Happy Travel Tuesday!
Today is my last day as a co-host. It’s been such an incredible experience. Thanks so much to Bonnie and my fellow co-hosts Jessi and Camila, and to all of you! I’ve found so many new blogs, friends and inspirations these past three months. I will still be linking up and sharing my stories, and I’m looking forward to hearing from our new co-hosts! Make sure to visit Bonnie’s blog to find how we’ve nominated as the new Travel Tuesday co-hosts.
Since it’s my last day as a co-host, I wanted to do a special post, and I have noticed this challenge popping up on other blogs lately. Thanks for the original inspiration, Casey! I hope you all enjoy a walk down my travel memory lane as much as I did!
A) Age you went on your first international trip:
I was 15 when I went to Switzerland with my Girl Scout troop (read more about it here). We saved up for about five years and planned almost every day. I’ve never looked back!
B) Best foreign beer you’ve had and where:
I think my favorite still goes to Kasteel Donker in Bruges, Belgium. However, I am loving the new (dark) beer I’ve been trying here in Prague–I even had a chocolate lager that was almost too chocolatey, if that’s a thing.
C) Cuisine (favorite):
I think my favorite is Thai food, the flavors of Sichuan Province in China, or French food. We were only in France for one night but I still think about that pasta I had, just at a random cafe. Plus, crepes! I also adored every single meal we had in Belgium, but I had been denied cheese for two months in China prior to this, so it may have just been that. Still, it’s hard to go wrong in the country of waffles, fries, chocolate and beer!
D) Destinations–favorite, least favorite, and why?:
Most favorite: Well this is extremely difficult! I am obviously loving Prague right now, but I think Scotland and Ireland might be tied for my favorite. And Thailand! Oooh boy don’t even get me started.
Least favorite: Another complicated one! Even though I loved the food, I did not love Lille, France. I think I need to give France another chance! I also didn’t enjoy my time in Beijing, due to the crowds and the pollution.
E) Event you’ve experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
Seeing Big Ben pop out at random moments. Running on the Great Wall of China in a surprise rainstorm. Seeing Macchu Picchu rising out of the mist at sunrise. Hiking in the Swiss Alps. Angkor Wat at sunrise and sunset. Scuba diving in Thailand and Mexico. Driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. Surfing in Ecuador. Cruising in Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. Sending a lantern up into the sky for the Loi Krathong festival in Thailand. Hearing “Harry Potter” music played at the Edinburgh Castle as we wandered the streets. Seeing panda kindergarten in Sichuan Province. Biking by a windmill in Belgium. Swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. Sleeping under the stars during a meteor shower in Yellowstone National Park…and the list goes on!
F) Favorite mode of transportation:
I actually love road trips and driving, since I like to stop spontaneously and you just can’t do that on public transportation. Otherwise, trains!
G) Greatest feeling while traveling:
I think my favorite feeling is arriving to a new place, even if it’s just a dirty train station or airport. The anticipation of being in a new city is amazing, and I have so many “pinch me” moments while I say to myself over and over again “you’re in Germany” or “you’re in China.”
H) Hottest place you’ve ever traveled to:
I think Cambodia may have been the hottest, although most of Southeast Asia is just a big sweaty memory.
The night we accidentally ended up with a whole car to ourselves on the London Eye was spectacular service as we were the only ones being served! Talk about the best birthday ever–champagne at the top of the London Eye!
I think my trip to Thailand might have been the longest–Montana to Los Angeles, Los Angeles to Seoul, South Korea to Bangkok, Thailand. Part of it was our 18-hour layover in Seoul (don’t worry, we left the airport!). We also only stayed in Bangkok for about 12 hours before hopping an overnight bus out of the city, so it really felt like one extended week of travel. Ouch!
K) Keepsake from your travels:
I have collected shot glasses most of my life, but have recently stopped doing that because they’re kind of a ridiculous thing to collect, if you think about it. Although I love my collection, I’ve moved on to collecting Christmas ornaments, postcards, and the occasional small stuffed animal (yes, also ridiculous, but it all started with a panda bear in China…how could I resist??). I usually pick something up that is unique to the country, if it exists, such as china from (you guessed it) China or local handicrafts, such as scarves. These days, mostly I buy postcards and put them up all over my flat for some inexpensive art.
