Thursday, 25 October 2007

Isla del Sol

Originally uploaded by beckygrantstr
Stephen disco dancing on the Isla del Sol

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Isla del Sol

Originally uploaded by beckygrantstr
Drinking fresh juice on the Isla del Sol.

Lake Titicaca and Copacabana

Floating Islands made of reeds and Lake Titicaca - Norfolk broads with llamas..

Things to do with reeds..

You can build floating islands, churches, houses,bedroom furniture and you can eat them like bananas - only they dont taste like bananas - more like flavourless carrots. A bit pointless really unless you only have reeds..which they do.. plus lots of colourful tourist junk to sell to a captive boated-in audience.

Copacabana - Poor mans Bognor

Lots of hills to climb to watch the sunset over the lake
Thunder and lightning display around the mountains
Pedalos with useless steering
View from 6th floor hotel room
Barry Manilow

Bad things
Walking up 6 floors of stairs every two minutes...
Dodgy electric cables all over the shower
Inca beer - tastes like coffee with three sugars
Rubbish guitar players - could be an opportunity as a rubbish guitar player myself..

Isla del Sol visit - Isle of Wight with donkeys
Supposedly the birth place of the Incas. Spectacular views with monthly llama sacrifices and a few sacred rocks that look like things if you re high. Not a lot of entertainment. Probably all nipped off to Cuzco to set up a bar or something..

Arequipa 007

Arequipa 007
Originally uploaded by beckygrantstr
Becky considers joining the convent after travelling with Stephen for nearly a month...

Arequipa 019

Arequipa 019
Originally uploaded by beckygrantstr
Stephen and Alan 'behind bars' at the Santa Catalina convent in Arequipa.


Arequipa is a 6 hour bus ride from Puno. It has a lovely Spanish plaza with a huge cathedral and two-story Spanish colonnades lit up with white fairly lights at night. When we arrived we had hoped to visit Colca Canyon for the day, but soon discovered this meant leaving at 2 in the morning and taking a four hour bus ride each way. After brief consideration, we opted to relax in Arequipa instead. One of the highlight is seeing the Andean condors at the crack of dawn. Stephen and I were fortunate to have a huge Andean condor fly over our heads during the bird show at the San Diego Wild Animal Park so I didn´t feel like I was missing out too much.

Instead we visited the Santa Catalina convent. It is the size of a small village and the nuns lived in more luxury than we expected (a few had harpsichords and small sitting rooms). I think their family had to give a large donation (like a dowry to the church) for nuns to be admitted in the past.

We also saw 'Juanita', the frozen mummy of a young girl sacrificed by the Incas to appease the mountain gods. She was buried in a cave on Mt. Ampato (over 20,000 ft). She was chosen at a young age to make the epic journey from Cusco to Mt. Ampato. She was then given chicha (a really strong alcoholic beverage) and then clunked over the head with a large stone. It was believed that she herself would become a deity so it was quite an honour for her to walk uphill on steep stone steps for days on end to the high altitudes of Mt. Ampato eating only maize and coca leaves along the way....She is so well preserved because she fell deep into an icy cavern during one of the many Peruvian earthquakes.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Video from the Inca Trail

Here is a video of our group and Machu Picchu...

Day 4 - Inca Trail

Here we are after 3 full days of walking in the same clothes and waking up at 4am. Needless to say, we were pretty smelly. There were showers available on the last night, but our group made a 'no shower pact' so we definitely distinguished ourselves from the perfectly groomed tourists that arrived in busses.

Machu Picchu

We really felt like we earned the spectacular views on our way down to Machu Picchu after trekking for four days (and Stephen felt like he earned them for waking up at 4am to beat the crowds).

Stephen and I only had an alarm clock with a little light on it to guide us down the stone steps in the dark so it was a challenging descent in the early morning (a small, powerful flashlight would be a great Xmas present...hint!hint!

Photos from the Inca Trail

Now that I finally have a good Peruvian internet connection I will add some photos of the Inca Trail to our blog.

It was an incredible experience!
Breathtaking views, delicious food that left us amazed at how they could prepare it with a small stove on the mountainside and all provisions carried up and down the steep, Inca steps by porters, fun group of people to walk with, perfect weather and really enthusiastic knowledgeable guides.

Here is a photo of Stephen with his poncho over the top of his backpack. Fortunately, we only had to wear them once. Otherwise, the alpacas might have mistaken us for camels....

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Cusco and Machupicchu

Photos of Becky and Athena and giant packs carried on the Inca trail (except for Day 2 - they decided to hire porters for the steepest ascent). Becky now wishes she listened to Stephen and opted for one hat instead of 3.

Cusco -Scruffy town full of whistling police, sock sellers, lost tourists and tiny Matiz taxis surrounded by mountains making it fun for the pilots of large planes to land between the modest gaps in the hills. Climbed hills to find some ruins and to practice breathing at 3400m

Machupicchu - Hiked for 4 days with backpacks through the mountains to visit stunning Inca site followed by porters in flip flops carrying all the camping gear. Favourite travel possession - big walking stick. 5am starts after coca tea service to the tents. Finished the last day with drinks in a natural hot spa surrounded by mountains.

