A Travellerspoint blog

"Copa- Copacobana...."

Our last stop in Bolivia

sunny 20 °C
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We are writing this, having arrived in frigid Puno, Peru and are attempting to whittle away some time as there's not a whole lot to do here apart from the tours...but thats an experience yet to come and a blog for the future... On that note, we wont be in touch again until early next week, we are headed to the Amazon on Wednesday...

So, Copacobana (thats the Bolivian one), beautiful Copa. It was a fantastic sight after the smog of La Paz!
We left La Paz early in the morning. There was a bit of confusion, as it turns out that the 1st of May is a public holiday (workers day) in Bolivia. Originally, we had been told that we would be picked up from our hostel, which is on the main street. After going down early for breakfast, we noticed that the street was blocked off and there was a marathon taking place..an annual marathon.. Luckily a representative from the bus company came down to collect us and take us the the bus. Everything is uphill in La Paz, so poor old Jo had to lug his enournmous backpack the whole way there (for some reason, he packed an excessive amount of womens clothing and toiletries that havent all been needed... he'll never learn..). Anyways, it was like a wild goose chase to get to the bus and we collected more and more equally confused backpackers on the way. Very few of us understanding the instructions.. Luckily we got there fine and started our journey fine.. only to stop about 20 minutes later after getting caught in a noisy traffic jam in El Alto just out of La Paz. The street here was also being used for a parade and only 1 lane was being used (which developed into a 5 lane jam of honking busses, trucks, mini vans, taxis and the odd car if it could fit also).. Luckily it only took 2 hours before we were able to move again and 3 hours until we got to Copacobana!

Anyway, enough about the bus trip, as exciting as it was!

Copacobana is a small rural township that sits on the edge of the immense Lake Titicaca. It has a holiday beachy feel to it (well, as long as the suns up... after dark, you realise you've been tricked as it cools down to 4 or 5 degrees). As well as the locals and Bolivia's (landlocked) navy (!), its home to a quite few foreign hippies. Luckily for us, our second day there, was the start of a festival (Fiesta de la Cruz). Many people came from surrounding towns and cities and all paraded the streets dancing and dressed in costume.

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Most sections of the parade had their own brass band (that somehow managed to play while marching up hills and around town at 3800m)!. It was a great atmosphere and there was lots of alcohol to keep the party going!! We were going to go on a kayak but got absorbed by the festival. We did manage to climb the mountain near the town however and also (surprise surprise) eat at quite a few restaurants!!

Capacobana was cheaper than La Paz, so we splashed out on a hotel vs hostel. The second hotel even had a shower that worked! They have dubious looking electric shower heads with wires coming out to the powerpoint. Doesnt make you feel that comfortable while wet, but Lonley Planet indicates you should only expect a small shock if you come into contact with the shower head, which was a welcome relief from the full electrocution i was expecting!!

Anyway, that was Copacobana. Laid back and sunny!

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All in all, we have had a fantastic time and really enjoyed Bolivia!

Posted by jhetland 14:48 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

La Paz

This city is nutters!

semi-overcast 20 °C
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Before we came to Bolivia, we had heard a lot of weird stuff, lots of warnings read, and lots of travelers tales. The most disturbing was in Mendoza, and Sara was very concerned how we would go! However, we have done ok so far, been reasonably street smart, and endeavored the fumes and the hills. We are only catching the tourist buses, and staying away from anything dodgey. The ATMs all have armed guards now, and we do feel safe here!

We arrived in La Paz early Monday morning of the tourist bus. We where tired, cold, and over it. We knew that our hostel wouldn't be ready for us, but we went there anyways to dump our stuff. Then we headed out...

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The town itself is very weird, it is located in a big valley/ravine/gully, and everywhere you look you see houses in the hillsides. We walked all around, saw lots, and was rather unimpressed with how inconvenient it was to have to walk up and down so much. It was almost like you where continuously traversing a hillside, which you where. This added with the ridiculous amount of fumes from old Dodge buses, and the crazy micros, made it a bit of a test. We chilled most of the first day, and had a nice cold shower when we finally got our room!

