Cruising home 12/18

Well, we made it safely back to the USA! After 327 days, 32 countries, 5 continents, 25 flight segments to 21 destinations, 20 bus rides, 22 trains, 4 boats, 4 rental cars, 1 campervan, and a lifetime of memories, we are home. Once we boarded the cruise ship near Rome, we stopped in Italy twice, France, Barcelona, and the Canary Islands before making our way across the Atlantic. Our friends Andy and Becky joined us for the cruise. What a spectacular way to wind down our year long adventure. It was truly amazing. We had five star accommodations, food, and entertainment onboard the Celebrity Silhouette for nearly two weeks. Upon arrival into Fort Lauderdale we were greeted by friends and family and treated to a couple days in South Florida before catching a flight to Virginia. We will spend a couple days here visiting with family before driving home in time for the Packer game Sunday and Christmas the following days. Here are a couple pictures of the past couple weeks aboard the cruise ship. Enjoy!

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One more stop at the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

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Andy and Jenny at a market in Barcelona.

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La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Construction continues…for over one hundred years.

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Enjoying the beach.

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Our last bit of foreign soil before heading home.

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Playing a little bocce onboard the ship.

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Pool volleyball against the ship officers.

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A private bridge tour with the captain, compliments of our new friends Luke and Volani from Alaska. Thanks!

We hope everyone has enjoyed the pictures and stories of our adventures. We can’t believe it’s over already, but we will remember this trip forever. Thanks for being a part of it.

Thanks again!
Brad and Jenny

Italy 11/30

Greetings for the last time from another continent! It’s our last night on land. Tomorrow we get on the cruise ship to head back to the US. Since our last post, we mostly have been relaxing and hiking in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy. We met a nice couple from New Zealand who were gracious enough to cook us sunset dinners several evenings. We drank way too much wine watching the light fade across the sea. From Riomaggiore, we headed up to Milan to do some shopping and see the sights. A Milan bonus was our viewing of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. It was a sight to behold. After Milan we were off to Venice to meet up with some friends, Andy and Becky from Green Bay, who took the train from Munich, Germany. Venice was filled with aimless wanderings. The alleys and canals all looked the same after a while. Maps were useless. Florence was next. The weather didn’t cooperate so much, so museums filled the rainy days. After Florence, we were back to Rome. We saved a few things to see and do with Andy and Becky. The Sistine Chapel was the highlight. 500 years ago Michelangelo spent several years on his back painting it. Truly amazing! This trip has been outstanding! We can’t believe it’s almost over. We are looking forward to seeing everyone back home. See you all soon. Here are a few more pictures. Enjoy.

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Many sunsets like this with our friends from New Zealand, Alison and Bill in Riomaggiore.

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The vineyards of The Cinque Terre.

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The Duomo in Milan.

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The Last Supper painting is in the Refectory of this church.

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We weren’t able to take a photo of the actual painting, so here is a replica.

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Exploring Venice with Andy and Becky.

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The fog made Venice a bit erie, but enjoyable. The Rialto Bridge.

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St. Mark’s Square.

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Gondolas on the Grand Canal.

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The weather in Florence broke long enough to see the surroundings.

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Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence.

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The view of St. Peter’s Basilica from the Vatican Museum.

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A smuggled photo of the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. Don’t tell anyone…

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The view of Rome from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. 551 steps…

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The Swiss guards in the Vatican City…nice pants…

Ok. Off to bed. The cruise ship waits for nobody.
Ciao Ciao from Italy.
~B

France, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany & Italy 11/08

Hey everyone! Ciao from Riomaggiore, Italy in the Cinque Terre National Park! Just over a month to go on our adventure! The past few weeks were filled with more visitors, Brad’s parents. After driving from Luxembourg, through France, Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein, we met them in Munich, Germany. We were off to the middle Rhein River valley to see the castles and vineyards, stopping at a few towns my mom used to live in. From there, it was back to Munich to catch a train to Verona, Italy. Quick stops in Bologna, Florence, Orvieto, and Pisa before arriving in Rome. We toured most of Rome in the couple days we had left before my parents flew home. Once they left, we headed to the Cinque Terre where we have an apartment rented for a few weeks. We are enjoying the nice weather here and the relaxed atmosphere. We were here nine years ago for our honeymoon, so things are nice and familiar. The hiking is great and the sea views even better. Enjoy the pictures! We’ll see you soon!

