Location: Chesterfield, UK
Well, we are now back in England. The 6 months have gone so fast, and whilst it is nice to be back im sure this feeling will soon disappear at about 9:05am Monday morning. They day I re enter the real world and come face to face with reality once again. Its time to start paying for the last 6 months! All thats left to do now it tell you about Argentina. The country that surprised me most on the whole trip. A country with such amazing, varied and beautiful landscapes. A country that producers the best steak and wine in the world. A country that, pound for pound, producers the hottest chics in the world....its such a shame they also produced Diego Maradona- otherwise Id live there!
We met up with Chris' friend Joe in Buenos Aires and after a few uneventful days (but eventful nights!) made our way 1200km west to Mendoza, in the foothills of the Andes. This place is the wine and adrenalin capital of Argentina, and some would even say South America. By day we were paragliders, horse men and mountain bikers. By night we dined at some of the finest places in Mendoza, enjoying tender juicey steaks washed down with a nice Malbec (the regional grape). And being a tight northener, the best part of the meal was the bill. Great meal for little more than 6 quid a head.
The buses in Argentina are fantastic. We comfortably did the 14 hour journey to Mendoza, and back. Massive leather seats that recline a long way. Fims. A meal. Now Im back in England and can only afford 'Megabus' Im really going to miss what Argentina has to offer!
We flew from Buenos Aires to the small town of Iguazu, home of the most spectacular water falls in the world. This place was amazing. Im not going to write anything about the falls as dont think words can do them justice...just check out the pictures.
The lifestyle is very different in Argentina. We would go out for dinner at about 10 oclock, then hit a few bars around midnight. If you are going to a club, no point in getting there any earlier than 2. We had another nice steak dinner and headed off to this bar our waiter had recommended. As we went in all we saw was a 2 year old dancing with her mum. Weird. We had a free drink voucher so thought we'd stay, and after enjoying this rediculously strong contail the place was full- including a party of international exchange students we had met during the day- must have been about 30 of them, not a day over 19! So Chris and Joe headed off to the dance floor and felt up the girls- as for me, i just felt old! But some women prefer the older man!
We headed back to Buenos Aires the next day for our final destination of the trip. First thing we did was go to the Boca match, Maradona's beloved team. As ever, Diego was there. I had plans of smashing the 'hand of god' with a brick, but unfortunately he was sat across the pitch from us. Anyway, great game as Boca won 4-0. Unbelievably one sided, but I guess I should get used to that with The Blades now in the premiership!
The Argentine economy crashed about 5 years ago, which is really bad news for the Argentine people but great news for 'tres chicos', as we were effectionately known by the Argentines. Managed to get some quality bargains- shoes, T shirts, jumpers and belts. I hate shopping, but every northener loves a good bargain!
We visited La Recoleta, the cemetry where Evita is burried. Really beautiful, yet very different. She is still a national hero, with people laying flowers by her grave daily.
We ate very well in Argentina, and the last night was no exception. Again, wine and steak was on the menu, this time polished off with some cognac and a victory cigar! We had made it round the world in one piece....just the flight home left now....what could possibly go wrong....
....hostel in Buenos Aires. 930am. Flying in 2.5 hours. Taxi waiting outside, and I cant find my passport. My entire bag is unpacked on the floor and no sign at all. I make the decison to go to the airport. British citizen returning home...all should be ok. Afterall, anyone can just walk in at Dover. It soon became apparent I was nt going home. None of the British Airways staff could help. They gave me the address of the British embassy and sent me packing. I said my goodbyes to Chris, insisting he go home anyway. He should nt have to pay for my stupidity. I headed over to the BA desk to change my flight for the following week. Whilst queing I asked Chris to check my bags one final time.....and the little bugger found it! Tucked away safely at the bottom of a bag, he said. Im going to claim he had it all the time and was playing a very cruel, but funny game. Goes without saying I left Chris in charge of my passport from then on.
Now been back home 5 days, and already it feels like we have nt been away (except when we look at our bank statement and our sharply reminded that we have nt done a days work in 7 months!) Was good to see all the family again. Had a party the day we got back, also celebrating Mum and Dad's 30th wedding anniversary.
Well I guess this is the last entry we'll be doing....until the next trip anyway. I hope you have enjoyed reading them. I would recommend that everyone does a similar trip at some point. Its an expereince that will stay with us forever...especially when we look at photos and re-read our diary. Incidently, you can buy a copy of the little and large travel diaries...just send a blank cheque to Mr J Noon and I will do the rest....trust me!