Tuesday was our big shopping day, and fighting day, but we both endured, did our shopping, looked around a bit more, and enjoyed the beers on tap here at the Hostel. We have also found a local restaurant that has some wicked fruits! Its so nice to be able to have healthy food, just not meat, meat millanesa or pollo... We also went to the Coca museum, learning about the difference between the Coca leaves and cocaine. Bit flavored, but interesting.

This morning, we organised our trip to Copacobana (yet another tourist bus), ate some more fruit, and dealt with the Bolivian postal system (Mom/dad, another parcel on the way, did you get the first one/s from Australia?). We also walked a bit further, to enjoy the views, but there seems to be a big beautification campaign going on, so we didn't get to enjoy it, we where stopped by construction. We had the pleasure of meeting a very nice Swedish speaking shoe shiner, Ricardo, that sweet talked me into getting my sneaker cleaned. Turned out he and his mate where working for Svalorna, a Swedish charity. Very nice encounter! All the shoe shiners wear black ski masks due to social stigma, so its a bit odd to talk Swedish to a guy who you can only see the eyes to, cleaning your shoes in Bolivia!

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Walking home, parched and tired after too many beers the night before, I suggested to Sara that we ought to cross the road to get into the shade. Sara dutifully did so, and stepped into the path of a mini van. It was a bit of a shock watching her getting thrown around, but she stood up, no scratches, just a bruised ass. The minivan was luckily driving slowly at the time, was very concerned, but she was ok, only a bruised pride...

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We are going to enjoy the homecooking here at the hostel again tonight, before going to Copacobana tomorrow, then onto Peru and Cuzco.

Posted by jhetland 11:56 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Tupiza

Starting Bolivia

sunny 13 °C
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So, after another overnight bus trip, we arrived in La Quiaca!! This is a boarder town in Argentina and is quite a bizarre place (especially if you are Australian and have to fly off the continent to enter another country)! Everyone gets off the bus and heads to the Argentinian-Bolivian boarder by foot. One moment you are in Argentina and the next step you are in Bolivia!! We attempted to catch a cab to the bus station but they wouldn't accept Argentinian pesos!! Everyone that doesn't exchange money in the Bolivian boarder town must use the one ATM in a back street!! You have to get a reasonable amount of money out as there is not many options along the way to La Paz! You don't feel too safe when you are withdrawing the equivalent of 7 average monthly wages in Bolivia.

We were lucky enough to get a ticket on the bus to Tupiza (despite some confusion, language barriers etc) and left that morning for Tupiza, where we were to start our salt flats tour. The bus ride itself was a bone rattler! Never been shaken that bad before, bitumen is yet to get to southern Bolivia.

Tupiza was a nice little town and pretty much revolved around the tour. There are a few companies running the tour from Tupiza (though we suspect its the same company under different names)!! We had our tour booked by Viache Tours, it was so nice just to have everything organised! We stayed in our first hotel of the trip and it even had a pool!! It did have shared bathrooms though, so don't think we are too soft!! The tour company also owned this hotel and a few shops around town!! We figure they must employ the whole town almost.. 110 families they claim.

We took a small walk around Tupiza in the evening and started to feel the effects of the altitude (3000m). We probably walked 500m up a small hill and were pretty puffed! Headaches were also the norm!

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The next day we set off on our tour. We had a Toyota LandCruiser 60 series, a driver, a cook and 3 other tour-ists (Allesandro, Nadia and Laura. We had met Laura at Salta). Fortunately, Allesandro was able to speak Spanish and we were able to communicate with the driver and cook!! We were really lucky with our group and have had an awesome time.

Firstly we did a lot driving up very steep mountain roads that fall off VERY steeply to one side and were physically a one way road but practically worked as a 2 lane... we learnt this as the driver would occasionally honk as he came to a blind turn and also when we scraped (which could have turned out MUCH worse) past another 4wd!!

The first night, Jo played soccer against some local kids (8 year olds), but got dumped from the team after he couldn't handle running around at 4200moh. It was very embarrassing.

The landscape changed so much over the 4 days of the tour. We got as high as 5000m when we visited a geyser- was awesome to see!! The altitude leaves a terrible headache, a little nausea and breathlessness whenever you try to do something aside from sitting!! The breathlessness was made worse at night by the extremely thick blankets that we needed to stop freezing at the very basic accommodation on the way and the blocked nose and cold we have developed!! The nights reached minus 10 and there was no heating. Wouldn't advise wine as a means of helping warm up at an altitude, only makes things worse!!

