Degustaciones at Vineyard Murgo near Etna (15 euro) and Vineyard Planeta near Modica (12 euro), both worth a visit. Best sandwich ever at Bottega de Italia in Modica (try the chicken, sun dried tomatoes in spicy pink mayo).
Stayed in Hotel Etna near Etna (and Toarmina), U Marchisi near Scicly and Casa Talia overlooking Modica. All nice, especially Etna Hotel and Casa Talia.
What a way to finish the trip. Tul and me now both have our open water certifications and officially have the diving bug.
The rest of our time on the island was spent pottering around on our scooter, getting massages, eating (a lot of) good Thai food and drinking cocktails. An amazing ending to a trip of a lifetime which we’re lucky to have had and will never ever forget.
It’s taken me a while to get these videos online but here they are (there will be 1 more to follow soon).
We used Big Blue Diving. It’s certainly not the only diving school on the island, but we found it safe, fun and cheap. Would definitely recommend it. If you use their free accommodation while you’re there then just ask to have a look around because some of it is awful and some of it is not bad. Make sure you check in Big Blue 1 & 2 (there are 2 centres on Sairee beach).
We used RPM in Mae Haad which were not bad. However they did catch us out with a scratch which we’re unsure was there to start off with which cost us £10. Just make sure you take photos of the entire bike and you should be fine. The island is notorious for motorbike scams so make sure you’re careful when renting on Koh Tao. It’s normal for them to keep your passport as deposit.
After a short but fairly terrifying flight from Chiang Mai in a giant chicken, we ended up having some of the most fun we’ve had in Asia in Mae Hong Son.
Gims Resort must have given us some kind of deal because for the price, this place was amazing to stay in. The town of Mae Hong Son itself is fairly small, with some nice temples and street markets to visit, as well as good food (like pretty much everywhere in Thailand).
We also rented a motorbike from PJ’s motorcycle rental (ask someone in town where it is). PJ was a sound bloke, the bike was in very good condition and cost only £2 p/day (half of what you would pay in other places in town). Then we did a portion of the Mae Hong Son ‘loop’ which I would suggest doing for anyone in the area. The province is renowned for it’s scenery and it takes you well off the beaten path to some breathtaking places and beautiful, authentic small villages. We just did a day trip, but it’s possible to stay in one of the many guest houses in one of the little villages near the border of Myunmar where there is strong Burmese and Chinese influences.
We stayed at www.happyangkorguesthouse.com and would recommend it to anyone. Cheap, friendly, helpful, clean, fun and good food!
We also visited my old high school friend Pete at the Warehouse bar that he manages in town which is a great place with good live music.
2 full days is probably plenty of temple seeing in that heat. We did 2 and half days and you really don’t need to see all those temples. We would recommend seeing Angkor Wat at dawn and would not recommend fighting the crowds in the heat and waiting around for the sunset at the temple on the hill though, there are plenty of amazing sunsets in Cambodia and this one is a massive tourist trap. We hired a tuk tuk driver from our hostel for the full 2.5 days for a total of $30 which is definitely the nicest way to see temples.
After just over a month in Australia and the UK, Bangkok has been a shock to the system. There’s no mistake that we’re travelling again now and the hustle and bustle of this city has been as difficult for me as it has been exciting.
I have a constant feeling of anxiousness whenever we’re in a taxi because we’re never 100% sure if they’re taking us to the correct place or trying to get us to take a look in one of their sponsors shops for a suit fitting. The intensity of the lifestyle here is as extreme as the temperature which has also taken some getting used to.
There are of course some upsides. Firstly, the food has been amazing and is sold on every street corner. Prices of everything are a fraction of what we have been spending in Australia. The people here also seem generally very friendly.
We’ve had to hit the ground running, but Bangkok has been a good kick up the ass to get us back into the swing of things.
We’re off to Cambodia this evening which we’re both very excited about. A Facebook post from Tul has also lead to a random comment from my old mate Pete Franks and us meeting him for a drink tonight in his bar in Siem Reap!
