Notable Notes: 10 of Our Favorite Experiences So Far
1. Brazil v. Portugal World Cup Game
Seeing the Brazil v. Portugal game in Portugal was a hoot. We got there early so we had plenty of time to see the action unfold. People would not let other people sit next to them because they were rooting for the opposite team. The police had to be called because people were standing in front of other people who were sitting and they wouldn’t move. The game ended in a tie, which is probably the best, because a riot may have broken out otherwise. The fans all wore the team colors. There was a big screen in the middle of a plaza. It was so alive!
2. Seeing Mt. Everest
The whole hiking in the Himalayas experience was very cool. The views, the challenge, seeing the way the locals live: these were all highlights of the trip. However, being able to see the highest mountain in the world was something you just can’t parallel. It’s not the prettiest mountain, but it sure is tall!
3. Seeing Elephants and Lions
In both Namibia and South Africa, we went on a self drive safari. In both places we got to see so many cool animals! The best part was in Namibia when we went early in the morning, we saw a pride of about 7 lions, one mere feet from our car. There is nothing like seeing a lion in the wild. Watching it on the Discovery Channel is cool, but seeing it for real outside your window is…priceless.
It is overrun with tourists. Everything is overpriced. However, that pales to the beauty of the tiny streets, canals, boats, churches and grandiose squares filled with coffee shops and monuments. We wandered around Venice, got lost and found ourselves again so many times. It was great. There is a certain magic to this place. I would suggest, however, a trip in the spring or even winter, because without the crowds it must be even better!
5. Topless Sunbathing in France
Yes, I finally did it. I never had before. In Biarritz, we went to the beach and I decided that “when in Rome” and I threw off my top and lay on the beach like a local. It was liberating. It felt great.
6. Hitchhiking on an 18 Wheeler
Again, a first for me, and a good one. The guys that picked us up were nice. They bought us coffee because we hadn’t gotten a chance to get any local currency yet. They told us stories and pointed out elephants along the way. They let Big K drive the truck. They got us all the way from Zambia far into Namibia. What a ride!
7. Trekking in the Drakensburgs
Right next to Lesotho in South Africa is the Drakensburg range. These are the highest mountains around. We had a great few days hiking around, even when we took a wrong turn and went down instead of up and had to backtrack back up to get to where we wanted to go. We were there in August, which is a good time to be there, as it is Spring and the mountains are all still green. The views were spectacular and the hiking was just the right amount of difficulty.
8. Cape Town
This is one of those cities where you say, “I could live there”. It is surrounded by ocean and in the middle of the city is a mountain. You can go hiking, swimming and to your favorite coffee shop in town all on the same day. The setting is idyllic. Whatever you like, it is there. We liked it all.
9. Diving in the Red Sea
On the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, we went diving in the Red Sea. I had heard people say that this was some of the best diving in the world, and they were right. It is. The water is so clear and you can see forever. There are tons of fish and octopus and corals. It is absolutely gorgeous!
Out of all the countries, Albania was the most (pleasantly) surprising. They have mountains and beaches and ruins. The people are so friendly. The country is absolutely beautiful. To top it all off, it was much cheaper than most of Europe. We had planned on stopping on our way through to Croatia for just a few days and we ended up staying a week.
For more photos of these places, you can click on the links for each section or go to my RTW flickr page.