It’s time to look back at everything that happened during the second year of my trip around the world.
Another year, another summary. May 15th 2018 marked the end of the second year of my trip around the world. As its predecessor a year earlier, this blog post sums up what has happened during the last 365 days.
For last year’s summary, see: 365 Days on the Road – My Journey So Far
If you’ve only recently found my blog, these two blog posts are a good place to see what has happened during my RTW trip so far. They will also serve as informative time capsules for future readers and myself.
Oceania (22 April – 10 July 2017)
It feels fitting that Oceania marks the middle point of my trip around the world. After all, it’s pretty difficult to get any further away from Europe.
26. Australia (22 April – 31 May 2017)
I finished the first year of my trip around the world in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards I spent two more weeks exploring the country. Uluru became one of my favourite destinations and I really enjoyed hiking in the Blue Mountains near Sydney!
27. Fiji (31 May – 13 June 2017)
For most tourists, Fiji is all about the resorts on the smaller islands. I stayed in the main island, Viti Levu. I got a bit sick and the weather was quite rainy, so I left Fiji with a lukewarm impression.
28. Tonga (13 June – 1 July 2017)
When I think of Tonga, it’s really the miniature scale of the country that struck me the most.
The only Couchsurfing host in the country wasn’t available, but I ended up meeting her anyway by accident. Taxi drivers knew how long I had been in the country because they had seen me walking on the only main street of Nuku’alofa, the only major town.
After my departure from Tonga got delayed (it’s a long story), I went to see a rugby match between Fiji and Tonga. When Tonga won to everyone’s surprise, dozens of locals started driving that one main street back and forth, honking their horns and cheering.
Ah, Tonga. I have many fond memories of that place.
29. New Zealand (1-11 July 2017)
New Zealand is the dream destination of many travellers. However, I only scratched the surface on my short visit. It was winter and I was on my way to cross the Pacific on a cargo ship, so I simply took my time to catch my breath before the big expedition.
29½. Crossing the Pacific (11-26 July 2017)
Travelling as a passenger on a cargo ship – is that even possible? Yes, it is (although it’s also a bit expensive).
I really enjoyed my stress-free and completely uneventful voyage of 16 days and 10,000 kilometers. As I plan to do more half-flightless travel in the future, I hope I’ll get a chance to board cargo ships again.
North America (26 July 2017 – 19 December 2017)
North America marked a change in my travel rhythm. I spent the first year of my trip traveling at a rather quick pace, but now I took several longer breaks to volunteer with local organizations.
30. United States of America (26 July – 4 September 2017)
I liked United States much more than I had expected. The open and social culture makes it quite easy to get to know new people. I was also delighted by all the spectacular nature in the southwest parts of the country.
31. Mexico (4 September – 19 December 2017)
I spent over three months in Mexico, making it the longest stop of my trip around the world. Besides traveling through the country, I spent one month volunteering in Mexico City. It would have been easier if I spoke more Spanish, but at least I got tons of chances to practice.
South America (19 December 2017 – 18 January 2018)
Before leaving Mexico, I let my blog followers choose my next destination between Central America and southern Africa. Africa won the poll, so I only did a few shorter stops in South America on my way to down.
32. Colombia (19-26 December 2017)
Inside my head, I tend to divide my trip into separate phases. In between the major phases are shorter “transit stops”. United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Vietnam and New Zealand were my previous interphase destinations, and now it was time for a similar stop in Colombia.
My stay was short, but I enjoyed the time I spent in Colombia. I spent Christmas in Villa de Leyva which became one of my favourite tourist villages around the world.
33. Brazil (27 December 2017 – 18 January 2018)
I was planning to stop in Brazil very briefly. However, the flights to South Africa were so expensive around New Year that I was able to save 500 euros just by extending my stay by a few weeks.
I had great time with different Couchsurfing hosts in Brazil. I also started to get an idea about the scale of the country, as I was only able to explore a small fraction of the massive coast in three weeks.
Africa (19 January 2018 – 21 March 2018)
The sixth continent of my trip around the world – and also the one that had worried me the most in advance. Sometimes challenging, frequently beautiful and constantly fascinating region with varying landscapes and many different cultures.
34. South Africa (19 January – 19 February 2018)
When people ask me what South Africa is like, I lovingly call it an “interesting mess”. The politics are in chaos it’s hard to comprehend what’s going on between all the tribes and factions, but there’s something very fascinating about this place.
35. Zimbabwe (19-23 February 2018)
I visited Zimbabwe a few months after the fall of Robert Mugabe. An interesting yet often ignored destination that might attract more tourists in the future. Prices were surprisingly expensive and ATM’s were out of cash.
36. Zambia (23-28 February 2018)
I enjoyed the TAZARA train out of Zambia, but otherwise Zambia wasn’t wasn’t my favourite destination. Street vendors and other strollers got a bit too close for comfort, and not all the attention was positive.
On the bright side, it was quite amusing how locals kept calling me Jesus for my scruffy travel looks!
37. Tanzania (28 February – 9 March 2018)
It took me a while to learn it, but my overland journey through southern Africa got much more enjoyable once I got out of the bigger cities. The mountain village of Lushoto in Tanzania offered some nice views and dozens of chameleons to spot.
