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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Huaraz, Andes, Peru


So i woke up at 6am on a bus in the pouring rain and half light. i remembered that i must have arrived in a town in the Andes that id decided to visit. I couldnt beleive it, when i got off the bus and some early rising inca hustlers started annoying me about trips and hotels. Luckily for them i didnt have a hotel as the Hotel at the nearby hot springs hadnt replied to my booking, so i got straight to a random 10 euro a night hotel and fell asleep. the hotel is called Grand Ceasars Palace by the way, it was quite ok and central, although the town is full of cheap digs so i dont think you can go far wrong.

When i woke up the afternoon at least the rain had stopped. its 3090m above sea level, so you get out of breath really quickly the first day (for example the highest Ski Resort in Europe is Val Thorens at a puny little 2300m)

The town was destroyed by an earthquake in 1970, so all the buildings are half built shacks, and it sure is ugly, as you can see. But it does sell helluv cheap Llama hats, scarves and cheesy jumpers. So i bought loads. It was a tenner for a llama top which made me look like an elf from lord of the rings. And now you all know what your christmas presents are.

This Inca supermodel HQ is really cheap though. Steak and chips is 5 euros max, or you can try your luck with a local dish at less than a euro. There arent actually any supermodels here. The locals are homely like Guatamalans, but cute in their own warm shy smiling way. There is a funny smell in the town though. It smells of the Andes. Llamas, local cooking and lack of soap.

tomorrow ill go to Chavin de Huantar, its the main temple complex of a pre Andean cult who worshipped a demon jaguar. I personally think the jaguar was an alien like from Jecheria Sitchins ideas, well lets wait and see. You can see more about it here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3vOLHPNdqQ&feature=fvsr

Lima cokeheads

It strange staying in hostels, but you do bump into some real seedy people at times. The type who left their home country for all the wrong reasons and end up bouncing around places like peru or thailand working in hostels, or hustling and selling drugs or making ends meet in whatever way they can. Anyway i met a few over the years, but here in Lima it does seem half the backpackers are out of their heads on Cocaine most of the time. I finally went out of the hostel to party, we ended up in one place called 'Tequila Rocks' The aussie guys i was with said they had blown their money on coke so couldnt afford to buy their due rounds of beer until i had to threaten them with violence (which i find does the trick) but i must admit i was disapointed people would do that. anyway, seems most of the girls in the club were pretty out of it on coke too, i guess that what happens in a country where its so cheap and available. Pretty funny to see their eyes though, like they've been plugged into an electric socket.

Anyway, ive had it with lima and its cokehead backpackers and locals. You just cant trust anyone who is in that scene. Now im getting the 10pm overnight bus up to Inca HQ, Huaraz, 3100m up in the Andes.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

60 fatties killed in Peru


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8369674.stm

So it seems these guys killed 60 fat people and sold their fat. Its beside where i go tomorrow so i will breath in when i see someone looking at me funny.

Lima Architecture




There are some nice colonial buildings scattered around Lima. The pink mansion with the uneven balconies there is a really typical old style. I think the main business here in Peru now is Cocaine, its estimated to provide more than 20% of the GDP, can you imagine? So basically anyone you see with a lot of money, there is a good chance thats the business they are in. Crazy.

Lima



So The word must have got out that i was coming to Lima, as they deployed riot police all over to stop the hordes of Inca supermodels who were expected to descend on the city.

Actually i must admit its either a pretty dull place here or im bored. I spent a day in the centre, which is pretty sketchy, so ill stay down here in Miraflores (im in 'the point' hostel, not a place if you want a quiet night!)

Miraflores (or Barranco where i am, next door) is the posh part of town, but its still not particularly nice if you ask me, except for the seafront part (photo)

Its not warm, and there isnt much to do to be honest. I suggest anyone uses Lima as a 'jumping off point' for the rest of Peru rather than a destination. The people all look like Incas, but there is no culture particularly. So tomorrow ill go to Huaraz, in the Andes. There is a bullfight on this afternoon with a big ticket Matador from Spain (senor Thomas, muy famosa!)

No one, i mean no one speaks English here.

Tonight i will go for a beer. Its sunday and all ive done is laze around all weekend. The local food revolves around seafood and a type of sushi like fish dish called Ceviche which is great.

I even have a plan. Tomorrow ill get a bus up to Huaraz in the Andes and visit a pre-inca temple, then ill go to the desert for 2 days before starting to make my way up to the jungle...

Friday, 20 November 2009

edificios bonito en BA, and next plans...




Lots of nice buildings in BA, i couldnt help but take some photos.

Now ill go to Lima, and then there are some interesting choices to make. Either i go on the normal idiot backpacker/pensioner Gringo trail to machupichu and so on, or i go north the the haunted wastelands where i think ill be pretty happy to see another white face. Easy choice really. The only thing i have to think about is how to get to the river that takes me to the heart of darkness, as the 2 ports where ill find a cargo boat are basically in the middle of the coke growing region, which is a bit dangerous, even for me (i dont fancy a life as the Scottish Gimp of some Peruvian drug lord, or even worse just dead!) but lets see how some Pisco (40% alcohol) helps my courage

When did it all go wrong Diego?





