So we may be sitting in a rainy semi in Cheshire but in our hearts and minds we are still on our world adventure. Luckily for me, I am so far behind in my posts that I can whishk (sic) myself back to sunnier days and keep blogging, keeping that dream alive.
As far as our European leg was concerned, Albania was our final frontier: a little bit unknown, a little bit underdeveloped, a little bit dangerous? Perhaps? At least, that’s what we were being led to believe listening to the attitudes of those living in the neighbouring countries.
After escaping fires we headed to the southern end of this diminutive country, to the old town of Stari Bar where again our car, complete with two roof boxes and six bikes attached proved massively unfeasible up the mountain roads.
Last night the fires spread to the hill we were camping on. Still probably 3 miles from us, up and over a ridge but the virility of the luminescent flames devouring the shrub land above us was not a welcome accompaniment to dinner.
We left Croatia with a ripped tent and eyes in need of clockwork orange crocodile clips from a sleepless night being battered by the Bora wind.
A short hop and a skip from Hungary and we were in country no.27, Croatia. We'd booked a cheap apartment in Zagreb and it was heaven to have two nights with good Wi-Fi, air-con, a private bathroom, a fridge and freezer! And most luxurious of all a washing machine. Clean clothes on tap!
Crossing into Hungary and we were beginning to feel quite a long way from home. We like to attempt to at least learn hello and thank you in all the local languages but even after five days we still couldn't master even these simple two words in Hungarian.
It's not possible to say the name of the city of Vienna, it has to be sung. Famed for music, and I mean of the Mozart variety rather than Ultravox, Vienna had long been on my list of places to visit.
Crossing from Austria to the Czech Republic, the difference in wealth was immediately evident..
The drive from the Black Forest to the Tyrolean Alps was beautiful: lush, green, forested slopes gradually steepened to granite topped mountains which appeared to pierce the skies as they towered up around us.
We left Belgium for country number 23 on our tour, Germany. We were heading for the Black Forest, an area neither of us had visited before. A campsite spotted on cool camping was looking hopeful so that was our direction set.
After a frantic but fun two weeks in the UK where we managed to cram in seeing family, visiting schools, catching up with friends, attending Kaney and Amanda's wedding (which was utterly awesome), buying a car and a tent, and collecting camping gear we were ready to set off for our last hurrah: a 3 month road trip around Europe. Phew!.
We landed from India into Europe, exhausted facing a cold, grey, wet Barcelona. Brrrrr.
Was it really necessary to pay the extra premium for the apartment with an outdoor pool? It certainly seemed worth it when we were booking it, sweltering in 40° Indian heat. But now we're here in drizzly 19° European spring, it feels rather foolishly optimistic.
There's never a good time to get ill, but it felt particularly annoying for it to happen, as it did for me and the kids, in the middle of the remote but paradisiacal Andaman Islands.
We arrived in Kollam ready to embark on a backwater cruise or head to Munroe Island.
The logistics of travelling with two under fives is surprisingly simple. Our toddlers have now reached the grand old age of 3 & 4 - we've been travelling with them for 18 months now; they are (thankfully and finally) both out of nappies, yet still small enough to sit on our knees. They eat pretty much anything (unspicy) when they're in the right mood and they sleep wherever we squeeze in their tents so in terms of planning we don't really need to consider anything more than if it were just the two of us. But that all was about to change with the very welcome arrival of three families from home. The GBs, the Davies and the London Newitts were all set to descend on Kerala meaning our small family of four had rapidly morphed into a swarm of 18!
We had just ten days to kill before our next visitors were set to arrive. Just enough time to check out Kochi
So when I posted last, we were leaving the jungle clad hill tops of Wayanad heading back to the beaches. This time Northern Kerala, specifically Thottada and Kozhikode (Calicut) where we would bid our farewells to the grandparents.
Yesterday we travelled up into the jungle, here to Wayanad. What a contrast from Mysore. Absolute silence except for the wind in the trees and the birds calling.
From Agonda, we moved south by train - just 2 hours late - to the hippy hangout of Gokarna and Kudle beach (aptly pronounced cuddly, I don't know if the hippies named it).
Patnem was all out of mopeds sadly. So we got the VW bus instead!
We are not quite living that dream yet but some lucky campers were on Agonda beach. Meanwhile, we had a meet up planned with Julie from my university days so we made a move to nearby Agonda beach and the family Newitts got back on the mopeds
Don't get me wrong, it feels great to be back on a beach but I'm surprised how quickly I've declimitized to the travelling lifestyle.
Christmas and we have returned to the UK, albeit hopefully only briefly. A few medical issues (god bless the poor old NHS) to resolve before we continue on our way. Next stop Holland, and then India.
Leaving Cienfuegos, we headed a short way West to Trinidad and then on up to Varadero, possibly the two places most heavily weighted towards tourists in all of Cuba.
Viñales, for us felt a bit like Disney does Cuba. But nevertheless we had a great few days there. Tourism has hit here big time and the money making encroachment of capitalism is in full effect.
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Kelly and Mikey (but mostly Kelly). We sold up in the UK to travel with our two littluns for a year or so. If you want to know more click the about us!