Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It’s been a long time since I did a trip like this…since my last post I have been to many places that deserved a post but sadly I didn’t get around to writing about all of them..it’s on the to do list though!

So..Tanzania…a beautiful East African country that has so much to offer..its motto is ‘Uhuru na Umoja’ in Swahili translated is Freedom and Unity. Over 100 different languages are spoken in the country making it the most linguistically diverse country in East Africa. Tanzania is mountainous and densely forested in the north-east, where Mount Kilimanjaro is located. This was the main purpose of our visit…to Kill the Kili!

Having done Mount Toubkal- North Africa’s highest point in 2015- I have always wanted to reach Africa’s highest point, Mount Kilimanjaro! And as I usually do these activities with groups I had not known before I decided to do this differently and find likeminded friends/clients who are up for an adventure! And boom, before I had known it I had 10 people ready to rock & roll!

Our company Sirikwa Travel was fantastic throughout the whole process of organising the trip, flexible, great communication.

The fun started on 22nd February with Kenya airways, all of us on the same flight to Nairobi and from here we took a smaller plane to Kilimanjaro airport. The first drama started here with 2 suitcases not arriving. But JV and Anna remained calm and collected..what is the worst that can happen? They climb the mountain in a T-shirt and trainers? They wouldn’t be the first ones…sadly some of our porters had very basic clothing for themselves.

We arrived at our hotel in Moshi, and had our first briefing. Met our guides, and went for a wonderful Indian meal.

Oinoth, CEO of Sirikwa did his best to pick up the suitcases next day and bring them close to the gate so that the content can be transferred to a duffel bag and we were all ready to start our adventure. The second drama- my own personal one- was spraying 100% DEET in my right eye on the morning of the climb. Having feared Malaria (we decided with Richard not to take any anti-malaria tablets) my only prevention was mosquito repellent but sadly my aim was not the best. So after washing it a million times and not having been able to open it for 2 hours it got better in the end but not the best start!

In terms of gear for Kilimanjaro this is the recommended list:

Technical gear:

1 – Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
1 – Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
1 – Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
2 – Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
1 – Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
2 – Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
1 – Fleece Pants
1 – Shorts (optional)
1 – Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
3 – Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
2 – Sport Bra (women)
Equipment
1 – Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
1 – Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
1 – Trekking Poles (recommended)
1 – Head lamp, with extra batteries
1 – Duffel bag, (waterproof recommended) for porters to carry your equipment

1 – Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear
Handwear
1 – Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
1 – Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)
Footwear
1 – Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
1 – Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional)
3 – Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
3 – Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
1 – Gaiters, waterproof (optional)
Accessories
1 – Sunglasses or Goggles
1 – Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
1 – Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
1 – Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz. recommended)
1 – Water Bladder, Camelbak type (recommended)
1 – Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
1 – Pee Bottle, to avoid leaving tent at night ( recommended)
Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate
Headwear
1 – Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
1 – Knit Hat, for warmth
1 – Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
1 – Bandana (optional)
Other

Toiletries
Prescriptions
Sunscreen
Lip Balm
Insect Repellent, containing DEET
First Aid Kit
Hand Sanitizer
Toilet Paper
Wet Wipes (recommended)
Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
Camera, with extra batteries (optional)

There are several routes available to hike but I chose the one that has the highest % of success rate, the Lemosho route. The idea here is to spend a day or two extra between 3-4000m for proper acclimatisation.

The funny thing was that the Comic Relief Team started their trip one day before us so we were on the mountain at the same time as them  but on different routes.

DAY 1

After the registration process started our climb steadily through the forests of the Lemosho glades to reach BigTree camp where we spent the first night.
Distance covered: 7km / 4.3mi
Approx. time taken: 4 hours
By the time we arrived at the camp, our tents were up, our dinner was cooking, we learnt how to use the toilet, and started getting to know each other better. We always gathered in a big mess tent for our meals and the excitement in our eyes when the waiters appeared with the food was indescribable.

Start group

Group hike

DAY 2

Big Tree Camp (2780m) To Shira 2 Camp (3900m)
We trekked across a plateau of grassy moorland and heather scattered with
volcanic rock formations. Our destination for today was meant to be Shira 1 Camp but our guides decided to go to Shira 2 as our pace was good. We gained a reasonable
amount of altitude on this day and parts of the route were fairly steep. As the guides called it…the elephant. Very scenic beautiful walk. This was the first time when some of us got really overwhelmed and emotional with the difficulty of the hike. This was also the time when we first saw the summit. By now we really felt the mountain..the outside world was distant..we were in the bubble. We had a little rain on this day but where there is rain there is also a rainbow!
Distance covered: 15.5km / 9.6mi
Approx. time taken: 10 hours

