Sacred time, Sacred Valley

Music, colour, history, ruins and the warmth of the wonderful people. Welcome to Cuzco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas! Spending time chatting with Maximus on top of the mountain overlooking Cuzco was a highlight!

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We arrived in Cusco at 4:30am, unable to check into our hostel until 9:30am… What did we do? Walked the streets and awaited sunrise πŸ™‚ Feeling slightly on the lost and hungry side, we stumbled across a Novotel hotel and saw a mammoth buffet breakfast on offer. We decided to treat ourselves and made ourselves comfortable for a good few hours!

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Now Cuzco is the most charming city with cobble stone streets, narrow alley ways, beautiful green plazas and colonial style Cathedrals. We spent plenty of time walking the streets, having tea or a happy hour drink on the balconies of the little restaurants and bars overlooking the plaza

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But what I was most eager to do was head to the small town of Urubumba, where in 2009 I spent a month teaching English and living with a host family. We arrived in Urubumba and walked through the busy market place where they sell everything from live chickens to lambs, 100’s of different types of potatoes and corn, hard wares, clothes and everything else you can imagine.

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We then headed to some other markets, where we stopped for a fresh banana and mango fruit juice.

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Feeling fuelled and a bit anxious to approach the house of my host family, we walked down the street and immediately recognised the house and knocked on the front door.. Only to be greeted by the warmest hug and shrieks of joy of my host mother. It really was a very special moment! We sat down, had a drink and some fruit and chatted away. It was so lovely seeing her and laughing about how she taught me to hand wash my clothes and whip the clothes dry before hanging them on the line! Oh the memories!

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Arriving back in Cuzco we visited what was my favourite cafe, Jacks, and it still delivered the most amazing salad and warm delicious bread. Sarah, I thought of you every bite through πŸ™‚

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Cuzco has some great bars.. And happy hours

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we watched this guy play and he was amazingggg!

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Another special spot in the Sacred Valley is Ollantaytambo. We walked up the ruins here

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And enjoyed the beautiful view of the town.

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Sun got a bit much for this lad πŸ˜‰

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Now the highlight of visiting this region is going to Machu Piccu. I never went with this time as I had been before and it’s a bit of a splurge to do twice… So lucky Josh had a day free to himself πŸ™‚

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Can you spot the face in the mountain below???? Once you see it, you can’t escape it.

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Such a fun stay, but its over now and next stop 1 week volunteering at a conservation lodge in the Amazon JUNGLE! And guess who will be celebrating his 1/4 of century birthday…

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

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Indulging in the sweet tastes of Maipu

Argentina’s beer wine region, Mendoza, here we come! We were greeted with beautiful hot, sunny weather and a great balcony at our hostel to enjoy it.

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But we had places to go! Next day we bussed to the vineyard region in the large, brown area of Maipu (pronounced my-poo) which as you can imagine left us with hours of play-on-word jokes (which I took a took a step to far, continuing on for days…) From there we hired bikes and rode to the different wineries.

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Maipu smelt like roses!

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We tried different wines from Maipu region, then pooped popped back on the bikes and skidded on to the next stop.

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We were greeted by the cutest puppy, Tommy. It was love πŸ™‚

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And here we also enjoyed tasting the olives and olive pastes.

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We both loved our day in Maipu and highly recommend getting there if you are visiting Argentina.

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We arrived back in Mendoza and checked out some of the great bars the city has to offer. It was a Monday night and the bars were packed!

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We love our day trips- bright and early the next morning we caught a bus to Uspallata. We kind of had no idea what we were going to and to be honest we were both looking forward to 2.5 hours of sleep time on the bus. But when we arrived we were not disappointed! Beautiful, rustic small town in the valley surrounded by mountains. We hired bikes once again, got given a map and disappeared with not another person in sight into the desert wilderness!

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The town itself is described as a green oasis in the middle of the desert…

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The ride was uphill on rocky, unpaved roads for 10 fricken kms! Maybe had we prepared ourselves mentally for this challenge it would have been easier? Pretty low on the energy side of things, we eventually got to the end of the road,

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used every last ounce of energy to climb up to the top of one of the mountains and took time to enjoy the incredible view of the multicoloured desert mountains.
Worth the hard yards πŸ™‚

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After some chill time and targeted rock throwing, which is becoming Josh’s new hobby we readied ourselves for 10kms of pure downhill sweetness!

These highlights from Mendoza are only a handful of what this city has to offer! We also enjoyed just relaxing in the beautiful parks- went for an awesome run, enjoyed the cafes, markets and bars and were sad to be leaving… Luckily overnight buses aren’t that bad πŸ˜‰

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Next stop, Salta – in northwest Argentina!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

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 πŸ™‚

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!

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜‰
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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 πŸ˜‰ 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!

Eating Well and Feeling Satisfied

Food is a big part of my life. It is a big part of my culture and a massive part of my social life. I like to eat and feel satisfied πŸ™‚ I love to share good food with the people I love.

Fig, Spinach and Sweet Potato Salad

Sushi Salad – Fresh, Delicious and Fun!

Some tips for eating well and feeling satisfied:

  • Never deprive yourself of anything. If you want something, have it and enjoy it a small portion of it.
  • Fill your fridge with lots of fresh, colourful produce. How can you possibly turn down a good salad or a juicy piece of fruit when it is staring right at you?
  • Embrace the grains! Carbs can be your friend if you choose the good quality, wholesome wholegrains. Complex cabrs including oats, wholegrain bread and brown rice help to keep you hunger at bay and provide you with energy to fuel your exercise.
  • Try to include a protein in all your meals. Protein, found in foods such as eggs, chicken, meat, nuts and fish is vital for the growth and repair of cells. Β Protein also helps with satiety, as it digests slowly and does not cause massive spikes in your blood-sugar level. Β For more info on this check out this article from the Livestrong website –The Advantages of a Protein Diet.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and herbal teas.
  • Finally, the very best tip I have to share is one I learned from my late Grandfather. Β That is, Β to eat slowly, savour every mouthful and share your meals with the people you love πŸ™‚Β 

My Cousins and I sharing one of many special dinners with our late Grandfather

What is your best tip for eating well and feeling satisfied?