Exploring the Stories of the Islands and the Freedoms of Third Age

My Travel ABCs


Thank you, Cathy of  for nominating me for this meander back to journeys past, and I have to say what a very pleasant experience it’s been.  The older you get, the more memories, obviously, some clouded by time and yet others fresh as the day they happened and the latter are, I guess, the ones I remember:

A.  Age you went on your first International trip:  I was fifteen. It was a school exchange trip to Sölingen in Germany. I had a big, old suitcase like something out of Agatha Christie, with a tennis racket strapped to the outside – how many black & white movies had I seen??? And it was train and ferry – pity the poor teachers in charge of a gaggle of teenage girls! I was thinking about it only the other day, and have a partly written post when I get time to finish it!

B.  Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:  According to knowledgeable friends, my taste in beer is pathetic (I actually like light, lager-type beers), but I do have a good memory of a wet, blustery and boozy afternoon and  “Black Velvet” – Guinness with champagne – in the Isle of Man off the coast off north west England some years ago.

C.  Cuisine:  Default response – Italian, even though I love Thai, French, Indian and sushi  – yep, even after consideration, it’s Italian, especially homemade with really fresh ingredients natch.

D.  Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:  Least favorite, Paris. Maybe expectations were too high, maybe because it was February (dreary month for northernEurope), maybe in wrong company – oh I had a good time, and I did enjoy it, but it simply didn’t “do it” for me the way I expected. Rome, on the other hand, twists itself around my heart more each time I return.

E.  Event you experienced which made you go Wow!: American Football game in London last year – 49ers vs Broncos – I had no idea it would be so exciting, so strategic. I’d had totally wrong idea about it! And the crowd control by the London Police afterwards was superb, and interesting in itself. I’d never been to a game in the US, so, even though I’d seen them on tv, I wasn’t prepared for all the razzle dazzle. Felt more like being in the US than the UK!
F.  Favorite mode of transportation: No contest – trains! I went on the Orient Express when it first re-launched in the 80s, and that may be the travel highlight of my life (I’d really have to give that a lot of thought before I said it for sure), but I love all trains, even the sardine-jammed one I took to Snowdonia in Wales in 2010 – I stood all the way from Chester, but the scenery was so wonderful I didn’t care. On the other hand, I do love road trips because you can stop whenever and wherever you choose, change your itinerary on a whim.
G.  Greatest feeling whilst travelling: Two feelings, and I can’t choose between them. One is the excitement/challenge of new places/experiences and the other is the utter freedom from routine. Sometimes when I’m travelling alone I love that, basically, no-one knows where I am at a precise moment.
H.  Hottest place you’ve travelled to:  Haven’t been anywhere exotic and hot, but experiencing heat in a city is different from being in the country or on the coast. I remember wilting inMadrid one July. It was as if the heat hit the concrete and then bounced back, having heated up some more. It was around 45ºC I think. Although summer in the Canary Islands isn’t as bad as some places (we always have an Atlantic breeze to cool things down in the evenings), I’m getting past enjoying it to be honest. I like sunshine and warmth but not so much the sticky.
I.  Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: This is going to be really corny, but I can’t think of anywhere with better service than Disney World. It’s partly what they’ve built their reputation on, isn’t it, so that’s not surprising. It’s not something most places inTenerife prioritize, which is one thing which lets the island down, I’m afraid.
J.  Journey that took you the longest:  Not a nice story really, but some years back we (as a family) were going fromManchester toMalaga, and very early that morning there was an accident atManchester airport.  As I recall a plane caught fire on takeoff, it wasn’t a crash as such, but the runway was closed and chaos ensued. It took us exactly 24 hours from door to door, which should have been four hours. We were bussed to a different airport, and travelling with two small children it wasn’t easy, but they were so good. I was so proud of them! They were clearly destined to travel!  In one way, it wasn’t a bad experience because everyone was so nice to each other, thinking, I suppose, “That could have been me.”
K.  Keepsakes from your travels:  I don’t have any, specific thing, but I usually like to get something small to remember a place, bookmarks, fridge magnets (yup I know!), books, and I like buying clothes when I travel. I don’t keep them forever, of course, but nice memories each time I wear whatever it is.
L.  Let down site. Where and Why?: You think I’m going to say the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame, because of what I said about Paris before, don’t you? But, no. I’m not sure I’ve ever been hugely let down by anything. Most busy tourist sights are busy and corny for a reason, because there is something amazing about them. However, returning to Rome after a 30 year gap I could have cried to see the hoards of tourists snapping away around the Trevi Fountain, somewhere which had been every bit as romantic as it was in the movies on my first visit.
M.  Moment you fell in love with travel:  I was in love with the idea of travel long before I set foot on foreign soil. As a kid I used to keep scrap books with pictures of other lands I intended to visit.
N.  Nicest hotel you’ve ever stayed in:  Poshest? The Gritti Palace inVenice.  We arrived at a small hotel/guest house which had been recommended by friends, to find it all locked up.  We glimpsed a lovely flower-filled courtyard through iron gates, and it looked absolutely charming, but the rest of my group didn’t want to wait for the owner to return, and one couple was especially “nouveau riche” so the Gritti it was. I wasn’t at all impressed in any way by it, except for the setting of course…..that was to-die-for.
O.  Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?:  I honestly can’t think of one, particular thing. I just like to try to record my impressions.
P.  Passport stamps? How many and where from?: Sad, sad, sad.  Only theUS andCanada outside ofEurope.  It’s not nearly so much fun travelling aroundEurope these days when we don’t get passports stamped.
Q.  Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?   Quirky is the word most often used to describe Gaudí! I’m a great admirer of his work, but it is rather, individual, I guess. No visit to Barcelona is complete without seeing a piece of his architecture.
R.  Recommended sight, event or experience: I think everyone should go to Carnival at least once in their life! Here in Santa Cruz de Tenerife we have the biggest one outside of Rio de Janeiro, and it is, quite simply,  the biggest street party you can imagine – and I’m not really a party-type person! I also went to the one in Nice,  which was quite different and equally as much fun in a totally different way. Still hope to get to Venice and to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, of course.
S.  Splurge – something you have no trouble forking out for when travelling?:  Food and drink, although in the past I’ve been  able to afford to splurge more, not so much these days.  It’s a huge part of the travel experience, even a sandwich in the park tastes different when you’re travelling.
T.  Touristy thing you’ve done: Disney World! I adore it!
U.  Unforgettable travel memory: Standing atop the Empire State building. Somewhere I’d seen so often in movies that it seemed as if I was in a dream, and the first time I saw the Teide National Park inTenerife almost took away my breath.  I’m living inTenerife now, but then it was like going to the moon.
V.  Visas – how many of them and for where: Same as the passport stamps. The current passport is pathetic.
W.  Wine, best glass while travelling and where: I suppose I have to say Dom Pèrignon on the Orient Express, sitting in a piano bar, all polished mahogany, sliding through the French countryside. Never to be forgotten, nor to be repeated!
X.  Excellent view and from where:  Whoa – hard! From top of the Empire State Building? The London Eye? St Peter’s Basilica? La Iglesia de la Concepción in La Laguna? Well, those sprawls of humanity are fascinating, yes, and I’d repeat any of them tomorrow, but the most breathtaking ever was only last year – driving up to the Teide National Park at sunset, my friend and I were simply stunned by this sunset, highlighting the “Mar de Nubes” (Ocean of Clouds), and the island of La Gomera rising on the horizon.
Y.  Years spent travelling:  Well, given that first school trip at 15 that makes a neat 50 years. Never been able to lead “nomadic existence” for more than two or three months, but I think it’s true to say that not many days of my life have passed without me dreaming of going somewhere or other.
Z.  Zealous Sports Fans and Where: I would say the London Marathon. My son, Guy, took part nearly two years ago now, and being there to watch was incredible. Afterwards we went to eat at a favorite place, and people stopped him to ask his time & how he’d done, and everywhere there were folk with T-shirts or medals or goodie bags. It was as if London had become a village for the day and everyone knew each other. Wonderful experience.

