Hello, Happy new years in advance!! Hope you all have a great party! We went by bus to Tikal, the place is quite nice, very large temples, you can climb some and see a large extend of the tropical rain forest. Tikal reminds me a little bit of Disney land of the Maya temples. Between the trees all the leaves have been neatly cleaned up. You see signs of jaguar crossings, some kind of ant eaters crossings and some type of birds… like they can read the signs (we didn´t see any of these animals though). The walks in the Tikal area were nice and we had an English guide which helped a lot and two friendly Americans. After returning from Tikal we had a day of rest and we walked around, had some nice food and packed. The day afterwards we travel to Caye Cauker, an island in Belize. Very Carribean like, nice weather, a bit windy but very enjoyable. We did snorkling and walking around the island, we met up with a very nice couple, Alex and Billy at one of the grill places, where we had lobster and red snapper… absolutely lovely food! (we ate there the next day as well). The snorkling was excellent, we swam with Sting Rays and lots of other colourful fish. In the evening we met up with Billy and Alex again, and they sang alot in the karaoke bar. The day after we relaxed on the beach, chatted and bought some souvenirs (and ate lobster and … another fish steak) From Caye Cauker we took a flight to Punta Gorda (PG), well actually one small flight (2-3 person aircraft) and a slightly bigger one (12-15 people). Punta Gorda is a very small town that is only used as a hub between Belize and Guatemala. We stayed at a very nice cottage place (Hickatee cottages), which had very very nice spacious cottages and nice food. The staff was very friendly, they designed their place very nicely with nature. We biked around to the river and a small Maya town and hiked around the trails they have made themselves. We got stung alot…. that was too bad. The next day we travel by boat (1 hour) to Guatemala, and take the bus for 5 hours to Guatemala City, where we are now in the Best Western… tomorrow we travel to Antigua 🙂 Hugs and Kisses, Mike & Fleur
Hi All, Day 6 we travelled from Panachel to Chichi (long name, I´ll try to spell it in the revised edition). Panachel was lovely, beautiful nature and nice people, although very touristic, so we decide to move our transfer 4 hours earlier so we can be in Chici (biggest market in Guatemala). The driver from the transfer is not really nice, he didn´t stop complaining about our lack of owning a voucher (as we only got one voucher for 15 transfers) and he complained about practically everything (one of our passengers had a cat but wasn´t allowed to take it with her, so the cat had to stay). After a few hours drive we arrive in Chichi, which is not really a beautful city. Every day there is a ´normal´ market, but on Thursdays and Sundays it is like super market day, where all the stalls have to be broken down and replaced by the more commercial edition (aka touristy). The restaurant we were visiting was quite nice, San Juan, and had good food and drinks and a good view over the market. As we arrived a few hours earlier than planned we were able to attend the local market and celebrations, so we had fireworks (which scared Fleur a litle bit) and some nice atmosphere. We did find out though that Guatemalans don´t dance… There was a band playing whilst the fireworks started, however the non moving crowd could only be the equivilant of a group of dead people, nobody moved or danced at all (except for the odd foreigners here and there.. being us). The next day was supertourist market with items ranging from local produce to tourist items… we tried a Guatemalan bagel that tasted like a cookie and costed me 0.10 cents, which most probably would have been the same price for a complete bag… The next day we travel back to Antigua to the same hotel but room 11 this time… the bed was superb… lovely room and we got a good nights rest before heading back into the bus to drive to Coban. When arriving in the Park Hotel which seemd to be a local resort, where the locals come to have a nice rest, we decide to walk… Fleur read something about 1 km from the hotel, so we decide to start a walk… After 1 hour we ask whether this is still the route, ´yes´ is the answer and we continue to walk… after nearly 2 hours we ask how far it is till the center… we get the answer… about 7km… After 2 1/2 hours we see the signs for Coban (yet again) and we hop on a bus… nearly 20 minutes later we are in the center of Coban. We book our tour for the next day and walk around a bit, but it seems a little bit a dodgy town, so we decide to take the taxi back (which costs too much because I forgot to challenge the price). After we return we read the paper again and it actually says ¨only 1 km from the highway to Coban¨ which sounds about right… We walked nearly 13 km in vain, but still a nice experience. The next day we have an excusion, breakfast, go to Chamuk Champay and to the Caves. The companions on this excursions are loud Australians and a couple of Americans… happy happy joy joy. Well the Americans ended up being quite nice and pleasant to talk to, but the Australians… loud doesn´t describe them. Anyways we have a nice hike and we lie in the water of Chamuk Champay which looks very beautiful (natural waterfall etc). The caves were very nice as