Travel Memories – World Journeys

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Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal India

World Journeys to Remember

It was always going to be a big year for us, we had an around the world trip planned, which included some of our most dreamed about destinations. Little did we know just how much bigger it was going to get. Here are the highlights of our world journeys.

Planning our World Journeys

In 2014 we had finally earned enough Frequent Flyer Points for a free flight around the World in Business Class. We were so excited, I immediately went online to the rewards itinerary planner on the Qantas web site and started dabbling with different One World Alliance airline itineraries. This is not an easy task, I found myself getting partway through an itinerary only to find that the next leg wasn’t available and would have to start again looking for different destinations. After 53 attempts we were booked and I was bouncing off the walls with excitement.

Read more about how we accumulate Frequent Flyer Points here.

The Journey Begins

Sydney Australia – Santiago Chile

I couldn’t sit still in my seat as we waited at Sydney International Airport for our LAN flight to Santiago Chile. The flight took around 16 hours and I will never forget my first glimpses of Chile, the beaches of its coastline and how quickly they were overshadowed by the majestic Andean mountains.

Santiago is a glamorous city, a mix of Spanish colonial and modern architecture. Santiago’s neighbourhoods (Barrio) are full of character and easy to explore by either walking, metro or Hop On Hop Off Bus. Santiago is full of high quality restaurants and Chilean wine is world famous. We were impressed with Santiago, it has become one of our favourite cities in the World.

One of the highlights of our stay in Santiago was a tour of Casillero del Diablo winery, a fun filled day of wine tasting in the beautiful Chilean countryside.

Santiago Chile
Santiago Chile

Cusco – Machu Picchu Peru

Our next stop was Cusco in Peru, where we spent a few days before heading to Machu Picchu, a destination I have dreamed about all my life.

Cusco is a charming city, where pretty Spanish colonial buildings sit firmly on sturdy Inca foundations. Here we felt the effects of altitude sickness, something that takes a little getting used as one minute we felt invincible the next gasping for breath. Cusco is a busy tourist town, filled with young trekkers and English is widely spoken.

While visiting Cusco we experienced the excitement of a local dance festival. The streets were ablaze with colour as native Amazonian, traditional Inca and Spanish inspired costumes swirled to the hypnotic beat of the brass bands as they danced their way around Cusco’s main square Plaza De Armas.

Our round trip from Cusco to Machu Picchu took 8 hours, 6 bus and 2 train rides but it was worth it, Machu Picchu is EVERYTHING I imagined it would be, the memory will stay with me a lifetime.

From the train we saw trekkers making their way up to Machu Picchu, and have a new found respect for anyone who completes the Inca Trail.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu

Lima Peru  –  Berlin Germany

We flew from Lima to Berlin, via Madrid. We had some spectacular spring weather in Berlin, perfect for walking and exploring the city. For attractions further afield, Berlin’s train and subway system is quick and efficient.

Berlin is a history buffs paradise, WWII and Cold War attractions are everywhere. Berlin has always had a reputation for the avant garde and Berlin’s bohemian neighbourhoods are a lot of fun and shouldn’t be missed.

A highlight of Berlin was the III Reich walking tour, a fascinating tour for anyone interested in WWII history.

Brandenburg Gate
Alan & Ros at the Brandenburg Gate

Rome Italy

We rented a typical Roman apartment near the Spanish Steps. The Metro was close at hand for when we needed to travel long distances.

Rome is a city for walking and exploring the unique shops, restaurants and cafes in the small alleyways and squares that make up this stunning city. From Colosseum to Trevi Fountain to Vatican, it is all there in one of the most popular cities in Europe.

A highlight was the Vatican tour, here we discovered the richness and treasures of the Catholic Church.

Rome
Rome Streets

 Rome – Genoa Italy

We took the train from Rome to Genoa, catching glimpses of the colourful seaside towns of the Cinque Terre along the way. We enjoyed Genoa, a gritty seafaring city with loads of character, we found the locals friendly and helpful. We really enjoyed Genoa and would like to visit again.




MSC Cruise Genoa – Copenhagen Denmark

We cruised with MSC cruises in the past and enjoyed ourselves so much we decided to take another, this time we were leaving from the Italian city of Genoa to the Danish capital Copenhagen.

MSC Cruise Ship
Ros aboard MSC Cruise Ship

Marseille France; is a fishing port with an ancient history. To discover what this city has to offer we went to the local Tourist Office. We were provided with a map of walking trails and we set out to explore Marseille.

We found a picturesque harbour surrounded by beautiful architecture, charming restaurants and cafés selling fresh seafood. We really enjoyed our day in Marseille, I think it would be a fun place to spend a week in.

Marseille Fish Stall
Marseille Fish Stall

Tangiers Morocco; We decided to take the ships tour from Tangiers to the city of Tetouan. This was a great opportunity to see a more rural Morocco.  As we made our way through the countryside we passed farms, orchards and the occasional donkey all framed by the Rif Mountains.

In Tetouan we wound our way through the narrow passage ways of the Medina (A UNESCO World Heritage site) exploring the colourful souks, where we discovered a treasure trove of arts and crafts. A place I could have spent more time visiting.

Tetouan Morocco Street vendor
Tetouan Morocco Street vendor

Lisbon Portugal; From the moment we sailed under the 25 de Abril Bridge, passing the Christ the King Monument that protects this seafaring city, we were in love. Lisbon with its beautifully tiled buildings, magnificent squares and the ambiance of Rua Augusta, is simply stunning.

