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The Journey Continues - Round the World AGAIN 2009

Dan and Shyla are off on yet another trip round the world. Their first adventure round the world was from August 2005 thru December 2006. After nearly a year-and-a-half of backpacking, they decided to 'settle down.' So they rented a flat in Australia and spent a year-and-a-half exploring Oz and New Zealand. While there Dan got an MBA, just as Shyla had done when they were living in Scotland (2001 - 2005).

By mid-2008 they had 'itchy feet' again, so headed off to SE Asia where they wandered from country to country for five months. An invitation by Shyla's brother to join his family in Hawaii brought them back to the States. Which was good timing, since Dan & Shyla had full passports and needed to apply for new ones.

Three months in the States gave Dan and Shyla time to plan their next trip around the world. Their selected route included 22 new countries covering more than 85,000 kilometers (or 53,000 miles). This website is dedicated to following these intrepid travellers as they make there way ROUND THE WORLD AGAIN

Where We Went 2009 - 2010


Start Date



Portland, OR - USA 01 Jan 09 36 days Cat sitting in Portland
Seattle, WA - USA 06 Feb 09 12 days Planning our next RTW trip
Portland, OR - USA 18 Feb 09 8 days Back with 'sick citty' Cleo
Seattle, WA - USA 26 Feb 09 5 days Saying goodbye to friends & family
Over the Pacific 03 Mar 09 1 day The Trip Begins
Seoul, Korea 04 Mar 09 5 days Kimchi, palaces, baths & more
Kathmandu, Nepal 09 Mar 09 3 days Wet n Wild Holi Festival with Table / Circle
Nagarkot, Nepal 12 Mar 09 1 day Way up in the Himalayas
Bhaktapur, Nepal 13 Mar 09 3 days Small town magic
Kathmandu, Nepal 16 Mar 09 4 days Pagodas, shopping & mo-mos
In-Transit 20 Mar 09 42 hours Nepal to Israel via Korea & France
Jeruselem, Israel 21 Mar 09 4 days 3 religions based on love feuled by hate
Haifa, Israel 25 Mar 09 2 days Fabulous Servas hosts
Menahamya, Israel 27 Mar 09 2 days Shyla 'walks' on the Sea of Gallilee
Ammam, Jordan 29 Mar 09 2 days We float on the Dead Sea & see the 'promised land'
Wadi Musa, Jordan 31 Mar 09 3 days PETRA (need we say more?)
Nuweiba, Egypt 03 Apr 09 4 days Sun -n- Fun on the Red Sea
In-Transit 07 Apr 09 2 Days We race to get back to Michigan
Saginaw, MI - USA 09 Apr 09 27 days A family emergency takes us home
New York City, NY - USA 06 May 09 1 day Dinner at The Cottage with Eliot & Marcy
New England, USA 07 May 09 4 days Bar Mitzvah weekend with the Weinsteins
Michigan & Seattle 11 May 09 19 days We split up to be with our respective families
New York City, NY - USA 29 May 09 4 days A long weekend in New York w/Eliot & Marcy
In-Transit 02 Jun 09 1 day We start our trip AGAIN
Alexandria, Egypt 03 Jun 09 6 days An amazing library and lots of coffee houses
Cairo, Egypt 09 Jun 09 6 days We finally see the PYRAMIDS
Istanbul, Turkey 15 Jun 09 3 days Our host Kerem shows us the best of Istanbul
In-Transit 18 Jun 09 1 day The night train across Turkey
Gorome, Turkey 19 Jun 09 3 days We hike through the amazing fairy chimneys of Cappadocia
Olympos, Turkey 22 Jun 09 1 day We travel to the coast
Along the Turkish Coast 23 Jun 09 3 days We do a beautiful Blue Cruise on the Med
Fethiye, Turkey 26 Jun 09 2 days Chillout in this sea side town
Pamukkale, Turkey 28 Jun 09 1 day We see the famed white travertine pools & tour Hieropolis
Selcuk, Turkey 29 Jun 09 3 days Ephesus, friends, & pool time
Ozdere, Turkey 02 Jul 09 3 days Korhan's parents show us ultimate hospitality
Bodrum, Turkey 05 Jul 09 2 days Party town pit-stop
Dalyan, Turkey 07 Jul 09 3 days We join our Scottish friends Maria, Bernard & Matthew at their amazing villa
Istanbul, Turkey 10 Jul 09 3 days Back with Kerem, we are again trated to the best of the city
In-Transit 13 Jul 09 1 day The night train to Bulgaria
Plovdiv, Bulgaria 14 Jul 09 1 day Nice town but smelly hostel
Bansko, Bulgaria 15 Jul 09 7 days We rent an apartment and chill
In-Transit 22 Jul 09 1 day Day bus to Sofia + night train to Romania
