Not too long ago, Kia from Aspire to Amble nominated me for the ABCs of Travel Tag. I hadn’t heard of this tag before, but I really enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane in order to put this post together. Kia’s blog is jam-packed with wanderlust-inspiring destinations and beautiful illustrations alongside tasty recipes and thought-provoking posts on language learning (such as this one). Without further ado, un grand merci à Kia for the nomination and here’s my alphabet of travel . . .
Age you went on your first international trip
My memory’s failing me here, though I’d say there’s a 90% chance it would have been under-five me somewhere in the Channel Islands.
Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where
Confession time: I’m a northern lass who has never had a pint. Moving on . . .
French food ticks a lot of boxes for me. A juicy steak-frites with slices of crusty baguette, followed by all the pastries – what’s not to like? That said, I do miss a good roast.
Destinations – favourite, least favourite, and why
Choosing just one ultimate favourite was harder than anticipated, but I’m going to go with Chicago. I loved the compact nature of the city, the high rises by the lake and, of course, Cloud Gate. It also struck me as a very liveable city. At the other end of the spectrum, my least favourite destination would be Wakefield. We dropped by – on the premise of visiting the cathedral – after visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, and it was a bit of a dump. Its only saving grace was that it had a Wetherspoons.
Experience abroad that made you say “wow”
Cliché it may be, but my time spent living abroad has taught me a lot about myself and what I’m capable of – and that’s enough to make me say wow.
Favourite mode of transportation
The European double-decker trains are the dream, and the novelty of them still hasn’t worn off on me. Luckily, it’s not an experience exclusive to the TGV, so I can keep my double-decker dreams in check aboard the more affordable, regional trains as well.
Greatest feeling while travelling
I love being able to communicate with people while travelling, even if it’s only a few hesitant words in an unfamiliar tongue. People always seem to be genuinely touched by the fact you’ve bothered to learn a tiny chunk of their language, and for me that makes it all worthwhile.
Hottest place you’ve travelled to
It’s a tie between Seville and Kyoto, both at around 40°C. Seville was a more bearable dry heat, while Kyoto was sticky and humid.
Incredible photo you’ve taken and where
This photo from Kamikōchi remains one of my absolute favourites – the early morning mist lingering over the pond, the perfect reflections and the start of an unforgettable day hiking in one of Japan’s most scenic spots.
Journey that took the longest
Funnily enough, it wouldn’t be the thirteen hour flight to Hong Kong. Like most students (says the girl who is in fact no longer a student), I’ve taken my fair share of long-haul coach trips – from Leeds to Amsterdam, Toronto to Chicago (via Detroit) and Lyon to London, all clocking in at around sixteen hours long.
Keepsake from your travels
Postcards – I buy at least one from every place I visit. One day, I’d like a wall covered in cork to display them on.
Let-down sight, why and where
This is less of a let-down sight and more of a let-down town. Unless the presence of one canal screams Venice to you, I can tell you from experience that Martigues doesn’t live up to its nickname as the Venice of Provence. If you’re in the area, it’s worth about an hour of your time, but not a whole day.
Moment that you fell in love with travel
Pinpointing a specific moment feels a little like trying to find a needle in a haystack – in other words, nigh on impossible, as I’ve made so many memories while travelling!
Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
Most of my trips have involved hostel-hopping (some nice, some dreadful), but I have stayed in a few nice hotels along the way. The Pulitzer in Amsterdam is probably the fanciest hotel I’ve stayed in, but I absolutely loved the Airbnb that Laurence and I stayed at in New York.
Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?
I can’t resist taking photos of cats – I probably have more photos of strangers’ cats than I have of my own (now deceased) pets. I also love photographing flowers, even though they set me off on a sneezing spree for the rest of the day.
Passport stamps – how many and where from?
Most of my travelling has taken place within the EU, so I just have three stamps – from Canada, the USA and Japan. Hong Kong doesn’t issue stamps (boo) and we weren’t issued one when we took a day tour to Tangiers from Tarifa.
Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
Le Palais Idéal in Hauterives, France, is the quirkiest attraction I’ve visited by a long shot. It’s somewhat awkward to access via public transport, but is 100% worth the trip.
Recommended sight, event or experience
I find exploring my own backyard – usually the UK, but France has held the title temporarily – to be just as rewarding as jet-setting across the globe, so I’d encourage those with itchy feet to consider staycationing and seeing some of their home country’s gems from time to time.
Splurge – something you have no problem forking out for while travelling
I’m all about trying whatever sweet treat is the local speciality – be that waffles with lashings of fruit, chocolate and cream in Belgium, or trdelník rolled in cinnamon sugar in the Czech Republic. I’m also a sucker for aerial views, especially at sunset.
Touristy thing you’ve done
I like a healthy balance of well-known tourist hotspots and hidden gems, but I was unashamedly a mega tourist in NYC. Hello Empire State Building, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, Top of the Rock, the Statue of Liberty – the list goes on!
Unforgettable travel memory
Hiking in the Parc National des Calanques was inoubliable, to say the least – the off-white limestone cliffs contrasted beautifully against the azure waters and clear blue skies. A hike in glorious sunshine (c. 24°C) in late October in a picture-perfect national park makes for an unforgettable travel memory in my book.
Visas – how many and where for?
To date, I’ve never needed to apply for a visa in advance, and have had an assortment of ninety day tourist visa trips to foreign lands (Canada, USA and Japan) instead. (As a British national, I could visit Hong Kong without a visa and stay for up to six months.)
Wine – best glass of wine while travelling and where
I may have spent the best part of the last year living in the Land of Cheese and Wine, but I don’t actually drink wine.
Xcellent view and where from?
Framed by gargoyles, the cityscape of Paris from the towers of Notre Dame is pretty spectacular. That said, the panoramic view of the Alps from atop the Aiguille du Midi is equally breathtaking – and since I couldn’t choose between the two, I decided to include both!
Years spent travelling
My memory doesn’t stretch far enough back to pinpoint the start of my travels, though I guess – as Kia said – I’ve been travelling in some capacity since I was born, so that would be twenty-two years, soon to be twenty-three.
Zealous sports fans and where?
I’ve seen a couple of football matches live, and a lot of tennis in recent years. Wimbledon is certainly filled with zealous fans: some quietly so, others bursting with enthusiasm and waving flags and banners on Murray Mount like there’s no tomorrow.
Caroline Post-Grad | Caroline’s blog is full of honest, thoughtful and often amusing ponderings on life after graduation. She’s recently returned to the States, having spent the last year teaching English in Lyon, so expect to see plenty of posts on la vie française alongside other adventures across the globe.
Travel and Trouvailles | Having spent the best part of the past year eating her way across Spain and France – she’ll tell you herself that food is “the most exciting part of any trip” – Jessie is now back in the UK, sharing tales from her time abroad and her forays into the London foodie scene.
Rebecca Goes Rendezvous | Armchair globetrotters are sure to find something to their liking chez Rebecca – be that travel snapshots, tales of intercontinental adventures or poetry inspired by her travels. She’ll be resuming her TAPIF journey in the autumn, this time in a different region.
Travel Adventure Discover | Rounding off the nominations is Jenny, an Aussie whose travels have taken her across a sizeable chunk of Australia, South-East Asia and Europe. Her bucket list may be close to overflowing, but there’s always room for another adventure. Currently based in Berlin, her blog features both local and international adventures alongside expat chronicles.
As always, there’s no pressure to partake – though should you choose to do so, I look forward to reading your A-Z of travel!