Last week it was announced that Brits had to quarantine on return from Switzerland. This quarantine business seems to be peretty arbitrary – for instance I discovered that Romania magically appeared on the list but has never been mentioned in despatches. I can’t help wondering if it’s got anything to do with the fact that the government consider Romanians who live in Britain as EU migrants rather than British holiday-makers, and don’t vote. Anyhow, to continue…here are some photos of the Dents du Midi in all their glory. Continue reading
The final stage of our four month trip takes us by air to Pereira capital of the coffee country. Just as I say, ‘we’re all aboard and taking off 5 minutes early’ we find ourselves being asked to disembark due to a technical issue. It doesn’t look good as we are given drinks and snacks but suddenly we are asked to board again and we leave only an hour or so late. Phew! Continue reading
So here we are almost at journey’s end. The last part of our trip takes us down the western side of Colombia and back to Bogota and then home! But it is so rich in experience that I’m splitting it into two blogs. We travel via a mix of plane and car, and see two extremes of this country – the very rich and the dirt poor and, in Medellin, some green shoots of transformation. Venezuelan refugees continue to be a major theme, always on the road – walking to who-knows-where, begging in the cities, sleeping rough. Depending who you talk to there are between two to three million of them. Some find work undercutting local labour, but most rely on generosity and handouts in this poorest of countries.
The last leg of our world tour! Arrive here after a pretty poor flight on Avianca, the pride of Colombia – they don’t even serve tea. It’s a grey morning here but luckily our room is ready at 7 am and we manage a kip before venturing out to explore Candelaria, the colonial quarter of Bogota, a city of over 9 million people. Continue reading
The howling wind wakes me. It is midnight and we are in Aitutaki the second largest of the Cook Islands with a population of 2000; you can drive round it in under an hour. On our arrival in Rarotonga we were warned that they are expecting a humongous storm, just downgraded from a cyclone. They were battening down the hatches. Continue reading
Our round-the-world trip has two major unexplored dive areas in our itinerary – the first was the Solomons and second is French Polynesia. This area is famous for its passes – the channels between two atolls that separate the ocean from the lagoons, where hundreds of sharks hang desultorily in the blue while the tide washes over their gills for effortless breathing. The Tuamotu islands, where we are headed, has several lagoons with passes and probably has the most famous shark-diving in the world due to the vast volumes of water that swoosh in and out twice a day. We have decided to explore them on a live-aboard, an eight-berth catamaran, the Aquatiki II. Continue reading
On to the Deep South for more mountains, stunning views, sunshine and sandflies! Our journey will take us from lakes to fiords via winding roads and hundreds of camper vans; in between we will continue our walks and try to get away from the crowds – it is Chinese New Year in addition to normal holidays so the major hubs of Arrowtown and Queenstown are packed and best avoided at peak times. Continue reading
The next stage of our journey takes us to the South Island. We leave Wellington by ferry, dumping the car, and three and half hours later are in Picton where we collect another. Like everything so far in New Zealand it’s all gone like clockwork, on time, efficiently and with a smile.Continue reading
My New Zealand visit starts badly. I am so obsessed by the thought of the rigorous customs police confiscating our Solomon wooden carvings we have brought as gifts that I completely forget the banana I popped into my bag in the lounge, intending to eat it on the flight. Suffice to say, dear reader, I got done and it cost me $400 – ‘no criminal record’ the official says brightly. I have to admit the officials are charm itself – and I just feel a complete fool.
The next stage of our trip takes us to the Solomon Islands for a 14-day dive adventure aboard the MV Bilikiki. This has been a long-time ambition of ours and the trip was carefully planned around these dates and Christmas in NZ; for dive boats such as this you have to book a year in advance. Continue reading