We have too many pictures from this trip, so a small selection is below... We are also catching up a bit, so this is sent to you from La Paz. At least we can handle the altitude now!

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Posted by jhetland 14:13 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Salta

A quickie

sunny 27 °C
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So, we made it to Salta ok. The bus ride was fine, the 18 hours not too troubling. We had bingo and meals to keep us entertained!

We are writing this from La Paz, Bolivia, so some time has passed since the following events took place!

In town, we went to our pre arranged hostel, and got dumped. We reckon it was because we were too hip for them, but really it was probably because we were a couple. We got relocated to another one with extra perks, no dramas, but still annoying to be age/couple discriminated!

We spent the day chasing ATMs (Its a pain here, we can only withdraw tiny amounts ago, then having to do 7 repeat transactions to get enough to pay our way forward! That is if you get a ATM that works, we average about 4-5 before we hit jackpot) and chilling. Also booked a tour for the next day, so we could see the local wineries and surrounding country.

Next day, Tuesday, we got picked up in the morning, and it turned out there was only 4 of us doing this winery tour. The whole winery thing in Argentina is a bit disappointing. We where expecting wholesome samples, lots of variety, but instead only got to sample their staple wines, not their pride, and then only in tiny amounts. The gripe is that we pay the guide to take us there, then he gets paid by the wineries in wine, wine which we could have drunk, instead of just looking after us. Such a poor deal! Hunter Valley any time! Although the wine we did have was nice, it wasn't as expected. Cafayete is the region in Salta, and again, very dry, all irrigated.

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Once back, we hung around for a while, before catching our bus to Bolivia at 0040 that night.

Posted by jhetland 13:57 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Mendoza

Wine, university and siesta country

sunny 23 °C
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So, we made it to Mendoza. The place is very much like Canberra, its definitely got the city feel to it, just a lot more vibrant! The trip itself was terrifying! We figured we should be smart about it, and shopped around, and found a cheap minibus that seemed alright. Little did we know that the 6 hour journey should turn into 8, that the driver had emphasemia and would nod of, and that we would see Condors. They are big birds! But, we learnt some stuff, does and dont`s, so it`s all good!

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Argentina has been kind to us so far, we got in late on Sunday, stumbled around town trying to find a hostel, before being accepted at a nice one where again, they spoke no English. We were really bloody keen to find out what was going on around us by this stage, so we caught some fliers and went looking for a phone booth. There is a whole heap of "Cabinas Telefonicas" around, which are like private public pay phones. Anyways, we got onto one, not realising we had changed timezone by this stage, and talked to our professors father. He knew some English and explained that it shouldn't be any worries, and that I was to call back a bit later, which I did. This turned out to be late Sunday, but it all worked out! When I called back I got to talk to Maro, what a relief that was. We were accepted into her Spanish School starting the very next day.

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So, since Monday morning, we have had our brains fried for 4 hours every day. We are making progress, but we have been told that we quite literally had no base in Spanish, which was unusual. We where planning on doing a group thing, but we would have brought the group down too far, so we ended up with the individual lessons. Its well worth the investments though, as we can now communicate with more than just sign language and gestures!

Outside school (funny being back at school) we have being trawling the city. We changed hostel too, and now have the whole place to ourselves, for reasons unbeknownst to us.... Our walking shoes have got a real good workout, we have seen all the streets, checked out the English bookshops again in search for a good phrase book, but given up on that quest. Instead, we have decided that our wits will have to do, which might be a big ask. However, so far we have done allright, and we seem to get better. Touch wood!

We started off cooking in, but by now, we have discovered the vegetarian buffets, and the various promotions you can pick up, so we just stick to those, its just as cheap, and we know enough now to order and make sure they take the meat off for Sara. We just had dinner, and I had a hamburger with a beer, and that only cost 12 peso, wich is $4AUD. Morning coffee with croisant and fresh juice averages around 8 peso, which is $2.7AUD. Not too bad!

