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Joel's travel page!!

Here is my travel page, bascially I will try and keep you up to date with what I have been getting up to! feel free to leave comments and I might even respond to them!

Diary Entries

Thursday, 07 February 2008

Location: UK

Dear all...

Time to round things off, Rio de Janeiro was the most awesome city. The rain let it down a little at first, but that soon past and Rio turned into the most beautiful city! We found a nice hostel pretty much on Copacabana beach, which had been open for literally a week. It was a nice area, based on the posh hotels dotted about, however the favellas that the hostel backed onto and the vast amount of beggars meant it wasnt the safest of areas. We had been warned about Rio being quite dangerous, but this only hit home when we heard gunshots from our hostel on the first evening. We decided not to venture out that evening.

Wednesday was a little wet at first, so we made our way to Rio Sul, the shopping centre near copa. After some food and some breif window shopping, Amy and I made our way back to Copa and discovered a Fort copacabana and the end of the beach. The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling on the beach before making our way back to the hostel for some snooker and a beer.

Having met some nice English guys and some annoying Australians, we agreed to go out with them to some bars for a few beers. We ended up in some Irish bar in Ipanema for most of the evening before finding another bigger bar closeby. As the money began to run out, Amy and I headed home, whilst Lee, Dale (Leeds chap) and Leo (London bloke) went off in search of some clubs. They found a bar for a few more before catching a taxi home. Not your usual taxi ride though however, as their taxi driver made the mistake of taking the back route to the hostel, via the favella's. They were stopped by 3 blokes with what Lee described as AK's strapped to them. The blokes were first inquiring as to what they were doing in their community, befor demanding any sort of drugs off them. They didnt have anything to give, but this was not a problem and they were soon back on the road and home. A little drunk and shaken up, but fortunately all were safe!

The weather on Thursday was gorgeous, hence Amy and I thought we'd take the chance to go to Corcovado, to see the statue of Christ overlooking Rio. Unfortunately Rio's only cloud was surrounding Christ so we turned around and headed to Sugarloaf mountain where you can get a cable car to the top to overlook the city from the opposite side as Christ. Situated North of Copacabana, the views were truly magnificent. From here you can see everything from Copacabana, round to the centre and Lapa and out to sea, with loads of small tropical islands dotted about.

After this we made our way back to Copacabana beach and whilst Amy and Lee lay down to soak up the rays, Oli and I took on Brazil in a game of beach football. The Brazilian flair wasnt enough to hold off the English power and we soon took them down. That night we found a lively hostel down the beach for dinner and a few beers, and then everyone was in the mood for a few more so we headed over to Lapa, the notorious party area of Rio and found a few random bars there, playing music ranging from Samba, to Brazilian rock to Grease megamix. We headed home about 5 am.

Friday was again a beautiful day, so we got back into the taxi with our friend Dale and headed up to Corcovado. This time we were in luck and when we turned the corner in the taxi, we discovered a cloud free christ hence gorgeous views. The statue is quite incredible, it is up there with machu picchu in terms of its breathtakingness! From here you can see everything and Rio really has to be one of the worlds most beautiful cities. In the evening we made our way into the North of the city to find the Maracana. This historic stadium famously held 199,500 people in 1950, however, the introduction of seats has brought the full capacity down to a mere 95,000. We were there for a small pre-season cup match between Fluminence and Boavista. Not a huge attendance but still enough to get a taste of the atmosphere and the Brazilian love of the game!

Following the game, we had planned to head back to Lapa, as the carnival was underway and there had been a procession through the city finishing in Lapa, however, the banks had been boarded up for security hence we were unable to get any money, so our carnival was unfortunately cut short. We instead headewd out for some dinner and a beer before an earlyish night.

Saturday was to be the final day of this little adventure, we were up, packed and in the taxi by midday. Our flight was pretty much on time and we all arrived back at Heathrow safe and sound by 7am 3rd Feb, 2008.

