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Sisters sisters

sisters sisters lovely dovely sister

We began our travels last July as we boarded the Queen Mary II in New York and headed across the Atlantic to London. Things kicked off with my sister’s wedding. Fourteen months, 75,477 kilometres, and a beard (followed by a shave, followed by a beard again) and we were back in London again with my sister.

We often wonder what has changed on the homefront while we’ve been away. So much has happened to us; what has happened to the people we left behind? Turns out a lot. My big sis is pregnant and I’m going to be an auntie!!!!!!!!!! She is due at the end of January which means I probably won’t be staying home for long. We’re so excited for Jess and Tim.

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Please pass the salt

sunny salzburg

After dousing ourselves in Viennese culture we took a wee jaunt over to Salzburg for another look at Austria. Upon arriving, I quickly discovered that Salzburg was home to the Von Trappe family. Sound of Music tours have become very popular, where you visit various filming locations. Mark was really excited about the tour. But with only a day in town I felt like doing something else. We agreed to go our own ways for the day. Mark was free to galavant on the Sound of Music tour, while I explored Salzburg solo.

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The promise of stories to come

Although our posts are a little behind, we’re updating our site today from Torshaven in the Faroe Islands, and thought you should know that. No idea where that is? Me neither, at least not before we got here. Check our Breadcrumb map to find out. We’re 4 days into our 12 day cruise back to Canada, and having a great time. Our next stop is in Iceland! Cool, eh?

We’re slowly but surely catching up with our stories from our breakneck-fast travels back through Europe. Check back often for our latest pictures and tales as we try to catch you up on all of the excitement leading up to our return home!

Hungary like a wolfe

It's raining in Budapest

Part of our new laissez-faire outlook on travel includes not booking accommodation in advance. When we arrived in Budapest our first goal was to find somewhere to stay. The city is divided by the Danube river into two main areas, Buda and Pest. We decided to try and stay in Pest but this was slightly easier said than done. We’d forgotten what it was like to wander unknown cities with large and heavy backpacks on. We’d also lost all concept of time and days of the week and didn’t realize it was the weekend. Hostels get busy during the weekend and in September, the kids have not yet gone back to school. After walking for what felt like ages and being turned away by a couple hostels with no vacancy we eventually found a great place to sleep and drop our bags. I started to remember why we actually planned ahead when we were in Europe this time last year. It’s less stress when you have a destination where you can settle and orient yourself.

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Homestretch

many trains stations along the homestretch

We are on the homestretch now. Our path is very quickly taking us back to Canada for our due date of October 9th. This is no small task as there are still thousands of kilometres to cover overland. It’s a beeline with a few stops en-route to keep us sane, or make us go crazy — we’re not sure which yet.

Our next destination after Istanbul was Budapest. To get to Budapest we had to take a train. We had two options: via Bucharest or via Belgrade. Both were 32 hour journeys with a transfer and two nights sleeping on trains. Initially we had wanted to go via Bucharest and spend a day there, but we decided to change our plans and skip Bucharest so we could spend an extra day in Budapest. In the end we chose the route that went via Belgrade for the simple fact that it was cheaper. We stocked up on snacks and drinks and prepared ourselves for what was to be our longest train journey yet.

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Turkey: East or West?

Any tourist literature on Turkey will say it has one foot in the West and one in the East. We spent only a week in Turkey, so I’m no expert, but I’d say it has two feet in the West and a pinky finger in the East. Here’s why:

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Mark before and after

before and after

Just for funsies, Mark got a fancy shave at a barber in Istanbul. I’m on the fence as to which look I like best. I think I’m leaning towards bearded Mark. What do you think?

Reflections on the Middle East

My Middle East includes Egypt, Jordan and Syria because those are the countries we went through. Turkey doesn’t really make this list for reasons I’ll describe in my next post.

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Dreaming of denim

Ok, so we’re falling behind with our posts. We’re in Vienna but we’re writing about Aleppo. We know this. Our travels are happening at such breakneck speed at the mo’. We’re still visiting some fantastic places, but our minds are part here and part at home. We’re pretty excited to be on our way back to Canada. That’s good, right? Hopefully, if all goes smoothly and there’s no hurricane blowing up the coast of Nova Scotia early October, we’ll be back in Ottawa on the 9th.

We have a top five list of ‘things we miss about home’, not including people. People is a given, we miss all our friends and family. We both can’t wait to sip a cold Lugtread Ale, savour a delicious Works burger, and see our cat Metric. I know this sounds crazy, but I’m soooo looking forward to wearing a pair of jeans again. It’s been nearly 16 months of wearing one pair of black quick-dry pants. Mark too, although he won’t be writing about his denim dreams. We are so lucky to have options.

Until Ottawa, we have many places to go and lots of writing to go. Be patient and stay tuned. Thanks!

Aleppo

President in mosaics

Aleppo is Syria’s second centre, and like Damascus it also claims to be world’s oldest continually-inhabited city. With the city’s modernization and congested street traffic, it’s kind of hard to believe. But the signs are there. Although nothing much to look at from the outside, the hostel we stayed at must have been over 300 years old — and it was located in the new town! A short walk away was the ancient citadel (12th century AD) and the Great Mosque (Al-Jamaa Zacharia) from the 7th century AD. Most other traces that date back a few more thousand years are now long gone. To me, Damascus felt more ancient, with ancient Roman ruins scattered throughout the city. But that’s just my opinion — I’ll leave the experts to argue over which claim is more correct.

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