November 1, 2011

Of Bob Marley and Caribbean Sun


Image via Flickr user: murdelta

Ever the cultured one, Henry has been listening to old Bob Marley and the Wailers LPs through a vintage player he picked up on eBay. Naturally, this has got our travel senses tingling with nostalgia for the Caribbean, giving us an urge to revisit the Caribbean years after our first experiences there (we travelled with Kenwood Travel Jamaica Holidays and would travel with them again). The music of Bob Marley has brought us to considering a trip not just because of this nostalgia though, but also because the music has reminded us that we can sometimes miss the point entirely.

The Bob Marley of the albums and the Bob Marley of popular culture are two entirely different people. The intense religious and political feeling of Bob Marley’s albums wasn’t new to us, but after years away it jolts you awake to hear him singing of oppression, police brutality, the legacy of slavery and with the militant sounding lyrics of his ‘most Rastafarian’ songs.

It’s shocking because the Bob Marley who gets so much airplay, who is constantly mentioned in marketing blurbs and is pasted onto beaming posters and greatest hits compilations is an entirely uncontroversial one (save for his smoking). This is the whimsical Bob Marley of ‘Three Little Birds’, the mellow Bob of ‘Jamming’ and the hopeful Bob of ‘One Love’. It’s a rather vicious declawing, the ultimate insult probably being the fact that the Labrador puppy in twee Rom-Com Marley and Me is named after him.


Image via Flickr user: Abeeeer

It happened to Che Guevera too, but it got us thinking about how, as tourists, we think of the Caribbean in a rather reductive way. Even having been to Jamaica, specifically visiting the dirty, bustling (brilliant) capital Kingston, I think we remember it more for the friendliest locals, the purest sandy beaches and the stunning, glittering waters. A perfect holiday brochure version of the country. The reality wasn’t disappointing in the slightest – like Bob Marley’s album tracks, we were shown a multi-faceted modern nation with a troubled past and a hopeful future. A nation that we’re now really aching to see once more!

October 26, 2011

Living the American Dream...Hunter S Thompson style!

One of our favourite heroes of all time has to be...the late Hunter S Thompson. Famously known for being the legendary music journalist for the magazine ‘Rolling Stones’, Hunter had a wonderfully unique writing style that echoed in all facets of his lively and ‘colourful’ life!


His book ‘Fear and loathing in Las Vegas’ that was later made into a film starting Johnny Depp as Hunter, shot the eccentric genius to global stardom and publicised the wild and crazy antics he and his lawyer got up to. It has been one of our favourite films and books for a very long time now, so when we got the opportunity to check out Las Vegas we jumped at the chance!

We chose ones of these Las Vegas holidays, and it went above and beyond our wildest dreams, with every desire and whim fulfilled within an instance. The whole of the Las Vegas strip is just filled to the brim with flashing statues, glittering Casinos, fancy hotels, amazing restaurants and good ole American really is the city of pure indulgence!


We’re not too into the gambling as we didn’t want to get too carried away and loose all our bucks in one go! But it’s just as entertaining to watch people, as when the steaks are really high the suspense is crazy! Poker has to our game of choice and the World Series we’re filming live at the Caesar Palace during our stay in Vegas. It was so exhilarating to watch some of the more experienced players in the world battle it out for the million dollar prize. The guy I was keen on in the beginning didn’t end up winning, but it was so exciting and intense to watch as a spectator...highly recommended, plus you don’t lose any money and can pick up some valuable bluffing tips!

Of course there are a lot more to American holidays than gambelling and drinking, although that was a lot of fun in Vegas! We took the shuttle bus a bit further downtown in Vegas and found this amazing theme park with the ‘Manhattan Express’ Rollercoaster in. I think we must have gone on it around five times; it was so much fun and really got a big adrenaline kick from it. We also ate some great tapas at a great little restaurant called the ‘Firefly’. The food here was absolutely delicious and the cocktails just kept on flowing all night long, highly recommend the ‘chorizo clams’ to anyone visiting nearby!


All in all, Las Vegas is a spectacular, fun time city where you can literally forget all your troubles and have the time of your life! Sadly we didn’t get drunk enough to have a shot-gun wedding in the famous white chapel...maybe next time ha ha! But it was amazing to visit the old stomping ground of our beloved hero Hunter S Thompson...R.I.P buddy!
Definitely recommend Las Vegas to anyone thinking about it, and will be coming back as soon as we can!

