Fellow Spain blogger Kaley has tagged me in a cool survey called the ABC’s of travel, so I thought I would go ahead and share my two cents:
A: Age you went on your first international trip: I was 16 when I went on my first international trip. It was one of those 10 day excursions through my high school, where we went on a tour of London, Paris, and then Spain, and it changed me forever! Ever since, I have done everything I can to travel as much as I can.
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: Hands down any of the beer I’ve had in Belgium. I was there 3 years ago and so many of the bars serve local beers from local breweries, so I don’t remember names, but I do remember that they were delicious. I also love that they all come with their own glass; I may or may not have stolen 2 glasses when I was in Ghent and Bruges. Just go to any bar Belgium and ask the bartender for whatever the recommend. You won’t be disappointed. Except don’t try cherry beer. gross. me. out.
C: Cuisine (favorite): Uh, I feel obligated to say Spanish, though I do really love it! And for my readers who haven’t been to Spain, the food here is nothing like food in Central and South America. Ask for a burrito and you’ll get a blank look. Instead, tapas tapas tapas! Jamón serrano and tortilla de patata are some of my favorite foods!! Why pick one dish when you could have several different kinds? Yum!
D. Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: I love mountains, so any chance I get to go into the Alps, I am a happy girl: Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy-I’m there. I also love Croatia and Poland. And Spain, obviously. It’s hard to pick a least favorite, since I am happy just about anywhere, but I would have to say that Slovakia was kinda disappointing, also Bremen, Germany and Verona, Italy-won’t be going back there anytime soon.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: Basically any event in Spain makes me say “wow.” No one knows how to throw a festival or party like Spain does. carneval in Cádiz last year, the feria in Córdoba, the romería in Espejo, Semana Santa, and now the San Mateo festival in Logroño. Hopefully I’ll make it to some of the big ones this year, like San Fermin in Pamplona and la tomatina and las fallas in Valencia. Spain knows how to throw down.
F: Favorite mode of transportation: Trains trains trains. I flipping hate buses and yet, I am always taking them because trains are too expensive. Trains are comfortable, and don’t rock around so I can read and not get sick. I hate airports too.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling: I love that feeling you get when you are somewhere with an incredible view or is incredibly beautiful; for me, it literally will take my breath away and I get a feeling of pure euphoria. It’s what I live for when I travel; for me it’s the best feeling. I try to sit off alone and just soak it in. Some of my favorite places that have evoked this feeling are the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy, hiking in the Swiss Alps, walking along the Rhine River in Germany, hiking in the Andes in Peru, driving around the Highlands in Scotland and standing along the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. These places and many more literally took my breath away and only motivate me to travel more. Know this feeling I’m talking about? Where did you experience it?
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Living on the southern coast of Spain last summer was borderline unbearable. Well over 100 degrees every day, now that was hot! I’ve been some other hot places but not in the hottest months, like the deserts in Peru and Morocco.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Well nowhere in Spain, that’s for damn sure. Probably somewhere in America.
J: Journey that took the longest: One time I was on a bus in Peru for over 24 hours, traveling from Cuzco to Nazca. It was an overnight bus and broke down in the middle of the night. Hell on earth. I’ve been on a few trips from the US to Spain that amount to over 24 hours of traveling: DC-NYC-Dublin-Madrid-Córdoba coming back after Christmas last year; that was also hell!
K: Keepsake from your travels: I tend to buy a lot of postcards, both to send and to keep for myself. Cheap, beautiful souvenirs. Sometimes I collect small rocks or pebbles, but not too many, don’t want to weigh my backpack down. I’ll write the place and date on them later with sharpie. Sometimes I steal them from historic sites, like Pompeii and the Coliseum in Rome.
M: Moment you fell in love with travel: I think when I visited Westminster Abbey in London while in high school. Getting to see such a historic building up close and personal and seeing the tombs of some of my favorite monarchs, poets and historical figures in one of the most prominent buildings in history really got to me. Same with the Tower of London. Morbid much?
