325 days, 13 countries, 65,000+ miles

My first retirement is over.

325 days ago I left a great job to spend time exploring the world. What I thought would be between 3 and 6 months turned into almost a full year – and an experience of a lifetime. Now, I have found a new career with Energy Circle – creating digital marketing plans for companies & organizations that work to build and outfit efficient and healthy buildings. It’s a bittersweet ending to an incredible year – as I would love to keep traveling (and will continue to some extent), but like all things, traveling costs money so I need to pay the bills…until my next retirement 🙂

So now, a full wrap-up, reflections and thoughts about this past year:

  • 325 days (June 17, 2016 – May 7, 2017)
  • 4 continents (North America, Europe, Oceania (Australia), Africa)
  • 13 countries (US, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Italy, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, UK)
  • 28 states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Maryland.)
  • 14,000+ miles of road trips (doesn’t include every day driving while home)
  • 65,000+ miles of total travel (estimate including air travel)
  • 9,500+ photos (some better than others)
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My Instagram feed of photos since I began traveling back in June 2016

Favorites:

  • Country: New Zealand. When someone asks what my favorite place has been there is no question, and no hesitation when I answer, New Zealand. From the people to the geological features, New Zealand was absolutely incredible. Africa would also go on my favorites list, but it still doesn’t come close to how much I loved New Zealand.
  • State: Utah – I would have loved to spend more time in Utah – specifically the Moab area!
  • Activity: Bungee Jumping. Such a rush (and surprise! I did it in New Zealand) as well as hiking all over!
  • Airport: Heathrow, London. This may be just because there were clean showers that were welcome between 10+ hour flights!
  • Border Crossing/Immigration: Dobe border crossing from Botswana into Namibia. We had to track down officials for both countries to get our passports stamped! The border was so remote that they only get one car every 2-3 days!

Least Favorites:

  • Country:  None. There was something amazing about every country I visited – and I would revisit every single one!
  • State: Again, I don’t know if I have a least favorite state!
  • Activity: Going to drug stores in Australia. Unfortunately I was sick through my entire travels in Australia so frequented the drug store to get medicine! They don’t sell over-the-counter cold medicine so I had to speak to a pharmacist every single time. Plus, they only provide around 4 days worth at a time, so I was going every 4 days!
  • Airport: LA. I didn’t have to go far within the airport, but it was crowded and my terminal didn’t have many options for grabbing a bite to eat!
  • Border Crossing/Immigration: Boston/Logan airport. I don’t think I spent less than an hour in this line in any of my travels this past year – and at one point the line was so long people couldn’t even get off the plane!

I learned so much during this time,  and if I were to share anything with you it would be that if you need a break, take it. Time away from the office, a desk, or your home can be extremely refreshing and give you greater perspective and a better idea of who you are. I hope that in another 5-6 years, I may be able to retire again for another year. My advice to everyone is to take risks, get outside your comfort zone and never stop traveling. Whether it’s across the globe or across your town – there is something new and exciting around every corner!

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J’aime Paris

Paris…where to start!!? The last 5 days have been incredible. Paris is an amazing city. I could have used another few days here.
My Airbnb was a true ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ moment. I walked up and was like “no effing way.’ As you can see from the photo, it was a little intimidating with all the graffiti. But then once the door was opened, there was a beautiful courtyard and my place was stunning. My host loves Paris, and shared all sorts of tips, tricks and suggestions. 

Entrance to my airbnb!

I realized that I knew someone from college living in Paris, so I had sent him a message the day before I arrived. I was able to spend a few nights catching up with him and exploring the Parisian night life! 

I did some of the standard tourist stuff – Sacre Coeur, the Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and of course the Eiffel Tower. What was really nice though was that since most people have ended summer vacation, I really didn’t have to wait in any lines. #winning!

Sacre Coeur
Sacre Coeur
Arc de Triomphe
Top of the Arc de Triomphe
The Louvre
And of course, the Eiffel Tower

I was a little disappointed with some of the standard sights around the Eiffel Tower – I walked down from Trocadero – which usually would have great fountains and frame up the Eiffel Tower – but there was a lot of construction going on and the water was completely drained. Additionally – there was just one small patch of green grass in front of the Eiffel Tower – and that was blocked off. Everywhere was sand, dirt and wood chips. I felt like I was in a desert!

Many if you may know I use Tinder…so why not use it abroad to meet people! I met up with someone on my last full day, and got an amazing night tour of he city via scooter – I couldn’t have ended any better way!

She actually sparkles!!

So now I’m en route back to Maine for a short while. I’ll do a little US travel, then hopefully head to Australia and New Zealand in early October!

Fill the steins!

The past few days have been filled with similar fun experiences (I have not been able to keep track of which day is which anymore)! I wrapped up my visit with Steffi and Thomas by visiting a festival (filled with biergartens and rides). Many people dressed in the traditional lederhosen and dirndls.

This is where I had my first full liter of beer in a stein. Beer isn’t taxed as a beverage on Bavaria (alcoholic beverages are taxed at 19%). Instead it is taxed as a nutritional item and only taxed at around 7%!

People here figure how much you’ve drunk by the number of eyes or circles on the stein. In the photo below – the liter had 4 eyes in height.  

My first full liter!

A good server of these large beers can carry 14 steins at a time! I could only hold about 7 half liters (empty/almost empty).

I clearly need some practice.

On the way to the festival we passed a car that was wrapped in black and white. That was a BMW test vehicle that the drive on the roads in Bavaria to test them out. They don’t want the exterior of the vehicles to be seen by anyone so they keep them wrapped. Apparently many of the test drivers end up losing their licenses because they need to test the cars to their greatest capacity haha.

On the way back to Munich to meet up with Annika (my friend who I met in Sweden when I lived there for a year in 2004) the following day, we stopped I Regensburg. Regensburg is a really cool city on a river that I could actually see myself living in. The architecture is very traditional and old and the streets are easy walking and easy to navigate! The area was truly beautiful!

The river in Regensburg! The Danube, Regen and Naab rivers all meet here.
Old hotel!
Cathedral in Regensburg.

Annika met me at the train station in Munich before we drove to Lake Konstanz. The lake is beautiful (photos to come in the next post). It sits at the border of Germany, Switzerland and Austria. We went for a ride on the horses this morning and tonight we are heading to a Hawaiian themed party! If only I had remembered to pack my hula skirt…
Riding!