Twippers of the Week: Janice and George Mucalov from Sand In My Suitcase
Current City: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Age: Are you supposed to ask that of anyone over age 50? We’re young for ours.
Total countries visited: We’ve not kept count, but many – everywhere from Panama to Estonia to Mozambique. Between us, we’ve explored all 7 continents, including Antarctica.
What makes you interesting: Who says office romances don’t work! We’re both lawyers who met at a firm. Janice then tried writing a romance novel, getting many rejection letters before following her true passion – travel writing. George? His lucky escapes range from a circling tiger shark (while scuba diving) to a toppling out-of-control motorcycle to a horse intent on rolling over him.
What brands do you love: Four Seasons always get it right with their sense of arrival – to reach their private island resort in Bora Bora, you take a 15-minute boat ride through the popsicle-blue lagoon. Viking Ocean Cruises is a new favorite; the chairman famously said Viking passengers would “rather have free laundry” (found on every deck) than a casino (not found on any ship). UnCruise Adventures is great for anti-cruisers. And you can’t beat Windstar Cruises’ sailing-style, tall-ship yachts for romance on the high seas!
What are your travel rituals: We love a good glass of wine and fine meal at the end of a day. And then we try to figure out how to work that off the next. Hiking? Snorkeling? Maybe stand-up paddleboarding (Janice) or “fall-down” paddleboarding (George)?
What’s your favorite passport stamp and why: Namibia. We needed a Namibian stamp to check into the “Zambezi Queen” safari riverboat. We had to cross the Chobe River in a small boat from Botswana to the Namibian side, where we trudged up the river bank through ankle-deep sand to a wooden border shack. But the immigration officer wasn’t inside – he was sleeping under a tree out back. We woke him up so he could stamp our passports. Then we got back into the put-put boat which ferried us to the “Zambezi Queen.”
Who is the most interesting person you have met while traveling: On our river cruise in Myanmar, we started chatting with an elegant, silver-haired woman working quietly on her tablet at the WiFi hotspot. She told us why boat guides continuously plunge wooden measuring poles into the water of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River, barely six-and-a-half feet deep in places. Turns out the river’s sandy bottom is constantly shifting, and no one wants to get stuck! Later, we discovered she was Mrs. Sherwood. Her husband founded the fabled Orient-Express (now Belmond) group of luxury hotels, trains and river cruises – so it was “her” riverboat.
What’s one thing you have no problem breaking the bank for when traveling and why: Taking along the perfect shoes (Janice) – flats for walking, strappy sandals for the pool, runners for the gym, heels for dinner… George: He says he never breaks the bank . Though there was that irresistible Turkish carpet – a treasured reminder of Istanbul.
What do you enjoy doing the most during your travels: Time away from the computer and Internet. Of course we take our laptops and phone with us. But we make a conscious effort to immerse ourselves in the travel experience and be in the “here and now,” staying away as much as possible from social media and emails.
How has travel changed you or how do you hope it will change you: We’ve loved the many different cultures and people we’ve met. We hope our travels will continue to give us a broader perspective on the world to share with our readers.
Next travel destination: Sri Lanka.