Spectacular Spain!

Back in December, my dearest friend Aaron and I discovered an awesome airfare deal on Delta, round-trip from almost any major city in the US to several cites in Europe for $405! As I live in Chicago and he lives in San Francisco, this was a great chance for us to travel together without one or the other racking up extra costs. Some good friends of ours had moved to Spain about a year ago, so we decided on Madrid and figured that late April would be a fine time to visit. We coordinated our flights so that we would layover in the same cities (NYC on the outbound and ATL on the return) and fly together on the transatlantic portions. We are both Gold Medallions on Delta, which comes with the nice perk of free access to the SkyClubs when traveling internationally, so we were able to enjoy those layovers in style! Continue reading “Spectacular Spain!”

Popping Down to Panama

Adapting to my new circumstances as a work-constricted traveler has presented an entirely new set of considerations in travel planning. Chief among these is maximizing my allotted vacation time to take as many trips as possible in a given year, while also being sure to spread them out to avoid ending up short come Christmas time. My new employer offers most of the standard holidays, and so having missed out on traveling over Martin Luther King Day, I knew I could not let President’s Day similarly go to waste.

Panama hats. Get it?

Continue reading “Popping Down to Panama”

Now, New Zealand!

And so, we come to the end. New Zealand! Other than Antarctica, this is the southernmost point in the world (that I’ve visited, anyway) and even more magical to visit. I have dreamed my entire life of making it here, and so I saved the best for last.  (Sorry kids, but this is going to be a long one).

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Australian Adventures: New South Wales and Victoria

Are you all still bearing with me? The trip is coming to a close, only a few more destinations left! I know! I’m as shocked as you are, who knew a year was practically no time at all?

When we last spoke, I had just survived a skydive (the last ever in my life, for sure!) in Byron Bay. After killing the rest of the afternoon, it was time for another (and final!) overnight bus! This one brought me, at long last, back to Sydney. I’d booked a bed at Blue Parrot in Potts Point, a fun and quirky — if slightly seedy — part of town (read: upscale coffee houses by day, shady-looking strip clubs by night). The hostel was nice though, and full of fun and interesting people. Continue reading “Australian Adventures: New South Wales and Victoria”

Australian Adventures: North Queensland

For reasons I can’t explain, Australia has always been at the very top of my “must visit” list. Maybe because it’s so far away from…well…everywhere? Possibly its reputation for being filled with gorgeous surfer dudes?  Perhaps due to my deep and abiding love for Rescuers Down Under? That classic Men At Work Song? A manifestation of my latent childhood crush on Crocodile Dundee? Whatever the reason, I never had sufficient time to make the trip here before, as I couldn’t imagine coming for less than a month. Turns out, that is still not NEARLY enough time to even scratch the surface of this magical land down under, but I’ve been determined to do my level best to see and do as much as possible with the time I have. Continue reading “Australian Adventures: North Queensland”

Malaysian Migration and Spiffy Singapore

I departed Siem Reap for Bangkok, then immediately boarded an overnight bus south, as I wanted to swing back through Koh Tao for a few more days to get in some diving and see all my friends I’d left behind there. It was a typically exhausting journey, getting dropped off on the side of the road in Chumphon at 2 am to change buses, arriving at the ferry dock at 4 and sleeping on a bench while waiting for the 7 am ferry to Koh Tao. You know, the usual. I had just a few days to spend there before I needed to move on to Malaysia, where I planned to reunite with Megan in Penang. Continue reading “Malaysian Migration and Spiffy Singapore”

Voyages in Vietnam

Vietnam, oh Vietnam. Where to start with the vibrant, virulent, verdant, vexing vortex that is Vietnam? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times? I think someone used that before me, but it remains no less apt. Of the many lands I’ve traveled to on this great adventure, Vietnam was near the top of my list of those I was most excited to explore, though I can’t really pinpoint the reason why. There was never a dull moment, that’s for sure. Continue reading “Voyages in Vietnam”

Jaunting Around Japan

Way back when I was first putting the plans for this trip together, my sister Julie (an accomplished world traveler in her own right, and who has always been an inspiration to me) told me that she had applied to present a paper at an academic conference in Japan and wouldn’t it be great if we could meet up there during my travels? I have always wanted to go to Japan, but didn’t include it on my original itinerary because it was way too expensive for my meager budget to absorb. However, by joining up with Julie, I’d be able to save on lodging costs and, what’s more, if there is anyone who knows how to stretch a travel dollar, it is my sister. Her paper ended up getting selected for the conference and so a jaunt to Japan was squeezed in between South Africa and Southeast Asia, and what a trip it was! Continue reading “Jaunting Around Japan”

Stunning South Africa

Alright, friends, I’m going to level with you. I was happy to leave South America. Don’t get me wrong, I had an amazing time there and I fully intend to return someday, but I was beyond ready to move on. The countries I visited were all different, but in many ways were so similar and my itchy travel feet were wanting new lands to explore. And so it was that I found myself winging eastward across the South Atlantic for my first visit to the African continent! I know South Africa is kind of Africa-Lite, but I think it was a good place to start. Continue reading “Stunning South Africa”