A Travellerspoint blog

January 2012

USA – Chicago

Loving the Winter Blues

snow -3 °C
View Round The World on dbgomes's travel map.

Flushable toilet paper, drinkable tap water and a familiar language... We must be in the United States of America. We hadn’t quite remembered that we were here for winter though and we were welcomed by snow and bracing winds in Chicago. However we didn´t let the weather get in the way of having plenty of fun.

It was a little sad to be leaving Latin America, but as soon as we landed in Chicago we started to get excited about travelling around the USA with a few western comforts. After getting to our hostel late in the evening we braved the cold and could only find a subway open for something to eat. Nothing like starting off with an iconic American fast food outlet!

In the morning we headed into the park and walked along Lake Michigan up to the metallic ‘bean’ sculpture near Michigan street. The park was nice and the laying snow around the place made it really look wintery. The best thing about travelling in the winter is that you don’t often have many other people at the tourist attractions with you. This was the case for us at the ‘Bean’ which has hundreds of people around it in the summer photos that you see. We only had to contend with a security guard and the odd other tourist in our photos. The reflective sculpture made for some pretty cool photos too.

IMG_3487.jpg
IMG_3496.jpg
8IMG_3498.jpg
IMG_3503.jpg
IMG_3506.jpg
IMG_3510.jpg
IMG_3517.jpg
IMG_3523.jpg
DSC04270.jpg
5IMG_3529.jpg
IMG_3532.jpg
7IMG_3541.jpg
IMG_3544.jpg

After walking around in the cold for a while the snow started to come down a bit harder, so we found a coffee shop to warm up in before doing a little shopping to replace a few clothes in the backpacks (Tanya being the principle culprit).

IMG_3554.jpg

The big thing we had planned to do in Chicago was go to an NBA basketball game. Thanks to Michael Jordan in the 90´s the Bulls are probably the most iconic basketball team around the world. In the Jordan & Pippen era they won the title 6 times (two lots of 3-peats!!), raised the profile of basketball around the world and made me pick up a basketball and start playing.

IMG_3555.jpg
IMG_3560.jpg
IMG_3561.jpg
IMG_3572.jpg
IMG_3571.jpg
IMG_3717.jpg
The past legend

IMG_3718.jpg
The current star

I was really excited to be able to go to the game and managed to convert Tanya into a basketball fan too. We looked round the stadium while the teams were warming up before taking our seats for the game. We had some really good seats in the lower level nice and close to the action. There were lots of fun things going on getting the crowd involved before the game and during all the breaks in the game. It was a really fun atmosphere with 21,000 fans in the stadium.

IMG_3564.jpg
IMG_3567.jpg
IMG_3596.jpg
IMG_3599.jpg
IMG_3622.jpg
IMG_3630.jpg
Cheerleaders warming up the crowd

The game was against the Phoenix Suns who were not going so well in the league, however the Bulls were missing their best player, Derek Rose through injury. The bulls played really well led by Tanya’s new favourite player, Carlos Boozer (because of his cool name) and won by 21 points in the end. With the dominant performance the home crowd were in good spirits and made it a great fun night that even Tanya really enjoyed.

IMG_3634.jpg
IMG_3651.jpg
IMG_3636.jpg
IMG_3671.jpg
IMG_3688.jpg
IMG_3699.jpg
IMG_3706.jpg
Final score 118 to 97

The following day we did a free tour round the downtown architecture that was put on by the hostel. We went past the first ever metal framed skyscraper (at 16 storeys) in the world at the Manhattan Building, as well as some of the buildings that were constructed after the big fire of 1871

IMG_3722.jpg
IMG_3723.jpg
IMG_3726.jpg
IMG_3734.jpg

Afterwards we met up with David, a fellow traveller we met in Chile who lives in Chicago. He had given us plenty of help with things to do, recommendations for eating out and blues bars to go to. We caught up on what had happened since we were in Chile and decided to meet up again at night at Davids favourite blues bar. In the meantime we followed one of Davids tips and went to the signature room in the Hancock Tower for a cocktail and views over the city.

IMG_3740.jpg
IMG_3742.jpg
IMG_3756.jpg

After some dinner we met up at the Kingston Mills Blues club for some beers and good blues music. The place was really cool, and the bands were great. We ended up staying until past midnight taking in the music even though we had an early morning flight the next day.

