Sunday, February 17, 2013

Liebster Blog Award

In the spirit of sharing travel experiences among the network of travel bloggers, I am participating in and passing along this travel questionnaire, which is the Liebster Blog Award.

Special thanks to thefriendlygiraffe for nominating me for the Liebster Blog Award!

The Rules
1. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions from the person who nominated you.
3. Nominated 11 new bloggers and ask them 11 questions.

11 Random Facts about Me:
1.  In 2009, I climbed a volcano in Guatemala with a group of 13 students and walked right up to the flowing lava.
2. In 2006, I fractured my foot during a performance of the Nutcracker, and still performed in the evening show later that night.
3. I ate a fried cricket in Kampong Cham, Cambodia - July 2012. (Even I can hardly believe it!)
4. For the first time ever, I joined a broomball team.
5. At the moment, travel writing is not my full-time job...I'm a graduate student, and I study neurobiology at The University of Chicago.
6. I'm a huge fan of the English tea time tradition and all the scones and clotted cream that come with it.
7. I write my travel blog so that fifty years from now I'll be able to remember all the exciting details from my travels.
8. My favorite flavor of ice cream is coffee-oreo, and when I was little, my grandma introduced me to coffee ice cream.  Interestingly, I'm not a coffee drinker.
9. I love to shop and enjoy buying new clothes, shoes, and accessories all over the world in markets and little shops.
10. I sort of want to wear a fascinator to an actual event one day.
11. Thanks to the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, one of the few things I can say in French is, "It's time for a siesta".  C'est l'heure de la sieste

Questions I was Asked:
1. When overseas, what measures do you take to blend in?  Does it work?

Though I don't really try to blend in, I have heard, and would agree, that if you're an American who wants to blend in in Europe that it's best to leave these items home: Anything North Face, your white gym shoes, and your iPod.

In some places, you'll never blend in.  For example, I'll never blend in on a trip to Asia, much of the Middle East, or Central America.  Just by looking at me, my mannerisms, and my clothes, it will be pretty obvious that I'm a foreigner, and that's fine.  Quite differently, when I lived in Madrid, people knew right away that I wasn't Spanish, but routinely asked me if I was French.  (I'm American.)

2. How important is it for you to learn the language before traveling to a foreign country?  Share a funny story of a misunderstanding due to a language barrier.

I believe that if you plan to live in a country, then it is your responsibility to learn the language of that country in order to effectively integrate yourself as a member of that society.  If you're going on a short trip, it helps to know the language, but a perfectly acceptable start is learning key words and phrases.  If you travel to a different country every week as I did last year, this gets complicated.  In general, I've found that as long as I'm super polite and have a few basic words on hand, there are no problems.  The only place I've ever been literally yelled at (twice) for not knowing the language was in Rome.

While living in Madrid, I frequently mixed up the word lentejas (lentils) with the word lentillas (contact lenses).  So I have lots of stories about telling people I was going to go put lentils in my eyes.  I also tried inventing the verb amigar (to friend someone on Facebook), since the verb twitear is used (to tweet on Twitter).

3. If you hop on a plane to celebrate a specific festival, ceremony, or holiday, what would it be and where?

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it's not religious, which means that you can invite all your friends regardless of religious differences.  It's a time of year to reflect on all the good parts of our lives, and I think people should focus more on that during the rest of the year.  Thanksgiving dinner with my family is also special to me because it's the first time you come home from college to reunite with all your high school friends.  Though it may not be an exotic ceremony, I would definitely hop on a plane to come home for Thanksgiving.

4. List the top five places (countries, cities, landmarks, etc.) you would recommend everyone visit before they die.

1) Krakow, Poland - This trip far exceeded my expectations.
2) London, UK - A personal favorite
3) Charleston, SC, USA - Southern charm, it's a real thing.
4) The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Amazing architecture, great colors, lots of monkeys.
5) The Marc Chagall ceiling in the Palais Garnier at the Paris Opera Ballet

5. What is the "riskiest" travel stunt you've ever pulled?

The most dangerous thing I have ever done while traveling (or ever) was climbing the very active Vulcán de Pacaya in Guatemala.  After about two hours of clawing my way up through shifting volcanic ash (wrong day to wear a white shirt!), I stepped right up to the source of the glowing, orange lava.  I was completely in awe to see liquid rock flowing mere feet away from where I stood, and I'll never forget the intense heat coming from the lava - I could feel it's burning temperature through the soles of my shoes.

