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Over the last few weeks, I’ve purchased a buttload of airline tickets: first, from Seattle to Reykjavik; second, from Reykjavik to Bergen; third, from Bergan to Krakow; and fourth, from Krakow to Berlin. Then, I added train tickets from Berlin to Bremerhaven, which completed our pre-embarkation travel.

At this point, we’re moving on to planning our various activities in these locales, along with those visited during our Semester at Sea voyage.

The very first one we arranged was a kayaking trip through a jungle river in Trinidad & Tobago, which was required to be able to disembark the ship (and subsequently collect yet another country for me to count as having visited, seeing as how Stacie won’t let me claim one with having set foot in the country – but I STILL contend that Panama counts, seeing as how we’re traversing its defining feature via the canal).

Now, we’re looking at Iceland first, which may or may not include:

  • A whale watching and puffin excursion;
  • Snorkeling in ice-cold waters that are the clearest in the world and span the distance between the North American and European tectonic plates;
  • Relaxing in the warm geothermic waters of the Blue Lagoon;
  • and finally, visiting the black sand beaches of the southern coast, as featured prominently in Game of Thrones and Sense8.

After that, we’re headed to Bergen to visit our (former) foreign exchange student’s mother and father, whom we love dearly. Even though we’re only staying about 16 hours, we’re aiming to see all that Bergen has to offer in that time.

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The next stop is Krakow, where we’ve planned the most somber of our visits. First, we’re visiting Oskar Schindler’s factory, where he bravely saved more than 1200 Jews from the horrors of the Holocaust. Following that, we plan on reserving a whole day to visit Auschwitz I & II, which we know will require an exorbitant amount of emotional energy, and we also understand that we will not leave the site the same people we arrived as.

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However, tonight, Stacie and I were talking over plans for how to spend our time in Morocco, which doesn’t occur until mid-October. The possibility of taking a train from Casablanca to Marrakech is on the table, at which point, we would take an excursion into the Sahara on camel, marvel at the sun setting over the majestic dunes, sleep under the stars in a Bedouin tent, and have a traditional Berber breakfast with nomads in the desert before returning.

All this planning has me repeatedly saying, “HOLY SHIT! IS THIS REAL LIFE?!?”

We’ll see what the answer is as time progresses, so stay tuned…