We spent three days in Reykjavik (well more like two and half due to jet lag), but we found it compact and easy to maneuver. We saw several interesting sites all within easy walking distance from our hotel. If you are passing through the beautiful Icelandic city of Reykjavik, we recommend the following – Reykjavik on foot.
Take a Stroll and see Reykjavik on Foot
Consider picking up Rick Steve’s Iceland Guide, as we found it very helpful and on our first day we did his self-guided walking tour in the downtown core. It’s compact and very easy to do this walking tour in just a couple of hours. If you don’t have the book, Reykjavik on foot is easy with our suggestions;
Start at Ingolfstorg Square – location of the original Reykjavik farm. Currently a gathering place, although somewhat drab, there are a few historic buildings near by, as is Vestiurgata which is the original shoreline. This area was filled in but a brass marker in the sidewalk marks the spot.
We enjoyed wandering the back streets and seeing the local homes. Most of the homes today, even the historic ones, are covered with galvanized steel siding that protects from Iceland’s rough climate. Homes are small and tidy and often very colorful and patriotic. Two streets we recommend are Mjostraeti and Athalstraeti.
A fascinating relief map of Iceland is available for viewing inside Reykjavik’s City Hall. We definitely recommend this if you are in Reykjavik on a week day. It’s free and really interesting.
Adjacent to city hall is the Pond (Tjornin) where on a nice day residents stroll and relax and feed the ducks. Across the pond you can see the University of Iceland and the National Museum which we recommend below. For more exercise you can extend your Reykjavik on foot tour with a walk all the way around the pond, about 2 miles.
Head away from the pond to see Austurvollur, Iceland’s Parliament Building and Square. Both historic and modern it is another gathering spot with lots of history.
Main Street Reykjavik on Foot
If you can, we recommend booking a hotel near the main street of Reykjavik known as Austurstraeti. We stayed in the very modest Hotel Fron. Nothing special, but comfortable and included breakfast for about $150 a night. The location however, is excellent for enjoying Reykjavik on foot, on one of the main streets called Laugavegur.
The Main Street area known as Austurstraeti is great for strolling and shopping. From our hotel we could head down the hill to several sites including Laekjartorg Square.
Angling off up the hill from Laugavegur is Skolavorthustigur Street, lined with a rainbow. Many shops and restaurants line this historic street. From the bottom of the street you have a great view of Hallgrimskirja Church. Head up the street to see this iconic landmark.
In the neighborhood of Hallfrimskirja you can also enjoy the Leif Erickson statue as well as Einar Jonsson Sculpture Garden just across the street.
Museums and Exhibitions
We did not see all the museums in Reykjavik but we were so glad we visited two. Both gave us a wonderful introduction to the history and geology of Iceland, prior to embarking on our camper van trek.
We highly recommend The National Museum of Iceland, just across the pond near the university and an easy walk from town. About $18 entry fee. The exhibit takes the visitor through ancient Iceland history and up to the 20th century. Superbly done and fascinating.
A bit further walk but still doable is the brand new experience known as the Perlan. The first fascinating thing about this is that it is built into two old water tanks (great use of a former eyesore). Entry fee is just under $40 but for that price you explore a variety of exhibits about the natural aspect of Iceland as well as enjoy a really well done movie about the aurora borealis. In addition you can walk through a very authentic ice cave. Upstairs don’t miss the coffee shop with the best view in Reykjavik.
On the Harbor
Just a quick mention of two sites of interest on the waterfront. If you have time take a walk through the Harpa Concert Hall, a architectural wonder. Check the schedule online for performances.
We also enjoyed a brief stop at the Sun Voyager sculpture. You will probably recognize this metal sculpture of a Viking Boat, particularly beautiful at sunset.
Eating in Reykjavik
Next week I’m going to explore more in depth the foods we discovered in Iceland, but today let me touch on a couple great places to eat. Thanks again to the Rick Steves guide we learned about the Hlemmur Food Hall – a converted bus station now housing several restaurants. We walked in and sat up at the bar of Skall without knowing anything about it. An excellent decision. Absolutely delicious and unique variety of small plates from cod to tomatoes, lumpfish roe to cauliflower.
