A Travellerspoint blog

Soy Soleste!

Falling for Uruguay


View A Twain's Lark on In Cahoots's travel map.

Iconic Bldg in la Plaza de Independencia

Iconic Bldg in la Plaza de Independencia


We jumped across the border on an overnight bus from Buenos Aires to spend a bit of time travelling around Uruguay, which was a bit of a ploy to delay Spanish lessons for a little longer. We almost instantly fell in love with Montevideo, the capital, and then as our travels expanded over the rest of the country, we fell in love with Uruguay. It probably all started with the place we stayed, the place I'm also sitting now (although written there, this is being posted from Argentina), called 'Ukelele hostel' it's a huge beautiful old home in the middle of the city, with the nicest owners who just opened it up a month ago. I don't wanna to spend too much time describing our lodgings, but this place is easily the nicest hostel I've ever stayed. The owners Pati and Jope were way too good to us.

Chivito

Chivito

Second to the hostel was the food, Tamoura acted as a bit of a guide here (no surprise really) as she had read a little about the food and led us to a local 'chivitos' place which are essentially a crazy steak burger with more toppings than you can count on your fingers and these monsters were delicious. Second thing Tam let drop is that the uruguayan's are famous for their sweets, and hence started her addiction with alfajores, which are a kind of dulce de leche filled, chocolate covered cake/cookie.... No surprises she has been finding these all over town.

My new addiction, Alfajores

My new addiction, Alfajores

You can find them all over South America with each place having their own varieties. Empanadas are another delicous South American specialty we have been enjoying.

empanadas

empanadas

We visited the market in town which was less of a buy souvenirs or produce market and more of a MEAT market. one of the many Parillas (grills) at the Meat Market

one of the many Parillas (grills) at the Meat Market

Argentina and Uruguay love meat and theres so much of it around. You would have trouble eating out here as a vegetarian. The meat market was restarants each with their own giant slanted grill covered in meat and every part of a cow you can think of.
We have really enjoyed walking around Montevideo, it has a beutiful mix of various styles and eras of architecture and art seems to find its place everywhere in this city. We had a wonderful day walking the coastline on the la rambla's stretch and could see how inviting those beaches might have been if the weather had been a little warmer. We visited Museums and the cemetary which was actually really beautiful, and sought out various bakeries and sweet stores and in short we loved everything about Montevideo.

Cemetary

Cemetary

Cemetary

Cemetary

Montevideo

Montevideo

IMG_0036

IMG_0036

peluqueria por los niños (kids hairdresser)

peluqueria por los niños (kids hairdresser)

walking along la rambla

walking along la rambla

buying spices at the market

buying spices at the market

fruit picking

fruit picking

When we left Montevideo we made our way up the coast to some beach towns which due to the season were more like ghost towns which had its appeal. THe coast was beautiful even if was cold. We stopped at two beachy towns then went to Cabo Polonio, the little hamlet on a peninsula of the coast surrounded by dunes.
Punta Del Este

Punta Del Este

view from the lighthouse

view from the lighthouse

Our first introduction to Cabo Polonio came after we got off the bus on the side of the road where we were told to wait for our next vehicle. After waiting a little while, a large 4wd truck arrived with seats in the tray and a tarp over the top. Our fellow passagers for the ride over the sand dunes were 2 locals, one quiet fisherman type, and the other was to be our entertainment for the bus ride. He too could have been described as a fisherman type (as could most locals in this village), except his shoes didnt match and he had a pension for yelling out about random things and then laughing histerically.

4wd Truck to Cabo Plonio

4wd Truck to Cabo Plonio


The ride was a quick and bumpy 30 minutes up and down sand dunes the whole time with the man with odd shoes was taking swigs of whisky out of a dog food bag and smacking the seat as hard as he could with an open palm as if to propel his steed over the oncoming dune. We enjoyed our introduction thoroughly and managed to find the little one room cottage we had rented for the next few days.  After  picking up the keys from another local, we had a chance to properly check out our surroundings. Cabo Polonio is a tiny little fishing/hippie village on uruguay's coast. It is not accesible by car, and the only way in is to walk or take the 4 wd bus, we chose the bus as with the alternate 8km on sand dunes with packs, it seemed an easy choice. There is no electricity or running water and the place was reccomended to us by a local uruguayan we met in our hostel. Our little hut was about 20 m off the ocean and we were able to watch sea lions and seals play from the kitchen window.

