Peruvian delights

Welcome to Lima! After a crazy week in the jungle, where we celebrated Josh’s birthday, festivities continued with a well deserved scrub up, yum meals and comfy bed back in civilization 🙂

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Our first night kicked off catching up with Diana and Sylvia from Lima who I stayed with when I was visiting a few years ago. It was so lovely to see them both and catch up on time gone by.

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After drinks we had a very special dinner as a birthday gift from Josh’s parents. We had a great meal and savoured every last bite.

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The highlight was for sure the ceviche which is a Peruvian speciality – fresh white fish marinated in citrus fruit and chilli. It was delicious!

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The rest of our stay in Lima involved walking the streets as we do; visiting the city centre which was buzzing with parades and festivities

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And then we headed to Lacomar, a cool open air shopping mall with restaurants and a great waterside view.

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Night time came around too quickly again, and we enjoyed a pisco sour at the hotel bar. Another Peruvian speciality consisting of pisco, lemon, sugar and egg white. Don’t judge till you try!

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Our night ended at a games room. Need we say more? We spent a lot of money getting these tickets… Which got us 2 packs of chewing gum, hello kitty hair clips and a small ball 🙂

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A fun few days in Lima, but time to reacquaint ourselves with our backpacks and off to Columbia we go!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

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Enjoying the desert life

We have journeyed from big cities like Buenos Aires and Santiago, hiked up an active volcano covered in snow in Pucon, relished the smells and tastes of Maipu just outside of Mendoza, trekked and camped Torres Del Paine and the list goes on. But now friends it is time to share our latest adventures in the Chilean desert town of San Pedro de Atacama…

Presenting our hostel, our cozy haven which began as a 2 night stop over stay and rapidly transformed into to an awesome 4 night desert experience.

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The town quite simply has a special touch. The streets are sandy and lined with tourist offices, restaurants, mini-markets and huddles of people waiting to board their collectivo and begin one of the many morning/afternoon/evening tours on offer.

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We don’t usually do the group tour type of thing, but in this town it is what you do. The more you book the better deal you get, and it is the easiest way to see the coolest places. Our first tour was visiting the Valle de la Luna. Awesome natural sculptures formed over millions of years..

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We watched the sunsetting over the landscape which was beautiful!

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Next day, 4am wake up “what the hell have we gotten ourselves into?”

This… Sunrise at the mind blowing El Tatio (the geysers) which means ‘old man crying’ in Quechua

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and by the way, temperature update: -11.5 degrees Celsius

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As the sun continued rising, we huddled around the geysers where the hot steam offers welcome warmth

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Our guide began explaining how the steam comes for the pools of water bellow surface, when he stuck his hands into the water and pulled out a bag of magical oval balls… Eggs!

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Also known as hand warmers ( and breakfast!)

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We continued on stopping at these hidden gems for snaps

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And then we took a dip in the natural hot springs.

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Such an awesome tour and well worth the early wake up. We returned to town at midday, grabbed lunch and napped in preparation for an 11pm star gazing tour. No pictures here but we were truly blown away by how crazy our sky is! Being in an unpolluted, undisturbed desert we saw our night sky up close and personal..planets, the Milky Way, moons, shooting stars.. The list goes on.

Next day stove cooked oats for breakfast in preparation for….

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SANDBOARDING

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Similar to snow boarding (not as fast according to Josh) but definitely fast enough for me!

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Was very cool being surrounded by these massive sand dunes, feeling as though we were in the middle of nowhere.
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That afternoon we hit up the Laguna Cejar.
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Crystal waters, sunshine and blue skies!
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and overall a relaxing afternoon of floating in the 25m deep salt lake..
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Complete with watching the sunset and drinking pisco sours 🙂
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What a crazy few days, feeling so blessed and lucky to be sharing it all with Josh.
Next we have a 3 day jeep journey through the salt flats into Bolivia.

Adios amigos!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

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!

Big City Buzz

We arrived in Santiago bright and early after an overnight bus from Pucon. Only able to check into our hostel at 3pm we dropped off our bags and we were off roaming the streets (as we do) before the city had awoken.

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We decided to join a free walking tour, and we are so glad we did! Our guide Felippe was amazing and brought the city to life. After hearing not such great things about the city itself from other travellers, we found a liking to it and would highly recommend popping by if you’re in the area! We stayed in the awesome neighbourhood of Bellavista recommended by Aarin, a lovely girl we met in Pucon who lived here for a few months. Lots of great bars, restaurants and fun vibe.

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There was a great buzz- street performers, cool street food stands and don’t worry if you forgot to polish your shoes, there is someone conveniently placed every 10 metres of the city offering this service. Coffee-on-legs was another interesting service on offer all over the city district. What looks like an espresso bar with skimpily dressed girls serving coffee to men smoking cigars in business suites, feeding their egos for tips- is just that! Some of the places still have ‘happy minute’ where they ring a bell, shut the doors and close the window shutters – stripping for the business men, collecting tips then resuming business as usual.

As well as cultural norms of the city, Felippe did squeeze in some more historical info too.

This pic was actually taken to capture our new friends aka our fellow Aussie walking tour companions in their matching Kathmandu hats and belted up cargo pants (us in 40 years)

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After our walking tour we enjoyed lunch- yay sushi!!

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The next day we caught a bus to the charming, bohemian style, overly congested and colourful city of Valparaiso. My aunty had a friend who lived there and highly recommended us visiting it- thanks for your advice as always Mish!

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Every corner you turn takes you to a charming new alley way, lined with graffiti filled walls, brightly coloured flowers and lots and lots of power lines.

