OurOyster from A – Z

By Jade Johnston and James Cook

ABC’S of OurOyster

This is a travel blogging chain letter which has been going around for some time now. We are a bit late getting our contribution out there, but we hope you enjoy it!

We would like to thank our amazing travel blogging friends who tagged us for this post. Definitely go check out the blogs of Crazy Sexy Fun Travel and D travels round – two other really great bloggers.

A: Age you went on your first international trip:

Jade – My first international trip was at the ripe old age of 17. Before that I had never actually been outside of my home province of Manitoba, Canada. (shocking!) My first trip was to the Dominican Republic where she spent Christmas and New Years with a friend I met at Uni.

James – I started out young and one of my earliest memories was in Portugal. I was eating ice cream and promptly threw it up all over the table. Neither the waiter nor my parents seemed amused.

B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where:

Jade – OMG – It has to be hand down, Belgium. I mean, how can you compete with the Belgians when it comes to beer? Jade’s favourite has to be either Kasteel or the classic, Chimay Bleu. But she even really loves the fruity lambic beers which are supposed to be girly beers – but oh well!

 James – One of the things I did not expect about New Zealand when I went there was their exceptional quality of beer. The best, in my mind, was the Moa. A full bodied beer that went great with pretty much everything!

C: Cuisine (favorite):

Jade – I could just die for good Ethiopian food… and Indian. I loves curry’s and spices – so good!

James – I love Mexican food and a good curry is hard to beat.

 D: Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why:

Jade – My favourite country has got to be Spain, while my favourite city is Edinburgh by far. I lived there for just over a year and it was simply incredible. It is the one place that I have felt most at home. As for least favourite – this is a bit controversial – but Im going to say Paris. Ill let you know why some day in a blog post.

James- My favorite destination so far has been Zimbawe. I love that country and ever since the economic collapse has been going from strength to strength. My least favorite has been Singapore. It’s a complete mysophobe (fear of germs)  and feels like the city version of a doctors waiting room.

 E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

Jade –  For me, one of the most amazing things I have seen abroad was the village life in rural Costa Rica. The people there have very little in the way of material possessions, but they are some of the most happy and welcoming people that I have ever met.

James – The Routeburn Great Walk in New Zealand took my breath away. It was incredibly beautiful and swimming in the glacial lakes was a highlight of my trip.

 F: Favorite mode of transportation:

Jade – I love hiking. My goal when I moved to New Zealand was to do as many of the great walks as possible. I almost met that goal. The only walk I didn’t do was the Milford Sound because the avalanche conditions were just too dangerous.

James – I really love kayaking. I have not done it as much as I would like but it feels so great when you feel yourself pushing the kayak through the water.

Jade on the Tongariro

G: Greatest feeling while traveling:

Jade –  I love when I start to feel like I am “figuring out” a place. Like when I am able to give directions to another tourist, or when I am able to hold a conversation in the national tongue.

James – I love that feeling of exploration you get while traveling. Everything is new. Everything is interesting. I tend to get bored when I stay in one place for too long. I need that feeling.

H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to:

Jade – Costa Rica was probably the hottest place I have been, although since I was there for 3 months I guess I acclimatized. Cambodia was pretty deadly hot – I almost got heat stroke hiking around the ruins of Angkor Wat. Although right now in Brisbane, Australia is pretty unbearable.

James – Dubui. It was SO hot. But it was nice because it was such a dry heat that you didn’t really sweat all that much

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where:

Jade – Hmmmm Im not really sure on this one! I guess I would have to say my experience with Malaysia Air.

James – I stayed in a four star hotel for two weeks in Germany whilst working at a shipyard. That was quite luxurious.

 J: Journey that took the longest:

Jade – I usually try to cut costs when I come home to Winnipeg, Canada after time away. Usually this means flying into Toronto or New York and taking a multi day bus journey home. I usually start to lose my mind a little bit after the 16th hour and start to send cryptic text messages to whoever will respond.

James – Unlike Jade I have never really taken any super long journeys like that so I guess it would be when I flew to New Zealand. It was a long flight!

 K: Keepsake from your travels:

Jade – I sew patches on my backpack. And if I can’t find the patch when I am in the country, I will cheat a little bit and get it off ebay. :)

James – I like to attach small things that I find to my backpack. So far I have a key from France, a festival band from New Zealand and an old section of my favorite T-shirt I got whilst in Califormia.

Jades backpack

 L: Let-down sight, why and where:

Jade – My biggest travel let down was the Kiwiburn festival in New Zealand. I guess I expected it to be more like burning man in the USA, but,…..it wasn’t really.

James – I am going to have to agree and say Kiwiburn. It was just paying to camp in a field for three days in the middle of nowhere.

M: Moment where you fell in love with travel:

Jade –  For me it was when I first left my home province of Manitoba to spend a week in Ottawa with a program called Encounters with Canada. It was a week long program where a group of 100 young people explored our nations capital and learned about international relations and domestic politics. Sounds geeky, but Im a geek.