It's been a pretty fantastic 46weeks. Seen and done a hell of a lot, come across some amazing places and people along the way. And made a lot of good friends, not many of which I'm likely to see again, but all of which I no doubt share fantastic memories with. Well thats about all for now, I've been Joel Smith, you've been beautiful. Over and out. xxx

Monday, 28 January 2008

Location: Brazil

Time for a brief update. Our stay on Ilda do mel was a little wet at times but really good. Following on from my last entry, the rain stopped and the sun began to shine, so we walked across the island to one of the better beaches. Lee, as per usual got in position and worked on his textbook tan, while Amy and I hit the sea and the ENORMOUS waves. It was a fun afternoon and before I knew it, we´d be in the sea/sun for hours and needless to say, I had managed to get myself pretty burnt again. We spent the evening enjoying dinner and a few beers on the beach before the rain cut in again and didnt stop until midday the following day. It cleared up a bit on the Sunday so we went back to the beach, Oli and I both armed with surfboards. Surfing was pretty impossible, the waves were so big and coming from all directions that it took ages to get out into the sea without being thrown back. Was still quite funny to try although we werent too great. Next time I´m sure I´ll master it.

On the Sunday evening we met an English and an America girl who introduced us to a really nice fish restaurant on the beach before taking us to a bar they had discovered the night before. This bar was amazing, one of my favourite bars in the whole world!! Unlike most of the popular tourist bars on the beach, this was mainly for the locals and was hidden away down a path through the jungle. We walked for about 10 minutes through the forest before it opened up to a fairly small hut surrounded by lights. We had to take our shoes off to go in and at one end was a small bar and at the other, an amazing local band. The band were incredible, playing a selection of Brazilian music, none of which we had ever heard but they were so cheerful and all the locals were dancing about and picking up percussion instruments and joining in. It was a great atmosphere! The rest of us were sat on the floor chatting and drinking. This went on until about 2am when they had to stop, however a canadian bloke who we had met previously had turned up, and he happened to be awesome of the guitar and at singing, so he started playing a load of (mostly Beatles) songs so the party continued! We were in bed by about 3.30am, a little later that planned, especially as we had to be on the ferry at 8am.

We woke at 11am so suffice to say, had missed the ferry so plans changed slightly. We got on the 12pm ferry and made our way back to Parangua before getting a bus back to Curitiba. Here we found some dirty hotel to spend the night before getting the 8am bus to Sao Paulo. From Sao Paulo the plan was to jump straight onto another bus to Paraty as I had been outvoted and nobody else wanted to spend any time here. We were unable to get a bus until the following day hence had to spend a night here. Its a pretty filthy city. The roads are ridiculously hectic and traffic just does what it wants. We found a cheap hotel in the centre somewhere, had a small wander round, a bit of dinner and then bed. Its a pretty dangerous city and our area wasnt too nice, so no-one was keen to do anything more.

We survived the night in Sao Paulo so got our bus to Paraty which took another 7 hours. We found ourselves a nice family run hostel and explored the place a bit. Paraty´s a really cool little seaside town, lots of small cobbled streets, little markets and nice beaches. We spent the next day eating and on the beach. Then on Thursday we headed to a nearby town called Trindade. About 25 kms from Paraty, Trindade offered better beaches, bigger waves and less people, and after one day there, we decided that we wanted to spend the weekend there, so we hunted around, found a hostel and booked ourselves in. Friday night in Paraty was pretty cool. Carnival´s just around the corner so everyone is getting in the party mood already. We had dinner and then found a bar on the street next to a main square where there was lots of music, street performers and people dancing about. Lee and Oli caved in early, but Amy and I decided to make the most of it and stay out for a few more.

We missed our 11am bus that we had planned to get, having slept until 12, so we left our hostel and headed to Trindade on the 1pm bus. The weather over the next couple days was pretty varied. We had spells of hot sun, followed by terrential rain. This didnt affect things too much though as we still spent most of the time in the sea playing in the HUGE waves! Last night we had a great dinner followed by a few beers in a nearby bar. Was a really good weekend.

