Venice Day 1

So a while ago I bought a lucky dip trip on Wowcher which turned out to be two nights in Venice!

Our flight wasn’t until later in the day and by the time we got dropped at the airport I was starving so food was the first stop….

After a bit of hassle with the hand luggage (yay easyJet!) we hit the road, or in this case the air.

We landed and the confusion began. After asking for help, we got a bus ticket from the airport to the main station and from there after going back and forth we figured out how to get a ticket for the vaporetto (water taxi).

Off the boat we wandered round the streets and across the various bridges completely lost as to where to go. Google wasn’t much help, but finally we took a really dark, dodgy looking alley and got the our hotel sign. We pressed the buzzer and waited…..

A guy appeared and took us to a rather swanky looking hotel to check in before walking us back to the dodgy looking door.

Our little room was very traditional and old fashioned but we took no time to admire it as we were starving and exhausted. There was no delivery service so we went on a hunt for takeout!

Back at the room we scoffed our pizza, put on Friends and chilled out at last.

PS. It was good pizza!!!!

Day 21 – Lazy Day

I did not want to pry myself from bed this morning, but Sucre was waiting so after a kick up the butt I finally got breakfast and got ready to head out.

The morning was spent doing practical things like getting money (they don’t really use card here and my card isn’t accepted at every ATM – this results in A LOT of walking!) and finding stamps. Then exploring the local market. 

The market is huge! There is literally anything and everything you could wish for under one roof for extremely low prices. I tried the local sandwich and a fresh juice there which cost me less than £3 for all of it and it was so tasty!

I couldn’t resist buying some local fruits from the ladies on the road side. I found out the name of my new favourite fruit too – Chirmoya – best fruit ever!

After some good food (there is definitely a theme starting), the group met up ready to head to some of the museums. 
We caught the local bus which was extremely cosy as there were no seats available. It was also an experience as nothing here in Bolivia appears to be made for tall beings and so my head was brushing the roof of the bus! 

When we arrived at the first museum, following my usual luck, it was closed. To not waste the trip to the Recolecta I invested in a stylish new llama jumper for the coming cold! Pictures will follow in a few days no doubt!!!

We headed to the next museum and of course there were no guides available! Apparently there were strikes and road blocks in Sucre today so nothing was open or running properly.

My luck was in full swing today! I picked up my laundry, so glad to finally have some clean clothes back as I have been surviving the last few days in what I was standing up in…Quickly changed into my t shirt and hoody only to find they had shrunk them and stained the t shirt (my only t shirt). Clothes shopping at some point it is then….

Calling my luck for what it is, I decided to accept today’s fate, get the few bits I needed from the shop and head back to the room to chill out for a few hours.

In the evening we had a local Bolivian cooking class where we were cooking pique a lo macho. 

The class turned out to be more of a help prepare and watch class and you needed a fair level of Spanish to get by (luckily others in the group could translate well enough), but overall it was good fun and the food was immense! Naturally I ate too much and wanted to be rolled back to the hotel. Thats a sign of a good night right?!

Hopefully tomorrow will bring more luck and good weather as I am off hiking – eep!

Day 19 – Santa Cruz

I woke up on the overnight train a bit confused at where I was but generally rested. I managed to sleep from about 10:30pm until 6am…I call that a pretty damn good night.

We arrived about 7:30am and got onto a transfer to the hotel. It was raining! I haven’t seen rain yet here and it felt pretty wonderful until we were walking six blocks in it without changing from our overnight clothes and no coat. Then less so….However breakfast made it worth it! Empanada’s and a fresh passionfruit juice, t-a-s-t-y! Funnily enough we decided on a taxi back to the hotel to get our room keys.

Getting the room was so exciting. After the Pantanal anything would pretty much feel like luxury, but when the door was opened and we had two double beds, a sofa, a dressing table and a nice big bathroom I squeaked with genuine happiness.

The rest of the day was a lazy day. It was just what the doctor ordered. We showered and freshened up as it was desperately needed but then I watched TV on my laptop, surfed the internet, read my book and basically didn’t move off the bed. It felt great….Almost like I was home for a duvet day.
In the evening the group got together for dinner as it was our main guides last night with us. We went for a traditional Santa Cruz dinner which was so good and a tried a drink called a chuflay. We even got the mandatory cheesy picture.

After dinner we had a few drinks back at the hotel, played a few games and then headed off to bed as we have a 5:30am start tomorrow – oh the joy! I’m tired already!!!

Day 18 – Bolivia Bound

I was not sad to say goodbye to Pantanal. In fact, I was the first person packed, dressed, fed and ready to leave. I had had a better night sleep thankfully and my bites were looking marginally better. I had managed to gain some more at the bonfire on my hands but I wasn’t bothered by this….We were leaving TODAY! And we were heading to Bolivia – no more mosquitos! I almost danced in celebration.

We had to head back the way we came. An hour’s ride in the safari jeep and then a two hour ride in the nightmare bus *inward groan* (yes it was as bad as you imagine) to get to the Bolivian border.

