. Ever since then I’ve had an insatiable passion for traveling, learning about other cultures, geography and world history.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
I’m not one to splurge on hotels. Usually I prefer a clean budget hotel or maybe a nice, affordable boutique hotel when I’m traveling. However, years ago I stayed at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort, which ranks up there as one of the most impressive hotels I’ve been to. It has the largest swimming pool in the entire state of Hawaii!
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
Like lots of Americans, I’m obsessed with getting passport stamps! So far, I’ve received them from: Argentina (6), Australia (2), Brazil (4), Canada (2), China (3), Croatia (3), France (2), Germany (1), Greece (1), Hong Kong (4), Hungary (1), Ireland (1), Italy (4), Jamaica (1), Macau (2), Mexico (2), Montenegro (1), Netherlands (1), Portugal (2), San Marino (1), Spain (3), Sweden (1), Turkey (2), United Kingdom (1), Uruguay (2) and United States (11).
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
I’ve been to the Sex Museum in Amsterdam and seen the creationism dinosaurs in Cabazon, California, but I think the quirkiest thing I’ve seen on my travels was this giant motorized shopping cart in Punta del Este, Uruguay:
R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
Everyone should definitely see Iguazu Falls in their lifetime. Located at the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, it’s a bit out of the way but is easily reached by regular flights from Rio or Buenos Aires. To me, it ranks up there with the Grand Canyon and Yosemite in terms of natural beauty. [So far I've convinced 6 people to visit Iguazu and they all loved it!]
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
I always try to stick to my budget, but if there is something unique that can only be experienced in a specific destination, then I’m all for splurging on it. I never want to return home and think “if only I had done that…”
T: Touristy thing you’ve done:
I love to do the touristy things when I travel—since , after all, I’m a tourist! I’ve done everything from going to the top of the Eiffel Tower and posing like I’m holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, to walking the Freedom Trail in Boston and taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. Recently I was even a tourist in my own backyard and had a great time discovering some of the most interesting sights of L.A.
U: Unforgettable travel memory:
There are too many to name. All of my travel memories are precious to me. Some off the top of my head are: visiting the home where my Dad grew up in the Azores, spending New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro, and pretty much everything about Istanbul, Turkey.
V: Visas, how many and for where?:
I think five: Australia, Brazil, China, Jamaica and Turkey.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?:
When I was young (and broke) visiting Venice, Italy, I sat on the ground at the Piazza San Marco to enjoy the string quartets playing under canopies. I told myself that someday I’d return to Venice and be able to afford a glass of wine, but would sit at one of the café tables. Sure enough, last year I checked this off my bucket list and had a wonderful glass of wine, just as the tides were flooding the piazza. It set me back something like $60 but it was well worth it!
X: eXcellent view and from where?:
The views from Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf) and Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are among the best on earth. Both afford staggering, 360-degree panoramic views of the glamorous city, undulating mountains and broad, sandy beaches below.
Y: Years spent traveling?:
We did lots of family vacations in California when I was growing up, but I think I’ve been “serious” about traveling for about sixteen years now.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:
I’ve seen zealous soccer (football) fans in Spain, Italy, Argentina and Brazil. I’m not a big sports fan, myself, but I’d love to see the Olympic Games or FIFA World Cup in person someday.
What do you think of my ABCs? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comment section below!
Now, I’ll nominate a few fellow travel bloggers to do their ABCs too:
* Santorini Photo: Wikimedia Commons