My A to Z of Travel

I have been tagged by Family on Bikes in the latest series of travel blogger memes.  Besides living abroad for five years, our family's extended traveling really has only just begun but I think I can still come up with 26 answers.  Here goes:

A: Age you made your first international trip
I wish I could say I was as young as my boys were when they first made their international trip but my childhood was some what turbulent so travel was not a priority.  After graduating high school my grandparents flew me to Bermuda.  I remember getting that first passport and feeling so excited at the freedom in it.  I knew that travel and filling up those pages was going to be a must on my life's bucket list.


B: Best (foreign) beer you've had and why
Beer Lao dark!  Hands down, no question about it!  When we lived in the US our favorite beer was Newcastle (brown ale imported from England), so Beer Lao dark resembles that the most.  After very disappointing beer in Central America, Beer Lao was a nice change.  It beats out Newcastle purely for financial reasons.  At about 1/4 the cost of a Newcastle with the similar full-flavor taste it's a no brainer in my book!

C: Cuisine (favorite)
This is a tough one!  Pizza is one of my favorites and New Haven, CT (my home state) cannot be beaten.  But for desserts there is nothing like a cold scoop of Gelato after walking the streets of Rome.  Then there is Thai food, where I am currently enjoying every last bite!  Hmmm, I just can't pick a favorite, it just isn't a fair question!

D. Destinations. Favorite. Least Favorite. Why?
I would have to say my favorite so far has been Vang Vieng in Laos.  It's a manageable small town surrounded by majestic limestone bluffs.  The culture is authentic, but plenty of Western touristy joints too. We rented motorbikes and explored incredible villages to the North.  We had a fantastic time there.  It made the tops perhaps because I really had no expectations going in to the trip and was so pleasantly surprised.

Blue lagoon, Vang Vieng, Laos
Least favorite is really hard, every place I have been was great in it's own way.  OK I'll put the PC ness aside and admit maybe not everyplace was great!  When I went to the Czech Republic I was not impressed (but that was 15 years ago).  It may have been the fact that my expectations were high, or the fact that we were exhausted by this leg of our European tour but crime was rampant, everything was filthy, and my girlfriend and I just did not feel safe.

E: Event you experienced that made you say "WOW"!
Climbing the steps at Chichen Itza in Mexico!  When we reached the top and looked out and around, and DOWN!  That was definitely one of my earliest WOW moments!  Staring into Crater Lake in Oregon was also one of my entire family's more recent wow moments.  If you're ever near there, don't miss it!

Oh those stairs!  (wikicommons)

F: Favorite mode of transportation
Train travel is by far the best way to get anyplace long distance.  When you get on a sleeper car, you save money on a night's accommodation and they are remarkably comfortable.  I don't care how nice a bus or a plane says their seats are, nothing compares to being able to lay down for a great rest and comfortably arrive at your destination.  For shorter travel, around a city a tuk tuk is the best, exciting, open air, and always interesting conversation.  Short distance in the country, my family will pick scooters any day!

Short distance tuk-tuks are where it's at
G: Greatest feeling while traveling
Realizing that my life and my children's lives would be forever enriched by our experiences around the world. It changes you from the core of your being and I am so happy to be giving that gift to my children!

H: Hottest place I've traveled to
Super hot is not my favorite type of climate especially when I am pregnant and already feel like an oven.  During my first pregnancy we took a road trip across the US.  It just so happened to be record heat in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico.  116-120 degrees during the day, dry heat or not that is HOT!  Even cracking the window on the car for a minute felt like a hot blow dryer blasting you.  We stopped to see the Grand Canyon and had to leave the car running as we sweated marveled at the beauty!

Grand Canyon Wikicommons
I: Incredible service you have experienced and where
Honestly, every place we have been has been incredible in this department.  Costa Rica, Thailand, Laos, many places in Europe.  Maybe it is because these cultures adore kids but we have really only been met with kindness and help at every turn.

J: Journey that took you the longest
The long haul trip from Costa Rica to Bangkok, Thailand.  We traveled for 2 days.  6 hour flight from Costa Rica to LAX, 20 hours to Taiwan, and 3 more to Bangkok!  That was a long couple of days but not nearly as hard as I was expecting.

K: Keepsakes from your travels
Pictures, pictures, and more pictures!  I am not one for shopping for knick knacks since we have no room to keep them.  We are slow traveling the world and got rid of all our possessions in order to carry what we really need in our backpacks.  There is simply no room for extra trinkets.  But I make room for an extra hard drive for photo storage, or 3;)  My son did pick up a terrible case of hives but as that has dissipated I suppose it doesn't count as a keepsake!

L: Let down site.  Where and why?
David, Panama!  It was pouring, filthy, garbage every place, and really nothing to do there.  We had heard good things about it so decided to drive down from Costa Rica (8 hours) to check out this border town to renew our visa!  Perhaps it was the weather or the shoddy hotel we stayed at, but what a disappointment!

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
From the time I was young I often dreamed of exotic locations.  Before I knew what a "bucket list" was I had been creating one in my mind.  I think the moment I fell in love though was when I booked my trip to Europe with a girlfriend way back in 1996!  Just the realization, that I was going to be seeing the things I dreamed of, sparked a whole new love for the idea of travel.

