Published: March 7th 2013March 7th 2013
A very special place
Sun setting on a beautiful day.
The return from a grand journey puts one in a reflective mood, as there was so much to remember and cherish about each experience. 14 countries were visited on this global adventure.
The anticipation of the event itself was exhilarating, surpassed only by the actual travel itself. To sit and “put pen to paper” taxes the mind as thoughts skip randomly and sometimes are only loosely associated. From the moment that we tore off to the airport hoping to get on an airplane after our initial connecting flight from Dayton to New York was cancelled until the time we returned provided us with non-stop enjoyment of the surroundings and the people we had the great fortune to meet.
We work hard and we play hard. We live lives where we don’t spend a lot of money on frivolous things. Our choice is to travel. If we had children we would be sending them to college about now so we’ve decided to spend their college funds on wandering the world…….and maybe their inheritance as well.
We have many friends who use their discretionary dollars in a variety of ways. Most collect something, whether it is art, automobiles, homes and
the like. They have a need to discover and keep something.
When we are asked how we spend our discretionary dollars, we answer twofold; memories and refrigerator magnets. Travel allows us the opportunity to get the memories and pictures. The magnets serve as a reminder and it is always pleasant to head to the old ice box and your eyes spy a magnet which produces an instant memory of a good time in our lives. Our favorite thing about travel is the people.
We both love talking to strangers and are not shy about starting conversations. We love talking with local people about their lifestyle, work, music, religion and politics. We’ve learned a great deal and had many hours of conversation. We also thoroughly enjoy other travelers that we meet along the way. We love hearing their experiences and point of view on all manner of things.
Our wanderlust rejuvenates our soul. It puts the good of the human spirit back into the forefront of our consciousness, where it reminds of all that is good in the world. The interactions we have on our journeys prove time and again that almost all people are good
Go see it before global warming destroys it.
and absolutely want to help others whenever they can, some in the most subtle yet powerful ways.
It is wonderful to see quaint villages and major cities around the world. From a small town on the northern coast of Iceland, or a lake in Burma to the bustling and vibrant streets of Berlin, the sights are delightful. It is wonderful to take in a few of the world’s well-known sites like Mt. Everest, or find an out-of-the-way coffee shop in Copenhagen as each has it’s own special vibe.
For us, life and travel is all about the conversation, whether with locals at Oktoberfest in Munich or ex-pats in the Philippines. Our adventure began
when we left our home in California, traveled across the U.S. to Ohio to visit with family and on to locations around the world. We left our beautiful surroundings in Marin County California and headed east some 2000 miles to Ohio, where MJ’s sister lives. Along the way, we traversed a good chunk of highway, which lead us through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, where we had the good fortune to hook up with two experienced Travel Bloggers. We enjoyed brief visits with Mike
in Boulder, Colorado and Bob & Linda in ………Colorado. Chuck and Martha also made us feel incredibly welcome in their home near St. Louis, Missouri. It was a great journey through the dry heartland of America.
A trip to Greenland makes you feel as if you have truly been to the end of the world. It feels a bit isolated and allows you to really get away and see the beauty our world has to offer.
We’ve had many experiences on this trip but one of our favorites was the night we spent at the Eqi Glacier. We approached the glacier as part of a five-hour boat excursion from Illusiat. It was a glorious and constantly calving glacier that captured our complete attention from the time we arrived until the time we departed. Staying at the Mt. Eqi camp, we literally had a front row seat of this ice marvel and never tired of looking at it.
Our time in Greenland was enhanced by meeting Tom and Susanne from Copenhagen.
If you want to work in another country you may want to check out Greenland. There were many
I must drink
to deal with the Binkley Boys
non-locals working in the area and we spoke to them about why they chose to work in Greenland. We do not know the difficulty of obtaining the jobs but you may want to check it out.
A land like no other. Breath taking and now one of our favorites.
This volcanic wonder is a delight for the eyes as the scenery here is so fascinatingly unique. The Golden Circle is the one that most tourist take. More adventurous explore the “Ring Road” but the northwestern part of this island nation is the road less traveled and provides some additional stunning vistas. There are so many beautiful waterfalls that most do not even have names. Once you’ve seen them, you find yourself unimpressed with many waterfalls in other countries.
The people are incredibly friendly and bilingual as even the Danish people we met said that Icelandic was a difficult language. The moment you started to speak in English to an Iclelander, they flawlessly moved to English.
We can recommend a guide who will fill your head with stories of local history, Vikings, trolls and folklore.
The Craggy Coast
Fantastic Faroe Islands
Another land of Danish origin as well as another very unique place. The weather here is iffy even during the summer months due to the Gulfstream, but it is green, lush and full of birds and waterfowl.
A birder paradise. The craggy cliffs amazing.
We came for the Puffins and even though we were late for the season, we still had a most memorable encounter with these colorful winged creatures. On one of the easterly islands, we hiked after sunset to find the Storm Petrel and got to hang out with an ornithologist whose real specialty is lice. He provided us with a fun and fact-filled evening of birding, as this species swoops out of the small caves after dark. He set up what appeared to be like a badmitton net to catch the bird, tag it and allow us a look as well. Another interesting fact is that although the Faroes are technically part of Denmark and the Faroese kroner and the Danish kroner have the same value, but you have to change the money on arrival to Denmark, as most merchants don’t accept it.
The Shetland Islands
When we visited Scotland in 2006, we realized we had some unfinished business in this part of the world. The Outer Hebrides and the Shetlands were still on our list of places we wanted to see. The time seemed right and so we flew from Reykjavik to Glasgow to Sumburgh Head, which is a full 25 miles south of Lerwick and one of the few places to land aircraft of any kind in these islands.
Originally settled by the Scandanavians, these islands seem more “old Scottish” and keep the traditions alive with their music, which always includes the fiddle. Even the long days of summer don’t allow for warm temperatures. We were caught a few times in some sideways rain due to the accompanying wind. The wind swept terrain keeps trees from growing, but the island is beautiful just the same.
We also got to see the diminutive Shetland ponies up close along with more birds.
We loved listening to local music which included the Shetland Fiddlers.
We had but five days here, as we needed to get to Berlin to secure a visa to Myanmar. We found it
A lovely city
be a nice city, surrounded by water and much to our surprise, very close to Sweden. The city is steeped in history and prides itself on its ability to accept the many immigrants over the decades. We toured the old city and found it to be very accessible. We also had the good fortune to meet up with Thomas and Susanne, who we met while in Greenland and who live here. They invited us to partake in a traditional Danish meal at their apartment. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with them, both in Greenland and Copenhagen.
We loved Germany and wondered to ourselves why we had not visited sooner.
Berlin was a great town and if we were going to live abroad this is certainly a city for consideration. We loved everything about Berlin. It is a vibrant city that has completely transformed itself since the fall of Communism. It is one of the easiest cities to get around in due to stellar public transport.
We came to Munich for one reason. Oktoberfest is a party waiting to happen and each year it most certainly does happen. We were not surprised
by the outrageous numbers of youth attempting to see how much beer they could imbibe…and expel in a short period of time. What we were happy to find is that they represent a small number of the people who attend this event. The greatest numbers of people were of German heritage coming together with friends and family to celebrate rituals, customs, costumes and family. It was a pleasure meeting so many wonderful people. As if that was not enough, Dave’s brother flew in just for the occasion! Binkleys drinking beer…..what a surprise!
We will certainly go back and spend a few more days in Bavaria.
When we first started the conversation about Nepal, the reason was is that it was a destination literally pulled out of a hat. We were trying to decide in 2009 where to take a vacation in 2012. Long story short, we each put the name of five countries on slips of paper and had our friends pull the names out of the hat, one at a time. Nepal won.
We were quite excited about Nepal and indeed, found it quite beautiful. Katmandu was an incredible disappointment,
The Tiger's Nest
The beauty of Bhutan
due to the torn up streets and general filth. This was offset by the gorgeous mountains, including Everest, which we saw up close from a plane ride. While in Nepal, we saw the birthplace of Buddha and also some abject poverty.
This nation turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. We really did not know much about this small and mountainous land, but ended up loving our time there and learning about “gross national happiness.”
The Bhutan government restricts travel so as not to overrun their country like Nepal. You need to book your trip through an approved travel company and have to spend $250 per person, per day while there. This certainly eliminates a lot of potential guests. For your money, it is all-inclusive except for alcohol and souvenirs. You get a guide and a driver as well.
The strategy works well and helps to employ many people. Our time there also included a trip to the Tiger’s Nest, which is well worth the time and energy to ascend (and descend) a rather steep trail which leads to a temple with an incredible view.
Our original plan was to visit Tibet on this journey but due to changes in regulations by the Chinese government that portion of the trip had to be changed. We hope to visit there some day but who knows what the future holds.
We found it interesting that two of the hotels we stayed in while in India had fences around the properties and guards at the front gate. As you enter they would stop the vehicle you were driving or riding in and you were expected to prove that you were staying there or had a reservation. The guard would open the trunk to inspect, we assume for bombs or something unsavory. The guard walked around the vehicle haphazardly holding a mirror under the car, again we assume looking for bombs.
We can honestly say that we did not think this would protect us if evil lurked.
Someone has decided that this “safety” measure would make people feel more secure. I guess the U.S. does that when they make you take your shoes off in the airport. I’m not sure that has saved any lives but we continue to take
the shoes off.
For those of you who have not seen the Taj Mahal we highly recommend taking a look as it is jaw-droppingly amazing.
Many say and we agree that India may be one of the dirtiest countries in the world but that does not decrease the charm of this country. Lovely people and well worth a visit.
Reading the travel magazines gave us the impression that Burma (Myanmar) was one of the hot places to visit at the current time. We felt pretty good about this as we almost went there in 2007, bowing out at the very last moment due to political unrest. We vowed to try again and this was our time. And we were not disappointed.
We traveled with our friend Michael, who met us in Rangon. We hired the same guide we intended to use in 2007 and spent a little over two weeks looking at temples, visiting Inle Lake, hiking in the mountains and experiencing three (or more) earthquakes while in Mandalay. The shaking earth was a little unnerving, especially to our guide and driver, who spent one night sleeping in the van.
