By Claire and Chuck
Our dream trip is over. It has been the experience of a lifetime and we have learned so much—about history, about ourselves and about each other. We will never be the same. There are memories burned into our brains, like coming around the corner at Abu Simbel and seeing the massive statues of Ramses II and Nefertari for the first time. There were so many connections between countries that we didn't expect and so many things to learn. One was how to live together in small quarters for an entire year. It worked surprisingly well and we still love each other! Not only that, we have so much to look forward to: a new grandson, life as retirees and even at long last, a Trader Joe's! Thank you for coming on our journey with us.
Here are some things we thought you'd like to know, including how much this trip cost.
Modes of transportation:
City—Istanbul (Chuck), Amsterdam (Claire)
Campground experience—Camping Finikes, Finikounda, Greece
Campground facilities—Seecamping Berghof, Ossiacher See, Austria
Campground—most beautiful—Camping Grubhof, St. Martin bei Lofer, Austria
Site—Cappadocia (Claire), Versailles (Chuck)
Meal—Our Greek Thanksgiving, Kavala, Greece (Claire), Antipasto Misto, Osteria Alla Botte, Venice (Chuck)
Day—De Hoge Valuwe National Park, Arnhem, Netherlands
Moment—Sunset at 10:30 pm at John O'Groats, Scotland
Highlight by Country:
Austria—stunning scenery, friendly people
Egypt—The Bedouin (Claire), Abu Simbel (Chuck)
England—Eyam, the Plague Village (Claire), London (Chuck)
France—Bayeaux (Claire), Versailles (Chuck)
Germany—Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber
Greece—Meeting great people
Hungary—Meeting the very friendly Catherine on a tram
Italy—Cappuccinos (Claire), Gelato (Chuck)
Jordan—Monastery hike (Chuck), Treasury by night (Claire)
Netherlands—De Hoge Veluwe National Park, including Kröller-Müller Museum and 60 acre sculpture garden
Northern Ireland—Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Republic of Ireland—Kinsale (Claire), Rock of Cashel (Chuck). People we (re)connected with in Ireland: Bart & Marion; John & Helena
Slovakia—a drive-through, beautiful countryside
Switzerland—Scenery, waterfalls and charm
Turkey—People (and an incredible number of stunning sites. If we were to pick one country to revisit at length, it would be Turkey)
Wales—Hiking with Gino and Denise
Things we’ve learned
- Do not bring enough clothes for a year. A few changes, both waterproof jacket and shoes, and you’re set. A scarf and gloves will be welcome in winter or cold climes. A waterproof backpack (or covering for one) may be very useful. A large pocket or bag for carrying your guidebook and maps is recommended.
- Ask for help. People are almost always incredibly willing to be of assistance.
- Plan your driving route—don’t depend completely on a GPS, nor on the planned signage--street signs and highway directions cannot be relied upon and are often missing. Have your map ready at all times.
- Compare fuel prices. The autobahn prices are much higher than the secondary roads. After studying fuel prices and passing several stations, once you’ve made your decision, stopped and filled up, you will now pass a station with bargain prices. Every time.
- Scout out the bathrooms in the campground. You don’t want any surprises. Pay special attention to the presence of hooks and toilet paper. Ask about (and get, when necessary) tokens for showers. Take them with you!
- Slow down. It’s OK if people have to wait. We’ve been waiting all our lives for other people.
- Be patient. It will all work out in the end.
- Be alert while you walk. Laws and customs vary, as do street conditions: Learn to be aware of your feet and your surroundings, simultaneously, at all times. Remember that wet marble and cobblestones can be very slippery.
- In the UK and Ireland, in high season, we found a phone (pay as you go) to be essential for making reservations, after 9 months of managing without.
Kilometers driven—27,132 (16,821 miles)
Number of books read—Chuck, 71; Claire, 74
Number of blog posts—343
Clothing most worn out—Chuck’s black Smartwool shirt; Claire’s North Face shoes
Number of photos taken—12,764
Cost of National Trust of the UK membership—$80
Amount we would have spent visiting the National Trust sites: $351.71
Camper Costs for one year:
Buy back: +$11,520 to us
Net cost: $23,536.25
Eating out: $5,958.56
Other Transportation: $3,442.51
Pre-trip expenses: $5115.08 (see What's This Trip Costing Us?
Grand Total: $68,686.59
Packed and ready to head home
I know of no sweeter sight than of one’s own country. ~ Homer