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Showing posts from 2019

TransAtlantic Cruise and Canary Islands

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Some of you may have wondered why we started in Europe in August only to work our way all the way to Australia and then end up back in Spain again in November...good question! Geographically it doesn’t make a ton of sense, we know! But it’s all because of this silly yet wonderful way for us to travel home to the U.S. for the holidays...a TransAtlantic/Repositioning Cruise!

Each year, in the fall and the spring, large international cruise companies such as Royal Caribbean and Carnival move their cruise ships between different areas of the world based on the seasons/weather. In the summer months, there’s a large cruising industry in the Mediterranean Sea around Europe, but as winter approaches in Europe, the cruise season there ends and ramps up in the Caribbean. For this reason, the ships based in Europe in the summer cross the Atlantic to work in the Caribbean for the winter. The same goes for the Alaskan and Australian areas of the world. And you can travel on these cruises all for a …

Barcelona

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From Alicante, we traveled to Barcelona, where we were able to spend almost a week exploring this amazing city. Out of the Spanish cities that I knew we would be visiting this trip, Barcelona was the one I was most excited about. Barcelona is a beautiful city on the coast with fascinating buildings and unique architecture. Its blue skies and sunshine are almost constant as it only rains about 20 days per year. The culture and food are amazing as well. It certainly lived up to all of its hype, and I think I would say that it is one of my favorite cities in the world.
Neither Perry nor I have really spent any time in Barcelona before. We briefly flew in and out of the city on our honeymoon where we took a Mediterranean Sea cruise that travelled in and out of its port, but sadly our only experience in the city was in the airport and on a bus to and from the port. We both remember thinking as we sailed away from the city five years ago that we definitely wanted to return one day and spend …

Alicante

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In May and June of 2010, Perry spent several weeks in Alicante, Spain on a University of Tennessee study abroad trip. While there, he took a Spanish class and lived with a Spanish host. He absolutely loved his time in Alicante where he was able to learn and practice his Spanish, spend his afternoons on the beach, and explore different parts of Spain and Europe with his classmates. Sounds like a pretty nice way to study abroad, right?
When planning this trip, we knew that we wanted to come to Spain and struggled with where we wanted to go. Spain is an amazing country with SO many places to see and explore. They have big cities, small villages, mountains, beaches, castles, cold weather, warm weather and everything in between. Figuring out where to go in a short period of time can be quite the conundrum. One place that we knew we wanted to visit though was Alicante. Perry has such fond memories of his time there, and to be able to return and show me around was something he has wanted to d…

Madrid

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After our wonderful week in Australia, we boarded a plane and began the 30+ hour journey to Spain. To say it was long is a bit of an understatement. We flew Cairns to Sydney (3 hours), Sydney to Abu Dhabi (14 hours) and Abu Dhabi to Madrid (7 hours). We were both pretty happy to be off a plane once we touched down in Madrid. I love to fly and don’t mind long flights, but the jet-lag and short layovers made even me ready to be on the ground. The only issue was that we arrived in Madrid and couldn’t check into our AirBnB for 8 hours so if you ever want to know anything about the Madrid Arrivals area in Terminal 1, specifically the seats located close to the rental car area, we are your people ;) 
Needless to say, we were still excited to be back in Europe in the land of Espana. We both love Spain. The culture, the people, the language, the food…all of it are wonderful. Spain was also the first European country for both of us to ever visit- Perry in 2010 on a UT summer study abroad trip, …

Australia (Sydney and Cairns/Great Barrier Reef)

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Kangaroos, koalas, platypuses, wallabies, wombats and crocodiles…what do you immediately think of? Australia, of course! Over the last week, Perry and I visited the land down under. While we unfortunately didn’t get to spend time in the “outback” seeing them in their natural habitats (but we’ll definitely be back, Australia!), we did get to see all of these amazing animals in our short trip to Sydney and Cairns (pronounced “Cans”) at a zoo :)
We weren’t sure how we would feel about Australia after we fell completely in love with New Zealand and didn’t want to leave, but I have to say that these two cities did not disappoint us. Sydney was quite lovely with its views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge over Sydney Harbour. And Cairns was a dream come true as we checked an item off our bucket list by getting to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
We started our time in Australia with four days in Sydney. As the capital city of the country, Sydney is quite large and has the same feeling of a b…

