Episode 16: Sydney/Perth/Clifton Springs, Australia

Beard length (Tom): Captain Birdseye

Skin colour (both): Meringue

Location: Clifton Springs, nr. Melbourne, Australia

Date: 06th June 2010.

Apologies for the gap between posts, but after almost two weeks with my mother-in-law I’ve been lost for words. To make up for my lack of effort, I’m writing an especially good post today to appease you all.

The first thing to tell you is that Australia is as wallet-burstingly expensive as New Zealand. Within 30 minutes of arriving at Sydney airport, we had been charged $5 each (£3.50) to get from the international terminal to the domestic terminal to meet Jane’s Mum (Sue), we had declined to pay the non-refundable $4 required at the domestic terminal for a luggage trolley and we’d reluctantly shelled out $3.80 for a small bottle of water.

The other cost low-light was when I fainted at a bar after being told that three pints of normal lager would cost me over £15. Ouch. Read the whole post…..

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Posted by: The Only Gringo on the Bus | May 23, 2010

Gloomy


Episode 15: Christchurch x 2/Akaroa/Auckland, New Zealand

Beard length (Tom): Joaquin Phoenix on Letterman

Skin colour (both): Cheesecloth

Location: Auckland, NZ

Date: 23rd May 2010.


If you’re sensing that you’re destined to be thrashed at mini-golf, start talking three weeks in advance about how nice the weather has been, and how lucky you and your ludicrously bearded husband have been with it.

Fate, tempted as it will undoubtedly be, will conspire to ensure a heavy dousing every time you’re near a mini-golf course for your final week in the country.

It seems whilst you lucky sods in the UK have been enjoying an early summer to usher in the brothers Cameron and Clegg (the similarity is suspicious), we have been having our worst sustained weather of the trip so far. Read the whole post…..

Posted by: The Only Gringo on the Bus | May 18, 2010

Free possum, slightly squashed


Episode 14: Hokitiki/Haast/Wanaka/Twizel/Methven/Kaikoura/Hanmer Springs, New Zealand

Beard length (Tom): David Bellamy

Skin colour (both): Raw chicken

Location: Hanmer Springs, NZ

Date: 18th May 2010.


If you are a bird of prey (and I concede that if you’re reading this the likelihood is slim), fly immediately to New Zealand where, if you’re partial to slightly squashed possum, you’ll never have to catch your own food again.

It’s said that there are more sheep in New Zealand than people, but without the motor car, the possums would outnumber the sheep by some distance.

The only things more plentiful on Kiwi roads than dead possums are stupid signs (i.e. ” Works End” when there’s been no indication of it starting) and stupid drivers. Read the whole post…..

Posted by: The Only Gringo on the Bus | May 10, 2010

Meeting an inanimate movie star


Episode 13: Taupo/Napier/Wellington/Picton/Nelson/Westport, New Zealand

Beard length (Tom): Local tramp

Skin colour (both): Labrador

Location: Westport, New Zealand

Date: 10th May 2010.


If you’re easily exhausted, stop reading now, because this update involves a lot of walking and driving. In fact, that’s almost all we’ve done since my last post.

I’ll update you on the Kiwi driving behaviour and roads in a crescendo of disgust at the end of this post, but until then, you’ll have to follow me on a whistle-stop tour of New Zealand and put up with me being fairly positive I’m afraid. Read the whole post…..

Posted by: The Only Gringo on the Bus | May 3, 2010

The worst drivers in the world award goes to…..


Episode 12: Auckland/Paihia/Te Ahora/Rotorua, New Zealand

Beard length (Tom): Captain Ahab.

Skin colour (both): The pitch at the WACA.

Location: Rotorua, New Zealand.

Date: 3rd May 2010.


It’s no wonder there are so many young Kiwis in London, they clearly can’t afford to live here!

We’ve been in New Zealand almost a week now and our mouths are agape every time we see a family with a modest picnic – “how in the name of God can you afford that”, we both think, “are you a millionaire or something?”.

A cheap loaf of bread is over 2 quid, a tin of corned beef is 3 quid. I won’t start on the cost of excursions, for fear of more Victor Meldrew comparisons.

We’re having lentil soup for tea tonight and we’re off booze for the duration. My parents are planning on coming here next year – Dad, I’m afraid you’re going to have to sell a kidney (and the house). Read the whole post…..

