The Final Chapter and FAQs

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December 6th 2009
Published: December 6th 2009
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It Takes Two.......It Takes Two.......It Takes Two.......

Tango on the streets of Buenos Aires
Almost four months since arriving in Buenos Aires the first time, we landed at the airport after a three and a half hour flight from Ushuaia. We had considered getting the bus, but with the clock ticking, seemingly ever faster, against us, we didn’t fancy forty eight hours on a bus, even if the Argentinean buses are the most comfortable in the world.

Buenos Aires seemed like a completely different place, to when we previously visited. The hats, and gloves of mid-winter had given way to the short sleeves of late spring. Coming from icy Patagonia, the balmy, humid evening was a shock to the system, but a pleasant one. Although delighted to be back in such a great city, we left almost immediately. However, not before returning to our favourite restaurant for some often fantasised about steak and red wine. Well aware that we were only a few days away from a British winter, a couple of days on a beach seemed like a good investment of our time.

The nearest decent sounding beach was located in Uruguay. Therefore, against the odds, we returned to one of the least visited countries in South America. Our destination was Punta del Este, located a couple of hours east of Montevideo, on a peninsula that marks the point where the wide mouth of the River Plate meets the Atlantic Ocean. Punta del Este has the reputation of being one of the most exclusive resorts in South America and playground of the rich and famous. Although, to our surprise, it transpires that this only applies during the month of January. Therefore, despite the weather being perfectly reasonable, save for a few locals and hippie surfers we more or less had the place to ourselves. We spent a pleasant day sat on a virtually deserted beach, getting sunburnt for one last time and trying to push thoughts of our impending return to reality far from our minds.

The place we stayed at was very much at the hippie surfer end of the Punta del Este accommodation spectrum. It was also one of the most homely places we have stayed this year, feeling more like we were staying at a friend’s house, rather than in a hostel. From here we headed back to Buenos Aires via Montevideo and the final bus of the trip.

On our previous visit to Buenos Aires, there was no football being played, as it was their winter break. That has long since passed and fortuitously Boca Juniors were playing at home the evening we arrived. Although it would have probably been feasible to make our own way to the stadium and get a ticket, this may not have been the easiest or safest option. Therefore, we organised a trip which involved being bussed to the ground with a hoard of other tourists. Having paid the amount we did, we assumed we would have tickets for decent seats, which sounded like a secure, if sterile, option. However, we were surprised to be herded into the terraces, much to the displeasure of the local fans. Space was certainly at a premium, the atmosphere was electric and it was far from a sterile experience. We also saw what will, without a doubt, be the best goal we see this year. Fortunately, Boca won 4-0 as we wouldn’t have particularly wanted to see our co-spectators after a defeat. We also managed to add some football vocabulary to our ever improving Spanish, including learning that the Spanish for referee is Hijo de Puta.

The rest of our time in Buenos Aires
It Takes Two....... Take TwoIt Takes Two....... Take TwoIt Takes Two....... Take Two

Tango on the streets of Buenos Aires
was dedicated to eating, drinking, relaxing and generally trying the make the most of the warm weather and the last few days of the trip. Our flight from Buenos Aires to Heathrow was pleasingly uneventful and with that we had successfully circumnavigated the globe, roughly four and a half times slower than Phileas Fogg.

Before we had even claimed our baggage we were greeted by a giant poster advertising SAP, at this point Alex came extremely close to boarding the next available flight out of the country. When getting the tube back to Alex’s parents’ house, we got as far as Hounslow (around four stops for non-Londoners) before it felt like we’d never been away. In fact the strangest thing about coming home has been how little anything has changed and how normal everything feels.

We don’t know whether it’s due to being used to writing technical reports, or that we don’t want the blog, and with it our adventure, to end, but we feel implored to end with some concluding remarks. We will save you a full evaluation of the trip, but suffice to say we had the time of our lives. We also hope our friends from home, the many new ones we met along the way and those of you that only know us through this blog, have enjoyed following our journey. For anyone who has managed to read through it all, congratulations on reading over 30,000 words and looking at over 600 pictures!

Finally, we will leave you with what we predict to the most frequently asked questions about our trip.


What was your favourite place?
Clearly this will be the most frequently asked, frequently asked question. However, having visited such a variety of places, it is virtually impossible to answer. Come on, use your imagination, you can do better than that!

What was your favourite country?
Slightly better, but still not easy to answer. We’ll meet you halfway and try to name our favourite country from each continent.
Africa - Ethiopia, it’s just so unlike anywhere else in the world
Asia - Iran, such a varied and welcoming place, we are only sorry visa issues limited the length of our stay.
Australasia - Easy one that, we only visited Australia!
South America - Bolivia, so much to see and do and dirt cheap too.

