Location: Santiago & Vina Del Mar, Chile
HOT CHILE FUN
After 5 days of no showers and a 24 hour bus ride, we finally arrive in Santiago Chile, where finally the weather was hot!
The day after we arrived was Australia Day so we donned out Aussie attire (some more than others) and set off to see the sights, despite half the group being more interested in starting of the celebrations as early as possible.
After a morning of sightseeing, half the group set off to find some fellow Aussies in the Irish pub across town. For some reason, Australia Day is not widely celebrated in Chile, and the pub was lacking both atmosphere and fellow Aussies.
The hostel was the place to be, packed with Aussies downing beers, playing cricket and eating Minties (thanks Patty). Hate to admit it but the Poms out-did us in the patriotism stakes, donning boony-type moustaches and bogan blue singlets. They belted out the National anthem but were caught out when launching into the 2nd chorus (though most Aussies were too
) The singing didnt stop there as Australia Day wouldnt have been complete without a tribute to Johnny Farmnam and a massive group rendition of ´Two Strong Hearts`.
After a long, messy dirnking session we headed out to a local discotech which reminded us a little too much of Casey´s Nightspot and Icon Bar rolled into one. Just when we thought not one English speaking song would be played, Kylie saved the night and came blasting from the speakers much to our delight. Nursing hangovers (that were slightly helped by the brilliant hot dogs on offer in Chile), we jumped on a bus to the sea side town of Vina Del Mar.
The next three days were spend lazing on the beach, visiting the small beachside towns around Vina along the coastal road (which rivals the Great Ocean Road I have to say) and testing the local seafood.
SALT FLATS TOUR - BOLIVIA
We hopped straight off the bus and into a couple of four-wheel drives for our three day tour of the salt plains.
The pics have been up for over a week now so you should have a good idea of what we did and saw over the three days but the following are a couple of highlights;
standing in the middle of the largest salt plains in the world - surrounded by snow capped mountains, the ice-like salt plains stretch as far as the eye can see;
spending way too much time lining up photos;
bec continuing her clumsy run, especially her inability to get out of the car.
eating lunch at 4500m altitude in the middle of the desert;
chasing flamingoes into the lake, resulting in rach ending up knee deep in mud;
being informed by our guide that llamas all poo in the same spot;
raiding the hostels red wine cabinet on the final night after a hard days tour;
the hot springs on the next morning to thaw our bodies after getting up at 4am to explore the stinky geysers (yes, they were almost worse than caz´s farts)
perhaps not so good for the red wine hangover;
crossing the border into Chile where we were met with paved roads.
Location: La Paz, Bolivia
1 SOCCER MATCH, 50 000 SEATS, 200 000 FANATICAL BOLIVIANS & 10 IGNORANT GRINGOS = DISASTER!
Immediately upon arrival to La Paz,we were offered the opportunity to attend the opening soccer match of the season between the two biggest teams. After knocking back a few drinks we set off amazing race style to get to the stadium across town. Some cabbed it, others walked (though not by choice) and other fluked getting on the right bus. We were all greeted by chaos and despite having pre-purchased tickets, entry into the stadium was harder than Motel post races. Whilst lining up with the rest of La Paz we were confronted with Police wielding shields, batons, dogs and capsicum spray. Pandamonium broke out when thousands of supporters broke down the barrier and set off flares. Enter dogs and capsicum spray. Once the stadium put out its full house sign it was a one out, one in policy... at half time and with no supports leaving the ground (unlike a Carlton football match) we decided to admit defeat and head to the pub to be greeted with the news that 1 fan died in the crush and 20 were injured. To end the night on a better note, we partied the night away ending up at the local strip club perfecting our pole dancing moves!
The rest of our time in La Paz was spent eating and shopping. We all purchased enough silver to sink a small ship in our defence it was the only thing that could fit in our packs. With only enough time to visit one museum we had to choose wisely. After visiting the San Pedro Jail the choice was obvious The Cocoa Museum, where cocoa leaves were included in the entry fee.
Our last night as a travelling group of nine was always going to be a big one. Bec and Rach made the most of it by scoring entry into the VIP section where the Johnny Walker flowed like water. The price of entry was to dance with the fat bolivian father paying for the gig. We´re still not sure whether it was worth it...
Nursing hangovers, we set off on the bus ride from hell. After a 2 hour delay the 16 hour bus ride went from bad to worse when travelling across the rocky country with no suspension and no roads the bus tipped up on two wheels numerous times. Miraculously we made it to Uyuni safe and sound.
