Cornwall – A brief interlude

This is going to be a very short post. I didn’t write any notes and I want to write it whilst it’s fresh in my memory.

So we went to Cornwall, Lelant to be more precise. There were 8 of us staying an Air BnB. Carolina and I had to head down there a day after everyone else. According to the gang we didn’t miss much apart from being told of by the locals (both the neighbours and regulars in a local Wetherspoons)

Carolina and I left about 7am on the Saturday, full of excitement for our six hour car journey that lay ahead of us, we decided to take a route that would let us avoid a lot of motorway driving it also had the added bonus of taking us past Stonehenge so Carolina got to see that for the first time. Much of the drive was uneventful and we made it to Cornwall in one piece.

Our friends had left the key behind so we could let ourselves in and freshen up before deciding what to our. The house we were staying in was BIG and had a really bizarre layout it felt like there were kitchens through bedrooms and living rooms hidden round every corner. I took it upon myself to guess who was staying in what bed based on how messy the bed was, you’ll all be pleased to know I got them all correct. The house though was a state in itself….empty and half drunk beers all over the gaff, had it been Alex’s house we would have a received a nasty text in the morning.

We chose to drive in the St Ives, it was busy so the centre was shut to cars so we park up a hill and walked down. It was the first weekend that dogs were allowed on the beach and there were ALOT of dogs, as many dogs as there were people, almost.

After a couple of hours we trekked back up the hill to where we parked the car and made our way back to Lelant stopping at Tesco on our way home to pick up some beers for the evening. When we finally got home the others were already there. We exchange stories of how long our drive took us as you do and then Jonny and I went out on an Electric scooter.

Being the top lads that we are we decided to see how fast we could get it to go down a hill near our house….and the answer was, probably too fast as the brakes wouldn’t work and I almost came off.

There was indecision about what we would do that night so a few of us took it upon ourselves to kick the night off playing ring of fire, I mean, it worked we all got a bit buzzy before starting to get ready and then heading back in to St Ives for a night raucous activity.

Here’s the problem, Covid made it very different to get in anywhere. There were queues from every bar so we decided to buy a beer and drink it on the pier. Whilst doing this Alex spotted a man with a big white fluffy dog and asked the man how much it would be to purchase the dog, the man answered with an audacious “1.2 million”

Our view for the evening

All in all a quiet night, until the journey home. On the journey home we saw a stranded lady on the floor. She was drunk and clearly upset, sitting on the floor. We started to investigate. She had three kids and they were there to and her husband was further up the road. They apparently had missed the last train out of st ives and couldn’t get a taxi. Being the nice bunch we are we stopped and helped, we brought the Spanish speaking father down the the mum and spoke to the kids until we managed to get them a taxi, I mean I have no idea where they were going but we got them in the taxi regardless. Upon reflection we weren’t sure whether we did the right thing, there were some suspicions that the dad weren’t a great person and that was the real reason why the Mum was crying, that being said the Mum was wasted, ohh and they were from Enfield.

Sunday morning marked the beginning of seal island day. Touted as being the highlight of the whole trip the ship was due to set sail at 11am. This really was a typical trip with my friends, we thought we would get the train at 10.30, come 10.30 we get to the train station to find there is not a train for another hour. Faced with the prospect of having to drive or get a cab, both likely from our house we decided to talk about it at the train station for 10 minutes further eating in to our travelling time. We reached the decision to drive at about 10.45, we were staying about 10 minutes from St Ives. This was going to be close. After a mad dash in to town and parking wherever we could, I realise I had no money for pay and display. I sent everyone else to the location we were due to sail from and said I would go back and pay potentially sacrificing my own spot. I ran from my parking spot to the pier and arrived at the boat at band on 11am, my friends were impressed. Despite it being September it was about 24/25 degrees so the run down to the ship had me sweating, but I was there that was the main thing. Seal island turned out to be a delight :). We learnt lots about seals and other animals from our local knowledgable guide.

This picture got the seal of approval

A noteworthy point of our time on the boat was the shameless attempts by my friends to chat up the clearly uninterested local knowledgable guide, needless to say she does not feature again in this blog, oh and also the sea was well choppy.

After seal island we made our way home and prepared for a walk. As we were leaving the house, I must stress we were still outside, David said “ahh I’ve forgot my phone” we said go in and get it and he said “nah what do I need it for” then we walked for five minutes and David said “I think I’m gonna go back and get my phone” he was gone for so long that Jonny and Frankie has time to have fish and chips before David returned, worried that David was locked in or out of the house Jonny went to retrieve him, he was also gone for a long time but eventually they returned with Drozzys phone.

We walked for a bit then Carolina and I split of from the rest of them and went on an adventure across the beach we saw some lovey sites. We walked all the way to the next town in an attempt to find a restaurant, we did not find a restaurant so we walked home……”wow cool story bro” i heat haters saying but how many times have you walked 12 miles looking for a restaurant, HOW MANY!?

The long views were worth it too see the horse at the end

Hungry, Carolina and I suggested we spend the night back in St Ives looking for food and that’s what we did. Similar to the night prior we spent the evening eating and drinking on the pier however in contrast to the night before we didn’t end our night helping potential domestic abuse victims in to a cab with the potential abuser….I really hope that’s not what we did. That night Jonny and Frankie left.

The following morning was another prime example of my friends. We had to be out of the house by 10am, at nine thirty people weren’t packed the house was tidy and I am fairly sure that David wasn’t even up. So what should have been ample time rapidly became us at 9.45am asking David whether a shower was absolutely necessary or Alex whether he could at least look like he was acting with some degree of urgency. Jack and I were preparing ourselves for not only the long journey home but also a couple of hours driving round some of the more famous towns of Cornwall.

First stop, Lizard point, for entertaining comments describing what you “were the most southerly person doing” with the most comical point being Alex, being the most southerly person in the UK with bird shit on his arm. We finished our trip at Lizard point through money to the sea gods and making wishes.

Alex was the most southerly person with a green “x” on his top

The final stop before home time was lunch in Falmouth. Much like St Ives, getting lunch at a sit down table was going to be trouble but we found a tea rooms and decide to eat there, which, it transpired was the quietest restaurant in the whole of Cornwall.

There were plenty of laughs at the table of fun, our table, not least when the lady asked if we would like some sugar. Then five minutes later David was upset that the waitress hadn’t offered sugar out again. At this tea, you could get sandwich’s a scone and tea as a kinda combination meal, no less than three people ordered the combination meal as separate items massively confusing our poor waitress……at then top the whole trip off David ate all the parsley, David, it turns out, does not like Parsley.

The end.

South America Part 8 (Road Blocks and Salt Flats)

If you don’t remember head back to Part 6 here.

The bus stopped again, the second unexpected stop, “not another puncture” I thought to myself. We all had to get off the bus again and the rumours were flying around, apparently there was a block in the road but confusion mounted when Jack and I scoured the road ahead we saw a lot of people on the side of the road but no block on the road. We regrouped with our bus companions and found our Columbian friends; they explained in more detail that the people on the side of the road were the roadblock there were some political protests in Uyuni and there aren’t letting buses in or out of the town. It 12 o clock at night we expected to be at our hostel at around 10. The conclusion was a group of people from the bus were going to walk through the desert at 5,000 metres high in the sky and very cold temperatures, at that moment in time Jack and I thought this would be a fantastic idea. How did you know the way? You might ask, and the answer is….we didn’t, we could see some lights in the distance and the plan was to head towards them. When we found the town we headed straight to our hostel. In the morning more about the roadblock situation was revealed to us and little did we know, it turns out we were being held hostage in Unuyi. The next few days turned out to be….eventful.

