Monthly Recap: Month 10

Well, this monthly recap is very late! It would have come out, should everything have been normal, on May 2nd. However, as many of you know, we were actually getting ready to come home after experiencing the Earthquake in Nepal on May 2nd. Because of that earthquake, Month 10 turned out to be the last month of our trip… We had been planning on making it until Month 11, but the world had other plans for us. Month 10 had some great times as well as some not so great times (see aforementioned earthquake). Let’s recap, shall we?!

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited:  3 (Vietnam, China, and NepalSpecial Administrative Regions: 2 (Hong Kong and Macau)

Beds Slept In: Tarps Slept Under:Embassies Slept In: 1 (Hopefully the first and last of our life.)

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 7 (My Son Sanctuary, Complex of Hue MonumentsPhong Nha – Ke Bang National ParkCentral Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long – HanoiHa Long BayHistoric Centre of MacaoKathmandu Valley) *** As of July of 2015, there are have been many new UNESCO sites added! We were pretty excited that two places that we visited on our RTW were now recently added! YAY! Those include Singapore Botanical Gardens (visited in Month 7) and Ephesus (visited in Month 5). Total on RTW: 49

We traveled by 3 planes this month.

We traveled by 4 boats this month.

We traveled 4 long distance buses/minibuses.

We traveled by 1 train this month.

We traveled by 2 helicopters this month.

Top Moments:

~ Our biggest emotional high was when we were rescued by helicopter from Bamboo Village in Nepal. We had never ridden in a helicopter before and on that day, we rode two. We couldn’t have had better scenery: the beautiful Himalayas of Nepal. Despite the destruction caused by the earthquake and landslides, Nepal is a gorgeous country, well worth a visit! If you are interested in supporting Nepal after the devastating earthquake, check out some ideas here

 

Runners Up for Top Moments:

~We had an absolutely lovely day biking through the outskirts of Hoi An. We went a bit off the beaten track and biked through rice fields to a great beach! Good day all around.

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~We rushed through Phong Nha National Park in order to see some of the renowned caves there. We struggled with which tour to choose, but ultimately went with a general tour of three caves. It was all amazing, but our favorite part was experiencing swimming through a mud bath in the Dark Cave. It was hard to explain the feeling of floating through a pool of mud – how we imagine it would feel to be on the moon – almost weightless! Overall, a lot of fun!

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~We really enjoyed lots of places in Vietnam, but another great day was when we kayaked through the karsts in Lan Ha Bay. We had a lovely day in great scenery!

Getting used to the kayak

Getting used to the kayak

~Another great day was when we took the funicular up Hong Kong Peak. Great weather – it wasn’t too hot way up there, and  you just couldn’t beat the views!

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Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

 

Honestly, we don’t really remember… Sorry!

Packing Update:

We were glad that we had held on to our colder weather gear because we used every bit of it in Nepal. It was particularly good when we hit an emergency situation and ended up having to sleep outside for 5 nights.

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (4)

Eric has read Overkill by James Barrington (2), Gods of War by John Toland (4)

Eric and Della have BOTH read Tai-Pan by James Clavell (4)

The rating system is for Della’s mom who is refusing to look at Goodreads. It is 1 to 5, 5 being the highest.

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2, Monthly Recap 3,Monthly Recap 4, Monthly Recap 5, Monthly Recap 6, Monthly Recap 7, Monthly Recap 8, Monthly Recap 9

Monthly Recap: Month 9

Another great month! We’re really starting to feel like the end of the trip is coming and we’re feeling more and more rushed to get through everything that we wanted to do. It’s funny how you can plan to be traveling for almost a year, but still end up feeling like you don’t have enough time =) However, we did take time this month to meet up with Della’s parents again a couple of times. They decided to have a big trip for themselves and as we write this update, they’ve been out for about 5 weeks and plan about 2 more. We haven’t stayed together the whole time, but have sort of met up and parted as our schedules allowed. We saw a lot of great things and explored a lot of new places this month. Our only complaint is that it is hot season here in SE Asia and we are REALLY hot all the time. We only have about 2 more weeks in this part of the world before we fly again to explore different parts of Asia.

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited:  3 (Laos, Thailand, Vietnam)

Beds Slept In: 13 (We only stayed one night in two towns on the slow boat journey to Thailand and then we went quickly through a couple of places: Sukhothai and Ayuthaya)

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited:  3 (Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic TownsHistoric City of AyutthayaHoi An Ancient Town) Total on RTW: 40

We traveled by 3 planes this month.

We traveled by 2 boats this month.

We traveled 5 long distance buses/minibuses.

We traveled by 2 trains this month.

Top Moments:

~ We had an amazing time interacting with elephants at the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai!