Sighisoara, Romania 23 Jul 09 3 days Midieval festaval at Draculas home town
Brasov, Romania 26 Jul 09 3 days Fab town, Circle/Table friends & a castle visit
In-Transit 29 Jul 09 1 day Day train to Bucharest + night train to Moldova
Chisinau, Moldova 30 Jul 09 4 days Shyla's 40th birthday celebration at Cracova winery
Suceava, Romania 03 Aug 09 2 days Tour of the Painted Monasteries
Brasov, Romania 05 Aug 09 5 days We return to our favourite Romanian town
Bucharest, Romania 10 Aug 09 1 day The Romanian capital
Edinburgh, Scotland 11 Aug 09 35 days Back with friends for the fringe, fireworks & fun
Dusseldorf, Germany 15 Sep 09 2 days Cheapest flight from Edinburgh was to Dusseldorf
Koln, Germany 17 Sep 09 4 days Time with Dan's study buddy Ramona
Saarlouis, Germany 21 Sep 09 4 days Watching Pro Basketball Player Brittany Wilkens
Denzlingen, Germany 25 Sep 09 2 days Tour Freiburg area with Tabler Andreas & Family
Munich, Germany 27 Sep 09 3 days OKTOBERFEST!!!
Berlin, Germany 30 Sep 09 4 days Stay at Birgits & visit Checkpoint Charlie
Krakow, Poland 04 Oct 09 3 days Old town, a salt mine, & Auschwitz
Berlin, Germany 07 Oct 09 3 days Back to Berlin to relax
Francia, Denmark 10 Oct 09 1 day Meet up with Danish Boys Barry & Martin
Arhaus, Denmark 11 Oct 09 2 days Stay with Barry and see Denmark
Copenhagen, Denmark 13 Oct 09 1 day See the Little Mermaid
Leusden, The Netherlands 14 Oct 09 5 days Aunt Anneke's Birthday and time with family
Amsterdam, The Netherlands 19 Oct 09 2 days Shopping, Shows, and More -- we love this city
Leusden, The Netherlands 21 Oct 09 2 days Lucas & Lisa school holidays!
Edinburgh, Scotland 23 Oct 09 12 days Back to Edi to get my Tattoo touched up & see friends
In-Transit 04 Nov 09 26 hours Flying half way around the world Scotland to Chile
Santiago, Chile 05 Nov 09 5 days Sight-seeing and Chilean Octoberfest
In-Transit 10 Nov 09 1 day Night bus from Santiago to Bahia Inglesa
Bahia Inglesa, Chile 11 Nov 09 1 day Year round sun... NOT
In-Transit 12 Nov 09 1 day Night bus to Iquique
Iquique, Chile 13 Nov 09 6 days Paraguayn Visa & Paragliding
Arica, Chile 19 Nov 09 3 days World's oldest mummies, Eiffel buildings, & fab hostel
Arequipa, Peru 22 Nov 09 1 day The ice maiden
In-Transit 23 Nov 09 1 day Night bus to Cusco
Cusco, Peru 24 Nov 09 6 days Thanksgiving dinner of Cuy
Inca Trail, Peru 30 Nov 09 3 days Dan hikes while Shyla takes the train
Aguas Caliente, Peru 03 Dec 09 1 day Machu Picchu
Cusco, Peru 04 Dec 09 2 days Christmas Shopping
Puno, Peru 06 Dec 09 1 day Chicken bus from Cusco to Lake Titicaca
Isla Amantani, Peru 07 Dec 09 1 day Uros Islands & Amantani home stay
Puno, Peru 08 Dec 09 1 day Return boat trip from the islands
Copacabana, Bolivia 09 Dec 09 1 day Lake Titicaca from the Bolivian side
La Paz, Bolivia 10 Dec 09 2 days Witches Market & Olivers Travels
In-Transit 12 Dec 09 1 day Horrible night bus on un-paved road
San Pedro De Quemez, Bolivia 13 Dec 09 1 day First day Uyuni Salt Flat tour
Huaylljaca, Bolivia 14 Dec 09 1 day Flamingoes, lagunas & the red sea
San Antonia de Lipez, Bolivia 15 Dec 09 1 day Laguna Verde, Hot Springs & small town Bolivia
In-Transit 16 Dec 09 1 day End of tour and night train to La Paz
La Paz, Bolivia 17 Dec 09 1 day Rest & relax in La Paz
Asuncion, Paraguay 18 Dec 09 3 days Shyla sprains her ankle
Posadas, Argentina 21 Dec 09 2 days Border crossing into Argentina
Puerto Iguazu, Argentina 23 Dec 09 5 days Merry Christmas at the World's largest waterfalls
In-Transit 28 Dec 09 1 day Night bus to Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires, Argentina 29 Dec 09 30 days We become Porteños when living in a BA flat
Cordoba, Argentina 28 Jan 10 4 days Heat wave, love shacks, & art galleries
Mendoza, Argentina 01 Feb 10 5 days The wine capital of Argentina!!
Santiago, Chile 06 Feb 10 2 days Back to where we started
In-Transit 08 Feb 10 1 day Delta flights from Santiago to Miami via Atlanta
Lake June, Florida 09 Feb 10 9 days Hanging out with Dan's family and Mickey Mouse
Seattle, WA 18 Feb 10 1 day We return home

