Sunday, 8 October 2017

Travelling for a year: an FAQ

In our favourite country, Greece
If you're like us, listening to your friends talking about their travels ranks up there with doing the ironing.

With this in mind, we have listed our answers below to the commonest questions we've been asked. It takes away any obligation you may feel to ask us about our travels when we next meet you. By then we'll be up to speed on the conversational zeitgeist of London house prices, GoT and the health benefits of fermentation. 

Where did you go and for how long?

In 12 months we drove as far eastwards as Armenia and flew as far as Myanmar. 26 countries in all. A bit messy. Hopefully the map helps:

Which were your favourite countries?

In rough order:
  • Greece - beautiful at every turn, with the advantage that we repeatedly recognised places from Jason & The Argonauts and 300
  • Georgia - endlessly interesting because the history is rich and you know so little of it, astounding food, ditto re Jason & The Argonauts
  • Ireland - the perfect touring destination, Skellig Michael, ludicrous friendliness and the best Guinness available
  • Albania - glorious mountains and beaches, bonkers relics of the former North Korea of Europe

Least favourite?

Northern India. The unique food and sights can't compensate for the unique filth and noise, and the feeling that it doesn't have to be like this. Sorry.

 What would you do differently next time?

Take a tougher camera and laptop. Pack less. Occasionally set up home somewhere for a month. Don't go to northern India.

Were you ever scared?

Jo isn't fond of heights, and there were several instances of them. Dave developed a fear of London, about which we kept reading terrible things.

Where was the best food?

For a vegetarian, Myanmar was great and easier to deal with than Thailand. The food in India didn't disappoint. But the delight was Georgia which has a cuisine all of its own including Dave's favourite: Fried Aubergine Slices wrapped around Hazelnut & Garlic Paté.

Where did you stay?

Once, sustained by the prospect of two nights in a five-star hotel at the end, we camped for 26 days in a row. Otherwise we were mostly in Airbnbs or cheap hotels which were a flea's jump from backpackers'. It weren't luxury.

Did you have an epiphany?

Several. In order of significance:

  1. No country has yet worked out how to clean up after doing a Number Two. The water hose/pipe attached to eastern loos - how to put this? - dissolves but lacks the bulk removal facility. But then it dawned on us that Western loo paper doesn't do the dissolving. The squirty/blowy Japanese seat is scary because it's powered by mains electricity. We are hoping James Dyson is working on this.
  2. Everyone our age in most countries had lived through a horrible war. We are lucky.
  3. The UK is staggeringly wealthy and safe. This is not normal. Ditto.
  4. We realised we didn't want to live in London any more!

Did you get ill?

Dave had a fairly spectacular episode in a restaurant in Yangon, his big toenail fell off (the two are not related) and he cricked his back for a month in India. Jo sailed on with her cross-Viking/Hebridean super-genes.

Did you fall out with each other?

In a year, only three occasions that we can recall. No deliberate blows.

What was your best bit of travelling kit?

It's a toss-up between Google Maps and Laser Lite® LL1 ear plugs. On balance, the ear plugs.

Would you recommend others to do the same trip?

There's a masochistic side to this kind of travel and it doesn't suit most people. The Taj Mahal and Abu Simbel are one thing. Physical discomfort, long stretches of not being able to have a decent conversation with anyone (aside from each other but, y'know...), and constant surprises - not always welcome - are another. Add to that a giant collapse of income. You probably need to present the downsides first.

Why was there no blog post about the Brittany festival and Ireland?

It's no reflection on either. We just ran out of steam on this blog.

Are you going to send Nellie to the scrapheap now?

No! Especially as we've just spent a grand replacing some big grindy things underneath. Dave continues his endless war on the rust.

What are you going to do now?

Live in Wales for a while and get a job while we establish a long-term plan *cough*. Luckily for us, we quite enjoy change.

And finally, to save you from ploughing through all 4,500 of them, here are our top 50 photos

Phew. Excellent. See you in the pub.

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