Reviewing My Best Travel Experiences from A to Z

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I don’t often participate in memes, or 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. I was advised to upgrade to a better beer.

I agree.

Although I end up drinking too much of better beers as well. I still feel terrible the next morning.

peruvian fish soup

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.

I’m not a big fan of Lima, although I did have a great time learning to make pisco sours with couchsurfers and Tourist2Townie really likes the city so I think I need to give it another shot.

beluga whales

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.

But I love the train and Eurail giving me a pass to have the Europe backpacking trip I had always wanted was amazing.

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:

Only photos.

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.

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.

Imagine 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?

The best wine is in Chile but my favourite wine moments were with Rease and Stephanie in Buenos Aires.

At top of Machu Picchu

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.

Join the Conversation

  1. Nice, I just published my ABCs today too, haha! Snorkeling with the belugas must have been so amazing! Here’s to a 2012 with just as many adventures (and food!).

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yes, and hopefully we cross paths again. I do want to visit Brazil…

  2. sandy@selfindulged says:

    Cool summary…I hopr 2012 brings you more safe and exciting travels. x

  3. I admire your traveling spirit. I would love to go to Petra some day. I read an article about it in National Geographic and I have to say, the photographs were stunning. In the same spirit, I would also like to go to Pompeii and Herculaneum. To walk the same paths that others traversed two thousand years ago must be awe-inspiring. I look forward to seeing where 2012 takes you. Best wishes, Russell

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Petra was truly spectacular both in the day and at night.

  4. Great summary. I’m envious of your travels, but someday will be doing this also!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Where are you headed first?

  5. I love your ABC’s!! You had an eventful year! Happy almost 2012!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Meg, I’m starting the year off with a bit of inspiration from you and will be doing a 30 day yoga challenge.

  6. Anthony @ Positive World Travel says:

    You have had some amazing experiences this year and we wish you all the best for an amazing 2012. Hopefully we bump into each other along the way 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s really about time it happened.

  7. I miss our wine nights so very much. I cannot wait until we can pick a reunion destination! Also, I love that you linked directly to the Taxi Nazi post. Excellent choice indeed.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There is also Mexico my dear!

  8. I envy you for going to Petra! That photo is beautiful. I’ve wanted to go there for years. Hope you have a great 2012!

  9. Stephanie - The Travel Chica says:

    I LOVE that you called out Quilmes as the worst beer you’ve had. Argentines just do not understand why I refuse to drink it.

    Ditto what Rease said. Lots of good wine memories… except for that one really, really bad hangover. Thank god we had our apartment, and I wasn’t in a hostel.

  10. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    My answer to Z is the same as yours! 🙂 But I want to personally take you around BsAs on a food journey, because I think I could change your mind about Argentina not being a foodie destination.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I may just take you up on that Andi!

  11. I really enjoyed reading this fun post, it was a great way to recap all your adventures this past year.

  12. Right on! Jealous about snorkeling with the Beluga Whales.

  13. Dani | Globetrottergirls says:

    Surprised to see Peruvian cuisine as your favorite – we just talked to someone yesterday who was raving about the food in Peru. Now I am looking forward to trying it (next year?) 🙂

  14. Bet I’d say ‘wow’ too if I went snorkelling with beluga whales.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There are no words to express how amazing it was to be in the water with those animals.

  15. Grace Pamer says:

    As a stay-at-home mom, I just have to bluntly admit how I envy your expeditions. I am a fan of food and travel and how I wish I could do it someday (of course, with my three kids and husband). I can see you had a great year and I am hoping you will have another year of fun and adventures.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You know a lot of days I envy your life too, well the husband maybe not the kids 😉

  16. Snorkelling with Beluga whales? Sigh, dream, wish etc 😉

  17. Tours In Agra says:

    I love your A To Z in Travel. Happy New Year 2012

  18. crazy sexy fun traveler says:

    Wow, beluga whales, something I waana do for sure!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s amazing, definitely the best thing I’ve done.

  19. Jarmo @ Arctic Nomad says:

    Mmm, Peruvian food, yep, there is a lot of potential there, it is so good. I could use some Ceviche right now!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s pretty easy to make as long as you have fresh seafood

  20. Still so envious that you got to snorkel with beluga whales! And visit Petra! And do all of these other awesome things!

    Sounds like 2011 was a really great year, and I liked your twist on the ABC meme!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Amanda, its funny how posts like this make you realize how much you have done.

  21. Kirsten Alana says:

    I too disliked the food in Argentina. I’d go so far as to say I hated it but that’s a strong word. I just absolutely, completely did not get what any of the fuss is about. I’ve had better food in every single other country I’ve been to.

    And my you have had quite a year!! I’m glad it included us crossing paths several times. That was quite a treat.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I think because so many people drool over the food in Argentina it becomes a bigger disappointment. But I spent two months in Buenos Aires and ate a whole lot of food, it’s 2 stars at best.

  22. family travel says:

    We really really want to go to Jordan!! And we are veg, so good to know we can find great food there!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      You will have an easy time there, especially with the falafels.

  23. Good job at being creative with the meme / year-end review! I like that you mentioned both the ups and downs – sometimes we’re so concerned about being positive or polite, we lose our candor.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      There is so much I loved but you cannot love everything.

  24. Looks like you had an amazing year! You truly are an inspiration and heres to 2012 being even better 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Cailin, it was so great meeting you this year.

  25. Mahmoud Twaissi says:

    Many thanks of all your writing,comments and nots about Jordan ,Petra, and me and you are most welcome to come back to jordan to see the rest of my beautiful country

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thank you so much Mahmoud!

  26. Camels & Chocolate says:

    I love this! I might have to save it for a rainy day in 2012, even though it won’t technically be an end-of-year wrap-up.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The original meme is just a travel theme but I thought it would be nice to do for the end of 2012.

  27. Fab list girl.. wish I had your life!! so fun:) Happy new year.. here’s to 2012!

  28. Great list, hun. 🙂 What an incredible year you’ve had.

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