Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

We had an unbelievable time celebrating the arrival of the new year at the Opera Kitchen at the Sydney Opera House. I couldn't imagine a better view and I have never seen a fireworks display that even came close to what we saw. I loved the cover of the Sunday Telegraph because it is similar to Jim Harbaugh's "Who has it better than us" quote. I only have a few photos from small camera, but I shot some great video and Tom Berquist had a prime spot for still shots. Everyone have a great new year as you join us in 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Greetings from Coogee Beach and Sydney

We visited the opera house and have secured out tickets to join an estimated 1.8 million other people to ring in the new year on Sydney Harbor. We are staying in Coogee beach and enjoyed a beautiful stroll down to Bondi Beach. We would highly recommend this 1 hour walk to anyone visiting. The sun here is very strong and Hunter and Nathaniel have picked up appropriate head wear. Signing off till next year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Zealand - North Island

We arrived in Auckland and proceded by ferry to Waiheke Island where we had a fabulous diner at the Mudbrick Vineyard. The next day was the highlight for the boys as they did the 192m SkyJump. The next day we hiked to the top of Mt. Victoria for stunning views and then it was back to the airport for our trip to Sydney. We will be spending another day in Auckland prior to our flight home and have already booked a tour sto see the glow worm caves!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

We're going to Disneyland

Our flight to New Zealand leaves out of LAX on the 24th, so we decided to pop in early to see my sister, catch a USC backetball game against #12 Kansas at the Galen Center, and take the boys to Disneyland and California Adventure park. The price of a one-day park hopper ticker for Disneyland was surprisingly expensive. I had estimated it at $75 when I bid and won a basket containing 3 of these tickets that the Make-A-Wish foundation was auctioning off at the Reno Bighorns game we attended, and was amazed when I learned the 4th ticket is going to cost me $105! Last night we had dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant in LA, Sushi Gen. Sarah and I "discovered" this place when we were looking at colleges. The food is still amazing, but it is also seemingly a bit more expensive than I remember.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Patong detour

When it seemed that the situation in Bangkok wasn't improving, we decided to save it for another trip. Instead we headed of to Patong beach, which is 45 minutes south of Bang Tao, but worlds apart from the quiet, laid back beach experience of Bang Tao. We have had to be alert here. We witnessed the damaged Jet Ski scam we read about being executed. Last night Joanne violated the have small change rule and ended up paying about $20 to use the bathroom when she didn't get the right change back.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Relaxing in Phukek

We arrived at our hotel near Bang Tao beach. We are staying at the Outrigger resort, part of the Laguna development. It is very beautiful, but there are not that many people here. This is a large development with many properties for sale - the real estate boom even reached here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Arrived in Chiang Mai

After a long trip, we jumped right into it with an awesome cooking class and followed that up with a short walk around the old town with visits to a couple of temples. Verbecks-1, jet lag-0.

I decided to leave my computer behind, traveling with just my iPad. I just realized I can't get photos on the blog unless I take them with the iPad itself so all I have is a picture of Joanne figuring out our next steps.

If you are traveling to Thailand try to make sure you bring a phone that uses a SIM card. I picked up a free SIM card and the rate on calls is just .05 per minute even to the US.

In case you are wondering about the Thailand flooding, we are unaffected here and there were no problems at the Bangkok airport.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Verbeck World Chaos Tour resumes

After seemingly leaving a trail of chaos behind us this past summer in Italy, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, etc. we are now heading to flooded Thailand where we seem to have fallen behind the chaos. Our original plan was to stay in Bangkok upon arrival, but we have decided to wait to see if the receding floods improves conditions by the end of our trip. The boys are staying home with Nana, so this is the first trip longer than a weekend Joanne and I have had since out honeymoon.

Look for our check-ins from the SPOT GPS device on my facebook page.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Final Post

Final Post
Back where it all began in Milan, Italy 110 days ago!
It's been an amazing journey!
We've learned a lot about each other had history lessons galore!
We are talking about our next trip which is to begin in October but all looking forward to our flight back tomorrow.
Thank you for following our blog, for your emails and skype conversations.
We have missed you all and can't believe the first leg is done already!
Love to you all,
Mark, Joanne, Hunter and Nathaniel

Chillin' out in Piedmont

Final Countdown to the trip
Chillin' out in Piedmond, Italy
Mark enjoyed the technology of the Italians cart system for shopping- Put in a Euro get a cart, put the cart back and get your Euro back. We all enjoyed having to not go out for dinner for every meal, but Mark's patience for grocery shopping hasn't improved!
Bottom picture is the boys enjoying more water!

Lake Como, Italy

Lake Como, Italy
Nathaniel enjoying the water and all of us enjoying the amazing views.
No George Clooney, but the weather was hot and a great way to end summer.

Dinner in Trieste, Italy

Trieste,  Italy
At a popular dining spot in Trieste, our mom wanted to order the fish and you could only get it for two. This is a picture of the gentleman who not only shared dinner with my mom, but who ate dinner with us. I learned my Spanish is close to Italian and was the only one who could really speak to him.

Luge at Lake Bled, Slovenia

 Bled had an extremely fun summer monorail luge. To go faster you'd push forward and to slow you'd pull backwards on the bar. the course was filled with drops, turns and a tunnel at the end. In the pictures you can see our Dad taking the vertical drop into the tunnel after a no braking run and Hunter starting up. The very last picture is the big turn at the end.
Fun Summer!

