Travel ABCs are all the rage in the travel blogging circuit these days. Fun idea! Always interesting to know the personality behind a blog. Thanks for the tags, Jenna and Michael. Here’s the travel ABC of Sophie’s World:

A: Age of first international trip: At 11, I went to New Orleans with my mum and brother to visit our aunt. It was a long, arduous journey, involving 4 planes and 5 airports each way. We had heaps of fun though. And unlimited sodas.

B: Best (foreign) beer: I’m hardly a beer connoisseur, not even that keen, actually. Maybe I had too many, too strong German beers on my first parent-free holiday at 15. Sick for days. I prefer light beers, like Corona, with a bit of lime in it.

C: Cuisine (favourite): Arabic (fondly remembering a summer in Jordan more than 20 years ago).

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite and why: So many faves: London, Australia and our once temporary home in New Zealand are just a few. Heaps of beauty spots at home in Norway, too. And the Middle East continues to fascinate me.

Our backyard in Takapuna, NZ

I don’t really have any least favourites: But if someone held a gun to my head, forcing me to choose, I might say I can probably live happily even if I never saw Belarus again. I was in Minsk in 1994. It was a short business trip, just a few days, with very little time to explore the city, let alone the country. And yet…

E: Event experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: Frau Greber’s cooking. When I was 15, I spent a summer in Bregenz. Even though much of that summer was spent experimenting with too strong German beer (see above), I still remember my Austrian host mother’s cooking. As far as I’m concerned, she’s the best cook in the world. She could make a gourmet meal of anything. And she made a cherry yogurt I still dream about now and then.

F: Favourite mode of transportation: My cool, quick and agile little Citroën, boats and trains. (Considering the somewhat tedious train journey I take every day, I’m surprising myself). And boats? I dream of taking the Royal Mail ship to St Helena, a 31-day journey from Britain. Now, to get the kids to come along.

G: Greatest feeling while travelling: Being completely free to let the day – and fate – be my guide.

H: Hottest place travelled to: June 1992, Cairo, 45 C. Still remember. So does my oldest daughter, then 4.

I: Incredible service experienced and where: Aggie Grey’s in Apia, Samoa, one of my favourite hotels.

Aggie Grey’s

J: Journey that took the longest: Oslo to Auckland always seems to take a while.

K: Keepsake from travels: I’ve lugged around ridiculously heavy souvenirs too many times to count. But I do like that Malawi chair. And the huge wall hanging from Jaipur. And the curtains from Windhoek. Even the bird cage from Lucca.

L: Let-down sight, why and where: None. Not a place’s fault if I have faulty expectations.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel: Bente, a school mate, always travelled everywhere and brought home the most exotic souvenirs. Exotic through the eyes of a kid during the 70s, at least. I was madly envious – and spent many happy hours playing with her plastic Venetian gondola and munching on tangerines from Costa del Sol with leaves still on them…

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: One that springs to mind is the Polana in Maputo, Mozambique.

O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: Everything: animals, people, buildings, parks, trees, sculptures, landscapes, details…

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? Over the years, there’s been a gazillion stamps from more than 100 countries. When I first began travelling, we were given passport stamps even in Europe. Not anymore, sadly.

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: The dead monks in Kyiv’s Persch-Lavra, maybe…

R: Recommended sight, event or experience: Any memorial or museum to human cruelty is worth seeing, to solidify our stand against it, for when it next occurs and we’re given an opportunity to make a difference.

S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: Transportation. Also, sometimes I can spend an indecent amount of money on a hotel room, if it’s quirky or interesting enough. I’m so staying at the Pera Palace next time in Istanbul.

T: Touristy thing done:

Nuff said.

U: Unforgettable travel memory: Hmm…, probably riding a camel through the Great Rann of Kucth in the Indian province of Gujarat, with my then 9-year-old, more or less scotch-guarded by camel pee, with no toilets and no showers for days, sleeping in hay in a shed and waking up next to newborn lambs on Christmas Day.

V: Visas, how many and for where? I’m lucky – Norwegian citizens can get around most of the world hassle-free and without visas. But I do have a few, several US student visas among them. My favourite is the Chinese visa I was given to go to Fujian to get my youngest daughter.

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where? Visciola, under the trees in Giovanni Giusti’s vineyard in Marche.

X: eXcellent view and from where?: Seeing the misty and mysterious Faroes appear before me from the deck of M/S Norrøna was pure magic. I can just imagine how the Vikings must have felt, when first setting eyes on those ancient isles.

Iguazu Falls are a close second. I hung back after closing hours and had a few minutes all to myself before I was spotted and very politely told to leave. Imagine just coming upon such a sight (and sound), completely unaware it was there, as the first visitors must have been, thousands of years ago.

Y: Years spent traveling?: Decades!

Z: Zealous sports fans and where: The annual cross country races at Oslo’s Holmenkollen, especially the 50 km. Norwegians are absolutely mad about cross country skiing, doing and watching.

Passing the baton to you,

  • Jeremy of Living the Dream
  • Mariana of Travel Thirst
  • Monique of Mo Travels
  • Thomas of Top Backpacking Destinations
  • Laurence of Finding the Universe