My travel ABCs

Me on Fraser Island

A travel meme has been sweeping the travel blogging world recently, where travel bloggers are posed 26 (!) questions about their travelling life.

I was nominated to take part by Sophie of Sophie’s World. It’s a bit of fun, and you might learn some things about me you didn’t know already. Without further ado:

A: Age of first international trip:

I was whisked from the Seychelles in the womb, born in Wales, and then returned back to the Seychelles as a baby where I lived mostly on a beach and ate sand. So, quite young would be the answer to this.

B: Best (foreign) beer:

Macs Gold beer bottle with Tongariro National Park in the background

Best? Oh dear. I sense a flaw in this series of questions, as I have a slight fear of the idea of things being better than other things. Any cold beer served in the company of good people, or against good scenery, works for me. But if I had to pick, the Australian Coopers Red is a damn fine tipple.

C: Cuisine (favourite):

There’s that favourite idea again. Sigh. I love all kinds of food. If I had to survive on one cuisine for the rest of my life, it would be Kreole food – the traditional food of the Seychelles.

There is so much variety, it carries a lot of spice, and often involves gorgeously fresh fish. It’s so good in fact, that I wrote a whole article about the stuff.

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why:

Painted Desert - Australian outback near Coober Pedy

I think I’m going to have to give up on fighting this meme and go with the flow. I like anywhere with big mountains and epic scenery. New Zealand was a particular recent highlight, as was Australia. I love big, open, empty spaces.

Least favourite? Well… I’ve mentioned Milton Keynes a few times recently as being not the best place in the world. But even Milton Keynes has a roundabout with cows on, so it’s not all bad.

E: Event experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

I attended a festival in the outback of Australia for the 2009/10 New Year, which largely consisted of a lot of naked hippies, drumming and fire twirling. That was a pretty epic experience.

F: Favourite mode of transportation:

Train. Or plane. Train because you can just get on it and it’s like having a room with an ever changing view. Plane because, dammit, getting from one side of the world to the other in such a short space of time is as close to magic as I’ve ever been. Plus I love aeroplane food. I know.

G: Greatest feeling while travelling:

The thrill of seeing new things. The awe that the world is able to inflict on me. The feeling that I am so insignificant and meaningless, that the world and the universe is so much greater than I could ever possibly hope to imagine.

H: Hottest place travelled to:

The Namib desert. It was over fifty degrees C for most of the day, plus there was a wind "heat” factor from the wind blowing over the desert. It was like sitting in front of an open oven door. Most of the time was spent with a wet towel around my head.

I: Incredible service experienced and where:

One of the lost cities of Limmen National Park

Well, the mechanics around Australia were bloody awesome at looking after my landcruiser. Nothing was too much trouble, and they’d often charge less because I clearly looked like a destitute traveller. Amazing people.

J: Journey that took the longest:

Most of my journeys seem to take an epic amount of time due to the cheapness of the flights I take. Europe to New Zealand was particularly long though, although that did include a 13 hour stop over in Shanghai, which more than made up for it.

K: Keepsake from travels:

Me drumming

I try not to collect junk, but I couldn’t resist picking up a little bongo drum in Australia. I know, a drum and dreadlocks. Seriously, could I be any more clich├ęd? Oh, I also found my girlfriend whilst travelling. She’s definitely not junk!

L: Let-down sight, why and where:

If a sight lets me down, the fault lies with me. I do my best not to let that happen – there is always a positive to be found somewhere. I could mention Milton Keynes again, but I never had high hopes for that as a destination in the first place.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:

I can’t remember not being in love with travel!

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with hotels, as I both grew up in one, and then my corporate existence required me to live in one for around seven years. But I can recommend Cousine Island in the Seychelles as a rather nice spot, since you asked.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

Mount Ruahepu - New Zealand

Landscapes. And reflections. Reflections of landscapes are, suffice to say, enough to hold me for a very long time.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?

I’ve been lucky enough to visit around thirty countries across five continents. I’ve got quite a few stamps in my passport!

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

Giant Carrot of Ohakune

Any of the giant things in Australia or New Zealand. I have no idea what motivates the construction of a giant carrot or an enormous fake prawn, but it sure makes for some oddball attractions.

R: Recommended sight, event or experience:

Anything denounced as over visited, too touristy or not far enough off the beaten path. Usually there is a reason millions of people want to visit a place, travel fashion trends aside.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:

Beer. I love a nice cold beer at the end of a day!

T: Touristy thing done:

Uluru at sunset

Lots. Watching the sunset over Uluru was a highlight. But there are so many great tourist attractions out there, and I have no shame in doing them.

U: Unforgettable travel memory:

Climbing the sand dunes in Namibia to watch the sunrise. Hiking a part of the Great Wall of China. Rafting in Costa Rica. Climbing Mount Taranaki in New Zealand. There have been so many incredible memories from travel that are indelibly burned into my mind!

V: Visas, how many and for where?

Having a UK passport is an amazing thing. But my favourite visa was my Chinese visa that let me travel around that splendid country for three months. I’m not sure I’ve needed a great many more beyond that, other than my work and travel visas for New Zealand and Australia. A great initiative by the way, and one I highly recommend!

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?

Ah wine. I have a similar theory to wine as I do for beer. On  a hot day, you can’t beat a chilled glass of white wine on a sunny terrace with a view and good company. Generally though, I’m a red drinker. And I’m not fussy! Currently I’m in France, where the wine is both cheap and excellent!

X: eXcellent view and from where?:

Black and white mountain

This is like trying to ask a parent of quintuplets to name their favourite child. So many! I am however a sucker for any view with a nice mountain range backdrop, so New Zealand and California score well there. Also, the start of the Gibb River Road in Western Australia had an amazing view back across a mightly river flood plain and mountain range. The world is so incredible!

Y: Years spent traveling?:

This trip, which has resulted in a semi permanent base in France, started in June 2009. I don’t intend for it to end either – there shall be no return to a corporate existence for this hippy.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where:

I lived in England for a long while. They have football there. Probably enough said on that topic…

Phew! Thanks again to Sophie for nominating me! If you’ve got any thoughts to share on this long list of trivia about my travel abc’s, don’t be afraid to pipe up in the comments below!

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