This is the most recent picture of me before I was able to get a haircut after three months of travels. Read more about our Around the World Trip in 2022.
I hope you will join at any point by looking at the individual days listed to the right. You may have to scroll down a little.
Ten is my lucky number for travels; it would seem.
- I’ve had the good fortune of living in ten cities in four countries on three continents.
- I visited more than three dozen countries on four continents. I’ve also had the opportunity to work on contracts on four continents in ten countries.
- I’ve been on ten cruises, not counting three transatlantic voyages as a child.
- I have visited 75% of the United States and all ten provinces of Canada.
- I have also travelled to exactly half of the 44 European countries.
TripAdvisor says I have visited over 400 cities and 33% of the world – and I haven’t even recorded everything.
My first travels was across the Atlantic by ship in the mid-fifties. In those days, it was less expensive to go by boat than to fly. My parents were avid travellers, given their economic circumstances, and would take my brother and me on road trips whenever they could afford them.
Since then, I have travelled solo with family, girlfriends, and my partner, Louise. My travels expanded in 2005 when I became an ex-pat and joined her and my new family in Europe.
Louise retired in 2020 when we returned from New Zealand to Canada in the middle of Covid-19. Our first “post covid” trip was to Nova Scotia in the fall of 2021, followed by Tadoussac, Quebec. We were off to New York in April 2022 and haven’t stopped since with our World Trip that fall.
People ask me what have been my favourite places, but it is impossible to answer that question. There have been so many remarkable things I have seen and travels that I have enjoyed.
Instead, I would like to share four trips that I have had that are unique and not experienced by very many people.
Whey Bath at Gstaad, Switzerland, 2009
Alp Turnels takes place at 1900 meters in height in the “washbasin” of Turnelsbachertals. The guests spend the night on mattresses in the hayloft over the cowshed. The fresh alpine air wakes the appetite for a substantial “Älplerzmorge” (alpine breakfast). Alp Turnels is open from the beginning of July till the end of August.
The hiking trail is from the car park at the Wasserngrat valley station and takes 1.5 hours. It was raining when we arrived, and we had our host come and pick us up for an additional fee. The ride up was scary as the road was barely passable.
In the morning, we watched the cheese-making and had a whey bath.
Sunrise at Abu Simbel, Eygpt, 2012
One of the more memorable trips we took was a cruise on the Nile. One of the excursions, when we arrived in Aswan, was a bus trip to Abu Simbel.
One way was a bus ride, a 290 km drive that took almost 3 hours and left at 2 am. No one in the family was willing to get up with me, but since this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I was game.
The most remarkable feature of the site is that the temple is precisely oriented so that twice every year, the first rays of the morning sun shine down the entire length of the temple cave to illuminate the back wall of the innermost shrine, the statues of the four gods seated there.
It is believed that the ancient Egyptian architects positioned the axis of the temple in such a way that on October 21 and February 21 (61 days before and 61 days after the Winter Solstice), the rays of the sun would penetrate the sanctuary and illuminate the sculptures on the back wall, except for the statue of Ptah, the god connected with the Underworld, who always remained in the dark.
These dates are allegedly the king’s birthday and coronation day, respectively. Still, there is no evidence to support this. However, it is quite logical to assume that these dates had some relation to a great event, such as the jubilee celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the pharaoh’s rule.
With the construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s, the temples were threatened with submersion under the rising waters of the reservoir (Lake Nassar). Between 1964 and 1966, a project sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Egyptian government disassembled both temples and reconstructed them on top of the cliff 200 feet above the original site. It also affected the solar phenomena to occur one day later.
Chernobyl, Ukraine, 2015
We had the great fortune of visiting our friend while he was posted to Kyiv. While things were a bit tense between Ukraine and Russia, I don’t think any of us imagined what would happen in the near future.
At the time, visiting Chornobyl was becoming a tourist attraction for travels. It was about a year before the new safe confinement was placed over the sarcophagus in October 2017.
Ukrainians were not as motivated to visit, so it was designed for Westerners. I found it quite profound. The van drive to the sites was almost three hours, and to help pass the time, we were shown a very informative short documentary.
Chernobyl was evacuated on 5 May 1986, nine days after a catastrophic nuclear disaster at the plant, which was the largest nuclear disaster in history. Along with the residents of the nearby city of Pripyat, which was built as a home for the plant’s workers, the population was relocated to the newly built city of Slavutych, and most have never returned.
They loved to show us the Geiger counter at various places – especially the hot spots, which seemed to be located in odd places. Louise thought some of the sites, like the school, were staged for effect, but while this might be true, it wasn’t extensive.
The town of Pripyat, on the whole, was thought-provoking and well worth the travel time to get there. The whole town had a dystopian feel, which would be perfect for a movie set. The vegetation is reclaiming the city and wild animals are a regular sight. We saw a fox following us at one point.
It was particularly weird having to exit through a radiation checkpoint.
New Year’s Eve Twice, 2019 Travels
We were looking for somewhere warm to go for New Year’s, and I was hoping it would include some snorkelling. During my search, Rarotonga, Cook Islands, came up. When I looked at the booking, I noticed that arrival was the day before we left as we crossed the International Dateline leaving from New Zealand.
Well, that was a bucket list possibility if I ever saw one. So we delayed our start day and booked to leave Wellington on December 31st.
We had a nice quiet dinner at a lovely restaurant down the road from our hotel. We went outside at midnight to have a great view of the countdown and fireworks at the Aukland Sky Tower.
The next day, we hopped on a plane to arrive in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, around 3 pm on December 31st.
We found a fancy holiday resort to have New Year’s dinner, The Nautilus Resort. Unfortunately, the gentleman in charge of doing the fireworks for the resorts had passed away a couple of months prior, and there was no time to hire or train a new person. Alas, we had no fireworks.