The people here in Argentina are great, and I know I'm making sweeping statements when I suggest that they are quite nice! We are definitely having a better time here than in Santiago, less harassment and more friendly. There was a crisis here in 2001 that would have caused a fair bit of unsettelment (the economy devalued to 3 peso per $1USD, from being a fixed 1 to 1, so things skyrocketed in price) and which might have changed the economy a bit. Thriftynes seems to prevail! The petrol prices are identical to Australia, but a lot less affordable, due to lower income, so some wits are required!

The cars are what makes it most evident. There is whole heap of beat up Ladas, Fiats and Peugeot's here, some sort of time lapse happening. The nick of some of them is surprising, considering how they are driven. You literally force yourself onto the intersections, time it with who is driving in which direction, and all the time hope that right of way and brute force will get you through. There always seems to be an ambulance cruising through the streets with sirens as well, which doesnt seem to mean anything unless they are honking too. There are continous car alarms going of, but not from theft, but as bumper indicators. So, the prevailing method of parking seems to be too keep reversing until the alarm on the car behind you goes of, then you start going forward. There doesnt seem to be any undamaged bumpers, and all the alarms sound the same, so we wonder what the point of it all is?! We are sick of the alarms though!

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Does anyone what kind of a car this is? There is a few around.

We are starting to prepare for our next leg, to Salta

in Northern Argentina. We figured out the bus system, and now went the whole hog. Cama so we can sleep. Should be interesting, its an 18 hour busride.

Saturday when we have finished school, we are going on the local winery tour.

Posted by jhetland 17:24 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Santiago

Chile, First leg of the trip

semi-overcast 19 °C
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We left Sydney a bit late, after someone higher up decided the plane didn't need to depart until 4 hours after the original time.

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Flight itself was pretty uneventful, and we got to the hostel just fine as per the Lonely Planet directions. Only major snag was the exchange rate offered at Sydney Airport, we thought it was good, but ended up being ripped off about $80. Very unimpressed!

After landing and as we where interacting with more and more people, it was becoming more and more obvious to us that the locals knew very little English, as in next to none, and we knew no Spanish. We have been lugging around both the Lonely Planet South America on a shoe string, and the Spanish phrase book, both which we have to continuously reference to get our point across in some meaningful fashion. On our next stop, Mendoza, we are gonna have to get some Spanish lessons!

Anyways, we spent the days being jet lagged, looking at people, and soaking in the sights of Santiago. Its a noisy city, always something going on, and never asleep. Although early risers should just stay in bed we have realised, nothing happens until after 10 at the earliest!

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We got a hostel not far from the Metro, something we booked online. That was our second mistake. Considering we didn't know how deep the pool was, and that we where finding ourselves sinking on the deep end, we would have been better of sticking to the beaten track, and gone with the run of the mill hostel, where it would have been easier to socialise and pick up some Spanish, as opposed to the best deal.

Anyways, the hostel itself was ok, except for the beds, every time either of us turn, we wake ourselves up from the shrieks of the bed. It is horrid! So we are still jetlagged, tired and grumpy. Having to always reference the phrase book when communicating doesnt make things easier!

We have been around though, Cerro Saint Lucia, our neighbour hood, Cerro San Christobal, the local Virgin Mary statue, Barrio Bellavista, the local Bohemian neighbour hood, and today, Barrio Brasil.

Something we think is a local peculiarity, is the coffee bars with the miniskirts. You walk in, purchase a ticket for whatever coffee you want, then go to another bar, where a female (not necessarily young and attractive) will take your ticket and serve you. The attraction is that they are wearing very short dresses that are see through. Interesting concept...

We also went to the Chile Historical museum today. I was surprised how little info there was on the early history, and how there was no comment on Pinnochets regime.

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From Cerro San Christobal

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Barrio Bellavista

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Cerro San Christobal with open air auditorium for mass.

Tomorrow we are catching a mini bus to Mendoza, Argentina, but before that, we are gonna hit the town tonight, as long as we can be in bed before 9 to hopefully sleep the night through. :-)

Posted by jhetland 12:35 Archived in Chile Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Malaysia trip

2 weeks away

semi-overcast 30 °C
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We left Friday night on the red eye with Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur. I have to say the airline is a bit overrated. Economy class seems to just become more uncomfortable... We had booked a flight with AirAsia to Sandakan on Saturday, so that we could fly directly to Penang from Kota Kinabalu when we left Sabah. We knew if was an 8 hour wait, but we had thought the LCCT terminal was a bit more comfortable than it turned out to be. Turns out that upgrades where due to be completed 2 weeks after we used it.

