First Blog Anniversary – Memorable Travel Moments From Each Country!

First Blog Anniversary – Memorable Travel Moments From Each Country!

Today, 10th January 2017, marks the first anniversary of this here blog. One year ago to this day, I posted a piece on my trip to Morocco, itself nearly ten years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.

Now, the norm for travel bloggers on their first anniversary of blogging is to talk about what they’ve learnt from travel blogging and all that sort of thing. Which is all well and good, and definitely very useful and full of great information (especially to blogging newbies), but I frankly don’t want to do that. It’s just not the way I roll.

That, my friends, is the single best piece of advice I can give travel bloggers – be yourself and do what you want to do. There are so many blogs out there, and so many of them seem to follow what is perceived to be a tried and trusted formula for what they should post about, which often ends up in them being quite bland and identikit. Just saying.

But I digress. To celebrate having completed a year of travel blogging, I’m going to look back on my even longer history of travelling: in just over 30 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit just over 30 countries (rather neatly). I’m now going to see if I can come up with one memorable thing that happened in each one of them; the UK is excluded from the list, as that’s where I was born, live and work.

So, here goes…

Australia – When we were out on a boat on a lake in Kakadu National Park, a baby named Jared dropped his milk bottle in the water. This lake, it should be noted, was full of crocodiles. We were nearly back on dry land, and the boat driver didn’t notice until he’d turned the engine off. It was bobbing in the water two metres away from the back of the boat; I was ‘volunteered’ to get the bottle and, with two men holding me by the back of my legs, reached over the back of the boat to rescue it. No crocodile came close, but one was watching me from the nearby bank…!

Austria – I saw a storm near the top of the Nordkette Mountains near Innsbruck. Dramatic! But it did mean I had to go back down and not go to the very top as the storm was getting very close.

Belgium – At the Menin Gate Last Post ceremony, which was on ANZAC day, the Kiwi guy stood next to me sang along to the NZ national anthem as the military band played it. I still get goose pimples/a lump in my throat thinking about it.

Bulgaria – I was aged 7 at the time, so this might be inaccurate, but I think I dropped my Kinder Egg in to a swimming pool. Yep, that’s the best I’ve got here.

China – A man trying to sell me a Chairman Mao lighter that played ‘The East is Red’ proceeded to sing the whole song to me when I asked him what tune it was.

Czech Republic – A couple of kids actually thought I was Pavel Nedved when I walked the streets of Prague wearing a Czech Republic Football shirt with his name on it, and asked me for my autograph. Well, either that or they were taking the piss.

Egypt – They were playing Walk Like An Egyptian on a loop in a café in Cairo. When a couple of Westerners walked in and started to do the dance to it, the café owner joined in and started ‘encouraging’ the rest of us to do the same.

France – In Paris, a man selling roses thought the guy I was with was my partner and tried to get me to buy one for him. The guy was my brother.

Germany – In a Berlin bar best described as Dracula’s opium den, my friend and I were ranted at for at least an hour by a scary German guy with an impenetrable beard and terrifying tattoos about how anarchy is the only legitimate system of government. All this to a deafening heavy metal backdrop and loads of people walking by dressed in gimp masks, fetish wear etc.

Greece – Seeing a completely naked girl sleepwalk in to the hostel bar I was quietly playing cards in one evening. Her roommate later told me that this wasn’t the first time this had happened…

Hong Kong – A more disgusting Hostel experience…a guy in the bunk bed above me scratched all night, and at one point I could see the flakes of skin floating down as he flicked them off his person *shudder*

Hungary – My travel companion falling asleep at the top of Castle Hill, clearly unimpressed with the stunning city panorama below him…

Iceland – Putting my hand in to a geyser. If you’ve done this, you’ll know why you shouldn’t.

India – Being thrown off a camel twice in the Great Thar desert. More on that story here.

Ireland – Being accosted by a woman in a pub for voting for Brexit (I voted remain), once she found out I was British: ‘what have you fecking done you fecking eejit?’

Italy – Whilst getting off a train, a very attractive girl turned to me, smiled and said something in Italian. My mind totally blank, I just grinned like an idiot and nodded. She looked at me funny and got off the train. There was a tap on my shoulder; I turned to see another girl (also attractive – Italian ladies are beautiful, right?) who explained to me that she was asking me for the time…

Kenya – When pestered by the very persistent touts who were trying to sell us baubles and bangles at the border crossing in to Tanzania, my companion said his name was ‘Erik the Viking’ and that he had recently contracted herpes. This did not seem to deter them one bit.

Liechtenstein – Er…getting the passport stamp? OK, on this one nothing too memorable happened. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time here – I did – but it went smoothly, so I have no anecdotes really.

