Salud Salta!

Hello friends! We have continued to weave our way up Argentina and Chile, and our next stop saw us in Salta in the northwest of Argentina. A fairly large, dense, busy city with a fun street vibe with food vendors selling sweet and delicious popcorn and endless stores pumping out hotdogs and sandwiches (without the crust) piled up to extreme heights on top of each other.

We took a gondola trip up to the top of a mountain and got an amazing view of the city!

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We walked the streets by day

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And of course, by night 🙂 . My favourite part of all the cities which we have visited is always the main plaza. I love how they tell so much about the city and the culture of the place. The perfect spot for people watching!

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The following day we booked a tour through our hostel to Cafayate. We were a bit late on the booking side of things so could only manage to get onto a Spanish speaking tour. It was great nonetheless and a real test for the Spanish. We managed to get by, luckily with the help of some German travellers 😉 . We travelled in a mini bus and stopped along the way for some photos with magical surroundings. I am feeling as though the blog photos may become a bit repetitive with all these views, but they really capture something special for us so I am still going to share them.

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Red mountains, blue sky and splashes of greenery.. So pretty!

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Highlight alert- stopping at an old lady’s place in the middle of nowhere to feed llamas and goats! So cute.

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Josh hated getting his hands dirty but luckily he is traveling with his girlfriend…disinfectant and wet wipes to the rescue (check out what he has learnt while traveling with yours truly)

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Like Mendoza, Cafayate is known for it’s wineries, so our tour also included a quick taste!

All round great day.. How better to end it than with a selfie 🙂

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So with that we say goodbye to Argentina for a while, and head back into Chile one last time – to the small desert town of San Pedro de Atacama.

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

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Boots up, Bums down

Next stop, Pucon!

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Beautiful quaint town with a great vibe, cool street markets, good restaurants and amazing warm weather!!

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Our 1st day here we hired bikes

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And explored the small streets, unpaved roads, rivers, farms…

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and visited these beautiful waterfalls.

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It was an awesome ride. I am seriously considering trading in driving a car for a bike when I get home 🙂

Day 2 was time to get the boots dirty again. We hit up Huerquehue National Park. The showers turned on but we enjoyed trudging along in the mud

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and making new friends..

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Now day 3 was what we came to Pucon for.. To climb one of Chile’s most active volcano, Villarrica. For this you need to go with a guide and assistants, in proper gear including real boots, wind and rain protective gear and a backpack filled with things I have never seen or heard of. Think crampons, gaiters and plastic toboggans.

Gear on and ready to go! Note the weather at the bottom of the mountain.

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As we made our steep ascent up the mountain, we trekked through the clouds and slowly began to rise up and above them

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And slowly but surely the blue skies graced us with their presence!

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The higher we got the more magical the view was

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We finally reached the top… 2850m!

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We sat, enjoyed the crazy view and re-layered up as it got pretty chile chilly pretty quickly.

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Looking down inside the volcano we didn’t see any lava but we saw and smelt the smoke coming out which was pretty damn cool

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Now the question on everyone’s lips was how the hell are we getting down from here???
Considering the practically vertical ascent there was no way down but via the bum..

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Wish we could have taken videos of us coming down. But no need for an explanation on why this was not possible :p What took 5 hours to climb up, took only 45 mins to come down. This is a pic of a group who came down after us…

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After an amazing sleep, the following day called for relaxation and time to enjoy the town before bussing off to Santiago.

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We spent hours enjoying the sunshine and watching that little volcano in the distance

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Pucon, although you were a bit out of the way for us to get to, you made our stay worth every ounce of our energy!

Adios amigos xxxx

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Josh’s Thoughts – What I’ve learnt travelling with my girlfriend

So i admit I have been quite slack in keeping my side of the blog updated, following my introduction in our Ushuaia Post. With a little spare time on my hands, I thought it’s time I share some more of my thoughts.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have taken several great holidays, with most of them being with my best (male) mates. Guys are guys, and lets be honest, we function very differently to our opposing gender. While this isn’t my first trip away with Kel, the nature of this trip has really opened my eyes to some interesting things about travelling with your girlfiriend – some of them are just interesting differences between us. There are, however, many simple things that guys could learn from our female friends and I thought I’d share them so that those that haven’t travelled with a girl don’t miss out!

Before I get into it, there are some obvious differences that I am not going to bother discussing here ( e.g. The role of wingman is probably not necessary, personal hygiene is not an unaffordable luxury and paper-scissors-rock is not a viable way of settling an argument/making a decision ).
Rather I am looking at some subtle things that I have found to be amusing/helpful.

So here we go:

1) The many uses of wet wipes – these little gems are something that most guys (without kids) would have no idea about. Great for cleaning hands after a packed picnic lunch, but even better – when you get to the point where one more wipe with hostel toilet paper will likely draw blood, call on the wet wipe! Also can be used in lieu of a shower during long multi day treks! (Great for the hard to reach places…)

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2) The time-money-HEALTH relationship – The extent of one’s travel is generally subject to two main constraints – TIME and MONEY. For example, when planning a holiday, you are normally limited to the amount of leave you get from work, and how much cash you have in the bank. You may be able to get more time off, but do you then have to lower your daily budget to be able to make use of the extra time? The same can be said when actually on the road- e.g. You really want to do a 3 day trek – you may have the money, but do you have the time? Thus the theory of constraints – Obvious, right?

But travelling with Kel (and maybe this is not applicable to all girls), a third constraint exists – HEALTH. Take the example of eating lunch- if i was travelling with guys, i imagine my lunch would consist of 2 empanadas (typical south american street food) and maybe a beer from the supermarket. Its quick and very cheap, leaving plenty of room in the budget for the rest of the day.

One of the few empanadas I have indulged in (almost as delicious as my Granny Ida’s perogen!)

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However what about the HEALTH budget? 2 empanadas for lunch may mean there’s nothing left in the health budget for dinner, and therefore I have to get something smaller AND have a salad.

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Hence I am more likely to agree to a tuna and avocado sandwich for lunch, to leave space for a 500g sirloin for dinner!

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Luckily Kel and I both love the physical activities (trekking, bike riding etc) so that boosts the size of our health budget!

3) Dessert is a possibility – when travelling with guys, dessert after dinner is not even considered, as dinner usually consists of cooking in a hostel, leading into a massive drinking session and then into a big night at a bar/club and spending all your money on drinks before stumbling home, and waking up with a hangover. However cut that all out, and you actually leave a lot of money and time (and health budget) to enjoy ice cream or a chocolate fondante!

The BEST ice cream I have ever tasted… And I mean it – Juaja in Bariloche (apparently they have a shop in Melbourne too so check it out!)

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4) Sometimes asking for directions can help – but only sometimes and it’s probably because you have a bad map…

5) Check border customs restrictions before crossing – Chile, like Australia, has very strict rules about what you can bring into the country, with fresh fruit and vegetables being a big no-go. If I was with guys, this would never be an issue. But when travelling with Kel, bus rations do not consist of chips and chocolate, but rather a fresh green salad (with dressing) in a Tupperware container, plus 2 bananas, an apple and 2 carrots!!
You should have seen the looks on the faces of the border staff when emptying our bags. Luckily I insisted on ticking YES on our immigration form for “does your luggage contain fruit or vegetables”.
Believe it or not, Kel even tried to take an apple across the border the next time, and only agreed to chuck it once we saw this sign:

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6) Your travel companion is 50% of your trip – so make sure you have a good one! Even after spending all day every day together for just over 3 weeks, Kel and I are still powering on and loving (almost) every moment of each others company. We live every day like its our last day of the trip, and we always end it with a laugh. This trip wouldn’t be half as special if it wasn’t shared with Kel! Hopefully I’ll feel the same after 3 months!