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Us buggered on the only seats available, outside

We had also booked a stay with Sepilok Jungle Resort for 3 nights. It was great! We arrived in the afternoon, and enjoyed a great dinner outside.

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Next morning we went to the Orangutan Reserve. It was quite educational, and very nice!

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Commanding silence!

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Cruising down the jungle freeway!

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Gridlock....

Macaque playing

Orang Utan eating

After lunch, we went on an overnight tour to Bilit, along the Kinabatangan River.

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We did an afternoon river cruise, where we saw lots!

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Promiscuous Proboscis monkeys

We saw more longtailed Macaque, Proboscis monkeys and lots of different birds! We skipped the night walk, as it would just be to many leeches we figured. Next morning we had an early river cruise, before we headed back to Sepilok.

Once back, we went for a city tour of Sandakan. We saw the war memorial from the Sandakan death marches, the city market and the floating village.

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This was our last night in Sepilok, so we went on a guided tour of the Orang Utan centre with a ranger. I was really struggling with the humidity, but it was so interesting! We saw vipers, stick bugs and birds. We both loved it! Even though Sara was very apprehensive in regards to the leeches.

We cought the bus to Ranou and Poring Hot Springs Tuesday morning. We missed out one the morning bus, but got there just before sunset anyways. The springs where not too inviting for us, but the Canopy walkway and the Butterfly farm where nice!

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We left the springs aiming to catch the express bus to KK, however, it was full, and we where rather rudely rejected. We figured we walk in to city center, but got picked up after less than 100m by a very friendly driver who was going to Kota Kinabalu, so we went with him the whole way. Very good service! KK was ok, we got a room at the Daya hotel and chilled for the night, before leaving for Penang very early the next morning (Thursday).

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Us on our Balcony at the Golden Sands resort in Batu Ferengi in Penang.

Since we where all checked in to our resort before 1100 in the morning, we spent the day familiarizing ourselves with the area. The comfort we where presented with was almost uncomfortable, but oh so nice!

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From the spice gardens

Flying Squirrel

What fruit is this on the fruit farm?
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Going up Penang Hill

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Had to try the snake... Its a Burmese Python, so not very dangerous

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Sara kept accumulating mozzie bites....

Its hard too see, but a Burqa seems to be no problem when parasailing!

After 3 nights in Penang, we left for Cameron Highlands on a very quiet Sunday morning. The bus drive felt like it took forever! Once in Tana Ratah, we where picked up and talken to our Hostel. We spent the afternoon exploring and making arrangements for a tour the next morning, before our bus to Kuala Lumpur. That night we had a awesome Banana Leaf dinner at a local Indian restaurant, it was huge!
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Flycatcher in the mossy forest

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The area has lots of tea plantations! Home of the BOH tea.

How the tea is collected, you also got the scissor method and the machine method

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Had to hold the Scorpion too!

Monday afternoon we caught the express bus to Kuala Lumpur, it had 3 seats in a row, so very roomy! We stayed at the Federal in Batu Bintang. The shopping and business district of town!

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KL was hot and humid, we spent the first half of Tuesday doing our tourist stops, going to KL tower. Had a great lunch at Blue Boys vegetarian!

Wednesday morning we went to Batu caves, north of KL. A big Hindu temple north of town. The monkeys here where very cheeky!

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We watched as a kid got robbed of his drink can by this monkey. Kid wasn't too impressed.

The rest of the day and Thursday was spend shopping, before another disappointing red eye flight back to Sydney.

Great holiday!

Posted by jhetland 00:09 Archived in Malaysia Tagged ecotourism Comments (1)

Norwegian Summer


View Norwegian summer on jhetland's travel map.

We left Sydney on a cold Wednesday night with the night flight to Tokyo. Going through security, I got my bag emptied, while Sara got checked for bombs; business as usual. Qantas looked after us well, they gave us a complimentary business class travel kit, thanks Dan! I was eager to test allmy anti jetlag remedies, so we passed up on the champagne and wine… I slept the whole way, while Sara didn’t, despite all the best travel equipment!

