Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Road to Mordor - New Zealand

The day after the adrenalin-filled bungy jump, or rather bungy fall, we woke up quite tired and were fairly slow getting ready. The fault: a mixture of the come down after the jump, a bottle of nice NZ sparkly wine (belated birthday celebration), and some stupid guys filling up our adrenalin tanks for a second time by suddenly, in the middle of the night, show up and start driving in circles on the gravelled parking were we had found our 'haven' for the night.



Monday, 7 November 2011

A different birthday experience in Taupo

When you leave to travel for a full year, it comes without saying that at one point during the trip a special day will sneak up on you. And what better place to celebrate ones birthday than in beautiful New Zealand?

It was a day filled with incredible gifts, starting with us awakening to one of the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Going south in the Northern island - New Zealand

Travelling around the northern tip of New Zealand was a good surprise full of amazing views and we sure enjoyed it fully spending twice as much time in that area as we had planned. It was time to head down south and experience some of the Maori culture.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Dolphins, giant trees, John Lennon, long soft golden beaches, and some more dolphins – welcome to Northland 3

By now we had already spent three days up in wonderful Northland and although we didn't want to stress, we did want to visit some other parts of the country as well so after a morning run on the twin beaches and a dip in the sea, we decided to skip the drive up to the most northern part of NZ at Cape Reinga.

Dolphins, giant trees, John Lennon, long soft golden beaches, and some more dolphins – welcome to Northland 2

The next morning was the beginning of what would become one of our absolute best memories from this trip. Memories that we will cherish for ever and can take out to remember whenever life feels a bit tough.
It was the day for swimming with these lovely, big, docile creatures that we both love so much. I have always dreamt about one day swimming with dolphins, but I never thought it would become true. And here we were on one of the few dolphin watching boats that have the permit to also allow passengers to go into the water with the dolphins, under restrictions.

Dolphins, giant trees, John Lennon, long soft golden beaches, and some more dolphins – welcome to Northland 1

After hanging out for a couple of days in feeling-at-home Auckland, we finally picked up our new best friend, John Lennon, and after a thorough check that there were no 'real' bumps (small indentations and scratches do not count for this company) on the car, a bit of paperwork and some screams from me about Lennon being way too big for me to drive – we set out for the most northern part of the northern island of New Zealand: Northland.

As we had just realised a day or so before that NZ in in fact quite a big country, even if the population is at a tiny 4 million, we had decided to spend maximum two days in Northland before heading south of Auckland and hit the rest.

That was the plan that is. A plan that crumbled to pieces meter by meter, or perhaps kilometre by kilometre,

Thursday, 5 May 2011

There is only one Rio

And finally Rio...

Rio had a special feeling on this trip: it would be the nearest place from home, staying with family, speaking my own language, and living the Carnaval.
It was also the feeling of the beginning of the end, the departure from South America, the catching of the only flight we had bought long before starting the trip and a big twist on our travel route before going to 'the other side of the world'.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Moving further North - Curitiba, São Paulo, Paraty

Leaving the incredible Iguazu falls, we decided to do one of our 'favourite' travel combination: 1 night travel by bus + 1 day visiting a new place + 1 night travel by bus.
Well, that was the plan at least...

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Water power in Iguazu

The Iguazu falls were one of those places in our list that we didn't want to miss out on, and we made sure we didn't. An old Indian tale says that the waterfall was caused by the rage of a furious god serpent that lived in the river and wanted to have the beautiful bride of an Indian warrior.
Whatever this story is true or not, the waters of the river are still furious and

Monday, 2 May 2011

Swinging and surfing Floripa

After an over night bus ride from the border with Uruguay, there we were in Florianopolis, in the first non-Spanish speaking country of our trip. Brazil the promised land for the best carnival in the world, happy people and great food.
Floripa, the short name of Florianoponis connects with Ilha Santa Catarina, an island renowned for some great surfing beaches and lagoons. Not having ridden any waves since Panama, I was very much looking forward to some action.

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Ugly, Uruguay? Not at all!

In our newly acquired tradition of adding countries last minute to our plan, and upon the insistence of Nuno2, we decided to take the boat from BA across to beautiful Uruguay on our way to Brazil.
A fairly small country, nestled among its giant neighbours, it does not seem to appear on most backpackers itinerary, but perhaps it should as it really is a lovely country, one where I could again imagine living (these liveable places seem to add on quite quickly during this trip... how will I ever be able to chose?).

Tango and more in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is the capital of Tango no doubt about it.
While preparing for this trip I packed a pair of shoes in the bottom of my backpack waiting for some dance lessons in Buenos Aires. I carried them on my back for many kilometres on South American roads and it was now time to reach into the backpack and let the shoes fulfill their purpose.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Long last meeting in lovely, liveable Cordoba

When I was 18, I spent a year in Kansas City, Missouri, in the US as an exchange student in Park Hill High School. A lovely and very useful experience that not only improved my English greatly (although in an Americanized way) and opened my eyes for the many dualities of the American society, but also created many friendships with some truly interesting people.