We left this afternoon, and Oli and Lee went back to spend a night in Paraty whilst Amy and I decided to hop on a bus to Angra dos Reis. Angra is the next main seaside town up the coast towards Rio. We didnt feel like another night in Paraty, and thought we´d see something more before the bright lights of Rio. We arrived here about 2 hours ago and found ourselves a cool little hostel. We walked along the beach to find the bus terminal to book our tickets for tomorrow and have explored a bit of the place. Its another really cool little town. Its backs quite high onto the hills behind, and like Paraty, is quite a tourist destination for the Brazilians. It should be really gorgeous however the weather is letting us down again so isnt fulfilling it´s potential!!

Rio de Janeiro tomorrow, exciting times, should be about 3 hours to get there. With Carnival week just a few days away, prices have quadrupled apparently so we´re hoping we can crash with the American we met in Ilda do mel tomorrow night. She mentioned it whilst drunk so fingers crossed it´ll be cool. After that we´ll need to sort ourselves out for the rest of the week. Not looking forward to these high prices but what the hell, its only money, coming towards the end of this little adventure anyway, so may aswell go out with a Bang!

Love love. xxx

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Location: Brazil

Buenos Dies

Once again, seem to have seen quite a lot of the world since the last entry. Survived our flight with the dodgy Brazilian airline and arrived in Buenos Aires following 2 days and 2 nights of travelling. We got a taxi to San Telmo, an area near the centre and found a hostel to pass out in. It was unbearably hot for most of our week in Buenos Aires, temperatures reaching 40c, and was really humid most of the time, making it even worse. Our 8 bed dorm in the hostel proved too sweaty after 2 nights so we found a fairly nasty hotel down the road. The rooms were fine, they had fans at least, the woman who owned it was not nice, but it was cheap! We searched around a little, but were laughed at when we suggested air conditioning, so it appeared it was the best we were going to get. Buenos Aires is a great city, ridiculously big, so we barely touched the surface, but the parts we saw, we loved. European in many ways, through a lot of the architecture, and generally, really nice people. We probably didnt do as much of the cultural stuff as we should, in fact, the first day we wandered into the main shopping area and discovered some amazing shops with really cheap prices, so we went a bit nuts and spent most the week attacking the overdraft. Lee´s card suffered the most, with well over 3000 pesos being spent. To put it in context, most items I bought cost around the 100 mark. Our evenings mainly consisted of dining out, eating pretty awesome steaks and going to a few bars, venturing into Palermo district one night for a few more. Our main outing was a trip to Boca juniors stadium, one of the main South America football teams for which Maradona played a lot of his days and is now an avid supporter. We did the tour which was good and then made it back for some late afternoon shopping!

From Buenos Aires we stepped aboard an amazing bus for the supposedly 19hour trip to Puerto Iguazu. We we in first class, sat at the front of the top deck. We got pre dinner whiskey, followed by a great meal, lots of wine/beer, and a few films. In true South American fashion, our bus arrived about 4 hours late into the small town of Puerto Iguazu. Purpose of our trip up to Iguazu was to see the falls which are divided between the Argentines and the Brazilians, so we were to spend one day on each side. We found ourselves a nice enough hostel, which thank god, had air conditioning, and a pool!

The falls were absolutely amazing, our plan of getting up at 7 and beating the crowds sort of went to pot when we woke about half 10, but it didnt make a difference really. The good thing about Puerto is that it is about half an hour´s bus journey to the falls, so there are no towns surrounding the falls. Iguazu boasts something like 270 waterfalls and it is breathtaking. We did a few walks around some of the falls, before getting a train to the top of the main fall, the Devil´s Throat. Its really well set out, so you can get up so close as to get immediately drenched by the spray, its awesome!

