For my 30th birthday, I thought it might be fun to look back at the last 365 days and what I’ve learned. It is incredible to realize that we’ve been on the road for more than 15 months, and just how much more there is to see!
1. I hate the way airlines board planes and love flying. Just like I hate check-in at airports but love waiting for the flight and wandering the concourse.
2. Morcilla – blood sausage common in South America – is delicious as long as you eat it hot before the texture gets more unbearable as it cools.
3. Chilean volcanos love to play hide-and-seek. They are massive but still vanish almost with it a trace into the clouds.
4. The library at Trinity College really looks like the pictures, no color enhancement needed.
5. Finns on the ferry from Estonia all look like alcoholics. In their defense, they need to buy in bulk and take it with them when visiting their neighboring country… it’s a bargain compared to local prices.
6. Some brands are obnoxiously global like Coke and Colgate and shampoos. Dish soap, though, has a much higher localization rate.
7. Croatian and most Latin American beers are not to my taste. Too light, too beery. Poland, though, is so far the king of beer countries.
8. I am not impressed by beach resorts in Cancun. They are all carbon copies and a weird bubble unto themselves.
9. Antacids in South America are pricey. I guess the food is bland enough (at least on the eastern coast) that heartburn isn’t a problem.
10. I LOVE food-stuffed bread. Polish pierogies, empanadas, Estonian pastries, Hungarian langosh. GIVE ME ALL THE CARBS.
11. Budapest is gorgeous. No wonder so many people told us we’d love it.
12. Eurovision should be a holiday in Europe. I will now base travel decisions around this show and feel no shame.
13. Sweet fruit wines from the Baltic regions deserve more credit. At least they have the common sense to know grapes won’t work there.
14. Torres del Paine is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Destroyed my legs for days and was worth all the pain and hours on buses to get to hike each day.
15. Photographs do nothing justice (almost – see #4 for the exception proving the rule).
16. Both Anna Karenina and Middlemarch look intimidating but are brilliant reads.
17. In Peru, everyone asks if you’ve gone to Macchu Pichu and looks at you like you are crazy if you say no. Ditto Iguazu Falls in Argentina.
18. The hardest part about travelling is the unpredictable selection of books. No, I’m not going to get an e-reader.
19. Purse snatching can happen anywhere. Having a sturdy purse might keep the strap from breaking and sometimes helps you keep your stuff. But that can be good or bad… depending on how much the robber has invested into getting your stuff away from you… I really can’t recommend what is better.
20. For every place we visit, at least 3 get added to the list.
21. Romania is way more interesting than I had realized before going there. I hope we can get back to see Cluj-Napoca and Timișoara.
22. Just about every country has money that is more colorful and pretty than US currency. Uruguay’s coins have animals. Chile’s is a rainbow of colors and makes you feel rich (that 650:1 exchange rate). Romania’s bills are plastic so you can even toss them into fountains for luck.
23. Szellemirtók is a great movie. Don’t be a hater.
24. Krakow, Poland and Montevideo, Uruguay are my two favorite cities for street art and murals.
25. I’m never too old to climb around fortresses and tunnels.
26. I might be at least partly Estonian?
27. High heat and humidity is a terrible combination, ergo I could not live full time on the Yucatan Peninsula. Likewise, year-round chilly days and especially windy winters are not to my liking. Sorry Punta Arenas, I won’t be moving to the far south of Patagonia permanently.
28. Travelling and living full time in some small spaces with another human, even one I’m as madly in love with as my hubby, can occasionally be trying. Especially when mosquitoes are fierce, the kitchen is under-supplied, not all the appliances function, and the sink drains don’t have a u-bend to keep smells in the sewer and out of the house. And it is absolutely worth every second.
29. Inca and the related civilizations of Peru have the best pottery. THE BEST.
30. Sometimes the mystery wine bottle is full of tasty alcohol. Sometimes it is terrible awfulness that gets dumped right down the drain. The only way to know is to try it.