6. What are the best and worse foods you've had while traveling overseas?

Best/favorite foods I've sampled overseas: Tradelník in Prague, Revolution burger in Covent Garden, lamb tajine in Marrakech, falafel in Israel, pierogies in Krakow.

Worst foods I've sampled overseas: A fried cricket in Cambodia and a tuna steak in Toledo, Spain, which came complete with lots of sharp bones.

7. Describe your ideal sunset.  Where would it be?

Seen from a boat with lots of vivid colors.  Here's a memorable sunset from Boston (below).  I took this photo on the 4th of July on the banks of the Charles River while listening to the Boston Pops' Firework Spectacular.

8. If you could meet up with any historical figure, (poet, politician, activist, singer, etc.) in their home country, who would you meet and why?

I would travel back to St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) with Baryshnikov because I would like to see how he trained in the Vaganova School.  Actually, he's from Latvia, but his training was in St. Petersburg.  While youtube is fantastic, it would be really special to see him dance live.

My other choice would be to travel back to the Bolshoi Academy with Natalia Osipova to see how she trained.  I love watching her high energy, explosive jumps and precise turns in youtube videos, and it would also be fantastic to see her dance live.  Alternatively, I could go see her perform with ABT in New York.  Time to plan a trip!

9. What's the best part of coming home after your travels?

By far, the best part of coming home is getting picked up at the airport by your family.  They can't wait to see you, you can't wait to see them...the only thing better is arriving all the way home and receiving the best greeting ever from your adorable beagle.

Another thing I appreciate when I come home is that tap water and bread are free in restaurants in the US.  It's also nice to be able to drink the tap water.  Brushing your teeth and two retainers with bottled water everyday is extremely awkward to maneuver.

10. What is your favorite inspirational travel quotation?

"Airplane travel is nature's way of making you look like your passport photo."
-Al Gore

11. What are your five "must haves" for an overseas adventure?

1) It's tremendously important to bring the right outlet converter.  If you plan on taking photos, using your phone, or charging anything at all, it's 100% worth checking out what type of converter you'll need before embarking on your trip.
2) Granola bars - With jet lag comes the very real possibility that you'll wake up starving in the middle of the night.  Granola bars are small, light, and safe to bring into other countries.  In a pinch, it's good to have a little snack with you.
3) Comfortable shoes - Many trips involve a lot of walking, and sightseeing is always more fun when your feet don't hurt.
4) My camera - Photos are free souvenirs, and they help preserve your memories from the trip. Additionally, they're easy to share.  Each time I go to a new city, I take a picture of the written name of that city so my pictures will be easier to sort through later on.
5) Extra toothbrush - If I'm traveling in a country where I cannot drink the tap water, I make sure to pack an extra toothbrush just in case I run tap water over the first one accidentally out of habit.
My 11 Nominees:
1. Aaron from Aaron's Worldwide Adventures
2. Kathryn and Daniel from Two Go Round-The-World
3. Tasha from Tasha's Travel Troves
4. Heather and Chris from Tourist Guide Central
5. Nina from Watching for Rocks
6. Meg from Meg Travels
7. Kristina from Travel a World Away
8. Kristy from The Globetrotting Canuck
9. Ashley and Justin from The Parallel Life
10. Tim from Marginal Boundaries
11. Travel Fashion Girl

11 Questions for my Nominees:
1. Why do you write a travel blog?
2. Where did you get your coolest looking passport stamp or visa?
3. Favorite three travel destinations?
4. If you had the chance, would you travel to the Moon?
5. When you're away, what do you miss from home?
6. Would you consider moving permanently to a country other than your own?
7. Are you more prone to travel to countries where you are able to speak their language?
8. One exciting part of traveling is the opportunity to catch a glimpse of different traditions and lifestyles.  What is one custom that has surprised you, and where did you see/experience it?
9. What's the best food you ate abroad, and where did you eat it?
10. How do you deal with getting sick while you're from traveling, whether from water, different food, or another reason?
11.  To where will you travel next and how did you decide?

1 comment:

  1. WOW! I am extremely jealous of no.5! Lucky you!!