Posts Tagged With: tourism

South America Here I Come!

Machu Pichu In Peru

 

 

In just over a week, I will be heading off on a month-long trip to South America – 34 days to be exact! It seems like only yesterday when I first booked the flight back in September, and now the days are numbered until I set foot on a new continent. Rather than bombard you with countless paragraphs, I thought I would give the nitty gritty through a Q&A panel:

So where are you going exactly?

Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. I fly into Lima and fly back from Buenos Aires.

Alone or with friends?

I’ll be joining up with a small tour group in Lima where we will begin our South American odyssey.

What will be the highlights of the trip?

Visiting Machu Picchu, crossing the Salt Flats of Uyuni in Bolivia by 4×4, exploring the lake districts of Chile and Argentina, and getting lost in the metropolises of Santiago and Buenos Aires.

How will you get around?

A mix of using coach buses, trains, car rentals and internal flights.

Did you have to get any shots?

Yes, five of them. Three in one day, I might add, ouch!

What are you looking forward to the most?

Obviously Machu Picchu! But I’m really looking forwarding to seeing Chile and Argentina as well, since they are both such fascinating countries rich in history.

What will be the most challenging?

I would say when we journey through the Salt Flats, where I have been told can get really cold. We’ll also be camping there for three nights, and I’ve never camped before! That, and adjusting to the altitude when we get to Cusco; it’s 12,000 feet above sea level, which is four thousand feet higher than Machu Picchu! I’m hoping I don’t get Altitude Sickness.

What about the language barrier?

That’s the beauty part, there won’t be any! I speak almost fluent Spanish as I hold a degree in it, and I lived in Spain for over a year.

Will you get any writing done while you’re there?

Unfortunately not, unless one counts writing in a journal. I’ll be constantly on the move, and any free time will be spent relaxing, doing laundry and keeping friends and family back home posted.

What souvenirs do you hope to bring back?

Lots of photos and memories of course! I do collect fridge magnets, so I’m hoping to bring one back from each country I visit.

Why South America?

It was a toss up between this, Japan, or Australia and New Zealand. I made my choice and I stick with it! I’ve always wanted to go, and I figure it’s now or never. I wanted to visit other Spanish-speaking countries. I’m fortunate enough where I will have a month off work as it is a slow time at the school where I teach English. When will I ever have this opportunity before retirement?

 

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Madrid

One of my favourite cities in world! I remember when I first travelled there back in 1999, as part of a high school trip. I didn’t like it at first, but when I went back two years later I fell in love with her and wanted to go back. And I did; I spent nearly six months learning Spanish and experienced the city as a local.  I can’t explain why I love this city. Perhaps it’s the constant buzzing of traffic, or just the way the buildings and squares appear, or even the fact that it is home to my favourite soccer team. I suppose, whenever I am strolling through the Old Town at dusk I the feeling of why I love the city comes to mind.

Yes, it is a modern city. Yes, it doesn’t have beaches or the architecture that Barcelona has. And sure, it seems that many of the locals don’t speak English. Still, it is a city in which no other in Spain can duplicate. I will admit if you go, learning some Spanish phrases will be in your best interests. It will also make your trip more enjoyable. Here in Madrid, if you order a beer or wine in a bar, you get a free tapa! And also, this is the city that never sleeps; you find traffic jams even at 4 in the morning! The nightlife is truly exceptional here. Just keep in mind that locals have dinner at around 10 PM and clubs don’t get going until at least 3 AM! If you are going to do a grand night out, remember to plan your way back to your hotel in advanced. The subway, or metro as it’s locally called, shuts down at 1 AM. Cabs are scarce especially at 5 in the morning when everyone’s done clubbing or bar-hopping. However, a special bus called the “Bu-Ho bus” is a good option.

If you go, I recommend that you visit three places in particular. The Plaza Mayor, which is in the old part of town, is a nice square that provides relief from the city’s hustle. Retiro Park, which I like to refer to as Spain’s version of Central Park, is a great place for a stroll. Keep in mind that it gets crowded on Sunday afternoons. And finally, head to the Prado Museum – great for you art lovers! However, you may need several visits to see everything in this place! Oh, and I also recommend you visit the Museo del Jamón. This chain of restaurants found only in Madrid offers succulent dishes at cheap prices. If you eat at the bar, you can get a glass of beer, soda or a cup of coffee for one euro. Also, you can get a sandwich for one euro! I kid you not!

As for safety, use common sense and walk like you know where you are going. Never leave valuables out of your sight, especially on the metro and in restaurants.

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