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Tokyo was ok, we managed to get ourselves something to eat, and looked around for a bit. A few hours later we left for Copenhagen, the trip was uneventful; we both squeezed in 3 movies each, and ate a lot.

After a brief stopover in Copenhagen, grabbing the essential tax-free, we went on to Norway. We landed at 19, and it was still very bright! Dad, Svein and Gøril greeted us at the airport, and we went back to the house, where we had supper. We were reasonably tired, but managed to stay up until 22, going to bed before the sun.

The next day we had Farmors 80th birthday. The whole family was there, except for 1, so we were 32 people. And that’s just dad’s side.

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Saturday followed with more walks, while adjusting to the daylight and trying to get rid of the jetlag. We went on a tour of the royal castle, Sara was very impressed by my castle, so that was all good! Sunday we went into town, for a look around, Gøril came out, and we ate a lot of cherrys! We all got very full!

Monday we drove up to Hemsedal, after visiting Mormor on the way. The cabin is about 4 hours drive away, and there is mosquitos there in summer. Sara got to experience those. The next day we went on a tour of the west coast fjords. This included a trip with the world’s steepest railway and a 3 hour cruise from Gudvangen to Lœrdal, in Norways narrowest fjord. Sara also got to meet Huldra, a fairytale creature that steals the men away, but Sara fought her off.

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Wednesday Mom and Dad came out too, and we went to the world’s oldest stave church. It’s from the 1100th century. We also went to a Glacier museum, and had a peek at one of those. After that we finished up with a tour of an old costal town that we had just raced through the day before, Lœrdal. Dinner was up at a mountain lodge. The only thing vegetarian they served was sour cream porridge (a dish that looks like white sauce served with butter, cinnamon and sugar), the rest of the dishes contained some sort of salted meat.

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Thursday we went up to a mountain farm, where they had baking day. Sara and I baked a flatbread each, mine was (not) the better…. The day was warm, and we finished it of by walking up to the top of one of the mountains next to the cabin.

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Friday we came back to Oslo, it was 30 degrees and sunshine! Excellent weather! Unfortunately, it also means that we have less than 3 weeks to go.

Saturday saw us of to Hamar, catching up with Andreas and Simon. Hamar has changed a lot since last time we were there! It now has a big beach and lots of other stuff it didn’t have before, including David Hasselhoff….

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Went out on Saturday night, and the town was booming, saw lots of familiar faces, a bit like going out in Bombala I suppose.

Sunday we where just hung over, but still managed to go to a BBQ at Gøril’s, where we ate some Moose and other good stuff.

Monday we went shopping…

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We also walked into town, eating a whole heap of berries.

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Monday night we caught the bus to Denmark: what was originally devised as an ingenious time and money saver, saw us signed, sealed and delivered to Denmark in the form of a human pretzel. With no sleep and no food (and definitely not a good mood), we walked the streets of Copenhagen until the first bakeries opened…<br />
Unfortunately we chanced upon the only bakery in town with an apprentice sandwich hand and after a harrowing wait, we left with food (a possible communication breakdown meant that Jo enjoyed a cheese and jam roll as opposed to the 1 cheese and 1 jam roll that he ordered).

Well, after that, we went along the harbour, all the way to the little mermaid (who’s head is famous for being stolen), to the palace, to Christiania (a kind of hippie commune). We then booked into our hotel (supposedly 4 star, but we noticed it to be the smallest room on the fire escape plan...not happy Jan). Later, we went for a drink and dinner on the wharf. There were heaps of bands and street performers around, so it was nice just to sit and watch. There were also a few drunks (Jo said that in Denmark, anyone of any age can buy beer, which can, incidentally be purchased at the supermarket! But apparently not everyone can drink it!). Some poor tourist fell into the water from the wharf!

The next day (our last) we went down to the old part of town (well kind of... only made it to the museum- which was free on Wednesdays- and parliament house). We then headed to Tivoli for a long time, drinking beer and eating ice cream.

We then went and had a look at another palace and then went into town again. We had a lot of ice cream, baked goods and some pretty nice vego meals (which is a bloody wonder over here!).

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We headed back to Oslo and found ourselves in another black mood from the bus and no food.