Updated thru 18 February 10

03 March - Seoul

Seoul Palace A banquet feast Seoulites certainly have the right to be proud of their city of 11 million people. It is wonderfully clean, efficient and safe. Seoul has centuries old palaces (think forbidden cities) that are wonderfully preserved and culturally unique food that expands anyone’s palate. We loved the Kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage) and Bibimbap (rice, veggies, red spicy paste, and meat that you mix together yourself), but shy’d away from the soups made from silk worm larvae and cow knee-caps.

Night Street Scene There is a young vibrancy in the city. An affluent educated younger generation fills the city with DVD bangs (small private seating rooms with sofas to watch a DVD with your friends) and more coffee shops than maybe even Seattle. But this is also mixed in with centuries old traditions of public sauna spa’s where all generations and walks of life mix.

Korean sauna Ok – The public saunas may be a bit daunting for westerners. They are separated by sex (men and women are separate) and completely nude. Once past the locker room, you don’t even have a towel to hide behind. Before entering the pools of different temperatures you must take a shower to clean yourself. My favourite hot pool was a Green Tea pool that was quite hot, but not the hottest pool. There was also a dry sauna, a wet steam room, and rest areas to take a nap. The more modern ones have internet rooms and food options. And it cost us a total of W5,000 each, which is about $3.50 US. They are open 24 hours a day and you can stay as long as you wish.

Ondol room Seoul is not cheap, but it’s not too expensive either. Our hotel cost W40,000 (US$28) a night. What we loved about our hotel was that the room was ondol – meaning it had heated floors. It’s a Korean traditional form of heating we saw at the palaces, and it kept our room toasty warm and at an even temperature. It really is a nice feeling in the morning to get out of bed and put one’s feet on warm flooring – no slippers desired for sure! It also explains why people like to sit on the floor in homes and restaurants, as the floors are so warm.

Cheers Our five days were too short – which is why we stayed only in Seoul. Korea is now on our list of countries to come back to and visit again. And it’s going to be even more interesting as the youthful energy continues to evolve Seoul. Cheers with some Korean Soju!!

09 March - Is Nepal the 51st state of India?

Having never been to Nepal before, and only having a passing idea of what Nepal would be like, I was surprised to find out how similar Nepal is to India. It’s not that I knew this before, which is why it was so surprising to me. Yes – it’s different to India – but it’s more like India – especially to someone from the western culture.

Driving in Kathmandu For example, the Nepalese language very similar to Hindi (India’s largest language), they both drive with the same level of chaos (meaning they’re supposed to drive on the left, but in practice it is anything but that), and wonderful food of curries, lassies, Nan bread, dhal, and chapattis.

Thali What makes Nepal a bit unique is the blending of the Indian culture with the Tibetan culture. As Tibet is just on the other side of the mountain range, Nepal was strategically placed as the trade road between India, Tibet and China. We stayed in the wonderful medieval 12th century town of Bhaktapur with still standing wooden temples built from 1427.

The blending of cultures was most evident in the infusion of the Tibetan Buddhism and the Indian Hindu religions. Temples in Nepal have both Buddhist and Hindu iconology co-existing, and the Nepalese don’t see any reason they should be separate. The elephant god Ganesh is as revered and honoured as a statue of Buddha at the same temple. There exists no ill will between these religions, which is a good example of what could-be in the rest of the world.

Buddah with Pooja red As the population density is much less than India, Nepal does make a good introduction to the Indian sub-continent. It’s still a good deal for the western currencies, as a decent hotel room (with warm water) costs US$14, and most meals are under US$2. Nepal has similar Indian attributes with the additional bonus of the influence of the Tibetan culture. Holy Man

17 March – Nepal on 4 hours of electricity a day

We travel so that we can learn and experience what other cultures do. We never get a clear picture of what another country is like, until we get there. It’s not until you are actually confronted with experiencing a country to you get to ask questions like: Could you live on 4 hours of electricity a day?

Ok – to be fair – most of Nepal gets 4 hours of electricity during the day, and 4 hours during the night. But having electricity from 24:00 (midnight) to 04:00am, does that really count?

This is a new problem in Nepal. Two years ago, electricity was taken for granted at 16 hours a day. There are lots of reasons for the cuts in power that range from lack of infrastructure building plans to declining rainfall driving the few hydro-electric plants.

Like everything there’s a good side and a bad side. The good side? Yes – you slow down, and become more patient as you know food is all prepared by hand and cooked on gas or wood. We found it surprisingly easy that we could actually read by candle light. And does one really need 24 hour access to electricity anyways?

