Once again I have been able to get someone in the EF family to take on the Independent newspaper’s travel survey. Pam Farmer is a Spanish teacher and Group Leader as well as a Global Education Ambassador. She started leading groups with EF in 1982 (that’s right, Eighty-Two!) and has travelled almost every year since. Pam says that travelling with EF has really enriched her life; her husband’s life and she is sure that it has enriched the lives of not only students that travel with her but also her twin 16-year-old daughters. By the time Pam’s daughters graduate from high school next year they will have visited 30 different countries thanks to her partnership with EF!
Also, as this post goes live Pam and I will be midway through an Austria, Germany and Switzerland tour, so best wishes to all from Munich.
First holiday memory? Going to Saint Thomas, US Virgin Islands with my family. My dad had a friend with a condo at Pineapple Bay. We heard steel bands, swam and had great family time together.
Best holiday? When the girls were about 6 years old, we were on a train from Florence to Rome and they saw all of these college kids with backpacks and were questioning what they were carrying and doing. My husband, who was carrying our girls’ bags for them, told them that when they went on a trip and they carried their own bags we would take them backpacking. Sure enough when we were on our annual spring EF tour when they were 12, they carried their own bags and announced they were ready to backpack. That summer, we had the best time exploring, traveling and experiencing Spain, southern France and Italy for three weeks. It was wonderful to sit in cafes, take trains and have the girls go off and explore a little on their own. I got a great sense of satisfaction watching them and sitting and having sangria with my husband was wonderful. (And we used my Global Rewards Points to get there, thanks EF)
Favorite place in the US? My brother owns a summerhouse on Lake Michigan in Leland, Michigan. For the last two summers we have packed up the Thule and headed up and over. It is like you are going back to 50s Americana. We have cherry pie and spit cherry pits, have wonderful meals out on the porch with the entire family, climb dunes and swim in the lakes. It is so peaceful and so much fun!
What have you learnt from your travels? I truly believe that my travels have formed me. They have influenced every part of my life. I have learned that I can get myself out of any situation with a smile and determination. I am at home everywhere and I can always find a friend.
Who would be your ideal travelling companion? My husband, we have the best time exploring and trying new things together and he always carries my bag!
Greatest travel luxury? EF Global Reward Points (I have my reputation to live up to). I am always counting up my points and planning my next trip.
Which EF tour would you choose to take (add why if you like)? The Grand Tour of Spain, of course. I would get to see all of my Spanish favorites on one trip.
Better to travel or arrive? I love it all!
Most amusing travel experience? Trying to scalp tickets for the Copa Mundial ’82 in Barcelona. I was backpacking with one of my friends from college and she really wanted to see the World Cup. Of course, she didn’t speak Spanish and I did. Here I was trying to score tickets in Spanish for a game I knew nothing about. It must have been a very funny site to see me start to buy tickets, run when the police came, try again and then when I finally scored the tickets we were in a standing room only section with a bunch of cigar smoking old timers watching Brazil versus Argentina and that was the first soccer game I ever went to in my life.
Favorite Museum or Site? The Prado Museum is my favorite. I always feel like I am visiting an old friend. I went there for the first time in 1971 on a school trip and never miss a visit when I am in Madrid. I get disappointed when one of my favorite Goya’s is touring!
Best meal abroad? In Buenos Aires, Argentina. My husband and I went to a very small local place with a couple of new friends that we met while we were staying at our small hotel. I had heard that the Argentine beef was outstanding but hadn’t really experienced it truly until that night. We were clearly the only non-Argentines in the restaurant. The wine was fantastic, salads were great and then the meat came. I have never had better! What a wonderful meal we shared with these two wonderful men. The company and the food and the atmosphere combined to make it a once in a lifetime!
Dream trip? I would love to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain with my sister Sue McGann, who is a fellow GL and has gone on EF trips with me for 25 years.
What do you never travel without? My make-up, my mother used to tell me to always carry your make-up on the plane, she would say, “You can replace your clothes easier than you can replace the correct shade of lipstick.”
Where are you going next? I just got back from Costa Rica: Coast to Coast in February and I am headed out to Austria, Germany and Switzerland with Paul Mattesini, in April. We haven’t done this tour since 2003 and this time my sister-in-law, Meg Durant, is doing her first gig as a new EF Group Leader with us. So, I feel like I am passing along a wonderful gift and I get to travel with my family and some great friends and students.
Add Paul on Google+
(Editor’s note: Paul Mattesini’s posts appear Tuesdays on Following the Equator. If you have a travel question for our resident expert tour director, or an idea for a blog post topic, you can email Paul here, and he will answer readers’ questions in future posts.)