One of these friendships, with my closest friend during that year, was with a fellow exchange student – the lovely, fun and brilliant Natasha from Argentina!
Fast forward a couple of years, or rather 15, and here I am finally in Argentina and about to meet this beautiful friend again and experience the city that she talked so much about all those years ago, and which was the first city, outside of capitals, that I probably knew about in Latin America.

I present to you: Cordoba.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A couple of extra days? Why not a short trip over to Chile???

After what felt like having run after time since somewhere in Colombia - as we had still so many places we wanted to visit before our only booked flight, out of Rio a couple of months later -, we suddenly found ourselves with too many days left before we needed to be in Buenos Aires. What to do?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Mendoza: The best chorizo is not a sausage!


Next stop going south was Mendoza, where it felt like being in the middle of the countryside having some tasty meat accompanied with red wine, but the city is actually one of the biggest in the country.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

A glass of salted rioja

Our first stop in Argentina was to stay a couple of days in Salta close to the Bolivian border. Well, close for Argentinian standards as we are still speaking a 7h bus ride away! But as we would soon discover, by spending more and more hours on buses, Argentina is a huge country!

Only train ride in Latin America and the bus ride from hell

Coming back with our minds almost overfull of the amazingly beautiful images, bizarre smells and intense three-day 4x4 journey around Uyuni, we booked ourselves into a hostel for a couple of hours as our train was booked for 2.30 am and we couldn't imagine spending the 8h leading up to departure walking the rain pounded streets of this small town.

A wise decision that allowed us to have a hot shower to wash away the grit of the three days, a place to repack and store our stuff, and a couple of hours of stretching out our bodies on a straight soft surface after having spent 12h in the 4x4 car and before boarding the train for another lovely 8h of much comfortable seat sleeping.

Venturing out for dinner,

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A lot more than just a desert of salt, Uyuni 3

When we have the space, we jump of excitement.
On the third and last day of the Uyuni trip, when we woke up it was still dark and very cold, we were now at about 5000 m high, close to laguna colorada. With a short night sleep and an empty stomach, we packed our things and got in the Jeep. Our driver was in a hurry, and drove like crazy through the darkness before we arrived to our first stop.

Monday, 28 March 2011

A lot more than just a desert of salt, Uyuni 2

So, it's been some time since the last update. Two main reasons: We've been very busy traveling and internet is not always easy to reach when you're on the road. But we will make an effort to bring you up-to-date with our adventures.

The last post was about Uyuni, and although we spent 3 days there immersed in beautiful landscapes, we only told you about the first day. Its time for some catching-up.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

A lot more than just a desert of salt, Uyuni


After a long bus journey through some of the best Bolivian roads (still just another good dirt road where bridges are built by it's users, see last post), we finally arrived at the town of Uyuni where we had booked a 3 day tour to the Salt flats.

I have to admit that I had some expectations on this place, I had made the mistake of checking some pictures online and all of them looked beautiful, almost like from an unreal place. What I was not aware of was the extension of the place, what the exact route would be and what it would feel like to be there, so it was with a big surprise that during the next 3 days I found myself in the middle of volcanoes, beautiful colourfull lagoons and thermal springs.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Facing death in Bolivia

Ater an amazing time in huge and very beautiful and interesting Peru, it was time for us to hitch the next bus south for a short stay in Bolivia.

Friday, 18 February 2011

The highest navigable lake in the world, and the people that navigate it with their islands

Our last stop in Peru was the famous Lago Titicaca. We bussed our way down there from Cusco to the cold city of Puno that lies at the shore of the lake.

Having heard a great deal about this lake and the different islands in it, we booked a day tour to see the Urus floating islands and the autonomous island of Taquiles.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

Marvelous Machu and piccante Picchu


So as the alarm went off in the early morning ( make that the middle of the night) we sleepily made it out of bed, into our clothes and out into the street where we started to walk towards the bridge, the first ‘port’ on the way. Opening at 4.45 in the morning, it was already lined with about 50 people queueing up by the time we got there at 4.30.

The air was full of tension as everyone was getting ready to take off and be the first ones to the top, a bit like in the beginning of a sprinting competition.

The Tarzan way to Machu Picchu - part 3

On the way to the start of the hike on this last day of imitating Tarzan (everyone in the group had in fact voted to skip walking the 2-3 hours at the side of a normal road and go by car instead to a sport further up) we stopped to see quite a huge man-built waterfall.

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Tarzan way to Machu Picchu - part 2

Day 2 started up with buckets of rain coming down from the sky, making us believe that we were to pass another wet day out in the rain. But by the time we had finished breakfast, the rain had cleared up and when we started walking it was under a sunny, although partly cloudy sky. Perfect weather for this day partly on an Inka trail.

