I finally could go to the hotel and leave my stuff before I going for my walk around the city center, but not without lunch, after that stressed episode I really needed to eat something, so I went to the first restaurant I saw! Italian! Shame shame… Though, it was a very interesting experience, Italian with Japanese ingredients, the veggies weren’t the most obvious ones, and of course it doesn’t taste the same. I was polite and I said it was good, but it wasn’t… I guess that’s how Japanese people feel when they go to Europe then eat at a Japanese restaurant. Though I was finally ready for the Peace Memorial Park, or so I though…
Finally in Hiroshima, I thought it would be better to book the tickets Hiroshima – Kurashiki and Kurashiki – Kyoto already, but where the hell is the ticket office? I had to pass two times through the gates to find it, I was in the wrong floor 😡
Hiroshima Station isn’t small, and I had to cross it all to get to the buses and trams area, I used google maps to find out how to get to the hotel, the app is quite good and gives you detailed info of which trams and when they depart, the problem was that I only saw buses (the trams are really next to the buses but I didn’t see them…), and since even google maps has the name of the tram stations in Japanese and very very few info in English, I got a bit confused so I decided to take the easier way – taxi.
That was easy, an old man who speaks a few English managed to help me with the taxi driver and explain him which hotel I was heading to, I put my luggage in the trunk, and when I was getting inside the taxi I realized that something was missing… MY TRIPOD!!! I left it at the ticket office and I knew exactly where! I just said “forgot something”, I now know that the less English I speak the better for them, a few keywords are more helpful than speaking. I had to take all my stuff from the taxi again, and cross the whole damn big station again. I start sweating…
I got there again, and I saw that the tripod was not there anymore…, I was quite frustrated and angry with myself, I then saw a woman supposedly there to help people, and she was helping someone else in a very very patient way. I am not used to that, in Europe people are way more stressed and multi tasking, I even said “excuse me”, but since it wasn’t my turn yet she totally ignored me. I was really stressed, and it is just a tripod… I then started to calm down when I thought that I actually could just buy a new one, but still, I waited for my turn.
Finally, I got to ask her if she saw anything! She went to another guy and asked him if he saw anything, I found myself totally lost in translation, how the hell does one explain what a tripod is? Keywords as “camera”, “accessory” didn’t work… So, I then remembered that I had rented a pocket internet device! Geeky for vacations, but it turned out to be really helpful! Google images, I searched for tripod and there we go! The guy went straight to the back stage and he brought my tripod back to me! Yeah, I got it back! Oh wait…, not yet…
I had to fill a small form, with my name, phone number and something else that I didn’t understand… A funny thing about languages and our brain, is that if we are not open enough for how the language works, our brain doesn’t recognize simple words as “hoteru“. She tried to explain what she wanted, in Japanese, the guy as well, and now I remember that they said a few times hoteru, but I just didn’t understand…, again, google saved the day! (I am advertising for google way too much and for free) I added the Japanese keyboard to my iPhone, I opened google translate on my browser, and I asked her to write what she wanted. The moment I pressed “translate” and I read “Please write the name of the hotel” I just said “ahhhhhh” and she replied with segoi several times 😀
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It was time to wake up, I get my phone and I see that it is 4:44, my alarm would ring in one minute, no need to try to sleep longer… I had my shower, got my stuff and I went to the train station a bit afraid I could do the wrong turn somewhere, I did that path a few times with Elma and Max, but alone one can always do some mistake… It was fine 🙂
I got an early train to Tokyo Station, that one is a world! Elma warned me that it is a big one, but the indications are easy to follow, so I had no problems getting to the right platform. I just got inside the train, I placed my luggage and I sat on my place when I realized that I just had a glass of milk as a breakfast… Maybe I should eat something else, after all I had a long journey of about 900km ahead…
I went to the vending machines, but I only had 5000¥, those machines only accept notes of 1000¥, damn… The next second I was already thinking about food, and I can’t have it, my stomach was begging! But again, it isn’t new that I am a lucky bastard! The bullet trains also have on the spot service! A few minutes later a girl passed with a trolley full of food and beverages 😀 That saved the day!
I tried to sleep a bit, and I did, until we arrived in Shin-Osaka station, the next train was to Hiroshima and I thought it was time to decide where to go next, after all, I also needed to book my train tickets and hotels. I decided to follow the original plan, and I decided for Kurashiki. I kind of had a feeling that it would be just another tourists rip-off “traditional towns“, but I also needed to buy a few souvenirs…
But then the problem, a LOT of tunnels! And with my internet constantly being disconnected, it got harder to book a hotel anywhere, and the landscape outside the tunnels didn’t help to get distracted either, what an over populated country… But eventually I managed to book a hotel recommended by Frommers’ book, the one we used in Peru. I hoped the town is nice as they say, I have a good opinion about this books so far 😉
Finally in Hiroshima!
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Arggggg, my jet lag is still with me! I woke up around 5am, I tried to get back to sleep but after one hour I was fully awake… Well, I read a bit about the next destinations, and I wrote a bit on my blog. And today is the day to visit a few other districts in Tokyo, Shinjuku, Asakusa and Odaiba.
Arrived in Tokyo! YATTA!!!!
Elma gave me a very detailed plan how to survive the first hours until I got to meet with her, very straight forward and that definitely saved me a lot of trouble. Passing through the emigration, getting money, getting the pocket internet, JR pass, etc. And hot! It looked like Summer, for now!