We were surrounded by rumours of what was going on the news seemed to be all coming from one guy….he was telling anyone who would listen about the unrest from the locals who had been promised land from the government only for it too be taken from them after moving to Unuyi, all very confusing. Despite my smiley demeanour and approachable personality sometimes I really don’t want to talk to people and today was one of them days I avoided hostel news man at all costs eventually hurrying out of the door of the hostel to explore Unuyi in the light of day.

My first impressions were that of complete contrast to all the other countries we’d visited, this was how I expected much of South America, run down old towns with people wearing traditional dress and no organisation, Unuyi was the first town that delivered on the somewhat stereotypical view of mine. Anyway Jack and I walked the streets with the aim of finding a day excursion to the salt flats, Unuyi being one of the salt flats excursion hubs so you must be thinking “Ross, why did it take all day to find a trip that almost every building in the town is there to provide” well read on……the same blockades that caused us to have an hour walk through a cold high altitude desert were also stopped excursions from leaving the town (we later find out that they were also stopping excursions coming back in) anyway we found a company that would do the trip and promised us that should we not get to the salt flats that we would not be charged, this seemed reasonable. We had some food whilst listening to some live music and went back to the hostel.

Internet coverage in this hostel was particularly bad so Jack and I were confined to sitting at the top of the stairs which as you can imagine was a bit of a thoroughfare, it was only a matter of time until the font of all local knowledge showed up, local news guy……it happened….he was with a Dutch guy and news guy shared the Dutch guys life story with us and then went on to tell us about all the horror stories he’d heard about people trying to leave the town, after all this nonsense eventually got to names and locations of where we live. We told him we were from Watford and a flicker of recognition appeared in his eye, Watford you say….how old are you? We knew people in common, not just in passing but this man had met my brother!! He was one of my brothers ex girlfriends Dad. Well it was all very surreal! The end, nah not really.

We’d planned an early night, but at around 10 o clock four Germans and a English girl entered our previously empty room much to our dismay. Germans, not known for their patience or reluctance to express disgust, were continuously moaning about what was admittedly a bad situation, but it was as if they felt personally aggrieved. Now wide awake Jack and I joined in telling them our story of how we made it to Unuyi….they wanted a drink we went out and found a building that was open and had a drink not sure we were even in a bar as right next to us there were two five year olds playing PlayStation. Jack got confused for a model by the Mancunian hippie, thankfully this was our last conversation with her BUT it was not the last time we spent with any of the Germans. I’m gonna profile them

Michael – talkative good at English and ironically aware of our hatred towards Germans

Ben – quiet good looking chap, but seemed like the kind of guy that would steal your bird if you went to the toilet

Michael 2 – most vocal about his disgust, had bed bugs earlier on his trip, was sure our hostel had bed bugs, quite moany in general.

I’ll try to keep their names as they are above for the remainder of the story…..

After two beers jack and I went to bed and were surprisingly not woken up by the Mancunian and Ben having sex the night before, we only knew because Ben was a dog and they were sharing a bed when we woke up.

Today was the day we were going to the Salt Flats….we hoped. Before we left we spoke to girl at our hostel who told us she couldn’t find a company to take her to a different city so she planned to walk, she wasn’t sure how far it was but she was just going to walk, we wished her luck then made our way to the meeting point. The 4×4 picked us up, it was me Jack and a Mild mannered Canadian man. The mild mannered Canadian man would soon change his tune in about 12 hours but we had a lot to experience before then….the first 15 minutes of our journey out of the town was plain sailing until we were set upon by about 5 young children who surrounded the car and then over the crest of a hill a rival 4×4 we tried driving off but the kids would hit the car with sticks and rocks. Our driver got out to speak to the rebels…..he got back in the car and turned around and followed the route back to the town….we were in convey with two other trips being shepparded back by the rival four by four but as soon as the rebel stopped following ……we went off route an experience that in other countries we may have paid for…..we were making good time through the desert but having to risk rougher and rougher terrain to avoid the protesters who patrolled roads and then eventually the inevitable happened one by one and in the space of ten metres each of the cars got stuck…..it was here that I saw the best and worse of human nature….

Here we are, all of us trying to get out the sand.

So, stuck in the desert there were three 4x4s all stuck in sand with apparently bald tyres. Everyone got out of their vehicles and assessed the situation, the verdict – it was bad. In some cases the tyres were half buried in the sand and any attempt to move was only making the situation worse. And it was here that I experienced the best of human nature….

The logic was to get the first car out the sand, so everyone went on a rock hunt, we were going to build a road. With almost 12 people looking for rocks and sticks and twigs etc it wasn’t long before we had a “road” in front of each wheel in the car and after many attempts and many people pushing cars in the middle of 30 degree heat one vehicle was free then after another 20 – 30 minutes the second car was free but the third car was proving more difficult another 30 minutes passed and we were no closer to getting the car out of what was rapidly becoming “sinking sand” and slowly but surely the will of the helpers was fading and quickly an elephant was forming in the room, mutterings of “well our cars free” ….and….”the people in that car weren’t really helping anyway” then it happened the passengers in car 1 slowly snuck off. Now I need to stress how much of a hinderance this was going to be for the efforts to release car number three. The first two cars took EVERYONE pushing to get free this was going to be a big ask, after an hour we did it “praise the lord (no religion necessary) it was done both cars were done and on their way to the famed salt flats, we caught up with the other car on the trip, they didn’t seem to be bothered.

I can confirm that The salt flats were both flat (you could see for miles) and salty (I licked the floor). After seeing what we were promised we got some obligatory pictures and headed back. It wasn’t underwhelming despite what my small description might make it out to be but remember we are talking about salt flats, what more did you expect apart from a very flat very salty landscape, on the day we visited it was kind of white ….also probably expected from the salty description, there were some “islands” where random cactus grow, the cactus were not flat (the were in fact categorically not flat) and neither were they salty (that’s an assumption I never licked them, a bunch of pricks stopped me) not like the bunch of pricks who wouldn’t let me out of the town of Unuyi, this was an actual bunch of pricks, if you’ve ever seen a cactus you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t seen a cactus, it looks a bit like a tree, except it’s smaller (although some of them were bigger) and they are green (but some were brown) and they were covered in spikes (but some of them were smooth) google it. If anyone corrects me about the plural of cactus fair play, can you proof read all the other posts and let me know what needs to be corrected?

