That’s All Folks!!

My trip has reached its end :(. Last 24th December I returned to Madrid, just in time to spend Christmas with my family. Indeed, it looks like the Earth is actually spherical, coz you come back to the same point in the end :). This has been an awesome year for me, and I return with the impression of having enjoyed it to the fullest.

BIG THANK YOU, to all of you who’ve followed the blog or at least one post, written comments, sent messages, shared ideas, encouraged me to go on or anything else. I felt your company in the distance. Special thanks to all of the new friends I’ve made on the road this year from all over the world, you’ve made this a memorable year for me!! You can still contact me here.

FAQs:

–  Was it worth it? Leaving my job in times of a crisis and a more or less comfortable life to go on the road? DEFINITELY!!! 🙂 I wouldn’t barter this experience for anything. Not for money, not for taking the best MBA in the world or for anything. Travel is the best university, what you learn and you experience travelling is priceless.

What would you change? If I started over again, I would probably do everything differently. This doesn’t mean I regret what I did. Just that you learn to travel from experience. No matter how much advice you get, you need to make your own mistakes, learn from them and discover your own travel style.

– What next? After my trip, I moved to London and resumed a ‘serious working lifestyle’ (not easy to settle down after vagabonding). London is a great city and I have continued to meet people from all over the world without even moving from the city. However, once you get the travel bug, it is not easy to stop. I don’t know when or how but I’m pretty sure I’ll hit the road again sooner or later.

What country did you like most? I hate this question. I believe that any country on Earth can be fascinating if you really want to discover it in depth. And the contrasts and variety of cultures in the world is what makes it interesting, ain’t it? Of course, what makes a trip memorable isn’t how great a spot looks on a postcard, but the people.

Since I know that my response will  not necessarily convince all of you, I leave you with a ‘top ten’ of fancy places/experiences of this trip (randomly ordered):

  1. Diving or snorkelling in The Great Barrier Reef
  2. Amazing Islamic arquitechture of Bukhara and Samarkand
  3. Dancing Samba at the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
  4. Gazing at the Amazon River from your hammock in an Amazon boat journey
  5. Getting open-mouthed in front of the Iguazu Falls
  6. Seeing the sun set over the moai at the remote Easter Island
  7. Getting up the ruins of the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu
  8. Imbibe the Uyghur culture in the Markets of Kashgar
  9. Travel on the footsteps of Marco Polo through ancient Silk Road cities like Dunhuang
  10. Appreciate the majesty of the beautiful Taj Mahal

Naturally, the true highlights of any traveller are none of those, but rather experiences you couldn’t write about on a blog or share because you need to experience yourself. For instance, they might include: this day your got stranded and suddenly someone helped you out; the journey standing for hours in an Indian train where you met a group of students and spent the whole journey laughing; when you wander aimlessly and you happen to find the perfect empty spot and stay there for the rest of the day; this long convo about life and death with an international group in the garden of a hostel; the family that welcomed you in their home somewhere isolated; the new faces, new friends, new cultures, new religions, new food and so forth. All are things you need to experience.

I encourage all of you to travel. It isn’t something for the millionaires or the hippies. Each of us can do it at his/her own pace and style. The most difficult part is the first step, after that everything just gets sorted out. Fulfilling our dreams can be easier than we imagine.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page” St Augustine

In this sense, travelling is not just being far from home. It is also an attitude. It is being curious, interested in the people you come across in the street, escape the monotony, open yourself to new experiences, keep learning. Thus, let’s travel. Today, here, now.

Again, big THANK YOU to all of you. I end with a photo gallery with random pictures of the trip:

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New Zealand – The South Island

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New Zealand’s South Island has a stunning natural scenery. The feast begins right in the ferry journey between Wellington and Picton. The views from the ferry are awesome on a sunny day.

Despite not being far, the weather improves a lot when crossing from the North Island to the South Island. A few more degrees, sunny and not as windy as Wellington! 🙂

Ferry journey

Ferry journey

Arriving at the South Island

Arriving at the South Island

The South Island is sparsely populated. It is the biggest of the two islands but only hosts 23% of the population. Of course, there are no big cities. In this semi-rural environment, people are super nice.

The largest city on the island is Christchurch. In 2010 and 2011 it suffered major earthquakes that left the city devastated. Some parts of the centre were still being reconstructed and closed to pedestrians.

Christchurch

Christchurch

Other city I visited was Queenstown. This resort town is really popular with adventure tourism, and almost all outdoors activities are offered. Sky diving is especially popular, but also skiing, snowboarding, jet boating, whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking, skateboarding, tramping, etc.

Queenstown

Queenstown

But what was really striking to me in the South Island were not the cities but the amazing landscapes I could see in between. I will finish the post with a few more photos of the scenery:

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New Zealand – The North Island

From Auckland I started a quick tour around New Zealand’s North Island and South Island, in the few days I had left for the trip.

New Zealand is a country with an amazing scenery, so just the journeys between cities makes up a lot of the fun.

One of the most popular stops in the North Island is Rotorua. As in other parts of the country, it is very quiet and laid-back. The British influence is felt everywhere, from the architecture to some of the habits of New Zealanders. Here, some old kiwis were enjoying a long croquet match opposite the main museum:

Croquet opposite the museum

Croquet opposite the museum

The city of Rotorua is (in)famous for its bad smell – a persistent “rotten eggs” smell. However, this is caused by the sulphide emissions of its lively geothermal activity, which is in turn at the heart of much of Rotorua’s tourist appeal.

Mudpot

Mudpot

Near the city, you find a good number of mudpots, hot springs and geysers.

Whakarewarewa is an old Maori site where many of the geysers and pools are located. Traditionally, Maoris use the heat for cooking and heating. The vegetation around is also lush. The most famous geyser, Pohotu, erupts usually around every hour.

Whakarewarewa

Whakarewarewa

Geyser

Geyser

On the southern tip of the North Island lies Wellington, the capital of New Zealand.

Wellington cable car

Wellington cable car

A good view of the city can be seen taking the old cable car up to the Botanic Gardens. Other than enjoying the view, you can wander around the paths of the Botanic Gardens and appreciate the vegetation. Nevertheless, Wellington is famous for being very windy, and I have to say that on top of the hill it really was!

Wellington

Wellington

Wellington

Wellington

From Wellington, I took the ferry down to the South Island. The ferry trip is incredibly scenic. I will tell you more about that in the next post.