Thursday, November 19, 2009

A few picture from South America

Alright, I'm in San Francisco trying to get used to not traveling anymore. I'm trying to organize the 5000 pictures I took on my trip, so here are a few from South America. The order is a bit mixed up, oh well.

Llamas at the crater lake in Ecuador.
At the top of the crater with my Dad.
Hanging out in the colorful Valparaiso in Chile.
Hiking around Peru.
Birds, sea lions, and penguins in Peru.
Trying to blend in at the monastery in Arequipa.

Dressed like locals on an island in Lake Titicaca .
Crazy island made out of reeds!
Caimans in the jungle in Peru.

Machu Pichu! After four days of hiking we made it!
Along the hike to Machu Pichu

Friday, November 6, 2009

Around the world in 298 days

I can´t quite believe it, but its been ten months already. I fly back to the US tomorrow morning. Once I get back I´ll probably write a bit recapping some of the best parts of the trip, but for now I should talk about Ecuador. Its been a pretty quick trip around Ecuador with my Dad, but its a great place. I sort of expected it to be very similar to Peru, and it is in some ways but its also seems pretty different. The food has been great for one thing, lots of fired bananas, beans and rice, fruit smoothies and humitas which are like tamales. We stated off in Quito and walked up lots of hill to get great views of the city. We also climbed up the basilica towers on these pretty crazy rickety latters which was fun. The city is divided up into Old Town and New town and we spend out days in Old town seeing the sights and headed to New town at night for the fun new restaurants. There was even a mongolian bbq with tofu! I was pretty excited. On Friday night we went to Otavalo so we could go to the huge Saturday market where I bought so much stuff I had to get rid of some of my clothes to fit it into my bag, haha, but thats ok because after 10 months my clothes are not in good shape anyways. Otavalo was a really nice town also, much smaller then Quito and therefor a bit easier to walk around. The only bad thing was that for some reason I took my malaria medication before breakfast, which made me feel terrible for half the morning. Thats one good thing about coming home, no more malaria to worry about!

After coming back to Quito for the night, Halloween actually, we headed west toward the mountains to spend a few days at the Santa Lucia Lodge. This was a really cool place. First of all to get there you had to hike up a mountain for over an hour, the lodge was right on top with great views. Its and Eco lodge so they had solar power and composting toilets, which is pretty cool. While there we did three cool hikes moslty looking at birds, but also seeing how they make sugar from sugar cane and hiking to a nice water fall. One morning we got up at 4am and hiked to see the Cock on the Rocks do their crazy mating dance at 6am. It was the craziest thing I´ve ever seen a bird do. All the males get together each morning and make tons of noise and jump around and dive off trees. Plus they look really crazy with huge red heads and black and white bodies. That night was the Day of the Dead which they celebrate more then Halloween here. Its mostly a family thing, but it was cool to be at the lodge because they made (and we helped) all the traditional food. They make baby dolls out of bread and food coloring and this crazy corn and fruit soup which was really tasty. If we had had more time I think we would have liked to stay at the lodge longer, but we had to leave after just two days so we would have time to go to Latacunga which is next to the Cotopaxi Volcano. Latacunga is just a small town, not too exciting but there are volcanos all around it which is cool. Cotopaxi is the biggest but we decided that we didn´t want to hike up that one, instead we went to Quilatoa which is another one with a creator lake inside. It was really cool, we hiked down to the lake and then around it a bit and back up again. The hike up was really hard, but totally worth it for the views of the lake. After the hike the next day we didn´t really want to hike any more so we spent most of the day wandering around the city and I got a hair cut, haha, it had been months. Now we are back in Quito for our flights early early tomorrow!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Last stop!

Tomorrow I fly to Ecuador, my last country on my trip (country number 25!). Even thought I didn´t get to see all that much of Chile, I have really enjoyed it. We stayed in Valparaiso for a few days and it was great. Its such a fun and colorful place, even thought there isn´t that much to do it was great just walking around the town. Eric had to catch a flight back home so we both went back to Santiago, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite big cities. After Eric left I met up with Emanuel who is my sister´s friend´s boyfriend, haha silly I know, but it was tons of fun. He invited me to dinner at his house with his family then out to a party that lasted until 5am! Thats how they do it here in Chile. I then headed up north to a beach town of La Serena, which was very pretty. I think I might have picked up some bedbugs there tho, which made me like it a bit less. Either that or crazy looking mosquito bites. Anyways after that I headed back to Santiago where I´ve been doing lots of fun stuff over the last few days. I went to some good museums and went with Emanuel and another girl from the hostel to a futbol game. The game was quite exciting, and we won which was great. The fans sing and do cheers the entire time, everyone gets really into it, its great. I´m a bit sad to be leaving tomorrow, because I feel like there is so much to do in Santiago, but I´m also super excited to meet up with my Dad in Quito! We have all kinds of plans so it should be great fun. I´m going to attempt to put of some photos in a bit here because I know I´ve been terrible at that lately.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mas Peru y Chile tambien