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Runners Up for Top Moments:

We had a bit of a hard time coming up with this list, because for the first time we had slightly different opinions of what to choose!

~ At Kuang Si Waterfalls outside of Luang Prabang, we took in some amazing scenery, got to watch some cute moon bears play, and took a refreshing swim.

Eric's jump

~ Also in Chiang Mai, we took an excellent cooking class in which we learned all about how to each the different yummy Thai dishes that we love!

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~ In Mae Sot, we meandered through a lively market which brought back great memories of our time in Myanmar.

Lively colorful market

~ We struggled for a long time to choose a Thai beach to go to. We had seen some really neat pictures of white sand beaches with large limestone karsts in the distance and longtail boats near the shoreline, and hoped that we could find a scene like that. The island we chose, Ko Lanta, doesn’t have those characteristics, which was a bit disappointing… but some nearby islands do! The last stop of our snorkeling tour was at Ko Ngai, and when we pulled up to the white sand beach we realized we had found just what we were looking for!

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Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

Discarded/Broken:

  1. Old toothbrushes
  2. Our large bottle of sunscreen that was new in January
  3. Our large bottle of bugspray that was new in January

Added:

  1. New toothbrushes
  2. New insect repellent

Packing Update:

We feel like we’re a bit of a broken record here: we’re still happy with the contents of our bags. In the hot, humid weather it would be nice to have more shirts, but it wouldn’t be worth carrying them. We’ve also found that we probably could live with fewer socks and underwear because it is quite tempting to rinse them out in the shower or sink often (almost every night). Still carrying unused cold weather gear, but it’s still in hold for Nepal. We haven’t used our tupperware very much here in Asia. We find we don’t pack our lunches very often as food is plentiful and cheap (and really good!)

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read UnSouled by Neal Shusterman (4), A Place Called Freedom by Ken Follett (3), The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (3)

Eric has read All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy (4), Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (4)

Eric and Della have BOTH read The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell (4), Saigon by Anthony Grey (5/4.5)

The rating system is for Della’s mom who is refusing to look at Goodreads. It is 1 to 5, 5 being the highest.

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2, Monthly Recap 3,Monthly Recap 4, Monthly Recap 5, Monthly Recap 6, Monthly Recap 7, Monthly Recap 8

Monthly Recap: Month 7

It is a little surreal to be writing a monthly update for month 7! That means we are more than halfway through our trip… Feels very strange. In some ways it feels like we’ve been going forever! In others it feels like we’ve barely started… And when we think about our long break at home and then heading off to a brand new continent, it almost is like we really just started!

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited: 5 (USA, Thailand, Burma/Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia) Though, Indonesia hardly counts because we just arrived on Jan 31.

Beds Slept In: 11 (This is a particularly high number in part because we had 3 different beds in Mandalay… all in the same hotel, but three beds all the same!)

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 0  Total on RTW: 34

We traveled by 6 planes this month!

We traveled by 0 trains this month.

We traveled by 2 long distance buses.

We traveled by 1 long distance boat.

We traveled by 2 shared taxis.

Top Moments:

~ We arrived in Mandalay not entirely sure what to expect. We had heard that it might be difficult to travel in Myanmar… However, the minute we arrived at our very first guesthouse we were overwhelmed with the kindness of the people. “Mama” at Yoe Yoe Lay guesthouse treated us as if we were family and was kind, generous, and fun to be around. Every other staff person there seemed unbelievably kind. The accommodations were also quite lovely and at a good price. It also didn’t hurt that the moment we walked in, we started talking to another couple who we really enjoyed and hungout with multiple times thereafter. The guests at the guesthouse were great and the staff was even better. It made Mandalay particularly enjoyable for us!

Della with "Mama" - the head of our amazing guesthouse - Yoe Yoe Lay

Della with “Mama” – the head of our amazing guesthouse – Yoe Yoe Lay

Eric enjoying breakfast at Yoe Yoe Lay

Eric enjoying breakfast at Yoe Yoe Lay

~ We knew we were going to take a boat tour on Inle Lake. It was a “must do.” However, we had read some conflicting accounts about the tours. Some people said they were canned and that the guides kept taking you to shops and trying to get you to buy things. Others complained about the limitations of being on a tour, feeling constricted in their freedom of where and when to spend their time. Some of those things were true on our boat trip, but somehow it didn’t matter. We spent hours floating through the lake. The destinations on the lake actually hardly mattered – we thought just being on the lake and observing the beauty and the way of life was wonderful. The day was gorgeous and we spent the time on the lake in quiet contemplation, enjoying our ability to do this trip and explore new places.

Families zipping through the waterways

Families zipping through the waterways

People working their fields

People working their fields

Beautiful Inle Lake

Beautiful Inle Lake

Runners up for Top Moments:

~ Our second town in Myanmar was called Pyin Oo Lwin. We had heard that the town wasn’t really worth the trip, that it was only blah. However, we were interested in visiting because Della’s parents had visited on their rtw trip 35 years ago. They had many great memories of the beauty of the town, the old colonial buildings, and of the people out strolling the gardens under their parasols. We wanted to see what they remembered. We spent a whole day chasing the past in Pyin Oo Lwin! We ran into some troubles finding some of the places, but ultimately succeeded and really enjoyed the time biking through town. In additions, the gardens were absolutely gorgeous. We again had a lovely day!  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any parasols.

The pagoda in the beautiful gardens of Pyin Oo Lwin

The pagoda in the beautiful gardens of Pyin Oo Lwin

The beautiful colonial house Candicraig - where Della's parents stayed when they visited 35 years ago

The beautiful colonial house Candicraig – where Della’s parents stayed when they visited 35 years ago

~ Our final day in Myanmar was in Yangon. We spent several days in Yangon, probably more than we really needed to, but it allowed for some relaxing days. Our last day, we headed to the National Museum and then to the nearby People’s Park. It is a lovely park with some strange attractions, like an old plane, trees with hanging bridges between them, and giant banana statues. It also has great view of the Shwedagon Pagoda. But the most fun part was that they decided to blast music throughout the park. When we first heard it, we thought it must be some sort of performance or event, but it turned out it wasn’t. Della was, of course, tempted to dance, though she didn’t because no one else was even moving to the beat. We enjoyed the music, the views, people watching, and the sunset as our time in Myanmar wound to a close.

Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset as seen from People's Park

Shwedagon Pagoda at sunset as seen from People’s Park

The sun sets on our time in Myanmar

The sun sets on our time in Myanmar

Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

Nothing!

Packing Update:

See our posts on both Della’s and Eric’s packing update!

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read Snuff by Terry Pratchett (3), Animal Farm by George Orwell (4), The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (3), I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes (4), Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (4)

Eric has read Wild by Cheryl Strayed (4), Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind (3), Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (3), No Birds Sing by Jo Bannister (3.5)

Eric and Della have BOTH read Burmese Days by George Orwell (4), Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (4), My Sister’s Bones by Cathi Hanauer (3.75), Hearts in Atlantis by Stephan King (4)

The rating system is for Della’s mom who is refusing to just go look on Goodreads. It is 1 to 5, 5 being the highest.

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2, Monthly Recap 3,Monthly Recap 4, Monthly Recap 5, Monthly Recap 6

Monthly Recap: Month 6

Month 6 brought a lot of changes! We traveled half way around the world to visit home for the holidays. It was wonderful to spend the time with family and friends. Though, we weren’t sure we were ready for all the snow.

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited: 2 (Turkey, Ireland, and the USA)

Beds Slept In: 6

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 0  Total on RTW: 34

We traveled by 6 planes this month!

We traveled by 0 trains this month!

We traveled by 0 long distance buses.

Top Moments:

~ We really enjoyed spending time with our families during the holidays. We had assumed we would be figuring out how to get festive on our own somewhere in Asia, but after a change in plans, we had the opportunity to spend some time at home. Lucky us!

~ During our layover in Dublin on our way home for the holidays, we got a chance to go on a Literary Pub Crawl. It was a great evening filled with laughs, history, and great beer.

Runners up for Top Moments:

~ We left Turkey very early in the month on our way home. We had a short two hour layover in London on our way to Dublin. It was enough time to grab a quick bite to eat… and a great beer! We were so excited to drink a beer with some flavor!

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Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added and Packing Update:

We were excited to have the opportunity to really re-evaluate the contents of our packs. While we weren’t unhappy with what we had, we hope to adjust some of the clothes, replace things that are worn or stained, and unload some weight. We plan to write a whole blog post about this, so stay tuned!

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read Making Money by Terry Pratchett

Eric has read Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

Eric and Della have BOTH read nothing this month.

Oiy… bad month for reading…

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2, Monthly Recap 3,Monthly Recap 4, Monthly Recap 5

Monthly Recap: Month 5

Month 5 has been our slowest moving month yet, with only 2 countries visited. We finished up with Greece and headed into Turkey, saw friends and family from home, and made some big decisions about our future travel plans.

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited: 2 (Greece and Turkey)

Beds Slept In: 11

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 4 (Sanctuary of Asklepios at EpidaurusAcropolis AthensHistoric Areas of IstanbulHierapolis-Pamukkale) Total on RTW: 34

We traveled by 2 planes this month!

We traveled by 0 trains this month!

We traveled by 7 long distance buses.

We traveled by 3 boats.

