Sunday, 26 April 2015

And that's a wrap!

Finished the second video... sad times!

Hope you enjoy watching this as much as I did experiencing it!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Mi sueƱo sudamericano....

Left off the last post with me leaving Bolivia and my lovely group of travel buddies. Didn't realise when I first went to the Salt Flats that I'd have to go back through the same way to get to Chile...grrr!!

Spent the whole day bussing back to Uyuni, a not-so-nice town, where everyone goes as a stop off for the Flats, had to spend the night in a tiny room (with tv!!) since the hotel was right across the road from the bus station. I didn't even change out of my clothes cos I was so cold! To add to it, the bloody ATM gave me a fake 100 boliviano note?! A 4am bus to Calama, a town north of Chile, the girl next to me on the bus became my friend for the next few weeks :) Over the previous two days, I'd spent 16 hours in total on buses and 4 hours (my longest!!) at the border, bloody confiscating my apples!?!

Finalllyyyyyy made it to San Pedro de Atacama and boy was I happy to feel the heat! Had spent the past 6 weeks without the Sun :( San Pedro was a cool little town, definitely an up and coming tourist destination, somewhat a little hippified..! Took a bike ride around the desert and watched the sunset over the volcanoes and hills in the distance. Also did a Night-astronomico tour, which was SO cool! There's not much artificial light in this town and so we were able to see the Milky Way so clearly above us and then Mars and Saturn were pointed out, so amazing, like actually looking out to space!!


This was also the place where I had THE BEST soup/stew ever!! It's called Pataska and I'm absolutely gutted I didn't get a photo, but seriously OMG it was gooood!

Only spent two days here, headed straight to Valparaiso in central Chile on an 24 hour bus ride... I know I was moving fast but to be honest I wanted to spend more time in Argentina than Chile!

Valparaiso was a very cool city, so much art and graffiti everywhere! What I loved about the place was that it was a colonial seaport city, the houses were Italian-style but it sometimes reminded me of San Francisco, loved just walking about the city and getting lost down the little alleyways. There's an old Italian mansion built in the 1800's near the famous colourful steps and we met the old woman who lived there, 100-years-old, refuses to speak in Spanish, only in Italian and lives all by herself in this old mansion, practically falling apart! I felt like I was meeting a celebrity lol.

Old lady's house

Spent a day in Vina del Mar, the group wanted a cheap night so we ended up with a litre bottle of wine and sat on the beach watching the sunset, if I remember clearly, the night ended with me screaming at some guy following us down street from one of the bars, yeah, maybe a litre was too much..

After that, spent less than a day in Santiago, the capital, and off I was to Argentina, excited to hit Mendoza first!

The bus ride to Mendoza was absolutely stunning! We passed a few snow tipped mountains, one being the highest peak in SA!

Ahhhh Mendoza, wine and steak, what more could you ask for! Did a bike winery tour which was lovely! We ended up having a police escort after out last winery, but they did that for everyone! LOL

Also hit up a hot spring just outside of town, that was a day well spent!

Onto Buenos Aires next and I guess.... it just didn't live up to the hype. Everyone I'd met beforehand had said BA would be the best place, but it just wasn't. I visited all the neighbourhoods, had a good few steaks, partied a few times, and besides the food, I wasn't really impressed. I mean, it was a cool city, but it was like other cities I've been to before. Maybe I'll give it another chance in future when I go back for Patagonia.

The steaks! Ah mannnnn they were amazing! Never had such good meat, went to a buffet place one time and I went into a food-coma in the taxi back! No photos unfortunately :(

Also watched a Tango show, so impressive, really makes me want to take up dance classes when I get back home!

La Boca  
Recoleta - New Bond St. of Mausoleums
Took a day trip to Uruguay to visit Colonia, just over the river from BA. An added plus was being able to take Dollars out from the ATM, in Argentina you can exchange dollars on the black market and get at least 50% more for your buck! Made everything so much cheaper!!

Sunset from the lighthouse in Colonia
My last night in BA I decided to go out with this stupid girl, ended up getting my phone stolen by the taxi driver. Can't even be bothered to go into detail about cos I'm so pissed off with myself.

What pissed me off even more was that I wasted most of my last day in BA when the weather was at it most beautiful during my stay! Finally ventured out in the late afternoon and went to the San Telmo markets, the streets were so busy and full of people, had some amazing food and there was a mini carnival band going through, SUCH a nice day, made me forget about the night before. After nearly a week in Buenos Aires, I was on my way out, got on yet another long-haul-overnight bus bound for Puerto Iguazu, the Argentinian side of the famous Iguazu waterfalls!

As soon as I stepped off the bus the humidity hit me, felt AMAZING! Puerto Iguazu was a cool little place, I went on a little sunset walk to where you could watch the two rivers meet which separated the three countries (Brazil & Paraguay). The next day I got to tick off another bucket list item - Iguazu waterfalls!!!

