I don’t often participate in memes, or blog post ideas that a number of people have written, but when Adventurous Kate tagged me with the A to Z meme I thought I would take a twist on it and review the last year.
A lot has happened.
A: Age you started traveling?
I started 2011 at 33 in Ecuador, having just learned the New Years Eve traditions and hoping that my yellow undies would bring me financial fortune for the year.
B: Best beer you’ve had and where?
I’m not a big connoisseur of beer but I can tell you the worst is Quilmes in Argentina. A few people told me that it was so full of chemicals you always feel terrible the next day but if you can upgrade to a better beer you will feel fine. I agree although I end up drinking too much of better beers as well and still feel terrible the next morning.
C: Cuisine (favourite):
My prediction would be that Peruvian food is the next cusiine to explode although I think I’m too late on that bandwagon as many other great chefs have proclaimed it. But it really is my favourite in South America with fresh, spicy seafood I was swept away by sudado in Northern Peru and the love affair continued over the two months I was there.
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:
Impossible to answer and certainly not by country. I was blown away by the Atacama Desert in Chile as I had never been in a desert before and it was incredibly beautiful.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:
The most amazing thing I have ever done is snorkel with beluga whales and it wasn’t abroad but in my own country in Churchill, Manitoba.
F: Favorite mode of transportation:
Technically you can travel by plane in South America but I took a lot of 20-hour bus rides and learned to really love the time disconnected from the world.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling:
There are highs and lows but there is an overall sense in pride that I am doing exactly what I want and took a great risk to get there.
H: Hottest place:
Back to the Atacama Desert, it was so hot you could feel the moisture evaporating from your skin and needed to constantly moisturize or risk looking like the dry, cracked landscape. I have never been in such dry, harsh heat.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:
My guide in Jordan, Mahmoud, was amazing. I spent ten days with him and he went above and beyond the duties of a tour guide, he introduced me to his country and answered all my questions never making me feel silly about them.
J: Journey that took the longest:
Traveling from Cuenca, Ecuador to Lima, Peru took 3 days and several bus changes, including an odd experience where a bus driver offered to rent a hotel room with me. When I said I wasn’t tired he told me we didn’t have to sleep!
K: Keepsake from your travels:
L: Let-down sight, why and where:
Maybe not a sight but cuisine, I had to admit that I really didn’t think food in Argentina was very good. I had some food highlights but overall it is not a food destination.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:
I fell in love with travel when I was 16 but the one place where I thought wow I cannot believe I am here was in Jordan. I had become familiar with Latin America but Jordan was so different from anywhere I had ever been and I felt really lucky to experience it.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:
They are all different experiences but Tierra Atacama was incredible, at Protur Biomar Gran Hotel I ate at my first Michelin star restaurant, and the nicest staff award goes to Hotel Amic Horizonte who took care of me while I was sick in Mallorca.
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:
Not surprisingly food.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
This year 7: Peru, Chile, Argentina, England, Germany (Schengen), Jordan, Spain (Schengen).
I’m not one of those people who likes to brag about the number of countries I’ve been to. It’s easy to accumulate dozens when you only spend a few days in a country. I prefer to stay longer.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:
I didn’t really go to any odd museums but personally I think going to an all-you-can-eat steak restaurant is a little out there.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience:
Oh how do I pick just one? I have to go back to Jordan. Food is Jordan is great even for vegetarians, Petra lives up to its hype, the Bedouin culture is fascinating and above all Jordan is safe to travel.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:
I don’t splurge very often but food is important. Despite not being crazy about food in Argentina I did have some memorable experiences at closed-door restaurants, a molecular gastronomy tasting menu and the only restaurant I’d recommend in Argentina.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done:
Sightseeing at Caminito in La Boca in Buenos Aires. It is a complete tourist trap, a Disneyfied version of a neighborhood that once existed, but it’s still quite cute and worth an afternoon stroll.
U: Unforgettable travel memory:
Working at a hostel in Cusco, it was so interesting to be on the other side of tourism.
V: Visas, how many and for where?
I didn’t buy any in South America but I did need one for Jordan.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?
X: eXcellent view and from where?:
As much as I think Machu Picchu is overrated, hiking Waynapicchu to the top was pretty cool.
Y: Years spent traveling?:
Well the whole year. I did come home for a bit which was a bit traumatic but then took off again.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:
I played soccer for years so going to matches in Latin America was amazing. And I paid far too much but I highly recommend going to a Boca Jr. match in Buenos Aires.
And now the task of tagging other bloggers for this meme, I challenge: