A big thank you to Alex of Alex in Wanderland, who tagged me to complete this fun travel blog meme. Lately, I’ve had a great time reading and learning about so many other travel bloggers. I considered just doing the ABCs without having been tagged but, realized I needed to focus on my many blog post drafts instead of worrying about the latest “thing”. Then, alas, the universe (well, Alex) spoke and here I am with my ABCs. Hope you enjoy!
This exercise was a good reflection of my travel history and made me realize both how few and how many places I have been to. Since all my international travel has been based around cruise ships only, I found it also contained the memories with the most impact so I hope I didn’t repeat myself too much (re: dolphins).
A: Age you went on your first international trip:
Saved this one for adulthood – age 25. Went on a cruise to The Bahamas (Nassau), St Thomas, and St Maarten. I almost studied abroad one summer in college but chose an internship instead to earn some money. It was good to get money but I do have regrets about not studying abroad so I highly recommend it current college students..
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
Well, I’m not a beer fan. I wouldn’t consider any that I’ve tasted to be the best but I know the worst was Guinness.
C: Cuisine (favourite):
Yum, I love food! I will try most things at least once (ex: escargot, beef carpaccio, calamari) but not really interested in things too exotic (ex: balut, carpaccio, insects, etc). My favorites that come to mind are Japanese and Thai.
D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why:
Ugh, hard questions, going to base them totally on my experiences at the destination. Might be an unfair way to determine favoritisms but I don’t know how else to answer.
Favourite Destination: St Thomas – There were a lot of firsts during this visit but I have the fondest memories of it all. First time in a taxi and had no idea how to hail one but figured it out. First time riding on the left side of the road and at crazy speeds around blind corners. First time jet skiing. First time at a beachfront resort. First time seeing wild iguanas that were also HUGE. First time snorkeling. Thought it was pretty awesome I could use my U.S. based cell phone without international roaming since it’s technically still the U.S. St Thomas is a very pretty tropical island. Haha, I sound pretty sheltered but that’s part of the fun of getting out and experiencing life, right?
Least Favourite: St Maarten – This one was purely my fault. The island is actually divided in half between two countries: Sint Maarten (part of Netherlands Antilles) and Saint Martin (French). We spent so much time shopping in Phillipsburg that we ran out of time to see the rest of the island. I remember none of the taxi drivers would take us around the island for fear they wouldn’t get us back in time before our cruise ship was to leave. Probably smart on their part but I was so sad. Some day I’ll go back and see more! So, I missed seeing the major airport on the island is known for massive jets passing mere feet above the beach while landing, google it for impressive photos and videos.
E: Event that made you say “wow”:
Dolphins! Once swimming with them as part of a “swim with dolphins” program and once kayaking with wild ones off the panhandle of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. They are truly amazing creatures and would love to get to scuba dive with them someday.
F: Favourite mode of transportation:
Flying because it’s the fastest way to cover long distances. I keep hearing about the joys of train travel so have to admit I’m curious about giving that a try in the future.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
Happiness! Just being in a new place and knowing there is so much more out there than the little place I live my daily life. I feel like travel expands your horizons on so many different levels, if I may use a clichéd saying.
H: Hottest place you’ve ever traveled to:
Didn’t have to travel far for this but probably a few places in the Southeast U.S. Not sure the record highest I’ve seen but it was over 100F and humid. Unpleasant to describe it in a word.
I: Incredible service that you’ve experienced and where:
Have to say on cruise ships. Some of the nicest people and best customer service I’ve experienced anywhere. Everyone from entertainment staff, to maintenance workers, to waiters, to just passing an employee in the hallways, always a friendly greeting or smile.
J: Journey that took the longest:
The farthest I’ve been is from coast to coast in the U.S. by airplane and always with connections, never direct. The in air flight time is probably like four hours but I say all day by the time you factor checking in and then getting to your actual destination. But, technically my journey that took the longest would probably be by ship since it can take several days to get to a destination.
K: Keepsake from your travels:
Photos, photos, photos! I’m not into souvenirs but I love having photos to remember the details of trips you forget about over time. For example, my last trip, everyone I went with took just a few hundred photos each at most while I took close to 1700!
L: Let-down sight, why and where:
Chain restaurants and stores, you know them – Hard Rock Café, Señor Frogs, Diamonds International, Coach. The places you can find at ANY major tourist area. It was fun the first couple of times to see them and yes, I took the photos of these places but soon I began wondering where the local equivalents were at or the places that were unique to the area.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
I don’t remember but I would guess early on in life. Like I mention on my About page, I remember perusing the photos of many a National Geographic, looking at friends photo albums, checking out books at the library about places, etc. I’m very visual so anything with a pretty photo would catch my attention, most especially any place tropical. If I had to choose an actual moment when I fell in love, I would say the first time I saw the ocean (Atlantic) in Virginia Beach at age 10 or 11.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Don’t really stay in nice hotels. Mostly look for cheap places though I do like to find bargains. Most recently stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Fort Lauderdale, FL for well under $100/night when rooms are advertised for over $200/night. By doing a little research, I was able to determine the hotel from photos on an online booking site where they don’t reveal the name ahead of time.
