Highlights from an Incredible Trip Around the World

The past eight months have been filled with unforgettable experiences in so many wonderful new places that it seems impossible to write about them in one post. We are walking away from this year with enough happy memories to fill an entire book. But Jeff and I sat down on our very last flight of this journey together and attempted to compose a list of highlights from our trip around the world. Here is the list, along with a photo to accompany each special moment:

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  • Taking a cruise through the Baltic Sea with Jeff’s parents and siblings. We were lucky enough to spend time in six cities, including three rainy days in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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  • Visiting Drummond Island – the site of many summer memories for Catherine – with her parents and sister, where we swam in the frigid waters of Lake Huron and made s’mores by the campfire.  

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  • Returning to Watervale – one of Jeff’s favorite places from childhood – with Jeff’s parents and siblings. We enjoyed hiking to Baldy and sipping gin and tonics on the dock.

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  • Seeing the magnificent fjords of Norway, especially Geirangerfjord. Perhaps the most naturally stunning site we’ve ever seen.

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  • Spending a week in Sykkylven in the secluded Sunnmøre Alps where we were visited by sheep every morning and built fires every night. 

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  • Riding camels in the Sahara desert and sleeping in the dunes under the stars. 

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  • Walking through the souks in the Medina of Marrakech. Taking in the textures, the colors, the scents, the heat…

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  • Meeting many kind, interesting Moroccan people, including our guide Lahcen, and hearing about their families, their religion, their lives.

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  • Visiting Cape Town, South Africa and climbing Table Mountain with our friends Kyle and Johnny.

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  • Driving along the Garden Route of South Africa and stopping for adventures along the way, including kayaking and cliff jumping (and cage diving with great white sharks!).
  • Going on safari in Sabi Sands – observing elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, hippos, white rhinos, leopards, cape buffalo, and many other animals up close.

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  • Exploring Sydney, Australia and walking along the coast from Bondi to Coogee Beach.

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  • Road tripping up the east coast of Australia and spending a week in the beautiful, laid back town of Byron Bay where we surfed, swam in tea tree lakes, and tasted some of the best margaritas and iced coffee we’ve had.

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  • Scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef – seeing various species of coral and swimming with sea turtles and sharks. Incredible! 

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  • Surfing on the beaches of Seminyak, Bali with our amazing instructor Alex. 

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  • Eating fresh, delicious food in Ubud, Bali and learning how to make it at Lobong Cooking Class.

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  • Walking through the Tellagang Rice Terraces in Ubud.

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  • Exploring the temples of Bangkok and taking the overnight train to Chiang Mai with friends.

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  • Eating pad thai and shopping for souvenirs at the night market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 

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  • Flying into Luang Prabang, Laos and peering out the window at the lush, beautiful landscape of the area.

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  • Eating banana pancakes on the balcony of Lakangthong Boutique hotel. 

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  • Witnessing the entire city of Luang Prabang celebrate the Festival of Lights, signifying the end of the rainy season, along the Mekong River. 

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  • Riding motorbikes to the turquoise pools of the Kuang Si Waterfalls.  

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  • Learning how to make jeow, sticky rice, and lemongrass stuffed chicken in Laos.

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  • Walking through the remote town of Nong Khiaw and taking in the beauty and life of the village.

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  • Wandering through Hanoi, Vietnam – weaving through motorcycle-filled streets, eating bahn mis, and drinking 10 cent beer on the sidewalk.

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  • Spending two nights on a boat in Ha Long Bay, where we kayaked through the islands and visited floating villages.

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  • Visiting the beach and markets of the quaint town of Hoi An, Vietnam.

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  • Visiting and touring the many temples of the ancient city of Angkor, including Ta Prohm. 

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  • Seeing the sun rise at Angkor Wat.

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  • Watching the sunset on Relax Beach in Koh Lanta, Thailand. 

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  • Visiting the pottery village of Yandabo, Myanmar and interacting with the sweet children who had the day off from school.

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  • Singing and dancing with the crew of the Amapura – and listening to them perform “The Simple Life.” 
  • Meeting many special Burmese people who showed us such kindness and who we have kept in touch with since our visit.

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  • Touring a school in Pha Hto village, watching them perform songs and dances, and teaching them the Hokey Pokey.

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  • Spending Thanksgiving with friends in Christchurch, New Zealand.

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  • Driving around New Zealand in a camper van for the month of December, stopping in many amazing, naturally beautiful places including our favorites: Akaroa, Milford Sound, Lake Pukaki, Wanaka, Abel Tasman, Raglan, and Algies Bay.

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  • Celebrating Christmas in Hawaii with Jeff’s brother Ross and Ross’s boyfriend Antwan – making homemade egg nog and singing Mele Kalikimaka. 

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  • Scuba diving with Ross in Hawaii and swimming with the biggest sea turtles we’ve ever seen.

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  • Exploring the magical city of Buenos Aires – wandering through the Palermo, La Boca, and Recoleta. 

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  • Visiting Ushuaia at the southern tip of the world and cruising through the Beagle Channel.

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  • Taking in the magnificent Perito Moreno Glacier and watching and listening to chunks of ice fall off the glacier into the water.

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  • Hiking in El Chaltén – the trekking capital of Argentina – and celebrating Catherine’s birthday with cerveza and helado.

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  • Relaxing on the beach of Punta de Lobos in Pichilemu, Chile. 

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  • Driving through the Colchagua Valley of Chile and staying in this wine region for the last three international days of our trip.

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  • Returning to the US and stopping in Miami to visit Jeff’s brother, sister, and brother-in-law.

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  • Celebrating Jeff’s 30th birthday at home in Indiana with family and friends.

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  • Spending time in Indianapolis with our parents, Jeff’s brother, and Catherine’s sister. 

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  • Visiting Jeff’s parents and skiing together in Breckenridge, Colorado.

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  • Going to New York City to visit dear friends (and somehow taking only this one photo the entire time as we were landing at JFK)!

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  • Ultimately heading back to San Francisco for the next chapter of our adventure…

 

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