Bob Carlsen

Home and Away

Bob Carlsen

I started blogging on Travelblog in 2009, entering trips beginning in 2007. However, my intention has always been to document my years of travel. Most bloggers write about their trips away from home. Mine, and eventually Linda's, homes have usually been where people travel to. So the idea eventually percolated to rename our blog "Home and Away."

The blog is not intended to be an autobiography, although I spent my entire life traveling, with Linda joining me after college, it may appear to be that way. As this is a travel blog the entries concentrate mostly on the travel aspects of our lives. The blogs about our homes (see the links below) necessarily provide the setting, with an abbreviated description of what brought us to that place, our local travel, and some of the significant events, many of which intersected with history, that might be of general interest to readers. These "home" blogs are followed by blogs about the extended trips we took while living in each place.

To start at the beginning in 1949 just go to The Beginning. I was born in Bangkok, Thailand, and lived in Thailand for a total of 8 years, Dalat, Vietnam for 5 years, and the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia for 2 years; returning to the States for college in 1968. I met Linda at Geneva College; me a senior and she a freshman. We were married in December 1972, and that's when Linda was also infected with the travel bug.

In February 1973 we moved to Thailand for 2 1/2 years (see blogs beginning with Back to Thailand with Linda - our home in Bangkok).

In July 1975, at the end of the Vietnam War, we returned to the States; living in the Washington DC area for 2 years (see blogs starting with Home for a couple years in the DC area).

In August 1977 we moved back overseas to Germany; living in Ramstein for 2 1/2 years (see blogs starting with Three Years in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany), and Boblingen for 4 1/2 years (see blogs starting with Home in Boblingen, Germany).

In July 1984 we moved to Belgium; living in Overijse (outskirts of Brussels) for 11 years (see blogs starting with Home in Overijse, Belgium from July 1984 to November 1995). Our three children, Tamara, Rosanna, and Will were born in Belgium.

In November 1995 we finished our overseas assignments and moved to Falls Church, Virginia (see blogs starting with Home in Falls Church, Virginia from November 1995 to August 2005 ). While living there for ten years, we took road trips to all 50 states and several U.S. territories looking for a place to retire.

In August 2005 we retired in Colorado (see blogs starting with Retirement in Woodland Park Colorado), which gives us even more time to travel. However, Linda is tiring of traveling, so is very selective about when she joins me on trips, but our three children are hooked on travel for life.

On December 31, 2011 I completed all blog entries covering the period from 1949 to 2011, including travel to 65 countries. Discovering that, I set a goal of traveling to 100 countries.

So in September 2012 (see blogs starting with Our 40th Anniversary Trip Begins!) rather than flying directly to Sydney for our 40th Anniversary, we flew to Honolulu and cruised to American Samoa (66), Samoa (67), Fiji, Vanuatu (68), French Caledonia (69), to Sydney, Australia; then flew to New Zealand (70) for several weeks of touring on the South and North Islands.

In March 2013 (see blogs starting with Planning my Silk Road and Baltics RTW), I flew to Beijing, China where I met up with my son Will who flew in from Bangkok. We traveled the Silk Road by train, first to Lanzhou, where we took a side trip to Xiahe (Labrang where my parents we married in 1949), then to Dunhuang, Jiayuguan, Turpan, and Urumqi in China. We flew from there via Almaty, Kazakhstan (71) to finish the Silk Road in Uzbekistan (72); visiting the sights of Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara. We then flew from Tashkent to Riga, Latvia (73) and took buses to Vilnius, Lithuania (74), and Tallinn, Estonia (75); and a ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki, Finland (76). We then took our separate ways with Will flying to Rome and I headed home via a stopover in London.

In May 2014 Linda and I explored the Pre-Colombian civilizations on our first visit to South America; first the Inca civilization exemplified by Machu Picchu in Peru (77) and Tiwanaku in Bolivia (78). We had a brief stopover in Colombia (79) and Panama (80), enough time to see the Panama Canal and the old city, before continuing to Cancun, Mexico to see the Mayan ruin of Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula (see blogs starting with Planning our Pre-Colombian Civilizations Trip.

In April 2015 I flew to Dubrovnik, Croatia (81) where I took a side trip to Kotor, Montenegro (82) and Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina (83), and then headed north along the Croatian coast to Split, Trogir, Sebinek, and Zadar, before heading inland to Plitvici Lakes National Park, and back to the Istrian Peninsula, before finishing my trip at Lake Bled and Ljubljana, Slovenia (84). Linda decided to skip this trip, so we will go to the Big Island of Hawaii in October 2015.

