Archive for ‘Travel Tips’

April 10, 2012

Greatest Hits

by Johnny

Whenever we talk to people about our trip, the first question that always gets asked is, “So, what’s been your favorite place?”  I’m sure we’ll get this question a ton once we get back (which is just fine with us…we love talking about our trip).  It’s just that it’s such a hard question to answer.  Literally every single place we visited offered up something unique and special which made it worth traveling to.  That said, we tried to rank some of our favorite places in various categories (a fun little exercise to help pass the time on long travel days).  But before our rankings, here are some of our favorite, most memorable experiences from our 320-day, round-the-world adventure (these were too hard to rank, so they’re in chronological order):

Without further ado, here are our rankings…or at least as they stand on April 9, 2012 during our 5-hour layover in Seoul, South Korea:

Favorite Major City?
Johnny:
1. Istanbul, Turkey
2. Paris, France
3. Rome, Italy
4. Melbourne, Australia
5. Cape Town, South Africa
Anna:
1. Rome, Italy
2. Paris, France
3. Istanbul, Turkey
4. Barcelona, Spain
5. Cape Town, South Africa
Favorite Mid-Sized City?
Johnny:
1. Venice, Italy
2. San Sebastian, Spain
3. Avignon, France
4. Sevilla, Spain
5. Queenstown, New Zealand
Anna:
1. Venice, Italy
2. Avignon, France
3. San Sebastian, Spain
4. Dubrovnik, Croatia
5. Verona, Italy
Favorite Village/Small Town?
Johnny:
1. Luang Prabang, Laos
2. Göreme, Turkey
3. San Gimignano, Italy
4. Uzès, France
5. Ronda, Spain
Anna:
1. Luang Prabang, Laos
2. San Gimignano, Italy
3. Uzès, France
4. Hvar, Croatia
5. Göreme, Turkey
Favorite Beach?
Johnny:
1. Mawun Beach, Lombok, Indonesia
2. Thong Nai Pan Yai, Koh Phangan, Thailand
3. Lombarda, Korcula, Croatia
4. Playa de la Concha, San Sebastian, Spain
5. Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia
Anna:
1. Thong Nai Pan Yai, Koh Phangan, Thailand
2. Mawun Beach, Lombok, Indonesia
3. Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia
4. Sète, France
5. Playa de la Concha, San Sebastian, Spain
Favorite Accommodation? (These aren’t necessarily the nicest places we stayed, but are the places that had the most character, friendliest owners, best vibes, etc.)
Johnny:
1. CS Solar da Rede, Douro Valley, Portugal
2. Ca’ Venexiana, Venice, Italy
3. Private Apartment, Avignon, France
4. Poplar Tree Lodge, Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
5. Arch Palace Hotel, Göreme, Turkey
6. Baan Rim Nam, Koh Chang, Thailand
7. MotherHome Guesthouse, Siem Ream, Cambodia
8. 9 on Heron, Knysna, South Africa
9. Nirwa Homestay, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
10. Villa Chitdara 2 Guesthouse, Luang Prabang, Laos
Anna:
1. CS Solar da Rede, Douro Valley, Portugal
2. Ca’ Venexiana, Venice, Italy
3. Private Apartment, Avignon, France
4. Doctor’s Retreat, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
5. Baan Rim Nam, Koh Chang, Thailand
6. Villa Depolo, Korcula, Croatia
7. Dreamland Resort, Thong Nai Pan Yai, Koh Phangan, Thailand
8. Biba Beach, Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia
9. Matisse Apartment, Uzès, France
10. St. Leonards, Blenheim, New Zealand
Favorite Country for Food?
Johnny:
1. Italy
2. France
3. Thailand
4. Spain
5. Vietnam
Anna:
1. Italy
2. Thailand
3. France
4. Spain
5. Turkey
Favorite Market?
Johnny:
1. Neighbourgoods Market, Cape Town, South Africa
2. Les Halles, Avignon, France
3. Night Market, Luang Prabang, Laos
4. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
5. Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona, Spain
Anna:
1. Neighbourgoods Market, Cape Town, South Africa
2. Night Market, Luang Prabang, Laos
3. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey
4. Les Halles, Avignon, France
5. Psar Chaa, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Favorite Restaurant? (Taking into consideration both food and atmosphere)
Johnny:
1. Konobo Dionis, Pakleni Islands, Croatia
2. Les Papilles, Paris, France
3. Ristoranta La Vista, Varenna, Italy
4. A Travessa, Lisbon, Portugal
5. Phakdee Bakery, Luang Prabang, Laos
6. Sapa Rooms, Sapa, Vietnam
7. La Castellana, Montefioralle, Italy
8. Cafe Safak, Göreme, Turkey
9. Eslava, Sevilla, Spain
10. Vegie Bar, Melbourne, Australia
Anna:
1. Konobo Dionis, Pakleni Islands, Croatia
2. Les Papilles, Paris, France
3. Ristoranta La Vista, Varenna, Italy
4. A Travessa, Lisbon, Portugal
5. Bar Goiz Argi, San Sebastian, Spain
6. Longtail Beach Resort, Thong Nai Pan Yai, Koh Phangan, Thailand
7. Phakdee Bakery, Luang Prabang, Laos
8. Sari Organik, Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
9. Amisfield Winery & Bistro, Queenstown, New Zealand
10. Olympia Cafe, Kalk Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
Favorite Wine Region?
Johnny:
1. Douro Valley, Portugal
2. Provence, France
3. Tuscany, Italy
4. Franschhoek, South Africa
5. Central Otago, New Zealand
Anna:
1. Douro Valley, Portugal
2. Tuscany, Italy
3. Provence, France
4. Franschhoek, South Africa
5. Hvar, Croatia
Favorite Natural/Scenic Wonder?
Johnny:
1. Mawun Beach, Lombok, Indonesia
2. Milford Sound, New Zealand
3. Cappadocia, Turkey
4. Drakensberg, South Africa
5. Pakleni Islands, Croatia
6. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
7. Cape Peninsula, South Africa
8. Routeburn Track, New Zealand
9. Muang Ngoi, Laos
10. Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia
Anna:
1. Cappadocia, Turkey
2. Milford Sound, New Zealand
3. Cape Peninsula, South Africa
4. Kruger National Park, South Africa
5. Ha Long Bay, Vietnam
6. Drakensberg, South Africa
7. Lake Bled and Julian Alps, Slovenia
8. Jatiluwih Rice Terraces, Bali, Indonesia
9. Stari Grad Plain, Hvar, Croatia
10. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Favorite Monument/Museum/Man-Made Wonder?
Johnny:
1. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
2. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
3. Puente Nuevo, Ronda, Spain
4. Real Alcazar, Sevilla, Spain
5. Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
6. Pena National Palace, Sintra, Portugal
7. Duomo di Siena, Siena, Italy
8. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
9. Ephesus, Turkey
10. Versailles, France
Anna:
1. Real Alcazar, Sevilla, Spain
2. Temples of Angkor, Cambodia
3. Pantheon, Rome, Italy
4. Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
5. Pena National Palace, Sintra, Portugal
6. Ephesus, Turkey
7. Puente Nuevo, Ronda, Spain
8. Versailles Gardens, France
9. Duomo di Siena, Siena, Italy
10. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
Country with the Friendliest People?
Johnny:
1. Turkey
2. Croatia
3. Bali
4. New Zealand
5. Laos
Anna:
1. Turkey
2. Thailand
3. Croatia
4. Bali
5. Laos
If we could snap our fingers and be back in any one place we visited, where would it be? (This could be a good way to gauge our “favorite” place, although the list will probably be different if you ask us next week)
Johnny:
1. Korcula, Croatia
2. Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey
3. Kruger National Park, South Africa
4. Venice, Italy
5. Luang Prabang, Laos
6. Istanbul, Turkey
7. San Sebastian, Spain
8. Paris, France
9. Thong Nai Pan Yai, Koh Phangan, Thailand
10. Queenstown, New Zealand
Anna:
1. Croatian Islands (Hvar and Korcula)
2. Thong Nai Pan Yai, Koh Phangan, Thailand
3. San Gimignano, Italy
4. Venice, Italy
5. Sète, France
6. Luang Prabang, Laos
7. Lake Bled, Slovenia
8. San Sebastian, Spain
9. Douro Valley, Portugal
10. Gili Air, Lombok, Indonesia
Country we most want to visit next?
Johnny:
1. Colombia
2. Chile
3. Nepal
4. India
5. Norway
Anna:
1. Chile
2. Peru
3. Norway
4. Japan
5. India
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March 23, 2012

Renwick, NZ to Ubud, Bali; The Road Less Traveled

by Anna

Over the past 10 months we’ve been faced with many daunting travel days. In the end, no matter how bad and exhausting they are, they are always worth the reward of arriving in a new country or at our next destination. We recently had one of our most challenging travel stints yet, from Renwick, New Zealand to Ubud, Bali (obviously not the most popular or often traveled route!). Luckily Johnny has mastered the art of travel planning and figured out how to get us to our final destination, Indonesia.

Day 1 started at Windsong Orchard, where we cleaned up the Blueberry Cottage, said goodbye to Bob and Jennie, and walked down the road to the bus stop. We hopped on the 9:55am bus for a 20 minute ride to Blenheim, where we switched to another bus headed to Christchurch. After another 4-hour ride, we arrived at a makeshift bus station in Christchurch (the original station is in the closed off part of the city that is still in ruins from the earthquake). Since we were lugging around our wheelie beasts and because it was cold and drizzling, we didn’t spend any time in Christchurch and found a cab to the airport. We had a lovely 14 hour wait from 4pm-6am at the airport where we attempted to sleep on the cold, hard ground in the arrivals terminal (sleeping at the airport was not as fun of an adventure as I thought it would be!).

Finally at 6:00am we were on our 3 hour flight to Sydney, Australia. After a 4 hour layover and some breakfast at the Sydney airport, we were on our final 5 1/2 hour flight to Denpasar, Bali. Upon arrival to Denpasar we were picked up by our guesthouse owner’s nephew and because of the rain, ceremonial processions passing by and traffic, it took us another 2 hours to get to Ubud (at least we got to see a little bit of beautiful Bali along the way!). Made, the owner of our guesthouse, met us in Ubud with a big smile and helped us traverse a small path along a river through the rice paddies to get to our new home. The view immediately made our exhausting two days worthwhile!

The moral of my story? Travel isn’t always easy, but (for the most part) it is always rewarding!

If you’re going to be stuck at the airport for 14 hours, you might as well eat nachos!
“Les Mis” trying to sleep at the airport Fellow sleeping friends
Goodbye Australia!
Hello Bali! (Procession along the road by the airport) The view from our room made the long trip worth it!