Thursday, November 15, 2012

My A-Z Of Travel

I have been tagged! Traveling Ange challenged me to answer 26 questions about myself as a traveler… Well… CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! Apparently this meme has been circulating around travel bloggers for a while. Some of these questions are thought-provoking but I had fun! Here goes…

A: Age you started travelling?
With my family – 10 years old, and we went to Hong Kong.
By myself and for leisure (meaning not work related) – 23. My two girlfriends and I went on a fun trip to Singapore before I moved from the Philippines to the US.

B: Best beer you’ve had and where?
I’m not really a big drinker, so I wouldn’t know the first thing about how a beer should taste. I did, however, enjoy Czech beer in Prague, and the beer they were serving in Oktoberfest in Munich.

C: Cuisine (favourite)
Anyone who knows me will know the answer to the question, “What is your favorite food?” --- It’s BACON.
But since we are talking about Cuisine, it’s a little more difficult to answer. I am Filipino and will always love Filipino food. Apart from that, I’d have to say Indian food is a close second.

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why
Why are these questions so difficult to answer?!
I haven’t been everywhere yet (but that’s the plan), but I do love visiting the UK…
Scotland in particular, I think is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited. It’s majestic, picturesque and overwhelming. Like my eyes constantly drown in its beauty… I would get lost there on purpose. I’ve explored big cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, and have seen the Ben Nevis and went on the Loch Ness River Cruise. I’ve also been informed of the REAL story of William Wallace, about how he’s really NOT Scotland’s Braveheart, but Robert the Bruce! The next time I visit, I fully intend to go full-on Merida and run through the forests, climb waterfalls and shoot arrows. I am in love with Scotland…
Least favourite – honestly, I don’t have one!

Lush Edinburgh
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
Probably watching a live sex show in Amsterdam… it did not just make me say, “wow”… I probably uttered all the superlatives known to man. There was an act involving a banana that I’m trying to block out from my memory.

F: Favourite mode of transportation
I love planes. I really do. I love flying…

G: Greatest feeling while travelling
The best feeling about travelling, to me, is the excitement of not knowing anything… apart from the fact that anything could happen.

H: Hottest place
Easy! My home! The Philippines!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
Best service, hands down, was in our hotel in Boracay – Discovery Shores. When my girlfriends and I arrived, they had a welcome banner for us in our room and a free foot bath/massage for each of us. We had complimentary snacks and wine, plus a ton of freebies (like flip flops and a beach bag) for us to use during our stay. Every time we laid out on the beach, an attendant would magically appear offering us food and drinks. By the second day, they’ve figured out our “usual’s” (which were mojitos), and they would bring them over without us even asking! I was impressed, not by their efficiency, but by the warmth that emanated from them. Filipinos are generally known to have good customer service to begin with, but the ones we encountered in Boracay just brought it to a whole other level. They were just so sincere, that every time they said “Good morning,” or “You’re welcome,” or “Hello,” they placed their hands over their hearts and smiled. It seriously made me want to hug them all.

Our Hotel Room with the banner, freebies and snacks!
J: Journey that took the longest
The 26 hour journey it took to get to San Antonio, TX from Manila. It was brutal!

K: Keepsake from your travels
Post cards! I ask whoever is traveling with me, or whoever I meet in a new place to send me a post card! I love reading them when I get home…  

The post cards from all over on my fridge

L: Let-down sight, why and where
This may sound surprising, but Venice, Italy disappointed me. It’s a beautiful city, but I guess I just expected a little more from it. It was too touristy for my taste and not as photogenic as I thought it would be. I want to go back for the Venice Carnival though… maybe that would change my mind!

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
There wasn’t just one specific moment. I think it’s more like a love that grew over time. My first trip to Europe via Contiki was 5 years in the making, and the moment I set foot in London, I knew I was hooked… And my insatiable thirst for travel just became a constant in my life from then on.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
Shangri-La Mactan in Cebu, Philippines, courtesy of my company. I was sent there a few times when I was assigned to work in Cebu. It’s a resort hotel, and the beach is amazing! White sand and clear blue water, with the yummiest breakfast buffet I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?
Castles. I. Love. Castles.