IMG_3766.jpg
IMG_3770.jpg

FINAL THOUGHTS
Daniel – Chicago was a cool city, I really liked it. The Bulls game was a highlight and something that I have wanted to do since first picking up a basketball! Winter was a bit of a shock to the system after all the warm weather in South America.

Tanya – Sightseeing is a bit more challenging in the cold, but we managed to take in the highlights over the couple of days we had. The blues really is brilliant in Chicago, Carl Weathersby put on a great show and was very entertaining – who else can pull off a song about his girlfriends angry cat??!! And, yes I just might be a basketball fan... the Bulls game was very entertaining, I had a great time.

Posted by dbgomes 22:41 Archived in USA Tagged usa round_the_world Comments (0)

Farewell Latin America


View Round The World on dbgomes's travel map.

Well 5 months after starting out on our trip it has already come to the end of our Latin American adventures. Even though we are excited about the next travels, we are still sad to be leaving such a great area of the world. We had so many incredible experiences in the brief time we were there, met some great people and will have many memories to keep for the rest of our lifetime. We will be back, as there are still lots of things we still need to do.

We thought that it deserved making a top 10 (limiting it to 10 was tough) of our favourite memories from the 5 months as well as pointing out a few of the small things that we noticed which makes it truly unique to travel in Latin America. If you have been to South or Central America before, hopefully you chuckle at a few of these which you encountered; otherwise, if you are heading there, you have this to look forward to.

TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS

1 Antarctica

large_4IMG_1192.jpg

Ice, Mountains, Glaciers, Ocean, Icebergs, Penguins, Seals, 24hr light and great times. It doesn’t get more remote and wild than Antarctica and this trip has been the highlight of our 5 months down here.

2 Easter Island

large_1IMG_6153.jpg

A little island paradise. It felt like pacific islands must have been like 40yrs ago before big hotels and tourism changed them. We had pristine beaches to our self, walked amongst Moai by our self and saw some amazing sunsets. A great start to the trip

3 Trekking

large_7DSC03651.jpg

We have done some pretty diverse trekking in South America. From the ultra humid rainforest trekking in Columbia through the higher altitude Inca trail trek and down to the beautiful Patagonian trails they have all been amazing. The trails have also led to some unforgettable sights at the end of them!



4 Bolivia

large_5IMG_7117.jpg

The first country we really started travelling in, the country as a whole makes the list because it has got everything. The difference between the Arid salt flats in the south, the Amazon in the north, the high altitude Lake Titicaca make it a country that gives you a taste of everything that South America has to offer. We travelled here with some of our best friends too which made it even better. And its cheap too :-)

5 Tayrona Beaches

large_5IMG_9610.jpg

Incredibly warm water, difficult to get to, sleeping on the beach, giant sacred boulders and luscious forest right up to the beach. The best beach that we found in our 5 months.

6 Homestay

6IMG_9042.jpg

Being looked after for 8 days and being made to feel at home in Ecuador was a great memory to take away along with our improved Spanish.

7 Amazon Slow boat

large_9Lightning.jpg

Sharing the 3 day boat ride up the Amazon with locals, chickens, local produce and hammocks as regular life just ticked by for everyone. We didn’t feel like tourists at all and we saw some impressive thunderstorms from the deck of the boat.

8 Patagonia

large_IMG_1981.jpg

Snow in summer, beautiful days, rugged peaks and lots of glaciers. Patagonia is a stunning place and gave us so many unbelievable views in our time trekking around the mountains.

9 Huacuchina sand boarding

large_1DSC01898.jpg

A really cool place that was a ton of fun and a good for winding down for a couple of days. We had no idea that the dunes were as big and as extensive as they were!

10 Ancient Ruins

large_IMG_8651.jpg

We can’t pick any 1 place out above the others. Every time we visited a site, we were always blown away by the differences of all these Pre Columbian civilisations. We have walked amongst the Pre Inca’s, Mesoamerican, Inca, Aztec, Mayan and Tayrona cities. You can see all of the ruins through photo’s, but you can only ‘feel’ the energy in these places walking around them and letting your imagination take you away to a forgotten time.


