Christy and Aaron Tracker

Follow Christy and Aaron on their backpacking trip around the world

Uh Oh, India and China

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 08 31st, 2010

We just got back from the Indian and Chinese visa offices in London and things do not look good. It looks like we might have to skip these countries.

Indian and Chinese visas are valid for 6 months from the date of issue. We were not able to get the visas before leaving the United States because they would have expired before we arrived in the countries. After some research, Christy and I decided to get the visas in London at the end of the European phase.

We arrived in London three days before our flight to Egypt. We filled out the applications for visas and made appointments for the Indian visa office. At the visa office we were surprised to learn the visa process will take 10-15 business days! We were shocked because we knew the application process took just one day in the United States. Visa processing takes a lot longer in a foreign country because they need to communicate with the United States government before issuing the visa. I would have thought the internet could make the communication faster than 10-15 business days, but what do I know.

Anyway, as it stands now, we do not have Indian or Chinese visas. Our only hope for the visas is to get them while we are in Egypt, since it is the only country we will be in for an extended period of time. We are disappointed that we probably will not be able to visit these countries, but they are far enough away we have not begun planning or getting too excited. I think the disappointment will be greater when we are in the Mumbai airport and have to immediately get on another plane and leave.

Goodbye England

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 12th, 2010

It was our last day in England. We were ready to move on since we thought we would already be in Ireland. After the initial cultural differences wore off, England began to feel a lot like the United States. We had a great time, but we were still ready to begin our next adventure in a non-English speaking country. We were excited for Italy.

Before our flight to Rome we stopped in a pub and watched the United States play England in the World Cup. It was fun watching the game in such a passionate atmosphere. We were happy with the 1 to 1 tie since the US was outplayed all game. The British patrons were not as happy with the outcome.

Christy watching the World Cup in London

After the game we headed to our next hotel… Gatwick airport. We had a 7:10 am flight the next morning so we decided to spend the night in the airport. We found while making sure Gatwick allowed people to sleep there. We discovered a whole subculture devoted to saving time and money by sleeping in airports. The terminals in Gatwick shuts down at night so we had to sleep outside of security. There were a lot of other people sleeping, but we finally found some cushioned benches we could lay down on. We had a hard time getting comfortable because of the light, noise, and air conditioning.

Christy getting ready to sleep in Gatwick airport

At 2:20 in the morning Christy woke me up because security was reopening the terminals. I was not as eager to change sleeping locations since I was having a wonderful dream about playing dodge ball in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disney Land. Reluctantly, I followed her through security (where there was no line) into the terminal where we found an empty gate. We slept peacefully in our own personal gate 11 the rest of the night in complete peace.

Christy sleeping in Gatwick gate 11

First CouchSurfing Experience as a Guest

Posted by Christy in Posts on 06 5th, 2010

We have just ended our first CouchSurfing stay, and I can’t imagine a better experience. We stayed with Fran and her 9-year-old daughter in Barnes, a suburb in southwest London.

Christy, Fran

Aaron, Fran

Fran had just finished a round the world trip themselves, and they had some great tips for us. We cooked dinner for them one night (they said they enjoyed it, I’m not sure if I believe them) and Fran returned the favor. It was so nice to have two home cooked meals in a row.

Our favorite activities with our hosts were watching “Britain’s Got Talent” with Fran, and playing the most popular Wii game in the UK right now (“Just Dance”) with her daughter. Aaron was naturally talented at this game, as seen below:

Thank you so much for your hospitality, Fran. You are welcome to visit us in the US anytime!

London Night Life

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 4th, 2010

Aaron and I didn’t expect to go out at night (we all know how expensive it can be), however, we have found that it is hard to avoid that scene as we are meeting new people who want to socialize over a beer at a pub. Aaron and I have been happy to oblige.

The first night we went to a CouchSurfing event with our host in central London. There we met a few other local hosts, and I discovered my new drink of choice (as expensive cocktails are now a no-no): cider! Since it is made from apples, it has a sweet taste. I will now be drinking cider from here on out.

We then went on to a local gay nightclub with our host and a lesbian couple from Singapore. Please enjoy the pictures and the video of Aaron below:

Christy at the Ku Klub

Aaron at Ku Klub

Last night, we went to another pub near Chinatown with a friend we had met at the CouchSurfing event. A band was playing for the night, and Aaron and I especially enjoyed when they played “Sweet Home Alabama”:

Hopefully we won’t be going out anytime soon to save up some cash, however, if we do, we will update you on the nightlife of the other countries we visit.


Sightseeing in London

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 4th, 2010

There is so much to see in London. After one day of sightseeing, I doubt we will be able to see everything in the 5 days we will be here.

Our sightseeing day started off with Big Ben and the Parliament building.

Christy in from of Big Ben and Parliament

Then we went to Westminster Abbey.

Aaron in front of Westminster Abbey

We saw Buckingham Palace, but did not wait around for the changing of the guard.

Christy and the guard at Buckingham Palace

Can you tell we are in England?

Aaron in London

Hyde park was the perfect place to nap. We needed the rest after all of the walking and jet lag.

Christy napping in Hyde Park

Christy loved the Peter Pan statue in Kensington gardens. This is where J. M. Barrie met the kids who became the inspiration for the lost boys.

Chirsty with the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens

We will probably see a lot of art on this trip, but it is hard to imagine finding a statue that expresses love and passion better than this hugging bear water fountain in Kensington Gardens.

Hugging bear water fountain in Kensington Gardens

Finally, we tried to catch the train to Hogwarts to Harry Potter. Because we are not witches or wizards we could not find platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross station.

Christy looking for the train to Hogwarts

We still have so much to see in London. We will be going sight seeing again today.

English Pub Food

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 4th, 2010

One of our main goals on the trip is to eat as much local food as possible and avoid American fast food chains (except if we get home sick). Three days into the trip we have avoided all of the McDonald’s (easy) and even resisted the numerous Subways (our normal spot for cheap, relatively healthy fast food). We have been eating with and made dinner once for our couch surfing host, but when we have eaten out we have gone to the pubs. Pub food is good and we are slowly getting used to ordering from the bar instead of getting waited on. One big adjustment for us is not tipping. We are so used to tipping in America, we feel guilty when we do not tip.

Ham Baguette and Chicken Wrap in Richmond Pub Sausage and Mash, Fish and Chips, in a London Pub

We are in London!

Posted by Aaron in Posts on 06 1st, 2010

After a few hours of delay we have made it to London! Without a cellphone we had difficulty letting our Couch Surfing host know we were late.

Lesson #3: Give Couch Surfing hosts the flight information so they can be aware of delays.

We finally arrived at our Couch Surfing location and our host is so nice. Christy didn’t sleep much on the plane so she quickly found the bed and fell asleep. I am excited to wander around the neighborhood while she sleeps. The building are old and there is a light rain, just like I always pictured London.