Colombia: Week One 18-26 October 2017

25 Oct

We are now in South America for three and a half months, which is very different to the comfort of our luxury RV on Malibu beach but does bring its own set of joy. For the next two weeks we are travelling around Colombia before heading off to Ecuador!!!

So far we have been on four flights in the last week (which i hated as i have a VERY rational fear of flying) and a night bus! It has been stressful not staying in one place for more than two or three days but we do still get to see the city’s. We are going to see a coffee plantation which is in the countryside in a couple of days which is still in Colombia. Colombia is the second most bio-diverse country in the world and the first for birds.

When we flew into Bogotá we were mind-blown by the amount of traffic,  it made a fifteen minute cab ride turn into an hour cab ride. We were all knackered as well as we stopped in San Salvador for a change over at three in the morning. Anyway, in the morning we went downstairs for breakfast thinking it would be like our home-made pancakes and bacon we had been having in the camper van but we couldn’t have been more wrong!! Instead they had chicken wings (the bacon) and fried cheese tortillas (the pancakes) with curry sauce (the syrup)!!! Luckily it was all delicious and we had a good filling meal.

In the day we went to the national museum of Colombia and we learnt all about the Nobel Peace Prize as their President won it for his hard work to end the civil war. Next we went to try an amazing meat pasty called an emphnada, they are SOOOOOOOOOOO good I eat them all the time. Later we went to a gold museum and learnt all about the native tribes using it as a common item! In the evening we went out for dinner to the restaurant that looked like a food court so we ended up at a lovely Mexican restaurant which we all enjoyed it. In the morning we got up early as we had to catch our third plane in the last forty eight hours but we wanted to go up to a catholic monestry at the top of a hill with stunning views of the city first. We took a taxi to the cable car that went up the mountain where we learnt about the catholic church then we went to a market where mum and dad tried coca leaf tea which is similar to the highly illegal drug cocaine (not quite says mum) so later when dad starting sweating like mad we blamed the tea. We decided to walk down the mountain as we figured that it was not going to be that long although the look on peoples faces when they reached the top showed it was not going to be easy!

Cartagena temperature was completely different compared to Bogota. Bogota was cool,

well this was so humid we barley coped. When we arrived we had a problem as our hostel didn’t exist and we were stuck in a darkening street with all our luggage and nowhere to stay. Luckily a lovely coffee shop took us in and all the and customers helped us find a hotel to stay. I have left a thank-you on tripadvisor (eureka coffee house) . We found a lovely hotel that gave us all cheese and ham sandwiches for breakfast every day. The walled city was great although there was loads of hawkers trying to make you buy stuff that you would never really need. The colours of the buildings were gorgeous and they were all individual. IfIi were you only there as a day trip as there’s not much else to do unless you go to an alright beach that costs £50 to get there and there’s loads of hawkers but you can get passed tat if necessary.  We also went for a lovely meal out for steak and pasta. It was perfect and all the staff were friendly and the food was class.

Last night we took an overnight bus to Medellin. The overnight bus was good but really wobbly so i felt a bit sick. The seats were comfy and better than the beds in the hostel. At the start the guy took a photo of everyone and someone said this was in case anyone was kidnapped. This freaked me out a bit!!! Today we went around the city to see Fernando Botero statues ( I will write more about why i like this artist later) and then for a walk around a shop looking for dinner at our hostel- fun fact: they only have milk in a bag for sale.

 

 

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Hijack! Family Blog Take over Best and Worst of America

19 Oct

Today my family and I are all writing a blog on the USA. We are in Los Angeles airport waiting for a flight to Colombia, via El Salvador. We are all writing about our memories of America. We are asking ourselves five questions and will try to do the same for each country.

Q.1: What was our favourite city and why?

Mum: ahhhhh this is realy hard. Im really not sure. I could definetly live in LA although really I mean live in Malibu on the beach. New Orleans was fun and interesting and I loved the South but I don’t think anything could beat the feeling the first morning in New York. Although we were only there for 48 hours, it was sooooo exciting. Everything felt like we were in friends and the first day we were all crazily pointing at everything; the school buses! The police cars! The taxis! That plus the realiity that we had actually done it…set off for an adventure for the whole year! Was a really great feeling and made New York pretty special.

