Monday, April 20, 2015

ABC's of Travel {with photos}

My sister in law alerted me to We Took The Road Less Traveled's recent blog post and suggested I do an ABC's of travel for myself and this blog.  So, here I am filling in each of the suggested prompts and sharing my travel history with you all.  Are you infected with wanderlust?  If so, complete your own ABCs of travel and link back here in my comments and to We Took The Road Less Traveled.

A) Age you went on your first international trip:
I went on my first international trip at the age of 17 {although, I had been to Mexico before this, I'm not counting it because it was with my parents and too close to home to feel like a true international trip} to Spain.  I went with my high school Spanish class and teacher.  There were maybe 12 of us and we went with a group, EF tours.  We arrived at the airport and combined with another school group to fill a full charter bus and see the country over the next 17 days.  I was so excited to be somewhere other than home, even though I missed my boyfriend {now Husband} so much, it was a very empowering trip and a sort of coming of age experience.

B) Best foreign beer you've had and where:
I'm not a beer girl but my husband was stoked to find all the beer in Germany so inexpensive and so good.  His favorite was Franziskaner.

Thai food in San Fran. makes me want to go to Thailand. 
C) Cuisine (favorite):
French food in France.  I love quiche, and tarts and pastries.  They were also one of the few European countries that consistently served salads.  There were a serious lack of greens while traveling on our last European vacation.  I was in desperate search of green juices or smoothies, the only place we found was in Germany in a mall.  French food was definitely my favorite though, if you ask Husband he'd probably lean towards Germany with all the beers and brats.  I'd rather have Crème Brûlée any day.
More Barcelona.

D) Destinations--favorite, least favorite, and why?:
Barcelona will always be my favorite, I know this and yet I still want to go more places.  I love the graffiti, I love the people, I love the food, it's on the coast so you're near water.  The architecture is beautiful.  The people are beautiful.  I just want to be there all of the time.
Geneva, Switzerland was my least favorite.  I think it was too clean, commercialized and boring for me.  It was beautiful and the alps were in view, but I like to do more than shop while traveling and it was so expensive.  I just like more layers to a city, some grunge, some art, some resistance, some nature, and definitely good food.
Barcelona; Parc Guell

E) Event you've experienced abroad that made you say "wow":
My daughter eating Macaroons under the Eiffle Tower, like "what were we thinking packing up 2 small children putting them on a plane and flying them half way around the world?!" I guess we were thinking we want to create memories with our family.  We want our kids to experience all these places and find where they belong and it was in that moment as she snacked on macaroons under the Eiffel Tower on Christmas that we realized how amazing and grateful we are for these experiences with our family and we hope our kids will appreciate how wonderful these travels were {and are}.

Heidelberg, Germany
Anchorage, Alaska

F) Furthest you've ever been or felt away from home.
Alaska, it is the last frontier, and it feels like it.  Its all nature and while it is wonderful to get away from civilization or as far as you can get from it anyway, it is a little overwhelming and intimidating to be literally out in the middle of nowhere.

G) Greatest feeling while traveling: 
Freedom. Unknown. Exploration.  It's exhilarating to be in a new place with new people and new languages, it's all new and unique and you just want to explore it and understand it and experience it.  It's liberating.

H) Hottest place you've ever traveled to:
I'm from Phoenix, Arizona, there is no where hotter.

Husband in Barri Gòtic, Barcelona 2009

I) Incredible service you've experienced and where?:
Hotel Colon in Barcelona.  We had spent the entire trip looking for clean bathrooms for the freshly potty trained little girl.  And while we were accident free {until the terrible layover in Germany} we did have hard time finding places while out and about, however the one city that never gave us any dirty looks nor sat us at tables in basements near bathrooms, was Barcelona.  And while in Barcelona staring at one of the most beautiful churches I've ever seen in my life, my daughter said to me, "I have to pee." and while I didn't allow panic or stress to take over, I was a little concerned there were no public restrooms nearby, I did however see Hotel Colon and even though it was the fanciest {think Ritz Carlton fancy} place in the area, they didn't bat an eye when we asked to use the restroom, and led us through the gorgeous tea room.  I'm not joking when I say {because of this} next time, we're staying there. and you should too.

