I was recently tagged by Jaime of Breakaway Backpacker to participate in “My Travel ABC’s” which is an alphabetical summary of my travels. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about me! Also, I hope everyone’s having a great holiday!
A – Age you went on your first international trip:
When I was 13 my parents took me and my friend Kristen to Vermont, and we drove across the border into Canada for lunch one day. So technically that was my first time being outside of the United States. However, the first time I took an international trip that lasted longer than two hours was when I was 14. I had a great English teacher in middle school who organized 10 day tours to Europe. I went three years in a row, and the first one was to London, Paris, Nice, and Geneva. I was definitely hooked.
B – Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
I’m really not a beer drinker. I did enjoy the super cheap ($0.50 for a draft, $1 for a can) Angkor beer I had in Siem Reap, but I wouldn’t call it my favorite. I’ve had some good beers in Germany, but I have no idea what they were.
C – Cuisine (favorite):
D – Destinations – favorite, least favorite, and why:
Italy and Spain are probably my two favorite countries. I could go back a million times. I love their cultures and languages, great food, great weather, great landscapes. I speak conversational Spanish, so I always like opportunities to try out my Spanish. I’d love to learn Italian, but I think that will have to wait until I’m fluent in German. As for least favorite, I wasn’t too impressed with Tangier, Morocco but that could be because we were on a tour and only saw the extremely touristy highlights and scam artists. I really want to go back and explore other parts of Morocco.
E – Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
Seeing penguins in Antarctica. Seeing a minke whale swim under our zodiac in Antarctica. Or just being in Antarctica in general. It’s a place I never thought I’d get to, and it was so incredible to be there. It’s so quiet and remote, and everything around me was white, blue or black. The air felt cool and clean. The only noises were from the penguins and the other visitors. All I could think was, I can’t believe I’m actually here!
F – Favorite mode of transportation:
Until very recently I would’ve said airplanes. But since being on my round the world trip, I’m getting really sick of going to the airport, dealing with rules that differ from one to the next, even with the same airline, and I’m getting sick of trying to figure out if I will be forced to check my luggage or not. There are so many hassles involved with flying. So now I might be leaning more towards train travel. Trains are so easy in Germany, and most of Europe really.
G – Greatest feeling while traveling:
Sometimes the greatest feeling is the confidence travel brings, which I usually experience after the trip is over. Sometimes it’s knowing I’m really doing this. Each trip is a dream of somewhere I’ve wanted to go or something I’ve wanted to do, so when it happens, when I can actually say, “I’m here,” it’s an amazing feeling.
H – Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
This is probably a tie between Singapore and the jungles of Sabah, Malaysia. These are places where I walked out the door, and within minutes I thought, “I really shouldn’t have wasted my time with a shower this morning” because I was already a sweaty mess. In Malaysia, in between seeing the orangutans and seeing the proboscis monkeys, Amanda and I went to a rain forest park, and the entire time we both had horrible headaches from the heat.
I – Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
The staff at Mother Home Guesthouse in Siem Reap, Cambodia were amazing. (And I promise, I didn’t get any freebies or discounts from them.) When I arrived to check in, I was welcomed with a fruity drink and a cool, minty towel. Actually every time I came back to the hotel, someone greeted me with a cool, minty towel. It was great after a hot day. They also went out of their way to help whenever I need something or had a question. In general, they were some of the nicest people I’ve ever encountered while traveling.
J – Journey that took the longest:
After I took a break from my round the world trip, I had to get back to Saigon to pick up my flight to Melbourne. This involved taking the tram in Freiburg to the train station, a train up to the Frankfurt Airport, flying from Frankfurt to Abu Dhabi to Bangkok to Saigon. Then I had an eight hour layover in Saigon before flying to Melbourne. Then I took a shuttle to my hostel. Door to door, including all tedious layovers, it took me 43 hours.
K – Keepsakes from your travels:
I take tons of pictures and I buy postcards. Other than that, I usually don’t buy many souvenirs. I did buy a green handmade cardigan in Chile that I really love. I like anything I buy to be useful. Obviously, aside from the postcards which usually just end up in a box.
L – Let-down sight, why and where:
I went to the Statue of Liberty on my 6th grade field trip, and we had to climb up a million stairs before reaching the look-out point, which I believe was the crown. Then we had about five seconds to look before we had to start descending. There was no where to stay and linger to take in the view, just people behind us on the stairs waiting for us to keep going.
M – Moment where you fell in love with travel:
I’m not sure if there was one exact moment, but that first trip to Europe is what did it for me. I loved all the history, I loved walking around Paris and seeing all the buildings that were older than the US, and I loved how different everything was. I took Spanish in 8th grade, and when I went on this trip to Europe, I knew I wanted to keep traveling and study abroad in college.
N – Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
I’ve stayed in some really nice hotels for work, but those were paid for by my employer. As a traveler, I’ve stayed in some really horrible places and some really great ones, and price is not always an indicator of quality. I have to say Mother Home Guesthouse again was definitely the nicest place I’ve stayed at. The bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve slept in, they had a great buffet breakfast, good free wifi, wonderful staff…I can’t say enough good things about them.
O – Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling and why:
I take way too many pictures when I travel. My favorite things to photograph are sunsets and waterfalls. Such a cliche, but I love them.
P – Passport stamps – how many and where from:
Hmm, I’m not sure you really want me to answer this one! In my current passport, which I’ve had since October 2008, I have 62 stamps. This includes entry and exit stamps, countries I’ve visited more than once, and a few that were just transit (Amsterdam I will visit you someday!). The stamps are from the following countries: United States, Croatia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Argentina, Switzerland, Malta, United Kingdom, Ecuador, Germany, Holland, Chile, Antarctica, Italy, Macau, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, New Zealand, Liechtenstein, Czech Republic, and France.
Check out the full list and map of where I’ve been.
Q – Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
Over the summer, I had to go to the US Embassy in Bern, Switzerland to have pages added to my passport. (See “passport stamps” above for the reason why I needed more pages.) I decided to make a day of it and see the sights. It turns out there is a statue of a giant eating children in Bern. Hilarious.
R – Recommended sight, event, or experience:
This is impossible, there are so many places I would recommend! Angkor Wat, Antarctica, Italy, Australia, Greek Islands, Cambodia, Gili Islands, Prague, Dubrovnik, Hong Kong……..
S – Splurge – something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
It probably varies with where I am. I splurged on snorkeling in Cairns, Australia to see the Great Barrier Reef. I splurged on a nice meal and drinks in Seminyak, Indonesia. The entire trip to Antarctica was a splurge really.
T – Touristy thing you’ve done:
Almost everything is touristy. As great as it is to interact with the locals and see how they live, I do like to see the so-called touristy things as well. Angkor Wat is touristy, the Vatican is touristy, the Eiffel Tower is touristy, the Great Ocean Road is touristy. You can’t avoid it, nor should you try. Those things are usually touristy for a reason: they’re worth seeing. Although if I have to pick one really touristy thing I’ve done recently, it was probably having my passport stamped in Liechtenstein. Since it’s already within Europe, they don’t check your passport to enter the country, but many people want their passport stamped to prove they’ve been to this tiny nation. Andy and I decided to get it done, even though we had to pay. It makes me laugh.
U – Unforgettable travel memory:
I have so many it’s hard to pick just one. However, the travel moment I was most nervous about which also ended up being a life-changing moment was meeting Andy at the train station in Prague. We had spent four months getting to know each other and falling in love through Skype and emails, and we finally met in person in Prague. I’m sure I’ll always remember seeing him get off the train and walk excitedly towards me, and that big hug during those first moments seeing each other without a computer screen in the way.
V – Visas – how many and for where:
I have six visas in my passport, plus two electronic visas from Australia. One from Chile, which might not count as a visa, but I had to pay US$131 upon arrival, and they stapled a “tourism card” (flimsy piece of paper) into my passport which is good until my passport expires. So I should really make another visit to Chile before 2018. I also have visas from Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. And my most important visa is my German residence visa.
W – Wine – best glass of wine while traveling and where:
I’m not really a wine drinker either, so my wine memories are of the experience and the people, not the wine itself. In Dubrovnik, I spent the day with Simone from Perth and Andrew from Melbourne. At the end of the day, we decided to get some bread, meat, cheese, and wine and made a picnic dinner by the water. We drank two bottles of wine between the three of us and had fun talking for hours. Another great wine memory is from visiting my friend Tim in North Carolina. We went to a wine tasting festival, tried way too many, and were drunk before dinner. It was a fun day though!
X – eXcellent view and from where:
Wow, so many to choose from. One of my favorites has to be Santorini at sunset. It’s such a beautiful island, and there’s a reason they’re famous for their sunsets. I was there for four nights and I watched the sunset each night. Usually I was just by myself on the stone wall across the street from my hotel, just enjoying the spectacular view, and of course, taking pictures.
Y – Years spent traveling:
I’m not sure how to answer this, but I guess I’ve been traveling on and off since I was 14, so I’ll say 17 years.
Z – Zealous sports fans and where:
I can’t say I’ve had much experience with this. I was in Vancouver when they won one of the hockey play-off games in June, and they were pretty crazy. Does the running of the bulls count as a sport? Because those people are definitely insane. I saw that in July 2000 when I was in Spain for study abroad, but I definitely did not participate.
And now I get to tag a few travel bloggers to share their travel ABC’s: