Letter by letter here it goes…HoneyTrek’s A-B-Cs of travel.
A.) Age you went on your first international trip
Anne: Tokyo, age 7. My dad was living there indefinitely for work so we went to scout homes and schools so our whole family could be together. Sadly the big move didn’t work out, but I did become proficient with chopsticks at a very young age.
Mike: Bermuda, age 8. My father was helping open a resort there, so I went down for a weeks to see what island-life is all about. Lots of crabs, coconuts and afternoons on the beach with Dad, it was memorable!
Both: Homemade Chicha. Peru’s bathtub variety of beer made from corn and who knows what, to be shared with friends generally out of the same mug dancing in the middle of the street.
C.) Cuisine (favorite)
Both: Thai food. Even though we have yet to taste it from the motherland, it is so amazing in New York City, that it has to be amazing in Bangkok! We can’t wait to dig in when we arrive this December.
D.) Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why
Mike: Favorite so far on our RTW, even though it was a bit touristy, is Patagonia. We loved that you could still get off the track and the jagged mountains, craggy glaciers, and wild penguins made it one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever experienced.
Anne: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile is a new fave. I have never seen such extreme contrasts in one swath of land–the driest desert in the world, covered with miles of salt flats, dotted with turquoise ponds, surrounded by volcanoes, and centered in this funky adobe village.
(Both) Least Favorite: The chapa vans of Mozambique, packed to the gills with ten people per every row of four seats (granted six of them were children, but still!) riding along the very bumpy, windy, and unpaved roads.
Mike: Seeing a leopard haul a 175lb-kudu up into a tree then watching him carefully reposition it after every few bites so it wouldn’t fall down to the hyaenas anxiously waiting below.
Anne: Sunrise at Purmamarca, Argentina and its Mountain of Seven Colors. We hiked to the hill across from town, when the layers of pink, green, gray, purple, tan, white, and red rock were still in the night shadow, then the sunlight slowly worked its way across the mountain, illuminating each layer one by one to become the richest, most vibrant sight.
Both: Our favorite mode of transport has to be buses. On the chicken buses, you get to meet amazing locals and on the long-haul buses you get lots of blogging done and save on a night’s lodging!
G.) Greatest feeling while traveling
Mike: Being able to experience the most interesting places in the world…with the most amazing person in the world.
Anne: To have the freedom and flexibility to do what makes us happy.
Mike: Rio de Janiero wearing a full chicken costume during Carnaval. Shoulder to shoulder with a thousands of other costume-clad partiers, dancing up the hill in the beating sun after an all-nighter, we nearly passed out mid-parade.
Anne: New Delhi, India. When wearing a floor-length skirt is a part of the dress code, it was like I was steaming myself to death.
Mike: While in Chile’s Atacama Desert, we had the amazing opportunity to stay at the Relais & Chateaux Awasi resort. Built in the ancient adobe style with amazing attention to detail, Awasi took great service to new heights. Upon arriving we were given an expert guide, 4×4 vehicle and private driver, and a list of local adventures to choose from—horseback riding through the desert, sunrise breakfast at the geysers, stargazing with an astronomer, bike riding to the salt ponds, or really anything you could dream up. Plus, there was always a wine glass at the ready when we walked through the door, our hiking shoes cleaned every evening, and our bed was turned down with a bedtime story and gourmet treat each night. We were SO spoiled.
Anne: Tongabezi Lodge in Livingstone, Zambia. For starters, we had a personal valet for any need imagined (if that’s not service, we don’t what is), but it was the constant element of surprise and surpassing of expectation that made Tongabezi so incredible. For example, we went for a kayak trip and picnic and assumed we were having turkey sandwiches on a checkered blanket—no, no. It was a proper sit-down lunch, served by three staff members who had rowed to the island in advance to set up a romantic three-course meal.
Both: A four-day, 19-leg trip from Mozambique to Tanzania by minivan, pickup truck, ferry, rowboat, bus, dhow, taxi and the back of an 18-wheeler (see photo above). When we Google Mapped the trip we were confused when it said go from the coast of Mozambique due west to Malawi then up and back over to the coast of Tanzania. We later realized this is because 75% of the roads on this route are dirt and the border crossing is done by a wooden boat through a hippo-infested river. They said it wasn’t possible but with the enough time, a sense of humor, and a whole lot of nerve, we did it.
K.) Keepsake from your travels
Mike: A miner’s light from Potosi, Bolivia where I spent the day with local miners working with dynamite, exploring their spaghetti-like network of tunnels, and hearing the harrowing stories of friends they had lost.
Anne: A blowdart gun our Amazon guide and the two of us made out of bamboo, tree gum, and needle-like sticks. Normally I wouldn’t choose a blowdart gun, but to make something this elaborate using just the nature around us was a powerful thing.
L.) Let-down sight
Both: We have not had many let-downs on our trip thus far, so we will have to dig deep for this one….we would say the fact that South America as a whole was so developed. We were expecting chicken buses at every turn, jungle passes with washed out roads, and meat grilled on top of a shopping cart. Note: we still managed to find all of the above with a little work.
M.) Moment where you fell in love with travel
Anne: The summer after 9th grade when I lived with a family on a coffee plantation outside of Alajuela, Costa Rica. This forever morphed a desire to be a vacationer into becoming a traveler. Integrating myself into a new culture, language, and way of life opened my eyes and has kept me on the move.
Mike: My love of travel has been a long time in the making. It started with my parents regaling me with stories from their 20s and 30s traveling Europe, and continued with photos and memories of my grandmother traveling Asia on a solo RTW at 75-years old.
