Hello father time, can you please slow down a bit? Why are you always flying by so quickly? The other day while sipping a beverage at a stall on the streets of Saigon, we realized that we were just a few days away from our 6 month anniversary of traveling around the world. The past half-year has gone by so fast, yet thinking back on it, we have done and seen so much! To celebrate our 6 month mark, we decided to document some of the highlights of our trip with a list from A to Z. It took a while to cover the whole alphabet, so if you aren’t in the mood for 15 minutes of reading, pick your favorite letter(s) and go from there.
Alhambra. A spectacular display of Moorish architecture and symbol of history. It was our favorite palace in Spain, favorite in Europe, and we dare say, our favorite palace during our entire trip thus far. (Read our post on the Alhambra here)
Being together 24/7. We get a lot of comments and questions about this. “So you really still like each other?” “Do you run out of things to talk about?” People tend to assume that if you spend enough time with someone that you’ll eventually end up disliking them. We disagree. We went from working opposite schedules and not seeing each other but a few hours per week, to spending all day, every day together doing what we love most, traveling. What’s not to like?
Cappadocia. Since one of our favorite pastimes is hiking, it is not surprising that Cappadocia found a place close to our hearts. The stunning rock formations, canyons and cave dwellings make it one of the most spectacular places that we have ever hiked. Not to mention, we stayed in a cave hotel! (Read our post on Cappadocia here)
Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. This region of southern Croatia may very well be Europe’s most under-appreciated destination. Breathtaking best describes the rocky coastline that gives way to crystal clear waters and secluded islands. Despite our encounter with the world’s worst hotel, saying goodbye to Croatia was tough to do. (Read our posts about the Dalamatian Coast here)
Eating. If you’re a dedicated reader of our blog, you know that we love food. There are too many to mention, but here are some of our favorite eats from the past 6 months: tostada de tomate, Jamón ibérico, tagines, Wednesday snails, frikadelle, pork knuckle, ćevapi, burek, çiğ köfte, baozi, Guilin rice noodles, poor man’s Peking duck, Korean BBQ, kimchi dumplings, sushi, bánh xèo and phở.
Fútbol en Barcelona. One of the very first things we did on our RTW trip, and still one of our fondest memories, was watching a FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid match. We watched the game on a giant screen with hundreds of Spaniards, and we were electrified by their energy and passion. BARCA, BARCA, BAAAARCA!
Great Wall of China. No RTW trip would be complete without visiting this world wonder. The Great Wall is possibly the most iconic tourist attraction out there and lived up to its reputation. Reliving our four hour hike along the wall will keep our travel bug alive for decades to come. The excursion also provided us with one of the most hilarious photos of our trip, but sorry that one is for the private archives only. (See our photos from the Great Wall here)
Hockey playoffs in the Czech Republic. If you happen to be in the CZ during hockey season, you must attend a game at all costs, even if you have a fever of 103 degrees. Mike was terribly sick with the flu in České Budějovice, but we ventured to a playoff match-up nonetheless. And it was awesome.
Istanbul. Straddling two continents, Istanbul will forever be one of our favorite cities. Visiting mosques and learning more about Islamic art and culture has been an incredibly enriching part of our expedition, and Istanbul serves as an outstanding example of a city that is proud of its roots and culture, but also embraces the modern, globalized world. (Read our posts about Istanbul here)
Jade. We’ve seen a ton of jade artwork while traveling through Asia, but in this case we are talking about the Norwegian Jade cruise ship. The nine days we spent at sea sailing to the Madeira Islands and Canary Islands gave us the opportunity see the homeland of Mike’s ancestors and to soak up our last bit of luxury before months of budget travel. (Read our post on our cruise here)
Krumlov. Český Krumlov to be exact. This medieval town transported us back in time. The three days we spent lounging along the river and walking through the cobblestone streets was our favorite time in the Czech Republic.