We traveled by 1 rental car which took us Izmir to Fethiye.

Top Moments:

~ Our first top moment came at Tlos, an ancient Lycian ruin near Fethiye, Turkey. We had been struggling with generally gloomy weather and experienced a crazy rainstorm just the day before, but the day we visited Tlos was grand. It is low season in Turkey and we were the only people at the entire site. It was a neat hilltop fortress and town that had been inhabited from the 2nd century B.C. by the ancient Lycians, through the Romans, the Byzantines, and the Ottoman Empire up until the 19th century. The ruins are expansive, well preserved, and nestled in a gorgeous mountain paradise. This was made even sweeter as Della’s entire family (sister and parents) were there to share it with us!

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Enjoying the view from the fortress citadel of Tlos

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Lycian rock tombs, Roman walls, and an Ottoman citadel, set on an amazing backdrop – Tlos

 

~ Our second top moment was in Athens. There is something magical about entering the amazing ancient Acropolis through the impressive Propylea, and seeing the Parthenon standing before you in all its (scaffold-ed) glory. We had been spying on the acropolis from different areas of Athens for a week but had stayed away, waiting for Della’s family to join us, so entering it (finally) was pretty awe-inspiring! It is definitely on the beaten path, and it really is disappointing that the Parthenon is so covered with scaffolding (Della’s parents said it had been when they visited 35 years ago as well), but despite that, it was pretty great to see!

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Entering through the Propylea

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Our first glimpse of the famous Parthenon

 

~ We also really enjoyed seeing the glorious Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. It was our first full day in Istanbul, and the family headed straight to the famous church/mosque/museum. It was such an impressive building that was exquisitely decorated on the inside. It also felt massive, definitely awe-inspiring. It was the type of place where you come back with a huge crick in your neck from having spent hours allowing your eyes to explore the giant domes and impressive ceiling artwork.

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IMG_3125 Inside the Hagia Sophia

 

~ We were so fortunate to have another visit from family! This time Della’s sister joined us and brought their parents along for the ride. It was really special for Della to get to celebrate her 31st birthday in Fethiye, Turkey surrounded by family. What a treat!

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The whole family together!

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One of Della’s bday presents- Peanut Butter!

 

Runners up for Top Moments:

~ We spent several days in Nafplio, Greece before heading back to Athens to meet up with Della’s family. We enjoyed all of our time there, visiting nearby sites such as Mycenae and Epidavros. We also did NOT enjoy being left stranded by the Greek bus system KTEL on two different occasions. But, really, one of our favorite things about Nafplio was climbing the Palamidi Fortress. We got a late start on the climb and ended up having to book it up at top speed because it was closing quite soon. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to spend as much time IN the fortress as we had hoped. However, even after we were kicked out of the fortress, we were still on the top of this mountain, overlooking the beautiful town of Nafplio, with fortress walls surrounding us, witnessing a gorgeous sunset. We sat and relaxed, read our books, and watched the colors change, feeling on top of the world!

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Feeling on top of the world!

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Beautiful Nafplio

 

~ We both read a book last month called The Greek Treasure which was the story of Sophia Schliemann, a Greek girl married to the famous archaeologist Henry Schliemann, who discovered the ruins of ancient Troy. We actually only semi-enjoyed the book, but it did get our imagination running and give us a good background for some of the archaeological sites we would shortly be visiting. The book described how Henry and Sophia Schliemann built an amazing mansion in Athens where they lived and displayed the gold treasure that they found in Troy. The building was an homage to Homer’s stories and everything related to ancient Greece. We were super excited to discover that their mansion has been preserved as a museum. It has a small exhibition about them and their lives and discoveries, but is really dedicated to Numismatics. We visited! We loved seeing the place in our novel brought to life… and learned a whole lot about ancient coins!

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Exhibit sign about Henry and Sophia Schliemann with us reflected

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The mansion, dedicated to everything related to Ancient Greece. Those are quotes from Homer on the walls

 

~ We had a great experience this month when we semi-randomly ran into a friend from back home in Selcuk, Turkey! It was so much fun to stay at the same location and catch up with her! One evening, the entire group headed up to a small “Greek” town called Sirince in the mountains above Selcuk. The town is know for its sweet berry wines. As we explored the semi-dead town that evening, we ran into a local sitting on a bench drinking a bottle of wine. After striking up a conversation, he brought us back to a wine tasting bar where we enjoyed yummy wine and the great company of family and another familiar face from home!

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Chatting with our new friend

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Family and friends together drinking wine!

