Andreas and Whitney

This is the travel page of Whitney and Andreas. We love to see the world.
Living in: Solana Beach, United States
  • Day375

    Trip Reflections

    May 23 in the United States

    And just like that, it's over! After 374 days and 28 countries we made it to our final destination, San Diego. It's been about a month since finishing up and we've started to settle back into our routines and reunited with friends and family. Conversations with loved ones have helped us to reflect on our epic trip and listed below are some of our thoughts in no particular order.

    We have a new appreciation for:
    -Drinking water from the tap
    -Silence (the world is so loud!)
    -Clean air
    -Paved roads with wide footpaths 
    -Access to education and healthcare
    -Access to sanitation
    -Keeping all of our products in the shower without them being taken 

    Things Whitney didn't want to do but was so glad she did:
    -Jumping into freezing water in Bariloche and off high things
    -Mountain biking down Peruvian roads on the way to Machu Picchu
    -Becoming advanced SCUBA certified
    -SCUBA diving with sharks and also through caves
    -Walking the jungles of Nepal to seek out tigers, rhinos, and elephants with only sticks to protect us
    -Scooter riding 
    -Most of our bus rides. One of my biggest fears on this trip was plummeting off a cliff on some small mountain road on a packed local bus 

    Not all of this trip has been beautiful views and magical adventures. We have definitely had our lows:
    -We both got food poisoning on Koh Phi Phi island making us miss our rock climbing adventures in Railay
    -Lots of “gastro” issues in less than ideal places 
    -Feeling that people are constantly trying to scam you and get something out of you. It can make genuine interactions hard in more touristic places 
    -Stress and the instability of constantly moving your life every two or three days 
    -India's sensory overload. The honking, smells, noise, masses of people, and lack of personal space bubbles. Specifically the time I was overwhelmed and cried on a packed six hour bus ride in India. They put both Andreas and I into a small compartment made for one person fondly known as “The Coffin”
    -The time I sat on the floor of the Bogota airport and just cried while eating my food quietly. This was after a stressful airport experience and there were no chairs for us to sit on. I admit it was a little dramatic
    -When I injured my knee in Switzerland and how difficult it was to treat on the road.
    -Access to healthy foods 
    -The occasional pointless argument Andreas and I got into because we were hot, tired, hungry and always together... It's funny how these stopped as soon as we took a little space
    -Animal cruelty and human suffering that we couldn’t do anything about 
    -The difficulty of maintaining relationships with the people we love and missing important events like the birth of my niece Gracyn, Chelsea and John's wedding in San Diego, and Jess and Brook's wedding in Auckland 
    -One night in Malaysia when I was SO HOT I couldn’t sleep. I took about six cold showers that night while Andreas slept like a baby 

    We had countless high points on this trip which unquestionably outweighed the bad:
    -Meeting incredible people from all over the world (fellow travelers and locals)
    -SCUBA diving off the coast of Malaysia and Columbia as well as the Gili Islands
    -Sleeping in a treehouse deep in the jungles of Laos at the Gibbon Experience 
    -Visiting ancient wonders such as Angkor Wat, Sigiriya rock, the Taj Mahal, the Burning Ghats, the Sagrada Familia, and Machu Picchu
    -Hiking for eleven days through small villages in Nepal to the Annapurna Base Camp
    -Visiting an elephant sanctuary in Chaing Mai
    -Our overnight camel adventure through the desert of northwestern India
    -Extreme sledding in Switzerland
    -Hiking in the snow in Switzerland with Andreas' aunt Fran. We made a fire on the snow to cook sausages
    -Our three day jeep tour through Bolivia to the Uyuni Salt Flats
    -SCUBA diving with sharks in Columbia

    Thank you to the friends who encouraged us to pack very light, this was the best advice we had. We each fit our lives for a year into a 46L backpack.

    Our most used item:
    Whitney - $10 cheetah print scarf from Kmart (it’s a scarf, a sarong, a shirt, sun protection, and headwear for temples)
    Andreas - Sunscreen, a year in the sun is hard on the skin

    Our most superfluous yet loved item:
    Whitney - Four bottles of nail polish. This made me feel somewhat pretty during a year of no makeup, dirty clothes, and constant sweat
    Andreas - Ukulele until it broke in two just before a live performance at our hostel in India

    Our stupidest item:
    Whitney - Andreas would say it was my bluetooth selfie stick... however I would say a money pouch to dangle around my neck. We kept a normal wallet in our bag and we stayed aware of our surroundings
    Andreas - My belt with a secret money pouch sewn into it. Never used it, not sure I even had pants that needed a belt

    Our year of travel was an unbelievable experience. Andreas and I feel so lucky that we were born in countries where we were able to work hard, save our money, and experience our world.
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  • Day372