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DAY 3

Shira 2 Camp (3900m) to Barranco Camp (3960m)
Our trek started with an ascent with far-reaching panoramic views, walking in to the
climatic zone of the upland desert and on the lava ridges beneath the glaciers of the
Western Breach. We reached the distinct pinnacle of the Lava Tower (4640 m), our
high point for the day and a great place to enjoy our lunch. In the afternoon we made
a steep descent to our camp for the night, located in the base of the Great Barranco
Valley (3960 m), sheltered by towering cliffs but with extensive views of the plains
below. Our crew was waiting for us with cheerful songs and dance which immediately made us forget the difficulty of the day.
Distance covered: 10km / 6.2mi
Approx. time taken: 7 hrs

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aliz hug

group

DAY 4:

Day 6: Barranco Camp (3960m) to Karanga Camp (3963m)

When I woke up this morning I felt sick. Sadly the altitude sickness kicked in and I know exactly why. I didn’t drink 3l water the previous day as we were told to do. I had a very bad sleep during the night, woke up with a headache and felt lightheaded. As we left the camp I started to feel better and I made sure that I drank enough going forward.
Our day started by descending into the start of the Great Barranco, a huge ravine. We
then exited steeply, up the Great Barranco Wall, which divided us from the southeastern
slopes of Kibo. It’s a climb over rock, not technical but long and tiring. Passing
underneath the Heim and Kersten glaciers, we headed towards the Karanga valley. From
here we had a steep climb up from Karanga valley to our night’s camp at Karanga
camp, set at 3963m.  Upon arrival we went for acclimatisation trek up to around 4200m before descending back to camp for the night.
Distance covered: 5.5km / 3.4mi
Approx. time taken: 5 hours

Baranco wallBaranco smile

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Day 5: Karanga Camp (3963) to Barafu Camp (4640m)
After a good night’s rest and breakfast, we set off on our walk to Barafu camp at
4640m. The climb took us across desolate scree slopes with no vegetation around
us at all. It was a tough steep walk made more difficult by the altitude. Somehow I was more energised on this day than the previous ones.

On arriving at camp we ate and spent the afternoon resting as we prepared for a long night and day ahead. I wanted to sleep in the afternoon but we just ended up resting. We had an early dinner, briefing about the summit night and then rest again. The group was divided into 2, group one left at 11pm and group 2 at 1am. We had tea and biscuits before.
Distance covered: 3km / 1.9mi
Approx. time taken: 3 hours

TO BARAFUTO BARAFU 2TO BARABFU 3TO BARAFU 4BARAFUBASECAMPBRIEFING

DAY 6:

It was hard to put 6 layers on you because as soon as you moved you felt hot and bulky. We really looked like Michelin men. Before we set off we sang our motivational song:

HIP HIP, HOP HOP

NON STOP, TO THE TOP

ONE TEAM, ONE DREAM

ONE DREAM, ONE TEAM

RAAAAAAAAAAAAA

And here it started a painful 7hour – for some people 9- ascent first to Stella Point (5756m) then to Uhuru Peak (5895m). How could I describe this night…definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Endless line of torches going up…in pitch black, step by step- or in Swahili POLE POLE.

My water froze after 2 hours..my head was exploding…I was hot then cold, then hot, then cold..I was exhausted and I just couldn’t see how I can walk hours more in these conditions. I felt nauseous, just wanted to sit down and have a little rest but we couldn’t. If you spend too much time sitting, you will never get up due to the freezing temperatures. I was on the verge of giving up..several time. But my hero, our Chief Guide Mudi did not let me. He reminded me, as a leader of this group I needed to show example. There was no other option but to get up and go. After 4 hours we reached the first group, Richard and Karen were in that group and that’s when the emotional element came in. All of us in tears..desperate to reach the top..in the end we all made it. At Stella we got a new source of energy. Our guides and summit porters were literally our foundations..the rock solid pillars carrying our bags, carrying hot tea for us and keeping us alive on this gut-wrenching mission to get to the roof of Africa. When the sun came up….that was the moment of hope.

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Throughout the whole climb we were ‘chasing’ the Comic Relief group and we ended up summiting the same time as they did 🙂 BBC crew, Red Nose Day outfits…we all went through the same feelings at the same time. Having watched their programme after arriving home…it didn’t do the climb justice. 

The descent back to base-camp was not a relief, running down in shale was not fun for already tired legs. Incredible that we made it down in just under 2.5h back to Barafu camp. I felt exhausted. Even food could not get me excited. I skipped lunch, went to my tent and slept. But not for long as on the same day we had to leave the base camp and head to Mweka Camp for a long well-earned rest.
Distance covered: 16.4km / 9.6mi
Approx. time taken: 13hours – 15hours
IMG_7196

DAY 7:

A gentle trek took us down through the rainforest to Mweka Gate, where we
completed park formalities. We played some games along the way down, and really felt a sense of achievement (it only took us 24h to finally have this feeling!!!)
Distance covered: 9.1km / 7.5miles
Approx. time taken: 6 hours

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On the way to the hotel…at a random petrol station…3 cars pulled in….and there they were..THE CELEBRITIES! :)) And a selfie with my ultimate favourite Dani Dyer:)

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The climb for me was an incredible experience. It was so much harder than I expected due to a combination of continuous walking every day, lack of sleep, being cold and out in the wind and cold during the night in the tent along with the impact of the high altitude and lack of oxygen. It was wonderful to share the journey with our group and we became excellent friends throughout the week sharing jokes and conversations about topics we would never have raised at home.

As we finished the trek one day before planned we arranged a safari for the day after! Everyone was so enthusiastic and happy as some of us had never been on a safari before and this was a true bonus! So after the well deserved celebratory night at Masailand hotel in Arusha next day we got picked up at 5.30am and went on a fabulous day safari to Tarangiri National Park. We were super fortunate to see a pride of lions devouring a warthog and elephants eating from a tree.

Just a few picks of what we saw….

giraffelionscarelephant 2elephant 4elephant bestzebra family

In the afternoon we had a pool party in our hotel, and some drinks to celebrate our fantastic trip. Oinoth came and distributed our certificates, we said emotional goodbye to each other and some people flew home the next day, some of us went to Zanzibar and Pemba. So the next 6 days were very different, Richard and I stayed in this beautiful place, paradise on Earth called Manta resort. The journey here is worth to elaborate a little. Kilimanjaro airport- Zanzibar- normal plane, Zanzibar Pemba: a 12 seater little plane. My personal favourite..flies 4500m high and with a little wind could be the worst nightmare of your life….

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A few pictures on our paradise:

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We did some diving but sadly the Manta rays are avoiding Pemba as in the past the locals hunted them down…I’m still upset about this…hopefully an education programme is being prepared for this part of the world on protected sea life!

On this resort you really don’t need to worry about much, all- inclusive, spa treatments included, wonderful meals being served, top service with the local people’s charm. Our fundi was Lucas. We really bonded with him. Always smiling, always funny! Lucas is the BEST! We also met some wonderful people on this resort, an Italian couple who came here for their 25th Wedding Anniversary.

We also used an outdoor gym where the weights were made out of local products including concrete mass in sand buckets.

The real splurge of the trip was staying for one night in the resort’s underwater room. Wow. This was something special. 24h you live in a luxurious aquarium and can enjoy an underwater show! But the beauty was not just this…the sunset dinner, gazing stars at night from the sun deck,  watching the local fishermen’s everyday life. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have a trip like this. Take every chance you get in life, because some things only happen once.

MANTA 1NGUVOMANTA 2MANTA 3MANTA 4MANTA 5UNDERWATER ROOMMANTA 6MANTA 7MANTA 8DINNER UNDERWATERMANTA 10MANTA 11MAAANTAMAANTA

I am organising another trip to Kilimanjaro in 2020. For more information visit:

https://www.lizstyleliving.com/climb-kilimanjaro

 

Egypt

Posted: April 3, 2016 in Uncategorized

A slightly delayed post from our trip in October 2015.

Egypt was the 56th country I visited in my life. It is a very popular destination for English people, however I might change this statement to past tense and leave the present for Russians.

My main attraction to Egypt was the Red Sea and diving hence why we chose Sharm el Sheikh to visit over Cairo and the Pyramids.

We booked the trip through Regal Dive as I could not find a straight forward way to book diving, flights and hotel separately.

Since it was Richard’s first dive livaboard experience we chose a mini safari (3 day trip) over a full safari (duration: a week).

We flew with Monarch to Egypt on the 4th October and once we arrived at the airport our driver picked us up and drove us directly to the port where the SNEFRO 6 fleet waited for us.

We were looking forward to this trip and hoped that we would have a great group, which we did! The group was small which is always a bonus, 4 guests in total, Richard and I plus 2 guys, Martin and Callum.

Our divemaster Basem was Egyptian and super friendly.

Few pics of the boat:
gallery_54

king-snefro-6-bt8sharing-bathroom-cabin-liveaboard-king-snefro-6

The whole experience reminded me of my first liveaboard in Thailand around the Similan Islands. The staff were superb! The food was exceptional..we were properly spoilt.

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We sat down on the first night and tried out our equipment, then discussed the itinerary and the courses we wanted to do. Richard planned to do his Advanced course and beyond that the opportunity arose to do the Nitrox course so we both decided to do it.

The days began with very early starts, up at 6am and ready to dive by 6.30am.

We did the following dive sites on the first day

  1. Temple
  2. Stingray station
  3. Sha’ab Surur
  4. Sh’ab Ali Lagoon- night dive

We saw Lion fish, Masked Puffer fish, Giant Clam, Napoleon fish, Angel fish, Blue spotted stingray, Scorpion fish, Banner fish, Butterfly fish, Moray eel and Trigger fish.

Unfortunately my computer let me down on the first dive, the battery died which I did not expect at all and it’s not something I could check as it switches on underwater at around 2m depth. It was not a major issue though because at least I could use Basem’s Suunto computer.

