Of all the gin joints, in all the world #ileftmyheartin Cairo

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine…”

– Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca

The dingy, overcrowded and dark hotel bar at the Havana Hotel in Cairo is probably not the first choice of bar to meet up with a friend. Long and rectangular with just enough room between the lounges and seats to squeeze past, during a week in October 2009 it became my regular haunt.

The not so glamourous entrance to the Hotel Havana

The not so glamourous entrance to the Hotel Havana

With time off between the summer and winter seasons in Europe, but not enough to do things independently I decided to jump on board an overland truck from Cairo to Nairobi. First things first however, visas and welcome letters had to be arranged. It was at the Australian Embassy waiting to get a letter confirming my Australian passport was real for Sudan that I met Chris. After reading an inch thick travel advice, and followed by the question, “So you still want to go to Sudan?” we had our government stamped confirmation letters and we were on our way.

Over the next few days Chris and I spent the days rummaging through Cairo’s souks, hopping between the Ethiopian Embassy and generally exploring Cairo. Throughout we met several other travellers who would be accompanying us on our adventure south. Every night we would return to the Hotel Havana, where most people were staying before the trip, to have a few beers, catch up and get to know each other.

Chris had spent some time in Dahab before arriving in Cairo to sort visas. During his time there he had met a British girl who would be joining our trip. As Chris put it, “Natalie is a really cool chick”. As the week progressed the odd assortment of intrepid adventures travelling with us filtered into the hotel, but no Natalie.

Natalie relaxing in Dahab before we met

Natalie relaxing in Dahab before we met

One evening, several days before the trip, the band of merry adventurers had assembled in the bar. A thick smoke wafted up towards the ceiling from the various shisha pipes scattered throughout the bar and the heavy scent of apple tea hung in the air. In the background Arabic dance music rang out from an old CD player behind the counter and the low drum of hushed conversation would be broken by raucous laughter from one group to the next.

The rusty old metal detector at the front door would occasionally beep as a new guest entered but the fully armed security guard would only ever give a disinterested glance. I think the security was more there to make us feel safer but I had a feeling if something did happen they would be the first ones out the door!

It was at that point my life changed forever.

Against this backdrop of curling shisha smoke and apple tea the door from the hotel opened. A stream of bright iridescent light streamed into the bar followed by a ghostly silhouette. As the door creaked closed the beaming smiled Natalie replaced the silhouette. “That’s Natalie, the chick I met in Dahab”, Chris exclaimed. I don’t know how and I don’t know why but the moment I saw Natalie I knew I was going to marry her! Little did we both know, it was on that summery night in the smoke hazed hotel bar in Cairo The Smart Way Round was born.

It must have been love...

It must have been love…

That was six years ago. Our adventures have taken us all across the world, five continents and numerous countries. November sees the one-year anniversary of The Smart Way Round but the adventure started years ago. That’s the thing about travel, you never know who you are going to meet. I am always reminded of a comment a guest made on one of my first ever trips around Europe, “You make friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime”. Well in Cairo in 2009 it was definitely the latter and it is the city #ileftmyheartin.

– Dean

The Smart Way Round was born!

The Smart Way Round was born!

Our Pre Oktoberfest Checklist

It is that time of the year again, time to join thousands of travellers from around the world as you descend upon Southern Germany. So you are planning to hit the world’s largest beer festival? The Oktoberfest is almost a rite of passage for many backpackers travelling around Europe. However for many it can also be their downfall. By following our Pre-Oktoberfest checklist you can avoid some of the pitfalls of Munich’s craziest two weeks and ensure you have an awesome time!

The Hofbrau tent main entrance

The Hofbrau tent main entrance

1. Book Your Accommodation Early!

To be totally honest, if you are reading this and still haven’t got a place to stay you are pretty much too late! Accommodation is at a premium during the ‘Fest’ and even dorm rooms are ridiculously expensive. Camping is an option and Camping Thalkirchen is probably your best bet, but be prepared for masses of organised groups packing out the campsite. If you do camp make sure you are first ones into the shower block after they have been cleaned, you have been warned!

With some tents holding over 5000 people you better book accommodation early

With some tents holding over 5000 people you better book accommodation early

Remember, if all else fails do as the locals do and pass out under a tree in the grounds, dozens of locals can’t be wrong can they, oh and don’t forget to pack the beer blanket.

