'Round the World Baby!
True story about two 30 something backpackers travelling around the world the long way around. Quit their jobs, sold all of their possessions, said good bye to their friends and family and early one morning got into a beat up old van and started driving east.
New York, Iceland and Brighton England
To make a long story short, my boyfriend and I are both avid travellers and we wanted to travel to New Zealand together. To make it interesting we decided to travel the longest route possible by starting in British Columbia, Canada and go east across the country and around the world. We saved for months, bought a ton of plane tickets, sold everything, quit our jobs and said goodbye to our friends and family. Early one August morning we got into a van and started driving east across Canada and over the course of 8 months we travelled to New York City, Iceland, England, Morocco, Spain, Amsterdam, Rome, India and then Nepal and then back to India, Thailand, Australia and then Vanuatu and finally New Zealand! This is what I wrote along the way....
New York was unbelievable. SO MUCH ART! We bought a City Pass and went to the MOMA, The Met, the Natural History museum, the Guggenhiem, the Empire state building, and the Statue of Liberty...all for 70 bucks each. Huge deal. If we did everything separately it would have been insanely expensive. Iceland was so so so cool. The people are so fun and funky and super sarcastic. I just laughed at all the articles in the news paper, signs in shops, t-shirt slogans....so funny. The city was beautiful and so nice to breath cool, crisp fresh air again after a few days in busy New York. We didn't do very much though because everything was really expensive. We ate out once and after that decided to buy our food from the grocery store. We stuck to traditional food though (rye bread, pickled fish, smoked lamb) so that was still super fun. I burst into a fit of giggles buying food at the store because it was so different and I was just having so much fun anyway! Now we are in Brighton getting ready to catch our flight to Morocco. We've been staying with Jerry's friend Chrissy and she is making sure that we have the BEST time here and we are. She drove us to Arundel Castle and the South Downs yesterday. I've been there before about 9 years ago when I was a nanny. She thought it would be an awesome idea to drive to the house I was an Au Pair at and have a visit with the family I stayed with. I was so excited and once we got to the town I knew exactly which way to go...it all came back to me! However, they had moved! So I didn't get a visit but it was still fun just to be there. Last night we had a bbq on the beach in Brighton. I took lots of pictures of the pier and ocean at sunset because the sky had the most amazing colours in it. Well that's a little summary of what I've been up to. We are flying Easy Jet in a few hours...off to Morocco!
Morocco and Spain
Morocco! We arrived in Agadir which is more like a resort town so we only stayed one night. Instantly we were reminded of taxi drivers and haggling down the prices of things. Oh and being harassed to take their over-priced cab into the city! Finally we decided on a 20 dollar cab ride from the most ancient looking man dressed in a white robe and a white cap. There are a lot of Muslims in Morocco so all the men dress like that and the women are covered head to toe as well....but then you´d see the most obnoxious running shoes in crazy bright colours popping out from underneath their long skirts or robes! Loved it. We booked our hotel on hotelsclick.com or whatever...a discount site....can´t really remember and got an awesome deal on the cutest little place overnight. Woke up to a beautiful view and bougainvilleas and hibiscus and hot hot weather! Nice change after leaving rainy Brighton. We decided to leave for Marrakesh right away because it´s a more interesting town with a crazy busy market. We took a bus and it was interesting to see the landscape...total desert and not much growing at all....a lot of buildings made out of mud and rock and sort of adobe style but without the terracotta and corrugated steels instead for roofs. Lots of goats too!
We arrived in Marrakesh and the taxi dropped us off right in the heart of the city where the huge market - the Medina and all the Souks are found. We walked around and found the cheapest hotel which was all fine and dandy until the owner discovered we were not married and we just finished paying for a room with only ONE bed. He refused to look or speak to me from then on! Ouch! He probably has higher hopes for his daughter!