 

Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

Discarded/Broken:

1. Swiss Army Knife (we’re not entirely sure where we lost this knife…)

Added:

1. New sandals for Della (a birthday present)

2. New pair of smartwool socks for Eric, brought from the US by Della’s family

Packing Update:

Eric was excited to receive a new protective bag for his backpack. Della’s parents brought this bag from home so that Eric could use it to wrap his backpack in while flying. It helps keep all the straps safe! We have continued to use our cold weather gear so are so pleased we brought it all. We still have not used much of our warm weather gear and are tempted to strip it out of the bags… Though we think we will need it in Asia.

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read Crescent Dawn by Clive Cussler, The Golden One by Elizabeth Peters, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire  by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (OK, so these last three are rereads of stuff she has already read, but she was getting ready for the new Mockingjay movie AND Kindle Unlimited is good…), and City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare.

Eric has read The Bookseller of Kabul by Asme Seierstad, Snuff by Terry Pratchett, White Death by Clive Cussler, Animal Farm by George Orwell, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, and I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.

Eric and Della have BOTH read nothing this month.

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2, Monthly Recap 3, Monthly Recap 4

Monthly Recap: Month 3

Here we are at Month 3. Hard to believe. We’re still going strong, though Della is going through her first bout of true homesickness. This was an emotional and eventful month. We dedicate our thoughts this month to two wonderful women who lived long, meaningful lives. We both lost our grandmothers this month. Lucille, Della’s grandma, was 101 years old. Marvis, Eric’s grandma, was 94. They were both kind, caring, and generous. They will be missed.

Here are our stats for this month.

Countries visited: 6 (Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Montenegro)

Beds Slept In: 16

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 8 (Levoca Spišský Hrad and the Associated Cultural Monuments, Budapest including the Banks of the Danube the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrassy Avenue, Škocjan Caves, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Historical Complex of Split with the Palace of Diocletian, Old City of Dubrovnik, Old Bridge Area of the Old City of Mostar, Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor) Total on RTW: 23

We traveled by 0 planes this month!

We traveled by 4 trains (though one of them involved a train, a transfer to a bus, then a transfer back to a train!)

We traveled by 5 long distance buses.

We traveled by 2 different rental cars which took us from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, then Dubrovnik to Sarajevo and back!

Top Moments:

~ Our first top moment came at the very beginning of the month! We had long been looking forward to visiting Spis Castle. We had planned to do it as a day trip from Ždiar, but felt thwarted by it being a holiday weekend and therefore bad bus schedules. We switched our plan and it totally worked out for the best. We added one more UNESCO site of the old town of Levoča and were able to spend a wonderful day at the castle. The weather was glorious and the castle even exceeded our expectations!

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The amazing Spis Castle

 

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~ We had a top moment when, after a long day of traveling, we were able to successfully meet Della’s parents at the bus station in Zagreb. It involved both her parents making a train, bus, train connection as well as us doing the same. We converged on Zagreb one Saturday evening- Peggy and Wayne from Vienna and Della and Eric from Eger. Della and Eric arrived first, connected with our VRBO host, and then decided to head back to the train station to meet Peggy and Wayne’s train. It made for quite a happy reunion!

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~ During our two weeks with Della’s parents, we had the benefit of Peggy’s Rick Steves’ Guide Book. (Eric loved that book and might consider it a top moment by itself!) Rick had warned us not to expect too much from the people in the Plitvice Lakes region of Croatia, stating that often the service left something to be desired. We were so pleasantly surprised during another one of our top moments. We had a long day of driving to arrive in the Plitvice Lakes region. We met our Airbnb host, who was wonderfully friendly, making sure we had everything we needed in a great apartment. He even brought up some free beers from the local brewery where he works. We then headed to a restaurant that he recommended where we enjoyed the service of a wonderful man. He was friendly, funny, and competent. It was just a cherry on top when he gave us travarica (Eric’s new favorite liquor) shots on the house!

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The beer was actually quite tasty!

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Dessert with free shots!

~ Eric and Della returned to Dubrovnik after a few days in Bosnia-Herzegovina with Della’s parents. They said goodbye to Peggy and Wayne in Mostar before driving the rental car back into Croatia. We weren’t really looking forward to spending more time in Dubrovnik given that we had been slightly underwhelmed by our first experience (high prices and a LOT of tourists). We were also a little depressed after having to say goodbye to Della’s parents. However, we enjoyed another glorious, sunny day (after many of rain) upon our return. There was no drama with returning the car (which was unexpected) and we found our lodging quickly, despite having to hike up 421 stairs with our bags. But it was the next day that really brought the top moment- we found out that Game of Thrones was filming in the city at that moment. We slept in (which could have been a top moment also) and then headed into the city to hunt for the sites of filming. Turned out that it was easy to find. We were able to watch them setting up for a large scene this coming season. The excitement came when we, first, got to listen to what must have been the camera director explaining exactly how the scene was to be shot and getting some inside info about what was coming! Then we saw LITTLEFINGER walk right by us! Finally, when we weren’t even expecting it (sitting on the square, enjoying a Coke Zero and some snacks), we looked up and saw CERSEI walk right by. Della feels like she even got a smile. =) What fun!