2. Start Drinking Now!

The Bräuhaus’ of Munich brew extra strong beer for Oktoberfest , somewhere between the five and eight percent alcohol mark! Combine that with the fact a stein is one litre, many an unsuspecting traveller have found their day or night coming to an early end because of a lack of ‘beer stamina’. On the bright side Munich brewers abide by the 1516 Beer Purity Laws meaning there are no additives or preservatives added to their beers. According to the Bräu Meisters it is the additives and preservatives that give you a hangover! So technically regardless of your beer drinking capacity you should be able to knock back steins all night and wake up fine in the morning!

Start building your drinking fitness before Oktoberfest!

Start building your drinking fitness before Oktoberfest!

Now The Smart Way Round have laid their bodies on the line all in the name of research and we can attest that after downing 10 steins in a night the next morning you don’t feel hungover! Well, you still don’t feel great but your body is expecting to feel worse than you actually do so perhaps the Bräu Meisters are correct. More research must be done on this one we think, but in the mean time start improving you drinking skills.

For some the experience can be all too much

For some the experience can be all too much

3. Bring Loads of Money.

For the first time ever a stein of beer is hitting and in some tents breaking the 10 euro barrier. So a decent session in one of the Oktoberfest beer tents is going to set you back a small fortune (or the price of a dorm bed for a night).

With steins costing around 10 Euro this year it could be an expensive shout

With steins costing around 10 Euro this year it could be an expensive shout

At some stage you are going to have to eat. Once the beer goggles are put on every girl in a dirndl selling giant pretzels is going to look like the most beautiful girl you have ever laid eyes on. The likelihood of numerous pretzel purchases is virtually guaranteed.

Beware the charms of the pretzel girls!

Beware the charms of the pretzel girls!

There is also a good chance you are going to walk out of there with an overpriced souviner but by the end of the night you REALLY are going to need that felt hat with a stuffed Bavarian Lion attached to it.

So our suggestion is call home for emergency funds, raise the credit card limit and just accept you literally are going to flush your cash down the loo at Oktoberfest!

Did I really buy that last night?!

Did I really buy that last night?!

4. Buy Lederhosen or a Dirndl.

Hey you are in Bavaria! All the locals will be sporting their traditional costumes so why not you?

I promise you from experience there is nothing more fun than drinking beer wearing leather shorts that are way too tight but strangely comfortable.

Everyone at Oktoberfest will be wearing it

Everyone at Oktoberfest will be wearing it

However be warned, when that emergency bathroom dash happens or when you get caught at the back of the inevitable enormous line to the gents, for the first time wearer lederhosen can be a nightmare to get undone!

Our tip, practice that emergency dash in your hotel or hostel so when the time comes you are a lederhosen undoing pro!

5. Make a copy of your Passport.

Over 1000 passports get lost annually at the Oktoberfest with the majority of them being Australian! In fact things are so bad the Australian Embassy opens a temporary passport replacement service in the British Consulate in Munich.

Of course it will never happen to all of us will it, but just in case have a few photocopies of your passport and a couple of spare passport photos ready, oh and don’t keep them with your passport!

Finally have a great time, you are partaking in a tradition dating back over 200 years, eat, drink (too much) and try and remember for many this is a once in a lifetime opportunity! Do you have any hints and tips for the Oktoberfest First Timer? Let’s us know and leave a comment below


Most of all enjoy!

Most of all enjoy!

– Dean

The natural progression of travel…

When Dean and I started ‘serious’ travelling, we did so alone. No one to disagree with (but yourself), no one to compromise with over what you saw and did, the ultimate freedom. Bliss. And bliss it was – for us both for many years. We would travel the world, unaware of each others existence, and loved every minute of it and the time we spent with new-found friends.

Africa beckoned, and separately we considered our options. We both decided to join a trip (organised travel being slightly nerve-wracking for us by this point as we were used to ‘going it alone’). In order to maximise our time in Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, independently we decided this was the only way. Well the trip brought about more than views of the stunning Ethiopian Mountains – it brought about the start of The Smart Way Round. A future not only full of happiness but also a nice dollop of travel thrown in too. We could not have been a better match on that front.