We were lucky enough to find a Hop On Hop Off bus located at the Port, this enabled us to see a lot of the city in a short time, leaving plenty of time to explore the surrounding streets. As I said I love Lisbon, it is on my list of places to return to.

Lisbon Portugal
Lisbon Portugal

Vigo Spain; We just chose to get off the ship and wander, we were rewarded with the sight of quaint shops selling embroidered linen, baskets and gift wares. We enjoyed getting lost in the twisting streets and small squares that were bordered by historical buildings.

Vigo in Spain is a shopper’s paradise with many bargains to be had. Before returning to the ship we went for a stroll along the harbour and admired many of the artworks on display here.

Vigo Spain Street Sculpture
Vigo Spain Street Sculpture

Cherbourg France; Cherbourg was another city where we decided to take off on our own. Cherbourg is so pretty and being French you can’t walk down the street without being tempted by beautifully decorated shops selling equally tempting food.

We stumbled upon Emmanuel Liais park, a remarkable garden of extreme beauty. Housed inside the Park is the Museum Emmanuel Liais, a museum of natural history, archaeology and ethnography a place we found very interesting.

Dover England; When we got off the ship in Dover England, I could have kissed the customs officer for speaking English. We had been visiting non English speaking countries for many week’s now and to be able to communicate without difficulty was such a relief.

We caught a bus from the dock to Dover Castle, a fascinating castle with some rooms decorated as they would have been in it’s heyday. The Castle complex is huge, some parts even quite spooky but all very interesting and we managed to spend a couple of hours here before exploring Dover Town centre.

Dover Castle
Dover Castle

Copenhagen Denmark; We disembarked from our cruise in Copenhagen. We decided to spend a few days here and we weren’t disappointed. Copenhagen is easy to walk around, from the colourful buildings that line the harbour to the many parks, Palaces and museums Copenhagen never fails to impress. Copenhagen has some of the best shopping, restaurants, bars and pubs in Europe.

Highlights where a visit to the Tivoli Gardens, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. Make sure you try one of the hotdogs from the hotdog stands located all over the city, they are delicious.

Copenhagen
Copenhagen

Dubai UAE

After our flight from Copenhagen to Dubai we exited the Airport and were hit with a wave of heat, yes we had landed in Dubai in one of the hottest months of the year.

Dubai was definitely NOT a city for walking but you don’t have to, there is a metro system and Hop On Hop Off buses will take you to tourist attractions such as the Spice Souk, Gold Souk and spectacular Atlantis resort on the Palm, one of Dubai’s man made islands. Dubai is fascinating a city of the future that will take your breath away.

One of the highlights of our visit to Dubai was an evening in the desert, where we took a camel ride through the sand dunes, watched folk dancing while getting a henna tattoo and ate a traditional dinner under the stars, a magical night.

Dubai Desert Safari
Dubai Desert Safari

India

India has long been on my bucket list and I was excited to finally get there. Because we only had a week in India we decided to take a tour with Trinetra Tours. I can’t speak highly enough about the tour and service this tour company gave us. We had the trip of a lifetime exploring New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and the Holy city of Varanasi.

Through the changing scenery of these cities, I found that nothing can prepare you for the stunning beauty of the Taj Mahal, fortresses and Palaces of the Maharajas, the spirituality, the poverty or the heat, there is something special about India, it is a country that brings out so many emotions and I am so glad I got the chance to experience it.

Highlights have to be the Taj Mahal and Varanasi. We visited the Taj Mahal at dawn and were surprised by the small number of visitors, so we definitely recommend getting there early in the morning.

Varanasi takes you on a spiritual journey that is both fascinating and confronting. Situated on the River Ganges it is a holy city famous for Hindu cremations. To some that may sound ghoulish but to me Varanasi is one of the most unforgettable places I have ever visited.

Early Morning on the River Ganges
Early Morning on the River Ganges

New Delhi – Sydney Australia

With a heavy heart we said goodbye to India and boarded the flight home to Australia. We had the most incredible time travelling the World, we had seen so many things, some even changed our attitude and outlook on life. We have been extremely fortunate to be able to do all the things we have done and the memories will last forever.




Travelling Business Class

Wow! That’s how I describe Business Class, from the pre-take off Champagne in your extra wide seat, to the silver service dinnerware, restaurant quality food, selection of premium wine with dinner, flatbed and service, Business Class is everything people say it is, Wonderful!

Of course this whole trip wouldn’t have been possible without Frequent Flyer points and now that they had been spent it was time to put our feet back firmly on the ground. Since then, I have taken many discount airline flights, but I am very grateful to have been able to appreciate the comforts of Business Class during our world journeys.

Collecting Frequent Flyer points is a way of life for us, we have reaped the benefits time and time again, without them most of our travel wouldn’t have been possible.

A big thank you to the LAN, Iberia, Air Berlin, British Airways, Qantas and Cathay Pacific Airline Staff for making our trip so wonderful.

Business Class Entree LAN Airlines
Business Class Entrée LAN Airlines

Aftermath

Although we had been thinking about going to live in Thailand before we left on our World trip, once we got back it was time to make a decision once and for all. After a lot of souls searching we decided to make a go of it, so we packed up our house and in late 2015 moved to Chiang Mai Thailand.

Alan & Ros in Chiang Mai Thailand
Alan & Ros in Chiang Mai Thailand

We now use Thailand as a base for our travels, often spending our time in different counties on house sitting assignments. We love this location independent lifestyle and would recommend it to anyone.

We have so many unforgettable memories of our world journeys, for us it was a Big year, one that set us on the pathway to a different direction in life.

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