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: I stayed in a 5 star hotel with my parents in Bilbao called the Gran Hotel Domine; it was one of those places that was so fancy I couldn’t figure out how to turn certain lights on, flush the toilet or close the blinds. I also had my all-time most embarrassing moment there involving open blinds, nighttime, very narrow streets, me walking around after showering in just my undies and a large party of men in the apartment directly across the street. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.
O: Obsession-what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: I’m obsessed with taking pictures of almost anything. I love taking pictures of churches, castles, ect. One of my best-kept travel secret is trying to go to a very high point in a city, like a church spire or a tower to get incredible views of the city. I also love taking pictures of landscapes, but definitely height is the best! My Canon Rebel camera is my right hand while traveling.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? I’ve got over 50 between two passports. Most are from traveling too and from the EU, but I have some cool ones from Morocco, Peru, and Oh yeah!
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: I have no idea! Considering how quirky I am, I probably don’t think it’s that quirky. I’ve been to a couple ham museums, but that’s just Spain. I actually went out of my way to go to platform 9 and 3/4 in King’s Cross in London, but that was just awesome!
R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Hardest question ever! Croatia and Slovenia are pretty high on my list.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: I have no problem forking over money for any tourist entrance fees, like to visit a cathedral or monastery, castle, museum, or any tourist sight in a city. I consider it to be a vital expense-who knows when I might be back! Unfortunately, I have no problem shelling out money for a good local meal either.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done: hmm, what touristy thing have I not done would perhaps be the better question. I’ll go with most touristy: Probably the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, Austria. That was just plain fun! Buckingham Palace in London. Eiffel Tower in Paris. Coliseum in Rome. You name it, I’ve probably done it.
U: Unforgettable travel memory: Again, how do I even begin to chose? I’ll tell one anecdote that I love. I took a an evening train from Vienna to Budapest in the winter of 2008 and I remember seeing this tall blond guy; we were the only two people in my section of the train. I took a bus to my hostel and was talking to the guy working there, when the same blond guy from the train showed up. Coincidence! We started talking and it turns out he was only in Budapest for the night so we decided to go walk all over the city together and take in the sights by moonlight. We climbed up to the castle and watched the city with all its lights on, went ice skating, ate a super late dinner. And then said goodbye. I don’t even remember his name but it was a completely random but awesome night!
V: Visas, how many and from where?: I only have two, for two different years in Spain, and this year I didn’t have to get a third, thank God. Most of my traveling has been around the EU, so I don’t really need visas. But I still have my whole life ahead of me!
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?: I have had some pretty delicious wine in Switzerland, but for the best glass I am gonna have to go with any wine in my new home in Logroño, La Rioja, Spain, aka the wine capital of Spain. Walk in to any bar and they’ll serve you an incredible glass of vino tinto for less than a euro. What a deal!
X: eXcellent view and from where?: Ah jeez, this is another hard question. Top of Montserrat in Barcelona. Anywhere in the Alps. Positano, Capri, and Serrano, Italy. From the top of the castle in Prague. Lake Bled, Slovenia. Top of the Duomo in Florence. Top of St. Paul’s in London. Montmartre in Paris. Go up a tower, mountain, cathedral or castle and you’re guaranteed a great view!
Y: Years spent traveling?: I am going on year three, though not consecutive. I’ve been going on various trips since I was 16.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: Come on! I live in Spain, the capital of zealous sports fans. There is a level of intensity when it comes to soccer here that doesn’t come close to anything I’ve experienced in the States. Everyone plays soccer here; everyone watches soccer here; everyone has their own team that they follow that they will get into fights with people about. Don’t believe me? Come to Spain and go to any old bar in any old town on a night that Madrid and Barcelona are playing. When Spain’s top two futból teams play against each other, it makes the Super Bowl look lame. I wasn’t here in the summer of 2010 when Spain won the World Cup (a fact I will probably lament for the rest of my life), but my friends tell me that it was like a riot in the streets. People climbing in fountains and on traffic lights, a sea of yellow and red everywhere. So yeah, Spain knows a thing or two about zealous sports fans.