Thursday, 30 October 2008


Seven months, 26,765 miles, 64 huts/hostels/hotels, 15 flights, 14 trains, 42 buses, and 14 boats later, our grand worldwide adventure has come to an end, and here we are back in the UK.

We landed back at Heathrow's new Terminal 5 on a bright, sunny and crisp autumn day and were whisked off to the Isle of Wight by Amy's uncle Hugh to attend Anna & Glen's wedding where Amy was giving a speech, the very next day.

We've been back in the UK for a while now. We moved into a flat in London with our two cats. We have caught up with friends and have either found employment or are in the process are getting it.

It's awfully strange to be back. Even after a few weeks, it felt like we'd left our travelling selves on a beach somewhere. Now, after a couple of months it feels like we almost never left. Almost, that is.

Since we've been back we've managed to stay in touch with some of the people we met while we were travelling. We've seen Jon and Anna (Peru), Justin and Natalie (Bali) and have either spoken to, emailed or written to Lisa (Bali), Giles (Bolivia & Argentina), Tats and Alexis (Bolivia, Argentina & Uruguay!), Patrick (India, Australia)... to name just a few.

The one saving grace that takes us back are the little emails, cards and photos we receive from all of the wonderful people we met while we were away, but the one thing that makes it worth staying put (for a while, at least) are all of the wonderful friends and family we've come home to.

Now we just need to decide where we're off to next......

Bye bye Buenos Aires, sob

We spent the last few days of our excellent adventure in Buenos Aires. The weather wasn't great, but as we were coming to the end of our trip we decided to treat ourselves to an apartment which turned out to be a very wise move, and kinda made up for the rain and grey skies.

Our place was super central (and on one of the widest roads in the world - see view in photo below) and meant we could cook for all our new friends every night! So that's exactly what we did. We ate a lot, drank a lot, and on our last night we went out on the town and experienced BA's crazy nightlife. Nothing kicks off there until 2am, so you really have to have some energy in reserve so you don't fall asleep in whichever bar you visit before the dancing begins. The place we found was packed full of locals who all seemed to know every dance move to every latino pop tune that came on... It was slightly freaky but strangely mesmerising at the same time.

After that it was time for an emotional farewell, and a couple of hours sleep before nearly missing our flight due to Adrian setting the alarm for 8pm instead of am... Silly boy.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Sunny Colonia

After a few days of riding, relaxing and a great deal of eating we had to return to civilisation, and had one more night in Montevideo.

We decided to check out the picturesque seaside town of Colonia (not unlike many quaint British seaside destinations) and arrived after 2 hours on a bus to find that everywhere was fully booked. The entire population of Argentina had come to Colonia for their bank holiday weekend and left no room for us.
We found somewhere in the end and spent the afternoon enjoying the sunshine. We watched the sun set with a beer outside a pub by the sea, while Adrian made me learn my reading for Anna's wedding off by heart. While I was rehearsing, I spotted a familiar figure in the distance, and couldn't believe my eyes when I realised it was Tatiana and Alexis walking towards us! After much excitement we settled down for the evening and consumed more beer.

A couple of days later we all bundled back on the boat back to Buenos Aires.

I have since found out from my Grandmother that Colonia was where my Grandfather was born!

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Horse trekking in Cerro Colorado, Uruguay

We decided to catch a ferry to Uruguay while we still had plenty of time left, and met up with Alexis and Tatiana again in Montevideo. The city was very quiet and I swear we were the only foreigners in the whole country.

Adrian and I booked a few days on an estancia in Cerro Colorado so we could spend some time riding horses. After two nights in the capital we caught a bus out of town and into the middle of nowhere. Our bus dropped us off and we felt a little bewildered until someone tapped us on the shoulder and said 'San Pedro'? Relieved, we hopped into his taxi and he took us even further from civilisation and dropped us at San Pedro estancia.

We couldn't believe our eyes - sat before us was a tiny village of Mediterranean style buildings and even a small church. There were endless stretches of green in all directions. We really were in the middle of nowhere.

We were shown to our room complete with roaring fire, and went straight for lunch. Three hefty courses later we walked fatly out of the restaurant and chilled in our snuggly room before going out for our first outing on the horses....

Bueno Buenos Aires

We said farewell to our friends and left Iguazú for Buenos Aires last weekend. Yet another overnight bus journey and we arrived in BA in time for lunch. Got off to a bad start by getting totally ripped off by our taxi driver, but never mind...

We spent the weekend exploring the city on foot. We had a room in the lively Recoleta district with some pretty amazing restaurants and cafes nearby and actually very few tourists. On Sunday morning we went on a guided walk with a very entertaining guide who took us to lots of historical nooks and crannies of the city. We visited the cemetery (more of a small town than a cemetery!) where Eva Peron is buried, visited San Telmo for the weekly antiques market, and then caught a train out to the suburbs to Martinez to visit my grandfather´s cousin, Elaine.