The second important item that let me down was my GoPro..it kept freezing underwater which made me incredibly angry especially because I had just bought a macro red filter before the trip to enhance the quality of the video and pictures.

The next day we did the famous Thistlegorm wreck that sank on 6th October 1941. It was super impressive, with all the motorbikes still inside, rusted with corals around them, pieces of rubber tyres, guns, rifles. We did this dive with Nitrox.

There was another dive around this wreck ..just because you cannot have enough of it:)

The afternoon and night dive was at the same dive site called Beacon Rock. Now that night dive was one of my highlights ever. I saw a Spanish dancer …dancing! It’s fairly rare to see them at all let alone dancing.

spanish dancer

In the evenings we had great banter between studying EON and Richard his advanced course book.

On the third day we finished off with 2 dives only and some chilling on the boat. Then there was the time of truth; the exam. We had to sit separately with Basem marking our work. Of course Richard copied the whole EON exam off me therefore we had 2 identical mistakes! Back to school…..

The last 2 dives were at:

  1. Dunraven
  2. Shark & Yolanda Reef- 38m depth and current – very impressive dive site.

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After the magical 3 days living on the sea we returned to Sharm to our hotel…which was a big disappointment. Falcon Naama Star Hotel is one to avoid! Not clean, not by the sea..the staff were very nice but considering the number of options in hotels it is on the lower end of the range.

On the first evening on ‘land’ we got a little taste for Sharm’s charm..the hassle, the constant, ‘hey my friend, do you remember me?’

Therefore we quickly realised that we wanted to plan things to do for the remaining 3 full days.

The next day we booked a fantastic 4×4 safari trip to visit the Coloured Canyon and Dahab. Highly recommended!

We had a super fun guide, spoke about 15 languages! But 2 for sure, English and Russian. After racing through the desert we walked through this beautiful canyon:

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Then we made our way to Dahab and snorkelled the Blue Hole where lots of divers have died over the years. It’s a stunning crystal clear hole with colourful corals and beautiful fish.

After the snorkelling we had lunch from a restaurant with view across the Red Sea and the surrounding mountains. Fresh juice is always a must in tropical countries!

After lunch we did a 20 minutes camel ride along the sea..again..the guide was superb! We laughed so much!

IMG_8863The trip ended in a dodgy perfume shop where we had the opportunity to buy our favourite fragrance for a fraction of the original price.

Early night after the action packed day as for the next day we had booked a day trip to Jordan. We got picked up at 2am (!) from our hotel and we had a 8 hour journey waiting for us (4 h bus + 1 h boat + 3 h bus again). When we got to Petra we had about 3 hours to explore. 2 h guided and 1 h free. When I saw one of the 7th Wonders of the World it was just incredible! It was the 6th that I have seen…1 to go, the Great Wall of China, which I am planning on visiting in the next year or so.

With Petra my only issue was that in order to get to the Treasury (the main attraction) you can rent a horse with a carriage. The pavement is mainly stoned therefore the animals suffer a lot. The locals seem to ignore this and they encourage them with the whip to go even faster…my heart was breaking. People visiting Petra, please do not encourage this service by taking it!

Here is a map of Petra. It’s huge and I recommend that you leave at least a full day to explore it.

petra-map

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The penultimate day in Sharm el-Sheikh was fun:) I found an excellent snorkelling spot without needing to take a tour..well at least that’s what I thought. We packed our snorkelling gear and took a taxi to the Hyatt Regency. When we got there it was clear that this is not a common route that tourists take to go snorkelling…given that you need to go into the hotel and be on their private beach to access the reef. But I felt that I was so close  that I didn’t care:) We went through a security check before entering the hotel- like a conveyor belt and proper door men etc. first obstacle done. Then confidently walked into the hotel, through the lobby out to the pool area (removed our existing hotel bracelets and were happy to notice that in the Hyatt Regency people did not wear a bracelet). Finally we got to their amazing private beach..wow. It was great! The only problem was that we did not have matching towels to the rest of the people there so at the beginning we felt quite uncomfortable that we would be thrown out of there at any minute:) I threw myself into the water and spent most of the day there looking at the lovely Coral Garden. I saw a cuttle fish, tons of clown fish, barracuda, and an eel. It was fantastic! We had a great lunch at the hotel restaurant then back to sunbathing and snorkelling. That’s how we spent a day at a 5 star all inclusive hotel without any booking:)

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The last day we spent on the public beach, having a massage, with shisha and drinking cocktails. It was a great holiday and I truly hope that the political situation will allow us to go there soon without any threat or fear.

One week after we left ISIS took out the Russian plane so we timed our departure well.

2014 in review

Posted: December 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,800 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

In my last blog I described how I got into Colombia on a sailing boat. The final destination of the 5 day sailing trips is usually Cartagena. My first way lead to my Danila in her office..It was absolutely amazing to see her! She checked in with me in the hostel called ‘El viajero’, we got ready and we headed out to see the rest of the ‘sailors’ to Mamma Llena where they stayed, as we agreed that we are going to do the party chiva bus the first night on proper land.