Here’s a picture of Liechtenstein as compensation

Malaysia – On one of our many trips to visit my mother’s side of the family, we were in a restaurant in Port Dickson. My (Caucasian) dad went to the toilet; upon his return, he managed to go to completely the wrong table and sat down with the (Chinese) family there! The looks on their faces were priceless…

Morocco – Getting lost in the Fes Medina, and the failure of a little boy who offered me to extricate me from the maze (he only cared about the Dirham).

Netherlands – Accidentally eating a slice of hashish cake, not realising I was in a cannabis café until too late. I experienced some funny stuff in the hours afterwards…

Philippines – The truly bonkers experience of Manila airport having a power failure. More on that here.

Romania – Mad Sandu, the wood carver, whose sole English was the phrase ‘no problem’ as he proceeded to carve away yet another ornament for you to take home.

Slovenia – My friend and I bumped in to a random girl from the UK at Bled bus station…then again at a ski resort near Bohinj…and then again at Ljubljana airport! She joked she was stalking us, as she stroked the severed head of a dead owl*

Spain – Being drank under the table, on two consecutive nights, by a Uruguayan lady staying at the same hostel as me. She was about 5ft tall and 100lbs soaking wet.

Switzerland – Sitting, and subsequently squashing, a child’s Toblerone bar on a train seat. His mother was NOT happy with me.

Tanzania – Well, apart from this and this, the safaris were wonderful. Particularly when a monkey got in to our car and made the girls I was with in there scream. It was my fault too, because I left the door open…

Turkey – Getting rather drunk on fruit wines at Sirince, and trying to chat up the waitress. That didn’t go down to well with her husband…he was the owner. And he had his unfeasibly large and burly friend with him. Needless to say, I ran like crazy.

Uganda – I regularly taught the same class of 60-odd kids in the School I was volunteering at, and they loved to sing. I decided to teach them to sing Yellow Submarine. With only my weak and wobbly voice and a chalkboard, I managed to get them to sing it very well indeed. One of my proudest moments!

USA – Not so much a memory, as a very disorientating photo. It’s a picture of me, stood on Ellis Island in New York, in July 2001, with the twin towers looming in the background. It’s surreal and disturbing to look at it today.

Zambia – The epic road odyssey I shared with my Zambian friend from Lusaka to Victoria Falls, which you can read about here.

*I’m legally obliged to point out that she did no such thing.

So there you go; I didn’t quite manage to get something memorable from every country, but otherwise feel like I’ve managed to do the idea justice. Here’s to many more years of travelling, many more countries, and many more interesting experiences on the road for us all!

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47 Comments

  • Kirsty Marrins

    January 10, 2017 at 4:11 pm Reply

    Oh my goodness, some of these are hilarious! Thanks for a great read and congrats on your anniversary!

    • Joe

      January 10, 2017 at 5:27 pm Reply

      Thanks, glad you think so 🙂

  • Brian

    January 11, 2017 at 12:10 am Reply

    Still need to see 16 of the countries in your list. It’s great that you saw so much of Africa. People (myself) included tend to focus more on Europe and Asia.
    Brian recently posted…5 Ways to Experience Luang Prabang, LaosMy Profile

    • Joe

      January 11, 2017 at 7:02 am Reply

      Which is understandable! Africa isn’t exactly renowned for being a particularly accessible destination…

  • Stephanie Craig

    January 11, 2017 at 3:29 pm Reply

    Dude, as an American who voted Obama and Clinton, I get yelled out about Trump ALL THE TIME. I totally understand how frustrating it is to be held accountable by strangers for decisions your country made that you DID NOT.

    Go back to Bulgaria. It’s amazing!

    • Joe

      January 11, 2017 at 5:43 pm Reply

      It was frustrating…but equally hilarious. I don’t think I would have felt that way if it happened as often to me as people calling you out on Trump seems to! Yes, will definitely be sure to return to Bulgaria one day and appreciate it with adult eyes 🙂

  • Sumti Bhadani

    January 11, 2017 at 3:50 pm Reply

    Congratulations. All the best for 2017 🙂

    • Joe

      January 11, 2017 at 5:44 pm Reply

      Thanks 🙂

  • WhenTwoWander

    January 11, 2017 at 9:10 pm Reply

    Hahaha some great stories there bro. The Hong King one is super gross! All the best for 2017.

    • Joe

      January 11, 2017 at 10:06 pm Reply

      I still shudder when I think about it…thanks,and best wishes for 2017 for you too 🙂

  • Indrani

    January 12, 2017 at 3:26 pm Reply

    Good collection of fun moments during travels. 🙂 And the list is impressive. Wishing a much more eventful 2017.
    Indrani recently posted…My Stay Experience at Narendra Bhawan, BikanerMy Profile

  • Dane

    January 13, 2017 at 4:18 am Reply

    This is a massive list of places and some really funny stories! Thanks for sharing. I had a pretty good laugh to myself!