So travel changed. And change for the better it did. I didn’t think it was possible to enjoy travelling with someone as much as travelling alone. I quickly found out it is. We travelled thousands of kilometres on a train. Owing to our slightly unconventional relationship (and Dean’s exciting job in travel) people questioned, “oooh what if you don’t get on?” How could we not? We met travelling, seeing each other at our best and our worst (imagine a week without running water in Sudan). Spending 24/7 in each others pockets. We can be apart for weeks at a time, but what we like best is when we are travelling together. The journeys that we have taken have been fantastic, and full of effortless compromise as I take Dean up yet another monument or to an Olympic Park (things he has grown to love too!) and he surveys every statue and takes me to historic or Roman sites. Each of us experiencing things that might have passed us by without each other.

With this, the biggest change of our travelling life is yet to happen. Travelling as a ‘we’ was big enough, but life is about to take another twist and turn. In September we will welcome the newest member of The Smart Way Round, as Baby Smart makes three. Travel will have to change, I have no doubt. Life will get harder, 48 hour weekend breaks will have to get longer. However one thing is for sure. I won’t be stopping going to see Dean at the start or end of his trips. Oh no. Baby Smart and I will have adventures together as we go and seek out ‘Daddy’ in different places. People think I’m naïve, and in truth I don’t know what the sleep deprivation will do to us, or how we will feel. However one thing is for sure. We have a long travel bucket list that we want to experience, but have saved some of them for ‘one day if we have children’. Well that one day is now here… and with that there are other places to explore and Baby Smart will be coming too!

So armed with my copy of ‘The Lonely Planet: Travel with Children’ (Thanks Hemingway’s!) and ‘Tales from a Travelling Mum’ I’m off to prepare for what people say will be the best chapter of our life. We don’t doubt it will, especially as we continue to combine it with a little bit of what we love….

– Natalie (Dean and Baby Smart)

Now just off to find a baby backpack!

Liebster Award: Getting to know The Smart Way Round

This year is already shaping up as a big year for us and to round out the first four months of the year we have just been nominated for the Liebster Blogging Award

The Liebster Award is awarded to bloggers by other bloggers. It is a little like an old-fashioned chain letter but helps the blogging community to connect and help expose blogs to new audiences. Basically you are asked a set of questions which you answer and then you nominate other blogs to follow suit. We can thank Heidi from Hobo In High Heels for the nomination. If you get the chance check out her blog there is some really cool stuff there, so thanks Heidi for the nomination.

So here we go, 11 questions to get the insider knowledge on what makes the Smart Way Round tick!

1.What does a normal day in your life look like?

Dean: What is normal? A normal ‘work’ day for me involves taking anywhere up to 48 people on a coach holiday around the stunning cities of Central Europe. No day is ever the same as you meet and interact with people from all around the world, share travel stories with them and get to show them sites they have always dreamed of seeing. For a travel lover and blogger it is the perfect job, but definitely not ‘normal’.

2 What is your coolest travel story?

We have both been lucky to do some pretty amazing things around the world, but the reason we got into blogging was for our overland adventure from London to Melbourne. To travel 20,000 km across over a third of the world without having to board a plane is probably our coolest travel story. For a lot of people we speak to it is hard to fathom just how far we travelled and it is definitely something we look back on with a great sense of pride and achievement. (You can check out our earliest posts for more on that adventure).

3. What are three things on your bucket list?

Dean: The top three countries on my travel bucket list are Greenland, Bhutan and Tanzania. Three extremely different countries but all three have an immense appeal to me.

4. What is your least favourite travel destination?

We don’t really have a least favourite destination, it sounds a little clichéd but everywhere is cool for different reasons. That being said Dean spends a lot of time working in Central Europe so it is probably not his first choice of travel destination for a holiday.

5. What place have you always dreamed of visiting?

Dean: Ever since I started travelling I have wanted to Husky Sled in Greenland during winter to see the Northern Lights, one day maybe! Last year we saw so many places I had always dreamed of seeing, the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warriors and the Taj Mahal. The best thing about seeing them though was I could start dreaming about new places to visit.

Best thing about seeing bucket list sites is writing a new bucket list!

Best thing about seeing bucket list sites is writing a new bucket list!

