Archive for the ‘2010 trip’ Category

Day 81 – 13 July – The End… what a holiday it’s been

July 28, 2010 11am in 2010 trip,Los Angeles,Travel | Comments (1)

So, here I am, 81 days later, where has all the time gone. Seems like just yesterday I was complaining about the volcanic ash disruption back in April, and being scared out of my mind as I flew into Costa Rica. I’m happy and sad about going back to work – happy that I have a job to go back to, sad that my holiday can’t continue. I thought that by this time I would be super excited about going back to work. If I claimed that were true, I’d be lying.

Hannah and I drove our rental car to the airport to check-in early, because I wanted to get a window seat (read yesterday’s entry if you haven’t already). My flight was at 7:30pm and we got to the airport at about lunchtime.

Sadly, the check-in lady couldn’t get me a window seat, but she was able to get me an aisle seat in the very first row of Economy class, which meant that I had extra legroom but without the disturbance of being by the toilets or galley. I was pretty happy with that. The check-in lady was very sympathetic to my situation and tried to find out why my flight had been cancelled from before, but she wasn’t able to find out anything. She said something about “one of your original flights was changed and you went two days later”, but that wasn’t true.

Then we went and checked Hannah in for her 9:30pm flight with a different airline (the volcanic ash disruption from April meant we couldn’t fly together without paying LOTS of money). Wow, Continental Airlines have a MUCH easier and friendlier check-in process than American Airlines.

So now we had quite a few hours to kill until our flight and we still had our rental car. We went for a drive around some of LA’s beaches. We saw Manhattan Beach which looked like a very beautiful place, it had a main road that ran parallel and near to the beach, but it was up a hill from the beach, and each side street went directly downhill to the water with lots of nice houses on either side.

Then we saw a big hill in the distance, and we drove up there to see what the view was like. It was beautiful. And the houses were massive and looked VERY expensive.

Nice view

All this driving used up a lot of time, and so we drove back to the airport, returned the rental car and sat in LAX airport for a few hours. When it came time for our flight, I said goodbye to Hannah (we departed from different terminals) and we went our separate ways. It was a bit sad, because even though we’d see each other again in a few days, we both had such a great time in America and it was very sad to leave it.

LAX waiting area

My flight back to London was nice, it was direct (unlike Hannah’s which stopped in Newark). The lady sitting next to me in the window seat looked like a Swedish supermodel, and she acted like it too, she had no idea how to work any of the video equipment or in-flight entertainment and I had to show her how to do everything. She said “I’m used to flying British Airways, this is such a step down for me”. It was funny.

So that’s the end of my 3 month (well, 81 day) trip to South America, the USA and New Zealand. I hope I get the chance to do something like this again one day. But it cost a lot of money. Seeing my bank balance when I got back to London was depressing. But then I thought again how lucky I was to be going straight back into a job.

I think a lot about the people I met on my trip, and wonder where they are now. It was actually quite hard because I made some really good friends, but then you have to leave them again almost as quick as you made them as you move on to other destinations. But I still feel like my life is a lot richer for the experience.

The end

Day 80 – 12 July – Knott’s Berry Farm… and my flight’s cancelled – PANIC!

July 27, 2010 2pm in 2010 trip,Los Angeles,Travel | Comments (0)

At 1am on the morning of 12 July, I went online to double check my flight time for the next day. I logged onto the American Airlines website, and to my horror, my itinerary had the word CANCELLED next to it.

Of course, I immediately went into panic mode. My flight was in just over 36 hours, and I had been kicked off it for some reason. Very rude, I thought, since I had had no notification at all via email, or phone, or nothing that my itinerary had been cancelled.

So, I had to make an extremely expensive call to American Airlines’ premium-rate London-based 0844 number – I knew this was going to be very expensive to call from the USA, but I had no choice. The guy on the phone was not able to tell me why my itinerary was cancelled, but thankfully there was space on the flight for me to be put back on. Normally I wouldn’t have minded spending a bit longer in LA, but I started my own company a few weeks back and needed to be back in London to sign the paperwork and do some boring admin stuff.

However, there were only three seats left on the plane, and they were all in the middle of groups of five seats. I’d lost the very excellent window seat that I’d booked three months prior. The guy on the phone said that if I checked in early, the check-in agent might be able to give me one of the few window seats that were in the exit rows, that they were not allowed to give out on the phone. Oh well, at least I had a seat I guess. Despite this, I will be writing one hell of a complaint letter when I’m back in London to get compensation, or at least, to get back whatever the horrendous cost of the phone call will be.

So after lying in bed for a while at 1:30am, not being able to sleep, I eventually did get a few hours’ sleep, and we woke up at 8:30 because we were going to Knott’s Berry Farm today. For those that don’t know, it’s a theme park with scarier rides than Disneyland. We decided to go after seeing on the internet that you could get $20 off if you went to any Southern California Subway store, making the day only USD$34.99, very cheap we thought, compared to Disneylands USD$90-something.

We went off to the nearest Subway in Garden Grove (via sat-nav) and after waiting in line for 5 minutes they said they’d never heard of any discount scheme to Knott’s Berry Farm. What a surprise, we thought. Just because we were suckers for punishment, we thought we’d try another Subway about 1 mile away. To our surprise, the guy behind the counter there handed us a big stack of discount vouchers. Hooray! So we bought Subway off him. He was very cool, shame the egg and cheese in the sub tasted like plastic. Not to worry, we felt like our Subway was almost free since we got $20 off each to the theme park.

When we got to the theme park, we noticed everything was a bit less refined than Disneyland. The queueing was a bit more chaotic (although the queues were MUCH shorter), they didn’t seem to mind if one person went by themselves on a four-person ride, there were no waiting times posted, and everything was just a little more “falling apart”. But we had an excellent time, and Hannah and I both said that it was overall much better value for money than Disneyland. And we couldn’t believe how short the lines were! I’m sure we didn’t wait longer than 10 minutes for anything, and sometimes you could get off one ride, go straight back into the line and get straight back on!

Hannah not looking forward to this ride Hannah getting her fortune

Hannah wouldn’t go on the Supreme Scream – the equivalent of the Giant Drop in Dreamworld, where you go up a very tall pole, sit up there for 10 seconds or so and then freefall back to the ground. Hannah said she would do it if it was the same size as the one at Rainbow’s End or Thorpe Park, turns out though that it was quite a bit higher. If you’re interested (I know I was) – here’s how far you drop on each ride.