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Notre Dame Cathedral in Strassbourg, France. Almost more impressive than its counterpart in Paris.

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The French countryside.

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The Swiss countryside…The sky seemed bluer.

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The steepest cog-wheel train in the world (48%) heading up to Mount Pilatus above Lucerne, Switzerland.

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The view from the top!

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Jenny at a Swiss chalet part way down the mountain.

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Chapel Bridge in Lucerne, Switzerland.

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Lucerne, Switzerland from across Lake Lucerne.

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More Swiss countryside…breathtaking!

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A quick stop in Liechtenstein warranted at least one photo.

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Once Mom and Dad arrived, we were off to find a bratwurst stand.

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Heidelberg, Germany.

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The castle above Heidelberg.

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Looking up at the castle in Heidelberg.

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My grandpa had a painting on his wall of this bridge in Bad Kreuznach, Germany.

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Pay attention when you are peeing…

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Vineyards across the Rhein River.

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St. Goar Castle in the Lorelei Valley along the Rhein River.

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More vineyards!

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The market in Wurzburg, Germany.

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The worlds tallest bell tower in Ulm, Germany. 528 feet tall.

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Neuschwaunstein Castle!

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Enjoying some beers at the HofbrauHaus in Munich.

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More beers!

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It’s good luck…I guess? Touching Shakespeare’s Juliet’s boob in Verona, Italy. Everybody was doing it…

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Pisa at night under a full moon.

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The leaning tower!

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Ponte Vecchio Bridge in Florence, Italy.

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Orvieto, Italy from Tenuta Le Vellette vineyard where we toured and tasted.

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You can’t go to Rome without seeing the Colosseum.

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The Colosseum behind some ruins.

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Brad a the Pantheon in Rome. The largest single piece columns in the world…from Egypt.

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The Trevi Fountain.

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Inside St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican.

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Testing the legend of the Boca de Viertas.

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Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre.

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A vineyard in the hills above Riomaggiore we spotted while hiking.

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Brad getting ready to dive in…

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The view from our apartment window.

Ciao for now.
~B

Finland, Estonia, Holland, France, Belgium 10/17

Hello from Luxembourg. It has been an eventful couple weeks since we last posted. We arrived into Helsinki, Finland via high speed train from St. Petersburg, Russia, spent a couple days wandering around the city and eventually caught a boat to Tallinn, Estonia. We weren’t in any rush to leave Estonia, so we spent a week at a nice hostel, relaxed, and saw the city at our own pace. We even rented a car for a day and drove out into the countryside of Estonia. From Estonia, we flew to Amsterdam, Holland. We arrived a day early so we could check into the apartment and do some prep work for the arrival of Jenny’s mom and sister, Katie. Once we collected them from the airport, minus one bag, we were off, walking around the city and seeing the sights. From Amsterdam, we took a high speed train to Paris, France where we saw the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, The Louvre, and even Joaquin Ruiz, Diego’s brother from Paraguay. After a cold and rainy Paris, it was onto another train headed for Brussels, Belgium, home of the fries, waffles, chocolate and delicious beers. Several junk food meals later, it was back to Amsterdam for their flight home. We spent a couple more days in the city and then rented a car. Our first stop was Brugge, Belgium, then onto Luxembourg City, Luxembourg, where we are now. We had a great time with Debby and Katie. We saw a ton of great sights, ate a bunch of unhealthy foods, and drank some great local beers. We have a few more days to get to Munich, Germany before Brad’s parents arrive. We can’t wait. Enjoy the photos!

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Helsinki, Finland.

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The harbor of Helsinki, heading out into the Baltic Sea.

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An old castle in Estonia.

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Unfortunately we didn’t see any.

