The Big Trip – The Journey Ahead
After months of planning, Katie & I have decided on the route to take for The Big Trip. Good timing too! The trip begins in just a few days. The rules for this trip were very simple… There must be sunshine & we can only go in the one direction, no looking back. So with the rules set, here is the route.
The original idea was to go back to Australia by as much land as possible, but with the sunshine only rule in place now, that put an end to that dream. The Big Trip begins in of all the places in the world, Birmingham. Here's hoping for sunny days there.
Yes, Birmingham. It's about time I met Katie's extended family & most of them seem to be located in Birmingham. After a few days of meeting, drinking & laughing, the Big Trip will officially get underway flying from Birmingham, England to Dubrovnik, Croatia.
The Balkan leg:
Croatia is one of those places that everyone raves about. I've seen the pictures, heard the stories, read the books & all signs point to this being a pretty amazing place. And before you ask… No we are not going on a boat. That's saved for later.
This trip will have very few flights & therefore few airports to worry about. From Dubrovnik, we travel by bus across the border into Bosnia/Herzegovina arriving in Mostar.
Mostar, is one of those places that, while looks quiet, has so much going on you will never spend enough time here. So hopefully a few days will be enough.
From Mostar, another mode of transport, this time train. The journey from Mostar to Sarajevo, while slow, is often referred to as being the second most beautiful rail journey in the world. I'll let you know if it is.
Sarajevo was never going to be missed on this trip. The look of excitement on Katie's face every time the word was said was enough to spike my interest & after researching this place looks incredible. Sarajevo will be a city we won't forget.
Then comes what could possibly turn out to be the longest journey of The Big Trip… A “if the timetable is accurate” nine hour train ride from Sarajevo across the border into Serbia and terminating in Belgrade. The distance isn't far to cover & the train will no doubt be old & rusty, but remember how I said the Mostar-Sarajevo train was the second most beautiful rail journey in the world… Well the Sarajevo-Belgrade rail journey will trump that with doubling back viaducts, weaving through dense forests & crossing roaring rivers over majestic bridges. I hope this train goes slower, so I can get as many photographs as possible on a route that every train buff must experience.
Our time in Belgrade will be short, as that ends our Balkan leg of The Big Trip with a short flight south to Athens, Greece.
The Greek leg:
Athens, a city everyone seems to dislike. Why? Could I possibly find this out for myself before people insist I avoid Athens at all costs. Then, just a few weeks ago, I met my Line Producer, Madge, working with Foxtel during the Olympics. Finally someone who proved to me that Athens is a city no person should miss in their lifetime. The incredible amount of history preserved out in the open for everyone to see who has an appetite for it. Yes, it looks like a huge maze like city, & we will no doubt get endlessly lost, but it won't be that hard to find a bar, regroup & enjoy the scorching Greek sun.
From Athens, it's all about the islands.
As many islands as we can possibly see before they close up for the low-season. Ferry routes are drying up fast & we won't know for sure until we arrive at the docks, but this is the most exciting part of The Big Trip that I am looking forward to. Sure the Balkan trains will make me geek-out, but doing nothing but waking up, grabbing a towel & heading to the beach to relax with my girl is what this holiday is all about. Relaxation! Then when we feel like it, jump on a boat & find another island. When that gets tired, we can hike a volcano, jump on a quad-bike, search for the island's best gyros or just have a sleep-in.
The current islands on the trip are: Milos, Fira (Santorini), Ios, Mykonos, Tinos, Syros & an overnight ferry crossing to Kos.
After arriving in Kos, there is a small ferry transfer across into Turkish waters and the town of Bodrum. A few weeks in Greece will have us positively recharged & excited to explore Turkey.
The Turkish leg:
This leg of the journey was unexpected. We were originally only going to spend a few days in Southern Turkey before flying up to Istanbul. But at the mention of Turkey to friends, they all insisted that we stay for much longer. And I can see why, this country looks incredible.
From Bodrum, we go on a loop. Rather than visiting some places for a day trip, we will visit Ephesus, one of the best preserved ancient cities in the world, before heading over to Pamukkale for the night & the next day exploring the thermal hot springs and ruins in the area.
Remember I said we weren't getting on a boat in Croatia? We were saving it for here. The Turkish coast is where we will be cruising on the intense blue waters of the Aegean Sea for four days before setting foot back on dry land & exploring the ancient past of the Turkish coastline.
Basing ourselves in Antalya for a few days with the added bonus of a car, we will explore the coastline in our own time, where I am really looking forward to checking out Olympus & uncovering random ruins along the way.
From Antalya, we jump on a first class Turkish coach & travel across to Cappadocia. Exploring the alien rock formations & staying in a few different villages as each looks completely different from each other.
A short flight to Istanbul to spend a couple of days exploring a truly diverse city. I know we won't have enough time to explore this city that joins Asia to Europe but using the time we have, I'm sure we will cover a lot of ground.
With all this relaxation, exploring ruins & enjoying an incredible time in Europe, there had to be a time where we will have to endure one more long-haul flight to get us closer to Australia. The flight we have chosen is a grueling nine hour flight from Istanbul, Turkey to Bangkok, Thailand.
The Thai leg:
After what will no doubt be a tiring flight, we will spend some relaxation time in beautiful Thailand. Not a grand tour by any means, that will be later in life, this would be classified as a glorified layover.
Bangkok, one of the busiest cities in the world has always fascinated me. Is it organised chaos, or just plain insane? I can't wait to see it with my own eyes… & ears.
For another experience, we will jump on an overnight train & head south to the beaches on the western coast. Exploring the Phi Phi Islands by lazing on picture perfect beaches after landing on the shore from our own private long boat.
For one night we will be camping at the location of the movie “The Beach”, before heading to Phuket & staying at a five star resort before The Big Trip's final journey.
After a few years of traveling, I have amassed a few frequent flyer points & we plan on using them. From Phuket, Thailand we will travel Business Class to Perth, Australia. After a few hours enjoying the lounge at the airport we board the final flight & arrive in our new home of Melbourne, Australia.
So there you go, our route for The Big Trip. I'll be posting as often as I can on the website. I hope you enjoy what is ahead for the next few weeks as much as we plan on enjoying it.