A 135-day adventure by Sara
  • Day1

    Heathrow

    February 19, 2017 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 10 °C

    Two years of planning have led to James and I toasting the adventure of our lives. We are jetting off, and over five months we will visit nine countries. Starting with the Carnaval in Rio, we will then follow the gringo path around South America, through Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. From there, we hop and skip across the Pacific, with a week each in the USA and Fiji, before landing in New Zealand just in time for the Lions rugby tour!

    The aim of this blog is to keep friends and family up to date with our travels in a way you can dip in and out. Hopefully then once the trip has ended it can be turned into a book we will treasure!

    We're waiting to boarding after a last minute splurge on an Italian restaurant before months of supermercado food. I'm finding myself nervous about the trip, however that feeling is outweighed by the anticipation of the adventures ahead, with no pressure or responsibilities on our heads.

    "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

    Mark Twain
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    Briony Heard

    Have the best time both! Keep safe xxx

    2/19/17Reply

    POB hwyl a sbri yn Rio, Patagonia, Chile, Peru....... D AC I xxxx

    2/19/17Reply

    Enjoy and be safe

    2/19/17Reply
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  • Day2

    Rio de Janeiro

    February 20, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    After over 17 hours of travelling we made it to Rio! It is a roasting 35 degrees and bets should be put on how long it takes me, one of the palest people in Wales to turn lobster red.

    We are staying in Lapa the 'party area' of Rio, but I'm fully expecting that during Carnival the whole city succumbs. Our hostel is called Manga and is nestled down a side street away from the main drag. Our room is cozy and multicoloured, with windows opening into the courtyard at the back. A poster on the wall has a tidbit of welsh on it (even if spelt incorrectly), so I like the place already.

    Upon arrival I connected to the wifi like a woman possessed. No, not to go on facebook, but today job offers were released. Thankfully I've secured an Anaesthetics post for the next two years, so out we went to explore the area and the bars! Our livers are in trouble... over half a litre of beer costs £2! We sat in a local bar and people watched. Lapa is asleep during the day and looks almost abandoned, with only a few grocery shops open.

    Thirst quenched, we wondered towards a great ugly pyramid structure down the street and were surprised to find it was a cathedral. Whilst ugly outside, inside four strips of coloured glass gives the space majesty.

    Having a chilled night in the streets around the hostel tonight as we barely slept on the journey here. Lets see what Lapa is like at night!

    Hostel: Manga- Entry straight into a hall with benches with big windows open onto the street beyond. Around the very small kitchen for a busy hostel, is the courtyard. A small sun trap where people mill about. On the majority of days the Chef is found gearing up a BBQ and mouthwatering meals.
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    Elin Wyn Hughes

    Falch bo chi di cyrraedd yn saff!! xx

    2/20/17Reply
    Lowri Jones

    Llongyfarchiada ar gal post! Rheswm da i ddathlu! Xx

    2/20/17Reply

    Awyr las.Hyfryd. hoffi'r llunie. Xx

    2/20/17Reply
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  • Day3

    Rio- Copacabana

    February 21, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ 🌙 26 °C

    Today didn't start brilliantly. I hesitated getting onto the metro, and watched as the train, with James in it, sped away from me. A few minutes of panic before James came back on the opposite train. He will tell you he was on the right train. It wasn't direct like the one I wanted but it did go in the right direction! I'll call it a truce.

    Once successfully in Copacabana the beach was beautiful, with white sand and clear blue sea stretching between the granite hills. We sat and had a few cool beers before walking along the waters edge, which was gloriously cold compared to the blazing heat. Whilst looking blissful, the beach defiantly is not tranquil. Enterprising men and women sell everything and anything you could want and shout about it at the top of their lungs. Water, hats, towels, bikinis and even shrimps were carried about accompanied by shouts of “Agua agua agua!”

    The carnival spirit is starting with the streets a bit busier and people dressing up. Whilst some are simple there are some awe inspiring detailed costumes around. We ventured to the botanical gardens which while pretty weren't captivating so we wondered back towards the hostel.

    We ventured across the way in the evening to a bar. As obvious gringo's we were put towards the back, and happily sat sipping Caipirihinas whilst watching the world go by.
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  • Day5

    Rio -A lot of walking towards sugarloaf

    February 23, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    We joined a walking tour today for downtown Rio. The highlight was the Selaron steps, not far from Lapa. They were created by a Chilean artist who wanted to bring something back to Rio, a city he considered home. He encouraged use of tiles to decorate the stairs and they were sent by people the world over. It only took me a minute to find a Welsh tile from Conwy. Unfortunately the artist came to a tragic end, he crossed the wrong people trying to stop drug trafficking down the steps and was set alight.

