Jürgen and Mike are from Germany and the USA. Born wanderers, they love learning about new cultures and have decided to see the world… slowly. Their plan is to move to an interesting new city, once every three months. About 91 days. Check out their site and follow them on Twitter.
We caught up with them before they left Istanbul and they told us about their travel faves and hates.
What do you always do when you travel – any routine procedures?
Honestly, the closest thing we have to a procedure before travelling is: panic. That’s awful to admit, since we travel so frequently, but we’re both natural born procrastinators, and it’s a bad combination.
Packing is no fun, and so we don’t even think about it until it’s absolutely necessary. Then at the last minute, we’re both throwing everything into suitcases, and rushing off to the airport.
So far, it’s always worked out, but every time we say to each other “that’s it! Next time we’ll prepare properly for our flight, and leave with plenty of time to spare!” But we never do.
What is your travel pet peeve?
The whole concept of travel often seems to bring out the worst in people. I don’t know why, maybe they’re so convinced that they’ll be miserable, that it ends up a self-fulfilling prophecy. So my pet peeve is “miserable people”. I’m talking about the grumpy jerk next to you, who keeps loudly complaining about the five-minute delay in take off. Like we’re all sitting there, nodding along, “Yes, he has a point!”
Or the stressed-out couple whose constant bickering is making their kid cry even louder. The self-important business woman who refuses to put her mobile away, and even puts her palm up to the flight attendant’s face.
The guy in front of you who, as soon as that light dings, slams his seat into the “recline” position as violently as possible. Excuse me sir, but do walk up to strangers on the pavement and kick them in the knees? Then why are you doing it to me? Of course, most people are lovely… but it just takes a few miserable ones to spoil the experience of travelling.
What is your favourite kind of trip?
We’re both city guys at heart, so those are the holidays that we get most excited about. All of the world’s great cities have so much to offer, and each has a vibe all its own; they’re always fun to explore and become familiar with.
We’re just wrapping up three months in Istanbul, which has been great. Historic, beautiful, chaotic… But after such a long time in a loud, dirty city, a beach holiday sounds really nice!
Next, we’re going to Iceland where we’ll probably do a lot of adventure-type things. So we like to keep a good mix.
Best destination you have ever been to? Why?
I’ll go with Valencia, Spain. We loved it so much, that we eventually moved there! Even though I’m from the USA and Jürgen’s German, we’ve decided to make Valencia our base. It’s got the best weather in the world, a great beach, and a charming old city centre.
It’s affordable, and very laid-back… big enough to entertain, but small enough to be manageable. Also, it’s the birthplace of paella, so there’s great food, and of course excellent wine! And Valencia’s Fallas festival in March has to be among the most under-appreciated in the world. Just a wonderful city.
Where in the world offers the best value for money?
After spending too much money in Buenos Aires, we chose Bolivia as our next destination in order to save some cash. And we couldn’t believe how affordable everything was. After 91 days in Bolivia, our bank accounts were back in tip-top shape!
There’s excellent food, incredible fruits and vegetables, entertainment and accommodation, all for rock-bottom prices. Even if you “splurge” on a big night out in La Paz, you’ll never end up paying that much.
There are some expensive excursions, such as to the Uyuni Salt Flats, but even these are cheap compared to similar adventures in other countries. If we end up poor and destitute in our old age, we’ll scratch up enough cash for a flight to Bolivia, and happily spend our final years there.
Where would you pay any money to return to?
We were sad to leave Idaho right as the winter skiing season was getting going. I think if I had a ton of cash to blow, I would return for a couple weeks of skiing in Sun Valley. We got to see the resort in the off-season; super-luxurious and classy, it was a favourite of Ernest Hemingway and Gary Cooper, and was America’s first winter-time resort.
Today, you can still bump into stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger on the slopes, and the hills never get as crowded as the more famous resorts in Colorado or Wyoming. It’s one of those little American treasures that not too many people know about.
What is the best airport you have flown from and why?
We love little, practical airports like Valencia’s or Berlin Tegel, where you can get through security and board with no hassle, and no long lines.
Munich’s new airport is quite impressive. But I think the best we’ve been to was probably Seoul’s Incheon airport. Super clean and modern, easy to navigate, excellent food and with a great presentation of Korean culture. It’s almost like a museum, and the displays do a wonderful job of introducing you to the country.
Do you have a tip to make any airport experience great?
Show up early! This is one of those pieces of advice which I wish we were better about following ourselves. In my view, the airport experience is only truly intolerable when you’re stressed for time. The earlier you arrive, the better… it’s so nice to get through security, and find yourself with two hours before boarding. Time enough for a beer, or a nice lunch. Time to read, or to do some people-watching. Browse the magazine rack, even take a little nap. As long as you’ve got plenty of time before boarding, it’s easy to enjoy being in the airport.
On the plane, is there a tip you can share to make the experience better?
Flying can feel like such a hassle; the lines, the crowding, customs and immigration officials. And I think we often lose sight of how amazing the experience actually is. You just have to consider how cool it is to be flying from New York to Istanbul… how, just a couple generations ago, such a trip would have been impossible.
My grandpa? He probably would have loved to fly to Istanbul! In that light, it’s hard to get worked up about petty annoyances like poor food or lack of leg room. So whenever I start to get whiny on the plane, I try to remind myself of this (and sometimes, it even works)!
If there was one travel nightmare trip, where would it be to and what would it involve?
I think it’s hard to imagine a trip more horrific than a couple of the bus rides we survived in Bolivia. Drivers who pay no attention to oncoming traffic, regardless of whether they’re on a winding mountain road. And who sometimes don’t even pay attention to the road itself.
Once, to overtake another speeding bus, our driver went into the left lane. And then, because that still wasn’t fast enough, he went off-road next to the left lane!
Barrelling down dirt and grass at 60mph, overtaking two lanes of traffic… it was terrifying. And considering the number of bus deaths which occur every year in Bolivia, it isn’t an experience I’m eager to repeat.