One of the things I started doing when I moved to Germany was reading different travel blogs – mainly because they provide the best advice on where to go/what to do/where to stay. It was after reading those blogs that I wanted to start one of my own, and it was also during my readings that I found one blogger who had posted what her “ABCs” of traveling were! A list from A to Z of travel memories – I love this idea and so here goes with my own list of ABCs!
A: Age you went on your first international trip
13 – If you count Canada, which really shouldn’t count because being from Michigan – the border was only an hour away growing up. My first trip to a non-border country was to Jamaica for my honeymoon when I was 30 – the same year I visited Europe for the first time! I was a late international travel bloomer!
B: Best beach you’ve visited
Jamaica and Puerto Rico have beaches that are made pretty thanks to the awesomely blue water of the Caribbean, and the Italy “beaches” (which are really rocks – nice because there is no sandy mess to deal with) were so much fun, but two beaches especially stand out: 1. Hilton Head Island’s South Forest Beach in South Carolina always (We got married on that beach, it will forever be my favorite), and 2. The Irish Beach on the Ring of Kerry in Ireland – mainly because it was so unexpected how blue the water was, and the Irish coast is gorgeous.
C: Cuisine (favorite)
Pesto Pizza and Pesto and Foccacia Bread. Both from the Cinque Terre region – both incredible.
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why
Favorite, hands down is Cinque Terre, Italy. That place is magical and I can’t wait to go back. Least favorite was Berlin – I’m glad I went but even though there is so much rebuilding, there is almost a cloud of sadness that hangs over the town because of its history.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
I would have to say going to my first German festival, “Fruhlingsfest,” because it was like nothing I had ever experienced before and it was so much fun! John and I were in full German garb – Dirndl and Lederhosen – and we danced to the German music in the crazy hot tent and we trained it back home at the end of the night (it was also our first time on the train!) So fun, and such a great experience!
F: Favorite mode of transportation
Driving, although the train is a close second. I love being able to pull over when something interesting catches our eye.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling
The “awe” that I really am seeing places I don’t think I ever believed I would really see.
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to
I live in Georgia back in the states. I don’t know if it gets hotter than there, although it was quite warm in Puerto Rico!
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
We stayed at a B&B like place in Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre and the little old man that ran the place was the sweetest. We couldn’t really understand a word he said, and he couldn’t understand us but he was so friendly, even when we showed up at 3 a.m. – arriving MUCH later than expected. His sweet attitude made the experience that much more and we told him we would absolutely be back. Which we will!
J: Journey that took the longest
The plane ride from the states to Germany has been the longest so far – between 9-10 hours, even longer if there is a layover or two thrown in
K: Keepsake from your travels
Always a magnet, a Christmas ornament and a Starbucks City mug if there is a Starbucks!
L: Let-down sight, why and where
In Berlin, we went on a search for Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which was badly bombed in World War II and not repaired as a reminder of the war. When we got there the entire thing was covered in complete scaffolding – and not even the see-through kind. Two thumbs down.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
Thanks to my parents, we always traveled growing up – hauling our pop-up camper all over the place, so my love for travel started at a very young age. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment, it’s just always something I have really loved to do!
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
Honestly, the nicest one I’ve ever stayed in would have to be the JW Marriott in Orlando. Seriously, the hotel has a lazy river around its awesome pool, and has its own fireworks show during Labor Day that you can enjoy from your balcony. The second nicest would have to be our suite in Jamaica at the Couples San Souci resort – you can’t beat a suite that opens right out to the beach!
O: Obsessions while traveling
Before traveling, I always look on booking.com and research the reviews on TripAdvisor. It can get time consuming, but hasn’t failed me yet! While traveling, I always like to have a map of the city, and even though I really love making sure I get great pictures, I now also make sure I take time to just enjoy what I am seeing and experiencing! And of course, I have to find the perfect magnet and christmas ornament! 🙂
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
The one sad thing (but also the best, double-edge sword) about the Schwengen agreement is that you can travel between all of the EU countries without needing to go through a checkpoint. In my passport, I have Germany (twice), Jamaica and Ireland. But if countries did still check, I would have a stamp from France, Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
Q: Quirkiest activity you’ve done and where
Hmmmm – if going by the definition of quirky as being different but cool, the first thing I thought of is when my family took a vacation to Iowa simply to see the place where “Field of Dreams” was built. Definitely quirky, but equally cool. Again, most of my favorite childhood memories were the family camping trips, that one included.
R: Remote place visited
The Killarney National Park in Ireland isn’t remote really, but it is so large, it is easy to find yourself alone. We, along with our two friends we went to Ireland with, got off to a late start to see the sights of the park, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves. One of my favorite places we went on that entire trip was the Muckross Abbey within the park for that very reason!
S: Scariest moment experienced
In the town of Manarola in Cinque Terre, there were a lot of places to cliff jump – including this incredibly high point. I’d said I wanted to jump off it but when I actually got to the very top – looking down was incredibly frightening. But right across from the rock was a walkway where people lined up and watched the people jumping, and this very nice woman started yelling tips to me on how to make the jump (cross your arms in front, just step off), and then she proceeded to start clapping, which then started everyone else clapping, guaranteeing that I had no choice but to make the jump. After being suspended for a little while and worrying about why I hadn’t yet hit the water (my eyes were closed the entire time), I kind of turned sideways and hit the water at an awkward angle. When I came out of the water, I held my arms up and the crowd cheered again. It was awesome and terrifying all at the same time.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done
We took a detour on our way home from Cinque Terre to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa. You can pretty much guess what kind of pictures we posed for while there!
U: Unforgettable travel memory
I’d read about the Love Lock Bridge in Paris and really, really wanted to do that with John. We brought a lock with us, and on the day we left, we went to the bridge and right in front of Notre Dame, we found the perfect spot for our little bright green lock and threw away the key. It was so very sweet and awesome.
V: Visas, how many and for where?
Um, none. My military orders serve as my visa.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
The Hugo! (Or as the very nice older intoxicated German lady told me, the “OOOOOO-GOOOO”) We discovered this drink at the Stuttgart wine fest and it is a wine cocktail made of Prosecco, lime, mint and elderflower syrup. It reminds me of a sprite – and it ridiculously refreshing on a hot summer day. I love it!
X: eXcellent view and from where?
Oh so many choices! The very top of the Eiffel Tower, the Birkenkopf (Rubble Hill) in Stuttgart, anywhere in Cinque Terre, standing on the Marienbrucke looking at Neuschwanstein or driving along the French Wine Route are probably my favorites!
Y: Years Spent Traveling:
I would say 33 – I’ve been traveling since I was a baby! And not stopping anytime soon! 🙂
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?
When we were in Ireland, we went on a self-guided Pub Crawl during one of the Soccer Championship games and my best friend Renee and I agreed that this is where our single girlfriends need to hang out. Each pub (and there are A LOT in Galway) was packed with guys watching the championship game – which was between two teams from Germany!! The Europeans love their football (soccer to us Americans!) and places are packed during the big games!