Location: Cusco, Peru
The spanish is coming on a treat, we get menus in English still as its obvious James is English still but we order everything in Spanish, its very impressive.
Anyway, the city of Cusco, about 3000m high and therefore tourists are prone to altitude sickness, you just feel hungover all the time - oh no thats prob just because we are!! The altitude affected us for the first 3 days and we were advised to drink thier local tea, which is basically made with cocaine - well they advised it so we had to try, would be rude not to.
We had arrived in Cusco for the cities bussiest week of the year, Easter half term, their Saints day - and this country is very religious, the city was packed with tourists and locals alike which made for a good atmosphere, topped off by the carnival and parades in the main square daily.
With 5 days in the town before embarking on the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu we decided to do a couple of activities horse riding and mountain biking. They were both a little dissapointing, the horse riding ended a few miles away from where we started and we were told to walk back to town. The mountian biking which we did with some kiwi friends we met in Rio made for an interesting day. We had asked to do something easy, just down hill as we were all doing the 4 day inca trail the next day - they assured us it was. After 10hours (should have been 6) we arrive back to cusco in a taxi, between 6 of us we d had 12 flat tyres and a basic punchure rapair kit that ran out of patches, the guide lost the bloody pump and ended up running and pushing his bike for a few miles to the next town - idiot!! Here we dumped the bikes altoghther and he ushered 9 of us into one taxi, myself, james, kierianna (kiwi) and the guide were all in the boot!! We completed the bike ride tour in the car and then had to walk to the local bus station where we kicked off a bit and demanded a taxi take 5 of us back to Cusco as we were would be late for our pre inca meeting otherwise. Needless to say we werent too chuffed by the whole experience especially as the riding we had done was all up hill.
Inca trail day began at 5am, a short bus journey to the 88km point from Machu Picchu which is where wed begin the walk. About 10 minutes into it i was bored and asked J , why didnt we take the train again!! It improved all the time though with stunning views throughout. Mountains, rivers, jungels, boiling sun then snow capped mountains in the background.
Day 2 was definetely the hardest and wed walked 6 hours on day one. We had to climb about 1000m to 4250m (ish) and it was definetly a battle, then down 500m before back up and down again. We all even agreed at the end the inca trail was prob the toughest physical challenge of our life!! Which got us on to thinking about the toughest mental challenge, the top 2 being the bungy jumps and using a squat pan - which i unfortunetly did for the first time in my life on the Inca Trail, i couldnt stop laughing, a strange experience!!
Anyway youve all heard enough of our toilet habbits for life so lets move on.
Just a word on the porters, these guys are amazing, they not only carry 20kg for everyone but also all the tents, food marquet, and anything else you want or need. They run ahead of us each day, with our bags on thier backs, were all struggling to carry our own water bottle!! They then set up the tents and food ready for our arrival. We get there 3 hours later and have a snack, usually pop corn, wan tan, and pan cakes - you know the usual stuff you whip up in the middle of nowhere in a tent!! The best food wed eaten for ages and we were camping!! They even woke you up in the morning with a cuppa!!
So we arrive at the last camp place before Machu Pichu on day 3. This is a tourist town on reached by foot or railway, and it houses some excellent hot springs, which we stayed in until we looked like prunes. We were due to wake up at 4am for sunrise in Machu Pichu so we got an early night right, wrong. We had an Irish couple in our group so were inspired to visit the pub for one!! At 2am we had our last shot of tequila and returned to the pizza place where we slept on the floor for 2 hours sleep - random accomodation i know.
Machu Pichu was covered in cloud for the entire sunrise and 3 hours after, eventually saw it at 10am and is was well worth the 3 day trek. Its just a town in the mountains, god knows how they built it and why but it was impressive. There is a mountain there you can climb to get a birds eye view and not content with the hardest walk ever i climbed it with a few from our group, James chose to explore the toilets!!
A 4 hour train journey back to Cusco that evening, we had a flight at 7am the next day so decided to have an early night.... 5am, brilliant night with our group who were very mixed but we got on so well. Ages from 22 (me) - 55 Brian, Americans, Canadians, English Irish Welsh and 2 Danish lads who must of been in the Danish army as they bloody ran half the way.
We made the flight and got to Lima, tierd and not over impressed with the city we watched Arsenal Villa Real and changed our flight to Argy earlier, via an Interview for Peru Tv, a programme about dating - again random i know!!