Anyway, we left the salt flats and headed back to Unuyi. Anyone who is still reading this will know how difficult it was for us to get out of the town, well it was equally as difficult to get back in, we avoided the sentry points as best we could but inevitably we ran in to a group of protesters, they weren’t going to let us through until a Bolivian conversation erupted I can only imagine it went like this –

Driver: let us through

Protesters: no

D: please

P: still no

D: I’ll do anything

*a porn film might have gone a bit differently but this wasn’t that

Protester: hmmm I would like to keep our fire going it gets cold at night could we have one of your passengers to burn

Driver: No

P: please

D: still no, BUT I do have a spare tyre you can have that

P: oh yeah that works

We gave him a tyre and continued back to the town. Forgive me for judging this protester but the fact he sold his principles for a tyre leads me to believe that his heart wasn’t really in it for the cause and more just for something to do because he was bored and it pisses people off.

Anyway 10 minutes later and very close to the town, we were stopped again….we didn’t have anymore spare tyres. We did have a secret weapon.

For those avid readers amongst you, I know you all be thinking “you told me about a mild mannered Canadian man earlier in the post” he was getting increasingly less mild mannered throughout this journey, he was Canadian as I’ve mentioned and notoriously they don’t get angry just irritated. The source of his irritation was his baggage which he had left in the building that the tour left from, the man working in said building said he would be leaving at six, it was five past six already…..he was irritated.

Anyway back to the timeline, we’d been stopped and this conversation wasn’t going as swimmingly as the previous one, up steps Canadian Dave, and the best Spanish since “donde esta el hombre” Canadian Dave come out with this beauty “hey, hey, es problemo” *points at watch* “grande problems, jack tell them there’s a problem” Jack replied after some hesitant laughter “I think you got the point across” well would you believe it the Bolivian Protester was so concerned about Canadian Dave’s big problem that he waved us through. So we made it back to the building at half six, Jack and I were half hoping we’d find the building locked and see how many Spanish adjectives for “big” Dave could find, alas it wasn’t to be as the boss had stayed behind and Dave got his rucksack…..

Jack and I decided that the next day we were going to try to escape Unuyi even if it meant crossing the desert in blistering heat like the girl who hadn’t returned from earlier that day. So the next day we woke and got in a taxi and asked him to take us to the road block….this was our first mistake but thankfully Jack and I weren’t the one who paid for our mistake.

Phillipines and Thailand (Part 2) – To riches

We arrived in Bohol and our driver was waiting at the port. He was ready to take us to our accommodation. Baring in mind we had been living in relatively basic accommodation for last 7 nights it was a massive upgrade to move to the Positano apartments, it wasn’t as close to the beach as we were in Siquijor but it was only a five minute walk and it had a pool. We were living.

Carolina in her natural habitat

In comparison to Siquijor, Bohol is busy. There are more shops, more restaurants, more tourists…like us. We were staying in Panglao which is a small island off Bohol connected by a small bridge. A popular beach is “Alona beach” which has a strip of bars clubs and restaurants. We thought we’d check it out in the day.

Carolina had been keen to get her nails done, I think all the Salt water had got them in a bad condition. As we were walking to the town we were accosted by about 10 people “excuse me ma’am, massage for you, nails” etc so that was perfect For her, I followed Carro up to the massage parlour and in the shop there were more workers than customers and although Carolina was getting something done I was still feeling pressured in to buying something so I had to leave. I went for a few beers whilst Carolina was having the nails done. After they were done after about an hour and a half we went for some food before heading back to our very nice apartments.

The next day was our chance to explore the island on our full day excursion. This was the “main event” of the trip to see Bohol in all its glory. We got to go see some great views, see some wildlife and had lunch on a boat I loved it, I won’t lie though. I did fear for my life at some points on the trip. Our driver drove so fast, I know most of you will say I drive slow but our driver was going so fast there was no conversation between the other tourists, there would be the occasional side wife’s glance or an exchange of nervous laughter. Even with our driver at the steering wheel it took quite some time to get to our first destination. The Chocolate Hills.

They are weird little mounds

The chocolate hills are like loads of mounds of earth, they get so hot in the summer than the ground dried up and they look like chocolate hills. It was a wild view to match the wild ride to get there. After 40 minutes out Formula 1 driver came to pick up for the next stop.

The next stop did make me a little bit sad, there were some animals in a “zoo” a lot of the animals had enough space but some I did worry about. Ultimately though this stop was to see the Tariser’s which a super cute animals. Here is one for you

Very sleepy isn’t he

One of the final activities was a boat trip down the Lazi River, they served food and beer. A couple of the stops along the river and we were greeted by singers and dancers and all in all it made for an enjoyable afternoon. The boat held about 50 or 60 people our day trip was about 10-15 people, the people on our trip were most aggrieved when Carolina and I decided to sit on a different table. It was lonely on the table though, no one else could speak a word of English. Here are a few snaps from our river cruises

We spent about 3 or 4 days in these apartments and had a really nice time, our trip in Bohol was split in two though and we had plans to move to new accommodation. They day we were moving it was chucking it down, needs must, I suppose. Anyway then we were on to let three of the trip and again it was a step up in nice-ness (is that a word, I thing it’s a word).

We were going to stay in Bali Villas, it ms a complex of private villas each with their own pool. The building was basically new and although it was a bit further away from the beach the apartments were definitely an upgrade.

Our floating breakfast delivered each morning 🙂

It turns out being far away from the beach wasn’t really a major issue as the rain that started when we moved continued for days. Now it wasn’t “Ihla Grande” rain but it was a lot of rain so we spent days indoors. The apartments we were staying in offered a shuttle bus to the beach and we took a brief stop in the rain to shuttle down to the beach. Unfortunately as soon as we got there the rain began again and we took shelter in restaurant.

I thought I knew my girlfriend, it turns out…..I don’t.

In the restaurant which very slightly more upmarket than ones we would normally eat in, Carolina did something very strange, I’ll set the scene. The restaurant is about half full and there are tables with kids everywhere she just stood up and shouted “penis” quite loudly and nearby tables were looking over, I saw one mother cover her daughters ears and I’m sure I saw another one chasing her crying son out of the restaurant. Despite this mayhem the restaurant allowed us to finish our meal.

Due the rain there was no much left to do, so on one of our final nights we’d decided to go out and paint the town red. We went for a meal and took in some live music. We had plenty of drinks and Carolina enjoyed listening to the Filipinos sing, it seems the whole island has a repertoire of about 4 songs. Either way, it was a good night out. I thought I was the sober one of Carolina and I but it wasn’t until the following morning that I realised I wasn’t. I woke up still drunk bordering on a hangover and only had the floating breakfast to help me out.

Our trip was drawing to a close but we did have one final destination Bangkok.

Our journey to Bangkok was nice, the Covid-19 situation was worsening across the world and as a result less and less people were travelling which meant our flight were really quiet and we could spread out giving us some extra comfort. Nothing in comparison to the comfort we would experience in Thailand though.

We arrived in Bangkok in the early hours and got a cab to our hotel Aetas Lumpini, for our last full night we had booked ourselves in to a lush hotel. It was so nice, we had a massive room complete with a hot tub!

We didn’t have many plans for Thailand as we only really had one day so after we arrived we slept for a bit then headed out and just explored our local surroundings. We spent the morning out, then headed back to our hotel for the afternoon where we planned to use the pool, the hot tub and the restaurant before long journey home the following day.

The hotel was such a treat, we got to have cocktails round the pool…..only during the happy hour though and we felt like bosses in the presidential suite. it made the whole journey home a lot easier.

Here are some pictures of the hotel and some more of our time on Bohol.

Phillipines and Thailand (Part 1) – From Rags

Me and Carolina were lucky enough to have a choice of anywhere on the KLM network as a destination of our holiday without paying for it, so we wanted to make the most of it and make sure we chose a destination that would have cost a lot of money to get too. We decided to do a bit of multi destination trip we went to a couple of islands in the Philippines and spent some time in Thailand. I really don’t how long this one will be so let’s see 🙂

The Journey

We had a long journey to get to Siquijor it consisted of Heathrow > Amsterdam > Taiwan > Manila > Dumaguete ⛵️Siquijor. It took about 3 days, it was worth it. This was right before Covid-19 pretty much shut down the travel industry so we did have a few concerns only a few days before we were meant to travel the Philippines weren‘t allowing people entering who had transitioned through Taiwan, we almost changed our entire holiday thankfully that wasn’t necessary in the end. I was prepared for a long journey and happily accepted it seeing as the flights were free.

We arrived in Manila at about 10pm and we didn’t have to be at the airport until about 4/5am so we decided to book ourselves in to an AirBnB conveniently located within walking distance of the airport. The trip since we left Heathrow had already been quite long and we still had quite a journey ahead of us so decided it would be best to get a few hours rest.

After a Filipino McDonalds and literally 4 hours sleep we were walking back to the airport refreshed and ready for leg 2.

Much shorter and slightly more fun, leg 2 would take us from Manila to Siquijor via Dumaguete. It also, aside from the short hop from Manila to Dumaguete, gave us a brief respite from air travel sooo 👍.

Very tired eyes on our transport from Dumaguete airport to Dumaguete port and it only cost about a pound for both of us

After the hair-raising journey on the back of a moped we booked our 7 pound tickets for the boat that would take us to Siquijor.

Siquijor

The most noteworthy parts of the boat journey were the very uncomfortable seats and a concerning leak that the staff were ignoring. Our journey had nearly come to an end after the boat it was just a quick cab (Tuk Tuk) to our hostel.

It was about 9 in the morning and our check in wasn’t until 12 but we thought we’d give it a try anyway….and it was an experience.

We were early so it wasn’t strange when we couldn’t find anyone at reception. It only became strange when I called the hostel and the guy who answered sounded drunk, when he appeared in front of us, he was drunk he confirmed it himself “I’m drunk as a motherfucker” he said. He told us our room was ready, then he couldn’t find the key then after 30 minutes of standing around he told us he forgot that he rented the room last night and so we’d have to wait. We decided to give him until 12 o clock to sort things out before looking for other accommodation. After all that’s when he was expecting us. We went and had a beer and some breakfast for a couple of hours.

When we returned to “The Good Vibes Inn” Magnus was in a much better frame of mind and had sorted the room out. Now we were able to check out our room and get our bearings in our surroundings it seemed like a really decent AirBnb. We went on to later find out that Magnus has recently split up with the Mother of his child who he was raising by himself and he was struggling with the running of the place. Our experience with Magnus was just badly timed all other reviews on the place say it’s really good.

The island is well picturesque and travelling around by Tuk Tuk means you go slow enough to really take in the scenery.

The next day I rented a moped and Carolina hopped on the back and we drove too Cambugahay Falls. When you arrive a man comes and helps you park your bike and then a group of people will approach you and ask to be your guide. You don’t need a guide but I found it really useful as there are issues with stealing and so the guides will also look after your stuff if your party wants to go all go in together, they’ll also act as your photographer, obviously this service isn’t free I gave 500 pesos which about £7.50 I think I over paid but they guy was alright so it’s all good. Any….the falls they are really fun. I took the opportunity to do some jumping

This was fun and there are loads of places to just chill out and take in the scenery. I don’t know why and I am sure I can google it but the water is a really weird blue colour.

After the waterfalls, we went back to our apartment and chilled until the night was upon us. We went to the sunset bar just about 50 metres away from our accommodation and sat down and had something to eat. There was an odd make up of the party next to us, 5 clearly middle aged men, who happened to be Irish, and 3 what looked to be Filipino woman who could have been varying in age from 14 – 70, we couldn’t for the life of us work out the dynamic but we landed on an assumption that we stuck with for most of the holiday. The conclusion that we had drawn were the three ladies were ladies of the night and that the man who had the youngest girl was a borderline peadophile. We saw these on many nights and there was bum slapping, talks of drinks at other bars and we were so disgusted by it that we stopped going to the bar that we often saw them in. We saw them again later on in the holiday, we might have misjudged these men.

There were a couple of recurring characters on this Holiday, you already know the drunk hotel owner Magnus and I’ve just introduced the Irish men, I’ll give a quick breakdown of a couple of others.

The island itself is small, think like the size of the Isle of Wight and there are only a few towns that attract tourists so the town we was in San Juan, is a busy town but it follows just one coast road so day to day, going to the shops or going out at night you become quite familiar with the surrounding and people. First off we had “feathers” we saw this guy almost every day and everything about him screamed, “I know more about travelling than you” just looked like one of those people that travel alone and just doesn’t do “the normal things” likes to get to know the locals and all in all pain in the arse, anyway we called him feathers cos dangling from his waist band was a set of feathers probably to ward off bad karma or something. Another man we saw quite a bit was someone we called “meme man” he was the spitting image of this bloke.

Old man Meme

As with all holidays there has to be a worse part and for Carolina and I, our third night on Siquijor was the worst part. There are a lot of dogs on the island, some owned and some strays and at night they can be very friendly and you’ll be having a much needed cocktail in the bar and they’ll come and say hi like in the picture below. Sometimes things aren’t so cute.

A little friend in our garden

We were having last orders in a bar not far from our hotel sitting outside and enjoy the warm evening and watching the dogs play with one another. It was always quite nerve racking watching them play as some people fly down the road then that night it happened. We saw a motorbike hit a dog and both wheels went over it, the dog sadly died after about ten seconds but it truly was traumatising watching it. What shocked me were how the other dogs reacted they went MAD and it just goes to show how social the animals really are. This was definitely the low point.

Did you even go on a Beach holiday if you didn’t google where the best sunsets are? For Siquijor that was a place called Paliton Beach. We heading over there by Tuk Tuk late one afternoon did some snorkelling, chilled out and listened to some music waiting for the sun to fall behind the horizon, a much needed highlight after the dog incident. It also cheered me up that we were twenty minutes away from where we normally saw Meme man and Feathers BUT we saw them both here. This was one of my favourite days and we got some great pictures

Meme man wasn’t our only run-in with a meme like situation Carolina was often coining the phrase “fucking mint” throughout this time and one night we were out buying something from a shop that was open quite late. The boy before us was a white guy, dreadlocked hair, surfer shorts, bracelets for days and an air of middle class ness to boot and as he thanked the worker bowing his head, fist folded in to his hand speaking not English. Now, this alone would be fine but this coupled with his general aura made him annoying and as we walked away Carolina made me crack up when she said “Fucking. gimp” I mean as I’m writing this I realise it’s one of those in the moments moment but it was in my notes so it’s going in the blog, simple. So deal with it. Quite frankly if you’re this far in to the blog you must know Carolina or I and so it might be a bit funnier to you…..who knows.

