Monday, March 27, 2006

More Football

25 March 2006

Have spent the last couple of days hanging around Chile. Caroline´s parents arrived back from their trip to Brazil nd yesterday we went out to lunch at a traditional Chilean restaurant. Again I had a Chilean salad. At night I went off to another soccer match, this time to see a chilean league match between Union Espanola and Universidad de Concepcion. Union Espanola is Caroline´s cousin´s husband Valentine´s team. It was abit of a difference to the previous game we went to as the crowd was much smaller and the stadium was very old. I think if someone had let off a flare it might have burnt the whole place down. The game wasnt that great we left happy as Union Espanola won 1-0. It was a boy´s night out as I went with Valentine and Caroline´s dad and uncle. I think i make Union EspaƱola my chilean team as they are abit of a battler side but still okay as they wont the title last year. They are also not as popular as some of the other Chilean teams.

Today we went to a local artifical lake to check out the South American waterski championships- something I hadnt seen in the flesh before - only watched the Moomba Masters on T.V


Union Espanola vs Universidad Concepcion

Us at the lake watching some waterskiing

Football and Architecture

21 March 2006

Today we had a look around some shops in a shopping mall near the centre of Santiago. Our highlight of the day was going to see a soccer match between Universidad de Catolica of Chile and Deportivo Cali of Columbia in Copa Liberatodores game. For those not in the know - Copa Liberatodores is the South American Version of the European Champions League. It took us ages to get to the game as it seemed everyone was driving to the game and we missed the first ten minutes. Anyways the Universidad fans came away happy as they won 2-1. It was a pretty good game and the crowd was really into it - being mostly Universidad fans. Security checks were non-existent compared to Melbourne Victory games but there was alot of police in full riot gear. At the game I got to hear the Chilean term ¨Huevon¨which I think means egg head or something like that, and is the quintessential Chilean insult - useed to full effect on the referees, opposition players and of course Universidad players. I had a great time and really enjoyed the experience. Hopefully I may be able to catch a chilean league match before I leave.

22 March 2006

Today we again paid a visit to Central Santiago to check out some more sites. This time we went with Caroline´s cousin, Carolina. We checked out the Catedral Metropolitana, the Plaza de Armas (every South American city or town has one), the Casa Colorada and its Museo de Santiago, the Palacio de Bellas Artes and Museo de Arte Contemporaneo where we saw some interesting artwords. We also checked out the Universidad de Catolica which was showing some of the design and architectural work by its students. The main reason for the visit was to have a look at the new School of Medicine building by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena.It was pretty good and had some interesting feature.Took some photos but didnt spend a whole lot of time because I was with non-architects. We also had a look at some markets and shops.


Neil and Caroline outside the Catedral Metropolitana

The new Medicine building by Alejandro Aravena

Neil and Caroline´s cousin Carolina

Neil and Caroline at the Universidad de Catolica vs Deportivo Cali game

The final scoreboard at the Universidad de Catolica vs Deportivo Cali game

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Flying like a bird in Miraflores

16 March 2006

Another early start as our tour of Peru drew to an end. We took a bus from Puno to Juliaca to catch a plane back to Lima. We arrived back in Lima about 12 noon. As soon as you arrive back in Lima you really notice the difference between Lima and the other places we have visited in Peru.

After a fairly dodgy lunch we headed down to Miraflores with John + Laura (the other two remaining members of our group). Miraflores is like the rich and classy end of Lima and if you only visited Miraflores you wouldnt get the real picture of the city. The reason for the visit to Miraflores was to go paragliding. I wasnt that keen on it at the start but Caroline had had her heart set on it for a while - but it in the end all four of us took up the challenge. I am glad that I decided do it. We floated hundreds of metres above the beaches and roadways and pools as your pilot gives you a guided aerial view of Miraflores. The sensation of flyin around was amazing and I think I had the biggest grin on my face the whole time. Not usually my kind of thing but it was so much fun. Caroline and the others also enjoyed it a lot. Caroline also got to see a Peruvian beagle - which reminded her of Peanut.

As it was our last night together as a group we went out for dinner in Miraflores with our tour leader to say thanks for a great tour.


Miraflores from the air

Miraflores from the air

Miraflores from the air

Its long way down there

Neil coming into land - stand clear

Friday, March 17, 2006

Seasickness on the highest lake in the world

14 March 2006

Yesterday was spent traveling from Cuzco to Puno. This took 7 hours on a bus! Puno is at an altitude of 3800m above sea level.

Today was an early start again for us as we headed out onto Lake Titcaca to visit some of the Islands. Lake Titcaca is the highest navigatable lake in the world and its huge. We experienced rain for the first time since we have been in South America. However the rain soon disappeared and it was blue skies again.