October 25, 2011

Notes from an Alaska Cruise holiday

As you know we both love cruising and have experienced several recently including a beautiful trip on the Indian Ocean back at the beginning of the year. After this trip we vowed that we wouldn’t leave it as long to take the next adventure on the high seas. So having spent some of the summer months planning, we decided that we would head for the west coast of the USA and hook up with a cruise ship bound for Alaska.


The cruises can be boarded in two different locations – Seattle and just across the border with Canada in Vancouver. We decided to go with Candian Sky's Alaska cruises (great rep) and thought that if we boarded in Seattle, we could also enjoy a stop off in Vancouver, where we could meet up with some friends who emigrated two or three years ago.

After the brief respite in Vancouver, the cruise ship headed north towards the frozen wastes of Alaska, making its second stop in Juneau. In Juneau, there is a great pub called the Red Dog Saloon, which has a friendly and relaxed atmosphere complete with authentic sawdust scattered over the floor. If your timing is right, you will experience some local live music and a nice log fireplace to warm your feet. If you like fresh fish, you cannot leave this place without sampling an Alaskan grill in the Twisted Fish Company. We both had a delicious halibut burger, which was accompanied by wild berry and mango chutney – yummy!

After Juneau, we headed further north to Glacier Bay where not every cruise ship is allowed to go (luckily ours was :-). This place was amazing, and I still cannot forget the intense blue colours of the glaciers as they stood formidably in front of us. We were lucky enough during this visit to see large chunks of ice break off and crash into the sea – a memory that we cannot easily forget.

The largest city on the trip, with the exception of Vancouver is Skagway – with its wooden boardwalks evoking memories of the great days of gold panning. The city has lots of Russian influence, with many buildings displaying the trademark ‘onion dome’ tops resembling St Petersburg or Moscow. We especially enjoyed the coffee in the Black Bean, which was lively and full of characters.

January 27, 2011

Delhi, India - Day 1

We arrived in Dehli International Airport around 12pm and shared a Taxi with a lovely Guy from Israel who was also staying in the Karol Bagh area. Taxi cost around 250 Rupees which is our first taste of how cheap India is! The guest house we stayed at was called Wood Castle – a nice place but nothing special and after unpacking we headed out to explore the crazy city.

We took the metro line from Karol Bagh to Connaught place and found the Indian Tourist Board who said we could get a private car for the day for around 900rp, and whilst this again sounded very cheap, we decided it’s not right to see a city like this from the comfort of a air-conditioned car, so we opted for tuk tuk instead!


We arrived in our luxury (yeh right) tuk tuk at the Humayan Tomb around 2pm. The heat was like nothing we’d ever experienced before. Thankfully Jamie’s brother owns a surf clothing website in the UK – Extreme Sports Trader and he hooked us up with whole load of board shorts and flip flops...which were very much appreciated! We paid 40rp to enter the tomb grounds and once inside we found plenty of shade in the shadows of the high stone walls and various monuments. The place was beautiful and a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the Indian streets on the other side of the walls.


We moved on to a place called Hazrat Nizam-ud-din Dargah (yes it was a bit of mouthful and I can’t pronounce it right to this day!). Thankfully the tuk tuk driver knew what we meant and we found a lovely shrine to one of the Hindu gods (there is over 1 million apparently) and we spoke to lots of locals who were paying homage. We stayed as the deep red sun set over the city and headed back to the hotel for some much need jet-lag aided sleep.

January 24, 2011

Inca Trail, Peru. 2009 - 8

Picking up where we left off...

A very cloudy start to the morning and a steep uphill climb to the lovely Inca site of Runca Raccay where we performed a ritual, involving three coca leaves, for Pachamama. The weather stayed cloudy which meant that we didn’t see many views but it was nice and cool for walking. We had our lunch at the second pass, in the mist. When I looked down at my place setting I saw that one of the waiters had folded our paper napkins into lotus flowers. For someone used to getting a squashed sandwich and an apple out of her rucksack for mountain-top lunches this was truly a bizarre and unbelievable sight. We tracked down the porter/waiter responsible and gave him a quick burst of applause.