James – I think it was when I took redundancy in 2010. I had always liked travel but setting off for Florence was the first time I realised I loved it.

 N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

Jade – I once got to stay in the Fairmont during a modelling recruitment thing, where I won a bikini run way contest and was then told I needed to lose weight and get a nose job. My modelling career stopped soon afterwards. I like cheese way to much.

James – I stayed in a really nice one in Miami whilst waiting for a ship. It had a pool on the roof!

 O: Obsession—what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

Jade – I am way into landscape photography than other types – I just love being in nature and I try to capture it’s beauty when ever I can. Also ancient architecture as well as modern. I like experimenting with lines and angles to create a new perspective.

James – I love taking photos of wildlife and people. I think it is so interesting to portray a place with photos of its wild life. I also really like taking photos of rivers/waterfalls/seas.

A Giraffe from Zimbabwe

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where?

Jade –  I would have counted for you, but I am on my third passport and the others are at home.

James – Lots

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where:

Jade – If you like quirky attractions then you will love New Zealand. Fighter plane turned into kid’s slide? Giant can of soda? Giant viking? Steepest street in the world? Huntervasser toilets? New Zealand has it all.

James – I went to the Winchester Mystery House in California. That was strange and extremely quirky.

 R: Recommended sight, event or experience:

Jade – One of my favourite things is the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. I think everyone in the region should take the time to explore this old Moorish palace.

James – I would recommend that everyone visits New Zealand and does at least one Great Walk. There is a reason they used it for the filming of the Lord of the Rings. It is stunning.

 S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling:

Jade – Once in a life time experiences! When I travel I try to see everything I can in each destination – after all – I might never return! If that mans paying a bit extra to see something amazing, then so be it.

James – The once in a lifetime experience are totally worth their money. That and carrot cake. Gotta have carrot cake.

T: Touristy thing you’ve done:

Jade – Of course who can say no to having their photo taken in front of the Eiffel tour? Or going on a milford sound cruise? Certainly not I!

James – I visited all of the Gaudi public art whilst in Barcelona and found the Cathedral to be extremely touristy.

 U: Unforgettable travel memory:

Jade – Definitely the one where the hotel walls were painted black, but then it was revealed that it was actually hundreds upon thousands of cockroaches. But that is another blog post as well….

James – Getting to go behind the scenes at a Manatee research centre where they were rehabilitating them. I got to stroke a baby one. It was like watching all the cat videos on youtube at once. A cute overload!

V: Visas, how many and for where?

Jade – I have had working holiday visas for the UK, Belgium, New Zealand, and Australia. Student visa for Denmark. And special tourist visas for Vietnam and Cambodia.

James – Four; the US, New Zealand, Australia and Zimbabwe. Though I overstayed in Zimbabwe…oooops!

W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?

Jade – Nothing can beat the Sauv Blancs of the Malborough region in New Zealand!

James – I love the Pinot Noirs that you can find in New Zealand.

Jade and James on a vineyard in New Zealand

 X: eXcellent view and from where?:

Jade – I am going to be cheesy here and say the Sahara desert from the back of a camel.

James – If you go out far enough into the Indian Ocean and you are lucky you will see bioluminesince. On a cloudless night when you are leaving a glowing trail in the water and you can see hundreds of stars above you. Well thats pretty hard to beat!

 Y: Years spent traveling?:

Jade – Well this will be my 6th year of international travel, and my 7th year of travel all round. Although I did go back to Canada for a year before heading off to New Zealand. Now I feel old.

James – It depends where you want to start counting from. I have been traveling with work since the age of 16 (7 years ago) but if you want to count non-work stuff then 2 years.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where?:

Jade – Spor -tz? Huh?

James – When the All Blacks were playing in New Zealand there was quite a big atmosphere in Wellington.


Now its time for our nominations!

We would like to see an A-Z post from:

25 Travels

1000 Places To Fight Before You Die

A Little Adrift

Asia On Strollers

Brooke VS The World



  1. says

    Thanks for sharing. Love these kind of posts, you get to know other travelers so much better. You two are a perfect pair.

    I guess we need to go and work on our list! Thanks for nominating us.

    Safe travels you guys!


  2. says

    Could relate to a lot you said here. Had to laugh at Kiwiburn, I’ve never heard of it before but with around 400 people it sounds pretty lame. Read in the NZ news today that the annual Big Day Out rock festival is shutting down – not good days for NZ festivals apparently…

    • says

      I wonder why Big Day Out is shutting down in NZ?!?! I was looking at it here on the Gold Coast and they wanted 175 Aus for a 1 day festival – and it was sold out! Thats more then I pay for a 3-4 day festival in Europe!!! But I think kiwiburn hardly even counts as a “festival”

  3. says

    I have always wondered what the perfect personal souvenir would be… HOW did I not think of sewing patches on my backpack?! Great post, I like that both of you answered – most couple blogs (including ours) only had one of us answering.

    • says

      Thanks!! I love my patches on my bag, but now I am committed to keeping that bag for a looong looong time. Or else I would have to take all the patches us and re sew them on…. too much work!

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