A Travellerspoint blog

Homecoming Hastingleigh

End of the road

sunny 3 °C


Spent our last two hours in Buenos Aires catching some final sun on the hotel terrace. Then headed to the airport for the 13 hour flight home.
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Something of a shock to leave 35C in Buenos Aires and arrive at 1C Heathrow at 6am. Still blue skies and a clear night in Kent today despite the cold. Work tomorrow, was it all a dream?
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Best diving: Bali
Scariest diving: Fiji
Best steaks: Auckland and Buenos Aires
Best city?: Singapore and Buenos Aires
Best mountains and condors: Santiago, Chile
Best curry: Fiji
Best bars: Bali
Best beaches: NewZealand
Best cafes: Buenos Aires
Best flowers and greenery: Fiji
Best blue sea and palm trees: Rarotonga
Best jungle trek: Rarotonga

Best place?: Bali

Posted by ledsmith 13:39 Archived in England Comments (0)

Barrios de Buenos Aires

walk, eat, tango

overcast 34 °C
View RTW2paradise on ledsmith's travel map.


Buenos Aires, big city, warm heart. Grand avenues (e.g. 13 lanes of traffic), but like London and Paris a city of districts and ‘high streets’. Stayed in a chic little hotel in Palermo Hollywood, but after a delayed and early evening arrival our exploring was curtailed by a thunderstorm, though we did manage to find great steaks in a Parilla (Argentian BBQ restaurant).
On Friday we explored the Plaza de Mayo, the historical centre, San Telmo the oldest and most picturesque district, the tourist quarter of La Boca in the old docks, and nearby upmarket Palermo Viejo.
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As in the photos its all about shop fronts, cafes, market stalls, tango and an artistic but laid back aesthetic. Very friendly and helpful everywhere, despite our mangling of Spanish.
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Posted by ledsmith 19:12 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Scorching Santiago

Rarotonga-Auckland-Santiago

sunny 34 °C

Just catching up with the last few days – our exit from Rarotonga was less than dignified, and not quite the organised and efficient event that we had intended! After the experience of everything closing down in Avarua the capital - and everyone in bed by 9.30pm – we had been told that Friday night was party night – so we were keen to see this – and started the night off as advised at the local waterside bar – Trader Jacks for Happy Hour. From here onto another bar where we were playing pool on a half snooker table, still only a few people around but at least some good music and looking forward to much dancing etc to come! However the heavens then opened and we were then trapped there for a while by a huge torrential tropical storm – which then proceeded to slowly flood the bar and all the dance floor! Eventually we decided to give up and so took the bus back, happy in the knowledge that we still had another day of sun and sand! We arrived a little inebriated back at the hotel at around 11am – and as we collected our key the receptionist said to us – did we realise that we had our airport pick up scheduled in half an hour – No, No – we said you have got it wrong – we are not leaving until the following night ! Then back in the room decided to double check and ****** realised that she was right and we had 25 minutes to get packed up and to the airport – anyway we did it – but it was a narrow escape! I think we had got into Island mode, very relaxed, and also got a bit confused with the dates – and the fact that the flight left at 0130am on Saturday – which is actually Friday night!

Auckland
Arrived in Auckland – with the confusion of the dateline thing again – so left Rarotonga on Friday night and arrived on Sunday Morning – so lost the whole of Saturday! We have now crossed the dateline 3 times in about just over a week – and are gaining and losing whole days all over the place! Auckland was great – as usual we did not hang around ! The flight was very short 3.5 hours - arriving at 0530am – so not good for sleep – but great for making the most of the days that we have as it gave us another whole day in Auckland. Really loved NZealand – made the most of the early arrival and spent the first day of course walking around everywhere – then took the ferry to Devonport for lunch – back for a rest and more walking around and sightseeing in the evening. Hired a car on the second day – which I am really pleased that we did, as we were able to get out and see some of the amazing N.Zealand scenery – which you can do only one hour out of Auckland – and it did not disappoint. Someone had told us that there was an amazing view around just about every corner – and it was true! Thanks to Kelvin for recommending visiting the West Coast beaches – drove through rainforest with massive tree palms – the size of coconut trees, wild lillies everywhere – then down to massive black sand beaches with huge white waves rolling in from the sea and tall rocks rising out of the water. Surfers were out – and it was really hot- with the black sand too hot to walk on! A highlight was fishburgers with fantastic fish and big fat real potato chips sitting in the dunes at Piha beach watching the surfers. One of the beaches we went to was enormous, and the only people on it were the life guards – what a life!! Food in Auckland was really cosmopolitan – so in true keeping we had an absolutely fantastic steak in an Irish Pub - Tapas at lunchtime – and a Korean Barbecue on the last night! Don’t ask why we made those choices – just seemed like the best option at the time! But all were really good!

