The end of the road

After 373 days travelling, our fabulous trip has come to an end. We are sad that it’s finished but feel happy to be home and have absolutely no regrets.

Some useless statistics

Number of different beds slept in - 165

Nights spent on a bus, ferry or airplane - 11

Most nights spent in one destination - 11 (New York)

Most nights spent in one country - 30 (Turkey)

Number of Olympic cities visited (both Summer and Winter) - 11

Number of times we got food poisoning – 0 (hurrah!)

Best discovery – the Balkans (Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia Herzegovina). Get there now.

My favourite country – Turkey (with honourable mentions to Spain, Portugal, Guatemala and Argentina)

Nick’s favourite country – Spain (with honourable mentions to Turkey, Portugal, Nicaragua and Argentina)

My favourite city - Istanbul (with honourable mentions to Barcelona, Budapest, Madrid, Brussels, Berlin, New York City and Buenos Aires)

Nick’s favourite city – New York City (with honourable mentions to Barcelona and Istanbul)

My favourite place (other than a city) – the Atacama Desert & Salar de Uyuni (with honourable mentions to Tuscany, Cappadocia, Transylvania, Quebrada de Humuhuaca, and Colca Canyon)

Nick’s favourite place (other than a city) – Cappadocia (with honourable mentions to Mendoza, the Atacama Desert & Salar de Uyuni and Machu Pichu)

My favourite event - Carnival in Rio de Janeiro (with an honourable mention to Glastonbury Music Festival)

Nick’s favourite event – Running with the Bulls in Pamplona (with honourable mentions to Glastonbury Music Festival and Tour de France)

Favourite hostel – Attila’s Getaway in Selcuk, Turkey (with honourable mentions to El Retiro in Lanquin, Guatemala and Casa de Olas in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua)

Favourite local specialty – Pastel de nata in Portugal (with honourable mentions to pain au chocolat in France, baklava, Turkish delight and kebabs in Turkey, burek in Bosnia and dulce de leche in Argentina).

Best meal – lunch at Tasca da Quinta in the Douro Valley, Portugal (with honourable mentions to Buddakan in New York City and Firefly on Isla Bastimentos)

P1030478_300.JPG IMG_20140729_054056_300.JPG P1030910_300.JPG

Some thank yous

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read my blog. Knowing that there were people out there reading the words that I so carefully crafted gave me a lot of joy.

Thank you to our friends and family who were supportive of our desire to travel for so long even though they knew they would miss us while we were gone. I’d like to promise we’ll never leave you again. But that would be a lie.

And finally, to my gorgeous husband Nick – thank you for saving me from the brink of meltdown on more than one occasion; for always insisting I wear sunscreen; for driving a hire car on the opposite side of the road in no less than five countries; for taking almost all the photos that appeared on this blog and for taking care of so much trip administration while I worked on the blog.

Thank you especially for your never-ending efforts to capture the “dogs of the world”. We both know that dogs are not the most co-operative models. As evidenced by the Bolivian dog who farted at you in response to your gentle request that he look at the camera.

But most of all, thank you for being the best travel partner in the world. I could not imagine experiencing this trip (or living my life for that matter) without you.

DSCN0227.JPG P1040845_300.JPG P1070427_300.JPG

The end

To finish, a quote from the film American Beauty which sums up the way I felt so many times on our trip:

“It’s hard to stay mad, when there’s so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m seeing it all at once, and it’s too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that’s about to burst… And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can’t feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life”.


HOME

In a sentence...strange but lovely.

Food we loved...Mum’s chocolate cake (me) and pork ribs (Nick).

Despite the late hour of our arrival, we were greeted at the airport by no less than 7 parents and siblings.

And a minivan.

No photographs were taken at the reunion which is probably for the best as some of us were doing what I like to call “the ugly cry”.

Our first few days back on Australian soil were filled with an interesting mix of activities – catching up with everyone; reintroducing ourselves to our favourite niece and nephew; meeting my drop-dead gorgeous godson Angus for the first time; attempting to unpack and crying over missing items of clothing, only to find them ten minutes later (ok, maybe that was just me).

It has been lovely to “rediscover” our home town of Geelong. Everything feels clean, slick and easy. We have had excellent coffee, delicious food and have enjoyed reacquainting ourselves with the running path along the Barwon River and the greatest gym in the whole wide world, Heavy Metal Barbell.

It turns out G-Town has become quite the hipster haunt while we were away, as evidenced by the pics below. I have been so surprised by the proliferation of street art in the CBD, and the number of trendy cafes at the Geelong West end of Pako.

P1070927_300.JPG P1070939_300.JPG P1070932_300.JPG

P1070930_300.JPG P1070937_300.JPG P1070931_300.JPG

P1070935_300.JPG P1070934_300.JPG

Despite any misgivings we may have had about the trip ending and our sad return to reality, it has been so special to be welcomed home by our fabulous family and friends.

Next post...the final post-mortem. I promise this will be the last post.

Posted 14 May 2015

Previous posts . . .