Apparently the ions released from the falls are supposed to make even the most unhappiest of people happy and boyyy was I happy!

The next day I moved over to the Brazilian side to catch a different view of the falls, and yet again I wasn't disappointed! I was like a little kid walking through the sprays of one of the huge waterfalls!

Hopped over to Paraguay for the day to visit the famous Itaipu dam, had to pass through Ciudad del Este, which was a shithole! The dam on the other hand was quite impressive!

Rushed over on an overnight bus to Floripa, a lovely modern island, was really nice to just relax for a few days before hitting Rio! Stayed in Barra de Lagoa and got to watch some pretty epic sunsets! Also tasted some AWESOME oysters in Ribeirao da Ilha!

I'm pretty sure half my travels are spent on busses cos I spent another overnight to get to Rio!! Only to find out that my friend got her dates wrong (I mean, who actually thinks they fly on Thurs eve and land on Thurs morn??!), I was all on my lonesome in one of the bestest cities in the world! It's ok though, I had no trouble in spending the day on the famous Copacabana beach and treating myself to some Acai sorbet!

Ahhh the day finally came, one of my best friends was coming to join me on my travels in RIOOOO!!

Was absolutely ecstatic and so happy to see her, felt like I was home again :) I'm sure we spent a good couple of hours filling eachother in on stuff.... in the hostel kitchen!! Headed straight for Ipanema and OBVS some of that good good food! I knew that once she was here I would not be able to get away from stopping at EVERY food stand and having to wait until she took the perfect pic of each food, before I could enjoy myself! Ah well, at least she was here!!!

Did all the obvious touristy stuff, markets (where I was 'coerced' into spending quite a bit of dosh), Christo, beaches, well known food places, biking along Copa and Ipanema, the Lapa steps, we fit in ALOT!


Took a couple days out to go to Ilha Grande, a beeauutiful island where we rinsed this buff bakery OUT!! Pao de queijo was the shit!! Onto Paraty where we met these awesome Norwegian guys, the weather wasn't too good here, so we went on a Cachaca and waterfalls tours.... that's a good mix right?

Back in Rio, we met a gay couple from London on top of Sugarloaf, ended up chatting with them for a good couple hours up there, reminded me even more of home!
Spent the Friday night in Lapa which was one of the sickest nights out I've had! Along with the live bands and samba dancing in the streets, we ventured into a hip hop club, where they had a B-Boy dance off and girls on stage doing the 'typical' choreographed dance routines! Familiar tunes had us skanking out until the early morning!

Our time back in Rio we stayed in a hostel in a favela called Vidigal, a pacified favela that is! Even though it's cool to say we've stayed in a favela, it was a totally safe one, and i guess, wasn't really a favela...? Nevertheless, the views we had out our windows were EPIC, one side was of Ipanema beach and the other was of the rest of Vidigal favela!

The day finally came for me to say a teary farewell to my BFF, as I saw her bus drive away I actually felt lonely :(

Spent a couple days a couple hours north in Buzios, wasn't too impressed with the place, really wished I would've gone inland to like an Old Town in Petropolis or something grr!

The Norwegians ended up in Vidigal and I've been tagging along with them for the past few days :) 

The Sunday night just passed we had an amazing BBQ at our hostel! Sundays are also known for parties in the favelas, you can hear loud pumping music all over the place and our hostel was no different that night! Typical Brazilian funky and charme was being played and we got to learn some moves from a couple locals! I had a shining moment and got to teach them the Candy dance, the other backpackers were 'how does she know Brazilian dancing??' LOL! I met up with the gay couple afterwards and headed to another favela - Rocinha - for a club!! Even though I was apprehensive about going here, I was bloody excited too! The place was cool, got to see the typical choreographed dancing again and the unbelievable dance moves these young'uns were coming out with, like OMGOSH. Even saw a pregnant 'young women' dropping like it's hot..!! All in all it was a really good night, although we did hear the next morning there was a shoot out in that very same favela ;/

One of the last touristy things I got to do was hike up the 'Two Brothers'! Saw some wicked views and the trek was well worth it!!

SO! Here I am sitting here, my flight is tomorrow and I actually can not believe that I'm going to be leaving South America. Looking back on the past 8 months, it's been an absolute dream come true. 

Needless to say, I WILL be coming back! <3 p="">


Friday, 5 September 2014

Machu Picchu, losing my memory and going AWOL for a few days.... (Sorry!)

7 months and countingggg! It's been a while and I think I have to say that being away for so long really makes you appreciate what you have back home and the people you have in your life (long pause...) ok, gayness over!