Both: We spent three days in heaven at Entre Cielos in Mendoza, Argentina. It was a modern-tree house suite, literally hovering above the vineyards. Layer in the most amazing wine, food, and a three-hour spa treatment at their hamam and you get absolute bliss.
Mike: I’m obsessed with taking photos of flowers everywhere we go, and it is a running joke that I try to slip one into every blog we publish. Another interesting thing we photograph at every chance is “found hearts,” be it in a rock formation, seashell, or fence (blog post on those coming soon!).
Anne: I’m a design nut so I’m always looking for interesting architectural details.
P.) Passport stamps
Countries we’ve both visited: India, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, England, Greece, Switzerland, Mexico, Cuba (shady temporary Visa, no stamp), Belize, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Jamaica, Bermuda, Canada, South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya.
Just Anne:Japan, China, Costa Rica, Belgium, Czech Republic, and Austria
Just Mike:Columbia, Germany, and Bermuda
Q. Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited
Both: Ernest Shirley’s Rock Shop and dinosaur museum in the 100-person town of Hanksville, Utah. Old Mr. Shirley just started collecting rocks and fossils around his home’s surrounding canyons–which happened to be a prehistoric hotbed. His backyard was filled with piles of petrified dino poop and his garage had a T-Rex femur that the Museum of Natural History would kill for!
Mike: Experience – hiking on a glacier might just change your life. You learn a strong respect for mother nature, as it grips your life in its icy hands. Glaciers hold a sense of adventure unlike any hike on terra firma.
Anne: African safari. To be up feet away from a family of elephants, a cheetah scouting his next kill, a litter of lion cubs, or any of the infinite wonders that lie in the savanna is an experience that takes your breath away.
S.) Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling
Both: Splurging on the things you’d be hard pressed to experience in any other part of the world (hiking the Inca Trail, a boat ride to the Ushuaia penguin colony, a game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater etc.). Our travels take us to so many far-flung places, so when something unique presents itself we pull the trigger.
T.) Touristy thing you’ve done
Both: Carnival in Rio, Iguazu Falls, and Machu Picchu….and we wouldn’t trade a single one of them. Sometimes places are so extraordinary that you have to join in with the masses.
Mike: Visiting a Masaai village in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. Being invited into their mud homes, watching them prepare cow’s blood for breakfast, learning how to make spears for the ceremonial lion hunt… their ability to survive in the raw elements with only what nature provides left us totally in awe.
Anne: Getting pulled out of our car by a band of elderly dancing Peruvians to join in the local festivities. They had us all holding hands doing a communal jig, drinking homemade brew out of a shared mug, and tempting us to stay the night in one of their living rooms.
Both: Cuba, India, Brazil, Bolivia, Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Kenya
W.) Wine, best glass while traveling
Mike: – Colomé 2008 Torrontés – Mendoza, Argentina (If you ever see this crisp white wine for sale in your local bodega, trust us and buy it.)
Anne: Steenberg Nebbiolo 2010, Constantia, South Africa (this delicious red comes from one of the oldest and most beautiful farms on the Cape!)
Mike: “City of Rocks” on the three-day off-road trip from San Pedro de Atacama Chile to Uyuni, Bolivia. When you book your overland trip, confirm that you will be stopping at this little promoted location, which was by far the most amazing part of the entire trip for me (and that is saying a lot, as the rest of the journey was ludicrously beautiful).
Anne: Room #3 at Hostel Oriental, Ilha Grande, Brazil. After climbing up two sets of ladders in this towering shanty structure, you arrive to this three “walled” room made of a rock face, a curtain, stacks of surfboards, and the forth is replaced by an open air view across the mountainous flower-covered island out to the turquoise sea.
Y.) Years spent traveling
Both: Travel has been a constant throughout our lives. As many of you know, we are on a 675-day honeymoon around the world. We started in January of 2012 and told our families (and renters) we’d be back to the U.S. in July of 2013…no promises.
Z.) Zealous sports fans
Both: Futbol in Rio de Janiero. We had just watched the first half of the Flamengo vs. Resende soccer match and with the score tied 0-0, we decided to go to the roof deck for dinner. About a half an hour later, having nearly forgotten about the game, we heard … GGOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!! … in perfect Brazilian stereo from hundreds of open windows glowing across the hillside of Santa Teresa. All of Rio stopped to cheer for their team. Moments like that make you realize, even in a country as diverse as Brazil, how unifying a sport can be.
There you have it! From A-Z, those are some highlights from our eight months traveling from South America to Africa mixed with a few tidbits from our 30+ years on this earth. We hope some of the stories and photos above make you want to step out of the office and onto the open road!
Now it’s our turn to tag a few great travelers for future ABCs of Travel interviews! Up next?….drum roll….
– @Positiveworldtravel. The Australian couple Ant and Elise who traded their mortgage savings for the valuable life experience of traveling the world…indefinitely.
– @2Travelaholics . A pair of newlyweds from the States who just started their RTW this summer. Is there a better way to use those wedding checks?
– @2People1Life. A couple on a two-year wedding journey, seeking the most intriguing places with the most inspiring traditions to exchange their vows and ultimately find their perfect place to permanently tie the knot.
– @RTWsomanyplaces – Kim Dinan. An amazing traveler who is going to drive the length of India in a three-wheeled rickshaw with two other people that she has never met before. Talk about going for it!
TAG — You’re it!!!