SOME UNIQUE THINGS WE NOTICED

• It is regulation in Latin America to clap when your plane lands. Maybe it is something to celebrate as a safe landing doesn’t happen as often as we might think in South America?
• There is little wonder why the best Formula 1 race car driver came from South America. I’m sure that we have been in taxi’s and busses driven by Aerton Senna’s relatives.
• Stop signs and traffic rules are optional. Usually a honk on the horn will see you through a stop sign travelling at full speed. Also never trust a zebra crossing, they must get extra points for tourists.
• Seatbelts are a rarity in vehicles. Most taxis that you hop into (See above - where you really want a seatbelt) have all traces of safety tucked away and out of use.
• You will come to love and hate busses. They go everywhere, have regular services and can be quite luxurious for the right price. However you spend so much time in a bus seat your body begins to contort into the ‘Bus Seat’ yoga pose. Adding it up we think we spent around 400 hours on long distance bus rides, give or take.
• Get ready to be ripped off. Some countries more than others (Ecuador, we are looking at you here!!), but we got a bit tired of taxi meters not working, being overcharged for things and generally being seen as some quick cash for people. You get used to it, and luckily they just end up being a bit of an annoyance on the way to some pretty cool things that make it all worth it.
• Shops never have any change. Especially in the countries with large currency (eg 1000 peso = $1) there just isn’t enough change to go around. We had some interesting alternatives handed to us in Argentina. I received some lollies in substitution for coins and Tanya also got a single Band-Aid instead of coins in a pharmacy.
• Coca leaves are the answer for the altitude Get on them and get on them quick!
• Pulling up to a set of traffic lights is like attending a theatre or circus in these countries. People will be juggling, miming, dancing and generally entertaining for a few peso’s every red light.
• When taking a bus you can expect food to be provided by people who hop on the bus for a quick ride to sell their stuff and then get off again. Everything from snack right up to BBQ chicken and vegetables or even ice-cream.
• The fruit looks terrible on first inspection, but when you eat it, you realise it is the best orange/banana/unknown fruit you have ever eaten, especially up in the tropical areas like Columbia. The oranges we had on the lost city trek would have never made a supermarket shelf in UK or Australia, but they were 100 times better than any we ever picked up in Tesco.
• Having a shower is a tricky proposition. Sometimes you need to be sensitive with the hot tap, others just a touch of cold and sometimes both taps seem to be connected to the cold hose.
• In so many places down in South America the weather can turn within minutes. We had pretty amazing luck with the weather with only a couple of things impacted by bad weather. In so many places down in South America it can turn within minutes.
• The meat is pretty dire in most places apart from Argentina. Do yourself a favour and save yourself for an Argentinean steak
• You will get sick, probably multiple times. Maybe our highly sterilised western world has just wore us down over time.
• If you are a dog lover, be prepared for lots of stray dogs and the occasional run in with cars!
• Watch your bags on bus rides. We had our laptop, money and jewellery stolen out of our day packs when it was right under our feet, and we were awake!!!
• You will bump into travellers you have met before. The gringo road is well travelled and you generally go in the same direction as other people to similar stops.

Posted by dbgomes 15:20 Tagged argentina south_america round_the_world Comments (2)

Mexico - Palenque

Torrential downpours in the Mexican Jungle

storm 26 °C
View Round The World on dbgomes's travel map.

The heavens opened when we arrived into Palenque. We were here to see yet more ruins and enjoy the jungle of Mexico. We decided to head out to El Panchen which is outside of the town near to the ruins. In the jungle, you sleep in cabins with the sound of the Jungle to send you to sleep (Tanya – or bizarre techno music on a Friday night).

Arriving at the entry road to the jungle hideouts in the taxi we were greeted with a torrential river going over the road. After putting the raincovers on our backpacks we tried to wade across the newly formed river, only for me to step in a pothole and send the water up to my thighs. Tanya spotted a path which was required much less wading. When we got to the accommodations a girl was saying that two of the cabins were flooded out. We were a little worried what we had gotten into here.

DSC04231.jpg
IMG_3351.jpg
Once a road...

The lady showed us to our cabin which was a few centimetres above the flowing river behind it. She said to put our bags on the bed in case the water rose further... We were heading straight out to the ruins so we would see what carnage awaited us when we returned.

DSC04062.jpg
Our rear balcony

The rain had stopped now luckily and when we got out to the ruins, it started to heat up a bit walking amongst them. Palenque ruins were unique as they are more intertwined with the jungle than we saw at the other ruins back in Yucatan.