6. What is your ultimate guilty pleasure?

Dean: My guilty pleasure when we travel is my GoPro camera. I love that thing, and love playing around with it. If you ask Natalie, she will tell you i love it more than her (I would like to clarify however that is not true).

7. What is one of your most embarrassing moments?

Dean: I once turned up at the airport to fly back to London from Australia a day before my flight was actually scheduled to depart. My folks had dropped me to the airport, drove off, and I was back on their doorstep half an hour after they returned home!

8. What is your favourite thing about traveling?

We love discovering new places and experiencing new cultures. The sense of adventure and the feeling of freedom and not having to worry about ‘normal life’ stresses.

9. What is the best thing anyone has said about your blog?

Everyone has been so supportive of our blog. So really all the comments we have received we have loved. We suppose anytime someone has found our hints and tips helpful and thanked us for sharing is the best thing. The most amazing thing is how many people we have never met read and follow it. In fact the majority of our friends don’t actually read it. That is probably because they get sick of hearing all our stories in the flesh.

10. Tell me about one of the best meals you’ve ever had!

Dean: One of the most memorable meals we have had travelling was when we caught up with one of Natalie’s work contacts, Tan Jun, in Chengdu. We went out for traditional Sichuan Hot Pot and had an amazing night. I will try just about anything, but Natalie is by her own admission a little particular when it comes to meat. Well that night I watched her eat things I would never have dreamed of including stomach and intestines. The food was incredible but the evening was made by Tan Jun and his wife Wendy. (You can read more about the experience by clicking here)

Sichuan Hot Pot, so good!

Sichuan Hot Pot, so good!

11. What makes you happy?

Nothing makes us more happy than throwing our backpacks on and heading off to some far-flung land that we have not explored yet. It is how we met and how The Smart Way Round was formed and is something we hope we will continue to do.

Backpacks = Happiness

Backpacks = Happiness

Ok so now it is time to share the love. Our nominees in no particular order are:

Matt & Alana from Great Big Globe

Our good friend Wayne from Wayne Central

Rusty form Roadtrip Rusty

The team at Teabags and Toilet Rolls

Ana Karina at Wanderfinds

Brianna at Casual Travelist

Your mission, should you choose to accept it is to answer the following 11 questions:

1. What three things can you not go travelling without?

2. If you could only visit one more place in the world where would that be?

3. What is the most unusual food you have tried on your travels?

4. Are you a luxury traveller or more of an adventure traveller?

5. Who inspired you to travel?

6. What is your biggest travel regret?

7. What is the coolest thing to see in your hometown?

8. Share your favourite travel photo and why is it your favourite?

9. What is the worst souvenir you have ever bought?

10. If you could live in any country which country would that be?

11. What do you most enjoy about travelling?

Good luck, this message will self destruct in five seconds…. (well not really but it would be cool if it did)

Going Our Separate Ways

Wow what an amazing year we have had! It feels like only yesterday we arrived back home after our pic overland adventure from London to Melbourne. So in honour of being backa year we have reposted our blog from our arrival back into London in 2014!


What an amazing journey the last five months have been. From London to Beijing then back to Delhi all overland by train, then some incredible memories through Myanmar, Australia and the Philippines. Sadly however all good things must come to an end.

For ‘The Smart Way Round’ that means it is now time for Natalie and I to go our separate ways.

Wait a minute, didn’t we just celebrate our first wedding anniversary living it large around London? We certainly did, going our separate ways simply refers to heading back to work. For Natalie that means back down to Somerset to start work again in the office for Oasis Overland, while for me, I fly out to Munich to take my first group of Guests around Central Europe for Trafalgar Travel.

Now I know what you are thinking, both working for travel companies and Dean running around Europe having an awesome time, that doesn’t really sound like work does it?! After five months together 24/7 it will certainly not be easy and getting back into a structured routine will take some time.

With us back in Europe The Smart Way Round is also going to change a little. We will be dropping back to one blog a week now, we still have some great stories to share about the London to Melbourne adventure, and Natalie will be posting a summary of all the statistics relating to our journey, but work kind of gets in the way right? We will also be sharing stories from Europe and introducing a new category of our blog called ‘Hometown Tourist’ sniffing out all the cool, quirky and different things to do around London. So really this is not the end of The Smart Way Round but only the beginning!

