Joined May 2017 Message
  • Day111

    Home Sweet Home

    December 23, 2017 in New Zealand ⋅ 🌧 12 °C

    After flight delays (from Buenos Aires to Auckland) and a missed connection (Auckland to Dunedin) - we were very pleased by a surprise visit from Radi's dad who'd come to keep us company at Auckland Airport. He was also awesome and got our ongoing flight to Dunedin rescheduled so we didn't miss out!

    So good being back in NZ. Lovely to hear the kiwi accents and see familiar faces. And the flat whites.... ah the wonderful flat whites.

    Definitely good to be back home... and definitely looking forward to not living out of a bag anymore.

    Having said that - we did have an amazing time. We got to see some pretty cool places, learnt a lot of interesting histories and stories, ate a LOT of delicious food... and got to meet some seriously lovely people! Thank you to everyone who kindly looked after us on our travels.

    And to everyone that patiently followed us on our travel rambles, thank you... and we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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  • Day108

    Don't Cry for Me Argentina...

    December 20, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    And so our last day here as snuck around. Mixed feelings, as it signals the end of our trip which we've loved... but also sheer excitement to be home again to see friends and family!

    Have had a lovely relaxing time here, with a few sight seeing attempts thrown in the mix. Mainly read a lot of books and ate a lot of delicious cherries (very cheap and good here). Got to see a very dramatic lightning storm from the safety of the apartment, which was pretty cool too.

    But of course we couldn't have left Argentina without trying their world-famous steak. So for lunch we headed to Don Julio - a rather fancy establishment well known for their steaks. And yup. Talk about perfect. Definitely best steak we've ever had. Hyped expectations met.

    Then back to the apartment to finish packing, before jumping into the taxi for the three hour drive to airport.

    Goodbye Argentina and world trip... we're going home!
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  • Day106

    Tigre time!

    December 18, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Went on an airbnb experience to the Tigre delta today. So much fun!!

    Took metro then train. They have orderly queues as marked on the ground - well organised train stations. Train was a bit late possibly due to the national strike (more on that later). Got there on time and found our hosts (and eventually found the other chap - a British techno/drum musician).

    Cruised along the river with our hosts and enjoyed some of the interesting history of the delta. Went down little canals beneath trees and saw little houses. Saw the supermarket boat that goes around the houses selling water and groceries etc.

    Eventually made our way to a restaurant on the edge of the UNESCO marshlands, with a view over to Buenos Aires in the distance.

    Had a fantastic schnitzel with chips and salad, followed by brownie and flan with dulce de leche. A lovely time although we got a little bit sunburnt (yes even Radi who'd never been sunburnt prior to this).

    On the way back we stretched out on the front of the boat as we cruised more back streams. By this time there were riots and people throwing rocks at police in Buenos Aires so our host very kindly gave us a ride back to town, which was very nice. Except for the part where her car broke down by the slums, only to then be towed to a spot in town right near the riots...

    Was fine though, we just walked back to our accomodation which was in the opposite direction.

    A great day overall!
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  • Day105

    San Telmo Market and El Ateneo

    December 17, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Decided to go into a bit more of a tourist mode today and check out some of the popular sites. Using the metro for the first time in Buenos Aires we headed to our first site.

    Saw the The Pink House (government house) and the balcony where Eva Peron gave her famous address to the masses (was pretty cool after seeing the video of her making the speech at the museum).

    Then wandered on to the San Telmo Market. It covers 1km with stalls crammed in on both sides of the street. Mixture of bric a brac, antiques, art, leather, food etc. A lot of the stuff got repetitive - but there was also some pretty cool stuff too (though it got a bit lost in the cheap mass produced stuff). Overall, nothing amazing, but an experience nonetheless.

    Onwards we went from there to a little Christmas shop. And boy were we in for a surprise when we found out how EXPENSIVE it was. Opted for a simple ornament and then high tailed it out of there.

