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Athens, Agra, and Sydney, oh my!

Matt Lauer’s week-long trans-continental trip ends in Australia. Read his diary from Athens, Agra and Sydney.
/ Source: TODAY

I am on the plane yet again! We’re heading toward the fifth and final destination of our trip, but before I speak with you about Athens and Agra I would like to tell you about two things that happened to us when we were leaving Venice.

When we arrived at the Venice airport we were asked for our passports. I went to retrieve mine from my briefcase and to my horror it was not there. After frantically searching all of my bags and putting everyone around me into a panic, I found my passport — in my jacket pocket! This was the first time that I realized that the traveling was starting to get to me.

After my passport fiasco, we were just finishing up through customs when the Italian police approached our production manager David Naggiar. “Could you come with us sir?” they asked. “What’s wrong? What did I do?” he replied. “Just come with us sir,” and with that David was gone. It turned out that David had the same name as an Italian military man who had gone AWOL.

After finally convincing the Italian police that our David Naggiar was not their David Naggiar, we were off to Athens, Greece.

In Athens, we were the first American broadcast from the Acropolis. Unfortunately, it was once again raining, but the weather did not put a damper on the show or our spirits. Since our schedule was so tight, we left right after the show, and I was not able to see much of Athens — except for what I could see from my car window to the airport.

We arrived in Agra, India after a nine hour flight from Athens. We passed through customs at 6 a.m. and it was already 90 degrees F. The temperature continued to rise and by the time we had to go on air, it was 120 degrees F in the shade! Broadcasting live from the Taj Mahal was a monumental event. It was the first time ever that any television organization was allowed to do so. India’s 1887 telegraph law prohibits any foreign messages from leaving the country. NBC News’ Hong Kong Bureau Chief, Audrey Kolina had spent the last three months fighting the bureaucracy of the Indian government to get us to this point.

The Taj Mahal is a breath-taking sight to see. However, for all of its majestic beauty, the poverty right outside its gates in Agra, is overwhelming.

We were only in Agra for twelve hours, but the images that I saw there will stay with me for a lifetime.

By the time you read this, you will know that my final destination is Sydney, Australia. I haven’t hit Sydney yet, but we did clear customs in Darwin, Australia. Never in all of my time traveling have I mest nicer Customs people. They made life a little easier for eight very tired people.

I am off for the last time! In all, we have been to five continents, we’ve spent more than 40 hours in the air, and traveled over 16,000 miles. During our longest day of the trip, today, we covered 6,000 miles. It was a brutal trip, but I am glad that I did it.

I was able to see places I have never seen, meet interesting people and travel with a terrific team. However, I don’t think that I will be doing this again any time soon.

Signing off...