Wrap Up and More Importantly, Our List of Favorite Food Places
5/21/09 - 5/28/09
There must be a part of me that thinks, subconsciously, that if I don’t write the last post then the trip’s not over yet. Well, we’ve been back now for a few months so it’s time to come to terms with the fact that our year-long wandering lifestyle is O-V-E-R!
We did end with a bang by pampering ourselves with a week at the Marriott Resort in Aruba to "transition" back to the US lifestyle (the Marriott points came in handy one last time). I could get philosophical about how amazing this trip was (it was) and what an impact this trip has had on me (it has) and how much more understanding I have of the various cultures around the world (yes definitely), but FIRST let me talk about something a little more lighthearted (but no less important), our List of Favorite Food Places because after all, food is one of my favorite subjects, and has been an important part of this trip:
The Top 3 were picked because we liked almost everything we had in each country:
- 1: Vietnam - I think almost every meal we had in Vietnam was excellent (except maybe some of the bus stops on the open tour route). From the sandwiches and the stalls in the morning market in Ho Chi Minh City to the small eateries and fancy restaurants in Hanoi, oh, and the Crab in Tamarind Sauce in Hoi An.... We have to go back just to eat some more of that delicious food.
- 2: Turkey: kebabs, mezes, fresh fish sandwich, and Ciya Sofrasi.. what's not to love! Again, need to go back with an empty stomach and a couple of empty suitcases (to shop in between meals)
- 3: Thailand: the foodcourt in Bangkok's malls put the Thai restaurants in NY to shame. If you're ever in the region, definitely try the Soukhothai noodles!
We didn't have any favorite "countries" after the top 3, but we did have quite a few memorable dishes so I'm just going to list them in no particular order (I tried, but it's just too hard to rank):
Budapest - Goulash Stew (as the name implies it's thicker than the more popular Goulash Soup)
Vilnius - the fried rye break stick that is a popular beer snack
Poland - pork schnitzel (I know, I know, but Ashok had one of the best he's ever tasted and still talks about it)
China - for a country so big it's tough to love everything. On this trip our favorites were the poulou (a rice dish similar to biriyani) and lamb kebobs in Kashgar, the Spicy Lamb dish in Turpan, and food in general in Chengdu.
India - I developed a love for South Indian food (and spicier food in general), and renewed my love of Kati Rolls in Calcutta. It's not that we don't love North Indian, but North Indian is too rich to eat several days in a row.
Egypt - the stuffed pigeon we had in a tiny hole-in-the-wall place in Cairo
Senegal - anything with Yassa sauce
Argentina - the Bife Chorizo (or any steak) in Cordoba
Uruguay - pretty much any chorizo, but especially the Morcilla Dulce (sweet blood sausage)
Brazil - the sucos, or fresh fruit juice (especially the Acai for Ashok)
Of course, this is our list and is by no means meant to be an authoritative list. These are just some of our favorite memories from this trip.
Many people have asked us what our favorite places were on this trip so I'm going to list them here:
- 1 Mongolia - for the amazing landscape that's unspoilt by human activity
- 2 Jordan - I never realized a rocky landscape (and a desert) can be so colorful and beautiful
- 3 Glaciers in Patagonia region of Argentina - just majestic and magnificent and the bluest blue in the glacier will forever be etched in my mind.
Finally, I will get a little sentimental and just say that we are SO glad we took this trip because we got to experience traveling in a completely different way and not only got to see a lot of cool places, but got to meet some incredibly interesting people as well. Now that it's over, even some of the not so good experiences has become fond memories. It was all the more interesting because of the economy collapse that happened after we started our trip - if we hadn't left when we did I don't think it would've happened. We had traveled quite a bit before this trip so I can't say that I was shocked by the living conditions of many of the places we went to, but I do have to say that this trip has reinforced that the US is more different than it is similar to the rest of the world (I can go on, but suffice it to say some of it good, some of it not so good). On the other hand, whether it's a developing country or developed country, at some level everyone wants the same things - a good, secure life - for themselves and their family.
People have also asked if we were getting tired of traveling. In a way I guess a year of traveling does wear on you and it is good to be back home in my own comfortable bed (one of the things I missed on the road). However, instead of getting traveling out of my system as I thought I'd do prior to this trip, I think this past year has only reinforced how much I love to travel and has given me the "travel bug" instead. One month after we got back we were ready to hit the road again, and already we're making a list of the places we skipped/missed and thinking about where to go next. Until then, travel and enjoy!