Location: Copacabana & Isle de Sol, Bolivia
$9 ROOM WITH A MILLION DOLLAR VIEW
It was time to move on from Peru so we jumped on a bus to cross the border into Bolivia. We wern´t sure we were going to make it there alive when a security guard armed with a gun and video camera went around the bus and filming each person... so we could be identified when our bus fell off the cliff.
We finally arrived safely in the hippie town of Copacabana on Lake Titicaca (Caz note this is a lake, not the ocean) where taking more than 3 uphill steps left us gasping for breath.
A few days later we took the slowest boat ride in the world to Isle de Sol where we appreciated the serenity and beauty of the island. After a solid day walking from the north to the south of the island we relaxed on the balcony of our $9 room with a million dollar view where we never tired of the amazing outlook and watched the most spectacular sunset 4000m above sea level. Pictures speak louder than words so check out the photos.
We took a bus ride out of Copacabana to La Paz. Special thanks to the lady who sold us our tickets for throwing herself against the last 4 remailing seats. We would like to think she was doing us a favour but after our lousy tipping and poor attampts at spanish perhaps the locals were keen to see the back of us...
Location: Inca Trail & Macchu Picchu, Peru
ANYONE WHO SAYS THE INCA TRAIL IS EASY IS A BIG FAT LIAR
Picture this: 4 days, 44km, climbing the steepest mountains to 4200m above sea level and battling 4 seasons in one hour (yes the weather was more temperamental than Melbourne´s). This is what lay ahead of us as we embarked on the Inca Taril trek to Macchu Picchu.
14 trekkers set out, supported by 20 porters (ranging in age from 18 63) who ensured we were well fed and housed on the journey.
The scenery was spectacular (think Lord of the Rings). Surrounded by snow capped mountains, amazing waterfalls by our side, the lush greenery was a stark contrast to what we left behind in Melbourne.
After a relatively easy first day, we attempted to mentally prepare ourselves for the gruelling second day (the toughest of the trek) over a couple of beers. As we embarked on a 1200m steep climb, some found it easier than others. While Ree kicked the guys butts, being the first one to the summit, she later admitted that even she was out of breath on the climb. Then there was Bec, Rach & Coll who aptly named themselves the ¨back seat bandits¨ as they preferred to appreciate the trek, taking their time to stagger to the top.
Even though we were all nursing aching muscles from the day before, day 3 was the most enjoyable as we visited numerous Inca ruins, trekked through beautiful rainforests and most importantly our campsite had hot showers and a bar!
Rising at 3:45am on day 4 to torrential rain, we set off for the promised land known to us as Macchu Picchu. Walking in the teaming rain for a solid 2 hours, we reached Postcard point to watch the sun rise over Macchu Picchu. But alas, we were met with no sun but instead dense cloud and more rain. We didn´t let this dampen our spirits as we set off on the final leg of our journey to Macchu Picchu. We thought the gods were against us because as we arrived the clouds enclosed over the ruins
.again. However Mother Nature finally came through with the goods and the let the sun shine upon us. Fittingly, the Beatles Here Comes the Sun become our theme song for the trek.
Despite the fact we were soaked to the bone, we explored the ruins for a few hours then headed off to a much needed afternoon at the local hot springs. After a 4.5 hour train ride back to Cusco, our lack of sleep did not deter us from a big night out on the town and for the fourth morning in a row we saw the sun rise (or attempt to through the clouds!)
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TREK:
Eating the most amazing food, the best on out trip to date.
Bec tripping over all too frequently yet managing to make a perfect landing each time
(thanks to Rach´s arms being her lifesaver!)
Bec, Rach & Carl being charged at by a schitzo llama. They each saw their own lives flash before their eyes.
Brendan, Rach & Dave entertaining the train carriage on the way home with their impromptu karaoke.
Completing the trek!!
Location: Lima & Cusco, Peru
After being told by numerous people that Lima was nothing special, our expectations were very very low. With such low expectations, we actually had quite a good time. We found a Spanish speaking American who played translator for us while we explored the city of Lima. Our history teachers from school would have been proud as we attentively listened to the guides tell us about some of the historical sights (even if some of the tours were in Spanish!).
Our group of three expended to a group of four with the arrival of Colleen. We all relaxed at the hostel´s bar that night with beers to celebrate.
The next day we tasted some of the local seafood. Ree and Coll were most adventurous trialing a spicy raw seafood dish. The rest of the day was spent wandering along the beach and being lazy. As we were walking back to our hostel from the beach, we were treated like super stars with some of the locals wanting to take photos of us and kiss us on the cheek and get in contact with us via msn messenger.
