After a long absence from traveling (and thus blogging) due to some pesky knee surgery issues for Mark, we’ve embarked on our longest trip ever… 4 months and a day. We left Dallas on January 14, and ‘holding thumbs’ that all goes well, we will return on May 15. The first and last legs of our trip are to Whistler, British Columbia, Canada (about 70 miles north of Vancouver) where we are building a home.

Our Whistler home on January 15; it will look much different when we return May 2.

Our Whistler home on January 15; it will look much different when we return May 2.

This is our 3rd OneWorld Around the World airline ticket… 16 flights on 4 continents; 5 if you count a connection in London. The majority of our trip consists of 5 weeks in New Zealand, a month in Vietnam and Cambodia, and 3 weeks in South Africa, but there are a few other stops as well. The trip looks like this:

Dallas –> Vancouver

Vancouver –> Hong Kong –> Melbourne

Melbourne –> Auckland

Auckland –> Hong Kong –> Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

Hanoi –> Tokyo –> Hong Kong –> Johannesburg –> Cape Town (yikes!)

Cape Town –> London –> Vancouver

Vancouver –> Los Angeles

Los Angeles –> New York City

New York City –> Dallas

We’ll be adding two countries to our ‘been there’ list: Vietnam and Cambodia, bringing our total to 70 for Shauna and 71 for Mark. (Shauna needs a girls’ trip somewhere to even this up so it’s not so messy to write about!)

Other new places and experiences:

  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Kayaking across the Auckland harbor at night
  • Touring Lord of the Rings movie sites
  • Hiking New Zealand’s famous ‘tracks’
  • Homestays and an overnight cave tour in Vietnam
  • Visiting the Zulu/British battlefields, and
  • Hiking the Wild Coast in South Africa.

There will also be many intra-country flights and transportation by car, kayak, sailboat, mountain bike, hiking, riverboat cruise, motorcycle, and classic 1930’s Indochine style junk… stay tuned for details 🙂

First Stop: Melbourne, Australia

The only thing that beats traveling to new places is traveling to new places with, or meeting up with, friends. In this case, we were lucky enough to be hosted by our friend Greg ‘Gibbo’ Gibson, and his lovely partner, Margaret. We met Gibbo on our Bikestyle Tour de France trip in 2013… a trip where we were the only (non-cyclist) Americans among a fairly hardcore – and hilarious – group of Aussie cyclists. Needless to say, our cheeks – on both ends – never hurt so much! As Gibbo put it, it only took him 60 years to find the right partner, and after meeting Margaret, we have to agree (we had no way to compare, but she’s gorgeous, smart, funny, and generous, and she finally has him dressing correctly, so we think he got it right)! A huge thank you to them both for their hospitality.

Melbourne has a stunning skyline.

Melbourne has a stunning skyline.

A different view of the skyline.

Another view of the skyline.

Flinders Street railway station is a railway station on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets in Melbourne, It is the heart of the entire metropolitan rail network. Backing onto the city reach of the Yarra River in the heart of the city, the complex covers two whole city blocks.

A short walk from Margaret’s house, we caught a tram into downtown Melbourne, arriving here. Flinders Street railway station on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets in Melbourne is the hub of the metropolitan rail network. Backing onto the Yarra River in the heart of the city, the complex covers two whole city blocks.

800px-Swanston_and_Flinders_St_intersection_1927

Flinders Street station in 1927.

City-Circle-Tram

The City Circle Tram (#35), a throwback, is free, and operates in Melbourne’s CBD (Central Business District). The other trams are modernized and form the largest tram network in the Southern Hemisphere.

t Paul's is unusual among Melbourne's more notable 19th-century public buildings in that it is not made from bluestone, the city's dominant building material. Instead it is made from sandstone.

St. Paul’s is unusual among Melbourne’s more notable 19th-century public buildings in that it is not made from bluestone, the city’s dominant building material. Instead it is made from sandstone.

Eureka Tower is an 84 floor residential tower located on the edge of downtown Melbourne. It is named after the Eureka Stockade, a rebellion during the Victorian gold rush in 1854. This has been incorporated into the design, with the building's gold crown representing the gold rush and a red stripe representing the blood spilt during the revolt.

