Today is our 500th travel day! When we started planning our RTW trip it was going to be just over a year, and here we are in Morocco 500 days later… and no end in sight on our RTW trip. Let’s look back at all the countries we have had the privilege of “GETTING STAMPED” in over the past 500 days.
Honduras get’s a bad rap but we survived Honduras and glad we made a stop. Adam got dive certified on the island of Utila, well Hannah held down the beach. We visited the Copan ruins and relaxed in the best hot springs to date.
Guatemala is one of our favorite countries in the world, we fell in love with Antigua everything about is beautiful we were drawn to all the amazing doors. We spent a week learning Spanish & living with a local family. We believe the most beautiful McDonald’s can be found here as well, wouldn’t you agree? We hike from Xela Guatemala to Lago Atitlan one of the toughest treks to date, but glad we did it.
Volcano boarding sounded fun, and according to Adam it was…but my facial expression says differently! We had our first round of illness which had us down for the count for several days. Planned our time to be in Granada for their version of running with the bulls, which was hilarious. We went house hunting for the perfect land for our future beach house. Can’t forget the part of almost dying on a ferry from Ometepe Island.
First stop in Costa Rica was surf school in Tamarindo! Got our paddles wet for the first time white water rafting on class 4 rapids. We previously visited Costa Rica in 2010 visiting Arenal, Jaco, Manuel Antonio, Dominical and Puerto Viejo in which we had a suicidal SUV, but this time we bused our way around. Spent a week on the Beaches of Puerto Viejo which is home to some of our favorite beaches in Costa Rica.
Panama really surprised us in a good way. Spent a week in Bocas del Toro before making our way to Panama City where we cruised the Panama Canal. Our favorite part about Panama hands down is the San Blas Islands (pictured above), which we will get back to and spend at least a week, never have we seen beaches/water like that.
We arrived in Colombia were ready for a change of continents, as we had a several case of travel burnout. Our first stop was Cartagena, which was unimpressive and expensive by Colombia standards. Explored Cali Colombia by foot walking an average of 11 miles a day, loved all the street art, and the giant cats of Cali. However, the highlight of Colombia was Salento. Evening saying Salento it puts a smile on my face. We loved the people, town square, mountains, hiking trails, great cheap food (shout out to Lucy’s), all the fat dogs in town, and of course the coffee! Adam even worked a day in the coffee fields.
Ecuador was all about the Galapagos for us, we have so many great photos it was hard to pick one. Make sure to check out our 50 shades of Galapagos post!
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was a bucket list item that didn’t let us down. We went with the 2-day trek aka Glamping Incan Trail package. Our day in Machu Picchu was rainy but very photogenic.
Fiji is paradise, here is proof a quick 60-second video. Some of the best views (like pictured) are from a seaplane, which we splurged on to get us back to the big island for our next flight. We spent 10 nights in the Yasawa Islands our longest stay to date at that time. We were spoiled with great sunsets, friendly staff, and an overly friendly gecko…
New Zealand, our favorite country in the world to date. Where do I even begin…we rented a camper van (pictured above) and spent the 2 weeks exploring the South Island. We tried to do it all: skydiving, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Abel Tasman, swimming with the dolphins, whale watching, glacier climbing, Lake Tekapo (the most gorgeous lake in the world), and much, much more. New Zealand is top of the list of places to return to.
Whitsunday Islands a place we had seen some of the most amazing photos was our first stop in Australia. We couldn’t afford to stay out on the islands but we took a day trip out to Whitehaven Beach and a seaplane over Whitehaven & Great barrier reef. From above we got some of the best views and photos. This is the only way you can see the heart reef (pictured above). We also climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, sailed the Sydney Harbour, and drank our way through the rocks district.
Having Hannah’s parents meet us for Christmas in Thailand was the best Christmas present ever. We also revisited Bangkok, which we still love. Became expats for a month in Chiang Mai, learned how to cook some of our Thai favorites. Adam decided to eat a water beetle and then learned that was a bad decision. Discovering our favorite Thai island Koh Lipe, which we will return to in 2015 as it is home to our favorite meal in the world.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat cannot be missed, even with the 4:30 am alarm. Siem Reap is a place that deserves at least 5 days, unfortunately, we only had 3 and must return. Phnom Penh was much better than imagined, we visited the Killing Fields & prison S-21 which left us somber and speechless.