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Eric is the King in the ever-continuing Game of Thrones

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We were right there with the official Baratheon/Lannister banner!

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It was quite fascinating to watch them set up for what is probably one scene. So many people and so much work involved.

Runners up for Top Moments:

~Della, especially, loved all of Hungary. She doesn’t have any really great reasons except that it was extremely enjoyable and she somehow identified with the place and people. She wishes that she could list the whole time in Hungary as a top moment, but we try to be a little more specific in these recaps. So, we picked a moment that was in Eger, Hungary. You probably read how we experienced some pretty depressing, rainy days in Eger. There was one day in particular where we were quite annoyed. We had a lot we wanted to do, but we just weren’t feeling like getting soaking wet while trying to do it. So, we headed back to our pension to relax and read. All of a sudden, after a few hours holed up in the room, we glanced to the window and saw the sun peeking from behind the clouds. We dropped what we were doing and ran out to visit the Eger Castle before it closed. What views!

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The clouds actually added to the effect

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We love castles and views…

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so happy the sun came out!!

~ The middle of our trip with Della’s parents was plagued with a bit of bad luck: we experienced days of gloomy rain, bouts of bad colds (all of us in succession), injuries (Della tweaked her back, Peggy’s toe continued to bother her, and Wayne sprained his ankle badly), unpleasant experiences (lodging being cancelled on us at the last minute and then having to pay more for less, car companies who didn’t do what they said and then literally yelled at us and hung up on us, threating to let the car be towed instead of allowing us to return it: Sixt Car Rental, by the way), some sad family news from back home, etc. I tell you all of this because it was the backdrop for one of our runners up for top moment. After all of this stuff to make us unhappy, we arrived in Sarajevo. Sarajevo is a difficult city to visit for a number of reasons, but we found it amazing. We also were able to finally find affordable, good food. This may sound like a small thing, but, somehow good dining options seem to be able to make or break a place for us. We found multiple pleasant restaurants with genuine servers, good prices, and tasty food. (Even the hardest person to please among us was happy!) Our last night with Della’s parents was amazingly pleasant. We dined in our second town in Bosnia Herzegovina, Mostar. The evening at a restaurant with all the above, plus a great ambiance, and amazing views of the wonderful Old Bridge of Mostar.

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Happy campers… er… eaters!

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Local food delicacy called Burek. Yum!

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Our meal, see the view in the background.

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This lovely bridge!

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Sunset in Mostar, adding to the wonderful ambiance of our final dinner

~ See above for the lead up to this second runner up as well. We had had many days of rain during our trip and expected many more. We arrived in the Plitvice Lakes region on a cloudy evening, had a wonderful dinner (see above top moment), and slept well (except for Della who was fighting the cold at that time). We woke up to more cloudy, gloomy weather, which was truly unfortunate for our trip to the amazing Plitvice Lakes. We had been looking forward to this for a long time, reading blog after blog about how wonderful these lakes were. This is what they are supposed to look like.

Image Credit: adventurouskate.com

This is what they actually looked like when we arrived.

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The rain had also caused many of the wooden paths to be closed due to flooding. We were quite distraught but hiked on anyway. The top moment arrived when, at around noon, the sun was able to peek through the clouds! It wasn’t perfect, but it gave us the light that we had been hoping for. The mist cleared and we were able to enjoy the second part of the lakes!

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The lovely upper lakes

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The sun is out!

~ We had a wonderful time with Della’s parents, however, because their trip was short and there was a lot they wanted to see, we moved very fast! We rented cars and zipped from city to city, mostly spending only one night in each location. This was great because we saw a lot, however, we were quite exhausted by the time Peggy and Wayne left. Traveling like that is OK when you get to go home after, but on this long trip, we can’t keep up that kind of pace. We knew we wanted to slow down and thought that maybe we had found the place to do it. We headed to the bayside town of Kotor in Montenegro. We had booked an apartment through booking.com and didn’t exactly know what to expect. We arrived to a great place! Spacious, homey, and with almost everything we could want. We had already decided to hunker down for a few days, but now we think we might even go for more!

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Stay tuned to the blog for more pictures of the actual town. It is lovely.

Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

Discarded/Broken:

1. Eric’s computer. We were quite frustrated because we had bought a lightweight netbook for the purpose of this trip, but by the second month of the trip, it was starting to malfunction. It wouldn’t start up regularly and we began to worry that it was on its last legs. Luckily, we were able to buy a new one, ship it to Della’s parents and have them bring it to us.