    • Joe

      January 13, 2017 at 7:16 am Reply

      Thanks mate 🙂

  • TheRedRidingHood

    January 13, 2017 at 7:24 am Reply

    Ahahaha it happened to me that l day down at the wrong table during the language exchange night. Instead sitting with expats speaking French, l sat at the real Belgian French speaking table with local people

  • Vicky @ A Backpack Full of Adventures

    January 13, 2017 at 8:28 am Reply

    Sounds like a great advice to me, Joe 🙂 And 30 countries is amazing – you’ve been to some gorgeous places! Iceland and Switzerland are both on my list of “places to see soon”. Thanks for sharing your stories with us! 🙂
    Vicky @ A Backpack Full of Adventures recently posted…2017 Travel Plans – Asia, Here I Come!My Profile

    • Joe

      January 13, 2017 at 2:23 pm Reply

      Thanks, and you’re welcome! Hope you get to see them both soon – both expensive countries, but both utterly beautiful too 🙂

  • Hendrik

    January 13, 2017 at 9:24 am Reply

    Fantastic collection and very impressive! I had to laugh hard about Berlin, since I am German and lived in Berlin 5 years. Funny thing is that the big, tattooed bearded guys are usually the kindest and most friendly people at all 🙂
    Hendrik recently posted…La Gomera holidays – Canary Islands (4)My Profile

    • Joe

      January 13, 2017 at 2:26 pm Reply

      Hahaha, well I think he was being friendly in his own way. He clearly thought he’d found a pair of people who shared his political views 😉 Thanks for stopping by Hendrik!

  • Laura Sellwood

    January 13, 2017 at 6:06 pm Reply

    Brilliant post! I wish more people shared this kind of stuff! What a list of places you’ve been too as well, I hope you write up more of your stories!

    p.s sorry to hear about your kinder egg. No chocolate deserves that fate.

    • Joe

      January 13, 2017 at 6:44 pm Reply

      Thanks! Not got photos of quite a lot of the trips where these happened, alas. Yeah the kinder egg was a sad incident – it taught me to feel the pain of the kid whose Toblerone I’d squished 😉

  • Only By Land

    January 13, 2017 at 8:26 pm Reply

    Congratulations on a year of blogging. I wondered what Nedved had been doing since retiring! Here’s to another year of blogging and traveling!

  • Elena (@TravelingBytes)

    January 14, 2017 at 5:22 am Reply

    Congratulations to you and your blog on the first year anniversary and many more to come. Totally agree about your advice of being yourself. It would make reading all these countless travel blogs so much more interesting.

    I laughed a lot reading about your memorable moments. I bet the crocodile was too amused watching gymnastics performed by 3 grownups to think about prospective dinner. Cheers!

    • Joe

      January 14, 2017 at 8:30 am Reply

      Thanks 🙂 And yes, I’m sure the crocodile hadn’t seen a potential dinner behave quite like that before!

  • Tales of Travelling Sisters

    January 14, 2017 at 7:32 am Reply

    As they say travel teaches us many things in life at the same time few experiences lasts forever in our memories! We had a good laugh reading this post and happy one year of blogging!!! Good luck for your future travels and we hope to read more such posts in future😊

    • Joe

      January 14, 2017 at 8:31 am Reply

      Thank you very much, and I look forward to sharing some of these with you!

  • Amanda Tran @ LVV Travel

    January 14, 2017 at 12:40 pm Reply

    Hahaha, you must love putting your hands in dangerous situations – first in Kakadu in Aus and then in Iceland! Sounds like you’ve had an awesome year. Happy travels for 2017!

    • Joe

      January 14, 2017 at 8:55 pm Reply

      I know, right? Hopefully I’ve learnt my lesson. Happy travels to you too! 🙂

  • Soumya Nambiar

    January 15, 2017 at 5:53 am Reply

    Congratulations on successfully completing one year of blogging. Hope you have many more. I had a fun time reading this post. Asked to buy a rose for your own brother or when your dad went and sat with another family. Hope you have many more such memories.
    Soumya Nambiar recently posted…A Vegetarian Foodie’s Adventures Across Europe – Part VMy Profile

  • Jitaditya Narzary

    January 15, 2017 at 10:05 am Reply

    That was surely a great year. Great to see that you have devoted a lot of time to Africa.
    Hope you see more of Asia and Latin America next year…
    Jitaditya Narzary recently posted…New York City Travel GuideMy Profile

  • Rashmi and Chalukya

    January 15, 2017 at 1:33 pm Reply

    Its always great to sit back sometimes and think of all the memorable trips and experience we had and we learned. Looks like you crossed much of those that make up the travelers bucket list. Looking forward to more of your travels in year ahead.
    Rashmi and Chalukya recently posted…Exploring the Island of Gozo and its Mediterranean TreasuresMy Profile

