Travel Diary (Day 15) – Sogndal – Bergen

Day 15 – 4/10

Well, sadly our time in Norway had come to an end. It was time to wave goodbye to our gorgeous Air BnB boathouse loft and head back to Bergen. Now on any other holiday and in literally any non-Scandinavian country we would have taken our time, we would have just paid the extra day. We however were renting a car in Norway and therefore there was absolutely zero chance we would be returning our car a minute past 11:30, because quite frankly we didn’t have the money to spare!

Grant woke us up at 6am and we were on the road by 6:30am, heading back to Bergen. Being the Wife of the year I consider myself to be, I very solemnly swore to remain awake and alert with Grant for the four hour journey (in the dark and in the rain). I then woke up in Njardarheimr in Gudvangen, which was around two hours into our journey. Bad Wife. Also, can I just say how confusing it is to wake up after sleeping to see two traditionally Viking dressed persons at the service station?

However this was not the most shocking part about the service station. Oh no, not at all. Pop quiz for all of you playing at home. How much would you expect 3/4 of a tank of diesel for a VW Polo? Did you guess $120 AUD? No?! Weird! Neither did we. I think we only cried for the next 40km.

Once we made it back to Bergen, it was apparent that the beautiful weather we had been experiencing was long gone, it was absolutely bucketing down. So rather than wrangling all of our luggage in the rain in a cab, Grant dropped me at the Hurtigruten terminal and took the hire car back and then he cabbed it back to me.

Now. What happened next may or may not be a miscommunication, but it kind of set the tone for the rest of that day. We were aware that you could do a bag-drop at 1pm (thank god!) and could check-in from 3:30pm and get onto the ship. So, we cooled our heals in the coffee shop at the terminal, excited to know that technically it was our last out of pocket expense for food for the next week (we had paid for the full-board package oh our journey (this does NOT include alcohol). We dropped our bags at 1pm and asked what we needed to do to check-in. Now, our recollection of these instructions were that we could get our tickets and then at 3:30pm we could go upstairs and board. Pretty clear right?

So off we skip, into town to try and see more of Bergen than we had the other day. Except it was hammering down rain, which we don’t mind, but it can really kill your strolling around town vibe! We went to the Irish pub we had seen, except they don’t open until 5pm and quite frankly, I am not sure the Irish are aware of this. Surely it’s against Irish law?! The barkeep (I am positive that’s not the term, but ah well) kindly told us (with judgement in his eyes) that no, we could not drink there but thankfully there was a coffee shop around the corner where we could get a meal.

We found a booth at said coffee shop, saw a sign for ale, reminded one another of the dietary blessing that is a stout that it’s magical liquid is basically a steak and two eggs and that technically we were eating.

Guinness was not available but we found Murphy’s Irish Stout and promptly ordered several pints of this. We FaceTimed the kids which is always really nice when we are travelling and let them know that we would be on a ship for the next week so reception might be poor. We then took a walk around the old fishing village and checked out a few stores.

Bergen was founded in 1070AD and was the capital of Norway for many years. A central point for Norwegian travel it holds the beautiful history UNESCO-listed Bryggen district, which is dated back to the 14th century. When we stopped in at one of the sweet little gift shops down an incredibly old alley, we learned that the Norwegians take great pride in their manhole covers on their roads, and in fact each municipality has a different plate with intricate designs on them.

We had an hour to spare before we could get onto the ship and so we found a local supermarket, bought two rather large beers and drank them like uncouth backstreet bandits. It was pouring and we had a few stouts under our belts. Not my proudest moment but hey, that’s travel for you babe!

Now is the time to bring back into focus the aforementioned ‘miscommunication’ at the check-in counter, because it’s a doozy. We make our way upstairs, the lovely lady tells us that check-in has been moved to 4pm. No matter. That’s just another half hour wait. We see downstairs that there is easily 200 people waiting to do their bag drop and check-in. Oh my god we think, thank god we did that earlier. That line looks horrendous.