One of the days we were there we went to Apo Island a kind of nature reserve about a 40 minute boat ride away from Siquijor. The plan was to snorkel around the island and see some turtles. There’s a reef just on the island and there are turtles there, this was good. I think it was the highlight of the trip but couldn’t say for sure as the whole holiday was great. Anyway, we put our gear on and got told who our guide was then we got swimming. We got some mad shots of turtles and you really get to get relatively close, when a group spots a turtle it seems like everyone descends in it and I started to feel a bit bad although the guides do a good job and not letting people get too close the real joy is when you swim away from the crowds and get to see a turtle in your own small group, the guides let you get a bit closer. It was a bit of a shame really, in our group when had an obnoxious French lady who would not leave the turtles alone, at one point, desperate to get the most “instagrammable” photo I saw her flipper hit the turtle. Carolina and I got a bit sick of her but even with the French lady lurking about we still managed to get some good shots ourselves.

I’ll admit Carolina got a better picture than me but this was the best one from my collection

After the first swim we stopped for some lunch and met a lady who was from Harrow on the Hill, it’s so weird you go all the way round the world to meet someone who used to live ten minutes away from you. This lady was with an Australian and this Australian had HIGH standards. Nothing pleased her, she had been staying on an island for 3 days with no cell signal, relaxing beaches, paradise and yet she was so up tight nothing was good enough not the price of the coffee the journey time back to Siquijor and she was even skeptical about her hostel on Siquijor that she hadn’t even been to yet!!! Eurgh she annoyed me, luckily, although we saw her from a far a couple of times later on in the holiday she did not become a recurring character. Our swim back to the boat was cut short, the current was Strong, we could barely swim in it. I luckily found a rope of another bit and managed to pull myself close enough to ur boat to swim it. Some of our group, including Carolina, weren’t so lucky to find the rope and they were a minute or so behind me and the currents were getting even harder pushing the remaining people away from the ship. It got quite scary at one point when the guides and some of the scuba divers dived back in to help the stragglers….I mean I didn’t do a head count but I’m sure I heard one of the guides say “successful trip we only lost two guests” 🤷🏼

The strengthening current made the journey back “fun”. It was the choppiest not ride I’ve even on. We were dealing with big swells and there was a big window at the front of the boat so went we would reach the top of the wave we would plunge what looked like nose first down the other side of the wave. It was an experience, weirdly exciting and thankfully I’m still hear to tell the tale.

We had a week on Siquijor and we did miss out on some recommended trips such as the church in Lazi or the old spiritual tree. I think we maybe could of explored more but ultimately I was really happy with the trip sometimes if you try and fit too much in you’re so tired you can’t enjoy it. The good news is, we weren’t going home we were going to Bohul.

Going to Bohol meant another boat journey. We were tired of slumming it, we’d had a week of staying in an adequate apartment but knew that we were going to be living a bit more luxuriously for the next few days so we upgraded ourselves to VIP on the boat. It was during this journey we realised our embarrassing misjudgement we had made earlier in the trip. It was about the Irish peados. They were on our boat, now there wasn’t five of them now there was only two but still with the same three ladies. Old, middle and young. On the boat Irishman 1 sat with Middle, old and young sat together and Irishman 2 sat alone, it dawn on us this could quite easily, and probably was, an Irishman with his wife/girlfriend and her daughter from another relationship and Mother. Poor judgement call from us!!!!!

This got a bit longer than I anticipated I was just going to a “1 Parter” but decided to split it up so I’ll do the second part “too Riches” in August or September 🙂

Some more pictures of our time in Siquijor.

Sint Maarten – Champagne Trip, Sparkling Wine budget

I think this will be a short one, so you might actually make it through to the end. It’s going to be short because I didn’t write notes at the time and I’m having to rack my brains back over 18 months, despite the lack of detail rest assured that this trip was unique and I loved it, it also took me over the 30 Mark for my 30 before 30 challenge.

I wanted to get to 30 countries before 30 and so I used the “Been” app, I’m not gonna gloss over it this was a bit more flexible than using like a UN based list and it allowed me to register both Sint Maarten and Saint Martin as countries soooo I’m taking it.

Anyway SM is a Caribbean island split in to two, it has a French side and it has a Dutch side. As ever I won’t go in to detail about the location andabout why it’s split or whatever as that’s available on sites more educational than mine :). The Dutch side is seemingly more financially better off and the french side is still struggling with the affect of Hurricane Irma in 2017, both financially and structurally. Whilst there are some locations to stay on the French side most visitors will end up staying on the Dutch side. I think one of the things the island is most famous for is the runaway that starts at the beach, I’m sure you’ve seen countless pictures of people looking as though they could almost touch a plane or holding on to a fence as a big place starts it take off.

Our journey was due to be London to Paris, Paris to Saint Martin and the same in return, our long haul leg was due to be Business Class, if I was that prestige I obviously wouldn’t mention it was Business Class, this was going to be the first and maybe only time I experienced it! Unfortunately for us it didn’t turn out quite the way we had expected it on the way out there, as we had standby business class tickets, it turned out that business class was full on this occasion so we had two options travel in economy on the day or wait until tomorrow and risk it for Business class. We decided that it would be best to just get there.

Saint Martin airport is still badly affected by effects of Hurricane Irma and as a results it’s terminal building was a tent, the airport has since re-opened the terminal building I have found out and then upon leaving the tent our first experience of friendly, easy going, charming Caribbean people seemed to go as expected. The airport taxi driver charged me 15 dollars, I later found out it should have been 7. In hindsight this is my own fault, I didn’t do any research. Oh well, lesson learned.

We’d booked our accommodation through AirBnb, and were staying in Simpson Bay which Was the closest resort to the airport. We’d gone very early in the season which meant the area was quite quiet but there were a few bars open locally. Our AirBnb was on the beach front and as well arrived we were greeted by the cleaner of the apartment finishing her work and two German men in the sea who, it turned out, were our neighbours.

Through the gate and on to the beach!

We didn’t have much planned for the trip we were looking for a relaxing retreat and the pictures of the island looked great so the plan was to chill out, go to a couple of different beaches, drink, eat and come home properly relaxed and that’s what we did.

We made friends with Thomas and Philip the German neighbours and spent a couple of nights drinking with them. Which was very nice.

So to get from town to town there is a hop on shuttle bus service all over of the island, if you walk down a street these buses will beep at you and if you hail them down there is a set price and you can hop off any where on route. The difficulty in this system comes when your going to a resort further away, like you will be in Simpson Bay and want to get some where on the other side of the island and there is no bus that goes directly there you need to a find a bus going to a town on the way, get off there and find another bus, this is also how the locals get around and so it’s fun riding along with them. It’s a really cheap way of getting around and you do get to see a lot of the island and other than at the airport actual taxis are really hard to come across.

