Liechtenstein / Luxembourg / Malaysia / Malta / Mexico / Monaco / Morocco / Nepal / Netherlands / Norway / Peru / Portugal / Singapore / Slovenia / Spain / Sri Lanka / Sudan / Sweden / Switzerland / Thailand / Travel Tales / Tunisia / Turkey / United Arab Emirates / United Kingdom / USA

Celebrating 50 Countries … Part II

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At the end of our first 25 countries we left
you in our safari tent in Kenya …

Here are the final 25 countries.

26. Liechtenstein. We can honestly say that Liechtenstein is our only “notch on the belt” country! We were traveling by train on a Eurail Pass from Austria to Switzerland and realized the train would pass right through tiny Liechtenstein – all 5.9 miles of track! James said, “You wanna stop?” I said, “Sure!” So we hopped off at the stop in Schaan, took a taxi to Vaduz (the capital), checked out the castle, ate some wiener schnitzel, spent the night, then continued on to our original destination.

27. Luxembourg. “We went to Vianden because we’d heard it was fairy-tale gorgeous – and it was. But we soon realized that the main attraction was the food – a blend of French and German cooking. What’s not to like? Their tasty national dish combines pork, cream, and potatoes! This southern girl was in heaven.” Terri

28. Malaysia. Our favorite place in Malaysia is Penang. It has a very beachy, laid back feel and some great old British Colonial architecture. It’s also a real melting pot of ethnic cuisines, so the food is to die for.

29. Malta. We’d read about the famous “boneshaker buses,” but until you’ve gone around the island in one, you haven’t lived! Malta was a Knights Templar stronghold, so we learned a lot of their history here. Also, the movie “Gladiator” had just finished filming, and Oliver Reed drank himself to death. And finally, in Malta, we learned a valuable lesson the very hard way: No matter how cheap, never, ever, buy a “package holiday.”

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30. Mexico. One of the largest cities in the world is Mexico City – and it feels like it! This was where we started an all-time-favorite bus trip – which was a total surprise. The bus traveled over the mountains into Oaxaca, and had video (mostly cartoons), dubbed in Spanish. We still laugh today about cruising through the mountains watching Disney’s “Goofy Dos!”

31. Monaco. It’s perched on the edge of the beautiful Mediterranean, and really is as wealthy as you’ve heard. Ferraris, Maseratis, and Mercedes are as common as Chevys in the suburbs of Peoria.

32. Morocco. “One of the joys of living in Sudan was learning to speak basic Arabic. Our instructor, Salah, would teach us formal Arabic … and our Sudanese friends would teach us how to swear and trade insults in Arabic. So when we went to Arabic-speaking Morocco, James accidentally bumped into a guy, who then decided to insult him in Arabic. Without thinking, James came back with a quick retort … in Arabic. The guy’s eyebrows shot up in surprise … then he launched another insult! We had no idea what he said, so we smiled and asked him to explain. He grinned and translated “You have bacteria on your brain!” We all started laughing … and he became our new best friend for the day. To date, it’s still our favorite insult.” Terri

33. Nepal. “Remember that old Bob Seger song “Kathmandu”? Well, we learned that it’s not as easy to get to as he says! We had just finished a grueling 3-week trip through India, and wanted to finish up by going to Nepal. We bought our plane tickets and got the visas, but when we arrived at the Delhi airport, we were told that Nepal had closed overnight! Yep, the whole country! There was a transportation dispute and we were not allowed to enter Nepal. We decided that it was probably better to be stuck outside, rather than inside the country during a time of tension. So we vowed to try again a few years later … and we got in. We found it to be a strangely magical place, ideal for intrepid spirits and hardy souls.” Terri

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34. Netherlands. “While living in Amsterdam we visited Keukenhof (Dutch for “kitchen garden”) in Lisse. This tongue-in-cheek name is for a floral paradise that is the world’s largest flower garden. They plant 7 million flower bulbs annually. I didn’t want to leave!” Terri