Of the places you visited, where would you like to live?
We can definitely see the appeal of Australia, a beautiful country, with a great climate and relaxed way of life. Cairo would also be a good option, although we’d have to get our Arabic up to scratch. Hong Kong would be a lot of fun and Buenos Aires would also make a great place to live. Although either of the latter two would undoubtedly result in clinical obesity.

What was the best wildlife experience on your trip?
Safari in Kenya was excellent, as were the whales in Argentina and diving on the Great Barrier Reef. However, hands down winner has to be the Mountain Gorillas in Uganda. Getting up close and personal with these gentle giants was truly a privilege and one of the most memorable moments of the trip.

Where was the best food?
Ethiopia definitely deserves a mention, as like the country, the food is unlike anything else in the world. Although excellent, we’re not sure it’s the best though. Hong Kong proved to be a real highlight for its fantastic variety and quality of international cuisine. However, with the taste still fresh in our mouths, the steaks of Argentina have to be our favourite food anywhere in the world.

Where was the worst food?
The dubious honour needs to go to Uzbekistan, most definitely not a culinary destination. Many parts of the world serve up potentially good food, that has been prepared badly. Others have uninspiring food that has been prepared well. In Uzbekistan we encountered a lot of bad food, done badly. Apologies to any Uzbeks reading this, we could have just been unlucky…… for a whole week.

Where were the friendliest people?
This accolade has to go to Iran, closely followed by Syria. Which may come as a surprise to anyone thinking that these countries are full of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists.

What was your favourite historical site?
Of Egypt’s many offerings, Abu Simbel and the Temple of Karnak were our favourites. Machu Picchu also deserves a mention, especially for its beautiful location. So do the rock hewn churches of Lalibela in Ethiopia, for having been so incredibly constructed. For us though, standing head and shoulders above all the contenders for this title, is Petra. An incredible place, which would be well worth a visit, even if the beautifully weathered ancient city were not there.

Where was the most beautiful place you visited?
For natural beauty you will have to go a long way to beat Patagonia. Sadly the harsh weather conditions that have carved this rugged landscape are still very much around today, but this is a small price to pay though.

Where was the strangest place you visited?
Without a shadow of a doubt, Turkmenistan, with its insanely opulent architecture and lots of burning gas.

How many pictures did you take?
The final figure was an impressive, 22,944. Not bad! Assuming we slept for around eight hours a day, that averages out at around one photo every 15 minutes over the year. Please form an orderly queue for slideshows!

Any regrets?
Only considering not going in the first place!

Did anything go wrong?
Of course it did! This was a whole year, things can’t always go accordingly to plan. Admittedly, for fear of worrying people at home, we have generally tried to stick to good news on this blog and may have glossed over some of the more unsavoury moments of the trip.

Did you get ill?
Is the Pope a Catholic? Although looking back, we weren’t ill anywhere near as often as we had expected and didn’t suffer anything worse than a few upset stomachs. Although perhaps describing Sarah’s bouts of typhoid and giardia upset stomachs might be understating things a little.

Did you plan it all before you went?
Far from it! We had our round the world flight booked, other than that it was a sack full of Lonely Planets, a rough plan and open minds. We never once regretted arrive somewhere with nothing booked. There is ALWAYS someone happy to take your money!

Has the trip changed you?
We didn’t go away looking to “find ourselves“, or feeling as though we particularly needed to change. However, it would be sad to think that we might return from such a trip without it having had some sort of an effect on us. Given the gradual nature of change, we are probably not in the best position to judge, so will leave to the people at home to decide.

What did you miss about home?
Friends and family (mustn’t forget that one!) Also being true Brits, more than anything else we missed decent cups of tea. Also quite sadly regular exercise and going to the gym.

Where to next?
Nowhere for a little while, we need a rest! Believe it or not, there are still plenty of places we’ve not visited. Maybe we should go back for the one that got away, i.e. the Trans Siberian Express and Mongolia. Central America also stands out as large blot on our travelling copybook. Although there is definitely an appeal to the little trodden path of West Africa. Who knows though.

What have you learnt from the trip?
In short, everything and nothing. Most importantly we have learnt that the biggest joy in life is its unpredictability Anything can and will happen and probably when you least expect it.

Oh, and time truly does fly when you’re having fun.........


7th December 2009

"Spanish for referee is Hijo de Puta" jajajajajajaja
7th December 2009

I'm sorry your travels have come to an end - I've really enjoyed reading your blogs and looking at all your amazing photos. I also completely understand the cup of tea thing....I spent 9 months having terrible cups of tea through Central and South America in the hope that I'd eventually get a half decent one!
7th December 2009

And cheese
Loved the final blog and that you managed to get it in just before you returned to work! I think from the amount and speed at which you both ate a huge amount of cheese at our house shows that you might have missed thata little too.......!
7th December 2009

Many congratulations and thank you for your very interesting and informative blogs. Alan ex UKAEA
8th December 2009

Congratulations on your high number of viewings, while your blog is still on the Front Page! If you have time, tell us your secret on Mel

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