not done just yet, summary part 1

London Travel Blog

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Okay.. so I figured that I needed to write a summary of the trip.  Just a little something for everyone and all that jazz, maybe throw in a couple of stories that never made it.  This entry will probably written in parts since I'm a little short on time.. but here's installment one.

Flights: many.

flight map

That's the map.  I flew into europe to start my round the world trip because I wanted to fly the trip using a particular airline alliance (I'm a united 1k member and I have upgrade certs that allowed me to fly about a third of the trip in business class at economy prices, nice, eh?).  So its a bit convoluted.  If I were so inclined I could give you a rough estimate of the amount of time that I had spent on planes, in airports, in line, etc.  Suffice to say, a lot is probably a good measure to go by.  Lest you're going by boat, not really going to get away with not spending a  lot of time in the air on any given round the world trip. 

Money spent: lots.  could have spent less, that much is certain, but I could have always spent more.  Essentially, I didn't go the true backpacker, no budget route because unlike many backpackers I did actually have a fair amount saved.  Also, I opted for more tours than the "take the train show up wherever, whenever" route.  The reasons for this are many and varied but boiled down to its most simple, I wanted to have some direction, learn new things and meet people.  this would give me purpose and help me stave off the idea that I was doing something that was aimless and would keep me from feeling untethered and homesick.  All in all, it worked rather well and while I spent a bit more than my budget estimates, I was nowhere near my catastrophic worst case scenario (far closer to the lower than to the higher). 

Anyway, I started out using a company called bus about (www.busabout.com).  Frankly, I hadn't heard of them until a travel agent I was using for my RTW tickets (oh how I could bore you with airline alliance minutia for RTW tickets, but frankly, I'll boil this down as well, prices differ in different places in the world, getting the trip for the price I wanted required getting a travel agent in a foreign country, specifically canada) had suggested them.  Until that point, I was pondering getting a eurail pass.  Now I don't want to dissuade anyone too much from getting a eurail pass or anything, but the more I read about them, the more I didn't want to go that route.   Beyond that, I wasn't too keen on the idea of heading through europe solo.  Also, well, I had planned a 3 week tour in greece about smack dab in the middle of a two month block set aside for european continent. This would have meant that i would have had to have bought two flexible rail passes in order to do the entire span.  Throw in the obligatory trip back home for a family/friends party in July and things became even more complicated.  etc etc.  Essentially, the choice boiled down to a tour with contiki or busabout.  I chose busabout and was not disappointed with my choice.  Everything I had read about contiki seemed to suggest that they were for a very much younger and less refined traveler.  Basically, it was a drinking and partying bus.  Which is fine if you're young, love to drink and party.  While I'm still young (and really only getting mentally younger) my days of consecutive drinking binge evenings are pretty much over.  Anyway for the budget traveler who doesn't mind a bit of itinerary with flexibility (yes, it does sound a bit of a contradiction) its a very good choice.  The fact that you're on a bus heading in a similar direction even if you might be staying varying times in particular places, well, you do end up meeting people and re-meeting them along the way.  Granted most of those people are crazy Aussies.

I had timed the northern loop in such a way that I'd be able to easily pick up a train to head into Frankfurt to fly out to Athens.  The greece tour was split into two segments, a ground tour of the peninsula and a boat tour of the "islands".  I went with a company called Explore (http://www.exploreworldwide.com/) which is predominantly a UK company (Europe tends to have a much more.. broad tourism industry since they tend to have a shit load more vacation that we do in the states).   I found them more than adequate as the tour leader for the ground tour was very knowledgeable even if she wasn't a greek (it was a surprise to have a tour of a country led by someone that wasn't a local, but not off putting).  I met quite a diverse group of people, mostly english as you'd surmise but a few kiwis and aussies as well.  Many of whom I still owe emails but will probably never get them since I misplaced the sheet.. doh.  The boat tour was also interesting and unlike the ground tour had a guide who was greek and had a doctorate in nautical engineering.  That was an experience and a half, the tour however wasn't exactly as advertised, which was a bit of a detraction but not much.  Seems that some tours were getting stranded on the islands due to sailing restrictions when there is high wind, which happens a lot in Greece.  Anyway, I'd highly recommend them although I did hear a story concerning them screwing a smaller tour company .. which doesn't sit exactly well with me.

Hmmm. more to come.. :)
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photo by: ulysses