2007 World Tour Final Words

Celebrating Jimīs Birthday in Playa Samara, a Cool
Beach Town in Costa Rica
Us and San Diego Friends Dean, Kathy, Marianna
Embarking on an Exhilirating Zip Line Tour in Costa Rica
We returned safely from Costa Rica, the final stop in our 2007 world tour, just in time to take a bus up to Santa Barbara and bring in 2008 with Jim's family. We then roamed around for the month of January. We went camping in the desert of Borrego Springs; and celebrated the Mardi Gras in New Orleans (while visiting Suzan's family and friends). We also spent some time in Kensington (thanks to our friend Marianna who loaned us her apartment).

On the eve of January 30th we moved back into our home in Tierrasanta (after 14 months). We are so grateful to finally unpack our suitcases and to sleep in our own bed. As much as the Nomads love to travel we have learned that "There is no place like HOME."

The below information will give you a briefing of our entire journey. May it inspire you to plan your travels now so you too can create memories for a lifetime. We have lived our dream and it is possible for anyone to do - if you truly want to make it happen. Even if you have only two weeks to spare - we highly encourage you to explore this wondrous world that we live in. Travel will enrich your life and enliven your spirit. YA GOTTA TRAVEL!

We recently traveled to Costa Rica, the true land of moment to moment adventure and living the Pura Vida! We went to Irazu (San Jose area) and learned never again to stay in this area; and to Arenal and Monteverde (magnificent rain and cloud forests teeming with wildlife) - we even saw a baby jaguar walking around the grounds of the Arenal Lodge (a peaceful haven of 2000 acres that we stayed at). Close friends of ours, Marianna Pinto and Dean and Kathy Ziegler, joined us for a week and we created so many precious memories with them including zipping through the rainforest on an adventurous course near the Arenal Volcano. Suzan got stuck twice and had to be rescued once..... all for the sake of the adventure and a pure adrenaline rush!

We explored Costa Rican beaches along the Pacific Coast and can attest that the biggest challenge was transportation for the lack of decent roads in this country! We traveled to Playa Grande, a beautiful stretch of beach and the home of the almost extinct Leatherback Turtle. We then went to Playa Samara, a quaint beach village, where we celebrated Jim´s birthday by riding bikes and going out on surfboards and boogie boards to play in the waves. And drinking lots of Imperial Cervezas.

The final leg of our journey took us to an area in between San Ysidro and Dominical where we stayed on a 200 acre organic farm. What a sublime experience. We stayed in a Swiss Family Robinson type home (of our own); had locals as our personal chefs delivering tasty meals; toured the farm and sampled leaves, flowers, fruits and vegetables - what a treat; and we hiked to one of the most beautiful waterfalls that we have ever seen (thus far). While here we visited a San Diego friend of Suzan's, Sandra Schrift, who was visiting her Earth Mother daughter, Amy who has her own organic farm a short walk away from where we stayed. She gave us an unforgettable tour of her garden, jungle, and lifestyle - she is truly the most natural woman we have ever met.

We then spent a few days in Dominical at Hacienda Baru where our friend Marianna Pinto joined us. This place is a wildlife refuge replete with many trails active with wildlife and a nearby beach which stretched on forever. Our final days were spent in Manuel Antonio where Suzan had lived for two months eleven years ago studying Spanish. Unfortunately the place changed dramatically. The path I used to hike up to go to school each day is now like a freeway with huge trucks carrying supplies to continue the overdevelopment rampant in the area (Gringos all moving down here). We spent one week though in Playa Matapalo and what a relief and respite. Ah for the peace. We stayed at the Jungle House owned by our close friend Liz Livingston's brother, Charlie. Here we had a charming bungalow in the jungle with monkeys hopping from limb to limb overhead while we prepared all of our meals outdoors and dined al fresco too. This is the way of life in Costa Rica - one we held dear. The beach across the street is one of the most refreshing....it is an endless stretch of sand (at low tide is the widest beach we have ever seen) and along it is the unspoiled jungle (at least for now---developers are buying the area up and they have their plans....) We are grateful to have spent time here while it is still "quaint and unaffected by development." Like many we have been smitten with the natural beauty of Costa Rica and know we will return!