I couldnt beleive it, I was in some tourist trap market, and who is sitting there getting his photo taken with tourists but ex futbol superstar, cokehead and now bankrupt loser, Diego Maradona! Man, how things have gone downhill since he was the most famous footballer in the world....

In the same place (la boca) i saw a pretty nice painting to buy too, but i couldnt since im going to the jungle very soon and it would get ruined.

Buenos Aires 1




h
So today i went on a bike tour (after a tasty steak and chips of course) First thing i saw was the Cenataph, a memorial to the soldiers who died stupidly trying to invade the Falkland Islands (which is British and a totally pointless sheepfarm in the middle of the atlantic, except it might have some oil nearby) We cycled around the posh northside suburbs (ill put in the co's details later when i find them) but it was a good group (here they are!) led by Elly in the orange. Went to the necropolis too which was interesting, but would have been more interesting to see after dark. There was Evitas grave, but to be honest i wasnt so interested in her. What was really funny though was one tour guide we were overhearing who was just making everything up as he went along, hes famous in BA for taking tourists around the city and just telling them any old shit that seems about right, quite funny!! Generally though the people here are about 1 or 2 million times more sincere and genuinely freindly than Rio people. (Although the Rio folk who ARENT trying to rob you are pretty decent)

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Dont cry for me Argentina



My first impression today of Buenos Aires was that its the first place ive been to so far that feels ok and secure as a city, where i dont have to take so many precautions (ie i could probably have money in my pocket not in a moneybelt)

Its a bit of a melancholy place, with its purple blossoms (i suppose its late Spring here) You can see how its beautiful buildings have faded over the years and what were grand palaces now have become youth hostels and so on. The people seem to know it too, and have that yearning look around them, wondering where it all went wrong. It seems to have gone wrong a few times here over the years, starting im sure with that stupid Madonna song about Eva Peron.

Anyway, im sure if they stick in it'll become great again.

Today i took it easy, with for the first time this holiday a room of my own not a dorm in a hostel (since ive slept on buses the last 2 nights i think i deserve it) i decided out of boredom (it was quiet everyhwere tonight) to go to their only casino, which is two big riverboats joined together. It was a pretty good find, since they have easily beatable blackjack and quite awful poker players. I played poker, so thanks to the generosity of Argentinas kind poker players, the Alan holiday fund is $400 bigger.

By the way, i have noticed when im travelling around - probably the best and cheapest way to learn about a city, its people, and especially its language is to play poker. I met some really interesting local (and expat) people tonight, but more importantly the only language allowed on the table is Spanish, so now im re-remembering all the numbers pretty well.I think if i played there for a month every night id be fluent ;o)

ok tomorrow ill go on a bike tour of the city, otherwise ill get fat from pizza steaks

Iguazu falls, Argentina/Brasil/Paraguay

Iguazu Falls are amazing - 75 different waterfalls at once, it totally shows what a silly little trickle Niagra Falls are. This film is mostly of 'The devils throat' which is a pretty crazy part as you can see. a film is much better than a crappy little photo for somthing like this. There is basically nothing much else around the area except my first taste of Argentinian food (its on the Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina border) and it was amazing - I had a pizza but instead of bread it was steak! ok ok i do bang on about food a lot but it was pretty nice. So after about 5 minutes at the waterfall and some dinner, i got on another 24 hour bus ride to Buenos Aires, hoping for even more steak pizzas....

video

Rio nightlife


So my last night i went to Ipenema for some dinner, it was a pretty nice steak, in a place called Garota de Ipenema, where it seems some famous guys wrote this song not surprisingly called 'Girl from Ipenema' In the middle of it some guys started doing acrobatics in the middle of the street when the lights were at red, which i suppose it a Rio thing. Ipenema is the one place i felt there wasnt any sign of menace in the air which always seems to hang about it Rio. By the way this is the ghetto again, Ipenema is nice and boring (so no point in putting a photo in, just buy a postcard)

Rio people, although they mean well, do seem to me a bit like Italians, though - all talk and no action. Lifes a big performance to these guys. I mean i didnt even get robbed, killed, or kidnapped. So you just talk about being tough i reckon, and your guns arent even loaded.

Anyway, despite everyone local telling me how dangerous it was to go to Lapa at night as a Gringo, i went out there later with two Sao Paulo guys (William and Tiago, hope you are reading this, hope hangover was well!) Anyway my conclusion to anyone interested is that Lapa is totally normal and safe, im really not sure why anyone ever said otherwise, its just a few busy streets with bars and clubs.

Ok, next morning was a 24 hour bus journey to the Iguazu Falls, but i was so tired, the comfort and hangover didnt even get a lookin.....

