Personal experiences are what really carve your travel style, right? Here are a few of mine:
London was never on my travel list of places to visit. It just happened to be part of an itinerary I embarked on in 2004, an itinerary chosen for all the other cities. Imagine my surprise when I became far more enamoured with the UK than any of the other locations.
I never realized the Eiffel Tower twinkles at the top of the hour until I was standing beneath it in Paris. And I gotta tell ya, the element of surprise made it extra spectacular.
One of the biggest reasons I visited Hawaii was to try surfing. I now know I really don't like surfing. But I fell in love with Hawaii.
After withdrawing Scottish pound notes from a bank in Edinburgh, we used them as we drove down through England. On several occasions, the English cashiers didn't recoginize the bills. One even refused to accept them, even though it was the same currency.
I had a ham and cheese crepe for dinner one night in Montmartre. It was so awful, just the thought of it makes my throat close. Five years later, I still can't manage another crepe.
I was surprised how very easy Rome is to navigate on foot, which is good since I will NEVER drive there!
Traditional Swiss Mountain Cheese doesn't agree with me AT ALL. I still have nightmares about this cheese. Approach with caution...and a lot of Pepto Bismol!
On the day my now-husband planned to propose to me on London's Tower Bridge with a ring he'd hidden in his coat pocket, we passed three other wedding celebrations as we wandered around the city. I have yet to see that many in a single day again.
Both my father-in-law and I avoided Montezuma's Revenge when we visited Mexico. Instead, we ended up crazy sick from the water we purchased at LAX during our layover on our way home.
Of all the art we saw in Florence, the pieces that struck me most profoundly were Michelangelo's unfinished slaves in the shadow of the David. On the other hand, the statue of Dante Alighieri in Piazza Santa Croce still creeps me out when I think about it.
One of my favorite travel experiences was watching a 17 year-old Aussie experience snow for the first time in the Swiss Alps.
When I was young, taking a vacation always meant going to California. Both my parents are from the Sunshine State, so that's where we always went. To this day, I really struggle to see the appeal, though I still want to go to San Francisco.
The most cat calls I've ever received wasn't in Vegas or Italy or anywhere you might expect. Instead, it was walking alongside my husband in the medieval town of York, England. We learned firsthand that York empties of tourists and OAPs buying antiques on Saturday nights to become a club-rat, drunk uni student hangout.
Despite venturing further and further from home with each trip, I still really like Disneyland and Vegas. They seem cliche, but calculated unreality can be so wonderful sometimes!
The worst stubborn streak I've ever exhibited was in Pisa, Italy. Despite being in one of the most famous places in the entire world, I sat down on the step at the bottom of the bapistry and didn't move from that spot. In my defense, I was very sick, and my sister gets extra selfless points for staying by my (very cranky) side.
My favorite Starbucks is in Canterbury, England. My favorite castle is Warwick or Edinburgh Castle. My favorite gelateria is Vivoli in Florence. My favorite cheesy souvenir "shop" is the bottom floor of Harrods.
I absolutely can not remember going into St. Mark's in Venice. I know I did; my friends were with me and swear I was there. But I can't remember it at all.
The only time I've ever been seasick was crossing the English Channel on the SeaCat hovercraft.
I've done charades for tampons in an Italian pharmacy.
Standing in the shadow of the lovely Palais du Versailles, we realized we didn't have enough time to make it out to the Hamlet before our bus departed. I very seriously considered knicking one of their little golf carts to drive out there anyway.
On English motorways, I've 1) been in a vehicle pulled over for speeding outside Bath, 2) witnessed a car rolled over onto its top outside Canterbury, and 3) watched horses run alongside our vehicle after escaping their trailer and galloping down the M1 just outside London.
My first encounter in Paris was a supermarket cashier that literally yelled at the Australian in front of me for not printing a price sticker for his bananas. I became too intimidated to talk to any locals after that, despite having studied two years of French.
European Burger Kings still serve my favorite fast food burger, but their US counterparts got rid of it a decade ago. I definitely see the irony in excitement over traveling thousands of miles to eat at an American restaurant.