After lunch we pushed on towards the third pass through sub-tropical jungle with orchids, thick moss and creepers. At one stage we passed through an Inca tunnel where the guides had great fun hiding in a niche and jumping out at people as they came cautiously through. At the top of the third pass the cloud cleared enough for us to catch a glimpse of the Quechua rainbow flag on top of Machu Picchu mountain. We then walked to the beautiful Inca site of Phuyu Pata Marca (meaning ‘Cloud Level Town’) with its amazing stone work. This site was possibly associated with Inca water worship or astronomy.

After that we had another tough descent with loads and loads of steps to our campsite at Huinay Huauna (meaning ‘Forever Young’ and named after a species of orchid). This is where the Trekkers’ Hotel is and is a very busy campsite being just outside the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. Our porters had secured for us probably the best area for our tents with heart-stopping views out into the surrounding mountains. Everyone was exultant as we had met the challenge of the Inca Trail and would be at Intipunka (The Sun Gate) tomorrow morning. We had a brilliant time sitting around outside before dinner drinking lots of beers and making everyone do ‘Cheers!’ (or ‘Salut’!) around the whole circle and shouting ‘Mind the Beers!’ idiotically every time anyone went near the crowd of full beer bottles on the ground (you had to be there!). Dinner lovely again and a bit of silly dancing afterwards. Early start again tomorrow.

January 19, 2011

The Wanderers Return!

Firstly, we both have to apologise for the sudden halt in posting and the radio silence for the last year (God has it been that long!). Henry works for a travel company and so can get asked to relocate to the other side of the world in a matter of weeks, and that is what happened last February. After Henry worked for 3 months in India we decided to continue traveling around South East Asia for the rest of the year as we have never been there before. We had an absolutely great time, but it poses a bit of a problem now. I want to continue writing up our Peru trip, but Henry is very keen to blog about the SE Asia trip so that our friends and family can learn what we have been up to.

We have come to a compromise and so the result will likely be a back and forth mix of the two, so we again apologise in advance if its a bit difficult to follow, but it should hopefully entertain!

February 15, 2010

Inca Trail, Peru. 2009 - 7

Up at 5.45. Henry and I discovered that we had rolled on our bladders (our rucksack ones not our actual ones) in the night and quite a lot of things were a bit wet (including this book). Set off at 7. Lots of climbing today and really spectacular views. Every time I checked my watch I was amazed to find it still so early.

The altitude was beginning to make the walking tough but the porters just ran past us carrying not only most of our personal gear but also all our food, tents, tables, stools, crockery, cutlery, cooking equipment, washing bowls etc. One even had a tray of fresh eggs balanced on top of his huge pack. They were all very heavily laden and somehow the smallest, oldest ones always seemed to be carrying the most. As they went past our only job was to get out of the way so our walking would be punctuated by cries of ‘Porters!’ or ‘Chasquis!’ from the people behind. As they passed us there were always big smiles, high 5’s and calls of ‘Hola’. It all made me feel very guilty and uncomfortable until it was explained to me that the porters are mountain farmers
who are very pleased to be able to supplement their scarce income in this way. Also they now have a union and strict rules about the weight they can carry. I still felt quite bad about it though.


As we climbed the altitude really began to slow us down. The guides gave us some alcohol – just to inhale – made from Amazonian flowers. It is meant to help your breathing. Lunch was at a beautiful plateau called Llulluchapampa with views across the valley of a snow-capped 5,200m mountain. After lunch came the challenge of Dead Women Pass. At 4,200m this was the highest point on the trek and the climb up to it was gruelling. Towards the top every step was hard and we had to follow the guides’ advice to stop frequently and take three deep, slow breaths. Everyone made it and there were many congratulations and emotional moments at the top. Wilfredo played ‘El Condor Pasa’ on his queña and, suddenly, a real condor was gliding
overhead. Much excitement as this is considered a fortuitous sign.

The way down was a steep, three hour slog with lots of steps and then rain to welcome us into camp at Pacomayo. Everyone was very tired and most of us found it difficult to eat dinner (although it was all delicious as usual). We had walked for ten hours or more and tomorrow would be an even longer day with two more passes to go over.

Jaime & Henry

About Me

We are Jamie and Henry. We’ve been together six years now and wanted to see the world together, but wanted to share our experiences with the others close to us as well. We’ve been to a real mix of places so far and loved every minute.

April 2012

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