Thorpe Park’s Detonator (England) – 30 metres
Rainbow’s End’s Fearfall (New Zealand) – 54 metres
Knott’s Berry Farm’s Supreme Scream (California) – 77 metres
Dreamworld’s Giant Drop (Australia) – 119 metres (apparently the tallest ride in the world)

The Supreme Scream was scary because although not as high as the Giant Drop, the surrounding landscape was completely flat and you could see for miles and miles (despite all LA’s pollution). The line for this ride was never more than 3 or 4 minutes.

Supreme scream

I didn’t know that Knott’s Berry Farm was “Peanuts-based”, and had Snoopy and Charlie Brown as well as all the other Peanuts characters there. I thought that was awesome. While we were there we saw a presentation called “Snoopy On Ice” which was people dressed up as the characters doing ice-skating, as well as other professional ice-skaters.

Snoopy on Ice Ghost Rider

The scariest ride was the “Ghost Rider” (in the photo above), which was the oldest roller coaster in the world (I think it was the first roller coaster in the world). The reason it was the scariest was that it was made of wood and everything was held together by masses of wooden beams. It was scary because we could not believe that the carriages stayed on the tracks. I even bought the photo taken by the camera along the ride. We look terrified. I hope that I can find a scanner so I can put the photo on here.

EDIT: I must have made all that up, looking on wikipedia shows me that the GhostRider opened in 1998. Eek. They must have built it all rickety on purpose.

After a great day out, it was back to Econolodge, and time for the last sleep of my holiday before flying back to London.

Days 75-79 – 11 July – Five days in Las Vegas

July 25, 2010 6pm in 2010 trip,Las Vegas,Travel | Comments (0)

There’s heaps more photos in the same facebook album as the previous post.

Wed 7 Jul

We got up just before breakfast finished in the Good Nite Inn in Buena Park, and encountered the worst breakfast in the history of breakfasts – all there was was donuts which were stale, and coffee which was empty. No cereal or milk or anything else like that. Yuck! We ended up going to McDonalds across the road for breakfast instead.

After a detour of a couple of hours at a mall full of outlet stores where I bought two shirts, a new wallet and a belt, we were off on our four and a half hour drive to Las Vegas. The drive was quite uneventful, no traffic or anything.

We checked into Ballys Hotel and Casino, which didn’t sound very flash, but it was! It’s joined to the Paris Hotel and Casino, which has a big replica of the Eiffel Tower out the front, and is on the corner diagonally opposite Caesar’s Palace (seen on The Hangover and on Friends) and directly across from the Bellagio where they have amazing water fountain displays. On the other corner is the more quaint “Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall”.

The line to check in was really long, we must have waited 40 minutes or so to check in. But when we went up to our room on the 19th floor, we were really surprised how nice it was for £55 per night. We had a great view, and it was nicely air-conditioned – well it needed to be, outside was 40 degrees and when you went near the window you could feel the intense heat from outside.

There was no internet surprisingly, there were a couple of third-party wireless internet providers, and I stupidly paid $9.99USD to one of them to use their internet for 24 hours. However, I used the internet for 90 minutes, then went to bed, and in the morning, it wouldn’t let me use the internet anymore – it redirected me to the payment screen again, even though by my calculations I still had over 12 hours left. Grr – I’d paid $9.99USD for 90 minutes of internet and some potentially dodgy company now has my credit card details. There was no phone number to call and no address to write to. The only consolation was that internet cafes in Las Vegas seem to charge around $12 per hour. Looks like it’s going to be four days without internet. I’m so annoyed about this rip-off wireless internet that I’m considering writing a separate blog post just on that to name and shame them! Boo Guest Internet Services, you’re a rip off!

We went out and got huge drinks each for $17 knowing we could refill them for $13. No way did we need a refill, they were so massive! We also did a bit of gambling. Hannah turned $10 into $45 on the money wheel, and I turned $10 into $0.

Big drinks from Evening Call

Thu 8 Jul

We went out for a walk down “The Strip” (Las Vegas Boulevard) to see all the sights. It was another 40 degree day, which made for tough going, but we braved it. There’s smaller replicas here of the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, and the Sphinx, which are cool, along with countless huge hotels and grand buildings.

Our ultimate destination was a hotel called Mandalay Bay located right at the end of The Strip, because The Lion King is playing there and we wanted to see how much it cost to go. We ended up buying two tickets for Saturday, but right in the very back row since they were the cheapest! At least they’re in the centre. Hopefully it will be good because I saw The Lion King the cartoon about 25 times when I was young and it came out (I think it was around 1996).

We got back after a couple of hours and tried out the Ballys pool, it was great and such a welcome relief from the heat. It was the first time in a very long time, possibly since school, that I’d been in a pool where I couldn’t reach the bottom and I had to try and remember how to swim!

Later on, we had the news on in our hotel room, and we heard that President Obama was in Las Vegas and was staying at Caesar’s Palace. Wait, we thought, that’s right across the road. Sure enough, we looked out the window and all the traffic had been stopped for his arrival. We waited at the window for 20 minutes, and the traffic was still stopped, but we saw no sign of the President, so we got bored and went back to what we were doing.

We went and refilled our massive drinks from last night for $13, and went and did some more gambling. Hannah had no luck with the Money Wheel tonight, and I didn’t do much better, but we both had a bit of luck on the pokies – Hannah turned a few dollars into $54.84 and I turned $9 into $18.14.


Fri 9 Jul

This morning we woke up, looked out the window, and saw that all the roads were eerily deserted – there wasn’t a single car to be seen anywhere as far as the eye could see. The news had said that the President was due at a speech at 9:20am, and it was now 8:40am, so we figured this was his doing.

Hannah and I had decided to have buffet breakfast which was across the road at The Flamingo Casino next to Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, but when we went down at 9:00am to the street level there were police there that wouldn’t let us cross the road. We thought this was a bit weird because people were crossing across at the other two crossings we could see. So we talked to some people briefly who were also trying to cross about the President’s arrival yesterday, and then shortly after a huge motorcade of police came around the corner, followed by President Obama himself and he drove right by us. It was very cool! We couldn’t actually see him because his car was tinted, but it was obvious which car he was in. We felt very special to be that close to the President purely by chance.