Dad: New Orleans because I liked the jazz and trolly car ride in and out of town. The old buildings were stunning.

Me: I enjoyed Malibu as nothing in can beat being smashed around in the waves and laughing at dad trying to be hench body surfing, as all it was, was being badly smashed in the mega waves.

Georgia: New York City beacause I really like the hussel and bussle of the city. Although I didn’t like the subway!!!

Dylan: I liked New York City as it was big.

Q.2: Our funniest memory?

Mum: When we were in New Orleans we were trying to take a nice family photo  a lovely lady offered to take a family shot. We obviously agreed thinking how lovely, that would be great. She turned out to be a photo nutter!! She had us posing for phoots for over 20 mins, this way, that way. We constantly had to move around the fountains we were at for the best shot! At one point she made us all close our eyes and them open them to ensure we had ‘bright eyes’. Matt later told us that he only shut one as thought she was going to rob the camera. She eventually left us and seemed ok just far more committed to the ultimate photo shot then we were! Weird but also very funny!

Dad: I was playing baseball with Dylan and Georgie. D threw the ball at G, it hit her on the arm and flew in to the air, the ball landed on D’s head and then bounced on to ground. No-one knew what was going on and we all fell about Laughing… Mega LOL!!

Me: My funniest memory is when we ordered our first meals out in new york, we thought when they came out they would be fine but actually they were MASSIVE and none of us could believe it.

Also when we were in Nashville we caught a free bus around the city, mostly for something to do , somwehwere with aircon as it was so hot but after a while we realsied we had been going round and round for ages and we were laughing, would we ever get off! Another mexican family had done the same and we all laughed together!

Georgia:I have lots of funny memories mostly including dad although there are some that are my fault. One of the funniest is when me and mum where white water rafting, we posed for a picture but then crashed into a rock as we weren’t looking. But its also really funny when dad says hes hench all the time but also when he poses for a picture he does wierd hand motions LOL!!!!!!!!!

Dylan: When we were at the Grand Canyon dad tried to get in the wrong RV, luckily no one saw us!

Q.3. What was our best meal?

Mum: It’s got to be In n Out burger.  More of a take away than a luxury meal out but seriously sooo good! 4 times in 8 days!!!!

Alex: On our last day we went to Malibu Seafood and had the best Fish and Chips and it tasted just like home. I also loved Ihop for the best pancakes and in New York I had the best milkshake ever in my life, Cookie dough at Ellens Stardust dinner.

Georgie: I liked loads of the food in the USA although one of my favs was my spaghetti   in Ellen’s stardust diner .I also had the best milkshake ever. Although I also enjoyed Malibu sea food Restaurant on our last night.[:+

DAD: My favourite meal was a delicious pork chop served with onion mash and awesome gravy. The chop was the thickest I have ever seen!!! My favourite meal experience was sitting by Malibu beach eating a lobster with my gorgeous wife.

Dylan: Pizza in Central Park. The pizza slice was massive.

Q.4. Worst mermory/bit??

Mum: Learning all about Salvery and Racial segregation across the country and particulary in the South was incredibly moving and their experineces will stay with us.

On a lighter but hugely annoying note; Listening to my family poo and pee and fart 24/7 in our small van. Seriously did not need to hear all that…we over shared! Half way through we banned all van poos which massively improved things although Matt was pretty much the only one who obeyed it!

Dad:  We spent a lovely day walking to Hollywood sign and walking along Hollywood Blvd. We had to drive back to RV park in Malibu. It was getting dark and rush hour was in full swing. The traffic was mental, bumper to bumper, people undertaking and cutting across two lanes of traffic. I had no idea where I was going whilst trying not to smash my 30 foot Minnie Winnie RV into someone. After getting back, I have to admit I quite enjoyed it but it was terifying at the time!

Alex: My worst memory was scary drunk death street AKA Boubon street in New Orleans. It was really scary as there were loads of drunk peole and it stank of stale vomit. There were loads of crazy people with snakes and parrots running around.