    Tayrona National Park was the final destination of our trip and it did not disappoint. This park is on the north coast of Columbia and is replete with monkeys, birds, and iguanas. After provisioning in the nearby city of Santa Marta, Whit and I travelled by bus to the park's entrance and hiked for about an hour to our first campsite. Here, we discovered that the promised kitchen facilities were nothing more than a spot to make your own fire and a few dirty old pots; lucky we only took cookable food with us... After a few failed attempts and some support from a local (it was already going when he helped) we managed to cook our dinner the old fashioned way. The following day we walked for about an hour to the most popular campsite in the park which sits right on the beach. Here we slept in hammocks on a mini peninsula jutting out from the beach. At high tide, this crag briefly became a tiny island as water swallowed the spit of sand connecting it to the main campsite. While it took some time to get comfortable, it was a fantastic spot to sleep. You'll be happy to know that we didn't attempt to cook dinner that night, instead we decided to buy it from the campsite restaurant like every other normal person. From here we hiked to a beachfront campsite toward the entrance of the campsite and, because we are masochists, attempted to cook dinner with similar 'kitchen facilities'. It didn't go well but I guess it's all part of the experience.Read more

  • Day369

    Minca, Columbia

    May 17 in Colombia

    We had our first major oops of the trip. At the end of a five hour bus ride Andreas shook me awake and said, “Whitney, where’s your passport...” it turns out we left my passport at our previous hostel! They always make a copy of your passport when you arrive but the receptionist never handed it back and we got distracted. Luckily two girls from the hostel happened to be heading our way later that night and they got it back to us. Hooray, crisis averted!

    In the mountain town of Minca, electricity only works about 50% of the time. There is not much to do but hike. We hiked three hours in the mud to the famous Casa Elemento. Once there we enjoyed the sounds of the jungle while sipping Columbian coffee. I braved the giant hammocks that jutted out over the valley. We were feeling lazy so we opted to take moto-taxis on the way down. This turned out the be a crazy adventure in itself as it had been raining all day and it was muddy and slippery. We put our trust in our drivers and made it down alive!
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  • Day367

    Cartagena, Columbia

    May 15 in Colombia

    Can you believe it?! One year ago, Whitney and I set off on our world adventure. Since I was a teenager I dreamed of doing a trip like this but the reality of doing it completely dwarfs the fantasy. We've seen amazing places, met wonderful people, and had some of the greatest experiences of our lives so far. As we are close to, but not at the end of our trip yet, I'll save the reflective/sentimental post for then. Nevertheless, I felt that this milestone needed a tiny bit of recognition. To celebrate this moment we had some cocktails with friends on Cartagena's fort wall during sunset. It was stunning.

    Cartagena is a vibrant city on the north coast of Columbia. The 'Old City' (tourist district) is encircled by an ancient stone wall and the beautiful Spanish buildings inside are jammed together like sardines. While there isn't much to do in Cartagena, getting lost in the Old City is almost a tourist's rite of passage which Whit and I comfortably achieved. Our other activities in Cartagena were visiting the mediocre Inquisition museum (don't go) and watching street performances in a popular city square whilst drinking cheap local beer (do go).
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  • Day364

    Casa en el Agua, Columbia

    May 12 in Colombia

    Two hours off the coast of Cartegena is Casa en el Agua, a hostel on stilts in the middle of the ocean. It's a travelers paradise: Swimming, snorkeling, paddle boards, and plenty of hammocks. We planned to stay for three days, however shortly after arriving things took an interesting turn:

    We were asked to be models for a huge house nearby. With the promise of free beer and food we quickly agreed. Along with two other couples, we made the short boat journey to the house. As we were motoring away to an undisclosed location by random Columbian guys and being bribed with beer, alarm bells started going off ‘...is this it? ...are they going to harvest our organs? ...wow, we are pretty stupid.’ Luckily that was not the case! We made it to the gorgeous house on the water! They are trying to rent the house and want to show couples having an awesome time... so that is what we did. We jumped in the ocean, sampled delicious cocktails, went tubing, snorkeling, and sailing. Our direction from the photographer was “act like your having a lot of fun.” News flash Oleg... we are having a ton of fun!

    After a day of shooting, we went back to the Casa en el Agua for a night of salsa dancing. Andreas and I were both amazed with how fast the Columbians can move their hips!

    The photographer told us they have another house in the area they wanted pictures of. We did some negotiating and agreed we would be their models if we could stay in the big house! So early the next day they collected us as well as the two other couples and we went to the new house. After a day of relaxing and a few close-ups, we went back to the original house and had a great time playing a traditional Columbian dice game called Concho. The guys were really cool and it was super interesting to talk to them about their lives. We also met two other great couples. It proves that sometimes you have to be spontaneous, throw your plans out the window, and say yes to strange adventures.
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  • Day361

    Providencia, Columbia

    May 9 in Colombia

    From San Andrès we took a three hour ferry to get to the less-touristy and smaller island of Providencia. The ferry crossing was pretty awful with more than a few passengers losing their lunch during the crossing... Whit included.

