Scratching the travel itch



Around the world


So it's been a while...

So it's been a while between posts, but I have a good reason! The last couple of posts were written while trying to hide the fact that I was pregnant from people who I wanted to tell in person. Since then we’ve made the move to Munich, set up our first home, had a son [...]

Weeks 79&80: Driving and Packing

The title pretty much says it all... After another night in Lafayette, Louisiana, we started the long drive back to Montana. On the first day we drove for 13 hours and ended up in Wichita, Kansas, having crossed 4 states. That was our longest day, at around 750 miles (1200km). We wanted to get as close [...]

Week 78: Heading South

– photos to come... – In Denver we hung out with Brett’s sisters and their partners/husbands/kids, did far too much shopping at the local outlet mall, met up with some of Brett’s friends and watched Brett’s niece’s first ever basketball game. That last one was really fun, imagine a team of 6 year olds who [...]

Week 77: Yellowstone

– photos to come – Leaving Helena, we first stopped in Bozeman, about an hour away, to meet up with an old college friend of Brett’s. From there we headed further east to Billings, Montana’s largest city with a population of about 106,000. We spent an evening hanging out with Brett’s mum and stepdad, chatting [...]

Week 76: Helena

It’s been a busy week and a half since Brett and Erica arrived – so busy that I’ve let myself be a bit late on the blog updating – tsk tsk! Anyway, we’ve been showing Erica some of the sights of hopping Helena, done some shopping, caught up with the extended Voegele clan, visited Glacier [...]

Weeks 74 & 75: Heading to America

– – My weekend in Vienna was nice, if short, and it was nice to explore the city with Gulzar and Karl. We spent most of our time exploring the old part of town, wandering streets, popping into churches and eating ice-cream. At one stage we were sitting in a park near a church, in [...]

Weeks 72 & 73: Munich

By lumping the two weeks together I may actually have something interesting to write about. Things happen a whole lot slower when you’re settled, but I’ve been keeping myself busy. The language classes are going well. There were a few days there that I nearly strangled someone out of sheer boredom, but now we’re back [...]

Week 71: A Routine

I feel pretty well established in Munich now, my larder is growing, I’ve befriended the flatmates, laid my hands on a bike and broken a household appliance (then had it fixed). I also started my language classes on Monday and am starting to enjoy them. They’re a little slow, but then so is my brain [...]

Week 70: Back in Germany

And I’m in Germany again. Brett, on the other hand, is bobbing around like a cork in the Barents Sea, eating Russian food and dealing with things like the affect of the curvature of the earth on 2D maps and lack of satellite coverage near the North Pole. Me, I’ve moved into a place in [...]

Week 69: End of the Silk Rd

Photos to come – Well we headed back down to Shakhrisabz but decided to hang out there instead of heading further south. It’s a cool little town, full of sprawling markets, winding backstreets and friendly locals. Though, as it turned out, our stone carving was finished earlier than expected – we are now the proud [...]

Week 68: Samarkand

– – note: photo album isn't complete as i'm on a reeeeeally slow connection here in Samarkand. We’ve spent most of the last week in Samarkand, checking out the various monuments and sights in this ancient city. It’s a place whose name conjures up romantic visions of silk-laden camels and exploration in an era when [...]

Week 67: Bukhara

– – The luxury of time has been appreciated even more as temperatures continued to soar into the high 30s and possibly low 40s. We don’t really know how hot it’s been – we haven’t had access to forecasts. All I can say is that staying hydrated is a constant battle which we’re only just [...]

Week 66: Heating Up

– – From Nukus we headed north to indulge in a little disaster tourism. For all the things we read about the Aral Sea, actually seeing its remains gave us a fuller appreciation of the scale of the environmental disaster. The thing that’s most striking is how big it still is. Even after so many [...]

Week 65: Back in the 'Stans

We flew in to Tashkent, Uzbekistan and were greeted by a wave of heat. At this time of year temperatures often hover around 40 degrees celcius and we're just not used to that... yet... We'd better adjust quickly! We decided to spend the first night avoiding adjustment by hiding in our hotel room. Sad I [...]

Weeks 63 & 64: Bumbling

Well I’ve obviously been relaxing a little too much to update my blog. And for someone not really in travel mode I’ve still covered a fair bit of ground. Prague was great, I caught my family again briefly then flew to London to hang out with friends and sort out the Uzbek visa. While I [...]

Week 62: Amsterdam

I spent a few days back in Amsterdam crashing at Jen and Mark’s place and exploring the city while they were off at work. The first day was spent just wandering around the canal district. Apparently the “Venice of the north” has over 100km of canals and 1,500 bridges, but I didn’t check the validity [...]

Weeks 60 & 61: Pecha Kucha

Seeing as I put the effort into selecting 20 photos to present at Pecha Kucha in Muenster I might as well share them with anyone reading my blog – I’m looking at you Nan! It wasn’t easy to select only 20 photos from the past 61 weeks of travel. A quick count says I’ve taken [...]

Weeks 60 & 61: Bouncing Around

– photos to come... – I spent a little more time hanging with family, including some time with my cousin and his family as a working bee was launched to beautify their courtyard. Well let’s just call him my cousin, technically he’s my mum’s cousin’s son but that just gets too convoluted. Anyway he and [...]

Week 59: Chilling in Stetten

– photos to come... – Brett didn’t leave for work on Saturday and so spent another few hours on the phone to change his flights to this Tuesday. It then looked like that wouldn’t happen either because the boat was waiting on parts. Finally at 9am on Tuesday he got the OK to fly and [...]

Week 58: Stetten

– – Trying to get the classic photo of Neuschwanstein castle turned out to be quite an adventure. Actually it should have been simple – we knew where we wanted to be. Getting there was another matter. Slopes were steep and unstable, groves of prickly trees grew in the most inopportune places, and we discovered [...]

Week 57: Munich

– – We spent a week in Munich, checking out some of the neighbourhoods, picking couchsurfers’ brains and exploring some of the many cool corners of the city. It really seems like a place we’re going to enjoy living when we finally get it all together and “settle down”. I use quotation marks because one [...]

Week 56: Trains galore

– – As it turned out getting to Belgrade wasn’t as simple as “direct train” would have you believe, but we felt a little of the old fashioned romance of train travel as we pulled out of Istanbul. We left from the same station that the Orient Express used back in the day. Our carriage [...]

Week 55: Leaving Turkey

– – We finally made it to Divrigi the morning after I last posted. Prior research indicated that there were very limited accommodation options but we had the name, approximate location and phone number of a government-run hotel. Our initial inquiries took us to the local council offices where we were served tea, met the [...]

Week 54: UNESCO hop

– – The first stop on our UNESCO hopping was Safranbolu, where we wandered among the Ottoman era buildings that have been preserved in the old market area of the city. One of the things that was really nice was that the historic area is separated from the new part of town, and in its [...]

Week 53: Caves to capital

– – After a very full and exciting week last week we seem to have slowed down a little over the past seven days. Our blue sky weather in Cappadocia finally came to an end, and we’d seen a lot of fairy chimneys by the time we left. On our last full day of exploring [...]

Week 52: Statistics

A year into the trip I’ll share some statistics about what we’ve been spending our money on. Brett, the nerd that he is, has kept track of every yen, somani, kroner, hryvnia and lei that we’ve spent. Not only that but he’s broken down our spending into various categories – accommodation, transport, food, sightseeing, visas, [...]

Week 52: Highlights

Seeing as we've been on the road for a year, I feel it’s time to write about some of the highlights. Some of these were written about when they happened, but some are little things that didn’t necessarily register as worthy of a mention at the time. In no particular order: Best dining experiences A long, drawn-out meal at a [...]

Week 52: One year!

– – We wandered around Antalya a little more before heading inland to Konya via some spectacular mountain scenery. Konya is the spiritual home of the Mawlawi Order of Sufi Islam, famous for its sema ceremonies where the dervishes whirl as a form of meditation. Between 1150 and 1300 the city was the capital of [...]

