Tuesday, June 9, 2015

My ABCs of Travel

I want to devote part of this blog to writing about travel, whether it's international or around Minnesota. I saw this post on Rachael's Blog and decided to do it as well as kind of an introduction to travel I have done.

A) Age you went on your first international trip:
I think I crossed the border momentarily into Canada when I was younger but as a Minnesotan that barely counts as leaving the country. So, my first real international trip was when I was 14 and my family went to the UK.
B) Best foreign beer you’ve had and where:
 A lot of my international travel has been in Asia and they do not have good beer. They just don't. But I tried a lot of them and my favorite is Tiger beer from Singapore. But, on our honeymoon we actually found a great craft brew pub in Rome called Open Baladin. They had a huge selection and we tried several. However, Guinness is my favorite beer of all time and is foreign. I've never had one in Ireland but I've had it many many times in the US and in other European countries.

C) Cuisine (favorite): 
While the beer in Asia is nothing special, the food is uhhhhhhhhh-mazing!! I love Chinese food (not what we find here in the US). I love Indian food. But I think Vietnamese was the best. It was especially interesting to me that there was a lot of typical Asian food but they also had the French influence so they also had amazing sandwiches and bread. 

Banh Mi

You get them from carts like this on the street. And street food is always worth the risk!

D) Destinations–favorite, least favorite, and why?:
Favorite: Italy. How can your honeymoon destination not be your favorite? But, I could have gone to Italy with anyone and I think it might still be my favorite. It is so magical and beautiful. I could spend months there.

Least Favorite: I know it was only because of poor planning but my least favorite was probably the Philippines. We only went to one place, an island called Boracay. And we went during typhoon season. And we wondered why it was so cheap...

Not one sunny day

E) Event you’ve experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
I haven't done a lot of travel planned around a specific event. I think Oktoberfest in Germany would be amazing or going to the Olympics. New Years on the streets of Hong Kong was pretty cool. 
F) Favorite mode of transportation:
Flying. I often say that while travel is incredible, transit is horrendous. Our trains in Italy were the first time I was comfortable on any type of transportation other than a plane. Usually I just want to get it over with.
 G) Greatest feeling while traveling:
Landing in your destination with your whole trip ahead of you.
 H) Hottest place you’ve ever traveled to:
Cambodia in June. We could hardly do anything during the day. We had to go to Angkor Wat at sunrise so we wouldn't melt and when we spent time at our hotel pool (thank god our had one) we couldn't bear anything but being immersed in the cold water. I've also felt incredible humidity in Brazil and Vietnam.

At about 6am, when it was only 95 degrees

I) Incredible service you’ve experienced and where?:
In Shenzhen, China where I lived for a year had a place called Queen Spa. It was so incredible that we spent Christmas there. (What else are you going to do in China on Christmas?) You pay about $40 for 24 hours of entry and that includes three small services (foot massage, shoulder massage, etc.) You can hang out in a lounge chair all day, order food, use the pools, hot tubs, saunas, etc. You can also pay for additional services. I also took my sister there when she came to visit. There are definitely more luxurious places in the world but not for anywhere near that cheap. In general in Asia, spa services like massages or manicures/pedicures were so much cheaper than in the US so I loved getting those. In China we could also go get a 'hair wash' which included a back massage, shampoo/condition, scalp massage, and blowout/style. I miss that so much!

J) Journey that took the longest:
Definitely the return trip from our honeymoon. For some reason we had a flight going from Rome to Paris, Paris to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Minneapolis. Our flight from Paris to Amsterdam was delayed and we missed our connection to Minneapolis. So we spent the night in Amsterdam. Then there were no direct flights to Minneapolis so we had to go through Atlanta. 40 hours later we made it home. However, I'd take that over the 24 train I took from Beijing to Shenzhen, blech.
K) Keepsake from your travels:
I don't really like to buy many souvenirs. I cherish my pictures and I buy a magnet from each country I've been to.

L) Let-down sight, where and why?:
Honestly, New York City in general. I know this is an unpopular opinion and I probably haven't spent enough time there to truly appreciate it. But I just don't see what the hype is all about. It takes forever to get anywhere, everything is expensive, and it smells.
M) Moment where you fell in love with traveling:
During college I had my heart set on doing Semester at Sea but I'm not sure why I was so drawn to travel. I would say that Semester at Sea definitely gave me the desire to continue to travel. 
N) Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
I don't stay in very nice hotels. I would rather spend my money on other things given that I don't even spend that much time at hotels when I'm out exploring all day. The Palazzo in Vegas for my bachelorette party was probably one of the nicest places I've stayed because we knew we wanted to spend time in the room together and wanted a nice space for that and we wanted a great pool to lounge around.

O) Obsession–what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
During Semester at Sea I made it my goal to take a picture of a cat in each country...

Brazilian cat
This was not a difficult feat. There are a lot of stray cats in developing countries.
 P) Passport stamps-how many and from where?:
Bahamas, Brazil, Namibia, South Africa, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, Japan, Costa Rica, The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Italy, Cambodia, The Philippines, Sweden, France but there are dozens of stamps from crossing the border between China and Hong Kong over and over again. I have no idea how many total.

Q) Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?:
Sex Museum in Amsterdam. Enough said. 
R) Really Frightening: where’s one place you’ve visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?
Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. A man tried to steal my purse and my debit card information got stolen and my bank account was drained, all in two days.
S) Splurge-something you have no problem spending money on while traveling:
Depends where. Most places I love to spend money on dining. But in the US I don't care as much about trying different foods, unless it's unique to the area and would rather spend money on experiences.
T) Touristy thing you’ve done:
Most of the things I do while traveling are 'touristy'. Here's a cheesy tourist picture:

U) Unforgettable travel memory:
Staying with a family in Japan and being shown around Kyoto by local university students.

V) Visas-how many and for where?:
Two Chinese tourist visas, two for India, one for Brazil, two for Vietnam, one for Cambodia (obtained on the side of a river between Vietnam and Cambodia), one Chinese work visa.

W) Wine–best glass while traveling:
We had a great Shiraz in Rome. But I also remember having an amazing Sauvignon Blanc in South Africa. I love wine.

X) eXcellent view and from where?
The view looking over Hong Kong from Victoria peak, looking over Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo, view of Rome from the top of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, view of Cape Town from Table Mountain. There are a lot of amazing views in the world.


Y) Years spent traveling:
I spent 4 straight months traveling on Semester at Sea, then a year living in China and traveling in SE Asia. Travel has been more sporadic since then.

Z) Zealous sports fans and where?:
I actually had an amazing experience watching the World Cup while traveling in SE Asia. We ran into so many other travelers from all over the world and there was so much enthusiasm. We got totally wrapped up in it despite not caring at all about soccer :)


  1. Wow - you've gone on some incredible trips! :)

  2. Sci fun places! I'm jealous. I'm trying to focus on seeing more places in the next few years.