So 4pm rolls around, we’ve got the jump on hundreds of people and then it happens. We find out that yes, we’ve done a bag drop but no, we aren’t checked in. Wait, what?!

So downstairs we go, beaten. Devastated. Horrified. We were now at the back of the line of hundreds of people who, and I mean absolutely no disrespect here, but people who in the event of any emergency are not winning that hate v. Tortoise race. Ever.

An hour and a half later we get to the front. We check-in. We’ve had at least 15 comments on our age, our lack of luggage, our height and our age. Great.

Hurtigruten is not marketed as a seniors cruise, so let’s get that out of the way. It’s an incredible, educational and adventure trip up and down the coast of Norway and guess what? We had every right to be there with ever other person and we had certainly paid for it!

All of that aside we finally made our way onto the ship and even though they advise your rooms are not available until 6pm we figured if the room opened we could go in and drop our belongings. I think we may have been the reason it was announced over the speaker that you were not permitted into your rooms until 6pm. Sorry Hurtigruten. Also when we made our booking we had requested and paid for a room with unobstructed views. Trust me when I say the price difference is noticeable. So when we first boarded and saw large life boats sitting outside our room, our hearts sank. However when we had a peek into our room we saw that for the most part we could see outside of our window. Not whilst in bed though, we could only see the lifeboats. So that was disappointing but not the end of the trip.

Once we were allowed into our rooms we unpacked, found the laundry – washed our clothes and got ready for dinner. Our dinner spot for the first night was beautiful, the food was amazing and our early night to bed, in the comfiest bed we had had all trip was welcomed.

It was time to start our Hurtigruten voyage!

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A love for travel <3

One of the most amazing things to occur after you have been planning and saving for a trip after many months/years is when you arrive at your destination. You are no longer glued to that photo somebody else took and which you downloaded or screen-shotted many moons ago. You are there. Finally.

And you know what? Nothing is more beautiful than that moment. I say this a lot, but honestly the most breathtaking moment I have ever had whilst travelling was when I was in South America and I saw Machu Picchu. Anyone who knows me, will vouch for the fact that I am rarely without words, but Peru…Peru silenced me. I had planned the trip for almost two years with my girlfriend Jemma and to finally be there was just amazing.

The first time I knew I wanted to explore the world, I was not quite six years old. I had the most vivid dream. I was exploring waterfalls and caves with my Dad, I think we were in Africa or Asia (or whatever combination my brain had concocted at such a young age). When I was telling Dad about our adventure and he told me I had just been dreaming, I actually thought he was having me on. How could I have dreamt something so detailed? Also, how was I going to deal with the disappointment that I had not been there?

I became obsessed. I WAS going to travel the world. One day. When I was six we went on our first overseas family holiday, to Bali. I have really lovely memories of this trip. Catching the plane with my family, coming across people who neither spoke English or Anindilyakwa, as was spoken on Groote Eylandt where we lived. It was one of the most exciting weeks of my little life – so many beautiful things to see and smell and taste, people to meet. Amazing!

I came home with braids in my heart, a hundred new stories to tell the kids at school and a burning desire to travel. Being a mining brat, I had the ability to see a fair bit of the top end and east coast of Australia, because we typically moved every two years for Dad’s job. I used to pour over and harbour any travel articles I could get a hold of and I wished for a subscription to the National Geographic magazine for years and years.

Then puberty happened. High school. Jobs. Wagging School to go to the beach. Parties. The usual. Sure enough, by the time I was 17 I had planned my next big adventure, I was going to live in London and work in a pub, like nearly every third or fourth Aussie at the time. I went to uni instead.

Then I dreamed of teaching English in Japan, which then changed to working in a ski field in Canada, then back to possibly landing a job in the UK. Then I changed jobs, changed degrees and decided to travel on leave instead.

