Collington Board Member Reports on Round the World Trip

Recently, Collington Board Member Joe Howell and his wife Embry went on a round the world trip – without flying, and submitted their account to the Washington Post.  It appeared on December 6, 2015, on page F2, and is shown below, with the permission of the author and photographer.  (All rights reserved, 2015.)

howellsEmbry Howell and Joe Howell in front of the Terra Cotta Warriors museum in Xian, China. ( /Embry Howell )

December 3, 2015

Our readers share tales of their rambles around the world.

Who: Embry Howell (author) and her husband, Joe Howell, of the District.

Where, when, why: To celebrate our retirements, our 50th wedding anniversary and Embry’s 70th birthday, we took a trip around the world without flying and blogged about it ( We traveled from Washington by train to Fort Lauderdale on March 14, went by cruise ship to Cartagena, Spain, had a house exchange in Valencia, and then traveled by train to Madrid; Paris; Brittany, France; Berlin; Warsaw; Moscow; through Siberia and Mongolia; and all over China. We took a container ship from Shanghai to Seattle, and then traveled home by train, arriving July 10.

Highlights and high points: Experiencing Semana Santa (Holy Week) parades in Valencia; walking along the Seine on a perfect spring day; being in Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow for events surrounding the commemoration of the end of World War II; sleeping in a traditional “ger” (yurt) in Mongolia; riding around the walls of Xian, China, on bicycles; climbing to the top of the Chinese Yellow Mountains in the fog; seeing people worship openly in so many different ways and so fervently in places where religion was formerly suppressed; and seeing the stars and wide ocean seas so far from shore.

Cultural connection or disconnect: We loved it when people in China came up to us and asked us to have our picture taken with their family members. We then did the same. Even though we do not know their names, our picture is in their scrapbook, and theirs is in ours.

Biggest laugh or cry: Falling on the beach in Valencia and ending up in the emergency room, where I got six stitches fast, with no pain and little expense. Also, Joe had his wallet stolen in Madrid, his cellphone stolen in Paris and his briefcase stolen in Berlin. Actually, by the time of the last incidents, we were laughing, not crying. It was all just too amusing. We were wondering whether he would arrive home with any clothes on his back!

How unexpected: In China, when we faced a large flight of stairs and were at the bottom with two heavy suitcases, inevitably a strong young man would appear from nowhere and kindly haul them up to the top with no request from us or expectation of a tip. We were also amazed at the timeliness of all trains outside the United States — usually, to the minute departing and arriving. Ironically, our two U.S. trains were both hours late.

Fondest memento or memory: The world is very small, and people are similar around the globe. We all want the same things: love, safety, health and a comfortable life with enough food and a good place to live. When people have these things, they are happy and kind to one another.

To tell us about your own trip, go to and fill out the What a Trip form with your fondest memories, finest moments and favorite photos.


For more from the Washington Post “What a Trip” feature, click here.

For the full blog of the Howells’ trip, click here.