Tag Archives: holidays

A week in Chile

14 Mar

After our time in Bolivia, we headed to Chile. Here is a brief summary about what we got up to –

Border crossing

This was the most ridiculous border crossing I have experienced which started when our bus departed an hour later than its scheduled time for no good reason. And ended with us waiting for around 3 hours to get through immigration because Chile only had one person on the immigration desk to Bolivia’s three, which caused a bottle neck!

Iquique

We arrived in Iquique after spending almost a day travelling. Iquique is on the coast and the smell of the salt air smacked you around the face when we got off the bus. The city is surrounded by sand dunes and the main street looks like something out of the Wild West.

There was plenty to do in Iquique. We explored the black sandy beaches, visited the fish market and saw and tasted some of the freshest catches of the day first hand, we planned paragliding (which was sadly cancelled), we went sandboarding and brought home about half of the sand dunes to the hotel, visited a thermal baths and the ghost town of Humberstone and Santa Laura, which used to be one of the biggest potassium nitrate mines in Chile.

The bus we travelled on to Humberstone also broke down and we had to wait for a replacement that took about 2 hours to get to us.

Santiago

We headed to the capital. The difference to Iquique and Bolivia couldn’t have been more stark. Being in Iquique was like being in Barcelona. Starbucks, Dominos, McDonalds and KFC everywhere – I was enjoying not missing these outlets! The city was bigger and lots more people were around.

We went to what we thought was another Jesus statue on a hill. When we got there we realised it was Mary. There was a great view of the whole city from the top. I was glad there was a funicular to get us up there. I never would have made it up there if I had had to walk.

On Sundays they close some of the main roads so people can bike, roller-blade and run along the streets, which is a great initiative.

The city is also full of amazing street art. I absolutely love it!

Valparaiso

We took the bus to what we thought was going to be a small fishing village but actually it was a lot bigger than we thought. We took a free walking tour and discovered a lot about the city’s history and what life is like for people here in the past and now.

The town is full of creative people and the old prison had actually been turned into a creative arts centre for artists, dancers and even cooks. What a great idea!

Not surprising that the city is also full of mosaics, murals and more street art!

We have now safely arrived back in Argentina; more specifically we are in Mendoza, wine country. Our accommodation is at the site of a vineyard. I think it is safe to say we will be sampling the local produce!

Cheers from Mendoza!

What a week!

20 Oct

What a week it has been! I had no German lessons this week because of half term, so I was looking forward to a bit of relaxing. Not a chance! I don’t mind a hectic week when you know it’s going to be a hectic week but when it creeps up on you to surprise you, it’s not good at all.

On Monday I really didn’t feel like doing much apart from going to bed early. I didn’t even achieve that after I had finished faffing around and getting a few small jobs that I have been trying to do for a while out of the way.

On Tuesday I seemed to be quite busy at work and I headed to the gym at lunchtime. In the evening I met up with some friends who I haven’t seen in a while. It was in actual fact a year or so but I was determined to get everyone together at least once in 2017. I almost made it; one of the group was sick.

We went to a really good burger place, where the burgers are so large that I didn’t even finish mine. We have already got a date sorted for a meeting in early December. I actually think this is cheating a bit. The next organiser doesn’t have to go through the pain of sending dates after dates and agonising about what time and where we meet. I’m saying I have more brownie points for my efforts.

Wednesday was the last outdoor hockey practice before we start playing the indoor season. Boo! I’m not a huge fan of indoor hockey, mainly because the ball never really goes out and you have to run and run until your lungs burn and your face looks like a beef tomato, which for me is about 2.5 minutes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling to well and I decided after the warm-up that it might be best to leave early and get an early night.

Thursday I was busy getting organised and tidying the house before leaving for a long weekend away in Singapore!

I only booked this trip in February because it was 460 Francs return in a Swiss International airlines sale. I have paid more to go home for Christmas before so forgive my impulse buying. Because the week was so hectic I have no idea if I have packed the right clothes etc etc. But who cares? I’m sure it’s a case of “I think I left the oven one” and everything will be ok. If not, I am sure I will manage.

So, by the time you read this, I will be there. Probably sweating, moaning about humidity and dying of thirst but hey that’s the beauty of Asia. Let the adventure begin!

Happy Holidays!