Wednesday and Thursday was spent recovering, and relaxing. Had a BBQ on Thursday with the brand spanking new gas BBQ! Was very nice! Friday was much of the same, didn’t leave the house at all, only yo buy chocolate.

Today we are going back up again to Hamar, for more beer and another BBQ, and Sunday will see us of to Sweden to catch up with Malin and Dave.

Posted by jhetland 22:18 Archived in Norway Tagged family_travel Comments (0)

Newnes bushwalk

Bushwalk out of Newnes, spetacular country!

14 °C
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We met up at Uni 1900 friday night, after locating our trailer that wasn't made ready for us, we could take of at 20. We entertained ourselves on the drive to Newnes by looking at the temperature gauge, seeing how low it could go. That night it went to 7. Some sleeping bags had ratings around the 4 mark...

Saturday morning we started walking at 8, the road up the valley had been extended since the 70s, which was the most recent release of our map, so we could keep a good pace for the 1st third of the way up the valley. The walk up to the top, was through the scrub, the only way is the one we made for ourself. We all have the cuts to prove it.

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It was fairly dense and not many places to sit down for a good rest. Camelbaks seemed to be a good investment, considering you didnt have to take of your pack all the time to get some water.

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After a long walk to the top, 5 hours or so, we had lunch. Some where hungrier than others.

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The view from where we sat, was spetacular!

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After lunch we made our way over to Point Nicholson, it was a bit of a scramble getting there.

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After looking for the campsite for a while, we looked at the map one more time, and figured we hadn't looked where it probably was. So we looked there, and we found it. Excellent spot, sheltered and nice!

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That night we entertained ourselves with games and Shamrock Cream in front of the campfire. Not bad! It got down to 4 degrees during the night, and other peoples bodyheat attracted the cold ones. The ones with good sleeping bags where fine by themselves though.

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We where up and walking by 8 the next morning, traversing the ridge above Little Capertree creek. There where lots of ups and downs getting from one point to the other, with rock scrambling and pack hauling.

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But the group was mighty happy nevertheless.

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From left: Jo, Justine, Lynn, Peter, Alex, Mark and Dave.

We found our canyon too, and it was truly a hidden gem! We had to packhaul and crawl through tight spaces twice, really getting to know our rocks and how hard they could be on our heads.

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The end of the canyon saw us coming into a second sort of canyon, very nice!

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We where back by the car by 16, but didn't make it back to the Gong before 21, taking the scenic route through Sydney.

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All in all a very good trip, well hidden with some spectacular scenery.

Posted by jhetland 22:22 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Overland track

I walked the Tasmanian Overland Track Jan/Feb 2004. Great walk!

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View Overland Track on jhetland's travel map.

Its tuesday, Im bored, I want to do something. The Overland Track comes to mind. I have an exam 12 days, the walk takes 5, travel takes 2, preperation takes 2. I know it will be right!

I spend the rest of tuesday and wednesday preparing for the walk. I dont know much about it, Im unable to obtain a map so I cant plan much for it. But nevertheless I buy the planetickets, waterproof my boots and pack the backpack.

The flight down to Launceston is eventless, likewise is the night after the last food and gear is purchased. I learn that Tasmania has experienced imense rain the last few days, but Im still determined. Im walking!

I catch the bus friday morning after a crap night in a hostel, its drizzeling and there are a few others there. Todays target is Waterfall Valley Hut (S 41 42.881 E 145 56.811), and to climb Cradle Mountain (S 41 41.096 E 145 57.086).

I arrive at Cradle Mountain Visitors Centre, and the walkers are given the spiel on how to behave, what gear to have and so on. Poncho is apperantly a big no-no, but thats what I have, and thats what I will use. I never worked out why it was a big no-no, because I stayed dry. Nevertheless, the shuttlebus takes us out to Ronny Creek (S 41 38.273 E 145 56.875), and for the first time I see what I have set out on. Mountains!!! After a real heart starter up the hills to Marions Lookout, I can see the beauty of it!

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Cradle Mountain from Marions Lookout

I finally make my way to the top of Cradle Mountain. Noone else around. The serenity is awsome! And from here, I can see tomorrows target, Barn Bluff.

