A Travellerspoint blog

Arequipa - Colca Canyon

sunny 22 °C
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We arrived in Arequipa after the night bus tired and cramped so the following day we all just chilled out around the town. Its a well cool place and we managed to find an irish pub called Farrens - Hugh farren gers mate who owns farrens pub in Malin Head Donegal, would have been proud! so yes we stayed for beers and to sample their famous farrens burger...we even seen santa!

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The main square and general town is gorgeous and we could have chilled out here for a week, shopping was great as well and i did my best to buy as much as we could post home! Another early start the following morning though meant snacks and a movie in bed for me and ger - just what the doctor ordered though as we were up at 6 to go to the Colca Canyon the next morning.

We met our guide Hilda who told us all about the canyon and the altitude... all 4920metres of it! Apparently to stave off altitude sickness though cocoa leaves are given to you to suck and chew in your mouth as people can get very ill from the altitude, the leaves however were pure minging... so me and Ger just stuck to water! We were actually grand and when we reached the highest point - Patawasi, we all got to get out of the bus and make a wish and build some rocks that would be a gift to the canyon/mountain... oh yeah and i also had the novelty of using the highest loo in Peru!

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Some of the others in the group didnt take too well though to the altitude and were very sick so a few stops were made along the way, but we didnt mind as the views and scenery were stunning and there were small little stalls and markets the whole way selling all their hand made crafts, the kids were gorgeous too, they all just look like wee Dora the explorers!, some got so upset because they wanted to come with us! ahhh

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The road signs had also changed on the way!!

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We were staying at a lodge that night in Coporaique in the canyon called Mama Yacchi´s and the place was fab, the views from our room alone were stunning, they even had their own pet Lama that roamed about the grounds and got bottlefed each morning... his name was spot!

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We had a practice hike up the mountain that afternoon as a way to see if we would be ok for the forthcoming inca trail! All was cool though and we got to see the sunset, visit an old religious burial ground and met some interesting characters along the way - one lady who looked like a nice version of the wicked witch of the west from the wizard of oz! The kids however were funny as they would dance and sing for us at any opportunity and they were all dressed in traditional clothing- so cute!

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After a gorgoeous buffet dinner that night and a quick dip in their hot springs we had an early night as we were leaving at 4am the following morning to go and watch the early morning flight of the condors in the canyon valleys... Even though this was well painful, it was so worth it as the views were amazing and there were loads of condors in flight , we could have stayed there all day just watching them glid about the place, and we also met a wee dog at Maca on the way!

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Unfortunately though we were headed back to Arequipa that afternoon as we needed to get prepped about our 4 day inca trail to Machu Picchu, which for me and Ger was the main event!!

Posted by geranddebs 11:42 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Lima - Pisco - Nazca

sunny 25 °C
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We started our GAP tour in Lima and arrived ok into the hotel and met our group, only 7 of us compared to China it was quite small but cool- couple from Galway, a couple from england and one girl called becky a yoga instructor!
We had the day then to walk about Lima and Mira Flores, not really that much to see and do so, big city lots of shops etc etc, so we were happy enough just to chill out and eat some junk food for the day!
The following morning we were up early though and on a bus south to a town called Pisco where the famous Pisco sour drink originated and yes of course we headed out that night to try some!!... pure rocket fuel! bit like the south american version of potcheen.. but this little place was well cool we were staying in a hotel just off the main square but inside it just looked like a small castle and after hostels it was luxury!

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We left Pisco the following morning for the Ballestas islands which is just like a small version of the Galapagos so myself and Ger opted for the extra 2 hours lie in bed instead and met the others later that morning. We drove south to a place called Ica ( incidently this is where the epicentre of the recent earthquake was and by all accounts what we saw and did there is now no longer there... very sad), in Ica we got to visit a vineyard called El Catador, well nice place where we got the tour and where told all about the processes and the huge botejas that housed the wine...and yes again a spot of wine tasting and more pisco sour, the lads over here really love the stuff, and for me even a sniff has me wobbly!

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We stayed here for lunch and they had musicians and the whole lot it was well nice and obviously we didnt want to leave!

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In the afternoon we arrived at a place called Huacahina and had the next few hours booked for some sand buggying and sand boarding. This was completely brilliant, huge big dunes and you got into a big sand buggy and just raced up and down them and then if you wanted you got a sand board and we were able to go sand boarding down them instead, it was well cool, no pics though unfortunately as sand in our camera wasnt a risk we wanted to take!
We got back to base late afternoon and lay by the pool for a bit and had more pisco sours before we heading south again to Nasca to our accomodation for the next few days. We even meet a friendly bird at the pool who chatted away to me!

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We arrived oin Nasca that evening and after dinner just relaxed as the following morning was another early start! We got picked up at 8 by out guide Suzi and taken first to the Chauchilla cemetery which was in the middle of a desert but which was mad as it was famous for its preserved mummies, their hair clothes everything...

