Many thanks to Catherine of Traveling with Sweeney for nominating me to contribute a post to the “My Travel ABCs” series. I enjoyed reading Catherine’s post – this creative way of exploring travel experiences can often reveal some real highlights that have long been forgotten. So, without further ado, here are my travel ABCs.
Age you went on your first international trip:
I was probably 4 or 5 when my parents first took me to Austria. I also recall going to Hungary a few times when I was about 5 or 6.
Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
Being from Upper Franconia, the region with the highest density of breweries per capita in the world, makes this one a tricky question to answer. If I were to choose a German beer, it would be difficult for that very reason. But as for foreign beers, I quite like the various brews from Granville Island Brewery in Vancouver, and Morte Subite from Belgium, a delicious cherry beer.
I am quite partial to Japanese. Sushi, udon, ramen, all great.
Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
Well, that has got to be New Zealand. I just love the country, for many many reasons. I hope my posts convey the enthusiasm 😉 Having said that, the Pacific North-West, especially Vancouver, and also Japan hold a special place in my heart, as does my hometown, Bamberg.
Do I have a least favourite place? Not really. If I don’t like a place it’s usually due to terrible customer experience rather than down to people or a city itself.
Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
Celebrating Chinese New Year in Nanjing, with a Chinese family where only one person spoke a a bit of English. I was overwhelmed by their generosity and how well we communicated despite my total lack of Mandarin!
On the surprising side, I was baffled when I went to Taupo Events Centre in pursuit of a climbing wall and witnessed the Northern Area Marching Extravaganza!
Favorite mode of transportation:
Depends. I love trains in Switzerland, and the Eurostar. A car for travelling through New Zealand. But planes rock, esp. Air New Zealand! My number one airline on long haul, followed by Swiss on short haul.
Greatest feeling while traveling:
Discovering new places, meeting locals, learning about other cultures.
Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
I guess Fiji and Cuba were both around the same temperature: too hot for me on a regular basis!
Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
Air New Zealand flight attendants being incredibly friendly, down-to-earth and approachable and going out of their way to give me alternative snacks on a long-haul flight when I was allergic to what they had. And the staff at Apsley House Hotel in Bath. Excellent customer service.
Journey that took the longest:
Flying to New Zealand. It is on the other side of the world from where I live.
Keepsake from your travels:
I don’t tend to buy much “stuff”, but I couldn’t say no to a bungy sweatshirt after jumping from Kawarau Bridge.
Let-down sight, why and where:
I really don’t know. There have been a few of course, but considering I can’t remember, the rest of the trip must have been great!
Moment where you fell in love with travel:
I think it has always appealed to me. But I guess from the moment I had my first penpal I was definitely hooked on finding out more about those foreign places and their peculiar people.
Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Probably the Drisco in San Francisco. It’s in a really nice neighbourhood, Pacific Heights, and was number one on Tripadvisor at the time. It’s fantastic as it’s a boutique hotel, set on a hill and you can see the Golden Gate Bridge from there.
Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
Landscapes. I love mountains, lakes and the sea. Preferably a combination of water and mountains.
Passport stamps, how many and from where?
I’m not in the stamp-counting game. Being a citizen of the EU, you don’t get stamps when you travel to other EU countries. But there are a few in there from Japan, NZ, OZ, CAN and US.
Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
That’s tough. New Zealand is full of them. I loved the Moeraki Boulders because they look amazing, and because of all the stories you can make up about them.
But then, you’ve got Maid Cafes in Tokyo’s Akihabara district. It was quite bizarre being served a glass of juice by an Austrian girl dressed in a dirndl, saying a magic spell in Japanese!
Recommended sight, event or experience:
I’ll go for experience here. Try and go wwoofing. It’s short for Willing Workers on Organic Farms. You stay on a farm for free in exchange for 4 hours of work a day. That could be anything from caring for animals, harvesting apples or building sheds. It’s a fantastic way of getting to know the locals, their land and culture. I really don’t care for pure relaxation holidays and doing nothing, so this is a great way of spending an active holiday.
Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
Experiences. I would spend on a bungy, a sky-dive, or a cultural show, etc, as opposed to luxury accommodation or fancy restaurants.
Touristy thing you’ve done:
What is not touristy? Let’s not kid ourselves, we all do “touristy” stuff. The most organised tour I’ve ever done was a day-trip in a bus full of resort tourists (and I was one of those!) to a cigar factory and Holguin town centre in Cuba. It is perhaps the least independent travel experience I have had, and I enjoyed most of it (with the exception of the rather embarrassing commentary from the tour guide). It was great getting a chance talking to the factory workers though.
Unforgettable travel memory:
That’s a big call. I was on my first transatlantic trip when 9/11 happened. That was unforgettable in many ways. For one, I was really scared. But I really enjoyed the hospitality and generosity of the people in rural Illinois where I was staying on a university campus. They took great care of us.
On the positive side, I was blown away by Moke Lake near Queenstown. It’s a small mountain lake, has a nice camping ground and some great walks starting from there. We connect to the most random places, and this one has a special place in my heart.
Visas, how many and for where:
I love my EU passport. All I’m sayin.
Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
Hands down, Otago pinot noir and a chardonnay from Peregrine winery outside Queenstown were possibly the best wines I have ever had. New Zealand wine is delicious, and I hope to do a winery tour in Marlborough and Hawke’s Bay one day.
eXcellent view and from where?:
One of my favourite views has got to be from the Ngong Ping cable car. The moment you get across that one hill and the Giant Buddha is in sight, is unforgettable.
Years spent traveling?:
Since I was a kid.
Zealous sports fans and where?:
I’m not really a fan of any particular team but I love the whole baseball experience. My first baseball game was a high school game in Virginia. A few years later, I saw the Nationals beat the Braves on the 4th of July in DC, which was spectacular, and last year I saw the Portland Sea Dogs with my friends. I love everything about it – the mascots, the junk food (although I’m normally strictly anti-junk), the singing and games.
I would love to watch a rugby game in New Zealand. And see a sumo match in Japan!
So now you’ve heard my travel ABCs, it’s time for me to nominate a few of my favorite bloggers to tell us theirs.