From Puerto we got a taxi 30kms across the border to Foz de Iguazu on the Brazilian side. We checked ourselved into a hostel and got an afternoon bus to the Iguazu. We had been told the the Argentinean side was by far the best but this was not the case. Each side is equally impressive, and although you can´t walk along the top of the falls like on the Argentian side, you can walk to the bottom of the main falls and stand right below them, to get soaked by the spray!

From Foz we got a supposedly 9 hour bus to Curitiba which took near 12 hours. Only stayed here for a night, before jumping on another bus to Paranagua (2 hours). From Paraagua we got a 2 hour boat to Ilha do mel where we our now. We got here last night, its a really nice tropical island and I should be sat out burning my white skin but unfortunately its pouring with rain! Its the first rain we´ve seen in weeks, but its making up for it! We spent last evening enjoying a few beers but I´m not sure what to do with the day now, although saying that, its a Saturday and the premiership kicks off in an hour, so we could be saved!

So just as we were beginning to get use to hearing Spanish spoken and understand the odd word, we are now having to struggle with our Portuguese phrase book and hope people understand the few Spanish words we throw at them. We´ve done alright up till now so should be ok still. Here for a couple more nights, then next stop is Sao Paulo. That one should be interesting!

That´s all for now. xxx

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Recent Messages

From Nancy
Welcome home our dear Joel, we've missed you and it's wonderful to have you back. Now please can you empty the dishwasher? Lovexxx
From Nancy
Sounds fabulous Joel, and an amazing coincidence - marine sports and beachside living for all of us last weekend! We enjoyed jet skiing in the perfect blue sea and hot, bright sunshine of Torbay. Some pretty impressive speeds & manoevres. Shall show you how that's done too, if you like. Have fun, but take extra care in Rio. Such an exciting weekend to look forward to, it's the start of the Six Nations here...Lovexxx
Response: don´t worry mum, heard gunshots last night fro hostel, but its ok, i brought my super soaker2000 with me, so im armed if anything kicks off. yeah cant wait for six nations, i been looking forward to it for months. x
From Nancy
It's raining in Wantage too. So you may as well come home, why don't you? love xxx
Response: be patient mother stopped raining and i got very burnt that day, its hurts! xxx
From Andrew (Amy's Cousin
Hey Amy, Hope all is well and you had a great christmas and new year! Just wondering if you had encountered any strange animals like moles which have infested the town of wantage haha! You must definitely have buzzing devices outside you huts! Liverpool is same old, just looking forward to gtting back to uni. Are there any characters like the shark man in the bars over there? Oh how random the arbery is....Love it!