This Book Is About Travel – Andrew Hyde
The Facility – Simon Lelic
Trick – Sean Hancock
Before I Go To Sleep – S J Watson
Zero Day – David Baldacci
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
Escape From Camp 14 – Blaine Harden
First They Killed My Father
360 panoramic of the Villarrica Volcano in Pucon
Click here or on the image above to view the interactive 360.
Since we’ve become a group of six instead of a team of two it’s given us the opportunity to rent cabanas rather than to book hostels. Apart from working out cheaper, it’s a really nice way to live. At our first lakeside cabin in Trufal (near Bariloche), we cooked parilla outside using local wood and kept warm in the evening with the log burner. Its remote location and green forestry was reminiscent of the farm and made me feel as though I could live in a similar surroundings again one day.
After scaring the girls at the window whilst getting firewood in the dark, the boys found themselves locked out long enough to smoke a cigar and drunkenly cover topics including the Ottoman empire and possible ways of breaking back into the cabana.
The place we have here in San Martin, although still lakeside, is in a much bigger place. Even so, San Martin is a perfectly kept town which like Barilohe seems to have a very Swiss influence. The cabin itself is the size of a toy house and the entire thing squeaks when we walk upstairs, but it’s fun and is still less expensive than the cheapest hostel we’ve found. Last night we had a homemade empanada bake-off which made for an unforgettable evening as well as some recipes we’ll definitely bring back home with us.
Argentinians will happily ask where we’re from and strike up a conversation in shops, cafes or on the street. Here in San Martin if they tell us they are from this part of the world then they’re happy to admit that they’re very lucky. As I’m writing this I’m lying next to Tul on the beach of the lake, watching random dogs play with random beach-goers, listening to a group of locals playing the guitar and singing Spanish songs who are responding well to our claps and cheers. The sun is beating down and it has to be said that today feels as though a standard of living doesn’t get much better than this.
Parillas (Argentina’s equivalent to barbecues) are everywhere here, so tonight the boys will cook while the girls take care of sides and drinks :)
We’ve spent a great amount of time exploring Patagonia. Over the past three weeks we’ve travelled from Mendoza, across to the east coast of Argentina to Puerto Madryn, Ushuaia, El Calafate, El Chalten, Bariloche, Villa Trufal and further up the west to San Martin de Los Andes. Despite the colder climate, both Sam and I have to agree that Patagonia is somewhere we want to return to and somewhere we really love.
Puerto Madryn & Gaiman (the Welsh town)
Puerto Madryn is famous for its sea life. Our few days here we’ve seen penguin colonies (our favourite), southern right whales (which appeared just a few metres from the boat because of their naturally curious personalities), dolphins, sea lions, sea birds and elephant seals. One small regret we have is that we didn’t manage to find time to go sea kayaking with a local sea lion colony which looked like a once on a life time opportunity. A great excuse to revisit though…
One thing which both Sam and I were keen to see was a little welsh town called Gaiman. There was nothing too special about this quiet little town in Patagonia apart from the fact that locals speak in Welsh and Spanish and the schools make it mandatory for children to learn both languages. We wanted to see this with our own eyes, plus I was dying to sample some
of the goodies on offer at one of the abundant tea houses!
We found a little place called Ty Nain (which translates to ‘grandma’s house’) where we not only drank several cups of tea, but also gorged ourselves on a mammoth platter of selected cakes, scones and jams (see pics!). The owner was delighted when Sam surprised her with ‘good afternoon’, ‘thank you’ and ‘where are the toilets please?’ (which he then admitted was the only Welsh he knew!).
Ushuaia or Fin del mundo (the end of the world), as it’s otherwise known is the southern most town in the world. It sounds like a magical place and it really is. Snow blankets the surrounding Andes mountain ranges which are peppered with fur trees and beautiful forests and lakes. Whilst we didn’t have the luxury of setting sail to explore Antarctica, we still had a wonderful few days enjoying the gorgeous Tierra del Fuego national parks and my birthday.
Along the way to Ushuaia (a 31 hour bus journey weaving in and out of Chile) we befriended a lovely irish couple, Erlend & Nuala who we got on with like a house on fire. On the eve of my birthday all four of us booked to go husky sledding followed by an open fire in the forest with a guitar sing along. It was an amazing night and we feasted on traditional Fuegian food and mulled wine. At the end of the night we walked back through the snow and forest under the moonlight in snow shoes swigging whisky to keep us warm. It was such a memorable night and a great way to see my birthday in. We were in such good spirits we continued our celebrations at our friends hostel with cigars, beer and more wine until 4.30am!