13 Apr

When I booked this holiday in November, I think it was, it seemed like an age away. But it’s already here and I am ready for holiday. Big Time. I have been ready for a least a week. I really start to get excited and in the holiday mood when I collect the money that I have ordered from the bank and I start taking a look at the exotic looking notes. I genuinely have no idea if I have an average person’s annual wage with me or if it will all be gone in a few hours.

Everything is organised, planned and packed. Or at least I hope it is. People have been making me feel a bit anxious about travelling to Asia on my own. In the last 3 hours, two separate people have warned me about the Bangkok Hilton. I am not sure what this says about me if people are warning me not to deal drug while on holiday! Once I arrive and I get to the hotel, I will be feeling more confident and ready to enjoy myself.

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This trip (I have said this before and failed) I have packed as light as possible. I always start off with a list (something that my mum always used to do before our family holidays) of everything that I need and just before I finish packing I decide I must have forgotten something and end up throwing more stuff into my bag at random just so I don’t feel like I have forgotten something. I was very tempted to do this this morning. I have resisted temptation for a few reasons.

Experience tells me that being a light as possible while you are moving between countries (3 in 17 days in fact) has many advantages. I think that the day we travel from Vietnam to Cambodia we use public transport so the less I have, not just to carry, but also to keep an eye on the better.

Apart from one in-case-of-emergency lipstick, I have not got any make-up packed whatsoever. I don’t wear a lot of make-up anyway and I figure that when the weather is forecast to be 37 degree with 95% humidity, a layer of foundation is the last thing that I will need. After my children’s Factor 50 suncream has been applied, it is not really worth trying to get an even coverage with my MAC make-up.

I took so many T-shirts with me to South Africa last year that I came back with 5 clean ones in the bottom of my bag that I didn’t even realise I had brought with me. This trip was a bit tricky because it involved camping and we moved every day so I didn’t have the luxury of being able to get everything out of my bag to see what was clean and what wasn’t.

There is one thing that I have been agonizing over – my electric toothbrush. If I was stranded on a desert island my electric toothbrush would be my luxury item. But only if it had unlimited battery life or was solar-powered because there would be nowhere for you to plug it in would there? My teeth never seem clean when I use a manual toothbrush but taking it with me means I need to take more cables with me and it is one more thing to forget or lose in a hotel room.

Discipline is the name of  the game! I do still have the niggling feeling that I have forgotten something. If I have it’s nothing that I can buy when I am out there or nothing that I can’t go without….

…. just had to quickly check that I had packed my glasses. I have! Panic over. Phew!

All being well, I will try to keep up with the blog on my travels but it is a bit fiddly to write on the WordPress app with my sausage fingers.

In the meantime, have a great Easter, whether you celebrate it or not. I’m not sure that my chocolate egg is going to survive the Asian heat…

First Christmases

22 Dec

This Christmas is a Christmas of firsts: my first ever, real Christmas tree and my first Christmas in Switzerland.

Growing up we always had an artificial tree and I have always dreamed of a real Christmas tree. There is a small farm not too far up the road so we went there and picked out a tree. The only problem is that when you look around at the trees and they are standing proudly outside, they look a lot smaller than they do when you get them home and have to find a place for it to go. We did choose the smallest one we could find but it is quite wide at the bottom so it takes up quite a bit of space in the living room.

After the purchase of the Christmas tree, we went to eat fondue. The farm has a Fonduestube (stube: a small hut or place where food and drinks is normally served) and we got a free glass of Glühwein as a thank you for buying the tree. The little problem was carrying the thing home, down quite a big hill, in the dark, after quite a few drinks. All’s well that ends well though.

My other first is spending Christmas in Switzerland for the first time. Normally, I make the trip home for the festive period. At my previous employers, there was a complete shut down between Christmas and New Year so I could book my flights home in June (or early) knowing that I had the time off. But that isn’t the case at my new employer.

In addition, there is a funny system in Switzerland that I still haven’t got my head around and which I complain about on a regular basis. Here if a bank holiday falls on a weekend, you don’t get the time off. In England, a bank holiday on the weekend means that you are entitled to another day off in lieu, normally on the Monday. So this year is particularly bad because Christmas Day is a Sunday so we only get the Monday (Boxing Day) as a holiday. I can only say that the idea that Europeans get more holidays than in the UK is a christmas-tree-christmas-1796131_1920.pngmisconception.

Apart from one year when we had a family holiday to Tenerife at Christmas, I have spent every Christmas in England. The holiday in Tenerife was a little bit strange – swimming, BBQ and karaoke as Christmas Day activities. This year it will be Fondue Chinose and no Queen’s speech.

