My ABCs of Travel
It’s a game of Tag about the ABCs of travel making the rounds in the travel blogging community and Jeremy of Budget Travel Adventures tagged me. So, here’s my travel “alphabet soup”.
A: Age of first international trip: I was 22 then and was finishing a doctoral thesis for which I flew to do some research in the Philippines. Being European, I only consider a trip to be “international” if I have to cross oceans to get there. (I was 7 when I first visited a country other than Germany and this was to Greece.)
B: Best (foreign) beer: Any will do, particularly on a very hot day in any country and it’s served ice cold
C: Cuisine (favourite): I must have been an Italian and (continental) Indian in my previous reincarnations.
D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why: Favourite is North America, particularly the United States, for the variety of its landscapes and climate. The Middle East, the least, whose desert landscape is rather monotonous.
E: Event experienced abroad that made you say “wow: Our visit to the Grand Canyon, Arizona and Utah. It has demonstrated to me how different the hiking terrain is in the US compared to what I’ve known in Germany. Both are awesome but in totally different ways.
F: Favourite mode of transportation: In Europe, train travel, hands down. It’s the most relaxing way to travel, with one caveat: it should not take me more than 8 hours to get to my destination. Otherwise, I’d prefer the plane. In the US, the car.
G: Greatest feeling while travelling: The excitement of discovering and experiencing great new places. Or, if I’ve already been to the place, the contentment of sharing and the rediscovery of the places with my wife and son.
H: Hottest place travelled to: The Philippines, hottest weather-wise but also the hottest political hotbed (when I was there, Ninoy Aquino was assassinated) but my parents felt somewhat reassured because they knew they got me covered with a worldwide travel insurance.
I: Incredible service experienced and where: Our stay in a centrally located 5-star hotel in New York, made possible by a massive discount because of a friend who happened to be the Housekeeping Manager of the hotel at that time – from the welcome exotic fruit basket and flower bouquet, to the vastness of our 50th floor Presidential suite overlooking the city.
J: Journey that took the longest: My flight to and back from the Philippines.
K: Keepsake from travels: I’ve collected some memorabilia from the Old Soviet Union and the most recent one is a portable loo on our visit to Utah National Park.
L: Let-down sight, why and where: Russia, which I visited before the Soviet Union was broken up. I was a teen-ager and I thought then it was a sh**hole.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: On my first foreign assignment as a sports journalist.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: It was then a newly built hotel in Venice (unfortunately, I’ve forgotten how it was called). Due to flight delays, we arrived almost midnight with a sleeping baby. We were at the end of the queue behind the other passengers who arrived with us. So, by the time it was our turn, the front desk only had one room left for us. And that room happened to be the presidential suite – the biggest – and being at the top floor, had the best views. (The hotel was included in this all-inclusive package we took.)
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: I was never really into photographing anything in my travels. It was only when I started blogging that I saw the need for a camera. Any camera.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?: Not many, I’m afraid. Only from visits to the US and of course my stay in the Philippines. Do the passport stamps for entering East Germany and the former Soviet Union count?
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: The Lenten celebrations in the Philippines, where people were actually being crowned with thorns and whipped. More gruesome than quirky.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience: The Grand Canyon and the Rockies as well as the national parks of Utah and Arizona.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Eating out and whatever the wife wants. (Honestly, ask her yourself.)
T: Touristy thing done: Going into any museum in a foreign country.
U: Unforgettable travel memory: Our first easy hike in Sedona.
V: Visas, how many and for where?: Not many, mainly from the US immigration, from the then Soviet Union and from the Philippines.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?: The house wine we were served in places we’ve eaten in recently in Madrid. It may not have been the best from their cellar, but certainly better than the house wine we get from the places we have eaten in Paris.
X: eXcellent view and from where?: If X stood for Xanadu, I could have told you a tale or two. But…. The best view would be looking at the Saar Loop in Germany.
Y: Years spent traveling?: If I count from when I was 7 years old, it would be many many years.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where: I’m a Yankees fan!