It took some discussion to figure out the best way to convey our thoughts on our transition from Europe to Asia. Technically speaking, we first visited Asia last week while in Istanbul; the city of is divided between two continents by the Bosphorus River, and we took a short ferry ride across one afternoon. That being said, our flight from Turkey to China will be the longest distance we have flown yet. For us it symbolizes a major shift for The Chamborres Expedition; so we decided that now is the best time to share our thoughts. We intentionally scheduled this post to publish during our trans-continental flight to China, so we are literally in the air as you read this!
For those of you who are visiting our blog for the first time, we just wrapped up the first “segment” of our RTW trip. In the last 13 weeks we have been to 10 countries and before diving into the next part of our expedition, we wanted to take a moment to step back and reflect on the past three months, including some of our favorites (as well as the least liked moments) along the way.
The first few weeks of our trip were surreal and filled with a sense of elation. The phrase “can you believe we’re finally on the road?!” was nearly a daily occurrence. You could call it the honeymoon phase.
As time went on and we became more comfortable in our roles as permanent travelers, we began to see Europe in a clearer lens. We realized that the continent is not as cohesive as it appears on the surface. Since arriving in Europe via Barcelona on January 16th, we have traveled in and out of the EU, while hearing numerous languages, exchanging many different currencies, and learning about the extremely diverse history and culture of this incredible continent. We have found that Europe is often labeled as “not that different than home” by Americans, Canadians, Aussies and Kiwis. Yes, English is widely spoken, and yes, the food and culture are not as seemingly exotic as in other continents; however, anyone who takes the time to get to know Europe will realize that there are many lessons to be learned here.
Countless times during our trip we have said “This country is amazing. We could spend a whole year here and still not see everything.” That’s the truth. When you scratch the surface of something great, you naturally want to dig deeper, but eventually we found ourselves yearning for more excitement, seeking that thrill that we had when we stepped on the plane for Spain. We realized that we were frequently talking about how stoked we were to get to Asia: to step further outside of our comfort zone; to be forced to play charades at every corner because people don’t speak English; to eat something so deliciously mouthwatering only to realize it’s dog meat; to bike through the insane streets of Bangkok. We may take back these wishes once we get to China, but this is what we have been yearning for in the past few weeks.
Our last full day in Turkey was spent similarly to our last days in Denver before the beginning of our trip: running errands, organizing, and mentally preparing for a big change. We wanted to make sure our laundry was clean, our medicine cabinet was well stocked, that our confirmation emails were printed out, and that we had backup copies of our passports and visas tucked away in our packs. Putting our time in central Turkey aside, landing in China will be for both of us a first time in Asia. We are a bit anxious and a lot excited.
In our post One Month ‘til Departure, we each listed the things we were most looking forward to during our RTW trip. For Amy, one of those things was Asia, and it still tops the list. She had mentioned an eyelash curler as a luxury item she couldn’t go with out, but has since stopped using it and make-up all together. Mike was excited for the pork in Spain (mission accomplished!) and also to explore Istanbul (check that one off too). Up and coming on his list are relaxing on the beaches of SE Asia and seeing the Great Wall of China. Lots of firsts await us in Asia, and we are excited to share them with you. Accessing our blog in China may prove to be a challenge, but either way we promise some great posts about Istanbul and Ephesus in the near future.
To wrap up this post, we thought a run-down of some of the bests and worsts from our visit to Europe, Morocco and Turkey would be a fun read. We are often asked questions like “what has been your favorite thing so far?” and while that is an impossible question, we can definitely narrow down some very memorable moments:
- Best Food – Lamb and couscous tagines in Morocco (Amy), Jamón ibérico de pata negra in Spain (Mike).
- Best Hosts – The Frederiksens who housed us, fed us and toured us around Denmark for a week.
- Best Beach Town – The friendly people, cobbled streets and incredible cliffs of Lagos, Portugal.
- Best Tour – Port wine tasting in Porto, Portugal.
- Best Train Ride – The journey from Mostar to Sarajevo. Not necessarily the best train itself, but definitely the most beautiful scenery.
- Best Hostel – Atillas Getaway Traveler’s Resort in Selçuk, Turkey (go here if you are visiting Ephesus!)
- Worst Hostel – Hostel from hell in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
- Worst 1st Impression – Marrakesh, Morocco. What a crazy first 24 hours!
- Worst Week – Stuck with the flu České Budějovice, Czech Republic.