In April/May or September/October 2016 I plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, and am getting ready now by hiking almost everyday and hoping to reach 10 miles/day by October 2015, reading the experiences of others including Travelbloggers, and devouring guidebooks. I'm currently on Plan D...flying to Barcelona, driving a rental car to Andorra (85) St Jean de Pied de Port, Roncesvalles, and returning the rental car at Pamplona. There I will begin my walk to Burgos, then by bus across the meseta to Leon, and then walking to Santiago de Compostelo...a total of 300 miles out of the 500 miles for the Camino Frances. Linda isn't going and thinks I'm nuts!

Originally, I had planned for Linda and I to cruise in 2016 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (85) to Montevideo, Uruguay (86), to Buenos Aires, Argentina (87), to the Falkland Islands (88), to Ushuaia and the Chilean Fjords, to Valparaiso, Chile (89) or vice verse. And then in 2017 cruise the Eastern Caribbean to include Martinique (90), Guadeloupe (91), St Lucia (92), Barbados (93), Trinidad/Tobago (94), Venezuela (95), Grenada (96), the British Virgin Islands (97), St Maarten, the Netherlands Antilles (98) and the French Saint Martin (99), Antigua and Barbuda (100), St Kitts and Nevis (101), and Dominica (102), to exceed my goal of 100 countries.

But I'm in no hurry to meet my goal of having traveled to 100 countries, and am reevaluating my goals. I have no doubt that by continuing to travel I will eventually reach that goal. Just doing the cruises when I'm older will achieve that goal. But for now there may be higher priorities depending upon what I learn walking the Way.




Europe » Spain » Galicia » Santiago de Compostela May 11th 2015

As a goal oriented person, I have been fascinated for a long time by the idea of walking the eight hundred kilometer, one thousand year old Camino Frances (French) pilgrim Way from St Jean Pied de Port in the Pyrenees of southern France to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwest Spain. I don't know exactly when the idea transitioned from being a fascination to becoming an obsession. As with many pilgrims contemplating this walk, certainly the movie "The Way" starring Martin Sheen and written, directed, and produced by his son Emilio Estevez provided me with inspiration and enough details to make me believe that not only was the walk feasible, but it was something I had to do. As an extrovert I yearned for the bonding with complete strangers that Sheen's character experienced although with ... read more

Europe » Belgium » Brussels-Capital Region » Brussels April 27th 2015

27 April 2015 Monday. So my last blog left off with me finishing writing my blogs for my Balkan trip while waiting for my 7:35 pm flight to Helsinki...yes, that Helsinki which seems to be my curse. You will recall that the last time I finished writing my blogs about my Silk Road Trip, , I ended up having a cancelled flight. So this time I didn't write anything in the last blog concerning the future travels home. Well, my flight to Helsinki went fine. I checked into the Hilton Airport Hotel, just across the street from the terminal, which would give me about 6 hours sleep before catching a 7:30 am flight to Brussels. 28 April 2015 Tuesday. And my flight to Brussels went off without a hitch. Last June when I booked my flights ... read more
Town Hall, Grand Place, Brussels
Grand Place, Brussels
Mannequin Pis

Europe » Slovenia » Upper Carniola » Ljubljana April 26th 2015

26 April 2015 Sunday My sobe was just a hundred feet from Preseren Square, so was very convenient for touring the town. Before meeting Mike at the statue of the Slovenian poet Preseren in the square named after him, I checked out the nearby tourist information office to see when there might be a guided walking tour of Ljubljana. The tour started at ten am which gave us plenty of time for café au lait and a croissant. We joined about eight others for the two hour tour, starting with city hall, a historic eatery, the cathedral, and a funicular to the castle. The views from the castle, as usual, were panoramic. We descended the funicular and walked back to the center of town, past the Market Hall and Triple Bridges designed by Jose Plecnic, and ... read more
Musician at Presernov Square, Ljubljana
Ljubljana Castle
The Market Colonnade designed by Plecnik

Europe » Croatia » Central Croatia » Zagreb April 25th 2015

25 April 2015 Saturday. We had to return our rental car in Croatia to avoid excessive drop off charges. Zagreb was the nearest town in Croatia where a rental car agency was located, and Ljubljana was on the way there. We left Lake Bled early as this was to be a long day. We wanted to drop off our bags at our sobes in Ljubljana so we wouldn’t have to carry them with us around Zagreb and then back to Ljubljana on the train. This we did with dispatch, and were soon on our way to Zagreb. We arrived at the rental car agency about noon to find it closed on Saturdays and Sundays so we dropped the keys and contract into a slot as directed. Fortunately we weren't charged for any damages to the car; ... read more
Dancing while a band played in the park
Womens volleyball in the park
A folk singing group encountered on the way to Jalacic Square