IMG_3353.jpg
IMG_3355.jpg
IMG_3361.jpg
IMG_3367.jpg
IMG_3374.jpg
IMG_3379.jpg
IMG_3397.jpg
IMG_3415.jpg
IMG_3419.jpg DSC04094.jpg DSC04106.jpg
DSC04092.jpg
IMG_3420.jpg
DSC04127.jpg
IMG_3429.jpg
IMG_3441.jpg
IMG_3449.jpg
IMG_3452.jpg
large_DSC04074.jpg
large_DSC04151.jpg
DSC04182.jpg

Walking down through the ruins to the exit, the path (now a river with the high water) took us past some waterfalls which were even more powerful thanks to the rain. After we exited, we stopped into the free museum which has a lot of the treasures recovered from the site, these were pretty impressive especially the large sarcophagus from the temple.

DSC04183.jpg
High waters have turned the path to a river

DSC04187.jpg DSC04201.jpg
DSC04195.jpg
DSC04202.jpg
DSC04215.jpg DSC04218.jpg DSC04219.jpg
DSC04221.jpg
DSC04228.jpg

We got back to El Panchen and all the water that was around before was gone, the road that was a river, was back to a road. The water behind our cabin had dropped about a meter and a half and looked like a nice gentle little river.

DSC04232.jpg
The road has returned

At the restaurant that night we chatted with some Aussie travellers all while a live band played and some dancers performed. At the same time, the heavens opened and the torrential rain started. At the end of the night Tan and I had to make a mad dash back to the cabin and got completely saturated. Its damp in the jungle and there was no chance of our clothes drying overnight!

DSC04236.jpg

The following day we were taken out to an area called Agua Azul. We first stopped at a big waterfall which was really cranking some power with the water from yesterday. Armed just with my boardshorts and waterproof camera i went on the path behind the waterfall. It was crazy with the amount of spray that was being kicked up from it.

IMG_3459.jpg
DSC04242.jpg
DSC04244.jpg

After a change of clothes we headed off to Agua Azul which is a series of tiered waterfalls that have a brilliant blue colour to them. Unfortunately for us, all the rain had washed lots of sediment into the river and the bright blue waters were just a normal slightly brown colour instead. Oh well, its easy to see how they would be really picturesque in the right conditions.

large_DSC04251.jpg
IMG_3464.jpg
IMG_3468.jpg
IMG_3474.jpg

We got another night bus that evening (as the heavens opened up yet again) to head back to Mexico City where we passed another night before our flight out to Chicago. This was the end of 5 months in Latin America, and just like all the rest of the time, it was full of more great experiences.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Daniel – The Palenque ruins were good being a bit unique compared the others we saw. The waterfalls were good though, but not as impressive thanks to the amazing amount of water that we saw fall from the sky in the few days there. The locals were well accustomed to it all though, and didn’t really seem to care too much.

Tanya – I have to say that the Palenque ruins were my favourite, even though the tower has been rebuilt to some degree. El Panchan was a good choice for a place to stay, its really cheap and the restaurant out there is fantastic (cheap too), apparently with different entertainment every night. It was a shame we didn’t have the best weather for the waterfalls, but they were very impressive none-the-less. Its so sad to say goodbye to the Latin America part of our journey – of course its gone way too fast! Adios!!

Posted by dbgomes 16:17 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico round_the_world Comments (0)

Mexico – Yucatán Peninsula

Almost Ruined by Mayan Ruins

sunny 27 °C
View Round The World on dbgomes's travel map.

The Yucatan peninsular is well known for its summer resorts for the Americans, but it is full of history and some pretty cool natural scenery with over 6000 Cenotes (natural sinkholes in the limestone land) dotted around the peninsular. We only had a short amount of time up our sleeves and a lot of stuff that we wanted to fit in.

Playa del Carmen
We arrived here off the bus from Cancun airport. We knew it was smaller and probably quieter than Cancun. Well we might as well have stepped off the bus into the USA! So we spent 2 nights enjoying Playa for what it was – a beach resort. We ate and did some shopping. We planned a nice relaxing day on the beach but as we headed out the door, it poured with rain.