Ok – the bad side. Industries die and go to other countries as the work force is un-productive with no electricity. Un-employment is up in the cities (but not in the rural farms where 85% of Nepalese live). Foreign investment slows to a standstill, and even tourism is hit. Should we still be paying US$14 a night for a room that used to get hot water and television 24 hours a day? Should we be paying less since we are getting fewer services than before?

The electric shortage is a serious problem in Nepal and unfortunately is not going to get solved in the next two years. They will get more electricity during the monsoon, but shrink back to less electricity after the monsoon.

18 March - Tongba anyone?

Tongba is a special cultural alcoholic beverage from Eastern Nepal filled in a traditional pot with fermented millet seed and boiling water. Allow it to soak at least 10 to 15 minutes in the beginning and then sip the mixture through a bamboo straw with tiny filters which keep the seeds out of the drink. Add more water and make your session lengthy. Tongba is a popular drink among Sherpa, Tibetan, Rai, and the Limbu communities in Nepal.

23 March - Jerusalem

Jerusalem. Wow. What can be said that already hasn’t been said? Probably nothing.

It’s a cross-road of civilizations and religions. It’s old, really old.

What is the number one aspect of Jerusalem? Belief. Three of the major religions of the planet, all come from the same physical place.

No matter what background one comes from, it is humbling to see people from all faiths believing in a higher power.

28 March - Sea of Gallilee

For Christians - this is where it all happened. This is where Jesus gave his sermon on the mount, delivered the "be attitudes", turned water into wine, multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed 5000 people, and... walked on water (as attempted by Shyla).

The town on the shore is called Tiberias (as in the bible) and is a nice calm and very beautiful setting. We stated with a local family and on the shabbat (the jewish holy day) drove around the "sea" in about 4 hours including stops along the way. Ok - it's a lake in today's size terms, but it still retains it's biblical name "sea of gallilee" in English.

30 March - Amman Jordan

Apple flavoured, this nargileh created the most wonderful sweet fragrant aroma. Slightly naughty. Oh so memorable.

30 March - The Dead Sea

Today - you've got a friend in a low place - the lowest place on the planet that is. At 418 meters BELOW sea level.

Our guide book states that the Dead Sea has 20 times more bromine, 15 times more magnesium and 10 times more iodine than ocean water. What it should of said that even one drop in your mouth explodes into the worst taste you could ever imagine. A slight splash of a drop in your eye stings horribly. Which is why you only ever see people calmly floating on top of the water.

We tried to get lunch at the restaurant at our beach - but no luck. It was a busy day at the beach with 300 Iraqies who beat us to the queue of food. But not too much of a problem as our driver took us to a local mini-mart for crisps. Not ideal or exciting food, but not all that bad either.

01 April - Petra - Magical Petra

The Nabataeans, in the 6th century BC (wow - 2,900 years ago), became rich by enacting taxes on trade caravans (think camels) that passed through Petra. Basically - if you wanted to go between Egypt and Asia, you had to go through this one mountain pass, which made the Nabataeans rich.

Can one imagine what someone 2,900 years ago would think as they passed through this very narrow mountain passage, to arrive at the "treasury", a huge very-impressive monument even in today's standards. It's the kind of grand experience that takes one's breath away when you first see it.

The photos in this box do NOT do the site justice. Go to the photo gallery (in the left toolbar) to see better detailed pics. It is certainly worth seeing the better pics!

And that's Alex on the horse in Petra. We met her (and her Aussie parents Peter and Vicky) in Amman and travelled with them to Petra and later to Egypt.

04 April - Nuweiba Egypt

Ok - travel isn't always easy. It looks like it will be, but then, the un-expected can happen. And when one doesn't speak the local language, it means one doesn't know what the heck is going on.

We leave our hostel at 7am to take a bus, to a taxi, to a ferry boat that leaves at 10:30am. That's the plan as we are told. However, the boat doesn't leave at 10:30am.... it leaves at 5:30pm.

Which meant a group of us were all in a very hot terminal, waiting, and waiting, and waiting... to hear when we could go. Shyla and I were very thankful we were travelling with the Aussie's (Peter, Vicky, and Alex) we met in Amman and Petra, along with a fellow American Britney, and Singaporian Lam.

But it all worked out in the end. With our new friendships keeping us all sane, we all managed to get to our beach huts after a well negotiated taxi ride by Peter :-)

So we all took a few days for some well needed R&R.

09 April - Trip Interrupted

It's the news we all don't want to get. An urgent email to call home, and one knows it can only be bad news.

Dan's Mom has cancer at stage IV. What kind of cancer, how long, how bad, was unknown... lots medical tests need to be run. It's also the kind of news that takes us home to Dan's family in Michigan.