Week 51: Along the Coast

– – Leaving Fethiye (with all our stuff in tow again) we headed down the coast to Kas, not far from where we’d finished our hike the day before. Our main reason for going there was to do a sea kayaking trip over nearby ruins of a city that earthquakes sunk below the water line. Unfortunately, [...]

Week 50: Lycian Way

– – For the past 6 days Brett and I have been walking along the Lycian Way. It’s a 509km long hiking path that stretches between Fethiye (or technically a small town outside it called Ovacik) to Antalya. We started walking from Fethiye, passing a village called Kaya Koy before starting on the trail proper [...]

Week 49: Turkish Delights

– – From Selcuk we travelled to Kusadasi where we met up with my aunt’s stepbrother who lives there with his wife. I’d never met Mark and Barbara before but we had a great time hanging out, ended up staying at their place that night and talked for hours over a couple of glasses of [...]

Week 48: Ruined!

– – It’s been a week full of randomly placed marble blocks, stepping over broken terracotta pipes and trying to visualise what used to stand in the grassy area that’s now home to skittering lizards and brightly coloured spring flowers. We’ve seen Ancient Roman ruins galore and discovered a Christian history in this part of [...]

Week 47: Troy & Gallipoli

– – It has to be said that my first impression of Turkey outside Istanbul wasn’t great. Finding our way to the centre of Bursa from the ferry terminal was confusing and along the way we were laughed at a few times. Having groups of people obviously talking about you, gesturing toward you and openly [...]

Week 46: Still in Istanbul...

– – Well we’re still in Istanbul, though we're finally leaving this evening to explore more of what Turkey has to offer. It’s been great to have so much time in this fascinating city but two weeks in one place is enough for us. Actually the past month has been pretty relaxing; a week in [...]

Week 45: Istanbul

– – We’ve spent the past week in Istanbul, being befriended by carpet salesmen, exploring historic mosques, drinking fresh orange juice, watching dervishes whirl, eating baklava, counting stray cats, buying souvenirs in the Grand Bazaar and dodging rain showers. It’s been a busy week. On our first night in the city we headed out to [...]

Week 44: Bye bye Europe

– – Before we left Kyiv we had one major sight left to see: the Kyivo-Pechers’ka Lavra, a monastery complex that draws crowds of pilgrims and tourists. It was originally founded in 1051 by a Greek monk and his follower, who dug caves where they and other monks worshipped, studied and lived. Their mummies are [...]

Week 43: Chernobyl

– – It’s been an interesting week and I’m going to start with what we did today even though it throws out the whole chronological order of things. We headed out to visit Chernobyl, site of the worst nuclear disaster in history, which released 400 times more fallout than the bombing of Hiroshima. Scary and [...]

Week 42: Cafes

– – Our first stop back in the Ukraine was Kamyanets Podilsky, home to an impressive fortress. The main part of the old town was built on what is almost an island in a sharp bend of the Smotrych River. It forms a natural moat fortified by high cliffs and the narrow strip of land [...]

Week 41: Painted Churches

– – Our first stop after Brasov was Sighisoara. It’s another town founded by Germanic people, the Transylvanian Saxons, who were invited by the King of Hungary to protect the southern borders of what was then his land. They built their medieval citadel on a hill and it has been UNESCO listed for being “an [...]

Week 40: Brasov

– – We’ve been in Brasov for a week and it’s been fantastic. Just after I posted my last update we celebrated Christmas, or rather we celebrated Christmas Eve and spent Christmas day popping aspirin and avoiding getting out of bed. Before all that happened, on Christmas Eve day, we headed out to Bran. Home [...]

Week 39: Merry Christmas!

– – It didn’t stop snowing for about a week – every time we looked out it was white white white. By the time it finally stopped there was about 40cm of snow and cars were spinning their wheels all over the place. It seemed that only minimal work was done while it was still snowing [...]

Week 38: Snow!

– – I guess it makes sense that a lazy week is followed by a busy one so here we go… The opera we saw at the Odessa Opera and Ballet theatre was Puccini’s La Boheme, a nice induction to the world of opera. The inside of the building was spectacularly stunningly amazingly beautiful and [...]