2. Della’s cell phone battery. While in Budapest Della’s phone died. Luckily, it turned out to just be the battery. Unluckily, we were told that the specific battery she needed was not sold anywhere in Hungary. Cue a late night rush to the store in Denver by Wayne (Della’s dad) the day before they left to meet us.

Added:

1. See above: New computer and new cell phone battery, purchased at home and brought to us

2. New soap

3. New toothpaste and two new toothbrushes

Packing Update:

We’re still mostly happy with the contents of our bags. We probably have more than we really need. We still feel like we haven’t used some of our summer clothing. Shorts haven’t been worn virtually at all. We have finally used our swim suits (swimming in the Adriatic, next to the walls of Dubrovnik, and in Zadar) and we made use of our cold weather gear again during our time in Sarajevo. We also have been potentially carrying more books with us at a time then strictly needed.

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read Poland by James Michener, Everything is Going to be Great by Rachel Shukert, The Bridge at Andau by James Michener, Final Epidemic by Earl Merkel

Eric has read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Fire From Heaven by Mary Renault, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Eric and Della have BOTH read Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell.

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1, Monthly Recap 2

Monthly Recap: Month 2

**Special Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad (Peggy and Wayne) Edition!

We have now been on the road for 2 months! The trip has started to feel more and more real and less like a summer vacation. School has recently started and that really made a difference in how the trip feels for Della. It is hard to believe we are going to be gone for so long. At the same time, we are already 2 months in! We plan to do a recap every month to summarize and then reflect.

Countries visited: 5 (South Africa, Germany (though only for an 8 hour layover), Czech Republic, Poland, and Slovakia)

Beds Slept In: 11

UNESCO Heritage Sights Visited: 10 (Fossil Hominid Sights of South Africa, Robben Island, Cape Floral Region, Kutna Hora, Historic Center of Prague, Historic Center of Cesky Krumlov, Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc, Krakow’s Historic Center, Wieliczka Salt Mine, Auschwitz Birkenau) Total on RTW: 15

We traveled by 3 planes (though they were 3 legs of the same trip from Cape Town to Prague)

We traveled by 5 trains (one of them was an overnight train!)

We traveled by 5 long distance buses.

Top Moments:

~ Our first top moment came at the very beginning of the month! During our time in Cape Town, we took a tour to the Cape Peninsula. It was a wonderful day with beautiful weather and amazing scenery. First we drove to Cape Point which was gorgeous. From then came our top moment: we took an approx 45 min hike from Cape Point to the Cape of Good Hope. Check out some pictures and I’m sure you will see why!

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~We were so fortunate to have Eric’s parents join us for our time in Prague. They met us at the airport as they flew in from the US and we came from Munich. A top moment was definitely when we successfully connected!

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~ Prague is an amazingly beautiful city. On our second day there we made our way to the Prague Castle. On the way, Eric led us to an gorgeous overlook near the Strahov monastery. Our top moment was looking out on the beauty of our first European city.

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~ We spent 2 nights in the town of Cesky Krumlov. What a wonderful place! We arrived in the late afternoon and were happy to find that our Airbnb was just as close to the old town center as described. We immediately went out exploring. Our top moment was enjoying this beautiful city at dusk. There were not nearly the amount of tourists that we had encountered in Prague, people were a bit friendlier, and the old town was magical. We climbed into the castle and descended the stairs as the city fell into darkness. It was beautiful.

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Runners up for Top Moments:

~ Our hike to the top of Table Mountain was fantastic. It almost made the cut for top moments especially because of our relief about the weather. Our last full day in Cape Town dawned cloudy and dreary. We decided to go ahead with our planned climb anyway. As we drove up to the base of the hiking trail we rose above the clouds!! We were then fortunate to have a beautiful day! Plus, the heavy clouds below us made for some amazing views!

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Morning gloom…

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Base of the hike- above the clouds and the sun is shining!

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~ We arrived in Krakov without knowing quite what to expect. This Polish city does not have the reputation of Prague or Budapest, but it definitely delivered. We arrived the first evening and explored the incredibly beautiful, clean, and quaint old town. Ate in a delicious, friendly milk bar, and revelled in the less touristy atmosphere.

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~ We left bustling Prague for the great city of Olomouc. Here we found a bit of peace and quiet in another lovely Czech town. We explored the city, enjoying the pleasant and uncrowded town square. Such a relief from the craziness of Prague.

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UNESCO listed Plague Column

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Communist inspired astrological clock

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~ After not having a really great, community oriented hostel experience since the Amber Tree in Cape Town, we were so excited to find a good time at the Ginger Monkey Hostel in Zdiar, Slovakia. There was a fantastic onsie party and a pizza eating contest to give you an idea 😉

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Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

Nothing missing, broken, or discarded!