    On Providencia we stayed at a beachfront homestay run by a fabulous Caribbean mother/daughter combo. It was a week of birthdays at our homestay and each was accompanied by a Caribbean-style party. We were kindly invited to both parties and enjoyed the traditional food (conche ceviche with tomato sauce and a huge boil-up soup over an open fire), music and dance, and island drinking style (numerous whiskey and rum shots). Our favourite quote was "there ain't no thieving here!" said with a thick Caribbean accent by the owner of our homestay when Whitney attempted to lock her bedroom door.

    Our activities on the island included beach hopping on a scooter, kayaking to a small island off Providencia and snorkelling in its crystal clear water, and climbing the highest peak on the island to get a 360 degree view of the place.

    The highlight of Providencia, and a clear top 5 favourite of our entire trip, was SCUBA diving with its local inhabitants, grey reef sharks! From the moment we started our dive we were surrounded by these majestic animals, some up to 2.5m long. At one point I counted eight circling us with some being less than a metre from me. While we knew we would see sharks whilst diving here, we found the experience unnerving especially when starting our dive. However, by the end of our dive, both Whit and I began to feel a degree of comfort despite their presence. An experience neither of us will soon forget!
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  • Day353

    San Andrés, Columbia

    May 1 in Colombia

    750km (470mi) off Columbia's north coast lies the tiny Colombian island of San Andrés nestled in the Caribbean Sea. Andreas and I stayed in a secluded jungly hotel with open walls and mosquito nets. As we were the only guests, the owner Diego spent a lot of time showing us around the island and his favorite dive spots. He told us about his time as a teenager smuggling drugs into the US through Miami in the 80s and the hardships that came with living in Columbia during that time.

    A two minute walk from our hotel produced some of the best snorkeling we have ever done. In the bathtub warm waters, we saw coral forests, hundreds of fish of varying sizes and colors, and dove through caves. We also had one of our top SCUBA diving experiences. We again saw hundreds of fish, dove through caves, posed with underwater statues, saw an old shipwreck, and were startled by a huge barracuda (all with no wetsuit)! We spent our last day riding bikes around the island with another couple, stopping along the way for cold beers and dips in the ocean. The island is truly a beautiful tropical getaway.
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  • Day347

    Medellín, Columbia

    April 25 in Colombia

    Whit and I agree with the hype, Medellín is fantastic! The people are friendly, the public transport is efficient, and the city is stunning.

    We spent most of our time here staying with Esteban and his family; a Columbian underwater hockey player I met while playing in the South Africa Worlds in 2008. In Medellín, I was lucky enough to play an underwater hockey game with Esteban's club against some of Columbia's players. Despite being out of breath for most of the match, I had a great time. Also, because the pool had underwater viewing windows, Whit managed to watch her first match!

    While in Medellín, we also took the Metrocable (basically a gondolla) up into the hills for panoramic views of the city and visted a great farmers market. On another day, we travelled two hours by bus to the quaint resort town of Gautape. Near Gautape looms a huge granite slab called Piedra del Peñol. We climbed hundreds of stairs built into its side to reach the summit. The views from the top were outstanding.
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  • Day343

    Bogotá, Columbia

    April 21 in Colombia

    We made it to our final country! Heading into Bogota, Andreas and I heard mixed reviews about the Columbian capital. Although it's huge (8 million people), Andreas and I both enjoyed our time there. We stayed in a cute hostel that was a converted old villa. It was a great place to relax and recharge. We did a walking tour one day which we both agreed was the best walking tour we have done. We saw major sights (many of which we recognized from the TV show Narcos), sampled local fruits (we loved lulus - they taste like a passion/kiwi fruit hybrid), chewed coca-leaf tea, drank Columbian coffee, and had chicha, a fermented corn alcoholic drink. I finally replaced my broken flip flops and Andreas bought some much needed new underwear. Next stop, Medellin!Read more

  • Day340

    Lima, Peru

    April 18 in Peru

    After leaving the beach house behind, we drove north to Lima. Andreas and I were pleasantly surprised by Lima. It is right on the coast with big cliffs (think Southern California cliffs). It is full of good restaurants and large public spaces. Our first night we went to Jose’s house and indulged in something we have really been missing... SETTLERS OF CATAN! Andreas won of course, but I was a very close second. We spent the next day lounging by the pool at an exclusive sports club and Lima’s only private beach! Thanks Samoa for getting us in. We spent another day on a walking tour that took us to a rooster breeder for cock fights (they don’t fight them there). Apparently the winners sell for around $2,500 USD! We do not support cock fighting... but those were some pretty huge and mean looking roosters. Our last night in Lima we went to the movie theater and watched Ready Player One (in English with Spanish subtitles). It was great catching up with Jose, getting to know Samoa, and experiencing Lima through the eyes of a local.Read more

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