To recover from such an indulgent evening sam and I spent my birthday exploring the national park and enjoying the mesmerising beauty of the lakes and lagoons. That evening we treated ourselves to a delicious mountain of fresh crab and bubbly! I couldn’t have imagined a more special way to spend my birthday other than at the end of the world with our new friends!
El Calafate & El Chalten
From Ushuaia, we decided to fly to our next destination, El Calafate, because of the constant hassle of having to go in and out of Chile and Argentina’s border control.
Erlend & Nuala were also travelling up the same route along the western border of Argentina and so it was in El Calafate that we all decided to travel the remainder of Patagonia together.
Our first excursion was Perito Moreno, one of Patagonia’s famous glaciers. We went on a mini trek on the glacier wearing crampons to walk on the ice followed by a boat trip to get close to the crumbling south face! The walk was surreal and full of ice blue crevices which you had to carefully dodge! As a little treat at the end the guides hacked off some of the ice from the glacier and gave each of us a large glass of whisky to accompany it with. Erlend and Sam were particularly giddy with excitement at the substantial measures and I was mainly just delighted knowing that the ice cubes had been aged far longer than the whisky!
That evening we celebrated Erlend’s birthday (which was the following day) with a home made Parilla (BBQ of various meats) and copious amounts
of wine! It was this evening that we met another American couple travelling our route, Mike an Alicia. 6 people meant more trouble and we ended up staying up until 6am…
Two days later we all travelled further north to the pueblo of El Chalten which is famous for its treks around the Fitzroy range. Despite the misty, miserable and blustery weather with poor visibility we managed a 30km round trip hike but unfortunately none of us got as much as a glimpse of Fitzroy or Cerro Torre which is known to be the most difficult mountain In the world to climb!
The Lake District road-trip
Bariloche is Argentina’s Swiss capital and it was here that Erlend, Nuala, Mike, Alicia, Sam and I decided to hire a car and hit the road to explore the beautiful lakeside villages around Argentina’s famous lake district.
We’d heard that there was a little gem of a village nestled by a gorgeous lake called Lago Trufal which had cabanas (wood cabins) dotted around it which would offer us the tranquility and remoteness that we were all after. That’s where we headed and it was everything we hoped for including dozens of roaming wild horses dancing through the trees.
Buenos Aires is a unique and extremely fun place. Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world and 75% of it’s population live in greater Buenos Aires. Add that to the turbulent political history with governments being overthrown and the country being swung from left to right, plus it’s strong political figures like President Peron (and wife Evita) and strong rebellious heroes like Che, then you end up with an extremely clued up and opinionated group of people. There is apparently always a march of some kind going on in BA and the few days we were there was no exception. There was a ‘middle class protest’ about the government restricting how people spend their money outside of the country and we soon discovered that if you’re not afraid to ask the locals what they think then they’re certainly not afraid to tell you (even if you don’t ask sometimes). This particular topic seemed to split people down the middle and we spoke to people from both sides of the fence. All very open and really fun and interesting to talk to.
Buenos Aires has cemented Argentina as our favourite country so far. Bolivia’s salt flats are probably my highlight, but the people here have made the country stand out for us. On the way home from dinner one night (where we’d had an extensive chat to the restaurant owner about the topic above), we got on the bus to realise you can only use coins and cards (which we didn’t have) so 2 boys in front of us paid for our journey without thinking about it twice. How often would that happen in London and would I have done the same? I certainly would from now on.
The street markets and street food have been amazing (and relatively cheap). Things in general though have been very expensive here compared to the other countries we’ve visited. Our budget means we can now only afford separate beds in dorm rooms, which Tul says “feels like being divorced”. We’ve splurged on some nice romantic dinners to make up for it though, as well as taken a Tango class! Tango is everywhere in this city and one of our best nights was watching a free street tango show with live music from a wine bar (NOT free!) balcony.
