Huge thanks to Karla for tagging me to take part in the ABCs of ravel series. If you’re tagged, please send it along so it may continue its journey around the blogosphere.
A Age you went on your first international trip:
I was 9-years-old when my family took a trip to Germany before the days of unlimited hotspot plans, selfies, and iPhones. My father is from Germany and he wanted to visit his family back home. I remember falling madly in love with the airplane trip itself, but also how everything was so incredibly different from back home in New York. As a matter of fact, it was around this time that I started writing during my trips so I guess you could say I started my travel blogging career around this time. It also really inspired me to want to travel and to see the world and to this day I can’t seem to travel enough and I definitely have the travel bug.
B Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
This is a super hard one as believe me, I’ve had my share of international beers. I worked as a bartender and waitress while I lived in England so I could name any one of those British beers as my favorite, but I won’t. In fact, my favorite is my favorite more for a memory than for a taste. I went backpacking with my husband across Europe and we walked from one side of Luxembourg to the other in one day and we were completely and totally exhausted. Several times throughout the day we saw billboards for Stella Artois beer and at the end of the day, that is what I ordered and it tasted SO great, probably because I longed for it all day.
My husband loves ordering Presidente beer when we visit St. Maarten and will always make a joke about the Presidente beer girl as she looks kind of well, hoochy, but the funny thing is that Presidente beer is made in the Dominican Republic. Just because you think it’s local doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.
C Cuisine (favorite):
This is so hard! Since I don’t eat meat or seafood, it definitely limits what I can eat when I travel and so I tend to be super picky, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy food while traveling. Be it a super flaky croissant in Paris, frites in Brussels, tapas in Malaga, empanadas or even crepes in Bogota (I know! Who would’ve thought?), or the insanely good Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese Ravioli in St. Croix, there are so many great food experiences I’ve had that have taken me off the vegan path and into the realm of food glory and guilt, but I wouldn’t change any of it. I love trying anything new and learning about new spices and cooking techniques wherever I go.
D Destination, favorite, least favorite, and why:
This is another hard one. I am convinced whenever I go somewhere new that this new location is my favorite. My recent favorite destination was Reykjavik, Iceland, enough so that I would move there tomorrow and I even got an Icelandic rune tattoo to celebrate my time there. So yes, that is definitely a favorite place of mine. My forever favorite will always be anywhere in England as it has such a hold on me and is one of the few places in the world where I feel completely and totally comfortable as it feels incredibly familiar to me, more like home than the United States does.
Least favorite? I can’t say I have traveled anywhere that I can say has been my least favorite place to visit. I’m happy to just travel and discover new places and to learn more about the world and myself.
E Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
Last year my husband and I decided to travel abroad each New Year’s Eve and we started with the letter A, Amsterdam. We hadn’t been to Amsterdam previously, but between how incredible the city is and how great the people are, we were thrilled with our choice. What took it over the top and really made it a “wow” experience was the actual New Year’s Eve experience. Everyone has fireworks, which are only allowed just before New Year’s, and everyone was setting them off in the streets. But everyone was friendly and kind and there were no issues whatsoever. It was an over the top fireworks kind of celebration, but a polite one as well, if that makes any sense. Check out the video I submitted to CNN while I was in the midst of the Amsterdam New Year’s Eve celebration.
F Favorite mode of transportation:
Absolutely has to be by plane because the quicker I can get there, the better. Then I will opt for train, especially in Europe, then car. Nothing beats flying, especially if you can go Business Class on a long flight.
G Greatest feelings while traveling:
I feel pure joy when I see children laughing and playing anywhere in the world. Whether they are on vacation themselves or they are at home, rich or poor, happy or sad, there is something that makes me feel so amazingly happy when I see children at play. That’s usually when I whip out one of my many cameras and try to document what I see, but the images are permanently engrained in my brain.
H Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
That’s a toss up between Djerba, Tunisia and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Can you say hot? Thank goodness for air conditioning and a chance to swim and get in the water!
I Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
Perhaps I am generous by saying I receive great service just about everywhere I go, but I think it’s true. I find that the nicer I am to others, the better the service is that I receive. I always ask for people’s names and I make sure to use it when speaking to them. The more personal connection I can make with others makes my experience better, but I think it makes them remember me and therefore, they don’t treat me just like everyone else.
Having said that, the service I received at The Buccaneer in St. Croix was phenomenal. They have staff that can drive you around the resort as it is so huge and they are professional and personable. I also loved the bartender at Onder de Ooievaar in Amsterdam as he was busy, but helpful and that counts in my book.
J Journey that took the longest:
Probably one of the longest trips was to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, which was 7 hours, 15 minutes to Frankfurt, Germany from Boston, a painful 7-hour layover in Frankfurt, and then a 5 hour, 25 minute flight to Jeddah in Business Class on Lufthansa. The flights weren’t hard, but the layover, even in the business lounge, was hard. We arrived in Frankfurt the morning of a horrible snowstorm in Europe and they were putting out cots in the airport as many flights had been cancelled or delayed. The business lounge was packed wall to wall with people and it was just a long, hard trip. But the end result more than made up for any inconvenience along the way.
K Keepsakes from your travels:
Pictures, of course! I always take massive amounts of pictures, be it with my big SLR digital camera, my pocket digital camera, my Flip camera, or my iPhone, I am always ready to take a picture. I then will turn them into memory books, framed prints, or prints on canvas. I’ve stopped picking up something from everywhere I travel unless I really, really want it. Otherwise my home would like a souvenir store and believe me, I have enough junk in here already! I will buy locally made jewelry, which is probably where I spend the most money while traveling.