well, but like always, you seen one cave, you have seen them all… After this we travel to Saxchyee by bus and later by boat. We arrive a Passade de Carribe, which is a small family run bunch of huts with only cold water and all the insects you don´t really want to meet. The huts are made of straw (the top) and is covered by nets/clamboo´s to prevent the major insects of biting you. In the night the nice grasshopers/krekels will keep you awake together with the shouting monkey (brulaap), An experience on itself, no opportunity to buy any groceries drinks except from the hosts. The hosts are very friendly and nice, they arrange the excursions so we visited to Maya Sites already, that were very beautiful. The names are not in my head at the moment. They will appear in the revised edition 🙂 San Juan and his son were excellent guides and good at explaining things (in Spanish) and I think we understood nearly everything (for non-Spanish speakers quite an achievement). The atmosphere was friendly and superb, the next day a group of Dutch arrived at the Casa as well, which was a litle bit ashame as we liked being the only people there. After the 2nd Maya site, we got back by boat to Saxchyee and we got on the car (very nice car) to Flores were we are now. The hotel was quite ok, but this is like the Scheveningen of Guatemala, many tourist, but nice views and good food! Tomorrow we are visiting the Major Maya site called Tikal… hopefully we will get nice pictures and stories from there as well! Kisses, Mike / Fleur
Hi all, we arrived in Pana after a 3 hour bus ride through the mountains , lots of twists and turns.
The hotel is called Utz Be which means in Maya something like good house. The people are very nice, we get a kind of bungelow on top of another, with a small 2 person bed, but still a nice room. We walk around town and to the shore of the lake, very crowded but pleasant. Lots of merchants and shops selling crafts. We decide to book a hike with one of the owners of the hotel.
The hike is planned for the next day, so we go to sleep after eating at a nice Uruguay steakhouse. The next morning we wake up early and head of with Sergio and his two German sheppards. The walk is gorgeous and the view is terrific, no tourists in sight. It takes us approx. 3 hours up and 2 hours down, but Sergio keeps us entertained with Mayan history and stories of his life. Very recommended to everyone! Afterwards we drink some beers with Sergio until we are tired and fall asleep after dinner.
The next morning we have an excursion that was pre-arranged, we have no idea where to go so we ask Sergio and he is very helpful and after the 45 minute boatride we meet up with Perez, sadly he doesnt speak any English so that was a shame. We go to some small companies like weavers and craftsmen to look at how they do their work and ofcourse have to drop by their shop. We end up with 2 paintings and a nice scarf 🙂 We wait an hour or so in the sun for our express boat back.
We walk more around town, have some lunch and dinner and end up playing cards in the lobby. Today we will walk around some more until we travel to Chici (the biggest market in Guatemala).
The morning starts by waking up early in the morning at 4:00 after going to bed at 1:00, so we are both a little bit tired. We get picked up by the taxi drives and we get transported (mainly sleeping) to Schiphol airport The queue is already there when we arrive and we need to wait an hour or so before it is our time to check in. After checking we head off to our gate which happens to be nearly at the end of Schiphol. We board the plane and sit next to Dutch people from either Brabant or Limburg that do not know the definition of shutting up. One of those situations where you think… what did we do.. After a delay of one hour we arrive in Madrid and have to run to our plane in order to be on time… And then we have to wait 2 1/2 hours before we actually leave… Iberia is not good at keeping track of passengers and hence they ´lost´ one passenger… on the plane… terrific isn´t it. We have to id ourselves to make sure we are who we say we are (they don´t seem to know who sits at what spot). Anyways no really annoying loud people here so after 10+ hours we arrive in Guatemala. In Guatemala we get on our transfer taxi and after a few hours (and some detours) we arrive in the hotel, get some money from the ATM machine (that charged us three times the amount), get some nice Mexican food at Frieda´s and get some ZzZ´s. The next morning is walking through the city, eating and enjoying the sun. The city view looks like any other Hispanic type of country, very colorful and nice people. A meal costs around 7-10 euros a person, a bottle of Rum costs about 5 euro (real brands no brandless crap) but a bottle of wine is very expensive (in comparison). We walked past some churches and had some nice views of the volcanos near Antigua. We had lots of problems with Cash Machines, so we had to call the Postbank to try and find out what happens… Today we have to travel to another city, so we´ll let you know how it goes from there 🙂 so far.. nice weather, good food and enjoyable scenery. Kisses, Mike
First of all my apologies for writing the rest of the Argentina trip so late, I know Ive been back for over a week now and still need to cover Day 13 and more.. The pictures are online now though, via the photos link on the right.
