Inspired by a post I read by This Blonde, I would like to share my ABC’s of travel!
TRAVEL BY THE ALPHABET
A: Age when you went on your first international trip: I don’t know if this counts, as it was really more a case of visiting Grandma (who just happened to live on the other side of the world!!!). We headed out to Australia for the first time when I was 9. Haven’t stopped since.
B: Best foreign beer you’ve had and where: Not a beer drinker. Give me wine, a girly cocktail or freshly squeezed juice anytime! The closest to beer that you will find in my hand is the Shandy. I was introduced to what I call my pseudo beer many years ago and have to say – if its a scorcher out there – it is refreshing!
C: Cuisine (favourite): any cuisine on a patio is great for me! I love to eat local foods with the locals. For an easy lunch – Pa amb oli in Mallorca. Kangaroo in Australia – always a hit. I love to savour the fresh flavours of Thailand and the pastries in France. We often rent apartments in Europe – one of the activities we enjoy is grocery shopping. While mundane at home, so interesting to see the different foods and preparations in other countries, and who can go past that cheese counter! It’s all part of the travel experience.
D: Destinations – favourite, least favourite and why: Mallorca remains one of my favourite destinations – I just keep going back. Every time I find something new to do or explore. As a cyclist, the people, the roads and the weather are perfect. I love the contrast between the brilliant blues of the Mediterranean and the terra cotta reds and muted landscapes of the agricultural interior. Winding my way up the steady climbs for lunch at a Monastery is always a treat. With unlimited travel time, I would go back every year. Least favourite is a struggle – I have yet to travel to somewhere I have not liked.
E: Event that you experienced abroad that made you say “WOW”: My first view of Mount Everest. The grandeur of the surrounding mountains and the sense of your heart pounding as you climb at altitude.
F: Favourite mode of transportation: Definitely the bike, especially in Europe. It is great to get out there, explore, feel the sunshine and I feel great. The attitude towards cyclists is just different there – the Europeans have such a rich history in cycling. I love biking around the country roads of Provence or the mountain climbs like Ventoux, only to see the local Sunday ride whiz by. There are no language barriers on the bike – the cyclists just “get it”!
G: Greatest feeling while traveling: Breeze blowing through my hair, sun on my face. Those are some of the greatest feelings when I get out and explore.
H: Hottest place you have traveled to? Mudgee Zoo in January! I had just come back from visiting family in Canada (temps got down to -30C) and we were biking back from the the Mudgee Zoo. It must have been over 40 degrees. It was so hot, when we got back to our friend’s house (after being rescued by a farmer from the side of the road), we sat inside the industrial fridge to drink our orange juice! Man, it was hot!
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: It would have to be my dear friends at Cala Pi. They were great at helping us with our lost luggage (see below), calling the airlines and dealing with them in Spanish. They shared our joy as, one by one, our bags arrived from the airport.
J: Journey that took the longest: the saga of my recent trip to Mallorca would have to be the longest! We drove to Montreal Airport (2 hours) to find out our plane had never left Europe. We were then booked into a hotel at the airport with a 26 hour delay, however we had to check out by noon! This left us with 10 hours to kill with clothes that would not keep us warm on what was a very cold day in March – we were heading to the much warmer climate of the Mediterranean after all! With bags left at the hotel, we wandered around Montreal until all feeling left my fingers – it was now time to find solace in a hot cup of Chai Latte! We made it back to the airport and our flight which went off smoothly. Transferred through Heathrow (can you guess what happens here??) and landed in Mallorca, one day later than planned. Go to the luggage carousel and wait…..and wait…..and wait. Not a good sign! Bags were lost but no one would tell us where! It took a total of 4 days to get our bags! Bright side – a good lesson on packing – always pack at least one destination outfit in your hand luggage! Sadly, with the liquid bans, toothpaste and contact lens solution were MIA – however regulations are in place to provide travelers with an emergency supply bag when their luggage is lost. Make sure to ask for it. We were not given one. As we arrived later in the day on a Sunday, nothing was open. This certainly felt like the longest journey ever!
K: Keepsake from your travels: memories, stories and pictures. Digital pictures really changed things for me – you can take as many pictures as your shutter happy heart desires, create photo books and scrapbooks of your memories. Going through pictures for traveldestinationbucketlist.com has let me relive trips from the past and revved me up for where to go next (like I need revving up!!!! LOL).
L: Let-down sight, why and where: Did a city tour of Havana in Cuba once. I don’t think the city tour itself was the let down, just the guide was having an off day. Felt like a wasted day in the end – next time I may just visit Havana myself – forget the tour!
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: It would have to be my first solo trip. After working for the summer in New Brunswick, Canada, I hoped a train to Halifax to spend 3 weeks touring around. The rhythmic clickity-clack of the train as we passed landscapes untouched by roads and cars – this was were my love affair with travel began.
