Age you went on your first international trip: If you don’t count when I was six and took the 24-hour-cruise to Helsinki (doesn’t really count as an international trip in Stockholm, it’s like Belgians going to Luxemburg), it was when I was 11 and went with my mother and godmother on a road-trip to Norway (strangely enough THAT was considered abroad). First time outside Scandinavia was at 12 when I went to Paris. English-speaking country was not until I was in my twenties, same thing for first time outside Europe.
Best foreign beer you’ve had and where: Belgian of course, in Belgium. Almost any Belgian beer monastery beer is the best. I don’t like Kriek (the Cherry one) and I don’t like when they mix it with syrup (yes they do!). But Duvel is great, as is Leffe, and Grimbergen, and Chimay and… The sad thing about discovering Belgian beer is that it’s totally impossible afterwards to just “have a beer”.
Cuisine (favorite): Oh, difficult – probably French and Belgian (No, they’re not the same), but I really like Italian too, and nothing compares to the Swedish fermented herring (surströmming).
Destinations-favorite, least favorite and why: Favorite destination I don’t think I can choose between London, Paris and Chicago. Granada in Spain was absolutely fantastic too. And Bergen in Norway is wonderful. I have recently discovered Tunisia which is also a definite favorite. Least favorite – although there are other parts of Egypt that I really like, Kairo was a bit too much for me, the mass of people, the poverty, the chaos – very hard to find the charm there.
Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: The carnival in Stavelot, Belgium, where I was recruited onto one of the teams was so much fun. And flying a helicopter over the Grand Canyon was extraordinary. The Perigord is sometimes so beautiful it hurts. But I had an almost religious experience looking at a black stone beneath the Forum Romanum.
Favorite mode of transportation: Train! It’s so sad that trains in so many countries are being less and less cared for by politicians and infra-structure actions. And it’s so great in areas where the train really works well like France. One of my best experiences of a train ride was with Southern Rose and her family on the night train from Paris to Venice.
Greatest feeling while traveling: I like arriving more than traveling.
Hottest place you’ve ever been: Everything that is above 25 Celsius is hot for me, so to me I have been to too many hot places. But I guess it must be Singapore or Bangkok. Probably Singapore in July and I don’t think that’s their hottest period. But Nevada was pretty hot too as I remember.
Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Bali. The friendliness and service level was amazing without being ridiculous. My most recent best service experience though was the hotel Klosterhagen in Bergen where I ended up unannounced at 1 a.m. due to a misunderstanding with my usual place. Otherwise my experience of service is usually that it is something that hotels, airlines and others brag about to justify their exorbitant prices, but which seldom are delivered because the people they hire are probably paid too little to really care.
Journey that took the longest: Stockholm to Rome when I was 14, it was over 36 hours on the train. The journey that was mentally the longest was probably returning from a skiing holiday when the cables were stolen from part of the railway tracks (yes I know, it sounds like the wild west) and the train was 6 hours delayed. When we arrived in Lille at three in the morning the car park where we had our car was locked. At 5.30 am we were finally driving home (another hour and a half). Considering we started at lunchtime the day before it was a very long trip from the French Alps to Belgium.
Keepsake from your travels: Only photos. Of course I bring stuff back from time to time, but nothing particular, or nothing that I collect. But I try to bring back food stuff that I cannot get at home.
Let-down sight-why and where: I was in Leningrad (St Petersburg during the Soviet-era) when I was 15. Although it was amazing in many ways, I cannot say that that trip stuck as a particularly beautiful or pleasant. The Hermitage was sadly worn down and everything and everyone looked dirty and tired.
Moment when you fell in love with travel: I think it came gradually. I don’t think I’ve ever seen myself as a traveler, but as I fill out this list I realize that I have travelled a lot. There are many places I haven’t been to, though.
Obsession-what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: There are many horses in photos from my travels 🙂
Passport stamps- how many and from where?: When I was a kid you got stamps for Europe as well, now you don’t any more so for every new passport I get fewer and fewer as most of my traveling goes on inside Europe. In my current one it’s the US, Canada, Thailand, Egypt and Tunisia
Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: It’s not really an attraction but Madonna Inn in California was definitely different.
Recommended sight, event or experience: The stars in the desert. I cannot think of many things that beats that.
Splurge-something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Books. Photo books if I cannot read the language of the country in question. But I always come back with books.
Touristy thing you’ve done: Oh, everything, like going on the tourist buses, throwing coins in Fontana di Trevi, caressed all sorts of statues with the hope to come back to that place. I mean if you are a tourist…
Unforgettable travel memory: Many. But having a cup of tea in a store as big as a shoe box in the bazar in Luxor is probably one of them, or looking out over the Lagoa Verde and Lagoa Azul from a horse back, and diving in Bali on our honeymoon.
Visas-how many and for where?: US, Canada and Egypt. No residence permits only tourist visas. It’s my third time around with a Belgien ID-card though.
Wine-best glass of wine while traveling and where?: I would lie if I said I’m a wine connoisseur. I can tell a really bad wine from a drinkable one, but that’s about it. Just as for beer, you get spoilt after living in France, and it’s harder after that to just “have a glass of wine”. But the best glass wine is probably the one you have with your friends.
eXcellent view and from where?: Here I would have loved to say from Kebnekaise, highest mountain in Sweden, but when I made it to the top it was wrapped in a heavy fog. So I literally (and luckily) only saw the back of my friend in front of me. Otherwise I like towers: Sears tower, Tour Montparnasse, Eiffel Tower , London Eye. And the view of Mt Blanc from Geneva is also worth mentioning. It looks just as on the Toblerone chocolate.
Years spent traveling: I have no idea. Shorter holiday trip every year since I was 12. I have only lived abroad in France (18 months) and Belgium (total of five years in different periods). I have been to longer trips/courses to England and the States. But since I started traveling for work as well, I have lost track completely. Although I can say that I have never backpacked neither on inter-rail in Europe or on a trip to Asia. My backpacking experience limits itself to hikes in the Swedish mountains.
Zealous sports fans and where: Surely baseball in the States. Just imagine that you don’t know when the game will end. Or, in theory you know, but how long it will take to get those innings… The only time I went (years ago in Washington DC), “luckily” it started raining and the game had to be postponed. As you can imagine sports is not my favorite pastime. Well, except for riding then.
I’ll add the three letters of the Swedish alphabet.
Återvänder gärna till (I’d like to return to): Fort White, Florida; Charlottesville, Virginia; Stavelot, Belgium; and France of course.
Än så länge har jag inte besökt (I haven’t been to these places yet): Australia (I should be ashamed of myself since I have one of my best friends have lived there for 20 years), South Africa, Botswana… (so many places south of Sahara I’d like to go to), and South America, another continent I haven’t been to (!), Israel, Greece, Turkey and lots of other places of course.
Öar jag tycker om (Islands I like): Gotland (one of the most charming islands I know), Azores (well worth visiting), anywhere in the Swedish archipelago, and Bali of course.