A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: rob laurie

La Paz and the Most dangerous road in the world

sunny 26 °C
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After been dumped in the middle of a busy highway we managed to navigate our way to our hostel. A place raved about by all the books and blogs - we still cant find out what all the fuzz is about. Besides the hostel and the worst polution we have encountered thus far, La Paz is a great place.

Its basically a massive city that is in a huge valley and the buildings just keep going up and up the sides of the mountains, I couldnt get a picture that did it justice. We wandered through the witches market and after exploring the colonial and old town sections of town it was time to book the bike ride. To be honest it was the only reason I really wanted to come here and Laima kinda got dragged along.


The most dangerous road in the world is here (more people die here than on any other road in the world) and the great part is that we get to mountain bike down it :-). They build a new road about 18 months ago - so there is supposed to be no vehicle traffic on the old dirt road you go down. Luckily for us they messed up and the new road is aleady clossed for repairs, so we got to go down will all the cars, trucks and busses.


What can I say - it was fantastic. 65 km long and you drop over 3km in altitude, not to mention that most of the time you are flying (well most of us were), and you have a sheer drop off next to you of about 400 meters. We stopped for breaks every so often and it was pretty eary to see all the crosses marking where people had died. At one of these stops our guide pointed out that a women had died here due to her hands cramping from using her breaks to much and that eventually she could'nt break anymore and went over the edge - not sure how true that was, I think it was actually a little dig at Laima - she was falling behind a little :-)


Great Day!!

Posted by rob laurie 01:22 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Cusco - Macchu Picchu

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After our 5 hr delay and landing that left a lot to be desired we arrived in Cusco. The taxi that we had arranged through the hostal did not arrive, so we picked one that looked somewhat safe and headed to the hostal Recoletta, a nice place, very clean. You could feel the altitude a bit as we were at 3,500 meters.

Cusco is a great place, very relaxed. The main square is a hub of activity with lots going on: we saw parades, protests and just about everything else. We were going to be here for a few days so we took our time in investigating the place and arranging our trip to the Sacred Valley and Macchu Picchu.

We also spent a lot of time just hanging out around the square in cafes drinking coca tea - very good :-). It became a staple part of our diet for Peru and Bolivia. We eventually decided to just get train tickets to Macchu Picchu with seperate accomodation and make our own arrangements to get to and from the site - it worked out a lot cheaper that way.


The train ride to Macchu Picchu was 4 hrs and it did a lot of zig zagging on the one way tracks system but the views were great. We got picked up from the station by our hostel, quite a nice place - it was on the main street or the only street which was full of restaurants and bars all offering all day happy hour at 4 for 1. (We got very happy :))

We decided that we would get up really early the next morning so that we could have a full day at the site as well as be one of the 400 allowed up to Wanna Picchu. We got up at 4.15am, had breakfast and headed for the bus line. To our surprise there were already a lot of peaple waiting and by 5am the line was huge!!!!!.

We got up to the top and had to line up again and once we got in , we had to run to the far side of the site to line up again for Wanna Picchu. We were numbers 54 and 55, but it was well worth all the effort and the steep walk up as the views were great.

We stopped to rest. All other people were eating cookies and drinking coca tea. We couldn't believe it as we locked all our food in the lockers at the bottom following the signs. :)

After resting for a while at the top, we headed down to the start of the site to see it all properly. It was amazing how they managed to do this on top of a mountain - probably the 2nd best historical site I have seen (Petra is still top).


After spending the rest of the day going round the site we headed back into town to catch the train back to Cusco - this time it seemed like 12 hrs instead of 4.

Unfortunately we had planned another tour for the next day so it was another early start (7am - mental!) to see the Sacred Valley. It was great, but didnt really get us excited after Macchu Picchu the day before, we should have done it in reverse order - oh and they tried to stiff us for a really expensive lunch by dumping us in the middle of nowhere and only 1 place to go. We refused to eat it :)

After getting back we decided to do nothing all day and go to one of the most expensive restaurants in town - Fallen Angel for a special meal. The design was brilliant - flying pigs, goldfish in the bathtubs which serve as a table and so on. The food .... Well lets just say I got very friendly with the porcelen thrown for the next 2 days.:)

Posted by rob laurie 12:44 Archived in Peru Comments (1)


overcast 18 °C
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After the 8 hour flight we landed in Lima at 1am, we had arranged a pick up at the airport through our hostel. Apparently you can not trust the normal taxi drivers at the airport as you may get a dodgy one who takes you down an ally and robs you, sweet welcome to Peru (its not just in the books, we met a few people who had stories to tell), all the guide books warn you of this, so does the hostels that you book through.

After exchanging our covert passwords with our apparently safe driver arranged by the hostel it was off to Mira Flores (safe part of Lima). The taxi ride was an experience in that it went through some real rough areas, at one stage we went down a dark ally and I thought that was it, but we arrived safe and sound to our hostel, seemed pretty nice at first but it later turned into grand central station, and the noise went on all through the night. As we left booking a room so late we got stuck in the 8 bed dorm on our second night, a bit of an experience, but it was very clean.


Lima itself was actually a lot better than I imagined, the city center is actually pretty safe during the day and the main square and parliament buildings was quite a sight, we got to see the changing of the guard to which was pretty cool. After visiting the main square we went to visit a few churches - at one we got mauled by school kids who wanted there picture taken by us using there mobile phones, all pretty weird but very funny.