Added: 1. Eric’s new watch and 2. Eric’s new camera (Thanks to Donna!)

Packing Update:

We have not made any changes to our bag contents except for one small thing. We sent home our pair of binoculars with Eric’s parents. We are starting to wonder if we are ever going to use the summer weather clothing that we brought. Europe has been quite cold and we haven’t even worn our shorts, tank tops, or swim suits.

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read The Stand by Stephan King and Starfish by Peter Watts
Eric had read The Covenant by James Michener, Poland by James Michener, Everything is Going to be Great by Rachel Shukert, The Bridge at Andau by James Michener, Final Epidemic by Earl Merkel
Eric and Della have BOTH read The Eagle has Landed by Jack Higgens

Our reading has slowed down considerably from last month (at least Della’s has…). I guess that is what happens when you suddenly have access to the internet again…

Make sure to catch up on all our monthly recaps: Monthly Recap 1

Monthly Recap: Month 1

We have now been on the road for 1 month! It is hard to believe, at times feeling like way more than a month and at times feeling like way less. We plan to do a recap every month to summarize and then reflect.

Countries visited: 5 (Egypt, South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia) – though two of those countries were visited for less than a day (12 hour layover in Cairo and Victoria Falls).

*Countries looked at: 2 (We stood across the border and reached our hands into Zambia on our Vic Falls trip, and we looked across the river into Angola at N’kwazi camp in the Caprivi Strip, Namibia)

Beds Slept In: 3 (One of those was our Self-Drive Safari tent which we set up 18 times!!)

Top Moments:

~We both agree that our first top moment was coming across the “Hippo Pool” in Moremi Game Reserve on our way to Khwai campsite. We had been stressing about the deep sandy roads we had been driving, but when we found this secluded spot and climbed into the blind to observe a large pool with many hippos sleeping and feeding, all the stress melted away. We were also thrilled to see the hippos!

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~We were so thrilled that our plan to visit Victoria Falls came together smoothly and that we were taken in by a large family of South Africans during the day.

~We both loved Etosha National Park! One of our favorite times was our afternoon game drive there where we came across a waterhole where we observed several elephants drinking, bathing, and playing. When we arrived, one elephant was in the middle of the pool, up to his head, and he was rolling around, clearly reveling in the water. As we watched, another elephant joined the first and they played with each other, climbing on each other’s backs and entwining trunks. At first we thought that they were mating? But a little later a third, much smaller elephant joined in so we weren’t sure.

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Runners up for Top Moments:

~Despite being exhausted after hours of deep sand driving, we decided to go out for an evening game drive at Savuti camp in Chobe National Park. We were so glad we did. We turned onto a side road which would take us to some rock paintings and we saw a car stopped ahead of us. They were observing a lion sleeping under a tree right next to the road! We were so thrilled to see our very first lion!

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~After a week in the wilds of Botswana staying at wild campsites, driving on deep sandy roads, and meeting hyenas, we were excited to finally make it to Kasane, where we stayed at Chobe Safari Lodge. First we were so happy to have access to internet to be in contact with family and friends, but we also loved their riverside bar. We would sit there with our St. Louis Exports (a Botswana beer) and watch the sunset over the Chobe River. What made this extra special was the elephants feeding in the water on the other side.

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~After two windy, miserable nights leading up to our camp at Sesriem in Namibia and a horrible, windy morning, we finally made it to Dead Vlei (see upcoming post) which was exactly what we had been waiting for the whole trip. Phew.

Items Missing, Broken, Discarded, or Added:

1. Eric’s watch is broken. The battery died. He is very sad.
2. Eric’s camera is almost broken. There was an unfortunate incident where it fell out of the car in the deep sand. Luckily, it was not on this list as lost which it was very nearly. But since that time, it hasn’t worked quite right.
3. New bar of soap purchased!

Packing Update:

We have not made any changes to our bag contents. We only wish that we had some more warm clothing for this safari portion of the trip.

Books Read: (Have you read any of these??)

Della has read The Covenant by James Michener, Adrenaline by John Bendict, Adrift by Erica Conroy, The Advocate by Teresa Burrell
Eric had read The Stand by Stephan King and Starfish by Peter Watts
Eric and Della have BOTH read Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell, Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane, Born Free by Joy Adamson, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, Morality for Beautiful Girls (the 3rd book in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series) by Alexander McCall Smith, and The Kalahari Typing School For Men (the 4th book!) by Alexander McCall Smith. (We read the No. 1 Ladies’ books out loud to each other while we drove across Botswana – very appropriate!)

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