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Traveler's A-Z

Apparently, all the cool kids in the travel-blogging club are doing this Traveler's A to Z, and tagging each other and giggling about it. I totally want in! So I'm borrowing the prompt from Adventurous Kate's page and doing my own! Suck on that, cool kids!

A: Age you went on your first international trip:

7. In the first grade, my parents took me to Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway and Denmark). We visited a friend of mine and her family in Stockholm, traveled on a sleeper train, and almost died in a blizzard. From then on, I was hooked!

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
File:Korean beer and takju-01.jpg
Korean beer, from here.
I don't drink much beer here, but for some reason I really do like Asian beer. Kingfisher (India) and light Korean beers - with Soju.

C: Cuisine (favorite):

Pretty impossible to decide. I've had the best breakfast in Italy (fresh bread, cheese and milk), best lunches in India (homemade curries and salads thanks to Alice, our school cook), best dinners in China (all the amazing dumplings and traditional dishes) and best deserts in Paris (crepes, macaroons and chocolates). I also LOVE visiting McDonald's in foreign countries - though almost never here- just to try all their culture-specific offerings. McVeggie burger, anyone?

D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
So hard to decide, but I have to say India is still my favorite: Hampi, Varanasi and Calcutta are tops. For least favorite, I have to say Japan. I love-love-loved visiting my buddy there, but it's just one place I don't see myself going back to again and again.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
Travelling alone, no teachers or parents, for the first time in India. Dealt with getting lost, bomb-scares on trains, and being the only white person in an entire town. I love how traveling alone pushes you to connect with people.The scariest, and best, thing I've done as a traveler! 

F: Favorite mode of transportation:
Frighteningly young rickshaw drivers, Varanasi, India
Rickshaws! The speed of a car, the size of a donkey, and the navigation of a bat (I swear, it's all about the honking!) Plus, I love haggling over the price. The bullet train in Japan was pretty great too, but so expensive!

G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
Sharing a great moment with someone living a completely different life. I love when you're communicating with someone who doesn't speak your language, and you have that fun puzzle of trying to figure each other out. 

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
India, again. We travelled to Agra, Jaipur and New Delhi in the heat of summer. Great, because there were very few other tourists. Just make sure to cover your head and bring plenty of water!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
The fam and Abby at Explorama Lodge, Peru
@ Explorama Lodges along the Amazon River of Peru. We stayed in a few different lodges, each more and more remote and rustic, but the service at all was excellent. Abelardo -Abby, for short- was our private guide for the week. He took us canoeing and pointed out all the wildlife we could hope to see - including anacondas and sloths- in addition to serenading us with his excellent versions of the Beatles hits catalog...

J: Journey that took the longest:
Flying to Australia. Longest hours, made longer by traveling with a bunch of kids I didn't know (on one of those People to People trips). Australia; great. Traveling with other middle-schoolers; not so much.

Runner up: hiking in Nepal. We went only high enough to see Mount Everest-- no where near Base Camp, and it was so strenuous there were times I didn't think we'd make it. (Serious mountain climbing after spending 5 months eating curry in India = bad idea.)

K: Keepsake from your travels:
I'm terrible; I keep and buy everything and then slowly edit through the years. I really value pieces of jewelry I've picked up around the world.

L: Let-down sight, why and where:
You can barely see her! here.
 The Mona Lisa. It's so tiny! You wait in a huge crowd for a glimpse of a painting you've seen a thousand times in books and on tv, when there are so many other amazing things to see in the Louvre. Something you have to do in Paris, so do it, and move on -- quickly!

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
I don't think there was a single moment. I was so lucky to grow up traveling with my parents, that it has always felt like very necessary a part of life and who I am.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Easy, the Park Hyatt in Tokyo. This is the hotel where Lost In Translation was filmed. The top floor club has a 360 view of Tokyo -on clear mornings, you can see Mount Fuji towering in the distance. The pool even has wall to ceiling windows from which we watched one of Tokyo's few snowstorms - magical! Plus the toilets talk to you... but that's normal in Japan...

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
Goofy things - funny poses, Engrish signs, animals, whatever makes me smile :).

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?

I don't know.... lots! I'm on my second Passport.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

from here.
All over India, there are shrines called Shiva Lingam- very literal representations of male and female ... uh, union. I've seen ones where the male parts were taller than I am!

R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
Here's two. In Paris, visit the flea markets -- it's a really neat experience. You get to take the train outside the heart of the city and see where the normal people live (and shop)!

Outside of Bangalore, India is Hampi - one of the most gorgeous historical sights I saw in that country -- which is definitely saying something! The sunrise there was one I'll never forget.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
When I travel, I try not to think about the money. The worst is coming home and wishing you had done or bought something. I still regret not buying more jewelery in India - so much cheaper than here, and so unique! So I try to save money on things like lodging and food - great excuse to try cheap, delicious street food! - and spend more on experiences and souvenirs!

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:

 I do all the touristy things; I love them! There's a reason everyone's doing them, right? I take my picture in front of everything; sure you look like a dork doing it, but it's a great way to remember all the things you saw once you get home. To balance the touristy-ness, I make sure to spend extra time walking the streets of a place and getting to see the other side of the picture, too.

U: Unforgettable travel memory: 

In India, I spent a week working with a women's fair trade cooperative. Most of the ladies didn't speak English but they sat me down with them and taught me a few of the amazing embroidery skills that have been passed down through generations in their tribe. I'll never forget spending quiet afternoons pricking my fingers with needles and listening to them chat as their own fingers flew across the fabric.

V: Visas, how many and for where?
3: India - student visa. South Korea - worker's visa (to teach English). China - tourist Visa. SO lucky to be an American - it's relatively easy to go most anywhere.

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
I am not a wine drinker, but I recently had a great prosecco in Chicago.

X: eXcellent view and from where?:

Shanghai World Financial Building, the tallest tower in China, offers an amazing view of beautiful Shanghai. There's also a wax figure of my man Jackie Chan.

Y: Years spent traveling?:
All my 25, roughly. An international trip ever other year or so.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:
England. They love their football - watch out if your in a pub on game day.
 And India, where cricket is king. SRK (Shahrukh Khan for the uninitiated) owns his own team and gave them all gold plated helmets.

Thanks for reading! XO, E.


  1. Wow, I'm impressed! Letter I is just about the most awesome thing ever. Canoeing on the Amazon? Really?!?

    Okay, so I'm going to feel really dull and boring for awhile. Don't worry, I'll get over it :)

  2. This was so much fun to read! Thanks for sharing it with all of us. :)

  3. Thank you so much for reading, Selah and Katie! I'm glad you like it :) I've been really, really lucky to travel as much as I have so I love to write about it!


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