Around the world in 10 days
My round the world route
On my round the world trip I decided to retrace the footsteps of my past and visit some of the countries I have lived in as well as a number of others I have been interested in visiting for a while. I started in London, then went on to Germany, Then Bosnia, Saudi Arabia, India, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, The USA and finally Brazil before heading home. It was an amazing adventure and I can't believe I managed it all in 10 days. First stop; England and farewell.
England - London
London is the capital of the United Kingdom. It is home to roughly 12 million people as is a world famous tourist landmark. We are very fortunate to be able to visit London so easily. London is home to such monumental landmarks as the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral and of course the fascinating river Thames. London is truly the city that never sleeps and one can enjoy getting lost in the many streets and on the underground. Bombed severely during the Second World War, London has bounced back big time and is one of the economic powerhouses in in the world as well as being the most vibrant and exciting city in Britain. Can't stay long. On to Germany.
Deutschland - Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany. It is situated in the East of Germany and was built on marshland. The city sports an array of brightly coloured pipes which pump marsh water out of the city. Berlin contains a number of interesting sites for people to visit, namely the Tiergarten, The Brandenburg Gate, and nearby hotel where Michael Jackson held baby 'Blankets' out of the window, and the Reichstag, which was burnt down by the Nazis in 1933 and was never actually used as a parliament building during the Nazi rule of Germany and Checkpoint Charlie. There are lots of places to enjoy fine food and drink in Berlin. The city is known for its honesty wine bars where you can delight in a three course meal and as much wine as you like. You then pay what you think it was all worth at the end. Berlin was almost completely destroyed by the Soviet Red Army towards the end of the war and was then at the epicenter of the Cold War in Europe. The Berlin Wall finally came down after a peaceful revolution in 1989.
Bosnia - Sarajevo
Nestling in a valley and surrounded on three sides by hills, Sarajevo is a beautiful and enchanting city. I was skeptical about going there at first, I took the night train down from Zagreb in Croatia as I was on my way to the coastal city of Dubrovnik. I instantly felt attuned to the city when I arrived and continued to do so as I spent time there. The diversity of religion is plain to see. It was Ramadan and the calls to prayer sounded five times a day. In the main square I could also see the Orthodox Bosniak church, the synagogue, mosque and Presbyterian church. Symbols of Balkan religious diversity. Sarajevo's streets have a distinctly Ottoman flavour and are very pleasant to loose yourself in. This city has great historical significance, most recently, during the breakup of Yugoslavia, Serb forces surrounded the city and forced the people to live in constant fear of bombs and snipers. The graves you can see are a testament to how many lost their lives. The Bosnian fighters bravely fought on and dug a tunnel under the city's airport to bring in supplies and take out the wounded.
Riyadh - Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is the biggest and most powerful country in the Arabian Gulf. It supplies the world with large quantities of oil. The city of Riyadh is a sprawling city which is still being developed. Riaydh is home to the largest university in the Middle East region called King Saud university. Despite the strict nature of Saudi's religious police, and the banning of cinemas and music venues, there are many excellent places to eat. You can find most types of restaurant in Riyadh and for most they are very affordable. The Al Saud family who rule Saudi Arabia make the cost of living in the Kingdom extremely affordable. Saudi is also home to an ancient Nabatian settlement called Mada'in Saleh. It is near the beautiful old town of Al Ulah on the North West coast of the country. Well worth a visit.
Agra - India
Rabindranath Tagore described it as 'a teardrop on the cheek of eternity', Rudyard Kipling as 'the embodiment of all things pure', while its creator, Emperor Shah Jahan, said it made 'the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes'. Every year, tourists numbering more than twice the population of Agra pass through its gates to catch a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of what is widely considered the most beautiful building in the world.