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Rio 3





I'm pretty bored of this city so ill go to the beach and check out the markets. Photos are...me at the Samba street (where the Rio carnival is held), the main Cathedral, and a nice view over Copacabana beach. It costs $3 for a wrap of crack cocaine here so there seems to be some kind of drug war going on. if i feel brave ill go to the favella again today to see if i can get a photo of a drugs guy with a gun. Its mighty dangerous though so maybe this will be my last post :o)

Rio 2



So its Friday 13th today, i wonder what will happen. Here is a zombie i met today in the favella. Actually its one of many crazy looking crack heads there. I would advise you not to go to the favella(slum) with your camcorder taking photos of strange weirdos by the way. Im just stupid.
I also met a new freind in the hostel toilet today, i didnt give him a name yet as he has hundreds of brothers and sisters. (Che Lagarto, by the way, pretty good and sociable place in Copacabana) Also went up to various tourist things, like the jesus statue (check the view in the video on

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrS1Rc28bL8
!!)

Also ive made a decision regarding facial hair for the holiday (actually there is a lovely view here from Sugarloaf mountain)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksurfqt8P7E

Tonight well go out to Lapa for some alcohol (in fact ive started already) and well...i think i dont tell what happens, even if nothing happens ;o)

Friday, 13 November 2009

Surfing, Rio


















So i went surfing this morning on Ipenema beach (heres me looking like a bit of a dick) the waves were so so, but good fun, im definately learning. Also i met a Japanese girl who cant speak Japanese. i promised i wouldnt say here that she also cannot cook Japanese food. Very strange, but it seems that is Brazil. Anyway here she is with the instructor (hi mate)

And heres a view of ipenema beach (with me checking the chicks of course! ;o) )

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PuRMZd3mjMQ

Deep Fried Pizza


I decided on the night before i left, id have a deep fried Pizza at home in Glasgow. Im happy to say it was absolutely lovely. for those more healthy people who have never seen one, thats it on the left. (with chips and steak pie lovely!)

Dublin, tuesday 11th November




So up at 5 for a daytrip to dublin...full fried breakfast at the kingfisher, brilliant! It was the highlight of the day except the National Gallery which had a pretty interesting Edward Munch exhibition (thanks to the girl at the door for letting me in for 3 Euros!) and one painting i like called 'conamara girl' i forgot who painted it.

Thanks also for the free haircut, Maria. The guy who took our photo...didnt. Must have too difficult to press the button so i don't have a photo ;o) but im sure ot recommend knights barbers to anyone who wants a free haircut from a cute girl (some ahem blatant free advertising there)

Theres a real recession here, loads of homless guys...heres a funny pic about 'nama' the governmentorganisation that is buying up all the bankrupt stuff (ok ok its only funny if you 1. arent bankrupt or 2. understand politica humour and 3. share my sense of humour which means there is something wrong up there.

Ok...tomorrow i go to Rio de Janeiro...!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Glasgow Scotland



So im back home in Glasgow.

First priority, Fish and chips - lovely

here is the recipe, i dont know why they dont sell it elswhere...

http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/scottish_recipes_Fish_And_Chips.htm

By the way, yes its true about deep fried mars bars, and deep fried pizzas. The Pizzas are a glasgow thing, (and a highlight of my childhood) because the chippies were originally often run by Italians for some reason. The deep fried mars bars are from Aberdeen probably made up by drunk oil rig guys.

For those of you who dont know - this (building) is the Gallery of modern Art - the statue outside of the guy on the horse (i think is Wellington), but its more famus because there is permenantly a traffic cone on his head. Every time (for since i was a little boy) it was taken off, someone put another on, so eventually it became an institution and stays there. The gallery was once the tobacco exchange and before that the house of a rich guy.

Last night i went (what a surprise) to play poker. The players werent so good, but at the casino was the 'Miss Glasgow' competition so it did hold some distractions for a man like me. Here are some of the contestants (they are quite cute but i dont think any of these girls won ;o) ) Glasgow girls are id say (unbiasedly) the hidden gems of this world. you can be buying a can of Irn Bru then suddenly the cutest girl you ever saw just asks if you have a Tesco card. They are also pretty good at seeing through bullshitters which does beg the question why i ever have any luck with them :o) but despite seeming pretty 'gallus' (look it up) they are like all girls just testing us guys to make sure we are actually men they would want to be with ;o)

Tonight ill go for a curry and to 'the horshoe bar' with some old schoolfreinds....diet of kings!

PARNU, ESTONIA



This morning we saw the first snow. I was in the Summer capital of Parnu. Me and two of Parnus cutest ambassadors, Birgita and Helen took me for coffee after some translation stuff, while i waited for the bus to the airport. We went to the coffee shop next to the bus station where as i entered a lovely old lady burped in my ear. I missed the bus, and the next one got me to Tallinn at 12.10 but this time i made it to th the 1pm flight thanks to the normalness of Tallinn airport i still got on the sleazyjet flight to london, and up to Glasgow...