We’ve had some pretty amazing experience over this last year of adventures in Europe, Asia and Australia. And we’re sure there will be plenty more to come. But as today (2nd June 2016) marks one year since we left home to start this amazing trip, we’d thought we’d look back on our best bits. There are quite a few(!) so we’ve written it in two parts.
1. Driving around the Golden Circle in Iceland
Iceland was always going to be up there as one of our best experiences this year. Firstly because it was our first stop on this incredible adventure, and secondly because it is unlike anywhere we have ever been. And likely to be unlike anywhere we will go in the future. The highlight was renting a car with two Canadian girls and a guy from Birmingham who we met in our Kex Hostel in Reykjavik. For a whole day we drove around Reykjavik and the outskirts in search for the Golden Circle. We saw some incredible sights including; Cairns Volcanic Stone Statues, Strokkur geyser and Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall. All incredible and definitely one of the most memorable parts of this trip.
2. Cycling around Copenhagen
Copenhagen was our second stop and we immediately felt right at home. We arrived on a Friday early evening. The sun was out, and all the locals were drinking at eating like on a summers night. Having dinner along the popular Nyhavn canal was lovely, but we what enjoyed most in Copenhagen was renting bikes and cycling around the city to get to know it better. We didn’t do an awful lot of things in Copenhagen as we were already aware we needed to save money, but cycling around the beautiful, happy city was more than enough.
3. Visiting a Concentration Camp in Berlin
The Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was so incredibly moving and informative and was by far the highlight of our time in Berlin. It sounds strange that we enjoyed touring the concentration camp, but it was just so interesting to learn about the history of it all. Parts of the museum made us feel ashamed to be human, after reading what some of the Nazi soldiers did to innocent people. But our time there will be forever in our memories as a incredible part of this adventure.
4. Wandering around the Red Light District
The Red Light District had always been mind-boggling to us. Having women stand in their underwear (or even less!) in a glass doorway for passers by to look at and then invite them to have sex is just such a strange concept. So of course during our stay in Amsterdam, we just had to see for ourselves. It was still very bizarre to be in an area of a quaint and charming city that fully promoted sex everywhere you went, but somehow it felt normal too. There were people having afterwork drinks, tours of families and elderly people walking through, and couples daring each other to go into a live sex show. Because everyone pretty much embraced the Red Light District, it actually began to feel like a normal everyday occurrence. But still so strange at the same time. Wierd.
5. Prague Castle
We loved everything about Prague - the food, the prices of alcohol (and food) and the architecture. One part of architecture that stood out for us was Prague Castle. To get to it you walk along 600 year old Charles Bridge and wind your way through the little town, climbing stairs as you go. The castle is stunning. Lots of ornate details with a lovely duck egg green/blue colour roof. Climbing the 287 steps of the South Tower to get 360 degree views of Prague was definitely a highlight.
6. The Colosseum
If you’ve read our Italy blog posts, you will know that we weren’t as blown away by Italy as we thought we were going to be. But one thing about our time there sticks to mind - the Colosseum in Rome. Jordan inparticular loves history, so he was very interested to read about what used to happen in the Colosseum back when it was a functioning battle ground for gladiators and vicious animals. The remains of the Colosseum were beautiful and very well preserved. Rome just had so much history everywhere you turned. But the Colosseum was definitely our best bit.
7. Jordan learning to surf in Arugam Bay
Sri Lanka was our first stop in Asia after Europe, and we were desperate for some time to relax on the beach. So we went to a key surfer place called Arugam Bay. And of course Jordan was up for having a few surf lessons, whilst Natalie did what she does best - lying on the beach, not getting a tan! Jordan’s lessons were a short tuk tuk drive away from the main beach as the waves were too strong and big for beginners. His instructor explained everything to him and Jordan got the hang of it really quickly, standing up on his first wave. Definitely another highlight.
8. Riding the train through the tea fields in Ella
A lot of people we met during our time in Sri Lanka told us that the train journey from Ella to Kandy was just incredible. And on these kind of trips, you often take what other people say on board as they can recommend things to do that you did not already think of doing. So after our time in Ella we caught the train to Kandy, and journey was amazing. Gliding through the tea fields and watching the locals working hard gathering tea leaves or playing with their children, it really was a great experience. Sadly the pictures just don’t do it justice. We certainly recommend doing this trip if you’re ever in Sri Lanka.
9. Top Gear drive from Hue to Hoi An
If you’re a Top Gear fan, you’ll already know the epic journey Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond did along some busy roads in Vietnam. If you’re not a Top Gear fan, what’s wrong with you!? ;-) We joined together with some German guys we met in Phong Nha and a guide we met at our homestay, and all rode our scooters from Hue to Hoi An. As we were lucky enough to be guided by a local, we stopped of a small villages to watch the locals and learn more about the Vietnamese culture. The drive took all day, including stopping off at a waterfall for a swim and having freshly cooked meal by some locals. The whole day was so much fun and a day we will never forget.
10. Canyoning in Dalat
On our travels down through Vietnam, everyone was saying that we had to go to Dalat to do the canyoning. Natalie had never heard of it before - but learnt that it involves, climbing/hiking, walking through rivers and streams and abseiling down waterfalls! Safe to say it was the last one that got us nervous. Jordan being afraid of heights and Natalie being afraid of getting water in her face. But we both thought to ourselves that we had to do it or we’d forever regret it. And as you can see, it is now one of our best bits from this journey so far. We made some great friends that day and both of us conquered our fears. All in all, a great experience.