    Took the metro back to our end of town to check out the El Ateneo Grand Splendid - a palatial theatre turned bookstore. Was definitely cool (a shame that the English book section was so small).

    Then home for relaxing evening!
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  • Day103

    Eva Peron and Dulce De Leche

    December 15, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 34 °C

    Had lunch at Birkin cafe. Really good. Waffles with dulce de leche were yum and had some very green and foamy mint and ginger lemonade. Radi's meal deal of a salmon and veg pita hit the spot. Good tiramisù for dessert.

    Ran into a school friend of Radi's randomly - small world!

    Went to Evita museum. No photos inside. It was an interesting view (and with a strongly positive slant) on her role in Argentinian politics. It failed to mention a few home truths - but having since talked with our Tigre guide, maybe leaning towards her being necessary at that time in history (even if we would judge her differently now). She did a lot to help the working class, children and for women's rights. The museum had videos of her speaking to massive crowds, and it was clear she was beloved by many. The impact her death had on the populace was intense, seeing everyone crying and genuinely upset at her loss was pretty astounding. The line to see her body was huge (filled a big street and went down many many blocks).

    Most other days we haven't done much (definitely in holiday mode). Stayed in and read a lot of books. Quite hot most days. Nights are cool enough to venture out for dinners at least!
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  • Day102

    Buenos Dias Buenos Aires

    December 14, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Arrived in Argentina. Flight here was long and turbulent which wasn't fun. Snow in Frankfurt so was a scramble to get there from Madrid (lots of cancellations), but we made it thankfully. Lounge in Madrid was nice, lounge in Frankfurt was before security and we didn't have time.

    Hot here but not too hot. Have mostly stayed in and gone into relaxing holiday mode. We're on the 15th floor and have some great views. Yet to try out the pool and sauna but will get round to it.

    Money is a bit different here compared to the ease of Europe - NZD$17 in fees to withdraw NZD $250 or so (although we maybe could have got cash out at a supermarket for free?). Also they generally check your ID when paying by credit card.

    Eaten quite a few Empanadas. Had a nice meal at a South East Asian fusion type place which was good food but small meals and a loud restaurant.
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  • Day95

    They say "go via Segovia"

    December 7, 2017 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 6 °C

    Day trip to Segovia - a UNESCO world heritage town. Got to the metro, bought a card and tickets to get to the other main train station, Chamartin. Then realised we actually wanted to take the suburban railway not the metro (as it takes longer). So bought suburban tickets and made it to the station about 2 minutes before the 10.15 train - without tickets and in any case the train was totally full. Bit of a fail. Ended up getting the 11.48 train (bit more expensive) but worth it to get out there.

    Wandered around the area a little - thought about going bowling to kill some time but the place hadn't opened yet. Back to the mall-like station - Wade was excited to try a vanilla milkshake from a vending machine but when it came out hot he realised it was a vanilla latte. Lol. Train was quick - 27 minutes.

    Then took bus to town (although sharing a cab with two randoms would have been the same price and much quicker). Bus waited for 20 minutes for the next train and packed people on like sardines!

    Arrived in town and saw the amazing Roman aqueduct. Built many years ago without mortar or cement and still standing (was in use until 1900s and goes underground through the town). Very impressive.

    Walked through a weekly market and got a Christmas ornament. Lots of people around in Segovia. Then found a random little place for lunch which was surprisingly good (after some initial confusion over the menu given our limited Spanish). Russian salad and castellana soup for starters which were very good. Soup was kind of like tom yum and bread was really nice. Then battered calamari and pork with chips for second course. Good but too greasy, salty and too much for us to finish. Did save room for dessert though - apple custard tart and flan (delicious!).

    Walked up to the castle and joined the short line for tickets and audioguide. Wade's audioguide went funny halfway through and switched back to Spanish - of which he understood 80% or so (yay). Eventually got it sorted for English to make life easier though.