We then got to the breakfast buffet at The Flamingo. It was $14.99 plus tax and it wasn’t too bad, although I’d been looking forward to scrambled eggs for ages but I didn’t like the ones they had there so that was disappointing. They made up for it though with a massive selection of desserts, there must have been 20 or so cakes, a chocolate fountain with fruits and marshmallows, and a build-your-own sundae bar. Yum! Although being breakfast, I was disappointed with the small amount I could actually eat. And when we asked the waitress for another drink, she snapped at us saying something like we should have ordered our drink before they seated us, which was impossible since we didn’t know what we wanted then! She didn’t care about that though, and it scared Hannah off ordering a hot chocolate.

We both needed our hair cut and coloured, so we went for a drive north of the tourist area, and set the sat-nav to try and find hair salons. All the ones it found were either in really dodgy parts of towns, or all the writing wasn’t in english, or it only had old people in there getting their rollers re-done, or it cost way too much, so we thought the only other chance we have was at the outlet centre that we saw near the airport, so we went there.

Paul Mitchell the hairdressers were having a sale in the outlet centre which was great, I got my hair cut and also got bleached highlights for $45USD, and Hannah got her hair coloured a really great light shade of brown. We had lunch at Auntie Anne’s (they have the best pretzels there with cheese dips and nice drinks).

On the way back to the hotel, we looked at the car’s dashboard, and it said it was 44 degrees (111 degrees farenheit). And I’d believe it too! Hannah was talking on the phone outside the outlet centre and I was going to wait with her but it was so uncomfortably hot that I had to go back into the air-conditioned shops.

44 degrees - nice and hot

Tonight our gambling didn’t go well, Hannah and I both lost $10 on the Money Wheel, and even though I won $10 from $1 on the very first spin, nothing more came of it. Although we had a good night at “The Tequila Bar” with $1 margeritas and $2 beers, and a $5 serving of tortilla chips and cheese which had so much cheese dip I couldn’t eat it all.

Sat 10 Jul

We slept in late today, until 11:30am! Then it was off to the pool for a while. But for the first time since we’d been here, we saw clouds, and were soon clouded over. So we went off early to Mandalay Bay hotel where the Lion King was showing. We got there at aboue 3:00pm for a 4:00pm showing, so we filled in some time gambling. On the Deal or no Deal game, I got a high offer of $9.34 on a $3 game, but I turned it down, and ended up winning the lowest box there which was $0.01. I still have the $0.01 cashout ticket as a souvenir.

The Lion King performance was great, despite being second row from the back we were right in the centre and we had no people either side of us, and it wasn’t that hard to see the stage, I thought it would have been worse. The people behind us talked a bit and texted on their phones a bit, but it wasn’t too annoying.

Afterwards we went to another outlet centre for more shops, I bought a polo shirt from Ecko. Then we had Mc-Donalds. I learned an interesting fact in Mc-Donalds – they don’t have McChickens in Nevada, only in California and other states.

Then we went gambling at Ellis Island Casino, we chose that one because the minimum bet on Roulette was $4 instead of $10 at the bigger casinos and so Hannah could learn how to play. She didn’t have any luck though, only winning one outside bet (red/black, odd/even, etc) out of six. I did better, I turned $40 into $67.50 on blackjack and then $30 of that into $85 on roulette – really the first time I’ve won anything decent all week. Although the last spin on roulette I put $3 on “double zero”, and the spin brought up the regular zero – if I’d put my money on the other zero, I would’ve won $105 just from that spin. I say bring back European Roulette which only has one zero.

Sun 11 Jul

Sadly it was time to check out of Ballys Las Vegas today, after checking out we went back to the pool and I ended up staying there for two and a half hours, and now I have radioactive legs. Oops.

Then it took us nearly 6 hours to drive back to Los Angeles because of the traffic, it seemed that half of Vegas heads back to California on a Sunday afternoon. Although we also stopped for KFC in Victorville.

Hannah said in the first day of Vegas that she could stay here for a year just chilling out, but today she changed her mind and said that we need to get back to reality sometime, and I agree. Besides, Vegas would get too expensive gambling every day! I’ll miss the pool though, although it sounds like London is having hot weather which is almost as good.

The sat-nav was having trouble, perhaps it was the heat or something, or the fact that LA just has so many roads, but it stalled twice, and reset itself three times, and once wouldn’t turn back on. Luckily though, during the periods that it was misbehaving, we didn’t miss any exits or turns, and we managed to check into Econolodge in Garden Grove. After removing the existing resident from the room (a bee), we settled in. And they have free internet! Which only works sometimes, from one particular point in the room. But better than nothing.

Days 71-74 – 6 July – Four days in LA

July 25, 2010 6pm in 2010 trip,Los Angeles,Travel | Comments (0)

Ok, sorry this one took a long time to put up! But there was a lot of stuff to do when I got back from my trip.

The photos here aren’t all the photos I took – I took so many! But you can see heaps more photos here on facebook.

Sat 3 Jul
Woke up early in the morning and drove to get my washing, although the woman didn’t have it, she said something about the boss taking it to another laundry place to wash and she’d have it here by 7pm. Quite why the boss needed to take my washing elsewhere when there must have been at least 50 washers where we were was a bit confusing. Hopefully I see all my washing again.

We decided to walk past every single star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We didn’t quite know how long it would take so we set out at about 3pm. I knew Michael Jackson had a star, of course, and his wasn’t hard to pick – it was the one with heaps of people all trying to take a photo.

And also, I knew Judge Judy had a star too. She didn’t have anyone around her, but I was not leaving until I got a photo by her star!!

While we were walking we took a brochure for a tour of Hollywood by this open-top 15 seater van. The lady trying to get us to sign up offered it to us for $25 each down from $40, but we said “we’ll think about it” and walked away, knowing very well that we would do it either tomorrow or the day after because it was something we wanted to do.

We also drove to the Griffith Observatory for a view out of LA, but all we saw was how polluted LA actually is, and we couldn’t see much!

Sun 4 Jul

Today was Independence Day, it seems to be one of the more important of the American days off. We didn’t have a lot of plans today, we did a few things that didn’t require a lot of effort.

First, I looked up “Top 12 things to do for free in Los Angeles”. The first few things in the list we’d already done: The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre with the celebrity handprints, the Hollywood Sign and The Griffith Observatory. Another thing on the list was Venice Beach which we’d already planned to do today, but something else on the list was a Mexican Market in central LA, so we thought “why not”. It sold lots of touristy type things like t-shirts and stuff like that, one thing Hannah and I both would have liked to buy was a ukelele that they write your name on.

