Page 5 of Spurins Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Germany » Berlin » Berlin May 15th 2019

So the old man's quest to become a parkrun alphabeteer (running a parkrun beginning with each letter of the alphabet) has brought us to Poland, via Germany, with a brief foray into Slovakia. I studied north of Berlin in 1988 and was a regular visitor to the then East Berlin. I've only been back once since reunification, and it's rather a weird feeling. Not only how much a place, particularly one with such a turbulent history has changed. But also, how you can walk along a road which is so familiar, then reach a part you have never visited before, because there used to be a wall in between. We fly into Berlin ahead of schedule (an EasyJet first). Then pass through immigration. I get stopped by immigration a second time. So much for freedom of ... read more
Alexanderplatz 2019
Alexanderplatz 1988
Alexanderplatz 2019

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito » Historical Center March 20th 2019

It’s finally here, the last day of our trip. We don’t leave for the airport until 3 pm, so this morning we are visiting the Palacio de Gobierno, which I have finally managed to obtain tickets for. The tour is free but needs to be reserved by email (in Spanish) so I’m quite proud of my achievement. Time to pack one last time. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve packed and unpacked. It’s strange to think that next time I unpack it’ll be in my own bedroom, closely supervised by my cats. First, a weirdly disjointed breakfast; scrambled egg, a cheese toastie, an empanada, onion chutney, butter and jam. What are we supposed to do with the butter and jam? Dip the empanada in it? Spread it on the cheese toastie? Or maybe mix ... read more
Palacio de Gobierno
Palacio de Gobierno
Guayasamin mural

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito March 19th 2019

Today we are doing something we rarely do; taking the Hop on Hop off Bus. We start at the spectacular San Francisco church, an exercise in how much gold can be squeezed into one building. It’s apparently the biggest church in South America. (The Ecuadoreans have a creative way of measuring things to ensure their stuff is bigger and better. For example, Cotopaxi is higher than Everest if you measure from the centre of the earth, rather than sea level.) The bus heads up the Panecillo, a small hill with an aluminium statue of the Virgin Mary on top. It’s an interesting journey in a double decker, navigating the narrow, winding streets and low hanging electric cables. The Virgin, which is taller than Christ the Redeemer (obviously) sits atop a dragon on a globe. You can ... read more
Drive through Quinton old city
El Panecillo
El Panecillo

South America » Ecuador » North » Mitad del Mundo March 18th 2019

Today we are going to the equator. On the way there, it rains so heavily it’s difficult to tell if we’re driving down a road or a river. Rubbish floats past the windows when we stop at traffic lights. Luckily it eases off before we arrive. First stop is the Intiñan Museum which claims to be on the GPS equator. Here we take a guided tour which includes such activities as balancing an egg on a nail and trying to walk along the equator in a straight line, plus demonstrations in chocolate making and head shrinking. Then on to the Mitad del Mondo, a kind of equator based theme park which claims to be on the geographical equator. We only have 28 minutes here and in addition to a plethora of equator based photo ops, there ... read more
Balancing an egg at the equator

South America » Ecuador » Centre » Cotopaxi March 17th 2019

Today we are going on the Tren de los Volcanes. This tourist train follows a 50 mile route to El Boliche which, it claims, gives you the opportunity to see 15 volcanoes in good weather. There aren’t any passenger trains in Ecuador; the taxi driver doesn’t even know where the station is, and tries to drop us at the offices of Tren Ecuador. Luckily, a motor cyclist explains his error, we get back in the taxi and follow the motorcyclist to Chimbacalle station. We board our train and set off flanked by a team of motor cycle outriders to keep the tracks clear. We have only been able to book aisle seats, Ecuadorean families have booked all the window seats. But once underway, the families move to sit together (a group of 7 have booked 6 ... read more
Tren Ecuador