Georgie: My worst thing was the Subway because I really hated it being underground and I was worried I would get stuck.

Dylan: My worst bit was my family trying to make me eat Taco Bell. I think they tried to kill me.

Q.5. Best memory or experience?

Mum: I have loads it’s so hard to choose. Im gonna list a few so I don’t forget. Sorry, I love mixing up the rules!

  • Running around Central Park on the running superhighway, admiring the views.
  • Listening and seeing Mayor Gulliani in the Senate at Capitol
  • Lsitening to the best Jazz I will ever see, with all the kids inhot and sweaty Preservation Hall . New Orlenas
  • Walking nearly 10 miles around the Grand Canyon on my birthday
  • Waking up to see the sunrisein the deserted Death Valley after free camping in the desert. Absolutly stunning.
  • Having coffee and breakfast as a family on Malibu beach watching dolphins play in the sea.

Plus loads more but everyone is telling me to stop being a muppet!!

Dad: A lot of great experiences but the standout one was the feeling of getting to Grand Canyon village after a seven mile walk along the rim of the canyon. I spent the walk being either terrified or awe inspired at the views. At points we were only a foot of two from the edge of a thousand foot sheer drop. A great walk which will live long in the memory.

Alex: Waking up to see the amazing state park with chipmunks and squirrels running all around and then went for a lush swim in a warm but crisp lake but I have loads of other stunning experiences.

Georgie: Im really not sure what is my fav memory seeing  as we had such a great time but I do have to say we had a great time at the grand canyon because the views where soooooooo amazing!!!!!!!!! Although I had loades of other great experiences.

Dylan: Going to the METS baseball game in New York. It was brilliant.

TOP TIPS:

Mum: Check out the state parks to camp. Cheap and Beautifull and make sure you have an In n Out Burger in California.

Dad: If you are going to the Deep Sputh, get 25% + bug spray and apply regulalry.

Alex: Don’t go to Borbon Street in New Orleans.

Gerogie: Be EPIC and don’t forget to have an In n Out burger.

Dylan: Never go to TACO

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Family Take Over Two; End of 2nd country COLOMBIA

8 Nov

Here is our family review of Colombia. Although we have only been here 2 weeks we have crammed a lot in and feel we have a bit of a flavour of Colombia. Despite what people might expect or typical views of Colombia we didn’t see any cartel drug lords or rampant corruption and violence instead we found a modern, young vibrant country which felt very safe and friendly. In fact at times we needed to remind ourselves we were in South America and not a Spanish city!

What was your favourite city and why?

Dad; My favourite city was Manizales.  Although we weren’t here for long we visited a Colombian version of Greggs which is always a winner and we travelled around on cable cars which is infinitely more enjoyable than usual city commutes! I also liked the graffiti      ( that’s cos I’m so urban and street).

Georgia: I was not a big fan off all the city’s in Colombia although i did like Medellin because the hostel was really nice and everyone there was really friendly. we also visited a since park which was really fun and all the kids wanted to speak to us and where really nice.

Alex: I really liked Medellin as we went to a cool artists park where we learnt all about the Colombian artist Bolero, him and the reasons that he draws really fat people! I also really enjoyed the hostel called Macondo guest house as they were all really friendly and the rooms were lush.

Dylan: I liked Bogota, we went on a funicular, it is a cool train that goes up really steep hills. It was scary but good fun!

Mum: I loved Medillin. Even though it rained ALOT it was warm and had so much potential. Apparently it is the city of eternal spring with termpatures always in the 20’s for the whole year, with minimal changes as its so close to the equator. We all wished we could stay there longer. It was young, vibrant with cool and intersting restaurants opening everywhere. It had a  great metro system with cable cars and escalators to take you into the mountain sides of the city. Im sure its going to be a tourist hot stop in the years to come. The whole place felt very safe and welcoming as well.

What is your funniest memory?