Europe » Slovenia » Upper Carniola » Bled April 24th 2015

23 April 2015 Thursday. The weather forecast for Friday in the Lake Bled area was for rain, so we drove directly from Rovinj to Bled so as to be able to walk around Lake Bled when the weather was good. This meant we missed Piran and the Predjama Castle along the way. To save time we had breakfast and lunch at rest stops along the highway. We got to Bled about 2 pm and checked into our sobe. The landlord was an interesting character. He had been an airborne ranger with the Yugoslav army at the beginning of the 1991-95 war, but switched to the Slovenian army shortly thereafter. It's normal for a sobe host to share a glass of wine with the guests when the first arrive, but in this case he shared his bottle ... read more
Church of the Assumption on Bled Island
Lake Bled in the rain as seen from Bled Castle
Bob at Lake Bled

Europe » Croatia » Istria April 22nd 2015

22 April 2015 Wednesday. We started the day as usual having café au lait and croissants, but this time on the waterfront of Opatija. Although as with most towns along the Adriatic it has a long history, its current status as a resort town began in 1845 when a nobleman built the grand Villa Angiolina on the sea, surrounded by a large park. Shortly after, the Austrian Empress Maria Anna stayed here. Emperor Franz Joseph followed, to take advantage of the warmer winter climate. One wonders why they didn’t arrive together, it being such a romantic location, but who am I to speculate as I was here without Linda. Soon the court followed, and the town became a fashionable turn of the 20th century resort. General tourism for the hoi polloi began once a railroad line ... read more
Opatija Mansions on the waterfront
Pula Ampitheater
Bob at the Pula Ampitheater


21 April 2015 Tuesday. After the huge breakfast which was also enough to make sandwiches for lunch, Mike and I proceeded the couple kilometers to Entrance 1 to the Plitvici Lakes National Park. The park, founded in 1949, is composed of sixteen lakes with travertine rock waterfalls between each one. Interestingly, the first shots of the Croatian – Yugoslav War we fired here on Easter Sunday in 1991…on such a holy day and in such a beautiful park the war’s first casualty was a park policeman. This has got to be a definition of evil. At the information center they provided advice as to which trails were open; the others being flooded due to the spring runoff or under repair as the boardwalks can deteriorate. We decided to take the cave access to the lower lakes ... read more
View of Lower Lakes from the rim at  Plitvici Lakes National Park
Cave access to the Lower Lakes at Plitvici Lakes National Park
Boardwalk at the Lower Lakes at Plitvici Lakes National Park

Europe » Croatia » Dalmatia » Trogir April 20th 2015

20 April 2015 Monday. Another beautiful day without a cloud in the sky. Mike and I left Split for our first stop, Trogir, which was just a half hour north along the Dalmatian coastline. Trogir, one of many jewels along the Dalmatian coast...which town isn’t?...is situated on an island about 100 feet off the coast; easily connected to the mainland by a bridge. The Greeks were the first to settle here in the third century BC, naming the town Tragyrion, after the local goats. The Romans arrived in 48 BC. The town was under the protection of the Byzantine Empire during the Middle Ages, until the Saracens attacked in 1123 and burned it to the ground. The population eventually returned and rebuilt the town; and did a pretty good job because in 1997 the city achieved ... read more
Our usual breakfast of cafe au lait and croissant
Cathedral of St. Lawrence in Trogir
Intricate stone carving over the entrance to the cathedral

Europe » Croatia » Dalmatia » Split April 19th 2015

19 April 2015 Sunday. The front that had caused the bad weather the previous day in Dubrovnik and Mostar had passed during the night, so Sunday lived up to its name with bright sunshine and blue skies. The days would remain sunny, not only for this day, but for the next five days, with rain returning for just a morning we were in Bled. We strolled from our apartment, which was on the edge of the old town, down to Split’s Riva, a promenade in front of Diocletian's Palace and the Adriatic Sea. I can't recall a more beautiful waterfront. Our first stop was the tourist information office where we were informed about a walking tour of Diocletian’s Palace starting at 10 am. This gave us time before hand to have a leisurely breakfast (an omelet ... read more
Bob having breakfast on Split's Riva
Golden Gate of Diocletian's Palace
Another view of the klapa looking out of the Golden Gate

Europe » Bosnia & Herzegovina » South » Mostar April 18th 2015

18 April 2015 Saturday. The clouds with light rain that moved into Dubrovnik the previous evening had settled over the city with a promise of heavier rain. Rather than giving me a chance to walk the wall, we decided just to head up the coast and then inland to Mostar before ending the day in Split. Driving up the coast from Dubrovnik the weather improved somewhat. We crossed the narrow bridge of land that provides Bosnia-Herzegovina access to the Adriatic Sea, and then turned inland to enter Bosnia proper...more passport stamps going out of Croatia and into Bosnia and then more coming back...altogether crossing the border 10 times on this trip. So on we drove to Mostar. Prior to the breakdown of Yugoslavia beginning in 1991, Bosnia had been a multicultural country, even hosting the Winter ... read more
Bob at Mostar's Old Bridge
Bob having lunch of cavapcici
Mike and Bob having lunch near the Old Bridge




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