A Travellerspoint blog

Sydney - Canberra - Monday, 13 April 2015

Sydney to Canberra

We both woke up at 1am and tossed and turned. By 4am we were still awake and decided to watch the last day of the Masters Golf from Augusta. We have never suffered from jet lag like this before and are very surprised. We went for breakfast at 6.00am and were on the road for Canberra by 7am.

We had a good trip home and arrived at 10am to a houseful of rellies. I immediately started the washing and as is normal, wandered around in a bit of a dream trying to get back into a normal routine.

Penny, daughter-in-law extraordinaire, cooked a lovely family dinner. She, husband Jamie and daughter Raven were heading off to their new macadamia nut farm near Gladstone, New South Wales the next morning. Boo hoo! I am going to miss them.

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Posted by gaddingabout 23:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Santiago to Sydney - Sunday, 12 April 2015

Arrival in Sydney from South America

semi-overcast 25 °C

We had a good flight and landed in Sydney at about 6 pm. Called into duty free and bought some grog and perfume. Breezed through immigration and customs. It is nice to be in a country where English is THE language and you don't have to listen to understand it. The quarantine guy didn't even ask to see our shoes (that I had meticulously cleaned the night before but I made him check that we had had a yellow fever shot. He wasn't even going to check that either!

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We collected the keys to our hire car, put the duty free in it and one big bag and then checked into the hotel. We were given an upgrade and the room was quite large and it turned out to be a disabled room and the bathroom was huge.

We didn't have any dinner as we had eaten so much on the plane and went to bed at the normal time. We love the beds here. They are SO comfortable.

Posted by gaddingabout 23:00 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Santiago, Chile - Saturday, 11 April 2015

Fly to Sydney

Had a good night's sleep and it was nice to wake up naturally and not to an alarm blaring out at 4.30 am.  The bags under my eyes have disappeared.

This is our first time at the Intercontinental Hotel in Santiago and we are in a Club Room on the third floor.  Apparently there are two towers in this hotel and we are in the more exclusive one.  It's quite weird.  There are only three rooms on our floor and they are normal sized rooms, perhaps a bit bigger than normal size, but definitely not a suite of rooms.

The Club Bar is a few steps down the hallway and that is where we had breakfast.  There were no tables and chairs, just lounge chairs and low tables.  There was a very good selection of breakfast food but I asked if I could have a fried egg and the waitress said no, just scrambled or omelette.  When I mentioned this to Jose in the car on the way to the airport, he nearly had a fit.  He said that being in the Executive Tower was more expensive and if I wanted a fried egg, she should have got me one.  He was going to speak to the manager about it because Scenic is planning on giving them more business.

So while we were on the subject of the hotel, I mentioned that the bath had no taps and water nozzle, just a hand held shower thing, which took a long time for the bath to fill up to a reasonable level for a bath.

We rang for a porter as we now have three big check in bags, but one didn't come, so we loaded all our gear into the lift and went down to meet Jose.  We were at the airport in 25 minutes.  The roads are very quiet today as it is Saturday.  Check in, immigration and security were a breeze.

When we boarded we were sitting in the second last row in Premium Economy, enjoying our champagne, and a family came in and sat behind us.  The kids were a bit frisky, as kids are, and one immediately started kicking the back of my seat.  What are the parents doing?  Anyway, the hosties are really good and moved us to the bulk head seats to get away from the kids.  That was really nice because we didn't ask to be moved.  The father felt really bad but the hostie told him that she decided to move us, and that we didn't ask.  Good!

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Posted by gaddingabout 23:00 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Lima, Peru - Friday, 10 April 2015

Tour ends. Fly to Santiago.

Alarm at 5.30 am, into breakfast at 6.15 am and down in the foyer at 7.50 am for our transfer to the airport.  Some of our group were there to wave us goodbye.  The trip to the airport only took 30 minutes and check in, security and immigration went off without a hitch.  We were accompanied by Ulysses.  At check in we were told that our flight would be delayed by one hour due to bad weather somewhere.  At least we had a gate number.

We were sitting at our gate with absolutely hours to spare, when "the gang" came wandering by so we yelled and waved and they came over and sat with us for a few hours.  It was nice to be able to spend more time with them as we are starting fo have withdrawal symptoms!

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Their gate was finally announced, so off they went for the next leg of their journey to Iguazu Falls.  So we are alone again!

Such a lot of time is wasted sitting around airports waiting for planes!

We boarded at about 12.40 pm and just couldn't believe our eyes.  We are in this magnificent LAN plane, a 787, a dreamliner and we are in Seats 1A and 1C.  The space is huge.  I now wish we were flying to Australia with LAN.  Our Qantas Premium Economy seats won't be as grand!

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Also there is hardly any noise in the cabin and the air is humidified to prevent passengers "drying out"! They have thought of everything.
We were given nuts and a Pisco Sour and a little while after we had taken off, the windows in the plane turned blue, to filter the outside light.  How wonderful but I fear it will distort the colour of my photos of the Andes when we pass over them.

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Then I realised I could adjust the colour of the windows.  There are also no window shades.  This is a very modern plane, but for the benefit of my previous travelling companions - THERE IS NO SPA BATH!

Had a lovely lunch of ricotta ravioli and cheese cake.

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The flight was over all too soon and then the drama began. No bags!!  After several conversations with airport staff, it seems that the dopey girl at Lima had booked our bags all the way through to Sydney, despite only giving us a boarding pass for Santiago.  So, armed with our luggage tickets and a description of our bags, he went into the hold and retrieved our bags.  Lucky for us that the plane was on the ground for 5 hours before taking off for Sydney.

I was worried that our transfer would leave, thinking we weren't on the plane, but sent a message out to him via other passengers and airport staff that we would be there as soon as we could.  This is the first time this has ever happened to us in all our years of travel.

We also had to pay $117USD each reprocosity fee on leaving the airport, even though we are sort of in transit, but we left the airport.  Only Australians and Mexicans have to pay this but Mexicans only pay $23USD.

The Intercontinental Hotel is very nice.  We are on the third floor which gives us free access to the Club for "happy hour" which is on from 5 to 10 pm.  We only needed a little snack after our meal on the plane.

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Posted by gaddingabout 22:54 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Lake Titicaca - Thursday, 9 April 2015

Tour Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest in South America. Tour the floating islands of Uros and ride on the reed boats. Fly to Lima.

Another early start today.  Alarm at 4.30 am, breakfast at about 5.15 am (first in there) and then meeting in the foyer at 6.45 am for our boat ride to Uros Island, the floating reed islands.

The view from our room is really nice, overlooking the lake.  We didn't appreciate it last night as we arrived in the dark.

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It was quite overcast and cool but everyone is rugged up.  It was only a very short ride to the island and we were met by this lovely lady.  Amparo has a slight tummy upset this morning so she is not accompanying us.  Eduardo, the local guide is looking after us this morning.

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We sat in a semi circle (and got slightly damp bottoms) and learnt about the islands and how they make new ones.  The islands are all anchored.  Eduardo told us that once he was bringing people out to the islands and they weren't there.  They had moved!  He said if a family has a dispute with another group, they can just cut off their part of the island and move on.

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With the education of their children, it is estimated that in about 25 years, this  civilization will die out, which would be such a shame as it is such a unique culture.  However, a very hard life - not many creature comforts, eg no hot and cold running water, no heating in their homes.

We went into the Head Man's home, Hymie and met his wife Elsa.  They have one child, a 12 year old daughter who attends school in Puno.  They all sleep in the one bed under 12 blankets.  Unfortunately, when all these children are educated, they will want to find their way in the world and not come back to the islands.

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We bought a reed mobile, which cost us $15AUD which is the dearest mobile I have ever bought, but we all looked upon it as a donation to the community. As we left the island, these ladies sang "row, row, row your boat" ... very cute!

