Christ Redeemer

Christ Redeemer

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mendoza to Marseille and everything in between

Upon arrival into Mendoza, we quickly booked our wine tour. We were picked up at 2 in the afternoon and taken to the Mendoza wine region. Our first stop was an olive oil factory. It is believed that olive oil coats the stomach and is therefore beneficial to consume before drinking; this advice we took seriously. Interesting facts:
1) black, green, and purple olives all grow on the same tree, but are just at different stages of aging/ripening.
2) Light green leafed trees produce olives for eating and dark green leafed trees produce olives used to make oil. This could be reversed as we are slightly behind on our blog posting and do not have our notes.
3) One tree can produce 15 litres of oil per season; which is Feb- Mar
4) The trees are old, anywhere fro, 300-400 years old...again notes are missing
5) Only 20% of the oil produced in Argentina stays in Argentina: The rest is shipped around the world including the US and others.

Enough fun attention though because we will quiz you when we arrive home to see who read this.

After Mendoza we took Two and a Half Days worth of buses through Chile to arrive in Arequipa, Peru. This was a beautiful colonial city that is credited as being Peru's second largest city. The city is nestled between three active volcanoes. We enjoyed this city so much that we stayed 4 nights instead of two and actually lived through our first earthquake. Ok, it was only a mild tremor that reverberated our beds and closed our window, yet neither of us have ever experienced this, so it was pretty cool.
Arequipa to Cuzco proved interesting as we had to literally run to jump on our departing bus. A 600 approx kilometer drive took us 12 hours. The bus constantly stopped to pick up people on the side of the road. When the bus stopped for food our only options were random street food and a package of dried ichiban. We got dried ichiban, quite delicious; package of crackers; cheese that is fried on a pan in the street; and potatoes that were piled into a plastic bag by the hands of a questionably dirty street vendor. Obviously the Jesus that was given to us by an older lady on another bus has been with us because we have survived that and more. Thank you Argentinian abuela (grandma) and God; we love you.

We stayed in a matrimonial suite in Cuzco where several interesting things occured.
1) We ran into the largest festival to hit this town; Corpus Christi and Rani Amasti (spelled wrong). While enjoying the festival we even met two photographers from National Geographic that took our picture. We are not sure where that will turn up, but we hope it is somewhere great.
2) A loud noise pulled us to our window one day after breakfast and we were shocked to see that a bus had driven into a concrete telephone pole moving to a 45 degree angle and collapsing the telephone lines onto the street. We were very impressed by the arrival of emergency vehicles, but were somewhat annoyed by the persistant honking that we should have been used to at this stage. It was quite the experience.

After all this we were off to Agua Callientes for two nights to climb Machu Picchu. We awoke and left our hotel at 4 am and by 6 am we had climbed Machu Picchu. What we weren't prepared for was its beauty. The place is awesome and even if you have to take the bus trip up and down, we highly recommend going. To celebrate our accomplishment, we promptly rewarded ourselves back in town with beer, pop, and water.

After Machu Picchu we were on our last overnight bus to Lima Peru. Thanks to Chef Michelle from Lindsay's work we were set up in the most pimp accomodation yet. Her brother lives there with his family and they were kind enough to set us up for a few nights. We love these people and thank them for everything, but most of all for the very amazing BBQ they set up for us on our last night. From Lima we flew to Bogota. Outside of getting lost the best thing we did was go to the Catedral de Sel. This is a church made out of salt in tunnels. It was quite spectacular.

We left Bogota to head to Madrid on what should have been a terrible overnight flight, however, it was not so bad. We arrived at our hostel that turned into a gorgeous apartment and we decided we never wanted to leave. With the help of Lindsay's friend Carlos, we picked Sarah up from the airport. We told her all about how peaceful and quite Madrid was. While we were at dinner we witnessed a minor accident followed by a major fight. Carlos and his girlfriend Patrice generoussly offered to take us to Toledo for the day. What a gorgeous city.

We left Madrid on the train to Paris. The train and the view were great. The only not so great part was our last bunkmate......a woman with 8 month old twins. Cute, right? Um, no. This really is a story for another time. Paris, needless to say is stunning and we have amazing pics to show for it. The same day we hopped a train for Marseille. Our first day we spent a large portion of time at the beach which we were looking forward to for so long.

We are now in Cannes and spent the day where? At the beach. More updates to come with pictures.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brazil to Argentina