0DSC03905.jpg
DSC03906.jpg
IMG_2762.jpg
IMG_2772.jpg
IMG_2768.jpg

Instead we just opted for a Friday night out on the town. We luckily bumped into some Brits at a cool bar with swings up at the bar. Lauren and Joe were staying at an all inclusive hotel down the road and said about going back to their hotel to enjoy the free drinks. After some trouble with getting past the gate security, we finally got in to the sister resort across the road. Free drinks were awesome but also finished in a major hangover in the morning.

IMG_2778.jpg
IMG_2779.jpg
IMG_2781.jpg
IMG_2786.jpg

Tulum
We were both looking forward to Tulum and not quite sure what to expect other than some ruins situated on the beach. The town centre where we were staying is not on the beach so we hired some bikes and headed out with some others from the hostel. Pete, a great cockney bloke from London knew Tulum well and showed us the way.

DSC03908.jpg
Street side Tacos

We found the ruins to be very impressive. The site does not consist of the biggest buildings; however the situation of the ruins on the Caribbean coast is stunning! The iguanas also put on a good show.

IMG_2801.jpg
IMG_2810.jpg
IMG_2816.jpg
IMG_2818.jpg
IMG_2822.jpg
IMG_2823.jpg
IMG_2833.jpg
IMG_2830.jpg
IMG_2844.jpg
IMG_2841.jpg
IMG_2850.jpg
IMG_2851.jpg
IMG_2867.jpg
IMG_2876.jpg
IMG_2890.jpg
IMG_2920.jpg

After leaving the ruins we headed for the beach for a much needed swim. The beach was nice with white sand and refreshingly cool water.

DSC03921.jpg
DSC03918.jpg
IMG_2944.jpg
IMG_2946.jpg
IMG_2952.jpg

Valladolid
We arrived here after 9pm so couldn’t see much on the bus ride in, however walking the 3 blocks to the hostel even in the dark, I (Tanya) already knew I would like it here. The town centre is very colonial with nice squares and pretty buildings.

The first port of call was the ancient Mayan ruins at Ek Balam These ruins are somewhat similar, although smaller than, Chichen Itza however are situated in the jungle and can still be climbed. The carvings on this site were made of limestone and added to the structures which is different from other sites where carvings are engraved into the stone.

IMG_2965.jpg
IMG_2972.jpg
IMG_2976.jpg
IMG_2990.jpg
IMG_2994.jpg
IMG_2996.jpg
IMG_3005.jpg
IMG_3011.jpg
IMG_3017.jpg
The name Ek Balam refers to black jaguar, you can see the mouth of the jaguar around the door.

IMG_3021.jpg
IMG_3034.jpg
IMG_3035.jpg
IMG_3042.jpg
IMG_3052.jpg

There is also a cenote on the site of the ruins (about 1.5km walk), Xchanche. This was the first cenote which we’ve seen. It is an impressive freshwater sink hole. There were a few additional activities you could buy (zip line, rappel, canoe) but we were happy to just jump in and enjoy a swim with the catfish!

IMG_3073.jpg
DSC03961.jpg
DSC03934.jpg DSC03932.jpg
DSC03938.jpg
DSC03948.jpg

On the following day we hired some bikes to cycle out to some more cenotes. The one that we came to first was called X´keken which was different to the one from the day before as it is a cave cenote with a small hole in the roof. Tanya went for swim in this one amongst the massive stalactites and more catfish not to mention the bats fluttering about on the roof of the cave! After here, i was suffering from some food poisoning so we called it a day early.

IMG_3077.jpg
IMG_3081.jpg
IMG_3082.jpg IMG_3084.jpg
IMG_3095.jpg
IMG_3097.jpg

Chichen Itza
Now the most famous Mayan ruin of them all thanks to its inclusion as one of the new 7 wonders of the world, we stopped in from on our way from Valladolid to Merida. The first thing we saw when we walked in was the El Castillo pyramid. We did well to get there early in the morning before all the tour busses descended on the place at the point when we were leaving.

IMG_3100.jpg
IMG_3107.jpg
IMG_3108.jpg
DSC03988.jpg
IMG_3146.jpg IMG_3152.jpg
IMG_3156.jpg
IMG_3162.jpg

The site of Chichen Itza is actually quite extensive. In its day it was effectively the Vatican City for the Mayan’s. They would come on pilgrimages to see the carvings, motifs and sacred temples and sacrifices held at Chichen Itza. We walked through a few areas that had ruins from some large buildings and lots of columns that once supported the roof. There were lots of carvings that we saw.

