This post has been a daunting task.
I was nominated for the Liebster Award, and the rules say I have to acknowledge my nominator and answer her 11 questions and nominate 5 to 11 blogs and provide my nominees with 11 questions.
When added together, that makes for a very lengthy post!
My first thought was to walk away from the award, but when I considered my nominator, I admit I was a little intimidated.
Stacey is not only a former colleague and current friend of mine, she’s also the voice behind The Gift of Travel, a wonderful travel blog that not only tells of her own whereabouts, but also interviews with professional travelers.
She also happens to be the only person who has ever spoken to me using my first and last name, saying it as if my two names are one word. Also, “no” and “impossible” are not in her vocabulary — and although she stands somewhere under 5’, Stacey is a mighty hurricane of inspiration.
There was no way I could refuse her 11 questions, especially because as a travel blogger, her questions have taken me out of the garden and placed me on the road. Thank you, Stacey!
The Gift Of Travel: Where have you been that is most memorable?
NGDM: I think my most memorable trips have been to places that plunked me right in the middle of a locale’s culture.
Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of Spain in the week leading up to Easter when each city honors Good Friday with funeral processions full of pageantry and belief.
I’d also like to add some of the pensiones in which Joe and I stayed throughout Europe. With our guidebook, we were able to find sleeping accommodations in art galleries, chateaus, antique shops, and even private homes.
One of the best finds was the Spartacus campgrounds just outside of Pompeii, where Joe and I were able to rent a small, mosquito-filled cabin. Once we plugged the holes and killed the mosquitos, we sat under a vine-covered pergola where the family that owned the place made brick-oven pizzas for the campers. Yum!
TGOT: To what place are you least likely to return?
NGDM: Nuevo Laredo, Mexico — without a doubt. Here’s the story. Joe and I were vacationing in San Antonio, Texas, and we thought it would be a great daytrip to drive to Mexico for a real authentic Mexican lunch.
Traveling from the US into Mexico was no problem; we were waved right through the border.
Nuevo Laredo, though, was a mass of traffic and people and litter — an undulating chunk of chaos. After parking on a side street next to an open sewer grate that reeked of excrement and buzzed with flies, we walked to a nearby shopping street and stopped into a shoe store. It was literally a vacant department store with some rusted shelves and only a few pairs of shoes.
Needless to say, we decided to skip lunch and head back across the border, where armed American border patrol agents considered Joe and I with a bit of suspicion because we spent less than 45 minutes in Mexico. We were asked to step from the car so it could be inspected inside and out, top to bottom.
TGOT: What meal did you have on your travels that you often try to re-create at home?
NGDM: Most meals, I would never even attempt — although I did try to make artichokes on a barbecue.
When Joe and I were walking around a small Sicilian village, we spotted a lot of smoke coming from the front of a house. We approached it and saw an older Sicilian lady, dressed all in black, bent over a bed of coals. Nestled throughout were baby artichokes drizzled with olive oil.
We tried to talk to the woman, who smiled and nodded and ultimately said in broken English that she had cousins in “Brookuh-leenuh!”
I tried to make those artichokes when we returned home, but I think I needed a little old Sicilian lady dressed in black.
As a gardener, though, I’m more likely to re-create garden inspirations when I return home, like terracotta pots overflowing with red geraniums or a knot garden.
It may not be the Alhambra (above), but it’s mine (below).
TGOT: What travel experience did you find the most authentic?
NGDM: When Joe and I were on a cruise around the Greek islands, the ship arrived in Rhodes. The tour company offered an excursion to the ruins of another city that is thought to be the ruins of Atlantis. Our guidebook presented us with an alternative idea.
We asked the social director on the ship which excursion he would pick, and he pointed to the alternative.
We left the ship and caught a taxi to an abandoned resort built by Benito Mussolini. There, we were able to explore caverns lined with mosaics and arches, and soak our feet in the mineral springs. It was a totally relaxing day that no one else on the ship enjoyed.
TGOT: With what three items do you always travel?
NGDM: Either a Fodor’s or a Frommer’s guidebook, a camera, a journal, and electric adapters if I’m traveling out of the country.
TGOT: What’s the first thing you do when you go to a new place?
NGDM: Get settled and ask for the nearest place to stock up the fridge with milk, water, and snacks.
TGOT: While traveling, are you more likely to source food at local supermarkets or eat out?
NGDM: I always eat out, and I always try to find restaurants where locals eat. Also, a great place to explore is a destination’s farmer’s market. (The following photos are from France.)
TGOT: What are your three favorite travel apps?
NGDM: I like travel books. I like holding something, writing in the margins, and highlighting points of interest. As for travel apps, I enjoy exploring Sphere, which provides 360-degree photos of landmarks.
TGOT: Do you feel more yourself while traveling or at home? Why?
NGDM: Probably at home. At some point, living out of suitcase becomes tiresome.
TGOT: What are three items in your travel first aid kit?
NGDM: Neosporin. Tylenol. Stain remover stick. As I’m older and have heart issues, I now travel with all of my medications, which usually requires a lot of planning in advance so that I have enough to get me through the vacation.
TGOT: What truly makes you happy?
NGDM: I think being able to be in my own world at my own pace on my own terms.
1. What is a favorite garden memory?
2. What was your biggest gardening disaster?
3. When you travel, are you someone who sightsees, goes on extreme adventures, or hangs out on the beach with a good book?
4. What meals have you tried to re-create from your travels? (Feel free to include the recipe.)
5. Why did you start blogging?
6. What is your personal favorite post that you’ve written (and be sure to add a link)?
7. If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
8. Of all the movies in all the world, which is the one film you can watch over and over again and why?
9. What is your favorite quote and who said it?
10. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
11. If you could redesign your life, what would you choose to do?