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Behind the history museum in Tallinn, Estonia lies a bunch of Russian statues, remnants of when the Soviet Union occupied Estonia. Pretty cool.

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The main square in Tallinn.

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Old town Tallinn.

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The canals of Amsterdam, Holland.

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Delicious Holland cheese!

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Making some Dutch wooden shoes.

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Windmills at Zaanse Schans near Amsterdam.

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The inner workings of an operating windmill. Amazing!

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Some canal houses in Amsterdam.

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Katie, Jenny & Debby in front of the Eiffel Tower.

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Wether you are seeing it for the first time or the twentieth time…AMAZING!

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Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

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The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower.

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Looking straight down!

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The Mona Lisa at the Louvre.

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Brussels, Belgium.

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The main square in Brussels.

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Katie enjoying a Belgian waffle.

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Fries in Brussels…a must!

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Manikin Pis, a small statue of a boy peeing…dressed up in different outfits every day!

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In Brugge, Belgium, known as the Venice of the North.

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On one of the many bridges over the canals in Brugge.

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Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.

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We hope you are enjoying the posts. We are off to explore a bit of Luxembourg before driving on toward Strasbourg, France and eventually Munich, Germany.

Until next time,
~B

Russia 9/25

Greetings again from Russia. We are in St. Petersburg. After a 4 day train ride from Irkutsk, we arrived into Moscow bright and early (4am). We spent 2 full days seeing the sights in and around Moscow. We strolled through Red Square, saw a circus, and ventured through the amazing Moscow Metro stations. After Moscow, we caught the high speed train to St. Petersburg. It was a nice 4 hour ride in the morning. St. Petersburg welcomed us with rainy and cold weather. It is the first we’ve really experienced on this trip. Straight away we checked into our hostel and made our way to the Hermitage Museum. Its size compares to the Louvre in Paris. Many works of art were familiar to both Jenny and I. We also wandered through the city and along the canals enjoying the European feel to this Russian city. Moscow is the business center of Russia and St. Petersburg is the arts center. We are attending a Russian ballet tonight (Swan Lake). Tomorrow we catch another high speed train to Helsinki, Finland. Enjoy the pictures.

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Church in Irkutsk.

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Wooden house in Irkutsk.

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An amazing grocery store in Moscow.

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The colorful domes of Moscow.

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Amazing!

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The walls of the Kremlin.

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Moscow State University. The tallest university building in the world.

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A truly wonderful performance.

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Cirque du Soleil aspirations.

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Venturing through the ornate Moscow metro stations.

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The St. Petersburg metro was just as awesome.

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A room at the Hermitage.

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The building and craftsmanship of the interior almost outclassed the art.
This is the wood floor!

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The brightly colored domes of St. Petersburg.

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The main square in front of the Hermitage.

Ok. Off to the ballet.
Later
~B

China, Mongolia & Russia 9/15

Greetings once again…or privyet (pree-vyet) in Russian. Since we left you last, we were headed to Shanghai, China to apply for our Russian visa. That didn’t go so well, so we immediately made our way to Beijing via the high speed rail (over 300 km/hr). After another unsuccessful trip to a Russian Embassy, it was time to employ the services of our tour company and have them bypass the lines and apply on our behalf. Meanwhile, we saw the sights in and around Beijing; Tian an men Square, the Forbidden city, the Great Wall, Olympic Park, etc. Our visa came back just in time to catch the train the following day to UlaanBaatar, Mongolia. We didn’t spend much time in the city before heading out to the steppe (barren countryside). We stayed in a traditional ger (yurt), rode horses, hiked, and relaxed for three days. It was really a breath of fresh air. Next we caught an evening train to Irkutsk, Russia. It was two nights on the train and a whole day at the Russia border, but eventually we made it. A guide was waiting on the train platform for us ready to take us to a small village on the shores of Lake Baikal, where we are now. Lake Baikal is the largest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. It’s gorgeous! The waters and the landscape are very familiar. The area looks much like Northern Wisconsin or Upper Michigan. Amazing! Enjoy!

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Famous Shanghai skyline.

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The bullet trains waiting in the Shanghai Station.

