Special thanks to Emanuele and Romana (The Siracusas) who nominated me earlier this month to take part in the Travel ABC game – it feels good to be loved (or even just nominated) . They tweet @TheSiracusas.
“Travel ABC” is a blog game where each blogger answers the “A to Z” questions below and then tags another 5 bloggers who have to answer the same questions and tag 5 more bloggers, and so on…
Although it reminds me of the ‘silly’ chain letters which blew around Hotmail accounts like wildfire while I was in high school, I’ve decided to entertain this one. Because it is all about travel; which is different and far more interesting than the crap which was sent around during high school!
A: Age you went on your first international trip
Sam: I’d have to ask for my exact age from my mum or dad, but it’s safe to say I was under five (probably one or two) when we first flew to England to visit my mum’s side of the family. Then when I was five the real travelling started, first we sailed across the Tasman Sea to Australia, eventually we completed a circumnavigation of the world.
Renee: When I was 12yo I went with my sister and my mum to Melbourne and had a great time spying on the penguins as they marched up the beach at sunset on Phillip Island.
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where
Sam: Delirium Tremens from Delirium Cafe in Belgium. All their beers are heavenly.
C: Cuisine (favourite)
Sam: A fiery hot Thai green curry ties for first with aged prime eye fillet steak self-cooked on a hot stone.
Renee: Lamb is always my favourite – slow cooked shanks in red wine or roasted with mint sauce, yum!
D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why
Sam: So many favourites, different places for different reasons. Likewise my least favourites could just have easily been really enjoyable under different circumstances. Different people, more money, weather, etc… With that disclaimer recently I’d say Utah is a firm favourite for the unique geographic beauty and the city of Las Vegas was the least favourite because the whole place seemed so shallow – hotels, casinos, flashing lights and constant jingling noises – but that’s all it has.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
Sam: Arriving in Barcelona for the festival of Saint Joan, walking through the streets of a new city in the dark with fireworks going of left right and centre, it was amazing!
Renee: The 4th of July celebrations in New York. The fireworks were the biggest I’ve ever seen and I could never take the fireworks back in New Zealand seriously again!
F: Favourite mode of transportation
Sam: For me I think this is an issue of moderation. Our 82 Chevy camper van was pretty awesome for our US road trip, but at times the sheer amount of driving involved really got to my head. I look back on our years of sailing on our yacht when I was a kid with envy, but that too was never perfect – too slow, too constrained to water. Air-planes and buses are too cramped, walking eventually gives you sore feet, cycling gives me a sweaty rear – I’m waiting for an energy efficient jet pack and then I’ll be happy.
Renee: I loved travelling in the campervan because we had such freedom to go wherever, whenever. But then again I wasn’t doing the majority of the driving Thanks Sam!
G: Greatest feeling while travelling
We both agree that the greatest feeling is often when you just start a journey; when you’ve just set off (or are about to) and the realisation hits that you’ve started travelling, that your planning is finally turning into action and you have so many great experiences to look forward to.
H: Hottest place you’ve travelled to
Sam: Abu Dhabi which was in the 40 degrees Celsius range but felt like an oven after exiting the highly air conditioned airport.
Renee: 45 degrees Celcius while in Seville, Spain - I see why they have siestas here!
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
Sam: I’m not really an ‘incredible service’ kind of guy; bad or rude service I consider bad business as it obviously leads to a negative experience. Good service is what should be expected; it’s what leaves you with a positive feeling and makes you want to return and speak well of the experience to others. ‘Incredible service’ however makes me think of poncy elitist events, with hovering staff, constantly filled water and people who are incapable of pushing in their own chairs – not for me. [Renee added: And being hovered over in the bathroom and having someone hand your hand towel to you as if you couldn't manage it yourself]
Renee: To be honest I find it hard to recall a moment when I thought that we’d had incredible service. I get the feeling that we are judged the moment we walk into a restaurant and that servers believe because we don’t wear flashy clothes that they won’t be getting a big tip from us – and therefore give us the service they think we will pay for (which is often terrible). I personally don’t agree with having to pay tips to the waiters because the restaurants don’t pay them a fair wage.