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That’s all for now- Thanks for reading and we look forward to updating you all again soon.

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Volcano sightings keep life interesting!

Feeling ready to progress our way up north, we spontaneously booked a flight Puerto Montt to begin our journey through the Lakes District of Argentina/Chile. We spent 2 nights in the lovely town of Puerto Varas which has beautiful views and interesting Colonial style German buildings. We arrived just in time for a magical sunset.

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Josh got the buzz around town that a big soccer game – Chile vs Argentina was on that evening so guess where we ended up? A few beers, pisco sours and a massive pizza later we were having a jolly time soaking up the atmosphere. Needless to say Josh (bless his soul) was trying to discuss tactics and strategies with me, but I was quite content people watching 🙂

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The next day we put the hiking boots back on and made our way by minibus to Petrohue, the entrance to Chile’s second largest national park. Our aim for the day trek was to get a good view of the volcano, and that we did! Cool feeling being higher than the clouds..

20121019-083307.jpg Being in the Lakes District I guess you would expect beautiful lakes, but pictures don’t really capture how pristine and spectacular these bodies of water are! And the guy standing in front is alright as well 😉

20121019-083328.jpg Now this next photo is Josh showing off how much faster he was walking than me. That’s ok :). Spending 24/7 with one person means a little space is required… Today we soaked up the opportunity to enjoy some personal space.

20121019-083631.jpg Lunch at the lookout point was amazing! Food is always that much better when you have earned it. Tuna and avo rolls hit the spot.

20121019-192935.jpgAfter lunch we persevered up a little higher and a little closer the volcano. Hard work as it was quite a steep incline, but the reward? Running skiing (without skis) our way down the sandy trail. Adrenaline peak!

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Interrupted by this awesome cloud! Reminded us of the Philadelphia cream advert. We took so many pics of it and have o far been unless with deleting unnecessary pictures, but have kept a good handful of these cloud ones.

20121019-083840.jpg 16 kms of nature at its finest, finished off with a Chilean Pink Lady Apple makes for a very content girl!

20121019-083850.jpg Great day, great place. Coming to you next from Bariloche, Argentina.

Adios amigos and THANKYOU everyone for your comments, we love arriving at a wifi spot and reading them all!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Chile adventures on foot

After arriving in the town of Puerto Natales after a long 14 hour bus ride from Ushuaia our trekking adventure in Torres Del Paine national park was next on our agenda and the part of our trip we were both so excited for!

This trek involved carrying our tent, sleeping bags, mats, sleeping gear, wet weather gear, stove, gas, cooking utensils, 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners all on our backs for approximately 85 kms. Our hostel room was a bomb before we left.. 20121015-120610.jpg

We woke up bright and early Wednesday morning – but not early enough. Our phones were on the wrong time zone setting and thinking it was 630am it was actually 730am. Luckily the bus driver agreed to come back for us! We took a bus to the park and then a catamaran to the starting point of the W-trek which we were about to begin. Ready to go with bright orange wet weather gear- tick! 20121015-120623.jpg
From the very beginning of the trek the views were breathtaking. The terrain was so diverse from devastating desolate fire affected areas (caused by a tourist in January), to lush greenery, snow capped mountains, aqua lakes, glaciers and beautiful valleys and streams. With little to no wind the reflections of the mountains on the lake were incredible.
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Luckily we didn’t have to carry water with us. Any running stream of water was good to drink. And good is an understatement 🙂 water never tasted so fresh and crisp! 20121015-120641.jpg
Day 1 we walked towards Glacier Grey. It was so cool seeing the icebergs and the different shades of white and blue caused by the reflections of the sky and the surroundings.
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Got to love a few selfies 😉
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We camped right by the glacier the first night. We woke up thinking there was a massive thunder storm when in actual fact it was part of the glacier chipping off. Nature and its surprises.

