my travel ABCs

17 Sep

Kaley tagged me in this travel survey, and after reading her responses I was excited to finish up my school work for the week and have the chance to unwind and get this post out! As some of my friends from Spain are heading back this week for a second year teaching as a North American Language Assistant, I’m experiencing some major symptoms of wanderlust, so this will temporarily fill the void. Here are my travel ABCs…

A: Age you went on your first international trip: I was young the first time I went to Mexico, but that doesn’t really count. I was 18, right after high school graduation when I first officially went abroad with about 40 kids from my class. We did the traditional first-time-to-Europe jaunt: London, Paris, Rouen, Normandy, Lucerne, Venice, Florence, Rome. This trip was great because it exposed me to travel and gave me the confidence to want to go back.

world cup 2006 in Rome.

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: Ever since trying Portugal’s Super Bock when I went to Lisbon in March 2009, I’ve been obsessed with it. Not going to lie, it was probably a major part of my decision to go to Porto last December.

the obsession beginning in Cascais, near Lisbon.

...and continuing in Porto.

C: Cuisine (favorite): I love Spanish food, but my hand’s down favorite is Greek/Israeli/Turkish. Give me a kebab and some hummus and I’m a happy camper.

Destinations (favorite, least favorite, and why): It’s not surprise that my favorite destination is Barcelona. After studying abroad there my junior year, I’d argue that it’s more of a love affair than a mere obsession. My least favorite destination is probably Venice – it was SO touristy and crowded when I went that I probably wouldn’t go back.

my roommate in Barcelona and I. magic.


E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: This is a tough one because I have a few, namely because “wow” can be interpreted in many different ways. My trip to Morocco was wow-worthy because it was so different from everywhere else I’ve been. Conversely, the house music experience in Ibiza was also pretty awesome. On my first trip to Europe, though, we stumbled across the Rouen Cathedral which Monet painted upwards of 30 times, with his paintings projected onto them. It was so cool and such a lucky find.

F: Favorite mode of transportation: Is this a joke? The metro.

compañeras del piso en madrid.

G: Greatest feeling while traveling: Independence and feeling like the world is at my fingertips.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Hmm, it gets pretty hot in Southern California, but it was ridiculously hot last June in Madrid. Whoa nelly.

melting in madrid with my uncle casey.

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Hmm, nowhere in Spain, that’s for sure – but that’s part of Spain’s charm I guess. The best service I’ve experienced has been in the United States – in random places like the bank, too.

J: Journey that took the longest: Hmm, how about the first time I moved to Spain? LAX to Dallas/Ft.Worth to London – Heathrow to Madrid, and then a 7 hour bus-ride after our orientation.  At least it was worth the hype.

K: Keepsake from your travels: I write fiendishly in my Moleskine notebooks I had in Barcelona and Madrid, and I also wear a ring everyday I bought in Barcelona.

L: Let-down sight (why and where): I just wasn’t that into the city of Valencia when I went last spring, although the Las Fallas festival was pretty fabulous. I’d also say Milan was pretty skip-able.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: Probably the second I stepped foot in the city of Barcelona and realized what an epic place it is. Or, more realistically, when I went to Portugal in March of 2009 and made friends at my hostel, felt blissed out in Cascais, and got lost and talked to locals and couldn’t wait to plan more trips.

becca and i biking in Cascais.

muito bom.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: This is a tough one, but honestly probably the Grand Californian at Disney’s California Adventure. Happy 18th Birthday, Kelsey, haha! OR the W in San Fransicso...Happy 22nd Birthday, Amanda…I have awesome friends.

O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: All of the blog classics – views, food, and funny sights/advertisements.

salmorejo in madrid.

fav holiday in my fav city.

view of san sebastian.

P: Passport stamps – how many and from where: Sad story, I lost my first passport. Well, as I learned this week in Property, it wasn’t so much lost as it was mislaid (Ryanair flight, Porto to MAD – FML). Since you don’t get stamps for EU countries, mine have all been pretty standard – USA, Spain, Canada – but I do have stamps from Frankfurt, Germany, Lichtenstein and Marrakech, Morocco!

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: Hmm. I’m sure I’ve sought out a lot of quirky things – but nothing too off the wall is jumping out at me. So instead, I’ll leave with you the most typical attraction my family has visited – the world’s very first Starbucks location at Pike Place Market in Seattle.

my dad's mecca.

R: Recommended sight, experience, or location: Eating at a restaurant that doesn’t have a menu in English and ordering the local speciality. and the local beer.

S: Splurge – something you have no trouble forking money over for while traveling: A nice meal out. While I normally travel pretty thriftily, on short trips I like to have at least one nice, sit-down, authentic meal.

Lyon, France.

Bilbao, Spain.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done: I’m all about seeing the major sites – that’s a huge point of traveling! I took free walking tours in Berlin, Prague, and Munich. The most touristy thing I’ve ever done, though, was last summer when I traveled to Toronto (on business!) and took a double-decker bus tour by myself.