We spent one week in Belize after having bussed there from Mexico and ferried over to the groovy island of Caye Caulker, one of the funkiest places (in a fun way) that we have ever stayed. Lots of Bob Marley tunes in the background and Rastafarians cruising around on this island with no cars...only bikes and golf carts.

On Caye Caulker we nearly lived in the magnificent Caribbean waters while there, snorkeling and scuba diving with the unique sea life (2nd largest reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia)..including nurse sharks and stingrays (we even pet these)! Suzan had her hair braided and totally went native. We were in Belize City for two nights, far too long, as it is a dangerous place without any scenery to speak of. Staying there did give us a chance to hop aboard the local public (revamped school) bus and spend a day at the Belize Zoo, one of the finest zoos in the world.

Prior to this we were in Mexico, in the state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatan Peninsula. Finally we felt like we were vacationing, as opposed to experiencing continual adventures, which is also fun yet let's just say we were ready for some rest! We ventured from one Caribbean beach resort to another with our biggest challenge being selecting which book to read. We did manage to fit in some cultural activities by visiting many of the Mayan Ruins including Chichen Itza. Such a sweet life to have time to both rest and explore.

As our travels (and many adventures) in Eastern Europe have come to a close, we thought we would share some of the highlights with you. (Trust me we could write pages, Suzan has filled notebooks - though we will give you just a little taste.....). We can highly recommend Eastern Europe for its history, charm, kind people and exquisite beauty....though you may want to visit when it is the warmest time of the year! (The late summer weather overall is not on the most recommended list - we had a lot of rain and grey days)....

Vienna, Austria

Our personal highlight was our friend, Patricia Miller, from Innsbruck, who met us in Vienna (6 hours away from home) and gave us a private tour of the city. Some of our very favorite moments were spent:

....Having coffees at Cafe Sperl (Vienna is the birthplace of the coffee houses...and they are plush. This one originated in 1880). And yes, alas, Suzan became addicted to coffee again after one year of having
switched to tea...This will be her 2008 New Year resolution - no more coffee).

....The Art Noveau architecture abounds in Vienna (as well as Gothic and Baroque)..building watching was a favorite activity.

...Loved the Belvedere Palace...the sculpted gardens and buildings..WOW! And inside a fabulous museum containing many famous artists works including many of Klemt's ..his painting of "The Kiss", which many of you may recognize, lives in this building!

Budapest, Hungary

For those who may be unaware, Budapest is actually Buda on the west side - this is the hilly side split by the Danube River and Pest is on the east. It is pronounced BudaPesht

....We celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary here.   We indulged in a romantic dinner cruise along the Danube in the evening and watched the splendid sunset colors and later, the city all lit up in a golden hue. Spectacular!

... Walking across the famed Chain Bridge (great people and statue watching) over the Danube River.

...Steamy soaks at the Szechenyi Bathhouse with the locals in Pest. Some interesting bathing suit sightings (rather, the people in them).

Heviz, Hungary

Spent an entire week here in our own apartment (using our RCI Timeshare Exchange)...pure relaxation!
Bike rides through the countryside (many vineyards here); massages (including lymph node drainage
- a new one on us); and sensational soaking in the world's largest thermal, biologically active medicinal lake! Cured all that ails us, at least we hope.

Prague, Czech Republic 

One of the most beautiful cities in the world!

...Took in a Black Light Theatre program (Prague is famous for this type of entertainment) - this show, Alice in Wonderland, (with the backdrop being Prague) - a blend of puppetry, mime, modern dance, illusion and plain absurdity - great fun!

...Drank lots of Pivo (beer) which Czech is famous for.  Reportedly they each drink 80 gallons a year of this stuff.  We also took a day trip to Plzen where Lager was invented for a tour of the brewery. Jim especially enjoyed this outing and though attempting to meet the per capita intake, decided it was not in his best (waistline) interest.