IMG_3116.jpg
IMG_3119.jpg
IMG_3121.jpg
IMG_3137.jpg

The rest of the site had more sacrificial platforms, a sacred cenote and the most impressive thing for me (Daniel), the ball court. The game is called pik-pok from the sound of the 4kg rubber ball bouncing off the walls. The court was sacred as was the playing of the game. It was quite impressive standing at the end of it looking down the field with the rings hanging from both sides of the court. We headed off from Chichen Itza impressed with what we had seen. I did kind of wish that we had paid for a guide as there are lots of symbols around the place that we didn’t notice. We took the cheap method of standing within earshot of some other groups to hear what was being said.

IMG_3165.jpg
IMG_3169.jpg
IMG_3171.jpg
IMG_3177.jpg
IMG_3182.jpg
The Ball Court

IMG_3183.jpg
IMG_3188.jpg

Uxmal
Another ruin south of Merida that we stopped in at, this has a uniquely rounded pyramid as well as being set in some more forested terrain. Again the site was a lot bigger than we were expecting with many different areas and temples in addition to the pyramids. There was lots of symbols and carvings here at Uxmal, and again i think we could have used a guide to better appreciate it all.

IMG_3192.jpg
IMG_3196.jpg
IMG_3199.jpg
IMG_3207.jpg
IMG_3209.jpg IMG_3211.jpg
large_DSC04029.jpg
IMG_3225.jpg
IMG_3224.jpg
IMG_3234.jpg
IMG_3239.jpg
IMG_3244.jpg
IMG_3256.jpg
IMG_3267.jpg
IMG_3270.jpg
IMG_3271.jpg
IMG_3297.jpg
IMG_3313.jpg
IMG_3321.jpg

We left Merida in the evening on a night bus down to the south and the town of Palenque not before getting some pictures of the Merida square

IMG_3340.jpg
IMG_3345.jpg
IMG_3349.jpg
IMG_3346.jpg

FINAL THOUGHTS
Daniel – Seeing all the Mayan ruins was great, but seeing a lot of them almost ruined us as a result. It is pretty cool stood there in the middle of them thinking about the amazing advances that the Mayans made with astrology and mathematics. I would recommend getting a guide to show you round one of the sites to get a better appreciation of them. Certainly something that i would do in hindsight.

Tanya – The ruins were amazing, and each of the sites were much bigger than I had expected with buildings hiding in the jungle. We did manage to fit in 3 ruins in 3 days (including our next visit) but they were all so impressive in different ways, it really was great to experience a great variety of the ruins. It is definitely worth seeing more than just Chichen Itza. The bats weren’t a problem, but once I got used to the idea with swimming with the catfish, the sinkholes were really cool.

Posted by dbgomes 06:36 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico round_the_world Comments (0)

Mexico – Mexico City

Disappearing lakes, Aztec civilisations and Nachos

sunny 23 °C
View Round The World on dbgomes's travel map.

Mexico City is a heaving monster of a city, the dusk landing approach with the city lights stretching for miles gave us an appreciation of this. The urban sprawl has swallowed up little villages along the way. Although all this isn’t a bad thing as we found a few some gems around the city. And I never knew it was sitting right on top of a lake either...

We had 2 full days in Mexico City just to get a taster and we started day one with doing something free, a self guided tour! Armed with downloaded information on our phones we set off and took ourselves to all the main city sights and got to know the city’s surprisingly good transport system while we were at it.

We started with a walk from the hostel to Plaza de la Constitucion. We took in the main buildings including the cathedral - Catedral y Sagrario Mertopolitano and the palace - Palacio Nacional. The flag in the middle of the square is massive! But on this occasion the sight of the flag was overwhelmed by Christmas cheer, it was almost European with an ice-skating rink, Christmas markets, snow ball fight arena alongside many more family entertainment stalls and decorations. Just behind the square is the Templo Mayor ruins which are the original foundations of the first city to stand on this islet in the waters of the now dried up Lake Texcoco.

