I’ve decided to stray from my scheduled topic for today and do a fun, light-hearted post instead. Thank you to Melanie from Life’s Sweet Words for giving me the idea to do this ABCs of Travel questionnaire.
Age of first international trip: I grew up just a few hours south of the Canadian border and can remember going a few times as a kid. However, I consider my first international trip to be when I went to Ecuador. I was 22.
Best foreign beer Best Beach you’ve been to: I don’t drink so I decided to follow in Melanie’s footsteps and use this topic instead. The Best beach I’ve been to is in Phuket, Thailand. The water was the bluest and cleanest I’ve ever seen.
Favorite Cuisine: I have always loved Italian food. Although I’ve never been to Italy, it’s by far my favorite. I can’t wait to try real Italian food in Italy some day.
Favorite Destination: The country that has my heart the most is Ecuador. My trip to this beautiful South American country was my first taste of international travel. I lived there for three months and fell in love with the people and the city of Quito.
Experience that made you say wow: Zip-lining in Banos, Ecuador. Still one of my favorite experiences to date.
Favorite mode of transportation: I enjoy traveling by train whenever possible. I love being able to see the surrounding countryside as I travel.
Greatest feeling while traveling: I love the feeling of anticipation I get when I’m heading somewhere I’ve never been.
Hottest place you’ve ever traveled: Thailand, hands down. While we were there, Bangkok was going through a heat wave and the locals told us it was the hottest it had been in eight years.
Incredible service you’ve experienced: While working in orphanages in Ecuador, I was so impressed with the full time orphanage staff. They spent their lives caring for the children and making sure that their physical needs were met. Though their demeanors would probably not be considered motherly, I have never seen such a greater expression of unconditional love.
Journey that took the longest: Either from Utah in the United States to Germany or from Germany to Thailand. I’m not sure which was the longest as they both took a long time.
Keepsake from your travels: We try to limit our souvenirs so we can spend our travel budget on experiences but we do like to find some special thing to remember our trips. Though the best keepsakes for me are the photos I take.
Least favorite destination: I’m sad to say that Thailand was my least favorite destination. Bangkok was way too hot, I got sick on the airplane on the way there and never really recovered, and we had just spent five magical days in Munich, one of my favorite cities in the world. For those reasons, along with a few other disappointments, I was very relieved when the plane touched back down in the United States. It’s taken me 6 1/2 years to feel okay with the idea of going back and giving it a second chance. I’m happy to report, however, that I finally am. But the next time we go back, I will bring my own food for the plane.
Moment when you fell in love with travel: I’d love to say that I fell in love with travel when I first got to Ecuador, but that’s not true. Although I loved living in Quito, the work I did was hard (though worth it). It wasn’t until I traveled to Munich a month after I returned from Ecuador that I realized how much I loved traveling. Traveling to two totally different countries in a matter of a month made me realize that I could love each of them in different ways. That realization fueled my desire to see as much of the world as I could.
Nicest hotel you’ve stayed at: We don’t often stay at nice hotels because of the kids, and because we prefer to splurge more on the experiences rather than where we sleep. D and I did stay at the Chicago Marriott hotel in Oak Brook, Illinois when we went to a Strong Bonds retreat for his National Guard unit. Though not considered a luxury hotel, it is probably the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed.
Obsession (what you take pictures of the most while traveling): Landscapes. The world is full of beautiful views. Most of the pictures on this blog are either landscapes or architecture because they are much easier to make look good than people. But I love taking pictures of people, if only to remember them later.
Passport stamps (how many and where from)?: I’m in the process of renewing my passport since it expires this year so I don’t have it to count. But I’ve been to Canada, Ecuador, Thailand, Austria and Germany (twice).
Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited: After wracking my brain for longer than I expected, I have not been able to come up with any quirky attractions. I’m sure I have seen some unusual things in my travels but none come to mind at the moment.
Really frightening (a place you have felt insecure/uneasy): New York City. I tend to have anxiety when I’m in huge crowds and New York City was way too busy for me. It was unsettling.
Splurge (something you have no problem spending money on while traveling): Because our rule is to limit souvenirs to one each (doesn’t always happen but we try), I’m okay with spending a little more money on a single souvenir if it is something truly unique and special.
Most Touristy thing you’ve done: Probably Disney World and I don’t even care. I’m such a Disney freak that I’d spend every day there if I could. I guess it’s good we don’t live in Florida or we’d splurge on season passes. There is a running joke between D and I that my dream is to live in Cinderella’s Castle and every time we go, I’m plotting how to make that happen. I won’t say if that’s true or not but feel free to take a guess.
Most Unforgettable travel memory: Volunteering in orphanages in Ecuador for three months while I was in college. I was able to get a more unique experience in the country than I would’ve had I just gone as a tourist. I was able to do some touristy things but most of my time was spent in the orphanages.
Best glass of wine Best Waterfall: I don’t drink so I chose to take another creative liberty and change this one. I love waterfalls and will go out of my way to find one if I know there is one nearby. My favorite, so far, has been Snoqualmie Falls in Washington state. I know there are many waterfalls around the world that are much grander and I cannot wait to see as many as I can in my lifetime.
eXcellent view: There are so many beautiful views in the world that it is impossible to name a favorite. On our most recent trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, we encountered several gorgeous views, including this one at Ledges Overlook.
Years spent traveling: Eight years with a break in between. While D was in law school, we didn’t have the time or money to travel. Now that he’s done with school and we have a steady income, we can afford to travel more. We plan to make up for lost time and we will have many opportunities to travel abroad in the coming years.
Most Zealous sports fans: I consider myself a fan of the Olympic sports but when it comes to the mainstream sports like basketball, football and baseball, I don’t know much. However, after witnessing the recent Cubs World Series victory and seeing the subsequent celebrations, I’d consider Chicago sports fans pretty zealous.
What are your favorite travel memories? Let me know in the comments!
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