My ABCs of Travel
All right, so I wasn’t tagged, but I saw this survey posted on Christine in Spain and just had to do it! It takes me back to the good old days of LiveJournal memes.
A: Age you went on your first international trip: At the age of 2, I traveled to Hong Kong (or “Honk Honk,” as I called it) and Singapore for my aunt and uncle’s wedding. A few months later, we also went on a Baltic Cruise with stops in Scandinavia and the Soviet Union (right before it collapsed).
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: I don’t even like beer! But I’m going to have to go with a Guinness in the Guinness Factory in Dublin. It tasted terrible, but it was free (it’s normally included in the tour, but it was Dublin Culture Night, so the tour itself was free!) and I drank it with two of my best friends from the top of the Factory, overlooking all of Dublin. Plus, it was the day after Arthur Guinness Day, a big celebration marking the 250th anniversary of Guinness.
C: Cuisine (favorite): Italian. It’s everywhere in the U.S., and I’ve always loved it, but it’s even better in Italy! Even when you’re just eating at cheap restaurants!
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Spain is my favorite, duh. My least favorite was probably Brussels, Belgium. I still enjoyed it, but it was kind of blah in comparison to my other trips (especially because of poor weather and health).
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: Um, like everything! Here’s one: watching the 2006 World Cup championship game in a bar in Granada. The sheer excitement of the people around me was amazing watch, and that wasn’t even the year Spain won!
F: Favorite mode of transportation: The Madrid Metro. Best metro in the world!
G: Greatest feeling while traveling: Having a great conversation with someone from another country in their native language.
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Spain, for sure. When I was there in the summer of 2006, and again at the beginning of my stay in 2009. The lack of air conditioning and the amount you walk on a regular basis made it unbearable.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: At Botín in Madrid, the world’s oldest restaurant. Long story short, my friends and I had a great meal there, and then we ended up staying for a few extra hours chatting with these men from Basque Country and the owner’s son, Antonio. I returned a few days later with my mom and sister, and Antonio sat us in a special table near the entrance and served us free drinks while showing us around the restaurant and talking to us about Botín and Spain in general for a few hours.
J: Journey that took the longest: The seemingly longest journey was when, on my road trip this spring break, we decided to go from Vancouver, Canada to Folsom, CA in one drive. We were on the road for about 20 hours, barely slept, and were pelted with rain, snow, and hurricane-like winds. Insane, but so, so wonderful.
K: Keepsake from your travels: I left Spain about two weeks before they won the 2010 World Cup, but my wonderful friend Connie brought me back a World Cup commemorative T-shirt that features a bunch of memories from the World Cup. I love it.
L: Let-down sight, why and where: Saint-Chapelle in Paris. My friend Jessica had told me that it was one of the most stunning sights she’d ever seen, so I had high expectations. When I arrived, sure, it was pretty, but it didn’t blow me away. It didn’t help, however, that it was under construction and that my feet started feeling like they would fall off from the cold around the time we arrived.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: I was lucky enough to take a lot of awesome trips with my family as a kid, but when I spent a month studying in Granada during high school, I became hooked on travel and knew I had to do more. More specifically, my first night in Spain, as I walked around the city and soaked in the lights and culture, I fell head over heels in love with travel.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: A recent one that comes to mind is the Venetian in Las Vegas, where I stayed with my mom last summer. It seemed especially luxurious after spending 10 months staying in cheap hostels!
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: Statues. Posing with them. Every time I see a statue, I have to do it.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? I’d pull out my passport but I don’t have it here with me right now. I don’t have as many stamps as I wish, because they don’t stamp within the Schengen States in Europe. I am going to run out of passport pages soon, though!
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: One of the things I love best about America is all the bizarre pitstops you can make whenever you’re driving long distances. That said, it’s hard to pick one place in particular, and my answer doesn’t exactly fit the question, but I’m going to say the crazy government conspiracy we discovered out in the middle of the Mojave Desert, near Rice, California. It’s a long story, but there’s this crazy spot of land miles from the road that’s filled with really strange, unexplainable features like mysterious hatches and unfamiliar electronic equipment. If you haven’t already, ask me about it some time.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Here’s one: Feria de Abril, Sevilla’s giant festival. I cannot wait to go again this year.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Honestly, nothing. I’m extremely frugal when it comes to travel. Rather than spending a lot of money on one thing, I’ll take a bunch of super cheap trips, so my splurge is doing as much travel as I can.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done: So much of what I’ve done is touristy, and I have no shame in it! One example is taking the hop-on/hop-off bus tour in Madrid after I had been living there for about 3 months. (My family wanted to take it, so I joined them. I definitely didn’t learn anything new, though!)
U: Unforgettable travel memory: Hiking the seaside cliffs of Cinque Terre, Italy. Stunning.
V: Visas, how many and for where? Two, both for Spain: for my 2009-2010 stay, and another for this upcoming stay (and those things were not easy to obtain!).
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? I’m not a wine drinker, but I do love me some sangría. The most delicious sangría I’ve had is at El Tigre tapas bar in Madrid. It’s probably 80% sugar, but it’s amazing!
X: eXcellent view and from where?: From my friend Robin’s living room balcony, which overlooked Plaza Mayor, one of my favorite spots in Madrid. I’m still so in awe of where she lived!
Y: Years spent traveling?: 22 basically! I’m extremely fortunate in that my parents started taking me places from the time I was a baby.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: I’ve already mentioned watching the 2006 World Cup finals in Granada. Also amazing: being in Switzerland during the 2008 Euro Cup finals and seeing fans running down the street with Spain flags and honking with excitement; watching the 2010 World Cup finals in a bar in Las Vegas and being insanely thrilled (word’s can’t express my excitement!) about Spain’s victory!