Me and Jaime after La Tomatina.

Next time won’t you sing with me? My ABCs of travel.

My friend Jaime tagged me to share my travel ABCs. And, right now, I just about hate him for it 🙂 The alphabet has too many letters!


A: Age you went on your first international trip:

26. Shortly after starting this blog. Shortly after deciding I needed some changes in my life. I got my passport and accompanied some friends on a three week trip around Europe. I never had been particularly interested in traveling before, but that trip changed my life.

A gondola ride in Venice, Italy.


B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:

It’s no secret that I hate beer. I drink it here and there because it’s usually the cheaper option. But I’m a cocktail kind of girl. That said, I really like fruity lambics so I had one of those in Brussels. I’d had it before. But it still counts.

Drinking a lambic beer in Brussels, Belgium


C: Cuisine (favorite):

I have to choose? I miss Mexican food so much. And I lovelovelove Italian food. And tapas, oh tapas. But I think I have to go with Thai food. At home I eat Thai food at least once a week. Asia is like a paradise for eating.

Pad thai at Millennium Park


D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:

My favorite place so far has been Spain. All of it. The food, the architecture, the culture. I still want to go back and explore more of the country. I never really hate anywhere, but I guess my least favorite place I’ve been has been Phuket, because it was just full of Asian hookers.

Phuket, Thailand


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

Correfoc in Barcelona! Standing in a massive crowd getting fire thrown at me was so cool.

Correfoc in Barcelona


F: Favorite mode of transportation:

My car. I miss my car. I like the freedom of just hopping in and going wherever I want to go and making crazy stops. You don’t really get that with any other mode of transport.

My car at Flinstone's Bedrock City in Keystone, South Dakota. Labor Day Chicago to Mount Rushmore Road Trip.


G: Greatest feeling while traveling:

That you can go anywhere, anytime. And nothing really matters.


H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:

Sevilla, Spain at the beginning of August. The hottest city in Europe in the hottest month of the year. Even the locals flee.

Sevilla, Spain


I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:

I’m having trouble thinking of one particular place or experience. But I always appreciate when, as a solo diner, I’m taken care of as well as a table full of people. I tip well, I swear.


J: Journey that took the longest:

My longest journey was probably the 40 hour round trip drive we took to get from Seattle, Washington to Hyder Alaska…just to spend about 3 hours in the town…

Hyder, Alaska


K: Keepsake from your travels:

My photographs are probably my favorite keepsake. I don’t buy or collect much. I do have a small collection of miniature versions of tall things I’ve been to the top of. And I’ve started collecting seashells from beaches.

Mini versions of tall things


L: Let-down sight, why and where:

Americana Hollywood Museum in Metropolis, Illinois. It was just one of those places that makes you go, really? This exists? And that takes a lot coming from me…

Americana Hollywood Museum


M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:

I think I fell in love with the idea of travel while taking a travel writing class in grad school. I fell in love with travel the next year, at some point, while my friends and I backpacked Europe for three weeks.

Self portrait in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France


N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

The hotel I stayed at in Izmir, Turkey was incredibly nice and incredibly cheap. It even came with a Turkish delight on the pillow! The nicest hostel was Reggae Mansion in Kuala Lumpur. It had a restaurant, rooftop bar, and it’s own movie theater.

Turkish delight on my pillow

Reggae Mansion in Kuala Lumpur


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

Umm… everything 😉 But I think it’s safe to say that everyone who has ever met me knows that I have an ever so slight obsession with taking photos of my food.

Chopped bbq sandwich


P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?

I want to tell you for certain, but I can’t because the Vietnam hostels all take control of your passport, so I can’t look. I know I have at least Munich, Berlin, Stewart (British Columbia), Amsterdam, Turkey, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. There are a couple more, I think, from my first European adventure but I’m not sure from where.

My passport


Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

It may quite possibly be impossible for me to answer this question. I recently counted and figured out that I’ve been to over 200 roadside attractions in America. I’ll go with Carhenge, just because it’s one of my favorite quirky attractions.

Carhenge roadside attraction in Alliance, Nebraska. Labor Day Chicago to Mount Rushmore Road Trip.


R: Recommended sight, event or experience:

You have to go to Coney Island for the Fourth of July hot dog eating contest. It’s amazing. And ever so American. Go! Go now! OK, well, maybe wait until July.

Hot dog eating contest


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

Food. I love eating. ‘Nuff said.

Seafood in Spain


T: Touristy thing you’ve done:

I make no apologies for being a tourist. And, hello, I run a super tacky tourist blog! It’s so hard to choose just one thing. But I think I’ll go with my mega road trip around Illinois. A three-day trip to see the weirdest things in my home state. Because it was the road trip that began my road tripping career.



U: Unforgettable travel memory:

One of the most awesome things I’ve done so far while traveling was attend La Tomatina! It was a huge tomato fight in Spain. The crowd was crazy and drunk and totally packed, but it was such an amazing day!

Me and Jaime after La Tomatina.


V: Visas, how many and for where?

Three so far: Turkey, Cambodia, and Vietnam.


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

I don’t drink wine all too often. I love wine but mostly because it’s a good alternative to beer. Sangria (and tinto de veranos) in Spain though, that’s a whole other ballgame. Pour me a pitcher and I’m a happy girl.



X: eXcellent view and from where?

I was born and raised in flat-flat-flat Illinois. So I always love going through mountains. One of my favorite views so far was while driving through the Smoky Mountains.

Smoky Mountains


Y: Years spent traveling?:

I’ll go with five. I wasn’t someone who grew up traveling so it wasn’t really until the last five years that I started trying to see as much of the world as I possibly can.


Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:

Coney Island on July 4th! Because the hot dog eating contest is most definitely the biggest sporting event anywhere on Earth. Right?

Hot dog eating contest fans


So now you know my travel abcs! Next time won’t you sing…err…blog with me?

Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Jaime
    December 18, 2011at6:37 am

    Aww love it & love all the photos!!! Im jealous while you were spain you were able to go to so many cool festivales. I do love that soon thught we will be able to say we attended HOLI… in INDIA!!! EEEeee so excited. See ya soon… I will be applying for my VISA tomorrow.

  • Tricia(Geeky Explorers)
    December 18, 2011at10:36 am

    Awesome A-Z list Val!

  • Ali
    December 19, 2011at12:09 am

    Love it! Love the pictures! I can’t believe you drove 40 hours to spend 3 hours in Alaska…crazy!

    I know what you mean about sort of hating Jaime for this…it’s taking me forever to finish & is definitely my longest post ever.

  • Andrew
    January 22, 2012at8:59 am

    It is so hard to believe that you have only traveling for 5 years.
    Yay Tomatina, added bonus as I think I took that picture of you and Jaime.

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