our little home for 2 nights

our little home for 2 nights

in the dunes

in the dunes

IMG_0104

IMG_0104

IMG_4362

IMG_4362


We went to the top of the lighthouse for a gorgeous view and got a birds eye view of the marine life below. THe next day we did the 10 km walk along the beach to the next village. We saw more seals and dolphins, and some cows grazing in the dune grass. Its a funny sight to see cows on the beach. the walk was absolutely gorgeous. We took our time enjoying the views and finally arrived in the next town after a few hours. After a exploring this quiet town we made our way back this time cutting across the giant dunes. Neither of us had ever experienced being on dunes like that.
We spent two nights in Cabo Polonio then caught a bus back to Montevideo, and back to Ukelele to hang out with Pati and Jope. We did a few day trips to nearby country towns with cobblestone streets and more pretty views.

Colonia del Sacramento

Colonia del Sacramento

streets of Colonia del Sacramento

streets of Colonia del Sacramento

Sam was hoping to catch a soccer match and Uruguay happened to be playing Peru the following Sunday so we stayed to see it. It was fun but no alcohol allowed. Since Im not exactly a sports fan the fun of going is having a beer and talking to people. But I still enjoyed it for the crowd and the boys singing and swearing behind us.

Next up, back to BA for some Spanish lessons.

Posted by In Cahoots 12:30 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Who wants the last lobster?

Eating our way through New England


View A Twain's Lark on In Cahoots's travel map.

I know it´s been a while since our last update, so ill try and bring you up to speed as quick as possible. Our initial plans on Singapore to South America needed to be rearranged with the surprise wedding of Tam's brother. So we made the necessary cancellations, and the bookings took our route via Rhode Island instead. The wedding was beautiful and the spring weather really turned it on. We had a great time picnicing and throwing horseshoes in the grass. A surprise (super RI) treat of Del's frozen lemonade was a lovely touch for all the wedding guests to enjoy. Some more big news to go with a new sister for Tam: A little baby is on the way and due around Tam's birthday.
out witht the wedding party for one last drink before the big day

out witht the wedding party for one last drink before the big day


making boys into men

making boys into men


and the lovely bride

and the lovely bride


Tom and Leah

Tom and Leah

at the wedding

at the wedding

the reception

the reception

Mommy looking beautiful

Mommy looking beautiful

the bride and groom in the getaway bike

the bride and groom in the getaway bike


One of the many perks of making this stop over was the cheap concert tickets in the US. We managed to time things well. A Santigold show in Providence and Tam's friend Ellen visiting home on the same weekend resulted in an hilarious night of dancing, DJ requests and the usual ¨laughing about it for a week afterwards¨kind of moments that we have come to expect when you put T and Ell together.
being silly with ellen at santigold

being silly with ellen at santigold

We had some amazing times with Tam's family and especially her parents, Marilyn and Elie, while we were back. We took some beautiful drives to Cape Cod, Newport and a weekend away to Maine.

fishing at L.L.Bean

fishing at L.L.Bean

just checking out the sights...

just checking out the sights...

quintessential new england... Little Compton, RI

quintessential new england... Little Compton, RI



It was my first trip to a lot of these places, and I especially enjoyed the Maine coastline and the Acadia national park. We did a few hikes there and spent two nights in the summer holiday town, Bar Harbor.
Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

the view from our hotel room in Maine

the view from our hotel room in Maine

at the top of cadillac mountain with dad and izzy

at the top of cadillac mountain with dad and izzy

dad on fire asking old men if they might be santa

dad on fire asking old men if they might be santa

the onesie ive always wanted!!!

the onesie ive always wanted!!!

We dropped the parents back to their car further south in Maine and Tam, Izzy dog and I drove west through New Hampshire to the White Mountains. We did a few more hikes and were on a constant look out for black bears and moose. We didn't see any, but we did find moose tracks and a big bear paw print. White Mountains, New Hampshire

White Mountains, New Hampshire


After enjoying the gorgeous views in NH we headed back towards RI with a stop in western Massachusettes to visit our friend Kayla. After Izzy traumatised her poor cat into a paralyzed state (he did not move from the window sill in her bedroom until the next day) we had a fun night out catching up with Kayla then headed back to RI for some more family time.
Tam and I were spoiled rotten during our time back here, we ate like kings at dinner parties with Lobsters and Clamboils, and that was just the begining of the seafood. Tam made her first clam chowder from scratch from the leftovers of the clam boil. Elie fried up some clam cakes to go with it. It probably sounds weird, but trust me clam cakes and chowder are a New England dish you cannot miss if you get the chance.
(Neil you really missed out but now T knows what she's doing so she can make it for you next time!)
Welcome Back Clamboil and Lobsters