We also had a fantastic meal at Rok. Reservations are a good idea here, but we arrived early enough that we were able to squeeze into a table. Rok is in a historic old house with beautiful wood beams and we again did a selection of small plates, sharing everything from langoustine soup (divine) to Icelandic char, reindeer and green salad. I’ll talk more about all these next week.
One thing I really recommend is to consider either a food tour (which we did) or a history tour with Your Friends in Reykjavik. Our food tour opened our eyes to some of Iceland’s most traditional (and a few bizarre) dishes. I’ll tell you about that next week.
Reykjavik on foot. Compact and easy, this city is interesting, maneuverable, colorful and delicious. I hope you will visit soon.
It’s been one year today since we arrived in the USA after two months locked down on the island of Cyprus. One freaking crazy year. Even now, after all this time, I sometimes have trouble believing this has all been real. That Pandamit (oops I did it again…Pandemic), really changed absolutely everything, didn’t it?
We hope to travel internationally again soon. However we also know that our international travels of the future will never be as carefree and easy as they were during our four years of the Grand Adventure. But we definitely plan to get back out there.
Meanwhile, 365 days in the USA has given us time to appreciate this beautiful country and all it offers.
Prior to the Pandamit, we had already visited all fifty states. But that doesn’t mean we had seen all the amazing beauty of this nation….not even close. So slow travel in the USA became our new mission. And so far it’s been an amazing journey.
So for today’s blog post I thought I would share A Year in the USA in Pictures – some of my favorite images from our year stuck in the USA. I have no regrets.
Despite it all, it’s been a year of unexpected adventures. We visited Idaho, Colorado and Oregon. Maui was awesome and we enjoyed our time in the Coachella Valley,California and Arizona. Of course our home state of Washington in the summer is a wealth of beauty and adventures. Learning new things, getting healthy,loosing weight, time with family and staying positive have kept us in a good frame of mind. I just absolutely refuse to be a victim in all of this.
People keep asking us what we plan to do next? But, if the Pandamit has taught us anything, it’s don’t make plans! But planning we are, in spite of it all. We will spend 12 days in Iceland in June (fingers crossed). We will return to Maui again in the fall. And we hope to visit Colorado and Arizona again. Mexico is a possibility. We have now been vaccinated and I got my dreaded surgery out of the way, so there does seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel – but that could be a freight train barreling down…cause these days, you never know!
Meanwhile, we are here and that’s just fine – USA you are just fine and we are grateful for all you offer.
I hope you enjoyed our review A Year in the USA in Pictures.
There is a wide variety of activities to enjoy while visiting Tucson Arizona, without ever leaving town. But if you have the time, make your way south for some colorful history and fun. Enjoy Tubac, Bisbee, Tombstone Day Trip from Tucson.
Any of these three destinations could also be an overnight destination, but we left Tucson around 8 am and headed first to Tubac. About an hour and half drive to the tiny historic town, known for its historic presidio (fort in Spanish). The seven dollar entrance fee is well worth it to explore the presidio and learn about its history, which began in 1691 as a small Spanish Mission. The presidio served the Spanish, the Mexicans and even the Apache over the generations. Today it is an Arizona State Park.
Tubac is also a great destination for acquiring lovely Southwest pottery, glass and metal art. We spent about two hours total in Tubac (if shopping, you could easily spend more), including breakfast at the Stables Ranch and Grill, on the grounds of the Tubac Golf Resort. The resort is located on a 400 year old Spanish farm and ranch.
Our Tubac, Bisbee, Tombstone Day Trip from Tucson continued as we drove almost two hours to Bisbee. The two lane road, and eventually a highway wind south nearly to the Mexican border before heading east through endless grass lands with mountain ranges distant. A beautiful drive.
There are three main areas to explore in Bisbee. First are the open pit mines, a giant scar on the earth from the copper and silver mining that ruled this region for decades. Today there is no mining but you can take a tour of the mines. If you don’t want to take a tour you can just stand on the edge of the pit and be amazed at the devastation.
Near by is the former town of Lowell, which has been incorporated into Bisbee. Most of the town of Lowell was swallowed up when the Lavender Pit Mine was expanded, leaving only Erie Street intact. Businesses on Erie Street struggled to survive with few residents left. Today, preservationists keep Erie colorful for tourists, even though only one business remains open. It lives up to it’s name as an eerie mining ghost town.
