Today is the 3rd edition of our guest post series called ABCs of Travel. This is a listing of 26 prompts (one for each letter of the alphabet) that lets you tell a little bit about your travels: best, worst, and memorable. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition.
The best part of having a blog is that you can publish bits of information out into this tiny bit of virtual real estate. People with similar interests can find these little bits, reach out, and start a connection. And before you know, you’re having beers with your new friends in a faraway place.
This is what happened when I first met Ryan and Angela from Jets Like Taxis. We come from similar Midwestern U.S. roots but have met up on two different occasions in different cities in Spain. That’s just how this stuff works and I love it.
Ryan and Ang (along with their grumpy little dog Louis in tow) are designers that like to write about travel and location independence. Be sure to check out their site. They’ve lived in some incredible places, have experienced a bunch of cool things, and are just the type of folks you’d like to swap travel stories with over a cold one. And this is their ABCs.
A. Age you went on your first memorable trip
Ryan: I was already taking trips in my imagination as soon as I started reading my parents’ National Geographic magazines and World Book encyclopedias. The earliest actual trips I can remember are the road trips we used to take as a family when I was a kid. I was so fascinated by all the new places we got to see, and all the new things we got to learn. From there, any life that didn’t involve traveling wasn’t even in the cards.
Angela: My first memorable trip was when I was three or four, my sister and I were members of a violin group that did a European tour through France, Germany (where I was very upset because I got really sick and couldn’t perform), and Italy.
B. Best beer you’ve had and where
R: That is a question without a straightforward answer, as each delicious treat we’ve had is inextricably linked to an experience. If I had to choose a beer strictly on flavor and not anything else, it’d have to be the “Bo & Luke” Russian Imperial Stout by Against the Grain Brewery in Louisville, Kentucky.
A: “Bo & Luke,” hands down. We tasted it first in some random bar in Chicago, then made sure to make it a stop on our “Fabric of America” road trip.
C. Cuisine (favorite)
R: Also nearly impossible. I love it all.
A: I’m going to have to say meat. Anything with meat. Mmmmm, meat.
D. Destinations. Favorite? Least favorite? And why?
R: My most memorable experience is our five months in Herceg Novi, Montenegro. The cards were just right for that one. Every place, though, is important to me. I think the only one I’m really salty about is Venice, Italy. It’s like Disneyland. I can’t stand it.
A: I agree with Montenegro, where the views are breathtaking. I remember waking up every morning, and looking out at the bay from bed. What a treat. However, Guanajuato (Mexico) is a really close second as far as favorites go. Situated in a valley, the views of the colorful houses lining the side of the mountain were so cool to see.
Least favorite? Cancun proper. We lived there for three months, to spend time with a close friend who was living there at the time, but I don’t think I’d go back. They built the city for the locals that work at the beach resorts, and once it was built, they forgot about it. All the money that’s made in Cancun goes directly back to the resort area.
E. Event you experienced while traveling that made you say “wow”
R: Most days have a “wow” moment, which might mean I’m just easily impressed. I think it’s the connections with people that make the difference, though. When you can communicate or relate to someone in a different land, in a different language, in a different culture, it’s a really powerful experience.
A: New Year’s Eve in Berlin. At first, I didn’t want to leave the house, but Ryan twisted my arm, and I’m so glad I did. People flood the tiny streets with their sparklers and fireworks, and set everything off right there in the streets. We were dodging live fireworks left and right. The most impressive thing was that the next morning, the streets were clean like nothing ever happened.
F. Favorite mode of transportation
R: One that doesn’t require physical effort on my part haha. I probably like driving or taking the train the best. Airports are just annoying.
A: I’m going with car or train as well. Probably train, since I don’t have to navigate and I can just enjoy the ride. The nice thing about driving, though, is that you can go at your own pace and stop where you want. We love discovering new (to us) tiny towns along the way.
G. Greatest feeling while traveling
R: Either the aforementioned connections with people, or when you’re so elated with your current situation that you just sit back and think about how fortunate you are to be doing what you’re doing. That happens quite often.
A: Being able to communicate in the local language. It’s like a high when you say something and it’s clear the other person understands exactly what you’re saying, even if you sound like a two-year-old.
H. Hottest place you’ve traveled to
R: Probably the Mojave on our “Fabric of America” road trip. I don’t remember how hot it was, but it was well over 100F (38C). We actually had a lot of heat-wave run-ins during that trip.
A: Agreed with Ryan’s answer. Our windshield was struck by a stray pebble and cracked, and because of the heat, the crack grew extra-fast, which was very stressful!
I. Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
R: Any restaurant that has amiable staff. Those are always a joy, and add an extra layer of goodness to a great meal.
A: I’ll add hotels to Ryan’s answer. We’ve gotten some really cool suggestions for local, non-touristy things to do/eat from hotel staff (or landlords we’ve met along the way), like the stock-car race we watched in Rapid City, SD, which was recommended by a member of our hotel’s staff, who happened to be an EMT at the race.
J. Journey that took the longest
R: Our “Fabric of America” road trip was over three months and 15,000 miles (24,000 km). That was an ongoing adventure, though. Outside of that, we had a really long trip, including layovers, from Chicago to Berlin, Berlin to Mallorca, and Mallorca to Seville last year. I think it was 21 hours or something.
A: Our life is a journey (cheese, anyone?), and I hope it takes forever.
K. Keepsake from your travels
R: Photos and memories. Physical keepsakes just take up space.
A: Photos. For sure. Lots and lots of photos. Multiples of the same thing, from different angles.
