Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Celebrating a milestone and saying thanks

I'm sorry to say that it has been almost one month since my last post. It's not that I haven't been writing every day, I just haven't had time to condense my thoughts & experiences into something I wanted to publish here. Soon enough I will have some downtime and hope to catch up on all of my writing and photo editing.

In the meantime, I did not want to let today pass by without mentioning a few of the things we've done lately. Today we traveled from Germany to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. This officially marks the 50th country I have visited in the world. In order to qualify, the country must be self-governing (e.g. many Caribbean islands are overseas territories of another country so they don't count) and I must have visited several tourist attractions and/or cities in the country (i.e. just transferring at the airport doesn't count). Considering there are only 196 officially recognized countries in the world, this is a huge milestone! And there are still so many more places to see!!!

with Louise White at the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast
Other than "collecting" countries, Greg & I have spent the past seven nights out of eight in the homes of some very dear friends (in Malmo, Sweden; Emmen, Netherlands; & Munster, Germany). In late September, one of my friends flew from London to Belfast to spend the weekend with us. And in early October, we had a wonderful dinner with some of my colleagues from Nokia (my last employer) in Helsinki, Finland and then spent four nights with one of them. I will write detailed posts about our time in Northern Ireland, Finland (and everywhere else we've been recently), but I just wanted to mention these special visits in relation to our recent travels.
with Nikki Mondschein, Irmeli Millner, Eija Laine and Marjut Saastamoinen in Helsinki, Finland
Having the opportunity to spend time with family & friends while we are on the road is always a wonderful break from the typical sightseeing routine. We get the local perspective on world politics, the economy and many other interesting topics, not to mention the gemütlich atmosphere of our friends' homes along with abundant & delicious food & drink. Plus our hosts always go out of their way to show us the interesting (and much less touristy) sights in their regions. Again, I will write about all of these individual visits over the coming weeks, but I did not want another day to go by without saying a collective THANK YOU to everyone who has been a part of our journey up to this point.
Emma & Emil Bowadt in Vintrie, Sweden
Finally, a note about our upcoming travels. After a brief two night stay here in Luxembourg, we will continue by train to Basel, Switzerland where we'll spend another two nights. From there we'll travel by plane to Rome, Italy where we'll have only 24 hours before continuing our journey. We don't need to stay in Rome any longer than that because we just spent a full week there in March of this year!
Jacco von Oosterom, Martine Neutel, their 3 daughters Vlinder, Ditte & Rosalie, my mom Diane & step-dad Ronnie in Emmen, Netherlands
Ronnie, Diane, us and Martine's parents Jellie & Roelof in Blokzijl, Netherlands
On Sunday, November 6th, we'll board Holland America's M/S Rotterdam for a 15-night transatlantic repositioning cruise. This is how we decided to travel back to the U.S. instead of the typical 8-hour flight! The first week of the cruise will be busy with ports of call (Ajaccio, Corsica; Barcelona, Spain; Cartagena, Spain; Malaga, Spain; Tangier, Morocco; and Funchal, Madeira). That is followed by seven nights at sea. I have cruised multiple times before and know there will be plenty of diversions on board should I actually have time to get bored (this is when I plan to catch up on all that writing I mentioned before) so my only concern is the weather for the crossing as I really don't want to be seasick for seven days! However this will be Greg's first cruise and I really hope all goes well so cruising can still be a travel option in our future!
Karl Strotmann & Greg in Munster, Germany
Upon our arrival in Fort Lauderdale, FL on Monday, November 21st, my friend Adena will pick us up at the port and then we'll stay with her in Miami for a few nights. We are still making plans for Thanksgiving and the weeks after as our return flight to Nashville is not until December 7th. So, as you can see, we still have many adventures ahead of us in the days & weeks to come! Bring on the next 50 countries!!!

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