Well..party chiva did not disappoint me this time either! 2 years ago I did this same bus party with my dear Hungarian friend Lili (whom I am going to see on he 1st of August after 2 years !! well excited:) and Renaud, from France. This was also the night 2 years ago when I met my friends living in Cali..they will have a proper dedicated section later on in the post.

A bit about this party bus. So you can book it in a hostel/hotel for about 35.000 COP (£12) and it includes a ‘Cartagena by night tour’ accompanied by live music, entertaining guide with great interaction with the participants and rum! What more you want?

The atmosphere is insane, people are dancing, singing, talking. We stop a few times and engage with the locals, then we get dropped off around 1-2 am by one of Cartagena’s best nightclubs to enjoy the typical dance called vallenato. Here is a bit of a taster:

 

 

Next day I felt awful..It wasn’t only hangover. The water in Cartagena is not good. Your drinks on the chiva come with ice made of tap water. Be careful. Also I think my immune system was already a bit run down. I got to know a really nice girl though called Vina. She is AmeriMexican and the lucky thing was heading down to the World Cup .. 2 days after chiva we went to Playa Blanca with Danila and  Vina.

It was quite busy cause it was a bank holiday in Colombia but equally it was great and the water was very pleasant!

Playa Blanca Playa Blanca Playa Blanca Danila and Vina

The day after I was walking around ..needless to say also the previous 2 nights we were out and in Cartagena it is very easy to go to bed as the sun is rising cause you can get lost in dancing and the entertainment of locals. 🙂 One evening we went out to see the captain who works in the same company as Danila, and my favourite sailing buddy, Amabel.

Sushi night Sushi Cartagena

After checking the bus prices to Medellin I found that flights are only maybe £10 more expensive so it was an easy choice for me to make. I took a flight to Medellin on Tuesday the 2nd July saying goodbye to Danila, Vina, the Caribbean, and the costeños..(It was a big step for me for not going to Santa Marta, the place where I enjoyed my time the most on my first trip working, partying, trekking in Lost City, dancing, drinking awesome juices every day but I had to see Medellin, and Salento this time, which I missed out last time and of course return to the salsa capital Cali!)

So I flew into Medellin, travelled with a lovely lady from the airport to the centre, from which we took a taxi together, she dropped me off at Black Sheep hostel. She said her favourite Hungarian writer was Sandor Marai (I like him very much too!) This hostel where I decided to stay is a kiwi-colombian owned hostel. Fab staff, location (very quiet street near the Zona Rosa). I had about 4-5 days in Medellin. What helped enormously is a friend I had there called Andres. We met with Andres on one of the best nights I have ever had in Bogota in Andres Carne de Res. Since then we have been in contact on and off and when he saw that I was coming he called me on skype and gave me some great tips on what to visit in Medellin. I met him and his girl one night with my Hungarian friend, Agi whom I met in Cartagena before Medellin and turned out we were heading the same direction. She is a lovely girl, we had great laugh together (sometimes pulling hair but that’s just Hungarian passion:). She was about to go to ayahuasca. This is a South American ritual where the participants with the help of  the Shamans and a special plant from the Amazon get rid of negative energies and the plant opens up chakras opening also future opportunities or seeing past memories. You are not supposed to eat 5 days before the event (which goes on during the night) but Agi ignored this little condition and was happily eating lamb 3 days before the ritual. She then informed me that the event went very well and she is feeling great. Medellin is a great city. It’s nothing similar as people imagine it as. Not drug capital anymore and there is no danger as it was 20 years ago. Anyone who comes here SHOULD DEFINITELY do the walking city tour with Pablo (http://www.realcitytours.com/ ). His enthusiasm and patriotism made me cry whilst listening to Colombia’s history.

Medellin Medellin-Andres Medellin Medellin-old colombia medellin -new colombia Pablo and  Agi

 

Medellin Medellin Medellin-Botero

The next day I went to Guatape and Piedra del Penol. We went with a superb retro minibus (https://www.facebook.com/vanporcolombia?fref=ts)  and visited an artificial lake and a huge rock (740 steps to get up there). And the town of Guatape is a miracle…so nice and colourful!! What made it even more beautiful was the people and the fact that I bumped into an Italian couple whom I met in Honduras!! What a nice and unexpected surprise! 

Penol Penol Guatape Italians Guatape

 

In Medellin I met a fantastic couple from London, Kim and Keith. Keith wasn’t a big fan of Latin music as opposed to Kim (always the girls!!!!) so we went out one night to a Cuban club ..great night, great dancing!

We actually became good friends and happened to continue our journey to the same place on the same day, to Salento.

Salento is in the Coffee Zone with excellent hiking possibilities including breathtaking landscapes in the Valle Cocora.

