Tuesday, December 26, 2017

How Many Countries (But Who's Counting?) - 2017 Year End Edition

We once ran into a couple on a cruise who were strangely proud of having visited 130 "countries" and realized we never wanted to be "those people." It's more common (and a more difficult question) to be asked about our favorite region, country, or city. Still, people do ask us from time to time.

For those who ask, and for our own amusement, we  annually count up the countries we've visited in the course of our travels.  In 2017 we added one new country, United Arab Emirates, to our list, which also adds one new region, the Middle East.    

Based on the Travelers' Century Club list of 325, we've been in a total of 102 to date. You'll notice the following list includes a lot of places that aren't sovereign states, but it's one harmless way to keep score. You'll find further down a list of the 76 sovereign states we've visited:



Pacific Ocean (6/39)
Australia
Fiji Islands
French Polynesia (Tahiti,Tuamotu, Austral, Gambier)
Hawaiian Islands
New Zealand
Tasmania

North America (4/6)
Alaska
Canada
Mexico
U.S. (continental)

Central America (5/7)
Belize (British Honduras)
Costa Rica
Guatemala
Honduras
Panama
 
South America (6/14)
Argentina
Brazil
Chile
Colombia
Peru
Uruguay
 
Caribbean (15/30)
Antigua & Deps. (Barbuda, Redonda)
Bahamas
Barbados
Cayman Islands
Dominican Republic
Jamaica
Leeward Islands, French (St. Martin)
Puerto Rico
St. Barts
St. Kitts
St. Lucia
St. Maarten (formerly Netherlands Antilles)
Turks and Caicos Islands
Virgin Islands, U.S. (St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas)
Virgin Islands, British (Tortola, etc.)
 
Atlantic Ocean (6/13)
Azores Islands
Bermuda
Canary Islands
Cape Verde Islands
Iceland
Madeira
 
Europe and Mediterranean (37/67)
Austria
Belgium
Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Minorca)
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
England
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Hungary
Ionian Islands (Corfu, etc.)
Ireland (Eire)
Ireland, Northern (Ulster)
Italy
Liechtenstein 
Luxembourg
Malta
Monaco
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Sicily

Scotland
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Turkey in Europe (Istanbul)
Vatican City
Wales

Antarctica (0/7)
None

Africa (7/55)
Egypt in Africa
Lesotho
Morocco
Senegal (plane refueling at Dakar - did not formally enter)
South Africa
Swaziland
Zimbabwe
 
Middle East (1/21)
United Arab Emirates
 
Indian Ocean (1/14)
The Maldives
 
Asia (14/51)
Cambodia
China, People's Rep.
Hong Kong
India
Japan
Korea, North (DMZ tour only)
Korea, South
Malaysia
Singapore
Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey in Asia
Vietnam

If we restrict our list only to sovereign nations, we've visited 76 of 195 such entities:

Antigua
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Bahamas
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Brazil
Cambodia
Canada
Cape Verde
Chile
China
Colombia
Costa Rica
Croatia
Czech Republic
Denmark
Egypt
Estonia
Fiji
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Holy See (Vatican City)
Honduras
Hungary
Iceland
India
Ireland
Italy
Jamaica
Japan
Korea (North) - DMZ tour only
Korea (South)
Lesotho
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Mexico
Monaco
Morocco
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Panama

Peru
Poland
Portugal
Russia
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Senegal (plane refueling at Dakar - did not formally enter)
Singapore
Sri Lanka (Ceylon)
Slovakia
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Swaziland
Sweden
Switzerland
Taiwan
Thailand
Turkey

United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States
Uruguay
Vietnam
Zimbabwe 


To look at it yet another way, courtesy of the Visited Countries website, we have visited 83 states (the 36.8% includes some entities such as Caribbean islands that are actually dependencies):


visited 83 states (36.8%)
Create your own visited map of The World

Playing with the statistics (a bit obsessively, don't you think?), we realize we've actually visited a higher percentage of the world's current sovereign states - 38.9% - than our presence in 31.4% of the Century Club's entries. But - as we always say about countries and our anniversaries - who's counting?
 