Week 37: Lazing About

– – This week has been uncharacteristically lazy. We’ve spent quite a few days lazing about in hotel rooms, sleeping late and not achieving much at all. It’s been really nice! Sometimes you need those days and we haven’t taken many yet this trip, the weather has been so fantastic and there’s been so much [...]

Week 36: Unexpected Adventures

– – From Smolyan we headed north, passing back through Plovdiv and on to Ivan Vazovo village. There Brett had his first Couchsurfing experience as we stayed with a couple and their two children. Atanas is a retired jet pilot who tries to balance holistic living and new age philosophies with an obvious fascination with [...]

Week 35: Ruins and Mountains

– – The train from Bansko was deliciously slow as we trundled past rural villages and farmhouses. On arrival in Plovdiv we rented a room in an older couple’s house and set out to explore the city. It had a nice vibe to it – despite being Bulgaria’s second largest city it had more of [...]

Week 34: Bulgaria!

– – I have to say, our first impressions of Bulgaria were a little underwhelming. It was a grey day and Sofia’s outskirts didn’t look like much. However after 10 minutes of shocked silence and culture shock digestion things looked a bit better. In a way the dull light suited the flaking paint and crumbling [...]

Week 33: Norway in a Nutshell

– – From Bergen to Oslo we did the “Norway in a Nutshell” itinerary which was suggested to us by tourist information. There seems to be a variety of itineraries around Norway which consist of convenient transport connections that you can get information about and pre-book. First of all we took a train from Bergen [...]

Week 32: Finland, Sweden, Norway

– – From Helsinki I caught a bus to Turku, on the western coast. It’s Finland’s oldest town, founded as a Catholic settlement in 1229. I spent an afternoon wandering around Turku castle, built by the Swedish rulers at the mouth of the Aura River and intended as a military fortress. Construction started in 1280 [...]

Week 31: Finland

– – For someone who doesn’t usually do country hopping I’ve certainly been racking them up in the last little bit, and it won’t stop for another couple of weeks. I’m still in Finland but now in Turku, from where I will take the boat to Stockholm. Country number 5 in as many weeks and [...]

Week 30: Capital hopping

– – I finally left Riga for the “Switzerland of Latvia”, Sigulda. As nice a place as it was I would say that the label is a little generous. The autumn leaves were pretty though, and I had a great guide who I’d met at a couchsurfing meeting in Riga and who happened to be [...]

Week 29: Riga

– – A week later I’m still in Riga. The main thing keeping me busy here apart from the beautiful architecture has been a very active Couchsurfing community. I’ve only just started getting in to Couchsurfing lately and initially I thought of it mostly as a way to save money on accommodation. It’s so much [...]

Week 28: Off to Latvia

– – There are plenty of people killing time in Dushanbe and it’s a nice place to do nothing, if only because there’s not much to do. But not wanting to spend the week until I flew in Dushanbe I decided to head northwest to Penjikent. My main (only) reason for heading to Penjikent was [...]

Week 28: Riga rocks!

I'm in love. We're moving to Latvia. I arrived in Riga this morning and am blown away by how awesome it is. This is a bit of an irregular update and totally out of order because I haven't written about my last week in Tajikistan but I need to write about this. Even from the air it looked [...]

Week 27: Dushanbe

– – Two nights of luxurious accommodation in Dushanbe were enough for us (besides, it was sending our daily accommodation budget through the roof!) so we headed north. Our constantly changing plan eventually ended up with us hiring a taxi to take us to Iskander Kul, a lake in the Fan Mountains, then on to [...]

Week 26: 6 months!

– – After much charades and Pictionary action at the local taxi stand we managed to organise a car from Osh, Kyrgyzstan, to Murgab, Tajikistan. There wasn’t much in Murgab itself but the homestay we found was fantastic and we did a nice day hike up in the Pamir Mountains over Gumbezkul Pass. Overall the [...]

