Machu Picchu is easily one of the most recognised and talked about destinations in South America. I finally ticked it off to see what all the fuss was about. Not before divulging in a bit of adventure to get there though. Having trekked Huayhuash and seen some of the best mountains that Peru has to offer, I decided this time to have a bit of fun on the way.
The past two weeks have been the most mind broadening of my travels so far. It’s been an eyeopening experience being in Huaraz and taking on the mighty Huayhuash trek. For those that have no idea what I’m talking about, I’m in Peru. Huaraz is a city based in the mountains of Peru which are north of Lima. Huayhuash is an Andean mountain range that provides some of the most inspiring landscapes and for me, one of the biggest personal challenges I’ve ever undertaken.
I sit here in Salento with the mountains surrounding me, resting before my big trip to Peru and can’t believe how amazing my time in Colombia has been. I really had no idea what to expect coming here. I was told it was amazing, dangerous, scary, boring, exciting, lively, quiet, so you can see how confused I was. Now that I’m at the end of my time in Colombia, I couldn’t have imagined a better start to my South America travels. Hence why I’ve named this my lasting impressions of Colombia.
Well my plans on how I would run this blog are slightly changing as I go. I wanted to build a very helpful and detailed overview of my travels to help others taking a similar route. However as I travel I realise that perhaps that’s not the best thing to offer. There are so many sites out there that give you finer, admin-based solutions. What I want to do is give you some insight on what to expect and what my thoughts are on places. With that I give you my first impressions of Colombia.
Strangely enough my french didn’t improve the longer the trip went on and the cities got increasingly more french. Not an ideal combination. Quebec City is 100% a french speaking city. They obviously have a very touristy center where you can get by with speaking English. However some of the best bits are outside of it’s fortified walls. I wouldn’t recommend any longer than a few to five days here. I managed to get the hang of the city workings and felt like I saw most of it on the first day. You need some decent money to really enjoy Quebec City Old Town. Which really takes up 90% of the tourist spots. Would I go back? I don’t think so. It’s absolutely beautiful with it’s quaint streets but besides that I was ready to go on to Chicago.
It’s been 44 days and the first leg has come to an end. I’ve been traveling through Canada and parts of the US since late June. Since it is the first leg of my travels, it’s been interesting to see how I’m going to settle into this way of life. Now that I’m at the end of North America, I find I’m only now starting to feel what I expected would eventually come. I’m now wondering if this is a good idea, how I’m going to deal with South America, how I can make the money last, how I stop following the tourist path, the list goes on. I am however, also feeling prepared to carry on the challenge. I’m kind of glad that I’m feeling like this. I was worried that I was immune to the moment of stress and anxiety that everyone else experiences. Although I think it makes you more excited about what’s ahead when a few nerves set in.Continue reading
To begin, I think Toronto is more a place to live than to visit. It’s a clean, pretty and growing city. However, I didn’t think it worked too well for people passing through. There isn’t a lot to do, especially when you’re a backpacker and a rooftop meal and cocktails isn’t exactly achievable. Although I did manage to fit in a few drinking sessions and a bbq on the hostel rooftop. Luxury.
I wasn’t sure what Seattle would be like. I got there and was a bit dubious but by the end I was sold. Thanks to my amazing friend Clare, I had a lovely place to crash and met some amazing people. I was staying in Capitol Hill, it was a very cool and unique area. Each shop seemed to have a stamp of it`s own and provided yet another version of what a cafe, restaurant, bar should be. I stayed in Seattle for 4 days and I managed to pack a LOT in. Baseball, Pike Place Markets, Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, EMP Museum, Bainesbridge Island, Fourth July and the list goes on.
For some unknown reason, I failed to realise that Canada Day coincided with our arrival in Vancouver. It made it very hard to find a place to crash last minute. I stayed in an Air BnB which worked out fine. It was a bit further out of Downtown than I wanted but interesting to be staying on the University of British Colombia campus. I can’t believe how amazing the universities are over here. It definitely makes Auckland Uni seem like a nursery school. With a few other Air BnB’ers we went into town for the Canada Day fireworks and missed them. Fail. Although the next day Stanley Park renewed my excitement for Vancouver. It’s an amazing park and you have to walk (or cycle) around the outside. Views are great and you walk under the bridge. I was lucky with the weather, brilliant walk.
It’s still sinking in that I’m doing this and all the plans are finally in action. I can’t explain enough how beautiful the Canada Rockies are. If you have ever wanted to do a proper roadtrip then the Icefields Parkway is it. From one beautiful view to another, you don’t even bother turning off your camera. We only spent one day driving from Jasper to Banff national park. There was a thunderstorm on the forecast so we stopped at each lake that the guidebooks had said were the best. It was a busy day, and we still made Banff by 4pm. You can see in The Rockies Part One post, the lakes that we visited and how perfect the weather was.