International hospitality from Iceland to Bosnia
Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
1. Where would you rather be right now?
Nowhere. Cheesy as it may sound, I love my hometown of Washington. And, though I do love to travel, I really enjoy being here when I'm not on the road. The one caveat: in my "if money were no option world", I'd also keep a place in New York and split my “down” time between here and there.
2. Famous person (dead or alive, real or fictional) you’d most like to go on a trip with:
Benjamin Franklin, who – of course – first made a name for himself in my native Pennsylvania. I think it’d be fascinating to hear his take on modern-day Philadelphia or to hear his tales from his days in Paris.
3. Tourist must-see you think is actually a “must skip”:
I don't think there is such a thing. I believe everything is worth seeing at least once. However, I do think there are plenty of places you'll end up deciding you "must not see twice”. That aside, I thought the Manneken Pis in Brussels was quite a letdown. You trek across town and fight though the crowds only to find a glorified lawn ornament. If you're in Brussels, go see it to satisfy your curiosity… but don't expect to be wowed.
4. Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of places you want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
I'd say Antarctica. It sounds fascinating, and what an adventure it would be!
5. You’d be mortified if people knew you did what when you travelled?
It’s foodie sacrilege, but sometimes the quick convenience of a fast-food joint like McDonald’s or Burger King can fill an empty stomach and get you on your way to your next sight in a snap.
6. Strangest meal abroad:
Reindeer in Finland. That probably doesn't rate high on the "exotic" scale, but it was unusual to me. And, it was absolutely delicious!
7. Travel-related invention you wish existed:
It's probably a bit cliché to say "teleporter", but is there really any traveller who hasn't wished for that at one time or another?
8. Material thing you miss the most when away from home:
My own bed. Or, my running shoes, if I didn't have room to pack them.
9. Most unique souvenir:
The bill from the Mexican doctor who treated me after I was stung by a stingray in the Caribbean Sea off the coast or Puerto Morelos, Mexico.
10. Best celebrity encounter while travelling:
I sat a row behind Barack Obama shortly after he announced he was running for president. Once people realized that’s who it was, he had a long list of well-wishers on the Chicago-to-Washington flight. It was on United, and the future president was in coach, though he did manage to snag a bulkhead seat.
11. Coolest mode of transport you’ve taken:
A toss-up. It’s either the dogsled (through Finnish Lapland) or the Monte toboggan ride down the side of an urban hillside on the Portuguese island territory of Madeira. The toboggans are essentially wicker carriages that begin from a steep mountain terrace and whiz you down winding streets – occasionally past oncoming auto traffic – on the way to downtown Funchal.