Oh, we also had a few nights in a swanky hotel for Tul’s early surprise Birthday present which was also a welcome break from usual dorm rooms :)
Mendoza and wine region next!
Pronounced by locals ‘Caff-a-shatty’. Bigger than Samaipata but still a relatively small town and we both loved it there not least because it’s officially wine country, but the temperature is also scorching hot.
We rented bikes to ride to the different vineyards and bodegas, the best of which was Bodega Nanni where we had our favourite wine and an amazing steak which I can now see why Argentina is famous for. A lot of the wines so far have been fairly disappointing but the white made from the local grape Torrontes Dulce is delicious (and inexpensive).
Also, and this is probably the best part – Tul is really beginning to love dogs! One of the street dogs attached itself to us for two days, lying at our feet during dinner and even waiting outside while I went to the loo. We named it Cusquena (independently of each other) after our favourite dark beer and Tul insisted we buy it an empanada each night.
The few days we had there didn’t seem enough, but we can rest easy knowing that we managed to consume over 50 empanadas during that time (Casa de las Empanadas are some of the best we’ve had) :-|
We’ve now just started a 21hr bus journey to Iguazu falls after already completing the first 6hr leg and a quick stop-over in Tucuman. Let’s hope the falls are worth it…
Grrr, we’ve discovered that one of our memory cards has contracted a virus and therefore possibly infected all of them. A little digging on Google told us that this is becoming more and more common. It also looks like there’s not a lot you can do apart from formatting the card (unless any of my geek family and friends has any advice?!).
So this isn’t a post about what I’d like to do to the people who created it (Tul is here for me to rant at), but it is a warning that it’s quite easy unless you’re on a machine that you know is correctly protected against viruses (not your average Internet cafe PC over here).
For the rest of the trip we’ll only be saving our photos directly onto our new memory cards and the photos for the blog will just be from our phones.
We’ve been busy in Sucre. In the mornings we volunteer at a nursery which is a short bus ride out of town, in the afternoons we have Spanish lessons and in the evenings we teach conversational English to locals (yeah that’s right, I’VE been teaching English).
The nursery is a tiring but amazing experience. The moment we walked in the door the kids were flinging themselves at us as if they’d known us forever. This nursery is run by a few of the kids mothers. It’s basic (the place itself doesn’t even have an address) and mostly funded by organisations like our language school (The Fox Institute). The kids on the whole are great and some of them are from very difficult backgrounds. Our Spanish is still quite basic and the kids speak a mix of Spanish and Quechua so our verbal communication is extremely simple, although it hasn’t seemed to matter much. They’re physical and boisterous, but friendly and fun.
Lunchtime is hilarious. The portions they give the kids are massive and we have about 30 minutes to feed as many of them as possible before we leave for our Spanish lessons. Starters is a bowl of soup with chips or potatoes in it and their second course is a decent sized plate of meat, rice and chips or potatoes (and this is even for Rosa Maria the one year old). The younger ones then usually begin falling asleep at the table and in their food, in which case they’ll have cold water splashed on their faces and be ready for round two. It sounds quite rough on the kids but apparently a lot of them may not get much to eat at home, so these meal times are very important and you can see how much the nanny’s care about them.
Spanish is more difficult than we thought and I’m certainly struggling with the verbs especially (much more difficult than English). Edith, our teacher is great though and good fun. On Friday, the second half of our lesson was spent in the kitchen with her, cooking a traditional Bolivian dish called Saice which we we’ve made for ourselves since (kind of like a Bolivian bolognese made with sweet chilli instead of tomatoes).
For our English students in the evening, we normally ask questions about Bolivian politics, education, etc and then correct their English as we discuss. Otherwise, if they have questions on gramma, we’ll get to the nearest Internet cafe and download a lesson plan to go through with them the next time we see them. All the students have been great and it’s been interesting for us to find out about life in Bolivia and about the English language!
Sucre as a city has also been really nice and reminded us both of Arequipa in Peru. It’s been hard work for us here but we’ll definitely miss the people, especially the kids.
An £8 trip on horseback from Tupiza proved to be much better than we expected (who knew Tul would be such a fan of the wild west). A half day trek past devils rock to the Inca canyon (not far from the place where Butch Cassidy & Sundance supposedly met their demise) turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip.
