It’s Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. And it doesn’t take more than a few minutes in conversation with the staff at ACIS to realize there’s one thing we all feel passionately about: TRAVEL. Here’s our ode to the amazing experience of visiting a faraway place, whether for the first time or on many a return voyage.
It’s time to get serious. Yes, we have had a love affair for 30 years, and yes, when we are together we stroll the piazzas every night we hang together, but you mean more to me than just a dinner at PierLuigi and an ice cream at Giolitti’s. I really really like you Rome. I love when I haven’t seen you for a while and I am nervous and anxious on the drive in from the airport. We are both getting older. Me, over 60, you, 1260 years. But age is not important. That first glimpse across the Aventine hill, and you there in the distance. You look just the same. I know I always say that but it’s true. The Palatine Hill across from Circus Maximus, then along the river to the Capitoline Hill and majestic Michelangelo’s piazza. The Ancient Forum and Colosseum nearby. And finally the beauty of the great Pantheon. So, just so you know, I don’t come back because I threw some coin in a fountain. I never have. I come back because I adore you Rome. More than ever.
-Peter Jones, President
I love the happiness that lingers for days after returning home from a really great travel experience. Some people call it the “afterglobe.” Symptoms include animated speech, increased confidence, and endless reminiscing. My first trip to Paris impacted my life so profoundly, I still get waves of afterglobe nearly four years later.
-Erin Bowen, Online Marketing Manager
I love Madrid! You can walk the streets at midnight and see people from every age and background enjoying being out and about. I don’t only love the city but what it does to me. I quickly take on all aspects of being a Madrileña. I take the time to sit and have a coffee or vino and just people watch. I have long lunches and sometimes even a siesta. I stand up while I eat and throw olive pits on the floor. I just walk with no particular destination point in mind. Oh…I just want to go right now!
-Laura Smart, VP
I have an actual love story…I met my husband while I was studying abroad in Spain. We got to know each other in classes in Toledo, Spain, and then agreed to meet up after our program was completed – our first date was in Switzerland! Four years later, he proposed the day that I returned from my very first ACIS trip.
-Liz Tyrrell, Regional Director
I know it hasn’t been long (visited January 2013), but my heart aches to be with you again! Sure I’ve had other loves, but believe me when I say that Sweden and Ireland have nothing on you… what with your wild moon-like landscape, outrageous popular folklore, and extraordinary creative culture. It is you who has stolen this wandering heart and I count the days before I can see you again. I will think sweet thoughts of glaciers, geysirs, and waterfalls in a swirling dream of Northern Lights (yes, I saw them!!!) until we meet again.
-Devin Bockrath, International Program Consultant
I fell in love with Versailles’ fairytale-like village. Beautiful fall day with Baroque music and the fountains…walking through the perfectly manicured gardens was like being transported out of reality and back into Louis XIV’s time.
-PJ Brown, Flights Coordinator
I love the uncertainty of travel and the things that you can never plan for that often end up being the highlight of my experience. You can make sure that all bases are covered, and every detail is finalized, to an extent. Some of my favorite moments have come from being invited to observe a local tradition with my hiking crew after summiting Mt. Kiliminjaro, cooking an authentic tagine with ingredients that I purchased in a local market, while dancing to traditional music in a riad in Morocco, or stumbling upon a parade at 3:00 in the morning on the Costa del Sol . As they say, ‘the journey is the destination’.
-Tom Heigham, Regional Director
As an IT guy, I expected my professional career to involve consuming gallons of coffee in a dark basement while hunched over a keyboard. Much to my surprise, I was taken along on a sales trip to Innsbruck as the sales engineer. Was I the most qualified engineer at the time? No. Was I a skilled sales person? No. Did I speak any German (other than the little I gleaned from WWII movies)? No. I had been to Innsbruck as a teenager on a high school trip, and that put me ahead of everybody else. So what did I find in my return to Innsbruck? I fell in love with the mass of the soaring, snow covered mountains. I was amazed at how the Tyrolean people took me in as one of their own and regaled me with pork (in every imaginable form), strudel, chocolate, Weiss beer and schnapps. Walking at night through the narrow, winding streets, feeling the presence of towering Alps on either side of me is a memory I will treasure forever.
-Jeff Harkey, Director of IT
Every new city that I visit, I am always convinced that I have found my one true love. I feel guilty knowing that I have moved on from my former crush. It is always nice to know that every city I return to will always warm my heart and make me feel at home.
-Ariana Breckner, International Program Consultant
Traveling to Guatemala was an unexpected love at first sight. It was my first trip to anywhere outside of North America and Europe and I had no idea if I would feel the same connection and excitement. I quickly came to adore the gorgeous landscapes, colorful clothing, bustling markets and friendly local people! I’ll never forget seeing the enormous bundles being lugged through Chichicastenango, the serene boat ride on Lake Atitlan, and making the climb up the Mayan temples in Tikal.
-Cindy Esquibel, Overseas Operations
I love the chance to try traditional, unique, local foods. They say a lot about the people, economy, culture and history of the area. A few of my favorites: Bavarianweisswurst, New Zealand’s mussels and roast lamb, Belizean fry jacks, Cinque Terre’s pesto, Bajun fried flying fish, Spanish paella, French crepes and freshly baked baguettes, Roman pasta cacio e pepe and bacio gelato, Galway oysters…I could go on and on.
