Operation EurAfro

Oh, hey there. Remember that time we quit our jobs, traveled for 15 months, blogged about it, then came home and didn’t manage to finish the blog posts for another 5 months? Oopsie. Well, since we now have an idea as to what kinds of questions our followers have been eager to ask… here’s our last leg of the journey (Europe and Africa) in a nutshell…

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Here are the stats:

Time Away: 3 months 17 days.

Countries Visited: 13 (Ireland, England, Scotland, Netherlands, Italy, Vatican City, France, Monaco, Germany, Czech Republic, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia).

Number of Border Crossings: 16 (re-entered a few countries like Italy (2 times), France (2 times) and South Africa (2 times)).

Number of Flights Taken: 20.

Miles Flown: 28,201.

Most Remote Airport: The Okavango landing strip, a patch of grass mowed by red lechwe and frequented by baboons and giraffes alike.

Number of Boat Rides Taken: 12.

Longest Amount of Time Spent in One Country: Tie between Scotland and Italy with 16 nights in each.

Shortest Amount of Time Spent in One Country: 2 hours in Monaco.

Number of Cities/Towns/Villages Stayed In: 38 (Dublin, Galway, Dingle, Kenmare, Kinsale, Borrowdale, Glasgow, Glencoe, Skye, Ullapool, Dufftown, Edinburgh, London, Amsterdam, Rome, Montepulciano, Bologna, Vernazza, Cassis, Bellagio, Munich, Bautzen, Berlin, Prague, Paris, Johannesburg, Savute, Moremi, Okavango, Windhoek, Sossusvlei, Swakopmund, Damaraland, Okonjima, Cape Town, Franschhoek, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay).

Number of Countries Rented/Drove Car In: 7 (Ireland, England, Scotland, Italy, France, Germany, South Africa).

Number of Tickets Received: 2. (And counting! Depends how many more notices my parents find in the mail from the Polizia Municipale Firenze. They take their road rules seriously over there!)

Scariest Roads: Ireland. Dude, so narrow, so windy.

Largest Country Visited: By Population: Germany; By Size: South Africa.

Smallest Country Visited: By Population: Vatican City; By Size: Vatican City (smallest in the world!).

Richest Country Visited (Highest GDP Per Capita): Monaco. (per World Bank and CIA, though it is not included on the IMF list. Per the IMF it’d be the Netherlands.)

Poorest Country Visited (Lowest GDP Per Capita): Namibia.

Countries With No McDonald’s Visited: Vatican City, Namibia, and Botswana.

Visas Obtained in Advance: 0! Hooray for easier traveling 🙂

Award for Overall Most Frustrating Travel Experience: Honestly, the travel was so much easier throughout Europe and Africa. If pressed, we’d probably say Namibia just given how much driving we had to do to get around, and the typically poor quality of the roads. But compared to say, Kyrgyzstan? Easy. Peasy.

Best Public Transportation System: Glasgow probably takes the cake for easiest since it’s a big circle that goes both directions.

Best View from a Room: Watching wild elephants from your room is tough to beat. But the view of Table Mountain at our place in Cape Town? I don’t know. Tough call.

Craziest Critters Sharing our Spaces: A big old frog that hitchhiked with us from England to Scotland, obscene spiders in Africa (that somehow always managed to hang out in the shower when Jenni was there), and the warthogs, guinea fowl and hornbill that basically hung out in our room in Okonjima, Namibia.

Favorite Beach Location: Probably Cinque Terre. Though in hindsight, there was a serious lack of ocean swimming on this last leg of our journey!

Most Appropriate Experience Accommodation: Hazel Bank! As if we haven’t gushed about this place enough already… We stayed in some fabulous places this round, but there was something so special, so appropriate for the locale, about Hazel Bank in England’s Lake District. In a word, heavenly. What I would do to be sipping a G&T on that lawn right now…

Number of Times Used AirBnB: 10 (Dublin, Galway, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Rome, Bologna, Bellagio, Berlin, Paris).

Times Jenni Faced Her Fears: Let’s see, shall we? SPIDERS IN AFRICA. Bird “attack” in Okonjima. “Scorpion” attack in Okonjima. (Definitely used the emergency phone one too many times at Okonjima). Drinking scotch (neat!) in Scotland. Learning to drive(?) a segway in Prague. Sand sledding in Swakopmund, Namibia. Getting an ostrich neck massage (and riding an ostrich!) in Oudtshoorn, South Africa. City biking in Dublin.

