What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

After 16 months, 3 continents, 21 countries, and 113 cities, “One Year, Two Backpacks, No Plan” has officially reached its end.   We successfully made our dream a reality.  “One day you’ll wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted.  Do it now.”-Paulo Coelho.  How true it is.  We took life by the reins and have the memories to prove it.  In the beginning, everything was so foreign; languages we couldn’t speak, reckless unorganized transportation, crowded streets, and unfamiliar customs and cultures.  Now this is our norm.  We are comfortable with the uncomfortable.

We truly live in a wonderful world.  Exploring wild animal filled Costa Rica, wandering the mystical island of Ometepe, Scuba diving the crystal blue waters of Honduras, eating spicy chilies on the streets of Thailand, spending time with people who have so much less but smile so much more, exploring ancient temples in Cambodia, shopping the Muslim markets of Malaysia,  making new international friends who share the common passion for travel, trekking the remarkable Himalayas of Nepal, sipping wine over the Mediterranean in Spain, and spending time with our extended family in Italy are highlights that continue to amaze and inspire us for more.  Travel is available for everyone.  The hardest part is taking the first step.  For us it is deciding where to go.

We originally set up this blog to keep our family and friends in the loop.  The reaction we have received by so many readers has been incredibly flattering.  The blog has 133 followers and has been viewed 9,500 times from 66 countries.  Incredible!  We thank you for sharing in our adventure.

Heading back to our life in the United States isn’t completely bitter.  Returning to work and having a home will be our new adventure, and we will have family and friends to share it with.  “I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I’ll go to it laughing.” –Moby Dick

 

*On a side note; after this blog was written, we were robbed on our way to the airport.  Our passports were amazingly stolen out of Joya’s purse on the metro.  These things do happen, but the timing in our travels is painfully ironic.  With a half day in the US Embassy and a half day more in Madrid, we will try again tomorrow to finish our travel adventure and fly home.*

Costa Rica (Jan 2012)

Costa Rica (Jan 2012)

Thailand (June 2012)

Thailand (June 2012)

Nepal (Nov. 2012)

Nepal (Nov. 2012)

Spain (Jan. 2013)

Spain (Jan. 2013)

Categories: Europe | Tags: , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Final Days

The last week has been split between two great European cities; Geneva, Switzerland and Barcelona, Spain.  Both metropolises have something different to offer and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in each.

Upon reaching Geneva, we were both struck by the astounding number of banks and watch stores that line the streets of the city center.  The city is perfectly situated on Lake Leman (aka: Lake Geneva) and easily walkable with plenty of sites to entertain travelers.  We spent a day exploring the waterfront; visiting the iconic flower clock, and huge manmade geyser that shoots water over four-hundred feet into the air.  Many of the museums are free, and we found the History of Science and CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) to be particularly interesting.  With a short bus ride from the city center, we were able to complete a four hour hike on Mount Salève; which was steep, a little muddy, and extremely well marked (as expected).

Geneva to Barcelona was a short hour and a half flight, the proximity of different countries/cultures in Europe is still incredible to us.  The weather in Barcelona was less than favorable when we arrived, but luckily it drastically improved during our stay.  The city has to be one of the top tourist destinations in Europe, there were people everywhere and it’s not even summer.  After a day of wandering the city, we understand why.  Barcelona is really a joy to walk and has a little something for everyone.

The art and unique architecture, that seems to be everywhere, keeps you constantly interested and eager to see a new part of this historic city.  By far the most memorable site is Antonio Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia church, which is still in the process of being completed.  Pictures don’t do this church justice, it’s one of the strangest religious buildings we have seen anywhere during our travels.  We ate lunch in one of the parks nearby and were in awe about how different the building is compared with other churches in Europe, very original.

With everything the city of Barcelona has to offer, the highlight of our experience was watching their world renowned Barcelona Football Club play a match in Camp Nou.  The energy in the stadium is amazing, the devotion and love of players goes beyond anything that we’ve seen at other sporting events.  The game was against Mallorca and was an absolute blowout, Barcelona won five to zero (Go Barça’s!).

Tomorrow we leave Barcelona for Madrid and will visit one more locale before returning to the States.

Jet d'Eau

Jet d’Eau

Flower Clock

Flower Clock

Top of Mount Saleve

Top of Mount Saleve

CERN Particle Accelerator

CERN Particle Accelerator

Barcelona Sculpture

Barcelona Sculpture

La Sagrada Familia (View #1)

La Sagrada Familia (View #1)

La Sagrada Familia (View #2)

La Sagrada Familia (View #2)

Game Time

Game Time

Categories: Europe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Welcoming Spring, The French Way

We are all ready for Spring here in France, tourists and locals alike, and when the sun is out so are we.  Annecy, nicknamed the Venice of Savoy, is attractive and charming located on glacier fed Lake Annecy.  We stayed in the old town filled with stone buildings and canals.  It is great seeing pictures of the city from the 19th century because it still looks pretty much the same.  Our apartment was in a very old building with narrow hallways and stone steps, but inside was new and modern, the fantastic combination of new world luxuries and old world charm.

Our first night in Annecy was greeted with a surprise.  The 2nd Annual Military Olympics were being held and it was their opening ceremony.  It was entertaining to watch the performances and best of all the firework show over the lake.  A great start to our visit.

The French like being active outside, as we do, and have it set up incredibly well.  There are perfectly signed trails, bike paths, water sports, and exercise equipment everywhere.  We got a great spring weather day in Annecy and shared the trails and bike paths with the locals.  Unfortunately we are still experiencing some spring shower days as well, but we get out as much as possible.  We hiked in the snow, biked along the lake, and climbed a ridge for incredible mountain views.  If you like French culture, charming old towns, beautiful lakes, mountain views, and outdoor sports, Annecy is for you.  We loved it!

Currently we are making our way closer to Switzerland and are now on the south side of Lake Geneva in the rural town of Armoy.  We are staying in a small chalet that is connected to the home of a French couple who have lived in the area all their lives.  They greeted us with homemade bread and quince jam with fruit from the lovely garden.  They are very enthusiastic about their area and it has been quite contagious.  We hiked a portion of the GR5 trail, which extends from Holland to the Mediterranean, visited a medieval town on Lake Geneva, bought cheese directly from a local dairy farmer, and even visited bees that our hosts raise for honey.

One of the best parts of travel is experiencing the way other people live.  We get to pick up bits and pieces to influence our own life.  From what we’ve seen in Annecy and Armoy it appears the French are definitely doing some things rights.  With a week to go on our adventure we head to Geneva, Switzerland before our final stop back in Spain.

Firework Show

Firework Show

Annecy Canals and Old Town

Annecy Canals and Old Town

French Cheese at the Market

French Cheese at the Market

Island Palace in Annecy

Island Palace in Annecy

Spring Shower Day on the Lake

Spring Shower Day on the Lake

Lunch With a View

Lunch With a View

Hiking the Ridge

Hiking the Ridge

Adam on Trail

Adam on Trail

Images Around the Lake

Images Around the Lake

Armoy

Armoy

Hiking the GR5 with Snow and Mud

Hiking the GR5 with Snow and Mud

Categories: Europe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: