....At the very end
As you can see from this entry's exotic location, I'm back home proper now; will be hanging out in West Yorks for the next few weeks whilst attempting to return to some semblance of a normal life. And then, hopefully, back to London in the not too distant future to re-join the people in suits.
So, rather sadly I'm sure you'll all agree, the blog has reached its natural end.
But first, in true Big Brother (and I notice now Hell's Kitchen) style, here, in no particular order, is the promised list of some of the best bits of my time on the road. Was going to do bests and worsts, but then I thought let's not be negative, lets instead adopt the normal post-travel mentality which is to forget all about the bad bits (except for a few hilarious near-death anecdotes) and concentrate only on the good stuff.....
BEST BEACH -
It's a very competetive field this one, with gems such as Sairee on Ko Tao, Thailand, with its glassy shallow waters; and Whitehaven in Australia, with the whitest of the white sand, coming very close. But for all-round buzz and atmosphere, awesome turquoise waves, perfect tanning conditions and the most image concious beach-goers in the world making for classic people-watching, the award goes to -
Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
BEST HOSTEL -
Again, so many hostels and so many super ones to choose from, Dreamtime in Cairns was the most beautiful old house and gets full marks for character and decor, the funky Green Traveller in Rotarua was also super homely and left sweets on the pillows, and the Andes Hostel in Santiago was brand spanking, mega trendy and the staff made up your beds in the morning and served you breakfast! However, there will always be a special place in my heart for the spot Ellie and I stayed at in Wanaka. It had the trendiest and well equiped kitchen ever (stainless steel meets reclaimed wood surfaces and bun trays and weighing scales at the ready), amazing views out over Lake Wanaka, cool snow scene crowd in situ and the best hostel pet by a mile - Biddy the black lab puppy. Lets hear it for -
Wanaka Backpackers, Wanaka, New Zealand
BEST CITY -
I fall into the typical Brit catergory by picking Melbourne over Sydney as my fave Oz city, Sydney was more beautiful to look at but Melb had a better vibe. Bangkok was amazing and I loved its crazy pace, chocka streets, and tropical heat when people warned me I'd hate it. Buenos Aires was really great, the people, shopping, architecture, culture, nightlife, cafes and restuarants ensure this place is generally rated top of the South American cities list. For me though, there was just something about Rio which compels me to give it the top prize. I confess the weather was a huge plus, but it's just such a fun place and the beach culture is so addictive and the setting absolutley stunning. It is also the place I stayed the most nights out of anywhere on the trip, where I met some fab people and and had some great nights out on the town. Thanks for the memories -
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
BEST FOOD -
No point going through the also-rans here, Thai food was yummy, healthy, cheap as chips and never got boring. And as well as main meals, the street snacks were also fab. Fresh fruit on sticks and fluffy pancakes when you fancy a treat; I loved it (and still managed to lose weight)! Culinary standards only went downhill after -
BEST FLIGHT - Ten flights to choose from and all were comfortable and on time, I got a window seat for each and retrived my bags safely at the other end. Not bad eh? So the things which stand out most were what could be seen out of the window, and who I shared a row with.... Flying over the Great Barrier Reef into Cairns, the Cook Straight into Wellington, and Rio on my way home (and central London) were all wonderful. Soaring over the Andes on my way from Santiago to Buenos Aires was just gob-smacking however and has to be the most memorable in-flight moment. And my very humorous exchange with a smooth and handsome Argentinian guy was also one for the memoirs. He swapped seats with his son to come next to me and grab my Lonely planet to advise me on all the places I should go and see in BA, where to go shopping, and where I might be able to "pick up a beautiful boy to take me back to his hotel room...." He was a ridiculous flirt and kept touching my arm and calling me darling and at one point looked back at his wife a few rows behind and confided "my wife is jealous, because I am talking to you, and you are young and beautiful; and she is old...." A random and very funny time was had on-
LAN Chile flight Santiago to Buenos Aires, July 29
BEST NATURAL WONDER -
Ayres Rock was stunning and we were treated to an amazing sunset and sunrise and a rainy day in the desert which resulted in waterfalls cascading down the sides. The Great Barrier Reef lived up to the hype; I only snorkelled but still saw an overwhelming display of colourful fishys and we were joined by some massive black fish things about a metre long (sorry can't remember the name but pretty exciting), and also some dolphins who swam by the boat. The glow worms at Waitaimo Caves in New Zealand were soooo pretty and tour guide 'Norm' was a bit of a wonder himself, a total legend. Milford Sound, also in New Zealand stunning, as were Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. Oh, it's such a hard one this one, could go on and on (am a bit of a sap for pretty scenery and nature stuff). So maybe it's just cos they are the most fresh in my mind, but I'm going to go for the falls at Iguazu. A bit over-trafficked with tourists, but never-the-less, the falls are huge and mesmerising and you can get in really close to them which all adds to the excitment and makes for an absolutely awesome day out at -
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
There, that should do it. Thanks so much for reading - right to the end!
Until the next time...?