In January of 2014, we spent most of the month traveling through Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Langkawi. We thought we really liked KL, that was until we got robbed by the man in the red helmet. From there we spent Chinese New Years in Penang which was supposed to be the best place outside of China to celebrate, but it was kind of a bust, everything was closed and there was no info on festival dates. We learned the hard way that most people spend time at home during the holiday. So our visions of a New York City like New Years was a little off. After that, we caught the boat to Langkawi for some much-needed beach time. We rented a car a saw what the island had to offer, but we found that to be not that much. We cut our time shorter than planned and made an unexpected trip to one of our favorite places in the world. Overall, Malaysia was just Okay.
We caught an amazingly cheap flight to the Philippines for just $27 each so we jumped on it. We knew we wanted to go, but weren’t sure we were going to make it, but glad we did. We stopped in Manila, Boracay, Coron, and El Nido. We saw some eye-opening things in Manila along with some interesting food and a few good sunsets, and Adam even got to eat the famous Balut egg. Next up was the island of Coron where Adam dove 100 feet deep through sunken World War II ships while getting his advanced open water certification. Boracay was beautiful but busy. We would love to visit again not in peak season because it’s a great beach and Boracay can be done in a $20 per day budget. El Nido is amazing I don’t even want to talk about it and make it more popular 😉 There were so many things to do in El Nido we have to go back.
Vietnam is crazy. Crazy good, and just plain crazy too. We start in Ho Chi Minh City and worked our way north. From the insane motorbikes, amazing Pho, and war history of HCMC we head to Hue and Hoi An. The Citadel in Hue was worth the visit, but nothing else really stood out to us except for the constant offers of drugs by the taxi drivers (no I didn’t take them up). From there we caught a horribly cramped bus to our favorite town in Vietnam: Hoi An. The food was worth the entire trip to Vietnam, yes it was that good. Besides the food, the town had a good feeling, a beautiful old town right on the river, and cheap beer. We opted not to light the lantern for the Hoi An lantern festival even though we planned our date specifically around doing so. Hannah played Cinderella for a day and got a dress tailored, and a purse to match. From Hoi An we hopped a plane to Hanoi (bet you didn’t know flying can be cheaper that driving in Vietnam). A few days in Hanoi exploring the strange propaganda museums and drinking more cheap beer. Lastly, we went up to nearly the China border to the town of Sapa to see the hill tribes and hike in the rice patties.
The quiet country of Laos was at the end of our time in South East Asia and we just made it to the city of Luang Prabang. We watched the people feed the orange-clad monks and realized tourism here has completely gone wrong. Maybe it was cause we were burnt out at this point, but the town I had such high hopes for let us down. All I can say about Laos is don’t feed the monks. I will have to give Laos another go again sometime.
Our first stamp in Africa came in Kenya as we touched down in Nairobi. Before taking off on our 43-day safari with Acacia Africa we had time to explore the city and get licked in the face by a giraffe. While on safari we stopped at the Maasi Mara game park where we saw the big 5 and a bunch more. We also visited a Maasai village and met the people who still live as they have for centuries.
The wildlife continued in Tanzania as we spent three days in the Serengeti National park. Here we got up close and personal with lions, and we even slept with elephants. The excitement didn’t stop there we also saw the ugly 5! After all of the animals, we took a beach break on the amazing island of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean.
Oh Malawi, what do I say. We really enjoyed our time here, not because of the wildlife, but the people. They have just about nothing but are still happy and friendly people. We saw a school without desks, and our desire to help grew for the small country.
Victoria falls was the main draw for our travels to Zambia, but we ended up doing that and even more. We took a helicopter flight over the falls and through the canyons, and many more Victoria Falls activities. Zambia was action packed, but we did manage to sneak in a sunset cruise down the Zambezi.
An interesting mix of desert and water we found in Botswana. We spent a few nights camping in the Okavango Delta before heading into the Kalahari desert. We were in Botswana for the new moon and saw every star in the sky. We photographed the African night sky and rowed a traditional canoe.
Namibia is one of Adam’s favorite countries to photograph, there was never a cloud in the sky. The landscapes were always dramatic and interesting, sunrise over the sand dunes cannot be missed. We also made some new friends with lots of spots. Here is where one day we will settle down and open a cheetah farm. There is still so much to write about this amazing country.
