A while ago, I promised to have a go at the A to Z of Travel that's been going around so here it is.
A: Age you started travelling?
The first time I flew, I was 23 and on a package holiday to one of the Greek islands. I realised during that trip I could travel on my own but I didn’t really start travelling until I set off on my first round-the-world backpacking trip when I was 26.
B: Best beer you’ve had and where?
I really like the sweet, dark Portuguese beer, Bohemia. It’s deceptively strong and very moreish so it’s easy to lose track of how many I’ve had! Happily for me, I live in Portugal now so I can drink it whenever I want, providing the bar or supermarket stocks it.
C: Cuisine (favourite)
Indian, definitely, although I still haven’t been to India.
D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why
It was love at first sight for me and Barcelona, Spain. I lived there for two years and it still has a hold over me. I’d be there now, if I could afford to live there.
I hated Caracas, Venezuela. Dirty, dangerous and depressing. Not my cup of tea at all.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
Flying over the flat-topped tepuis in Canaima, Venezuela and then being dwarfed by these mystical mountains as we made our way along the river to Angel Falls. I thought I was well-travelled and hard to impress before I went there but I was bowled over.
F: Favourite mode of transportation
It really depends on why I’m travelling. If it’s to appreciate the scenery, I’d say horseback or on foot but if the objective is to get from A to B quickly then whatever does that best. I don’t buy all that ‘it’s all about the journey, not the destination’, nonsense. I just want to get to where I’m going so I can enjoy it.
G: Greatest feeling while travelling
Being able to satisfy my curiosity by following my whims, and the thrill of discovery when that leads to something unexpected.
H: Hottest place
The heat in Bangkok was so intense the backs of my hands were sweating!
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
Maweni Lodge in the Usambara mountains, Tanzania. My friend and I were the only guests in this gorgeous place and were treated like royalty.
J: Journey that took the longest
Going to from Stone Town to Bwejuu in Zanzibar in a local minibus which was essentially a covered pick-up truck with two planks of wood down each side that served as benches. I’d been on crowded minibuses before but we were wedged so tightly I was in agony for most of the journey, which seemed to last forever but was, in fact only about three hours. I was just grateful not to have to make that journey on a regular basis like the majority of the other passengers.
K: Keepsake from your travels
I have lots but one I’m really fond of is an appliqué throw from Cairo. It’s a mixture of Islamic geometric patterns and the lotus flower design and is unusually a square, rather than a rectangle. By pure chance, it fits perfectly behind the sofa in my living room.
L: Let-down sight, why and where
Gibraltar. Just go to Rhyl, or any seaside town in the UK – you’ll get the same experience but cheaper.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
When I woke up the morning after a hellish journey to Raratonga in the Cook Islands to find I was in a tropical paradise. I’d never been anywhere like it before and couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, one of the hostel staff presented me with a selection of fresh fruit: star fruit, papaya and mini bananas. I was in heaven and I hadn’t even seen the beaches at that point!
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
Hard to say. There have been so many special places over the years. The most recent one was Casa do Sezim in Guimarães which has original hand painted wallpaper with scenes from around the world in the living rooms.
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?
Flowers and tiles; I’ve got thousands of photos of both. I also like quirky architectural details.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?
13 different countries: Australia, Thailand, Cook Islands, New Zealand, Cyprus, Czech Republic, USA, Indonesia, Tanzania, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, Venezuela
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
Possibly the giant crab, somewhere in southern Australia. Or the hollowed out tree that housed a whole family, again in Australia.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience
The Alhambra in Granada, Spain is a place I hankered after visiting and was thoroughly impressed by when I got there. I love Islamic architecture, designs and ceramics and so it ticks a lot of boxes for me.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while travelling
I like the flexibility of booking my own flights and accommodation and the freedom of being able to explore places in my own time and way. However, there are some things that are better done via a guided tour so I’ll pay out for these when I think they’re going to be worth it.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done
It's difficult to choose just one thing. Aren't most of the things people do when we're travelling 'touristy' in one way or another? I have had my photo taken with Tigger at Disneyland, Paris, and I'm pretty sure that falls into the 'touristy' category.
U: Unforgettable travel memory
One experience I hope I never forget is the freebie trip to the Serengeti in Tanzania that my friend and I scored just by being in the right place at the right time. We stayed in a luxury tented lodge that was way beyond our usual means and behaved like over excited kids at the zoo on two spectacular game drives.
V: Visas, how many and for where?
Five: Australia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Venezuela
W: Wine, best glass of wine while travelling and where?
There have been so many, it’s impossible to choose just one.
X: eXcellent view and from where?
I love the view from ‘The Bryn’, which is a hill in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. From the top, there’s a 360º view which spans the mountains of Snowdonia and the coastal towns of Llandudno, Penrhyn Bay, Colwyn Bay and Rhyl. Sure, there are more impressive views in the world but it’s an easy yet rewarding climb to get this one.
Y: Years spent travelling?
I just celebrated my 15th anniversary as a traveller.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?
I hate football, partly because of the noise the fans make. When I went to Prague, the main square had been taken over by British football fans being loud and yobbish. Grrr!
To have a go at answering these questions yourself or find links to other people's A to Zs of Travel, click here.
Or check out the other A to Z memes we've got for you.
Ooops! Almost forgot to tag another traveller to do the A to Z! How about Rusko, El Boquerón Viajero? Or Laurel from Monkeys, Mountains and Maultaschen perhaps... Or even Andrew Petcher who's beaten me to many a place!