The nightmare bus dropped us and our bags off just before the Brazilian border. From here we had to take our backpacks and walk. We had been to the shop for food for the night journey so not only did I have my 55l main bag, my 13l backpack and my tote bag of entertainment, I now also had a plastic bag of snacks to carry in the 33° heat across the Brazilian border and then walk to the Bolivian border. I almost sat down in rebellion then and there.

With an outward groan I donned my bags and began my sweaty trudge to the Brazilian border officials. Thankfully there wasn’t really a wait and it was a simple process of show your passport and customs document, get your stamp (yes!) and head out the exit door heading to the Bolivian border.

The walk to the Bolivian border was probably not even five minutes but it felt like I was walking through a desert and I was slowly evaporating. It was so damn hot! At the door of the Bolivian border we were told to wait outside and fill out our documentation. I could have cried, they had aircon inside!

After about a 10 minute wait I was seen by a very nice official who happily gave me my stamp and entrance document and sent me on my way before I was a puddle at her desk. Outside our guide took us to see someone to change up our Real into Bolivar ready for our trip. We then hopped into taxis heading for the train station.

At the train station we confirmed it would be a train we would be catching and that it would leave at 6pm. A 4 hour wait….Luckily our guide had a local contact where we could go for a reasonable price and use the pool, sbower, toilets, WiFi etc so we hopped back in the taxis. I was practically salivating at the word ‘shower’!

At the hotel, naturally the WiFi wasn’t working! I didn’t really care, that wasn’t what I was there for. I almost took the poor woman’s hand off when she offered out the towels and I basically sprinted to the shower whilst everyone else hit the pool.

The hotel owners were such lovely and helpful people. When they saw how bad my bites were they got me some alcohol to apply to stop them getting infected and offered a load of advice and some ice to help give me some relief. I was so grateful I would probably have moved into their service then and there. I even got a lollipop!

Before we knew it, it was time to get in the taxi and head to the train station. Feeling much fresher I felt ready for anything. 

At the train station we were told to get rid of our bags (I got to keep mine – Woop for 55l!) And then we were ushered to get onto the train. I was expecting this swish, modern looking train taking hundreds of people at speed to chosen destinations. Well clearly I was living in a fantasy! It was a two carriage train, looking very much like a UK train just with more spacious seats and it trundles along at a steady pace. It is however, miles better than the nightmare bus!!!! Not sure how well I will sleep tonight but I’ll give it my best shot.

Day 16 – Welcome to Pantanal

A 5 hour bus journey later and we finally got to say goodbye to the nightmare bus!

We reached the transfer point and we were greeted by toucans singing in the trees (not sure if it can really be called singing….They sound like throaty crows) and our safari vehicle. We hopped in, met our guide and set off on our 45 minute journey. Our guide is fantastic, very enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He pointed various animals out on the way and even stopped to show us jaguar tracks.

Pulling up to the farm was pretty magical. It felt like it should be a scene from a cowboy film….Horses, guinea fowl, vast rolling green plains and blue skies. We arrived at the hottest point in the day so everyone was resting. 

We were shown our rooms and given time to test our hammocks – it is surprisingly comfortable and I managed a nap! I will reserve full judgment until I have spent a whole night in it.

At 4 o’clock the group got together with our guide for a walk around the farm and forest. In theory this sounds exactly my kind of activity. In reality I was in complete misery. The mosquitos were like a plague. There were clouds of them every which way you turned and despite repellant and long trousers, I was being eaten alive.

Plus sides; we saw loads of caiman, macaws both blue and red, different woodpeckers, an armadillo and monkeys. The sunset when we came back to the farm was pretty show stopping. The amount of walking and water I’m drinking, I must be getting healthier!!!!

The mosquitos and heat are going to be a challenge to take here but a good test of my patience. Tomorrow we have an activity filled day (except between 11am and 4pm where everyone has a siesta because of the heat)….Bring on the challenges!

Day 11 – Travel

The travel bug seems to have got me….Literally. I have the beginnings of a migraine and I’m curled up in bed right now missing dinner with everyone. So, I’m going to make this short and sweet as I feel pretty terrible.

Today consisted of a five hour bus journey…sadly not a spacious bus, so the five hours felt more like ten in a glass sided coffin.

This was then followed up by a two hour flight from São Paulo to Foz Iguacu. This was slightly more spacious, but by then my headache was in full swing so everytime the sunlight came through the window I felt like an ant under a magnifying glass.

Long story short, we arrived at the hotel and once I got my room number, this is where I have stayed and intend to do so until about 5:30am when I need to get up and get ready for tomorrow’s adventure.

Let’s hope I’m back in full swing for tomorrow!

The Countdown

18 days left until I leave (and counting!). It cannot come quick enough and yet I am thoroughly unorganised.

I finished working at the beginning of the month to give me time to study for my last exam (tax – eww) and get my butt into gear for my trip. So far, I have managed to do some study, although I have my doubts it is enough to pass and to be reoccuringly ill – not a lot else!

Today has consisted of trying to drink enough fluids to stop me being so dehydrated after ANOTHER bout of illness, hitting the tax books (double eww) and doing some serious research on packing lists for my trips. Oh the glamour of it all.