The Souks are CRAZY! CRAZY!!!!! People constantly wanting to sell you things and show you into their little space and you have to bargain and bargain and argue and uuuhhhhggg it´s exhausting. It is so busy and there are tons of mopeds and motorbikes and even cars whipping by you in these tiny little streets. We found ourselves ducking into little cafes quite often to drink mint tea and eat the most gorgeous little pastries to get away from it all. The pastries were incredible! Little pieces of art. I don´t know if this is traditional or if they cater to a lot of their french tourists. Whatever the case, we enjoyed them. Took lots of pictures. We found an awesome place where we ate dinner every night because it was a little further from the really touristy spots so we found it to be a lot cheaper and we got waaaay more food. Lots of couscous and tagines with roast beef? goat? and chicken and lots of vegetables. Fanta and mint tea instead of wine (not very big drinkers those Muslims!). We pretty much did the same thing every day in Marrakesh - except one day we met a guy in the park and played rummy with him for half the day and later he took us to a Sheesha bar where I felt VERY out of place as a female! Oh and every time I won a game of rummy he´d make up some rule all of a sudden so that I couldn´t win - then he´d go out and win. Ummmm?
We knew we flew out of Casablanca so Thursday we took a train to the big port city and got TOTALLY lost trying to find our hotel!! Finally we found it - it was too expensive but literally right next door was the coolest hotel and our room was on the top floor with the biggest sun deck. An African lady was just finishing the cleaning and came out and was so cute and friendly to me, took my bag in, turned on the tv for me and insisted that I lay down on the bed and put my feet up and watch tv! Ha! I don´t know where she was from but not from Morocco - I could tell because of the way she treated me...like a daughter...like she was holding back giving me the biggest hug and kiss! She was like Aunt Jemima!
We left the next day for secret destination #1 and the whole time Jerry was telling me I was going to Nice and I fell for it because when we went to the counter to check in I was like, "Jerry, we´re at the wrong counter! This is going to Madrid!·"...Jerry just looks at me and he´s like, "We´re going to Madrid, dummy." Pretty fun! Uuuuhhh I love surprises! (By the way Morocco was supposed to be secret destination #1 but I found out...oops).
So we´re in Madrid! Found our hostel and it is amazing. It´s called Kat´s Hotel and it´s a restored Palace! Oh and there´s a bar downstairs that sells 3.50 euro liters of SANGRIA! Needless to say I slept IN today. Jerry is on the hunt for a grocery store and I've had a lazy morning showering, doing my hair, answering emails....total lazy shit! And loving it! We are here for about three days and then making our way to Barcelona and I think we fly out on the 30th. Stopping somewhere along the way but Jerry isn´t here to ask.I have no idea what we´re doing!!! Surprises are awesome but a lot of work for Jerry because he´s had to book all of our hostels and plan what we are going to do in each place all on his own. Well he seems to be getting a kick out of LYING to me about Nice and then taking me to Madrid! Ha! So it´s fun for both of us. I´ll keep everyone posted as much as I can about the next destination which is a surprise just like Spain. Stay tuned!
Spain, Amsterdam and Italy
Madrid still turns out to be our favourite place so far. We stayed in the center and we were able to walk around and spend some time at parks and eating at little cafes that serve incredibly cheap tapas and sangria and wine. The city is clean and gorgeous and we found the people there super helpful and tolerant of our language barrier and helpful when teaching us the correct way to say things! I gorged on olives and little tapas of mussels with salsa, rice crackers, chips, salads with olive oil and pickled onions and peppers. "Brenda food". We found one restuarant one afternoon and Jerry wanted to eat there because it sold "something on the lunch menu - serves 2 for 12 euros". I just sat down because I could have eaten anything at that point. So we sit down, have a jarra of sangria (that turned into a ritual anytime we sat down anywhere!) and Jerry ordered what he saw on the front advertisement. I wasn't paying attention to what he said (mostly because I was elbows deep in sangria). We get it and it is the biggest, hugest, yummiest serving of rice and curry and saffron and SO MUCH seafood ever and I'm like, " Ooooooh yum this is just like a paella!," and Jerry says, " Um, it IS exactly a paella - that's what it says on the menu"!!!! Ha he didnt know what that was, he just saw 2 can eat for 12 euros! Turned out to be the best meal so far. We ate there again and again and on our last night in Madrid and ended up drinking "bottles" of wine and joined a crowd outside where trays of shots full of evil green liquid was shared. The family was from Switzerland and a couple from Spain and a girl about my age with her boyfriend - she was on exchange and going to school in Madrid. The rest of the evening was pretty awesome - too bad I dont remember much!