Salento Kim and Keith Salento Salento Salento

The town itself is beautiful as well with full of incredible handicraft…given that I had 3 weeks left of my trip this time I bought a few things including my hammock and a lamp..these things will remind me every day of this cracking country and journey <3.

In Salento we stayed in a very cosy homey hostel called Casona de Lili. Lili, the owner was super sweet…every morning we received a big hug and smile ..juice, coffee and just simply love. There are many options to stay in Salento but this little house is highly recommended.

Kim and Keith decided to stay one more day not to miss the opening ceremony of the World Cup but I moved on to Cali where my dear friends were waiting for me with open arms. A bit of introduction about them..

Claudia- Carlos and Lorena- Luis Fernando: We met 2 years ago in Cartagena after me and my friend Lili and Renaud went on a chiva bus party..the memory stayed alive clearly as Claudia sent me an email a year ago that she was coming to Europe with work and she happened to be in London on my 30th birthday party!:)

2012:

Cali Pachanguero

2013:

Claudia

2014:

cali

She kindly offered me that I can stay with her and Carlos..and without any doubt this was the best part of my trip (apart from when Richard came to see me)! Carlos and Luis Fernando are musicians so we sang, danced, played on congas, guitar, did karaoke and everything one can imagine. I cooked one day Gulyas for them, we went out in town, clubbing, they looked after me so well ..I cannot be grateful enough to them.

Another fabulous addition to this week was Maki! Maki is my Japanese friend, whom I met again 2 years ago in the Bolivian jungle..me Danila and her (and of course David from Germany) hung out among the crocodiles for days and Maki decided to come back to South America! And she came to Colombia to see me!!! So we met in Cali (after she left her luggage again somewhere she made it to Cali with a couple of days of delay) and she spent the last bit of my travels with me. One evening we went to kilometre 18 in a place called ‘La Neblina’. This is a place where no tourist have ever been..18 km from Cali towards Buenaventura with a completely different climate there is a place with curvy mountain road which is a very popular place to go for the ‘caleños’. In fact if you want to see something adventurous (or do), you should drive down this road back to Cali…young crazy people are cycling down with the speed of cars overtaking from left and right or up and down..doesn’t really matter for them…as a car driver it’s a bigger challenge not to hit them!

Another memorable event in Cali I experienced was the first Colombian game during the World Cup against Greece. We all know what the outcome was and having been in Colombia during this time was similar experience to those being in Brazil!

Multiple day party followed the victory…

Sadly on the 17th June I had to fly to Bogota..1 day before the last..

Luckily Maki kept me company but Cali took everything out of me so we didn’t go out on my last night. On the 18th we went to the Botero museum and Maki left around 1pm, and I continued to the Gold museum and checking out the souvenirs.

Getting to the airport around 6pm in rush hours was again quite an experience..I nearly missed my flight back to Europe!!

I decided to stay one night in Madrid before flying back to London as I have never been before. I watched the second Colombian game here which ended with the same result as the one before.

On the 20th I flew back to London where Richard was waiting for me with open arms and heart full of love. I spent a week in London, went for an interview 6 days after my arrival, then flew home to Hungary, got a call informing me that I got the job, had a great couple of weeks, Richard came over for the last 4 days and now back in London again and just started my new job today.

This is my last blog for a while..but I am sure I’ll update it after my future short trips…

It’s not an end..but a new beginning..and Colombia stays in my heart forever..<3

 

 

 

 

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Aliz

Date a boy who travels

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

Your blog is one of a kind. Thank you for sharing it. Have you found this boy and if so did he create all these feelings in you and get you to travel?

love story from the male perspective

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I arrived to Pucon very late (11 pm), and went straight to the hostel called El Refugio where Bea (Hungarian girl, I mentioned how we met first in Buenos Aires and then in Torres del Paine) stayed.

We met immediately and jumped into each other’s arms of the joy again. She climbed the Villarica volcano (main attraction in the area) on that day because the weather was nice, and since the next day it was forecasted similar weather I begged the hostel to book me in for a tour. (You can only do this climb with guides –advance booking just as in the case of any tours is essential and usually at 11pm there is not much chance to be able to book anything, tears always help though 😉

So next day after a 6am wake up we started the tour. 2 guides picked us up (a girl and a guy), and took us to the volcano in minibus (6 people is the standard group size). We saw the sunrise from the bottom of the volcano:

The starting point of climbing was 1800m.

You had 2 options to start the first 400m with:

Chairlift or walking. 5 people including me took the chairlift and 1 warrior walked.

The first hour after the chairlift was ok..on volcanic sand, then we had the ice bit where we had to put on special ice walking gear like this:

By the way the tour company provided boots, jacket, ice walking gear, gloves and sliding gear for the way back..yes, sliding, I will explain later..

My boots were brand new so I had to stop to cover the fresh blister caused. After the ice bit we had the hardest part, climbing on moving volcanic rocks..very steep climb, one bad move and you are down…

Saying that, about 2 month ago 2 people fell off at this point..bodies were found only after 2 days..they fell about 500m.