South America » Ecuador » North » Quito March 16th 2019

Today we are sightseeing in Quito and changing hotels. There is an important reason for this prearranged change, but the old man can’t remember what it is. Our new hotel is 1 km away. The old man is too tight to pay for a taxi ($1.25) but worried it isn’t walkable with luggage, so we are to do a ‘trial run’. After staking out our hotel, we head for the Plaza Grande, which is no longer barricaded off. We want to tour the Palacio de Gobierno, but you have to book in advance (thanks Lonely Planet). Next, we visit the Museo de la Ciudad. This is housed in a 17th century hospital and gives (theoretically) a chronological history of Quito. The old man gets impatient and bypasses a group of school kids, so we are going ... read more

South America » Ecuador » East » Cuyabeno Reserve March 15th 2019

Today we are returning to civilisation. I can’t wait but first we have to endure: - 2 hour canoe ride - 2 hour bus ride - 4 hour wait at airport - 1 hour flight - 1 hour taxi ride Things I’m looking forward to this evening: - Phone coverage to speak to my girls - WiFi to read the news/sports results - WiFi to check up on what my friends/family have been up to on social media - Electric lights - TV - Power sockets - Hot shower - Dry towels - Proximity to shops - Clean running water - Being allowed to use shampoo/conditioner - Being able to eat/drink what and when I want - Clean sheets - Far fewer insects - Not stinking of insect repellent - No animals in the bedroom - ... read more
Cuyabeno Bridge
Loading supplies at Cuyabeno Bridge
Flight to Quito

South America » Ecuador » East » Cuyabeno Reserve March 14th 2019

Today’s schedule consists of a 6.30 am birdwatching session on the observation tower (basically our bedroom roof), a jungle walk and a canoe trip which combines swimming and caiman spotting. Why anyone would want to do any of these things is beyond me. It’s going to be a long day. We go to the roof at 6.30, as scheduled to look for birds. In 90 minutes we spot 7 vultures, 6 parrots and 5 toucan. The old man is so excited, he plays bridge on his tablet while the rest of the group look for birds, then goes off in search of coffee. After breakfast it’s time for the jungle walk. I decide it’s not for me and spend the morning with my book on the balcony again. I’ve definitely made the right call; 40 minutes ... read more
Squirrel monkey outside my bedroom
Squirrel monkey
Squirrel monkey

South America » Ecuador » East » Cuyabeno Reserve March 13th 2019

Today we are going to a local village where we will pay an indigenous family to show us how they live. Inflation in the village is obviously rife, as the price has gone up 25% since we booked. After breakfast and a cold shower, we set off in our canoe again. It takes 2 hours to reach the village. On the way we see dolphins, sloths, 4 species of monkeys, bats, parrots, toucan, hawks and hummingbirds. Once in the village we are taught to make yucca bread. First we go into the jungle to dig up the tubers, then we grate them into a mini canoe, dry, sieve and cook the resulting ‘flour’ like a pancake. Our guide has brought a tuna salad to eat it with. There’s also fried yucca, plantain and a selection of ... read more
Grating yucca
Cooling bread
Stinky turkeys

South America » Ecuador » East » Cuyabeno Reserve March 12th 2019

Today we are going to the Amazon. I have a phobia of remote places, so the old man has booked a hotel only accessible by canoe. This morning we have an hour flight to Lago Agrio, followed by a 2 hour bus trip to a bridge then a 2 hour canoe ride to our ‘hotel’. I say hotel. In my world a hotel has electricity. And WiFi. And walls. All things I’m going to have do without for the next 4 days. We check in for our flight and I buy my last Diet Coke for 4 days - I’m about to go cold turkey. At $4 a bottle, it’s probably just as well. One last login to the airport WiFi – more cold turkey. The plane has propellers. I’m a firm believer that one shouldn’t ... read more
Arriving in Lago Agrio

Tot: 0.437s; Tpl: 0.013s; cc: 10; qc: 69; dbt: 0.063s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb