Cutie petootie Ruth, over at at Tanama Tales, nominated little ole’ me to share my travel experiences for the “My Travel ABCs” series. Whoop, Whoop! It’s an honor to just be nominated ;)

Age you went on your first international trip: On the sixteenth birthday of all of her granddaughters, my nonna took each one of us to her native land, Italy. That was the first time I left the country. Unfortunately, I was way more enchanted with Italian boys than Italian culture. Maybe the boys could be considered an educational part of the culture too? We spent a month touring central Italy, most of which was in a tiny town named Guglionesi. I would give anything to have my grandmother back, so we could relive this adventure in my adulthood.

costa rica imperial beerBest foreign beer you have had and where: You will, just about, never catch me chugging a beer, unless there is no wine in the house or within a one mile radius. But, if I have to choose the best it would be Imperial from Costa Rica. Don’t rush out to get one, it probably tastes like pee-water. I might have already been buzzed when I ordered the first one.

Cuisine (favorite): I don’t necessarily have a favorite cuisine as much as a favorite style of eating; trendy, strange, adventurous and/or educational. If it fits into one of these categories, I am happy.

Destinations – favorite, least favorite and why: It was love at first sight when I arrived in Venice, despite the rumors that it was crowded, over-priced and stinky. I was mesmerized by the never-ending canals. I have fun every time I’m having new travel experiences. With that said, my least favorite place I visited would have to be the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. Mostly, because so much of the food was deep-fried!

Event you experienced abroad that made you say wow: When I swam with stingrays in the Grand Cayman I was in a constant state of “wow”. There was something so amazing about being in a crystal blue sand bar with dozens of stingray at your feet. It was even more amazing that I didn’t step on one.
Annette White Swimming with Stingray

Favorite mode of transportation: In Cabo San Lucas, Mexico we rented ATVs to cruise around the town and sand dunes. Even though I had a minor crash, it was one of the the coolest travel experiences and way to tour a town.

Greatest feeling while traveling: The warm fuzzies I feel when any of these things happens: The amazing places that getting lost leads, the plethora of new travel experiences, eating at a traditional restaurant related to the area visited, meeting locals who become your tour guides.

Hottest place you have traveled to: Without a question, Arizona. I learned very quickly windshield visors, sunscreen, shaded parking spots and air-conditioning are your friends.

Incredible service you have experienced and where: I had the best service at a Happy Hour. No joke. We were sitting at the bar at Citizen Public House in Scottsdale, Arizona and the bartender was beyond knowledgeable about every aspect of the restaurant. He explained the history of the establishment, thoroughly discussed the menu and even showed up how to make a signature cocktail. It was the perfect example of “exceeding your guests expectations”. And the drinks weren’t bad either.

Journey that took the longest: On the way home from Northern Italy we were scheduled to have, what was supposed to be, a short layover in Amsterdam. But, they oversold the plane and the trip ended up being an 18 hour ordeal. Still not nearly as bad as some of the horror stories I have read.

Keepsake from your travels: I take thousands of photos as my keepsakes. And even more photos of souvenirs. I did once buy a silver ring from Mexico, wear it all the time and my finger hasn’t even turned green.

Let-down site – I was grateful that I only planned a few hours in Pisa to see the Leaning Tower. Though I loved being able to do the typical cheesy “holding up the tower” photo, it was very touristy.

Moment when you fell in love with travel: My father used to take me on adventurous weekend drives out of the city, through the back roads of the Northern California redwoods. Even though it was close to home, he made every trip a new adventure. This is what made me fall in love with travel, near or far.

Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: The last time I was in Las Vegas, I stayed at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. All the rooms there are 5-star suites and I swear I could have lived there.

Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling: Food, food and more food! For every one picture of scenery, there are 30 of food. People fall asleep during my slide shows :)

Passport stamps, how many and from where: Mexico, Costa Rica, Amsterdam, Italy, England & Spain

Quirkiest attraction you have visited and where: I stopped by the Louis Lee’s Oriental Rock Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, which is actually a home. The owner decided that instead of planting a lawn he would start building his yard with rocks, arches, buddhas, plates, bottles and even Christmas lights. This actually isn’t that weird if you know how hard it is to maintain a lawn in Arizonas summer heat!
Lee's Oriental Garden

Recommended site, event, or experience: Walking the Via Dell’Amore trail in Cinque Terre, Italy. It is the short trail between Riomaggiore and Manarola. It is called the “lover’s walk” for a reason!

Splurge, something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: I always spend a bundle dining out. It is a huge part of my travel experiences. I just call it a “research” tax write-off since I own a restaurant. Besides, I can’t stomach eating a bad meal :)

Touristy thing you have done: A bunch, I don’t discriminate; Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, Madame Tussauds in Las Vegas and Ripleys Believe it or not in San Antonio, Texas.

Unforgettable travel memory: I will never forget Ziplining through the Costa Rican rainforest with the monkeys, and not just because I got stung by a wasp on the platform!
Annette White ziplining in Costa Rica

Visas, how many and from where: Zero…Gasp!

Wine, best glass while traveling and where: For me, good wine is just as much about good grapes as it is about being shared with good company. My friends and I attended the summer BBQ showdown at Seghesio Winery in Napa, California and I fell in love with their Omaggio (60% cab, 40% sangiovese). Haven’t had it since :(

eXcellent view and from where: After climbing the 483 steps of the Duomo in Florence, Italy, we were rewarded with the most stunning view I have ever seen. Runner up: the view of Tuscany from San Gimignano.

Years spent traveling: Twenty…an counting.

Zealous sports fans and where: So far, Nascar fans have been the most zealous. I have only been to a race once, but it was obvious that the crowd loves them some car racing.

Who’s Next? I nominate:

John at Travel Rinse Repeat
Bessie & Kyle at On Our Own Path
Kit at Seek New Travel

What are your favorite travel experiences?

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