Just in time before the end of the year, here is my personal best and worst of 2005.
Best decision – After snorkeling in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park we decided to take diving lessons in July with Tibia diving school in Voorschoten. We had our first diving vacation at Hurghada in the Red Sea and it was a wonderful experience.
Worst hotel – Les Rois hotel in Hurghada was a horrible hotel. Bad food, bad service, bad room, and they confiscate (!) any food or drink you bring into the hotel from outside.
Best canoe ride – In April we canoed in Everglades National Park. At first we zigzagged across Buttonwood Canal from the mangroves on one side to those on the other side, but eventually we got control of the canoe and it was great rowing through the Everglades between the alligators.
Best hike – I saw my first volcano in June when we hiked to the top of the Vesuvius.
Worst incident – Our house flooded in August from a freak rain storm and clogged up drains in the street behind our house. The organization Portaal (voted worst rental agency in the Netherlands of 2005; they own the rental homes behind our house) is responsible for the drains, but they never replied to any of our emails, letters or phone calls.
Best wildlife sighting – On the last day of our roadtrip of Southern Florida we saw a herd of manetees at Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge. We watched the large animals graze just a few meters from where we were standing.
Worst loss – On our day trip to Capri from Naples we hired a boat and went around the island. When we stopped somewhere to snorkel we forgot to raise the anchor and the rope broke and we lost the anchor. D’oh!
Best idea – A cafe near the Opera metro station in Paris named Footsie has screens with the prices of their drinks that refresh every four minutes. The prices go up and down, depending on demand. I thought this was a brilliant idea.
Worst bus ride – On our last day in Naples in June we took the bus at Via Umberto to go back to the train station to take another bus to the airport. It was so hot and we were packed in the bus like sardines that I didn’t notice someone went into my bag and stole my camera.
Best buy – The Epson P2000 is a 40GB photo storage device. I use it all the time to empty my memory cards. When my camera was stolen in Naples I only lost the pictures of one day — all the other photos were safely stored on my P2000. I also use it to watch movies and tv shows on airplanes.
Worst buy – In February we bought non-stop tickets to go to Chicago in December with United Airlines, but in November they cancelled the straight flight and put us on a stop-over flight to Washington D.C. They offered us cost-free cancellation, but just one month before our flight it was too late to buy tickets with KLM, which is now the only airline flying straight to Chicago from Amsterdam.
Best eats – I can’t get enough of the Vera Napoli Pizza we had in Naples. We found a place in Leiden that makes similar margarita pizzas as those in Naples and Albert Heijn sells some pretty good ones that you can make at home. Second place is our dinner at Wolfgang Puck at Walt Disney World in May. That was well yummy. I should also mention the extremely nice theming of the Sci Fi Dine-In restaurant at MGM Studios.
Worst TV show cancellation – Arrested Development was cancelled for the second time by Fox. Equally sad is the cancellation of Star Trek Enterprise in its fourth season, ending the final series in the franchise.
Best discovery – We found out that there are lots of bird hides in the Netherlands, and they are all listed on Vogelkijkhut.nl. We visited a few at the end of the summer, but we’ll be sure to go to more next spring.