Related: Things to do in Namibia
Our safari ended in Cape Town and we booked ourselves 10 days to enjoy the area and recover from sleeping in a tent for 43 days. While in the city we went wine tasting, dove with great white sharks, drank home-brewed beer in one of the townships, you know the usual Cape Town itinerary…
Our European leg started in Germany where we meet Adam’s parents for a good ole’ fashioned family road trip. We traveled with the through Frankfurt, down the romantic road, and to the castles in southern Bavaria. We came back and forth through Germany a bunch of times, we watched the World Cup with 1,000,000 people in Berlin, we went to Oktoberfest with Adam’s brother (on family road trip number two, parents not on this one). Visited Stuttgart and the car museums along the way, up to Koln to see the famous cathedral and cruised the Rhine River. I think that’s all for Germany, oh and ate lots of sausages and currywurst, saw the Berlin Wall and so much more.
We toured Prague and Plzen with Adam’s parents, saw the Prague castle, visited historic taprooms, and of course walked on the famous Charles Bridge. Pilzen we did as a day trip mostly to drink the Pilsner Urquell beer. We took the tour and drank fresh straight from the wooden barrel golden goodness. Prague ended up being one of our favorites in all of Europe. There are a ton of Prague attractions you need at least 3 days in Prague.
Our first family road trip ended in Kraków where we paid a visit to the Holocaust Museum of Auschwitz, went down the millions of steps into the historic salt mine, and ate some pierogis. We even learn to pronounce Adam’s family name in true polish style.
Our tour of Italy began in Rome with visits to the Colosseum, the Vatican, and most of the other major sites. We snuck in some time to go on a gelato tour, and take a trip out to Tuscany. After Rome, we made our way to Florence where we saw statues carved by Michelangelo in the 1500’s. Other than the statues we didn’t really find the big draw to the city. Bologna and Milan were up next and we pretty much just ate. I’m not complaining because that’s what we came to Italy for in the first place. There are much more things to write about from our time in Italy, including one of our surprise favorites Venice.
From Italy, we caught a plane to the capital Riga for none other than a family wedding. We toured the pretty city of Riga and then headed out to the countryside for Hannah’s cousin’s wedding. The traditions of the Latvian wedding were very different from the ones we were used to, but it was a great time and we’re glad we could be a part of their special day.
Our one and only stop in France was Paris. It was more of a long stop over where we got to explore the city for a few days. We made it to the very top of the Eiffel tower, almost got robbed by a scammer, and watched the amazing Moulin Rouge show. We still managed to do Paris on a budget but yet a little bit of style.
We drove through Austria on the way to Croatia this fall with a stopover in Vienna. The city of Vienna was full of statues and we caught a great sunset in one of the parks of the city. However, from there it was all downhill. First, we got a massive parking ticket, and then on our way to Croatia we got extorted by the Austrian police.
The main event in our Croatia plans was a cruise along the Dalmatian islands. We stopped at a different island every night of our seven-day cruise. Our favorite island was Hvar and we will definitely return. Before and after we based ourselves in Dubrovnik where we walked the walls of the old city, kayaked around the walls, rode bikes through the countryside while drinking wine, and so much more.
Slovenia just kinda happened, it wasn’t really in the plan or even the radar, but we went as a means to break up some long drives between Croatia and Munich. We’re glad we stopped, it ended up being a nice little break. We stayed little ways outside of Lake Bled in a town that couldn’t have a population much higher than a couple hundred. We were surrounded by crystal clear lakes and tall mountains. Totally could have spent a bunch more time here.
I am not going to beat around the bush here, we went to Belgium to drink beer, and that’s all we really had planned. Adam’s brother was with us in Brussels as an extension to our Oktoberfest and beer sampling tour of Germany and Belgium. We toured several of the Trappist abbeys and made our rounds of the bars and breweries in Brussels. After the beer, we even had time to watch the famous statue pee into the fountain and eat some pretty darn good chocolate.
In Spain, we touched down in Barcelona and Madrid again with a visitor from home. Hannah’s longtime friend joined us for food, drinks, and exploring in Barcelona and Madrid. We also learned to cook the Spanish favorite paella, ate our weight in tapas, and sailed off the shores here.
We based ourselves in Athens taking a few day trips to the nearby cities and islands, but our main reason for being here was the business. The annual travel blogging conference TBEX was held in Athens this year which was the main reason for the visit. Along with the conference activities, we had time to see the historic sites of ancient Greece.
We write this post while traveling through the beautiful and diverse country of Morocco. Our 14-day tour of the country with TourRadar will be keeping us busy until the middle of the month of November. To see what we are up to here check our Morocco Highlights tour.
Well there you have it, all 500 day’s in a nutshell summed up with one photo from each country. Thanks to all our friends, family, and fans for following along on our journey. We appreciate all the support and social love, every like/comment means a lot to us. Here’s to the next 500 days of traveling!