J: Journey that took the longest
Sam: 50 hours spent travelling from Thailand to London without a shower (including 13.5 hours travelling from Koh Phangan to Bankok)
Renee: Over 30 hours flying from New Zealand to New York stopping off in Sydney and Los Angeles. Honestly now I would pay a bit extra and get this flight completed in 24 hours instead!
K: Keepsake from your travels
Renee: Photos are my main keepsake – easy to travel with!
L: Let-down sight, why and where
Sam: Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Came across as a complete tourist trap; targeting Americans, almost threatening to call them unpatriotic if they refuse to pay the extortionate parking fees to look upon the heads of the former US presidents.
Renee: Old Faithful at Yellowstone – it was the most famous sight I’d been to and I guess my expectations were set too high. The geyser erupting was pretty amazing but the atmosphere really ruined it, with zillions of people crowding around. I think there are so many other amazing sights in Yellowstone such as the Grand Prismatic Spring and it isn’t so crowded.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
Sam: I just like seeing new places and doing different things. Tasting new dishes, experiencing how other people live and getting a different perspective on life. When did I become like this? Probably instilled by my parents as we travelled when I was young.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
Gold Coast hotel in Las Vegas, we had a super king size bed so big that we could both ‘star fish’ and still not touch each other!
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
Sam: Thailand, US, Canada – don’t think I got any from Europe; I switch between my British and NZ passport, using whichever I think will get me through with the least hassle.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
Pumpkin regatta in Burlington, Vermont. It doesn’t get quirkier than celebrating the pumpkin season by hollowing out huge pumpkins and racing them around the lake.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience
Sam: Driving the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper National Parks in Western Canada. Such beautiful scenery and you may even be lucky enough to see a moose along the way!
Renee: Swimming with hectors dolphins in Akaroa harbour (Christchurch area), New Zealand
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while travelling
Sam: Beer – I would rather only get it occasionally and be able to splurge on some quality brands.
Renee: As I said earlier my main keepsake from my trips is photos, so a decent camera is necessary. I ended up splurging on one that had a GPS record on each photo taken – so when you upload them to your computer you can know exactly where you were when it was taken. So useful when you are travelling and don’t have time to sort your photos until the end. I don’t know how many times I’ve thought before that I wish I knew where this photo was taken!
T: Touristy thing you’ve done
What touristy stuff haven’t we done? We’ve certainly done a lot including taking the standard touristy snapshots of famous monuments like the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. Renee did the Maid of the Mist boat tour below Niagara Falls. I’ve watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Renee went on the red double decker London tour bus. Just because its touristy doesn’t mean its bad, when travelling you should however aim to do more than just the touristy stuff.
U: Unforgettable travel memory?
Sam: Getting lost in Brussels (Belgium) on my way back to the hostel after an enjoyable night drinking a lot of amazing Belgium beer – so lost I gave up and slept the night in a very comfortable lavender bush.
Renee: Going back-country four-wheel-driving in Moab, Utah.
V: Visas, how many and for where?
Sam: Thailand, US, Canada
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
Sam: While hoping to spot whales on the shore of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington state.
X: eXcellent view and from where?
Sam: From Angels Landing in Zion National Park – awesome and most excellent.
Renee: Along the walk between sunrise and sunset points in Bryce Canyon National Park – looking down on all the amazing hoodoo rock formations as the sun was setting.
Y: Years spent traveling?
Sam: This is difficult, do you classify living away from the country you call ‘home’ travelling? I tend to say ‘yes’, but if you’re not moving around that much while overseas some would probably say ‘no’. I’ll just say I’ve been travelling for more than a couple of years, and I’m looking forward to many more.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?
Sam: English with their football, Kiwi’s with their rugby, Canadians with their hockey, Mid-Western Americans with their rodeo…
That’s it. Now for the nominated bloggers who’s work I love and I’d like to see abc’s from:
- Jarmo (ArcticNomad.com) tweets @TheArcticNomad
- Samantha (WhatLittleThings.com) tweets @SamanthaLuy
- Christy and Kali (Technosyncratic.com) tweets @Technosyncratic
- Samuel (NomadicSamuel.com) tweets @NomadicSamuel
- Johnny (OneStep4Ward.com) tweets @OneStep4Ward