    We had lunch in a 18th century tea hall, beautifully decorated with mirrors, and stuffed ourselves with burgers and pastries. Late afternoon we grabbed an Uber (so cheap) and headed up to sugarloaf mountain. You go up by cablecars and we enjoyed a nice cold beer at the top whilst waiting for the sun to set on an Amazing panoramic view of the whole of Rio.

    Headed out in the evening to a club with a live band and salsa. We were the only gringos there and the locals were loving the music. We had a larger gentleman shimming his bottom at us most of the night as he tried to charm his lady friends next to us!
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    Ian Murray

    Had not heard of this artist & his footprint! So interesting. Dwynwen xx

    2/25/17Reply
     
  • Day6

    Rio day 4- Christ the redeemer

    February 24, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    We caught a shuttle bus service up to see Christ the Redeemer having been warned against other modes of transport. We arrived around 11 and it was already crowded around the base of the statue. People cram in for the best selfie shot , even lying on the ground. It took away a little of the spectacle of such a great monument. I think it might be better to admire from afar.

    We chilled at the hostel courtyard for the rest of the day meeting others and eating Chef Richards concoctions. He has been a lifesaver easing us into travelling by cooking meals for next to nothing for all the hostel. We popped out to have a look around the Uruguayan market for Carnaval outfits. There were streets upon streets of stalls and shops selling all sorts! Our outfits chosen - a pirate and a flower fairy, countdown to the lapa blocos began.
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    Ian Murray

    Nain yn galw Sara yn 'fairy princess' So you failed to levitate above the crowd! Dwynwen

    2/25/17Reply
    Carol Heard

    Going for a run?xxx

    2/25/17Reply
    Ian Murray

    Awyr las berffaith. Lle iconic. xx

    2/26/17Reply
     
  • Day7

    Rio 5- Carnaval!!!!

    February 25, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    It's Friday and Carnaval kicked off in ernest. We spent the day at the beach fending off sellers left right and centre whilst enjoying the sun.

    Back to the hostel and the atmosphere was great with people returning from a day of partying in all sorts of costumes. Chef Richard had cooked Jerk Chicken with fruit punch and alcohol flowed in the little courtyard.

    We donned our outfits and headed out into Lapa's bloco Boehmia as a group from the hostel. With alcohol stalls every 10 meters we were never going to be short on drinks. Stages were set up every few hundred yards blasting salsa/ pop/ rap. After the bloco finished we wandered and found another following the beating drums down the street dancing with the Cariocas. I took out my old sony ericson phone and took a lot of blurry photos, only these two survive!
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    Ian Murray

    Edrych yn DDA. A moustache suits you J. D xx

    2/25/17Reply
    Carol Heard

    Strikingly gorgeous 😀

    2/25/17Reply
     
  • Day8

    Rio 6- Carnaval parade

    February 26, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    A day relaxing in the hostel before a last meal courtesy of Chef Richard! Off we headed through the street parties to the Sambadrome! This is a purpose built street with a stand either side in which the Samba schools of Rio parade down and compete. This is what you see when the carnaval is shown on tv at home.

    An amazing spectacle, thousands dance down the street in the most colourful costumes, with floats up to three tiers high covered in dancers (sometimes topless! As certain men the row down had clocked, zooming in with their cameras).

    Each school has a theme running through their performance. We saw film villans (including some very cute minions), slavery and nature. It started with the King of Carnaval- Momo walking down the street. On Friday he took the keys of Rio away from the mayor and took over until the end of carnaval.

    Each samba school has a song which is played on repeat throughout their performance. With rhythmic beats they were catchy even if you don't know a word of Portuguese! We danced along with the music and headed back in the early hours... travelling to Iguacu falls tomorrow!
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    Carol Heard

    Sensational 😀

    2/26/17Reply
    Carol Heard

    Gorgeous couple 😀xxx

    2/26/17Reply
    Ian Murray

    5*

    2/27/17Reply
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  • Day9

    Iguazu falls

    February 27, 2017 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    After a few too many hours of sleep and two flights we arrived in Foz do Iguaçu, the city on the Brazilian side of the border. We are staying in old shipping containers, a lively quirky hostel called tetris. Slumming it in dorms, but the free caipirinhas make up for it, and the two cute dogs! After arriving we made a Brazilian friend Edison who had amazing images of the falls and gave us some tips on the days ahead.

    We booked onto a tour of the Argentinian side, not realising that we would be guided through the park itself. With such a busy park our poor guide Daniel had to put up with two German chimney smokers from our hostel, who were as slow as snails!

    We meandered through highest and lower levels to get the mist breathtaking views of the falls. There are hundreds of waterfalls crashing down and the cooling mists lift up high- pistyll y rhaeadr has a lot to live up to!

