Page 5 of Gorf Travel Blog Posts

North America » United States » New York » New York » Manhattan July 28th 2010

Its an early departure from Gatlinburg for our journey to New York City. After a short wait in the rocking chairs at Knoxville airport we're on our way to New York. As we fly North Keith spots lines of hills in the haze looking like lines of waves coming in to a beach - he's obviously been too long away from the sea. Its very exciting flying into New York as the famous skyline appears. We check into our hostel in Manhattan and race out to check out the city. We didn't expect it to be so hot - 36 deg C today. We look like true tourists gazing up at the skyscrapers and people out on the streets hailing yellow cabs. The subway seems like the best way to get around so we attempt to ... read more
No uptown trains, what?
Yummy healthy food!
Walking the Brooklyn Bridge

As Gatlinburg is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, we get to sample a little of the park to get a glimpse into why its the most visited National Park in the States. We don't have our own transport, but our friends Jen and John have their car here and Tessa and I get to take a few trips into the park with John while Keith and Jen are at the conference. Its a beautiful area, but unfortunately some of the huge trees there, the Eastern hemlocks, are being attacked by a non-native insect called the woolly adelgid. In the grand views the dead trees stand out across the park. John is into photography too, so our walks with him are at photographers pace, allowing Tessa time to look around for wildlife and photo opportunities. ... read more
Spot the amphibian
Keith inspects a salamander

North America » United States » Tennessee » Gatlinburg July 23rd 2010

We've made it to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for Keith's National Marine Education Association conference. We're sharing a room with Bob, who Keith knows from past conferences, but Tessa and I get to meet him when he kindly drags himself out of bed on our arrival after midnight. We all fall into our beds, looking forward to moving into conference mode and checking out Gatlinburg the next day. Well we're into full culture shock now after Central America. Gatlinburg is the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited National Park in the States. This is touristville for Americans and they certainly go all out to entertain. The town is bursting with all sorts of family entertainment options, there's a huge (2 storey) replica of the gorilla from King Kong, famous cars from films and ... read more
All my froggy dreams come true
Southern karaoke and Dusty Dickey
The Gatlinburg Aquarium

North America » United States » Texas » Houston July 18th 2010

Its the end of our time in Central America. We're now heading for Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for Keith's conference, with a night in Houston on the way. On the tarmac at Guatemala City airport, we're feeling very sad to see the end of our stint in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Of course we're also looking forward to spending some time in the States, but expecting a bit of a culture shock. Suddenly a huge brown butterfly appears inside the closed plane above the hand luggage compartments. As we're quietly admiring it and wondering how to get it out of the plane, other tourists see it and some start screaming, apparently thinking there's a bat on the plane! Next minute theres a tall white guy leaping up to save the day, grabbing at the butterfly's wings with ... read more
The crew arrive in the US
You're not in Guatemala now, Mr Gorf
Start as you mean to go on

Our final destination in Guatemala is Antigua, near Guatemala City. The town where we started our trip 6 weeks ago. In Lanquin we walk chatting with some local schoolkids on their way to school til we find a tuk-tuk to take us to our shuttle. We're squashed in for 8 hours, and are really onto the busy roads by the time we head back into the belching modern capital, Guatemala City ('Guate'). Loads of cars, banana trucks, buses, all spewing fumes, fast food franchises and broken down outer suburbs. Then we're out the other side and into the quaint tourist town of Antigua, and we're back at the posada where we spent our first night in Guatemala. In this town surrounded by volcanoes, its a clear night and Volcan Agua stands out over the town with ... read more
A  land of volcanoes
The crew, Volcan Pacaya
A chilling tale of Volcan Pacaya

From Tikal we're on the well-worn tourist trail to Semuc Champey. It feels strange to be in a micro bus full of tourists with 'TURISMO' emblazoned across the front, but its the most efficient choice of transport to travel the 8 hours between the two tourist spots when we don't have many days left in Guatemala. The road trip starts in the relatively flat terrain of Peten and takes us through country roads that involve undercarriage-graunching speed bumps in every one of what seems like hundreds of tiny villages and even a vehicle ferry ride across a river, finally reaching the amazing steep limestone hills of the area around Coban and then the beautiful village of Lanquin, perched in the hills. The last half hour of our journey from there is by 4 wheel drive on ... read more
My newly discovered cousin!
Semuc Champey
Beautiful pools

From El Estor we are heading for Flores, in Northern Guatemala. We start the day with perfect timing as just around the corner from our hotel we find a public micro bus passing by that happens to be going our way - to Rio Dulce. Its amazing how many times that has happened on this trip. Back to busy and hectic Rio Dulce, where we help a couple of tired distraught English girls trying to get to Copan (Honduras) after a chain of mishaps and lack of access to money. We locate a 'second class' bus for us which is heading for Flores. The bus is super full so we stand in the aisle for the first few hours, until eventually enough people get off for Tessa and me to get a seat. Its no problem ... read more
Pausing for a drink
Grand Plaza, Tikal
Temple climber extraordinaire

For the next stage of our trip we are headed for a town called El Estor, out of Rio Dulce at the Western end of Lago de Izabal. The guide book seems to suggest that its not worth spending much time in Rio Dulce town, but as we pass through it seems like a popular spot for yachts to shelter and much more interesting to look around than we expected. Anyway, in Rio Dulce we find a bus heading for El Estor, filled with a bunch of ‘green’ tourists who don’t realise they’re taking the real back way to their destination which will be many hours on. We leap off early into the trip at our town, after asking the driver to drop us at the posada. At the last second we realise that the posada ... read more
El Paraiso Cascada Caliente
Not a pleasant moment
By lancha on Lago de Izabal

From Copan Ruinas in the Honduran foothills we were heading for Livingston on the Carribean coast of Guatemala. We were up at 5 to catch a local micro bus to the Honduras/Guatemala frontera. We swapped to a tourist van at the border, which we then exited at Rio Hondo, next catching a passing large bus which took us most of the way, then got off at a road corner and waited again in the searing heat to catch another public bus to Puerto Barrios. Before its final stop we leapt off at the closest street to the port and did a 20 min walk from there down a road with all our gear to finally reach the lanchas (boats). The public lancha waited until it was full of passengers, then we were all off to Livingston. ... read more
Quiet beer on the waterfront
Angie the dancer
Ah... a Carribean sunset

From Santa Ana in El Salvador, we had decided to duck through Guatemala to Copan Ruinas in Honduras. The first leg is our arranged ride with the guys in the truck, who take us out of their way to drop us at the Guatemalan frontera (border) before their work, which is great. We pas through Metapan, known for cement works, and glimpse beautiful lakes and lush forests with little rubbish. Immigration at the El Salvador/Guatemala border is straight forward, and we walk over a small bridge back into Guatemala to jump on a public micro bus. We travel through nice mountain areas, which strangely seem drier than in El Salvador. By the time we get off that bus we are in sweltering heat and waiting for the next micro bus at an intersection called Vado Hondo. ... read more
So many caterpillars!
Ball court, Copan
The Hieroglyphic Staircase, Copan

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