Painfully, the next day we left for Zaragoza - the hangover from hell but the city totally made up for it. We got off the bus and a local man practically walked us to our hostel babbling in thick spanish the whole way and very excited that we chose to come to his city! Zaragoza is where I want to live and raise my babies! There is a river with lots of walking trails and parks full of dogs and children running around and people eating their dinners ourside with bottles of wine! The city has amazing landmarks including churches and castles and old ruins. We were closest to the Basilica del Pilar Basílica which was a baroque style catholic church and very very beautiful. Our camera died so unfortunely you'll just have to believe me. We only spent one night there but I'll be back! I know it!
Our last place in Spain was in Barcelona. We stayed in Badelona which was right on the beach! However, our hostel was a party hostel and we had many sleepless nights there. We weren't partying but we almost considered staying up with the crowd because we weren't getting any sleep anyways! Well, everyday we started with a coffee, some toast and about 5 hours on the beach where we caught up on our zzz's and sun. Didnt get burnt despite zonking out totally exposed! Just nice and brown. In the afternoon we took the metro into the "Old Town" of Barcelona. We wanted to see the Sagrada Familia (the church Gaudi designed) and I didn't realize that it was directly ouside of the metro stop. So we get off the metro, up the stairs, onto the street and I turned around and said, "HOLY F@$&!!" really really loudly! Awesome, I'm such a great Catholic sometimes but it really was impressive. Click on the link to see what I'm talking about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagrada_Fam%C3%ADlia
We explored the Old Town and the Gothic area of Barcelona and Las Ramblas which used to be the red light district. Now it is an interesting place full of narrow streets and shops and little cafes. We ate our last dinner in Barcelona in a church courtyard with the bells going off and people watched and just relaxed. The relaxing continued the next day because we decided to go to the beach one last time before we got on the plane to Amsterdam. We stayed a little too long because after getting confused at the metro and train station trying to get out to the airport, we ended up having to full on SPRINT with our huge back packs (Jerry was barefooted because he was wearing his flip flops and it was easier to run in bare feet!) and finally we did make it to our plane. Then the flight was delayed! Hahahaha, we could have been an hour late and still made it....scared us though and we're not going to be so cocky next time and waste our time on a beach!
Arrived in Amsterdam around 5 or 6 and checked into our Hotel|Hostel which turned out to be really great! It had a bar and a disco and the rooms were really quiet compared to Barcelona. They serve irish cider there so I was in heaven! Got our fare share of chocolate and even tried out the weird little hot sausages in the vending machines! Stocked up on some english novels. Yup. Don't have much else to say about Amsterdam and what we did there because it's a bit like Vegas. So what happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam and I'll let you all just decided for yourself what we ended up doing! All I'm going to say is that I wouldn' stay there for more than two nights and we did just that!
So now we are in Roma! It is the land of Davide hahahaha (my former boss and Mr. Italia himself). We are staying right near the Vatican and I remembered not to say, HOLY F£$%" when I first saw it. It is just AS amazing though. We walked around last night to the Pantheon and Trevi fountain but had another early night. We are going to stay another two nights here but the area of town is pretty touristy and that means expensive. We found a hostel that is outside of the city but easy to get to and is decribed as a campground. We are going to spend some relaxing days there before India and pig out on Procuitto, olives, and cheap wine. Maybe some more gellato (although, I had a little of Jerry's last night and that's why it was an early night!!!). Probably write again once we are in India! We fly out on the 10th with Egypt Air, one stop in Cairo but I dont think we get off the plan and then Arrive in Mumbai the next day so it's a red eye. We are changing our plans a little for India. Only staying a few days in Mumbaii, then heading towards Adjanta caves and directly to Nepal. Spending three or four weeks in Nepal then heading back to India....to be continued!!!!