I must have planned three or four big trips which never came to fruition. I always had friends with the best of intentions, but when it came down to the crunch, they just were not willing to part with ever spare dollar to save it for a holiday. My friends didn’t want to wear the same clothes all year, miss out on parties and dye their own hair. Which was completely fine, my dreams didn’t need to be my friends dreams!

Eventually at 23 I decided to bite the bullet and just go away on my own. I had my sights set on South America. My Mum gave me a firm and resounding “NO” to her 23 year old daughter running off overseas on her own. So instead, at the pleading of Mum/Friends/Employer, I booked myself onto an arranged Contiki tour instead.

This would turn out to be one of the best decisions I ever made, I met some amazing people, experienced the high of travel I had been seeking and knew that every sacrifice I had made in the past was worth it :).

I am pretty sure I would have had Dad over my shoulder (who had since passed), carrying me along my journey – remembering the five year old who animatedly “remembered” an international adventure all those years ago xx

When did you know you had fallen in love with travel?

x C x

Our next adventure…

Happy Thursday! Not quite Friday, but thankfully not Monday either!

G and I don’t have our next trip until September next year. It’s going to take some meticulous planning, sacrifice and saving, saving, SAVING!

Since we have quite a wait until our next journey, I started an @instagram page, just for my travel photos. It’s been so wonderful to relive some of my travels. 

I’ve been posting about Peru and Argentina and next I will be able to post about Brazil. 

I am hoping that given the number of photos I would like to share, if I pace myself – then maybe it will keep me occupied until our next adventure!

If you have an IG account and want to take a look – my name is @the_novaturient_redhead. I would love to see you over there and follow your pages as well!

Anyways, I’m on my commute to work now. We need to fund our lifestyles somehow, don’t we?

Happy Thursday!

X

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil – February 2014

Day 1 – I couldn’t believe the end of our adventure was here. We arrived to Rio quite early. A cleaner in the airport came up to me to ask me if the food had been ok. I said yes, then she asked why my friend has said it was not ok. I had not idea what she was talking about, she pointed at one of the guys from our tour who was eating. It turns out he had said to her “this is the sh*t!”. It took a little bit of explaining to let her know it was a compliment and really highlighted what a stupid saying it is ha-ha.

2014-03-01 15.24.18

We went to Rio’s old cathedral, visited the historical buildings around the city and then visited the Lapa district and other areas. After the orientation we checked into our hotel and then went out drinking. We were staying in a pretty good area, I think. The hotel we were in was super dingey but we were all together and safe – which is what matters!

Day 2 – Today was the day! The day we finally set our eyes on something we had been dreaming of, the Christ the Redeemer statue on top of the Corcovado. The statue is huge and the view is astronomical – it has soooo many tourists though. To the point where you would be physically pushed so someone else could stand where you were for a picture!

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After Christ the Redeemer we headed to Sugarloaf Mountain for the 1300ft climb up to the summit. Again – the views were amazing, so beautiful and camera really just does not do it justice.

We then had free time so we walked around town and hunted down THE havaianas store, big fans of “havi’s” here in Australia / N.Z and I had lost my beloved golden ones year before when they broke. I think we each left with maybe 6 or 7 pairs? I got x2 pairs for me and the rest were gifts – including a little teeny tiny pair for my newborn Niece :).

We did also find ourselves a beach bar and got our drink on, visited the markets and watched the sunset whilst eating McDonald’s (cheap, near our hotel and easy to order). Some people chose to do the favela tours, but it was not really for me – as Jemma aptly worded it ‘poverty tourism’ – so we used the money the tour would have cost and gave it to our tour guide to pass along to a charity in Rio De Janeiro instead. It might just be me, but taking selfie’s with homeless children for your Facebook profile picture to get likes and then walking off doesn’t make you charitable. It makes you kind of a huge jerk.

Jemma went out to the football and I stayed in and ate an impromptu snack plate and watched movies – I was exhausted and needed some ‘me’ time. Also, in South America – Club Social biscuits – oh my god, amazing. I want some now and it’s been years! That afternoon of reading, texting, looking through my photos and at one point napping – was amazing.

