1073 words/8:30 minutes reading time

In this interview with All World Travel Advisor Kathy Brown, we discuss her favorite memories of traveling, some pieces of advice for future travelers, food (of course), and some great ideas for adventure.

Q: You have been to a lot of different places. What travel memories stand out the most to you?

A: There is no one answer to that.  In 1980 my husband and I traveled to Turkey where took the Anatolia Express train from Ankara to Istanbul and stayed at the Pera Palace Hotel, where Agatha Christie used to stay.

My latest trip to Egypt was truly memorable.  The hieroglyphics in the tombs were so interesting.  Like getting a letter from the past. 

 As well, the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg was amazing!  The intricate work on those beautiful jeweled eggs was incredible. Also, the intricate work on the Amber Room at Catherine Palace still astounds me. 

The Mayan temples at Chichen Itza still give me goosebumps.  Definitely an air about that place.  You can practically feel the ghosts. 

Riding the Ghan train in Australia from Darwin to Alice Springs is another favorite memory.  The scenery from the train is not that different from the scenery in New Mexico. But the train! A step back in time to when train travel was elegant. The bathrooms in the sleeping compartments have to be seen to be believed. 

So there are some of my favorite memories.  There are many, many more. The Christmas markets on an AmaWaterways cruise. The bullet holes you can still see in Budapest are in the walls of buildings from the uprisings in 1956. Rome. Athens. I have been so blessed to be able to go and see so many places.  I can’t pick a favorite. As my husband says, the next trip is my favorite. 

Photo Credit: Virtuoso

Q: Speaking of social faux pas. What are some pieces of advice you give, or would give to clients about different cultural norms or ‘do’s and don’ts’ from around the world? 

A: Mostly I concentrate on alerting clients to questions about appropriate clothing. It used to be you couldn’t enter a Catholic church in Europe without a head covering of some sort — which is still relevant in some places, though it doesn’t seem to be the case much anymore.  However, I do try and remind people that cathedrals are places of worship and modest attire is appropriate.  

In Egypt, as in the rest of the Muslim world, women should wear tops with sleeves and shorts or pants to cover the knees. When visiting Mosques, you will need to take off your shoes.  If you aren’t comfortable leaving your shoes at the door, you need to carry them with you, but don’t set them on the floor while you take a picture. As well, in Muslim countries, some of older people do not want their pictures taken. They can get quite upset, so always ask. 

As well, tipping outside the US is different. Being aware of local customs regarding tipping can reduce the cost of travel. Although, it does seem anymore that if you are American, people expect you to tip. Bathrooms in the Middle East very often have attendants. They expect a tip. I’ve heard of places where the attendant won’t unlock the stall until receiving a tip.  I’ve never actually run into that, but you hear stories. 

Eating is different also. Americans eat fast and get on with things.  In other parts of the world, not so much.  Dining is an experience to be savored.  The preparation and presentation of food will be different. Even if you go to MacDonald’s in Paris, it won’t be the same as at home.  Although why anyone would go to MacDonald’s in Paris, I do not know. 

Q: On the topic of food. What are the places that you would share with people when considering good gastronomical culture?

A: Some foods will not be available.  Some will taste very different than what we are used to.  Part of the adventure of travel is experiencing different cultures. Gelato in Italy, a boulangerie in

Paris for amazing bread, paella in Spain, Bubble, and Squeak in Great Britain — which is a great, simple, dish of cabbage and potatoes, falafel in Israel, shish kabob in Turkey,

Spanakopita in Greece, the list goes on and on.  Be adventurous!  But don’t drink the water out of the tap.  Unless you are in Switzerland, they are very proud of their water there. 

Photo Credit Vitaly Mazur

Q: Here is a three-parter. Considering that you have been to so many regions, parts, and continents of the world, which one would you recommend for: a) people traveling for their first trip outside of the USA; b) people looking for adventure; and c) the one place that you would choose over all others.

A: First, for your first trip outside the US, Britain, Ireland, and Scotland are always good options.  They speak English and the culture is very similar to ours, so less chance of social faux pas. It is enough different that you know you are not in Kansas anymore.

Second, for people looking for adventure, you can find that in just about any place…. Zip lines in Costa Rica (or just about anywhere), Kauai canal tubing, learning to bull-fight in Spain, riding camels in Egypt or Australia. Pretty much anything in Australia. Or, South America for that matter. Climbing the Swiss Alps…skiing anywhere…sledding in Norway… ballooning in South Africa, Australia, Egypt, or Turkey.  Scuba or snorkeling, swimming with the dolphins, swimming with the sharks, swimming in cenotes in Mexico, swimming with the sting rays, river rafting, kayaking….. the list is endless.  Pick a place and we can find adventure there. 

Finally, personally, I want to see the Northern Lights.  I just have to figure out how to get past my extreme aversion to cold weather.  There are great cruises to Norway, or you can sit in the hot springs outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.  It’s just so cold where you can see the Northern Lights.

Photo Credit Virtuoso

Q: Well that is it for the questions. Well, one last one: What is something you want everyone reading this to know about travel and working with AWT?

A: At All World Travel, we strive to make every trip memorable.  Even if it is just a quick business trip to Dallas.  Our Corporate Department does a wonderful job for business travelers.  All World Travel can handle anything travel related.  We can do groups, individual travel, air travel, tours, cruises, you name it, we can do it!  And I like to think we do it very well. 

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