Strangest Experience: Discovering a frog had hitchhiked with us from England to Scotland. Happening upon the nudie section at the park in Munich. Being offered lines of crushed breath mints at Oktoberfest. Getting stuck in the wilderness while a wild leopard roamed about around us.

Best Sunsets: Namibian sunsets for the win! (See: Okonjima, !Doro Nawas.)

Place Where Alan Most Fit In (physically): The land of the brethren redhead, of course! See also: Only Place Alan Fit In (physically).

Number of Beers Imbibed: Ugh, too many. Still working on those Euro-acquired beer bellies.

Place with the Weirdest Name: Dingle, Ireland, or Humansdorp, South Africa.

Best Spot for a Pint: The Bulman (Kinsale, Ireland).

Best Spot for a Cuppa: Ceiteag’s (Glendale, Scotland). Though for a fancier tea, London’s Athanaeum does the trick.

Most Appropriately Dressed Locals: The ladies at the Galway Races!

Family Members That Visited Us: 3. Alan’s brother, Kenny, met us in Italy, and later Alan’s mother Ronnie and her boyfriend Rich met us in Africa.

Friends Visited (e.g. people we knew before the trip): A whole bunch. It helped that we had friends in London, met up with folks in Germany and Amsterdam, and saw a whole lot of old friends at a wedding in Cassis. Lesson learned: it’s easier to convince your friends to visit you on your travels in Europe than it is to convince them to come to Asia.

Most Outlandish Character Met: The former pro-boxer trainer gypsy in Kinsale, Ireland. Joergen, the mustache tickler at Oktoberfest.

Place Where We Felt the Least Safe: Nowhere really… If we had to pick: Cape Town, but not really. We were more confused as to whether we should feel unsafe (e.g. with the warnings about muggings on the hikes).

Scariest Experience: Jenni fighting a baboon out of the car, with SNACKS in HAND(s).

Countries Visited That Drive on the Left: 6 (Ireland, England, Scotland, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana).

Coolest Sounding Language: Click languages in Damaraland, Namibia.

Craziest Party: Oktoberfest, of course.

Most Fairytale-esque Place (possibly in the world): Prague!

Favorite Night: First night of Oktoberfest, or maybe the second night of Oktoberfest. We had a lot of fun at Oktoberfest 🙂

Place We Partied the Least Relative to Its Fame as a Party Place: Berlin. Much to Jack’s dismay.

Favorite Day: Um, probably the day we pet baby cheetahs.

Favorite New Song Discovered: Just My Type.

Best Local Radio: Dingle, Ireland! Or really all over Ireland. I freaking LOVE their talk radio. Makes me want to fly to Ireland, just to get in the car and drive.

Best Music Performances: The show we caught in Ullapool gave me chills.

Best Entertainment, Overall: The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Best Street Art: Berlin, Germany.

Favorite European City Visited: Rome or Amsterdam.

Favorite European Country Visited: Italy. Even confirmed on our re-entry.

Most Beautiful Spot in Europe: Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Memorable Dishes/Meals: Meal we cooked as well as Alan’s birthday dinner in Tuscany, Pizza shared on the canal in Amsterdam. Oysters with a view (and a special appearance by hundreds of dolphins).

Strangest Foods Consumed: Kudu, springbok, impala, ostrich. Thank you Africa, for expanding my meat palate.

Country With Overall Best Eats: ITALY. HANDS DOWN. (duh.) See Emilia-Romagna, Roma, and Toscano for the culinary highlights.

Most Cheese Consumed In: Paris. See also: Most Macarons Consumed.

Best Value Wine: South Africa! Get to Franschhoek and get your wine fix, y’all. Note I did not say best wine. But value all the way. Best quality wines were had in Paris and Tuscany (love us some Montepulciano).

Best Hiking: Isle of Skye, Scotland and the sand dunes in Sossusvlei, Namibia.

Wettest Hiking: Glen Coe, Scotland.

Best Animal Sighting: I mean, this is impossible. EVERYTHING in Africa?! Highlights would include the lions eating an elephant in Savute, Botswana, lions in a pre-mating ritual at Moremi, Botswana, stunning leopards in Savute. Can’t say we didn’t enjoy camping out to watch wild meerkats start their day. Seeing cheetahs on foot wasn’t half bad either.

Stay tuned for a final-final summary post with the stats from our entire 15 months. At the rate we’re going, it’ll be published by 2016! 😉 Anything we missed? Factoids and favorites you’re dying to know? Just ask!

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