Exploring new places in London

Exploring new places in London

Thanks again for everyone’s support, comments and love over the last five months, because of you The Smart Way Round has grown bigger than we could have possibly imagined.

– Dean

Sport & Travel

The final whistle has blown, heroes have become villians and vice versa, and another page has been written in sporting history. Another Super Bowl has come and gone and it is another major sporting event we have watched from around the world.

I love watching great sport events and love keeping up with my favourite sports while I travel. Over the years I have sourced out the only bar in town showing a particular sport, often involving getting up at ridiculous times of the night or getting home at all hours (like last night) after staying up to watch something.

When an important game is on, no matter where in the world you are, you can almost guarantee you will meet a passionate supporter of one of the teams. Watching a major event half a world away is also a totally different experience to watching it where it is being played. It brings travellers and locals together and also shows you just how small the world really is.

Team Red Bull at the Formula 1

Team Red Bull at the Formula 1

It is almost impossible these days to travel through a country and not see a small child wearing an English football shirt, whether it be Manchester United, Chelsea or whoever. When we were travelling through India by train as soon as fellow passengers realised I was from Australia then talk inevitably turned to cricket.  Not surprisingly their faces lit up as they recounted momentous moments in India vs. Australia cricket history.

I have been lucky enough to watch the AFL (Australian Rules Football – my favourite sport) Grand Final up a mountain in Switzerland, in several pubs across London and indeed across Europe. In Brazil one year I was crammed into a ramshakle little bar (if you could call it that) to watch the final race of the Formula One season. Local hero Felipe Massa had the chance to become world champion and this corrugated iron-shed-come-bar in the small border town was about the only place that you could watch it. It seemed like nearly the whole town was packed in tight, all holding their breath hoping and praying their man would win (sadly he didn’t).

The 2014 Melbourne Grand Prix

The 2014 Melbourne Grand Prix

Working in Europe also means I have been lucky enough to watch World Cup soccer matches in capital cities as the national sides were playing, including being in Germany for last years World Cup win. Finally this year, arguably the grand daddy of them all, the Super Bowl was watched with a great group of mates here in London at the original Hard Rock Cafe.

Party time at the Hard Rock Cafe in London last night

Party time at the Hard Rock Cafe in London last night

Probably one of our more unique locations was when we were in Mongolia. We were lucky enough to experience an incredible home stay with an elderly nomadic family in the middle of the Semi Gobi desert. Each night the couple were glued to their old television set (powered by a tiny generator – their only luxury) watching one of the country’s national sports, wrestling. While we had no idea what was going on it was fascinating watching the couple get so excited  with what was going on.

Not only do I enjoy watching various sports but given the chance we both enjoy going to see local sporting events. Getting involved with whatever sport, wherever you are in the world really gives you a chance to see what makes the locals tick and get involved in the passions and excitement. It is also interesting to see how similar sports are organised around the world.

The 'cheap seats' can be a great budget option for travellers to experience local sports

The ‘cheap seats’ can be a great budget option for travellers to experience local sports

When I was in Calgary Canada the hostel had tickets for the Ice Hockey. I had no idea what was going on, cheering every time either side scored and generally having a great time. However as the away team started to take control a group of locals behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Dude we know you are not from around here but if you keep cheering for the away team we are going to have to kill you’. They were joking, or at least I hope they were. We were also lucky enough to go to the ice hockey in St Petersburg Russia and managed to get incredibly cheap tickets. When we arrived we realised why, we were sitting next to the heavily policed ‘away team’ section but also had a great time, even though I still have no idea what is going on!

Natalie getting in the spirit at the Ice Hockey in St Petersburg

Natalie getting in the spirit at the Ice Hockey in St Petersburg

We have both managed to make it to football / soccer matches around the world, and watching Brazil play Ecuador at the famous Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro is something I will never forget. The atmosphere of the near 100,000 spectators was indescribable, and the party feeling inside the stadium is unlike anything I had previously experienced or experienced since. Next year with the Olympics in Rio, if you haven’t booked your trip their yet it may be time to get on to it.

Visiting a local sporting match or going to watch your favourite sport in a different country can really add to the travelling experience.