For lunch we had mexican food in the place in the market that was the best combination of “cheap” and “not likely to give us food poisoning”. I was a bit scared of mexican food from when I went to a mexican restaurant in LA in 2006 and didn’t like anything they gave me, but I thought since I’d been to Costa Rica and had lots of rice and beans there that I would be okay. As I remembered, they served me with three different kinds of mushy beans with cheese, two of which were okay, the other had this really strong sauce of some kind on it. But I had a side of rice so that helped me eat it all.

Another thing we did was drive through the centre of LA, and it was quite deserted. As I knew from last time, there were some tall buildings. Here’s the tallest:

We went to Venice Beach on the west coast of LA and lay in the sun for a bit. As usual, I got quite red, but not so red that it hurt a lot. Hopefully it doesn’t peel. We overheard some people say there were fireworks in the evening on the beach, but because we were parked in a 2 hour parking spot and because these fireworks were still four hours away, we went for a random drive around and back to the hotel, and then drove back again.

Little did we know that the whole of LA seemed to be there, so parking was a nightmare – we had to park a 20 minute walk away from the beach. Then, we learned (by following everyone else) that the fireworks were actually 40 minutes down the beach from where we parked. So, when the fireworks were over, we had an hour’s walk back to our car. But they were worth seeing. The man in front of us kept yelling “America! Heh heh heh, heh heh heh” in a Beavis and Butthead voice, and then at one point he dropped his beer. It was worth going all the way there just for that.

Mon 5 Jul

Today I’d originally planned to take us to Disneyland, but then I realised that it was Independence Day holiday because July 4 fell on a Sunday. So we left Disneyland for tomorrow and did the tour by open top van that we heard about on Saturday. This time they offered it to us for $20 each, which was even better!

We saw a few famous sites. Here’s Ringo Starr’s house, and the house Michael Jackson was in when he died:

Ringo Starr's front gate House that MJ died in

Here’s Julia Roberts’ house, and the view she has:

Here’s one of the most expensive areas that I’ve ever seen anywhere – Bel-Air in Los Angeles. Every house was just so massive and as the tour driver said, you could just smell the money. And here’s the house from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

After the tour, we drove down to Anaheim which was about 45 minutes away from Hollywood, and checked into the Good Nite Inn in Buena Park, which was pretty good for the price.

Tue 6 Jul

Disneyland today!

At Disneyland, I personally was disappointed by the lack of thrill rides. Disneyland is divided into two parts, the traditional Disneyland that opened in the 50′s, and Disney’s California Adventure which opened in 2001. The latter was supposed to have more rides than Disneyland itself, so we went there first. There were some rides that were not bad, like the Tower of Terror which was an elevator that went speeding up and down through a haunted house, and “California Screamin’”, a roller coaster which offered some thrills.

We went on Mickey Mouse’s Ferris Wheel, which was kind of fun because the carriages swung back and forth, but then something happened and we were stuck on it for 10 minutes, and when we did get back down, they disabled the ride and sent everyone from the queue packing. They apologised for the delay but didn’t say what happened.

Although we arrived at 10am, and before we knew it it was 4.30pm, and we wanted to see Disneyland itself before dark. So we went across the path to Disneyland, and took the train that runs around the perimeter of the park. It looked like a fun place, clearly aimed at children, until at one of the train stops this child got on which was screaming so hard that after 5 minutes next to it on the train my eardrum was actually in pain, so we got off at the next stop to escape the noise.

In Disneyland we queued 70 minutes for the Space Mountain ride, which was a reasonably tame roller coaster but because it was in the dark it was a bit of fun. Everywhere you went had stroller parking, which was always full. In fact, by the time 7pm came around, the queues seemed longer than ever and the number of people in the park (considering it was a weekday) was astonishing. So we had a quick look around Disneyland and then went back to the car.

When we originally parked in the morning, they told us to write down where we parked. I thought “pfft, I don’t need to write down where I parked my car, I can remember just fine”. Thank god I did actually write down where I parked, because I would have never found the car again otherwise. It would have been lost in the unlimited time and space that is the Disneyland car park system – which cost $14 to park in, just for the record!

Day 70 – 2 July – Los Angeles and Hollywood!

July 6, 2010 7am in 2010 trip,Los Angeles,Travel | Comments (0)

My LAN flight was supposed to leave at 5 minutes past midnight, but just before this time they told us that there was a technical problem with their plane and they’re unloading everyone’s bags and putting everybody on a new plane, which meant we’d be leaving an hour late. Not a problem, I’ve got 12 hours to kill in LA until Hannah arrives.

The LAN flight wasn’t particularly interesting because like usual I slept all the way, only waking up for meals. It wasn’t hard this time since we departed at 1am. I had an exit row which was a surprise because I hadn’t requested it – maybe after scaring me the check-in guy thought he should be nice to me. The old withering Japanese lady sitting next to me had to be moved because she couldn’t speak English or Spanish which meant she’d be no use in an emergency, but because she didn’t speak either of these languages she had a hard time understanding why she was being moved.

At customs in LA they were polite but strict as usual and this time they made me get all my bags checked in the customs. That didn’t surprise that me that much because I’d come in from Peru. They checked through two of my bags but didn’t bother checking through the others. They asked me if I had any Coca leaves (the leaves that we were chewing on to help combat the altitude sickness in Peru) and luckily I had not accidentally left any in my luggage.

I picked up my rental car, and drove out to Hollywood to check into the room for me and my sister the first three nights – Super 8 in “Hollywood Area”. It was nice enough, but because it was Independence Day Long Weekend in USA it wasn’t terribly cheap. It wasn’t too far from Hollywood itself, but some of the people in the area seemed a bit dodgy and strange. Although, after taking a drive through Hollywood itself, I noticed that a higher percentage of people than usual there are very strange indeed!

I was a bit early to check in, so I went and dropped off all my wet clothes from Machu Picchu to a laundry, and was told I could pick them up tomorrow for $14USD. A bit more expensive than the $2-$3 I would have paid in Lima for the same thing! I filled a bit more time in by going to the supermarket and then checked in to the hotel once they had a room cleaned. Then, I just hung around in the room until Hannah arrived.

Hannah flew in from London on Continental Airlines at around 7pm that night, I met her at the airport and drove her back to Hollywood. That night we went for a walk around the area and found dinner. We saw a few of the Hollywood Walk of Fame stars, but there was nobody we knew – we hoped that’s because we were at the very edge of the walk, and the more famous people were nearer the middle near all the landmarks. Anyway, we were going to find this out tomorrow.

