I don’t do many lists here, nor do I often follow the latest “chain posting” trend, but the travel ABC’s sounded really fun. So here are mine.
Thanks to Ashley of NoOnionsExtraPickles for the link on the chain.
Age you went on your first international trip
12. My dad worked for a company in England during the time of triple miles. So after a few years he had enough miles for business class tickets for my mom and I to go to England for a while. I actually remember disliking being there. The food was different and everyone talked funny.
Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where
So many to choose from. I’ll take foreign as meaning, not from where I am living now, so no German beers. I really like Leffe from Belgian, and it has been the favorite for a while. Though I have come to enjoy the Czech Krušovice a lot. I prefer darker and smoother rather than the more bitter lighter beers.
Italian. I am a picky eater in general and not at all a foody. So Italian offers the widest range of things that I have perfectly happy to eat. Somehow most of the comfort foods I remember from my youth are Italian: Chicken Parmigiana, Spaghetti, Pizza, Mac and Cheese(ok, not really Italian, but it has pasta.) I go to the pasta place near my office for lunch an awful lot.
Destinations: favorite, least favorite and why
Outside of Germany, I really enjoyed Santorini. It was a high for several reasons. I had just beaten a big fear of getting on a flight for the first time in nearly 10 years. It was warm and sunny, yet not too hot. It was so beautiful as well as being really relaxing. Due to all of this, I was in a great mood and had a good time meeting people.
Athens is my least favorite. Odd that both extremes ended up on the same trip. I had spent a week in the islands with some friends and struck out to travel on my own, so I was a bit lonely. Athens is so big and crowded, which was such a crass contrast to the relaxing atmosphere. It didn’t feel welcoming. Though I am happy to have seen the Agora and Parthenon, I have no need to ever go back.
Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
Does “sheesh” count? This year at Tomatina was definitely a Sheesh moment. Maybe I am a 70year old curmudgeon in my mind, but it just doesn’t seem fun to be drunk at 7am. (It’s not really fun being AWAKE at that point for me.) It was impressive to see a crowd of people smearing each other with rotten tomatoes though.
Favorite mode of transportation
Train! I have been the length and breadth of Europe on the train. Not all in one trip, but from Greece and Budapest on the east to Stockholm in the north. Madrid is the furthest west, and pretty much every country in between. I’ve even been all up and down the East Coast of the US on Amtrak. Not as nice as European trains though. One of the more interesting journeys was the 22 hour trip back from Split in Croatia. Trains just make me happy and I have great luck meeting people.
Greatest feeling while traveling
I really like that fresh feeling of a new place, even if it is a place I have been to before. That sense of shift between traveling to a place and being there. The best example of this by far was meeting Ali in Prague. A night train across Germany to see her on the train platform and hug her for the first time despite months of talk. That was electric. I got it again just getting off my first transatlantic flight in nearly 12 years in Atlanta to fold her in my arms again.
Hottest place you’ve traveled to
Based on outdoor temperature, probably Atlanta last June. The American south can get pretty freaking hot in the summer, though everywhere has air conditioning so it doesn’t feel so bad. I have been to Italy in the summer. And though it isn’t as hot as the US south, there is no air-conditioning so it feels much worse.
Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
I think the best example of a caring level of service came in Greece. My trip across the Greek mainland was not so great. I had an long bus ride made longer by missing a bus and getting stuck in a station for the better part of a day. The incredible service part came from the hotel that I had booked in Delphi that night. Apparently they had a water leak and had to close. So they rebooked me at a sister hotel at the same price AND called my cell phone about 5 times trying to get a hold of me AND sent a driver down to the bus station in Delphi to take me up the hill to the new place. All of this with me only understanding about half of the calls, between a bad connection, thick accents and dying battery. So while overall I was not impressed with the Greek efficiency, this was a great experience.
Journey that took the longest
Transatlantic cruise. 6 days from New York to Southhampton and then the trains from there into Germany. This was my “moving to Germany” trip. I’ve actually done that trip a few times, but often end up in London for a day or two.
The longest journey other than a ship was one I just finished. 11 hours on a plane followed by a 14 hour layover in Hong Kong and then another 11 hour flight to Auckland.
Keepsake from your travels
I don’t really buy much in the way of souvenirs. I have tried to even do it less lately. I don’t really need a bunch of little things wandering about the house. I do however like art, so have bought paintings and unusual photos at some places lately. My best keepsake though is something I bought when I first started enjoying traveling. It is a black and green rope keychain. I bought it in Hamburg from a tourist shop on the waterfront. 17 years later, it is still on my keys, though somewhat faded.