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Walking these streets was like walking through an art gallery – surprises around every corner…

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We went to local fruit and veg market- my favourite part of any town. Bustling, colourful and loud.

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Everyone here seems pretty content 🙂

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…Only after a month in South America is this cute, rather than unhygienic!

We then headed down to the neighbouring coastal city of Viña Del Mar. So different to its neighbour- spread out, modern and city with a real beach-holiday vibe. Lots of beautiful gardens, hence it’s known as the Garden City.

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We enjoyed walking along the sunny boardwalk and stopped for some delicious dulce de Leche churros (dulce de leche is the famous caramel-like Argentinian spread use in everything- desserts, pastries, ice cream etc).

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Overall an amazing couple of days! Next destination the wine region of Argentina, Mendoza 🙂

Thanks for tuning in friends, until next time adios!

P.S. Thankyou for the ongoing comments- we never have long enough periods of wifi to respond to each comment but we really love reading them! To our new blogging friends from all over the globe, feel free to leave us a comment or any questions about places we have been so far (and of course, any recommendations for us will be greatly received as well!)

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!

Travel Blogging and Random Tips

So friends, 3 more sleeps until our 3 months South America adventure begins!

We are planning on using my blog as our travel diary. I hope it will be a vehicle for us to share our journey with family, friends (yes, that includes you!). We will update it as often as possible, complete with photos of our travel adventures, travel tips and stories and of course, keeping with the theme, snippets of our food and fitness escapades.  I am hoping Josh will do a few posts along the way to add a bit of a different flavour ;).

This week I have been on teaching break so I have had countless trips to the shops, sussing out every adventure-travel store. I am totally obsessed with all the ‘cool’ gear. My mom and I had lots of fun trying on every nerd-friendly trekking accessory possibly… I sent Josh a text asking if he’d like a matching hat 😛 Lol.

Here are some Random Tips for Travel Preparation

-Gather as much information as possible from different sources (travel blogs, friends, colleagues, travel books) but take advice with a grain of salt! Josh and I both love the idea of traveling to the unknown.  We have tried not to look at too many photos in order to make the experience ours. We have received amazing travel tips from friends who have been to the area and are so very grateful for all the helpful tips. Thanks guys, you always have our backs 😉

-Set a budget. Traveling for extended periods of time require careful budgeting. Not hard when your travel partner is an accountant ;). Make sure you and your travel companions are on the same page about how you want to spend your money. Be clear about what you both want. I.e. One thing I will not compromise on for this trip is room type. I am happy to stay at hostels but I want our own room and where possible our own bathroom!

-Open up an account with a bank that has reasonable (or non-existant) international ATM withdrawal fees. This is Josh’s department, and he definitely did his research. It is the worst getting charged copious amounts of $$ for withdrawing money.

-Never underestimate how much the actual preparation for a backpacking trip costs. From vaccinations, special location-specific medications like maleria and cholera, essential travel gear like hiking boots, a good jacket, thermals and for the girls, all the toiletries that you practically never use at home but you ‘just might need’ while you are away i.e. expensive de-frizzing hair product ?

-Decide on Electronics to take with and prepare them for their journey accordingly. Since we will be taking lots of bus trips, traveling on budget airlines (hello 14 hour flight with no entertainment), Josh has loaded his iPad with movies.  This kind of thing takes a bit of organisation so try not to leave it to the night before! Also, remember to bring a dual earphone connector (thanks Bortz 🙂 )

What is your best travel tip? Any tips for packing a back pack? I had my first attempt today…

Looking forward to hearing your tips. P.S. I have created a travel page-  Check it out and feel free to leave us a comment 🙂

As for now, I am off to farewell dinner and drinks with close friends and family.

Happy Saturday!

Weekend pleasures

Happy Sunday! I hope you have managed to enjoy the sunshine, like my pug friend who I fell in love with at the beach today.

Last night we tried out an African inspired restaurant we had never been to in Manly

We started with the ‘mazza platter’ of mixed marinated and gourmet vegetables, which came with delicious toasted bread on the side (didn’t photograph very well).

My plate of beetroot, capsicum, artichoke, eggplant (my favourite) and toast.

For mains, I got the ‘Fish Turbine Tajine’ which was blue eyed cod adorned in their famous spicy tomato charmoula and Maroccan spices.  It was so good!   Tajine, we found out is the name of the Moroccan pot the dish is cooked and served in.

Josh had the ‘Couscous Lamb Bidaobi’ – marinated lamb served on couscous with a combo of sweet chickpeas and vegetable broth. He very much enjoyed it. Both dishes were enjoyed with a glass of wine and a  side of ‘Harissa’ – hot chilli. Mmm

This morning we headed out for a beautiful 11.75 km run from Bondi Beach to Coogee.

We ran at a steady 6.25 pace. There were heaps of runners, walkers and joggers out and about and LOTS of very challenging hills and stairs. Perfect training run for City2Surf which is in 5 weeks.

I also tried out my heart rate monitor for the first time.  My average heart rate was 172 bpm and my max was 229 bpm. I have been doing alot of reading about heart rate stats and I am slowly getting my head around what it all means. I plan to do a post on HR this week, so stay posted.

After our run headed out for a bite to eat and did some Spanish practice in preparation for our South America trip which is 3 months away. It makes it all the more real when learning a new language is involved 😛 But more on that later..

Sydney siders… this week I will be doing some last minute organising for my girls run one Sunday this month. I am still in the process of organising a few different things so I shall fill you in soon!

For now, fill me in on your Sunday.

Have you managed to enjoy a Sunday workout or an enjoyable Sunday meal? xx