Given the increasing frequency of "What are you up to lately?" emails I've been getting, it's probably time to start updating this blog again. Hmm, where to begin?
First of all, contrary to any other rumours you may have heard, I'm alive and well. My three month trip to South East Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos), India and East Africa (Tanzania, Comoro Islands, Madgascar) went really well. I ended up diving in seven different countries, had all kinds of wonderful food, met a bunch of fellow travellers, and just had a great time all around. My only complaint was that three months was way too short. So I came back to San Francisco for a couple of weeks in April, and decided to quit my job for good and keep travelling. I moved all my boxes to Penny's garage, sold my car to Rizwan, and took a couple of suitcases of clothes with me to Vancouver.
At first I was thinking of travelling for another three to six months, but then I met a professional snowboarder on the flight from SF to Vancouver. Hearing him talk about his job rekindled an old longing of mine to be a ski bum for a season. So I decided that I would travel through the end of this year, and then go skiing for two or three months starting January 2008. That gave me 8 months before the ski season. I figured I would spend the summer in Europe and the fall in South America, but didn't really have any plans beyond that. As for skiing, it will depend on where the snow is, but I'm planning for now at least to start in North America (Whistler, Mount Baker, Tahoe, then maybe the Rockies).
I spent the first month in Canada, mostly in Vancouver plus a week in Montreal. Jen, Dave and Ally came up from SF to visit Vancouver on Memorial Day weekend, we spent it mostly sampling the various restaurants and coffee houses in town. Then in early June, I headed to Europe for the summer, where the only commitments I had were to be in Dublin on July 21st for Michele's 39.5th birthday party, in Ireland again on August 26th for Lee-Anne and Waleed's wedding, and in Paris on October 5th for my grandma's 90th birthday.
Paris became my home base, as I have lots of relatives there and it's fairly central for travelling in Europe. From Paris, I would take a flight to a foreign city, and then visit other nearby cities and countries, usually getting from one place to the next by train. I almost never planned more than two days ahead, and often didn't know ahead of time what my next destination would be. A couple of times, I just went to the train station and decided where to go next based on what train was convenient. I ended up going to London, Prague, Bratislava, Vienna, Budapest, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Galway, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Brussels, Tuscany, Naples, Capri, Amalfi, Madrid, Toledo, Andalucia, Tangiers (Morroco). I also went back to East Africa (Kenya and Tanzania) for three weeks in August, and stopped in Dubai on the way back.
The weather is starting to cool in Europe, so it was time for me to move on. After spending the last couple of days freezing in London, I flew into Rio de Janeiro this morning. I'll be in South America for the next six weeks or so, though as usual, I don't have any firm plans. One place I really would like to go to is the Galapagos Islands to do some diving. I may also try to go to Columbia, as I've heard really good things about the country, and it's right next to Ecuador. If I have any time left over, I may spend a week or two in Argentina.
I'm not sure how often I'll be updating this blog, but the good news is that I have set expectations very low with my performance the first time around...