One of the days we were there we went to a place called Pinel Island, it’s a kind of nature reserve. Despite being quite busy on the beach the place is quite serene. There were a lot of iguanas and other lizards and once people started feeding them loads more came and it was enjoyable watching a lot of the tourists getting scared by the animals. As we made our way back from Pinel Island I was lucky enough to see a turtle which was great and then we had to go and look for one of the hop on and off taxis, Carolina and I started walking up the road and began to get a bit nervous when the road was all but deserted. Then a car pulled up to us, the window rolled down and said “where are you staying?” We said Simpson Bay (about 30 minutes away) and they said they’d give us a lift, we were so grateful and I think had it not been for Ron and his wife Carolina and I might still be hitching for a ride.

We went to Marigot a couple of times to have lunch which was a really nice town, I think it’s the capital of the French side we found a couple of decent restaurants and climb up to an old fort which gave real nice panoramic views of the town.

Marigot from above

On our trip up to the old fort we did see a bunch of people who were clearly doing community service, and despite some light behind the back car calling they were helpful and told us the best way up to the fort. It was noteworthy 🙂

One of the beaches we went to was called Grand Case, we had read that it was really good for snorkelling and it was a very picturesque beach. We made our way there via a couple of buses and aside from choosing a day with rubbish weather conditions the beach was not as we’d seen, pretty much the whole town had been battered by the Hurricane a few years before and as a result apart from a few upmarket hotels there really nothing there, I barely even stepped foot in sea. I can imagine it would have been really nice, on a nice day and lined with little local restaurants and bars. There was a huge amount of building work going on though so I think it will be fine in a few years!

Maho Beach is the one that a lot of people will have seen but might not realise where it is. Maho beach is the beach famous for aeroplanes taking off and landing next to it, giving people the opportunity to take pictures or hold on to a fence and get sent flying back by the Jet engines. Due to it’s notoriety the beach is packed all day every day, and every four or so minutes all the sun bathers get up and take a picture which I can only imagine turns out exactly the same as the last one. I suppose it really depends on what you go to the beach for but if it’s a chill out and a relax this probably isn’t the place BUT it does get one of the best sunsets on the island….which typically I didn’t take a picture of. You’ll have to trust me.

This trip was exactly what I needed at the time, I needed to chill out and I got that. We spent a few days in Phillipsburg which is the capital of the Dutch side and that is such a vibrant city, it’s also strange, basically the town only really opens up on days that cruiseliners come in to the city. Despite much of the town being closed there are some really fun things to look at and take pictures of

One of the more famous streets in Phillipsburg

Aside from some fun beaches and nice restaurants and great weather there is still more the island and that includes wildlife here are a few of the critters I saw.

We’ve spoke about Saint Martin after we got home and decided that we would love to go back there in the future maybe once the French side as completely recovered, so maybe we will do that.

After 7 days of some relaxation it was time to make our way home, in Business class. Our flight was delayed and we had to spend a few hours in an unconditioned, packed glorified tent, that was hellish but the flight was luxury. We boarded the plane last because we were standby they just had to make sure there was space and then took our seats. Our seats were huge and fully reclinable so essentially had a bed, offered a champagne before take off I’d never lived so well. In our welcome back there were slippers, face creams, blankets and the service was immense. Travelling in business class is likely an experience I may not get again, which is a shame because I loved it. I was trying so hard to stay awake as I didn’t want to fall asleep as I’d miss out on the experience my eyes failed me and I did fall asleep.

That was not the holiday over however Carolina and I did get to spend 10 hours in Charles De Gaulle airport before we caught our connecting flight back to London

All in all a very nice, relaxing and fun trip.

See told you it’d be short

India – Part 2 (The Chills and Thrills)

Jumping all over the place with my posts just to keep all 8 of you guessing!! We are back to the sub-continent, back to India. In the last post, we got to Baga and experienced some horrible people. You’ll be pleased to know there are more horrible people in this post.

We need to cover off the southern part of our trip to Goa and then Mumbai. I’ll jump right in to it.

Our taxi journey from The north of Goa to the south of Goa, which took us nearly three hours, only cost about 30 quid, so cheap. As we got closer to our beach that we were staying on “Patnem” the taxi drivers vocabulary became very restricted it seemed he could only say the word “Patnem” he proceeded to drive round and stop at every person he saw wound down the window and he said “Patnem” we’d see another local 100 yards down the road and do the same again. It was quite amusing for us.

A particular highlight of the journey was a monkey which ran across the road, it went as quick as it came and we never got to take a picture.

In the south we were staying at a hostel/B&B called Namaste. It was idyllic, it was on the beach front and only about 20 venues on the whole beach. We each had a room and mine and Jacks over looked the ocean. We couldn’t wait to explore.

There is a clear difference in the “vibe” (please excuse my use of that word) between the north and south, I think the best way to describe it would be that the North is More like Benidorm in India and the south is chilled out and feels like one big yoga retreat, this is enforced by a bunch of people doing Yoga across the beach every morning. We even had a go ourselves

Us practising our Yoga!

Our days followed a similar pattern, wake up have breakfast on the beach, get a taxi to another beach and then come back have 5 minutes in the room before getting ready and going out and not forgetting to speak to Gary before going out to make sure he left some beers in an ice bucket for when we returned the the hostel later that night.

One night when we were sitting on the beach at about 2 o clock in the morning we were approached by two girls and a boy, they started sitting with us and being the polite guys we are we offered them a beer. Not willing to open beers for strangers with my teeth I told them they’d need to find a way to open the beers themselves, so one of the girls rummaged around in her dreadlocks and had a bottle opener weaved in to her dreadlocks…..I hope that paints enough of a picture of the kind of people we were dealing with. Now that we are all drinking together I tried to progress the conversation when I hit a stumbling block, I was met with the response of “woah, why do you need to know that let’s not get political” to the question “what is your name”. The conversation was not fruitless however when they told us the story of a backpacker who was killed last night walking the streets. Sounded like a urban legend but to save confrontation we decided to let them have this. After a few more beers they went on their way and we went to bed.

It really was Hippy central, that’s not a bad thing but it is a bad thing when you’re made to feel like the odd ones out because you’re on a two week holiday and not some trust fund paid for hiatus from work. Anyway the next night the beaches all suffered a black out so we started to head home from the beach, we couldn’t see where we were walking but knew the terrain underfoot had changed it went from definite sand to a harder more “crunchy” surface. I reached for my phone to give some light and found to all of our disgust that we had been walking on a pathway of spider crabs and we must have sadly and completely unintentionally killed a few. It was a weird situation there were hundreds just on the beach so naturally we were all like “what are they doing that’s weird” when a bloke from behind us chimed in “they’re dying man” thanks Random dude it was rhetorical. Horrible experience. As we continued to walk much more cautiously now the lights came back all of a sudden which meant the night could continue.

We are clearly approachable guys, as we were summoned by a girl who said “can I follow you” so we let her. It turns out the waiter at the bar she was in was being a bit creepy so we let her join us. She came with us for a few drinks then back to our hostel. It got late so we tried getting her a Tuk Tuk to which there were none available so we walked her to her hostel, her hostel was guarded by security. We had no trouble getting through security….he was very sleeepy! We then managed to get a Tuk Tuk home.