Language. It is a constant struggle and reward to stay on top of the native tongues of the places we visit. We make it a goal to learn how to say, at the very least, “hello,” “thank you” and “goodbye” in every language. We’ve encountered 17 foreign languages so far, not counting the variances in dialects. It is both a blessing and a curse that English is our mother tongue; we never take it for granted and often think how much more difficult travel would be without our fluent English.
Madrid Barajas Airport. Somehow we have flown through/stopped over at this airport more than any other airport in the world. We even had one crazy overnight adventure here en route to Morocco: each other, our sleeping bags and vino tinto were all that we needed.
Nha Trang SCUBA Diving. Our SCUBA diving certification course was awesome. Enough said. (Read our post on Nha Trang here)
OMG, we just got henna tattooed by force! In a matter of minutes, we both had been taken hostage in Marrakech’s Djemaa el Fna square, resulting in very poorly done henna tattoos on both of our hands. We tried to refuse this service many times, but the joke was on the tattoo artist because she only got a single Euro for them, rather than the 30 Euros she was demanding.
People. Interactions and conversations with people are one of the most difficult things to convey in our blog posts. It’s crazy how randomly and quickly someone can enter and exit your life, while still leaving a lasting impression. In an attempt to give thanks to all of these wonderful people, we have created a Shout Outs page on our blog. (Check out our Shout Outs here)
Quan Lan Island. The most remote and relaxing place we visited during our month stay in Vietnam. We had no idea what we were after when we arrived, and ended up learning how to drive a motorbike, seeing the largest spiders of our life, and meeting some great friends on the beach. (Read our post on Quan Lan Island here)
Rice Terraces. Trekking through the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces in China was surreal. The misty fog flowed in and out of the hills, we were staying in a rustic lodge with no electricity, and the trails we hiked wove along the contours of the rice paddies. (Read our post on the rice terraces here)
Sevilla. We felt at home in Sevilla the minute we arrived and were sad to leave. It was the first city to make our “we could live here” list and still tops that list. (Read our post on Sevilla here)
Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. We will never look at a piece of sushi the same. Glad we made the 5am wake-up call to visit this place. (Read our post about Tsukiji Fish Market here)
Unpredictable weather. Just like the US Postal Service, rain or shine, snow or sleet, the Chamborres Expedition continues! We have sustained typhoons, dust storms, monsoons, extreme heat and humidity, and the bitter cold. Who knows what’s next?
Vienna. We never intended to visit this marvelous city, mostly because it seemed too expensive. While we kept our visit very brief, we are glad Vienna made its way into our itinerary. We have never seen such a well-kept city nor a better public transit system. (Read our post about Vienna here)
Wine Tasting in Porto & Eger. While very different experiences, wine tasting in these two regions was equally enjoyable. The portwine cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia in Porto, Portugal were very ritzy and commercialized, but they offered sublimely delicious port. Eger, Hungary on the other hand was well off the beaten path; 50 cent glasses of Bull’s Blood Cuvée and plastic jugs of house blends make visiting wine country possible for even the most budget traveler. (Read our post on Porto here and our post on Eger here)
Xi’an. Home of the Terracotta Warriors. We didn’t actually end up visiting Xi’an, but that’s the whole point of this section. It was part of our original China travel plan, but got “X”ed off the list. This change in itinerary reminds us that we can’t see and do everything, and reducing the number of stops can be a blessing in disguise.
Yangshuo. Cruising the Li River from Guilin to Yangshuo was one of the highlights of our time in China. The karst mountains that create the landscape of this region are beyond picturesque, they are something out of a fantasy novel. (Read our post on Yangshuo here)
Zipping around on all types of transport. Traveling the world boils down to figuring out how to get from A to Z. At this point, we consider ourselves transportation experts. We have yet to encounter a public transit system we can’t handle. We enjoy mixing up our means of transportation; we haven’t ridden on elephants (yet), but our adventures on subways, bullet trains, motorbikes, regular bikes, ships, boats, buses, taxis, planes and the like give us memories that rival our destinations themselves.