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Auckland, New Zealand - Day 56

Welcome to New Zealand

21 °C

I woke up around 2am New Zealand time, which meant I'd had about 6-7 hours sleep. Not bad in economy! Andrew was already awake, he hadn't slept much due to his height making him uncomfortable, and told me we were only two hours from landing, when actually we were three. Annoying as I couldn't have slept more, but I got to watch Silver Linings Playbook and have breakfast.

We landed at around 5am, and I have never been through so many check points or have been asked so many questions at an airport. I guess we had just come in from South America though. Once we jumped through all the hurdles, we had a lovely welcome from a Maori carved gateway, a Tomokanga, and welcoming message that was playing, which was soothing - if a little surreal sounding - at this time in the morning.
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It was still dark outside when we got our bags so we decided to stay in the airport, as we didn't have a place to check into until 2pm anyway. We used the wifi, picked up and read every brochure about New Zealand going, and had another breakfast (we were tired, hungry and I'd started to feel dizzy!), then left around 9am once it was light.

Getting into Auckland was easy, we got a bus to Britomart - the driver had a microphone and wasn't shy, he must have thought he was a city guide - and our hostel, City Travellers Auckland, was a short walk from there. Luckily we were able to get into our room at 11am, it was a big long room with its own kitchenette and bathroom, but it was hot and stuffy and didn't smell too great. We showered and then went for lunch down the road in this market style place that had cheap Chinese, Indian and Thai food. It was really good, the naan tasted like naan and the curry was spicy!

We went for a walk around the city, looking at the shops, picking up maps and leaflets for the rest of the trip. The temperature is a nice 21 degrees, but it doesn't feel it - we've had wind, sunshine and rain all in one afternoon. We went for a coffee just to try and keep awake! I keep feeling dizzy and lightheaded the entire time, especially when we were walking, which I put down to tiredness.

Back at the hostel we had something light to eat, and then tried with all our might to try and stay awake. It was 6.30pm and my eyes were closing! Lucky we did stay up though, as we put the TV to help keep us awake and discovered you can just about say anything you want on television here. I think the show might have been called Seven Sharp, with three presenters/hosts, one female who said something along the lines of 'in some places, they'd call you a pussy'! We managed to stay awake til 8.30pm.

Posted by staceywaugh 05:42 Archived in New Zealand Tagged hostels airports maori Comments (0)

Cusco to Ollantaytambo - Day 24

Collectivo to beautiful Ollantaytambo

19 °C

After delaying for three days due to the floods we were finally on the road to Ollantaytambo, a small village in the Sacred Valley where we would get our train to Macchu Picchu in 3 days time.

We travelled by a Collectivo - a minibus where the driver basically waits until the it's full before setting off, regardless of the time it says it will leave. However this is why it's only 10 soles per person (£2.50) for an hour and a half trip and it didn't take long for it to fill up. There was no space for luggage so our bags were underneath up, on top of us and by the side of us!

The scenery on the journey was lovely, some of the fields looked like a green and yellow patchwork quilt and the mountains were dark and green rising up into the clouds. It made me realise just how high up we were.
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People got on and off along the way, and when one Peruvian man, who was sat behind us, asked the driver to stop, his breath carried to our noses and I nearly threw up! I won't swear on here, but it smelt like dog poo and this altitude is making me have a really low vomit threshold. Me and Andrew then couldnt stop giggling about how we used to call dog poo 'dogger' when we were younger...ahhh, at least we have each other!

We got dropped off in the square in Ollantaytambo and it was tiny but perfect. The mountains rising up either side of the small square we're closing in around it, it was amazing. I had never been anywhere quite like it.
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After finding directions to our hostel, we walked around the cobbled streets and inca buildings and we arrived at Hostal Iskay. It had everything, including a lamb eating on the terrace and a pen with guinea pigs, who I'm not sure were pets given our current countries taste for them! Our room and the view was incredible -
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I immediately felt so much better than I did in Cusco - maybe because of the lower altitude, maybe because I was somewhere so beautiful.

We headed back to the square for some lunch, partaking in some luminous Inca Cola and an amazing vegetable frittata, and sat and watched the town go by.
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Ollantaytambo is the best surviving example of an inca town. Away from the square, it's a maze of inca streets and buildings, and on the hills, there are inca ruins all around. We have decided tomorrow we will climb the ruins, almost in preparation for Macchu Picchu!
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We headed to the local market to buy tomatoes and garlic, but also came out with socks, which according to the look on the sellers face he'd totally done us on the price. The same happened down the road, where we obviously paid a small fortune for a 2.5 litre bottle of Sprite, which by the way doesn't taste the same in South America.