I checked my emails and found out that Ian had had a very bad flight – apparently his and Richard’s flight had been diverted to a different airport in Buenos Aires, and they weren’t told about it, so when Ian looked for his taxi transfer it was nowhere to be found. When he asked the airline for help, he was told that the airline can’t do anything for them. So he asked if his baggage would still be checked all the way to Auckland like they were told, and he was told that they don’t check bags all the way through. Sounds like a bit of a nightmare – I don’t know what happened after that except that both he and Richard did get home with their bags, thankfully.

Day 69 – 1 July – Cuzco -> Lima, and Lima stopover

July 6, 2010 7am in 2010 trip,Cusco,Lima,Peru,Travel | Comments (0)

I woke up early this morning after the housekeeping barged their way into the room at 6:30am, then after going back to sleep for an hour I woke up at 7:30am. We didn’t have to check out until 10:00am but I wanted to see some of the town because I didn’t get a chance to when I flew in as we went straight out of Cusco in the taxi.

Actually, because I had my clothes all over the floor, I didn’t have very long to see much. I went and had breakfast in the kitchen and went out into the town. I saw the main square, and I also saw a church called La Merced. I really wanted to see this church because it was the pit stop for Leg 1 of The Amazing Race Series 7 and I’m a sucker for seeing destinations off this show because I love it so much. I got there as it opened at 8:00am and was the only one there. The woman inside wouldn’t let me look around unaided, she insisted that I see every bit of the church, and I felt rude because I didn’t have long.

Ian, Richard and I got our taxi transfer to Cusco airport. We were a bit early so Ian spent some time and taught me the card game two-player 500, it was pretty awesome, although I lost.

It was a short flight to Lima. Ian and I both had 8 hour waits until our flights out of Lima, so we both tried to check in on our respective flights out of Lima to save carting our bags around for hours.

My next flight from Lima to Los Angeles was with LAN – most of the rest of the flights on my itinerary were with American Airlines, but this was a “codeshare” flight which I’d never done before – a flight that was booked and paid for via American Airlines, but the actual flight was with LAN. I went to the LAN self checkins, which had no record of my booking at all which got me a bit nervous. A woman nearby told me that these checkins were for domestic flights only and sent me to the “bag drop” line at the main checkin.

After a while in the queue, I went up to the guy at the counter, who, after much fluffing around, told me that they have no flight to Los Angeles at that time. Yikes! Oh god I thought. He went and consulted separately with two of his colleagues then proceeded to type into the computer for 5 minutes. He then asked me “you’ve changed your flights, haven’t you” to which he got a very short, sharp “no I haven’t!”. I wasn’t feeling very good about this by this point. Anyway, after 5 minutes more of typing into the computer he did give me a boarding pass. “Is this by the window?” I asked, only to get a “no, it’s an aisle seat” followed by some evils and a new boarding pass by the window. Oh well, I didn’t mind, my bags were off my hands and I had a boarding pass.

Ian and Richard didn’t have as much luck on their flight to Auckland via Buenos Aires – Aerolineas Argentinas didn’t even have a desk open by that point so they had to pay 21 soles each (£5.25) to check their bag into left luggage for the rest of the day.

We exited the airport, ignoring all the official taxis and people saying “taxi taxi taxi” outside the airport. We walked outside the airport boundary to where the “dodgy” taxies were, I say dodgy taxies but then 90% of all taxis in Lima are dodgy and we used them all the time before. Only the official taxis are located inside the airport and they cost twice as much. So I bargained a 25 soles (£6.25) fare into central Lima to show Ian and Richard around the centre of the city. I’m not sure why, but the taxi driver took us through some really rough areas of Lima and I started to doubt where I’d asked him to take us!

Sometimes they have world cup games playing in the main plaza but there was none at that time. So we caught another taxi to the market Polvos Azules where I bought a fake football shirt and some other fake branded clothes. Then, we caught yet another taxi out to Miraflores where Ian had earlier seen a painting that he liked. We had dinner in Miraflores and then Ian and Richard bought paintings each, and I bought a massive 200cm x 160cm alpaca rug, which was so soft but is going to be a nightmare to carry home on the plane. By this time, it was only a few hours before our flights out so we got a taxi back to the airport.

Our time in Lima airport was uneventful, except for a security guard on a power trip – Richard hadn’t put his liquids in a plastic bag, and when they went through the scanner, the officers argued with him that they weren’t in a plastic bag and that he needs to buy one for $2USD. Eventually Richard did, and as soon as he paid his money and got his bag, the officers left him alone – didn’t recheck his liquids or anything – Richard was not happy.

I left Ian and Richard to their flight which boarded at 11:25pm and then went and sat by myself for another 40 minutes – my flight was at 5 minutes past midnight – so technically the next day. Oops, in that case, better close off this blog entry right here.

Days 65-68 – 30 June – Inca Trail and Machu Picchu

July 6, 2010 4am in 2010 trip,Machu Picchu,Peru,Travel | Comments (0)

Alright, time to go! Machu Picchu and Inca Trail here we come!

Sure enough we got picked up at 6:30am. This was to be the latest wake-up call in the coming four days! Yikes.

Machu Picchu is normally reached from Cusco by train, but the floods in January wiped out part of the train track, which hasn’t yet been fully repaired, so it’s necessary to drive some of the way. And clearly, the road was not built for mass traffic because there was about 30km of single-track roads which are big enough for only one car with the odd passing place here and there, kind of like England’s back-country roads. I thought “no doubt they’ll have some system for dealing with this”. Nope – the first 30km were okay by luck, but with 2km to go on the road we reached a standstill, with people out of their cars yelling at each other in Spanish and nobody being prepared to move.

So Livos (our tour guide) used his local connections to get one of the local families to allow us into their piece of land and we can prepare everything and set off from there. Hey, the Inca trail was about 42km, what’s an extra 2km! We saw this local family’s collection of guinea pigs, and it didn’t take us long to work out that they weren’t pets, but rather food!

There were lots of woman walking around the roads trying to sell items for the trip, like hats, walking poles, sunscreen, etc. They were very persistant, but I still didn’t buy a hat because I don’t like wearing hats. It was very hot and sunny today, so I thought maybe that was a bad idea.

The first day of the walk was not too steep, we saw a few Inca ruins, and the temperature was really pleasant, the sun was out in full force but because it was winter it wasn’t unbearably hot… well that was my opinion, other people thought it was too hot – unusual, normally I’m the one complaining about the heat.

