Meanwhile it’s been two weeks since we arrived home. I can say that even if we didn’t start with our jobs yet, we already have the feeling of being fully caught by the “normal lifestyle”. But from time to time we still think about the past year with all the extraordinary experiences and we cannot believe that this dream is over. This year has been by far the most impressive one in the life of both of us so far and by now we’re pretty sure that if we’re going to look back in 30-40 years from now this will be one of the top 3 highlights of our lives. And nobody can take the memories away.
The two questions that we were asked the most after returning back home were
- How can you go back to a normal life after this?
Well … believe it or not, we are not afraid of stepping in the “normal life” again. I would even go so far as to say that we’re really motivated to start our jobs again and enjoy the luxury of the place called home. If this will still be the case in 1 month from now I really cannot say :=)
- The second most asked question was “Which is your top 3 list of favorite places that you’ve seen?”
Now this is a really hard one to answer to. Not because we haven’t seen 3 nice places but because it’s really hard to choose just 3. I’ll try to summarize a top 15.
1. Island hopping through Fiji – The easiest choice is number 1 where we both have the same opinion. Island hopping through the Yasawa Group in Fiji is definitely the winner. The incredible shark dives, the amazing beaches and the option of spending time with the locals and getting to know their culture and all the activities that are organized on each island makes this the perfect destination.
Starting from the second place it’s harder to choose a sequence so the order does not necessary mean that we liked one more than the other.
2. Tasmania – Tassie, how it is called by the Australians is one of the places with the best nature, best wildlife which we have ever seen. This is for sure a place which we will visit again as we only spend one week there.
3. Salar de Uyuni – the 4 day 4WD tour through the biggest salt desert in the world and Bolivia’s colorful lagoons was one of the highlights of our trip and I think I have never ever taken so many pictures in 3 days.
4. Banff and Jasper National Parks – it’s really hard to find lakes that match the beauty of the Moraine Lake in the Banff National Park. You also have a huge number of hiking trails with views over incredible lakes and lots of options for wildlife watching everywhere. And if this is not enough you have one of the best highways through the mountains with views over glaciers and waterfalls.
5. Bora Bora – The locals are not as friendly as on Fiji but the amazing water makes up the difference. We’ve never seen water so greenish as the one on Bora Bora.
6. Chile’s Lake District – This is a place where you can easily spend two weeks. The options start from horse riding through the forests or rafting through incredible waters and go as far as climbing active volcanos.
7. Fraser Island – The fun already starts when you’re told that the only way to see this island is by hiring a 4WD and driving through the rainforests and on the beaches.
8. Australia’s South Coast and The Great Ocean Road – This point includes Sydney which could not have missed our list of favorite places. The drive along the coast from Sydney to Melbourne and then The Great Ocean Road brings you to some of the best beaches in the world and lots of places with amazing wildlife, be it kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats and so on.
9. New Zealand’s South Island – If you’re looking for postcard perfect landscape than this is definitely one top choice with Mount Cook and Lake Pukaki making you stop every hundred meters to take a picture.
10. Peru – Hiking for 3 days through the deepest Canyon in the world and for 5 days up to 4600m to arrive to one of the ancient wonders Machu Picchu made this a destination that couldn’t miss our list of favorite places.
11. The Galapagos Islands – There are not many places in the world that have the wildlife diversity of the Galapagos Islands so swimming with the sea lions and seeing the giant turtles are just the tip of the iceberg.
12. The Yellowstone National Park and The Grand Canyon –These two destinations are pretty far from each other but we consider them to be on the USA’s list of “Must see before you die”.
13. The glacier Perito Moreno – We haven’t seen too many glaciers but this one beats everything else by far. And hiking on the incredible blue ice was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
14. The Iguazu Falls – Not much to say about this one other than the advice to look at the pictures and multiply the beauty by 1000.
15. The Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia – No wonder that this is considered to be one of the best places for hiking in the world. If you’re lucky and the weather is good it will be Paradise but if you’re like us than you can easily discover that Hell is not far from Chile’s Patagonia.
The list could go on and on as I didn’t add any single city to the list (except Sydney which is something special). The list of the nicest visited cities must include Montreal, Quebec, Toronto, New York, Washington, San Francisco, Arequipa, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong.