Take care and see you soon
Andrew x
Response: hey you! its so good out here, u should def hit up s america at some point in your hectic life cuz, u would love it! te christmas period was pretty amazing really! very random but a great experience, cant say i have seen any shark men, but a few upside down ppl are roaming about buenos aires. very intriguing. hmmmmmmmmmm, apparently i´m coming up to your neck of the woods at the end of feb so u better be about! i miss the arb i find it hard to talk about it! hope ure well, send my love u to mummy! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From Rach (Amy's sis)
Hey all, just wanted to say my hellos to you all, and also to congratulate you on surviving the inca trail and more importantly surviving our amy ha ha! Now Joel don't go letting her marry some man in a mud hut! unless she brings me one back tee hee. Loads of love to you both x x x
Response: its too late im afraid, she´s already engaged to a young peruvian called pedro. Nice bloke, drives a tuk-tuk for a living, i think they´ll be happy. xx
From Nancy
Joelie, hope you are having a fantastic time as I write, on the 4th day now, I think, of your Inca trail. Hope too that Lee is OK and has been able to overcome his altitude sickness. Please can you phone home as soon as you pick this up if you haven't already done so? It's important. Good new year wishes to you, Olly, Lee and Amy. Love you lots, take carexxx
From Mr Box
Que buenos viajes amigos ! Estamos muy envidioso.
We kept bumping into three elderly ladies - las tres peruanas, when we first went to Chile. They were most dismayed, "Dos meses en Chile y no Peru ?" they wailed. Glad to see you've righted our insult to their precious land.
Happy New Year and see you fairly soon ?
Response: Happy new year guys! looking forward to seeing you soon. and perhaps some home-made coleslaw on my return?!
From Nancy
Yessss!! Reeesult!! All those 9 o'clocks in Watlington were worth it. Well done, my boy, for going in a church. lovexxx
PS Is Felix's Dad now writing your blog? Isn't the Navy wondering where he is?
PPS Your sky dive & bungeejump & abseiling & caving & blackwaterrafting DVD's are pretty impressive. Glad you remembered all those technical tips I gave you. We'll do heli-skiing next, when you get back.
Response: yes mum, very good,, quite the comedian! looking forward to the heli-ski, next christmas would be good!x
From Lo
Joel, Dad accidentally wrote over your skydiving dvd when recording Eastenders for Mum. Would you mind doing it again?
Lo xx
PS It was the Christmas special, so not like it was anything rubbish. Do you want us to keep it for when you get back?
Response: no worries, i´ll go do it in lima, altho its not as hi'tech here, u just jump out with an umbrella, should be sweet tho. not bothered bout eastenders, but get neighbours on record pls, cheers. xx
From Carole&Rob
Happy Christmas to all of you Great Blog Joel lots of information. Glad all is going well and Amy is keeping up with you.As it has been cold in some areas I imagine that Amy has had to show you her coat (talk about Joseph and his Technicolour Dream Coat) I know that she was really loking forward to that moment! Take Care.Lots of Love xxx
Response: Merry christmas to you guys too! Yes, she´s sporting the coat at every opportunity, its good, we can never lose her that way! she´s just about managing to keep up...i can hear her shouting now from the distance, shes shouting hi back. something about she loves you. xx
From jean n peter
say hi to amy mannix were friends of carole n robert we wish her luck on her travels pass on my email to her enjoy your trip too joel x
Response: Have passed on message, she says Feliz Navidad (Happy Christmas) an nice to hear from you. x
From Rob(amys dad)
Glad you made it, Amy was getting used to the Holiday Inn luxury. and was looking fwd to another nite!!!!
Contact us when you can
From Nancy
Calling Juliet Oscar Echo Lima -can you hear me? Come in Juliet Sierra... Where in the world are you? Report to base. Over and Out. November 55.
Response: yes mum, very good..arrived in santiago at 1800 hours, after 5hr delay, all´s well!
From Nancy
Whether you have a monkey or a koala, it will have to stay in your room, I'm not having that wandering around the place. You probably should think twice about it though as you won't be able to play any James Blunt - remember how he killed your poor little budgie? On New Year's Day too. Love xxx
From Lo
What do you want for Christmas, apart from a monkey?
Response: I'm not fussy, I'll take a koala otherwise
From walsh
Just when i thought it couldn't get any better you go and do it again. Keep up the very very good work.
From Nancy
That's truly amazing, I'm lost for words -- serving cocktails out of teapots? Why would you? What sort of etiquette is that? Love xxx
PS No you can't.
From Rob(amys dad)
Way to go Joel. Amy cannot wait to meet up in Chile. She's getting a little tence now with only a week to go.
From walsh
Joel you've done it again. You've just gone and raised the bar, absolutely loving your work mate
Response: Mate, I'm doing it all for you, when in doubt, I just remember I'm standing in your footsteps.
From Nancy
Oh I'm getting cross now, Joel -- do not jump out of any more planes, do you hear me? Talking of extreme sports, I've just made some mince pies. Pretty impressive, huh? love xxx
From Co-director -iNet
Good read as ever, Do the bungee jump only if you want to or use your $$$s for another event - you've millions of sq miles to choose from. Totally offspring-less this w/e they are all out of the country! Good burgers of Wantage & Arberry District send best wishes.
From Hayley Knott
Kissess xxxxxxx
From Nancy
Shame about the football. I thought Beckham could save us. What are you going to do next summer now? lovexxx
Response: I'm not coming home to no football
From Walsh
Response: Ha ok mate!