A day or so later we were sitting on a beach minding our own business when an aging club promoter approached us offering tickets to a silent disco. Being the absolute lads that we quite clearly are we said yes and planned for a big night out. First big night out since garlic naans at 4am, we were ready. The party turned out to be decent and we stayed out as late as possible and headed home around 12 or 1. It was only when we were leaving that we realised the Grant was no where to be found, he’s a big boy so we decided to head home without him, sure that he’d find his way back to Patnem beach. Jack, Alex and I were sitting having a beer a few hours later when my phone began to vibrate, it was Grant, he was asking whether I could meet him at the entrance of the beach with money. Curiosity got the better of me and so I headed there with money in multiple pockets. The situation turned out to be a lot less exciting than I had hoped and he just needed me to pay for his taxi, it was the second thing I’d given him that night. Grant is very coy about that night and his location for much of it but nevertheless I am sure it was a night to remember. We were leaving Goa the following day.

Checkout at Namaste Hostel was a bit weird, we needed to pay for our accommodation and the beers that we had nightly! We stood at reception and told them we were checking out and they took our keys and were like “bye” and we were like excuse me but we need to pay and they were like “yeah yeah yes very good sir” and we continued to stand there and were trying to push them along to take our payment because our car to airport was waiting for us….still they were like “yessir good sir” so in the end we had had enough and started to walk out the moment we turned to walk away we had workers around us telling us we needed to pay, happy to give them our rupees we went on our way next stopped Mumbai……

We arrived in Mumbai and got a taxi to Hotel Apollo in the Colaba region of Mumbai. We had a couple of planned activities we wanted to do afternoon tea at the Taj Hotel, we wanted to go to a rooftop bar on the top of the Four Season hotel and visit the “slums” we had three of four days to do this we knew it would be ok.

A personal highlight from Mumbai was our hotel, this isn’t a glowing review and I’m not slating the place either it’s a highlight because it was funny. The staff out our hotel outnumbered the guests it seemed, it was a 24 hour hotel but if you returned late at night the staff would be asleep in the corridors and would make half an attempt to get up and open the doors for you, we would tell them all to go back to sleep it was just a bit surreal being surrounded by sleeping workers. We had one staff member join us in the room to watch the cricket for half an hour and another man who told us his shift in the elevator was 12 hours but because he needed the money he was going to pull a double shift! I’ll end the blog with us leaving this hotel.

The Taj Mahal Palace

The world famous 5 star hotel was splendid and surprisingly cheap, the afternoon tea was only 15 quid. We weren’t their usual clientele, probably a bit too loud and more active than the 70+ aged residents none the less the staff were more than amenable to us, even topping up our plates with dishes they thought we’d like, just ask Alex!

We didn’t know at the time but afternoon tea was not the last time we were going to visit the Taj Hotel. We had to go there after our evening/night at the the four seasons.

AerFour Seasons

Aer is the four seasons rooftop bar. It gives some amazing views of the city and is a always a recommendation of mine when speaking about this trip.

We went to the Four Seasons twice. On night one we turned up and found out it was a “Red Day” which meant some bars, including this one, would not be serving Alcohol. So on the first night we had a very expensive non alcoholic cocktail and left, the highlight of the night being Alex and Jack wearing shorts and being forced to swap their shorts for some of the staffs Ill-fitted trousers before they were allowed to enter the bar! The lack of alcohol was the reason we ended up back at the Taj, one of the only hotels allowed to sell alcohol on the anniversary of Gandhi’s death (I’ll circle back to this).

The second night, in the four seasons, we all came appropriately dressed, picture this four young guys sipping on a cocktail in a relatively empty bar, relatively empty apart from another group of what looked like work colleagues. Anyhow the sole female in this group approached us and asked us in her American accent, guys are you staying here for a few drinks? Amazed that a girl would approach us, between us we managed a timid “yes” she told us she’d go and get changed and come back and have a drink with us. We spent the next hour deciding who had the best chance to get to know this lady and we hadn’t really come to decision when she came back done up clearly ready for a night out, we on the other hand weren’t so instead of having a drink with this lady we basically all just ran out on her we finished our drinks and was like…..bye. Not sure why we didn’t that really as we didn’t head home we went to an Irish bar in a local shopping mall. The bar man mugged me off for nine pound when he gave me a fake Guinness, I drank it and swiftly moved on to a cheaper beer. After a few more drinks we decided it was home time and as walked through the shopping centre we heard a band playing and so decided to check it out. There was about 100 people watching this band and no one was dancing or clapping or anything they were just watching, so I took it upon myself to get the party started and went up and danced, eventually I was joined by my friends and we got a couple of others up on the dance floor as well. The people who didn’t dance were now at least smiling, we then headed. Back to our hotel filled with joy as we walked past our sleeping hosts.

Grant must have took this picture! Or he refused to be in it but it’s at the top of the four seasons hotel.

Taj Mahal Palace – Night 2

After our unsuccessful night in the four seasons we Googled where we could get a beer and it turned out that proper posh restaurants were allowed to sell alcohol, so we headed to the poshest one we knew. We got there and had a few beers, not long in to the evening we detected some English accents sitting in some chairs near us. We decided to go and speak to the owners of the accents, which was 2 girls from Brighton or Bournemouth I cannot remember now. The girls were, let’s say forward, they were with a young local man who they told us was their “photographer”. At one point when the girls went to the toilet the man was showing us some of his star gazing shots on his camera, when the girls returned and saw us all looking at the camera they had clear looks of shock and worry on their faces and they immediately questioned us “what pictures did you see” we didn’t see any pictures of them but their reactions have always made me wonder what shots could have been on that camera. After a few drinks the conversation had become random and varied as it does under the influence of alcohol and so we were now talking about star signs. Grant, with no substantial proof to contrary, labelled star signs as “bullshit” to which one of the girls replied “that’s exactly what I expect a Gemini to say” Grants retort was “ok I am a Gemini but I didn’t say that because of where the stars were when I was born”. We let this clearly sexually driven conversation play out and there were tears and tantrums before we called it a night, not before planning another night out with the girls. This lead to the biggest tantrum, close to tears Grant banned us from seeing them again he said that if we go out with them he will not come up so the following night we pandered to his will. (And people say I bitch and moan when I don’t get my own way). In a running theme that was not the last time we saw one of the girls a few years later she showed up on Channel 4’s surreal programme “naked attraction”.

The Slums

Cos it’s called “the slums” you think bad straight away, i think it doesn’t really draw an accurate picture. The slums is essentially a glorified industrial estate but on the industrial estate people also live there. The reason I say it’s no so bad is because there are shops, schools and all the houses we saw all had satellite dishes. What I will say is a lot of it smells, it’s very cramped, the jobs some people have ridiculous I.e. separating smashed glass in to separate colours, and according to our tour guide they earn next to nothing.

In one factory we went in our tour guide said “it’s messi” referring to me, they all stopped and looked and eventually one person said “you are not messi” he was right of course, he then proceeded to go upstairs and fetched a Messi Argentina top and gave it to me, I thought as a gift, it was not a gift, as then wanted me to buy it….I did not. I think the slums had a major effect on Grant he did not seem to enjoy the day.