One amazing thing we’ve seen or done
If you’ve followed our travel blog so far you know about the “One amazing thing we’ve seen or done” point that we had at some of our blog posts. If by now you still think that we had a pretty boring year, here is the list of the TOP 50 amazing things that we’ve seen or done this year in the order of occurrence.
- Saw the Niagara waterfalls by night.
- Took a rafting tour on the Ottawa river.
- Watched the 4th of July fireworks in New York City.
- Watched grizzlies and black bears in the Banff National Park and saw the incredible turquoise waters of the Moraine lake which is by far the most beautiful lake we have ever seen.
- Drove over the Icefields Parkway which is probably the most beautiful highway through the mountains.
- Drove on the steepest street in the world in San Francisco.
- Took a tour with the fastest boat in the bay of San Francisco, the Rocket.
- Jumped from 260m from the top of the Stratosphere tower in Vegas.
- Watched the most famous fountain show at the Bellagio Fountains and played poker in Vegas.
- Took a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon, truly one of the most impressive wonders of nature.
- Saw the Bryce Canyon with its strange rock shapes.
- Witnessed the eruption of geysers and saw some of the most incredible colors in the springs of the Yellowstone National park.
- Were caught by a sandstorm when driving through the Arizona desert.
- Drove over the Overseas Highway in Florida with turquoise seawater all around the road.
- Were caught by Hurricane Isaac in Miami Beach.
- Snorkeled with sea lions and whitetip sharks in the Galapagos islands
- Went on a sandbuggy tour in the desert of Huacachina in Peru and pumped more adrenaline than on any roller-coaster ride.
- Hiked the Salkantay trail for 5 days up to 4600m and finished it at one of the ancient wonders at Macchu Pichu.
- Did a 3 day hike in the deepest Canyon in the world, the Colca Canyon.
- Went to the artificial islands of the Uros people where the time stopped centuries ago.
- Took a 3 day tour through the greatest salt desert in the world, Salar de Uyuni and saw the amazing colorful lagoons with thousands of flamingos.
- Watched a penguin colony near the end of the world on Isla Magdalena.
- Experienced the beautiful nature with glacier lakes and active volcanos in Chile’s Lake District.
- Climbed the active Volcano Villarica in Chile and then sledded it down.
- Hiked on one of the most beautiful glaciers in the world with incredible blue ice, Perito Moreno.
- Experienced the amazing nature of Patagonia by hiking 4 days in the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile and fighting winds over 60km/h.
- Saw one of the wonders of nature, the amazing Iguazu Falls at the border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
- Ate the most tasty beef steaks in Buenos Aires.
- Walked through the biggest favela in Rio de Janeiro.
- Climbed the hill to the statue of Christ The Reedemer.
- Witnessed the majestic Rio from the Suggar Loaf hill.
- Experienced what is probably the most livable city in the world, Sydney.
- Spent New Year’s Eve in Sydney and saw what is said to be the most spectacular fireworks in the world.
- Drove on the wrong side of the highway in Australia (just for a couple of meters till I saw the other cars coming towards me :=) )
- Swam on the best beaches in the world between Sydney and Melbourne with the Hyams Beach said to have the whitest sand in the world.
- Drove over The Great Ocean Road, just magnificent, the best drive ever.
- Did a shark dive in South West Rocks, the best dive at that point.
- Saw hundreds of kangaroos, koalas, wallabies and wombats in the Australian outback.
- Enjoyed the nice nature of Tasmania, or Tassie how it is called by the Aussies and ate the biggest and juiciest cherries ever.
- Drove a 4WD through the rainforest and on the beach of Fraser Island.
- Learned to surf on the Gold Coast of Australia.
- Witnessed the traditional Maori dance called Haka in the northern part of New Zealand.
- Rafted on grade 5+ rivers in New Zealand with one of them having the highest commercial raftable waterfall in the world, a drop of 7 meters.
- Hiked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing trek rated as being in the top 10 best day hikes in the world.
- Saw the beautiful Mount Cook and the incredible water of Lake Pukaki on the South Island of New Zealand.
- Went island hopping through the paradise of Fiji, the top choice of the trip.
- Did the most amazing shark dive in Fiji and spotted 5 different types of sharks including Bull Sharks.
- Saw the incredible greenish water of Bora Bora, THE top choice for honeymooners and lovers of turquoise water.
- Saw the light show on the skyline of Hong Kong.
- Returned home in one piece :=)
Below is a short :=) selection of the pictures.