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Barns Bluff from Cradle Mountain

I scramble down, and walk on to Waterfall Valley Hut. The hut is spacsious, and I get a spot in the bunks. After a wash in the stream, its dinner and yarn time. Then bed at sunset.

I get up early in the morning, first to take of up towards Barn Bluff. After an hour, at the foot of the mountain, Im overtaken by Bob & Terry, two retired professional holliday makers. They speed past me, and I keep on scrambling my way to the top. Im hoping that it will clear up by the time I reach the top, but it doesnt.

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Top of Barns Bluff in clouds

Down again, I have my lunch. When lunch is over, a girl that I passed on my way down is back as well, and we walk together to the next hut, Windemehr (S 41 46.269 E 145 57.510). On the way there, we check out the waterfalls in Waterfall Valley, and by Lake Will.

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Lake Will waterfall

The walk to the Waterfalls are a wet and boggy 2h return walk, but the falls where fine nevertheless. Thunder is on the horizon so we skip lunch and hope for a dry walk to Windemehr instead. And only 5 minutes before the hut, does it start to rain. Very good timing! Windemehr is another nice hut, quite new and spacsious. After a nice freeze dried dinner, there is time for some solitare, talk and then finally sleep at sunset.

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The cobwebs in the morning sun

We are the first to take of that morning, but are soon overtaken by Bob & Terry. We are on our way to New Pelion Hut (S 41 49.828 E 146 2.812), another muddy walk. The worst sections are boardwalked, a lot of it is boardwalked actually, which is good I sepouse. The trend indicates that more of the track will be boardwalk in the near future due to unsustainable impact. We lunch at Frog Flats (S 41 50.352 E 146 0.277) before we start our ascent up to New Pelion. Its still fine when we get there, so we go for a swim in the waterhole by the old hut. The water is very refreshing. It escpesially feels good when the blood comes back into your veins afterwards.

The New Pelion hut is a big hut, with 6 bedrooms and 60 beds. Plenty of room for everybody, but still a contradiction to the talk about unsustainable numbers of bushwalkers.

The next morning we are the first of again. Im still walking with Eleanor, she does most of the talking, and doesnt seem to anoyed with my lack thereof. On the way up the gap by Mt Ossa, we are overtaken by some fit country NSW girls. But sadly, they dont realise their own limitations. We catch up with them just by the top as one of them is hurling. She excuses herself by claiming she had too much water, when it is obvious she pushed her body to far. Bob & Terry joins the party as well, and overtake us on our way to the top of Mt Ossa. Halfway up it starts raining, and luckily, I brought my backpack this time with fleeces and waterproofts, thanks to Eleanor point out the obvious to me. "You got a small backpack, why dont you use that to the top?". It keeps on raining as we scramble up, then down. My poncho keeps the backpack, and most of me dry, so its all good. Finally down, it has as good as stopped, but it is still in the air, so we postpone lunch before we go to the Kia Ora hut.

Kia Ora holds 23 people that night, and the natives visits just after sunset with cake. Very nice of them, but sort of a surreal experience.

I have decided that I will give Windy Ridge a pass, and rather make for Narcissus and the ferry on tuesday. Im getting a bit concerned about my exam by this stage.

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Eleanor doing track clearing

Eleanor joins me, and toghether we walk for Narcissus. Nobody overtakes us this day. The old guys are getting tired. I catch my ferry, and Eleanor stays behind, determind to walk out the next day the whole way! No ferry for her.

While we wait for the ferry, a guy that seemed to love the sound of his own voice, joins us for a chat. He is disappointed by the lack of people bringing alcohol on the walk, and how they had brought bottles of all kinds, and he is also so bored because he is injured and waiting for his mates doing a side trip. Its funny, because the ranger at Waterfall Valley told us about some people that had left behind a heap of rubbish there, and how someone had to come back and get it. That was Mr. LoveMyVoices group.

I just catch the bus with a delyed ferry, and head for Hobart. After finally getting reception on my Optus phone, I reschedule my flight, and my accomodation. The hostel is horrible, but it will do for a night.

And Wednesday the 4th of Feb I head back to Wollongong, 2 days earlier than planned.

A nice walk, some very nice mountains. All in all very good! Highly recommended!

Posted by jhetland 22:24 Archived in Australia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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