Week 25: Cruising Kyrgyzstan

– – While in Karakol we went to the Sunday animal market, Dungan mosque and Russian Orthodox Church. The animal market was a lot better than I expected, having just visited the Kashgar version. There were plenty of animals spread over a large area of squelchy mud due to recent rains. Possibly more interesting was [...]

Week 24: Yurts galore

– – From Beijing the train to Urumqi took 40 hours but the time passed relatively quickly thanks to a book and some entertaining compartment mates. In Urumqi I was met at the station by my couchsurfing host for my first couchsurfing experience. We went to lunch then headed to the police station to register [...]

Week 23: Kyrgyzstan

I made it to Urumqi, had an awesome time there with a couchsurfing host then flew to Kashgar which was as amazing as ever. Brett arrived, we got kicked out of our hotel because it was suddenly closed down, we ate ramadan food, went to the Sunday market and ate far too much watermelon. Now [...]

Weeks 20&21: About to leave

– – Well I’m still in Beijing, though I leave tonight on a 40 hour train to Urumq1. It’s a long way but at least I managed to get sleeper tickets; there was only seats left for the next 10 days so I waited until 7pm when the tickets for 11 days in advance went [...]

Weeks 18&19: Still in Beijing

Apologies to anyone who was waiting with bated breath for my weekly update last week but I’ve been a little tardy. Mainly because there’s not a lot in my day to day life at the moment that warrants blog space. I’ve been going to class, taking care of visas and passports and watching a lot [...]

Week 17: Hanging out

Nothing overly fascinating to report this week, or so I thought until I tried to post this update to find my website blocked. Yep, the government of China has taken offense at my personal travel blog. And I was starting to think that there was rhyme and reason to their blockage of sites. After all, sites [...]

Week 16: Back in the 'jing

Brett and I parted ways on Monday for the first time since we got married in March and he jetted off to Norway to work north of the Arctic Circle. It’s his first stint since December last year so we’ll be happy to get some inflow into the bank account again much as we'd prefer [...]

Week 15 Markets and Mayhem

– – It was hard to tear ourselves away from Kashgar, particularly our hotel room. We don’t often get attached to hotel rooms but this was a heart stealer – the perfect travel room. The location, staff, bed and shower were all perfect and it was also the cheapest room we’d had so far. But [...]

Week 14: Kashgar

– – On our last day in Turpan we headed to the Emin Minaret, built in 1777 by the head of the Turpan prefecture. The 37m high tower and accompanying building are constructed out of mud bricks and while you can get to the top of the building you can’t go inside the minaret. That [...]

Week 13: Going West

– – We tried to take care of a few things before leaving Beijing but were relatively unsuccessful. One pretty important thing we looked into was extending my Chinese visa to allow me to stay in China while Brett goes back to work. The longest visa I could get in Seoul was 30 days and [...]

Week 12: Bye bye Korea

– – We spent a little while longer on Jeju before waving goodbye to South Korea to land in Beijing. For two days we hiked along the Jeju Olle trail, a 12 day trail which follows the south coast of the island. It was nice to explore some of the less popular areas of the island and get away [...]

Week 11: To Jeju

– – From Suwon we headed to Jeonju, the birthplace of bibimbap (our staple dish of rice and vegetables in a big bowl) and the Joseon dynasty which ruled Korea from 1392-1910. We were in town to explore the hanok village, a historic neighbourhood of houses belonging to the yangban (aristocratic) class. Traditionally built using [...]

Week 10: People

– – On our final day in Seoul we went to the public memorial of Roh Moo-Hyun, the ex president who committed suicide last week. His body was brought from his hometown of Bongha to Seoul in the early hours of Friday May 29 and the funeral was held at Gyeongbokgung, a palace which was once the [...]

Week 9: DMZ

– – Today we went to the DMZ – the “demilitarised” zone separating North and South Korea and it was to much info to wait for my weekly update. When the Japanese surrendered in 1945 the Soviets accepted the surrender north of the 38th parallel and the American forces to the south. It was never meant to [...]