I was a bit worried therefore very cautious of my steps. We were on the top around 1ish, but the wind was very strong so the fume of the volcano let us stay there only 10-15 minutes. (incredibly horrible feeling to inhale that toxic fume, it gives you headache and coughs)

But the crater looked amazing:

The view from here was well worth it though:

On the way down, my knees were suffering from all those downhill but then we got to the first sliding bit..Imagine a snow slide like this

We put our sliding gears on and the fun started

http://youtu.be/x_20t_CTRVY

http://youtu.be/PezTaL72ZWg

There were 2 more of these. You had to listen to the guide on how to slide because the snow was very icy and full of rocks underneath. One of the girls on the 3rd slide couldn’t slow down and literally flew away in the end landing off the slide. Since she wasn’t moving for a bit everyone got scared but in the end she was fine just hit a little bit her hip. The tour finished at 5pm, I went back to the hostel, met Bea, decided to cook together, but first she had to meet a friend in another hostel, so I walked with her..where I bumped into Iain, Chris and Katherine (Navimag)..small world.  And on the way we also bumped into our tour guide, Emir, who invited us for an asado (barbecue) in the evening, and since we were starving, we accepted the invitation 🙂

Pucon Tours was the host, so we were the only travellers there. To give you an idea about the amount of meat on the grill:

A few beers later the Spanish seemed to be our mother tongue 😛 Then the cherry on top of the cake was Tal who turned up at the asado a few hours later…she lived there!! I was supposed to give her back her driving licence that she left in my wallet in Bariloche a month ago..so this fact eased the meeting:)

We got a bit tipsy and went home around 1-2..

The next day we woke up 10ish, did some admin , bought the tickets to Santiago for that night, and then went to the hot springs to release our tired muscles. After a month of hiking this seemed to be a fab idea.

I wanted to stay a bit longer in Pucon, but since Bea got super excited about the Sensation White 2012 in Santiago, even though the tickets were sold out, we decided to go there and try to buy tickets on the spot. The journey took 10 hours- we took a night bus.

Arrived to Santiago at 6am, then we were hanging out at the station a bit, as I didn’t want to call Carmen very early (she is my amazing Spanish friend whom I met on the W trek..she straight away offered me without even knowing me that I can stay in her flat..so sweet), so we went to a hostel to book Bea in and she discovered a free city tour starting at 10am..so after the vague sleep on the bus we did a 4 hour walking tour…my brain was a sponge..in the end we lost our tour as we were busy taking pictures of a couple of lama-like animals on the street.

We met Carmen after and went to the Mercado central to eat amazing sea food..I just cannot have enough of the fresh Chilean sea food..I love it!

It turned out that the venue where the highly sought Sensation took place was just next to the Central market. So we went there at 5pm, as we saw already a few people around..tickets were gone, and since it’s illegal to sell tickets on the spot we had to hunt for them..after 2 hours of waiting/negotiation on prices we managed to get 2 tickets for 50.000 pesos which is about £60 (original price was: 55.000 CHP). We were super happy!!! Carmen stayed there as she met Cora (the other lovely girl I met on the W, Carmen’s friend), and me and Bea went back to the hostel to get ready, pick up my stuff and make out way after to Carmen’s house, and then to Cora’s house for pre-drinks. It’s a shame that we didn’t get the chance to go altogether but the girls didn’t have budget for it (me neither in theory but I just couldn’t say no to an event like this!!!!).

This was our outfit:

We had a really fun taxi ride with my favourite salsa, La vida es un Carnaval, and upon arrival (midnightish) we got interviewed by CNN Chile…I would love to see this shot but probably they cut out from the production as it was scandalous:)

By this time we were fairly drunk (almost had a litre of vodka, just the 2 of us).

The party was SENSATIONAL!!!! OMG! Total euphoria! Check out a short video:

http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150662871937681

The party finished at 6am, so we went home. The next day was a bit rough…when am I going to learn that Redbull gives the worst hangover ever?? Malta should have taught it to me.

Anyway, I spent the afternoon with Carmen and Bea, cooked spaghetti Bolognese, chilled in the afternoon and in the evening went to Valparaiso.

It’s a little town 1.5 hours away from Santiago. Colourful houses, antique, authentic. We got there eat 9pm, so we didn’t want to spend too much time with searching for hostels. Through a weird sales guy we reached our destination, a nice old family house with a beautiful baby. Chilean babies are sooooo nice!!!

Next day we decided to make our lives easier and we took a tour for 10.000 pesos with minibus. It was a great idea as the city is quite big and we could save some time by going by car.

‘The colonial city of Valparaíso presents an excellent example of late 19th-century urban and architectural development in Latin America. In its natural amphitheatre-like setting, the city is characterized by a vernacular urban fabric adapted to the hillsides that are dotted with a great variety of church spires. It contrasts with the geometrical layout utilized in the plain. The city has well-preserved its interesting early industrial infrastructures, such as the numerous ‘elevators’ on the steep hillsides.’

