April 17, 2013 § 2 Comments
Taking the year off to travel through South America and Eastern Europe was everything we’d hoped for. We came back feeling refreshed with new world outlooks and altered life perspectives.
But then we thought, there’s no reason that once-in-a-lifetime experience has to happen only once. So now, a year-and-a-half after returning to America, we’re at it again!
This time the plan is to spend 6 months backpacking through China and Russia. We’ll likely circle China in a roughly clockwise fashion, pass up through Mongolia, and take the trans-siberian railway west across Russia. Why pick those two countries? First, we haven’t been to either before. Second, they are both huge areas (together they comprise 18% of the world’s land mass) that require significant time if wanting to explore beyond the major cities. Third, due to the unrecognizable characters of both languages and the likely lack of foreign travelers through the more remote regions, we’re upping the challenge on ourselves.
We arrived in Shanghai yesterday. Will keep you posted!
-Joe and Kasey
September 6, 2011 § 2 Comments
Krakow, Poland is the kind of city that makes me jealous of Europeans. An ideal long weekend trip, it’s not fair they can simply hop over to a nearby country that is worlds away culturally. It became one of our longest stays – 4 nights in one place! The draws for us were its charming Old Town, Jewish history, and free stuff!
August 26, 2011 § 4 Comments
When we first told people we planned to visit Eastern Europe, reactions were mixed. Some questioned why we would want to visit “a bunch of war-torn countries with bullet holes everywhere”. Coming to Bosnia was just that – our opportunity to see those bullet holes, but also to see beyond the limited view we had from the media snippets in the 90s. As we were in junior high during the Bosnian War, we had little recollection of what happened. Even hearing the events firsthand from people who lived it was confusing at first, trying to piece together the many interests at stake. The Orthodox Serbs fought to hold the crumbling nations together for Greater Serbia. The Catholic Croats partaking in the land grab to establish their new post-Yugoslavia state. The Muslim Bosniaks quite literally caught in the middle being pushed from all sides. Visiting the actual sites of the events, getting to know the people, seeing the more beautiful parts of the country made our week in the Bosnian cities of Mostar and Sarajevo a living learning experience.
July 26, 2011 § 1 Comment
The classic 4-day hike through the jungles of Peru follows a trail originally created by the Incas 500 years ago. The trek isn’t easy. Aside from walking 6-8 hours per day and sleeping in tents, it involves multi-hour-long stretches of continuous uphill steps, scary cliff-side paths, and a constant battle with shortness of breath and headaches due to the 13,000 ft altitude. Days on the trail may be wet and slippery, nights in the tent are freezing, and you are cut off from modern conveniences like running water and electricity. But you eat well, see amazing scenery, and on the final day you cross through the last mountain pass and behold the lost city of Machu Picchu.
July 14, 2011 § 3 Comments
Joe and I heard about the 10-day Vipassana meditation course while we were working on the farm in Ecuador from one of the other volunteers. We were told they had sessions all over the world and they were completely free. Intrigued, we did some research into the organization and checked the worldwide schedule. When else in our lives would we have the “opportunity” to sit for such a long period? The $0 fee for food, lodging, and instruction and the idea of staying in one place for awhile were attractive propositions as well. The dates for the Serbia course coincided with our travel, so we headed off with visions of cults and drinking the kool-aid in our heads.
July 3, 2011 § 1 Comment
On the train crossing the border from Serbia to Romania, a crew of police officers came on board carrying large screwdrivers. They asked me to leave my compartment after which they closed the curtains and proceeded to hack away with their tools searching every nook and cranny inside. I assumed they were looking for drugs being smuggled across the border. 5 minutes later they were still there and I nervously wondered if they might plant drugs in my compartment and try to elicit a bribe. « Read the rest of this entry »
June 27, 2011 § Leave a comment
Argentina is world famous for wine, and if you visit the country’s biggest wine region in Mendoza a wine-tasting tour is a must-do. You have three options: 1) pay $150 for a fully guided tour via private car spanning several top wineries; 2) for $50 forego the guide and instead winery-hop in a hired taxi for the day; 3) rent a bicycle from Mr. Hugo for $10 and pedal between wineries. We of course recommend the bicycle option.