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from the cemetery we went to the Nasca airport. I was looking forward to this part of the day as we were going up in cessna planes - 5 to a plane, to look at the famous Nasca lines. These lines were designs of like monkeys, spiders, an astronaut, birds but huge drwawings that could only be seen from the sky properly.

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Unfortunately though some people didnt take to the small planes bobbing about so much in the air, and becky in our group in particular left the plane with no less than 7 small bags with her breakfast in them! was quite funny really as all me and ger could hear from the back was ´more sick bags.... more sick bags´ ah well we enjoyed it anyhow!

We had a chilled out evening then in our hotel as the following day we were headed fro Arequipa on a night bus...

Posted by geranddebs 16:36 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Galapagos - Quito

sunny 25 °C
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We arrived the following morning to Floreana island, and each morning you would be wakened up by the captains voice over the intercom in your room, to say 'good morning, its a beautiful day, breakfast is ready have a nice day', it was like being at the hi de hi campsite!

we all headed out to floreana island this morning for more animal watching, its fascinating everyone was just mesmerised...

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When we got back our cabin mate Darcus who cleans our room had left us some artwork on our bed, he was so nice and all we could manage to do for him was to block up the toilet every day! Quite funny though as we would see him head up to our room when we left for the island with plunger in hand... all Ger of course now, but the toilets were very small...lol

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We met some lovely people on the boat as well, some couples were there on honeymoon and others just on trips like ourselves, our friends John and Denise Vincent from Tasmania and Ivy and Chung Wei from singapore became our drinking buddies!

Elizabeth i even managed to find your name sake on the galapagos!

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On our last day we were taken to North Seymour island where we got to go swimming again, play football with the cabin crew from the boats and visit the only post office in the galapagos...The blue footed boobie birds were hilarious they were so cheeky and would come right up close to you, it did however start to cloud over on our last day so the lads thought a game of footy was in order, ger and the boys joined in but what they didnt notice was that the crew had remembered to bring their shoes and even though ger played very well (not biased at all) he did leave the pitch with an injury!

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He was grand though and motored on... the post office was well cool as it was just a wooden box where people placed their postcards and you didnt need to bother with stamps you just left it there and the rule was then that the next people to come along that live in your area will deliver it for you..! We left with quite a few postcards for dubliners! But everyone got to leave some as well it was great..

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The last trip of the holiday was to baltra island itself for our flight back to quito, but not before we got taken to see the famous red chested frigate birds... these guys had it tough but proper order though! Basically they had to buff out their chests when a lady few past and whoever did the best job got the girl... so funny watching them every time a girl flew past the noises and flapping were incredible, and i have to say the ladies were very fussy as not one of them got a sniff! haha Ger reckoned the lynx effect hasnt been properly marketed in the galapagos!

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We flew back to Quito for one night and 2 days more in Quito, so we headed back to the secret garden for the free booze! We did manage to get some sightseeing done though, but only because i think we were boring the pants of the guys in the hostel with our galapagos stories.. ah well..
Quito is a lovely palce but the clonnial section and main sqaure are its highlights..

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Not to mention the hard workers!...

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We had one night left and it just so happened to be ecuadorian theme night withband in the hostel, we had to fly out the following morning for Lima to start our tour of Peru so we took it easy! Poncho city that night as well, myself and Ger havent got one yet but rest assured we will post the pics when we do... very handy numbers i have been telling Ger and well warm at night, although not sure if he is going for it!

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Posted by geranddebs 15:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Lima - Galapago Islands

sunny 20 °C
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We eventually arrived into Lima at 8am a day late as our flight from New York had been cancelled and we ended up staying another day in the city...
We had to wait another 6 hours then for our connecting flight to Quito so we could get our Galapagos trip connection the following morning...so we were exhausted!

We had booked a taxi to our hostel the Secret Garden and all was going well - checked in, signed up for dinner and free booze for the night, until we remembered our (very expensive) Galapagos Islands trip that started the following day at 7am and we had still to arrange pickup and flights etc to the islands!

Thankfully though the manager of the company True Colours - Peter, had left me amil which Ger only happened to notice on the communal notice board.. pure random! God love Peter for he had left a hand made brown handbag for me with all our letters, boarding passes, maps etc and he said said he himself would be at our hostel at 7am to pick us up. He was well sound ... so we lashed into the free beers on the rooftop patio to celebrate!

The following morning as you can expect was hard going and only for Peter taking our luggage and generally being our guardian angel and mother we probably wouldnt have made it to the airport! We did though and the flight was grand as its only 2.5 hours from the coast.

