We’ve been tagged by Ashley of No Onions Extra Pickles, who we had the pleasure of meeting in San Francisco, in a game of travel blogger ABCs. From A to Z we’ll share how we got started travelling and some of our favourite experiences, food and destinations along the way.
A: Age you went on your first international trip:
Erin: Age 3 to Portugal.
Simon: Age 8 to Disney World in Florida.
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:
Erin: I don’t like beer.
Simon: Quilmes Red in Argentina.
C: Cuisine (favorite):
Erin: Indian for the spiciness, low cost and vegetarian friendliness, and Italian for pizza, pasta, gelato and antipasti.
Simon: Italian. I once had pizza every day for 10 days and would have continued but Erin threatened to leave me.
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
Erin: My favourite country is India for the craziness, colourfulness and delicious food. My least favourite is New Zealand. Controversial I know, but we went in winter when it was cold and rainy and it reminded us too much of England.
Simon: My favourite destination is Disney World. I like my fun safe, sanitised and surrounded by fake smiles.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
Erin: Watching Obama win the US election at the Rockefeller Plaza and then witnessing the streets of New York turn into an exuberant carnival with taxis drivers cheering as they passed, strangers high fiving each other, people actually talking to each other on the subway and a feeling that history had been made and hope for the future.
Simon: Diving off the Andaman Islands in India. Swimming with turtles is just unreal.
F: Favorite mode of transportation:
Erin: Horse! I love exploring a place on horseback and I just need to convince Simon that a multi-day trip won’t be too painful. I’d love to ride across Mongolia, Argentina and Jordan.
Simon: Bullet train. Fast, smooth, wide, sexy railfun.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
Erin: The freedom to go wherever we want, when we want.
Simon: Stepping into a wonderfully air-conditioned Starbucks when it’s 35 degrees outside. Cranberry White Chocolate Mocha Frappucino, baby!
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:
Erin: I love the heat so can’t remember being too hot anywhere. Although gardening in the Australian Outback as WWOOF volunteers was pretty hot.
Simon: “Pretty hot”, she says. This must have been after I had collapsed with heat exhaustion.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
Erin: Japan. Everything just works so efficiently and the customer service is always excellent.
Simon: +1 for Japan. Super, impossibly, genuinely friendly. Going backwards and forwards with “arigato gozaimasu!” as I back slowly out the door never fails to put me in a good mood.
J: Journey that took the longest:
Erin: We’ve been on a number of 20 hour train trips in India but the longest was probably from Bangkok, Thailand to the Malaysian border. All the passengers were chucked off the train in the middle of the night (we had no idea why) and transferred to a series of buses. We had no idea what was going on and we weren’t impressed at losing our private sleeper train cabin for a bus blaring Thai pop music at 6am. It took about 24 hours in the end.
Simon: Reaching a feeling of peace and confidence in myself and my abilities. I’ll let you know when I get there.
K: Keepsake from your travels:
Erin: As we sold all of our stuff we don’t buy any souvenirs on our travels any more. I do take lots of photos though.
Simon: iPod Touch which we got in Medellin, Colombia. So it counts.
L: Let-down sight, why and where:
Erin: We tend to have low expectations of big tourist sites and sometimes just skip them (we spent three months in India and didn’t visit the Taj Mahal) so I can’t think of any really big let downs. We did find Machu Picchu beautiful but the high prices and the fact you can only take an overpriced tourist train then bus to get there (unless you hike) just annoyed us.
Simon: Mona Lisa, Museé de Louvre, Paris. No disrespect to Da Vinci—it’s a magnificently seductive work—just not when it’s surrounded by dozens of tourists snapping photos just to prove they saw it.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
Erin: I can’t remember a time not being in love with travel. I was lucky enough that my parents took my brother and I on holiday most years to Europe and although we would usually stay in touristy resorts we did visit places like Tunisia and Turkey and took enough day trips that I was hooked on exploring new places. I remember loving doing a detailed school project on Fiji and Iceland when I was about 8, and reading Work Your Way Around The World books when I was 15, so travel was always going to be a big part of my life.
Simon: The top of Splash Mountain, just before the drop, when Brer Bear says “Briar patch?” in that dumb-sounding low tone of his. Oh, you silly, silly bear. When will you ever learn?
