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Out With The Old; In With The New

ARGENTINA | Wednesday, 2 January 2013 | Views [315]

"Dressed in Red," South Georgia Island, on route to Antarctica

World Nomads says we have exceeded our photo limit (Quelle surprise!) so we have had to create a new site.  If you’ve been following us on journals.worldnomads.com/vagabonds, this is old news.  If not, maybe you’ll check out the old site after reading this summary.

As for us…  We are well into our second year of vagabonding and we still love it.  We visited ten new countries, dropped in on some old friends and met several new ones.  Twenty-twelve began for us where 2011 ended – in Italy.  Three months wasn’t long enough to see everything (we missed Sardinia) but it was fabulous: the food, the history, the culture, the art, the scenery.  We even managed a not-to-be-missed trip to Malta, someplace you probably haven’t ever considered.

Faced again with expiring European visas, we briefly considered, and quickly eliminated, a trip to China.  Visas there are a snarl of Red Chinese tape.  Instead we flew to Australia where for four months we pin-balled around in rented camper-vans; Western Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Queensland with a visa extending trip to Vanuatu.  We thoroughly enjoyed the wide-open spaces and the freedom of camping, so much so that we will likely buy a camper when we (someday) return to the US.

We spent a few days in London, and then avoided Olympic fever by heading off to Wales for another view of the UK.  But our goal in Europe this trip was Scandinavia and the Baltic countries.  It took a bit of practice to get used to driving on the “right” side of the road again but there isn’t much traffic in Denmark.  Or Norway or Sweden, for that matter.  Scandinavia was just so… “nice” is the only way to describe it.  Nothing flashy but everything is just right; expensive, but right.  We booked a cruise on the Norwegian coast because it was the easiest and cheapest way to see the fjords.  We were surprised by the quality of the impressionist paintings done by Danes and Swedes.  Who knew?  And speaking of art, we managed a three-day visit to St. Petersburg, Russia, which rated very high on our WOW-meter.

The Baltic countries, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, are just being “discovered” by tourists, and now is the perfect time to visit.  They are affordable, easy to get to and as charming as can be.  The surprise of the trip was Poland.  Yes, that Poland!  From Gdansk to Warsaw to Krakow to Wroclaw and all the unpronounceable towns in between, the people, the countryside and the culture simply captivated us.  If you are looking for someplace a bit different, put Poland on your list.

The highlight of the year was an 18-day cruise to the Antarctic Peninsula via the Falklands and South Georgia Island on a Russian polar research vessel.  Academic Sergey Vavilov isn’t luxurious but it is uniquely suited for the rough waters, icebergs and tight squeezes on the White Continent and it took us to places where only a few extremely lucky folks ever get to go.  It was the trip of a lifetime for the eighty or so of us adventurous enough to make the voyage.  We could write thousands of words about the beauty of Antarctica, the penguins and other birds, the whales and seals and it wouldn’t be nearly enough.  Photos just don’t do it justice.  This is a place you must see for yourself to understand.  Having said that, the story and photos of our trip – our entire year, in fact – are at journals.worldnomads.com/vagabonds

We are resting up back in Cordoba, Argentina after a few days on the most remote island in the world, Easter Island, Chile (aka Rapa Nui), is home to the giant statues that look like misplaced space aliens. The town is charming and totally deserted on New Years; nothing is open and we're not sure if we will even find food for dinner.  Great start!  To make matters worse the hard drive on our Mac died, so there won´t be any photos for a while.  We think we have a handle on getting it fixed and will know more tomorrow.

We hope you will follow our story and let us know how you are doing.




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About vagabondstoo

Easter Island, 2012

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