Travel introduces tasty treats
Red Snapper in the Faroe Islands
Seems they didn’t like the thought of the hotel they were in collapsing.
Our recommendation is that you travel here soon, before it is overrun by tourists, as the current infrastructure has trouble meeting the needs of all the current visitors. Prices are rising and soon it may not be affordable for some.
In 2007, we took an around the world trip and one of our favorite stops was the Pacific Regency Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. It was one of the upgrades on our last trip. When planning the trip we decided, “since we were in the neighborhood” we’d like to go back. We didn’t write a blog about our time in KL because we barely left the hotel. KL is a fantastic city and we heartily recommend you go visit.
One of the reasons we made this stop was so we could swim in the amazing pool on the 33rd
floor. We are generally lucky when traveling but not this time. The pool area had been rented out for a private party the three days we were there. They did agree to let us go up one afternoon for
drinks and to take a few photos. This was one of the only disappointments we had on our trip.
Maybe another time.
This is a gem of a destination. It is puzzling at times why more people don’t visit a place with such warm people and beautiful islands. Our purpose for going to the Philippines was to meet Lili a fellow travel blogger.
We were on the receiving end of some fabulous hospitality here, as Lili made us feel so incredibly welcome. She treated us to Manila and the surrounding area. Plus she organized two evenings where we were able to meet Tinnie and Jay Eximo. We now have several friends in those islands and hope they will come to see us in the U.S.A.
When you go into public buildings in Manila they do security checks. As we entered the mall they had a security guard who would look in your purse and or back pack. Again, we assume the intent is to make people feel safe in public places. We question whether this is making an impact but maybe.
Our time here also included
Malapascua Island Sunset
The magnificent Philippines
three other destinations. One of these stops was on Malapasca Island, where we dove with the thresher sharks. There are no automobiles or ATMs on this small island north of Cebu, and our beach time was quite relaxing.
Another destination was Bohol, where we stayed at a very nice resort with one of the greatest pools we’ve ever seen. It had an infinity pool, which we spent a considerable time in, as well as dining well at a near-empty resort. We also were fortunate to dodge a typhoon while here.
Palawan was our last stop, and the Royal Hotel Oberoi was a great find. Mark and Rose ensured that our stay was special. We celebrated 20 years together and they created a special meal for us. We also took a day trip to visit the underwater river north of Puerto Princesa, and enjoyed looking at the various stalagmites (check here) and formations in one of the world’s largest underground rivers.
We made friends with Martyn from the U.K. in addition to Mark and Rose. We hope our paths will cross again in the future.
Hawaii was chosen to be sort
Cuba has a lot of entertainment
of a resting and re-entry point for us. We needed it, as we flew from Manila to Seoul to Honolulu and also crossed the international dateline. This makes for a very long day….literally. We spent six days on the north shore of Oahu, enjoying being back in the United States. Our condo allowed us to do some cooking, which we hadn’t been able to do for over four months. We took in a few movies and also visited Pearl Harbor, the beach at Diamond Head, the Dole Pineapple Plantation and drove the famous north shore.
From here it back to Ohio and our families, as it was Christmas time. The sudden change from tropical to winter was a bit shocking, as it felt as though it was “instantly” Christmas as we had been out of the U.S. for an extended period.
A vibrant energetic Caribbean Island with a troubled past and hopeful future. A mere 90 miles from the U.S. coast and only a faint relationship exhist due to 50 years of politics. We have concerns about the financial well being of Cuba with the recent death of Venezuelan President Chavez as
he provided a great deal of support for Cuba. Recently travel restrictions were eased for the citizens of Cuba but they still need to obtain a visa from the country they are traveling to. This may be difficult to obtain because many countries may be assuming that the traveler will not return to their Cuban homeland.
The Cuban people are lovely and we hope you will make the trip. Travel tip # 455-
Travel with Cipro for gastro-intestinal issues.
Things we learned on this trip:
There are a few travel bloggers who are true gypsies who travel and roam year after year- keeping on the move. After our 2nd
around the world trip we can say without hesitation we are not those people. Moving every few days to explore a wonderful new town, village or city can wear you out.
We like having a home and roots. We enjoy living in the U.S.
We love, love, love to travel, experience new cultures and meeting new people.
Our next extended trip will be shorter in length, not more than 3
lovely at night
We will rent apartments, condos or houses and stay in one location much longer. We will stay put for 2 weeks, 4 weeks or a couple of months before moving on to the next town. We will immerse ourselves in the town. A note from Merry:
I love travel and I am open to new experiences. I am a better person for trying new and different things. One piece of visiting Asia that will not be missed for me is the squatty potty. Many travelers embrace them but I never have and the older I get the less I love them. For now I say farewell to the squatty potty.
If you took the time today to read this blog we would appreciate you sending us a note or comment below. We’d love to hear from you. Thank you for following along. It was a wonderful adventure and we now look forward to reading about yours. Until we travel again…….
There are more photos below