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
Erin: In Northwest Argentina we got a great off season deal on a boutique hotel on a vineyard near Cafayate. It was very comfortable, gourmet dinners were included and the views were spectacular.
Simon: My mum’s house. Super friendly and welcoming and they give you so much free stuff it’s unreal. Forget chocolates on the pillow, there’s bars all over the damn bed.
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
Erin: I find rusty old cars and trucks very photogenic.
Simon: Abandoned flip flops. They turn up in the weirdest places and they never seem to be discarded in pairs.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
Erin: I just got a new passport so I only have stamps from Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan. My previous passport had the same as Simon.
Simon: Over 50 stamps from all over Asia, South, Central and North America, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
Erin: One that springs to mind is the Hunterian Museum in London that we visited on a trip back to the UK this summer. It’s in the Royal College of Surgeons and is a collection of specimens collected in the 18th Century by the surgeon and anatomist John Hunter. It has all sorts of weird specimens on display like walrus fetuses, the skeleton of an “Irish Giant”, and old surgical instruments.
Simon: The Christmas lights in Medellin. They have these huge, gaudy displays telling various Christmas stories all covered in coloured lights. There’s like 3 miles of them, all along the river. Tacky, but fun as hell.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
Erin: A four day jeep trip around southwest Bolivia from Tupiza to Uyuni. Along the way you’ll see red, green and white lakes; chocolate coloured volcanoes; flamingos and llamas, and finally the endless salt flats. It’s an otherworldly place at 4000 -5000 metres above sea level and although the trip is rough and very cold at night it’s utterly worth it.
Simon: Snowboarding basically anywhere (where there’s snow) is always a solid way to pass the time.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
Erin: Good food and comfortable apartments when we need to spend a few months working.
Simon: Anything shiny made by Apple.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done:
Erin: We’ve spent 9 days at Disney this year! A week at Disney World Florida in April and two days at Disney Japan in September. Simon loves it there and although I enjoyed it when I was a child I didn’t think I’d like it as an adult. It turned out to be pure stress-free fun!
Simon: Machu Picchu.
U: Unforgettable travel memory:
Erin: One of our favourite places in the world is the backwaters of Kerala in India. We stayed with Thomas at his homestay in a quiet village with no roads or cars. One evening he took us by canoe to visit a toddy shop where local men drink fermented coconut sap brew. On the way back Thomas sung us folk songs a capella under the moonlight as we glided through the canals. A magical moment.
Simon: Yeah, that Kerala experience was pretty special. Trekking in Nepal was fun. Scooting around the Cook Islands. Skydiving in New Zealand. Snowboarding half naked (top half—behave!) in Europe.
V: Visas, how many and for where?
Erin: As it’s a new passport only Thailand. In the old passport the same as Simon plus Sri Lanka.
Simon: Five: India, Nepal, Laos, Thailand, and Indonesia.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
Erin: Italy is always wonderful for wine but we also have great memories of a tasting at the Firestone Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley, California.
Simon: San Francisco. Whenever we go our friends Jason and Dan take us to this tiny little wine bar in Russian Hill and ply us with expensive, super tasty and ultra elegant wines.
X: eXcellent view and from where?
Erin: The view from Poon Hill at sunrise while trekking through the Nepal Himalayas. It’s hard to describe how majestic those huge peaks are up close.
Simon: I would also vote for the Nepalese Himalayas, though the sunsets from our guest house in Hampi, India were also spectacular.
Y: Years spent traveling?
Erin: I’ve travelled regularly since I was three, so 27 years, but we’ve been travelling permanently for nearly two.
Simon: Nearly two permanently.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?
Erin: I’m not a sports fan at all but we did go to a futbol game in Rio, Brazil and enjoyed the craziness of the fans playing samba drums, letting off fire crackers and dancing in the aisles.
Simon: Not much of a sports fan either, but went to a Yankees game with the Long Island Crew (big shoutout to The Family) when I was younger which was totally fun except for the fact that I ruined all the photos by wearing the most ridiculous Charlotte Hornets jacket that was two sizes too big for me.
Now it’s someone else’s turn. We would like to hear the ABCs of travel from these travel bloggers:
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