Challenge Accepted: My Travels from A – Z

This A-Z travel challenge has been going around for years but seems to be going through a bit of a resurgence- which is why I’m finally in the loop. The challenge seems to have originated as a meme where people get nominated to do one. I nominated myself 🙂

A: Age you went on your first trip.

My first big trip was to my uncle’s wedding in Scotland when I was 8. My brother and I were lucky enough to be sponsored by our grandparents, otherwise my poor (literally) parents would have had to leave us behind. I have such clear and wonderful memories from that trip. The bare-bottomed male wedding-goers doing the ‘braveheart’ is a particularly strong memory.

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where.

Blue Moon- a deliciously smooth wheat beer from Colorado, often served with a slice of orange.

C: Cuisine (favorite).

As much as carbs hate me, I love Italian food- Pastas, breads, pizzas.

D: Destination (favorite and least favorite).

Colorado, USA is still my favourite destination. I spent a winter skiing there and WILL return for the summer one day. I’d have to say that India is my least favourite so far 😦 I like efficiency and unspoiled landscapes, and unfortunately India has neither of those. I love cowboys so thats probably a big reason why Colorado is close to my heart.

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E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow.”

I watched the Foo Fighters live at the Lolapalooza Festival in Chile. But that doesn’t have as much to do with the destination as it has to do with Dave Grohl blowing me away.

F: Favorite mode of transportation.

Train. Hands down. Whether its for short or long trips, trains are just awesome. Best trip so far- taking Amtrack up the west coast of America with one of my best Friends. San Francisco to the Canadian border over the space of 10 days.

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G: Greatest feeling while traveling.

While there are many things that make you ‘feel great’ when you travel, I’d have to say bumping in to an old university acquaintance on the streets of Cuzco, Peru. We were by no means close friends before but the sheer craziness of bumping into each other in the most random part of the world during my solo trip was an incredible feeling.

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H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to.

Lets see…. Oudshoorn, South Africa and Rajasthan, India. 40 degrees plus.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where.

Really recently actually. Moving to Hong Kong where cost of accommodation is through the roof, we’ve had to rent a room in a ‘hotel’ (more like apartments that are actually tiny rooms). While it might be tiny and cramped, its also brand spanking new and the people in charge bend over backwards to please. The other day we asked them if the room came with towels or if we should buy our own. A few hours later they came knocking on our door with a hand made card and two towels that they had bought for us. According to the card, their policy didn’t include towels but this was a gift from them to welcome us as their first ‘VIP’ guests. ahhhhh

J: Journey that took the longest.

a 38 hour bus trip from Cuzco, Peru to Santiago, Chile. It sounds like an ordeal but it was painless.

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K: Keepsake from your travels.

I’d have to say, like most of the other bloggers answering these, that photos are my main mementos. I obviously love taking them but they also happen to be free and I don’t like spending money or accumulating things.

L: Letdown site and where.

Hmmmm, probably Gaudi’s Park Guell in Barcelona. Its one of those ‘must see’ sights, at the top of all the ‘to do’ lists but it just means that its overrun with people and, well, its not that spectacular.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel.

I’d have to say it was when I was a young girl listening to my dad’s and uncle’s stories. My dad was a cowboy in America and my uncle a rough and tough African overlander. Although I went on many trips, it probably wasn’t through travel itself but the romantic idea of adventure their stories put in my head.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed at.

I haven’t stayed at many fancy hotels. Probably a stopover on a family trip up South Africa’s east coast. It was my parent’s 30th wedding anniversary so my dad spoiled us all- it was very out of character.

O: Obsession. What are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?

Animals

P: Passport stamps. How many and from where?

9 on my current passport- so since 2010. USA, England, Ireland, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, France, Spain, India, Hong Kong

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where.

Chiloe- Chile’s third biggest Island. The beautiful Island with its rolling green hills has a culture influenced by a mythology that tells stories of legends and mythical creatures.

R: Recommended site, event or experience.

I had a really good time in France on June 21st for Fete de la Musique – an annual celebration of music that the French go all out for. Its supposedly a worldwide thing but I’ve only ever seen or heard of it in France. Every pub and restaurant that line the streets have live music inside and out, its incredibly vibey!

S: Splurge. Something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling.

Convenience. I actually stole this answer from someone else but its because I agree fully with it. If something costs more but its way more convenient I don’t mind forking out. For instance, you can take three different local buses to get to the train station or you can hire a taxi. Not having to lug my backpacks on and off numerous buses in the heat and getting there in half the time makes up for it being double the price.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done.

Machu Picchu, Peru. As amazing as it was touristy. I found it incredible how the pictures we see never show signs of people but when you’re there, in the midst of it, you realize how teaming it is with thousands of daily tourists.

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U: Unforgettable travel memory.

How can I choose just one? Lets go with the time I worked on a sail yacht and we crossed overnight from Corsica to France through the most treacherous storm. We sailed through lightning, rain and massive waves (for the med) for 12 hours. The boat tilted at 45 degrees the entire way as we sailed to our destination on what felt like a roller coaster. Halfway through it the the steering broke- as if the guests weren’t in enough of a panic! The most impressive part? I amazed everyone with my sleeping skills when I made myself a bed in a safe corner of the saloon and slept through the worst of it. (I panic about working with little or no sleep and I had to do my job the next day!)

V: Visa. How many and for where.

I had to laugh when I read other travelers say ‘one’ or ‘none’ here. Four for me. USA, Bolivia, Schengen area and India.

W: Wine. Best glass of wine while traveling and where?

I’ve been lucky enough to live in world famous wine countries over the past four years. Chile, France, Spain and of course South Africa. I love all their wines. To me, there’s no such thing as ‘the best wine’- it depends on so many things.

X: eXcellent view and from where.

The view of Santiago de Chile from the hill Saint Cristobel. I loved, loved, loved this view of the city with the Andes rising up in the not too far distance. I miss it a lot.

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Y: Years spent traveling.

4.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where

Being part of the Fifa World Cup in South Africa 2010!!!!

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