1. Where was your photo taken: Chincoteague Island, Virginia
2. Where do you live now: Falls Church, Virginia
3. Scariest Airline Flown: Uzbek Airways. This airline is so disorganized that even a trip to their website will probably leave you with a virus. I flew the friendly skies of Uzbek Air into Bishkek, which is surrounded by imposing, snow-capped mountains, and was thrilled to make it through the experience alive. The only perk was that a beautiful, terrified Kyrgyz girl sitting next to me wanted to hold my hand for the descent and landing.
4. Favorite City/Country/Place: If you only have one favorite place, you need to get out more. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; The Crooked Road, Virginia; Glacier National Park, Montana; Sonoma, California; Savannah, Georgia; Guanajuato, Mexico; San Pancho, Mexico; Amsterdam; Vienna; Rome; Gangi, Sicily, Naxos, Greece; Meteora, Greece; Istanbul; Bansko, Bulgaria, Ohrid, Macedonia, Hvar, Croatia; Tblisi, Georgia; Bukhara, Uzbekistan; and the Mogao Caves, near Dunhaung, China.
5. Most remote corner of the globe visited: Xinxiang province in far western China.
6. Favorite Means of Transportation: Trains. For me, travel is all about freedom and there is no freedom to move about on a bus, plane, car, rickshaw, bicycle, donkey or horse. If the person sitting next to you on a train smells like spoiled cabbage or wants to tell you about their hemorrhoid problem, you’re free to move far away from them. Travel by ship can also be sublime, but on a train you don’t have to worry about foul weather.
7. Worst Armpit: (Three-way tie) Port of Spain, Trinidad. There are plenty of good reasons why V.S. Naipaul left Trinidad and never went back. Pristina, Kosovo. A muddy, polluted mess of communist-era architecture and second-rate Italian restaurants. Gatlinburg, TN. A morbid, endless sprawl of fast food, mini golf, and tourist kitsch.
8. Celebrity you’d most like to sit next to in first class: Alec Baldwin, so I could tell him to stow his portable electronic device for takeoff and shut the hell up.
9. Favorite travel book: Paul Theroux’s classic The Great Railway Bazaar. When Theroux returned home from this epic trip, his wife had taken up with another man. An occupational hazard of the solo traveler.
10. You may become the leader of any country in the world. What country and why? How would you rule? You wouldn’t have to twist my arm to rule Liechtenstein. It’s a beautiful, prosperous country right in the heart of Europe and I assume that this job would come with some sort of Teutonic looking castle to live in. Also, as a tiny, micro-state, I imagine that running the place would still leave with me with plenty of time to travel and read. During the first 100 days of my administration I would: shorten the name of the country to something much easier to spell and pronounce, perhaps I’d re-name it Leo after my oldest son; then I would name myself the captain of the national soccer and tennis squads; and finally, I would declare war on San Marino, in an attempt to expand my empire while making it clear that Leo is not a country to be trifled with.