J) Journey that took the longest:
The drive home from Prague was the worst. That's right drive home. from Europe.  It took us from start to finish, 4 days to get home from Europe; Prague to Germany, overnight in Frankfurt due to Mechanical failures on planes and delays. Then, once in Houston after much finagling just to get us stateside we had a layover and missed connections {thanks Customs!} after rental car complication, sleep deprivation, and finally a speeding ticket in New Mexico.  We chose to drive from Houston to Phoenix after dealing with United Airlines for 3 days and forcing our way though layover after layover.  Once we were in the states we decided we had better luck getting ourselves home on our own schedule and eventually we made it home.
K) Keepsake from your travels:
Pictures.  I take so many pictures,  I make photobooks though shutterfly when I get home, I order the extra pocket in the back for train tickets, metro stubs and hotel room keys.  I like to document everything for my family, I have a terrible memory so I make sure to keep track as much as possible, I also always journal the trip as we go, not only on my blog but also in my sketch or note book. I did happen to take home a few pieces of this worn down glass from Kauai,  I don't feel bad because while it's a cool landmark it's composed of trash... trash!  So while I would never take rocks or stones, or other natural keepsakes from a natural site such as a National Forest, I don't mind taking trash from the beach {above}.

L) When you realized you LOVE to travel:
I realized I love to travel when I was 12.  We flew frequently as kids with my mom to visit my grandma in the midwest, and every time I got near the airport I would get excited about the opportunities to fly away to far away lands, my first trip to Spain at 17 with my high school Spanish class solidified this revelation and got me hooked on distant destinations.  Even now with my fear of flying, I still can't turn down a trip to anywhere in the world.

M) Myths about traveling:
People always assume that you can't travel once you have kids but that's just not true.  Maybe it's my prove you wrong outlook.  "Tell me I can't do something and I'll do it twice, once to prove I can and again so you can take a picture."  But when we decided to start our family we knew we still wanted to do so many more things in our lives and that instead of waiting to have kids and waiting at home for them to grow up we'd rather live our lives with our kids, they go everywhere with us.  And I am reaching a point where a quick weekend trip alone with Husband would be awesome, I'd definitely not want to go somewhere new or far without bringing these girls along for the ride.  We love traveling with our kids and when they're so little its not much more expensive if at all, under two fly for free and when they're that small we don't even get an extra bed for them.

Prague 2014
N) Nicest hotel you've stayed in:
Internationally: I think The Hilton in Prague {pictured above}.
Domestically {staycations}: I think the Royal Palms or J.W. Marriott Desert Ridge Canyon Villas
Pretty much anywhere that come with a monogrammed bathrobe wins.

Royal Palms 2010

O) Obsession--what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: 
everything.  Although, when I look back at my photos I see tons of sights, lots of food and more graffiti.  Sometimes I wish their were more photos of myself in these places, but I'm the ones behind the camera so that rarely happens {unless I set a timer like the image above}

P) Passport stamps-how many and from where?: 
Haven't checked probably like 7 or 8, three of those Germany from when our plane was delayed for 3 days at the airport and we had to keep going in and out of customs, other countries include E for Espana, and one for Rome, I wish they stamped them every country but when you travel by train, they rarely check them, so it doesn't accurately reflect all the countries I've traveled to.

Q) Quirkiest place you've ever visited:
I think Prague or Barcelona, I haven't been to many quirky places, but unique or unexpected or artistic? probably prague or barcelona, lots of little details I didn't expect and unique wonderful slightly bizarre architecture in both places conclude to quirkiest.

