This week we welcome Kirsten Akens to the Aventura Ambassador team. Kirsten is a freelance writer and photographer, a trained yoga instructor, and a doggie foster mom. She lives in Colorado with her husband and Boston Terrier Lucy. Like all of our featured ambassadors, we asked her a few questions:
What trip are you most anticipating in 2015 and why?
I’m going to Disney World! And I’m super excited because I haven’t been in years and not only did my family visit many, many times when I was young, it’s where my husband and I honeymooned 18 years ago. Of course, it’s the only official trip we’ve got planned right now for 2015. The year is still an open book!
What is the craziest experience you’ve had in your travels?
When my husband and I visited Paris last spring, we wandered into a small wine bar I’d had on my list of places to try because it was American-owned and — don’t laugh — the owners have a Boston terrier. I was missing ours and was hoping for a furry snuggle. Little did we know, we had walked in on the filming of a Travel Channel show, and someone they had planned to interview while eating at the restaurant that evening was a no show. So guess who they asked? The show hasn’t aired yet; perhaps it won’t ever, but it was my in-front-of-the-camera TV debut.
What is one accomplishment in the past year you are most proud of?
I turned 40 last April and started a “40 before 41” project of 40 things I wanted to try before my next birthday. (Find the full list here: http://kirstenakens.com/birthday-lists/.) So that said, I’m proud of lots, but the most challenging activity was hiking Pikes Peak, my first fourteener. I trained all spring and summer and found an experienced friend to go with me. The first 11 miles weren’t bad, but I got hit with altitude sickness and the final two miles really challenged me, physically and emotionally. Thank goodness for good friends. If Amber hadn’t been along to talk me through, I might still be sitting at mile marker 12. Instead, I now can step outside, look up at the Peak, and say proudly, “I climbed you!”
Tell us a story about the kindness of a stranger that affected your travels?
I’m a travel journalist, and during our trip to France last year, I was scheduled to meet up, stay with and interview a woman I’d met online who runs a yoga retreat center southwest of Paris. When I arrived at the absolutely beautiful and homey Little French Retreat (http://www.littlefrenchretreat.com/), Tamsin and I connected quite quickly in person — but she got to know me a whole lot quicker after I spent the evening throwing up in her bathroom. We never quite figured out what happened — jet lag? Flu? But her compassion and care for me was beyond anything I could have expected.
If you could switch places with anyone for one day, who would it be?
I’d kind of love to be my Boston terrier Lucy for a day. To see what she sees. To experience life from her perspective. To learn how she thinks and feels. To pee outside. And to snuggle, dog with human.
One place you’ve never been that you would love to go to one day and why?
How do you pick just one? I’m lucky that my family traveled a lot when I was growing up and I’ve been to almost all of the states and Canada (mostly by car), so my focus as an adult has been international. I’d love to go to Australia and New Zealand (though I’m not a very good flier, so it would be challenging). Iceland. Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Greece. England. Oh, and lately I’ve been feeling an urge to go to Africa, probably because I recently interviewed the director of the Elephant Listening Project, which works mostly in Central Africa, and I’m fascinated by the gentle forest giants they’re trying to save.