L Let-down sight, why and where:
I have a few places in mind where I was excited to visit and then felt like, “Wow, really?” when I arrived. One is definitely Atlantis in the Bahamas. If you want to travel to the Bahamas, going to Atlantis is not representative of the islands at all as it is more like a crowded Disney World. If you’re into that, then it might be you’re thing, and we had to go once to experience it for ourselves. Another let down can be going to a sight and finding out that it’s under construction or scaffolding, like the Arc de Triomphe was when we visited it. Bummer!
But my biggest let down ever was right in the United States when we lived in Philadelphia. We decided to go visit the Liberty Bell and the line was ridiculously long. We had to go through security to get inside and then boom – it’s a bell, you’re there in front of it, and then you have to keep moving. I can’t say it was worth waiting as long as we did to see it as it was definitely not as thrilling as I anticipated it would be. However, had I thought about it a little more before going, I would have realized that yes — it’s just a bell.
M Moment where you fell in love with travel:
Definitely that first international trip had a huge impact on me and I soon found myself longing for a trip even at a very young age. I found that the trip to the airport and on the plane itself was as exciting as the destination. I have traveled to many popular destinations, but I now want to include some of the less popular places to get people interested and excited about travel.Definitely that first international trip had a huge impact on me and I soon found myself longing for a trip even at a very young age. Click To Tweet
N Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Although I will freely admit that I like small, unassuming hotels when I travel because they are simple and authentic and lets you experience life as a local, who can turn down a nice hotel? Some hotels are nice because they are lavish and decadent, like the InterContinental Hotel Jeddah in Saudi Arabia or the Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas. My all time favorite is Ashford Castle in Ireland because let’s face it, how often can you say that you stayed in a castle?
O Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
If I’m on a cruise, you can expect that I will take a picture of every single space on the ship and the same is true of any hotel I visit. But I would say my true obsession is food and drinks. I will try to frame the shot just right every time. Then again, I can’t pass up strange signs, flowers, animals, and children so maybe anything that catches my eye?
P Passport stamps, how many and from where?
Wish I could count the ones from my old passport, but let’s just talk about my current one. I need to renew my passport before November and I’m so not happy about that as I would like to have far more stamps than I currently possess. Currently, I have 25 stamps and I’m hoping I can have a few more before November. Wish me luck!
Q Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
Without a doubt, the Mannekin Pis in Brussels. I went out of my way to see this small statue because it seemed so strange and the story was compelling enough to wander the streets of Brussels to locate him. The only downside was that he wasn’t dressed in any costume on that particular day, but still…
R Recommended sight, event or experience:
I would definitely recommend visiting Iceland to see the Northern Lights, countryside, and glaciers. For anyone who hasn’t traveled outside of the United States, visit Europe to feel how rich the history is everywhere you walk. Travel to Colombia and the Amazon to get an experience of lifetime, complete with the most genuine people you’ll ever meet and scenery that compares to no other. As an added bonus, you might get to see a pink dolphin if you’re really lucky or some baby monkeys at a monkey rehab.
S Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for a while.
Business class upgrades! When I travel and I’m heading home, you better bet I am going to try and upgrade my seat for a relaxing flight home. It’s definitely not about the food or the alcohol, but more about the room and being able to stretch out during my flight. I will beg and plead for an upgrade and yes, I have no pride when it comes to that.
T Touristy thing you’ve done:
I freely admit that I will climb on a hop on, hop off bus in a new city and do the touristy ride around town. But it’s because it can save you money and often times you can catch a few useful facts from the tour operator. This isn’t always the case, but it’s a great way to try and figure out a new city when you first arrive.
U Unforgettable travel memory:
My best travel memories are ones that I have with my family. Be it an early memory of visiting El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico with my father, spending my honeymoon with my husband in London, or seeing the expression on my son’s face when he visited London for the first time. Having the ability to share my travel experiences with my family is what makes traveling so special.
V Visas, how many and for where:
Four with two for Colombia since I was staying for an extended period of time, Nepal (for a trip I was supposed to go on with a friend two years ago and injured my back the week we were supposed to leave – aargh!), and Saudi Arabia. No matter where you go, you’ll probably need to consider visas. In some places, like America, you might even need to have an interview before being given a visa. For some tips on what to expect from visa interviews, you could look at this article here if you wanted to. It’s always best to be prepared for something like this!
W Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
Maybe I should know more about wine, but I don’t. Yes, you can call me a wine virgin. I did participate in a wine appreciation seminar while on my Celebrity Eclipse cruise recently and I did find that I thoroughly enjoyed Blanc Fumé de Pouilly – La Moynerie. Who would’ve thought? Looks like I might have unleashed a new habit.
X eXcellent view and from where?
I have so many memories of excellent views like the one from the boat on the Amazon at sunset; the rooftop deck from our hotel in Malaga, Spain; standing on an ancient ruin in Mexico; on a beach in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; or from Monserrate, Bogotá or Montserrat, Spain, or standing on the beach looking up at the Pitons in St. Lucia. So many great views to choose from, how can I pick just one?
Y Years spent traveling?:
Many and let’s just leave it at that or I would have to kill you. Ok, maybe kill is a strong word. 🙂
Z Zealous fans:
Are you kidding? Of course Boston fans are the most zealous because we are the most passionate! Yes, we can be incredibly obnoxious, but do we know any other way to be?
Are you wishing at this point you didn’t know so much about me? Too late! So time to pass it on. I’m inviting these people, who are great world travelers, to do their own ABCs of travel.