Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chuck and Claire's Excellent Adventure Wrap-up

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:
Rental Car

Desert tent
Wild camping

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
Gadget—Amazon Kindle
Moment—Sunset at 10:30 pm at John O'Groats, Scotland

Highlight by Country:
Austria—stunning scenery, friendly people
Czech Republic—Prague
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
San Marino—Castles
Scotland—Culloden Moor
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

  1. 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.

  2. Ask for help. People are almost always incredibly willing to be of assistance.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. Slow down. It’s OK if people have to wait. We’ve been waiting all our lives for other people.

  7. Be patient. It will all work out in the end.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

Useless Statistics
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:
Camper: $26,455
Insurance: $2,045
Registration: $2,000
Repairs: $4,556.25
Buy back: +$11,520 to us
Net cost: $23,536.25

Living expenses:
Camping: $6,885.88
Eating out: $5,958.56
Groceries: $3,636.19
Attractions: $5,312.69
Fuel: $5,490.66
Other Transportation: $3,442.51
Ferries: $1,482.30
Hotels: $2,517.68
Miscellaneous: $5,308.79
Total: $40,035.26

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


Toni said...

I have enjoyed your most excellent adventure, even when I had to leave it for a while and even though, when I was on it with you, I didn't always post comments.

It's been a pleasure.


Pat in Santa Cruz said...

Love your "bookend" photos of being packed and ready to go. I went back to last August to see the first.
Wishing you a safe trip home. So looking forward to seeing you both.

tanialil said...

Wow! I feel excited and sad for you at the same time. What an experience. Thanks for sharing it with us. Looking forward to seeing you when you return and hearing more about your adventures. Safe travels home!

Napamick said...

What? Already?

Well, the upside is that we'll get to see you in the flesh.


Karin said...

Gosh, can't believe Homer is gone and you are packed, ready to head for home (the one without wheels!) What a year it has been; for you AND your readers!

It was great to actually have the opportunity to meet you both which only made your blog more than real. Thanks for taking us along..... Now for some well earned "quiet time".....just hangin' out in Davis!

"He who does not travel will not know the value of men"
(Moorish saying, cited in Bovill, The Golden Trade)

Karin AND Michael on Paros

Paros Shepherd said...

Dear Chuck and Claire,
Thank you so much for chosing to share your journey in such a splendid manner.
All your readers benefited from your adventures as well.
Especially those you met you through your blog.
All the best in your next stage of life.

Michael and Karin

Natasha Yannacañedo said...

WOW! So impressive! I am so glad it was such a success!!!!!

Carolyn said...

I've loved reading every blog entry! Thank you for letting us "travel" with you. I'm so glad you've had your dream trip, but I'm experiencing sadness that it's over.
Thank you!

Kim, Kacey and Adam Quennell said...

great blog, great trip and great to meet you in Rome.
Adam, Kim and Kacey

Paul King said...

What a privilege to have been able to share the trip through your wonderful, thorough, evocative and generous writing. And through the magical photos!

I can't believe it's at an end.

A lump in my throat as I looked at your pic of you packed to return. I guess your adventurous spirit and experiences got to me and I was living it from afar more than I knew.
And you look so great and bonded to each other. Really heartwarming.

Safe home. Looking forward to seeing you and hearing more and more.


Anonymous said...

So sad to see it come to an end! It has been wonderful tagging along with you on this great adventure of yours. Thank you for being so generous in sharing your experiences and insights.
It would be great if you could leave your blog up for a time as a reference and resource for those that might follow in your footsteps.
Maybe you could even keep your readers informed on how your transition from your dream trip to your dream life goes?
It's been great fun!

Chuck and Claire said...

We will leave the blog up. We plan to do a follow up on our transition back into the US; we will probably post this by early October.
chuck & claire

Elle in Walnut Creek said...

Me too -- transitioning with the help of daughters, dogs and an Italian kitten for whom I carried kitty litter from Roma to San Fran!

It is indeed most excellent to be here right now. I think a strand that may be true for you two as well as for me, is the notion of being fully where we are ~ right this minute.
Buddhism aside, that is.

Looking forward to your Oct. comments and news of your new arrival (grandchild, not at airport!)