I was missing home, missing fresh food, missing my home and missing speaking English. You never want to sound as though you are not appreciating your holiday but I think there comes a time where you are just exhausted and that’s a really long time to spend with people.

Day 3 – It had arrived! Our last day in Rio – not really knowing what to do. We hung around with our travel buddies, ate Mexican food, drank margaritas, went to the beach again. Found out the biggest guys on our tour had been robbed by a kid with a knife – so, we were a little hesitant about going out that night.

Our amazing tour guide from Peru had arrived at our hotel as she was running the Carnivàle festival. So that was pretty cool that we were able to see her but also being able to experience the vibe and excitement of the upcoming Carnivàle.

Day 4 – This was it! South America was over, it was time to head back to L.A before our holiday was officially over. We were in two-minds about this. Yes, we were ready to be home but no, we weren’t really ready to have our adventure end.

When we headed to the airport to fly back to the States, we were lucky enough to be having similar timed departing flights with a couple of our travel buddies. One by one it was our turn to leave though, so there were quite a few tears!

The flight was HORRENDOUS. We had the back, back row – which as you know – the seats don’t decline. That and a 5″ nothing guy sat in front of me and immediately declined his seat into me. Also, I am not sure I have seen planes as filthy as American Airlines – just grubby, dirty, slimy. Absolutely revolting. At one point I had several pills ready to knock myself out for the 10 hour flight, as I went to take them – we hit turbulence and they all went down the side into the grotty abyss. Not pills.

2014-03-01 21.55.20I was super uncomfortable and incredibly annoyed about old-mate in front of me. I am sorry but you’re teeny tiny, the seat next to you is free – you don’t need your seat ALL the way back. When he jumped up and went to the toilet I moved his seat forward 2 inches and then locked my legs in behind his seat.

He ended up working it out and stood up, turned and looked at me and said something in not-Spanish and not-English, I’m assuming “please let me continue to squash you into oblivion because I’m an ar$ehole”. Anyways, it didn’t happen. I didn’t move. Jemma went between being super sympathetic to being worried we would be detained haha, so I couldn’t go super crazy.

Then…..Miami – the gorgeous Florida coastline at 6am in the morning. Our South American journey, was over. Thank you South America, you were amazing!

x

Iguazu Falls, Argentina & Brazil

21 & 22 February, 2013 – Iguazu Falls – Brazil & Argentina

Ah the tropics, a nice warm heat, light clothes – maybe a splash of suncream and generally enjoyable, right? NO. Not in the middle of February, in Iguassu Falls! I honestly felt like my body had been placed in an oven, surrounded by steam cleaners. I lived in the Northern Territory as a kid, so familiar with humidity, but this was next level heat. Quite frankly, we had no right being there at that time of the year!

 

Our bus was slightly delayed as one of our tour members had decided it wasn’t really necessary to obtain a Brazilian Visa before her trip (like the rest of us had). To be honest it seems like an innocent mistake but it really isn’t when this same person really needed babysitting the entire trip.

We took our little bus from the Argentinian side – back over the border to visit from the Brazilian side. The falls were amazing – absolutely magnificent in their power. Cute birds and lizards – everything was lovely. The 40-odd degrees and 90% humidity was on the other hand, not so great.

I think it’s crazy that waterfalls can span across two different countries, then again I live in Australia – which you know, has ocean all around it – so it is hard for me to appreciate countries can join each other. I think we spent four or five hours there – there was an eatery but again, too hot. What we wanted was booze – but we were flat out of luck so we must have had 2 litres of water each.

We went back to our cute little hotel, the Hotel del Ray, had some room drinks – FaceTimed our loved ones (first WiFi availability in a couple of days!) and headed out for what was, a unique evening at the Rafain Churrascaria Show. It was what I think was meant to be a tropical/cultural dinner and a show. It certainly gave us plenty of laughs!

2014-02-22 13.46.52Day two of the falls was spent from the Argentinian side and I found to be much more enjoyable! We had all of these different bush-walks to do, rode in these open-roofed trucks out to catch our boat ride out to the falls. Which was fantastic! In such heat, the delicious relief of the waterfalls was amazing :). We got totally soaked which was like having a nice cooling jacket on.

Fun facts about these waterfalls are made up of more than 275 falls, with the most scenic one being the Devil’s tThroat, which has 14 separate falls and drops from a heigh of approximately 350 feet. The rainforest has over 2,000 species of plants and there is a rainbow (which I have a picture of above) which is formed by the waterfalls refraction of light against the mist of the thundering waters.

We were absolutely wrecked by the end of the day, with the bush walks and the heat. We did end up going out that night, to a night-club but it was in the middle of the week and I don’t remember too many people being there. I think a month of drinking and partying had definitely caught up to us and I felt like my permanent smell was suncream.

Iguazu Falls were done! It was time to catch our plane and head up to Rio De Janeiro, the final stop on our incredible Contiki Journey!

That night as we were all drinking on the rooftop of our little hotel, I received a text from home to say my little Niece had arrived, with a gorgeous mop of red hair on her head! Celebratory drinks with the entire crew helped to make up for the home-sickness I had.

x

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina – February 18, 2014

 

Oh my goodness – let’s pretend I have not taken three years to continue my adventure stories! Okay – so our time in Peru was wrapping up, I was really sad, we were really sad to leave – it had been such an amazing couple of weeks and Peru was such a gorgeous country.

Our flight from Lima was relatively early and we needed to travel to Buenos Aires, Argentina. As this was part of our Contiki booking – those of us who were travelling beyond Peru were all booked onto the same flight, though our seats were randomly assigned.

 

I was sat in the middle seat of the middle row – with Jemma I think a row behind me and Claire a row across. This tiny little chick sat next to me and I breathed a sigh of relief thinking I would not be squashed or have my personal space invaded.

Wrong. You know those news articles of flying nightmares and feet on seats? WELL –

this chick took off her Birkenstocks and lifted her right leg (I was on her left) up over her knee and played with her foot and toes for 5 hours – her foot was near my face. Also, now I may as well mention I have a bit of a foot issue. It was horrendous. Funny now but then I was absolutely #triggered and so annoyed.

Anyways, when we landed in Buenos Aires – we were met with a much bigger Contiki bus and a new tour-guide. It was sad that we no longer had Monica with us, but we were ready for the new adventure. We had also said goodbye to some really amazing tour-mates so it was bitter-sweet.

When we got to our hotel – we were blown away, considering we had slept in a jungle room without walls and other really budget/basic places – we were not expecting a giant hotel room!

Our first (and quite frankly most important stop) was to find hotel supplies, as in snacks and booze. Especially after our 6-ish hours travel time. We found a shop and then found a booze shop and, well – it took us a while to work out the conversation price but what we did buy cost us $17 Australian dollars, and yes – that is a bottle of vodka included (bad vodka but vodka all the same). We were nearing the end of our holiday so any saved $ was a good thing!

What I do remember about Buenos Aires is that we were completely out of our depths language wise, we had only just gotten a handle of Spanish so we kind of just, gave up – because in Argentina they speak soooo quickly. We ate and drank whatever we could pronounce. We did find a very strange restaurant near the hotel and I think it was meant to be Italian but I cannot be certain.

We did a tour of the city on one of our days – my favourite part was going through the gorgeous cemetery – Le Recoleta. It was absolutely beautiful! The Le Recoleta Cemetery is located in the Recoleta neighbourhood and has graves of Eva Peron, m

any presidents, Noble Prize winners and the granddaughter of Napoleon. It is one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world and it is easy to see why.

We had an absolute blast doing tango lessons and then went to dinner and a tango show. Again, completely out of our depth language wise but had a pretty good time.

