So many years ago (when I was 14) I became strongly drawn to visit Spain, Latin America and in particular - Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas.
In my middle years, I spent many years studying the Spanish Language and tackling the dreaded 'SER' and 'ESTAR'! - just in case I should 'live the dream' one day.
They say 'patience is a virtue' and it surely must be. Here am I in my golden years, setting off with 'me, myself and I' on a 6 months odyssey to follow my dreams. At this point my feelings are a mix of excitement and angst, having never done anything remotely similar in my life. Countdown: 8 1/2 weeks and still so much to do!!
November 20th 2012
It was early in the morning and very cold as I left Oviedo the capital of green Galicia aboard a comfortable Alsa Supra bus. The drifting mists were rolling down from the surrounding mountain, partially obscuring the Oviedo Bus Station. The journey up to Santiago de Compostela takes four and a half hours. This destination is traditionally Journeys End for the many thousands of pilgrims from all over the world who walk over 1,000 kilometres to get here). From France, across the Pyrennien Alps, through the middle of Spain and on up to the north of Spain and the truly marvellous medieval Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. Travelling the winding road through the mountains, we changed drivers at the half-way mark, in the middle of nowhere. I wish I had asked where we were, because in ... read more
November 2nd 2012
The trouble with time is that it has a way of escaping! Before I even start writing about where I was last week, the surroundings and timeframe have changed because I have moved on yet again! My time in Oviedo was an enjoyable experience, even though it is so different from Gijon (between the sea and mountains). It is the capital of the region of Galicia and therefore has a completely different feel to it. The streets are wider - in fact some are as wide as the avenues in Seville! There are some truly beautiful buildings up here - both old and new. The parks are much larger and more grand, with some of the most spectacularly large conifers I have ever seen. Walkways meander through Parque de San Francisco in the centre of the ... read more
October 21st 2012
For a traveller, tight connections are guaranteed to cause anxiety! After leaving Toledo to travel up to Madrid Atocha Station, I had 1 hour to find my way through the maize of levels and tunnels to Cercanias and catch a train which would take me to Charmartin Station. My anxiety levels were working overtime even before I arrived at Atocha Station. Upstairs was smiling on me, because this time I only had to use my Spanish 3 times and got 1 different answer and 2 the same. So I went with '2 the same' and found Cercanias, where the connecting train was leaving from. Had to be determined to get myself and case on board, as everybody else had the same idea. Thankfully, there was just enough time to have a quick breakfast before boarding the ... read more
October 11th 2012
Google-searching and the Internet are extremely useful - especially looking for accommodation when travelling. You can choose from the written reviews and from the pictures, but unless you've seen the neighbourhood before you get there, you don't quite know what to expect. Hence the title 'colourful'neighbourhood' in the title. The Hostal I live in is really a family-run hotel and the owners and their family all live there as well. It's comfortable and secure. However, depending on the time of day, neighbourhoods can change their clothes. This discovery was made when I got completely lost (how else would I be?) coming home at 10pm from a wander through the throngs out shopping. The plaza I needed to walk through to reach my hotel, is not the same at night! There are so many 'working girls' and ... read more
October 1st 2012
Heading out for breakfast this morning, the huge pale moon was still high in the sky and the watery sun was up there too. Here at 8.30am, there are still lingering shadows and the night is not dark until about 8.30pm - so different to Western Australia. The morning was clear of rain, and my day was spent wandering around the streets, stopping wherever the whim took me and I ended up down on the waterfront of Port Vell and Barceloneta Beach. It's an interesting area, with a lot of maritime history, but for me there were too many people wandering around. The small cafe/bars back from the beach were full and those ritzy kiosks on the beach were standing room only. By afternoon, the rain had returned and was still pouring down when I decided ... read more
September 30th 2012
Well, it´s almost time for my feet and I to move on again. We have enjoyed losing ourselves and becoming re-acquainted with this old, very interesting and sophisticated city. I find being the oldest single female in a hostel full of younger people attracts many reactions; from curious looks, patronising expressions, smiles, friendliness and occasionally a door held open for me. The other day, one of the staff told me he admired my spirit! Every street has one or more authentic little cafe/bars with not a McDonald´s Burger in sight, just the locals doing as they´ve always done - eating Spanish food and catching up with friends and family. I do most of my eating in these places - the service is friendly and efficient with good coffee and food. Although Spanish authorities seem to be ... read more
September 26th 2012
They say every journey has a beginning, a middle and an end. So once more a beginning in a country I think of as my other home. The journey here has been long in time, but not uncomfortable. This time I bought two seats for the plane journey and found it worth the extra cost, especially on the long haul flight! We left Singapore at 12.40am after a 3 hour stopover. At 1.30am we were served a full meal! Having been awfully sick on one flight from a meat meal past it´s ´use by date´, I never eat anything but vegan meals on planes and these they always serve first. By 2-30am, cabin lights were turned out, window covers lowered and passengers trying to get some sleep. After 8 hours of sleep and 2 seats to ... read more
October 24th 2008
Hi guys, We've been here one week already - amazing! Perth seems so far away. Good flight up, but very late arrival at our hotel in KL. Finally in bed by 12.15am and up again by 6 for breakfast and back to the airport. KL Airport is still amazing and so easy to get lost in - by accident or design. Cambodia is very hot and steamy - the afternoon storms are spectacular but increase the humidity. Our accommodation is above the Prison Fellowship offices and quite comfortable. We are on the third floor which has been divided into 2 halves. The guys are in one side and we are in the other. There are fold-up beds with quite comfortable mattresses and a frame on which our mosquito nets are hung, (there are dengue mosquitos here ... read more
May 20th 2007
STILL IN QUITO TRYING TO WITHDRAW ALL THE MONEY ..... I haven't made it to the Galapagos Islands yet, but I'm hanging in there. The banks in Quito are very South American in their attitude. Although I'm supposed to be able to draw up to $5,000 daily from my account, there is a daily withdrawal limit which the banks here have placed on the type of Visa card that I have, which is $200 per day. I only found this out after walking from one bank branch to another over a period of days. The ATM's aren't very well maintained here and are often on the blink. If you then stand in line with the locals for 45 minutes, the tellers will then tell you to go out and try again. When that doesn't work and ... read more
May 5th 2007
I have finally realised the second of my lifelong dreams (walking the Machu Picchu Trail) and when I think back over my 3 months here in Cuzco I realise that, for me, it has been a big learning curve. The experience has shown me just how fortunate we are to live in a country like Australia. Seeing a darker side of life, which is the reality for so many of the local people, makes me very thankful I live in a country like Australia. When I left home, I thought I would probably be the oldest person in the Hostels and a lot of the time I have been. But I have met so many younger people who are generous, open-minded and sharing and who have interesting points of view on life and travel. There are ... read more