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We went on a ride on a reed boat to another island and as Phil was getting off he slipped and landed on the edge of the reeds and almost rolled into the lake.  I wish I'd had my camera ready!  And he had on his brand new baby Alpaca jumper!

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As we finished on the islands with a bit of time to spare, we called into another island where the primary school is.  We were there at about 8.50 am and the teacher had not arrived.  She was supposed to be there at 8.00 am.  About seven children were entertaining themselves, the boys fishing and the girls just running around - all dressed in their local costumes, BUT WITH BARE FEET!  It was really chilly and the reeds were damp.

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Luckily some of our group had some lollies and pens in their packs so the children all gathered around, grabbing and snatching.  Some were asking for money, but Eduardo said no money.  Can you imagine seven children, ranging in age from about 5 to 10 ALONE on a floating island in Australia?  It wouldn't happen!

We were back at the hotel wharf and surprise, surprise, our bus was waiting to take us back up the small hill, to save us walking back up the path.  Thank you Scenic.

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We were on the bus at 10 am for the hour drive to the airport at Juliaco.  In honour of this being our last day with the group, they let us sit in the front seat.  It was interesting to take the road because yesterday we came in via the train.  The road is long and straight and flat.  Phil read the poem "McDougall Tops the Score".

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Here is a photo of one of the stall holders, parked on the railway line.  She would have to move at least two times a day when the train comes.  Crazy!

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This is the anniversary of the bus company.  Amparo says they celebrate the anniversary of absolutely everything in South America.

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We arrived at quite a small airport.  Apparently it is an international airport with a long runway, but no international flights land or take off from here at the moment.

She told us to go quickly to the queue as there was a big bus behind us and this airport is notoriously slow at check in.  She wasn't wrong and to make matters worse, the computers were down so a lot of it was being done by checking lists and hand writing a lot of stuff.  We were pretty close to the head of the queue, but by now the rest of the queue was out the door.

Then because a touist had tried to smuggle something a few days ago, they started checking our big check in bags.  John and Jenny and John and Byron had theirs checked but it was so ridiculous because the staff were going through the motions and not really checking much at all.

We took a long time at check in because she couldn't find us on the list and then we realised she was looking at the wrong list!  I hope our luggage got on the right plane!

Because our flight was delayed, an announcement was made, only in Spanish, that a free drink was available at the kiosk.  Thank goodness for Amparo who can understand Spanish.  Also, Scenic had arranged for the hotel to pack a lunch box for us.  Scenic usually don't like doing this because they are usually pretty awful, but as lunch boxes go, this one was really nice.  There were two ham and cheese croissants and a banana.

Our 1.10 pm flight left at 2.40 pm.  We will be landing at Cusco then continuing on to Lima.

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Landed at Cusco at 3.20 pm.  Those who were getting off got off and we stayed on board and took off again at 4.00 pm.

We were planning to meet "the gang" in the bar area for a farewell drink/meal at 6.30 pm but as we didn't arrive until 6.45 we decided to go to our rooms, freshen up and meet at about 7.15.  I was dying to take my boots and socks off because my feet were getting really hot in the humidity of Lima and my bites were starting to become very itchy and were driving me crazy.

We went down to the bar and every member of our group was there, which was really nice.  Because we missed lunch, Scenic had given each one of us $20USD to be spent at the bar in the Swissotel Lima, so we all had drinks and dinner.  Phil read "Green and Gold Malaria" by Rupert McColl and a few speeches were made and then our group sang "For They are Jolly Good Fellows" to us.  It was SO nice and very emotional.  We are going to miss them very much.  They are such a great group - the best we have ever had.

When we went to settle the bill, we discovered we had a lot of American dollars left, so we went back to the bar with Maria and Leong and Phil had a G&T and I had a Pisco Sour with Cranberry juice, which was very yummy.

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Did final packing and into bed by 11.00 pm for a 5.30 am wake up call in the morning.

Posted by gaddingabout 04:53 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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