Sunday, December 30, 2012

The year that was...

The Great Ocean Road (Victoria)
We finished off our travelling for the year in Melbourne (with a side trip to Apollo Bay) as Elizabeth did a pilgrimage to the places and people of 30+ years ago when she lived here. We were lucky enough to stay at the house of family friends who are also life long travellers with several year long travels under their belt. They travel similarly to us,  staying in the cheapest accommodation they can find and deciding as they go where to go. It was great fun swapping stories and trading tips; thanks Max and Julie for your hospitality and great company, we also nearly stole your dog :-)

But too too suddenly we found ourselves on our 40th flight for the year on December 16 with our year of discovery, our gap year, the year that was, over. It was great seeing family and friends at the airport to welcome us back and their support and encouragement during the year is much appreciated. I must have the best kids in the world, and now time to get to know my one year old grandson Sam.

Well, time for the wrap up of the most fantastic adventurous year of my life. According to Travellers Point we have travelled 130,721 km (81,230 miles) or put another way, circled the Earth 3.3 times over 335 days. During that time we have slept in hard beds, soft beds, bunk beds, king, double and single beds, in a tent and a cave, on the floor and pull-out sofa beds, on bus seats, train seats, plane seats, in caravans and in couchettes but most comfortably in a 5 star hotel in Cairo and on average in a different bed every third night. Thanks goes to my fantastic travelling partner Elizabeth. You do not realise how compatible and perfect you are for each other until you spend 24/7 living, confiding, having adventures, facing trials, making decisions and supporting each other for nearly a year.

Other interesting stats (for us anyway)
Travelling stats
33 countries
117 different places
335 days away from home
53 train trips between cities
40 plane flights

Walking stats
I got a pedometer app on my android phone from the first of June so through to 16 Dec
2,155,335 steps
1,724 km
Averaged and applied to the whole year I would estimate
3,512,398 steps
2,810 km
Biggest walking day Paris on Bastille Day at 28 km




Blog stats as of 31st Dec 2012
3,601 page views
Most popular post at 55 views "The most beautiful road in the world?"
Most viewed from country: Australia (1,738) followed by the US (532) and then the UK (375)

Stand out moments
Most memorable day (scary, exciting and beautiful) "The day we took on the volcano.."
Most special place "Machu Picchu Anniversary Magic"
Most amazing moment: The moment of total solar eclipse "I was Eclipsed in Shannonvale"
Most cool activity: Walking on a glacier "
Claim to fame: Being interviewed by Norway television for a documentary on the train trip (trains-trains-and-trains-to-norway) (10hours in real time)
                                 The documentary: http://www.nrk.no/nordlandsbanen/ 
                                 Elizabeth's interview at: 08:23:00


Best of's...
Best waterfall: Iguazu Falls
Best canyon: Grand Canyon
Best cave: hmmm toss up between the Jenolan Caves in Australia and the Cango Caves in South Africa
Best glacier: Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia
Best national park: Torres Del Paine also in Patagonia
Best animal experience: Being among all the elephants while on safari in the Chobe National Park in Botswana
Best accommodation: The cave we stayed at in Cappadocia (Elif Star Cave Hotel) or the Fairmont in Cairo, depending on the most interesting or the most comfortable.
Worst accommodation: The hostel in London near Hyde Park. Our room was on the 5th floor (no lift) and the toilet and bathrooms were two floors below us.
Best place to drive: The US - good roads, great scenery, awesome speed limit and fantastic radio. The stations seem unlimited and cover everything from 24/7 doctor talkback to non stop classics from the 70's and 80's.
Worst place to drive: The UK, I hate those roundabouts.

So what have I learnt? I have been surprised at how generous people can be. All over the world people have been inviting us into their homes and helping us out. This was totally unexpected to me. The world is also much bigger and much more varied than I expected. After 10 months we have barely scratched the surface, and the more I travel the more I learn about other places I want to go, and things I want to see.

Having lots of time to think, look, discuss and read during the year, I have also learned that the world is in a lot of trouble. The world is a lot poorer than I thought. Over 3 billion people live on $2.50 per day or less, something you rarely consider or can even comprehend when living in a country like Australia but while travelling through South America and Africa you come up against the type of poverty that makes you despair and wonder what you can do about it.


Then we have climate change and I was able to witness a lot of the effects during the year. From the many receding glaciers to the European heat wave, the US droughts and the wettest year on record in Great Britain, there did not seem to be a single place we visited where the locals were not bemoaning their changing climate. The year saw the lowest summer ice extent on record (by a wide margin) in the Arctic and nearly 100% surface melt in Greenland (unprecedented in the records) and increasing extreme weather in the form of floods, droughts and heat waves. This is the year when the scientific warnings from the 80's were found to be underestimated and events are occurring faster than predicted. This is an issue we all need to involve ourselves in; it is crucial for our children. If you want to know more there are two other pages in the above tabs on climate change: 'the blue dot cafe' and 'why I know I am right'.




If you thought you are finally rid of me and my posts, think again. I have the travel bug and my thinking is it needs to be fulfilled now rather than later. You never know what 'later' is going to look like, both in your own life and the state of the world. So I will keep this blog open and updated with any future adventures as they occur. Thanks for your support and I hope to be writing and posting pictures here again very soon.

Happy New Year
Don't leave until tomorrow the dreams you can accomplish today 
"Seize the time
Live now
Make now
always the most precious time
Now will never come again"
Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek
Hillarys Boat Harbour in Perth (my hometown)