N: Nicest hotel you've stayed in
I don't and have never really stayed at "nice" hotels.  I just don't really see the point in spending a lot of money on a room to sleep in.  Maybe the hotel I loved the most was a hostel that my friend and I found on the fly in Switzerland.  It was an old swiss chalet with the most amazing views from our balcony.  A great sense of community at the hostel, lots of drinking, skiing, and games.  I believe we only spent $10 US per night as well.  Icing meet cake!

Swiss Alps Wikicommons

O: Obsession. What are you obsessed with taking pictures of?
When I travel I take pictures of everything, obscene amounts of pictures really.  Currently, I am in South East Asia and my obsession seems to be with pictures of monks.  I am a recovering monk stalker and the recovering part is not going very well!  Beware men in orange!


P: Passport stamps.  How many and where from?
I am a relatively new traveler but, hopefully, by the end of this year the list will be much longer.  At the moment, between the 2 passports I have had in my life; USA, Mexico, Bermuda, UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Czech rep., Austria, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Thailand, Burma, and Laos.  20 countries but I couldn't count up how many stamps I have had as I went in and out of many of those countries on multiple occasions.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you've visited and where.
The Natural History museum in Costa Rica.  I know a natural history museum doesn't sound that weird but this place was in desperate need of upkeep.  Picture the stuffed animals at any museum but with no upkeep for 10 years.  The eyeballs were falling out, patches of hair missing, and mold and dust permeated the rooms. I think the thing that put it over the edge was the multiple human babies in jars section of the museum.  Not sure how that got by especially in a Catholic dominated country but it was interesting. Yeah, that is the best word to describe this place, well at least it is the most kind way to explain it!

R: Recommended site, event, or experience.
I would have to recommend Laos to anyone coming to SE Asia.  I think a lot of people miss it because it doesn't cater to tourists or seem to have much to offer.  The roads are terrible, but the destinations are worth every minute.  It is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled places I have ever been to, and the people are so laid back and kind.  I enjoyed every minute, especially in Vang Vieng, and miss it already!  It seems to me to be a more authentic experience than the neighboring (and more popular) Thailand, where a 7-11 can be found every 2 blocks!

I don't even need word here (Vang Vieng, Laos)

S: Splurge.  Something you have no problem forking over for while traveling.
I will skimp and save on food and hotels, but what I will not for go because of costs is any unique experience.  Some things are touristy and you pay for it but unique is unique and I will gladly shell out the money for a new adventure!

T: Touristy thing you've done
I can admit that I am a tourist!  I walk around new cities, camera at the ready and fully enjoy touristy events.  I am also a traveler so I try not to spend too much on this category, but as I stated above it seems to be a weakness of mine.  I have done LOTS of touristy things from climbing the Eiffel tower to playing with tigers at Tiger Kingdom.  Just because a lot of people do it doesn't make it any less amazing in my book!

Touristy and amazing!

U: Unforgettable travel memory
Stepping out of the car to see the Grand Canyon for the first time!  I remember my husband and I being shocked at how much it cost to get in to the park and thinking man, all that for a giant hole, I mean really.  Well honestly the first second we looked over the railing both our chins dropped to the floor and we felt foolish for even thinking it wouldn't be amazing!

V: Visas.  How many of them and for where?
I guess as an American I do not get that many actual visas.  Every time you are stamped into a new country that is considered a visa; a visa on arrival.  As for actual visas, that I had to apply for, and that take up a WHOLE page in my passport, that is running out of space quickly, it is only 2.  One for Laos and one for a single entry tourist visa to Thailand.

W: Wine.  Best glass and while traveling and where?
 Yuck, am I supposed to like that stuff? I'll take a good cup of coffee or beer over the vino anytime.

X: eXcellent view and from where?
This is another really tough one.  Some of the views from the small town I lived in while in Costa Rica were amazing.  So are some of the views I experienced after climbing monuments in incredible cities.  All in all though I would have to say the view I had in the Swiss Alps.  No wait, maybe Crater Lake in Oregon, no actually it must be Vang Vieng, Laos.  Yeah, I said it before... I love Laos and you should visit soon!

Crater Lake Oregon - Wikicommons

Y: Years spent traveling
Small trips all my life.  3 months in Europe with a friend and then I left the US for good in 2006 and have been traveling ever since!  It has been around 1890 days since we left the US!  This newest Asia adventure just started 2 months ago but the plan is to continue and move through the world for the nest few years.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where.
Being that I am from CT and I spent my childhood attending NYC baseball and football games, my first inclination was to say New York City.  But then I remember the fanatics of soccer and the zealous behaviors of its fans.  While living in Costa Rica I experienced what I could only describe as insanity over a soccer game on the tube.  The entire neighborhood would erupt in yelling and cheering during big games!  I also remember visiting Europe during the Olympics and stepping into a bar to witness fans going wild.  Assuming it was for the Olympics I was curious until I got closer and realized it was just an uproar for a local Soccer team.

Soccer fans win this one without a doubt.  Where?  I would say everywhere!

There you have it.  Now it is my turn to tag other bloggers...tag  Family Trek,  Road trips for families,  and The Nomadic Family.


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  1. Great blog post. Gives me an idea on how will I spent my long summer this year. Thanks!