I really can’t remember that many places that were a huge let-down. I think Lille, France was most disappointing to me, as my great-grandmother is from there and I expected an instant connection for some reason.
M) Moment where you fell in love with traveling:
I can’t remember not loving it! Some of my earliest memories involve road-trips around the United States. However, Switzerland solidified my love for international travel. I think I fall in love with traveling over and over again!
N) Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
I usually go the budget route, but we splurged on the Calis Bed & Breakfast in Bruges, Belgium for E’s birthday in 2013.
O) Obsession–what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
I go through phases–but recently I’ve noticed a lot of street name signs popping up in my photos, especially from Old World cities here in Europe. They’re so cute!
About 15! You don’t get very many in Europe–just when you enter and leave the Schengen zone–but I’ve collected quite a few from my travels. These also don’t count visas–see below!
Q) Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?:
I think participating in the indigo-dye process in Thailand remains one of the strangest things I’ve done!
R) Really Frightening: where’s one place you’ve visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?
I think I felt most unsafe my first few nights in Cuzco, Peru, when I studied abroad in 2009. Mostly because I had never traveled abroad alone, and was new to the city, so I was occasionally walking alone at night (the horror!). I quickly learned that I lived in a very safe area, though, so this feeling passed. I felt most uncomfortable on the streets of Siem Reap in Cambodia, as we were constantly harassed by the tuk-tuk drivers and the like. I understand this is how they make their living, but I just felt unwanted and used. I felt a type of “get in, see the sight, and then leave please after giving us money” feeling in the environment. However, I was also sick and we were couch-surfing in a cockroach infested house, so maybe I need to give it another chance!
S) Splurge-something you have no problem spending money on while traveling:
I tend to have a problem saying no to any sort of new food I haven’t tried. I also spend more on places to stay than I should–I’m still working on sharing bathrooms so we can actually afford to travel as much here in Europe as we would like!
T) Touristy thing you’ve done:
I’ve done many touristy things, but the most tourist was probably the hop-on hop-off red double-decker tour bus in London. I loved it! Even though it’s touristy, it’s a fun way to see the sights, get the lay of the land, and, you guessed it, hop off whenever you feel like it.
Well this is a ridiculous question because how can one choose?? There are so many, but one that is fresh in my mind is seeing the Prague Castle for the first time and realizing that we actually get to live here. See the “wow” list for more.
V) Visas-how many and for where?:
I needed visas for China, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. I’m currently in the process of (hopefully!) getting one so I can live and work here in Prague.
W) Wine–best glass while traveling:
The best wine I’ve ever had continues to be in Napa Valley, California. It was all so good I can’t possibly pick one, but I remember a Chardonnay from that was perfect and buttery and so incredible we bought two bottles!
X) eXcellent view and from where?:
Oooh hard to pick! Climbing to the top of Machu Picchu was spectacular, as well as a high point on the Great Wall of China. Riding a funicular a few weeks ago in Austria to get a bird eye’s view of the Alps is tied with my epic hike in Switzerland from a decade ago. I was also lucky to grow up in a spectacular area of the United States, so I saw many views of the Rocky Mountains, a clear sky from Seattle’s Space Needle, and all the way up to Canada from the highest point on Orcas Island, Washington.
Y) Years spent traveling:
I think I’ve always been traveling in some way and my parents’ have always lived in a different place from their respective families, so my childhood was spent roadtrippin’ around the West to visit various grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. I think my love of reading had me wanting to travel at an early age!
Z) Zealous sports fans and where?:
I went to a football (soccer) game when I studied abroad in Cuzco, Peru and I have never seen fans more zealous than that. My shirt ended up being stained from gunpowder residue, it took us two hours to get out of the stadium, and my host father wept when Cuzco triumphed.
Now…share YOUR ABCs of Travel! Or, pick a few letters and share in the comments.
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