For dinner we enjoyed devoured mushroom risotto from a packet. Our conversation went something like this.. “This could honestly be served in a 5 star restaurant”… “Maybe its just cause we are hungry”… “no i’m serious i don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything so good”. Lol.
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Next day we were all packed up and off to our next campsite. Crossing big, unstable bridges with signs like these are enough to make you a bit concerned. 20121015-120821.jpg

On day 3 we were blessed with beautiful blue skies which we did not take for granted after hearing horror stories about Patagonian weather.20121015-120829.jpg
A day of picturesque scenery.
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Panoramic 360 degree view. Feeling a bit low on the energy side of things, this definitely raised the spirits!20121015-120845.jpg

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Occasionally we would just stop, pinch ourselves that we were actually here and have a moment to take it all in.20121015-120914.jpg

This was by at our favourite day of scenery. Patagonia was really showing off what it has to offer 😉 20121015-120924.jpg

If mushroom risotto was 5 star quality, then 2 minute noodles AND creamy spinach soup deserved 3 hats!20121015-120930.jpg

Pitching our tent on a wooden board at the next campsite was luxury! A flat surface, unlike the previous night prevented me waking up squashed to the side of the tent on the hard cold ground (with Josh soundly asleep and oblivious) haha 20121015-120936.jpg

We had a relatively good night sleep and were ready the most difficult day of the trek. 22 kms and steep inclines. But after a hearty bowl of delicious hot oats- you know about my love for them– we were ready and pumped! . 20121015-120943.jpg

We reached our campsite way earlier than we expected, pitched our tent and decided to trek up to Torres Del Paine thinking it would just be a stroll. How wrong we were! Steep and rocky- but well worth the view! 20121015-120951.jpg
The cow mountain.
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After a lovely evening at camp we woke up for our last day, dosed up on the oats and coffee and off we went! 20121015-121006.jpg
We made it our tradition to run as fast as we could down hills (yes, with our massive backpacks on)… Such fun! This also meant our 10ks down to our end point just flew
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After a fun and relatively easy day we arrived at our final destination feeling good, accomplished and satisfied!20121015-121024.jpg

We enjoyed coke and coffee and a clean bathroom with oh so sweet melting soap!!!!20121015-121034.jpg

After finally returning to our hostel, returning our hired gear and scrubbing up like never before we headed out for a post-trek feed to a place recommended by our friend Bortzy, La Picada de Don Carlitos. a20121015-121103.jpg

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What an incredible journey we shared together! We crossed many boundaries that should probably never be crossed, spent hours chatting about random topics from trigonometry to economics to singing random songs, playing rhyming games, predicting passer-byers’ itineraries and enjoying kms of absolute silence.

Today we are taking a day to unwind, relax and rest the feet before taking a a bus early tomorrow morning to El Calafate back in Argentina.

Until next time, hasta Luego!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Ushuaia – The end of the world

We arrived in Ushuaia ready for our adventure to begin, and Ushuaia, you did not disappoint! Ushuaia is the southern most city in the world, surrounded by mountains on one side and the Beagle Canal on the other. As soon as we touched down on the runway situated metres from the canal, with the backdrop of the snow capped mountains we knew we were in for a treat.

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Knowing we only had one full day here we woke up extra early yesterday morning to squeeze everything we wanted to do in. We stayed in a charming guest house called Viento Del Sur and we were served a delicious breakfast which fuelled us for what was to come! Our first stop was Glacier Martial, where you can catch a chairlift up to the base or walk up. We of course chose to walk. We were the only people to be seen and no footprints to follow which was both daunting and exciting.

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The snow was fresh, fluffy and perfect for snow angels 🙂

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and the view just kept getting better!

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We searched and searched for a path but it was nowhere to be seen. We did spot a couple of benches that had been snowed over almost completely and we assumed (and found out after) that due to the large amounts of snow the paths had been covered. But despite this we were not heading back just yet. We decided the only way to go was up! In thick snow, we treaded our way up the mountain. Stages of it required crawling on our hands and knees, fighting the gravity pulling us down!