The highlight for me in Buenos Aires though was when we went to The Argentine Experience. Hands down, the funnest night for me. Drinking wine, choosing your steak, making empanadas’ and then the delicious dessert. It was like one big dinner party and was relaxing and fun and I think I nearly had an out of body experience when we got to make and eat our alfajor de maicena treats (corn starch biscuit, dulce de leche and grated coconut). Plus red wine and you had three very happy and content Australian girls.

We also got to wear adorable aprons and chef hats and make empanadas’ for each other. Jemma did make hers to look like my head and then stabbed it with a steak knife though…to much red wine, or too much me? 🙂

We only had 2 or 3 nights in Buenos Aires and I don’t seem to have too many pictures, I think after going snap-crazy in Peru I was a bit over carting my camera everywhere. What I do know is the morning we were meant to fly from Buenos Aires up to Brazil (for the border Iguazu Falls), we: A) missed our alarm, B) missed the phone calls from reception to get on the bus and C) missed the bus to the airport.

We woke up in an absolute MAD panic – we had never missed a fight – even that disastrous first night in L.A we still made the flight. We packed like maniacs, called a taxi and prayed we would make our flight (which was leaving in 60 minutes). We also found out one of the other girls had left their passport in their safe, so thankfully we were running late. We got out taxi, absolutely freaking out and then the taxi stalled on the motorway every 40 seconds and the taxi driver was screaming at the car in Spanish. We only just made it and I mean just made it. The girl who had left her passport behind barely even acknowledged us and actually made some sarcastic remark to us about having almost missed the flight (not sure she realised she almost missed it as well?).

Buenos Aires was beautiful, but it was time for the next part of our adventure!

Lima, Peru

See-ya Miami, Hello Peru!
See-ya Miami, Hello Peru!

Lima, Peru

2 February 2014

We landed In Lima, Peru just after ten pm and were through customs before midnight which I found really impressive. I had made a promise back home to take an official taxis to Milaflores and as we drove along in our nice clean car and saw the other “taxis” (family cars with illuminated taxi signs strapped on top) we were pretty glad with our choice. as we drove along the main road near the beach, we could see the Monumento El Sadado Desconocidio lit up which looked beautiful.

Soon enough we were checking into our hotel in a very. Lean and safe area of Miraflores. I think we got in just after midnight. We were it’s starving but weren’t confident enough to go walking so decided on wonderful sleep!

The trip had started, no more easy English, we were in Peru – our pre-vacation vacation had come to an end and our trip had started!

Gorgeous Lima
Gorgeous Lima

Day 1
We woke up this morning ready to eat breakfast and go check out the Catacombs at San Francisco Church over towards the city. All of our tour documents had said that our tour started officially on Tuesday night with a meeting and we flew out on Wednesday. So it was pretty lucky that our tour guide was having breakfast when we were and introduced herself. She told us that our pre tour meeting was that night and that the tour did in fact start the next morning with a city tour, including the Catacombs! Lucky for us we found that out. We met an American guy who was also on our tour and asked if he could tag along for our day of walking around Miraflores. We really didn’t have a plan so we just took off. Also we were both covered in SPF 50+ sun-cream. Which proved to be not as awesome as we had both hoped!

We walked towards Larcomar to check out the cliff top and the mall there and then we followed USA around while he was looking for a club he was after later. We ate the most delicious chicken on the Pizza Strip and tried the local beer, Cusquena. After some more walking around and feeling slammed by the heat, Jem and I decided we needed to head back into cover/shade/our hotel. Have a siesta if you will! We weren’t doing too well with our Spanish either and that was surprisingly more exhausting than you would think! It was completely our own fault though.

Love park with my travel love Jem and without my man love - bitter sweet ;)
Love park with my love Jem and without my man love – bitter sweet 😉

We met our tour group downstairs at 7 and our tour manager introduced herself and confirmed our travel insurance details and emergency contacts and confirmed that our official meeting would be tomorrow morning at 8. Jem, I and USA were heading off down the road to eat at a Peruvian restaurant called Las Tejas which was only a few blocks from our hotel. The foods was great, we tried our first Pisco Sour’s (plural for Jem and I as it was delicious) and were entertained by the guitar player/singer.

