2021 Annual Recap

2021 was a full year of nonstop travel, despite all the covid-related insanity – 65 unique countries and territories (58 UN-member countries) and 92 border crossings (meaning quite a few countries were multiple visits). (That’s 342% vs 2020 and 10% up vs 2019). 55 flights on 26 different airlines, 5 trains, 39 boats and ferries, 6 cable cars, 35 car rentals (23 self-driven and 12 with a driver), and 1 bicycle rent – 63000+ kilometers driven. 888 Facebook album posts with 37,000+ pictures! Have you seen them all? The year began in Dubai, a must-see place for NYE Fireworks in the front row with the view of Burj Khalifa. A few weeks of bag-repacking in Kiev/New York and we were deepsea fishing in Florida Keys. Next came 2 full months of Mexico – the most in-depth country exploration imaginable – where we drove through 31 out of 32 Mexican states, petting whales, rappelling into the Cave of Swallows, and climbing pyramids in the jungle. Then we snorkeled in Belize Reef and flew over the Blue Hole. Then came a full drive around the Dominican Republic, another giant loop around Panama, and finally the Costa Rica exploration, with loads of sloths and toucans. Change of continent, and we were climbing Mt Sinai in Egypt at sunrise and snorkeling in the Red Sea. Next was a loop drive through the Eastern Europe – Ukraine, Moldova and eastern Romania. An amazing fortnight in Iceland followed with the entirety of the Ring Road, waterfalls, geothermals, reindeer, and even an erupting volcano. What followed next was an ultimate Eurotrip through almost all the European states – from the Atlantic shores of France to Mediterranean, to the Alps, to Adriatic and the Balkans, all of Central Europe, the Baltic states, all of Scandinavia, and finally Germany and the Benelux countries. Another switch of continent and we were off to explore the Central Asia overland – from a massive 2 week full exploration of the entirety of Kazakhstan, to driving on mountain snow-covered roads of Kyrgyzstan, to remote villages in Tajikistan, to Tamerlane treasures in Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan. Saudi Arabia came next, and once again we did an absolutely full exploration of this jewel of a country, that just opened to tourism for the first time. Bahrain was next, followed by some rewind time in a remote resort in the Maldives, before venturing to another holy grail of traveling – Iraq – with the Babylon, Baghdad, shiny mosques, and ancient prehistoric ruins. Next challenge was the Expo 2020 in Dubai where we visited every single pavilion and collected every single passport stamp. Then we explored all around the beautiful sultanate of Oman with all its medieval forts and castle (including a trip to the Musandam enclave). We then explored all of the UAE – hitting attractions in every single emirate. Add to this the exploration of Qatar and another driving loop through Jordan from Amman to Wadi Ram to the Dead Sea. Dream it, plan it, do it! Another insane and rewarding year! I am more then certain that by number of countries visited, or days travelled, kilometers driven, or photographs taken or even tue authentic local dishes eaten – we were the “most travelled couple in the world” in 2021 and even more so from the beginning of the pandemic last year. But we ain’t chasing titles, but opening new horizons together. On to 2022!