The Tarzan way to Machu Picchu - Part 1

On the first day of our 4-day tour to Machu Picchu it seemed a bit like we were running out of luck, as the rain kept pouring down from a dark sky and the road was covered in mist, and as we quickly realised that out of our group of 10 participants, 8 belonged to the same Polish group, and hence we were the odds out. However, it turned out to be a cool day anyway.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Cusco and a 'Sexywoman'

Having arrived in Cusco, the 'starting point' to Machu Picchu, without any booking, we quickly realised that the original Inka trail was out of question for us, as it is booked up months in advance and the only cancelled spot available seemed to be 10 days later and we did neither have the time nor the want to wait that long. So instead, we spent half a day searching the hundreds of travel agencies for the best deal on the Inca Jungle trek that I had heard was a great alternative to the ever more touristy Inca trail.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The deepest canyon in the world, Colca

On the second day in Arequipa, we woke up in the middle of the night as a minibus came to pick us up for a tour of Colca canyon - the deepest canyon in the world.
I was first surprised over the amount of people that we saw in the streets so early in the morning - until I realised that the night before had been Saturday, and that hence 4am was quite a normal time for people to be returning home from night clubs ;)

A white city, and slightly bizarre but marvelous Inka creations

Moving on South to the second biggest city of Peru, Arequipa - la ciudad blanca, an UNESCO world heritage site, we made a stop in another UNESCO site for a few hours in a deserved area with some huge lines drawn every here and there...

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Huacachina, a small oasis in the middle of the desert

Continuing down south we couldn't help ourselves from stopping in the little oasis town of Huacachina .

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Paracas, where the hot desert meets the cold seas

On our way down south from Lima we decided to make a stop in Paracas, a little town in the middle of the endless Peruvian desert driven by fishing, tourist attractions, and bird poop.

Since we missed our trip to the Galapagos islands because of the end-of-year tourist rush which made the flight prices hit record prices and after that everything got fully booked, we decided that the stop in Paracas was mandatory.

Lovely, languishable Lima

Feeling that we were still running out of time if we ever wanted to make it to Argentina and Brazil before our departure date, we decided to skip the rest of northern Peru and to instead join the gringo trail starting with the very likable city of Lima.

But isn't Lima far away from Mancora and the Ecuadorian border? And isn't Peru a rather huge country, bigger than we had ever imagined?

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Exiting Ecuador with a story

Before leaving Ecuador we spent some time in Cuenca, strolling around the river and the main plaza.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

No bath in Baños


Baños was the next place after Cotopaxi, a good place to bring Helena back to shape after a very intense flu that is never welcome while travelling.
One of the techniques we mostly used was rest, and to finalize the treatment we offered ourselves a relaxing massage followed by a great dinner, the best part was the apple crumble and ice-cream.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Quito

Our first stop in Ecuador was Quito, the capital city, situated at 2800 m of altitude and surrounded by mountains that reach a lot higher.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Light show in the City of Eternal Spring

After a couple of lovely, albeit freezing, days in Bogotà, we jumped on a flight for the city of eternal spring - Medellin - and a visit with the beautiful Sofia and her family.
Well, jumped on a flight might be a slight simplification. In fact, on this 22 December, the low-cost airline that we were flying with seemed to be having some kind of pre-Christmas nervous break-down. All flights from Bogotà had originally been delayed because of some fog (although we had problems seeing where this fog was supposed to be), but after a couple of hours most flights started to take off. Except for the flights with our lovely 'Aires' company as for some reason the fog was still stuck, but now just around the aircrafts of this company.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Into the wild Cotopaxi

While in Quito we decided to go for a few relaxing days surrounded by nature in an Eco-friendly lodge near the volcano Cotopaxi, our initial idea of relaxation suffered a big twist of faith and very soon we realized that this was going to be an activity intense stay .
We left Quito in a Jeep, sharing the ride with an american couple and a dog.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

At home in Bogotá

Once upon a time, there was a small prince named Sohrab born to the giver of life, Vida. The prince lived with his lovely mother and father in a cold, fairly crazy place, high up in the mountains in the capital of the people of Columbus, Bogotá.
Having lived for less than a month, this beautiful little prince had his kingdom invaded by a couple of bizarre travellers that found themselves far, far away from home, and who, after months of travelling, had almost forgotten how to behave among civilised people and especially how to behave with a small fragile prince who needed only the best of care.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Cartagena de las Indias

Wait a second... did we just jump Cartagena?

You are right  after rainy Panama city we did enter Colombia through Cartagena, and what an amazing surprise it was.
Arriving at the airport terminal and getting that sunny, hot and humid air blast felt quite good actually. It was good to go back to the Caribbean side and enjoy the relaxed life.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Where is it? Where is it? Yeah, we've found it..(part 2 of 2)

The fourth day was the day of the thousands steps of stairs. Well 1'200 upwards to be exact, and for some reason, probably the same amount going back down ;) Although steps might be a bit of a nice expression for the differently cut pieces of stone that make up these stairs.

Where is it? Where is it? Damn, it's lost...(part 1 of 2)

Indecisive until the last minute if we should use 5 full days of our precious time left in South America (we are starting to feel pressed of time even though we have more than 2 months left before taking off from Rio for Auckland in early March) to do the trek to the Ciudad Perdida, or if we should rather just spend a couple of days on the beach and then move on to the next destination in order to make it to the Galapagos Islands in time for my dream of celebrating Christmas with some giant turtles.
Five minutes before the deadline, the night before the trek, we had made our decision and started a chase for cash machines that actually accepted foreign cards. By the 5th try we finally hit jackpot and withdrew the million!!!