We just reached a big milestone this past week. After our great trip to Sri Lanka, we’ve now visited 50 countries in our lifetime! Woohoo! According to the United Nations there are 193 member states, and although that list doesn’t necessarily represent all the “countries” in the world, we’ll use it. Looks like we still have lots more places left to explore! Yay!
So we’ve been reminiscing about our favorite – or most poignant memories from each country, and thought you might enjoy them. Here are the first 25:
1. Austria. “I’m embarrassed to admit that my main reason for going to Vienna was to fulfill a childhood dream of seeing the Lipizzaner stallions perform … only to discover that they were on tour … in America! I finally got to see them a few years later … in Florida, of all places!” Terri
2. Belgium. We’d been on the road for weeks, Eurailing around Europe when we discovered Bruges – a small, quaint, charming village. Just what we needed! We stayed in a garage apartment for a week, rented bikes, and learned every road in town.
3. Belize. “Nice country, but I got so sick I nearly died … literally. I was monitoring a geophysical seismic crew in the jungle in the far north of the country, caught some weird bug, and spent a week in the hospital with a mystery illness that is undiagnosed to this day!” P.S. UPDATE : After being diagnosed with dengue fever on our most recent RTW, a test revealed that I had contracted it before … and this was my mysterious Belizean disease. Also the round in Belize was hemorrhagic dengue. No wonder I almost died. ~James
4. Bosnia. We went there on a whim from Croatia! James was looking at the map and said, “Hey, we’re only 75 miles from the border!” It was interesting in an eye-opening and sobering way. It falls in the category of “we don’t need to go back, but we’re glad we went”. Their war, like all wars, was senseless, incredibly destructive, and the impacts will linger for years.
5. Canada. If there’s a bumper sticker “Canada is for Campers!” then we need it. We’ve camped from one end of Canada to the other, pitching our tent from Victoria, British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
6. China. Experiencing the Great Wall was a rush in so many ways! We nearly got pushed over the edge by the crowd when the path narrowed.
7. Colombia. “Although the country is gorgeous, traveling there on business to Bogota and the Magdalena Valley was a risky proposition, so I usually had a bodyguard. On the lighter side, a gracious dinner party host gave me her Grandmother’s recipe for huminta (corn soufflé) that we still make today!” James
8. Costa Rica. Absolutely great – a natural wonderland. Gliding through the rainforest on a tree-top gondola, we were awestruck by the beauty.
9. Croatia. “I was totally gobsmacked by Dubrovnik. I’d never seen stone streets so worn by foot traffic that they appeared polished!” Terri
10. Cyprus. “Nearly walking across the Green Line … without realizing it!” James
11. Czech Republic. We bought a “January Deal” to Prague and nearly froze. And the amazing thing was that the Castle, though beautiful, was even colder on the inside! Absolutely loved the city, but want to try it again once it thaws!
12. Denmark. “Copenhagen was a haven! I’d been out in the freezing North Sea on a seismic boat for a month when we finally docked. Dry land never looked so good. I headed straight for Copenhagen and a bed that didn’t move!” James
13. Egypt. “As a kid I always wanted to be an archaeologist. After our life in Sudan and exposure to some of the earliest pyramids in Meroe, I couldn’t wait to see their cousins in Cairo, then explore the wonders of Luxor. It didn’t disappoint.” Terri
14. Finland. On a whim one January, while staying in Stockholm, Sweden, we took a weekend cruise on “The Cinderella” to Helsinki! It’s the only cruise we’ve ever taken! When we set foot in Helsinki it was incredibly cold, so we scurried around town, seeing the sights. But just as our tolerance for the cold was at an end, we were drawn by the sound of music to Temppeliaukio – a church carved out of bedrock with a copper dome roof. It’s a favorite concert venue because the acoustics are so good. The music was sublime … and there was heat! It was one of those magical moments you never forget.
15. France. “I’m a lover of all things French. In addition to the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries at Musée de Cluny, I really wanted to see the legendary Gothic Church Sainte-Chapell on Ile de la Cite in Paris. Nothing prepared me for the luminous, soaring, stained glass chapel that appears almost weightless. I was so articulate I couldn’t stop saying, “Oh wow … Oh wow!” Terri
16. Germany. We lived in Berlin, and remember the first time we took the tram through former East Berlin – the remnants of the Wall and bullet-riddled buildings brought to life events we had only seen on the news. And of course there’s WWII and the Nazis … sad beyond words. This was our first encounter with “real history”.
17. Greece. “Visiting Santorini was a long-term dream come true after falling in love with it … in Dallas!” Terri
18. Hungary. We went to Budapest just as communism was thawing and capitalism was a young experiment. Our favorite memory is of the “lace ladies” who stood along all public sidewalks, displaying their wares in their hands, only to sit down abruptly when they sensed “the law” was nearby.
19. Iceland. It’s got to be the creative use of corrugated metal. And since it was the first stop on our second RTW, all things were possible.
20. India. “The scariest thing we’ve ever done was go on a Tiger Safari in Ranthambore National Park (in an open-top jeep). We had a good safari and were lucky to spot a few of the elusive cats, but as the sun was setting, the driver got lost! He couldn’t find his way out of the Tiger Preserve. As night descended, he drove in circles, and our situation became more dire. Incredibly, James had paid attention to the stars the previous night and managed to navigate our way out by the stars. My Hero!” Terri
21. Indonesia. Bali knocked our socks off – particularly Ubud. “The elegant simplicity of everyday life is stunning. From the grand scale of the terraced rice patties to the tiny food offerings placed on sidewalks each day. These little ‘canang sari’ usually consist of rice and flowers in hand-woven palm baskets. They’re a Hindu ritual of giving back what has been given to you by the gods … so we learned – don’t step on them!” Terri
22. Ireland. We were living and working in London, and needed to take a break to clear our heads, so we went to Dublin to see the stunning Book of Kells. That’s where we made the life-changing decision to leave our jobs in London and return to the US.
23. Italy. “The Cinque Terre is an awesome hiking path along the rocky Mediterranean coast that passes through five stunning villages. On our trek, some parts of the path were supposedly closed off with tall fences, but you know that never stops us. We scaled the fences and relished the hike. It was absolutely worth it.” Terri
24. Jordan. Petra – every inch of it! ‘Nuf said.
25. Kenya. We were on our way back to our home in Khartoum, Sudan after a Christmas visit to our families in the States. On a whim, we decided to take a side trip to Kenya. We inquired at our Nairobi hotel about arranging a safari, and the next day we were in a jeep on our way to a camp. This tent was our home for the next week of one of the most incredible adventures of our lives.
Peace and Love,
Terri and James