S&A: Alisa and I met while I was on a project in Israel when I was a young field service engineer for an American company. She joined me upon my return to the states, and we got married. My job required me to travel, so we traveled together for the next 3 years, and we just never stopped traveling. We love traveling. I guess it’s our most enduring life long hobby.
CP: How do you go about prepping for a destination you haven't yet visited?
S&A: I have a list of places we want to see, and the optimal length of each trip. Each year, depending on when we can travel, we decide where we will go, usually 3 trips a year, from 10 days to 3 weeks which is the longest we go for. After deciding where, and when, I start planning. I use the internet and travel forums extensively to map out a general route, and then start looking for places to stay. After deciding on the hotels, I check out restaurants and interesting places to visit. I don’t leave much to chance. I hate looking for a hotel at the end of a long day of travelling. When we were younger, we did that more, but now, we want to know in advance where we will be staying.
CP: You have visited numerous places in tens of countries and perhaps it won't be easy for you to discern, but could you tell us which three places left the deepest impression on you and why?
S&A: I think that our visits to Japan, China and South America were the trips that left us with the deepest impressions. We both grew up in western or western oriented countries. Visiting places so different from what we were used to was incredible. China was incredible, a gigantic country with one quarter of the earth’s inhabitants. Japan was the first country I ever visited where I felt I was in a place more technologically advanced than the USA or Europe, with a people whose national personality was so special. South America was one of our most incredible visits where we saw so much in just 3 weeks. We definitely plan to visit South America and China again.
CP: Did you encounter a pleasant or unpleasant surprise, or something plain weird on you travels that you would like to share?
S&A: PLEASANT: visiting people we had met while chatting on the internet and even visiting them at their homes; making new friends on trips with whom we have kept in contact for years; meeting friends from home unexpectedly in distant places.
UNPLEASANT: Coming back from Uzbekistan with diarrhea which lasted for a week.
UNUSUAL: I will tell you a story from one of our trips to Italy. We were with our daughter. We arrived in Verona in the pouring rain and without a hotel reservation. We checked out the hotels on my list, and they were all terrible. We became exasperated very quickly, and because of the rain we got drenched from very quickly. Sitting in our rented car near the main gate to the old city, and hoping for the rain to subside, our daughter (who was also hungry) pointed to the McDonalds right near the city wall. She noted that there was a hotel above the McDonalds. We went and checked and it turned out to be a very nice 4-star hotel and we checked in and enjoyed our stay there. Checking in at the same time as we did, was a blind man with a seeing-eye dog. There was nothing unusual about him or his dog. The next day while touring the old city, our daughter noticed a beggar begging on the ground leaning against the city wall. He was blind and had a seeing-eye dog. He looked very familiar. Our daughter recognized him right away as the blind man who had checked into the hotel with us. We learned a lot from that experience. I learned to reserve hotels in advance, and we all learned that there are beggars who sleep in 4-star hotels.
CP: Does your experience from the travels impact at all your everyday life in Israel, and if so, how?
S&A: We have friends here in Israel whom we met on trips. We are frequently giving advice on visiting places we know well, like Italy, and even Croatia where we have been 3 times. People from all over the world who have found our travel pages online write via email with questions regarding trips they are planning. Most of all, I personally am either planning a trip, or building a web page about the trip we just finished.
CP: In which ways did those travels enrich your lives/your life together?
S&A: As I described above, we met while I was traveling with my work, Alisa had to travel for us to get married, and then we lived on the road traveling for a few years until we settled down. So traveling has always been part of our lives, and even today, it is the most enriching and enjoyable activity we do together.
CP: Where will you go next?
S&A: I plan about a year in advance, and do detailed planning up to 6 months before a trip. In May we are going to Bordeaux and Dordogne with another couple. The trip was already 90% planned in January. After that, Berlin in September, and we are seriously considering a Baltic cruise in June 2012.
Cavtatportal wishes Steve and Alisa a great next trip and many more happy travels!