We tried to see the Colca Canyon, but we didn´t really get far enough in to it, though we ended up doing a very nice hike. We stayed right at the beginning of the canyon, where it was mostly just a river, but we did see a condor on the hike so that made it pretty awesome. And Chivy, the town we stayed in, has some nice hot springs where we kept running into people we knew from other touristy places, haha. After heading back to Arequipa for the night (which included Karaoke!) and next day, we took the night bus to Pisco. I had some sort of 12 hour stomach bug, which lasted just about the same amount of time as the bus. After we arrived in Pisco we spent the first day mostly sleeping to make up for the bus ride. The town of Picso had a major earthquake just two years ago so basically the entire town is under construction. Every time we left the hotel the main street we walked down looked completely different, going from mostly piles of dirt to almost a flat road by the time we left. We booked a morning tour of some the islands and national park of Paraques, which was great. The islands have thousands of birds everywhere, in fact Peru collects the bird guano from them every 7 years. They also have Penguins and Sea Lions! I was very excited about the Penguins. Next to the beach is a desert, which was the second half of the tour which was cool also.

From Pisco we headed to Lima just for one day before our flight to Santiago. We stayed in the young and hip area of town which was quite far from the main plaza and churches, so we ended up not even going over to that part of town. We met some other travelers and spent the day wandering around the beach, playing Scrabble in a funky cafe, jamming with every ones travel guitars (well the two of them), eating really good Italian food and then later dancing the night away. Maybe not the typical Lima stuff, but it was a pretty awesome day. The next day we flew to Santiago and Carolina, Eric's friend, picked us up and we stayed at her house for three days. I really really like Santiago, its the kind of city I could see living in even. Its fun and modern, but also full of markets and street food. Pretty much awesome. We were there on Columbus day and while most things were closed, we also accidentally came across a huge protest/ parade thing which was cool to see. Lots of yelling and street dancing, a fun combination. I think they were protesting about indigenous rights. We watched that for a while and then walked around this park on a huge hill, which had great views of the city and surrounding mountains. The next day Eric's other friend Vale took us out to lunch and on a little city tour, which was great fun. Both Vale and Carolina studied abroad in Albuquerque, which is how Eric knows them, and they speak very good English, which was good for me because while my Spanish is getting better Chileans speak soooo crazy fast. Hopefully before I leave I´ll be able to understand a bit more, haha. Today we took the bus to Valparaiso, about two hours away and on the coast. So far it seems like a cute and colorful town and I hear it has a fun nightlife. We are only going to stay a few days before heading back to Santiago.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I´m in Peru! Ok I´ve been here for over two weeks, but I haven´t had much interent time. First I arrived in Lima for a quick stop before flying to Cuzco. Hopefully we will have time to actually see Lima at the end because all I saw was the hostel. I went to Cuzco a few days before our scheduled Machu Pichu hike so I could get used to the altitude. Its really high there, about 11,000 ft and it took some getting used to, so I was glad I arrived early. Eric and his parents then came and we started our four day trek to Machu Pichu on the Inca trail. It was the four of us plus 5 people from Argentina in our group, which was fun, though we split up a lot and basically had our own guide for a lot of it. The trail was great, that mountains are beautiful and we leaned a lot about Inca culture from our guide. We had porters to carry most of our stuff and a cook, it was fancy and fun. It rained the last day and we were worried we wouldn´t get any good view of Machu Pichu, but the clouds lifted in the end and the view was great. After our tour of the Machu Pichu we went to the hot springs in Augas Calientes, which was great after the long hike.

After heading back to Cuzco on the train, we spend one more day there. We went to the Inca Museum to get some more perspective on Inca society and also went to this crazy dance-play that night that was pretty fun. Eric´s parents then headed up north while Eric and I flew to Puerto Maldanado which is right by the jungle. We signed up for a 5 day 4 night jungle lodge tour that was pretty awesome. You had to get to the lodge by boat and each day we did different boat rides or hikes. It rained some, but not too much so that was good. We saw a lot of really cool animals, birds and plants including monkeys, toucans, macaws, a baby anaconda, it was great. We decided that maybe 5 days was one too many, but the lodge was really nice with cute little bungalows and hammocks which was fun.

Then back to Cuzco, but we went straight to the bus station and took a bus to Puno which is right on lake Titicaca. Puno is a nice little town where we spend a day getting used to the altitude all over again, haha. Its even a bit higher up then Cuzco. The next day we did a tour of some of the island on the lake. We have been doing a lot of tours, but sometimes its the only was to actually see things. The islands were crazy, first we stopped on one that is called a floating island. The people who live there were trying to get a way from the Spanish and they build island out of reeds from the lake to live on. The use the reeds for everything including building houses and boats and to eat. Plus they fish and now have some tourism, it was pretty cool so see. We went to two other islands both which are fairly isolated and have their own cultures. It was really interesting and we stayed with a family on one one of the nights. I was worried about getting veggie food with the family, but it turns out they almost never eat meat so it worked out really well. The food in Peru has been good, sometimes not tons of veggie options but lots of fresh fruit and there is always something good that is veggie. Yesterday we took the bus to Arequipa which is the second biggest city in Peru. We spend today wandering around a huge old monetary that was really nice. Next we are going to try to see Colca Canyon and then start heading back to Lima!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Last Stops in Europe

I´m in Spain, my last stop in Europe before I head to South America. Last time I updated I was trying to go to Croatia with some friends I met, which ended up working out really well. I took a bus to Bratislava in Slovakia and they all meet me there that night. We had a day there to check out the castle, but it turned out there wasn´t that much to do. Its a nice enough city, but not a very exciting one, plus my three friends all seemed to be sick so we took it easy. Next we hopped on a sleeper train to Split in Croatia. The train was awesome because the four of us has a six person compartment all to ourselves. It made the 15 hours trip a lot of fun. When we arrived in Split we went to the room we booked and it turned out just to be a room in this guy´s house, haha which was interesting.
Split is a really picturesque town because its has a small cute old town with old style houses, mountains in the background and ocean that is really really blue. We hung out there for a day, mostly wandering around the markets and the old town. Next day we took the ferry to the island of Brac about a hour ride away. We decided to go with no plan on where we were staying that night, which actually worked out really well. We were able to bargain down a hostel, which turned out to be a really fun place. We stayed three days mostly hanging out on the beach. One day we went to Bol, a really nice beach on the other side of the island. It was cool because it had small smooth white rocks instead of sand. One night we ran around drinking wine and jumping on trampolines and running away without paying, haha it was fun. On the last day it was someones birthday at the hostel so there was a crazy pirate themed day which involved renting boats in the day and a pirate party at night. I didn´t go on the boats because I had an ear infection, which was really annoying. Later back in Split i went to the doctor and it turned out to be an outer ear infection, very painful, but went away with some antibiotics.
After the island our group split up, I went back to Vienna for my flight to Spain. I spent one more day in Vienna, but it was raining and I had just been on a bus for 12 hours all night, so I didn´t do much at all. The flight to Spain was good, although it was the least fancy plane I´ve taken on my ticket so far, no movies, no drinks, no food, haha. My Aunt and Uncle live in Madrid so I was able to stay in their apartment, tho they weren´t there at the time. And then Kyle arrived the next day and we met up with no problems. We staying in Madrid for two days, on day going on a day trip to Toledo. Toledo is a cute little town with some nice churches with good views. It was a good contrast from Madrid which is huge, but I like it still. We didn´t do too much there yet, wandered around and cooked food mostly. We are going back today for a few days and will do some of the sights I think. We spent the last three days in Barcelona, which was great. Our hostel had an awesome location, right in the middle of things. Barcelona is a great place to just walk around, with lots of bars and cafes to stop in for tapas or sangria. We also did a walking tour and hung out on the sandy beaches. On the middle day we took a train to Montserrat which was an awesome place to go hiking. There were crazy peaks with fun rock formations and great views on the country side from the top. And last night we went karaoking! It finally worked out, haha and I sang three songs, yay. The English selection was small but good enough. It was fun also because we were the only non local people there so it didn´t feel all touristy like a lot of Barcelona did. Now we go back to Madrid for a few days and then I´m of to Peru!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

All Over Europe

I've been in Europe for about a week and a half now and so far its been great. I started off in Vienna and meet up with Clarissa and Martina, who I had met while traveling in Laos. Not only did they pick me up from the airport, but they also showed me around, took me out, cooked me food and let me stay at Martina's apartment, which was awesome. I really liked Vienna. It has sort of an old feel to it, with winding streets and cool buildings, but also great transportation and fun places to go out. I spent a few days seeing the sights, cathedrals and places mostly, and then I hopped on a train to Budapest. Budapest was great also. I was there during their independence festival and they had this crazy plane race over the river so I spent one day watching that and wandering around the castle area on the Buda side. The next day I headed over to Pest and saw a huge Church and also the biggest Synagogue in Europe. I also few a few people in the hostel and we went out dancing one night which was pretty fun.

My next stop was Prague which was also pretty nice. I managed to get a free tour of the city through the hostel I stayed at which was great. It toured old town and new town but it turns out new town is still quite old, haha. Then I saw the castle there, which I guess is one of the biggest castle areas in Europe, though its not just one building, its lots of building all together. I met a few people in the hostel there, but everyone was already traveling in groups so its sometimes hard to just join on. I was going to stay a bit longer, but the place I was staying in a school that turns into a hostel in the summer and it was turning back right a way. So I headed down south to Cesky Krumlov which is like a mini Prague and very cute, which is where I am now. I also met up with 3 other people who are all traveling on their own, which is great. We rented a boat yesterday and did floated down the river drinking beer for like 7 hours yesterday, haha, which was fun. And last night we went out to a great veggie restaurant, which was a nice change from the sandwiches and pasta I've been eating lately, haha. Today we explored the little town and all decided to keep traveling together for a bit. The plan is to make our way down to Croatia, tomorrow we are going to Bratislava. I don't have tons of time, but its fun to travel with people. After that I head to back to Vienna on the 5th from my flight to Spain!