The cancer is finally diagnosed as Breast cancer at stage IV, which means it has spread to the liver and bones. This is not good news. The bottom line is: If treatment (chemo) is effective - 2 to 3 years, if very effective then longer, if not effective less.

Please keep Dan's Mom Betty in your prayers. This is a most stressful time for her.

03 June - Alexandria, Egypt

Dan's mom Betty is getting six months of treatment (chemo). Medical issues are under control. So it's time to resume our travels.

Before we start directly with the Pyramids, a break is in order, the the lovely sea side town of Alexandria is in order. We need to re-plan and research our new itinerary, see what fits or doesn't fit, call airlines, and plan plan plan. Alexandria has a new library with room for 10 million books, free wifi, and a great chilled out attitude.

The women in Alexandria mostly cover. Although it doesn't appear it is something that is forced, more a choice to cover or not. The colours and styles match their outfits. They wear makeup, and also can hold the hands of their husbands (which is not common in other parts of Egypt).

Alexandria also has a coffee culture. Not the Starbucks variety, but a culture that travelled across the Med from Italy, which is GREAT. A good chilled out city with good coffee. Just the break we were looking for :-)

09 June - Cairo, Egypt

Welcome to Cairo. While many big cities around the world are just that - another big city - same same but different - Cairo is different. The streets are bustling, the smells and colours are intense, and all happening at a very fast pace.

I'd like to say it's not a dirty city. But it is. The desert sand blows constantly around the city, and the very dry dust is everywhere. The sand storms (or dust storms) blows the paint off buildings faster than they can re-paint. But this only then intensifies the colours and intensity of the local people.

The local koshari is a traditional egyptian dish (the plate of food on the left) and is unlike anything we've had anywhere. It probably started as leftovers from the week, but it now is a delicacy of rice, brown lentils, chickpeas, macaroni, Egyptian garlic, vinegar, and spicy tomato sauce with caramelized onions. It sounds weird, but it was absolutely delicious, very filling from very large portions, and incredibly cheap (like $1 US dollar a plate).

And I had no idea that Egypt used different numbers than us. Almost everywhere in the world, numbers are numbers. But in a strange outcome, our numbers (1,2,3) are "arabic" numbers, whilst Egypt uses an older "arabic-india" script which is also in use in Iran today. For example, the license plate on the right is 76523.

For more photos of Cairo, click on the link on the left toolbar, or click here.

12 June - Pyramids - WOW WOW WOW

We've been travelling for almost 4 years now, and we had yet to see the Pyramids. So in planning the trip RTW for '09, we realised that, can we actually claim we've been round-the-world and not seen the Pyramids?!?. So RTW'09 we decided to rectify this situation.

The thing about the Pyramids is that they are AWESOME and HUGE. Even though our expectations were high, seeing them in person is greater than any picture or description can tell. And the fact they were built 6,600 years ago (the first one 4,600 BC) makes them just astonishing.

And we both kept saying over and over: WOW. WOW!! ... and WOW!!!

What is left after 6,600 years, is the rough outer shell of the pyramid. There used to be smooth white marble covering the entire pyramid, which has been pilfered / stolen over the eons.

And amazing news: While the big pyramids are easy to find (because they are big), archaeologists believe that only 1/3 of the tombs and gravesites have been discovered. In old Egypt, the cities were restricted to being near water (the Nile river). And since there is a huge desert to the west... this was the easy place to bury people (not in fertile farm land that flooded a lot). So the desert just west of the city (50km of desert) was basically a HUGE burial ground in the sand.

WOW! There it is again. Just writing these about our experience... I just have to say it again. WOW! WOW!

We just had to go inside. It costs more, but then, when are we going back? The first thing to know is that everything that could be removed has. The sarcophagus is still there, but I think that is only because it wouldn't fit back out the door. It is so huge, that the only way it was installed, was during the construction phase. There is a real serenity inside.

We went into three pyramids. Two of them had no hieroglyphics at all. Just plain square burial chambers. But the Titi pyramid had awesome hieroglyphics. The writings were basically ancient burial instructions... and incredibly detailed.

The pics here on the front page are only a taste of the many pics in the Photo Gallery. To see the many more, just click on the Photo Gallery link on the left, or click here.

Now, one thing did surprise us... official proof that an ancient Starbucks existed... Yes. See the hieroglyphic on the right... Starting at the top, it can be translated as: To get a cuppa (the small cup), take a break (the feather), and walk (the legs) across the river (the water lines) to Starbucks (the large cup).

15 June - Istanbul

Ok - I didn't think Istaubul would not be beautiful... but I was soo taken back but it's absolute beauty. I didn't think it would not be modern, and yet it was so modern a wonderful mix of the ancient worlds. Pedistrian streets with all the modern brand stores and near-by a Bazaar that is centuries old selling goods just like the old times. That's why we travel... to know what places are really like.

