Each year, Andy returns to Poffabro, Italy, to visit the stone house her great grandfather built. Northeast of Venice and near the Austrian border, the family homestead sits among the foothills of the Dolomites.
For three generations, her family has devoted its time and talents — from stonemasonry and carpentry to architecture — to preserve this treasured piece of family history.
“It’s a very special place to me,” Andy says. “It’s my happy place.”
But as an experienced world traveler, Andy has a long list of other places she’s enjoyed exploring — a list that touches every continent except Antarctica.
What sparked your love of travel?
After college, I spent a summer traveling with my best friend, riding the rails in Europe. Those were the days of “Europe on five dollars a day” — and you could actually do it. We had Eurail passes and just explored from Paris to Vienna and everywhere in between. My friend was a military nurse stationed at a U.S. Army base in Germany, so she had an idea of places to go. We went through eight different countries. And at that time, English wasn’t as universally spoken as it is today. It was a real adventure — empowering.
What highlights stand out from your travel experience?
Last year, my daughter and I went to Africa — South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe (to see Victoria Falls) and Swaziland. The game preserves were remarkable, especially seeing the elephants and rhinos. It’s a long trip, though. The flight back from Cape Town to Atlanta was 16 hours. It was worth it, of course, but I’m not sure I’ll be doing that again!
Any favorite destinations?
I love the people and culture of South America. We’ve been to Machu Picchu in Peru, which was really satisfying to experience. We went to Costa Rica three years in a row — first with an organized tour. We loved the west coast, so we returned the next year to spend more time there, absorbing the culture. We took our children and grandchildren, too. That exposure to other cultures, language and lifestyle is good for children to experience.
Niagara Falls is also a favorite, and we’ve visited several times. Standing on the American side, watching that water rushing over, is inspiring. You know, you don’t always have to go far away to be inspired.
Do you have any travel tips to share?
Try to adopt the philosophy of the locals, rather than arriving with a preconceived notion of how you should be greeted and treated. Go in with an open mind — observe, pay attention and be mindful that the journey isn’t just about “what I need.”
What do you love most about traveling?
Learning other ways to live life day-to-day, other everyday routines. Experiencing how life can be lived without the trappings we’re accustomed to. We don’t have all the answers, and seeing how other cultures live is often a good reminder of that.
I also love sunsets. I’m always following them. Where sunsets are best, that’s where I want to be.