Barcelona in Pictures

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As I’ve already told you a lot about my time in Barcelona I thought I’d just give you a quick look at the  places I visited and the things I saw:

I did a walking tour that took us to most of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona. For those who don’t know, Gaudi is one of the most well-known architects in the world and is celebrated for his unique designs, taking many of his inspiration from nature. I thought most of his buildings were absolutely insane but definitely appreciated the individuality of all of them.

Sagrada Familia, the most famous of Gaudi’s buildings. Construction of The Church of the Holy Family commenced in 1882 and when Gaudi died it was only a quarter finished. It is still not complete and probably won’t be for quite a few years. It was one of the most spectacular (and craziest) buildings I’ve ever seen!

Upon completion there will be 18 spires on the church and three facades that all differ in design.

 

Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo, designed by Antoni Gaudi – it was right around the corner from the hostel close to the middle of town. You can take a look inside but the line was huuuuge when I was there and pretty pricey so I gave it a miss but might go next time. 

Casa Mila, another of Gaudi’s crazy designs, was built for a rich couple. Not sure what they put in a house this size…

Casa Mila with it’s weird ice cream cones on top

I also spent quite a lot of time by the water in Barcelona. It was just gorgeous…

The harbour in Barcelona. This would have to be one of my favourite photos I’ve ever taken on my travels

Sunset over the beautiful gothic buildings near the harbour

The beach. Even in late December it was about 22 degrees the day I was there. I was almost tempted to go in for a swim

Don’t usually go to the beach in jeans…

Placa Reial (Royal Plaza) is in the centre of town just off the main street Las Rambas and is surrounded by some amazing restaurants and nightclubs. This is where my Gaudi tour started

La Boqueria Market is just off Las Ramblas and sells the freshest of Barcelona food to the surrounding restaurants and hotels. The food looked amazing!!!!

Lollies!!!!

While  I was on my walking tour I met a lovely girl who invited me to the opera that night. The Liceu Opera House was absolutely stunning.

I spent most of my time there looking at the roof because it was much more interesting than the opera. The rest of the time I was asleep (I’m not lying! It went for 3.5 hours and was in Catalan, can you blame me?)

Anyway, a quick wrap-up for you of my time in Barcelona. As I said, I’m definitely going to go back, I didn’t get a chance to see everything I would’ve liked and didn’t get to check out the nightlife, something I really should do of course! Anyone got suggestions for where I need to go, eat, drink, stay etc…?

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South America – Wrap Report

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So back in the PR world whenever I finished a campaign or project for a client I’d have to put together a report summarising our activities and the outcomes, so I thought it only fitting that I do something similar for my South American adventure. So here it goes:

In three months I travelled through five countries, stayed in 29 different towns/cities, slept in 12 hotels, 17 hostels, one jungle lodge, one mountain lodge, one salt hotel, a desert shack, a beach shack, camped for three nights and took seven overnight buses.

So, what were the highlights I hear you ask? Well, I’ve narrowed it down to my five favourite experiences:

1. Inca Trail/Machu Picchu, Peru – Completing this four day trek and finally arriving at the wondrous place that is Machu Pacchu has to be the absolute highlight of my trip. The trek was really hard but, as I’ve said before, I enjoyed every minute of it and walking into the lost city filled me with such happiness at the thought of fulfilling a life long dream.


2. Horse riding in the Cochamo Valley, Chile – anyone who knows me knows that I love horses and that I love riding, so being able to go trail riding in the Chilean mountains was something I really wanted to do while I was travelling. This 2-day ride was like nothing I’ve ever done before. The trail was incredible; forest, rivers, and mountains and the horses were amazing; sturdy, strong and courageous. I was absolutely blown away by the spectacular scenery and once again loved every minute of the experience.


3. The World’s Most Dangerous Road, Bolivia – My mum actually forbid me from doing this before I left on my trip but I knew that if I didn’t do it I’d really regret it. The 64 km downhill bike ride on what is considered the most dangerous road in the world was absolutely exhilarating. It was so much fun that I had a smile on my face for the whole ride and the scenery was spectacular; waterfalls, forest and of course the huge cliffs that drop away from the side of the road.


4. Bike riding in the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina – I’m not much of a bike rider so it’s kind of funny to see that two bike rides made it to my top five list, but this one also included one of my favorite things in the world; wine. This was just one of those days where you have so much fun that the next day you wake up and think, ‘wow, that was perfect!’ Combine delicious wine, riding a bike on a glorious day through gorgeous vineyards with the spectacular Andes in the background, and fabulous company and you have one stellar day.


5. Rio de Janeiro, – Rounding out the top 5 is the coolest city I’ve ever been to. I loved everything about Rio; the amazing sights such as Christ the Redeeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, the stunning beaches, the crazy nightlife and most of all just the fantastic vibe the city has. I’m so glad Rio was the last place I visited because it was the perfect ending to the most amazing trip.