PICTURES:

The tour was fun, with 2 Brazilian ladies, one from Rio, the other one from Belo Horizonte..oh all the Brazilian memories came back during the day..Such happy people!

Our guide Mario was very good and funny so all of us enjoyed the tour. We also went to Vina del Mar, which is much more modern.

We got back into town at 6pm.The hostel we stayed in was full for the upcoming night so i went to another hostel (family house rather) and that’s where the fun started.

Bea left in the evening for Mendoza and I sat down in the living room to do some admin. An old guy (Jorge) who lived there came up to me to chit chat. I wanted to focus on what I was doing but then I gave up as he sat down and just talked to me. So very quickly turned out that my birthday was coming up, he brought beers, wine and we had a drink together. Then the son of the landlady (Jose) came home from uni (20 years old) and joined us in the drinks. By the time we finished 2 litres of beer we wanted to have more so i went out with Jose to buy some more. Unfortunately Jorge came out after us and while he left the house a lady who went up to collect the rubbish in the house nicked my precious Maltese metal lighter..I loved that lighter but oh well..so they felt bad about it but I told them not to worry…considering that my credit card, dslr camera and laptop were on the table too and they stayed untouched I felt quite lucky. But the atmosphere was going down after this…in the end we decided to go to sleep, when….the house started to be shaking…more and more and more. I freaked out…we all knew that it’s an earthquake. I wanted to run out, but they said it’s safer in the house so apart from a few plates and bit falling nothing major happened. Turned out it was 6.8 strong, it lasted about a minute. It was followed by 2 smaller ones…first time I experienced something like this..I calmed down after a while and went to sleep.

The day after I met Hannah, she was on the Navimag too and she stayed in Valparaiso too. We decided to take it easy and just go to Vina del Mar to chill on the beach.

In the evening I went back to Santiago and we just chilled with Carmen, didn’t go out.

The day after (Wednesday, on my birthday) she went to school in the morning, and I happily stayed in. I needed some rest and catch up with my things. Went to buy my bus ticket for Thursday to San Pedro de Atacama, then she came back home and cooked very yummy Spanish tortilla with original salsa from Andalucía.

In the evening both Jessica and Pat (flatmates of Carmen) were ready to have a few drinks with us on my birthday. I bought a bottle of Pisco, and some food to cook them Rakott kel, a typical Hungarian dish. They were so sweet, prepared a little surprise cake for me..the candles were quite powerful, so we almost lit up the house:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150763463824171

We had a power nap before and we woke up super late so the whole night was a bit delayed. We were meant to meet Mariona and Xavi and Hannah too, but we had no time unfortunately.

So we managed to get ready by 2am, which was too late for me..I couldn’t face all those drunken students at the club, so I went home after an hour.

Next morning we spent together with Carmen, packed and caught the 12.20 bus to San Pedro de Atacama. It was a 24 hour bus ride, I was travelling with Julia, a German girl. In Calama during our 10 minutes stop I met the German couple from Navimag whom I met also in Chiloe and Pucon. So funny that you keep bumping into people.

We arrived on the 20th April at 12pm to Atacama. As usual, hostel sellers were waiting for us at the bus station. So we went to La casa sol de naciente, but Julia didn’t like it. I stayed.

It turned out that it was worth doing 2 very good tours, one is sand boarding and watching the sunset in Valle de la Luna and the other was star-gazing in the desert.

So I booked the sand boarding tour for 3pm on the day of arrival. It was a lot of fun. I never tried any board whether it’s skate or snow…but I assume sand boarding is the easiest and softest terrain.

After the 2 hour long fun we went to Valle de la Luna to check the salt caves..Incredible, San Pedro de Atacama was under the ocean millions of years ago and you could see all the salt on the clays.

We had to rush to see the sunset on top of a beautiful clay mountain where you had a perfect view on the volcanos and Los Andes..Unbelievable views..

We celebrated the end of a fun day with a few Pisco sour..the last ones I had in Chile..then went back to the hostel and I slept.

The second day in Atacama I hired a bike and went to Pukara Quitor.

I met Rene and his daughter on the hill and continued the day with them.. Around 3pm I went back to the hostel, returned the bike and wanted the collect the video on sand boarding but it wasn’t ready.

I also wanted to book the stargazing for the night but I was too late..no more spaces were left but they suggested me to go back at 8pm in case some people cancel. It did happen, so at 9.30pm i went to the desert where a Chilean lady did a 2 hour explanation on the constellation of the stars, the zodiac, and the rest. It’s incredible how limited things we see in Europe. Chile and Australia are the 2 best places to see the amazing galaxy.

I went back to the hostel at 12.30, packed for next morning when I started a tour to Uyuni crossing to Bolivia. This is the topic of my next blog.