One of my best travel experiences was to Eritrea in early 2001. I spent about a week in and around Asmara (at the time, all the media were full of articles praising the country as the new "hot" destination in Africa). One beautiful encounter after the next. The cathedral´s caretaker, who opened the church tower for me to climb up, an elderly driving instructor who took me around town in his rusty Fiat 500 and just many friendly people in the street. Eritrea seemed completely untouched and unspoilt and I feel privileged to have seen it back then. Sitting in a Russian banya in Antarctica and drinking Whiskey also ranks very highly. The most pleasant interactions I had were usually in countries, and that is probably an experience many share, which do not have so many tourists: Iran, Eritrea, Syria, Yemen all were fantastic both in terms of beautiful sights but also the most memorable interaction with locals.
I also fondly remember a visit to the Icelandic island of Grimsey, pretty much run by one single lady, so it seemed. I landed there on a little propeller aircraft and the lady receiving the flight greeted us. Later, the same lady was working as a gardener in the church garden and I met her again working at the island´s small petrol station.
One very memorable event that I can recommend to anybody even remotely interested in running is the annual Great Ethiopian Run. It´s a 10 kilometer run around the streets of Addis Ababa but it´s more a big street party really. There are thousands and thousands or runners or walkers, most of them not taking it too seriously. Instead, most people are dancing on the street, there is music everywhere and the atmosphere was just fantastic. I also had a surreal weekend in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan once, when a friend of mine decided to go there to celebrate his bachelor party, just the two of us. We stayed at a rustic little hotel run by a former German soldier and had a nice evening out with the physiotherapist of the governor (who invited us into his office the next morning). Beautiful. Sunset in the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon doesn´t hurt, either. I could do that again and again. One moment from my youth that I still have strong memories of was standing in front of the Eiffel Tower for the first time. Man, I was impressed.