The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Saturday, 30 June 2012

22 down, 174 to go!

There are 196 countries in the world (unless you're a US citizen, then apparently you're not allowed to count Taiwan.)

I have already visited:

1. England (obv.)
2. Scotland
3. Wales
4. Germany
5. France
6. Belgium
7. Austria
8. Denmark
9. Italy
10. Switzerland
11. Spain
12. Greece
13. Portugal
14. USA
15. Canada
16. Columbia
17. Peru
18. Bolivia
19. Chile
20. Haiti
21. The Bahamas
22. Puerto Rico

Next week I'm setting off to the Czech Republic (Prague), Austria (Vienna) and Hungary (Budapest), with six other friends, so that adds two more to the list :) This is our second Eurotrip after we visited Nice, Milan, Zurich, Frankfurt and Hamburg last year. It was such a brilliant trip so we're all rather excited for this one to get underway. Only 8 days to go!!

So after this summer I'll have been to a grand total of 24 countries, which I don't think is a bad start considering I'm only 19. I've already starting planning next years grand adventure too, though we're still debating between South Africa and Australia :) I've totally caught the travelling bug now.

(N.B. I had to edit this post. You know when you know you've forgotten something and can't figure out what it is? Well this time it turns out I'd forgotten that I'd been to Haiti, Puerto Rico and The Bahamas... Silly em...)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Bucket List

I'm back for the next 3 weeks or so before heading on my next (slightly less extravagant but no less exciting) adventure to Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Although I have been slacking quite considerably on the blogging front for the past few weeks (sorry!), I have really enjoyed keeping one and intend to do so every time I decide to go gallivanting around the world. Therefore I have decided that the blog itself needs a new make-over and purpose, considering that I won't ALWAYS be off exploring/my gap yah is very nearly over.

I mentioned briefly in a post a few months ago that at the age of 14 I wrote a bucket list outlining all the exciting things I want to do before the age of 30. I haven't really got started on this list yet even though I keep adding to it, though in fairness to myself I have probably been too young to do so until now as the majority of the list is full of things to do whilst travelling. I decided to create a challenge to combine as many things on this list as possible.

So here it is:
Visit every country in the world before I die.

Before each trip I'll also post the various challenges from my bucket list that I have to do during the trip as well as asking for more suggestions.

Now I realise the logistics of this aren't exactly straight forward. For example I'm not actually allowed into North Korea or Somalia (to name but a few) for various different reasons, but I figure I'll work around that when I get to it.

I'll also blog every so often between trips about places I go in the UK, travel advice, language learning and anything else travel related I can get my hands on that's worth sharing!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Adios Peru

So this is it... we leave Perah TODAY. It's not really sinking in to be honest, I've somehow settled into the mind frame that this how I am going to live from now on, coming back to reality is going to be SO weird.

We spent our last night in Lima avec Samwise and we gorged ourselves on McDonalds as our last hearty meal in Peru, deciding that we've earned it as technically we've been here for so long now we are no longer gringos but Inca Warlords (Sam's logic really, I just went with it because I wanted chicken wings. You know they do those in McDonalds here?? It's awesome.)

I am so glad we decided to just do the one night in Lima, it's such a hole compared to any other place we've stayed in South America, with the only exception perhaps being Puno, but it's a blooming close call. For example our hostel has a roof terrace which anywhere else, would be lovely. Like in Cusco at night the sky is clear, starry and just beautiful. Where as in Lima, it looks white, thick with smog from the pollution. Lovely.

I woke up this morning feeling like I used to at Christmas as a child. My stomach is churning with excitement. Well that or it's something to do with the three chicken sandwiches I ate from a street vender lady yesterday. I really am in two minds, on the one hand I canNOT wait to come home and see everyone, have clean clothes, nice food, warm showers, a hair cut, comfy bed etc etc. But on the other hand I have had the time of my life and met so many awesome people! I know this isn't the last time I do a trip like this.

Our flight isn't for another 11 hours or so, so we have a day of packing and desperately trying to waste time ahead of us. Woooooooooo. We're also going to compile a few more posts with tips for future travellers, highlights and recommendations etc so watch this space, I'm not finished just yet :)

Huacaflippinchina BABY

The last 5 days or so were spent in Huacachina, a little oasis town with the population of around 115 people about 4 hours away from Lima (unless you travel with Flores, then it's more like 6 and a half. Lying so and sos.) It was AMAZING, such a good way to spend the end of our trip. Not that we did much like :P

We spent 23 hours (mas o menos) on a bus to get there when it was supposed to be 16. I am NOT going to miss peruvian buses even a little bit. To be honest its quite comforting to know that my journey back to Preston won't even take that long. It was pretty horrendous but arriving in Huacachina was so awesome, its such a beautiful place!

