Since I know no one is going to tag me and I like this meme, I decided to start the year off with it:
A: Age you went on your first international trip:
First time I left the country, we took a day trip to Tijuana from San Diego when I was 6. I got a wax candle shaped as a cat that I still have (ever summer I think it’s going to melt and it NEVER does!). We then drove to Vancouver for the day (sense a pattern here?) from Seattle and it was the worst drive ever. We also drove and spent a week in Toronto and Quebec a few years later.
But since I didn’t need a passport for any of these trips (all pre 9/11), I sort of don’t count them even though the first time I went to Vancouver, I couldn’t get over how awesome it was that everything was in English AND French! The first country I needed a passport for was a trip to Italy with the family in 1997. That was the big first international trip. I was 16. (But thankfully 15 when I got my butt ugly passport, so that only lasted 5 years!)
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
I quite enjoyed Tui beer in New Zealand. But I like to drink whatever the “local” beer is where ever I am. I’ll give anything a shot!
C: Cuisine (favorite):
Italian. Italian in Itay is AWESOME! Though I do love a good ‘ole fashion Aussie BBQ or a meat pie. YUM!
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
No idea on favorite as while I like everywhere but there are few places I would return to, as there is so much more I want to see! Though when I am dead bored, you can always find me google’ing houses in Akaroa, New Zealand. I love that town.
Least favorite is easy. Rome, Italy. Granted it was our last stop after running around Northern Italy for 3+ weeks (as well as I had been away at an art program for 4 weeks before I left. I came home for one night and then Italy for 3 weeks) and I just wanted to get home already. I was so burned out. Usually I’ll give places another chance, especially as an adult, but I just don’t have the motive to give it another chance anytime soon. It’s still near the bottom of my list.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
The moment I first saw the Sydney Opera House FROM THE AIRPLANE!!! For me, such an iconic landmark that totally lived up to my expectations.
F: Favorite mode of transportation:
Train or boat. I love the idea of a boat, though I get seasick easily (love ginger chews!) and I just love riding the rails. Or driving myself. But only if the roads are empty!
G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
The surprise of the unknown on the other end. Love the rush!
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
Besides home? (Har Har.) Either NYC 2001 (Worst! Heatwave! Ever! I can’t deal with humidity) or the Australian Outback for nice dry heat. Hot but not unbearable.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
This isn’t really travel related, just a really good story. A few years back I was at Staples Center for a U2 concert. When I go to concerts I don’t like to carry anything and just bring in my keys, ID, credit card and $20. I guess when I was buying beer, I got sidetracked and ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in years and dropped my credit card while putting it back in my pocket. My friend and I went and sat back down in our seats. A while later (but before the show began) a Staples Center employee comes up to us and holds out my card and asks if this is mine. I am in SHOCK. I was so happy with the return that I didn’t even realize it was missing! How they found me was that it was the same card I used to buy the tickets, so they scanned the card and found my seats and then found me and connected it all together. How awesome is that?!
J: Journey that took the longest:
Since I was starting in Akaroa and ending in Melbourne (with transfers in Christchurch and Sydney) the whole thing took about 2 days which included sleeping in CHC airport, a day to wonder around Sydney before taking the overnight bus to Melbourne. It was a rough two days of which I slept for about 20 hours once I finally got to Melbourne.
The worst one-day journey was the 24 hours it took to get from Milan to Los Angeles. We boarded the plane in Milan and then sat on the runway for 4-5 hours (from 12pm-5pm-ish) because the air traffic controllers went on strike for a few hours. We couldn’t deplane because we were an international flight and we couldn’t eat until we got in the air (no one ate before we boarded because we were supposed to be fed lunch as soon as we took off) and then everyone missed their connections in Chicago and we were all stuck with random middle seats on the last flight of the day from CHI to LAX. It was a miserable miserable day.
K: Keepsake from your travels:
Ticket stubs or pictures.
L: Let-down sight, why and where:
I try to set my expectations really low (Mona Lisa, Stonehenge) so I am never really disappointed. Maybe I would just do some things differently next time. But everything is a learning experience and I try to never be disappointed!
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
When I was 12 and at the last minute my parents decided to take us to the East Coast (first time on an airplane since I could remember!) and I just loved everything about it. The plane, the rental car, the hotel, all the rest stops alone the NJ Turnpike, magic!
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Hotel Kette in Venice, Italy. If I couldn’t love Venice anymore! Or The Hudson in NYC (a hotel so flash that it refuses to put it’s name on the entrance) when I went for a work event. Neither place was actually that great, I just loved to experience of staying at both, neither which I could do on my own dime, especially The Hudson. It’s just one of those swank, hip spots.
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
Cars and photo booths, which thankfully are not dying outside the US as quickly. Cars outside the US are so weird looking and tiny! And phone booths are sometimes really elaborate in some countries.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
I just counted this morning and I have 22 stamps! This does not include any visa stickers or my Machu Picchu stamps you can put in your passport. Most of the stamps are entry and exits from Australia as they stamp it each time and I technically visited 3 times in the span of a year. I also seem to have tons from the UK as I used it for a base in the early 00’s when I was traveling back and forth from Europe and around a lot. My passport expires next year, so that is probably it for me. I was sort of debating getting a larger passport next time, because the extra pages are free when you request them on the initial order, but decided against it as I would rather have a small but full passport then work really hard just to fill it up.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota or any of the “Big Things” in Australia
R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
I don’t know, I am a big fan of doing what you want and not letting others influence your decisions.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
Something I really really want to do. I hate the feeling of regret so I try not to practice it within reason. Usually it’s an activity.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done:
Um, everything! (To the places I have been at least.) It would be a lot easier to go the other direction. Like I didn’t bungee or skydive in Australia or New Zealand because I didn’t want to nor did I stop in Surfers Paradise even though everyone told me it was awesome. All the reasons they told me it was awesome are some of my least favorite things to do, like ever. So glad I skipped it, no regrets!
U: Unforgettable travel memory:
Getting my job in new Zealand. More like a LIFE highlight!
V: Visas, how many and for where?
Electronic for both New Zealand and Australia and actual sticker for my work permit/visa to stay longer in New Zealand.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?:
Whatever is local. Though I do like New Zealand, even if it’s just for the memories! Wine O’clock Fridays anyone?
X: eXcellent view and from where?
The View bar at the top of the Downtown Marriott in San Francisco. On one side you can see the Bay Bridge and the other, Golden Gate. And with a drink!
Y: Years spent traveling?:
Apparently my first time on a plane, I was 5 months old and my parents took me to New York to visit family. We went a lot when I was younger, but our first big road trip was in 1990 and my first time that I can remember being on a plane was 1992, when I was 10. I am not even going to do that math (2 weeks a year times 10 years, plus all my college summers were spent on the go, and then the 2+ years I worked and traveled overseas, I’ll leave the math up to you).
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:
I am going to say Australia because who outside of the US cares about American football? According to the people I worked with in Sydney, they used to air our games there because people were so sports crazy. I don’t get it at all. That is actually a big reason why I could NEVER live in a place like Australia or New Zealand forever. I just don’t care.