Istanbul has lots of waterfront. The city actually resides on two continents (Europe and Asia), and seperated by a river. Which means there is tons of waterfront parks, waterfront restaurants, waterfront property, waterfront views, and ferries to take you everywhere. Sail boats, water parks, water sports, islands off the shore... everywhere beauty.

There are so many sites to see. The Blue Mosque (on the right) is one of the must see's. It was built in 1606 and is a very special mosque to see. Really. It is still a very active mosque where worshipers get to use the "front" door, and tourists (or non-muslims) use the south door. It is elegant, beautiful, and awesome.

And this mosque is where we get the English word "turquoise" from. Blue tiles were hard to make in 1606, and the unique colour of blue in the mosque was described by the French as the colour "of the turq's" or the colour "turquoise" (meaning of the turqs) in French. That's another reason we travel - to find out the meanings of words like Turquoise.

Now the Blue Mosque was special, but literally across the street is the Aya Sofya which was built as a church in the year 537, and was largest chuch in the world for over 900 years (when it was then converted into a mosque). WOW. It is larger than the Blue Mosque, and given that it is over 1000 years older, and still standing, magnificant.

Ataturk (the modern founder of Turkey) made Aya Sofya a "museum" (instead of keeping it as a mosque), which means the old christian mosiacs which were covered by the muslim faith (faces in mosques are taboo) were uncovered in 1924. You can see some of them in our Photo Gallery in the toolbar on the left, or click here to see some.

One of the things that makes places very special, is the friends we make along the way. The pic on the left is us with Kerem, who we met in Vietman on a boat cruise in Halong Bay. We had such a good time with him in Vietnam, we just knew we'd have a great time with him in Istanbul. And what a wonderful time we had. It is so much more special to see a city with a local, and we look forward to seeing him again somewhere along our travels. Thank you Kerem!!!

We also partied into the night singing Karakoe with Pinar and Gurol at her brothers bar in a posh area of Istanbul, and had several wonderful dinners with Kerems brother Erdem and Asli (far right). It's a small world, and we very much hope to see them all again.

19 June - Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia – a magical mystical land with fairy chimneys.

It’s why we travel. We want to see places and landscapes unlike anywhere. And Cappadocia is unlike anywhere in the world. We are now in central Turkey after taking an overnight train to then get on a long bus ride to get here. But it was worth the trip.

Because of a strange but natural process, unusual rock formations occurred which look like chimneys and for centuries the locals thought they were inhabited by fairies. The terrain is dry and almost lunar looking, which also makes it a great place for hikes.

The rock is soft, and over time, the locals finally burrowed into the rock to make homes in the chimneys. Today there are “cave hotels”, “cave bars”, and people living the chimneys all over Cappadocia. Like most caves, they were generally cool even though it was very hot during our visit.

Now fairy chimneys were not the only unusual rock formations in the Cappadocia valley. Take for instance the strange rock formations to the right which we found on the hike labelled in our guide as the “love hike”. Take a look closer and you’ll understand why.

September 2009 - Dusseldorf Germany

We certainly can not complain about our flight to Dusseldorf Germany. Thanks to RyanAir, we got a flight from Edinburgh to Dussedorf for Twenty Pounds each - that's about $30 US. Budget airlines are great (as long as you read ALL the fine print)!!!!

We've both been accused of travelling the world with an emphasis on sampling the beer. So Dusseldorf is no exception. Alt-bier is the speciality in Dusseldorf. They serve it in tiny glasses which is a shock when one is used to the large British pints. But the interesting custom in Dusseldorf, is that if you finish your glass, you need to put the coaster over the top of your class, to stop the server from quickly and automatically bringing you a new fresh one. Their idea is that a "big" glass of beer goes stale before you finish it. So with very efficient servers, you always have a fresh, albeit small, but never ending supply, of delightful beer. Prost!

September 2009 -- I get a Tattoo

For my 20th birthday I got a Tattoo. Tinkerbell on my ancle. After that, I always thought I would get another... but then I started my career and in general, life just kept me from becoming a "painted lady". But then this year, with my 40th birthday looming... I started thinking more and more about it. You can say it became an obsession. Could it really have been 20 years since I went with my University friends into the tattoo parlor in Spokane, WA?? Could I really be hitting the Big 4 -- 0??

By the time my birthday finally hit, I knew I had to get one. If not this year than never... and I am not a never kind of girl. So in my mind I designed my second tattoo -- a fairy flying around-the-world! I decided nothing would better symbolize my current life than that. And in Edinburgh I found the perfect tattoo artist, Mel at Asylum Tattoo. Like my first time around, I wanted a female tattooist, and the great thing about Mel is that she loves drawing fairies. She was able to take my mental picture and turn it into fantastic tatoo art.