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The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China.

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The Great Wall. Need I say more!

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The Water Cube at Beijing Olympic Park.

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Birds Nest Stadium at night.

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After competing in the world’s shortest triathlon.
Here’s an article we were featured in about the event.
Don’t laugh too hard at the distances. It was fun!
http://english.cri.cn/6566/2012/09/05/902s720790.htm

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Some gardens in TianAnMen Square. Entrance to the Forbidden City in the background.

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The South Gate to TianAnMen Square.

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Amazingly painted.

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Pandas at the Beijing Zoo. So cute!

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They are really good climbers.

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Yep! This train is taking us to Mongolia.

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First leg, Beijing, China to Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia.

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Changing the wheels of the train at the border. China’s tracks are 10cm wider than Mongolia’s.

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Onward through Mongolia.

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Statue of Chinggis Khaan in front of the Government building in UB.
In America, we know him as Ghengis Khan.

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A traditional ger (yurt). Our accommodations for the next three nights.

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A giant statue of Chinggis Khaan in the middle of nowhere.

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Attempting to get closer to a herd in the Mongolian steppe.

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Quite an amazing feeling being in the middle of Mongolia.

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Semi-wild horses. Someone owns them, but they roam free. No fences.

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With our guide, Enkhee (en-kay).

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Yikes! Yaks.

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That’s a vulture. Approx. 40 pounds and huge talons.

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The Mongolia-Russia border.

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Our first onion dome, on the shores of Lake Baikal.

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What a great view of the lake while hiking through the woods.

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After taking a dip on the freezing cold lake. Dunking your head three times is said to add 15 years to your life. I have a video to prove it.

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Approaching sunset over the lake.

OK. Sorry this post was so long. We had a lot of catching up to do with China blocking several websites. We are in Russia now and they seem to have decent internet connections here. We spend another night on the lake before heading into Irkutsk for a night. Then we are back on the train for four nights headed to Moscow and eventually St. Petersburg. Look for plenty of pictures from those two cities. Everything is going great. We have met several other people doing the same route across Russia with us. We are enjoying their company very much. It’s nice to see a familiar face every once in a while, especially in Russia.

Thanks for having a look.
~B

Vietnam, Hong Kong & China 8/19

Hello from Shanghai, China! It’s been a few weeks, but the countries we have been through don’t have the greatest Internet connections. After Angkor Wat in Cambodia, we ventured southeast through Phnom Penh, Cambodia and across the border into Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. After spending a few days there, we caught a flight to the North of Vietnam to Hanoi where we took a trip to Halong Bay. Despite the rain, it was quite amazing. From Hanoi we flew to Hong Kong and spent a week at the home of some relatives of friends back home. We saw the sights and eventually had to say good bye to our five star accommodations and make our way into mainland China. Yangshuo, China, South of Guilin, was our next destination. The mountains and rivers in this area are something else. They are actually depicted on the back of the 20¥ bill. We also went North of Guilin to the Longji Rice Terraces. Unbelievable! They were huge. We hiked around for several hours and still only saw a small portion of the area. The heat was really getting to us so we decided to leave the area and make way for Shanghai. Enjoy the photos!

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Typical Vietnamese food.

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Kayaking through the caves in HaLong Bay.

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Our accommodations in HaLong Bay…it’s the white one!

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The bay without the boats.

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A floating fishing village.

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A local fisherman.

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Hauling goods to the market.

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Hong Kong alleyway.

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The iconic Bruce Lee statue on the Hong Kong Harbour.

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The city and Harbour from above.

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Double decker trams.

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Boat ferries to cross the Harbour.

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Every major electronics brand.

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The view from bed! Amazing! Huge container ships constantly passing.

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Sunset over the infinity pool. Thanks Patrick and Debra!

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The mountains of Yangshuo, China.

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Floating down the river on our bamboo raft.

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A lotus garden amongst the hills.

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The countryside.

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The LongJi Rice Terraces.

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An amazing hike through the bamboo forests and up the terraces.

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Off to Shanghai! More to come.
Zai jian (good bye in Chinese)
~B