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35. Norway. “We celebrated my birthday in Bergen on the west coast and had a great time. When we traveled there, it was one of the most expensive places we had been. We stayed in the Seaman’s Home (as in the YMCA, except for old salts … really) in Oslo, which pegged the Weirdometer.” James

36. Peru. Machu Picchu had been on our travel list for years, and we finally made it. Hiking around the site was wonderful, and it really is as picturesque as the postcards. In fact, we took the banner photo at the top of our blog there. Other marvelous memories are the colonial town of Cusco, our cozy hotel room with a fireplace to ward off the mountain cold, and our first exposure to whole, roasted guinea pigs sold by street vendors (imagine huge, hairless rats). Our favorite T-shirt sighting was “Do you want fries with that guinea pig?”

37. Portugal. We’ve been to Portugal a couple of times, but our fondest memory is a long weekend in Lisbon. James took a “boondoggle” business trip there, and just happened to schedule it on Friday. Terri flew over from London and we had a big splurge weekend at the Intercontinental Hotel.

38. Singapore. “Our hotel was in Chinatown – what a hoot! Every morning we had fried rice and Singapore noodles for breakfast. Now that’s the way to kickstart the day!” Terri

39. Slovenia. This country is unlike any other country in Eastern Europe. The highlight of our visit was Ljubljana, which really is old Europe in a small beautiful package.

40. Spain. We have traveled to Spain many times, and absolutely love it. From Bilbao and Basque country in the north, to Seville, Granada, and the Mediterranean south. It’s a wonderful country with incredible history … and food. It’s a fall-back place to visit and do something fun. The passionate flamenco in Seville and the Alhambra in Granada…world class.

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41.Sri Lanka. We’ve been posting on Sri Lanka for the past two weeks, so for details see recent posts. However, as a summary, we stopped on a whim and are very glad we did. As a travel destination, it has incredible diversity, and the people are delightful.

42. Sudan. “We didn’t just visit Sudan, we lived there for two years. The living was hard, the people were wonderful, and at the time, it was magical. Travel was extremely difficult, and usually involved following a track through the desert. That’s why the trip to the ancient city of Meroe was so special, and strangely enough, these ruins, instead of Egypt’s, were my first pyramids. A co-worker and I got lost in the desert on the way there, but that’s another story.” James

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43. Sweden. We planned our trip to northern Europe too late in the year (another travel lesson), and paid the price with constant cold weather. However, Stockholm was one of our favorites in Scandinavia. The Vasa Warship Museum was particularly interesting. This warship sank in 1628, immediately after leaving port on its maiden voyage. It was recovered and restored in the 1960s for this museum. It’s unique because it’s a REAL ship in its entirety, not a reconstruction from a drawing. Experts believe it sank because too many guns made it top heavy. There’s a lesson here for the NRA.

44. Switzerland. After traveling around Switzerland on vacation, we spent some time in beautiful Geneva on business. Because it’s a global financial center it’s also very expensive. We had our first authentic fondue here, and learned a couple of valuable travel lessons. We had to open the hotel room windows to stay cool, and the Friday night party noise went on until the wee hours. Lesson one, pay more attention to room location (whether streets, bars, trains, highways, roosters, mosques, or Buddhist Temple gongs). And lesson two, always carry earplugs!

45. Thailand. Our first trip to Thailand left us with our mouths gaping! It’s the definition of “exotic”, particularly their temples and statues. James said, “If we’d had this statue on the church steps, I might have gone to church more often!”

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46. Tunisia. Our visit here was part of a southern Europe, North Africa circle. Tunisia’s position on the coast of the Mediterranean made it a target for the Romans, and there are some wonderful ruins here. We discovered these handsome, young stone carvers who work so hard and do elegant work. (Obviously there were no child labor laws in place!) We bought one of those little capitals on the top shelf and lugged it back to the US – surprisingly heavy for its small size!

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47. Turkey. With our smattering of languages we can usually struggle and get by. English, Spanish, French, and at the time of our visit to Turkey, we still remembered a little Arabic. But for both of us, our memory is that everyone spoke Turkish or German only. We were screwed, and no matter what food we ordered from a restaurant menu, they brought us kebabs. However, Istanbul and the Topkapi were fascinating, and Ephesus was outstanding.

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48. United Arab Emirates. “I visited the Emirate of Dubai to look at a deal for the “oil bidness”. It was some years ago, and Dubai was very different in those days. The country has been extremely wealthy for years, but when I was there, some people were still adjusting to their newfound wealth. I still remember seeing a gold, top-of-the-line Mercedes pull up to the curb, and disgorge an Arab man, his wife and child, and a goat!” James

49. United Kingdom. “As you already know, I’m a map lover. So when we moved to London, a chance to go to Greenwich and stand on THE Prime Meridian was at the top of my to-do list! Accomplishing this feat completed the suite of standing astride 0 degrees longitude in Greenwich, and 0 degrees latitude at the equator in Kenya, a worthy endeavor for any serious traveler.” James

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50. United States of America. Don’t think that because we spend so much time outside the USA that we don’t love it. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in our travels, it’s that Americans have it great, and we never, ever take that for granted. Even with all its warts, we wouldn’t trade passports with anyone. Also, one thing we forgot to mention is that in addition to 50 countries, we’ve visited all 50 states. We’ve lost track of how many times we’ve criss-crossed our nation – north to south, and east to west. This photo is from the Petrified Forest in Arizona.

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So that’s the list of our 50 countries. If things go as planned, we’re looking forward to adding 4 new countries in the near future: Laos, Cambodia, Australia, and New Zealand. Thanks again to all our loyal followers as well as the new people that we’ve picked up along the way. We’re having a blast on our trip, and are really enjoying blogging about it. Hang in there and we’ll keep you posted.

Here’s to the next 50,
Terri & James

10 thoughts on “Celebrating 50 Countries … Part II

    • Thanks Luksana. It was fun for us to put together the list, and distill each country to one short essay. It also generated a number of conversations like, “Do you remember in Barcelona when we saw that …” Reliving is a big part of travel.

  1. Can I share… several years ago I went a few times to Spain (Pamplona and San Sebastian) to watch running of the bulls in Pamplona, I really love the architecture and food of Spain. Superb!

    • We’ve been to San Sebastian but never Pamplona. From all the photos that I’ve seen, the running of the bulls would be a truly unique thing to watch. Hopefully, you were just watching, and not running. LOL

    • Hi Nicole, Not too long after we wrote this post we headed to Australia and New Zealand. Totally loved them both – especially your home, Melbourne. The only thing that dampened our spirit was that when we arrived, James became ill with Dengue Fever he’d contracted in Southeast Asia. So we didn’t get to see as much as we’d hoped. Guess we’ll just have to come back. Yay! ~Terri

  2. It’s amazing that you’ve been to countries where only a handful of travelers have been to, such as Sudan. I remember reading one blogger’s post on the Nubian pyramids and I can’t believe you’ve been there! Fascinating! Oh and a short stop in Liechtenstein sounds so interesting as well.

  3. Yes, living in Sudan for 2 years was a wonderful and humbling experience. It was the first place we lived overseas and it changed us forever – in a good way! We were based in Khartoum, so we took our first-ever helicopter ride to the pyramids in Meroe. What a rush in so many ways! ~Terri

  4. Reading about the 50 countries you’ve travelled to is just so inspiring!
    Spain is also my favourite that I’ve managed to visit yet…and my boyfriend doesn’t appreciate my insistence that we visit at least once a year. What’s not to love with their food, language and people?!
    Can’t wait to hear about the next 25 🙂

    • Glad to be of inspiration! Like you, we also love Spain and try to visit often. You’re lucky to live so close. I saw that you want to learn how to speak Spanish – how’s that going? I know when we lived in London there were lots of people who spoke Spanish – is it the same where you live? ~Terri

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