Last day in Rio

On Monday we did a city tour where our first stop was to see Christ the Redeemer, one of the most famous tourist icons of Brazil and the world. The statue is 30 feet high and sits high above the city. It is not only a work of art but a symbol of the strong and predominantly catholic faith in Rio.
We also took two cable cars up Sugar Loaf Mountain. We were so high that we saw the city from above the clouds. Beaches and marinas surrounded the city and vultures soared in front of us. It was definitely one of the most breathtaking city views I have ever seen, rivalled only by The Peake in Hong Kong. (more…)

Natural beauty of Rio

Even though it was surprisingly hard for us to find a good party in Rio (probably because people were all partied out from carnival the week before), the city is absolutely gorgeous. It is made up of many beautiful beaches, forests and mountains and has a vibrant city that inspires singers, painters and poets.
We spent Sunday exploring the Ipenema Market and the beautiful Ipenema Beach. We watched the sunset and then climbed a lookout to see the city sparkle from above. That night we went out for an authentic Brazilian barbecue where the servers brought every type of meat possible to our table. (more…)

Party time in Brazil!

I was both nervous and excited about going to Rio. I had heard lots of horror stories about thefts and even kidnappings! Plus Agnes’ friends had booked a hostel for us and I was not sure what to expect from this new travel experience.
I arrived at the hostel at 7am on Saturday morning and got my first view of Copacabana Beach as the sun came up. It was a long stretch of beautiful beach with the glowing red sun rising over the water. (more…)

Quick stop in Quito!

After visiting the turtles, we took a flight to Quito. It’s the second highest city in the world at 2,800 meters above sea level. It has a beautiful city centre with lots of historical colonial buildings. It also has fabulous restaurants and bars. I went to an incredible seafood restaurant called Zazu with John, the New Zealander I met on the cruise. The meal, service, ambience and the company was outstanding. I only had one night in Quito and I was very happy to spend it there.
The next morning I was going to take a city tour to see the old part of the city but I didn’t have enough time before my flight. I mistakenly thought it was safe so I hopped in a cab and headed to the old town around noon. I took out my SLR camera and took photos of the beautiful old buildings. I was surprised when a local came up to me and told me to leave the area because it was not safe. I took his advice and jumped in a cab. The cabbie spoke very little English and took me the very long way to my destination. We went so far that I thought I would miss my flight! I had heard of cabbies doing this to other tourists. I usually ask hotels and restaurants to call cabs for me so I had not run into the before. Luckily, cabs in Quito are cheap so even though he drove me around for 45 minutes, it only cost 15 US. I was just happy to be back safely at the hotel and in time for my flight!

Go! Go! Go!

On the cruise, we had a very full itinerary. On our second full day, we got a wake up call at 6:15, had breakfast from 6:30 to 7:30 and were on our way to a 2-hour hike before 8!
We hiked on an island that was three million years old. We climbed to the peak and while it wasn’t very steep, we had to watch our footing since we made our way up by climbing on broken volcanic rock. It felt like an accomplishment to make it up and down without breaking my neck. I had seen several wipeouts since I got on the cruise. (more…)

Cruisin’ on the Galapagos Islands

I am now on day 2 of my cruise in the Galapagos Islands and loving the experience. The islands are a short plane ride from Guyaquil or Quito in Ecuador. They were discovered in the 1500s and became known as the enchanted islands. They are a volcanic hot spot and home to varied wildlife that are completely protected in their natural environment. The only way to see the islands is by boat and there are many companies that offer popular three-day and seven-day cruises. (more…)

Tierra del Fuego

My first tour in Ushuaia was to the national park called Tierra del Fuego. We started off at the end of the world train station. It’s a replica of a train prisoners used to take when they were brought to Ushuaia in 1896. The prisoners were primarily repeat offenders so it was the really bad dudes who were sent to Ushuaia!
The train ride was expensive and pretty lame. We basically circled around hills, tree stumps and a small stream for an hour. Fortunately, I met an interesting guy from England so we hung out throughout the tour and had lunch when it was over. Nick was very well-travelled. He has been to Australia, Japan, Nigeria, India and many more places. We exchanged stories about our adventures around the world. It was great to speak in English and we both agreed it was the most in depth conversation we had in days. (more…)

Wildlife on the Beagle Channel

On my last day in Ushuaia, I booked a boat trip on the Beagle Channel and prayed for good weather. The waterway was discovered in 1830 and is 180 kms long. It provides a divide between Argentina and Chile.
Fortunately, I woke up to a beautiful day and had a feeling that this was going to be a much better excursion than the one yesterday. Our first stop was to watch the sea lions. They are so comical, especially as they sluggishly move from one rock to another. They are very agile in water but the complete opposite on land! (more…)

The end of the world!

On a short plane ride, I landed in Ushuaia – the most southern city in the world. It’s 1,000 kms from Antarctica and the most common entry point for travellers heading there.
I could not imagine anywhere comparing to Calafate, but the aerial view of Ushuaia was impressive. I felt like I was flying into a land of a thousand mountains and trees. It reminded me of Vancouver and Banff in western Canada. Ushuaia has a population of 60,000. It is completely surrounded by mountains and is a major port for ships. (more…)