As you read this, I am in the midst of exploring Chicago for the first time with my husband. We have graciously been invited by the Hyatt Regency Chicago to celebrate New Year’s Eve at their glamorous Ballroom Blitz. This is an incredibly special New Year’s Eve for me, because not only is it my first as a married woman, it is also the first I have ever spent with my husband in the 6.5 years that we have known each other. I cannot wait for my (guaranteed) midnight kiss!
I hope you enjoy reading my ABC’s of Travel as much as I enjoyed writing them. Answering the questions made me reflect on past trips that I had not thought about in years, even though some of these trips were so life-changing that I am the woman I am today because of them. I wish everyone the most extraordinary 2012 — may it be filled with one beautiful adventure after another
Age you went on your first international trip: The exact age I am not completely sure, but I do know that it was to Nassau, Bahamas and I was around the age of 10. Surprisingly, I did not catch the travel bug until later on in life.
Best foreign beer you have had and where: I dislike beer immensely, but if I had to choose the best I have ever tasted it would be Tsingtao, which is found throughout China.
Cuisine (favorite): Whenever I consume Spanish food I feel like it was the best meal of my life.
Destinations – favorite, least favorite and why: My favorite destination is Brasil. It is where I took my first solo trip in a country where I did not speak the language, it is where I got engaged, it is where I honeymooned, and it is where I hope to one day live. I have yet to visit a place that I would refuse to visit again, having said that I would be fine not revisiting or never visiting about 15 American states (that shall remain nameless).
Event you experienced abroad that made you say wow: Celebrating New Year’s Eve on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. I am convinced there is no place better in the entire world to ring in the new year. Think 3 million people all dressed in white with 10 minutes of non-stop fireworks.
Favorite mode of transportation: First class, whether it is by plane, train, or boat, although train travel is my favorite of the three. I like to arrive to my final destination relaxed and refreshed, so that I can start exploring immediately.
Greatest feeling while traveling: When I am on an adventure I feel like anything can happen. I have truly become addicted to this feeling.
Hottest place you have traveled to: Driving throughout the Outback of Australia during the height of Summer.
Incredible service you have experienced and where: Every time I use Andrea Novick with Elite Travel International as my Travel Adviser I am absolutely blown away by her expertise, service, and insight. She knows everything there is to know about travel. She also happens to be my inspiration — she has been to Antarctica twice!
Journey that took the longest: NYC to Durban, South Africa. It took over 30 hours of non-stop flying and of course it was worth it, but next time I have to fly this far I am breaking the trip up in stages.
Keepsake from your travels: I collect 2 things while traveling: 1) anything with elephants on it and 2) gold charms for my good luck necklace.
Let-down site – why and where: Despite my undying love for Brasil, I was deeply disappointed with Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. While I think it is beautiful, I also do not think it should be considered one of the seven Wonders of the World.
Moment when you fell in love with travel: My first significant trip overseas was to China when I was 20. I literally can remember the moment I walked off the plane and was consumed with the insatiable desire to see the rest of the world.
Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: I have had the great fortune to stay in a lot of luxurious hotels, however the one that I go to in my mind when I am stressed is Pousada Maravilha in Fernando de Noronha, Brasil. My husband and I stayed there on our honeymoon for 3 unforgettable days.
Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling: Sunsets, elephants, flowers, anything that is pink, oceans, unique perspectives of shots that have been taken a billion times over. . .
Passport stamps, how many and from where: I lost count. I have been to around 50 countries and many I have repeated over and over again. I have had 2 passports and each have had pages added.
Quirkiest attraction you have visited and where: Pass?
Recommended site, event, or experience: It was the most challenging trips of my life to date, however I highly recommend journeying to Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. I remember thinking to myself the entire time I was there, “I wish everyone could see this.” The magical landscape changes before your eyes from salt flats to mountains to desserts to aquamarine and red lakes with thousands of pink flamingos.
Splurge, something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: I try to upgrade whenever possible (if it is for the right price). I also like to splurge on dining experiences and excursions.
Touristy thing you have done: A horse and carriage ride through Central Park in NYC. I do this every single time I visit and I did it several times while I lived there. The tradition started when I was a little girl when my Dad would take me to the Big Apple every Christmas. We would get hot chocolate and snuggle up together in the carriage and he would tell me stories about growing up in NYC.
Unforgettable travel memory: Taking a solo trip to the most remote island in the world: Easter Island, Chile. The entire time I was there I kept pinching myself to make sure that I was not dreaming.
Wine, best glass while traveling and where: The bottle of Malbec (name forgotten) my family and my husband’s family shared the first time they met in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Wine is like water to me when I am in Argentina.
eXcellent view and from where: I have seen some extraordinary views all over the world, but without a doubt the best view was my husband’s smiling face as I walked down the aisle at our wedding at Faena Hotel + Universe.
Years spent traveling: Traveling became my #1 priority around a decade ago.
Zealous sports fans and where: My first soccer match was Boca Juniors vs River Plate, the 2 biggest rival teams in Argentina. The crowd became so out of hand that all of the women and children were evacuated an hour before the men and then the fans from one team were let out before the fans from the other team. Needles to say, I became a devoted soccer fan after that! My husband and I plan to attend the World Cup in Brasil in 2016.