So on 11 September 09, less than two months after turning 40, I plucked up the courage to go in and get my tattoo. It didn't hurt as much as I remember, even though it took much longer than when I was 20. This time I was under the needle for two and a half hours! But the result is amazing -- a beautiful around the world fairy tattoo covering my thigh. I love it!! And I have named the fariy SHIRAZ. That is the name of one of the many people that went out of their way to help Dan and I while we have been traveling the world. I have always considered her a "travel angel" and now she is my "travel fairy"!

August 2009 - a Scottish "homecoming"

Ok - Scotland is, well, like returning to home for us. As we lived in Scotland for more than four years, and it was really more like a home-coming to see friends. Lots of friends.

We especially wanted to see how our friend Annette's new restaurant REDWOOD is doing. She is a Cordon Bleu trained chef and just opened her restaurant in Edinburgh. The food emphasis is on all things California, and it is simply wonderful. If you are in Edinburgh, you just have to stop by her restaurant on St. Stevens Street. Seriously good food.

Ken and Karen are friends we have travelled with on three different continents - Europe, Asia (India), and Oceania (New Zealand). Maybe next year we'll add a fourth continent with a visit to Iceland? Or maybe Africa? Who knows!!! A visit to Edinburgh would not be complete without their friendship and smiling energy.

We were so very fortunate (or maybe due to Shyla's good planning), as we were just in time for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And lucky enough to get tickets to the world famous Tattoo (thanks again K&K). It's the world's biggest festival of its kind and we saw many shows - too many to mention. And a special treat was to see shows with Nic & Kyrene from Inverness, and Shyla's friends from Seattle Kurt, Crystal, Grace, & Katie.

When we were in Taipei Taiwan, we went to the top of the world's tallest building - Taipei 101. At the top, they have an exhibit of the worlds most fascinating original engineering structures. And to our surprise, the Falkirk wheel is in the top ten. So we decided we had to go see it. And we have to say - yes - it is amazingly unique. It's a water lock for boats and it rotates.

And lastly - it was soo good to see our many friends in Round Table and Ladies Circle. We have so much enjoyed our experiences with this service group, and it was made very special with a reunion of our most treasured friends. Cheers to you all!!!

Christmas Letter 2009

Dear Santa Clause,

December 2009

Dan & ShylaIt is Christmas day and I thought I should write to let you, and all our friends, know where Dan and I are. We are having a “Feliz Navidad” in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. It is hot here and we spent the day hiking around one of the world’s largest waterfalls.

Santa, we do hope you can find us, but we understand if you are a bit delayed. This year has been filled with travel, and sometimes we don’t even know where we are! In total, Dan and I have been to TWENTY countries in 2009.

Dan & ShylaThe year began with us in the Pacific Northwest. We returned to the States to get new passports, as our old ones were full. It was wonderful to see our friends and family and to have some fun outings. But once we got our new passports, we were ready to go and the first country stamp came from South Korea. We loved the spas there and wish every house worldwide had their ondol (under floor) heating.

Our next stop was Nepal. We arrived just in time to participate in the ‘Holi Festival’ with members of Round Table and Ladies Circle (an international social / charity club). The festival is basically a country-wide water balloon fight, with colours. And yes, we got very very wet.

Dan & ShylaAfter that, we went to the Middle East – Israel, Jordan & Egypt. In Israel, we home stayed with Servas members (an international travel club that promotes world peace). They taught us a bit of the culture, introduced us to the world’s best hummus, and enabled me to walk on the Sea of Galilee. For us the highlights of Jordan were enjoying a shisha with locals, floating on the Dead Sea and touring the amazing ruins of Petra.

We had just arrived in Egypt when an emergency email took us to Michigan. Dan’s mom, Betty, was in the hospital. The next two months was a confusing emersion into the world of cancer as we dealt with doctors, diagnosis and disease. Eventually a treatment plan was devised; and, the great news is that Betty is responding very well and tumors are disappearing. Santa, please bring Betty the gift of renewed health and vitality.

Dan & ShylaDan and I were grateful for our wonderful friends and family members that supported us while we were home. We especially appreciated the Weinstein family. Twice we stayed with Eliot & Marcy in New York City, plus we went with them to Connecticut for a Bar Mitzvah. It was my first, and I enjoyed the ceremony plus the wonderful “family time”. Mazel tov!!

Dan & ShylaSanta, when we were able to travel again, we returned to Egypt. This time, we actually made it to THE Pyramids. Wow was it amazing to stand beside and IN the Great pyramids at Giza.

Next, it was a quick flight to Turkey. We stayed there a month and had many memorable moments. Our time started in Istanbul with fellow traveler Kerem. His hospitality was amazing and the local restaurants he took us to were spectacular. In Turkey, we were also hosted by the parents of Dan’s university friend Korhan. Burhan & Seher showed us the Ozdere area and spoiled us with home-cooked food. However, we did the cooking in Dalyan when we crashed at the villa of our Scottish friends, the Devoys. Some of our favourite Turkish sites were: the Aya Sophia, Cappadocia, the Fethiya coast (via a blue cruise), Pamukkale, and Ephesus.