Clockwise from top left: Dunguaire Castle, Edinburgh Castle, Dublin Castle, Windsor Castle

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
I have no idea. My Filipino passport currently holds more stamps than my new US passport. I think I may have visited over 20 countries thus far.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
The Peeing Statues in Prague. And what makes them even quirkier is that they’re not just peeing – they’re actually writing. Their penises swivel up and down, left and right, writing famous quotes with the stream of water. There’s a phone number displayed next to the sculptures, and if you send it an SMS, they ‘write’ out your text message before carrying on with their quotes. Haha!

Curious... Very curious...

Jake, April, Claire and Phil!
R: Recommended sight, event or experience

A fun experience worth sharing (and something I’d do again) is attending the Edinburgh Fringe with my friends. The Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world celebrated the whole month of August in Scotland’s capital! It is an explosion of creative energy that makes Edinburgh come alive! There are street performers on every corner, and fliers… fliers everywhere! There are over two thousand performances/shows to choose from… performances that range from musical and dance theater to physical comedy. My friends and I ended up watching (and secretly enjoying) a performance patterned after the show, Glee!  (The boys will deny it, but we still talk about how we think Claire should have won the singing contest, and not April.)
I think attending The Fringe is a great way to experience Edinburgh. It’s fun, you get to see different ‘artistic’ performances, and it’s a good excuse to take copious amounts of alcohol. Two thumbs up!

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while travelling
More plane/train tickets? :)
I’m a budget traveler so I hardly ever splurge… but I don’t mind paying extra for excursions or fun tours… especially if it’s something only that specific country can offer (i.e. Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, The Guinness Storehouse tour in Dublin, The Harry Potter movie tour in England)

T: Touristy thing you’ve done
I can be SUCH a tourist and I’m not ashamed! Best touristy thing I’ve done ever --- The Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, Austria! My travel buddy, Karen and I sang songs on the bus, ran around the movie locations (including twirling around in Liesl’s and Rolf’s gazebo), and stayed at Villa Trapp – the real house of the real Von Trapp family! Beat that! (Read my blog post about it here)

U: Unforgettable travel memory
When I met my hero, Danny Wallace, in London. Danny is my favorite writer (you may know him as the writer of the book, Yes Man) who has a breakfast show at a radio station called, XFM. My friend Lea and I waited for him outside the station, met him, and he in turn gave us tickets to see Paul McCartney playing at the Royal Albert Hall that night. They say, “never meet your heroes” but I’m glad I met mine. It was incredible to have met him and that encounter was one of my favorite moments in my life thus far! (Read about my encounter here)

V: Visas, how many and for where?
Having a Filipino passport made it really difficult to travel. I had to apply for visas EVERYWHERE I went… I needed the following: US Visa, Schengen Visa, UK Visa, Ireland Visa.
It was annoying, not to mention – expensive, to have to apply for them every single time. That’s why I’m so thankful for having a blue passport now. I plan to take full advantage and fill it up to the brim!

W: Wine, best glass of wine while travelling and where?
I’m no wino, and I have a tendency to like the sweeter wines… so I really liked the Ice Wine we tasted in the cellars of a wine bar in St. Goar.

The Cliffs of Moher and The Grand Canyon
X: eXcellent view and from where?
It’s a tie between The Cliffs of Moher in Ireland and The Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Y: Years spent travelling?
On my own, I’ve been doing yearly trips since 2008. But starting next year after I quit my job to travel full time, who knows?

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?
I haven’t been to any football or rugby matches in the UK where fans are meant to be overzealous… I really want to experience it though! The only game I’ve been to with hyperactive over the top fans (myself included) is a Lakers game at the Staples Center :)

Do you have an A-Z List? Let me know and I'll share! If you don't --- make one! It's fun! :)

My fave A-Z Lists that you should check out:

Traveling Ange
Solo Traveler
Julie Dawn Fox
There's No Place Like Oz
On The Luce
The Travel Bunny