Happy hump day, travelers! You indirectly met today’s jetsetter a few weeks ago… she’s the infamous Erin mentioned by @ChristopherWood! Though she’s been described as a “5’3″ blonde who intimidates all passerby,” we’ve now found out that her biggest fear is men carrying newspapers and her favorite travel buddy is a stuffed animal named Emma, so we’re suspecting that she’s less intimidating than you’d think.
Favorite Place: Florence, Italy
More importantly, favorite meal: I think I was in Arrezo, Italy. My boyfriend and I stumbled into this hole-in-the-wall (literally!) family-run Italian restaurant that was tiny inside. We ordered a three course meal which included a pasta, a meat dish and a salad to finish. AMAZING! I have never had ravioli that good since.
The moment you caught the travel bug: I would have to say that I “caught the travel bug” somewhat by accident. My junior year of college, my boyfriend and I took a study abroad course on Cathedrals that took us through a tour of various cities in France, Italy, Austria and Germany. That following year, we both booked the national tour of a musical called Spring Awakening that allowed us to perform in about 40 states, and travel through even more. Both of these experiences have allowed me to experience the culture, food, languages, architecture and hotels of different countries as well as my own.
First experience traveling alone: I think my first time traveling alone was on a train from New York to Washington D.C. after spring break during my freshman year of college. I had done this many times accompanied by a parent, but had never gone to Penn Station alone. I did pretty well I think. Although, I did run into a bookstore when a homeless man asked me for money.
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling?: While in Salzburg, Austria, my boyfriend and two friends and I were walking to see the castle in the city. We were walking and talking, and as I turned to look ahead, I saw a man standing a few yards ahead of us holding what I assumed to be a gun. My body kept walking, but I said to the others quietly (in case the gunman could hear me) “are you guys not seeing this? Oh my gosh!” They answered, “What?!” and I said “That guy…is holding a…” and as he came into view, I realized that what I saw was a shadow. He was actually just holding a newspaper or something. So, no. No real imminent danger.
Worst hotel/hostel experience: Super 8 in Knoxville, TN. The worst. REEKED of smoke and had foul bedding and towels. Thank goodness I only spent less than 12 hours there before hopping back on the bus to get to our next city.
Best hotel/hostel experience: We stayed at the Paramount Hotel in Portland, Oregon while on tour. Beautiful place right in a great part of town with awesome restaurants, shopping, and a nice movie theatre. The hotel also had a really great Sushi restaurant downstairs.
Favorite family vacation: My family owns a beach house in Ormond Beach, FL on the same street that my Grandparents and Aunt and Uncle live. I spent almost every summer at this house throughout my young life and into my teens. I don’t have a specific summer that comes to mind as my favorite, but I can say that any time spent at that house is always my favorite.
Must-have packing item: Camera! On tour, it was so incredibly hard to keep any kind of journal or log from day to day since we were constantly moving and rarely had time to relax. However, since I didn’t have time to write, my hundreds of pictures from tour really help me remember details from each city. And…since my friends will pick on me for not mentioning this…I also have to travel with my favorite stuffed animal, Emma.
Most unbelievable travel experience: My experience on the Spring Awakening tour was definitely unbelievable. We were traveling almost every day and sleeping in a new city every night. There were days when I couldn’t remember where I woke up that morning. However, I was able to do what I love to do, work alongside my boyfriend, see the country and make some amazing life-long friends.
Favorite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment: While on the Cathedral trip, we were given an assignment to do an “independent study” weekend in another city in a different country than the ones that were on our schedule for the course. My boyfriend and I chose Salzburg, Austria and traveled with two other girls. We took a train from Venice, Italy to Salzburg. There was little food at the station, and we weren’t carrying any snacks. Out of the blue, this woman in a blue track suit appeared at the door to our cabin on the train and said in her German accent, “I could hear you talking! Are you Americans?! I LOVE America! I love Obama! I have something for you. One minute.” The four of us looked at each other and just started laughing because we didn’t know what to think. She returned with an orange for each of us and an entire warm, rotisserie chicken in a bag. She said, “These are for you. I love Americans!” She sat down with us for a minute and explained that she had been to America many times and that she had photographed the pets of Clinton and Bush and that she hoped to photograph Obama’s new pet (they didn’t have one yet) as well. She said goodbye and was on her way. We then forever referred to her as “Chicken Lady”. And yes, we ate the chicken. And all of the oranges. Since I have a thing about eating food from mysterious locations prepared by people I don’t know, I really can’t believe I ate that chicken.
Place you can’t wait to return to: Paris, France. I feel like I didn’t get enough of it while we were there. I would love to return and take my time and stay for a few weeks.
Place you can’t be paid to return to: Evansville, Indiana. This is where we teched Spring Awakening, so I was there for a week. The “heart” of the “city” was completely deserted and had only one restaurant that made sandwiches and closed at 5. The highlight of the city for us was the Bob Evans located next to our hotel.
Any exciting trips coming up?: None as of right now!
Dream vacation: I would love to go to Hawaii one day. I have a dear friend that is from there, and after being tempted by all of his pictures from home for a couple of years, I am dying to go!
Favorite tourist attraction: I am a sucker for Disney World! I love everything about the Magic Kingdom and I don’t think I would ever get sick of going.
Favorite “I’m trying not to look like a tourist” attraction: A lot of these come to mind. I would have to say that my evening at the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy would definitely be the winner. I should mention that I walked the streets of Europe on that trip in a black North Face coat, North Face boots, North face gloves and a North Face hat. I also have blonde hair and blue eyes and stuck out like a sore thumb in Italy. While in Rome, we visited the Trevi Fountain – a spectacular site at night, and a beautiful structure to say the least. My boyfriend and I were told that if you close your eyes, turn around and throw a coin over your shoulder and make a wish, you will return to Rome again one day. Along with all of the other American tourists in North Face jackets, we did this and took lots of obnoxious pictures. Hopefully we will return there!
Favorite travel photo: This photo was taken at the Basilica di Santa Chiara (Saint Claire) in Assisi, Italy.
the romantic & the wino