New Zealand (Auckland, Greymouth, Christchurch, Queenstown and the miles (err…kilometers?) between)

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If you follow our Instagram account (@wonderfulroad) then it's likely you've figured out by now that we spent the last nine days traveling through New Zealand. And based upon our “Stories” you probably already know that we are in awe of the beauty of this country. In the last week, we've constantly found ourselves saying things like, “Look at that!”, “Wow!”, “That’s incredible!”, “I have never seen anything so pretty!” and “Of course it looks like that because everywhere is beautiful here…” over and over and over again.
In all honesty, when we were first planning this trip, New Zealand wasn’t on our list to visit. I know, it sounds like craziness especially with how I’m raving about it now, but we knew our time would be limited here if we came and we didn’t want to rush through the country. Thankfully, we decided to give in and visit anyway even if it meant we were only “dipping our toes in the water”. And honestly we already have a mental list of where we want to go when w…

Hong Kong

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Out of all the cities that are on our list to visit this fall, Hong Kong is one that topped the list as somewhere we couldn’t wait to explore. From its skyscrapers and busy streets filled with traffic and markets to its beautiful mountains and scenic promenades on the harbor, Hong Kong is truly an incredible city. It’s the only city this fall that we chose to do a food tour in, which speaks to the abundance of food options that it has. It’s a city that you could spend days walking around in and never get bored. There’s something on every corner waiting to be seen. The people are kind, friendly and helpful. Their way of life is similar to the West, so it’s easy to slide right in to the rhythms of the city. Visiting Hong Kong is easy as long as you’re okay with the heat and humidity.
Hong Kong is small and large all at the same time. The part that you think of with its cityscape is not that large compared to many big cities of the world. The area of Hong Kong that most people picture is …

Beijing

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Over the last week, we spent time exploring Beijing. Compared to Shanghai, Beijing is older and more historic. Where Shanghai has skyscrapers and lightshows, Beijing has temples, palaces and relics. The city has just as much of the hustle and bustle and mass swarms of people, but it lacks the business-feel and instead stands as the historical and political capital of China.
For those that aren’t aware of the daily happenings of China, we visited Beijing at a very interesting time. On October 1st, China celebrated its 70thbirthday as the People’s Republic of China (PRC).In a sense, this is their July 4thfor those of us who are Americans. On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong stood in Tiananmen Square and declared China as the PRC and a communist country. What this means is that China went ALL out on this celebration. There were parades (the “regular” kind with floats as well as military). There were fireworks. There were military jet and helicopter fly-overs. There were dance routines and perf…

Shanghai

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Last week we returned to a country that my heart loves. A country that is as crazy and chaotic as it is beautiful. I haven't been to China since the end of 2011, and for this reason, I've been anxiously awaiting this portion of our trip. This land and this people hold a special place in my heart. One moment they make me smile and laugh, and the next moment, they frustrate me beyond words. It's almost like that line that you walk with close friends or family when you've spent way too much time together and you end up closer and crazier all at the same time.

When we arrived in Shanghai last week, I wondered what my reaction would be. I've only ever been to China as a non-profit volunteer, never as a full time tourist. And it is definitely a different perspective. When I've been here in the past, I've been surrounded by people that I know and love and who know and love me. This time, I've been a number in a mass of tourists that swarm the streets of China. …

Kyoto

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After spending 10 days in Tokyo last week, we hopped on a train and headed south to another amazing Japanese city: Kyoto.



While Tokyo is known for its skyscrapers, fast pace and bright city lights, Kyoto has a totally different vibe. Up until 1868, Kyoto was actually the capital city of Japan. For this reason, it is full of Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. And when I say full, I mean FULL. Like over 2500. For this reason, our time in Kyoto was mostly spent exploring these sites and enjoying the views along the way. Kyoto is much smaller and is surrounded by beautiful mountains. We spent a lot of time hiking these mountains as many of the shrines start at the bottom and continue to the top. We loved it.

Overall, we probably saw between 15-20 different large temple and shrine sites along with their sub-temples and and smaller shrines within them.

Tokyo

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From its iconic skyscrapers and shrines to its streets filled with millions of people and the smell of delicious food, Tokyo is an amazing city. From the get-go of planning this trip, we have been looking forward to spending about a week and a half here.

Russia (Moscow and Saint Petersburg)

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After leaving Germany last week, we headed east to Russia.