Dad: We were on a family walk through a coffee plantation when up ahead, Kate and Georgia decided to go “off piste” through the coffee bushes. A moment later, we heard a dog barking loudly and then I saw Georgia and Kate sprinting back towards us looking terrified. We are expecting some menacing wolf/ weapon type dog to appear, but instead it was some tiny terrier! The look on the girls’s faces was a picture! Kate thought she had stumble in to some illicit drug producers field, I think the dog just enjoyed scaring gringos.

Mum: Around the second week we went to a chicken restaurant. Their special was a whole chicken and chips which everyone loves ( who doesn’t!) but the funny thing in Colombia is it comes with a cute little packet of plastic gloves for everyone, which everyone actually wears. Like the ones you get in a hair dye kit. We assumed it was to keep your hands smelling clean and fresh, not something the stringers are normally worried about but everyone enjoyed their chicken even more wearing the gloves and was very funny!

We arrived in Quito last night after having an epic journey from Bogota. We arrived in the airport with the flight scheduled for 8 pm. Alex had found some vouchers for fried chicken in a magazine so we decided to order that, our Spanish still being shocking I didn’t really realise what I was ordering and ended up with a HUGE amount, about 24 pieces of KFC!  Unfortunately just after we ordered matt noticed our flight had been delayed until 2 am. We got offered food vouchers but annoyingly no one could eat anything as so full of chicken. However later we cheered ourselves up thinking at least we could get an ice creams and drinks. NO! we tried 2 different places and were told it was burgers or nothing. Again feeling a bit fed up I saw the airlines smart lounge and thought I would have a go at getting into there , bearing in mind our flight was delayed over 6 hours and we were only supposed to be on it for 1 hour! remarkably the women said we could all come in. Win! free snacks, booze, iPad’s and WiFi…everyone cheered up again but also No! Literally were in there less then 10 mins, one sip of free wine when we got called over the tannoy, they had found space on a different flight leaving in 20 mins. Immediately we thought the bags would never make it but also felt like we didn’t really have a choice so agreed and had to leave the lounge before we had enjoyed anything. Headed to the desk which was garage. People everywhere and this supposed extra flight no where to be seen. Waited nearly 2 extra hours there to finally board and then another hour on the runway. Surprise surprise  when we arrived no luggage! nightmare. We now have it back but it is kinda funny that we kept thinking we were winning the comp to have it taken away. To get back at Burger king for not giving us ice cream , Georgia refilled her drink multiple times despite it not being free refills!! We all thought this was hilarious…( we may have been jet lagged ) Night shift workers out there will all know the past midnight hysteria over nothing! To top it all off, Dylan fell asleep for 30 mins and had an accident and we had no stuff and had to lug a soaking wet and smelly child around as well!

Alex: My funniest memory was when we were in Cartagena and we were walking around and we met this american dude who said that this place called Getsemani was terrible, so dad went home and researched this place. Dad said it would be great and would just not shut up about it. In every sentence he would mention it and it would be hilarious!! Also we went to the same shopping centre about three times we only went into town one time!!!!!

Georgia: my funnest memory was on Halloween after me dad and d had gone to get a take away dominoes once we were full of PIZZA we played a game of cheat and it was like the funniest thing ever because when ever Dylan cheated he laughed soooooooooooo much. it was megar LOLs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dad was also being really stupid and laughed to.

Dylan: In the toilets at the bus station there was a urinal with a mini football goal. You had to pee on the ball to score a goal, I really tried but couldn’t pee on it, it was fun trying though!! Dad said i got a hat trick?!!

Where and what was your best meal?

Dad: I think that my best meal was a great steak i had in Cartagena. I cant remember the name of the restaurant but I remember that it was absolutely chucking it down and we had a dramatic but funny cab ride home.

Mum: I loved all the food at the Hacienda ( coffee plantation). It was simple traditional Colombian food and I got to have avocado with every meal. In fact I had the whole families which was fab as i LOVE avocado. Was also great not to have to think about food as all meals were prepared for us, without any choice! Simple and easy!

Alex: in Cartagena we went to a AWESOME steak restaurant that the american dude recommended. It was amazing as we got a gigantic chunk of cow and perfectly fried chips. I went into a food coma it was so good. although after-woods we had to wait out in the rain for a cab that couldn’t even get through the rain puddles!!!