....One evening we listened to a Baroque Concert in the St. Francis of Asissi Cathedral in Old Town. Our entertainment included an opera singer, a trumpeter and an organist...what an evening. With the domed hand-painted ceiling above us and the marble sculpted angels all around us - we felt as if we were floating in the Heavens...

...We spent an overnight in Cesky Krumlov, a fairytale town with a castle on top of a hill with a moat. While there we dined by candlelight in an underground beer cellar from 1500 in our very own cave.

Dresden, Germany

In the Zwinger Palace Complex we perused through the Old Masters Gallery - works by Raphael, Titian,
Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer and more....what a treat for the eyes. The famous Raphael painting, "The Sistine Madonna" is housed here!  This is the painting with two childlike angels which appears everywhere...you have likely seen them.

..During a rain storm (it even hailed) we went to a nearby cafe and savored the famous local dessert..Dresdner Eierschecke (an eggy cheescake with vanilla pudding, raisins and almond slices....YUM-MY..later we had dinner in a beer garden. Living large (and also getting larger) - we had
dessert first!

Berlin, Germany

About 20% of Berlin is lush with landscaped parks - so beautifully created. We really enjoyed our walks in the Tiergarten, the main central park.

..the main highlight..walking along what is left of the Wall on the east side. 100 plus artists collaborated to paint murals celebrating the new found freedoms after 28 years and also remembering the past. I imagined what it would be like to have no freedom and would not want to live in a world without it. Hundreds of people died trying to escape across the wall....

Krakow, Poland

Wielicska Salt Mines...we toured these mines 443 feet below the ground. They have been in operation since the 11th century. There are amazing carvings inside - including a large Chapel with three dimensional sculptures of The Last Supper and more. An actual city exists here far below the surface - there are salt lakes with boats...quite a sight!

...On a somber note, the most powerful, moving experience occurred while spending a day at the
former Auschwitz-Birkenau camps. When I saw the huge glass case filled with the suitcases with the last names of the Jewish people on them - then a room filled with the women's hair (the Nazis cut it off to make various products, sell them and make money), and then all of the shoes of all sizes...one pair of little white booties... I lost it then....the day left me numb with pain and sorrow...and I will never forget it.

Bratislava, Slovakia

We stayed at the City Hotel Bratislava, a distance from the center of town. The main draw - it advertised its own night club on the premises. It had been awhile since we had been on a dance floor. Walking up the steps to the club, the music drew us in...quite a groove to the sounds. Yet as we neared the door we noticed the flashing neon signs...this nightclub turned out to be a stripclub. In disbelief we walked in only to be greeted by a nude woman collecting tips from all of the tables. Not to be prudes - this just was not the entertainment we had in mind - so we left, though Suzan had to drag Jim away.

...we also enjoyed one of our picnic lunches (purchased at the grocery store - one of our favorite places to go in every city) sitting in a park with whimsical statues and Baroque buildings all around us. St. Martin's Cathedral took our breathe away with its beauty while it also shook due to the close
proximity of the New Bridge (some modern monstrosity) that the Communists built adjacent to the Cathedral after they tore down the historic Jewish Quarters to build it.

Bled, Slovenia

What a place...with the Julian Alps (huge snow covered mountains in the background); a fairy tale island with a church on it and gondoliers taking people across the lake with swans floating by.  A medieval caste sits atop another hill. What more does one need to complete the magic! We biked in the area around the 3.5 mile lake,up to the castle area and later took a strenuous hike which offered a panoramic view of Lake Bled from the peak.

Ljublijana, Slovenia

Ah! This city is filled with old world ambience and architectural wonders...so quaint......one can spend hours upon hours walking alongside the river admiring the buildings, darting in and out of churches, and sipping the richest hot chocolate ever - only after having had some gelato (as this is the 2nd best in the world only to Italy their very close neighbor)!  We did just this though with a rain coat and umbrella earlier in the day. Fortunately the rain stopped, the chill did not yet we were so grateful to have the chance to discover the beauty of this quaint city.

Zagreb, Croatia
Croatia ranks now as the MOST beautiful country that we have visited YET!

Our highlight was the personal care by a close friend of Suzans Uncle Richard Price (lives in Hawaii). His dear friend Colonel Zvonko took exceptional care of us as he shared his beloved city with us and also other areas within Northern Croatia. 