Julian Alps tour

Julian Alps tour

1st picture is Mark helping me down from climbing to see the second largest waterfall in Slovenia- apprently flip flops are not the necessary climbing shoe!
3rd picture is the second larges waterfall
2nd picture is the Worlds longest skip jump and the World record is 329 Meters
Beautiful drive through the Alps


Getting out of Hungary seemed scary when we were the only ones waiting for a train and the train station was closed and it was literally in the middle of no where, but the train luckily came.
The next pictures shows how big the boys are getting-They are now almost as big as a squirrel! This was taken in Ljublanja, Slovenia, which is a truly beautiful city.
The last picture is at Lake Bled also in Slovenia and for you crew watchers, they are having the World Championship Crew races there this weekend. The lake is spectacular!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Visit to Poland

Our visit to Poland
Top picture of Krakow
Middle picture the horrific past, Aushwitz
Bottom picture the church bell which could be heard 18 km away

Friday, August 5, 2011

Budapest - Water Everywhere

Szechenyi Bath

Auqa World

Budapest reminded us of the pool culture in Iceland. We had a great time at both the Szechenyi Bath in City Park and at the Aquaworld on the city outskirts. The Szechenyi Bath was packed and had so many pools, water features, therma tubs and saunas. This is definitely a must visit! The boys have longings for Raging Waters, so we headed to Auquaworld with its water slides, wave pool, and wake board pool. Nathaniel did a SPOT check-in. While not as large as Raging Waters, the elavator, lack of lines and digital readouts of your speed on the slides were all winners. Joanne went down the Lazy River a little fast and cut here elbow, requiring a quick medical stop.

We leave Budapest - from the Pest side - today for the resort town of Havre in southwest Hungary.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Berlin was a very special place.
Top picture is of the boys at Checkpoint Charlie. a much different place today than in 1989.
Middle picture is a fabulous place we found to have dinner-this was their spectacular large pizza and it was a mere 15 Euro before topping (5 Euro per 1/4 pizza extra for topping)
Bottom picture is commerative crosses for the many people who died trying to climb The Wall from East Berlin to West.
The history was very moving in Berlin and we enjoyed the musems as well as the food.


Street performers are everywhere, even in Vienna. What a beautiful city and the heat finally let up for us and even seemed cool.
Munich and its famous Glockenspiel which goes off every hour was a big hit among tourists. For those of you who don't know, a Glockenspiel is a giant music box. This particular music box with its moving parts on the town hall was built in the 1500's. Clearly they knew how to build things to last.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bulgarian Obstacle Course

This is how you know you're not in the United States. After purchasing tickets to the obstacle course, a guy hooked us up with saftey harnesses and made sure we knew to clip both carabeiners of the harness to the saftey lines on each obstacle and sent us on our way. No forms required and we were, at points over ten feet off the ground hanging upside down! It was so much fun and we knew we probably wouldn't find anything like it again so we did it for two hours, even though our hands were extremely sore. Nathaniel top, Hunter bottom


Pamukkale, Turkey

A must see! This place looks like it should be Christmas time and it is one of the most beautiful places we've seen. In addition to seeing these chalk ponds we were able to have our feel exfoliated. The fish give off what feels like little shocks on the bottoms of your feet. Very different experience, but necessary after all the walking we have been doing.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Ice Cream Everywhere

Despite the many different kinds of foods we have encountered on the trip - see Joanne's boiled pig knuckler - we have been able to find ice cream fairly consistently. While the Italian gelato in Rome still seems to be the favorite, the Gondola sundae in Prague is close, and sometimes that atmosphere makes it better like eating it on the main square in Krakow.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pottery in Cappadocia

Two weeks ago we went to a pottery shop where everything was handmade. The entire shop is located in a cave which was 4,500 sq. meters. In Cappadocia they take advantage of the caves for many of their businesses like making wine, hotels, and pottery. In this video they are showing the kick wheel technique. Our friend, Alexander from Canada, who we met on the tour that day, got to try out the wheel and shows that it is not as easy as it looked.


Thursday, July 14, 2011


In a 5 day marathon across Turkey, we spend 3 nights on busses and 1 night in a cave. I highly recommend the cave over the bus because I slept much better in the cave. The cave didn't have air conditioning, but its temperature was better than the bus. There were no crying children in my cave. In the cave, lights did not turn on at 1 -hour intervals and I was able to lay flat in the cave. In addition, if I need to go to the bathroom, there was one in the cave I could use whenever I felt the need and I didn't have to pay extra. I can't say this for the bus.

Seriously, we covered a lot of ground on the bus and by traveling overnight, we were able to accomplish a lot. We went from Istanbult to Cappadocia (where I stayed in a cave hotel), from Cappadocia to Pamakkule, and from Efes back to Istanbul and on to Sophia Bulgaria.

I hope we won't be taking any more overnight busses on this trip.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tortoise Trainer

Here I am standing next to one of the most famous paintings by the Turkish Artist Osman Hamdi Bey at the Pera Museum in Istanbul. The Pera Museum isn't very big compared to some of the museums we have been in, but it had both interesting paintings and a collection of weights through history. The painting is titled Tortoise Trainer. Osman painted this picture to show that you need to have patience to live live. Can you imagine trying to train a slow moving tortoise to do anything? I also liked this picture because my favorite animal is the turtle. I am going to see if I can get the tortoise trainer made into a Fathead to pin up on my wall.