U: Unforgettable travel memory: My last night in Barcelona was amazing – my senora, Marta, took me out to her favorite pizza place in El Raval for pizzas and a few Estrella Damm beers, and then she walked me through the city to meet up with my friends for one last trip to La Ovella Negra. Then, a year and half later, I went back to Barcelona and met up with Marta at the bar her son owns to watch the Real Madrid/FC Barcelona game. Viva Barça!

V: Visas – how many where? I’ve just had two, and both were for Spain. The first one was a cinch to get for study abroad – thanks, ISA – but the second one, for my auxiliares program, was a huge pain.

W: Wine – best glass of wine while traveling and where? Hmm. I’m not a huge wine drinker (still feeling the effects from the worst resaca of my life that happened a year ago from too much red wine. Yes, I am indeed sorry for partying). I’d have to say the best wine I’ve had was probably from a winery in wine country itself: Sonoma County, California. Close second would be Catalunya’s cava.


cava in catalunya.

X: eXcellent view and from where: This is impossible to narrow down, so my favorites are Barcelona from Park Guell, Madrid’s Palacio Real from the Templo de Debod, and San Francisco from my room senior year:



SF from B-town.

Y: Years spent traveling? Well, really only 4 months Spain Pt. I, 9 months Spain Pt. II, and maybe a couple other months total of shorter trips? We’ll go with 1.5 years.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where? Essentially anywhere in Spain – streets, cafés, bars – but the atmosphere was always pretty intense at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu when I went to a few games last year!

Alright – now the fun part! I get to tag 5 people to complete the survey. Solid combo of real life friends, blog friends, and blogs I’ve recently started reading. I’m tagging these 5:

Anywhere There’s an Airport

Photographs by Tina

No Olives Please

Funky France

Pancakes and Postcards

So, do we differ wildly on any of these? Or do you agree with any of them? Pick a couple of your favorite letters and answer them in the comments section!

10 Responses to “my travel ABCs”

  1. tina September 17, 2011 at 11:02 am #

    hi gillian! yay, i’m excited to do this post soon!
    – yes, i loved super bock! definitely a pleasant surprise
    – venice, i know what you mean. i’ve been twice, the first time was crowded, but the second time i went it wasn’t so crowded and i liked it a lot better.
    – the rouen cathedral looks so awesome!
    – pacha ibiza, is it similar at all to the one in madrid?
    – U: your señora’s son owns a bar? how lucky!

    miss yaa!

    • gillian September 17, 2011 at 11:36 am #

      Thanks Tina!

      Glad you liked Super Bock and agree about Venice..maybe I need to give it another try…

      Pacha Ibiza is similar in venue to the one in Madrid but it is a whole different experience – there is a terrace bar and the DJs are like 50x better and more house-y than Madrid’s. Definitely a must if you go to Ibiza.

      My senora’s son DOES own a bar! He used to be a DJ but he gave that up and now owns a cute little bar in the gothic quarter.

  2. Kaley [Y Mucho Más] September 17, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

    Yay! I liked reading your responses. Funny, you’re not a huge wine drinker (but you like beer) and I’m the opposite (yay wine! nay beer!). What style of beers do you prefer?

    Also, wine does cause the WORST hangovers. First time I had a hangover was due to Franzia white wine. Ughhhh! Never again! I’m pretty much against white wine now.

    • gillian September 17, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

      Thanks! I had fun writing it! That is funny – I am sure I’ll come back around to wine eventually…My absolute favorite type of beer is an India Pale Ale, it has bold/robust flavors and is really hoppy. I also like Amber Ales and Hefewiezens. What’s your favorite type of wine?

      I can DEFINITELY see how Franzia could induce a hangover. Those are never fun.

  3. Kaley [Y Mucho Más] September 17, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    My favorite type of wine is sort of spicy. I like wines that are labeled “spice box” by people like Robert Parker. It keeps things interesting.

    I am a big red wine person, not really white wine – I know I should be more open, but red wine is just more delicious to me!

    • gillian September 17, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

      Oooh, “spice box” – I should look into those and try them. I feel like hoppy beer and spicy wine are sort of similar in the bold flavors department! 🙂

  4. Kristen - Anywhere There's An Airport September 18, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    Loved reading this! Can’t wait to write my own!

    I laughed out loud: “Best service? Not in Spain”

    SO nice to have my feelings and experiences validated. Thank you.

    • gillian September 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm #

      Thanks, Kristen! Looking forward to reading your responses!

      Although I don’t miss elements of the service in Spain – I do miss it 🙂

  5. Casey September 18, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    Hi Gillilan: This HAS to be your most ambitious blog yet! How long did it take you to compose? CC

    • gillian September 18, 2011 at 7:15 pm #

      Lol thanks! It took maybe 90 minutes or so? A nice break from promissory estoppel.

      Sent from my iPhone

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