A: Age you went on your first international trip: I took my first trip for study abroad. I had just turned 21.
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: I have too many stories with beer. But this one is probably my favorite.
First of all, I haven’t really ever experienced full-on culture shock until I went to France. France? Yes. Here in Spain, I guess it’s a lujo (luxury) to have bags of ice sold all over the country. We are festejeros (partiers) in Spain. But in France, it is IMPOSSIBLE to buy ice from any locale. And the worst part is that you have to buy all your alcoholic beverages warm. The French told me to put it in the fridge, but when you are in Lyon, France for one weekend with one of your best friends from home, and you’ve just rented a velo, or bike, and you’re on your way to some beautiful park to sit, eat some sandwhiches, sip on some beers, and enjoy life to the fullest, you just don’t have access to a fridge.So our plan all came to a halt when we couldn’t find any ice to freeze our beers. Seriously, France. Get it together.
After about an hour of searching for ice, (which we later learned that there is a big difference in the pronunciation for ice cream and ice in French: la glace, and glacée), we went to a local bar with a plastic bag and they so kindly filled it up for us. Then I happily proceeded to place our beers inside the bag, cover them with our new-found ice, set it in the basket of my bike, and thirty minutes later, we arrived at the park, found a great place to sit under a tree and we celebrated by drinking a nice, cold, beer. (The beer was called 86 Bavaria).
C: Cuisine (favorite): I think food is my favorite part of traveling. I’m definitely going to have to say that of all the things I’ve eaten abroad, the English Breakfast reigns king. I think it’s my favorite because it came to me after I had been living in Madrid for sometime and was getting annoyed of breakfast being a croissant and half a cup of coffee. As an American, we value our breakfasts, and that just doesn’t exist in Spain. So once I got to London, every morning I went to this little restaurant that was next to my hostel, paid the 4 British Pounds and devoured those eggs, baked beans, sausages, toast and full cup of joe.
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: This is hard to decide but it’d be between Lisbon and London probably as my favorite places. Or Lyon. Or Brescia…It’s too hard to decide because each place is so different and each experience is unique on its own. I love all the places I’ve been because of who I was with and just being in a foreign place was exciting on its own. Least favorite place: Nebraska.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: Las Fallas in Valencia. It’s this huge literally burn-the-city-to-the-ground celebration complete with fireworks that makes you feel like you are in the middle of Iraq, it’s that loud. It puts the Fourth of July to shame.
F: Favorite mode of transportation: I do love planes. The Metro in Madrid is pretty fantastic though. At home, I love taking the bus however.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling: That “holy shit, look where I am” feeling. The one that makes you feel invisible and tiny in a huge world and completely significant all at the same time. It’s incredibly inspiring.
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Panama
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Ha that wouldn’t be in Spain. Or Europe for that matter. Can’t think of a time that I had fantastic service, except for maybe from my friend’s family in Mexico. I don’t want to call them letting me stay with them a service, but as far as hosts go, they were incredible.
J: Journey that took the longest: Just the long, boring, seemingly endless flight between Europe and the United States.
K: Keepsake from your travels: I save all the tabs and tickets from all the planes, buses, trains I catch. I like to keep them just to “prove” I’ve been there. Usually after an amazing trip, I feel like it was so surreal that it almost didn’t happen so I like to keep the proof that it wasn’t just a dream.
L: Let-down sight, why and where: Rome. Just wasn’t impressed when I was there.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: I fell in love even before my first trip. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do and once I went abroad my first time, I was immediately hooked.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: Does hostel count? I stayed at the sickest hostel in Lisbon that had great food, great service, and individually and professionally designed rooms. It was fantastic! It was called The Living Lounge.
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: Architecture. Definitely.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? I’ve got a bunch, most are from Europe.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: I’m not sure this counts entirely, but it’s the only thing I can think of. I’d have to say going to see St. Paul’s chains, the ones that pinned him upside on the cross that he died upon. It took the longest walk in the world to get there and it was just to see some stupid gold chain in some elaborate and over-the-top shrine.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Just travel. Meet people. Try new things. Also, Portugal is the hidden gem of Europe. And Galicia is the best, and often overlooked part of Spain.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Museums. Art museums are a must in every city.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done: Bah, tons! Every city I go to, I do all the touristy things. It’s a requirement, whether it’s lame, dorky, or what. There are just some things you have to do.
U: Unforgettable travel memory: Like all of them…
V: Visas, how many and for where? I’ve got one to teach here in Spain.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? I don’t drink wine so I don’t know. I had some really good Port in Port (go figure.) Two friends and I took a tour through a bodega there and got to see how it was made and everything. I’d say that was my favorite.
X: eXcellent view and from where?: The top of Sintra, Portugal.
Y: Years spent traveling?: I started in 2008 and haven’t stopped since.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: Haven’t really encountered many of them fortunately. But my buddy Carlo and his friends are huge AC Milan fans. I went and stayed with him and his family (along with all my roommates as well) in Italy and one night all his pals came over to watch the game. It was hilarious watching them get so riled up, screaming and jumping around. I didn’t understand anything that was going on because it was all conducted in gibberish-Italian, but it was quite the site seeing how much they love that team. Diavolo!