R) Regrets.  Is there anywhere you regret not going, if so why? and what's stopping you from going there now?
I almost regretted not going on a trip with my mom and sister and grandmother, but at the last minute I changed my mind and booked my flight.  I don't believe in regrets and I believe if you want to do something, in the iconic words of nike, "just do it." We leave Wednesday!

S) Scared.  What's the scariest thing that you've done or that's happened to you while traveling?
I've only had one incident and it wasn't scary because I was prepared but in Prague at the train/bus station someone was talking to my kids and that was stressful but when he reached down to touch her or my bag I promptly kicked him, he jumped back and I ended up kicking my husband in the shin {who was totally oblivious to the situation} but thankfully I was aware of my surroundings, maybe he was just saying hi to my kids {which still is kind of creep thing to do, but you know every culture is different} it wasn't until he reached down for something that I reacted.

T) favorite mode of Transportation:
Metro and Trains forever and ever.  I love driving my car here in the states, but it is so unbelievably convenient to have a metro system in your city.  To not have to worry about an maintenance on a vehicle, insurance, car accidents, driving while slightly intoxicated.  You can just get on a metro and go wherever.  I also loved that countries were so close you could hop on a train and be there within hours.  I like road trips in the states, but someone has to drive, so you can't eat and drink and talk {fully} when driving and you definitely can't read books or order food, so yes to trains.

I'm actually terrified of flying, but sometimes you just gotta face your fears, otherwise, they win.
San Diego 2012

U) Usual travel destination, Where do you find yourself traveling most often or repetitively:
San Diego.  My mom wants to go there EVERY year.  To be honest we're all a bit sick of it.  But because we go there every year, we've started branching out and exploring the local areas more.  We usually go up to La Jolla or downtown and find new places to eat at or little cafes in Little Italy. She wants to go again next year, but I think we're going to have to pass.  Husband mentioned a little road trip up the coast next summer and now I'm in full planning mode. {I'm thinking, Phoenix to Albuquerque to Denver to SLC to Wyoming? to Seattle to Portland to San Francisco to the Pacific Coast Highway to San Diego to Phoenix}  As far as where I book flights to, I find myself going to Barcelona and Hawaii whenever possible.

San Diego 2013

V) Visas-how many and for where?:
None.  My sister just found out that because our Grandmother was from England {like born and raised} we can get visas by descent. I'm super interested in this and have been trying to convince Husband to move there for a few years. He's not stoked on the idea, but maybe once I remind him the cars he can find there that can't be imported into the States he'll be more inclined to reconsider.

W) Wine--best glass while traveling:
no.  I can't.  I had a glass of white wine in Spain the night before my first international flight home and I was so sick, not from the wine but maybe nerves.  On take off I tried to run out of my seat to the bathroom to throw up and they made me sit down, I had to use one of those air sick bags.  then I spent the flight from Spain to Germany on the bathroom and flight attendant floor.  Worst experience ever and I have no taste for wine anymore. {hey look at that W doubles as Worst, the Worst travel experience or story you've experienced.}  I will make an exception for Sangria de Cava, a more white sparkling wine with fruit, but not red wine sangria, red wine give me headaches.

X) eXcellent view and from where?:
The Waimea Canyon in Kaua'i Hawaii.  We actually just went back in November and brought both kids, Sonja {16 months here} is now 4 and Vera was 2 so we went to all the amazing sites and hiked and explored the island.

Y) Years spent traveling:
We travel for almost a month per year when combined {maybe more like a month and a half if you include all those little weekend trips}.  If you average that out for Husband's and my marriage you get something like two and a half years. I would love for us to get visas and live somewhere for a year, but right now with two small children and starting careers it's just not an option.  But it is on the vision board!

Z) Zealous sports fans and where?:
When we were in England 4 years ago we were walking to our hotel behind a group of hooligans they were singing just like in the movie Green Street Hooligans.

Thanks for reading along, do have the wanderlust bug? I'd love to read about your ABCs of travel too!

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