38. Kenya (9-16 March 2018)
Before starting my 2-year trip around the world, I picked one completely random destination anywhere in the world. That destination turned out to be Kenya. My stay was quite brief, but I guess the journey was more important than the destination.
39. Egypt (16-21 March 2018)
I wasn’t expecting too much from Cairo, so I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. The pyramids were spectacular and the local culture was very interesting. I can’t see myself living in such a conservative muslim society, but spending time with my Couchsurfing hosts was truly eye-opening.
Plus I loved koshari and the other cheap street food!
Back in Europe (21 March 2018 – Present)
A lot has happened since I got back in Europe, but I’ve kept a lower profile on my blog and social media pages. I’m meeting old friends, discovering new places and preparing my mind for the upcoming end of my journey.
39½. Turkey again (21-24 March 2018)
The first time I was in Istanbul, I didn’t get why some people love it so much. I get it now. Once you get out of the touristy Old Town, you’ll find the trendy neighborhoods that blend history and modern culture.
More importantly, Istanbul gave me a chance to reunite with my travel buddy Müjdat. We had spent a few weeks together in Fiji and Tonga and it was great to meet again before Müjdat flew to Central America for his next big adventure.
40. Greece (24-28 March 2018)
After being away from Europe for almost two years, it’s been striking how cosy many things feel. I had only been to Greece once before – and this was probably 15 years ago – yet I felt a strong sense of familiarity.
Underneath all the local peculiarities there’s something very European that makes me feel at home all over the continent.
41. Macedonia (28 March – 1 April 2018)
Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, was a curious stop. The city center has so many new monuments and majestic buildings in a small area that it almost feels like Las Vegas. I wasn’t able to find a Couchsurfing host, but I still had some great meetings with locals.
42. Serbia (1-11 April 2018)
I haven’t written any separate blog posts about my stops in Europe this year. Yet that doesn’t mean my stays haven’t been eventful. I had some very memorable days in Serbia as I travelled through the country.
To my surprise, my first Couchsurfing host in Serbia was a metal fan who had learned remarkably good Finnish all by himself!
43. Hungary (11-17 April 2018)
I tend to use Couchsurfing to find local hosts, but I decided to try something else near Budapest. I found local hosts from a seldom used European psychology student’s travel network Facebook group, and my stay was absolutely wonderful!
43¼. Slovakia again (17-22 April 2018)
Happy reunions! Having visited Slovakia in the beginning of my trip around the world, I returned to my old Couchsurfing host Zdeno and his family in Vernar. I once again explored nearby regions and did some great hikes in Slovak Paradise National Park.
Afterwards I went to Bratislava to meet up with my traveller friend Milan and his girlfriend. Milan was the first backpacker I met on the very first week of my trip around the world, and it was great to catch up after two years.
43½. Czech Republic again (22-24 April 2018)
Another quick stop to see my old Couchsurfing hosts. For some reason, I didn’t feel completely welcome. Who knows, perhaps they were just busy and stressed (or my delayed arrival had annoyed them).
Nevertheless it was a good reminder that not all reunions will be just sunshine and rainbows.
43¾. Poland again (24-27 April 2018)
Not all reunions are totally fun, but this one was! I once again traced my original steps, staying with my old hosts Kajetan and Agnieszka. They had taken the effort to plan me many new activities in Wroclaw. I even got to experience an escape room for the first time in my life!
44. Germany (27 April – 8 May 2018)
When I went to a supermarket in Dresden, I was amazed by the amount of cheese they had. Instead of just a few types, there seemed to be a hundred different options! Even several vegan ones!
Besides the bigger cities, I really loved exploring the peaceful countryside of Bavaria.
45. Switzerland (8-14 May 2018)
When I arrived in Switzerland, I went to a Western Union office in Zurich railway station to exchange some money. As I was leaving Switzerland a week later, I went to another Western Union counter in Basel, a city 90 kilometers from Zurich.
Strangely enough, I was served by the same Western Union worker in both cities. For a moment I felt like I was living in The Truman Show.
46. France (14-19 May 2018)
As far as my European reunions go, this one was one of the most interesting. I had met 78-year-old French journalist Michel only once in September 2016 when we happened to sit next to each other on a bus in Nepal. Now I stayed with him for three nights in Paris.
We connected right away back then – and luckily our connection had not gone anywhere.
What’s in for the Future?
47. United Kingdom (19 May – 11 June 2018)
48. Belgium (11-16 June 2018)
49. Netherlands (16-21 June 2018)
49½. Germany again (21-30 June 2018)
Although I’m calling this journey a 2-year trip around the world, it didn’t exactly on the 2-year anniversary. There are still some miles to cover.
Since May 15th I’ve continued my journey to United Kingdom. Soon I’ll visit Belgium, Netherlands and northern Germany, but that will be my end of the trip. I will be back in Finland on July 1st 2018.
In a sense, I feel like I’ve been saying a long farewell to my travel life ever since I got back in Europe. These last months have been all about catching up with friends and preparing for my return.