The day 13 was actually very short, so this short story is covering Day 13. (no Im not trying to cheat my way out of this!) The trip from Ushuaia (Terra del Fuego) to Trelew is delayed, so we had to wait in the airport for a while to be able to board, although we were sitting in a nice bar place, together with a mega pancho (that means big hot dog (and yes I can use it in a sentence… Im not sure what Ill get though!)
The flight was short (about 2-3 hours) of which we slept most of the time. We were looking outside the window and see all kinds of Pennisulas, that was quite an impressive view. We didnt manage to get a decent photo from it though, our humble apologies!
Trelew is a city that is about 50KM from Puerto Mandryn, so we take one of the transport busses to our destination… which takes again an hour or so. By the time we arrive it is pitch dark and around 23:50 already, so we decide to have a beer in the bar of the hotel and pre-book our excursion. Sadly there arent any Whale watching excursions on the next day, so we decide to go to the march of the pengiuns…
We walk a little around town to find that it resembles Rotterdam a little bit (very Port-like City.. I wonder whether that is the reason why they call it Puerto Mandryn…. dUh)
Another nice chilly day in the end of the world. Today is check out day, so that is the first thing we do. We have a late flight to Port Mandryn/Trelew, so we have a small excursion first. This time it is a 4×4 tour through the rough land of Ushuaia/Terra del Fuego (Land of Fire).
The 4×4 tour was super, riding over very rough terrain, we were stuck a few times so needed to get out. We saw a lot of birds and some beaver lodges. After that we had a nice walk on the river side and after that a nice bbq lunch with steak and sausages. We met some nice Americans and actually had a political conversation (and we weren´t even invaded after that!), just kidding, really nice guys.
We had some additional wine which made the ride back more interesting -evil grin-. But I fell a sleep so didn´t really see that much on the way back! At the airport we waited for a few hours and then we were off to Trelew.
I really liked Terra del Fuego, nice city (quite big, with harbour and border guard/army base) and the food and company was overall quite enjoyable!
The airports are not really big in Argentina, but they are quite nice. I think most of them were built around 2000 and have more or less the same items for sale (tourism heh). They are a lot cleaner and nicer than I expected them to be. The airplanes are new and nice as well, I am pleasantly surprised with Airlineas Argentinas, although sometimes we do show up for a flight that doesn´t exist and we need to wait some additional hours.
We wake up early, like most days, this time for an excursion around Beagle River. This is one of the rivers that connects the Pacific with the Atlantic Ocean and is one of the major connection points for the Ushuaia habour. The weather in the early morning is terrific (Jacques woke up early to make nice sun-rise pictures that turned out great… whilst looking on the small screen of the camera)
We take a taxi to the habour, which takes approx 15 minutes and talk there to the excursion agency to get our vouchers and register ourselves (border control and stuff, since it is so close to Chile). The weather still seems to be ok at this point, once in the boat, it is quite rocky, not completely to my liking…
The wind is chilling and very strong, so standing outside is not considered a good idea in my book. We see something that looks like a pinguin although it can fly so technically it is not a penguin. There is a nice light-house along the way and we see some other sea creatures.
By the time we arrive to the old native indian island, it is absolutely freezing and the wind is really strong, so we run outside and we are told that the old native indians were always completely naked and covered themselves in fat of seals and sealions to keep themselves warm. The indians lived there from 7000 years ago till 1934 when the nice colonists either killed them or gave them clothes (whilst covered in fat, they could reasonably float in the water, with clothes they sank)
We have a small hike around the island, as we really are in a hurry to get off, since it is really really cold (as I probably mentioned a few times already), on the boat we get a nice local liquor that keeps us nice and warm inside until we arrive back in the port.
In the port it is lunch time, so we decide to go have tapas in one of the local pubs where we meet a nice Norwegian guy and have a nice long chat about what is happening and wrong in this world… always good to have a deep conversation at the end of the world!
After this we decide to go drinking at the most South Irish pub in the world, where we are served some really good beer and some more and some more… When looking outside on this day, we have seen beautiful sun, rain, hail, snow, wind and all possible elements within only a few hours.
At around 11pm, all lights go out in complete Ushuaia (apparently happens sometimes when the weather is bad) and we had to wait two-three hours before it was back online again. But we still got beer so we didn´t care that much!