R: Yeah, those are a real treat to edit. =P
L. Let-down sight, why and where
R: I’m an optimist about this sort of thing. Everything is interesting in one way or another.
A: The East Side Gallery at the Berlin Wall. There’s a much more interesting part of the Berlin Wall that’s not as highly recognized and only opened as an exhibit a few years ago. (The Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Str.)
R: Oh yeah, and most of the art at the East Side Gallery is awful. Sorry, but it’s the hard truth. The Berlin Wall Memorial, on the other hand, is amazing.
M. Moment where you fell in love with travel
R: Reading those aforementioned magazines and books when I was just a little tyke.
A: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been traveling, whether it was my family’s summer road trips, or performing around the world with my violin group (starting at 2-1/2 years old). On our road trips, I remember holding the atlas in my lap, and my mom teaching me how to read it. I remember the power I felt in knowing where we came from, where we were, where we were going, and being able to tell my mom how to get there. To this day, even though we also use a portable GPS system, Ryan and I always carry a road atlas when we drive anywhere. Some things we’ll never grow out of.
N. Nicest or most unique lodging you’ve stayed in
R: We stayed in a hotel in Greybull, Wyoming, in 2013, that was formerly a bank and brothel. That was interesting. The owner, Myles, is one of the best guys we’ve ever met. He knows the entire history of the hotel, and was happy to spend time telling us all about the property. We ended up writing an article about him, and wish we’d stayed longer. Also, we sat next to Wilford Brimley at dinner in the basement restaurant, which is a former speakeasy. That was an experience.
A: I have to agree with Ryan’s answer. Myles’ office was the old bank vault, door and all. Also, the hotel was haunted. Or so “they” say.
O. Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
R: Whatever looks good. There’s not one thing that strikes me more than another, although I do love seeing and taking pictures of street art.
A: Anything and everything. I find everything interesting, so I take pictures of it all. Also, food. I have tons of pictures of food. In fact, every course of every meal we’ve had (except the ones we make at home, and even then, sometimes I can’t help it).
P. Passport stamps, how many and from where?
R: I honestly have no idea. I think I’m on my third or fourth passport. The newest one is brand new, so I have nothing to count. A lot of stamps, though. Mostly from Europe and the Americas.
A: Not enough, but lots. Same as Ryan, I have a newish passport, so there’s not too much in there yet. It’s disappointing, though, how once you’re in Europe, you can’t get your passport stamped when moving within Schengen. That’s the only downside of open borders.
R: That’s not the only downside of open borders. Thanks for the 90/180 rule, Schengen! Grrrr.
Q. Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
R: Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron sculpture park in Sauk County, Wisconsin. It’s just as bat-shit crazy and amazingly brilliant as it sounds.
A: Wall Drug in Wall, SD. They have a gigantic piano-playing, singing gorilla, and a jackolope, for starters. Ummm, what?
R. Recommended sight, event, and/or experience
R: The Alps. You haven’t seen the Alps until you’ve seen the Alps.
A: The Grand Canyon. Before our “Fabric of America” road trip, Ryan hadn’t ever been, and he kept telling me he’d already seen canyons previously, then we went, and as soon as he walked up to the edge, he remarked, “Ohhh, wow.” That said, you haven’t seen a canyon until you’ve seen the Grand Canyon.
S. Splurge – something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling
R: Good food, no question.
A: Agreed, good food and great service goes a long way, and we tend to show our appreciation generously.
T. Touristy thing you’ve done
R: Disney World or Venice, Italy. Or any major tourist sight.
A: We just went on a D-Day tour in Normandy. It’s the first multiple-stop tour I’ve taken as an adult, and I have to say…while I learned a ton and it was enjoyable, I felt rushed because we were given very little time to walk around each place on our own before needing to leave for the next stop.
U. Unforgettable travel memory
R: There are tons. Family trips, traveling with Angela, road-tripping with friends. It’s hard to pick one, but I’d say visiting Switzerland and France with my dad after university was something really special.
A: Ryan’s 33rd birthday trip in Dublin and Paris.
V. Visas, how many and for where?
R: Just a couple. France from my college days, and currently one for Spain.
A: Germany, which Ryan forgot above, and currently Spain.
W. Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
R: Homemade wine in Montenegro, after “helping” make it. You can’t beat that experience.
A: Hands down, homemade Montenegrin wine. The young and crazy kind – the kind that tastes like juice, but is fully capable of knocking you on your ass.
X. eXcellent view and from where?
R: Our balcony in Montenegro. The Alps. The Picos de Europa in Spain. Anything involving mountains usually does the trick.
A: Again, agreed with Ryan – our view from our balcony. The mix of water and mountains was stunning.
Y. Years (or longest duration) spent traveling?
R: We left Chicago for Berlin in 2011, and left Berlin to hit the road indefinitely in 2012. It’s now been three years, so I guess the current one is it!
A: Same same.
Z. (Most) Zealous sports fans and where?
R: I’d have to say any football (soccer) fans in Europe. They’re fiercely loyal to their local teams, oftentimes no matter how well they’re doing. You have to give it up to them for supporting their teams through good and bad.
A: From personal experience, of which I do not have a ton, the most zealous sports fans I’ve encountered have been American football (a.k.a. hand-egg, because they don’t use their feet, really) fans. More specifically, I was invited to a NY Jets game…tailgating and all, and now, whenever I see the word ‘jets’ anywhere, all I hear in my head is: “J! E! T! S! JETS!JETS!JETS!” This is unfortunate, since our website has that word in its name. Life is hard.
Thanks for your entry, Angela and Ryan! Be sure to catch-up with them at:
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