Irreverent responses from our favourite travel ninjas.
Name: Cynthia Drescher
Editor, Jaunted.com. Contributing Editor, HotelChatter.com
Born in: northwest
Currently living in: Queens, New York
1. Where would you rather be right now?
On a ship sailing from Cape Horn to the
Cape of Good Hope, with the Falkland Islands, Tristan da Cunha and Inaccessible
Island on the itinerary. There's pretty much no easy way of getting there, but if
I can make it, it'll surely be a high point in my life.
2. Famous person (dead or alive, real or fictional)
you’d most like to go on a trip with:
No one else but Carmen Sandiego. C'mon --
"she'll go from Nashville to Norway, Bonaire to Zimbabwe. Chicago to Czechoslovakia
and back." And you must admire her ability to successfully "steal
their Seoul in South Korea" and "make Antarctica cry 'uncle".
3. Tourist must-see you think is actually a “must
The Wisconsin Dells. Never again.
4. Everyone asks what’s #1 on your list of places you
want to go before you die. But what’s your #3?
Gibraltar. I have a thing for little principalities,
rogue countries and remote islands, their crazy histories and often-dangerous
5. You’d be mortified if people knew you did what when
I don't read guidebooks or buy folding maps
anymore. I've gone completely digital -- scanning WikiTravel and blogs for
inspiration and information, downloading offline map apps - -and I know some
traditional travel writers who'd have my head for this. But actually, I'm far more
proud of it than mortified.
6. Your most stranded, “oh-my-[deity]” travel moment:
Definitely being stuck near the top of
an active volcano at night, with only a hand-powered flashlight. I was on the Italian
island of Stromboli in the off-season. During the day I had gone to a local
store to buy some groceries for a long weekend stay, and had easily climbed the
volcano shortly after, groceries still in hand. Returning at night to watch the
nearly constant lava explosions proved more difficult. As the sun set. I was
blasted by winds carrying black ash, my flashlight gave up and I couldn't see
to put one foot in front of the other down the switchback paths. I was stupid
and I was afraid, even more so when I saw a light approaching from down the volcano.
It turned out to be a visiting Swiss volcanologist, one of the few foreigners
on the island at the time besides myself, and he was also climbing to watch the
night-time lava show, luckily toting extra lights. Saved!
7. Best (or worst) person/people you’ve had to sit
next to while traveling:
My best friend was the worst seatmate,
if you can believe it! Since he doesn't live in New York City, he arrived the
day before we headed off on an 18-hour economy flight to Hong Kong and proceeded
to stay out partying all night with the other New York friends he never sees.
We barely made it to the airport on time, he faintly reeked of booze and he
promptly passed out on his tray table. Touching down in Hong Kong, his hangover
and the jetlag hit hard and we ruined the first two days in Hong Kong being cranky
with each other.
8. Strangest meal abroad:
Stromboli again! Following the harrowing
night stuck at the top of the volcano, I played it safer by going fishing for
calamari off some pitch black rocks with a Brit expat who was spending the off
season restoring a vacation villa. We caught a squid measuring nearly three
feet in length, and had it as the dinner entree that night, naturally after
first biting off the suckers raw as an appetizer.
9. Material thing you miss the most when away from
My closet. Let's face it -- hotel laundry
is the worst and I'm rarely in the same hotel long enough for sink-washed items
to fully dry. Not to mention that my schedule is often unpredictable. Case in point:
a recent trip began in Las Vegas, was followed by three weeks around Thailand
and ended with a surprise finale in Seattle -- all of that with a very limited,
10. Most unique souvenir:
A Kairouan carpet. It's special to me
not because of what it is, but how I got it. Shopkeepers in Tunisia aren't
exactly used to American visitors, so I bargained for that thing in broken
Italian, German and French before settling on a price, then chopped it further
from euros to dinars as the receipt was being written. I've yet to have a bargaining
victory this sweet again.
11. Most unusual item you have travelled with:
A tri-corner hat and thick, black velvet
hooded cape for Venice Carnevale parties. I've been several times because
winter in Venice is the absolute best, but having to wear the hat through
airports and train stations so it doesn't get crushed makes me quite
12. Coolest mode of transport you’ve taken:
I'm a transportation nut. Ships, trains,
planes, funiculars, camels, subways, whitewater rafts -- if a place has it, I'm
probably on it. That said, the coolest was my first time on an Airbus A380. It
was the inaugural delivery flight of the superjumbo to Lufthansa, and I somehow
managed to spend time hanging out in the cockpit jumpseat while we flew over
13. The place you don’t want anyone to know about but
are willing to divulge here:
The entire town of Breuil-Cervinia, which
sits on the Italian side of the Matterhorn and is far less touristy (and less expensive) than Zermatt on the Swiss side.
Specifically there's a small hot chocolate cafe that serves the entire 30-plus
range of Eraclea Cioccolato Caldo flavours.
14. Travel-related film or book that inspires you to
pack your bags:
The Seven Wonders of the World in
Cinerama. My uncle took me to see a special (and final) showing of this four-hour-long
piece of cinema history in Dayton, Ohio when I was young and impressionable. We
sat front row centre while Lowell Thomas visited the Watusi, flew over the Suez
Canal, picked tea leaves in India and inhaled the spray of exotic waterfalls. I'll
never be able to see it again, but that doesn't stop me from thinking about it often.
15. Lay on us a priceless bit of travel advice or
You may learn a new instrument or a new language,
or the ins and outs of a new career, but never underestimate the advantages of learning
a new city or country. An education in the world is stuff for a lifetime; it's memories
and experiences you can't close a cover on and say "The End".