On the way back we forget our bag, go back for it and nicely drunk we go to sleep!
We wake up for an excursion to go on a nice bus ride for a short ride. To the national park of Ushuaia, where we take the “train ride at the end of the world”. It is a nice small train where we can enjoy the nature and some chats about how the rail road was made, by the prisoners to transport wood and materials back to the prison to be used to build up Ushuaia.
We sit in a nice train wagon with about 50% Argentinians and the rest foreigners. Ofcourse the loud Americans are present as well. They do not seem to get the hint from the locals when they do a “sssst” all together. The American was only listening in on the English translation and was very present with the Spanish explanations.
The train ride is around the National park and is very beautiful, the lakes and the hikes are terrific, you see Eagles and Condors flying over you and see some deers, lamas and other animals (lots of Rabbits, introduced for the wrong reasons, I think it was because they wanted to get rid of Beavers, but Im not sure how or why).
After the national park, we go in the bus again to watch some glaciers and get a nice lunch. On the way back I fall asleep so I dont know alot about the scenery… sorry.. mountain air is not good for me, causes me to sleep!
When we return in the centre/harbour, we take a taxi to the ski lifts and have a nice time in the mountains walking along the glaciers, having a good view over the City and the Beagle River. We have nice gluh-wine and some snacks before returning to the City center. There is still a lot of snow and ice at the glacier, so we have nice winter pictures from there!
There seems to be an important soccer match on, so we decide to do what the locals do and drink and eat pizza whilst watching the soccer match, very nice experience. All Argentinians, male, female, kids are completely obsessed by this. You could hear a needle drop until you hear: ¨GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLL¨, this is actually repeated for at least 2 minutes after the goal is scored.
After the match, the restaurant/cafe is completely empty, we finish the pizza and move towards the hotel to catch some ZzZ´s and mentally prepare ourselves for the next excursion.
On the ninth day, we travel from El Calafate to Ushuaia also known as the most Southern City in the world, also known as ¨The End of the World¨.
After a nice short flight of about 1.5 hours, we land in a chilly but not cold city. The airport is very small and people are queueing to get their bags.
We collect the bags and had towards the sign that says ¨Crawford¨, which is good enough for me. We end up in a cab, that drives on roads that look familiar to be from Sakhalin. The mountains are towering above me and it looks very beautiful around. Soon we reach the town/city of Ushuaia, which I find is surprisingly big (approx 20.000 people or so). We pass a large harbour and large city with lots of lights. We end up on a nice hill with a good view of the surrounding mountains (that end up being mountains from Chile).
We go to the center for some food and find a nice restaurant called Tante Sara, this without translating, it is really called like that. So we think it is a good start for food eventhough for Argentian standards we are eating early (that being 7pm). So we order a Tante Sara Steak special, and it is absolutely perfect… well grilled steak, topped with cheese, beacon and eggs.
We take the local beer (Beagel, as in the dog) to wash it down with pleasure. After that we go for some more drinks but go to sleep as all the mountain air aka oxygen is making us very sleepy.
We already booked some excursions for the next few days to keep us occupied 🙂
Today we wake up early in the morning to be picked up (around 7am,which is early considering we didn´t go to bed until very late..)
We are going on a boat ride through Lago Argentino to see various glaciers and watch some of the Cordillera de Los Andes (sounds fancy huh), the boat ride is fantastic, beautiful view and we make a lot of pictures! We see glaciers on the side, mountain ranges, floating ice everywhere, some eagles flying in the air!
We even get out of the boat to walk near the glaciers where some are broken off and are floating around in a small lake. There we also walk through the national park that is protected, very nice woods, some rabbits and other rodents are roaming the area there, nothing dangerous except for tourists!
We have lunch with a view on floating ice passing us by sitting near to the park ranger (in case one of the rabbits turns on us)
After a few hours of sitting in a boat and enjoying the mountains and glaciers, it is time to go back!
We go to the same Italian restaurant where I got the major ´desert´ and have another nice dinner, the waiter that did the victory dance behind my back, showed up and we had another nice chat (I didn´t order any desert in mortal fear). After a walk back to the hotel (about 3km or so from the Center) we arrive back and decide to have a nice wine at the hotel bar.
The bar woman is the wife of the cook and daughter to a ´wine journalist´ so she recommended a lot of wines and places where to go in Buenos Aires and explained us how to travel through Argentina (so I got some bargaining tips). She and her husband travelled a lot and wanted to go to Europe next year so we have her some tips as well. Had wonderful wines to try and after the busy day it is again time for … zZz