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Once we arrived we were all separated and given our yellow/red stickers for each boat cruise, it was like being back at school on a school trip away but we didnt mind as porters were assigned that carried our rucksacks for us - very posh indeed for us two!
Our boat was called the MY1 Coral and we got the bus to take us to Puerto Ayora first before boarding the boat for lunch and start the cruise. The place was gorgeous and the sun was even shining, our first view of island life and it was fab!

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The boat was lush, we forgot what it looked like and because we booked it early we got a cabin on the top deck - it was huge compared to the ones in the bottom of the boat so we were well pleased!

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Once on board we sat down to a great lunch and afterwards our first trip out was to the Charles Darwin Stationand Santa Cruz island and the gigantic tortoises.. We were dumbstruck when we seen these lads, they were just huge and you could walk in and around them no bother at all! We spent ages here just looking at them and how slow they move, given they are about 100 years old though they were doing well in our books!

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Our first day over and it had been awesome we all headed back to the boat and the 3 course dinner and cocktails were waiting, we felt like royalty it was great. There was about 30 of us on the boat and it had been a great start!

The next day we were headed for Espanola island......this island was just full of animals and all the cameras got a fair beating that day! We got to see the famous marine iguanas, blue footed boobies and their flirty dancing, albatrosses on whats called the albatross airport on the island, nazca boobies, swallow tailed gulls, sally lightfoot crabs, yellow finches, hawks, herons, pelicans... the list was never ending and they were all so tame that we were able to just walk through them and past them or even just sit beside them if you fancied... it was truly amazing! And most photos are of all of them flirting with each other.. the place is well cool total cattle market for animals!

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We spent a full day here visisting the islands and then in the afternoon we all got into the sea from teh white sand beach and were joined by hundreds of sea lions! These guys were everywhere on the island and they came so close to you as they wanted to play with you, such a great day!

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None of us could believe how friendly all the animals were, we got to swim with the sea lions and there were loads of tortoises as well just swimming right past it was amazing, even if some did look meaner than they were!

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Everyone back on the boat and again a fab dinner and drinks and more overnight sailing to the next island the following morning for more of the same - Floreana Island!

Posted by geranddebs 16:01 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

New York

sunny 30 °C
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We were staying at a hostel called Jazz on the Park in New York and when we got there we we delighted as it was right beside central park and very close to the subway station. We had a week to explore New York and it was Ger's first time so got back into the tourist backpacking regime and up early in the mornings to start walking!!

We wanted to see if we could cover most things on foot seeing we could sort of take our time, so one of the first things we did was go walking all around down by ground zero, wall Street and the famous bull and then on round the coast by the ferries.

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The World Trade center site was very sad it is just a building site now but you can see the remnants of the building blocks and foundations where they are building a memorial in its place, the weather was fab all day and needed to get out of it for a it so we decided to go to the famous Bodies Exhibition - real bodies that are preserved so well and you can see muscles, veins, everything! i however had to leave it early as one of the parts was showing mums to be that had died and the wee babies still inside them. It was remarkable though for those who like that sort of thing.... To clear our heads we decided to walk across the brooklyn bridge and it was fab the views were amazing although you have to make sure you stay out of the bike lane as those boys are bonkers and arent afraid to verbally assault you!

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We got up on the following sunday morning and decided to go to mass at St Patricks cathedral followed by some store browsing for a while and then chill out in central park and read papers for the day, it was brilliant and that wasnt just because we had visited Tiffany´s and i bought a new charm for my bracelet back home and a new pair of shoes! The whole park was full of people and teams playing baseball, the strawberry fields were as relaxing as ever and we just picked a spot and spent a few hours there, seeing how many people we could count reading Harry Potter!!

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The following day it was raining so it was a definite museum day and off we went to the Guggenheim, neither of us are terribly arty people but it was cool to go even if we didnt get why 12 flourescent light bulbs tied together was a peice of art!!

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That night we meet up with a friend of ours from the hostel Callum from Reading and we headed into greenich village for a few pints! This off course turned into a bit of a pub crawl and a few hours later after having gone to comedy show by a guy called Paulie.. we ended up in the Red Lion pub with a great jazz band and Callum getting the waitresses number!

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The following morning as you can guess we didnt do much at all but meet up with Callum and another friend Lynne from Edinburgh and we headed to Madison Square Gardens for the White Stripes concert. This was fab, the place was amazing just to be there and you can drink away bopping about in your seat! It was a great night and off course pints after where a must as well as hot dogs and pizza slices!

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Our last full day in New York and we headed out as early as we could.. to get the ferry for Liberty and Ellis island.

It was another fab day and we got some great views and even found some of our ancestors in the lists of immigrants to Ellis island!

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We finished off our day up the Empire State building for sunset before heading back to meet the lads for a leaving drink, we were all leaving the next day - thursday but it had been a great week all round and Ger got to have his infamous hot dog in New York and yes everyone leave we left without buying anything in the diamond district!!

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Posted by geranddebs 15:57 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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