A Return To The States

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Greetings from The Empire State!

That’s right we are back in the good ole U.S. of A. But that does not mean out adventures are at an end.

We stayed in Europe for as long as legally possible, using up 85 of the 90 days our visa allowed. After Europe we always thought we would head to Southeast Asia but both of us reached a point where we just really wanted to be back in the United States. But we are not quite ready to go home, wherever home ends up being.

Currently we are working at a B&B in Upstate New York in exchange for room and board. This is a gig we arranged through a website called WorkAway.com and so far it has been a good experience. Though it would be nice if it stopped snowing.

After this our plans are once again open. We do have some ideas but nothing is set yet. But at the end of April we need to be in Oregon to do a bit of house sitting.

2013 was on of the most amazing years of my life and I am very much looking forward to what 2014 has in store for us.

Hello From Santorini Greece

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How is 2014 treating you? I hope well. I know it has been some time (and a few countries) since my last update, to be honest I just have not been in the blogging mood. But I figured I should get an update posted so you know that we are OK.
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When I last posted we were in Morocco. Since then we have traveled to Italy, Turkey, and are now Greece. Morocco made us grumpy, Italy refreshed us, Turkey surprised us in a good way, and Greece is surprising us in a different way.
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Also as the calendar changed we also realized that we need to start planning our re-entry into the non-traveling life, something we both discovered we are ready to do. We are both ready to get back to work and once again contribute to society. 
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We also just miss the good ole U.S. of A. Our plans are still in the works on just how and where we will return to “home” though. But we’ll keep you posted.
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Friendly Marrakech

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A few days ago we flew from Tours France to Marrakech Morocco, landing in the 19th country of our trip. The Ryanair flight was a preview of what to expect in Morocco as it was crowded, chaotic, loud, and full of interesting smells. Which about sums up Marrakech.
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The city is maze after maze of narrow streets full of people. The chaos is increased with the addition of bicycles, mopes, donkey carts, and cars on any passage they can fit through. It is all a bit overwhelming to say the least.
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And for the traveler there are things to watch out for besides speeding scooters in Marrakech. There are plenty of “friends” seeking to “help” you or offer you “gifts.” (Please use your imagination for Dr. Evil air quotes here.)

In a land where everyone is your friend, no one is your friend.
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Stopping even briefly to look around and decide where to go instantly draws attention and suddenly someone will appear to offer assistance. They will appear friendly and just there to give a bit of kindness but there is always, always, an ulterior motive. (always!) It is exhausting and really takes  away from the experience of the place.
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It has been nice to walk around and see first hand many things I have only seen on tv or in photos. But no photograph or video could ever truly capture what it is like to walk the streets of Marrakech.
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Thanksgiving In France

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Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a holiday that is uniquely American so here in Blois France it is just another Thursday in late November. Joyce and I thought about attempting to create a meal as close to a traditional Thanksgiving diner as a French grocery store would allow but then decided instead we should take the oppurtunity to treat ourselves to a nice meal out at a French restaurant. But it will still be a day to reflect on what we are thankful for.
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On our adventure the most obvious thing to be thankful for is the kindness of friends and strangers alike. Because over the past 242 days as we have navigated our way in and out of 18 countries we find ourselves often counting on the help of others. We have received rides from point A to B, meals on our plates, and roofs over our heads, time and time again. Some from friends we have known for many years but many from people we just met.

It has been very humbling and down right life changing. 
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I am also thankful for you dear reader. Many of you are friends and family who are the people we are missing very much as we head into the holidays. I hope these words find you well and I hope one day soon we can share a table in order to break bread together. But until that day you can always reach me at daryledickens@gmail.com. 

Take care,

Daryle

PS The photos in this post are from around Blois France.
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Pictures Of Paris

A few days ago we took a Ryanair flight from Edinburgh to Paris, leaving the UK and returning to Europe. Since then we have been exploring the amazing city that is Paris. Here is just a glimpse of what we’ve seen so far…
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On The Road Again

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I’ve taken a break from packing in order to write a quick update on our trip. Tomorrow morning we hop on a bus that will take us to Edinburgh Scotland to once again put us on the road for spell.

We’ll spend about two weeks in Scotland getting about as far north as possible which should be interesting this time of year. Then we work our way back down ending up in Paris. Beyond that we do not have plans at this point.

The month in London has been great and I am a bit bummed to be leaving. We really covered a lot of ground and also got to experience what life is like as a Londoner.

If I had to pick a favorite it would be Westminster Abbey because it was much more than I expected. And we were able to take communion during our visit which was almost surreal because the chapel we did it in was filled with the tombs of England’s kings.

The downside of London is that it is a bit too familar. Being here lacks the adventure of traveling to a foriegn land. And for that reason I am already starting to look forward to countries outside of Europe.

How are you? Have any trip planned?

Feeling At Home In London

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Spending an extended amount of time in London has been nice for many reasons. There are basic reasons like being able to fully unpack and settle into our place, staying caught up on our laundry, and having a fully kitchen to cook in.

But it is also nice to be able to visit a city and not feel rushed or worried about missing something. The other day we took a little city cruise on the Thames and the boat captain mentioned an exhibit that is at the Tate Modern. It is a very famous piece within the art world that I did not know was at the Tate. At other places on our travels I would hear things like that and be a bit sad because we would not have the time to see them. But here in London we have the time to learn about the city as well as visit what we want.