Our guide Livos was very knowledgable, and he seemed to know everyone in the area that we came across on the walk and in all the little towns. Everyone had heard of him.

We walked about 6 hours today, and halfway through we stopped at a really nice little campsite where the porters had set up the tent and were cooking up some fish for lunch. I don’t eat fish, but they knew about this beforehand and they had separately made me some eggs. We couldn’t believe how sophisticated the meals were, and usually there were three courses for both lunch and dinner! It was amazing, and everything was very tasty. In fact, for most of us, there was just too much food. We wondered how they kept all the food fresh on a four day walk and cooked it all for 18 people on just two portable gas rings – incredible, they’ve clearly done this before more than once, we thought.

We left the porters behind at the lunch site, and continued walking. After a while, the porters zoom past with all the stuff, and set up camp further on, so by the time you get there, they’re all set up in a new place. This time when we arrived at the last campsite for the day, all the tents were set up, and dinner was underway. We only had a small light lighting the dinner tent, and once dinner was over, it was 7:30pm and dark, and since we’d walked so far and there was not a lot to do in the dark, most of us were asleep by 8. Well, we needed to, because the next two days were going to be 5:30am wakeups and the day after was going to be 3:00am!

I slept in a big jacket that I had bought the week before in Lima, and long pants in my sleeping bag. Other people complained about being cold but it wasn’t too bad once you got used to sleeping in lots of layers.

Day 2

Last night we were told that today would be 5 hours of going up steep steps. And that wasn’t wrong – wow. We climbed from 2,700 metres above sea level to 4,200 in 5 hours – it was TOUGH going. Because I had a cold, it didn’t help. Last week with a cold, I walked the 30 minutes from my Spanish school to my house and was exhausted, and that was flat land. This was a killer! When I said on Saturday “I won’t be the slowest one on the trip”, I guess I was wrong!

We naturally split into two groups today – four people (including Ian and Richard) went ahead, and I stayed behind with two other people and we went slower. It’s the only way I could have gone up five hours of steep steps – I would do 20-30 at a time, then stop and rest.

To make it worse, the weather wasn’t kind to us today. It started spitting when we woke up, and rained all day. Not heavy rain, but all day long. We bought some plastic ponchos from the locals for 5 soles each (£1.25) which helped a bit.

Our porters managed to keep most of our stuff dry – clearly another thing they’re skilled at. The stuff I carried in my own small pack stayed largely dry, but that’s because I’d put important stuff like money and passport inside three plastic bags. I was so glad that I brought two jackets – a warm one and a waterproof one. I didn’t bring two pairs of shoes because that would have made the porters carry too much, but shoes stayed dry enough with all the walking and enough changes of socks. I felt like I made a very good choice of what clothes to bring.

Our hard day (well, the day of the slow three of us) ended at 3:00pm in the final campsite. We were immediately given three courses for lunch, and then we had afternoon tea at 5:00pm, followed by dinner at 6:30pm which was another three courses. It was so much food!

Tonight was the coldest because we were up so high in the mountains. I had all my layers on including my warm jacket and some thermals. Everyone complained about being very cold at night, except me – I thought it was okay, but then I wore the most layers to bed by far. By this point it was starting to get uncomfortable sleeping at night – a sleeping bag and a tiny mat weren’t particularly comfortable. I would start lying on my side so I could sleep, but then once that got too painful I would wake up and then move to a different position. By the end of each night I had to lie on whichever part of my body wasn’t hurting – or was hurting the least.

Day 3

Of course, if you have 5 hours of uphill the day before, you need to have 5 hours of downhill to get back to the level where you were. It was definitely better than uphill, but it’s steps, not simply downhill. And they’re big steps!

The porters, though, managed to run at top speed down the stairs, with all the stuff that they had to carry. We wondered if they did it because they were made to, or because they’re freelancers they won’t get picked next time if they take too long to get to the camp.

No rain today though, woo! But… fog. The first two days we were spoiled with many absolutely stunning, breathtaking views. Today – nothing – you could barely see 50 metres in front of you, let alone the stunning mountain ranges and valleys. That was a bit disappointing. But what you could see though, is that some of the paths have been built on the side of cliffs – the edges of the paths dropped immediately down hundreds of metres below. Although this didn’t seem to stop the porters running! It stopped us from time to time though, and made us very careful. I wondered how many people had died on Machu Picchu, but I thought it was a bit out of place to ask.

Today was the only day where I needed to use the bathroom so bad that I couldn’t wait for a campsite, so had to go in the bush. Overall, I was quite happy, except for this one time I got away with using the toilets in the campsites every time which was great.

The sleep tonight was quite a bit warmer as we’d gone down quite a way. There was also a much more major campsite, with electricity, a small bar and restaurant, and hot showers. But it was in a very confined space, and our tents were set up with less than 50 centimetres between the door and a sheer drop. I hope nobody wanted to go sleepwalking. Here’s a photo out of the door of the tent:

Tents by a massive drop

Even though other campsites were nearby, and the closest one contained a large group of Canadians who were extremely drunk and loud, we all managed to get a good sleep.

Day 4

So, today is the big day that we get to see Machu Picchu! We had to wake up at 3am, so that the porters could get down to the train by 5am. The checkpoint to Machu Picchu doesn’t actually open until 5am, so after having breakfast and getting ready, it was 3:45am, and we had nearly 2 hours of waiting around. It wasn’t that cold though, luckily.

Apparently you used to be able to walk in the dark, then you could see the sun rise over Machu Picchu, but they stopped that because walking at night was too dangerous and there were too many accidents. So at 5:30, when the checkpoint opened, we walked on. The sun was just coming up by this point and it was another 90 minutes or so before we reached the Sun Gate – this is the first point where you can see Machu Picchu. Unfortunately though, we saw this:

Sun gate

Yes, we’d walked all this way and we couldn’t see anything because of all the fog! Some people were grumbling but hey, there was nothing we could do about it, so we just walked on. Thirty minutes later, we made it down to the tourist centre where all the people who don’t walk the Inca Trail arrive at by bus. It was still cloudy at this point, so we went and had some food in the cafetaria.

Thankfully, after two hours or so, the cloud did lift, and we were able to see Machu Picchu! Yay.

We got the guided tour by our Inca Trail tour guide, but if I’m honest I’d stopped listening by this point because he’d been talking so much over the last four days!

The views from here were just stunning. It was pretty much impossible to take photos that showed the sheer scale of everything. And Machu Picchu the city was built on really steep land, out of thousands and thousands of stones, we couldn’t work out where all these stones came from. The Incas must have been really fit, because these steps around the site were steep and there were many of them.