The sun sets early here and it was completely dark by 6.30pm, so we ate in the hostel surrounded by the two hostel cats. I like cats as much as the next person, but I don't like it when you don't know where they've been and they're jumping on the counter when you're trying to cook food or trying to sit on the table while you're eating!

Posted by staceywaugh 15:12 Archived in Peru Tagged landscapes mountains hostels Comments (2)

Lima to Cusco - Day 21

Taking the easy route - flying to Cusco

19 °C

Our flight to Cusco this morning was at 9am so another early start. The plane was tiny, 2 by 2 seating, and the flight attendant was taking pictures of the inside of the plane before we set off, which I thought was weird? The flight was only an hour, in comparison to a 21 hour bus journey that we could have taken, and the scenery was beautiful from the window - looking out over the Andes with its rolling brown mountains followed by taller snow capped mountains.

The landing was fine, even though it was in a small valley with a tiny strip. As we taxied, I saw McDonalds and Coca Cola welcome signs, which reminded me nothing was remote any more. As we steeped off the plane, I think I expected to be 'hit' with the altitude, I'm not sure why, but I felt fine.

Some advice - know how much to expect to pay for things, particularly around the external transport routes, as the taxi man tried to charge us 50 soles (£12.50), when it should have been a third of that. We managed to get him down to 20 (£5) so not too bad in the end.

Cusco is much bigger than I had imagined, more shops and restaurants and definitely more cars - there are so many cars! I think I had just seen pictures of the historic side of town but of course there is much more outside of that.

Our booking at Pariwana hostel was on recommendation and it was a good one. This is definitely the biggest hostel we've stayed in so far, taking up 3 floors around a courtyard area. Downstairs is a reception, a travel information desk, bean bags and day beds to sit on, ping pong and table football, and a trolley to get free hot drinks. Upstairs were dorms, but also a computer room with sofas and chairs, a tv room with cushions, a communal kitchen and a bar and cafe area that doubled up as a breakfast room. Up to the third level were more rooms, mainly private like ours. Like in Buenos Aires our room was large, clean and nicely decorated.
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Quickly I became very cold, even though the thermometer said 19 degrees. I had to put the thermal long sleeve tshirt and leggings I'd bought from uniqlo under my jeans, tshirt, thin jumper and fleece, but I was still cold. The hot drinks helped a little, but I was freezing all day! Andrew tried the coca leaves in hot water that didn't do much either.

We had a walk around the town during the day, not really taking much in but it looked very nice, then after dinner at the hostel we got into bed under a sheet, a big duvet and two thick blankets. And, you guessed it, it was still cold...

Posted by staceywaugh 09:24 Archived in Peru Tagged mountains planes hostels airports Comments (0)

Buenos Aires to Lima - Day 19

A smack in the face and a long, cold night...

31 °C

The power came back on at 7am, waking us from our sweaty, broken sleep. It was going to be a long day. We showered, did some planning we missed yesterday and checked out of the hostel.

We wanted a big lunch as our flight wasn't until later that night, so we went to a cafe around the corner and ordered a huge pizza to share. Andrew got a little more than he bargained for though. He leant down to put the iPad in his bag under the table at the same time the waiter delivered our enormous pizza on a massive metal tray, and the waiter ended up smacking him in the face with the pizza tray! I shouldn't laugh, but it was really funny, so I did!*

We took a taxi to the airport and it poured with rain as soon as we arrived. We spent our last Argentine pesos, as you can't change them, on an orange juice and a cake each at Starbucks and then waited. But the thunder and lightning came and so did the delay to our flight, leaving us cold at the departure gate with no money to buy snacks or drinks. After 3 1/2hrs of delay we boarded our flight to Lima, getting into an even colder plane, which meant me stealing a second blanket and wrapping it around my head just to keep warm while I napped. The moral of this story is always wear appropriate clothing to the airport, especially for a night flight - three quarter length leggings are not.

We arrived at the hostel - the House Project in Miraflores - in Lima at 3am, the owner opening the door in a tshirt and boxers in the darkness, so we're not sure what the hostel is like, but the room is warm and has a bed so we couldn't care less!

  • Andrew was not harmed by the pizza tray in this story :)

Posted by staceywaugh 09:15 Archived in Argentina Tagged hostels airports pizza Comments (0)

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