O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
Everything? I’m not afraid to live a lot of my time behind a camera lens, the photos last longer than my memory most of the time! Of course I do have my limits especially if I really want to participate in an activity. For a while my focus was food and panoramas, now I like to find the odd things like all the people taking a photo of a landmark instead of the already well photographed landmark itself.
P: Passport stamps – how many and from where?
A big fat zero. As in none! No trickery, only had one passport yet I’ve been to 9 countries (USA, The Bahamas, St Thomas, St Maarten, Mexico, Belize, Haiti, Curacao, Aruba), depending on what you define as a country since some of these are territories or protectorates of other countries. All have been within the last four years and reached by cruise ship. I think I need to expand my methods of travel! I want to be sad I have no stamps because I think I’d really treasure them but alas at this rate I almost want to see how many places I can go to before I do get a stamp.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
Drove past some quirky places in Myrtle Beach like WonderWorks upside down mansion and the I-95 North Carolina/South Carolina border attraction called South of the Border with it’s giant Mexican sombrero. But, quirkiest I’ve actually visited is probably Duval Street in Key West. It is touristy but has it’s very own distinct and unique flair that makes it unlike other places.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
So many things come to mind, bottom line, go out and see places and people that aren’t like where you are from but interest you. Go swim with dolphins, learn to scuba dive, attend an Olympic Games, see ruins of ancient civilizations, meet people unlike yourself, etc. Just go! You’ll learn so much.
S: Splurge – something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
Experiences, especially of the adventurous kind. Scuba diving, whitewater rafting, jet skiing, skydiving, swimming with dolphins, etc. Feel like I keep repeating the dolphin thing. Do you not get it yet? Swimming with dolphins was an epic life experience for me!
T: Touristy thing you’ve done:
Uh, almost everything I have done is probably considered touristy. Never forged off the beaten path yet. Most touristy is probably going to a country and then spending all my time on the beach at a resort instead of seeing more of the country. Sometimes it’s ok to just relax.
U: Unforgettable travel memory:
Swimming with dolphins! While it was unforgettable, I’ll come up with a new answer – attending the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA. Unfortunately, I was only 13 at the time and do not remember as much of it as I would like but there is just something magical about the Olympics. It’s on my bucket list to attend another. I threw my hat into several different ticket lottery bucket (primarily artistic gymnastics and beach volleyball) for London later on this year but came up empty handed.
An unforgettable sour memory, the first time I missed a flight was an experience that I relived in my head for at least a couple years before I was able to let it go. While it was not the end of the world and everything turned out fine, I just couldn’t believe I let it happen since it was my fault and I didn’t follow my instincts that would have prevented it from happening. Word to the wise, holiday season is not the best time to show up 45 minutes before a flight and hope to get luggage checked in by the 30 minute deadline.
I keep thinking of more unforgettable moments but I guess it says memory and not memories!
V: Visas, how many and for where?
None, see letter P about passport stamps. I do have a Visa credit card…
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
Hmmm, wine is better than beer but not by much. I have tried a Moscato that I liked but I don’t remember where I tried it.
X: eXcellent view and from where?
Why not ask about xylophone experience or x-rays or well, I just ran out of x words so back to the eXcellent view. I love a good view! Where better to view places than from up high so I’m thinking tall buildings (John Hancock in Chicago), mountain tops (ski resorts around Lake Tahoe or Sugar Mountain in North Carolina), and cruise ships (easy to check out an island).
Y: Years spent traveling:
Within the U.S., about 17 years. Internationally, almost 4 years. All short trips no longer than a week or two but I have big dreams of longer travel and seeing a lot more places. There’s a whole big world out there to explore, ya know!
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?
I’m not a big sports fan of the most popular kind like football, basketball, soccer, etc, I’m more into gymnastics, figure skating, and other “every 4 year” Olympic sports though I follow them every year. But, I’ll have to go with college football, specifically my alma mater, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Atlanta, GA. In college, I worked inside the stadium selling merchandise during home games and it was quite an experience. Watching a stadium full of people dressed in yellow and white bobbing up and down to the Budweiser theme song is just hilarious to me.
Passing the Torch
Not sure I know of anyone to pass this along to as most everyone I can think of has already done it. Somebody has to be the end or the bottom of the barrel, right? Of course, I’ve heard they say the best gets saved for last as well. I checked through my travel blog feeds and have found a few (yay!) that I don’t think have done an ABCs of travel post and I would like to see: