Recently, Rosie from La Grenouille Anglaise nominated me for the ABCs of Travel Tag.  She currently lives in France and writes all about her travels, hiking, food and experiences living abroad – pretty much all the best things in life! Thanks for the nomination Rosie!  The ABCs of Travel Tag is such a great idea. Basically, you get to answer travel questions for each letter of the alphabet.  It was so much fun to put together! Let’s get started:

A: Age you went on your first international trip

When I was seven, my parents took all three of us children overseas.  I clearly remember dipping fresh croissants in bowls of hot chocolate for breakfast, learning about mammoths and running around a chateaux in France.  I can even recall learning how to pluck a chicken, thanks to a friendly French farm woman!  We explored medieval castles in England, giant toy shops in London and even tried to find the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland.  But my clearest memory is trying to copy my mother by dipping my hair into a river in the Pyrenees mountains.  Unfortunately, I toppled in head first and ended up walking up into the snow in my dad’s baggy knitted jumper!  Still, by looks of the smile on my face, it seemed to make the experience even better!

Jenny Stephens
At 7 years old in the Pyrenees Mountains

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where

I went on amazing Belgian Beer tour in Bruges, where I tried lots of fruity varieties, like strawberry or black current beer.  But my favourite is still Matso’s Mango Beer, brewed in Broome in the far North-west of Australia.  I know it is officially from my homeland, but when you’re sipping on this delight in the steamy tropics, it feels like a foreign country!

C: Cuisine (favourite)

This is a really tricky choice!  I can’t go past a Pad Thai, fried up in a wok on the street’s of Bangkok before your very eyes and accompanied by a fresh fruit shake.  I also love the curries in Thailand, even though they are sometimes so spicy they make you cry!

Pad Thai
Pad Thai in Bangkok

D: Destinations – favourite, least favourite, and why

Favourite destination: Paris, because it was where I made many of my dreams come to life!  I saw a show at the Moulin Rouge, climbed the Eiffel Tower, explored all the famous art galleries and saw the Mona Lisa.  I took cooking classes, learnt how to make croissants, strolled around in the streets in Montmartre, ate snails and frogs legs in Parisian restaurants, visited the Palace of Versailles and took a day trip to Monet’s Garden.  It was eight days of paradise!

Least favourite: Nah Trang, in Vietnam.  The bad memories are definitely my own doing though! I arrived after an amazing motorbike tour of the Vietnamese countryside.  So, on my natural high, I went out partying with some backpackers from the hostel, drunk snake wine (amongst many other questionable alcoholic beverages) and awoke on death’s door with the worst hangover of my life!  Aside from this, it does have some beautiful beaches and, if you speak Russian, you will feel right at home, due to the extensive Russian population!  Even the menus are translated into Russian!

My first meals of snails, Paris

E: Experience abroad that made you say “wow”

Snorkelling with a giant sea turtle on the Great Barrier Reef in far North Queensland. I had already done some scuba diving and later, went out for a relaxing snorkel off the boat.  There were no other tourists in my patch of water and I found myself so close to a sea turtle that I could touch it if I wanted to!  It felt like such a special moment – we just hung out together on the reef for a while before going our own ways.

Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef

F: Favourite mode of transportation

My mother would not enjoy reading this, but motorbike is by far the most thrilling!  There is something invigorating about zooming through the country side, with the wind flying through your hair, especially in Southeast Asia, where you can choose your own adventure and it is extremely cheap.  That said, I have only ridden a motorbike a few times myself – generally I give over responsibility to a more experienced rider and sit on the back, admiring the view!

G: Greatest feeling while travelling

Zip-lining through the treetops in a jungle in Laos.  Ever since I was a child, I thought it would be amazing to hook up a zip line from our house all the way into town.  It was a kind of dream that I didn’t think existed in real life.  Turns out, other people had the same idea!  The Gibbon Experience was an amazing hike through the Bokeo Reserve and, every time I hooked myself onto one of the many long zip lines to cross high over a valley, it felt like pure bliss!  We slept in tree houses, ate traditional Laotian food and swam in waterfalls along the way.  Greatest feeling ever!

Zip-lining in Laos

H: Hottest place you’ve travelled to

This is hard to say – I have experienced many hot Australian summers, where temperatures can easily reach 40 degrees celsius, wherever you are in the country.  In the tropics, it gets worse, because of the extreme humidity.  But I do remember a particularly hot summer in Melbourne, during the Australian Open (tennis competition).  I could not sit down on the seats in the stadium because they were so burning hot.  If I can recall correctly, certain stadiums were shut down for a couple of days due to the extreme temperatures that year.

I: Incredible photo you’ve taken and where

This is one of my favourites, not because it is particularly incredible, but because the place itself was just dreamy:  raft houses in Khao Sok National Park, in Thailand.  Such a serene and beautiful place and even more exciting because you get to sleep in these little houses and wake up to mystical views over the water.

Khao Sok NP (1)
Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

J: Journey that took the longest

The bus journey from Sapa, Vietnam to Luang Prabang in Laos.  It took two days in a several mini-buses where you could hardly move!  I was squashed between several backpackers in the back.  My guitar was piled on top of my lap and I hoped my bag wouldn’t fall off the roof, which was stacked high with luggage. The toilet breaks were limited (and toilets non-existent), one of the few food stops served highly suspicious meat and the roads were extremely rough that we bumped our heads on the ceiling for hours at a time! The plus side was the beautiful landscape, though it was a relief to finally arrive at my destination, alive!

K: Keepsake from your travels

A woven place mat that I made in Luang Prabang.  I learnt how the silk was made and how to dye it, before spending hours by a loom threading the different colours back and forth.  It is the kind of thing I look forward to displaying in my own home one day, wherever that may be!

IMG_7189 (1)
My weaving instructor and the finished product

L: Let-down sight, why and where

I tend to wipe the not-so-good destinations from my memory.  Most places I have absolutely loved! But I suppose wasn’t so keen on Phnom Penh in Cambodia.  It was an interesting place but the horrific recent history of the Khmer Rouge and extreme poverty in the streets really left me feeling extremely unsettled.  Nonetheless, I am glad to have had that experience as it really confronted me and expanded my own world view.

M: Moment that you fell in love with travel

When I booked my first solo flight to London in 2012.  From that moment on, I couldn’t get enough of it!  I lived out of a backpack on and off for the next 5 years.  Now, I prefer to set up in one place and go on shorter trips, but the love of travel still remains bright!

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in

Suite of the Gods Cave Spa Hotel on the island of Santorini in Greece.  I treated myself for my 30th birthday.  The room over-looked the island, with all the pretty white buildings sprinkling the cliffs like icing sugar.  The room itself had a four-poster bed and a huge pebbled bath, which was the perfect way to relax after exploring all the ancient ruins up on the mountains!

View from the hotel, Santorini

O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?

Food!  My friends sometimes get a little annoyed at this obsession, but they thank me later.  Food photos always bring back such amazing memories…like the chocolate croissants of Paris, the large slices of pizza in Italy or the fresh rice paper rolls of Vietnam. Food is an integral part of my trips, so why not take a picture?!

The results of cooking classes in Paris

P: Passport stamps – how many and where from?

My first passport fell in a river in Laos, so a lot of the stamps were water marked and the passport had to be replaced.  But from memory, I was stamped into Bali, London, Paris, Prague, Dublin, Brussels, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Ho Chi Minh City, and Berlin.  I did a lot of bus and train travel around Europe and Asia, so a lot of places didn’t stamp my passport, unless I needed to buy a visa for that particular destination.  Everything is digital these days, so, sadly, passport stamps are slowly becoming a thing of the past.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where

The Crazy House, in Dalat (Vietnam).  This place is by far the quirkiest architecture I’ve seen – it is like walking into an Escher artwork, where the stair cases go up and down and around in circles. The whole place is extremely organic in form and it feels like you are walking through some kind of dream fairytale!

R: Recommended sight, event or experience

Canyoning in Dalat.  It is fun, inexpensive and extremely terrifying!  If you like pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, leaping off 7-10 metre cliffs into pools of water, abseiling down 25 metre high waterfalls and sliding backwards down natural water slides, then this experience is not to be missed.  The thrill is unforgettable!

Canyoning in Dalat, Vietnam

S: Splurge – something you have no problem forking out for while travelling

I don’t often splurge when travelling, but I remember splurging big time on an expensive pair of Italian leather heels in Siena, Italy, which I carried around in my backpack for two months and have never worn to this day (five years later) because they just seem too precious!  Plus, they are bright orange and don’t go with any dress I own.  One day I will find the right occasion!

T: Touristy thing you’ve done

Climbed the Eiffel Tower, ridden a red double-decker bus in London and explored the Colosseum in Rome, with thousands of other tourists!  Whilst I hate hanging around with so many other tourists, these places are usually popular for a reason.

Black taxis
London transport

U: Unforgettable travel memory

Sky diving over Mission Beach in far-North Queensland.  Thrilling and surreal!

Skydiving in Mission Beach

V: Visas – how many and where for?

Travel visas to the U.K. and Europe, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.  Working visas in Germany.

W: Wine – best glass of wine while travelling and where

A glass of Chianti Classico in Siena, Italy.

X: Xcellent view

To this day, my favourite ever view was on a property just outside of Dorrigo, where we lived for several years.  The view over the mountains was breathtaking and magical. I used to just go and sit in the paddock and gaze out into the sea of rainforest for hours. Aside from this, nothing beats a good ocean view with the fresh sea breeze!