– Dean



5 Locations perfect for a James Bond Chase Scene

I love James Bond movies. In fact one of the first movies I can remember seeing was a Bond movie. I was about five or six and Dad had taken me to the Drive-In (how times have changed) to see ET. Luckily for dad it was a double feature and the second movie screening was ‘For Your Eyes Only’. Dad said to me, “Look we can stay and watch this second movie but you cannot tell your Mum”, naturally I agreed. Needless to say I failed to hold my end of the bargain. Literally as soon as we walked in the door and Mum asked how the movie was I blurted out how amazing this guy was, what with cars going underwater and things blowing up and all the cool things that make a Bond movie great! Dad uttered something under his breath at his five year old son, Mum shot him the death glare and I am pretty sure Dad got in more trouble than Bond himself!

For me however, I was hooked. Not only did I love the crazy storylines, the amazing gadgets that he always seemed to have right at the exact time he needed them (like the underwater breathing thingy), but I always loved the exotic locations the movie was set in. I have often wondered if in some small way growing up watching these movies fuelled my love of travel to off the beaten track locations.

Dressed to thrill with my very own Bond Girl

Dressed to thrill with my very own Bond Girl

I can almost see it know, swaggering into some posh five star hotel in the middle of nowhere. Shady types looking me up and down and my very own ‘Smart Girl’ Natalie on my arm. As the receptionist looks at me over small reading glasses I greet him with “Smart, Dean Smart”. Or perhaps not.

So with the new James Bond film coming to later this year we have decided to look at five locations we have trailed to that would be perfect for a Bond chase scene.

1. Bagan, Myanmar

Lush green vegetation, dusty roads and thousands of crumbling temples, Bagan is the ideal location for Bond

Lush green vegetation, dusty roads and thousands of crumbling temples, Bagan is the ideal location for Bond

Bagan is quite possibly the perfect setting for a Bond chase scene. It has just about everything you need. Thousands of crumbling old temples scattered across the countryside, and plenty of overgrown dirt tracks to slide around on creating billowing clouds of red dust. Hopefully he would use a proper motorcycle and not the electric bikes we used as it would be a rather slow and unreliable chase – particularly if he went off road! There are vendors and tourist tout stalls to crash through around some of the bigger temples and the dramatic final struggle to take place atop one of the larger and most famous temples (except around sunset where the waves of tourists may quickly turn against him).

With the stunning red stone temples as a backdrop, Bagan is well suited to a chase scene. However Natalie's e-bike may not be Bond's best choice!

Natalie in Bond Girl pose, however we don’t think the e-bikes would be Bond’s first choice!

2. Bhaktapur, Nepal

A historic old town, Himalayan views and dusty pigeon filled streets, right up Bond's alley

A historic old town, Himalayan views and dusty pigeon filled streets, right up Bond’s alley

Situated around eight miles out of the Nepali capital of Kathmandu, the UNESCO listed historic town centre of Bhaktapur makes our list as a great location for a foot chase. The main squares have the exotic backdrops required with old temples and decaying palaces. Many of these squares are also filled with pigeons, and you almost could not script it any better. Just imagine the gasps of shock from tourists as the bad guy sprints across the square, hundreds of pigeons flapping wildly and quickly resettling (as they always seem to do in movies) just in time for Bond, in hot pursuit, to ruffle their feathers again and barge through the indignant tourists! Off the main squares are numerous side alleys full of street stalls for running into or tipping over, fabric salesmen (for getting caught up in) and crazy local motorcyclists to have to avoid. Exactly what you want in a Bond foot chase.

Temples, bells, and narrow streets, Bhaktapur has everything you need for an epic foot race

Temples, bells, and narrow streets, Bhaktapur has everything you need for an epic foot race

3. Trollstigen Pass, Norway

The Trollstigen Pass is one of the world’s most dramatic roads. With 11 narrow hairpin turns, and an increase in elevation of nearly 3000 feet, this six kilometre road would be perfect to test out just how good Bond’s Aston Martin really is. The road has few barriers, is surrounded by stunning Norwegian mountians, sheer drops and a number of large waterfalls. In fact many car commercials are filmed on this road and some new makes and models are tested on this road. Naturally Bond will force the bad guy into an error and his car is fly off the road at the top of the pass resulting in a tumbling, crashing mess of metal, glass and tyres, and the savvy Bond quip along the lines of ‘Sunday drivers”.

11 switch backs, an enormous waterfall and an Aston Martin, a match made in heaven

11 switch backs, an enormous waterfall and an Aston Martin, a match made in heaven

4. The Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia

What a location for a fight to the death

What a location for a fight to the death

From what I can remember, Bond has never been to Australia and surely it is only a matter of time until an evil mastermind from Australia wants to throw another super spy on the barbie! So what better way to announce his arrival than with an epic struggle on top of one of the most famous structures in the country. In fact it would work perfectly, dangling hundreds of feet above lanes of fast flowing traffic, plenty of beams of steel to fall from, grab onto and swing around, all with the famous Opera House in the background. It would work on the proviso officials don’t make Bond wear the blue overalls you have to wear on the Bridge Climb, but surely Bond would put in a better performance in Australia than Tom Cruise did in Mission Impossible!

We doubt Bond would have time to enjoy the view

We doubt Bond would have time to enjoy the view

5. Zermatt and the Matterhorn, Switzerland

A cable-car ride to a Villian's mountain lair. Switzerland has long been Bond's stomping ground

A cable-car ride to a Villian’s mountain lair. Switzerland has long been Bond’s stomping ground

Bond movies love Switzerland, probably because of the country’s wealth and secrecy concerning banking and the military, but also because of the incredible backdrops. So it is quite amazing that the country’s most famous mountain has never featured in a movie. The Klein Matterhorn cable car station at nearly 4000 metres above sea level looks exactly like the location of a bad guy’s lair. In fact the cable car to the top would be a fantastic location for a good old fashioned Bond fist fight. Wrestling on to of the cable car, surrounded by some of Switzerland’s highest mountain peaks and the mightily Matterhorn in the background, text book Bond. An icy end awaits the villain as Bond is victorious and the villain plummets down to the glaciers below, insert classic Bond one liner here….

An icy fate awaits Bond's enemy around Zermatt

An icy fate awaits Bond’s enemy around Zermatt

Naturally there could be dozens of amazing locations that would fit perfectly into a Bond movie. Do you have one? If so share your thoughts or better yet post a photo either here or on or Facebook page and let us know why you think it be a great Bond location.

– Smart, Dean Smart

Bring on 2015: Another year of adventure for The Smart Way Round

What an epic year 2014 was for us. We completed our overland adventure from London to Melbourne, settled back into ‘normal life’ (for us anyway) back home and scattered in a few European  travels along the way. From spending New Years on the world’s highest train in China, to the temples of Bagan in Myanmar, it would be near impossible to pick a top travel experience.

Over the last few weeks many travel bloggers have been recapping on their 2014 adventures, and while we are incredibly proud of what we achieved we cannot wait to get stuck into 2015. From some great new adventures to hopefully an updated website (if we can figure it out!) we are planning for The Smart Way Round to get bigger and better!

First things first though, we are excited to announce that we are heading to Cuba! A long time bucket list destination, we are off to explore this amazing country at the end of February and are looking forward to some fun, sun and rum when we get there!

We also have a week in Prague planned – one of our favourite European cities.  In July Natalie is off to explore the Faroe Islands and Iceland (I’m likely to be stuck at work, but hey I travel around Europe for a living so don’t feel too sorry for me!). So 2015 is already shaping up as another exciting year for us.

This year we are also approaching a major travel milestone. We are both knocking on the door of visiting 100 countries (not all the same ones mind you), and are trying to plan how to celebrate this achievement. If you have any ideas please drop us a comment, email or Facebook post, between us we cannot decide which country to make lucky number 100.

So roll on 2015 and all the adventures it holds.  Wherever you are off too, happy travels!

–  Dean

A Different Type of Christmas

With only a few sleeps until Christmas, this year The Smart Way Round is trying something a little different for our Christmas celebrations. We are staying at home. In fact this will actually be the first Christmas we have spent at home together since we have been a couple.

Over the last five years Christmas has been spent in some far flung land and more often than not we have been separated.  Our first Christmas ‘together’ was spent on different continents! After meeting in Egypt, I had to return to Europe to work over the Christmas and New Year period. Natalie on the other hand lived it up on Zanzibar for Christmas and Malawi for New Years.

