It’s been nearly a month since I returned from Eritrea, Qatar, and Finland, and almost that long since I’ve updated here. Part of that is due to no travel in the meantime, which is largely a result of having rotator cuff surgery two weeks ago. I thought I might be away from here longer, but only two weeks in (and still in a sling) it’s surprisingly not too awful to type…and I can even use both hands but not all fingers…so this will be short 😉
One good thing about the downtime away from work is it enabled lots of planning – both work and personal trips. I have the majority of my 2015 travel planned and booked now, pending more surprises especially on the work front. It’s shaping up to be:
Late June into July: 18 day trip to Chennai, India for work. Nothing fancy or special about this trip. It’s a Lufthansa business ticket, and the only “new” experience for me will be the two-class Lufthansa A340 – never been on one of their longhaul planes without first class. Supposedly it has the new lie-flat seats, so that’ll be nice. On the way back, I’m on a 747-400 from Frankfurt to Dulles, and got the “Captain’s Seat” 4D. Still need to find a way to talk myself into an old first class seat on the upper deck. Suggestions?
Early July: After getting back from Chennai I have a four day weekend with comp days from the missed holiday, so will be enjoying the pleasures of nonrev travel, likely to Minneapolis to visit family, with possibly a day in Detroit to visit a friend and go to Cedar Point. I was debating taking United down to Belize and getting country #179, but with the rotator cuff only six weeks post-surgery at that point going to Belize (which will mean wanting to scuba) probably isn’t wise. So, Minneapolis wins!
Mid July: Busy weekend. I redeemed Avios for a bargain flight on US/AA to Pittsburgh for a tattoo appointment (still too soon post-surgery for such a long drive), and then I’ll spend the night and party like a rockstar with my artist. It’ll be our “nearly done” session, and we’ve been wanting to go beer-ing for a while, so that’ll be fun! Then, Saturday, I fly to Hartford for a post-“we got married really quickly” reception for some good hockey friends, and for something called a “clambake.” Yay new cultural experiences! There’s also no easy way to get from Pittsburgh to Hartford on a Saturday morning. Ended up booking United via Newark with a one hour connection…and they offered me an upgrade on the first segment for $59, so hey, not too bad! Then, we’ll all fly back to DC together on Sunday on JetBlue…which will also be a new experience for me!
Early September: The next crazy country collecting trip with my friend Ian, who I went to Israel with last year. We’re flying into Cameroon, then on to Central African Republic, Chad, and finally Ethiopia. Details still very much TBD. From there he’ll head home, and I’ll head on to Dubai to meet my friend Daniel (who I met up with in Bali last year) and we’ll head to Turkmenistan for four days before I head home. Oh, I might be making a sidetrip from Dubai…but we’ll see. For now, shhhh 😉 This should get me to 182 countries, with 14 to go.
Mid November: Off to Spain, where I’ll make a side trip to Algeria for a couple nights. Any suggestions on 48 hour itineraries from Algiers? Then, I’ll board a Cubana Ilyushin-96 and fly Madrid to Havana for a few days in Cuba. Very excited! Then, it’s off to Nassau, Bahamas via Grand Cayman using a combo of Avios and paid tickets. First time on British Airways (Grand Cayman to Nassau) in business class on a 767 with less than 10,000 Avios. This should get me to 185 countries, with 11 to go!
December: To Minnesota to spend Christmas with the family, before heading off on my last epic New Years trip for a while. Plan is to do (in some undetermined order) Mali, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Those seven will bring me to 192, with only four to go. Tentative plans:
So what’s left?
Belize diving trip, probably early winter 2016.
Tuvalu and Mongolia – to be done in June/July 2016 for the Naadam Festival in Mongolia. Hopefully this time I’ll get Tuvalu on the first try, but I’m leaving two weeks for it. If I finish early I can make side trips from Fiji to other places, maybe Melbourne or Wallis and Futuna.
Then, the grand finale, Iceland in September 2016…that’ll make all 196 countries!
I’m sure 2015 will contain a few added surprises, maybe work trips, maybe some fun trips to LA, Ottawa, Montreal, and Vancouver to make some long overdue trips to visit friends – but that’s all up in the air for now. Should be an exciting next six months!