Georgia: I liked the food at hacienda but my fave meal was in Cartagena when I had spaghetti and it was so good but the steak there was epic to!!!!!!!!

Dylan: On Halloween I was miserable as we couldn’t go trick or treating so we had Dominoes and ate it in our hotel room and I loved it!

What was your worst memory/bit?

Dad: As Kate  says below. Arriving in Cartegana with no accommodation 3 days into South America was a bit of a challenge!

Mum: Think its got to be arriving in Cartegana , at dusk to find there was no hostel that we thought we had booked. The kids were getting upset and nervous, we had no phone or WiFi and me and matt had to stay positive and walk around for hours trying to find alternatives! It was so humid we were literally dripping! Aside from that , arriving in Bogota after a night flight at 4 am and having to wait until morning to try and check into our hotel wasn’t a high point either although actually everyone was superstars and we sat in a coffee shop , necking great coffee and playing cheat for several hours!

Alex: My worst bit was in Bogota when we were in a night bus and we were supposed to arrive at 8:30 am but instead we arrived at 4 am and i had barely slept and i started to feel sick (i was in bed for the next two days). we had to sit in a bus stop cafe for 4 hours playing cheat and poo head. :(……

Alex i thought we had lols!!!!! ( MUM)

Georgia: i hated arriving i Cartagena with no hostel and nowhere to go but every one is so nice so they helped us but it was still horrible

Dylan: I hated it when you wouldn’t let me go swimming and make me walk around all day.

Favourite memory or best bit?

Dad: It has to be the coffee tour. I have loved coffee for years and drink loads of it! To see exactly how and where the beans grow, get picked and processed was a real treat and very interesting. I will never take my morning coffee for granted again!

Mum: Arriving and being shown our room in Hacienda Venecia. WE HAD OUR OWN ROOM!!! WITH A DOUBLE BED!!!! AND A DUVET!! ALL TO OURSELVES! This was the first time in 7 weeks that we had had enough space to Put walls between us all and even lay our bags out properly. My eyes actually welled up, the room was beautiful and had a private balcony where we saw loads of iguana and other nature within minutes. I slept soooo well, was heaven xxx

Alex: My favourite memory of Colombia was the chocolate tour. It was really informative and I learnt loads about the process of chocolate. I now never look at chocolate the same way as I can now see how the bar is made in my mind, but it could be the image of the un-roasted bean.

Georgia: My favourite memory was the chocolate tour at hacienda because we got to eat loads of chocolate But i loved the whole hacienda it was the best place we stayed at.

Dylan: I liked making chocolate as I got to eat as much as I liked.

  

The Hunger Games Trilogy By Susanne Collins

12 Oct

hunger games Today instead of doing a post on my travels I am going to do a segment on three great books that I recommend as I have thoroughly enjoyed them. They are the Hunger Games Trilogy. It is based on a game show that is controlled by the government.

There is a variety of characters in the book but is is written through the eyes of a young girl called Katniss Everdeen. She lives in the country of Panem, a place separated into districts, Katniss lives in the poorest district (district twelve). Her district mines coal and she lives in the poorest  part of twelve called the seam. Her father was killed in a mine explosion and she does all she can to protect her family especially her little sister Primrose Everdeen –Prim. Her best friend is called Gale and they hunt in the woods illegally together. During her time in the games she meets a boy called Peeta, the bakers son, throughout the games they build a strong relationship together. Her mentor is a great character called Haymitch, a drunk who uses drink to block out his terrible experiences. He and Katniss have lots in common and both get annoyed with there escort Effie. Although she is known for being extremely punctual she can be a laugh as well. Katniss meets loads of other people during the books but these are the main characters along with the evil President Snow.

It a long and twisting plot. It starts with a forced love story to stay alive but ends in a complete war against the Capitol. I really enjoy this book as you go on a journey through love and fear. The author based it in North America on how game shows are getting more and more out of hand. The games are fun for the capitol citizens and some districts as they nearly always win. It gets deep as it shows that the capitol citizens all enjoy watching young children die.

