What was your favorite country?
Great question, but tough to answer. Every country had some facet which made it wonderful in our minds. We can say that some of our favorite countries were Laos, New Zealand, Ireland, Greece, Morocco, Czech Republic, Spain.see how hard it is to choose?
What was the hardest country to travel throughout?
Two countries come to mind:
Northern Vietnam. Many of you have heard the horror border crossing story and that was probably one of the scariest 72 hours of our trip. The constant negotiations and double-checking every bill and our change was tiresome and got to be frustrating. We found the people to be much more open and relaxed in the south.
Spain. Why Spain? Well Spanish in Spain is a different breed altogether than Latin American Spanish and we struggled with the translations. Trying to speak with those in the service industry was difficult at times and we always wondered if we had made ourselves clear. The locals tried their hardest to understand us but wow do they talk quickly.
Did you buy an around the world ticket for the entire trip?
No, we bought a partial RTW ticket. Here are the details:
Des Moines-Los Angeles; we used our frequent flyer miles for this leg
Los Angeles-Auckland, NZ-the first part of our RTW ticket
Christchurch, NZ-Melbourne, Australia
Brisbane, Australia-Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand-Athens, Greece-this was out final leg of the RTW. We kept our flight back to the States open after discussing our plans with our travel agent and this was one of our best decisions. Since we kept extending our travel it worked out perfectly. Our last flight was from Dublin to Chicago.
What was your favorite airline?
In order of preference and reasons behind ranking:
Emirates- great service, food and in flight entertainment (video games and movies that are actually something you want to watch)
Thai Air-great service, fresh orchids for the ladies, nice planes and smiles abound from the crew
Virgin Blue (Australia) /Nok Air (Thailand) - nice services, no thrills airlines but cheap and convenient
Air Pacific-nice service, decent food and enough room to spread out on a long flight
Aer Lingus-cheap flights, customer service horrible to reach with no 800 number and in flight service was also a pain at times
United-everything about the airline seems mediocre and forced, shocked at how much we pay to fly within the United States
How much did you spend on your trip?
Lets put it this way, we spent enough to have a smashing time and came back with enough in our pockets that didnt force us to take the first jobs we found.
How did you pack?
We both had one large backpack that fit most of our gear and then one daypack each that we kept our guidebooks, camera, travel documents and food in while traveling. We lived very simply and tried to keep our clothes to a minimum.
What did you regret not bringing on your trip?
Aside from our dogs it would be our 35mm digital camera. Craig was adamant that we should pack lightly so we left it behind. In the end, dragging our expensive camera out wherever we went wasnt a sound decision so we missed out on some of the spontaneous shots.
We also wished for our long johns once we hit cold weather in Europe. We sent them home in one of our packages because we didnt think we were going to be traveling as long as we did.
We also regret was not bringing a hand held tape recorder. We were able to capture the sights, but the sounds can also bring back all sorts of memories.
How much weight did you lose on the trip?
Since he dropped almost 40 pounds Craig is hereby named The Biggest Loser! To Tinas dismay her weight stayed the same but her legs, namely her calves, got very toned and muscular from walking.
What did you miss the most while traveling?
In no particular order:
Family, friends, Marley & Corky, our couch, toilet, kitchen, bed, high speed internet whenever we needed it & Mexican food.
What didnt you miss?
Driving in traffic, cell phones, work, bills & the rat race
What country had the best food?
Some of the highlights were:
Greece-pitas, falafel, olives, cheese, wine
Morocco-fresh bread was to die for
Italy-cheese, wine, gnocchi, olive oil
Ireland-pints (yes sometimes we drank our dinners)
Thailand-pad thai, vegetables and rice, spring rolls, lyches and papaya salad
What city freaked you out?
Naples, Italy-this city is dodgy to say the least. The sidewalks are full of litter, dog feces and completely wrecked cars. Now when we see a car thats been in an accident we say Its been Napled. The area around the train stations are best to be avoided, day and night. Overall an interesting juxtaposition of third world conditions in a country which holds so much beauty and wealth.
Did you get sick a lot while traveling?
Thankfully neither of us had to visit any doctors or hospitals during our travels. Craig got the occasional cold due to close quarters in hostels and on buses and trains. Tina fell victim to Montezumas Revenge once while in Koh Tao, Thailand. The ice in her gin and tonic was contaminated and her entire dive class was out for days.
Did you have any star sightings?
Yes we did. Here they are.
Prague, Czech Republic
gas station in New Zealand