The Mint Shop

The Mint Shop

Monday, 23 January 2012

My ABC of Travel

Mette of Italian Notes has kindly asked me to participate in the "My ABC Travel" Series. Being so non-technical it took me three rounds of emails to understand what I was supposed to do. But here it is!

A: Age you went on your first international trip: I suppose that if Europe counts as "international" I think it was when I was 8 years old. My family and I went to Austria for a month tour of the main cities, mountains and lakes. I remember that trip quite vividly somehow, especially the wurstels in ketchup sauce grilled under a tree to repair from the rain (abundant around the lakes!).

B: Best (foreign) beer you've had and where: with time I grew fonder of beer, especially during my study trip in Dublin where I got obsessed with collecting beer-mats. I loved Murphys (red). But equally great was the chocolate beer I had in Brussels a few years ago.

C: Cuisine (favourite): I seem to have "trends". When I was in my late teens I got a big passion for Moroccan food (couscous in particular) which I punctually asked my mother to prepare for my birthday. I then had an obsession for Japanese food, sushi and udon while at University. I think I am now in an Italian phase, maybe because I am discovering so many great dishes through the cooking course I am teaching in England, especially with fish.

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why: there are so many places I should list that I am not too sure I should even start! I have realized though that despite having traveled a fair bit I am more European than I have ever thought so my favourite destinations have been Bonifacio in Corsica, Finisterrae and Seville in Spain. I would probably say that my least favourite destination is Nairobi but only because there is no way one can walk anywhere without having to drive. Having said that, wild nature is at a stone throw and you can see zebras crossing the road (real ones!).

E: Event abroad that made you say "wow": looking at the Grand Canyon with its changing light and colours and under the snow.

F: Favourite mode of transportation: I have always loved travelling by train, there is something so romantic about it. The first time I took a long train trip was to go from Rome to Saint Raphael in France when I was thirteen. Unfortunately Ryanair has replaced trains being so damn cheap! But train it is when I can at least within the same country.

G: Greatest feeling while travelling: experiencing how locals live even if it is only by watching them all day long.

H: Hottest place you've travelled to: George town in Malaysia. It was so hot and humid that even my eyes and  inside-elbows were sweating!

I: Incredible service you've experienced and where: on the Tamarin Dhow, an old wooden boat that sails off the coast of Mombasa from evening to the night while you are having your meal and dance your lobsters away.

J: Journey that took the longest: there have been quite a few: from Bali to Mexico via Seoul (28 hours), from Thailand to Singapore (18 hours), and from Siena to Amsterdam by train (16 hours). But with a good book and a camera nothing feels too long!

K: Keepsake from your travels: maps. Not sure why we keep them all - I suppose we think we will look at them again in the future to remind us of the roads we walked, and to be of use again should we ever go back there.

L: Let-down site, why and where: Herculaneum site. The noise and mess of the traffic to get there was so insane that I felt knackered once we entered the site which I was also expecting to be bigger.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: the same train trip I took to go to Cote d'Azur in my teens. Looking from the window at the sun setting over the sea giving a range of oranges and reds was amazing.

N: Nicest hotel you've stayed in: except for work, my husband and I tend to stay in small and informal b&b or guest houses which might have a bit of character without costing too much. The nicest was a guest house we spent a night in Coimbra, Portugal, during our honey-moon (Casa Pombal). The room was tiny but we found a bottle of vino verde on the table, windows open onto the roofs and Madredeus for breakfast whilst enjoying different types of hams, cheeses and jams.

O: Obsession - what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling? I think I am obsessed with taking pictures of windows, doors and colonnades everywhere, travelling or not travelling, which to most people don't mean very much.

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? I think more than 35. My passport is in fact finished even though it has not yet expired.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you've visited and where: probably Las Vegas. It is such a crazy place where people go and spend an entire week holiday without even leaving their casino! Paris was quite cool though...

R: Recommended sight, event or experience: I always find markets and train stations the best ways to look at the soul of a place so full of colours, noises and smells.

S: Splurge: something you have no problem forking out money for while travelling: I must admit that this is a very difficult question as I am quite stingy and always try to walk everywhere instead of taking public transports, to eat at markets to sample the street flavours instead of going to a restaurant but perhaps I would say a beautiful object that I can use to decorate our home. I have lamps from Mexico, rugs from Turkey, vases from Syria, and paintings from all over the places.

T: Touristy thing you've done: a tour around the wine houses in Porto sampling the wine and the delicious nibbles to then get trapped at the end and being confronted with buying a bottle (but which we managed to resist!...see my stingy side...)

U: Unforgettable travel memory: waking up with the pillow covered with sand after a storm in the Moroccan desert where we spent a night in a little tent.

V: Visas, how many and for where? Four. Benin, China, Kenya, Syria. Stamps don't count as Visa, do they? If so...quite a few more!

Wine: Best wine while travelling and where? A cold glass of Marsala in, of course!, Marsala looking at the sea and munching at some local salame with pistachios and pepper cheese.

X: eXcellent view and from where? The rice paddies from our breakfast terrace in Bali; so relaxing and peaceful (and no mosquitoes!).

Y: Years spent travelling: since my trip to Austria with my family I have never stopped travelling, and never will if I can.

Z: Zealous sport fan and where? Does eating and drinking count as a sport? ;D

This was my ABC Travel and I'd like to pass on the challenge to some of my favourite bloggers from Italy, England and USA.

Pete from Lazio Explorer 
Giulia from Jul's Kitchen
Michelle from Bleeding Espresso


  1. What beautiful travel memories from all around the world. We practice map collecting too, expecting to get back sometime before the city layouts change, but now you've got me thinking ... Interesting:)

  2. It's amazing how each place has its own beauty to remember. Next on my list: Umbria, Berlin and Hungary! :D

  3. What a wonderful idea this ABC Travel series. What a nice window into your world of travel, Francesca. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. what a wonderful world you live in Fran! But what has happened to your blog? Are you off travelling somewhere so exotic that it doesn't even have internet? Or are you writing for someone else now? Please let us, your loyal readers, know!!

    1. Hope you're enjoying the latest posts...;D Life has been quite hectic! Thank you for being such a keen reader! :D

  5. I love this post! I caught the travel bug when I was 14, and food is a central reason why I travel. (So in other words, I share your taste in "sports" :)

    1. Thank you Allison for your comment. I think travelling is one of the best things, isn't it?

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  7. I'm obsessed with this place!!! I want to see that every day when I wake up!
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