The last stretch of our 48hr journey, a fun and chilled 2.5hr trufi (shared taxi) ride to Samaipata put us in the right mood for the place itself. Sat in the back of a minivan with a couple and their toddler, two other girls and two boys. When the vehicle stopped at any point along the way there would be a swarm of people to mob us and try and sell us tamales, fruit, sweets, meat, etc and all of them for a few ‘Bolivianitos’ (the local’s romantic way of saying it’s just a few “little Bolivianos”). It felt as much like travelling as any of the trip yet, and Samaipata felt as much ‘off the beaten track’ as any of the places we’ve been.
Samaipata is apparently becoming popular with Bolvians as a holiday destination. However, it is extremely quiet when we arrive. It’s as much like South America as I’d imagined (more than Peru was) and a bit like a town from a wild west film. We both love it from the second we step foot outside the car.
Places open when they want to and close when they feel like it. If you ask what time they close you’re normally answered with a shrug accompanied with “la noche”.
Like any decent holiday destination they have an amusement arcade (a room with 5 Sony Playstations). There’s a random room on a street near the market which has a pool table and table football which we have no idea who owns or who is allowed to use, although it has people playing pool most days. There’s a saltenaria (saltenas are like South American pasties), that didn’t have any saltenas for sale whenever we asked.
There are Inka ruins and plenty of treks surrounding the town and we’re off to the rain forest in a few days for one night.
There’s one bus everyday out of town to Sucre (12hrs, B/60-80).
There’s the usual amount of friendly dogs milling around and the place is small enough that you begin to recognise most of them after a short while.
All in all this could be one of our favourite places yet. One of the restaurant owners here told us there are 26 nationalities in this tiny town and we can see why. People come out here to visit and never leave. Unfortunately our stay here will come to an end soon, but we’ll both have extremely fond memories of this place and who knows, maybe we’ll be here again…
A post about this place to come soon, but here´s a panoramic of possibly our favourite place in the world, Samaipta.
We were lucky enough to spend 2 amazing days at Refuge Los Volcanes in Bolivia. See the 360 view here.
Peru and South America as a whole was not 100% what I envisioned, but not in a bad way.
People are generally friendly and a lot of them don’t speak English, which means we’ve had to use a little Spanish which is good.
The cities are dusty and we’ve both developed a cough (chill out Mum and Nisha, it’s nothing serious!). The soles of my feet cracked in Arequipa and Tuls hands look like “old ladies hands”. They’re also mostly layed out in the same way thanks to the Spanish which can sometimes make them look very similar, but the grid system also makes them easy to navigate.
My favourite so far has probably been Cuzco because it seems to have kept its historical importance and character in tact (in the centre at least), as appose to Puno which you would only ever visit for the floating islands (which themselves are quite a tourist trap). Tul’s favourite (and a close second for me) has been Arequipa, mainly for its climate, but also because of the monastery there. The hostel we stayed in was also nice and the owner was amazing.
There are dogs everywhere in Peru which on the whole look dirty but healthy and happy. It seems to be a dog loving place, which I like.
Cost of living is slightly more than we expected but we’ve learnt to live very cheaply. The price of a Snickers is on average about 8 or 10 times more expensive (about £1) than a non-imported chocolate bar. The food here is not great. Lots of alpaca and other meats, and lots of carbs (potatoes, rice, etc). You can find nice street food (empanadas especially) none of which have made us sick (yet!). ‘Menu completo’s’ which are usually a huge bowl of soup with veg and the main course with rice and chips can be found in markets for about 3.50 soles (less than £1). Peru is very proud of it’s many varieties of potatoes and the chips are delicious.
Time slips away from you as the days are hot but the sun goes down early and quickly. If there’s mountain near by which it can hide behind you can notice the sun go down almost in seconds. The nights are cold and if you get caught out at sunset with no warm clothes on it can be an uncomfortable walk home.
People are out to make money everywhere but it’s quite easy after a while to say no. Most of the buskers you see in restaurants (and anywhere else you can think of) assume tourists want to hear pan pipe versions of Hey Jude and Lady Madonna (haven’t heard any Stones versions yet unfortunately).