So many highlights yet the ones we enjoyed most were sitting at a sidewalk cafe - Suzan sipped hot chocolate while Jim and Zvonko drank some tall beers. We went into the main square on market day .. so many colors it seemed for miles..assortments of vegetables, fruits and flowers. Then the meat area...meat being a staple item here....this was a sight to see (carcasses hanging all over...yipes). We had Croatian Fast Food - Suzan had a Burek with cheese (philo pastry dough with melted cheese. Wow! Jim eats meat so he had cevapcici ( a pita wrap filled with minced meat..pork, beef, etc. all minced together)...

..We also went to a medieval castle atop a hill that had the original furnishings from hundreds of years ago when the Hapsburgs of the Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled Croatia! So fascinating. And another highlight, oddly enough, the cemetaries. The setting of the cemetaries he showed us were in magnificient parks....each grave had space - the place felt so serene. The dead here really are at rest!

Lake Plitvice National Park, Croatia

The Colonel also introduced us to Lake Plitvice. He kindly drove us three hours and spend a day with
us hiking in the area. Jim and I then stayed over night and continued on by bus the following day to Split, Croatia. The park resembled New England in the heighth of fall with the leaves changing colors...brilliant reds, oranges and golden yellows...along with Hawaii as the park has over 1000 waterfalls. The water is so crystal clear that one can see the fish all the way to the bottom. We loved this park and could easily have spent more days here. Exquisite beauty....

Split, Croatia

We visited the remains of the Palace of the Roman Emperor,Diocletian, from the 4th Century. We found this structure to be so unusual because the people in the city just molded their lives and dwellings around this Palace. For example there are ancient steps that now lead to a modern dwelling (it is all mixed use).

In Croatia, in general, when you get off of a bus there are throngs of locals meeting you there to rent a room in their apartments or homes. They called them Sobes. We experienced this here. We trusted our instincts about one woman and followed her only a few blocks to her home (across the street from the Palace). For $50 a night (in a place where the average hotel is $150) we had a very comfortable, clean room in a quaint dwelling.

Brac, Croatia

We took a ferry (about one hour) from Split to Brach and stayed at another Sobe here having had such great success. This time we had a large apartment with full kitchen and an oversized patio overlooking the Adriatic Sea! Though we arrived in the pouring rain lugging our cases, the House Mother greeted us
with two beers on a silver tray and they tasted so good. The next day and those after the sun did shine and we once again wore our shorts! Gorgeous island with stone homes which are hundreds of years
old. One day were rode bikes for 5 hours to explore other villages and the local olive groves. A lof of fun,
so scenic and very sore thereafter!

Kolocep, Croatia

We first took a ferry back to Split and then a bus for a 5 hour drive down to Dubrovnik. Then a ferry over to Kolocep. Quite the travel day. The drive down resembled the Pacific Coast Highway drive only
100% even more beautiful. We could have gotten off the bus and stayed at any of the villages on the cliffs for a long time. 

We stayed at the only resort on the island with no cars allowed. The most peaceful and scenic place we
visited all year...so restful here. Though we did hike the entire island and also kayak all around it.... stopping in to see the old lighthouse and churches from the 9th, 11th and 14th centuries. Such rich history along with stunning views.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

We ferried here from Kolocep to explore the Old Town which is all White Stone and red and orange tile
roofs (about 80% though had been destroyed in the recent war so it has been rebuilt for the most part. Our highlights here were Walking the Wall - the city is designed as a fortress so there is a one mile walk on the rampart which tourists can pay to walk around. Views of the charming Old Town, mixed with peoples laundry hanging out to dry, locals going about their personal business, too many tourists and the majestic coastline to gasp at. We also dined at the Marco Polo Restaurant,one of my Uncle
Richard´s favorite restaurants and what a great choice...excellent food served by the owner himself. 

Hope you have enjoyed the highlights of our Eastern European travels.

