Wednesday, March 23, 2016

ABC's of Travel

Wanderlust Wednesday-Week 5 
I have a long list of topics to share for Wanderlust Wednesday this year. When I was scanning through my list for this week's pick, I realized that my travel experiences are pretty diverse. I think most people gravitate towards certain types of travel, but I love them all. I enjoy staying in a luxury resorts (who doesn't love that right?) just as much as I like sleeping outdoors. I think there is equal value in exploring big cities and unheard of small towns. From A to Z, there is no aspect of travel that I don't enjoy…which gave me the idea to share my ABC's of Travel.
Of course a quick google search revealed that I'm not the first to think of this idea and I found this fun prompt...

Age of your first international trip? 
14 years old. When I was a freshman in high school, I was accepted into People to People; a student ambassador program created by President Einsenhower to encourage cultural exchange. I was the youngest one in the group and I didn't know anyone else on the trip so it was terrifying, but I loved every minute of it. 

Best Foreign Beer You've Ever Had 
El Presidente in the Dominican Republic! I'm being totally ironic here, I mostly just liked seeing all of the El Presidente beer bottle Christmas trees throughout the city since we were there over Christmas.  

Cuisine (favorite)
My tastebuds have changed drastically over the years. The first time I went to Italy, I lost almost 10 pounds because I didn't like the food. What weirdo doesn't like authentic Italian food? Now, I have trouble thinking of any foods I don't like. My favorite cuisines are definitely Indian {the hotter the better}, Thai, and Mexican. 

Destination-favorite, least favorite, and why?
This one is NOT fair. As far as favorite destination, any place that I'm fortunate enough to experience is a favorite because I cherish travel wholeheartedly. And for that exact reason, I don't have a least favorite. There are certainly places that I wouldn't visit again, but I don't regret the experience.   

Event you've experienced abroad that made you say "wow"
There have been so many "wow" moments. But I'm all about unique experiences. Touring a salt mine in the mountains of Austria is at the top of my unique list. Accessing the mines required taking a funicular, which was an experience within itself. But once inside the Salzweltan mines, there is an underground train ride through the open air. I remember how exhilarating it was to be flying through the pitch black tunnels with the salty air against my checks.

Favorite mode of transportation
Teleporting. While I've never actually teleported, I just know that I would love it! The act of traveling itself is awful. Being sardined onto a plane, bus, or train is no fun. My favorite mode of transportation I've actually used would be by boat. I'm fortunate enough that I don't get sea sick, so water taxis and ferry rides are my fav. When getting from Point A to Point B involves gorgeous views along the water, what's not to love?  

Greatest feeling while traveling 
Knowing that the experiences I'm having will forever change my outlook on life.

Hottest place you've ever travelled to
Charleston in July. Nothing is worse than the heat in the South. Not only was it the hottest place, it was also the most humid. 

Incredible service you've experienced and where?
Boarding house in the Switzerland. It felt like I was staying with family. 

Journey that took the longest
On on way home from a trip aboard, a bomb threat shut down the airport. And no one was allowed to leave. I was stranded at the Heathrow Airport for 3 days! The end of my 3 day foray at the airport, meant a 15 hour plane ride home. So it took 4 days (with no shower or clean clothes) to get from London to the States. This was a long journey in the worst kind of way.

Keepsake from your travels
Well I have tons of these! I love keeping tickets from shows or brochures from musuems. My favorite souvenir to buy would be Christmas ornaments. I can combine two of my great loves…Christmas and Travel. At the end of every year, I have a tree filled with keepsakes. 

Let-down sight, where and why?
Leaning Tower of Pisa. I'm sure this was considered a skyscraper in Galileo's day, but I was unimpressed. The only thing that makes it famous is it's poor construction…hence the leaning. 

Moment where you fell in love with travel
Every single adventure has moments where my love of travel is renewed. But if I had to pinpoint a moment when I fell in love with travel, this would be it...
You may not know this about me, but I played the viola competitively for nearly 12 years. During an orchestral tour through Italy, my favorite thing to do was to play in the streets. We would form little trios or quartets and play our hearts out, composing songs as we played. I remember one night in particular, playing along the cobblestoned streets of Venice while the sun set set in hues of blue, purple, and pink. At some point, we attracted an audience that cheered us on and tossed us coins. I never wanted it to end, but when it did, we collected our Euros and spent every single one at a gelato shop, eating all the flavors. This is such a vivid memory for me and it's one that launched my love of travel. 

