Page 4 of swanningaround Travel Blog Posts

Europe » United Kingdom » England May 14th 2016

Geo: 50.2662, -3.6542England 23rd March - 28th AprilThis is just a short update for anyone wondering where we are and what we are up to.We returned to the UK at least a month too early - it has been very cold and wet since we arrived! There has been frost on numerous nights and the first couple of weeks were uncomfortable to say the least. I had decided not to blog during the summer but as we are both finding our memories weakening I decided it might be a good idea to make a few notes so we know where we have been. Astrid was in very good condition when we collected her but when we started her up, although the vehicle battery was fine and started first time, the auxiliary or leisure battery did not ... read more
Centre of Dartmouth
Built in 1635
Interesting life of John Davis

Central America Caribbean » Belize March 17th 2016

Geo: 17.8651, -88.017Mexico & Belize 27th February - 21st March 2016We were happy to fly out of Cuba but we had not realised just how depressing it had been there until we drove away from the airport in Cancun and experienced the joy of seeing decorative flowers and bushes planted along the roads, the cleanliness and the care that had been taken to make the area look pretty, and the SHOPS! Jim had booked us into the Ibis Hotel in Cancun which is basic but welcoming, clean and comfortable. To us at that moment it seemed like 5 star luxury. Even better, next door is a huge supermarket. Jim kept thinking up excuses to go and visit, it was such a novelty after Cuba. We relaxed, caught up with emails and planned our onward journey. It ... read more
Coatimundi in Shipstern Reserve
Roseate Spoonbill
Mennonite girl, face forward but eyes followed us!

Central America Caribbean » Cuba February 28th 2016

Geo: 23.1168, -82.3886Cuba 30 January to 27 February 2016Apologies for the length of this blog - it was impossible to post anything in Cuba.Before starting I think it might be useful to say a few words about the recent history of Cuba. I remembered the names of these things but had not really understood what they were about as like some of you I was very young when, for example, the Bay of Pigs Fiasco occurred, and many of you were not born. Most of this is from the Lonely Planet so any inaccuracies are theirs! If you are not interested in history skip to the end of the bold text.The Fight for IndependenceCuba suffered many years of attacks by Privateers from European countries and was eventually colonised by the Spanish. They fought for independence from ... read more
Some cars are superbly maintained and for tourists
National hotel, scene of Mafia 'convention'.
Jose Marti Monument

South America » Colombia January 29th 2016

Geo: 4.33008, -74.1475Barichara to Bogota via Desierto de la Tatacoa, San Agustin and Tierradentro 10 - 30 January 2016We left the cosy haven of Serenity Suites in Bucaramanga reluctantly and headed to Barichara, a 6 hour journey in 2 buses, but quite easy. We arrived and checked into El Zaguan, a spacious hotel built in traditional style of wooden beams around an internal courtyard. The room was huge with a large functional bathroom, something of novelty we have discovered on our travels. We started to unpack at which point Jim said, " You did take the jackets out of the wardrobe in Bucaramanga?". Oops! Short answer, "No!". What made it worse was when I packed I had said to Jim that there seemed to be plenty of space in the bag. Anyway we thought about what ... read more
Serenity Suites, originally a private home
Beautiful Barichara
Whiling away the hot afternoon

South America » Colombia » Santander » Bucaramanga January 12th 2016

Geo: 7.11331, -73.1205Cartagena to Minca 21 December - 8 January 2016The flight from Bogota to Cartagena was very short and much more comfortable than a long bus ride. We enjoyed a relaxing Christmas in Cartagena, founded in 1533 by a Spaniard. It soon became a rich town as it was the main Spanish port on the Caribbean where all the gold stolen from indigenuous communities in South America was stored before being transported back to Spain. Because of this it was a prime target for buccaneers and it was sacked three times in the 16 Century alone. Sir Frances Drake was persuaded not to raise it to the ground again in 1586 by being given a payment of 10 Million Pesos. After this the Spaniards set about protecting the town by surrounding it with fortified walls.Walking ... read more
Cartagena square
Christmas lights
The fruit ladies wear the national flag colours.