Standard of living seems to drop drastically when you’re out of city centres and beggars are in every town and city. Shoe shiners are very common and sometimes use the shine box to start a conversation and then ask for money. We made a rule not to give to beggars, but both of us have caved once or twice as it’s sometimes too difficult to say no because some people here are clearly struggling.
The kids are cute and seem quite happy, confident and often boisterous.
The buses are very varied in levels of comfort and expense, but the drivers are invariably mental.
All in all I think we will both think very fondly of Peru. Highlights would have to be the Amazon trip and of course the Inca trail. Also, Cusquena malta is our new favourite beer :)
What was meant to be a 10hr bus journey turned into 17hrs due to a mud slide on the road, plus we were both dubious about going to the jungle at all (mainly because of spiders and snakes), but once we set off up the river in the long boat towards the lodges we were both excited.
The jungle lodges were awesome. I’d never seen anything like them (thy were a bit like massive tree houses) and they reminded Tul of the ones she stayed at in Kenya on safari. The rooms were all sealed off from the inside with mosquito nets which meant we were safe at night (except for the bats apparently sleeping in our porch and the rest of the sounds from the jungle around us). In the lodges gardens we also saw a tarantula in one of the palm trees each night, plus there were always toucans and macaws (one of which took a shine to Tul) around the place.
Was a nice break after the Inca trail (our longest trek through the jungle was a few hours max), and relaxing by the pool and chilling in the hammocks felt amazing.
We were shown around the jungle close to us and taught how all the different plants can be used for medicine and cooking and ate termites which tasted like bark.
We visited Monkey Island which does exactly what it says on the tin. We went on night safari to see caiman and an early morning jaunt to view wild parrots feed on clay which provides essential minerals for their digestion.
What took us both most by surprise though was a small boat trip on lake Sandovale. This place felt like being on a cloud. We were lucky enough to see a family of giant otters pop their heads out of the water around our boat before disappearing and reappearing on the other side of the lake. We also saw a spider monkey which the tour guide tempted out of the jungle with a banana (so much so that I thought it was going to jump into the boat). And then from being blistering hot sunshine we could hear the rain storm getting closer before we were in the middle of it. Still on the other side of the lake you could see the sun shining, while we were getting drenched, it felt incredible. We also saw the head of a 4 metre long caimen sticking out of the water.
We were sad to leave the jungle behind and both wished we’d stayed longer, but maybe we’ll see what Bolivia has to offer in the way of Amazon jungle…
Panoramic view from the floating islands in Peru.
There’s a mud slide on the road and our 10hr bus journey has been stationary for almost 5hrs.
We’re about 2.5 hours out of Puerto Maldonado in the middle of the Amazon and despite it being the dry season it is bucketing down. We were meant to be meeting our Amazon tour guide over 3 hours ago to take us for a welcome cocktail in our Amazonian lodge.
We’ve adopted a saying from our Inca tour guide though – “such is the adventure”. We’ve been in good spirits since the bus stopped and have a deck of cards, music and our Kindles.
However, we haven’t eaten in over 12hrs and I’m pretty sure I’m going to need the loo soon and the toilets are rank.
Let’s hope our mood keeps up.
Things I like about Tul:
1. She’s insisting on calling our trip our ‘honey sunny’ as its happening before the wedding as opposed to after it.
2. Last week she asked a Spanish speaking Peruvian tour operator “Hablas Espaniol?”.
3. She’s putting up with the smell of my feet on this bus in which we’ve now been stationary for 6.5hrs.
Things I don’t like about Tul:
1. I haven’t beaten her at cards since last week.
We did it!
And that’s the main thing. At the end of day one, due to our tour guide giving us “an extra hour” of hiking, Tul was struggling and neither of us were sure if we’d be able to carry on the next day.
In the morning though, once we were above the forest and dead woman’s pass (the highest point of the trail) was in sight, it was obvious we were both going to manage the entire trek and I’m really proud of her for persevering with it because I could see how difficult she was finding it (she wouldn’t even let me carry her day pack).
