Galapagos, EcuadorGalapagos, Ecuador

Galapagos – two more nights in nature’s paradise and what to take away

We are leaving the boat after 5 packed days. So many impressions of the landscape, the wild animals above and below water.

Our heads are still circling around what we had the chance to see on the Galapagos islands. And we might still need a few days more to fully grasp, what made it so special to us. We just arrived on island of Santa Cruz. There is a small village and it does not belong to the National Park area. We stay another 2 nights here, walking to nearby beaches and looking at the local market. The first time on this trip we have the freedom to just while away a day.

Walking to a local coffee place, we pass by the really small fish market of the town. 6 stalls in a small U-shape directly at the waterfront. More or less stone tables, painted in blue. Locals debating about the prices for the catch of the day.

Behind some stalls on the walls sit a few pelicans. They keep a close eye on the scenery. Sometimes even make an attempt to jump over to the fish tables. But get chased away quickly by the local sellers.

While everybody focuses on the Pelicans, it happens…

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Galapagos, EcuadorGalapagos, Ecuador

Galapagos – sea lions, blue-footed boobies, flamingos and much more wildlife up close

Sometimes it’s hard to put experiences into words. Galapagos put’s up this challenge. And it’s not about finding the “right” words, but to find words at all.

We are no biologists. Otherwise we would have cared more for the details. The differences Darwin discovered between some birds on the various islands. Tiny differences in their wings and bill.

We pay more attention to the broader scale…

How different wild animals react when being well protected. Not running, swimming or flying away. No fear. But rather curiosity. Unfortunately they can’t talk. Or at least we can’t understand them.

From their looks we read questions “What are you?”, “Why are you here?”. And sometimes even commands to “Play with me!”.

I jump into the water for snorkeling. Ice cold, thanks to the Humboldt stream.

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Galapagos, EcuadorGalapagos, Ecuador

Galapagos – visiting Darwin’s laboratory

We already had a good feeling when sealing our last minute deal to Galapagos. We booked a luxury upper deck cabin on a small high quality boat. A 1st class nature guide is promised too. And the best: All that at a bargain price *smiley cool*

Are you flexible too and can wait a few days? Perfect. Get left-over or cancellation places on cruises. Just shop around some outfits in Quito and ask for cruises leaving the next days.

And it only gets better with every minute we spend on this “detour” from the mainland. Or to be honest, it gets better “most of the time” for Iris…

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Otavalo, EcuadorOtavalo, Ecuador

Otavalo – Early Birds on the Indian Market

We got used to the altitude in the Andes. For the first days, you feel much older up here at 4000+ meters.

Despite our lack of Spanish, we organized a luxury low-budget trip to Galapagos. A long-term dream of us about to come true.

Still pumped with energy to explore. No vacation time to waste. Only much later we will realize the value of just living into the day. From time to time floating around, letting things happen.

But for now: How to fill the 2 day gap until Galapagos?

I saw some interesting pictures by fellow travelers. As food-lover I am anxious. Now I need to convince Thorsten to explore one of the biggest farmers markets in the region…

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Quito, EcuadorQuito, Ecuador

Up and down in Quito

Yes, we finally made it to Ecuador *smiley smiling*

On 2850 meters above sea level, Quito is already quite high. The altitude makes you feel old(er) when walking around or taking the stairs. The later one you will do a lot in Quito, as the city stretches well into the hills around.

We opted to stay in a nice double room in a hostel nearby the Old Town*. From there many sights are in walk-able distance and we immediately started to make use of this.

Spanish influence and language

Exploring the colonial center, you feel the strong Spanish influence. It is still present today in buildings, habits of people and of course the language.

Oh, talking about “language”: We now realize that not really learning at least some basic Spanish* before visiting Ecuador was not the best idea. You can make your way around using gestures and some English words. But we definitely put learning a proper level of Spanish on our list *smiley worried*

After strolling through the old colonial Quito we climbed even higher to earn our evening beer. Walking a lot of stairs in thin air and reveals breathtaking views over Quito after sunset…

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Germany, FrankfurtGermany, Frankfurt

Stuck in Heathrow…

Ironically after all the planning and preparation, we did not make it further than to London Heathrow on the first day. Ending up in on of the many nameless and similar hotels lined up there, both of us had seen during consulting projects in the last years.

What on earth had happened?

The flight from London to Madrid, from where we had a directly connecting flight to Quito was so much delayed, that it was clear we will miss the second one in Madrid. Initially we were very relaxed with 6 months free time ahead of us and already saw us sitting in a nice hotel in Madrid with a good glass of red wine – all paid for by British Airways – and taking the onward flight one day later.

Madrid or London for a night?

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Round the World, FarewellRound the World, Farewell

Farewell from friends, family and colleagues

With all the planning we wanted to do: done, our todo list getting shorter and our preparation as much completed as possible, we had to start the sad part…saying good bye to many friends, our families and colleagues at work, which we wouldn’t see for the next 6 months to come *smiley crying*

We don’t want to bother you with too many pictures of us over and over again with different people, but it was very good to feel so many people wanting to say “good bye” personally, making it much easier for us to leave and be sure not to be forgotten *smiley winking*

But not everybody could make it to our big(ger) farewell party…

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Round the World, PreparationRound the World, Preparation

Ready to go – half a year, once around the globe

Time flew by quickly since we managed to do our route planning and we didn’t manage to publish any updates on our blog, as we were still working more than full-time in our project jobs as consultants and in parallel spending much of our free time to finalize our plans, getting even more excited and preparing for our big adventure.

I did one of the most important decisions to be ready for long-term traveling…my hair is now cut short and we will not have to pack a hair dryer into our luggage. Sounds much better in German, describing my hair style now as a “Ohne-FΓΆn-Friese”, which suits much better for the colder Andes *smiley winking*

Now there are only 7 working days left…

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Round the World, PlanningRound the World, Planning

Planning a RTW trip – finding our route around the globe

When we realized that we just made it, so having approved sabbaticals and thus will be taking a 6 months break from our jobs, we got all excited. The decision was to make the most out of the time we have and spend the whole half year traveling.

And with that started our looooong list of ideas, places to visit, recommendations we got from colleagues, documentaries inspiring us about fancy locations and tips from friends and family. Putting everything on a map made it obvious – we needed prioritization!

Note: This is a post from before our round the world trip in 2009, but moving it to our new domain, I considered it deserves a little refresh from writing and styling perspective…

We went through some rounds, discussing ideas of potential focus areas and concluded as a first step to focus on the southern hemisphere and more specifically on Latin America, the South Pacific including New Zealand and Australia.

And with this in mind, we published the following image to “Get a first impression about the planned routing…”

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Round the WorldRound the World

Vision 2009 – Around the World in six months

Do you know this feeling, when looking at something you did about 10 years ago?

Yes, I know, it’s by no means up to your current standards and this is exactly the same for me, but reading through the first message we posted in 2009 for our friends and family to follow our steps around the world makes me feel different…it’s rather about: “This was special! How can we do it again?

This is really how it all started for Iris and myself becoming travel-addicts…

In 2008 it was confirmed that we both will have a sabbatical from our jobs. And the plan was to travel the full 6 months from July to December 2009. We were fully excited and started our long-list of ideas…

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