That night we returned to San Telmo to watch the locals come together to tango in the square, with a troupe of drummers passing by in the background. Party central!

Friday, 3 October 2008

The fellowship of Iguazú

Iguazú Falls

After three nights in Salta chilling out and eating good food, Adrian and I decided to follow Giles, Alexis and Tatiana to Iguazú Falls, on the border of Brazil and Paragay, as from there it´s very easy to get to Buenos Aires.

We boarded what is surely our hundredth bus for another overnight journey and arrived in Puerto Iguazú to pouring rain and deafening thunder. It wasn´t a great start. The falls may be wet, but we wanted to actually be able to see them....

Luckily for us, when we got up the next day the sun was shining brightly and we had the warmest weather we´d seen since Peru.

Upon first setting eyes on Iguazu falls, the then American First Lady exclaimed `Poor Niagra!` for it is one of the largest waterfalls in the world (dwarfing the US`s tiny effort). Only Victoria Falls in Africa trumps Iguazú to the number one spot. The falls are in the middle of dense rainforest, inhabited by curious racoon things, monkeys, vultures, guinea pigs, iguanas and millions of brightly coloured butterflies.

We decided to see the falls by boat. After boarding the vessel, we sped off at super high speed straight into the belly of the beast. We sat terrified by the noise of the water crashing around us from great heights and then as our boat got closer we got completely soaked by the splashing water - a truly exhilarating experience.

Adios Bolivia, hola Argentina

We arrived back in Uyuni unwashed after our stay in the desert, and after a hearty meal (much needed) we boarded a train to the border with Alexis, Tatiana (both from Oz) and Giles (London - all pictured below) who we met while on the Salt Flats.

After an overnight journey we arrived on the border and had the longest border crossing any of us had ever experienced - the queues for immigration each side were so long they virtually crossed over into the opposite country.

Once safely in Argentina we had two more buses before we arrived feeling pretty revolting in Salta. We were in desperate need of a shower, only to discover that EVERY hostel in Salta was fully booked due to a festival that weekend for Jewish new year (Salta has a large Jewish community).

After the lovely kind man in our friends´ hostel had exhausted every option, we decided that if ever we deserved a night in a fancy hotel, it was now. Armed with the credit card, we booked ourselves into the only room left at the beautiful Papyrus Hotel - the delux suite. Hurrah! It was perched on a hill overlooking the whole city (see view below). Our suite had a bed the size of a small house and a very very nice bathroom. We were extremely happy with our rash but necessary decision, and got the best night´s sleep of our lives.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Party at minus 20c

We had been dreading our second night on the Salt Flats. It would reach minus 20c and we were staying in very basic accomodation with six or seven beds to a very simple room in a very remote shack. Amy and I didn´t even have sleeping bags (nobody told us!). So, to keep our spirits up, we did what we do best. We had a party.

Armed with my new miniature guitar, we sang songs whilst drinking yet more cheap wine. It turned out that everyone else was up for a party too. Even our tour guide and cook - we all ended up singing and dancing as the night came in and the temperature dropped. The whole celebration reached a crescendo with a very close limbo competition. Our new friend Jo (Yorkshire) was narrowly beaten by Alexis (Sydney) who despite having cracked a rib on the World`s Most Dangerous Road, managed to sneak under a very low piece of string.

When it was late enough, we ventured out into the cold night to watch the sky. I saw two shooting stars.

The following morning, we drove out to see geysers (pictured top), and into the Salvador Dali desert (above) which was the inspiration for many of Dali´s famous desert scenes in his paintings. Then we saw the Green Lagoon (mineral deposits again) before resting our cold and weary bones in a lovely natural hot spring which hit 40 degrees!

In the jeep

With Jo and Dan

The Red Lake

It really was very red (as a result of mineral deposits).


The Salt Hotel

When one is completely surrounded by salt, why not use it as a building material? On our first night on the salt flats we stayed in a hotel made entirely out of salt. It´s not the easiest thing, to sleep on a salty bed, but we managed to catch some sleep thanks to some bad, cheap Bolivian wine.

Here are some photos....

4x4s on the salt

We left La Paz to head south to the Salar de Uyuni, or, to call it by its Gringo name, the Salt Flats. It´s basically 4000 square miles of flat salt plains, formed when a huge prehistoric lake dried up leaving the largest salt plain in the world.

It´s a terribly desolate and remote place. With no roads, and white salt stretching far into the horizon in every direction, it´s dazzling in the bright sunshine and closely resembles snow.

We signed up to a three day tour of the Flats where we would travel by 4x4, sleep in a salt hotel and freezing cold dorms (where the temperature dropped to minus 20c), see the clearest night sky in the world, be whipped by dust storms, witness green and red lagoons and have a bizarre limbo competition in the middle of nowhere with some newfound friends.

But first... here are the token touristy Salt Flat photos of us taken by our friends Dan and Jo, playing with scale and perspective of this odd place...