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

 

At the end of our first 25 countries we left you in on safari with us in Kenya …

Here are the final 25 countries.

26. Liechtenstein. We can honestly say that Liechtenstein was a rare “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? One of their tasty traditional soups, “Bouneschlupp,” combines green beans, potatoes, and bacon! This southern girl was in heaven.” Terri

28. Malaysia. We had just come from rowdy Jakarta, and were stunned by the cosmopolitan Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur. Completed 5 years earlier, they rivaled any skyscrapers we’d ever seen.

29. Malta “We’d read about the famous ‘boneshaker buses,’ but until you’ve put your buns in one of those narrow, springless seats, and rattled around the island in one, you haven’t lived!” ~James

30. Mexico. For many visitors, Mexico means warm, sunny beaches and cool, icy margaritas. But scratch this touristy surface and you’ll find a rich history going back thousands of years. From its charming colonial villages in the highlands to the mysterious Maya ruins in the Yucatán, it has something for every taste. It’s an easy, relaxed country to travel and it never disappoints. 

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 U.S.

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 in the souk, 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 insults.” ~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. 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

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

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 was on our bucket list for years … and we finally made it. Hiking around the site was magical, and it really is as picturesque as the postcards. 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. “We had just flown from Java, and Singapore was a completely different experience. Our hotel was in Chinatown – what a hoot! Every morning we had fried rice 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. Over the years, Spain has been many things to us. We were smitten on our first trip with our best friends; sought refuge there after we jettisoned our corporate gigs; and returned repeatedly as seasoned travelers. Its pivotal role in history and cultural diversity make it a prime travel destination with something for everyone. From Bilbao’s Basque country in the north with their modern Guggenheim and delicious pintxos, to stunning Seville, Granada, and the Mediterranean south. Spain just keeps us coming back.

41. Sri Lanka. “We stopped on a whim on our second RTW, and entered an exotic island, rich in culture and tradition. Dambulla’s amazing cave temples were an absolute assault on my senses – the ever-present chanting, overpowering incense, and chattering monkeys made for an all-time memorable experience.” ~James

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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

43. Sweden. We planned our first trip to Scandinavia late in the year, and paid the price with frigid weather and closed attractions. So the next time we got it right – gorgeous fall weather and a fun border jump from Copenhagen to Malmo.

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!

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

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46. Tunisia. Tunisia’s position on the coast of the Mediterranean made it a target for the Romans, and there are some intriguing ruins here. We discovered these diligent young stone carvers and were amazed at their elegant work,. One of these small, carved capitals made it into our luggage. We loved having it at home, but toting it there … not so much.

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47. Turkey (in Asia). We drove from Istanbul to Izmir and Ephesus. With our smattering of languages we can usually struggle and get by in English, Spanish, French, and a little Arabic. But it seemed that everyone spoke only Turkish or German. We were screwed, and no matter what food we ordered from a restaurant menu, they brought us kebabs … which we christened “camel balls.”

48. Dubai. “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

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49. England. “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

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. We wouldn’t trade passports with anyone. We’ve had the joy of visiting all 50 states., and lost track of how many times we’ve criss-crossed our nation – north to south, and east to west. So let us treat you to a Tasty Slice of Americana.

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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