I was beginning to regret not coming home for Christmas a few weeks ago but with reports of Storm Barbara on the rampage, I am better staying put and not travelling during the worst of it. Better to be prepared for not going home than to be expecting to go home and then the flight is cancelled because of bad weather. Or worse, the flight isn’t cancelled and the flight experiences extreme turbulence.

Besides, with Facetime I can still see my family for Christmas even though it is not the same at being there in person. And, I will be flying home in January anyway, when I hope the weather will be more favourable to travellers!

 

 

Wanderlust

12 Dec
noun
  1. a strong desire to travel.
    “a man consumed by wanderlust”
Before I moved to Switzerland, I made a list of the Pros and Cons of moving. One of the reasons in the Pro column was the opportunity to travel. Being centred right in the middle of Europe is a huge advantage for a wannabe explorer.

So far, I have travelled to 36 countries which doesn’t seem like a lot. The US should count for more because I have been to at 15 states which is about 30% of the whole thing. I was thinking about doing all of the states but an American once told me that Hawaii is a pain to get to (around a five hour flight from US) and I am not really that much of a beach person anyway.

This year I have travelled to 5 new countries. My “big” holiday this year was to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana. I have wanted to visited South Africa for such a long time. I have heard so many good things about it from so many different people but I always found an excuse not to go. So this year I thought, let’s do it!

People were keen to tell me how dangerous Africa is and to ask why I was travelling alone. I have travelled alone many times and I never feel so scared or nervous about it. I do my research in advance and don’t put myself in situations where I would be uncomfortable or at risk. I never encountered any problems while I was on this trip or on previous trips. I was surprised by how friendly the people were (also in Zimbabwe and Botswana) and of course it takes a lot of stress out of travelling when everyone speaks English.

My whole African experience was unforgettable. I saw the Big 5 while I was there which was incredible and got some amazing pictures of all sorts of wildlife and landscapes. I hiked down Table Mountain (a lot easier than going UP in 25 degree heat). I walked with Rhinos in Zimbabwe. When I say walked I literally mean walked. The photo below shows how close we got to them. Amazing creatures! And it is desperately sad that people hunt these lovely, docile creatures to steal their horns for medicine or to place on the mantelpiece as a status symbol.

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I swam with sharks. OK, I was in a cage but they were there in the water with me. We saw a total of 12 Great Whites in the space of 3 hours. This was another item ticked off the bucket list. The next day I went to a place just outside Cape Town to do a zipline. Here is what I actually did. It looks terrifying and it was to begin with but it was an incredible experience and I wanted to do it again as soon as I had finished it.

The holiday was relatively cheap. The South African Rand was weak when I was over there and with the Swiss Franc being such a strong currency, the exchange rate really worked to my favour. It’s always cheap travel when you live in Switzerland because everyone else is cheap to eat, drink and travel in comparison.

I went to Copenhagen for the first time in July. I had heard good things about Copenhagen and Denmark and I wasn’t disappointed. The weather was cold but, thankfully, it was not raining so it was ok to walk around and explore the city.

There is a street food market located at Papier Island which is incredible. I thought that I had died and gone to heaven at one point. There was so much choice of offer and the place was really buzzing with people and things going on. It was also nice to “do what the locals do” and buy some cheap beer from the supermarket and chill by the harbour and do some people-watching.

One of the things that I was really looking forward to seeing was the statue of the Little Mermaid which is located in Copenhagen harbour. Everyone says that it is really disappointing because it is so small but it was a lot bigger than I imagined it to be… but still a little disappointing.

I also made a solo trip to Prague. I have never been to surprisingly because it is where beer was first invented. It was a lovely place and I was very fortunate with the weather. And the beer was good. And very, very cheap. In the supermarket, the beer was literally cheaper than the water.

Is it a bit wrong that I feel a little bit disappointed that the list of the new countries that I have been to this year is only five? I had the feeling that I had been to a lot more. I guess I was making so many new memories that it felt like there was a lot more. The problem is that they all seem like they happen years ago and not just a matter of months ago.

Next year, I already have some travel booked in the diary. I am excited to go back to Asa and visit Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for the first time as well as Norway (the last of the Scandinavian countries to tick off my list).

I’m hoping these places will bring new interesting experiences in 2017 and great memories to look back on in the future.