Sparklists: A Peek Inside Our Own Travels

At Sparkloft, we pride ourselves on being experts in social travel. But what about our actual travel experience? We’re skillful storytellers, but what are our own stories? 

Turns out our travel histories are as diverse as the people who work here. As a group, we’ve traipsed through all four corners of the earth and encountered food, drink, flora and fauna of all shapes, sizes, scents and savors along the way. Our mixed bag of experiences – from stirring up shenanigans in Ireland to befriending feral cats in Thailand to traversing ancient landmarks in Israel – give every Spark something special to bring to the social table.

We still have a lot of ground to cover, and cover it we will, each of us motivated by our own set of reasons. But perhaps one Spark put it best when asked what pushes him to travel: “Previously? To find a hot foreign girlfriend. Nowadays? To remind myself there’s a much, much bigger world outside of my day-to-day life. Also, food.”

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  • Sparkloft has visited 70 countries,
  • lived in 16 countries
  • and speaks 12 different languages.
  • The average Spark has visited 15 countries,
  • lived in 2 countries
  • and speaks 2 languages: English and Spanish (with German coming in third).

When exploring a new city, we like to walk, bike or drive. We also won’t say no to tuk-tuks, rickshaws, dune buggies, bush planes or hang gliders.

Our top ten favorite places in the world:
  1. New York City, NY
  2. Barcelona, Spain
  3. Bruges, Belgium
  4. Munich, Germany
  5. Cinque Terre, Italy
  6. San Francisco, CA
  7. Salzburg, Austria
  8. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  9. London, England, and of course...
  10. Portland, OR

Some notable outliers: Rocky Mountain National Park, the Great Barrier Reef, Mt. Pilatus, Hanauma Bay, the north shore of Lake Superior and “Somewhere I haven’t been yet.”

Most common locations on our travel wish lists:
  1.  South Africa
  2. Hong Kong, China
  3. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  4. Thailand
  5. Maldives
  6. Tokyo, Japan
  7. Iceland
  8. New Zealand
  9. Amsterdam, Holland
  10. Croatia 
A sampling of our most memorable foreign culinary run-ins:
  • Salo, an Eastern European dish composed of cured slabs of fatback, eaten in a Romanian restaurant
  • Crocodile in Cuba
  • Snake in China
  • Ox tongue served on foie gras in South Africa
  • Fried grasshoppers in Mexico
  • Conch, a large sea snail found anywhere from Florida to Brazil, consumed in the Bahamas
  • Chicken feet in Thailand
  • Scorpion in China
  • Sea cucumber in South Korea
  • Guinea pig in Peru
Ten drinks we’ll never forget:
  • Țuică, a Romanian spirit prepared exclusively from plums
  • Luwak coffee, brewed from coffee beans eaten and excreted by the Asian Palm Civet
  • Glühwein, a heated and spice mulled wine popular in German-speaking countries
  • Kava, a drink containing mild sedative properties made by roots of the kava plant, commonly consumed in Pacific Ocean cultures
  • Flaming ouzo, a Greek anise-flavored aperitif
  • Agwa De Bolivia, an herbal liqueur made with Bolivian coca leaves and other herbs and botanicals
  • Grappa, an Italian grape-based pomace brandy
  • Spanish horchata, a sweet beverage made from water, tigernuts and sugar
  • Baijiu, a white Chinese liquor distilled from sorghum
  • A Cuban mojito with honey. ¡Salud!

A few other mentionables: Icelandic cows milk fresh from the udder, “Some sort of hard liquor distilled with snakes” and “A really tall can of malt liquor that I saw a bum purchase.”

Some of our most notable animal encounters:

The highlights

  • Riding camels in Israel
  • Diving with bull sharks in Fiji
  • Talking to parrots in Maui
  • Petting cows in Switzerland
  • Seeing tigers in Thailand
  • Hanging out with monkeys in Indonesia
  • Playing with dolphins in the Bahamas
  • Feeding giraffes in China
  • Swimming with humpback whales in Kauai

The not-so-highlights

  • Getting pooped on by a monkey in a Holland zoo
  • Stumbling upon amorous mongooses
  • Getting chased by street dogs in Peru
  • Dodging palm-sized cockroaches in Mexico
  • Getting nibbled on by fish in South Korea
  • Running away from a wolf in Colorado (“Shortly after skinny dipping.”) 
Why we wander:
  • “To get out of my comfort zone.”
  • “To get away.”
  • “The feeling of being present and more alive because you really start smelling the smells and tasting the tastes when you are in a new place.”
  • “Photography and adventure.”
  • “To see something new and get a new passport stamp.”
  • “Trying new food and drinks.”
  • “Getting out of the house. Arts, culture, family, friends.”
  • “Meeting people and learning languages.”
  • “Travel bug. I can’t stay in one place for more than three months at the moment.”
  • “Restoration and relaxation.”
  • “To explore the world and hopefully find the place I want to spend the rest of my life.”
  • “To expand my horizons and grow my understanding of people.”
  • “People, cultures, love, adventure.”