    Later in the day we went on a boat ride which take you right under the falls. One way to cool down on a very hot and humid day! When we were finally drying out the skies opened for the daily tropical storm, and we got even more wet. With our shoes squidding we made it back to the hostel for our free Caipirinhas!

    Having drunk a mouthful of untreated water in the park before I thought better of it, the next day for me was spent lying in the hostel common room with the dogs for company. James went exploring the Brazilian falls, and in the evening we crossed the border into Argentina and boarded the 17 hour bus to Buenos Aires.

    Hostel: Tetris container hostel, so funky we had to stay there. Every part was made from old shipping containers. We shared a 6 bedded dorm and were greeted by a blocked toilet. Typical dorm life. It cost £28 for two nights, but included the perk of breakfast included and a free cocktail every night, and they did taste good!
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    Carol Heard

    Sounds wonderful Sara..beware of untreated water mind 😂xx Bless you xx

    3/2/17Reply
    Elin Wyn Hughes

    Llunie hyfryd biwt 😘 gneud fi'n genfigenus iawn adre ma xxxx

    3/2/17Reply
    Lowri Jones

    Ma rhein mor anhygoel! Dwi wrth fy modd yn dilyn eich storis chi! Xx

    3/3/17Reply

    Waw!!!

    3/24/17Reply
     
  • Day11

    Buenos Aires

    March 1, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    The bus ride from Puerto Iguazu to Burnos Aires was 17 hours but felt like 5! National express and Megabus take note! We had fully reclining wide seats and two meals served, including wine! Films were played, thankfully the first few in English, but I think I followed Mission impossible 4 well in Spanish. Outside of the windows the days tropical storm continued its show of lightening.

    We arrived in a bustling station, ducked into the metro where we struggled to get subecards to travel freely in BA. The locals have no English and didn't seem to understand our faltering Spanish. We're going to have to pick up our game. There was a lot of simple spanish, miming and laughing at the gringos.

    We chilled at our new hostel and explored San Telmo a little. The area has an authentic feel with european-like architecture thats a little rough around the edges. Walk a few meters down what looks like a run down street, and you come across a craft beer pub/ restaurant/ shop. If you don't look you might miss them. We ended our night with a treat. Steak!! We went to a local house called La Brigada, and it was mouthwatering. Will have to survive on supermercado food and empanadas for the rest of our stay though!

    Hostel: Puerto Limon- Managed to splurge out again for a private room, four nights for £48. The room opened up onto its courtyard decorated with fairy lights, which then led through to the covered canteen and big open kitchen. A peaceful hostel with a nice mix of long term hostlers with tourists. San Telmo has a reputation for being a bit rough but we felt safe the whole time we were there.
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    Ian Murray

    That steak must have been good, or is there a morsel left on rim of your plate?

    3/2/17Reply
     
  • Day12

    Buenos Aires- Recoleta

    March 2, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    We decided to explore the area of Recoleta first, the posh bit of the city, similar to Chelsea in London. We jumped onto the local bus expecting to just swipe our cards and be on our way. The driver was asking us where our stop was. Cue my panicked expression, he just waved us through with inpatience and we had a free bus ride!

    We joined free walking tours Buenos Aires, our guide for the morning was Martín. Full of historical and political knowledge he took us through the streets of Recoleta. He colourfully told the story of the ruling class "the oligarchs", and how their pettiness shaped the area. They wanted to be on par with Europe so they built great palaces, trying to out do each other. Three old women especially splashed their money in a competitive craze. Now Recoleta looks like a European city due to their influence.

    We passed the Malvinas war memorial and heard the history from the Argentinian perspective. A military dictatorship losing favour tried to win a war to regain national support. Martín also took us through their economical upheaval. The Peso is undergoing huge inflation by 45% a year! Prices are starting to get towards European levels. Back in the 80's he described how inflation was so bad supermarkets would shout out new prices in between picking up your item and getting to the till!

    In the afternoon we toured around Recoleta cemetery in blazing heat, helped by a Mc Flurry to cool down! We were taken around by Francis and were told the interesting stories of many of the mausoleums such as the girl buried alive who could be heard scratching the sides of her coffin, and the woman buried with her loyal dog. The graveskeeper who committed suicide as his dream was to be buried in that cemetery, and the welshman so paranoid about being buried alive he invented a system to escape from his coffin. One of the last graves we visited was that of the tour guides great grandparents!

    The most famous grave is that of Eva Peron aka Evita. The wife of the president in the 50's, she divided opinions in Argentina, beloved by the left working class, hated by the upper class who upon her death said "Viva la Cancer". After her death her poor corpse was moved, mutilated and had dark magic performed upon it. She was finally laid to rest decades after her death at her fathers mausoleum and she was placed deep down with concrete on top.

    After a busy day in the sun we made a surprisingly delicious stir fry and collapsed in bed!
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