Most of the time was just spent chilling out and eating (I know this is quite the running theme for this trip!) The hostel we stayed at does the most amazing BBQ Chicken Wings, so if you're heading to Huacachina stay at Desert Nights Hostel and try them out. Also its only 15/s a night and if your a HI member its even cheaper, but to be honest the chicken wings should be enough of a pull.

Of course we had to test out the night life once or twice and it was EPIC. In fact we decided it was best to leave a day early before we all got stuck in the paradise of Huacachina in a permantantly hungover state achieving very little and never seeing the day light.. Ok so that's a bit of an exaggeration but you get the idea!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Goodbye Cusco :(

SO before and after the Inca Jungle Trek we spent a fair amount of time in Cusco. I think it's safe to say that Cusco has been my favourite place we've visited in South America :)

On the 31st it was EVIE'S 19TH BIRTHDAY so of course we went out to celebrate. I got her a little prezzie and a card signed by lots of different people that we've met throughout the duration of our travels. She was SO surprised so of course I was well happy that all my sneakiness had paid off. Also Matt got her some mustard...

In the evening we went out with the gang to Norton's, Indigo and the Wild Rover which was lots of fun, even if we did get kicked out at like 2.30am. I thought the Wild Rover was supposed to be like party central?? Honestly.

Another aspect of Cusco that cannot go without a mention is Jack's Cafe which is without a doubt the best place for food in South America (well, that I've been to so far!) A little pricey for Peru it has to be said but 100% worth every penny. I don't really think the pics do it justice but I'm going to share them anyways...

We also caught Corpus Christi by accident which was quite nice. Peruvians really do know how to do a religious festival! It was almost impossible to move around Plaza de Amas and they had all these massive elaborately decorated statue things that they were carrying through the streets. Plus music and dancing and food EVERYWHERE. It was great!!

I was rather sad to say goodbye to Cusco, but I reckon it wont be my last visit. I would definitely recommend a visit to anyone :)

Inca Jungle

The last few weeks have been SO good!!

From 1st-4th I completed a 4 day Inca Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu with Dan, Sam and Matt. I had such a good time even though it was bloody difficult.

The first day was Mountain Biking where we spent 2 and a half hours whizzing around 2500m downhill. I did get a little over excited at one point when racing Matt around a bend and executed Face Plant #4 with absolute grace and style, landing with the bike on top of me in a nearby ditch. Luckily I've managed to escape with nothing but a few rather large and impressive (if I do say so myself) bruises on my upper thighs. Silly em.

The rest of the evening was spent chilling with the 3 spaniards in our group (Jose, Carlos and Jose Carlos - how cool is that?!) attempting to speak Spanish/English to each other, until the others got back from rafting. After dinner we were joined by the guys and the three dutch girls in a our group and we decided to have a bit of a sing song until it was just Sam, Dan and I keeping everyone awake with our extremely tuneful drunken renditions of Jack Johnson and Tracy Chapman.

The second day was probably the hardest as we had to walk around 10 hours, mostly uphill and my asthma decided to be a cow. However the views and scenery were 100% worth it; it was totally incredible. Pretty cool to be on the real inca trail too!

The Hot Springs at the end of the day were SUCH a relief as we girls could finally chill out and watch whilst the lads, somehow still full of beans, decided to throw each other around.

Day 3 was ZIP-LINING 150m above the tree tops. Wowzer, it was AMAZING!! Its so high up it's completely surreal.

That little black dot in the sky. That's a person.

After that we only had 3 more hours walking until we arrived at Aguas Calientes and much to my delight it was almost all flat along the train track. I did however discover from our guide that I had left my steroid inhaler at the previous hostel, meaning I was to miss two doses before climbing Machu/Huayna Picchu the next day. Oops.

At 4am the next day we woke up to the unwelcome sound of our various alarms. By this time I was pretty terrified that I wouldn't make it by my lack of inhaler, whilst being completely exhausted and covered in bites and blisters. I don't think anyone has ever been less inclined to Machu Picchu.

However once we got started up the bazillion inca stairs up to the top, my spirits began to lift as I realised it wasn't actually so bad and the excitement sank in that I was going to watch the sunrise of the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu. How very gap yah. It was absolutely incredible too.

I have to say Huayna Picchu was a little bit more of a challenge but the overwhelming feeling of awe that you get when you reach the top is unbelievable!

That's Machu Picchu looking teeeeeeeeeeeeny tiny from so high up!

Us lot with the Picchus in the background. Look how high we climbed!!

We stumbled down just as the sun was setting and managed to catch the train back to Cusco just in the nick of time.