South America » Colombia » Bogota December 20th 2015

Geo: 4.60987, -74.082Bogota 15 - 21 December 2015It was an easy journey from Quito to Bogota and by 3am we were in bed, so much easier than the alternative, a 28 hour bus ride!When we set off travelling in South America we were not sure if we would venture into Colombia but listening to the travellers who came from there reassured us and we decided to give it a try. So far it has been fascinating.I deliberately used the title for the blog, Bogota and Beyond, because that is the name of the tour company set up by Tommy, Ana Maria, his Colombian girlfriend and another Australian, Simon. Then if anyone googles the name they might find this blog. Bogota & Beyond is more than just a tour company. It has the aim of helping bring ... read more
Bolivar Square - an awards ceremony for the police
Local delicacy -
Close in on this face - wonderful!

South America » Ecuador December 15th 2015

Geo: -0.22985, -78.5249Mancora to Quito 5th - 15th December 2015After another night bus we reached Mancora on the northern coast of Peru not far from the border with Ecuador, and checked in to our room in Kimba's Bungalows at 6am. We had had 2 months of exciting and at times diffficult travel and as much as we had enjoyed it we both felt the need for some rest and relaxation. This is exactly what we found in Mancora, a small dusty seaside town with a main road of shops and restaurants running parallel to the sea about half a kilometre long and one street of shops about 300 metres linking the main road to the beach. Most days we pottered by the pool, wandered through the village and lazed on loungers by the sea. There was ... read more
Steep drops at side
Another view of 3 levels
From window

South America » Peru » La Libertad » Trujillo November 27th 2015

Geo: -8.11237, -79.03Ollentaytambo to Trujillo 18 - 27 NovemberPLEASE CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE AS NASCA LINES WILL NOT BE VISIBLE OTHERWISEAfter Puno we wanted to visit Mach Picchu but without the discomfort of being too high so we opted to stay in Ollentaytambo (shortened to Ollenta by everyone) which is about 2,500 metres high. I need to explain the access to MP otherwise the route is difficult to understand.MP is on the top of a mountain. There are 2 ways to reach it, the first being a 4 day, 3 night trek and the second being a bus from Aguas Calientes. Obviously we took the bus! However that is not as easy as it sounds. Aguas Calientes cannot be accessed by road so if you don't want to trek you must take the train either ... read more
Narrow Inca street
Our street:note water channel on right
Picaflor Tambo - excellent accommodation

South America » Peru » Puno November 19th 2015

Geo: -15.8422, -70.0199San Pedro de Atacama to Lake Titicaca, Peru. 10 - 18 November 2015 San Pedro proved a relaxing place to stay. We went on a night star gazing activity. It was interesting, providing a 20 minute talk about what we might see, then looking through telescopes and binoculars. We had a number of constellations pointed out to us such as Scorpio, Sagittarius, Aries, Aquarius, Taurus and Pisces. The two presenters kept saying we had to use our imaginations to 'see' these and that was definitely true! I believe it was the Babylonians who originally devised the Zodiac signs to identify constellations. They must have been using very special substances if they could 'see' the shapes as they described. For me the best view was of the binary star system, Antares. They are two stars ... read more
Plaza de Armas
Volcano behind Catedral.
The Jesuit cloisters - now shops.

Geo: -22.9058, -68.1951Oruro to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile - 2nd to 9th NovemberWe left Oruro by train and it was a lovely journey, partly due to the standard of comfort of the train itself but also to the scenery. The train leaves Oruro twice a week and is quite an event. We checked our luggage in, as on an aeroplane, and did not see it again until it arrived in the luggage office in Uyuni. People were allowed on the train an hour before departure time so it was very relaxed with many Bolivian people having their families on board to settle them in, buy them drinks, papers etc then make their farewells when the train was due to depart. The train was in excellent condition, comfortable and clean, and the meal we ate ... read more
The train 'cemetery'
Train 'cemetery'
He is too young to stay here

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