Chile was the last country on my list of places to visit before arriving at my destination of Argentina. It is also much more like Argentina than Brazil and a good introduction to what I was about to be in for. The flight from Brazil took me over the swamps of Bolivia and the tops of the Andes Mountains and was a fascinating few hours before landing in Santiago, the capital city of this narrow country. No visit to Chile is complete without a trip to the beach of Santiago, known as Valparaiso together with Viña del Mar. Then it was time to continue my travels and say goodbye to what was to become my neighbouring country.
Travelling through Brazil was like magic. It was also a real culture shock, the first time I had seen true poverty and been surrounded by temporarily built buildings and life-threatening situations. Beyond this it was full of amazing people, amazing sights, and a culture that has to be experienced to understand. Arriving in São Paulo (San Pablo), I found my way up to the amazing little town of Paraty (Para-chi) with its streets designed to be flushed out by high tides. This was the launch point to reach Ilha Grande (Ill-ya gran-gee) which means “big island”, a tropical paradise perfect for relaxing and doing nothing.
Rio was said to be a dangerous place, with every single tourist who came from that place telling their own horror story of loss, robbery, or worse. Fortunately I left without a story to tell, but managed to see the inside of the Rocinha Favela (Slum), a community of precariously built houses on a steep and dangerous hill, where the poor live and the drug lords rule. It was also interesting to be able to attend a local football game at the famous Maracana Football Stadium before leaving this amazing country.
The United States of America is a huge country and my time here was limited. The plan, as has always been the case, was to plot a course through all of my friends in this place. Starting in New York, I passed through Washington to see the Whitehouse, and then headed down to North Carolina to catch up with a family that I had been working with in New Zealand. From here I needed to find my way to Texas so I took the Greyhound buses, stopping for a break in Memphis, the city made famous by Elvis Presley. Arriving in Dallas I was treated to a Ice Hockey game and a local Rodeo event. The buckles are pretty big here.
Then after an interesting flight I arrived in the renowned Las Vegas from where I was able to visit both Hoover Dam, and the Grand Canyon. Next stop was not Los Angeles but Ventura to catch up with more friends, before visiting their mum in Orlando, using this as a base to visit Universal Studios, driving down to see the Kennedy Space Center, and going to the prerequisite Disney World. Las stop was Miami where I flew out to continue on to South America.
New York | Washington D.C. | North Carolina | Memphis | Dallas | Ice Hockey | Rodeo | Flight | Hoover Dam | Las Vegas | Grand Canyon | Ventura | Orlando | Universal Studios | Kennedy Space Center | Disney World | Miami
Landing in London I took a bus straight out to Bristol to meet up with my friend Tom. From here we took a hire car and drove straight to Scotland, doing a fast trip around all of its roads before returning to Bristol. Tom returned to work while I continued with the car heading out to check out the famous Stone Henge… but never found it. Instead I found Bath, named after the amazing thermal bathing houses present, and some standing rocks. It turns out there are lots of rocks similar to Stone Henge.
No trip to the U.K. would be complete without a tour of the famous London, so the last few days were spent doing this. From Buckingham Palace, to some of the famous landmarks, over the bridges crossing the Thames and visiting the Museums. It was a whirlwind tour of a place begging for more time.
Finland was as far north as I was going to go during my travels. I’d met Pauliina when she came to work at the Family TV station in New Zealand while I was there, and she had arranged a number of touristy things to be done while I was visiting. So after spending time in Helsinki and the nearby towns, it was a flight north to Lapland, above the arctic circle where the sun hardly shines and cars need to be plugged in to an electric heater while not in use. Up here are the only mountains for skiing that Finland has, although they are not like Switzerland it was still fun to snowboard around them for a while.
Germany was not really part of my plans, since I didn’t really know anybody here. Instead, after my time in Czech, I needed to get to Finland, and planned a flight out of Frankfurt. As a result, I arrived here at night, and then left early in the morning. What follows are photos of my night wanderings in an unknown city.
Everybody had told me that Prague was a must-see destination. So I added to the list of places I would visit during my world trip. I had no friends here and came purely on the recommendation of others. What resulted was an amazing experience into a culture and location filled with history, beauty and riches. The photos do not do it justice. Oh, and when I was here this was part of Czechoslovakia, not the Czech Republic as it is now.
I came to Austria because it was the way to get to Prague. Only after I had arrived in Vienna on New Year’s Eve and lost my way to the festivities of the city, passing the night at a stranger’s party, did I remember that not only did I have friends in the country, but really good friends. How could I have forgotten such wonderful people? So on my last day in the country I make a mad dash out to catch up with the mum of one of my best friends, and also am reminded of a lost chance to head to the Austrian Alps for skiing (in the middle of winter) with another friend. Such are the results of trying to plan too much in too little time. As it was I really enjoyed catching up with these people and have a great memory of my time in this amazing country.
Italy was an amazing country to visit. I have never seen so many ornate buildings and beautiful old locations as here. There was too much to see as my schedule was gruelling and made it difficult to get everywhere. Each day was spent walking and looking and enjoying as much as possible as I could. Roma (Rome) was the classic imperial city with tremendous buildings and a history unmatched by any other place I had visited. The train then took me to Florencia (Florence) which is the museum capital in many ways. It was awesome seeing all of the well known paintings and statues in real life. I loved this city, and apart from having my money stolen from my wallet one night, it was a truly magical experience. Of course most would say that Venecia (Venice) is the best of all cities, and it has a very magical quality to it, but as it was at the end of my travels, and I only got to spend the one night in the city (all hotels were booked out for New Years Eve), the most amazing aspects of the city escaped me during this visit.