Name: Jerri Hayes
City/Country: Atlanta, GA, USA
Passport Stamps: Spain, Mexico, Democratic Republic of Congo, Italy, Netherlands, United Kingdom, France, Aruba, Brazil, US (they keep stamping me when I come home!)
1. My best travel memory so far: While at a vineyard somewhere deep in the Tuscan countryside, this little, old Italian lady came up to me and started rubbing my arm and pinching my face all while loudly exclaiming “Bronzie! Sei bella Bronzie!” This went on for an oddly long time and her family just stood by smiling and nodding. So I just went with it; even after the kisses. She seemed so happy to see me. Then it dawned on me, I was the only person of my complexion I had seen in a few days. Maybe she had never seen a light brown skinned girl before. Maybe I looked like someone she knew. Maybe she just really liked me. I don’t know, but it was definitely a sweet moment.
2. Favorite Hotel & Why: Hotel Arena, Rio de Janeiro Brazil. The location is across the street from the beach, it’s in the heart of Copacabana, the rooms are modern and clean, it’s priced pretty low considering how awesome the location is and there is a rooftop bar with hilarious bartenders who make the best caipirinhas. The staff there is a group of kind and very knowledgeable men and women who learn your name and make you feel more like family than a hotel guest.
3. My must-haves on any flight are: Leg room and a window seat- first class, exit row I don’t care. I’m 6’0 of legs and the last thing I need is someone letting their seat back into my knees. I also need warm compression socks, sodoku puzzles (stop laughing), earphones, my neck pillow, my blanket and movies. Yes, I am the girl sitting there bawling quietly and then laughing into my blanket while watching the new releases. I’m in my own world over there.
4. When I’m on the road, I absolutely hate: Closed minded people and people who don’t take advantage of being in the moment. What’s the point in traveling if you are going to do the same things you would do at home? Put down your phone, stop checking your email and enjoy your surroundings. Plus, I hate checking luggage, I consider myself a great packer and checking bags is not for me. Something like the Meet the Parents plane scene, but I will concede. I’ve got places to go.
5. My dream destination or vacation: Sydney, Australia so I can walk to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, anywhere I can ride an elephant bareback, and the Great Wall of China.
6. The three things I can’t travel without: 1. Cameras. I take at least three since I consider myself a bootleg photographer. 2. My purple bag my mom gave to me. It holds so much but still maintains style. 3. Music. I load up the phone and tablet and will sing my heart out—in my head.
7. Top lesson learned while traveling: Be fearless but smart. Traveling is a beautiful step outside of the day to day. It’s a chance to explore and indulge in the unknown. I get nervous about speaking a language I’m not fluent in, but I am determined to get better. The great part is that the effort is appreciated. I say go for it since you never know if an opportunity will arise again but it’s the experiences that make it all worth it.
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