Woo! Hoo! I am HOME! Over thirteen weeks ago, I was ‘heading off’. Now I’m back. Safe and well.
Being in Scandinavia for summer meant that I missed winter in Perth and so I return just in time for my third summer in a row.
Thanks to those of you who’ve read my blogs and enjoyed what I have written and told me so. I’ve had over 5000 visits to my website from you. Glad you’ve enjoyed travelling vicariously with me. This has been my diary except I get to share it with all of you. All that remains to share with you are some pictures. It is my intention to make a couple of slideshows on DVD of my favourite photographs of this adventure. With photography being the passion that it is for me, I have over 4000 pictures to sort through. A BIG task, but a fun one. Keep in touch and I will let you know when they’re ready – give me a few months.
Now that I am back, my email will return to the usual.
I wandered through 10 countries on this trip, 6 of which I had not been to before.
They were, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Sweden, Austria, England, Norway, Denmark, Thailand.
The new ones are in bold.
One of the things I love about traveling is the challenge to “normal” in our lives. What is ‘normal’ is just what we are used to. In another part of the world a different normality exists.
What we have for breakfast, etiquette and manners, the language spoken, and even which side of the road to drive on. All are up for challenge when you travel.
Here are a few highlights for you.
Most amazing day – Second last day our circumnavigation of Svalbard Arctic adventure.
Svalbard – a most beautiful place, with weather today to match. Our day began with a journey up a mirror smooth fiord full of ice to a glacier. Mountains reflected on the water as the kayakers left the ship, taking lunch with us for a full day paddle. Although challenging at times, the paddle delivered such amazing places to be we kept saying, “I can’t believe I am here, doing this.” With 23 km behind us and 1 km to go to get back to the boat, three kayaks had a sprint finish. Nathan and I won!
A cruise in the ship back up the fiord, with mountains on both sides, had us at the face of a 5 kilometre long glacier. The weather was joy as the ship sailed along the front of the glacier, giving all on deck an amazing view. A MASSIVE carving of the glacier, right nearby added some excitement as we all enjoyed a BBQ on the back deck of the ship. A few beers and a midnight sun at last ended an amazing day.
Favourite meal – Red Duck Curry at the Mango Tree in Bangkok.
Unusual foods eaten on this journey – smoked reindeer heart, smoked reindeer tongue, reindeer steak, smoked whale, whale steak, smoked seal, seal steak, fungus that made me sick, sprats/pickled herrings for breakfast.
Best blonde comment – from an Aussie on her first overseas holiday, a friend of the bride and groom in Sweden. On looking at a Swedish sign outside a shop, she turned to me and said, “It’s like another language.” Yep! It’s called Swedish.
Favourite city – Vienna, Austria. It caught me by surprise, but I love Vienna!. Staying in a great location, with a friend helped, but I think there’s a lot to like here. Grand old buildings mix fluently with new ones. The public transport is good and I found the free bike rental system to be the best of many I saw in other cities.
Much to see here and much more just a short train ride in any direction, such as the day trip I did to Bratislava, the Slovakian capital.
I enjoyed the quality art galleries almost as much as riding the bicycle around and seeing what I found. Quality restaurants and delicious beer – life’s good. And in winter they get skiing. Buggers!
The medieval city of Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. Tallinn with it’s ancient walls and embattlements and cobbled streets was a close second. It just doesn’t swallow and hide the tourists, like Vienna. The deluge of tourists is much more obvious in Tallinn. I loved Tallinn, just read my blog. At first glace Tallinn is very beautiful, but for any length of stay, Vienna has more to offer than Tallinn, so it gets my favourite city award.
Transport used on this holiday – plane, train, bus, tram, boat, helicopter, car, underground rail, kayak, bicycle, horse, tuk-tuk.
Most expensive country – Scandinavia as a whole, is expensive, but Norway is the worst. The price of alcohol makes all but the most wealthy or desperate stop drinking. The price of food has you thinking twice before eating. (No wonder they don’t have an obesity problem.)
I guess if Norway weren’t so expensive, more people would visit and that would take away some of its charm. There’s enough tourists for infrastructure and services, but not so many they’re everywhere you go.
Most beautiful country – Norway.
The mainland is picture postcard perfect. Imagine waterfalls into fiords, green hillsides and red houses all surrounded by snow-capped mountains. Norway is truly beautiful. I travelled the length of the Norwegian coastline on the Hurtigruten Coastal voyage and saw some amazing places. If that wasn’t enough to award the crown, my time in Svalbard, the archipelago near the North Pole, also belonging to Norway, sealed the choice. Svalbard is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
If I had to describe each country in only one word –
Finland – fun
Estonia – optimistic
Russia - interesting
Sweden - wedding
Austria - varied
England - overcast
Norway - stunning
Denmark - liberal
Thailand – crazy
Up mountains and across streams, on busses, ferries, trams and by bike and by kayak, The Wandera has been wandering and discovering what’s ‘over there’. I’ve been privileged to share my wanderings with you. I’ve had fun both wandering and writing about it. Thank you for sharing my journey with me.
AKA Malcolm Roberts