So there you go, five places/experiences that absolutely blew me away. It’s good to see that there is one for each country because I loved all the countries I visited, they were all so different and I was lucky enough to have incredible, unique experiences every place I went.

Of course, one of things that really made this trip what it was is all the amazing people I met along the way. I was lucky to have a group of fantastic people in my tour group in Peru and then once I was by myself I was able to meet some great people to hang out, party and travel with. Thanks to all those people who I met, you made this trip the greatest thing I’ve done in my life!

Buzios, Brazil

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I had planned to stay in Rio for the last five days after I returned from Ilha Grande however my friend Greg asked if I’d like to go with him to Buzios, a small beach town a couple of hours north of Rio. I thought it sounded great so we headed off on Friday morning with the plan of staying two nights and then heading back to Rio.
It was an absolutely gorgeous town and you could see why so many Brazilians go there for weekends away and summer holidays. It wasn’t a big place and was mainly made up of accommodation places, restaurants, shops and bars. Pretty much all the things I like in a town!
When we arrived we headed down to the small beach right next to the town and went for a dip. That night we headed out to one of the great restaurants in the main part of town. There were so many great places to choose from but we ended up going to a fantastic place owned by a Frenchman, so Greg felt right at home. We had the local specialty which was a huge seafood soup and it was delicious!


The next day we went to another of the many beaches around Buzios. It was absolutely packed with Brazilians. Here we were able to hire an umbrella for the day (to protect my delicate Australian skin) and had a lady who would bring us anything we needed, which included beers, coconuts, and roasted cheese on a stick (mmmm yum!)

As we were leaving we noticed a place that offered surf lessons, which Greg was really keen on doing, so we decided that we’d come back the next day and stay another night in town.

The next day we hit the beach again, Greg in his surf shirt, and me on my deckchair, under my umbrella. While Greg did a few practice runs, I grabbed an acai (a local berry drink) and sat back ready to watch.


And the boy didn’t do too bad! He was up on the board looking like a pro on a number of occasions. After a quick break and some more energy food (more roasted cheese on a stick) he was back out there and carving it up. I took on the role of official photographer, but after a while I had to head back to my umbrella, I was starting to feel the burn.


After a while he felt he had sufficiently conquered the waves so he came back in and we headed back to town. A successful day for Greg and quite a relaxing one for me.

The following day it was back to Rio after a couple of beautiful days in Buzios. It was such a gorgeous place , so peaceful with spectacular beaches and fabulous food. I think it would be crazy-busy during Summer though so I’m glad we were able to go when it was a little calmer. Thanks Greg for the invitation!

Ilha Grande, Brazil

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Ilha Grande is a beautiful island a few hours south of Rio. After a rough and wet journey over on the boat I arrived at the Che Lagarto hostel that overlooked the main beach on the island. When I arrived it was a bit cloudy but the weather forecast said that it was going to be sunny for the next few days, and luckily it was spot on!

Main beach the hostel overlooked

The next day I wandered around the island and stopped at the next beach and spent the day relaxing and reading on the beach. After lunch I hit up the self serve ice cream store where you can choose however many flavours you like and they charge you by weight.

That night a big group of us went into town to have dinner and on the way back we came across a group of people drinking around a fire on the beach. After grabbing some supplies from the hostel we joined them and a couple of the guys commandeered the guitar and serenaded us all. The stars were absolutely amazing and although I proved to be hopeless at spotting shooting stars it was almost surreal to be sitting on the beach of a beautiful island in Brazil around a fire and gazing up at a perfect sky. Definitely a night to remember.

The next day we caught a boat over to the surf beach called Lopez Mendez. It was an absolutely gorgeous day to be sitting on a beach, watching the boys try to surf , and taking the occasional dip to cool down.

That night we went to a BBQ at a nearby restaurant where you could choose between different skewers of meats, cheese or a couple of varieties of fish. While it took almost two hours for our food to arrive, and we had drunk quite a few caipirinhas by that time, the food was absolutely delicious! Capped of by the fact that once again we were located on a gorgeous beach under the stars on a perfectly warm evening.

I was meant to leave the next day however I decided to stay on one more night because the weather was absolutely perfect, there were some great people staying in the hostel, and there were still so many beautiful places to explore on the island. A small group of us decided to go on a boat tour around the island that visited six beaches and a couple of lagoons where you could snorkel. We were picked up in an awesome speed boat and spent the day taking in the beautiful sights of the island and swimming in some absolutely gorgeous beaches and lagoons. Although, one of the best parts was the speed boat ride in between the stops because it was quite choppy out on the open water making the trip a bit like a roller coaster ride. Another amazing day!

The next morning I took the boat back to the mainland and a bus trip back to Rio. It had been an amazing few days with perfect weather, beautiful beaches, delicious food and amazing people. If you go to Brazil definitely visit Ilha Grande, it’s the perfect place for a romantic getaway but is also lots of fun if you’re by yourself or with a group of friends. It can be as relaxing or as action packed as you like.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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I have been to some incredible cities while on this trip but I think Rio would have to be the most incredible city I’ve seen. The way that the city is designed is just amazing, huge skyscrapers built amongst mountains right next to spectacular beaches. From above the views of the city are just jaw-dropping.

I stayed in a hostel called Che Lagarto which is one block back from Ipanema beach, one beach over from Copacobana. It was a fantastic hostel and the people who work there were absolutely lovely. They also do open bar on Thursday nights which is always great fun as I found out with my new Aussie friends Harry and Giles, my French friend Greg and Norwegian friend Hanne.

Just having a drink or three at open bar night at Che Lagarto

Ipanema beach is gorgeous and Copacabana was really cool, although when I was there it was overcast so it didn’t look as spectacular as I’m sure it would on a sunny day.

Ipanema Beach

Copacabana Beach

On my second day in Rio I did a city tour which took us to Christ the Redeemer, Santa Teresa, the Cathedral, Lapa Steps, and Sugarloaf Mountain.

The views from Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain were absolutely amazing, giving a grand view of the entire city including Copacabana, Ipanema and Centro.

At the Lapa Steps we were able to meet Selaron, the artist who created the masterpiece, and I got him to sign a postcard for me. He was a bit crazy but apparently we caught him on a good day because a lot of the time he doesn’t even come out of his house which is right next to the steps.

On another day a group of us went to Barra de Tijuca where there is a beautiful beach. Alejandro, Andrea, Greg and I had an absolutely fabulous day lazing about and enjoying the sun (and a sneaky caipirinha).

Rio is also an amazing place to go out. Twice I went out salsa dancing in Copacabana, then went to an incredible street party in Lapa with people everywhere, cheap drinks and plenty of samba, and on my last night (Halloween) had a great night out drinking in Lapa and then dancing like idiots in Ipanema.

The food in Brazil is also incredible. I tried some sushi (thanks to encouragement from Greg) and it was delicious but the Brazilians really love there meat which means I was very happy. On my last night, Greg, Hanne and I all went out for churasco, which is pretty much all you can eat meat (chicken, beef, pork, sausage) with a side of rice and chips. Accompanied by a nice glass of red wine, of course. It was AMAZING!!

The vibe in Rio is absolutely awesome! It really has a buzz that makes it the exciting place that it is. The people are all gorgeous and aren’t afraid to let you know it. The guys all get around in tiny swimmers (or budgie smugglers as we’d call them in Australia) and the women wear g-string bikinis, most of the time on the beach I didn’t know where to look!

I’m so glad I went to Rio, because it wasn’t originally on my list of places to visit. And despite many people telling me that it can be dangerous, I felt safe all the time I was there. Rio is definitely a city I’d recommend visiting, but be aware that it’s expensive compared to the rest of South America, with prices for most things on par with Sydney or London.

Bahia Inglesa and La Serena

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Alan and I were both heading in the direction of Santiago but had no idea which towns to stop in on the way there and neither of us were keen on doing the 24 hour bus ride in one go.

I got out my huge map of South America and Alan got out the Lonely Planet and we found a couple of towns that looked quite nice on the coast of Chile that we thought might be worth checking out.

The first place that sounded nice was Bahia Inglesa. To get there we needed to take a 10 hour bus ride, via Calama where we changed buses and then to Caldera where we took a 15 minute taxi ride to Bahia Inglesa. The bus just dropped us on the side of the road at about 7am and we had no idea where we were so it was lucky that a cab came past not long after.

Bahia Inglesa is a tiny town that apparently gets quite busy in summer when Chilean vacationers take up residency, however it seemed like we were the only people there at this particular time. There was a beautiful little beach and when the sun came out in the afternoons it was quite warm.

We thought since we were on the beach we had to go swimming so we headed on down, jumped in, nearly had a heart attack it was so freezing and then went home. Good fun!

The beach front is lined with restaurants but most of them were shut at this time of year but we managed to find a place where we could get a glass of red wine and a dessert after dinner.

The next day we headed back to Caldera to organise a bus to our next stop, La Serena. Another six hour bus ride and we arrived at about 10:30pm and eventually found the hostel recommended to us by Lonely Planet – El Hibisco.

La Serena is another lovely beach town , with a population of about 150,000. We ended up staying three nights and two days and in that time strolled along the beach, had a look at the Chinese garden, the Arqueologico museum and the zoo in the local park and generally just wandered around the streets. It was a really nice town and the weather was great while we were there, so we spent quite a bit of time just lazing around in the sun.

Next stop Santiago.

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