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And there was only one way down! We tobogganed our way down on our bums. Crazy scary at first we were both just kind of shaking in our boots but once we gave into the idea of it, it was awesome!

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Beautiful morning!

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And no better way to finish it off…

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Now all we needed was a taxi to take us back to town. But none to be found, so we began our long trek down. Realising how long this was going to take us we resorted to other options. we were in luck and managed to hitch a ride with a lovely lady who happened to work at the tea shop.

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We headed to the supermarket, bought some things for lunch including brown rolls, tuna, ricotta and an avocado and caught a taxi to our next destination- Tierra Del Fuego (Land of Fire).

We had no real expectations of the national park, no map and no real idea of what we were in for. We naively got dropped at the entrance to the park, a VERY long way away from the start of the trails. Luckily an Argentinian guy in a taxi stopped and offered us to jump in the taxi with him. Matias, thank you! You truly saved the day. It turns out there are several trails you can do, of various lengths and difficulties and with very different starting points. While some head inland, we decided to take advantage of the sunny weather and join Matias on the coastal trail.

And nothing could prepare us for what were about to see. The most tranquil place with absolutely breathtaking views!

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After 2 hours of walking we stopped for lunch. Beautiful views, great company, cold water and good food = bliss.

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We continued walking and were blown away by the beauty of this place.

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Literally a slice of heaven untouched and undisturbed.

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Smiles all round, all day.

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Can you spot Chile?

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After an awesome 10km walk we headed back to town, exhausted but very satisfied. We went straight to the supermarket, bought things to make dinner and retreated to the warmth of our hostel. A hearty meal and a bottle of red wine completed our perfect day!

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Josh’s thoughts

A quick introduction to this section:
Those that know us will agree that Kel and I are quite different in personalities- Kel is the artistic, idealistic and carefree type, who loves spontaneity – Kel often likes to leave things to the very last minute – often resulting in moments of chaos, but somehow always managing to pull through. I on the other hand am a firm believer in logic, practicality and forward planning. I like things organised, and when I write, it is generally direct and to the point.
Luckily however, the two of us complement each other like steak and potatoes (or in Kel’s case sushi and soy sauce). We both share a common love for the outdoors, food and exercise, and we aren’t afraid to tell each other when they do something funny, impressive, annoying or disgusting!

Given we are sharing this adventure together, I feel like it is my obligation to add some cold hard facts, tips and things we have learnt, to the end of each of kels lovely, fluffy, and emotional recounts. The idea of this section will be to help provide a bit more info about the places we visit, as well as to provide a little bit of practical advice to those thinking of travelling to the same places. It’s not comprehensive, but just a few things to know before you get there without ruining the surprise!

So without further ado, I present my tips on Ushuaia:

The weather changes extremely frequently So have lots of layers. I wore a long sleaved merino wool thermal, a polar fleece and a wind/rain thin outer jacket. And between these I was fine. The weather would move between sunshine, wind, rain and snow all in about 15 minutes.

Pick a trail for Tierra Del Fuego before you go, and get dropped at the start of that trail. Also, enquire as to taxi or bus service from the end of the trail back to Ushuaia because these are not always so frequent. We were lucky as a mini bus stopped for us and let us buy a ticket on the bus (rather than from a travel agent)

Travel agents are closed between 2.30pm and 5.30pm (and closed on Sundays) so make sure you book buses etc before or after.

ATMs can run out of money! So always make sure you plan ahead and keep a couple of days cash in reserves. Also, one of our bank cards stopped working (I think our bank was suspicious of all the money beings drawn in Argentina) so having a second bank account as back up was a saver for us!

Don’t expect people to speak English. Having at least a bit of Spanish is a must- it’s amazing how you can get by with just a few Spanish lessons at home under your belt (plus a travel companion who can speak a bit more!)

Anyway that’s all for now. Hasta Luego! (Until next time)

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!