Friday, August 28, 2009

Meet the Espeseths

One of the perks of travel is meeting some terrific and interesting people. I first met Bob & Mary Ann Espeseth on a Parkland-sponsored tour to London, England in 2002. I was a novice traveler and the Espeseths were "seasoned." One of the many things I've come to admire about Bob & Mary Ann is their joy for life. A favorite memory is when our tour group saw "Mamma Mia" on stage in London. At the end of the show, the audience is encouraged to sing-a-long with the cast to those catchy ABBA songs. I reluctantly get up on my feet and go along with the crowd. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Bob Espeseth standing tall (very tall) and clapping along with the music with that twinkle in his eye. Fun. Unforgettable.

I asked Bob & Mary Ann to share some of their memories of their extensive travel experiences. Here's what they had to say:

1. What got you interested in travel?
Bob was on a destroyer in the Navy and visited 23 foreign countries while on active duty. As a family, we did a lot of camping throughout the U.S. visiting all 50 states. Our foreign travel came later.

2. What are your earliest memories of traveling? Did you travel as a child with your family?
Mary Ann's family did considerable travel before & after World War II in the U.S. & Canada. Bob's family did not have a car, but did a lot of hitchhiking to various places.

3. Do you like to read about travel? Who are your favorite travel writers? Travel magazines?
We don't subscribe to travel magazines. Yes, we do enjoy novels that take place in different countries & locales. We enjoy Rick Steves' tv programs and books.

4. Why do you travel?
We enjoy traveling to other countries to see the scenery, meet new people, and to appreciate different cultures.

5. When you travel internationally, how do you handle language differences?
We rely on the in-country guide and try to pick up a few phrases to get by. We don't take language courses or try to become fluent in any language.

6. What kind of packer are you? Do you have your own system for what to take?
We are light packers taking few shoes and coordinate outfits with interchangeable clothes. We often do laundry by hand. The secret is "take half the clothes you think you need and take twice as much money, and you'll have a good time!"

7. Tell me about food when you travel. Are you a foodie, that is, do you enjoy trying new cuisines?
Yes, we both enjoy trying new foods as a part of experiencing the various cultures. We don't visit McDonald's overseas! Mary Ann particularly likes Italian gelato!!

8. Tell me about a favorite food experience while traveling.
One memorable dining experience was in a little Italian village near Siena where we had beef florentine that was outstanding. Two hours of dining enjoyment. On a trip to Jordan recently, the group was divided up and we prepared our dinner, except for the main entrees.

9. What place have you visited that you would go back to in a flash?
Scandinavia, particularly Norway, but there are a lot of other places that were so enjoyable.

10. Any travel disappointments? A place you thought you'd enjoy but didn't live up to your expectations?
The only travel disappointment we encountered was a lousy tour leader in Spain. The country was wonderful and the local guides were fine, but the primary tour leader was a real dud.

11. What can you not live without when you travel?
Each other. We enjoy traveling together.

12. Where to next?
We are going on an Elderhostel in late Sept. to the southern Appalachians, "The Great Smoky Mountain Railway: An Appalachian Adventure."

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