If you really want to test the theory that time goes by fast when you’re having fun, try travelling for three months. I can attest that the things we did only a couple months ago, already ‘feel’ like it happened a year ago.
Three months into our trip we’ve visited eleven countries, eaten at 50+ restaurants, slept in dozens of different homes/apartments/hotels, walked many beaches and spoken to countless folks (while getting quite good at charades).
Sharing Some Highlights
Not sure where to start – we’ve seen and done so much. Guess I’ll randomly go through a few of the fun/interesting places. I have to admit though that I have a hard time writing some of these things. I hate the idea that some folks back home may feel we’re doing a ‘hey look at us, aren’t we great…’ but, sincerely, these updates aren’t meant to stick it to anyone, except maybe the corporate world in general, but to act as a guide for those that may be considering a grand adventure. Do it! We’re far from wealthy and not any luckier than the average clan, we just decided to GO.
We met a wonderful couple in Zagreb, Sarah & David (and little Spencer) who wrote about following ‘The Script’. Our trip is yet another nail in the coffin of the old 9 to 5 lifestyle. More and more people are breaking free and if we think we can encourage one more family to do so, bonus.
I’ll start with what was the best and worst walk all rolled into one. We had a hellish hike, a couple steep kilometers up a mountain in Iceland. The walk itself wasn’t a big deal, we do these mid-level hikes all the time. What got to us was the incessant cloud of flies swarming our ears and faces during the entire walk. This persistent pack of pests nearly drove us bonkers. We grit out teeth, not opening mouths for fear of a squishy snack, bare it and move onwards and upwards. As we snarl and plod up the hillside we notice everyone coming down seems like they’re floating – and they have these zen-like grins. More reason to not turn back.
The top part of the walk was like being on another planet, literally – with smoke & brimstone, feeling like the three witches might be around the corner.
The Reward – all that just to dunk in a river. Oh, but what a sweet river it was. Like a hot tub with running water flowing over you. The girls downstream were putting mud all over their faces, the older couple upstream, like us, just lounging with toes and heads the only items above water.
Let’s jump from the early days of the trip to the present (almost present, we’re in Portugal as I finish this up). I’ve had the pleasure of driving some very cool roads, the Pyrenees near Andorra, East-West across Vancouver Island, The Tyrolian Alps but today was a first. Three-quarters of the way up the Picos de Europa, Spain – I actually considered not continuing to our destination. Admittedly it had more to do with an inexperienced Stick driver, thinking if I have to stop on one of these slopes, I’m never getting back into gear. Every time we were passed by an oncoming vehicle it felt like our tires were dangling two inches off the road, and four more inches meant rolling down about a thousand feet. Plus the blind 100 degree turns every fifty meters all on crazy, gear gnashing inclines (Kasm kept asking what that smell was). On reaching the top we were treated to two glacier lakes at over 4000 ft. elevation.
Beyond the stunning sites, great drives and diverse cultures, a big highlight for me has been some of the simple chats with friends old and new. Funny about old friends, those you haven’t seen in a long time, you can sit and talk like it’s been two weeks, not two years since your last get-together. Sitting on Rick Smith’s balcony couch, late-night chatting about life, the universe, and everything. There’s such a warm feeling, a hard to describe comfort that old friends exude. Shyness, pride, even politeness – all the limitations of chatting with acquaintances, vanishes with old friends. So, special thanks to Rick for his hospitality, his beer and his openness.
This post was meant to be a quick-hit list of some of the best-of-class things we’ve seen, done and eaten. Let’s get back to a few.
Best Life-Saver was our host in Siena when Baharak left her purse at the house. We were waiting for a train to Bologna when he walked around the corner, looking so relieved that we hadn’t left yet, black leather purse in hand. Thanks.
Best beach – Biarritz.
Best Scones, Victoria’s in Fowey, Cornwall. Fowey also had the best Fish & Chips down at the Ships Inn.
Best Flag & Drum parade, which we stumbled across, had no idea…in Siena, Italy.
Our AirBnB Hosts collectively get a huge thanks. From watching football with Andrew in Cornwall, to sharing a Scotch with Stuart in Scotland, being offered garden tomatoes by Paula and homemade strudel by Dobrenka, and Thomas showing Kasm how to build a stone wall here in Asturias, Spain – we’ve been well treated across Europe. One of the more interesting fellows, and the most generous with his time, his home, his donkeys, was Phil Miller. If you don’t mind rustic accommodations and being off the beaten path check out Phil’s place – and if you’re very lucky, he’ll have time to bring you to a hidden cave in the hills of Basque Country.
Here’s the entry to the cave.
We’ve visited an ancient castle in the Scottish Highlands and a Broken Relationships museum in Zagreb. We’ve been to the Guggenheim in Bilbao and Tiffany’s in London. We’ve sat in rivers in Iceland, snorkelled in Croatia and body-surfed the waves in the Bay of Biscay. We’ve sipped Radler in Ljubljana, Stout in Edinburgh, Champagne in London, Pimms in Cornwall, Pastis in Biarritz, Chianti in Chianti, Rioja with the guy that stepped on the grapes (many thanks to Jose from Valentin Pascual), in Rioja…
Kasm loves his machines. From the coolest super-yachts in Stari-Grad, Croatia to supercars at the Ferrari Museum, he’s getting his fill.
To wrap up, let me say that by far the best of the best is to see, taste and do all these wonderful things with the two most important people in my life. Being on the road with Baharak and Kasm has been a real treat. The experiences we’re sharing have deepened our family bond and will create memories that will last a lifetime.