Old Bisbee, also hit by hard times, still offers a colorful and historic story of small town mining life with several museums and a historic hotel in the middle of town. Built on the side of a mountain, surveying the town requires climbing stairs, but the views are worth it. Quaint and quirky Bisbee is worth two hours, and more if you take the mine tour. Stop for a beer at the Bisbee Brewing Company.
The most famous of these three towns was actually my least favorite, although I am glad we stopped. The historic old town of Tombstone, site of the infamous shootout at the OK Coral, is now a very touristy destination. But much of the old town remains, and local lore draws thousands of visitors to witness the “shootout” re-enactment several times a day at multiple locations.
The OK Corral is a Historical Landmark and the Tombstone Courthouse is a State Historical Park. Stagecoach rides through town are popular, and costumed characters wander about. Souvenir shops and restaurants occupy the remaining old west buildings. We recommend a meal at Big Nose Kate’s with excellent live music and the movie Tombstone on continuously on the big screen.
An hour is enough in Tombstone, unless you plan to do the 45 minute “shootout” show (there is a shorter option too) or plan to do a lot of shopping.
Your Tubac, Bisbee, Tombstone day trip from Tucson ends with a one hour drive back to Tucson; we were back a little after 5:00 PM. A very enjoyable day trip if you have the time when visiting Tucson – a city filled with history, scenery, recreation and more.
Why have I not been here before? Of all the traveling we have done, somehow this place has eluded me. And here is the silver lining of the PanDamit…my travels are now focused on my home country of the United States. And I have discovered Sensational Sedona.
We had six days to explore Sensational Sedona. We kept very busy, and could easily have stayed longer. So of course we will come back. March is a good time to visit, although it was busy with families due to Arizona spring break. But if I return I’ll come during the quieter off season times, such as October and November or January and February.
Mother Nature’s Masterpiece
At 4000 foot elevation you can see a wide variety of weather in March. And we did. During our six day visit we saw temperatures as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 72. And one morning we woke up to three inches of snow…which melted by midday.
We’ve seen a lot of Arizona on previous road trips. I’ve visited the Phoenix and Scottsdale area several times, including all the surrounding communities. I imagined Sedona would be similar with the brown desert colors. Wow was I wrong. Sedona is Mother Nature’s masterpiece. She has created an artists pallet of red, green, orange, buff, gold, gray and blue. She was showing off a bit when she made this place. Sensational Sedona.
We came to hike. And we did. Nearly every day. Yet we hardly touched the surface of the immense number of hikes available in the area. We climbed rocks, traversed valleys, forded streams and stood in awe of the magnificent views all around. There is no place like it that I have ever been…and here it is right in my own back yard. I can’t find enough adjectives to express all that this place makes me feel. Energized, astonished, inspired. It is breathtaking, magnificent, sumptuous. Sensational Sedona.
People come here not just to hike, although that is the most popular activity. But many people come here because they believe Sedona is sacred. And more than sacred, they believe this place has a gravitational pull that creates energy and strength. I may not believe all of this but it’s easy to see how this place can affect people this way…create a spirit, a vision, a passion for the earth. I can’t deny it is magical. Sensational Sedona.
And so we have been baptized to the wonders of Sedona. And we will never be the same. I can’t wait to come back and experience it all again. Sensational Sedona.
We spent seven weeks in the greater Palm Springs area, enjoying the weather, hiking, golf and much more. We didn’t eat out a lot, both due to Covid and to stay on budget. But when we did eat out we tried to visit some of the best of the valley, as well as some lesser known places. There are literally thousands of restaurants to chose from. Everything from Mexican or burgers to seafood and steak. Every cuisine of the world is available somewhere in the area. And we made some favorite dining discoveries around Palm Springs.
We tried to explore and through our exploration we offer a list of some favorites we found. Next time you are in the greater Palm Springs California area, you might consider some of these restaurants. And by the way, wherever you are, please support local restaurants and shops to help keep them alive and well during the pandamit…oops I mean pandemic.