Day 2
We woke up this morning and the crushing reality that our sleep-ins were well and truly over, had struck! Up at 7:30 and down for our early meeting by 8. We had a look around at our entire group (before others join us in Cusco) and ate our breakfast. Turns out I have caught the cold from the guy in the plane and it is not a very nice germ. We were also both also super sun burnt.

Our tour manager talked us through the next two weeks and all that we would be experiencing in Peru. We left at 10am to start our city tour of Lima in our super cute mini-coach. We had an additional tour guide today, in addition, I feel like a GIANT in Peru. I could easily lean my arm on most of the people here and I am only 5″9!

Unbelievable sandwich and strawberry juice....my last meal before turning into a walking tissue of death
Unbelievable sandwich and strawberry juice….my last meal before turning into a walking tissue of death

We toured by coach which took us back to Larcomar and we had time to get pictures at Parque del Amor (love park) which is a super cute park dedicated to love and couples. There is a small bridge near it which was once open but has since been closed in due to the number of suicides and suicide attempts. I guess the love park is like Valentines Day really, celebrated by couples and resented by the rest of society. We then went to San Isidro near El Olivar. Which was a beautiful park full of olive trees.

We saw the Huaca Pucllana, which is a clay pyramid, in seven staged platforms in the Miraflores district. It was built in the “bookshelf” style which has meant that a large portion of it has held up really well over the years (200AD-700AD). Then we made our way to the Plaza Mayor, into a museum and then made our way to the Church of San Francisco where we had our tour of the Catacombs which was really cool, although very creepy. They think around 25-30,000 bodies were laid there at some time but they have no way to accurately tell.

Our dinner entertainment!
Our dinner entertainment!

We were dropped off near Pizza Lane for free lunch and Jem and I were lucky enough to score help from our guide in ordering sandwiches and juices. By the way, Peru – nice work on the strawberry juice. Best juice ever! My cold has mutated into something absolutely disgusting so I’m at home catching up on blog writing and Jemma and the group are out at dinner and a cultural show as well as a night tour of the famous fountains. Very jealous but mindful that this might be my last down time to try and beat the cold. I don’t think I’m winning though!

Jemma and the rest of the group spoke quite highly about the fountain show, I wish I could have gone – might have to go back ;)!

I think what I took away from the first few days of South America is:

Peruvian people are very distinctive in features and gorgeous.
Peruvian food and I were going to become very good friends.
Pisco Sours are the tits.
I really should have learnt Spanish.
Jemma and I know no Spanish.
Oh god, why didn’t we learn Spanish?
No flushing toilet paper?
Queso is cheese. We like queso.
We had a nice little Contiki group for our Peruvian travels.
Our Tour Manager, Monica – was amazing.

Tomorrow morning we fly out to Arequipa!

Things I took for granted (AND YOU WILL TOO!) before I went to South America (in no particular order)

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1. English (yeah I know, I’m the dipshit who didn’t learn Spanish before going).

2. Irons in hotel rooms (I don’t backpack, hanging clothes up with the shower steaming in order to **try** to remove wrinkles in clothes is completely new to me).

3. Flushing toilet paper – I know it is because the pipes are broken but it is super gross having a bin full of number 1 and 2 papers next to the toilet.

4. How great of a friendship I have with Jemma – seriously, I could never travel with a stranger ever again.

5. WiFi – no I didn’t spend all of my time on it but it was amazing when I had it.

6. Flushing toilet paper – listed twice you say? Yes because the toilet deaths we caused was 3 or 4…maybe 5. We just forgot. A lot.

7. How stupid some of our sayings are, for example, “Shit happens”. I spent 10 minutes explaining to a woman at Rio airport that it did not mean her food was terrible. Then I realised how ridiculous the saying actually is when you try to explain it to someone who does not speak English as their first language.

8. Baggage handlers not in South America. Not sure how you did is LAN & TAM but you broke at least 3 suitcases that I know of, two of them the hard case ones – bravo!

9. Walls. Floors. Walls. WALLS. I’m looking at you Amazon.

10. Chemists. Antibiotics. Pseudoephedrine.

Please note these are (mostly) tongue in cheek, I loved South America 🙂 – 

It’s almost here!

476.

The number of days we officially started counting down to until our next adventure. However, I was meant to go to South America four and a half years ago. Life happened and somehow I found myself on a *safe* Contiki trip, solo, in Europe. I know it might seem like solo + Contiki don’t really go together, but for a 23-year-old, waving goodbye to your family and friends and taking off to the other side of the world (why are you so far away from everything Australia?) for 5 weeks is, technically, solo.

Man did that decision work in my favour! Not only did I have an amazing trip and experience 7 countries VERY QUICKLY (that trip was like the 15 items or less isle at the shops in terms of touring), but I met some amazing people. It wasn’t just me who took off solo for that Contiki European Vista either, across the ditch, was a lovely little kiwi by the name of Jemma, who was packing her trusty suitcase ‘old-red’ and getting ready for her solo adventure.

The rest, as they say, is history. Now the two of us take off wherever and whenever we can. We have seen Europe, the States twice and some of French Canada together and Jem has visited Brisbane three or four times and I finally made my way to beautiful Christchurch this year. It’s a pain in the arse when you live in different countries but we still have an amazing friendship and a lot of laughs.

I can’t believe I have only 33 days before I spend a glorious morning in my beloved Brissie, probably scoffing down some ridiculously calorific brunch with my parents and my man, before I walk through the security gates and through to customs at Brisbane International Airport.

I will probably misplace my passport and ‘supporting’ documentation three to four times from the point where I go down the escalator to when I do get to the customs person. I will go through my normal paranoia of how happy is too happy when you are going through customs and whether or not they are judging me for the amount of eyeliner I am wearing in my 2008 passport photo.

I’ll probably realise I am wearing the wrong outfit for the flight and that I have two hours to cool my heels at the airport. I will then get the shits because my wisdom tooth extraction one week before Christmas robbed me of my holiday money and try to over-anayse the limited funds I do have for the trip and work out if it will last the trip (it totes will not).

I will get the weird little butterflies I get when I get on the plane and I hear the “on the right hand side thank you Miss Blake and welcome”, I will drop my stuff when I am trying to get ‘organised’ and into my seat and I will unpack, re-pack and then accidentally put away things that I need in my seated area on my flight. I would have thought that with the multitude of flights I have taken I would have learned to minimise. Nope. Lip balms, phone, travel diary (or maybe iPad now because I have one?), mints (gum is rank, mints are delish), earphones, book (whatever it is I will read less than a third of it and it will become one of those things that takes up a portion of my handbag), hand sanitiser, tissues and eye drops.

I’ll realise I have forgotten to pack something but by then it won’t matter because I will be in my seat, the awesome Air NZ video will play (last check Betty White was the star!) and I will have a smile as wide as the Cheshire cat because I will be heading overseas, doing what I love the most – travelling.

I am a vacation-taker. I have a lifestyle I enjoy and I have little to no interest in backpacking or spending months in south-east Asia. I’d rather save my money, book myself on a tour and know that I have a bed every night. That doesn’t make my way worse/better or right/wrong it just makes it different, my hat goes off to backpackers! I wish I had the guts :).

I did get a bit wild though and quit my job, experienced the rush of freedom. I mean, I have a new job lined up now but for a minute there I felt very eat, pray, love-ish. Except for being silent in india and cleaning floors and praying, no thanks.

OH! I also anticipate a huge portion of the trip will be me obsessing about the hotel we are staying at in Peru which has no walls. NO WALLS.

contiki adventurer
Our next amazing Contiki – The Adventurer – starting in Lima, Peru

It’s cultural right?