Monthly Archives: January 2013

The more the merrier

Xmas

And we have another one!

Our neighbor, Ulrike, decided to join us for two weeks in the Kathmandu Valley, before we start the Everest Trek.

The current plan is for us to fly into Kathmandu, visit the sights for a few days and then move on to the neighboring town of Bhaktapur (great for hikes in the surrounding foothills). Another option would be an overnight hike around Nagarkot and Dhulikhel … let’s hope we’ll have as much fun as we had on Christmas … see pic above 😉

Everest Trek … again

2002-10-29 at 05-57-32I’ve been trekking in Nepal twice (1990 and 2002 with Anna), both times in the Mt. Everest region. So you’d think we would try something new this time, wouldn’t you? Nope … we both love the trek to the Everest base camp and can’t wait to do it again, this time with the kids.

Both altitude sickness (the highest point will be just above 18,000ft / 5500m) and the cold (expecting night time temperatures around -12C/10F in March) will be a concern, but we have planned so much extra time for the trek that we think we’ll have plenty of time to acclimatize. And if we show symptoms (I was very seriously sick in 1990), we’ll just have to descend and wait. Honestly, I don’t think there is a high probability that we’ll make it all the way to base camp … if we don’t, no big deal either. The way there is actually much more beautiful than the view from base camp itself.

By the way, here is a link to an unbelievable gigapixel panorama of base camp and Everest. You can zoom in until you see people (high bandwidth needed).

The pics are from our 2002 trek.

2002-12-08 at 06-25-29 screenshot_374 2002-11-08 at 03-19-482002-12-08 at 03-39-39

A big Country

Australia it really is a big countryI can’t recall that I ever had such a hard time planning an itinerary though a country.

  • It’s huge (about the same area as the lower 49 states)
  • It’s empty (less than 1/10 of the U.S. population)
  • It’s expensive (the price level is well above Switzerland

Due to cost, the only way we could possibly travel for 8 weeks is with a camper van (we are currently thinking of this one … maybe with a flight to cut down on driving days. That means we won’t be able to cover anywhere near all of the country in eight weeks and will have to make some choices.

The other problem is that people, who’ve been in Australia, have very different opinions of what there is to see and where to go. Take Ayers Rock for example. We’ve heard anything from “One of the best experiences of my life” to “It’s a big rock. If it were next to the highway in Utah, you wouldn’t even take your foot of the gas”. Same goes for the Great Barrier Reef … it’s either “Best diving ever” or “Five time the cost of the Red Sea and one fifth of the fish”.

Right now we are pretty set on doing it in two stages. Start by flying into Brisbane and taking four weeks to drive up the coast to Cairns (should give us a good idea of the coast line and the Great Barrier Reef). Then taking a plane from Cairns to Alice Springs and renting a four-wheel drive for another three weeks to drive up to Darwin (we’ll see the Outback and the sub-tropical national parks on the northern coast).

Seriously, let us know if you have any opinions on Australia. Where to go? What to do? Any insider tips we wouldn’t find in the Lonely Planet?Australia

Note from Lara

_DSC8601 - Version 2I found this Post-It note on the floor in front of our bed room this morning. Looks like Lara is looking forward to the trip 🙂

For the non-German speakers, it roughly translates to: “Hey Mom, Dad and Finn only 55 days until the world trip!”

Unfortunately, she’s off by a few days and we have less than 50 days left to get everything sorted out.

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Vaccinations

Shots

Last night we got the second round of shots (Typhoid, Japanese Encephalitis, Hepatitis, ….) to prepare us for the trip.

Lara tends to be unduly dramatic (plenty of scared looks and even some tears before it even starts), but Finn was quite the trooper and almost a bit disappointed: “Ohhhh … I thought the needle would be much bigger!”.

The total bill to get the four of us current on all our vaccinations will be about $1500, good thing the insurance covers it.

By the way, when the doc discovered that I never had a Rabies shot in my life, he almost fell off his chair. Apparently that’s something you need even when never leaving Europe or the U.S. . He couldn’t believe how I managed to live and travel for 45 years without some doctor noticing it missing. The way he described it, it’s a very nasty thing to get … and deadly in almost all cases. You might want to check if you are current on your Rabies vaccination!

We all went to get a well-deserved Pizza afterwards.

Ute will be joining us for a while

2009-02-04 09-58-47 2009-02 PeruGreat news today!

Ute, our good friend and constant “travel buddy”, will be joining the adventure for a few weeks and go trekking with us in Nepal.

We’ve already travelled together in Alaska, throughout the American West, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru and Bali … and have spent many a weekend in the Alps as well.

We used to live in the same town, but she moved away for work and is now living a few hours away from us … and we just don’t see each other much anymore.

So looking forward to us getting together for a bit of travelling again!

First flights booked … and a destination added

Abu Dhabi

I spent the last two days glued to the computer screen. Researching destinations, crawling through flight options, constantly discussing (and re-discussing) possible itineraries with Anna.

A few (for me) interesting observations:

Flights used to be quite a bit cheaper when bought through U.S. web sites. No more. The prices I see are identical (sometimes down to a Euro or two) no matter where if I look in the U.S. or here in Germany.

Hipmunk.com is the best site to find flights (but you can’t book directly) … followed closely by my old favourite kayak.com (or kayak.de if you are in Germany). Google’s ITA Matrix is excellent, but not as well visualised as hipmunk. Neither Expedia nor Opodo find the cheapest tickets on complicated itineraries.

Going to the airlines directly finds the same cheap flights as kayak does (that’s where they get them from). But without services like kayak or hipmunk, you’d never know how to manipulate the flight searches on their sites to find the lowest fares.

A few hours ago I booked our tickets to Kathmandu … and included a one night stop-over in Abu Dhabi. Not that it’s high on my list of places to visit, but the stop-over will only cost us about $150 (includes hotel, transport and ticket price surcharge). We figure it’s worth that to have a quick look and to break up the long flight to Nepal.

Almost 1:00am now … got to get some sleep.