Sherman’s Deli – an institution in the valley, Sherman’s is a true New York style deli and bakery. We ate here twice, once for lunch and once for dinner. In true NY fashion they served Matzo Ball soup, Corned Beef on Rye, Chopped Liver, Hot Pastrami and much much more. https://shermansdeli.com/menus/
Tyler’s Burgers – Many people recommended Tyler’s to us as the best burger in the valley, so yep had to try it. We both had the bacon cheeseburger and it was real good…but even better was the amazing potato salad, just like my mom used to make. http://tylersburgers.com
Armando’s Mexican – on El Paseo in Palm Desert you’ll find dozens of restaurants, but we happened upon Armando’s (no website) for just an appetizer and drink one afternoon. Outdoor seating was excellent, service was great and so was the food.
Paul Bar – located in a sad little strip mall, Paul Bar was a huge surprise. Despite currently only being take-out, we loved our food we got there, especially the Bacon Balsamic Brussels Sprouts. https://www.thepaulbarps.com
Pieros – one of the best meals I had anywhere in the valley. Pieros is known for it’s pizza but I had the Short Ribs and Arne ordered Lasagna. We also enjoyed the Tuscan Wedge Salad. This is definitely one of my favorite dining discoveries around Palm Springs. https://www.pizzavinotogo.com
Chef Georges Picasso – hidden in a little shopping center in the tiny community of Bermuda Dunes near La Quinta, this place has a giant menu of many European specialties and a particular focus on Hungarian food. Great service, huge portions. http://chefgeorgespicasso.com
Lavender Bistro- definitely the loveliest meal we had both for ambiance and food. This was a bit of a splurge for us but worth it for sure. A gorgeous lighted patio, well protected from the wind and top-notch service in every way. My filet mignon and Caesar salad were perfect. https://www.lavenderbistro.com
John Henry’s – we learned about this restaurant from a local couple we golfed with. They said we had to try it, even though few visitors ever go there. I’m really glad we did. The outdoor patio was beautiful and everyone in our group enjoyed their food from steak to sea Bass. I had Osso Buco and it was delicious. Reservations a must. https://www.johnhenryscafe.com
The Daily Grill – located on El Paseo in Palm Desert this is a great place to sit on the outdoor patio and watch the ridiculously expensive cars drive by: Bentley…Maserati..Jaguar.. Ferrari. Excellent and inexpensive for breakfast lunch or dinner. https://www.dailygrill.com
Farm – we only went to breakfast once during our visit and I am so glad we chose to eat at Farm. Tucked into the cutest little space right in old Palm Spring, the outdoor patio is bursting with flowers.
As of this writing, only outdoor dining is open in California. But the nice weather in the valley makes outdoor dining easy. Most restaurants have expanded their outdoor seating and diners are enjoying the new spaces. Masks are still required. Remember the temperatures drop in the desert so bring an extra layer for evening dining. Also, because of reduced capacity, make a reservation no matter where you want to eat.
Yep it was one for the record books, and yet, we managed some remarkable and inspiring travel moments despite it all. So in keeping with the past four years, we want to bestow our 2020 World Travel Awards. This year we have fewer countries, lodgings, and experiences to consider…but we believe they deserve our 2020 World Travel Awards recognition nonetheless.
By the way, I’ve been asked many times whether we lost a lot of money on travel when we had to abandon our trip in 2020. It took some work and persistence but most airlines, all Airbnb’s and all but one hotel gave us refunds or vouchers for future use. With about $10,000 at stake, we feel blessed to have only ended up losing about $1500. One silver lining in the Covid nightmare.
For reference we visited Mauritius, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Uganda, Rwanda, Israel, Cyprus, England and the United States.
Favorite Overall Country – Cyprus
Despite the fact we hardly saw any of Cyprus, we still bestow it the 2020 World Travel Awards favorite overall country. Cyprus is where we went into lockdown and where we were stuck for seven weeks, housebound and unable to see any sites. We never ate in a single restaurant, went to the beach or saw any historic ruins or sites. Luckily the one thing we were able to do before we were forced into house arrest, was a wonderful cooking class. More about that below.
When we can travel again, we will return to Cyprus, to see the sights and to see the wonderful people we met during our time there.
Favorite City – Tel Aviv, Israel
We had four days in the beautiful city of Tel Aviv, a little jewel of a modern city in this incredibly ancient country. On day five as we began to explore more of Israel is when we, with only a few hours notice, were forced to leave as Israel went into lockdown. So the rest of Israel remains on our list, but thank you Tel Aviv for a wonderful visit.
