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My Travel ABC

The World, Ottawa, October 2011

Katherina’s motto is “Eat, Travel, Photography”—with such a tagline, it’s not wonder that I’m reading her articles religiously! Her travel blog, 100 Miles Highway, can give you a pretty bad case of wanderlust.

She recently completed her Travel ABC, and tagged me for this special travel meme.

A: Age you went on your first international trip: I didn’t travel much when I was a kid and I’ve never been abroad with my parents. It’s actually a mystery: where did I get the travel bug from? My first trip abroad was a school trip to the U.K when I was 12 years old.

B: Best foreign beer you’ve had and where: I don’t drink! Okay, I guess Brahma Beer in Brazil. It’s a classic.

C: Cuisine (favorite): I’m a foodie and I love Chinese food, especially Northern Chinese cuisine with the 包子, 饺子 etc. Second choice would be Italian—I’m a pasta lover.

D: Destinations: favorite, least favorite and why: My favorite destination is always China. I’ve been there five times and I’m still in awe. There is always something new to discover in this ever-changing country. Besides, that’s where I caught the travel bug. Least favorite would be Panama. Some parts of the country are nice but Panama City is pretty rough (see our experience in 2001), let alone the eastern part of the country.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: So many! The Carnival in Brazil, New Year’s Eve in Sydney, the Olympic Games in Beijing… One of the unforgettable and unfortunate events I witnessed was the “pesificación” in Argentina in 2002. We arrived in Buenos Aires during the peak of the economic crisis.

F: Favorite mode of transportation: In Europe, the train. Anywhere else, the bus. Not that it’s the most comfortable way to travel, but it takes you pretty much anywhere.

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: The freedom. Nothing matters anymore but looking around you and making your way somewhere. It’s a “back to basics” experience: you have to find shelter and food every day.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Well, it was above 40°C in Ottawa last summer! Okay, abroad, it is between Panama, Porto Alegre (Brazil), Queensland (Australia) and Singapore. Beijing summers are brutal too.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: I’ve had good experiences worldwide. It goes with the attitude I think.

J: Journey that took the longest: By plane, probably my Sydney-Hong Kong-Paris flight in 2003. I was supposed to have a few hour stop-over in Hong Kong but because of the SARS epidemic, passengers were rushed to the connecting plane right away, so it felt like a long 20+ hours flight. By bus… about two weeks to get out of Patagonia. By train, the crazy three-day trip from Sydney to Perth, crossing the Nullarbor.

K: Keepsake from your travels: A jade pendant I always wear. I bought it in New Zealand in 2003.

L: Let-down sight, why and where: Glacier Martial in Patagonia! Someone should have told me that it was summer over there and that the glacier was pretty much melted. Besides, I’ve seen ice and snow on the ground before!

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: When I went to China by myself as a 16 years old. I loved being in a foreign country and I met a lot of people from all around the world. That’s when I realized I didn’t have to stay where I was born, and that I wanted to explore the world.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: I have a great memory of a hotel in Helsinki. To be fair, it was probably fairly standard but we were coming back from China. Western toilets and a comfy bed with a soft mattress made my night.

O: Obsessionwhat are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling? People! I love street photography and I never get tired of observing locals.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? Oh boy… too many to count. Currently on my Canadian passport: multiple U.S. stamps, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the U.K, and Schengen. Many more in my old French passports!

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: Probably Leon Trotsky’s house in Mexico City in 2001.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: A safe place to stay. I had my share of dorms and shady hotels. I reached a point where I have no problem sleeping in a four- or six-bed dorm once in a while and sharing a bathroom, but I want a place without bedbugs and cockroaches.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: All the attractions in Paris with Feng, including climbing the Eiffel Tower. It was actually a lot of fun to be in France as a tourist.

U: Unforgettable travel memory: Reaching Ushuaia in Patagonia, staying on a off the beaten path island in Thailand, beach-bumming in Australia

V: Visas, how many and for where? I haven’t had to apply for a visa with my Canadian passport yet. With my French passport, I got five visas to China, a six-month tourist visa for Australia, a working holiday visa for Canada, and later my permanent residence visa for Canada.

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? Argentina! Red wine and a great steak in Buenos Aires.

X: eXcellent view and from where? From the Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro, the Peace Tower in Ottawa, Marina Bay in Singapore, Observatory Road in Los Angeles

Y: Years spent traveling? Well, I’ve been backpacking since I’m 16, so 12 years I guess. On and off though.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where? Football fans in Argentina, around the La Bombonera. That’s where you do not wear a Brazilian football jersey!

I’d like to tag:

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