Cusco again - stayed in the pub most of the day getting promises of floor space in Oz and Hong Kong and sampling the beer

Train to Puno - Silver service, spectacular mountain scenery, llama herds, happy farmers in hats. High speed about 15mph! Pan pipe / guitar show over dinner with big drum right next to my ears. All tunes Am F G with an E thrown in to make it sound authentic. Same chords the world over..

Monday, 8 October 2007

Last Day in Buenos Aires

Day 3:
The weather today was glorious. We walked along Florida Street, the main pedestrian shopping zone. We also visited the Teatro Colon and went to look at the impressive Congress building. There is a wide tree-lined avenue that connects the Congress building to the 'casa rosada'. It reminds me of Paris. Next, Stephen and I toured the mayor´s office and ate at Cafe Tortoni, a famous cafe built in 1858. When we walked in we felt as though we had stepped back in time. Waiters with black bow-ties served us from silver trays. It was very elegant. We also stumbled upon a South American cycling race around the Avenida de 9 de julio, the widest avenue in the world. I am attaching a video clip. I couldn't believe how fast the cyclists were going and how close together they ride...It was insane!
There was a very special event in Buenos Aires tonight called 'Noche de los museos' (Night of the Museums). 107 museums were open and free to visit from 7pm until 2 in the morning! They all featured various types of entertainment (jazz musicians, tango dancers, etc...). There were free mini-buses available to take visitors to museums all over the city. It was fantastic! There were so many people out and about. We decided to visit the cabildo, the sight were the Spanish viceroy was deposed in 1810. All of the museums and public buildings were lit up. Stephen and I also listened to a free concert outside of the Geological Museum. Unfortunately, we had to go to bed fairly early in order to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to catch our flight to Peru...oh well, it was great luck to experience such a fantastic event.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Buenos Aires continued...

Day 2:
Today we ended up visiting Malba, the Modern Art Museum, to avoid the torrential rain. It was in Palermo, a very nice part of the city. The building was light and modern. Our favourite pieces were the video projection of the 'fly in the wall' and these mechanized discs that contorted into different circular shapes on various backgrounds. We also had an overpriced, but very nice meal in the cafe, probably my last really nice Caesar salad for the next few months. Later, we walked through Recoleta, a very chic European area of Buenos Aires. It is also the neighbourhood of the language school we have signed up for in December. There are several nice, posh cafes in the neighbourhood. I will love it, but Stephen might prefer the cheap and cheerful neighbourhood of San Telmo (where we have been staying). Last night we were picked up from the hostel and driven to a 'tango' night. We started the evening with a lesson. It was difficult to do in our big, clunky waterproof sandals. There were definitely some toes trod upon. Then, we had a three course meal, listened to live music and watched a performance that showed the history of the tango through dance. I have never seen an accordian played in such an innovative way. It was fantastic! I'm all ready to sign up for lessons, but Stephen is a bit concerned about being my partner because of my propensity to lead...

Friday, 5 October 2007

Buenos Aires

Hola! Yesterday we enjoyed some sunshine exploring the city and had double steak portions. Today is the last of the rainy season so they say- monsoon style with golf ball hail stones and everything smells of new paint and washing. Rushing through limited sock provisions in attempt to have nice smelling feet. Managed to find an authentic part of the city to stay in - Mexico City/grim Morrissey Manchester but have made some friends over breakfast. Afternoon choices are stay in the room drinking beer and playing guitar or go out into the storm and visit a modern art museum like the free ones we have in London. Former travel companions would have chosen the beer and music....

This is Becky in front of the 'casa rosada'.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

We're off!

Stephen has left Ford Motor Company after many years of travelling around Europe and sampling German and Belgian beers on expenses...
Becky was only too happy to give up her stressful teaching job and finally hand in her MA Victorian Studies dissertation...
We are now off on our 'Around the World Adventure'!!!
Stay tuned for exciting updates (well - hopefully not too exciting)!

California Adventures

We had a great summer (at least Stephen did, Becky saw entirely too much of the interior of the British Library as she worked on her dissertation)...
We visited friends in Hamburg, Stockholm, Saffron Walden, Brentwood and Stephen helped lift children and dogs over styles on the annual August Bank Holiday camping adventure.
We spent 3 weeks in California with both sets of parents. Highlights include: Attempting to surf with our birthday presents (foam boards from the Stradleys), rollerblading in PB, games of chess on the porch in the 107 degree heat (Stephen and Colin), Jason's homemade London Nut Brown ale, beautiful wooden cabin at Bass Lake, the 1,000 piece U.S.A. jigsaw puzzle, hiking up Vernal Falls in Yosemite, water-skiing, wakeboarding, being whipped around Bass Lake on the giant inflatable (Debby and Jason's spectacular crash) and Stephen driving my grandpa's Mustang around Palos Verdes.

Now, we are off to follow the summer so that Stephen can get some more surfing practice :-)