Saturday, December 22, 2012

A year in review

We didn't quite know exactly where our trip would take us this year when we departed from Calgary  in January, 2012. For example, we had intended on two or more months in India only to discover it was basically impossible to get a Indian travel visa on the road. Over the year we visited 12 countries; Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Bhutan, Italy, France, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, and the USA. On the map, the countries in red are ones we've travelled to this year and the countries in green are ones we travelled to previously, some like USA, Japan and Indonesia we've been to more than once! (Our travel list before this trip includes: Antarctica, Falklands, South Georgia, Cuba, China, Egypt, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, India, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, French Polynesia (Bora Bora & Tahiti), 1 night Germany, and 1 night in Singapore. All 7 continents, and a total of 29 countries to date.)

These are 10 highlights of the year:

1.) Surfing: J practiced daily and learned how to surf in Bali. While he completed this amazing accomplishment I spent time soaking up vitamin D while reading.

2.) Epic trekking: Our first foray into hiking was our plan to trek up to Everest base camp. Sometimes you get wrapped up in the excitement and the fact that no one is there to stop you, and you do something stupid. This was one of those moments. Once booked I decided to look up the trek and I realized there was no way in hell I would make it out alive with out an expensive helicopter evacuation. After spending some time throwing up in the bathroom, while J was asleep, I had to admit that I could not do the trek. It was a dream of J's so I was very disappointed to cancel, but he agreed swallowing our pride was the least objectionable option. We settled instead on trek up Annapurna mountain range. I had no idea I could survive an epic 50 km hike (with over 2000 meter height gain) in the Himalayas, Nepal. The hike was more physically demanding than anything I have ever done! Although I am not sure I would tackle it again, I am impressed I made it. We also hiked up to Tiger's Nest Monastery in Bhutan, which is impossibly perched 3100 meters up, on the side of the mountain. The views of the unspoiled countryside and the ornate temple were breathtaking. Thankfully no donkeys were needed in either trek. The guides in both treks were very relieved when I successfully made the ascents. I recall our guide in bhutan telling me afterwards, "I did not want you to lose hope but I did not think you would make it!"

3.) Isle of Capri: It has always been a dream of mine to go to the Isle of Capri, as I was named after it. What a gorgeous island with interesting architecture surrounded by deep blue sea. I totally stocked up on stuff with my name on it including postcards, a necklace and of course "I Love Capri" t-shirts for the family.

4.) Copenhagen biking: We spent about three weeks in Copenhagen, Denmark, the most bike friendly city in the world. We picked up two second hand bikes, which we named Finn and Juhl, and spent our days riding all over the city. It was so relaxing and made me feel like a kid again.

5.) Building bikes: We worked 7:30am-5:00pm Monday-Friday for four weeks to complete our two frames.  I am surprised that I enjoyed bicycle building as much as I did. I learned to braze and the experience of putting together such a project taught me a lot about management in general. After literal blood, sweat and tears, if anyone steals my bike there will be hell to pay.

6.) NYC: The goal of NYC was to live as New Yorkers for two months and boy did we accomplish that! We loved our little 5 story walk up apartment in the Lower East Side, surviving the Sandy Hurricane and the end of the world,  the amazing vegan dining and shops, copious museums and art galleries, movies, shopping, the Leonard Cohen concert, wandering the streets, and spending time with friends.

7.) Food: We have enjoyed the most amazing vegan food from all over. We were also fortunate to attend the Vegan Fest in Italy, where we also met a new friend, Kristin, of the great travel blog: Will Travel For Vegan Food.

8.) Art: We've enjoyed countless museums, galleries, antique shops, architecture, and public art. One of my favourites was the Joan Miro museum, Barcelona. We also spent hours wandering the The Centre Pompidou, in Paris, and snapping photos of worldwide graffiti. We bought an annual pass to MOMA NYC, as it paid for itself with our visits, visitor passes and museum store discounts. We have explored amazing architecture, to name a few; Petronas TowersGreat Buddha of Kamakura, Sagrada Familia,  Eiffel TowerNepal Great Stupaduomo square cathedral,  Leaning Tower of Pisa, and Tiger's Nest Monastery.We even picked up a few treasures along the way; an antique sculpture in Denmark, a vase in Toronto, two paintings in Las Vegas, two Shafford cats in Tucson,  a rug in NYC, and a few pieces of costume jewelry.

9.) Accommodations: Starting from our tiny room in Tokyo, we have stayed a variety of dwellings including; apartments in France, Spain, Denmark, and the USA, a rocking hostel in Malaysia, a Buddhist monastery in Nepal, and a tent on the USA road trip. We've had both a few nice luxury hotels with pristine bathrooms and also sparse, unheated tea houses. We've also encountered some questionable bathrooms.

10.) Nature: We have seen some spectacular natural sites such as Uluwatu cave beach in Bali, Mount Everest, Annapurna mountain range, Paro Valley Bhutan, the Grand Canyon, volcanic scenery and blue lagoon of Iceland, blue grotto in Isle of Capri, ocean view in Kamakura (Japan), Venice river,  the red vistas of Sedona, Yellowstone geothermal areas, We have also seen countless critters; birds (including puffins), cats, lizards, and many monkeys.

As we review our trip in our last few days in NYC, we feel so grateful for the experience. We are looking forward to coming home and eventually planning our next travel adventure. You can check out the year's photos here: My flickr & J's flickr.

"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again-to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more." Pico Iyer 


Sophie said...

Sounds wonderful! If you dont mind me asking how much it cost you for this adventure?

voyagevixen said...


The cost if the trip was more than we had anticipated but we also went to more countries, and more expensive countries. If I was to do it again, if stay put longer in less expensive countries. Accommodation ranged from $12 a night to regular North American hotel prices. A good book to read about costs and planning is Rough Guide: first time around the work

Mary said...

Wow, just wow. My travel dreams are not so grand. I just want to do the North American Smile. Vancouver Island to PEI, down the East Coast, thru the southern states, and back up to Vancouver and home to Calgary.

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