Phew – that was fun, drifting down memory lane a while, and now I nominate the folk below to do the same!

Okey, doke, now I’ve looked back at other posts with this theme, and I’m really not sure who began it, so a thanks to whomever it was, and thanks to Cathy for nominating me.  I’m also not sure who’s already done it. Looks like it’s being going around for a while, so here I’m tagging some random folk, and if you’ve already done it, or don’t have time, well just ignore I guess!

Katrina of

Andy and Jack from

Barbara from

Laurel from Expat in Germany

Lily from Sunshine  and Stilettos


Author: IslandMomma

Exploring island life and the freedoms of Third Age: Challenging myself every day: writing, traveling, snapping pix, running & teaching ESL

5 thoughts on “My Travel ABCs

  1. It has been so fun meandering down memory lane with you. Since you mentioned the 49ers v Broncos game in London last year — Go Niners! (big game this weekend). Like you, I’ve been dreaming about all the places I want to travel since I was a young girl. Aren’t we lucky that some of those dreams are coming true?

  2. Indeed we are. I do lots of people who haven’t traveled, and I often wonder at how much they have missed. And then again, when I read travel blogs these days I wonder at the number of places I still have to see. Both of my sons have been to places I’ve only dreamed of.

    Oh definitely go Niners! As my son will testify, because I just got off SKYE and showed him the flat hanging on my wall – they have a supporter here – and I know I’m not the only one in Tenerife!

  3. Loved reading this and learning more about you! Also loved the 49ers shot. 🙂

  4. Thank you, Matt……..not a good day to be a 49er fan though :=((

  5. Gaudí deserves all kind of adjectives… It´s nice to see how different people around the world is able to enjoy his legacy.

    I guess people feels Gaudí very natural, to the point of obviousness. He´s able to bring the classical will to reach nature back into our civilized worlds.

    Antonio Gaudí´s masterpieces deserve each visit.

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