Cutest Town – Bend Oregon USA
On our road trip in August we spent three quick days in Bend and I was reminded once again how much I love this part of the USA. It’s just beautiful and the food and beer are excellent too. I will definitely go again and spend more time eating and playing in this beautiful area.
Favorite Island – Maui Hawaii USA
It’s no secret how much I love the island of Maui…one of the most beautiful islands of the world. I have been blessed to visit many, many MANY islands, and still Maui remains at the top of my list. This past year in an effort to hide from Covid, we spent nine lovely weeks in Maui.
Most Expensive Country – Israel
Even though we did not spend even an entire week in Israel, it was clearly one of the most expensive countries we have been to. Still it remains at the top of our list we want to return to and enjoy.
Least Expensive Country – Mauritius
Considered an African country but feeling more like India, Mauritius is a unique place for culture, food and weather. Six weeks here was inexpensive for us and we enjoyed it very much.
Ten Airbnb/VRBO, Eleven Hotels, One Tree House, One Kibbutz
Favorite Airbnb – Cyprus
Our Airbnb in Cyprus, called Lemon Grove Ena was an absolute blessing – and we will forever be grateful that it is where we were when we got locked down. For seven weeks our hosts Maria and Fritos, as well as their property manager Sofronios, all of whom spoke minimal English, made heroic efforts to keep us safe and comfortable. We could not have been in better hands.
Favorite Airbnb Hosts – Cyprus
As above, our Cyprus hosts were so special. We hope to see them again soon.
Most Unique Accommodation – Tie for this category; Tree House Fall City Washington and Glamping in Carbondale Colorado
Back in the USA we were looking for ways to stay sane so we took a couple much needed Sanity Staycations. In doing so we discovered some unique places to stay. The first one was a beautiful Tree House about an hour from our home. The second was an awesome Glamping Safari Tent just outside of Aspen Colorado in Carbondale.
Best Hotel – Uganda
We were on a tour in Uganda, four days to see the Mountain Gorillas. And for two of those nights we stayed in a mountainside hotel called Ichumbi Gorilla Lodge. It was a tiny place with each room a separate cabin perched in the hills just outside of Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. Of all the places I have stayed around the world, the service here was one of the best. It also included a delicious small restaurant and bar. Each night they provided a turn down service as well as a hot water bottle tucked into the sheets. When we returned from our very wet and muddy trek in the jungle, they did our laundry too. Lovely.
Most Unique Hotel – Zambia
During our time at Victoria Falls we spent a week in a tiny African hotel called Ngoma Zanga. We ate all our meals here, enjoyed our comfortable room and the amazing staff that helped us have the best experience possible at Victoria Falls.
Best View Accommodations – Maui
We love to visit Maui and when there we always try to stay at the Kihei Surfside with it’s impeccable view
Strangest Hotel Experience – London
When we finally were allowed to leave Cyprus we headed back to the USA via London and those two days of travel were unlike anything we have ever experienced. See below for details. But we had to find a room at Heathrow, when everything was shut down. And so we stayed in what was essentially a closet for one night at Aerotel Hotel. There was no food available anywhere in or near the hotel so we ate day old sandwiches we had brought from Cyprus, slept fitfully and then boarded a USA bound flight in the morning. See more about that below.
Favorite Cuisine – Israel
Mediterranean food and middle eastern food collides in Israel and we enjoyed every bite and every morsel we could in our short visit. Even in the short time we had, this country easily is the tops in food for the 2020 World Travel Awards.
Best Cooking Class – Cyprus
So grateful to have had this experience just hours before going into full lockdown on Cyprus. It was our one opportunity to learn some culture and history and to meet some amazing locals. I cherish this day and all we learned and continue to make Cypriot dishes here at home. Our tour was organized by Cyprus Taste Tours.
Best Beer – Maui
Maui has a great microbrew culture and we visited three different microbreweries (and one distillery) on the island.
Best Coffee – Cyprus
Much like Greek or Turkish coffee, Cypriot Coffee is rich and dark and cooked in an Cezva and we loved it.
Best Meal – Maui
Nine weeks in Maui was amazing, but in an effort to social distance we did not eat in very many restaurants. But, when we did we had no complaints. Two incredible fish meals stand out for me; Mala Ocean Tavern and The Sea House Restaurant.