We enjoyed our venture around the Grand Circle of the Southwest USA; Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and finished up where else but Las Vegas, NV.  We headed home the end of July for a couple of days before heading north to Santa Barbara to see Jim's family for their annual El Capitan beach camping trip.  From there we traveled to Athens, GA to visit Suzan's sister Adele and her family and to celebrate Suzan's birthday.  On August 9 we flew to Eastern Europe (it is actually more correctly known as Central Europe) for about two months. 

Prior to camping in the Southwest U.S.A. we  stayed in Cusco, Peru with a host family and studied Spanish at San Blas Spanish School. Jim and I had our own instructors and by the end of the week Jim could put a sentence together and Suzan could remember some of her many years of former Spanish instruction. The host family provided us with our very own condo next door to theirs and we enjoyed three meals a day prepared by our family in their condo (by a former Chef with restaurants throughout South America). What the life! Another major highlight was our four day trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchú (the energy of the Incas felt so strong - a very spiritual place) - Suzan really thought the mountains were speaking to her (or was it the coca leaves?). We later stayed in the Amazon Jungle (half of our hut was made of a screen - and they experienced a 'cold front' while we visited); and then we ventured to Lake Titicaca to explore islands made of reed and to meet the native peoples who create them (and manage to live on them).

We returned to the U.S.A. after a very long sojourn home. We left Cusco, Peru around noon on a Wednesday and finally arrived on a Friday afternoon to San Diego. Our 1:00 am flight from Lima was grounded due to a bird flying into the engine -- by 5:00 am we finally checked into the Sheraton Lima for a fast sleep - before they picked us up again and we re-checked into the airport for our rescheduled flight. We then missed our connecting flight and they put us up at the L.A.X. Hilton (checked in at midnight). We finally returned to San Diego after waiting hours at the airport..........and then we had to call AAA for the flat tire on our truck/camper (in storage near the airport). All part of the grand adventures of traveling -- never a dull moment.

Prior to our Peruvian adventures we roamed  California in our camper for three weeks. We hiked underneath gigantic Redwoods in Big Sur; biked the 17-mile drive in Carmel (dramatic landscapes); visited some friends in Felton and Watsonville (serene areas and delightful people); hiked and biked in Yosemite where the falls were gushing; spent some shivering days in Kings Canyon and the Sequoias (where we had hail, snow and fog - plus a bear siting). To escape the weather we drove to Kernville (Lake Isabella area) and due to the chilly weather and rain which we found there, our highlight was a meal at Cheryl´s Diner (best Boysenberry Cobbler a la mode ever)! We then gave it all up and drove to Borrego Springs assured of finding a heat wave. And that we did. In the 90´s with gusting winds of 50 mph. Fortunately we were able to camp at Palm Canyon State Park (lovely area) which is sheltered from the winds. During a hike to the palm oasis, we encountered an entire family of Big Horn Sheep including one very large ram which almost ran over Suzan.

Prior to this we were in San Diego taking care of personal business (i.e. taxes (such fun); reconnecting with a few friends; and also visiting Jim's family in Santa Barbara - our launching area for the camping tour.

We returned to California after our three months of Asian adventures (felt like we packed in a lifetime of experiences in that short amount of time). Suzan did kiss the ground after landing. Our flight from Taipei, Taiwan to L.A.X. (this leg 13 hours) found every bump in the air - so relieved to step out of the plane!

Our final three weeks in Asia found us in Incredible and Indescribable India with our first ever tour group. We're grateful that we scheduled the Northern India program with OAT (Overseas Adventure Travel) as there were only 15 of us (very interesting group with some savvy 60 and 70 year olds with more energy than us and one lady from New York that was our age) and, quite honestly, India is one difficult place to navigate through. The tour leader kept us on such a pace that we did not have time for any updates to this site! 

Prior to India we visited Katmandu, Nepal and trekked through the lower Anapurna region. We hiked up and down thousands of feet through rainforests, snow, steep steps, terraced farmland - all the time giving the right of way to the passing donkeys, goats and cows.  At every turn we saw postcard views and were the hit of all of the village children as we passed out colored pencils to as many as we could. Our Sherpa, Dinesh took excellent care of us and we already miss the delicious milk tea and the fun card games that we played with our Sherpa, Dinesh, and Porter, Hasta, each night around the fire.