Day 3 was incredible and we could both see the hard work paid off. The Brown Andes turned into the Green Andes and most of the day was spent in the high Amazon jungle walking a path of about a metre wide often with a shear cliff face on one side. It was also the first day that the whole group managed to keep together. I also developed a taste for coca leaves which was keeping my energy levels up.
We were lucky to have a great group of people. 1 other couple (Andy and Naomi), 2 lads from New York (Simon and Kendi) and 2 girls from Canada (Erin and Michelle, who were hilarious and left us a note and some goodies for us in Aguas Calientes).
In the evenings we played the card game ‘shithead’, but when our guide played with us he insisted on calling it ‘Chilean head’ (very PC).
Day 4 was a short 5k hike up to the Sun Gate where we saw Machu Picchu for the first time which was awesome. When we arrived in Machu Picchu we had a 2 hour tour which after everything else was actually quite tiring, but it was amazing just to be there.
Day 5, Tul was my wingman for Huanya Picchu, the small mountain overlooking Machu Picchu. She negotiated our bus tickets in Spanish, made sure I was at the foot of the mountain in time for my ticketed time slot and was there to meet me when I’d finished. If she’d have been with me she could have made sure I didn’t take a wrong turn at the first junction on the mountain but I don’t suppose I can blame her for that. I did it in good time, climbing it in 35mins and coming down in less than 20.
We were sorry to leave Machu Picchu but both felt good coming back into Cuzco as I think we both now have a soft spot for it. The heavy Peruvian food is starting to get a bit much now though.
The Inca trail was everything I hoped for and I’m really glad we both made it. However, I think Tul might use the fact that we successfully completed it as a reason to celebrate for the next week…
The company we booked through is www.sastravelperu.com and is not the cheapest around but would recommend them for the Inca trail and/or the Amazon expedition in Corto Maltes lodges.
We’ve been waking up somewhere new for our first 3 mornings in Peru which has been exciting. We’ve been on the move pretty much since we landed which included 2 over night buses on the trot. The buses are really nice and actually good fun although the motion sickness got to Tul. Peru is a nation of world class snorers as well it seems so the ear-plugs have come in handy. You’re also not allowed to take a number two on the buses so the Imodium has come in handy too :-o. The drivers are properly mental here as well and we found it best not to look out of the front window to see how they’re driving.
We’ve settled in Cuzco now for a few days to acclimatise before the Inca trail. Cuzco is just what I was hoping for, although it’s been far colder than we were expecting once the sun’s gone down.
It’s Inti Raymi (the festival of the Sun) here in Cuzco so the locals are in especially good spirits.
Our hostel room’s only ventilation has been a window covered by a wall hanging which goes through to the only ground floor toilet. On top of that it’s next door to the kitchen where people were drinking and playing music until 3am. Even so we were in bed at 9pm last night with jet lag and slept like logs. Was a buzz waking up in Peru this morning and we were both excited to see if each other were awake. Lima isn’t the nicest city but we had a great day walking along the sea front and I tried ceviche for the first time today in a restaurant where the locals eat which was delicious and cheap.
Waiting in the hostel now before going to the bus for Arequipa and one of the barmen just gave us his own speciality of pisco infused with coca leaves :)
Iberia airlines is the pits. I’ve mentally prepared myself for all kinds of horrors in the Amazon jungle and all sorts of hard work climbing Machu Picchu, but I am totally unprepared for this… an 11 hour flight with no movies on demand. The Misterious Island (The Rock’s best work since Tooth Fairy film) followed by Love’s Kitchen (Gordon Ramsey’s acting debut – yes really) on a shared screen is a different flying experience to what I was looking forward to. I’m too excited to sleep though, unlike Tul who’s sleeping through both of them (a smart cookie that one). Thanks to Tul’s Dad we have seats together however, and it is impossible to spoil our mood. Looking forward to our first stop – Lima.
Here you’ll be able to follow Tul and me on our travels through South America, Australia and Asia. We’ll try and keep you updated as best we can with photos, tweets and blog posts. You can also see our initial route which is subject to change and may also be updated and adjusted as we go.
We’re setting off for Lima on June 18th and will hopefully have something to report soon after that!
Sam & Tul