Machu Picchu I Machu Picchu II
Machu Picchu III Machu Picchu IV

You just couldn’t get enough of the views – they were just incredible.

After we’d seen enough, we caught the bus down this very winding road down the mountain to the town of Aguas Calientes (“Hot Waters”). It was a real tourist town, but unusual because no cars were in the town (there were no roads) except for the buses to take you up the mountain; you had to arrive by train, or by the Inca Trail.

We had lunch at a restaurant and then spent a couple of hours in the nearby hot springs. Well, it was more the “lukewarm” springs but it was still a nice relief after walking for four days.

Then, on the way down to the train station, we were accosted by all the restaurant owners trying to get us to go into their restaurants. They all offered “happy hour” – four drinks for 15 soles (£3.50). This of course seemed far too good to be true, and we figured that they’d make up a whole lot of taxes, or they’d add a massive compulsory tip, or there’d be some other catch. But we did go into one place and order four drinks, and this is what we got:

Miniscule drinks

Miniscule drinks!!!!!

We got two miniscule Pisco Sours and two small Mojitos – at least the Mojitos had a bit of alcohol in them. We thought the size of the drinks was funny, but we were a little annoyed because we wanted a full size proper drink by this point. But we paid our 15 soles and left.

We now had to get the train home. Well, the train part of the way, and then the bus the rest of the way down the evil one-way road that we got stuck on in the beginning. The train journey was beautiful, but we had again the same problems on the one way road with all these huge buses trying to get in and out at the same time. We were stuck for ages, and we had to pass on the narrowest of places with sheer drops into the river on one side. Plus it was night – that was scary, and I was glad when we were off that road.

Although once we were off the one way road, we were on the normal two-way road, but because the drive seemed to have no idea how to work the air-conditioning, the van all fogged up, and he could barely see a thing out the windscreen, which made the ride a bit frightning. I tried to sleep in the van the whole way, but wasn’t able to because it was so bumpy.

And, to make it worse, they were due to open the train on 1 July (tomorrow) ! If we had’ve been a day later, we could have caught the awesome train all the way to Cusco, which would have been luxurious, and saved us a few hours as well.

We left Aguas Calientes on the 4:22pm train and got back to Cusco about 9:30pm. It was nice to be back in civilization. The hotel in Cusco where we stayed was the Royal Inka Hotel right in the centre of the city and it was really nice.

I’ve only included some of the photos here… there’s heaps more here: PHOTOS OF MACHU PICCHU ON FACEBOOK

Day 64 – 26 June – Flight to Cuzco

July 6, 2010 4am in 2010 trip,Cusco,Peru,Travel | Comments (0)

I got up early and caught a taxi to Lima Airport for a flight to Cusco. When I got to Cusco I saw a desk in the arrivals hall for “Hotel Monestario” which was written down on my itinerary as the place where I was staying. They had no record of me, which got me a bit worried. Luckily the guy there spoke English. After many unsuccessful phone calls, I went outside the airport to find my booked airport transfer waiting outside – seems that I was staying in a hotel with the same name but in a different town about an hour away in Urubamba in the Sacred Valley – oops.

Here I met Raul who told me all about how the Inca Trail was going to go. I learned that the porters who accompany us on the trip are only allowed to take 4kg of my stuff on the trail so I wouldn’t be able to take all the stuff I was planning to. I also learned that there are 11 porters looking after 7 of us that are doing the walk! New Zealanders aren’t used to that sort of attention if you ask me.

The rest of the people doing the Inca Trail were out on a sightseeing tour that I couldn’t join because I arrived too late into Cusco, so I waited for them in the hotel. They eventually turned up and I got to meet them. There was me, Ian and Richard, and four others who were a generation older, including Ian’s Dad. “Great”, I thought, “at least I won’t be the slowest one on the trip”.

We had a nice dinner together at the hotel but got an early sleep because we were leaving the hotel at 6:30am the next day. By this point my sore throat was going away a bit but sinus pain was coming on.

Days 62 & 63 – 25 June – Lima -> Cuzco tomorrow

June 26, 2010 4am in 2010 trip,Lima,Peru,Travel | Comments (1)

My last two days in Lima have been very boring, I developed a bit of a sore throat yesterday and it’s gotten worse today, which makes me a bit sad… I’m supposed to be walking the 4 day Inca Trail starting Sunday and I definitely do not want to be sick for it. Oh well, whatever happens happens I guess.

Because of that, I’ve done absolutely nothing interesting the last two days except for my Spanish classes. I had an exam today which was terrifying although I ended up getting 93% which was awesome. There was a speaking element to the test and because I was so nervious I know that I didn’t do that well. Although the teacher gave me 20 out of 20 for speaking, but I think that’s because I was sitting there watchin her as she marked it! Paul said I underestimate myself, perhaps that’s true.

Also, because I was so nervous during the exam, I accidentally knocked over my cup of coffee and it went all over my exam and all over my pants. How embarrassing! Luckily I’d only completed one page of multi choice questions so I didn’t have to write out the entire exam again. Also, luckily by 4 hours later when it came time to do my goodbye speech, the coffee had mostly dried so it didn’t look like I’d just peed my pants.

I also formed a Limited Company online today – that’s right I’m now officially self-employed using the company name “g2 Technology Limited”… matches my domain name don’t you think? This is part of my plan to be a self-employed software developer contractor in London when I finish my travels.

Tomorrow I fly to Cuzco and will most likely be out of range of the internet until at least Friday 2 July. That day I’ll be meeting my sister in Los Angeles which will be AWESOME!

Bye for now!!

PS, thanks Alejandro, whoever you are, for letting us mooch off your unsecured wireless internet for two weeks.

Days 56-61 – 23 June – Where has the time gone in Lima

June 24, 2010 6pm in 2010 trip,Lima,Peru,Travel | Comments (0)

Well I put up some photos finally! Here they are:


Over the last week Peru has been hit by football fever even though they don’t have a team in the World Cup. There doesn’t seem to be any favourite amongst the people but Brazil and Argentina seem the most popular. I haven’t heard anyone say New Zealand yet!

Actually, just 35 minutes ago NZ was knocked out of the World Cup, but they drew all three of their games, so that makes us UNDEFEATED! Woo. Before the World Cup I was going to put a £10 bet on New Zealand to win the World Cup which would have made me £25,010 if they had won. Luckily I didn’t put that bet on, and I saved myself £10. In Lima that paid for my taxis around Miraflores (the part of Lima I’m staying in) all week!