The Taj was built by Shah Jahan as a memorial for his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child in 1631. The death of Mumtaz left the emperor so heartbroken that his hair is said to have turned grey virtually overnight. Construction of the Taj began the following year and, although the main building is thought to have been built in eight years, the whole complex was not completed until 1653. Not long after it was finished Shah Jahan was overthrown by his son Aurangzeb and imprisoned in Agra Fort where, for the rest of his days, he could only gaze out at his creation through a window.
Bangkok - Thailand
Thailand is a country of diversity. From the hustle an bustle of Bangkok with its nightlife, markets, and streets filled with bikes, tourists and tuk tuks to the serene beaches and islands of Phuket. Thailand, especially Bangkok, boomed during the Vietnam war where American GIs on leave would come to spend their R and R away from the battlefields and jungles of Vietnam. As a result, the vice exploded in the city and it is know as one of the hotspots for sex tourism in the world. Most people like to only spend a couple of days in Bangkok before heading out to find the beauty of Phuket or Cohsamui. It is possible to scuba dive, take a boat ride, or just to relax by the beach and while away the days in paradise.
Surfers Paradise - Australia
Surfers Paradise has become one of the most popular spots on the east coast of Australia. People come from all over the world to either make a new home or to take in the beaches and surrounding area for a few weeks or months. The beautiful town of Byron Bay is just an hour down the coast and Brisbane is an hour north for when you want to take in a bit of city life. Surfers as a town has become a hub of activity with the super V8 racing, surf championship and the nightlife. Braodbeach sports a number of swanky bars and restaurants whereas Surfers is more for the locals and people travelling through with its more modest clubs and bars. Every Friday and Saturday night is a hive of activity. Surfers is a must visit part of Australia, even if you do not go in for nightlife, there is more than enough to see and do by day and a trip to the rain forests of the hinterland is a must.
Lake Matherson - New Zeaand
Who wouldn't want to visit New Zealand? With it's mountains, glaciers, coastline and amazing views, it is one of the most sought after travel experiences around. For those who are looking for a thrill, there is also the opportunity to sky dive, bungee jump and gorge swing.
The famous 'mirror lake' can be found about 6km down Cook Flat Rd. Wandering slowly (as you should), it will take 1½ hours to complete the circuit. At the far end – on a clear day – you may, just may , get the money shot, but failing that you can buy a postcard at the excellent gift store in the car park. The best time to visit is early morning, or when the sun is low in the late afternoon, although the presence of the Matheson Café means that any time is a good time.
San Francisco - USA
San Francisco is an amazing city on the West Coast of America. It is home to a number of famous landmarks, namely the Golden Gate Bridge and the infamous island prison of Alcatraz which was featured heavily in the the film The Rock starring Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage. San Francisco is also famous for it's hilly streets and the tram network which buzzes around the city. There is also the Golden Gate Park which includes the following sights: MH de Young Museum , California Academy of Sciences , San Francisco Botanical Garden , Japanese Tea Garden , Conservatory of Flowers and Stow Lake. For those people who like to relax and have a beer or two, there is the Anchor Brewing company where you can take a tour and learn how they make their beer and sample some of it as well. San Francisco is a vibrant city with lots of young people and lots of places to eat, drink and socialise. It really is a must visit city.
Rio de Janiero - Brazil
Rio is home to one of the seven wonders of the world; Christ the Redeemer. This monument can be seen from practically anywhere in the city and when you wander up the mountainside to stand next to it in all it's glory and enormity, you can really understand why it was built in such a location. You look out from this observation point and you can see the whole city stretch out beneath you. Rio is also famous for its beaches, namely, Ipanema beach, its fame helped along by the song 'Girl from Ipanema'. The beaches are usually packed with people and the atmosphere can be electric with everyone in the party mood. On the other side of the coin there are Rio's favelas or shanty towns which snake their way up the mountainsides. These favelas have become infamous because of the violence which takes place in some of them with rival drug gangs battling for control of the drug trade, often with military grade weaponry. Some of the favelas are safe enough and you can take a tour into them to see how the other half of Rio de Janeiro live.