N: Nicest hostel you’ve stayed in: I have stayed in some beautiful hotels – it certainly helps when the company I work for sends me to nice places, but nothing stands out in my mind quite like the little hostel I stayed at in Cusco, Peru. I have no photos to share – the pictures have long since disappeared, but the memory of opening the heavy wooden doors to a courtyard that overlooked Cusco at night is forever imprinted in my memory! We had arrived late, worried that we would even find a place to stay! What we did find was our own little paradise!!! Sure it was a little rough – Lonely Planet description of Hospedaje Inka leaves me wondering why I have remembered it all these years!!! “This scruffy but charming converted hillside farmhouse high above the Plaza San Blas affords some great views. There’s erratic hot water, private bathrooms and a large farm kitchen available for cooking your own meals. Taxis can’t climb the final uphill stretch, so be prepared for a stiff walk.” The view and the hospitality must have made up for any shortcomings. A little rustic perhaps, but a million dollar view!
N: Hotel: Earlier this year I won a prize to stay at Jumby Bay Resort in Antigua – by far the most luxurious hotel I have ever stayed in. The villa came equipped with a massive kitchen, amazing master bedroom and semi private pool. Total lifestyles of the rich and famous!
O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling? Lately, I have had a mini obsession with lamps – anything ornate or with lots of colour in the shot. I am still experimenting with light – trying to get that glow and warmth radiating out, softly lighting the area.
P: Passport stamps – how many and where from? Too many to count! I have stamps from 4 South American Countries (Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina), Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, multiple entries to the US, Guatemala, Australia….the list goes on!
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: The Museo de la Coca, aka Cocaine Museum in La Paz, Bolivia. The displays are in fact informative and educational, depicting the role of coca in both the pharmaceutical world and soft drinks (Coca Cola anyone??). Worth a visit while touring the streets of La Paz.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience: grab life by the horns and savour every moment. There are so many to choose from. Trekking in Nepal, watching sunrise at the Twelve Apostles in Australia – all very special, however I would have to recommend the 4 day hike in to Machu Picchu. Climbing the various passes along the way, including Dead Women’s Pass (Warmiwanusca) at 4,198 m is a brilliant prelude to the morning that you arrive at the lost Inca City, the mist of the morning lifting as the sun rises above the temples. It is a breathtaking moment that I feel can only be had by hiking in. Overnighting in Milford Sound, New Zealand is another one of those special moments. The nights are silent and the Sound takes on a different personality from the daytime when all the day trippers are there. For something very quiet and magical, I recommend the a night on the MV Friendship – capable of only 12 over night passengers.
S: Splurge – something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: The year I cycled across Canada was the year I discovered Tour de France coverage in hotels. I went from camping most nights to motels along the way! Killed my travel budget but was worth it! I have also been known to splurge on jewelry – got a little extravagant in Thailand when my Bhudda and Temples tour swung by the gem shop!
T: Touristy thing you’ve done: Oh so many – Tower of London with Beefeater tour was fascinating. An afternoon well spent.
U: Unforgettable travel memory: Getting lost in Chile. I had just finished an amazing week in Pucón, Chile and had taken the bus to my next town – Temuco. It was dark, and my sense of direction had me mistakenly taking the wrong street! FIrst, I felt a hand over my head as someone stole my sunglasses. Next, someone grabbed the bag in my hand. Not realizing what was going on, I held my bag tighter. Needless to say, the person who remains unknown to this day, just pulled harder, stealing my bag and sending me falling into the street. So not only was I mugged, but I was also hit by a bus that was rolling up the road! All of that was really a blur – it just leads to the most unforgettable part – listening to the doctor in emergency laugh about how silly a girl I was to be traveling alone! (You see, I could not really speak in spanish at this point, but my french and spanish comprehension was sufficient to understand what he was saying!!!)
V: Visas – how many and for where? Surprisingly, very few – I am pretty sure my visa tally sits at 1!!!
W: Wine – best glass of wine while traveling? Would have to be in New Zealand. A small group of us were enjoying lunch, loving the wine and a string quartet playing music in the background! I have never been to Tuscany, but for 2 hours in the afternoon, I felt like I was there! To this day, I love any Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. One taste of this crisp white, and I am back at the vineyard, looking over the vines and loving every second of it!
X: eXcellent view and from where? My favourite view when traveling is seeing the sparkle of water, whether the Ocean, a river or the Mediterranean. Who can resist that sparkle!
Y: Years spent traveling? On my own, since the summer of 1991 – took my first summer job away from home in New Brunswick (12 hours by car). When that job was finished, I spent 3 weeks backpacking around the Maritimes. That was only just a taste for what was to come! Must be the Australian side of me – always eager to travel!
Z: Zealous sports fans and where? Most recently – the UCI World Tour pro cycling race in both Quebec City and Montreal. I read in the paper of people driving 2 days to get to the race. While this event was considerably more tame than what I see on tv with the Tour de France, it was none-the-less an event packed with zealous fans. My favourite is Lex – all dressed in Canadian colours and flag, cheering for the Canadian racers with all her might!
What are your ABCs?