7IMG_2566.jpg
0IMG_2573.jpg 7IMG_2575.jpg
3IMG_2576.jpg
IMG_2579.jpg

After exploring the square we wanted to head out to Xochimilco which was dubbed as the Venice of Mexico. Following the directions we were given, we found ourselves walking through the back streets of Xochimilco in search of some canals which are the remnants of the lake that existed here in the 1500’s. We found them eventually but decided not to go on an overpriced boatride even though it seemed to be the only way to see the canals hidden by the many many boats.

IMG_2583.jpg
IMG_2584.jpg
IMG_2586.jpg

Our next visit was to the lovely Coyoacan area of the city which is one of the oldest areas with cobblestone streets and a pretty plaza which we enjoyed wandering around before going into the greenery of the parklands. There were plenty of squirrels running around and they seemed a bit too friendly for potential ‘disease carrying mammals’

IMG_2592.jpg
IMG_2593.jpg
IMG_2596.jpg
IMG_2598.jpg
IMG_2601.jpg
IMG_2606.jpg
IMG_2615.jpg IMG_2620.jpg

The following day was dedicated to the Teotihuacan pyramids which were about an hour away on the train then bus. Unlike Chichen Itza we hadn’t really head anything about this site so we weren’t expecting too much, but when we pulled up to the gate and we could see the Sun Pyramid looming in the distance we were quite impressed. This site predates the Mayan and Aztec civilisations as it started around 100BC to 200AD

Starting off by spending some time walking amongst the ruins of an area called the Temple of the Feathered Serpent. We then walked up the Avenue of the Dead to the sun temple. At 75 metres high this is the third largest pyramid in the world after the great pyramids in Giza, and you can walk up it. We chilled at the top just sitting on the upper platform looking over towards the moon temple.

IMG_2625.jpg
IMG_2639.jpg
IMG_2635.jpg
IMG_2637.jpg
IMG_2641.jpg
IMG_2644.jpg
IMG_2648.jpg
IMG_2652.jpg
IMG_2658.jpg
IMG_2665.jpg
IMG_2691.jpg
IMG_2696.jpg
7IMG_2710.jpg
1DSC03881.jpg
Relaxing at the top of the sun pyramid

large_2DSC03883.jpg

We finished off the procession up the avenue of the dead at the Moon temple which was also impressive with the many smaller ceremonial pyramids surrounding the square below it.

IMG_2655.jpg
IMG_2720.jpg
IMG_2724.jpg
IMG_2727.jpg
large_IMG_2753.jpg
large_7DSC03892.jpg
large_7DSC03895.jpg
Dan is in the blue at the top of the pyramid on the left

We called it a day having spent a good few hours walking around in the intense sunshine and struggling to stay awake on the bus and metro on the way back. Some traditional Mexican tacos were all we needed for dinner then it was an early night for a flight in the morning.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Daniel – I was expecting Mexico City to be a massive city, but was not expecting to be blown away by the Teotihuacan ruins as much as i was. Having only seen information on the smaller Mayan pyramids, the bigger pyramids here were impressive.

Tanya – Mexico was a great city, but a city none the less. My favourite area was Coyoacan. It was great to go out to the Teotihuacan, the site kept going and going. You can climb most of the pyramids for great views very the rest of the site which is hard work under the hot sun. All in all a great few days, but looking forward to the beach and the jungle!

Posted by dbgomes 13:48 Archived in Mexico Tagged mexico round_the_world Comments (1)

Peru – Lima

Goodbye 2011/Hello 2012 – 2 awesome years

sunny 25 °C
View Round The World on dbgomes's travel map.

We had to come back to Lima to rejoin our round the world airline tickets which would take us away from South America and up to Mexico. It also happened that this coincided with the New Years celebrations. We went back to the Miraflores district which is where we stayed the last time we were in Lima.

We chose a hostel which had a good rating for atmosphere so that we might be able to meet some cool people to see the new year in with. The hostel was really good actually, with a pool table, table tennis and foosball all on their rooftop bar. We got chatting to 2 girls, Bailey and Kassi from England on the first morning who we swapped some tips with on Mexico (our next destination) and Bolivia (their next destination). We spent the day just getting some shopping done before getting back to the hostel in the afternoon ready for the festivities to begin.