View over the mountains, Dorrigo, N.S.W.

Y: Years spent travelling

On and off for six years (though I moved around Australia quite a lot before that).

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?

I love watching the tennis – it is one of the few sports I would pay for to sit and watch live.  I’ve watched the Hopman Cup in Perth and the Australian Open in Melbourne.  I guess Wimbledon might be next on the list!

Watching a match at the Australian Open, Melbourne

My Nominees

Candelo Blooms

I know that Mrs. Blooms has done some wonderful trips in her time.  She writes a beautiful blog on flowers, roses and pretty much anything to do with gardens.  But she has also done some fabulous travels within Australia and overseas too.  I can’t wait to hear her ABC travel stories. No pressure though!

Where is Lydia?

This fellow traveller has some amazing stories to tell from Mexico and South America!  She has even swum in Piranha-infested waters in the Amazon!  I definitely won’t be following her lead on that one, but I am pretty sure she will have some pretty interesting answers to this travel tag.

Stories from Europe  

Currently based in Poland, this woman has been to so many wonderful places all over Europe.  As I plan my next adventures around Eastern Europe, I’m going to be reading her blog in more detail.  I look forward to hearing more about her travels!

From Dream to Plan

If you check out Lisa’s map, you will see that she is beginning to conquer the world!  Her blog is full of inspiration about travels, food, crafts and music.  Plus, it is just so lovely to browse – now that my Summer holidays have started, I will finally have time to do some more reading (and travelling)!

Well, that is all from me for now!  Happy travels!

13 thoughts

  1. We just loved this post, Jen. Fabulous photos and so much fun! You have been to some beautiful spots and had some incredible adventures! Thank you for your nomination! I’ll do my best, but I’m afraid it’s all going to look pretty tame after all your amazing travels, not to mention those of your other nominees! Nevertheless, I will give it a go!!! xxx PS You were right about the motorbike, though I’m glad we heard about the sky diving after the event!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yes, it is always good to wait for the right time before informing family of plans to sky dive! And thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. Everyone has their own story to tell and I look forward to reading your answers too! I’m sure you will uncover memories you had forgotten about 🙂 xoxox

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Really enjoyed reading your ABCs of Travel! Your silk-weaving experience sounds like such a lovely way to spend a day, and I love the colours of the finished place mat! Wimbledon is such an enjoyable day out – though this year it was so hot that the seats were scalding hot! (Difficult to believe it gets that hot in the UK, but every now and then it does and the nation is still incapable of dealing with it effectively!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rosie! The silk weaving was great – I would highly recommend it if you’re ever in Luang Prabang (or anywhere that offers it for that matter)! I would never have expected it to get so hot in Wimbledon, but I do believe the hot seat thing! I’ll make sure I visit on one of the cooler days 😎 Thanks for reading and for the nomination!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll definitely keep an eye open for something like that if I make it to that corner of the globe! I’ve been lucky with the weather every time I’ve been, but have never experienced it quite so hot before. Hot and England aren’t words that tend to be used together all that often…!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a nice surprise that you nominated me Jenny! 🙂 Thank you, wasn’t hoping to find my name there 🙂
    What a wonderful read it was. I enjoyed reading your answers so much! First of all, what an adventurous family you were born into by the sounds of it. Europe tour all the way from Australia at such a young age sounds incredible. Mango flavored beer in Bruges? Omg, I’d love to try that! And I have actually been in Bruges, but I didn’t know about the bar 🙂
    Snake wine sounds not too appealing to me personally (I find snakes ultra creepy) and I know it’s a thing in some South East Asian countries. Lucky that everything went well at the end! Pad thai is one my favorites too! In fact any Asian stir-fried noodle is my favorite. That hand-made souvenir is really pretty. Was it hard to learn? Was it in Laos? The photo from Kao Sak in Thailand is indeed dreamy, water looks incredibly inviting and the surroundings look so serene. I’d love to visit such place myself!
    Thanks for an interesting read! Look forward to answering these questions myself 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay! I really look forward to reading all your answers! Thank you for your feedback and glad you enjoyed reading 🙂 The weaving was fun and I had guidance from an instructor, so once I learnt the pattern, it was just a matter of persistence! I did the weaving in Luang Prabang, Laos. The mango beer is delicious but actually brewed in Broome, so you might need to go to Australia to try it! The Belgian beers are also delicious though 😋 And I agree, snake wine is not that appealing – if I can recall correctly, I was dared to try it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Jenny, the tag made for a fun and lovely read. The memories of travelling with your parents are precious as is the thought of the Laotian holiday. I am making notes such as the recommendation about the Greek room with a view. Also, I echo your sentiments about London. I cannot get enough of it too. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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