Let-down sight: why and where
Plzen, Czech Republic. I knew this town as the home of Pilsner Urquell, a fantastic Czech beer. I was excited to see it’s home. A few thing ruined it for me. First, Plzen is not really a pretty place, nor lively as I saw. It felt very stark to me. Second, I ended in the “wrong place” to see the brewery. I followed a set of signs to a brewery museum, which was ok, but not a brewery tour that I was looking for. It was a gray day and by the time I figured out where the actual brewery was, I was too tired to try to figure out the confusing set of streets and bridges to get there.
Moment where you fell in love with travel
My first trip to Germany in 1994. I spent two months in Hamburg with a family and just spent nearly every day wandering around the city. The freedom and wonder of seeing new stuff was great. That started the cycle of work/travel that led up to me moving to Germany. Oh the cycle continues, just from here rather than the US, so the transport costs to Europe are cheaper.
Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
Probably the most upscale place I have ever been in is the Belvedere in New York for New Years. I am really not a fancy person. I am much happier to be in a smaller place with a soft bed and hot water, than anything with enormous ceilings and gold laced everywhere. I find the “fancy” stuff actually tacky. Pretty much if the have that nice bed and hot water, I don’t really notice the hotel so much. If anything, I might remember interesting people or staff that I talked to, but the building not really.
Obsession: what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
Signs and graffiti. I like the oddities of travel. There is something about the personality of place that comes out with the stuff like that. If a city prevents it all it becomes stark, but a few odd statues and the personality opens up. And graffiti can be both attractive as well as a nuisance. It is an interesting look at a place. If the graffiti is actually pretty and artistic as opposed to destructive that lends a nice light to the people that live there.
Passport stamps: how many and from where?
Nearly all of my stamps are from Europe or the US. I just added Hong Kong and New Zealand in the last few days th0ugh. I’ve on my third passport, so I have no clue how many I’ve ended up with over the years.
Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
The Hall of Heads in Munich. It probably isn’t called this. The open U shaped Greek Temple looking thing is on the edge of the fields where they hold Octoberfest. It has red walls and the busts of famous Bavarians through the ages on it. So really it is a bunch of marble heads. And near one side they stopped being able to place them orderly, so they end up being more jumbled.
Recommended sight, event or experience
Crossing the Atlantic on an ocean liner. With the advent of planes and speed speed and little vacation, there is something grandly elegant about taking your time to cross the water. Great food and often interesting company. Read more about the dining on Queen Mary 2 at theroadforks.com, Akila does a better job than me explaining it.
Splurge: something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling
Day trips. I really enjoy the idea of spending a day going somewhere else. Most of my trips end up centered around a specific city. There are always tons of neat things just a little way out from most cities. I dig the van tours the best. 5-10 people together poking around. this is the perfect sized group for me as it gives some social outlet but without the isolation and herding of a big bus. I’ll definitely spend a bit to have all of that transport and such figured out for a day trip, especially if it has a guide and doesn’t feel too tourist-trappy.
Touristy thing you’ve done
I like touristy things. The most cliche though in recent memory is definitely climbing the tower at Pisa. I am so glad I did though, it was fantastic.
Unforgettable travel memory
Um I forget.
Visas: how many and for where?
German residency visas. I have had a few over the years. My current one with all its renews is at 4 years.
Wine: best glass of wine while traveling and where?
Wine is really not my thing. It agrees with my stomach less the more time goes by. Though the most interesting glass was probably my first ever. I was in Vienna for a summer exchange in college. The first night was a warm summer night. Our group was splitting bottles after dinner and just enjoying the outdoor cafe. It was a nice sensation of being out with a bunch of neat people.
eXcellent view and from where?
Heading up the hill at Segovia. I like the shape and texture of the aqueduct. And the fact that it is still there several thousand years later. The Romans were great engineers. Too bad about the lead pipes and syphilis.
Years spent traveling?
Do we count expat years? My family is spread around the US, so we traveled a lot when I was a kid. So pretty much most of my life has involved trips of one sort or another.
Zealous sports fans and where?
Go Hokies!! Ok, there you go, that is the extent of my sports fanness. I have gotten to enjoy a Sunday afternoon in the Irish Pub watching Rugby with my friends though. I still don’t really understand it, despite the efforts of my kiwi friend, but it is a nice action packed thing.
And thus it goes on..
As for nominations lets do my new meets in Hong Kong.
Connie Hum(Connvoyage) for a great lunch.