Our group then expanded from four girls to nine people after the boys met up with us. The logistics of traveling with nine people can be very challenging and almost became unraveled after the boys stayed out all night and only got home half an hour before we had to leave to go to the airport. They decided a power nap was needed and slept through their alarms.
Cusco is an ancient cobbled stone street town surrounded by stunning mountain views. The sleep deprived crew spent the day lying in the sun and exploring the town (Bec and Colleen are still wearing the glow from the afternoon of sunbaking).
We made up for our laziness the next day and went white water rafting a couple of hours out of Cusco. The recent rains provided non stop rapids to the trills of many of the first timers. While the boys were positioned at the front due to their supposed manpower they were more effective shielding us girls from the spray of the rapids.
Whilst we were all brave enough to jump off the 10m bridge half way down the river, Rachel gets a special mention for missing both safety ropes. We thought we had lost her forever as we watched her bob downstream. Thankfully she was rescued by the kayaker 100m downstream. And another special mention goes to Bec who managed to work up some extra speed and broke the water with a huge splash. She now has an impressive bruise on her thigh to show for it.
The eventful day continued with half the group hitting Mama Africas and ripping up the dance floor until the early hours of the morning.
Tomorrow we head off for the four day Inca Trail trek. If we make it back alive, there will be another diary entry posted soon!
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
2000 Argentinean Men In A Bar
After surviving the 20 hour flight with first class airline Aerolineas Argentinas which involved a total of one plastic cup of dodgy wine, unidentifiable food products and a Bridget Jones´ Diary in Spanish
no English option, we finally touched down in sultry Buenos Aires.
Made it to our hostel after paying double the going rate for a cab from the airport, dumped our (considerable) luggage and examined the damage caused by exploding toiletries.
Met up with Santiago (the guy Nelson, not the place) an Argentinean friend of Simons who took us out to dinner with some friends to consume half of Old MacDonalds farm, accompanied by some nice Argentinean wine. Sadly, we didnt live up to Santiagos expectations of wild Aussie party girls (thanks Simon
) after having been awake for over 40 hours.
The next day we took a boat ride down the Tigre Delta to appreciate the scenery, despite the English speaking tourism officer failing to mention the two hour tour was completely in Spanish. Whilst the markets and historic architecture was interesting, we were shattered we couldnt enter the amusement park as our lack of Spanish got the better of us and we had no idea how to purchase a ticket.
We met up with Santiago that night, determined to live up to his expectations. The venue was Opera Bay a ´replica of the Sydney Opera House. Popular with the young and trendy after-office crowd, this bar could fit up to 5,000 randy Argentineans. 10 pm hit and it was like a free-for-all on the three Aussie girls, especially the tall blonde one. At one stage Bec and Rach were at the bar, only to be surrounded by men professing their love and wanting to gyrate on the dance floor. You´re probably thinking this was the highlight of the night but our trip to the toilets, as the photos show, provided the most entertainment. Discretion is obviously an unnecessary requirement.
The next day we visited the Cemetaria Recoleta where anyone of importance is buried, including Evita (just think Madonna ´Dont cry for me Argentina). After realising we knew nothing about the life of Evita, we took ourselves to the Museo Evita.
That concluded our time in Argentina and our day ended arriving five hours later than scheduled in Peru (special thanks to the hostel driver who waited for us for five hours).
THE FAREWELL PARTY CARLTON CARNIVAL NYE 2007
There was no better way to see in 2007 and bid Bec, Rach & Ree farewell than to hold THE party of the year Carlton Carnival NYE 2007.
The place looked amazing thanks to the efforts of Caz (who also co-hosted the affair), Joel, Tim, Ev & Loz helping set up all afternoon. People went to amazing efforts to adhere to the Carnival dress-up theme with Minnie and John taking out best dressed female and male, respectively.
We saw the New Year in with a bang thanks to 120 simultaneous party poppers and blowers going off at midnight (and we almost saw in the new year with a house fire courtesy of one party reveller getting a bit too carried away with his sparkler
There was an abundance of food, music and most importantly punch all night to ensure the party kicked on well past 5am. (and a special mention must go to our resident DJs Tim, Ev and Pete who did a fantastic job on the decks)
A gigantic thank-you goes out to Katrina, Joel, Justin Caz and Carmel who helped clean up today when the place looked a little worse for wear.
And finally a big thank-you to everyone who came to the party to help us bring in the New Year and bid us farewell. We hope you enjoyed the night as much as we did!