Isa and Ulf

Joined October 2014
  • Day113

    We're back!

    April 6, 2015 in Germany

    Although hours delayed due to the heavy storms in Europe, our flight back was rather pleasant and calm. touching down in Frankfurt on a cold but beautiful early spring day, it took us only 2 hours with ice and metro until we could finally open the door of our apartment in cologne, from where we had left 107 days ago. it sure felt strange to take off our backpacks for the last time...luckily we have about 6 days left to pretend that the real life hasn't returned yet!
    hoping that the battery of the car is still running ( it does, what a relief), tons of letters to work through, and a massive jetlag to be fought are the challenges...and not to forget, working your way trough thousands of photos, that will always remind us of a dream come true....

    Wrap-up
    Starting at the end of the world in Fire Land, following the Andean range almost 7 thousand kilometers always direction north across glaciers in Argentina , sunburnt valleys in Chile, bitter-cold high plateaus in Bolivia up to 6000 meter high volcanoes in p, passing through the wet mountain landscape in Ecuador and the evergreen mountain ranges of Colombia. walking through enchanted lush rainforests on the most southern coast of the continent, bone-dry deserts in the central coast of Peru and the empty dream beaches of the Galapagos islands. the fascination of elegant Buenos Aires, the dual face if Chile in Valparaiso and santiago, the chaos of La Paz, the charm, elegance and beauty of Arequipa and Lima, the colonial beauty of Cuenca, Quito and Popayan.
    Ximena, David, Pablo's parents, Natalia, Diego, Roxy and her family, Pamela, Caro and Daniel and all our friends and Family who shared part of our trip with us.
    We thank you all and life for letting us get a grip on our time to enjoy being alive!
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  • Day108

    Bogotá

    April 1, 2015 in Colombia

    Hard to imagine that Bogota its actually our trip's final destination. =-O
    Nevertheless Bogota is not only the last city to stay, but also the beautiful setting in which we met 5 years ago and started to share our lives with each other. it could never be just another station on the trip, so filled with memories and places we wanted to return to and experienced we wanted to enjoy.
    With the same trained and critic 'Latin' eye, we also noticed the massive changes that occurred since we both left. the city has become much more expensive, it got even more crowded, and unfortunately that has not increased its quality of living. in fact, Bogotanians seem to be less positive about their city than when we left.
    in our case that was not too dramatic, we arrived in easter week,where most bogotanians had left the city for holiday, and being on holiday the stress of the city didn't affect us too much. therefore nothing than pure joy, meeting family members and old friends to celebrate like in old times!
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  • Day103

    Ibagué

    March 27, 2015 in Colombia

    Getting ready in the morning for our last road trip. North to Cali, through the endless sugarcane fields of the Cauca valley and then with another bus up to the extraordinarily beautiful coffee region and then crossing the mighty La linea pass down to the valley of the Magdalena river, where the relaxing city of Ibague and isa's parents anxiously await us. the beauty and variety of the Colombian landscape recompensate for the fact that traveling across land always takes longer than planned, due to still poor road conditions and heavy traffic...we were calculating 7-9 hours...and needed 11! well, of course that doesn't matter at all, when your Family is waiting for you at the end of the ride! almost one week of getting pampered, relax, visiting family and friends followed, time for what had been missing for months: sit back, reflect and enjoy your own memories of what we had seen, experienced and learned. and also to start asking yourself, what did the trip do with you, what had changed in your way of seeing the world and yourself in it...Read more

  • Day95

    Popayán

    March 19, 2015 in Colombia

    Further northwest we hit the unknown magnificent colonial Colombian town of Popayán.
    The city indeed is incredibly beautiful, the houses all painted in white, an incredible number of churches and these day's everything is being prepared for the holy Easter week, when tens of thousands of tourists come to see the dozens of religious processions and services. But the most beautiful part is that it is not a colonial museum, but a lively city, full of students.
    After enjoying the beauty of the streets illuminated at night when we arrived, we took the next day to get to know the old town, tasting the excellent cuisine of the Cauca valley and simply enjoying being off the gringo trail and being the only tourists around.

    Beautiful last two days for us during our Sabbatical before we take the bus across the next mountain range to go to Ibagué, Isa's home town and be with her parents!
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  • Day93

    Entering Colombia through Nariño

    March 17, 2015 in Colombia

    Yeah, the last border of our trip and finally destination: Colombia!
    After 5 hours passing through the amazing mountain landscape of northern Ecuador, we crossed by foot the bridge between Ecuador and Colombia, entering the department of Nariño.
    Finally back in Colombia, Isa's home country and Ulf's beloved old home. But honestly, it felt rather unusual. The south of Colombia is very different from what we know about this country. Actually after independence from Spain, the department chose to become a part of Ecuador, but the new Colombian army "convinced" them otherwise. It is an extremely beautiful landscape, and Colombia's Andean or Inca's side! And the first site, is directly behind 'Las Lajas, a famous pilgrim destination consisting of a church on a bridge, so remote that most Colombians only know it from pictures. After that, we continued to Pasto the department's capital. We decided to stay two nights, to have time to visit another remote sight, the beautiful mountain lake of 'La Cocha' and enjoy the last peculiarity from the Andes we hadn't tried yet: eating guinea pig. The lake was absolutely marvelous, the guinea pig tasted rather unique...and having tried it once, is probably enough!Read more

  • Day91

    Quito and The middle of the world

    March 15, 2015 in Ecuador

    Quito had a difficult start for us. :-$
    We arrived at the southern terminal, and took two terribly crowded busses that would bring us to the home of friends of Isa's parents (Isa's parents had lived 2 years in Quito). a rather unpleasant trip when Isa noticed that somebody had stole her iPhone when we managed to get out of the bus. Therefore we won't be able to post Isa's fabulous pics ;-)