Our first stop was Taquile Island which was about a 3 hour boat ride from Puno. We took a hike over the island which was quite tough because of the altitude, but the scenery was picturesque. We stopped off in the main plaza for lunch and then caught the boat to a near by island called Amantani.

On Amantani Island we stayed with a family in their home. We met our families and after a brief stay at our home, went up the hill to the local football pitch. It was only half the size and was concrete. We played two games of gringos vs locals. We won the first game 5-3 - one of the few times the locals had lost. The locals then immediately challenged us to a rematch - feeling the altitude we lost 4-1. We returned to our host home where we had a very simple dinner of soup and potatoes with our family in their small dark kitchen. We had some fun and games playing around with one of the children who lived in the house.

After dinner we got dressed up in traditional costumes to go to a fiesta. I only had to where a woolen hat and poncho, but Caroline had to wear traditional skirt, blouse and headscarf. At the fiesta we did some traditional Peruvian dancing which after a while seemed all to be the same. I dont think the locals were that impressed with our dancing skills.

15 March 2006

After a good night sleep we left Amantani Island and our host families. The lake was a bit choppy and both Caroline and I suffered from abit of sea sickness. On the way back to Puno, we stopped off at the Uros Islands which are a series of man made islands make of reeds. Its quite interesting and the islands were quite stable(and bouncy).

Once we were back in Puno we decided to pay a visit to the Fertility Temple, just outside of Puno. It was listed in one of our guidebooks as one of the top thirty things to do in Peru. When we arrived we were abit disappointed as it was a bit smaller than we expected. Being a Fertility Temple it had a whole series of phallic shaped statues. Even though it wasnt as big as we thought it was still worth a visit just for some funny photos. Late in the evening we again went out for dinner and drinks in Puno - which was a lot of fun.


Lake Titicaca from Taquile Island.

Neil starring on the soccer field on Amantani Island.

The winning soccer team

The house where we stayed on Amantani Island.

A view of one of the floating Uros Islands

The Fertility Temple in Puno - not quite up to size.

Back in Cuzco

12 March 2006

Not much happening toay as we spent most of the day travelling back to Cuzco. Really loving Cuzco! People here are generally really nice, helping you out if you look alittle lost. Lots of great places to eat, drink and shop. Definitely one of my favouite places so far.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Jungle Fever

10 March 2006

Today we left cuzco for the Amazon Jungle. Our first stop was Puerto Maldonado which is considered the capital of the Amazon in these parts. The airport in Puerto Maldonardo was fairly basic - where you get off the plane onto the tarmac and the terminal was just a big shed. When we walked off the plane we were hit by this wave of heat - it was about 33 degrees with very very high humidity. We took a bus ride into town to take a one and a half hour boat up the Madre Del Dios river to our jungle lodge - which looked pretty impressive amongst the trees. Our Cabins are pretty basic with flyscrees instead of windows and only cold showers - which wasn´t so bad considering the heat.

Our first excusion was a short boat ride across the river to Monkey Island which has five different kinds of monkeys living peacefully together. We walked around abit and the guide guide started calling out to the monkeys telling them he had bananas. Soon a whole bunch of monkeys came from everywhere. I got to have a small tamarind monkey sit on my shoulder and fed aother. It was great fun.

After dinner we went for a boat ride in the dark along the river trying to spot caimains. (which are like alligators) We didnt have much luck and only managed to see a few. When we went back to our cabins the jungle starting to come alive with noise. Whilist on the boat we could see lightning off in the disance but didnt get any rain.

11 March 2006

We were up early this morning for a four hour trek through the jungle. Our guide took us through the jungle near our cabins and explaining bits of pieces about local trees and wildlife. I got to swing on a vine like Tarzan and Caroline got to wear a skirt made out of palm leaves. We made it to a bird watching tower that overlooked a lake on which we travelled by boat. Before we could travel on the boat alot of water had to be bailed out.

The trek was good - just being part of the Amazon jungle - the only problem bein the heat and the humidity that increased as the trek wore on and we were both pretty tired hen we arrived back. I had a quick dip in the swimming pool on the lodge where the water was an unnatural green colour.

In the afternoon we went and paid a visit to a local family who live about 20 minutes down the river. Here we got to see how they lived an got to have a firing a bow and arrow. The heat and humity here is amazing with your clothes feeling damp after you have been walking for only a few steps.

Our Tour group on the Madre Del Dios

Monkey hanging around on Monkey Island

We saw this sign during our 4 hour jungle trek

Neil swinging through the jungle

On a canoe in a lake in the jungle

Our Viewing platform in the jungle

Our lodges in the jungle

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Blog Trouble

Neil accidently deleted the entire blog! Nice one! So we had to publish it again. We´ve lost your comments. Sorry! Feel free to post them again


Ruins, ruins and more ruins

09 March 2006

We headed off today to see the Sacred Valley of Cuzco. First stop was Sasqaywaman, some ruins that overlook the city of Cuzco and gave a great view of the city. You don´t realise how big the city is until you view it from this vantage point.

