2011 Travel Year in Review from A to Z
I know I’m late in the game on doing my travel review for 2011.
But I’m back on the road again, and it is much more difficult to keep up with the writing and the photo editing and even the emails when constantly moving.
When I was tagged by Ayngelina from Bacon Is Magic to participate in the ABCs of Travel blog theme that is going around, I figured I would steal her idea to review 2011. Except I’m actually reviewing October 28th, 2010 (the day I flew to Ecuador to start my travel sabbatical) through 2011.
My Travel ABCs for 2011
A: Age you started traveling?
I started this travel sabbatical on October 28th, 2010 at the age of 29. I hopped on a plane to Quito, Ecuador to take Spanish classes for one month.
B: Best beer you’ve had and where?
If you have read much about my time in Buenos Aires, you will know that my biggest disappointment with Latin America is the beer.
Yes, I am a beer snob.
Since I am limiting this blog post to my sabbatical time frame, the best beer I have had was back in Columbus, Ohio when I made a visit home. I took a tour of the Elevator Brewery Company.
To be fair, the best beer I have had in Latin America was at Buena Birra, a puerta cerrada (closed door) establishment in Buenos Aires.
The best CHEAP beer is Toña in Nicaragua.
C: Cuisine (favourite)
This may be lame, but all of the fresh fruits and veggies in Central America were the best! I could buy an avocado the size of my head and an avocado the length of my arm in Nicaragua.
D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why
Least favorite is Quito, Ecuador.
I got robbed there the first day of my trip. Luckily, I met some wonderful people at my Spanish school and the apartment where I was living, so the entire experience was not bad. But I did not feel safe walking around in Quito.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”
I hiked Volcan Fuego outside of Antigua, Guatemala. It was a difficult trek, and my first time carrying everything on my back and camping for the night.
When we watched the sunset from the top of the volcano, it was so beautiful. I had never seen anything like it.
F: Favorite mode of transportation
I am all about the bus. Even my 28-hour bus ride in Argentina was not that bad. I was quite comfortable. I would much rather spend 1/3 of the money and travel comfortably by bus (seat is much bigger than an airplane seat) and wake up the next morning at my destination.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling
I do not remember the last time I have felt excitement like this before. Because I am traveling long-term, I do not have to plan too far in advance. I can take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Even though there are challenges, it adds to the excitement.
H: Hottest place
I thought I was going to die. I was there at the same time as Matt from Expert Vagabond (the 2nd time we randomly crossed paths). He told me it was because there were no clouds. I think he was right. Other parts of Nicaragua were not nearly as hot. I could not even leave the hostel between 11am and 4pm.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where
I’ve been roughing it on a small budget, so this is a difficult question. So for this question, I will pick my favorite hostels. Anahuac in Juyua, El Salvador is the nicest hostel for the price.
J: Journey that took the longest
I decided to go to on an unplanned trip to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua while I was in Quito, Ecuador. Because I had already purchased a flight from Quito to my friend’s wedding in Puerto Vallarta, that meant I had to get from Nicaragua to Quito and then completely backtrack to Mexico.
The trip involved a bus from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, sleeping in the Costa Rica airport, a plane to Quito (that stopped in Panama), sleeping in the Quito airport, a plan to Mexico that stopped in both Miami and Dallas.
It took over 72 hours.
K: Keepsake from your travels
Photos are the most important for me. And I got a ball from a polo match in Buenos Aires that a friend is holding onto for me.
L: Let-down sight, why and where
La Catedral de Sal.
Many people love it, but it was not my thing.
I only had 5 nights in Bogota, and I was disappointed I wasted an entire day and a lot of money going out there.
M: Moment where you fell in love with travel
It was when I was on a bus in Central America. I was offering advice on traveling in Nicaragua to some people on the bus. A man asked me to help with him with one of those money-changers at the border, so he did not get taken advantage of.
That is when I felt like I might actually kind of know what I’m doing.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
I did have the pleasant treat of an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a wedding. I had paid for it in well in advance (when I still had a job), so I was able to enjoy it without thinking about my budget.
O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where
Ecuador, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay (only for my border run)
I have to admit I traveled too quickly through Central America. Then I spent over 6 months in Argentina.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
The toilets and bidets museum (aka Palacio de Las Aguas) in Buenos Aires is pretty odd.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience
Living in a foreign place for a while.
I settled down in Buenos Aires for six months, and it was such a different experience from moving around and seeing just bits and pieces of a place. It had its challenges, but it had many more rewards.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling
T: Touristy thing you’ve done
The Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires is filled with tourists, but it is an absolute must-see.
U: Unforgettable travel memory
Spending Carnaval with locals I met in Panama. They took me to a small town called Ocu in the interior of the country. They shared their local traditions, and I got to participate in their celebrations.
V: Visas, how many and for where
I did not have to get any visas in advance, but I did have to pay for the 10-year visa for Argentina because I entered through the international airport.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where
I tried A LOT of wines while I lived in Argentina from the cheap wines to the luxury wines. It was a little dangerous living with Ayngelina and having Rease just a few blocks away for part of my time there.
It is very hard to pick the best because there were a lot that are in my top tier. I will go with Tomero Reserva Petit Verdot.
X: eXcellent view and from where
The view from the Rio Azul Mirador, a couple hours hike from El Bolson.
Y: Years spent traveling
I spent all of 2011 traveling except for a short visit home in the summer. In total, I have been traveling for 15 months.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where
They are crazy about soccer (aka futbol) in all of Latin America I think, but I saw just how crazy when there were riots in Buenos Aires after Boca Juniors got demoted.
Here is who I am tagging next:
Jeff from Lengthy Travel
Michael from Time Travel Turtle
Lisa from Chicky Bus
Philip from Dimensional Heart Traveler
Matt from Expert Vagabond