We’ve done a pretty good job so far, we’ve seen:

The British Museum, London Tower, Tower Bridge, London Zoo, Shakespear’s Globe Theater, The Maritime Museum, The Monument to the Great London Fire of 1666, take a canal and river cruise, HMS Belfast, Dickens Museum, Westminster Abbey, British Music Experience, Chislehurst Caves, Churchill War Rooms, Pollock’s Toy Museum, National Portrait Gallery, as well as spending a lot of time just walking around the city and taking it all in.

For Americans London is a familiar place to be because in many respects this is the city that berthed our nation. The picture of at the top of the post shows the wharf where the Mayflower launched from and many of our founding fathers spent time in London, most notably Ben Franklin. And the apple did not fall too far from the tree because even now in 2013 the American culture and the British culture are very similar even if neither would want to admit it.

And though we speak the same language it is true that, like most things, we Americans have improved it and are more efficient with it.

All of this makes being in London very relaxing. In some ways it doesn’t even feel like we are traveling because everything is so familiar.

Eating Kangaroo In Ireland

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A few days ago we stopped in Dingle Ireland for a food festival and discovered an Aussie selling grilled kangaroo meat. Never thought I would be able to say I ate kangaroo in Ireland but I did. It was good. Juicy and full of flavor the way red meat should be.

Now we are in London, we arrived last night after taking the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead Wales. Then it was a series of trains, both above and below ground, to get to our host’s home in London where we received a warm welcome.

For me London is almost more of a fictional place than a real place. The way New York City is because so many movies and television take place in these great cities. I am really looking forward to spending the month here. Many of the writers, musicians, and artists I enjoy come from London which just adds to my enchantment with the city.

Also for the month that we are here we will be staying in one place which will give us a chance to catch our breath a bit and plan the second half of our trip. (Also catch up on our laundry!) Right now we do not have anything beyond London booked but will most likely nip into Scotland before heading south to Spain or Italy.

Ireland was amazing though and we may just go back for more. We went for a travel blogger’s conference with the hope of finding some direction for our travel writing. If we are smart we can use our blogs to earn money so that we can continue the trip beyond a year. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what direction I want to take my travel writing that will require a new website so that I can keep this one going to keep friends and family updated. I’ll keep you posted.

Oktoberfest In Munich Germany

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I’ve always wanted to go to Oktoberfest. The real Oktoberfest. And this week I did.

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Was it what I expected? No, it was better. Oktoberfest or “die Wiesn” is the world’s largest fair and now that I have been to it I understand why it draws over 6 million people every year. It is an amazing celebration of family and community through beer and food.

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But more details will have to wait because we are pressed for time. Tomorrow morning we catch a train to Amsterdam before flying down to Dublin for a week of press trips and a travel blogger’s conference (TBEX).

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Worn Out In Warsaw

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These past couple of weeks have been long for me. I’ve been sick for the first time on our trip and we’ve been doing a lot of moving around. Today I woke up in Warsaw Poland where we have one raining day to see what we can see.

Our travel will continue to be busy until mid October when we slow down for a bit in the UK. I should be able to write some longer updates then and get you caught up midway in our adventure.

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Europe Is Like Disney World

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We arrived in Latvia a few days ago and then spent some time out in the rural area with some friends on their farm. And then yesterday we came into Riga which is the capitol to spend some time with other friends who live in the Old Town area of Riga. And walking around Riga feels a lot like walking around Epcot at Walt Disney World.

Which is really a testement to how well Disney has done in simulating other parts f the world. But it also feels a bit odd to be in the beautiful old city that is rich in history and feel like I am in an American theme park.

So far we have not done too much exploring other than just the walk around in order to survey the area to try and learn what there is to see and do while we are here. Though as I write this I am drinking my second espresso beverage of Riga so you can see my priorities.

Riga is a town that loves black cats which is something I hope to learn more about. And it is also a town and country that has been occupied by various other nations over the centuries. Because of that the occupation museum is high on the list.

For now I just wanted to send out an update to let you know that we made it safely out of Africa and back to the comforts of the Western world.

The Sun Sets On Africa

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We are nearing the end of the Africa chapter in our travels. Soon we will head to Mombasa Kenya to begin our journey to Riga Latvia. The three months on the continent flew by as time seems to do.

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South Africa is the place I will miss the most, especially Cape Town and the surrounding area. There you could find all the comforts of modern life right next door to the wildness that Africa still offers.

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Zimbabwe surprised me the most. The people there were warm and friendly despite the current economic and political climate they find themselves living in. And it was an experience of a lifetime to be soaked in the mist of Victoria Falls.

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The glimpse I got of Botswana was like walking into the centerfold of an issue of National Geographic. Massive amounts of wildlife as far as the eye could see. I hope to be able to return one day and explore that amazing land even more.

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And spending a month on the Kenyan coast allowed me to engage an African community if only slightly. I was able to hand out shoes at a primary school with the hope of keeping kids healthy, I broke bread with a Kenyan family on their farm and learned a bit more about daily life, and of course there was the wildlife. Seeing curious little jackal puppies play outside their den in the Lamu Sanctuarary was probably the highlight.

 

Africa is a large continent full of diverse wildlife and diverse culture. My plan is not to wait another twenty years before returning.