We left Manaus on a midnight flight to Rio De Janeiro. This may have been our most uncomfortable travel to date. Also when we arrived at our hostel we were five hours early to check in so the morning consisted of naps on the couch and reading an entire book. We went to Cristo Redentor or the Christ Redeemer one afternoon. It was chilly but well worth it. It is more massive than we could have imagined. People were laying on the ground to capture the entire statue in their photos. Lucky for us Lindsay´s camera could capture us, the statue and half the sky. Our hostel was next to a hospital which put us at ease a little. However, we noticed ambulance drivers smoking in the vehicles while driving. Not sure how sanitary that is. Another odd thing we noticed was Coke Zero was available but way more expensive than regular coke or beer for that matter. We loved the buffet style restaurants. Some were all you can eat while some you would weigh your plate and pay that way. After the Copacabana beach in Rio, we headed to Sau Paulo for a couple days. Our first night, we met up with Lindsay´s friend Isaac, his girlfriend, Manuela and friend, Lena. We ate, we drank and went home far too late. The next day was rough for us but we ventured to UTattoo to get Megan´s first ink of the travel. The next day we took an overnight bus to Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina. The waterfalls were massive and there were multiple look out points all of which looked different. We also were able to walk out onto a catwalk-like path into the falls. It was quite an experience. That same day we took another overnight bus to Buenos Aires, Argentina where we were definitely looking forward to some consistency. We rented an apartment for the entire week. We went to our first club of the trip on Wednesday. This was a four-floor nightclub and needless to say we were quite popular. The rest of the week was quite uneventful but relaxing. At the bus station to go to Mendoza, we sat at a cafe for eight hours. While sitting there a man came up to Lindsay to ask how tall she was. Her response was `you should see my dad`, his response was `he must be strong`. This overnight bus was amazing. Leather seats that lay all the way down, individual TVs, as well as free food and drinks. We´ve arrived at our hostel in Mendoza where we will spend three nights. We are looking forward to the half day or full day wine tour.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Amazons in the Amazon

We arrived in Leticia expecting to stay one night and board the boat to Manaus the following day. After a five hour walk to the port in the hot sun to buy our tickets
we returned excited to go. The day of departure, two hours before we were to be at the port, we found out we needed Brazilian visas. This seemed stupid; however, three countries make up the large town and one can easily walk from country to country with no formalities. Probably the most exciting thing in Leticia was English flatscreen television and cars equipped with home stereo systems attached to the back which were larger than the car itself and deafening. After four days of boredom and moderately good food, we boarded our boat to Manaus, Brazil. Upon first inspection of our cabin on Itapuranga, we discovered that the beds were designed for children. Lindsay slept exceptionally well for the three nights in the fetal and random yoga positions. The food on the boat was mediocre at best. Breakfast consisted of bread, butter and overly sweetened coffee. Lunch and dinner consisted of meat, rice, noodles, beans and the occasional salad. We survived on beer and hamburgers topped with ham, cheese and egg. This may sound gross but judge us once you´ve been in our shoes. Our ensuite was loaded with mosquitos and quickly became referred to as Bug Auschwitz. We understand that some may not appreciate this title; however, we refused to share our room with a thousand malaria-carrying we sprayed poisonous bug spray in the bathroom and sealed the door. We took many pictures, read and watched the scenery because our only other form of entertainment was Asian fighting films with Portugese dubbing. There is actually a satellite on the boat they kept adjusting. One interesting scenery change occurs when you come into Manaus where the Amazon and the Rio Negro river join and the water turns from brown to black quite prominently. Grateful to be off the boat, we were desperate to find our hotel and shower. We went to Hotel Dez de Juhlo. We were originally booked for one night, but managed to get a flight out at midnight to Rio de Janeiro. The hotel manager graciously has allowed us to leave our bags in the room and use the shower for half the price of a typical night. More to come from Brazil before we head to IgnaƧau Falls and Argentina.

We love and miss you all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cartagena, Colombia

So after 14 hours of planes, layovers, and time changes, we arrived at one very hot and happy destination. We exchanged the remainder of our money at the airport seeing as Canada and the Miami airport could not offer us enuogh Colombian pesos. Turns out, it is much better to exchange in Colombia as we recieved 1750 pesos for $1. Miami gave us $1605 for $1. Good for us. Our airport pick up was waiting to take us to Hostal Arrecifes, which is outside Cartagena in a fishing village called Boquanilla. The area is a wee bit sketchy and is overpriced because there are not as many tourists. We mostly stayed at the pool in our hotel and slept because we were so tired. Lindsay had forgotten to tell Megan that in some places TP must be put in garbage cans and not down the toilet. Needless to say all questions were answered and the system becomes second nature. We had a dinner of fried fish, fried plantains,rice, and salad for $15 mil. The money system here is somewhat crazy. Mil = thousand, so 50 Mil=50,000pesos =$25.00 USD...get it, we did. It takes time, but you get the gist. We took the bus to Cartagena to meet a brother of one of Lindsay´s restaurant regulars. We forget to get off the bus, so a taxi took us to where we needed to be...don´t judge us. Today we woke up and returned to the walled city and Hotel Casa Tatis, which we highly recommend. It is $20 per person per night and includes breakfast. Very nice place in the Getsamani district and is surrounded by other hotels, hostels, traveleres. We spent the day eating street meat and taking pictures around the old city, which resulted in an afternoon siesta. Again, good for us. We just finished a dinner of, meatballs, 2 beers, rice, beans, french fries, and beets that cost us $10 all in. So far we have remained under budget everyday. Friday we fly to Leticia, a town on the Amazon bason that borders Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. From there we will take a 4 day boat ride into Manaus Brazil, so it is unlikely that you will have an update before then. On a side note, we have been offered special services twice in 5 hours (aka, cocaine). Lindsay told one guy she didn´t want his kind of party and threw away his number. The second guy tried to tell us he had something special, but someone was in front of us...Policia. They are on every street corner...thank God. Needless to say we are having fun and feel safe, but it should be noted that you have to act safe and make smart decisions in this country. You also need to say No gracias...translation, get your dirty drugs away from our clean selves. Over and to come