  • Wanderlust vegans

    January 15, 2017 at 3:04 pm Reply

    Great idea for an anniversary blog. You’ve had a lot of fun and not so fun moments. I can see why you find all these memorable.
    Wanderlust vegans recently posted…Scotland Road Trip: Isle of SkyeMy Profile

  • neha

    January 16, 2017 at 1:38 am Reply

    Wow! You have been to so many amazing places. Reading posts like yours makes me feel I have just started off my wanderlust journey…wish you many more such trips
    neha recently posted…11 awesome things to do in MahabalipuramMy Profile

  • Celma Costa

    January 16, 2017 at 6:05 am Reply

    This is a great compilation of memories! Sorry about the hostel ‘incidents’, it’s all part of the fun though haha!

    Loved the Zambia memory the most, I myself experienced something similar, crossing the border from Zimbabwe to Zambia (30 minute walk or so), with a man named Ali, who told me all about his life and his country.

    I think the most important thing is to have humour. When we travel, so many things can go wrong, or get weird, creepy and uncomfortable. If we laugh it off knowing it will all make a great story at the end, traveling is pure bliss!
    Celma Costa recently posted…Performing African Identities; Lessons From FlorenceMy Profile

    • Joe

      January 16, 2017 at 7:10 am Reply

      Thanks Celma 🙂 Being told the history and life of a local who is helping you cross the border must have been very insightful. And yes, humour is an indispensable part of the traveller’s toolkit, that’s for sure!

  • Jesper, The Biveros Effect

    January 16, 2017 at 3:02 pm Reply

    Sounds like an impressive year. It is always advisable to make sure not to sitt on a kids Toblerone. It might in some cases be dangerous. 🙂
    Jesper, The Biveros Effect recently posted…Weekend Getaway: Riga, LatviaMy Profile

    • Joe

      January 16, 2017 at 6:28 pm Reply

      Indeed…sharp edges and corners 😉 Thanks Jesper!

  • PRERNA SINHA

    January 16, 2017 at 3:46 pm Reply

    Travel has really turned you into a storyteller and these are really interesting ones. Just in awe of how much you have travelled.

    • Joe

      January 16, 2017 at 6:29 pm Reply

      Thanks – I’m very fortunate in that regard!

  • SindhuMurthy

    January 16, 2017 at 7:08 pm Reply

    Quite an interesting read. It is amazing how memories from travel remain etched in our minds for years to come. Loved reading about your experiences. I was giggling while reading some of them- like being thrown off the camel back or being asked time by the Italian girl. happy anniversary on your blog and here is wishing you a very happy and eventful 2017.

  • Davide uTravelShare.com

    January 16, 2017 at 10:07 pm Reply

    auhahuuhahu interesting post and some of them are really funny! Congratulation for this year of travelling and I hope you will have a great 2017, thanks for sharing it

  • Travelpeppy

    January 17, 2017 at 3:24 am Reply

    It is always a nice idea to go back to memories. Loved your article. Wish you many more travels
    Travelpeppy recently posted…Chiang Mai Travel Guide : All you need to knowMy Profile

  • Siddhartha Joshi

    January 17, 2017 at 5:29 am Reply

    Well, first of all many many congratulations for finishing one successful year of blogging 🙂 And that list…my goodness! I am so damn impressed with all that you have managed to achieve as experiences in your fist year itself (falling from the camel twice included)! All the best for the coming year and may you always travel and live your dreams 🙂

  • Christina Dwiggins

    January 17, 2017 at 8:18 pm Reply

    I am sure seeing the storm in Austria was a sight to behold especially near a mountain. We are going to Zambia later this year to see Victoria Falls and are very excited! You have definitely traveled a lot and have some great stories. I hope we can go to even half of the number of countries you have been to.

    • Joe

      January 17, 2017 at 9:17 pm Reply

      Thanks Christina, I am certainly very fortunate in that regard. Have a great time in Zambia – Victoria Falls is undoubtedly one of the best sights I have ever seen 🙂

  • Swayam Tiwari

    January 18, 2017 at 4:43 pm Reply

    I am disappointed that in India it was just the camel experience that got the better of you. Did you not get harrassed by the omnipresent touts here? But, Joe, your ‘herpes’ story was the killer. Keep up the fun quotient in your blog.

    • Joe

      January 18, 2017 at 8:32 pm Reply

      I did, yes! But the camel experience was one of a kind, whereas the touts were everywhere…thanks for stopping by 🙂

  • Veronica

    January 20, 2017 at 9:13 pm Reply

    WOW, WOW, WOW!!! The year was filled with adventures and amazing moments! Congratulations on the anniversary!

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