-Allison Read, Marketing Manager
It was love at first song. As an ex-radio DJ, I have a love for music, and as a wanderlust I have an endless passion for seeing the world. As it turns out, these are also two of my favorite things to combine. I discovered this in 2007 during my first trip to Europe, which also turned out to be my first time doing karaoke. I’ve learned that you can’t always communicate in everyone’s language, but there’s something about music that draws people together. Whether it’s a ballad in Brussels, a classic 80s jam in Nicaragua, or Disney in Budapest, everyone loves to belt out their favorite! You can make a lot of new friends just by playing a familiar tune.
-Jill Federschneider, International Program Consultant
Thinking about an upcoming trip to Paris always gives me butterflies. I can’t wait to arrive, grab a café and of course a pain au chocolat! When I was visiting last summer, I got to share my love of the city with one of my best friends from Minnesota. She was visiting Paris with her family, and I had just arrived to do some work. We only had a day to hang out, but it was amazing to be there with her to share her experience of “falling in love (with Paris) for the first time!”
-Heidi Pettit, Regional Director
My heart simply filled when we were the only visitors to a Roman Amphitheater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. My daughter and her friend ran onto the stage and spontaneously began acting, stretching their arms to the sky, and laughing and dancing. My husband and I sat on the ancient benches as the sun poured onto the statues and the kids. It is a memory of joy and gratitude for a simple moment which will stay in my heart forever.
-Becky Tabaczynski, CFO
Dare I say I love Haggis? It is true- I love Haggis. It wasn’t always so…..I can recall when I heard what it is made from my stomach curled and my brow wrinkled. I couldn’t imagine trying such a dish. And then it happened- January 25th Robbie Burns night many moons ago. All dressed up and celebrating with my Scottish friends their beloved poet Robert Burns. I got swept away with the dancing and the bagpipes. And then silence as the Haggis was piped in on its beautiful platter- clearly the guest of honor. Hanging on every word of the “Address to a Haggis” I knew my fate was sealed- this would be the night I faced my fear. And am I ever glad I did! The whole experience was unforgettable and I always cherish that whole experience- especially the haggis! I can’t encourage people enough to try local cuisine- you just never know when you might fall in love!
-Alicia Fortier, Director of Relationship Management
I love the feeling of being able to communicate in another language while traveling. You instantly become more connected to the culture of the country. Whenever I’m in France or Germany, I truly enjoy chatting with the locals, especially in small towns and villages, as I love learning how their way of life differs from my own. It’s an incredibly enriching experience.
-Sabrina Denault, Encore Performance Tour Consultant
I love anything that is new! I love the excitement of getting lost in a new place and finding my way around, new sights, new smells, new people, and especially new food!
-Jenna Vinci, International Program Consultant
I loved being blown away by the size and majesty of the Colosseum. We had walked around to a balcony behind the Victor Emmanuel Monument when, almost unexpectedly, the ground seemed to drop away and there it was in all its grandeur – so much larger than life. We felt transported back almost 2000 years.(I had almost expected to be disappointed, the way you are when the toy in a box of cereal is nothing at all like the picture on the outside.)
Similarly, we were amazed, when walking down what seemed a typical alleyway, we came upon the Trevi Fountain, seemingly arising spontaneously from a massive rock. But most of all, I loved seeing my girls soak in the culture, become close to a family in France and immunized, really, from such silliness that can beget expressions like “Freedom Fries”.
-Rick Mulroy, Senior Oracle Developer
I love the people you meet while traveling! So many adventurous, fun, kindred spirits to get to know when you’re out of your element. I met my husband while living in South America and we have enjoyed traveling all over the world together.
-Cara Solle Corson, Senior International Program Consultant
My first time to Europe was Italy. We were sightseeing around Rome. It’s such a contrast between a bustling modern city and all the old ruins and history. Crossing the street could be life threatening, then we went to a couple of rooms with frescoes from 24 BC in them. The detail was amazing. I think that’s the oldest thing I’ve ever experienced. It makes you realized how young America is.
-Elisa McAndrew, Senior Accountant
I love hearing the folk music from the countries I have travelled. It represents so much of the countenance of the people who live there, their history and their unique stories. This is an irreplaceable and priceless gift that each culture gives to the global community!
-James Knapp, Artistic Director of Encore Tours
I fell madly in love with Costa Rica, it’s warm, friendly, welcoming people, the lush and varied landscapes, the beautiful way it made me feel. I didn’t care if I ever returned home again!
-Susan Margot Ecker, Reception
There’s no place that is more Romantic than Rome..the Eternal City. When I touch down at Leonardo da Vinci airport my heart flutters as I prepare to be once again struck by the magic of this city. I have so many fond memories that I’ve built over the years. Which is my favorite, where to begin? Each time I go I always attempt to visit a new area or sight and I’m never anything but amazed with what I see. During a recent trip in January I took some colleagues to see the Capuchin Chapel off of the Via Veneto and learned the derivation of the world famous coffee drink. I would be happy to share this fun little story with you.
-Julie Fratarcangeli, Director of International Program Development
What do you love about travel? Which favorite destination would be worthy of your love letter? Have you experienced a magic moment on an educational student tour?