Welcome Back Clamboil and Lobsters

homemade clam cakes and chowder

homemade clam cakes and chowder

We had such a good time hanging out in RI, enjoying Sunday family breakfasts, gardening with Marilyn, hanging out with Tom and Leah and getting to know this lovely new member of our family.
It was actually such a hard time leaving to head to South America, but if going to South America is the hardest thing one has to do we dont have too much to complain about. There has already been talk about meetin up with T´s family somewhere in south America. Fingers crossed.

izzy flying my new plane....

izzy flying my new plane....

Posted by In Cahoots 16:43 Archived in USA Tagged england park new white national moutains acadia Comments (0)

Village Cycling and Expat City Life

Riding around Mai Chau Valley and a Hanoi revisit

Due to our change of plans to get back to the states for Tom's (T's brother's) wedding, we had some extra time in Asia. We decided to keep the weekends for Singapore to spend time with Ben and Britt, but we had a free week to go anywhere. We decided to go to Hanoi, Vietnam. We had spent 3 weeks in Vietnam in 2010 and had an amazing time. Sam's uncle Pip and his partner Neil live in Hanoi so we had a place to stay which sealed the deal.
1st night in Hanoi

1st night in Hanoi


Our first day, we headed to the old quarter and showed Chloe some things we had remembered from our last trip. We got right back into the swing of things, like crossing streets by just walking out slowly into hectic oncoming traffic.
Mai Chau Valley

Mai Chau Valley


We had so much fun last time we were there doing a 2 day cycling trip, that we decided to book one around Hanoi. We went to the Mai Chau Valley about 4 hrs drive west of Hanoi. It was harder than the Meekong Delta, as it was a much hillier, but it was still gorgeous and one of the best ways to see a place. The three of us cycled through rice paddies, rural villages, and small towns, stuck in between beautiful mountains. We even crashed a wedding. The guests invited us in and gave us rice wine and love heart cookies, and shook our hands endlessly. Sam said after the third or fourth handshake it probably meant we had just agreed to get married too.
flying down the hill

flying down the hill

Vermicelli Noodles drying

Vermicelli Noodles drying

Mai Chau Valley from above

Mai Chau Valley from above


We spent the night in a traditional Thai ethnic minority village in a traditional stilt house. A beautiful building with one big room for everyone. Since it wasn't peak season we were lucky and had the place to ourselves.
relaxing after the first day cycling

relaxing after the first day cycling

stilt house

stilt house

inside the stilt house

inside the stilt house

bed

bed


pretty

pretty

water wheels

water wheels


After cycling the second day it was time to head back to the hectic streets of Hanoi and recover from two hot long days.
IMG_0432

IMG_0432

IMG_0433

IMG_0433

IMG_0437

IMG_0437

this bridge was bombed all through the war

this bridge was bombed all through the war


The next day we spent taking in a few more sights around town. Our bike guide Dan had invited us to his home, so we went to his place with a little apprehension. It ended up being the best decision we made. We met his kids, and he took us to a local temple to see a personal ceremony. He explained that a personal ceremony is for one person to make offerings to the gods for a good year of health, happiness and prosperity, etc. It can take 2-4 hours, they dance and change costumes, and have all kinds of paper models of things to burn as offerings.
personal ceremony

personal ceremony

paper offerings

paper offerings

paper offerings

paper offerings


After that we went on a quick cycle around his neighborhood (unnecessarily worrying about sore bums). It was so cool to see a different much quieter side of Hanoi. Then we went up to his roof for a beer and a beautiful view of the Red River and Hanoi. Lesson learned, when opportunities present themselves, take them.
rooftop beers with dan

rooftop beers with dan


After that we met up with Pip & Neil and went out for a fun night on the town expat style. It was great fun, and we went to totally unexpected places> A wine bar then a morrocan restaurant, which may sound normal, but not when you've been walking around Hanoi for 5 days. After that we went to an expat bar for someone's birthday, and then to the only place opened past 11:30pm for a bit of a boogie.
wine bar

wine bar

too many for a cab, chloe's on the back of a bike

too many for a cab, chloe's on the back of a bike

with pip in hats from lao

with pip in hats from lao


Next morning, up early to catch a flight back to SIngapore.