I'm probably being a bit dramatic, but even as I type that, I'm still a little in disbelief that we just spent a little over a week in Russia. Visiting Russia was something that we (mostly me- Haley) have been so excited about and probably a little nervous about as well. With all of the political mess of the world, Russia comes with a stigma and tends to be a little shrouded in mystery. We didn't exactly know what to expect, but I think it's safe to say that it exceeded our expectations.

As we've traveled from country to country, we have found ourselves fascinated by the history and culture of each place that we've visited, and Russia was no exception. Its history of being a country ruled by one family of czars for over 300 years, becoming a communist country in the early 1900s and then a republic in 1991 is so interesting. It's a history that the Russians don't seem to shy away from, but instead …

Bavaria (Munich)

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It's hard to believe that our time in Europe (at this point in our trip) is nearing the end. When we were planning this trip, we felt like our time here would feel like forever, but it has definitely flown by!

We spent the last week based in Munich with several trips out of the city to explore other parts of Bavaria (the German state that Munich is in). It is a truly beautiful area with breathtaking views in the cities and countryside.

When you think of pretzels, Oktoberfest, beer, bratwurst, lederhosen and dirndl, this is the land of Bavaria. If you were to take some of those things (or wear them) to northern Germany, you would be completely out of place (and people might think you're crazy). Bavaria is a land full of proud traditions that date back centuries. But with these traditions come a dark past, a past where Nazi Germany arose in Munich and spread from there. It was the area where the first concentration camps were created and Hitler rose to power. The delicate line wit…

Prague

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I'm writing this while sitting on a six hour train ride from Prague to Munich. We just finished spending five amazing days in Prague, and I think it's safe to say that it has officially become one of our favorite European cities. I don't think either of us knew what to expect when we decided to visit Prague, but to say it is beautiful might be the understatement of the year.

We learned so much about this amazing city and country. It has a fascinating history- one that neither of us had any idea about. We heard from a tour guide that if you lived in Prague throughout the 20th Century, then you changed nationalities eight times without ever changing your address. Craziness, right? 
Similar to other European countries, it has a terrible history of being under the Nazi Regime during World War II, but after WWII, it didn't recover in ways that most of the others did. It (Czechoslovakia at the time) became a communist country under the Soviet Union. The country of the Czech Re…

Amsterdam

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Time is a funny thing. On one hand it feels like we just left the U.S., and on the other, it feels like we've been gone for months. The reality is that we are officially finishing our third week on this "wonderful road". This week we spent enjoying the sights and sounds of Amsterdam in the Netherlands/Holland. It was a place that we had been looking forward to since we started planning this trip. Though neither Perry nor I had ever visited the Netherlands before, we had heard from countless friends and family about how beautiful it is. And they were right.

Much of our five days here were spent wondering the streets and enjoying the views of the canals, boats, buildings, flowers and homes. The city itself is made up of 165 canals with 1281 bridges, giving reason to it being called the "Venice of the North".

Brussels

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If our time in Paris consisted of art and history, our time in Brussels was made up of chocolate and waffles. It was a food-filled several days to say the least. Aside from all the delicious-ness, Brussels too was a city full of history and beauty.

The AirBnB that we stayed at was right in the heart of the Old Town, and it couldn't have been a better, more beautiful location...

Paris

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Paris...what images spring to mind for you at the thought of Paris?

Is it the picturesque buildings? Walking along the Seine River? Small cafes with locals drinking coffee and wine?
If that's what you pictured then you would be right. Paris is a city full of beautiful buildings, beautiful sights and beautiful people.
Perry and I spent ten nights in this amazing city, and to say that we fell in love with it is an understatement.
The things that we saw varied in so many ways.
We visited three different museums: the Louvre (where we spent 9 hours wandering through 35,000 items!), the Musee de l'Orangerie (which contains Monet's "Water Lilies") and the Musee d'Orsay (with numerous works of Monet and Van Gogh).

You're doing what?!

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"You're doing what?!"

These are the words that Perry and I have heard maybe a million times over the last several months. From family, from friends, from co-workers, from random strangers...sometimes these words have come with excitement and enthusiasm...and sometimes the opposite...it's honestly something that we've even looked at each other and said. With this mindset of "Whoa. Wait a second. Is this really what we're doing?" But it is. We are packing up our current lives to head out on an adventure that we have thought about, prayed about and dreamed about for a very long time.