Eureka Tower is an 84-floor residential tower located on the edge of downtown Melbourne. It is named after the Eureka Stockade, a rebellion during the Victorian gold rush in 1854. This has been incorporated into the design, with the building’s gold crown representing the gold rush and a red stripe representing the blood spilled during the revolt.

The architecture of Melbourne, the second most populous city in Australia, is characterized by the juxtaposition of old and new architecture. The city is noted for preserving a significant amount of Victorian architecture (1880's). Melbourne's population reached 280,000 in 1880 and 445,000 in 1889. For a time it was the second-largest city in the British Empire, after London

The architecture of Melbourne, the second most populous city in Australia, is characterized by the juxtaposition of old and new architecture. The city is noted for preserving a significant amount of Victorian architecture (1880’s). Melbourne’s population reached 280,000 in 1880 and 445,000 in 1889. For a time it was the second-largest city in the British Empire, after London.

The Princess Theater where Mark saw The Phantom of the Opera in the early 1990s.

The Princess Theater where Mark saw The Phantom of the Opera in the early 1990s…. BS (Before Shauna). Ha.

The Royal Exhibition Building is a World Heritage Site-listed building. . It was built to host the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880–81. It is called "my beautiful hell" by the students who take their final exams in the building.

The Royal Exhibition Building is the first World Heritage Site-listed building in Australia. It was built to host the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880–81. It is called “my beautiful hell” by the Melbourne University students who take their final exams in the building.

The Yarra river flows through downtown Melbourne. From its source in the Yarra Ranges, it flows approximately 150 miles through the Yarra Valley which opens out into plains as it winds its way through Greater Melbourne before emptying into Hobsons Bay in northernmost Port Phillip.

The Yarra River flows through downtown Melbourne. From its source in the Yarra Ranges, it flows approximately 150 miles through the Yarra Valley which opens out into plains as it winds its way through Greater Melbourne before emptying into Hobsons Bay in northernmost Port Phillip Bay.

Rowing is very popular in Melbourne, in general, and especially on the Yarra River. The Rod Laver Tennis Stadium is in the background.

Rowing is very popular in Melbourne, in general, and especially on the Yarra River. Kim Brennan from Melbourne took home the gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics in Women’s single scull. The Rod Laver Tennis Stadium is in the background.

We were surprised to find palm trees this far south.

Gorgeous palm trees in Melbourne.

Shauna getting some exercise.

Shauna gets into the swing of things in front of the controversial architecture of Federation Square.

Shauna resting on an Anteater's front leg.

‘Angel’ stands about 10 meters tall and took about 3 years to complete. It is made out of steel armature (the skeleton) with ceramic tiles as skin. Angel consists of a total of 16 images. The symbolism represents different life forms including a crocodile, fish, angels, birds, plants, scrolls and fantasy creatures. Mark says it was an anteater.

The Australian Open at Rod Laver Stadium is this way.....

Shauna perfecting her swing for the Australian Open at Rod Laver Stadium …..

Melbourne has large Chinatown.

Melbourne has a large Chinatown.

Melbourne is known as one of the world’s great street art capitals for its unique expressions of art displayed on approved outdoor locations throughout the city. Melbourne's street art is internationally renowned and offers a feast of colour, ideas and energy. It has become an attraction for local and overseas visitors experiencing Melbourne’s creative ambience.

Melbourne is known as one of the world’s great street art capitals for its unique expressions of art displayed on approved outdoor locations throughout the city.  Melbourne’s street art is internationally renowned and offers a feast of color and ideas.

The beach was a block away from Margaret's house.

The beach on Port Philip Bay is a block away from Margaret’s house in Albert Park.

A pic of us with Greg Gibson and Margaret McDonald, our wonderful hosts at a winery in the Mornington Peninsula - about 30 miles south of Melbourne.

A pic of us with Greg Gibson and Margaret McDonald, our wonderful hosts, at a winery in the Mornington Peninsula – about 30 miles south of Melbourne.

Next stop: Auckland, New Zealand