Yes, we’re already looking forward to the possibility of one or two new entries in 2018.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Our 12 Months of Travel in 2017

We managed a couple of cruises, and stops in nine or so countries during the past 12 months. We count ourselves very fortunate in more ways than one. We requalified for top tier status on Alaska Airlines, flying over a hundred thousand miles in total with paid and award flights on several carriers, and our planned transatlantic cruise on Oceania in March 2018 will be our 20th on that line, with the result that our 21st cruise on O will be free.

Our travel highlights include a trip to San Francisco with grandson Blane, a second trip to San Francisco with granddaughters Peyton and Lily (given our own November 2016 Alcatraz tour, how many people can boast of touring The Rock three times within eight months?), and an overnight trip to Vancouver BC with granddaughter Riley and grandson Jace.

We loved our tour of Kerala, India. It was even sweeter because we'd approached our second trip to India with some trepidation after a rewarding but exhausting first trip a few years ago.

We managed two trips to Australia in 2017. The first was our annual trip to the FlyerTalk Oz Fest in May. We subsequently grabbed a "mistake fare" released by All Nippon Airways, and in November flew back in business class for quick but thoroughly fun visit with Aussie friends Bill and Sue while earning a chunk of miles. Full credit to ANA for deciding to honor those fares.

Yes, we have a few trips already planned for 2018, but we have to take a moment to reminisce about this past year...

January

Malta via Munich (Flyertalk friend Greg was also coincidentally at the Malta Hilton!)

San Francisco with Blane

February

A quick visit in Florida with Kathy's brother Tom

Caribbean cruising on Oceania's Marina

March

A week in Lucca, Italy

Transatlantic Cruise on Oceania Riviera

April

Pandas in Chengdu, China

Venice

May

Vienna is always a treat

Japan for a few days

Oz Fest - Hunter Valley

June and July

Home Sweet Sehome

August

San Francisco with Lily and Peyton

September

Dubai

Arriving in India

October

Touring Kerala, India

With Bill and Sue in Oz

November

The Big Island of Hawaii - former student Karissa was also staying coincidentally
at the same time, and we spent a day with her, our second "Small World" experience
in 2017!

December

Home Sweet Sehome! Merry Christmas!









Sunday, November 26, 2017

Saturday, November 18, 2017

KOA (Kona Airport): Best Waiting Area

Especially when your flight is late - air conditioned and cold (but expensive) beer...





Friday, November 17, 2017

The Big Island of Hawaii: Rainbows and Sunsets






Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

http://www.htbg.com

We drove over to the other side of Kona the other day and discovered this garden.



Since we like food, we were interested many different varieties of ginger. It's a fairly spectacular garden squeezed into a reasonably compact location.





A stand of bamboo impressed us...



Blossoms everywhere...





The resemblance is clear...







Something new every few feet...







This many palm trees?





Ocean views...



More blossoms...



And trees...





Strange shapes...



A great place to visit...




Monday, November 13, 2017

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Kona Bound

Maybe via Portland? Rumors abound. Yup, to make sure there's enough reserve fuel.

Yes, we landed in Portland to top up the fuel reserve, due to headwinds. We landed at Kona an hour late and Alaska gave everyone on board a $100 flight credit. 

They can divert us anytime they want for a hundred bucks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Home Sweet Sehome

Two great back-to-back trips, and it still feels good to be home.

Did we ever miss our coffee machine!



Review: Dinner on ANA (NH) 116 HND-YVR

Perhaps we can best describe it as a Japanese interpretation of what the menu calls "international cuisine."





We simply say "itadakimass."

Haneda Airport: At the Gate

The sign reads in English "Please wait for a while."


A lot of employees...



This is an "old" 787, quite a step down...





It will still get us there.

Haneda Royal Park Transit Hotel

We disembarked our SYD-HND flight about 5:00 a.m. Our flight to Vancouver departs at 9:45 p.m.

The Royal Park Hotel worked out really well for us.







We'd made a reservation, and the check-in was quick and efficient. The room is small - very small, like other transit hotels we've stayed at - but it was almost luxurious, and the king size bed makes it look even smaller.





The bathroom is tiny, but includes a combination tub-shower and a "fancy" Toto toilet.





We rented the room for 12 hours. Brian slept 9 or 10, and Kathy wasn't far behind.

We feel great and may treat the next flight like a day flight.