SWELTERING SANTIAGO


Well we have just had the longest Valentines day ever – left Auckland in the afternoon of the 14th Feb – had an 11.5 hour flight to Santiago and arrived at 11.30 in the morning of the 14th – the dateline thing again! Then had the whole day again in Santiago.
At least so far all the flights have had really good inflight entertainment systems – and as I can’t sleep on planes – have watched about 4 or 5 films at a time – it really passes the time anyway! However I am getting down to the film dregs now! Hotel is very nice – very central and full of character – dark wood furniture etc! Santiago is very like a European city – Spain or Rome – and a Mediterranean type climate. At the moment it is very hot and dry – temperature today was over 30 degrees – did our usual walk around the town – and discovered the market – which strangely was full of restaurants inside - with all the food, and fish etc outside, and had a great meal of prawns and scallops there!
The hotel is in the commercial area so lots of shops – and for some reason every other shop seems to be a shoe shop – so much to be admired, to Laurie’s disgust! It is really busy in the evenings ( as opposed to the Cook Islands) and everyone is very well dressed day and night!
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See the itinerary of this trip, and details about each destination.


Today – which is our whole day in Santiago – we took a half day tour into the Andes – to get a proper taste of Chile – and spent two hours winding up the Andes mountains to a Ski resort. No snow now as it is the summer, amazing views – and you could see the glacier in the distance – the terrain was very dry with cactus and scrubby plants and alpines - and the mountains are full of minerals – copper, iron ore and semi precious metals – Lapis Lazuli is one the main things here as there are apparently only two mines for this in the world – here in Chile and the other in Afghanistan. The ski resort was also memorable for a viewing of condors soaring all around us in a spectacular display!
We spent the evening browsing the bars and restaurants in the main night time area Buena Vista– lots of bars and night clubs ( and lapis lazuli shops!!!).
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Food interests of the day were:-
Breakfast at the hotel – which was the usual buffet but with a few differences – Fresh Strawberry juice as a drink was really good, hot food included spicy Spanish omelette ( Really good) as well as Quince paste and dulce de leche ( caramel) instead of jam.
A local cocktail – Pisco Sour – made of local hooch ( like tequila) lime and sugar – very like a margarita! Soursop juice as a fruit drink!
Really good steaks!
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Posted by ledsmith 05:32 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

West coast wonders

exploring around Auckland

sunny 25 °C


Great day yesterday, Monday. Sunshine and blue skies, and we hired a car to explore the forested Waitakere ranges and west coast beaches. Wonderful scenery and few people. Thanks for the tips Kelvin. Really enjoyed Karekare (where the Pianist was partly filmed) and which we had virtually to ourselves, and Piha beaches.
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Returned to the city via some of the North shore beaches, including Takapuna, and the Auckland harbour bridge.
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Flying to Santiago this pm and expecting to live Valentines Day twice, if we've understood our itinerary and the dateline correctly this time.
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Posted by ledsmith 13:21 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

Auckland Adventures

Kia Ora City of Sails

overcast 25 °C


Made a reluctant and rapid good bye to Rarotonga on Friday night.
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We were planning to leave the next night, but after an evening on the town the hotel reception reminded us at 11pm that our flight was at 01.30 that night. Confusing stuff this crossing the dateline. Our expected 7 night stay was actually 6.5 nights; note to self, you can pack in 25 minutes if you need to!
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So left at 01.30 on Saturday and arrived in Auckland at 05.00 on Sunday after just a 4 hour flight (dateline again). Luckily the hotel gave us a room straight away. Did the waterfront, downtown and ferry to Devenport village on the North Shore today. City has a friendly feel and good atmosphere, but compared to Sydey lacks a bit of spectacle, especially under grey skies.
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More exploration to come tomorrow.

Posted by ledsmith 01:02 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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