Anyway we had a great time in India it was definitely one of my favourite places to visit and we got a great send off from our hotel staff. At the top of this part about Mumbai I mentioned Gary from the lift on his 24 hour shift and the sheer volume of sleepy staff members well, we checked out and a fight almost broke out about who could take our bags down the stairs as we were taking the lift. In the lift we decided to tip Gary and he started stuffing the money in his pockets before we reached the ground floor. At the ground floor the doors opened and there must have been 10-15 workers all with their hands outstretched we started giving money out like we were making it rain conscious that we would run out of money before we got to the last person, thankfully we didn’t but it needn’t have mattered if we did as we were waved off by the herd of staff we saw them dividing up the tips, it became clear to us why Gary from the lift was frantically stuffing his pockets full of our money…..he wasn’t going to share!!!!


Gary – from the lift
The sleepy staff
The staff waving us goodbye

In the airport we saw a BBC news reader.

The end.

South America – Part Three (Baggage, Boats and Beds)

Everything on the trip was running smoothly, a little too smoothly if you ask me. I was proven right on arrival in Buenos Aires. We went to collect our luggage, mine came through, Jons came through then after a while it was becoming quite clear that there was an issue. A large proportion of the plane didn’t have their luggage and to top it off there was a complete lack of staff at the airport, after about 10 minutes the baggage-less crowd started to become restless

So there we were, at the airport, Jack and Alex had joined the locals in a collective clapping, this it seems was some sort of protest. The bags hadn’t arrived and from the broken English explanation it seemed that they had stayed on the plane which was now on route to Costa Rica, return date unknown. I mean it was entertaining to see how the stereotypically quick to anger Latinos were in dealing with such a stressful situation and it turns out they were not very calm. I think it’s safe to say, we were all thankful it wasn’t Jon’s bag because if it was it would have been a call to the embassy and a bomb threat to ensure the plane turned around.

Jon and I went ahead and found the air Bnb on Calle Uruguay. Jon and I claimed what Jon described as “the good beds” (remember the hammock) and then Jack and Alex turned up with no clothes other than the clothes they were standing in. Jon and I did the polite thing and offered our clothes but there was some technical difficulties with that.

Buenos Aires out of all the places we visited was the most “European” of all destinations. It’s famed for its food so we decided to check out some fine dining, as we were assured it cheap. Listening to the unfounded claims of the English that South America is full of crime and con artists, we all left the house with nothing but the money we needed for the meal. This, it’s turns out, was a mistake. We sat down for a “steak meal” then the menus come round and we realised one by one that we definitely hadn’t brought enough money with us. It was at that point that Alex revealed his secret…..he was harbouring a debit card….. Our savour, this piece of plastic was the sole reason we are all back in England and not working off a bill in the kitchens of Argentinas top restaurants. So Alex paid the bill 35 pound each, and our most expensive meal of the trip, and we headed home bellys full and wallets empty, or at least Alex wallet was empty.

We were staying in the Recoleta region of Buenos Aires which is famous for a cemetery (see below for a lovely picture of Alex in the Cemetery) a massive cemetery. And like a place with nothing else to offer Recoleta sells this cemetery as a tourist destination. That being said it’s free to enter and frigging massive so worth the visit it’s even the death home to famous Argentinian singer Gloria Estefan. We spent a day paying our respects and exploring the cemetery, very weird.

We hadn’t been on a proper night out according to Jon in a long time. So naturally that night, to appease him, we planned a big night. We got some food, got some drinks and was just about to go out when we discovered we had a smart TV. This meant one thing, night cancelled and a big old Netflix and chill night. We watched a few classic episodes of fawlty towers and then found that the night had run away from us. Jon was most disappointed, but being the considerate one in the group I didn’t even want to watch Netflix but knew the guys had been wearing the same clothes for two days and so the last thing they wanted was a night out. Not only am I the considerate one but I’m also the scapegoat and I let Jon tell me off for putting Netflix on. We fell asleep and to make up for it, in the morning I made breakfast.

I was in the shower when the boys started talking about the best breakfast they’ve had in two weeks, they thought I didn’t hear and I was too humble to tell them at the time. I made em the breakfast because I knew we had a big day in front of us, we were going to leave Argentina, have a day out and then return to Argentina. The uber was ordered and we started our day trip to Uruguay….celebrities, alcohol and school kids all in one day….

It took us about 20 minutes to get to the port and it made me appreciate how big Buenos Aires is. We had only really explored one region, Recoleta. The boarding process was fun, stamped out of one country in to another then on board the ship. I thought it would be at this point that I fell ill with a bad case of seasickness but thanks to the relatively smooth journey I avoided it.

We arrived in Uruguay in to the colonial town of Colonia, it all looked very quant with the European style white buildings and very much like Paraty, for those avid readers who’ve read previous installments (shame on you for those that haven’t). After a short walk through the streets of Uruguay we hit the central hub of Colonia, despite being very picturesque (or selfie-esq for Alex and Jack) there wasn’t a great deal to actually do. When we are put in a situation like that we do what any self respecting traveller does, find the tallest building in the town and climb up it. It was Fero de Colonia Del Sacramento, or a lighthouse. We went to the top and naturally got some fantastic panoramic views of the town then left.

Look how high up it is

Now I’m going to mention that on our boat and on the walk in to the town we were being suspiciously followed by an Amy Winehouse lookalike and now my description won’t do her justice for how much she resembled the late singer but she even had the “I’ve just been an injected myself” look we all grew to love during the popstars glory years.

After the lighthouse we went for some lunch where I made a terrible choice in food and ended up with about 2 raviolis on my plate, but lunch became notable for two reasons aside from the lack of food on my plate. Jon started Drinking, footnote lunch is an acceptable time to start drinking only if your drinking with one or more others, Jon was drinking alone, and the notable situation we decided that Amy Winehouse plus one was definitely following us and it seemed as though she’d had more to drink that Jon even this early in the afternoon. She really was AW reincarnate.

We ditched AW in an attempt see if she truly was following us so we went to a bar and sure enough some way down pint numero uno (yeah one incorporates Spanish and what) and numero 5 or 6 for Jon, Amy turned up in the bar but by now she was starting to creep us all out with her “dead-behind-the-eyes” stare so we made another futile effort so lose her. We headed to the beach for a sunset, you could sense the excitement in Jack he positively bounced to the beach with Alex at his toes. Jon and I stayed in the bar but by now Jon was all but incomprehensible and he started acting peculiar and out of character. He got up and said “I’m going for a selfie” I was at a loss, I didn’t know what to do so I let him leave his corona at the table and go and make a selfie with the corona in the sky. Helios truly had taken Jon, when it came for time to leave Jon was nowhere to be found. The sun had set and we had 10 minutes to get back to the boat we searched the seafront and eventually found Jon clutching his camara at arms length taking selfies with the black sky as his back drop.

Once we dragged Jon out of the land of the pixels we made our way back to the boat and made it with just enough time before we set sail. Due to our late arrival we were seated separately Jack and Alex sitting next to a lovely German couple with who they discussed, at length, the war. Jon and I sat amongst a school trip of about 20 students, to my delight they were just about young enough and only had a basic understanding of English to appreciate my child like humour and I spent the hour on the journey home providing light entertainment for them all

I’ve succeeded in making this one a bit shorter ….that does mean there will be about 6 or 7 parts to this blog