Best Cultural & Natural Experiences
Best Sunset – Maui
There it is again, my favorite island, which for 2020 also presented me my favorite sunsets…night after night.
Best Cultural Experience – Soweto South Africa
While in Johannesburg we took a cultural tour that included time in Soweto – the infamous township just outside of Johannesburg. We were thrilled by our reception, visiting a home, meeting lots of kids and learning so much about all that has happened to the people of Soweto. We booked this tour through Get Your Guide.
Best Beach – Maui and Honorable Mention Tel Aviv
Our favorite beaches are all in Maui, and while there we went to dozens. But we also thought the public beach in Tel Aviv was astonishingly beautiful. The beaches of Tel Aviv are another reason we can’t wait to return to Israel.
Best Tour and Best Tour Guide – Uganda
Best Bucket List Experience – Uganda
Seeing Mountain Gorillas in the wild was a lifelong dream for me, and celebrating this bucket list adventure for my 60th birthday could not have been better. Working with a tour operator called Achieve Global Safaris we were greeted at the airport by our guide John, who spent the next four days making sure we had an experience of a lifetime. I loved our time in beautiful Uganda and seeing the gorillas.
Best Natural Site – Victoria Falls with Honorable Mention to Mount Rainier
I am a bit of a waterfall junkie…can’t get enough! Our world travels have included seeing some of the most majestic and beautiful waterfalls around the world! In February we were blessed to visit the spectacular Victoria Falls, which straddles the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. Beyond breathtaking. Magnificent.
And right in our home region of Washington State is another breathtaking and magnificent Natural Site – Mount Rainier. We did a lot of hiking this summer in and around Mount Rainier National Park. A place I do not take for granted and know how lucky I am to have this so close to home.
Best Manmade Site – Caesarea Israel
Although we were very disappointed to unexpectedly end our time in Israel due to the lockdown, we did get to see a few amazing things, including several remarkable ancient sites. We particularly enjoyed the ancient city of Caesarea with it’s fabulous chariot race track, remarkably intact amphitheater and many other interesting sites, all with a view of the ocean.
Best History Tour – Johannesburg South Africa
Our full day tour of Johannesburg not only gave us the opportunity to visit Soweto (see above) and the Apartheid Museum (see below) it also covered many significant historical events that have occurred in Johannesburg. It was fascinating and I highly recommend it.
Best Day Hike – Rwanda
Our week in Rwanda gave us a chance to learn more about the genocide that happened there in 1994, but it also gave us a chance to get out into the rural areas and see some of the beauty of this often overlooked destination. From the lakeside town of Kivu, we hiked with a guide over a mountain to a small village (about 8 miles) on the Rwanda Congo Nile Trail, and then took a tiny boat back. We learned so much about the history, culture, industry, agriculture, flora and fauna of this tiny little nation. It was a remarkable day – one of those rare and memorable experiences that was delightfully authentic – a top prize for the 2020 Travel Awards.
Expensive but Worth It – Mountain Gorillas Uganda
At nearly $4000 for a five day visit, this tour was far and away more expensive than anything we have ever spent our travel dollars on. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Speaking of heartbeat…mine nearly stopped when we finally found the family of eight gorillas we had spent three hours tromping through the jungle looking for. One of the most unforgettable days of my life. Enjoy this little video (which is by far my most watched YouTube video ever! ) Achieve Global Safaris was amazing.
Best Gardens – Mauritius
We spent one day at the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanical Gardens near the town of Port Louise on the island of Mauritius. We were really surprised to find such a vast and well maintained Botanical Gardens in this tiny island nation.
Best Conservation/Environmental Protection Site – Mauritius
Definitely my favorite thing we did on the island of Mauritius was the boat tour to Ile aux Aigrettes, a protected atoll only 100 yards off shore. Here we took a remarkable guided walking tour to learn about the work being done by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation to preserve and protect numerous endangered species of animals, birds and plants. Mauritius can’t bring back the extinct Dodo bird, but they are working very hard to preserve the other unique and beautiful animals and flora of this special island.
Best Museum – Apartheid Museum Johannesburg South Africa
This museum is one of the best I’ve been to in the entire world. Amazingly organized to enjoy and learn chronologically it includes many interactive, video, audio aspects as well as an outdoor art exhibit. We were there for two hours and I wish we had two more. The Apartheid Museum is worth a trip to Johannesburg to see.