Week 9: Seoul

– – We’ve been in Seoul for just over a week and I’m not sure what I think of the place. I guess it’s hard to adjust to being in the big city after so long in the less populated areas (though we have also visited the 2nd and 3rd largest cities). The thing that’s [...]

Week 8: Submarines and waterfalls

– – We caught our first train in Korea to Jeongdongjin, a beach resort town where we stayed in a hotel overlooking the beach and the train station. Crowds of high school girls flocked to the station which apparently featured in episodes of a popular TV drama. They almost all had the same haircut – [...]

Week 7: Traditional Korea

– – After a full week in and around Gyeongju it was finally time to leave, but not before I headed back to Bulguksa temple to photograph it without the Buddha’s birthday crowds. We also visited the Gyeongju national museum which had plenty of fantastic artefacts including a dice used in ye olde drinking games [...]

Week 6: Gyeongju

– – After leaving the bustling city of Busan we headed to Yeonhwa Island, off Tong Yeong. It's a small island of fishermen and people who made money off the crowd of day trippers who seemed to arrive while we were out walking the island end to end. In the evenings it was nice and quiet [...]

Week 5: Bibimbap in Busan

– – We left Tokyo on a 33 hour ferry to Kita Kyushu in Western Japan. Combined with the ferry from Shimonoseki to Busan it was the cheapest way to get to Korea without taking a flight, and to be honest we both really enjoyed the trip. It was great to kick back, read and [...]

Week 4: Not a proper post

– – Already i've failed to keep up to date on my postings, not even a month in to our big trip and i'm already late! I have an excuse though, i've been without my laptop for the past half week or so because Brett and I headed off to do the Tanzawa traverse near [...]

Week 3: Temples, gardens and lakes

— — We spent a few more nights in Osaka including one at a capsule hotel so Brett could experience the uniquely Japanese experience of sleeping in a 1m x 1m x 2m box. We put our shoes in a shoe locker, squished our big bags into the not so big lockers and went to [...]

Week 2: Out in the country

– – After leaving the bustling city of Hiroshima we headed to Shikoku for some quiet time in the Iya Valley, a rural area in the east of Shikoku island. I’ve been there before on tours but this time we opted for a backpacker place, local transport and planned to do some hiking. Unfortunately the [...]

Week 1: Back in Japan

. . We left Australia just over a week ago and have dived right back into Japan. It’s good to be back with some time to explore together as previously I had work commitments. It’s also nice to be back for blossom season, when the first flowers of spring burst through the chilly air and [...]

Wedding

A few days ago Brett and I got married in Sydney on the most amazing day I’ve ever experienced. The weather was perfect, the company fun and (I think) a good time was had by all. Quite a few of Brett’s family made it out from the states to join us and it was nice [...]

Fiji

. . I've been in Fiji for the past week and a half, travelling with my sister (Erica) and her boyfriend (Adrian). We’ve spent some of our time hanging out in the numerous backpacker resorts but done our best to get out and actually see some of the country as well. It’s actually been quite [...]

Melbourne

i've been back in Sydney for more than 2 weeks now and am starting to settle in a bit more. having more time than my usual short holidays here means i actually get to spend some quality time hanging out with people which is nice. it's also given me time to work on organising my [...]

Autumn colours

In spring Japan goes mad for blossoms, in Autumn it's all about the turning of the leaves. There's an appreciation for the seasons here that i haven't really seen anywhere else. There is always seasonal decorations, seasonal food and ever things which can be made all year around (like peach flavoured kit kats or molasses [...]

Here's lookin' at you kid

Another entry from my life in Tokyo before i leave on my mad adventure. The other week i headed down to Tsukiji fish market on one of the first trains (4:30am wakeup i believe it was) to experience the hectic market for what may be the last time. I never did get around to buying [...]

and so it begins

Hello world! So, my first blog entry. This is where I introduce how amazingly interesting and fantabulously adventurous I am I guess… Well actually at the moment I’m feeling neither of the above and rather sheepish about my “grand” travel plans. Mainly after reading about the journeys taken by people like Alistair Humphreys who spent [...]