Prior to Nepal we overnighted on a junket boat on Ha Long Bay in the northern area of Vietnam (an area of 3000 limestone cliff islands to relax before our trek). Beforehand we had an enjoyable visit to Hoi An, Vietnam - the ancient city  - also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With 200 tailors and an equal amount of shoemakers let's just say we bought an extra (large) suitcase and will be well-dressed upon return. We even watched their annual river canoe races from a restaurant balcony while sipping 20 cent draft beer!

Prior to this we celebrated Tet, Vietnam's biggest annual event - their lunar New Year's celebration (they follow a different calendar than we do in the USA). We visited two beach areas Mui Ne (known for kite surfing and windsurfing although we bicycled while there) and also Nha Trang (a bustling beach spot - where we experienced a Vietnamese Disco - Jim timed it to exactly one hour and Suzan couldn't find her shoes that she had kicked off so she was more free to move).

Before this we were in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) with most likely all 8 million residents and their motorcyles out and about -- so we relished the retreat to beach areas thereafter!

We thoroughly enjoyed the aquamarine and sapphire colored sea waters along with the white sand beaches of Phuket, Thailand. Our highlight here was our Coral Island Resort stay (a secluded island on the Andaman Sea).

Earlier we traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia taking in the Wonders of the World - Angkor Wat and many other temples (40 plus) that are approximately 1,000 years old! We also enjoyed bike rides of the countryside (saw water buffaloes, monkey forests and the "real Cambodia") - how people live. Extreme poverty is prevalent and it was not easy to experience this. 50% of the children (approximately) do not go to school and instead sell wares to the tourists (sometimes until very late at night - without parents present). They also do not take no for an answer. We found it challenging to be surrounded by beautiful children with big brown eyes and tattered clothing saying, "Please buy my postcards/bracelets/books etc. I need money for school." (some as young as 4 years old) Buying from them only encourages a life of begging (and after our first couple of times of giving in - we learned how to say 'No Thank You' in the Cambodian's Khmer language) and used this phrase often.

Afterward our trip took us to Phnom Penh where Suzan had the chance to reunite with a dear friend she had not seen in seven years, Michelle! She shared all of the highlights of the area with us which you can now view on our site. There are some photos from our tour of the Killing Fields - we visited both of the sites (the detention/torture area, as well as, the mass grave sites). Jim and I were both in high school when this tragedy occurred - three million innocent Cambodian (and also other foreigner's) lives were lost. Interesting that the U.S. government supported the regime responsible for this travesty. We both found it so very moving, sad, and painful - to witness this - yet it is important to never forget genocide (no price could ever replace the value of the lives lost yet we can all hope that humankind can begin to learn from these experiences so as not to reinvent them)!

In each country Jim and I visited orphanages, brought gifts, made donations and played with the children as a way to give back to the communities. Jim's Instant Polaroid camera brought us many smiles and much laughter. He took photos of the children (many had never been photographed) and then gave them to the children. Interacting with and helping the children gave us far more reward than we believe they received. We also visited Handicapped International which is doing an incredible job to help the thousands of Cambodians each year who lose limbs, etc. with land mine incidents. Also Cambodia has one of the highest rates of traffic accidents in the world (thus many injuries due to this as well).

Our 2007 year itinerary is below. We will continue our travels via planes, trains, busses, automobiles, boats, camels, elephants and rickshaws. Stay posted!

2007 World Tour Itinerary for the NOMADS - Suzan and Jim
(Bangkok and North); Cambodia
(Phuket and South); Vietnam South/Coast
North; Nepal Trek; India
Camper Tour: CA (
Yosemite; Bay Area)
Camper Tour (above) then
(Immersion Program/
Machu Picchu/Amazon Jungle)
Camper Tour:
Arizona; Utah; Colorado; New Mexico 
Athens, Georgia (1st week)
August - Early October              
Eastern Europe (and some Western):
Austria; Germany; Czech; Hungary; Poland; Slovakia; Slovenia; Croatia
Yucatan Peninsula and Belize

Costa Rica


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