Dan & ShylaAn overnight train took us to Bulgaria. Tired after so many adventures, we rented an apartment and relaxed. Although grocery shopping in a country that uses the Cyrillic alphabet proved to be challenging.

Soon we moved on to Romania. There we stumbled upon the Sighisoara Medieval festival. It was great fun, as was our time with the Round Table and Ladies Circle of Brasov. We were not real keen on the tripe soup of Romania, but we did enjoy the sites – Dracula’s castle, the Painted Monasteries, and a Segway tour in Brasov.

Dan & ShylaSanta, I am sure you know that I turned 40 this year! To celebrate the big 4-0, Dan and I went to Moldova. It was the “Napa valley” of the former Soviet Union so of course we did some wine tasting. The Cracova Wine tour was especially good; and boy, can those Russians drink!

A highlight of 2009 was when Dan and I went to Edinburgh. It was good to be with our Scottish friends again. It really felt like returning home! While we were there we had many dinners out with friends – a few of them at Redwood (a fantastic Restaurant owned by our friend Annette!) We also attended fringe shows (some with my high school friend Chrystal & family who were on holiday), went to the Tattoo, attended the fireworks, and visited the Falkirk Wheel. Big thanks to our friends Joyce & Bill, Karen & Ken, and Lesley who hosted us.

Dan & ShylaWhile in Edinburgh, I got a tattoo. It was a celebration of my 40th birthday and a testament to the more than four years Dan and I have been traveling. The tattoo is a fairy named Shiraz flying around the world. Santa, if you want a peek – you know where to look!

Our next destination was Germany. We spent a month visiting friends there -- Ramona in Koln, Brittany in Saarlouis, Andreas in Freiburg, and Birgit’s flat in Berlin. We were on our own in Munich, just us and a million other tourists who were there for Oktoberfest. The beers were huge and Munich is a beautiful city. In fact, all of Germany was lovely and all the beer good.

Dan & ShylaFrom Germany, I made a side trip to Poland. In Krakow I saw the old town, a salt mine, and Auschwitz. Dan and I regrouped on the way to Denmark. There we were hosted by the “Notorious Danish Boys.” It was great to see them again and of course to see THE little mermaid.

Dan & ShylaWe made it to Leusden in The Netherlands, in time for Aunt Anneke’s 65th birthday party. It was really fun to get to spend time with the Dutch Eskos again. Boy how Lucas and Lisa have grown! Together we carved pumpkins, ate pannekoeken, and caught up on life. Dan and I even did a bit of shopping and sightseeing in Amsterdam.

Santa, we could have used your sleigh for our next flight as we went from Scotland to Santiago Chile. After getting over jet lag, we found Santiago to be a nice city. While there I had my first pisco sour – yummy. We also met up with Dan’s cousin Doug which made for a fun day.

Dan & ShylaHeading up the Chilean coast, we stopped at three beach-side towns. First was Bahia Inglesia which is known for its scallops and they were delicious. Second was Iquique were we went paragliding. And finally we stayed in Arica were we saw the oldest mummies on the planet!

Next we crossed into Peru and made our way to Cusco. It was there that we spent our 9th wedding anniversary and Thanksgiving. To celebrate we had a dinner of trout ceviche, alpaca steak, and guinea pig! It was all tasty, but once in a life on the guinea pig is enough.

Dan & ShylaDan made his way to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. It was a four day hike which he really enjoyed. I on the other hand, went by train. We met up at the ancient Inca site and toured the ruins together. We also went to Lake Titicaca and did a home-stay on Amatani Island. It was great to experience real local life, and let me tell you Santa, those Peruvian women loved dancing with Dan!

Dan & ShylaWe both found Bolivia to be beautiful, interesting, and culturally rich. Copacabana was a lovely beach town. La Paz had colourful locals and hidden charms. But definitely the highlight was the four-day tour of the Salar de Uyuni. The natural beauty was outstanding and I doubt I will ever forget driving across a salt lake.

Unfortunately our time in Paraguay was short. And even more unfortunate was that I managed to sprain my ankle on our first morning there. Bummer.

Santa, as I told you at the start of this letter, Dan and I are now in Argentina. We have just rented an apartment in Buenos Aires where we plan to spend New Years and all of January.

Dan & ShylaDear Santa Clause, I do think next year you will have an easier time keeping track of us. We will wait to see what the new year brings, but at this point Dan and I are planning to settle down and end our round-the-world adventure. It has been an amazing four and a half years of travel, but we are getting just a wee bit tired of living out of a backpack.

We will let you know when we have a permanent address, but for now you can track us via our website www.eskobare.com or facebook or emails – Dan@eskobare.com or Shyla@eskobare.com

Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año - Dan & Shyla Bare

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