Posted by: The Only Gringo on the Bus | April 24, 2010

Sickness, salt and stars


Episode 11: San Pedro de Atacama/Santiago, Chile

Beard length (Tom): George Bernard Shaw

Skin colour (both): The really weak/milky tea that children and common people drink

Location: Santiago, Chile

Date: 24th April 2010.


Just a quick update today. It’s our last day in South America and it’s been a great three-and-a-bit months. It actually seems a lot longer than that to us, hopefully the whole trip will be the same and the next 8 months won’t be a blur!

We’ve had a fairly low-key week or so – I was “unwell” for two or three days with we arrived in San Pedro, which had its obvious downsides, but also one upside, in that I can now see my toes without craning my neck for the first time since university. The other upside is that we now have a whole new vocabulary for describing loo visits: “poo shake” and “Nik-Naks” being the most often used unfortunately. We’ve been forced to become much more familiar with each other! Read the whole post…..

Posted by: The Only Gringo on the Bus | April 16, 2010

A licence to print money, but worth it


Episode 10: Cusco/Puno, Peru

Beard length (Tom): Tommy Saxondale
Skin colour (both): Winter sunrise
Location: Arica, Chile

Date: 16th April 2010.


Before I begin my usual rant of negativity, let me make it very clear that we have the utmost sympathy with the people living around the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu for the problems they’ve had since January. It was clear from our visit that the repair work has only just begun, and we were lucky to be able to go at all, the ruins having only opened for business 2 weeks prior to our arrival.

That said, Machu Picchu is a licence to print money, pure and simple. Totally worth it, but a huge expense and effort. Before we get to that, let me take you briefly through our bitter-sweet couple of days in Cusco. Read the whole post…..

Posted by: The Only Gringo on the Bus | April 11, 2010

No Gracias


Episode 9: Baños/Cuenca/Mancora/Lima/Cusco, Ecuador/Peru

Beard length (Tom): Dr. Harold Shipman
Skin colour (both): Liverpool F.C. 1996 FA Cup Final suits
Location: Cusco, Peru

Date: 10th April 2010.

It’s been a while, but frankly we’ve done very little since my last update, which has suited us down to the ground!

I wrote from Baños in southern Ecuador and we ended up spending 4 days there doing minor walking, major lazing and relaxing. It should be marketed as a tonic for travellers, because just being in one place for a few days is very nice, but when that place is in such a fantastic setting with plentiful and varied restaurants (including a Swiss place where we availed ourselves of the meat fondue and feared for our faces slightly with a vat of boiling oil on our table after a few beers!) and thermal baths, you would think they’d be shouting from the rooftops! Read the whole post…..

Posted by: The Only Gringo on the Bus | April 1, 2010

A mugging – by Jane


Episode 8.5: Quito, Ecuador

So…………. now that we’re safely back (and therefore not likely to upset our respective parents) the full story of my bag being stolen in Quito follows.

Basically, we did everything that the hostel told us quite clearly not to do on their very helpful poster in reception called “Keeping safe in Quito”. Read the whole post…..

Posted by: The Only Gringo on the Bus | March 31, 2010

Giant tortoise porn – disturbing


Episode 8: Quito x 2/Galapagos Islands/Latacunga/Baños, Ecuador

Beard length (Tom): Charles Darwin (wholly inaccurate but topical)
Skin colour (both): Consumptive waif
Location: Baños, Ecuador

Date: 30th March 2010.

I’ll try not to make this update too long, but my last update we’ve climbed a mountain, spent a week onboard a pirate ship and witnessed (and filmed) some giant tortoise pornography – there’s lots to tell!

We loved Quito initially, we were there for about 3 nights before we flew to the Galapagos, 2 nights in “Gringolandia” i.e where all the hostels are, from where we acclimitised to the altitude.

We explored the old town, which is lovely – lots of cobbled streets and impressive old buildings and churches (one of which is ostensibly made entirely of gold – obviously helping the catholic church to ease the sufferings in the world!). We went up to El Panecillo for pretty uninspiring statue, but fantastic views of the sprawling city and had a look at the Basilica, with “gargoyles” in the form of Galapagos animals. Read the whole post…..

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