Natalie doing what she does best, preparing for a dive in Zanzibar on Christmas Eve

Natalie doing what she does best, preparing for a dive in Zanzibar on Christmas Eve

Our second Christmas together was also spent apart, with Natalie working out in Egypt and Jordan and myself flying back to Australia and landing on Christmas Day.

Natalie was visiting the Pyramids while I was stuck on a plane

Natalie was visiting the Pyramids while I was stuck on a plane

Christmas number three was even more eventful. Having returned to Australia in October (again), this time to submit my visa application to allow us to get married we anxiously awaited news of our approval. With both of is getting more and more frustrated Natalie announced over Skype one day she was booking flights and would land on Christmas Eve, returning home to the UK on New Year’s Day. Little did we know that the same day our visa was approved, so when she landed early Christmas Eve, looking a little worse for wear, we had two things to celebrate that Christmas. That week down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria was one of our favourite trips, and was the perfect break leading up to our wedding.

Surfs up at the famous Bells Beach on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Surfs up at the famous Bells Beach on the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

Last Christmas we were already nearly two months into our overland adventure from London to Melbourne and was spent in China. Cruising down the Yangtze was a much needed touch of luxury as we had not seen a comfortable bed or running hot water for the best part of about three to four weeks. While Christmas Day was spent waiting around a train station for most of the day it will live on as one of our best ever.

So this year we are home. No backpacks to lug around (sadly), no exotic destinations to explore, just the two of us at home and together, something we are definitely not used to but extremely looking forward to.

Christmas in Torquay Australia two years ago

Christmas in Torquay Australia two years ago

With this being our last blog of 2014 we want to wish all our followers, supporters and fellow adventure seekers a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year whatever you are doing and wherever you are. Safe travels, enjoy the festive season and we will see you next year for a bigger and better 2015 on The Smart Way Round…

– Dean & Natalie

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Safe Travels for 2015

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Safe Travels for 2015

The itch that just can’t be scratched….

Travel. Six harmless letters. Six letters that, in the right order, will change your life forever and will open your eyes to indescribable experiences.  Some would say they are six of the best letters out there…

Travel fuels both of us. Arguably it’s the best thing we’ve done, both together and separately and it is the one of the biggest things we have in common. Most importantly it is the way we like to spend our time together. These days unfortunately my job gets in the way (yes I do need to change the ‘about me’ section on our blog). That’s not a dig at my job. Not at all. I really enjoy it and above all it only serves to make us enjoy holidays more.

So it may come as a surprise to hear that a few years ago I once advised a friend (who had largely holidayed at home) not to travel. They were asking me to justify why it was worth all the money I spent on it (trust me when we work it out, Dean and I could have bought a holiday house in the country mortgage free with what we have spent). Humm I thought and my answer was ‘don’t do it’. My reason for this was simple. Travel is more addictive than any drug out there. In the words of a famous advert, “once your start you just can’t stop”. Therefore my logic was if you don’t catch the bug (which is more infectious than the common cold) then you don’t have to drink the vitamin c to get over it….

Do I still agree with this? Well in short, I’m a little older, a (very) little bit wiser and the answer is a resounding no. We may not have as much money to put towards our next house, but we have enough and better still we have irreplaceable memories. Memories forged whilst out on deck in Antarctica, stood in front of the magnificent Taj Mahal, walking the Great Walk, Inca Trail and Mt Kinabalu. Seeing Uluru (next time Dean!), Santa in Lapland, staying at the Heartbreak Hotel in Memphisis, pretending to be John Wayne in Monument Valley, watching cheetahs stalk in Tanzania, flying over Victoria Falls, swimming with whales sharks, diving in top dive spots and enjoying the view at the top of the always remembered twin towers. I could go on, but you get the picture. Once you’ve travelled you NEVER look back. To pick a highlight is impossible. To regret spending the money unthinkable. Each and every moment precious.

So whether you have £100 or £1500 for your next holiday spend it wisely on a memorable shared experience. I’m lucky my soul mate loves travel as much as me. Or maybe you make your own luck? I’m sure I make a better buddy for him when we are away, however not doing that all the time only makes you appreciate every holiday more.

It is true what they say. Travel is the one thing that really does make you richer.

– Natalie

Chilling with my travel buddy

Chilling with my travel buddy