Next stop was llama and alpaca where we got to feed some of them. We also saw some of the local people turning the wool of these animals into garments.

Our next stop to visit was the village of Pisac which is famous for its market and ruins. A small group of us chose to visit the Pisac ruins and when we arrived we were glad we made the choice. Everywhere we looked was a picture postcard view down into the Sacred Valley - so we took a number of photos. We then headed back down to Pisac to do some shopping at the market. We bought a number of items and did some bargaining with the locals. There was heaps of alpaca products and I even saw a human skull with hair on it. Not sure if it was real and I didn´t stop to ask.Our last stop for the day was Ollantytambo where paid a visit to some Inca ruins. Again most of the buildings had been destroyed by the Spanish.

As at least half our tour group was going back to Lima tomorrow we went out to a local restaurant called Fallen Angel for a meal and some drinks. The food was fantastic. Some of us then headed off to the local Irish Pub. Yes, they even have an Irish Pub in Cuzco. Although to be perfectly honest there wasn´t much Irish about it apart from selling Guinness. I don´t think there was any Peruvians at the bar. When we arrived at the bar it was the start of a happy half hour. Instead of the usual drinks at half price they gave us two drinks for the price of one. So I had 2 vodkas for the 8 peruvian soles - which is about $aus4. And they were strong mixes as well.

We are off to the Jungle tomorrow.


Sasqaywaman - Above Cuzco

View from Sasqaywaman

Caroline feeding an Alpaca at a farm.

Peruvians making Alpaca stuff

View of the Sacred Valley from the Pisac Ruins

Pisac Markets

Neil climbing the Ollantytambo Ruins

Neil posing in front of Ollantytambo Ruins

Ollantytambo Ruins

Machu Picchu

08 March 2006

Today was marked down as one of the highlights of our Peruvian tour and our visit to Machu Picchu didnt disappoint. We had another early start as we had to catch one of the earliest trains to Machu Picchu. Caroline was feeling alot better today so she was able to enjoy the day much better than yesterday. After a four hour train ride through some picturesque countryside we arrived at Aguas Callientes. From here we took a half hour bus ride up the mountain to Machu Picchu. It was quite hairy bus ride at times with the narrow road barely holding two buses.

We were given a guided tour of the ruins which went for over two hours. The tourwas great as we were given a very detailed history of the place. You dont realise how big it is until you have to walk around it. We took heaps of photos and hopefully they turn out well as the light was good for picture taking. There was quite a number of tourist and sometimes we had to wait to look at some of the sites, but wasn´t too bad. After the tour we had some free time to ourselvesand then headed down to Aguas Calientes for some food. I´m glad we made it to Machu Picchu as it is a pretty awe inspiring place.

We the caought the train back to Ollantytambo we caught a bus bck to Cuzco as it would be quicker than taking the train. We had a demon driver who loved overtaking going around bends and we almost had some close calls -but we arrived back safely.


Caroline at Machu Picchu, with Huyana Picchu in the background

One of the many views of Machu Picchu

Another one of those great views

Is it Indiana Jones, no its just Neil at Machu Picchu

The terraces of Machu Picchu

Another view of Machu Picchu

Neil at Machu Picchu - farmhouses in background

Caroline at the entrance to one of the temples

Neil overlooking Machu Picchu

Plazas, Churches and Altitude Sickness

07 March 2006

Today we had an early morning flight from lima to Cuzco - the capital of the Incas and also of tourism. First thing you notice when you get off the plain is how much cleaner the air is here compared to Lima. Cuzco is about 3400m above sea level so we had to be a bit careful about over exerting ourselves at such altitude. To put it into perspective a plane usually flys at this type of altitude. One way to overcome th altitude is to drink coca tea which is made from the same plant that gives us cocaine.

We had a brief tour of the city looking at the main plazas of Cuzco and also the artist bohemian quarter. Caroline was not feeling that great probably due to her not being used to the altitude. Whilist Caroline was resting I took to the streets of Cuzco to see some of the sights. I also got to try out some spanish which is not that good - but I managed to communicate well enough. I paid a visit to one of the many churched that are in Cuzco - the iglesia de la Compania, and was givene a guided tour. Most of the churches in Cuzco were built on the foundations of Inca temples that were destroyed during the spanish conquest.

Also paid a visit to the Museum of Popular Art and Municipal Museum of Contemporary Art. The contemporary art museum was showing an exhibition of graphic design by students of La Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru- that was really quite good.


Streets in Cuzco

Cathedral in Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas in Cuzco

Some Inca foundations

Caroline in the streets of Cuzco

Caroline in Plaza de San Blaez

Plaza de Armas