The language used is simple but powerful as it describes the surrounding landscape but also the feelings of Katniss. Susanne writes in such a way that it makes you feel like you are there but also shows how demanding the public can become. She writes the books all adjoined but completely different. My favourite part in the book is where Katniss realises that she actually has feelings for Peeta.

If I were to change anything about the book I possibly would add in parts that are going on outside of Katniss’s view. I really found this book interesting as it answered all of my questions but kept an air of mystary which I enjoy. I found this a great read and have already recommended it to my sister who loves it as well. If I were to say an age group I would say from ten and upwards. If you want a good read then this book will be for you.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy this book as much as I do.

Music Stars of the East Coast

28 Sep

Over the past few weeks, we have seen (and heard) a variety of different music styles. We saw live country music is Nashville, learning all about the stars like Johnny Cash and other great musicians. I found this really interesting as it was completely different compared to some of the songs I like and who new Taylor Swift was a country star?!

Next up on our musical tour, Memphis the home of Elvis Presley’s Graceland (graceland tours ). We learnt all about rock’n’roll and how Elvis influenced the world of music. We went on a tour of his mansion and discovered the history of his family and their daily life. Elvis would invite guests to his house and preform songs to them in his “Jungle” room. Then they would have a large dinner with Elvis at the head of the table so he could watch the television. On his home grounds he had a squash court, underground games room and bar/lounge area. We also learnt about his cars and service in WWII.

When we were in New Orleans, land of jazz, we went to see the  Jazz band at  preservation hall. I really enjoyed this music and I think it is my favourite type of music so far as we got to see just how much passion these musicians put into their music. It was really interesting as some of the band members had ancestors who had played in Louis Armstrong’s band. The band leader was  funny and extremely talented on the trumpet. I  recommend it as it was a fantastic way to see the city culture.

Overall the music on the east coast is really great and fun to listen too.Image result for guitarElvis_Presley

The Capitol- Washington DC

16 Sep

On our second morning of New York City we went to an amazing diner called Ellen’s Stardust Diner  where the staff sing famous songs from musicals while you order your food. The portions were massive, a kids meal had nine chicken nuggets, that’s the same as a large McDonald’s adults meal in the UK, crazy right?! Anyway my little brother, who sleeps everywhere, slept through the whole thing!

Later we walked the high-line. It is a converted old railway track, a beautiful escape from the urban world beneath. In the evening we went to watch the New York Mets VS the Cincinnati Reds. It was a fantastic match ending with the Mets winning 5 home runs to 1. It was really fun as it was t-shirt night and we all got a free Mets shirt.

A couple of days later we got our RV and went down to Washington DC to see the Capitol Building and other brilliant monuments.on

In the Capitol Building we went to see the House of Cgress unfortunately  they were not in session but we still learnt loads. After that we went to the Senate where we saw Senator Giuliani give a speech about 9/11 as he was the mayor of New York at the time. We had a great tour guide who explained everything in a fun way that made everyone laugh.

After that we had a lovely walk around Washington to the iconic White House. We were gutted that we didn’t see President Trump but we did see lots of cops. After a long look at the White House we moved on and went to see the WWII memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. We learnt about his powerful speech and all of the famous marches that happened there. It was really cool seeing everyone playing soccer (or football)  at Washington Monument.

The Big Apple

10 Sep

For those who do not know, my crazy family are taking me around the world for a year. We are starting off in the USA, doing two RV trips across the east and west coasts of the USA.

So today we went to see Lady Liberty and Ellis Island (where all the immigrants came to check into the US). It was really interesting because we got to see what millions of people had to go through to get into the USA. Did you know that only 2% of all the immigrants got turned down and were sent back to their countries?

The Statue Of Liberty is an iconic monument with an amazing history. The main structure was designed by Gustave Eiffel the man who built the Eiffel tower.

Then we went to the best park in the world, Central Park!!! We saw the running super highway (mum went crazy as she loves running) and now I know why there isn’t a Park-run as there would be thousands of people. We sat in the park and had a slice of zaa – dads abbreviation  of pizza- but I totally recommend an amazing deli called zabars. Back to the point,we went back to our lush hostel -HiUSA New York- and chilled for another night.