So after Lima, I joined a tour group which took me to all the places I wanted in the short time I had available! Walking onto the bus, everyone was either in a couple or groups (intimidating!) bar a couple of other solo travellers. It was for four days and I met the nicest bunch of people!! An English and an Irish couple and German guy, whom I ended up travelling with for the next couple of weeks, a group of six Irish girls who just absorbed me into their group and were unbelievably nice to me and a guy with his mum and aunt from Pelsall, in Peru for his 21st awww! And not forgetting the two lovely Colombian girls, who spoke like they were running out of breath! Haha!
My Bewitched girls haha
Visited a whole bunch of places along the coast like the slave tunnels of Hacienda San Jose, had amazing ceviche at El Silencio beach and watched the sealife at Ballestas Islands! Huacachina was next and it was definitely one of the highlights of my trip! Sandboarding and sandbuggying over the huge dunes here was so sick! Trudging up the hills with our boards were a hell of a lot of work but all worth it once you saw the views on top!

The hostel we stayed at had a club literally next door to my room, vibrations were felt throughout! Amazing night at the club that night, felt absolutely horrible knocking on my door room for the old(er) lady (who we were sharing with) to open up at 5am! The 21year old in my group ended up passing out and hitting his head on the floor, and then ended up having a french paramedic and english doctor arguing with eachother over how to treat him, was quite funny watching that!

Headed straight for Cusco after that and booked a trek to Machu Picchu asap! The altitude was affecting me and I didn't have alot of time so I booked a three day trek which inc. a day of biking and little bit of trekking.


Finally the day for MP arrived!!! We woke at 4.30am and got through the gates at 6am, the moment I saw the actual city, I couldn't believe it, I was actually there! Took sooooo many pictures, climbed up MP mountain and even had to hide behind some rocks to eat our lunch since you're not allowed food there LOL

Was a loooong three days, but so happy I did it! To reward ourselves, we got back to Cusco and celebrated Independence day! :)

Next stop was Bolivia, made a quick stop in Puno and visited the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, then got stuck in Copacabana for two days since I couldn't walk on one foot, shitty trainers for Machu Picchu was NOT a good idea!

Now onto La Paz, surprisingly spent quite a few days here and visited a few 'strange' places..!

THIS is where I did the Death Road... mountain biking on (apparently) the world's most dangerous road! I was having the MOST fun and it was such an exhilarating experience, riding along a narrow dirt road and being able to stare down a cliffside, what made it more exciting was that I was the only girl keeping up with three guys leading the pack! Naturallyyyy, this would make one even more competitive..... *covers eyes*
So! We're on the last stretch of the ride, the last bloody 5 minutes, trying to catch up with two of the guys cos I stopped quickly to check if another guy who had fallen was ok. Didn't realise how steep it had gotten when I turned a curve and narrowly missed hitting the wall, instead, bounced off of one rock and into another, got THROWN off of my bike, slamming into the ground on my left side and the bike landing right on top of me. Thank F**K I had a motorbike helmet on. People stopped to check I hadn't broken anything, but I waved them on, the ego was bruised enough! I felt the pain on my side but was fine enough to finish the course, as soon as I got to the bottom I handed my bike over and sat down. Next thing I knew I looked up and said to the guy next to me 'Where am I?'.

I was expecting to be in London, at home or work, but no, I was on the side of a dirt track in the blazing heat in Bolivia?! Not remembering the past 6 months! I started crying and hyperventilating, and then remembered I'd been to Machu Picchu! The guy next to me was called Ignacio and he was from Chile and he was a bloody lifesaver. He'd had experience in emotional counselling and stayed with me for the next two hours helping me to piece together the past week! If it hadn't been for him I would've been an emotional wreck! I honestly think the adrenaline kept me going til the end of the track and then the shock kicked in. When we got back that night I couldn't even walk properly, everytime I tried to move in bed I wanted to cry.
It took about a week before I could walk properly again, I told my family and they were not impressed! If I hadn't hurt myself, I would have done that ride again, SO much fun.

Met back up with the group I met in Peru and did the Uyuni Salt Flats with them. A three day tour through a desert, lakes and salt flats, not knowing that I'd have no signal whatsoever did not bode well with my sister. After messaging her nearly every day during my travels and then nothing for three days... she started to panic (adding to the fact that I'd just lost my memory!). Obviously you're reading this now, I apologise again for putting you through that.
The salt flats were soooo much fun and COLD, we did the usual jumping and miniature shots, had dinosaur and Hulk props, we had a blast!

The next couple of days were spent going around various lakes, mountains, rock valley, fumerals and a whole bunch of other stuff. On our last night we stayed right next to a hot spring, me and the girls screamed our way from the hostel to the spring in our bikinis because it was so cold! As soon as we stepped in... it was heavennnnn!! And with only the moonlight and lake as our scenery, pure bliss.

It was sad once the tour had finished, but hey, onwards and upwards! Next stop was a mine tour in Potosi where they worshipped the Devil underground...! And then Sucre, a pretty little town but the weather was crap so I was heading straight outta there and onto Chile!!

I'll continue this in my next post. xxx