It was a yellow underwear party at the hostel, which is a big tradition for bringing luck in the new year for Peruvians. Yellow knickers, jocks and thongs were all on sale down at the markets. After some table top sports and beers we had a good group of us to see the new year in with. Drinking games commenced and tequila shots were brutal but we got to 11:30 in good spirits and donning our yellow underwear. We decided to head down to the cliffs to see the fireworks at midnight.

DSC03836.jpg
DSC03856.jpg
DSC03863.jpg
DSC03866.jpg
DSC03848.jpg

It was crowded down at the cliffs and we tried to get into a few bars for a drink after the fireworks, but everywhere was bookings only, so we called it a night after a while and headed back to the hostel.

The following day was just a recuperation day spent in the park opposite the hostel, doing skype calls and relaxing around the hostel chatting with everyone. On the 2nd of Jan we got our morning flight up to Mexico city for our final taste of Latin America.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Daniel – Fun new years celebrations with the people at the hostel and relaxing final couple of days in South America.

Tanya – We managed to find plenty of time to relax in Lima and had a great time bringing in the new year in our yellow knickers!!

Posted by dbgomes 21:25 Archived in Peru Tagged peru round_the_world Comments (1)

Chile – Valparaiso

semi-overcast 23 °C

Valparaiso is renowned for its massive fireworks displays that it puts on over New Years, unfortunately for us, we were flying out on the 30th so we just had a couple of days to see the city minus the fireworks extravaganza. On the flip side however, as the Chileans all come to Valparaiso for the celebrations, hostels are about 4 times their normal price, so we at least saved some money.

After getting in early in the morning from Pucon, we got out to our hostel and dropped our bags off before heading for some breakfast. After getting checked in we went for a walk down to the harbour to see what was on offer. Being a main port, there wasn’t much to see here apart from container ships, navy ships and a lot of boats offering cruises of the bays.

IMG_2498.jpg

The place we were staying was a nice little hangout run by a couple of blokes. They put on a BBQ in the evening which was great with hot dogs, big steaks and loads of salad. The following day a couple from the hostel were being shown around by a Chilean friend they knew, and invited us along. We met up with their friend in the main square and headed towards the outskirts of the city to a cave along the rocks. Climbing over the fence and rock climbing down we got close to the pounding waves. On the way back up we got offered some abalone from a bloke who had been picking them from the rocks (highly doubt it was legal to be picking them at this time of the year).

IMG_2503.jpg
IMG_2507.jpg

We walked further along the coast back toward the city. There were fireworks set up all along the cost ready for the big show on New Years Eve.

IMG_2509.jpg

We headed up the hills to get high above the city for some good views. Valparaiso is definitely a lot bigger than we were expecting.

IMG_2563.jpg

One of the main things that Valparaiso is known for is the colourful buildings and street art around the streets. Walking around the town we certainly saw plenty of brightly coloured buildings. Here are a few examples

IMG_2519_2.jpg
IMG_2525.jpg
IMG_2528.jpg
IMG_2495.jpg IMG_2533.jpg
DSC03771.jpg
IMG_2538.jpg IMG_2539.jpg
IMG_2541.jpg
IMG_2543.jpg
IMG_2546.jpg IMG_2561.jpg

After finishing being shown around, we headed to an area that is renowned for its street art. The first part that we saw was really cool. There were steps heading up a little alley way that had almost every bare surface painted. A lot of it was really intricate, with lots of detail. Sadly after such a good start, we didn’t see anything else that compared.

IMG_2548.jpg IMG_2551.jpg
IMG_2553.jpg IMG_2556.jpg
DSC03830.jpg
IMG_2559.jpg IMG_2562.jpg
DSC03832.jpg

We had a meal out with a few other people from the hostel before getting back and packing the bags for an early morning taxi to the bus station to get back to Santiago for our flight up to Lima.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Daniel – There isn’t a great deal in Valparaiso, but yet it does have something cool about the place. We were happy to spend the few days there rather than back in Santiago. The build up to New Years was massive, lots of street sellers with plenty of new years stuff for sale and a lots of people around the streets. Im sure the celebrations would have been massive.

Tanya – I was taught how to say good vibes in Spanish but i forget! Basially Valparaiso had a great vibe! For a city it was really cool and the colours were amazing! It was just a shame to miss the fireworks.

Posted by dbgomes 19:53 Archived in Chile Tagged chile round_the_world Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 7 of 7) Page [1]