Craziest Thing We Did – Angels Pool Victoria Falls Zimbabwe
Whenever I look at these photos, I wonder what was I thinking? To be honest I did not really understand what I was signing up to do and it was only in the moment that I thought “oh shit.” But with caution we proceeded and it was actually fun, but also pretty freaking crazy. One of those things you do in a foreign country and afterwards you think “this would never be allowed in the USA.” I survived Angels Pool, Victoria Falls.
Least English Spoken – Cyprus
To be fair, we only dealt with a handful of people in Cyprus since we were mostly in house arrest, but the few friends we made we needed to do a lot of hand signals and pointing and laughing trying to get our message across
Friendliest People – Rwanda
Every person we met in Rwanda was a delight. From hotel people to just people on the street we found Rwandans sincere, kind and very interested in us. Like in some other countries, I still hear from a few people we connected with and I love knowing they are well and still remembering meeting us.
Hottest Day – Mauritius
I swooned in Mauritius. The humidity was oppressive on a few days. Hottest day was 101F. We also lived through our third cyclone while on the island.
Coldest Day – Haleakala Maui
At 10,000 feet Haleakala, particularly on a windy day, can be downright frigid. It was 37F in the morning with a nasty wind chill as we started our hike there.
Best Place to Run – Maui
Hands down of all the places we traveled this year running in Maui was the best. I always run in the morning before it got too warm, and the view, well, you can’t beat it.
Best Game of Golf – Sun Valley Idaho USA
We golfed a lot this year, it being one of the few things we could get out and do safely. I made a commitment to really improve my game and I did. My favorite golf day was at Elk Horn in Sun Valley Idaho
Best Yoga Spot – Maui
Yoga continues to be part of our daily routine, and Maui wins again, offering us the best yoga spot we found.
Craziest Travel Day Ever – Heathrow, London England
The day we finally left Cyprus after seven weeks we flew to Heathrow and spent the night. The following morning we headed to our gate for our 12 hour flight back to the USA. This experience in Heathrow, one of the busiest airports in the world, will remain with me for the rest of my life. Walking through Heathrow without another person anywhere to be seen was eerie, surreal and the most defining moment for me of what Covid-19 had done to our world. It was frightening. But I’m glad I had the experience of it, I certainly will never forget it.
Craziest Experience Overall – Cyprus
If you have read this far, you know we were locked down in Cyprus, basically under house arrest for seven weeks. To leave our Airbnb we had to ask permission via text. We could only leave our house once a day. So if we needed groceries, that was all we could do that day. No groceries needed? Then we could ask permission to exercise, which we did most days, running in our little neighborhood around the village of Argaka. It was a surreal experience, definitely unlike anything else we have encountered in our world travels. And despite it all, we wouldn’t change it…it certainly is something we will never ever forget. Thank you Cyprus for taking such good care of us. And no question it needs to make the list for our 2020 World Travel Awards.
I will add, that in all our travels, our time in Cyprus was the first time we needed to be in direct contact with the US Embassy. We were grateful for the guidance they provided even though their hands were tied. If you travel international, we highly recommend signing up with each Embassy you visit through the State Department Step program…apparently you never known when you are going to need it. See how to do that here.
That’s a Wrap
It was not the travel year we imagined in January 2020, and yet, we added some of the most remarkable experiences of our life to a life of extensive remarkable experiences. I am very grateful for that. And, I am beyond grateful to all the kind and wonderful people we met this year while traveling. So many just trying to save their businesses, stay safe and healthy, and do the right thing. What a blessing to have met them all.
Next week I will share a blog about our near term travel plans. But as far as long term or international travel, we have none. My guess would be we might not leave the USA until 2022. But I can’t know that so early. If that happens, next years Travel Awards will look very different, or perhaps I will need to decide if the blog has run its course. But I can’t know that yet either. All I know is the 2020 World Travel Awards have a special place in my heart.
Meanwhile we continue to be grateful for all the travel we have enjoyed, our current state of health and wellness, and our upcoming USA travel plans where we can lockdown in the sun. I have no regrets, no complaints and just a wee bit of sadness for all that has happened, or not happened.
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Please be sure to read next Friday’s blog to see what happens next for My Fab Fifties Life.
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