Page 2 of barrygahan Travel Blog Posts

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Cumbria » Lake District May 2nd 2010

Via Ferrata means Iron Way in Latin and usually consists of fixed steel lines stretched across mountains and hammered into the rock at regular points. Typically these lines are build into steep or exposed sections rock, making it much easier for people to traverse the mountain. You simply have to tie yourself in to the fixed lines, and then scramble across and up the mountain, knowing that if you lose your grip you are safely held in. The best known Via Ferrata are in the Dolomites in Italy. Many of these were built in WW2 by Italian soldiers as a quick means of navigating through the mountains, though in more recent times they have been used for adventure sports. Every year they attract huge numbers of people keen to try it out or to experience the ... read more
The difficult section
Climbing Honister Pass
Ruth on Via Ferrata

North America » Mexico September 8th 2008

More Mayan Magic Sometimes you get a good feeling about a place and know you're going to love it; that's what happened with us in Mexico, as from the moment we arrived we felt right at home, and throughout our 2 weeks in the country, as we got to know more of Mexico, it just got better and better. Palenque was the first stop. The journey from Flores in Guatemala involved 7 hours of travel on roads that when they were paved they were good but when unpaved they were very bad. The border runs along the Rio Usumacinta, but there was no bridge between the countries at the point where we crossed, so we had to enter Mexico by boat - a very scenic way to arrive. The town of Palenque exists mostly for tourism ... read more
Ruins of Palenque
San Cristobal
Local girl in San Juan de Chamula

Central America Caribbean » Guatemala August 18th 2008

The colours of Guatemala It's the colours that I remember best from Guatemala. The perfect blue of Lake Atitlan, once called the most beautiful lake in the world; the red rivers of lava on Volcan Pacaya, which flowed no more than 100 metres from us on the volcano's slopes; the reflections on the white stones of Tikal in the early morning light. And that's only the natural colours...even more striking are the small pueblos. Each village attempts to outdo the next in terms of the designs and colours of their local dress, especially during their festivals (and there's no shortage of these). In bigger cities, such as Antigua, it's the colours of the colonial buildings that stand out. All in all, Guatemala is a feast for the eyes. Our adventures in Guatemala began on a cold ... read more
Palacio de los Capitanes; Antigua
A river of lava on Volcan Pacaya
Fifth Avenue, Antigua

Central America Caribbean » Honduras August 7th 2008

Next stop Honduras As we travel from the Nicaragua/Honduras border to Tegucigalpa a small girl, aged about 9 or 10, boards the bus alone. It's the middle of the day so why she is not at school I don't know. She carries a box down to the back of the bus, takes out bags of banana chips and starts trying to sell them to people on the bus for 5 Lempiras (about $0.25) a bag. Seeing people selling food on buses is a common sight in Central America, but I've never before seen so young a person. It's difficult to imagine a 10 year old boarding a bus alone like this in Ireland or in any European country. And even more hard to imagine what it must be for this girl to have to go out ... read more
Me and a Scarlet Macaw
Mayan Stela
Lake Yojoa Fisherman

The red and black flag First time visitors to Nicaragua could be forgiven for thinking that the country's flag is red and black, but this is in fact the Sandinista Flag, which we noticed flying everywhere, almost from the moment we crossed the border, and which is much more prominent than the official blue and white Nicaraguan flag. Politics is never far away in Nicaragua, and almost every town has a Sandinista mural or memorial, usually a statue or painting of a revolutionary soldier throwing a grenade or aiming a rifle. Murals supporting the opposite side are much less obvious, as the right wingers seem to use a different form of propaganda, mostly newspapers and other media, to get their message across and to launch attacks on Sandinista leader and current president, Daniel Ortega. Such political ... read more
Sandinista Mural
Ometepe Sunset
Volcan Concepcion

Goodbye to Panama We left Bocas del Toro in Panama by a fast water taxi, sitting beside a local man carrying a rather terrified looking chicken, then reached the Panama/ Costa Rica border by an even faster and scarier land taxi. The border is crossed via a old, worn bridge, which takes you to the Costa Rican town of Sixaola, where the formalities were fast and efficient. Neither of the border towns was attractive, so we hopped on the first bus out of there along the Caribbean coast to Puerto Limon. Costa Rica may be the most rich and developed country in Central America, but the government aren't spending much money on either roads or buses. We travelled in what would best be described as an old school bus as far as Puerto Limon, a very ... read more
Costa Rican Frog
Cute crab
A Hummingbird humming

Central America Caribbean » Panama July 13th 2008

Central America After spending 10 months in South America, we had left ourselves only two months for the final part of our trip, through Central America, from Panama to Mexico City. This is clearly very little time to see 8 different countries, and an area with so many sights, meaning we will have to be very selective. No more days lazing around in hammocks. Well, not so many, perhaps! Our first view of Panama - and of Central America - was from the window seat of the twin propeller Aires plane on the flight from Cartagena to Panama City. Panama City from the air resembled Manhattan, with its many high rise buildings dominating the landscape. This was not what I expected of Panama, and I was even more surprised on the journey into town from the ... read more
Hanging around on Bocas del Toro
Panama Canal Crossing
Summit of Volcan Baru

South America » Colombia July 4th 2008

Conquering our fears Back in September 2007, when we started our travels in South America, the one country we were sure we would avoid was Colombia. However, as we travelled through South America we met more and more people who raved about Colombia and who convinced us to at least consider a visit. Colombia still has a reputation as an unsafe country, stemming from the 40 year civil war between rebel groups such as FARC or ELN and various governments. But things seem to be changing now, the security situation is vastly improving, and what was once a truly unsafe country for foreign travellers, and hence not on the itineraries of most backpackers, is nowadays just waiting to be rediscovered. Crossing the border from Ecuador, I felt the apprehension you always feel in a new country, ... read more
Cartagena street scene
Barichara Church
Love is...?

South America » Colombia » Santa Marta » Ciudad Perdida June 26th 2008

Finding our way to the Lost City There are many great treks in South America, but certainly nothing quite like the Ciudad Perdida trek, a 6 day round trip which takes you to the heart of the Colombian jungle and back, where seeing lost cities, fording rivers, walking in tropical downpours and learning how to make cocaine are just some of the activities covered. Though located only 40 km from Santa Marta, there is a strong sense of isolation and remoteness in the jungles around Ciudad Perdida (Lost City in English). This area is home to a number of indigenous groups, most visibly the Koguis, who claim to be descendants of the Tayroni, the civilisation to whom the Ciudad Perdida belonged. The "lost city" was rediscovered as recently as 1972, when grave robbers came upon the ... read more
Bartering with the Koguis
Starting the trek in Mamey
How to make cocaine!

South America » Ecuador » North » Mindo June 9th 2008

Down to the cloudforests We rounded off our 23 days in Ecuador with a visit to the laid-back town of Mindo, in the cloudforests on the western slopes of the Andes, not too far from Quito. After spending most of our time in Ecuador in the mountains, Mindo provided a refreshing change in scenery - and it was great to go hiking without needing to catch your breath every few seconds. First we had to find out how to get here. Instructions in the Lonely Planet were wrong, something we only discovered after a painful search for a bus terminal in Quito which had moved last year. The tourist office gave us the right departure place, though not the right times - luckily there were other buses from the Ofelia Trole station and we made it ... read more
Hummingbird feeding
Fast butterfly
Rainforest Leaf

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