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Best and Worst in Show

With apologies to Mick Mixon, who taught me much about journalism and cautioned especially against the use of superlatives, here is a partial list of the best and worst bits of my last eight months. It's not exhaustive, but you might be by the end. Enjoy.

By the way, I'll be home Saturday. Don't leave the light on - just drop a key under the mat.

Best beaches – Thailand

Cheapest country – India (Honorable Mention Nepal)

Best wine – South Africa (H.M. Spain)

Best waterfall – Victoria Falls, Zambia (H.M. Sipi Falls, Uganda)

Best wildlife – Tanzania (H.M. Namibia)

Best food – Thailand (H.M. France and a little Vegetarian Restaurant in Dresden)

Worst food – Morocco

Best sporting event watched – Espanyol vs. FC Barcelona

Best performing arts event – Budapest Opera House (H.M. Malaysian Symphony Orchestra)

Biggest politician seen – Serzh Sargsyan, President of Armenia (within 100m of His Holiness the Dalai Lama)

Longest flight – Seoul to Atlanta, 17 hours

Cheapest flight – Marrakesh, Morocco to Bremen, Germany, 10 Euros

Spiciest meal – Saag Paneer and Dal Fry, New Delhi (H.M. Indian Curry, Fiji)

Best pre-trip purchase – (tie) EEE PC and Canon G9

Best during-trip purchase – two waterguns, Bangkok

Most common country of fellow backpacker – U.K. (H.M.s Germany and Netherlands)

Best beer – Brussels, Belgium

Saddest tourist visit – Auschwitz, Poland

Number of other Kleins met – one, from Munich

Most difficult language – Hungarian

Best non-native English spoken – Norwegian travelers (H.M.s Danish and Dutch travelers)

Most used foreign language – French, in Morocco

Longest bus ride – Cape Town, South Africa to Windhoek, Namibia, 22 hours

Most painful ride – Uganda/Kenya border to Kisumu, Kenya

Most lenient pharmaceutical laws – Thailand (H.M. Egypt)

Most flies while trying to eat – Chefchouaen, Morocco

Most stray cats while trying to eat – Chefchouaen, Morocco

Most difficult conversion – hectares to acres

Most devalued currency – Ugandan Shilling (2000 per dollar)

Strongest currency valuations – Euro, Bosnian Marka, Jordanian Dollar

Country most upset about not being in the EU – Croatia

Best seafood – Fiji (H.M. Kisumu, Kenya)

City most likely to become new party spot – Belgrade, Serbia

Most random place with two men playing chess – outside a temple in Angkor Wat

Least reliable electrical grid – Uganda (H.M. Nepal)

Most desolate country – Namibia

Highest concentration of strong chess players – Belgrade, Serbia

Best modern architecture – Berlin

Best ancient architecture – Luxor, Egypt

Latest night of partying – Prague (bedtime unknown)

Friendliest people – (tie) Egyptians and Thais

Prettiest city – Cape Town

City most resembling Gotham – Hamburg, Germany

Dirtiest, ugliest, most detestable city – New Delhi

Quaintest town – Bergerac, France (H.M. Bremen, Germany)

Best place to eat at 2 a.m. – Barcelona

Most deified sport – cricket in India

Most controversial place – Jerusalem, Israel

Emptiest border – Poland/Slovakia

Shortest country visit – Two hours, Ethiopia (in transit)

Pace of life the slowest – Zanzibar, Tanzania

Longest border crossing – Egypt/Israel (H.M. Cambodia/Thailand)

Best in-flight service – Korean Air, Katmandu-Seoul

Most expensive internet – Yasawa Islands, Fiji ($10/hour)

Biggest sand dunes – (tie) Sahara Desert, Morocco and Sousesvlei, Namibia

Scariest adventure – (tie) shark diving, South Africa and 100m abseil, Uganda

Number of traffic accidents – two, Etosha N.P., Namibia and Zanzibar, Tanzania

Biggest scar – 4cm gash on left leg from Vespa crash, Zanzibar

Most backward airport operations – Marrakesh, Morocco

Most difficult place to get a train ticket – India

Nicest accommodation – (tie) Budapest apartment, Bergerac villa, Cairo friend’s house

Best embassy party – Cairo

Most expensive visa – Tanzania ($100)

Longest length of stay permitted – Fiji (4 months)

Country where I could automatic citizenship – Israel (Jewish father)

Most difficult country to get citizenship – Namibia

Smokiest club – Krakow, Poland

Best use of couchsurfing.com – Zagreb, Croatia

Best hostel – (tie) Hobo Bear, Zagreb, and Refill Now, Bangkok

Cheapest accommodation – Dharamsala, India ($2.50/night, private room and ensuite bath)

Most expensive country – Botswana

Most scenic bus ride – Sarajevo, Bosnia to Dubrovnik, Croatia

Rowdiest hostel – Amsterdam

Best airport – Seoul

Place that loves Obama the most – Kenya (duh)

Place that maintains subtle contempt for America – (tie) Jordan (due to Israel) and Bosnia (due to Kosovo)

Longest stay in one city – Dresden, Germany (18 days)

Longest stay in one country – (tie) Morocco and Germany, one month each

Best city to live in – (tie) Berlin and Bangkok

Cleanest city – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Countries on the Euro not visited – Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Finland, Luxembourg

Best street performers – Las Ramblas, Barcelona

Best local choir singing – Cape Town

Most detested American city by foreigners – Los Angeles

Number of foreign languages I learned to count to ten in – Eight (French, Russian, German, Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew, Serbian, Polish)

Most expensive activity – Safari, Tanzania

Best city tour – Mike’s Bike Tours, Amsterdam

Best hostel to watch "A-Team" reruns – Zdiar, Slovakia

Biggest physical exertion – climbing Mt. Tubkal, Morocco

Best fruit juice – mango juice, Cairo

Least behaved children – India

Most behaved children – all over Africa

Most hippies – Rishikesh, India

Best place for a day hike and picnic – Pyrenees Mountains, France

Best currency design – Israeli Shekels

Best water – Fiji (duh)

Most common beer found around the world – Heineken

Least places open – Saturdays, Jerusalem (H.M. Sundays, Croatia)

Loudest minaret – Rabbat, Morocco, 4 a.m. daily

Worst city disguised by its Hollywood connection – Casablanca, Morocco

Best free food – tapas in Granada, Spain

Least likely to find Japanese tourists - ???

Biggest camera envy – Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Biggest shock to the senses – India

Friendliest villagers – (tie) Livingstone, Zambia and Yasawa Islands, Fiji

Worst in-flight movie – "Bride Wars"

Most nudity by locals – Jinja, Uganda

Most nudity by tourists – Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Best rafting – Nile River, Uganda (H.M. Zambezi River, Zambia)

Country most likely to succumb to civil war – Bosnia and Herzegovina (H.M. South Africa)

Prettiest girls – Durham, USA

Best novel read – "Confederacy of Dunces"

Best non-fiction read – "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star"

Best guidebook – blah, no more guidebooks, ever

Prettiest small capital – Ljubljana, Slovenia

Best art museum – Vienna, Austria

Longest wait in sub-zero temperatures for a phantom bus – Zakopane, Poland (3 hours)

Number of airline segments flown - 24

Number of airline miles flown – about 50,000

Number of watches lost or broken – two

Number of flashlights lost or broken – three

Number of sunglasses lost or broken – four

Best pastries – France

Best mussels – Brussels

Rudest taxi drivers – Jerusalem

Most random place for a Western chain – Baskin Robbins in Jaipur, India

Scariest boat ride – ferry from Ko Phi Phi to Ko Lanta, Thailand

Most pedestrians per downtown block – Kampala, Uganda

Weirdest sight on a golf course – cows grazing (Jinja, Uganda)

Sport most likely to resume back home – mountain biking

Sport least likely to resume back home – sandboarding

Nicest tented accommodation – Nairobi, Kenya

Best holiday – Thai New Year, Bangkok (H.M. New Year’s Eve, Zagreb)

Worst food poisoning – (tie) Bedouin food, Sahara Desert, Morocco and mystery restaurant, Pokara, Nepal

Strangest local euphemism – "robot" in Namibia, meaning "traffic light"

Most majestic sight – Petra, Jordan (H.M. Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe)

Best snorkeling/scuba diving – (tie) Dahab, Egypt and Ko Phi Phi, Thailand

Best marine creature – manta rays, Fiji (H.M. white sharks, South Africa)

Best arts scene – Kreutzberg, Berlin

Best bar scene – Neustadt, Dresden

Quickest meal devoured – veggie stir-fry, Essouira, Morocco

Most used British-isms – "proper," "torch," "aubergine," "boot," "lorry," "parecetamol"

Coolest greeting – "Howsit," South Africa

Most vegetarian friendly – India (H.M. Egypt)

Least vegetarian friendly – Eastern Europe

Number of band-aids and Advil consumed – still counting…

Most dysfunctional security – Taj Mahal

Most painful willful experience – Thai massage, Bangkok

Most excruciating mental experience – watching a man break his leg, Bangkok

Most missed sports moment – UNC’s National Championship

Least missed sports moment – something about a Cardinals playoff game

Strangest thing about reentry – owning a cell phone again (H.M. driving on the right)

Number of countries visited – 25

Countries I was really close to visiting – Montenegro, Kosovo, Italy, Seychelles, Vanuatu, Myanmar

Number of hours on a plane to get home from Fiji – 30

Length of my day on Saturday (as I will cross the date line) – about 40 hours

See you when? – soon, I hope


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 14th, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
That post is crazy. I imagine you will be able to go your whole life, and never tell the same "Global Journey" story twice.

See you next week, brother!

Mar. 13th, 2010 08:02 pm (UTC)
A Couple of Comments About Best and Worst List
I have to take issue with New Delhi being the worst city. With all sincerely due respect to their recent tragedy, Port-Au-Prince was much worse than New Delhi. I've also visited numerous other cities in India (of note: Patna, the capital city of the state of Bihar). Patna is much worse than New Delhi. I was actually excited to get back to New Delhi to get some REAL food. New Delhi is not that bad compared with many cities.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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