    After spending hours blocking the sim-card changing passwords and cutting access rights, we actually had no nerve to explore the city further this day.
    the next day, comforted with breakfast by Roxy, Ivan and their son Hadid we started exploring the old town of Quito. Despite the disastrous first impression, Quito indeed is an extraordinarily beautiful city, especially the old town, which is UNESCO world heritage, together with Roxy and Hadid, we discovered the beautiful colonial streets, plazas and churches.
    Pamela, a friend and colleague from Ulf's time in the Andean region took the tourist guide night shift, and showed us the beautifully illuminated old town by night, and took us for drinks on the hill over the city with incredible view over the valley. the next day Pamela picked us up again and took us to the pride of Ecuador,the monument of the Equator which passes only 30 meters north of Quito. Although being touristy, we enjoyed it a lot, took the obligatory standing-in-two-hemispheres-photos, went to several museums and had delicious ice-cream (traditionally handmade, fruit juices turned into ice cream with the help of glacier ice from the volcanoes) . After that we enjoyed the afternoon with our host family and a delicious barbecue prepared by an Argentinian friend. after all, we enjoyed Quito. Despite the loss of the iPhone, Roxy, Ivan, Hadid and Pamela saved the day and made an excellent impression for their city.
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  • Day88

    Quilotoa lake and the Cotopaxi

    March 12, 2015 in Ecuador

    The Andes in Ecuador look like a gigantic ladder: two main bars going from south to north, formed by two chains of high mountains and spectacular volcanoes, connected by smaller mountain ranges, separating plateaus and valleys, each one slightly higher than the one before, until reaching Quito at 2.850mts.
    Time for us to climb the ladder from Cuenca, reaching the beautiful valley of Latacunga, with active volcanoes on both sides!

    We managed to find a very charming hotel...and even managed to get some sun, since the weather improved a bit. The next day we took a trip together with a charming girl from Barcelona, Laura, and a very pleasant gentleman from Chile, with the typical Latin name Waldemar. when we found out that our guide Alex was the drummer of a famous local band...we had a great time in the extraordinary Andean landscape listening to music in the car on our way to the beautiful volcano lake of Quilotoa.
    We did not only climb down 300 meters down to the lake in bright equator sun, but rented a kayak for a little tour on the strange green, slightly salted glacier liken water. Hiking 300 meters back up was a good preparation for the next day, our trip to the Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano on earth...our last high mountain trip in this Sabbatical.
    Due to time reasons we did not hike up all the way to the summit, we decided to go only up to the edge of the glacier, to touch glacier ice for the last time in this trip. Despite the rather cloudy day, it was a very beautiful ascent and the clouds opened up for a moment and the Cotopaxi showed its summit and perfect shape. After returning from the summit, we stopped at the Panamericana and flagged down, that brought us up to Quito.
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  • Day86

    Cuenca

    March 10, 2015 in Ecuador

    Driving up those winding mountain roads almost felt like home....we have been with the Andes now for almost 7.000 kilometers and 3 months. And behind the clouds, a marvel of colonial architecture awaited us: Cuenca, UNESCO world heritage site. built on the ruins of an Inca fortress, the city does not only have the most charming squares and streets, but also South america' largest cathedral (which looks rather unusual, since the towers had to remain unfinished due to a calculation error of the architect...building them as intended would have sunk the entire construction; German architect btw). The next day, we made a trip to the national park Cajas...in which the Andes showed us another new, unknown face...an extremely wet one! over 800 small lakes and lagoons and numerous plants save an incredible quantity of water. Due to heavy rain we actually shortened our hiking trip considerably, allowing us some time to visit the local museum, with big life sized dioramas of the different indigenous peoples of Ecuador. All in all, Cuenca was definitely a while-worth stop for getting acclimatized again for the height and our last days in the northern Andes.Read more

  • Day85

    Guayaquil

    March 9, 2015 in Ecuador

    After incredible days in Galapagos's, feeling almost like a holiday within the Sabbatical, back to business, touching down again in Guayaquil, where we had left our big backpacks 10 days before. Isa's old friend from school, Natalia picked us up at the airport. Isa hadn't seen her for almost 8 years...one of those special moments of the Sabbatical. After dropping our entire lives into the washing machine, Natalia and her husband Diego showed us her new home, Ecuador's largest city. Although much to talk about and many stories to tell...we decided to leave Guayaquil behind again, to return to the core of our Sabbatical...the Andes!Read more

  • Day83

    North Seymour island

    March 7, 2015 in Ecuador

    Last day on the Galapagos islands, time for a special trip to one of the small uninhabited islands exploring some more of the unique species of the Galapagos islands, like the frigate birds whose males look like flying red balloons with their inflated throat to attract females, yellow land iguanas and the Galapagos shark.
    We saw all of them and even more; we were on a boat with an very cool, small ornithology class from the Minnesota University and their professor on a field trip, making sure that no questions were left unanswered (and by the way leads to serious complaints by both of us, because neither of us in university was ever taken on a field trip that was only half as cool as this one). After hardcore birdwatching, we enjoyed an excellent lunch on board of our ship, closely monitored by four Galapagos sharks (2-5 meters) who also showed interest in our delicious tuna dish and were circling around the boat for more than an hour! After a very relaxed snorkel trip to another white sand tropical beach, it was time to return to Puerto Ayora for a delicious seafood lunch and a sundown cocktail in order to recall an amazing week on those enchanted islands.Read more

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