They Live Deeply, These Vagabonds: 2013 in Review

2013 was an epic year of traveling that kicked off in Antarctica, and included five different continents. Technically speaking with stopovers and all, we visited all 7 continents in the span of one year.I took about 17,000 photos in 2013. This is our first sunrise of the year in Antarctica, at 2AM on Jan 1.

This year, we visited 21 countries.

There were a few “firsts” for us this year:

We got our first tattoos, in the lands where tattooing was born, Polynesia.
We walked our first long-distance trail (The Speyside Way), in Scotland.
We ate at our first Michelin-starred restaurant together at the Torre del Saracino, near Sorrento.
We chewed betel (not pan, the raw nut) for the first time, in the Solomon Islands.
We visited a movie set and went zorbing for the first time, in New Zealand.

Highlights of the Year 2013:

1. Antarctica

Nothing can prepare you for Antarctica. The first glimpses of the uninhabited continent took me to a place of indescribable peace. Land untouched by human colonization. It felt like another planet, and the purity of it made for a great start to the new year.

2. A week in Easter Island (turned into 8 days because of the debacle that is LAN Chile) was a dream come true.

3. Two months in French Polynesia. 8 islands including Tahiti and Bora Bora included a month in a bungalow on Moorea, where we saw some incredible sunsets and rainbows.

We also got our first tattoos in Tahiti!

In February, we stayed at our first “barefoot luxury” private island resort at Ninamu, an exclusive getaway for surfers wanting access to sick, crowd-free waves in the Tuamotu atolls of French Polynesia. Neither of us surf, but it sounded like a cool place to stay as it was completely different from other resorts. While there, we met two surfers, one from Los Angeles and another from Brazil. Both flew in at the last minute because the Internet told them a giant wave was swelling and they had a few days to catch it. So they did what any dedicated surfer would do: they flew in just to surf a wave they saw on Google Earth. Amazing.

4. New Zealand: North Island including a famous hike called the Tongariro Crossing. We were told it would take 6-8 hours. It only took us 4, and we felt very smug.

Visiting the movie set for the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.

And zorbing, of course.

5. Living for 6 weeks in a converted shipping container in Fiji, where Anna (pictured with her husband) took good care of us.

6. Standing at the rim of an exploding volcano in Tanna, Vanuatu

But it was even more frightening for me to use the swing rope to jump into a blue grotto!

7. Rocking one of the most interesting countries in the South Pacific: Solomon Islands. While there, we the only guests at a barefoot luxury private island resort Tavenipupu. Because we were the only guests, we were upgraded to the same beachfront bungalow that William and Kate stayed in, and got the royal treatment.

We enjoyed Ninamu so much so that when we found out about Tavenipupu, and we also found out that William and Kate stayed there, we decided to give it a shot, too. This private island resort was accessible first by a plane that lands on a grass runway, then a ten-minute ride in a simple motorboat. We happened to pick a time where no other guests were on the island and were given the royal bungalow! Needless to say, it etched deep memories into our brains.
And we also visited a place where the people built their own islands and then their own huts on top of the islands and live without any running water or electricity…it’s called the Langa-Langa lagoon and you have to get a local to take you there in a boat. Seeing people live the way they have since human civilization was born, with nothing modern whatsoever, is quite the eye-opener. The people in this lagoon are so off-grid, they don’t even use money! They trade and use shells as currency.

8. Australia! Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Uluru. Koala cuddling.

Saw lots of roos, too.

And Uluru.

9. Cruise to Iceland, Faroe Islands, and Norway with my family.

10. England and Scotland including the Orkneys and Isle of Skye, and walking the Speyside Way, a long-distance trail in the Scottish highlands that takes about a week and passes through a score of famous Scotch distilleries.

We visited about 14 different distilleries, and sampled the deliciousness at each. While we both prefer Islay malts, our tour of the Scottish highland distilleries was palate-expanding and fun.

11. Malta, then Italy including Milan, Genoa, Bologna, Florence, Venice, Rome, and Pompeii

Needless to say, we ate and drank a lot.

We ate at our first Michelin-starred restaurant together at the Torre del Saracino, near Sorrento.
We also met my mom, my aunt, and my cousin in Rome.

12. Drank with the Sticke Warriors on Alt Sticke Day in Dusseldorf, Germany, preceded by a visit to the venerable Orval monastery in Belgium.

Throughout all this, I wrote well over 3000 pages, about a million words, taking credit for none of it because that’s what I do.
2013 was a good year! Here’s to 2014, may it be fabulous for you and all your loved ones.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. It has been so much fun to follow your exploits this year, and to drink with you in Dusseldorf. Looking forward to your 2014 posts. Happy New Year.


  2. Duncan Bell says:

    Thanks for sharing!


  3. Thank you Dianne! We look forward to the next drinking session 🙂


  4. Thank you for reading!


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