    Castle/Alcazar was interesting. Mostly rebuilt in 19th century after a fire. Thanks to a lot of detailed descriptions and artwork of the castle, it was able to be accurately rebuilt. Looks like it's right out of a fairytale (may have inspired the Disney Castle). Nice views over the river and surrounding landscape.

    Some rooms were quite nice - cool ceilings. One roof that was destroyed was replaced by an identical roof off another room which happened to have the exact same roof! Apparently Spanish carpenters tended to make several copies of the same work (instead of unique one-offs) so identical roofs are actually a common occurrence from that time. One roof was filled with wooden pine cone decorations - each of them a unique design.

    The stained glass windows were cool, and the audioguide did a good job of explaining each one. The throne room was very impressive. It contained little statues of all the monarchs just below the ceiling, each statue was stylised to represent something unique about the monarch. There were also plaques under each figure with a brief description of the monarch's life.

    Also made sure to go up the tower for some nice views over Segovia. Overall enjoyed the tour.

    Walked back through town - spotted the cathedral and found a cool shop. Also dropped a magnet and broke it so now we have two Segovia magnets (one which needs glue). Oops. Also visited a sword shop - some very cool swords and daggers were tempting, but ultimately no use for them so sadly abstained. Got bus back to station and then train.

    Went to a taco place for dinner. Managed to get there ten minutes before opening and a big line continued behind us - a good sign. The tacos were almost authentic Mexican which was pretty good (and the michelada beer cocktail was good too). Then churros for dessert. Was a good day!
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    Loved it jealous

  • Day94

    The Hunchback of Madrid

    December 6, 2017 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 3 °C

    So arrived in Madrid a couple of days ago - train ride here was comfortable. New place has low ceilings in parts, so Wade is being a hunchback and has already hit his head on the roof about 10 times. We're right in the centre next to Plaza Mayor, which currently has a Christmas market. Also most of the streets have cool Christmas lights up which look nice at night. Lots of people around as two holidays fall during the week we're here.

    Went for an evening walk and crowds were huge - so much for shoulder season, looks like we've been travelling so long that we've ventured into peak season (but the colder version). Went to a giant supermarket under a mall (and by giant we mean slightly smaller than most medium supermarkets back home, but after a month of normal Spain and Italy and tiny shops...) which was cool. Tried some turrón (local sweet treat) - delicious. Enjoying the Christmas atmosphere!
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  • Day90

    Mezquita and Music

    December 2, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    Late start, feeling under the weather. Went to lunch - fried eggplant (like hot Kumara chips), mushrooms with garlic (meh) and fried anchovies (yum, best in Spain so far). Then visited the Mezquita, a mosque cathedral.

    This was originally a church, and then a mosque, and then a bigger mosque, and then finally a cathedral (the tower of which was essentially built in the middle of everything else). An interesting example of different cultures melding - although this may or may not be as true as has been suggested (certainly there were a lot of years full of religious persecution so who knows). And the Catholic Church has banned Muslims from holding services in the mosque cathedral to this day - so maybe not quite a multi religious paradise.

    But politics aside, it was a nice building. Lots of red and white arches and then the very elaborate Christian trappings inside. Unusual and worth a visit (didn't go up the tower due to sore knees).

    After that, a walk across the Roman bridge towards the Calahorra tower. But it wasn't particularly exciting so we turned back early. And glad we did as we stumbled across two young women playing Coldplay on violin and cello to a backing speaker underneath a ancient triumphal arch. They were amazing and proceeded to reel off a number of popular songs as played on their instruments (Hallelujah, Pirates of Carribean, Despacito and even Mamma Mia). Stayed there for about 30 minutes with a small crowd as was quite nice just standing in the sun listening to great music. Even bought their CD!

    Then on to some more wandering, checked out the Street of the Flowers - a popular Instagram spot apparently. It was pretty cute with the whitewashed buildings and many flower pots. Then onward back home to rest up and turkish for dinner. Internet a bit slow so watched a web series (vlog format) on YouTube based on a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice - surprisingly good.
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