Im writing this on Thursday 4th May, i leave tomorrow 181 days after we set off and were coming home. Mixed feelings, cant wait to see everyone but reality and debt is going to suck after an amazing 6 months.
One more up date to do about Argentina which will be done at home.
If youve enjoyed reading the updates and looking at the pictures please send us 20 quid each as were poor!!
Thanks God Bless and all the best
Chris and James
Location: Cusco, Peru
Hello all, and reg..
Well after a mixed chile experience we headed for the madness of Rio, got there at the worse possible time 1130pm, we were on our guard from the minute we landed although it wasnt too bad once we´d settled into our horrible hostel - locked everything away that night!!
So our first full day in Rio was spent changing hostels now in the heart of Copacabana, and then we had a walk around before having a few drinks on the front. Now we had heard that Copacabana was not only popular with beach go´ers but also with working ladies if you will, but we will still shocked to be offered ´services´at 530pm and dually declined - only to see the lovely girl go to the next table and get work with a silver fox!!
That night we headed out to an area called Lapa, the main place to go out. It was packed everywhere including the street which were full of people and locals selling hot doggs from car boots and beers from cool boxes, no need to go to the bar. The only not so nice thing here was the many homless families sleeping in the street and the smell of urine around their areas. We headed to a club which had a live samba singer in, the bar was packed and so we endulged in a few beers.
The next day we did the tourist trip up to Sugar Loaf mountain, great view of the entire city and the Christ the Redemer statue, shame it was cloudy, i was keen on going around in a helicoptor but j woudnt even let me look at prices! Then we got a bus to the city centre where we felt quite uncomfortable walking around, i got the camera out at on point and was surrounded so put it straight back.
Sunday was Cup Final day in Rio, Botafogo v Mrfgrtgpoi so we had to go. The atmosphere was amazing, streemers, banners, fireworks and flares, constant singing throughout except when i tried to get ´Greesy chip butty´ song going¨.
The following day was another tourist day, up to Christ The Redemer, this was really good and the image i think most people assosiate with Rio and even Brazil, so we spent a few hours up at the top. There were great views of the entire city as its on the tallest mountain 820m and is in the middle of the city. There were a few dissapointing factors though.. The statue is built on top of a mountain and has a traditional train going up, when you get there there are some old stone steps, or the lifts and esculators put in for the Americans I imagine!! The other is the price in the gift shops, i mean talk about cashing in on christ - shocking!!
Tourist things completed we were then on holiday and spent the next few days with the difficult decision of which beach to go to. The beachs were great and they had locals walking up and down all day selling everything you could want, we bought some sandwiches some water a coconut and j got a very nice new bikini!! One guy was selling wooden articrafts. We bought 2 from him, then he tried to sell us more. We politely expalined we had no money left, which was actually true, and thats when the real fun started. We managed to get 2 more things, and then watched him walk off wearing James´ t-shirt and cap! Some good bargaining on our part. The cap was minging and the t-shirt a fake from Bangkok!
We had a few quieter nights on the front playing cars and most nights were joined by a local tramp, they get money from the government for collecting cans so as there were a few of us they sat nearby.
The one thing everyone warns you about in Rio is getting robbed so we were extra careful everywhere we went and left most things in the locker in our hostel, and it bloody go broken into, they only stole from me aswell which makes me think it was j!!
We had a grea last night, had met some canadian girls, french girl and two aussie lads so all went out on the town, got stupidly drunk and arrived back between 330am and 9am - needless to say the next day was a right off. I didnt even get out of my pj´s and even went to the supermarket in them!!
So it was time for us to leave Rio for our epic journey to Cusco in Peru. First was an hour flight to Sao Paulo where we though we were going to roll over on landing on one wheel, made a right noise sreeching and everything. Then after and hour on the ground flew 6 hours to Santiago. At 32000ft my stomach decide it didnt like food anymore, great sight seeing me run to the back of the plane faster than Linford, thank god there wasnt a queue. Had 3 hour wait in Santiago airport and then a 3.5hour flight to Lima airport. 12 hours overnight here sleeping on the floor, well j did anyway i played count the trolleys. Then a short 1 hour flight to Cusco which is where we are now.
Brazil was great a little expensive but we didnt do much other than beach so saved a bit.
Hope your all well.
See you in 26days
I expect a huge welcome party, not just reg!!
Chris and J