Nicest hotel you've stayed in
I am definitely a budget traveler, so I feel guilty any time I stay in a really nice hotel because nice = expensive. One of the nicest hotels I've stayed at in terms of ambiance AND experience was the Tower Hotel in Niagara Falls. We had a direct view of Niagara Falls and I remember waking up every morning to watch the sun rise over the waterfalls.

Obsession-what are you obsessed with taking photos of while traveling?
Everything! Famous monuments, beautiful landscapes, cute dessert plates. I can easily take a few hundred shots in one day. 

Passport stamps-how many do you have?
Not nearly enough! 

Quirkiest attraction you've visited and where?
Graffiti Alley

Really frightening: where's one place you've visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?
You're not going to believe my answer, but it was a visit to the Vatican. My friend and I got lost and were wondering around for hours. This was before the age of smart phones so we were relying on a paper map, written in Italian. 
Finally, we found a police officer who spoke English. I remember being so grateful that we found an officer to help us, until he started (ahem) soliciting us for favors. You guys, I was 14! I didn't even know how to react, I was just frozen with shock. To this day, I cannot believe some of the things he said to us. Total sleaze bag. This happened in the middle of day with an official from the supposed "holy city". Just goes to show that when you're traveling abroad, never make assumptions about whether or not a place is safe. 

Splurge-something you have no problem spending money on while traveling.
We keep the strictest budget when traveling, but one thing I don't mind splurging on is unique experiences. I don't spend much time in the hotel room and I won't remember what I ate for dinner, BUT I will remember a unique experience. Some of my favorite splurges from the past year…sky walking one of the tallest buildings in the world, air ballooning in Napa, and a private helicopter ride over Niagara Falls.  

Touristy thing you've done?
I always look for non-toursity adventures, but some tourist attractions merit the hype. 
Some of my favorites include
climbing the stairs of the Eiffel Tower 
gondola rides through Venice
eating chocolate in the Swiss Alps 
touring the Roman Coliseum 

Unforgettable travel memory
All of them! 

Visas-how many and for where? 

Wine-best glass while traveling
The best glass(es) of wine I've had while traveling involved a sparkling wine tour in Napa. 

X eXcellent view and from where?
This is the hardest because I've had some incredible views. If I have to pick one, I would say it was hiking the Half Dome at Yosemite National Park. It required a dangerous 18 mile hike. Knowing that I had earned the view, made it that much more incredible. 

Years spent traveling:
my whole Life! 

Zealous sports fans and where?
Tour de France. I am the opposite of a sports fan, but while I was traveling though France, I got to see various stages of the Tour de France. This was well before all of the doping scandals, so it was pretty impressive.

For more tips on planning and paying for travel, follow along with Making Restorations for Wanderlust Wednesday

linking up with thinkingoutloud//stuffthingsetc.//


  1. I loved this post! Learned to much about your trips from it and how you like to travel. I have to admit... good food and local dining experiences is part of the experience for me. AND yes, Charleston in summer is insane... only preceded by Macon, GA in summer. Lived there for two years.

    1. Believe me, I could totally understand why food would be someone's travel splurge. We do still have at least one nice meal out per week of travel. And I don't even want to imagine Georgia in the summer. I was there in Spring and thought it was way too hot.

  2. I am dying inside over your journey home from London. Three days stranded and then the flight? UGH

    That Venice photo is stunning.

    1. At the very least, it taught me the value of traveling with a properly stocked carry-on. At the time, my carry on bag was stuffed with my souvenirs.

  3. Love this, the ABCs of travel! Bookmarked so I can fill this out myself later.

    Stopping over from Thinking out Loud!

    The hottest place I've ever been was Death Valley. It was 118 degrees. & the sun was shining & there was no shade to be had. It was awful.

  4. Getting stranded at Heathrow sounds like my personal hell. I hated that airport- it was SO crowded and too many bright lights/stores/etc. I collect Christmas ornaments from my trips as well! So in love with your picture of Italy- that's on my bucket list!

    1. Yep, I'm not a fan of that airport either, especially not after spending 3 days on the floor. I wish I could say that the hell ended when we landed, but it took 2 months to get my luggage back, plus my instrument had a $500 repair, which of course they wouldn't pay for. I guess travel isn't always glamorous