Posted by In Cahoots 01:29 Comments (0)

Singapore

eating our way through singapore


View A Twain's Lark on In Cahoots's travel map.

After island paradise, it was hard to think of heading back to a big city, but with Chloe in tow the prospects of exploring the city with a fresh perspective was appealing.
view from Bar Asia

view from Bar Asia


We definitely ate our way through SIngapore. We went to the big hawker stands, everyone ordered from a different stall and feasted on all kinds of delicious things. We went to quite a few hawker stall areas at different times and not once did we eat something twice. So much variety and really fun.
We explored the city, taking in the sights of the super futuristic architecture. Everything's bigger and shinier in Singapore. A little vegas feeling, maybe but more futuristic. There's some pretty incredible features of the cityscape one in particular is the boat building. Its a huge hotel thats 3 buildings together with a huge boat on top. (its worth googling pro photos of this thing). Our last day with Chloe in SIngapore we made sure we went to the top and walked around the boat, very surreal.
ben&britt

ben&britt


Along the Ben and Britt do Singapore tour, we went to see a circus show at the huge theatre house shaped like a durian, then to the highest bar in town. We got a very tasty cocktail with a price tag that matched the gorgeous 360 degree views of SIngapore at sunset. IMG_0402

IMG_0402

Hiding contraband drink on the subway

Hiding contraband drink on the subway


One morning we rented bikes and cycled along the coast. Also, on the must do in SIngapore list was Singapore Chillli Mud Crab. Of course B&B came through and booked a spot on a river at a lovely restaurant with all the seafood anyone could want.
IMG_0410

IMG_0410

Posted by In Cahoots 01:41 Comments (0)

Beach Bliss and Tropical Fish

On the islands: Mataking, Si Amil, and Sibuan

sunny
View A Twain's Lark on In Cahoots's travel map.

Sunset at KK, probably one of the few nice views of this grungy town

Sunset at KK, probably one of the few nice views of this grungy town


After spending a lazy day recovering from the climb in the city of Kota Kinabalu, we flew to meet up with one of my oldest best friends, Chloe, in Semporna. Semporna is a coastal town in the south east of Sabah, Malaysia, Borneo. It is a gateway town to top rated dive sites at the reefs and islands off the coast.
1st day out on the boat

1st day out on the boat


Mataking Island, The Sandbar

Mataking Island, The Sandbar


Chloe had spent a few days there while we were on the mountain and organized an amazing snorkeling deal for us to go out on a boat to 3 different islands for 3 days and included our accommodation for 4 nights.
2 little girls from Cranston in Borneo

2 little girls from Cranston in Borneo


We spent 3 days in paradise! it was absolutely gorgeous and the photos do not do it justice. It was 360 degrees of gorgeous views and kodak moments. We spent 3 days on the most beautiful beaches I've ever experienced and snorkeling all different reefs. Among the countless different varieties of fish, we saw turtles, lobster and even a black and white sea snake.
watching turtles surface

watching turtles surface

beauty

beauty

IMG_0315

IMG_0315

places like this really exist

places like this really exist

IMG_0328

IMG_0328

a new friend

a new friend


On the last day, the island we stopped at had a village. All day a different character wielding a machete would appear and stare for a while and point at an apple we brought then point at their mouth. (we ended up leaving the apple) A little boy with a machete decided to hang around for a while asking "money" then offering "coconut 1 ringitt" (ringitt=malaysian money), while slicing pieces of found plastic with his machete. creepy much?! but he seemed harmless enough, and eventually he got bored and kept walking. None of this stopped us from lounging and, swimming and snorkeling. Si Amil Island

Si Amil Island

Taking a break from snorkeling

Taking a break from snorkeling

really?

really?

IMG_0356

IMG_0356

Sammy sitting in the shade

Sammy sitting in the shade

L-O-V-E in Sibuan Island

L-O-V-E in Sibuan Island

IMG_0384

IMG_0384

Each evening we would come back to the not so beautiful Semporna, take a shower, assess the sun damage and go for a cheap delicious local dinner.
I highly recommend 3 days in paradise after climbing up and down Mt Kinabalu, or any day for that matter. Just what we needed…
exploring Sibuan Village

exploring Sibuan Village

Posted by In Cahoots 01:40 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 11) « Page 1 [2] 3 »