I’m trying to think of what to write here, and I’m struggling because I’ve been just seeing interesting sights with classmates all week, and really the photos tell all. My friends Ian and Richard flew into Lima Tuesday, I met them at the airport on Tuesday night and we hung out in Miraflores all of Wednesday.

I took a taxi out to the airport on Tuesday at 9pm to meet Ian and Richard, I think that the taxi driver was trying to beat his personal best time for a ride to the airport, either that or he thought the 80km posted speed limit was the minimum rather than the maximum. He was a real friendly chap, talking to me the whole way in Spanish with me understanding about 25% of what he said, and him understanding probably about 25% of what I said back. But I did know that the whole conversation revolved around discussing which countries have the hottest girls. He thought Colombia. When he thought that I didn’t believe him, he did a handbrake turn into a very dodgy side street and took a detour past his favourite Colombian strip club so I could see it. Bonus.

There were a couple of other times I thought there was no way we could avoid a collision with another car, but at the last split second the taxi driver would swerve and open up a new lane of his own in the road. When we got to the airport, the police check the documents of taxis entering the airport to check they’re up to date. The policeman didn’t like the documents of my taxi driver for some reason, so we had to pull over into security for a few minutes, and then the driver was told to “drop off your passenger then return here” after getting his car documents taken off him. He took me to the terminal where I got out, paid the guy his £5 and I don’t know what happened to him after that. I hope he’s okay! I feel a bit sorry for all the taxi drivers here trying to make a living, there are so many of them it can’t be easy. Every time I walk out of my apartment, it’s almost guaranteed that within 15 seconds I will have a taxi tooting at me.

Ian and Richard got a hotel transfer to their hotel which wasn’t far from the airport, and I went with them. Richard paid the taxi driver with a $20USD note for a $9 fare, and was waiting for his change but it never came, which he wasn’t very happy about! On the way, Ian told me that he flies out to Macchu Picchu the next morning, and I kindly pointed out to him that no, you actually have two nights in Lima, not just one. Good old Ian :-) That turned out to be a good thing, because his hotel let him stay another night, and it meant they could sleep in after a big flight and then we had a whole day in Lima together. I left Ian at his hotel and took a taxi back to Miraflores which I got for 25 soles (£6), not bad for 12:30am in a very questionable neighbourhood.

Ian and Richard took a taxi down to Miraflores from the airport, which was 30 soles (£7.50) for him, not a bad price for a couple of white guys who speak no spanish, since you have to negotiate the price before you get in the taxi (I’ve heard that people from the school paid 100 soles before and on the internet there are reports of people paying 200). I met up with them after my spanish class finished at 1pm and we visited a shopping centre and had lunch, then we walked around some parks. We took a walk down to the beach (and it’s a long way down from Miraflores which is on top of a massive cliff) where all the locals tried to get us to take surfing lessons. No way, Jose, the waves were so rough and that part of the beach was made of stones which were at such an angle into the water that it looked like if you fell of your board you would crack your head open. Although it was a perfect day for it, there were many waves, and Ian had arrived on the one day out of two weeks where the sun came out and stayed out. No wonder the ancient Incas worshipped the sun, because it hardly ever shows itself.

Instead we had a couple of cocktails at a fancy bar on a pier, and we were the only ones for a lot of the time in the bar, which was really relaxing and a great chance to catch up on the gossip.

After a while we went to an area of Miraflores known as Petit Thouars where they sell lots of Peruvian artifacts. Well, not just lots, but several blocks worth, each with several massive markets. Ian was very interested in paintings and rugs, but after he got a call from his Mum who was in another part of Peru, he decided not to buy anything because apparently it’s cheaper the further you get out of Lima and he’s going to Cusco tomorrow. There were such a lot of markets, but they were quite quiet because it was Wednesday afternoon, and most of the shops had the shop girls trying hard to get us to go into their shops. Again, because of the sheer amount of stuff for sale, and the quietness of the place, it was hard not to feel that it must be hard for these people to make a living. Although, who knows, perhaps there’s a 2,000% markup on everything.

I really liked the massive white rugs which were really amazingly soft, although I was a bit disturbed by the accompanying sign stating “100% baby alpaca”. I’m hoping they meant “100% baby alpaca fur”! I would have loved one for my house, if I owned one. Also some of the paintings and vases were nice. We then had dinner overlooking Parque Kennedy which was basic but tasty and then I hailed a taxi for Ian to take him home. I managed to negotiate a price of 20 soles for him and Richard, and I think that the driver understood where I wanted him to go (he had a map which wasn’t particularly clear). Hopefully Ian got back to his hotel alright, I haven’t heard from him since last night! Ian should be on a plane to Cusco right at this moment, where I will be joining him on Saturday and we will be doing the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu together along with Richard and Ian’s parents.

Spanish class this week is different, we had 5 in the class last week but this week 3 of them have gone, so it’s just me and Patrick. Patrick’s a nice guy but his confidence in speaking is much higher than mine, and he talks a lot, so it’s hard for me to get a word in, and when I do get a word I’m like “Me… parezco, ah, umm, I mean, parece, err, bien, hmm, ahh, gracias”. I feel a bit stupid at times, Patrick has clearly had a lot more practice talking even though I think I know more of the grammar. When it was just me and Claudia in a class in Costa Rica that was really cool because we were both at a similar level, but here there’s quite a mismatch.

I can’t honestly decide which I like better, Lima or Costa Rica. Costa Rica had cocktails on the beach, a wider range of students, more of a relaxed atmosphere because of the beach, and a better style of learning. Lima only has cocktails in nightclubs, the students are all the same age group and are either “boring couples” or guys who spend all the time trying to pick up girls and take them back to their apartments, and the city is noisy and not terribly relaxing. But on the plus side for Lima, the climate is nice even if it’s a bit grey, the school staff are friendlier here, there’s always something to see or do because it’s a city and my accommodation is much more comfortable, whereas Costa Rica I was simply too hot all the time. Hmm, no I think Costa Rica gets the win on this occasion, possibly swayed by the fact that it was such a culture shock when I first arrived and it was all so exciting and new, and such a different experience, whereas by the time I got to Lima everything was a bit “par for the course”.

I wish I took more photos when Ian was here, but it’s okay, when we go our separate ways from Macchu Picchu Ian and I have about 8 or 9 hours to hang out in Lima before we leave Peru.