We walked round town for a while before heading back to Mira Flores. We then went down to the sea and found a really touristy shopping centre, obviously aimed at the yanks as it had a Hooters, Tony Roma´s and Starbucks - not exactly what you expect to see in Peru.

We had our first taste of Pisco in a supermarket that we were picking up some food, they gave us a shot and then made a Pisco Sour for us - not bad, kinda like a margarita, at dinner in pizza street we had a few more.

We decided to go to bed early as we had to get up at 3.30am for our flight to Cusco, not that we got any sleep anyway as with 8 people in a room it gets pretty hectic (something we will never do again). After another dodgy taxi ride back to the airport, we got there in plenty of time as our flight was delayed for 5 hrs - fun and games.

Posted by rob laurie 08:29 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

San Francisco

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After a frantic last week in London it was finally time to start the trip - ready or not. Our first stop was San Francisco, staying with Doug and John´s out in Walnut Creek (35 minutes from the city), they are old friends of mine from when I lived there about 9 years ago. As usual Doug went out of his way to chauffeur us around and cook dinner most nights - this despite his dad being seriously ill in hospital.


It was good to be back in a familiar place and I really don't think it has changed that much in 9 years since I was last there. We did all the usual tourist stops (fishermans wharf, pier 39, china town etc, etc) and some I had not done before (twin peaks, Height and Ashbury and Alamo Square) but I must say that going to Alcatraz for the 3rd time was a bit much :-)), we also walked the Golden Gate Bridge which I had not done before.

Laima - I was quite surprised by the weather as one part of San Francisco would get very hot and another would be foggy and much cooler.

Another awesome thing about it was cable cars (which started rolling since 1873) and Muni trolleybuses. I felt like at home in Lithuania as we have the same ones :-)


Another thing that I wanted to visit was the North Beach District. My favorite book of all times is Jack Keroucac´s On the Road. It´s about this crazy hitchhiking dude, about jazz, drugs and women. I think the quotation of his that suits us best is:


They have their worries, they’re counting the miles, they’re thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they’ll get there—and all the time they’ll get there anyway. you see. :-)

Anyway, he belonged to the beat generation, who made the bookstore of the City Lights famous.

Next to the bookstore is Vesuvio's bar, Dylan Thomas and Kerouac would get smashed. The bar still sell cheap drinks and I could spend hours in there, it was great.

We also went to the Mission district, trying to visit Mission Dolares, but it was closed. But we found this funky alley with lots of really cool murals.


And finally Alcatraz, that Robert kindly suffered for the 3rd time. Spooky place. Over the time 36 people tried to escape. The coolest escape I thought was this guy who collected uniform for 10 years and then was found on the boat after the head count. Poor thing :-)


Posted by rob laurie 14:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Route

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After what seems like months sitting in front of the laptop planning the journey I decided to take a break from Spanish flight booking websites and start the travel blog. Below is a rough idea of the route, obviously not every stop has been added at this point and it will be continuously updated as we go. Most of the flights are now booked, even the ones we had to book in Spanish for South America (which saved us £600 by the way).

Never before have I thought that 6 months would seem to short a time for a trip but when you start looking at everything we plan on doing you really begin to wonder if it will be possible.

From London we head to the States, initially we did not plan on even going there but it works out cheaper to buy the Escapade RTW ticket and add on South America separately, so we will spend a few days in San Francisco on the way to South America and a few days in Miami on the way back to San Fran.

South America 28 Aug 08 - 30 Sep 08


After spending a view days in Lima its of to Cusco for Machu Picchu, then Puno for Lake Titicaca. Cross the border - La Paz, Uyuni and the Salt Flats. San Pedro de Alcántara, Santiago and finishing in Patagonia - Torres Del Paine.


New Zealand 6 Oct 08 - 27 Oct 08

So much to see in 3 weeks (1 week in the North Island and 2 weeks in the South)

North - Auckland, Waitomo, Smelly Rotorua, Whakatane, Napier and Wellington.

South - Nelson, Kaikoura, Fox Glacier, Milford Sound, Queenstown, Mt Cook and Christchurch


Australia 27 Oct 08 - 17 Nov 08

Not even close to being enough time for Oz but we had to sacrifice time somewhere and this was it.

Sydney, Melbourne, Great Ocean Road, Cairns, diving the Great Barrier Reef, Sailing the Whitsundays, Fraser Island and Brisbane.


South East Asia 18 Nov 08 - 31 Jan 09


Over 2 months in this region, but with so much to see and do we decided it was worth it. A few days are spent in Singapore and Malaysia at the start and end, again this is more due to cheaper flight options we went with.

From Bangkok we head up to Chiang Mai and over the border into Laos, down the Mekong river to Luang Prabang, Vang Viene and Vientiane. From there its into Vietnam - Hanoi, down to Hue, Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta. Over into Cambodia for Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Ankorwat. Back into Thailand and time to chill on the beaches and islands.


South Africa 1 Feb 09 - 28 Feb 09

Well the last leg of the trip and a chance to head home for a month before returning to London.

From Jo-burg its down to Cape Town and then up the Garden Route. From there its up to the South Coast to Umhlanga/St Lucia, onto Swaziland and finally Kruger before heading back to Jo-burg and the flight to London


Posted by rob laurie 16:18 Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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