Every travel starts with the preparation, mine was close to none. I
googled searched for places to visit in Japan, what to see, festivals, etc. And I wrote a draft of what I want to do, but I just did one booking and nothing else. Why? I never been in Japan, every single thing will be a new thing for me and it is impossible to see a country in just two weeks, so better chill out and enjoy the journey.
I have three main “base cities“, and I plan to go around them with a total open schedule, I am a solo traveler, let’s see how hard it will be to get last-minute accommodation….
Waking up Not going to sleep at all, something I wanna try to see if it works for the jet lag. Forcing myself to sleep for most of the long trip. I stayed awake the whole night, and at Cork airport I ended up meeting randomly with Bea, a work mate of mine. I slept from Cork to Amsterdam 🙁 not good.., I should be stronger… Well, I bet I’ll be wrecked either way…
Arriving in Amsterdam, I “lost” Bea, she also had a connection flight, so I stayed by myself for a while, I went to the train station and I decided not to go to the city, no plan to meet anyone there (yet) and I could relax a bit closer to the gate. Eventually I’ll meet with another friend there as well, but just for a short talk. A bit bored, and tired, I went to Starbucks and guess what? I am a girl 🙁
Finally queueing for the flight, and the first signs of stereotypical behavior start to be obvious, while waiting I saw a girl taking photos with random strangers, why? I have no clue, but obviously she doesn’t know them… I guess I’ll have more of this during the following days, and I am eager for that!
While chatting with Bea, we thought that I got one of the worse places to sit, 35K, I just sat next to an emergency door by the window 😀 a loooooot of space for my legs, I can go to the toilet without disturbing anyone and without being disturbed! Second time this happens on a long flight trip 😀 As my Greek friends call me, I am a big kolofardos 😀
Sleeping in economy class is definitely not the most comfortable thing ever, but I managed to take my nap and woke up at 6 am Japan time, let’s see if this helps in any way my jet lag…, and I guess this means that my 1st day is also over.
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Last post about Peru, I promise!
Jet lag, that strange thing that people talk about. How to avoid it? I have no clue, most of the tips I read say the same “Try to stay awake / go to sleep early according to the timezone of your destination”. So, before going to Peru I avoided to sleep to be able to sleep most of the flight to Peru and wake up on time for “breakfast”. It didn’t work. The way back, I had to sleep the moment I sat, because in Ireland that would be 2am! I slept, but it didn’t help with the jet lag anyway.
So, how did I manage to fall asleep fast? 2 bottles of wine! The small ones, of course, the wouldn’t serve a 1 l bottle just for one person 🙁 What a shame…, so, I got drunk and it was easier to fall asleep!
But before that, they served the dinner, to help me sleep I watch part of a movie while I was trying to ignore the fact that the plane was full of babies hoping that they wouldn’t start a crying orchestra and present us with their premier. We were lucky, or their parents also gave them wine… I kind of hope they actually did it.
After sleeping a few hours, when I woke up I checked the seat screen to see where we were, and for my surprise we were in Canada (?!?!???!) Basically, the flight went up north, and then from there just in horizontal to Amsterdam, they must have their reasons not to cross the Atlantic as I would expect…
First stop, and back in Europe! Amsterdam!! I think we only had to wait 2 or 3 hours, I am not sure about details now, and I remember that we went to some girly moments again for shopping, and I bought I book that I still didn’t open (one year and a half after). Funny thing, I remember that I said “If I open a book more than once while I am in a bookshop, it means that I want that book”. Let me scratch that rule, it couldn’t be more wrong.
Again, another security check. I think airports should be more organized, doesn’t make much sense to force a transfer to pass again through security. And it happened again in London… 3 flights, 3 security checks, 1 ticket booked. Non-sense.
The flight to London was with some turbulence and lateral winds, not a big deal, but not a peaceful flight. The approximation was not that smooth either, though the landing was totally ok.
Arriving at London City Airport (LCY), and having a preferential service! That was cool, someone picked us to pass all the lines because the time between our flights was quite short, with a woman guiding us through all the processes we had to pass (security again, etc).
And the last flight! Which wasn’t that straight forward either. I sat, on my place, I start reading and then… “Would you mind to change to another place? That seat is damaged.” Argggg!
Arriving in Dublin, then three more hours by car to Cork…, Tajana driving, me sleeping 😀 And this was our trip to Peru, an awesome and unforgettable trip! An amazing country that I truly recommend, not only for the touristic places, but for the whole trip itself.
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Waking up not too early this time and going again for “Internet Hunting”. We went to the place we’ve been the day before, but it was closed in the morning, and even though there were several other internet places, also closed, we decided to go to the airport and have it done there, but again, no success. I don’t remember in detail, but I think that KLM doesn’t have offices at Lima Airport, or they were closed, I am not sure now. But our plan for the day was visiting Barranco district, considered one of the most romantic and bohemian!
Finally!! I can write “waking up a bit late”!!! I don’t remember at what time exactly, but if I wrote that in my notes it means that it was kind of significant… After a shower on a mega-tiny bathroom with a “shower” that was basically just a hole in the wall. Yeah, Lima was the place where we had the worse conditions. We weren’t expecting anything fancy, but after 14 days on vacations in places where we indeed had low expectations, we were expecting something better in Lima. That, or not forgetting that we have been there before… Then breakfast!
Waking up early in Arequipa…, it is strange to write this about every day of my vacations, which kind of vacations do you wake up early every day? Oh, jet lag…, right… Well, we went back to the creperie for a breakfast, and after that a “girly moment” of shopping! Souvenirs and etc!
We tried to go to a museum, but if I am not mistaken, we had to wait for the next tour, so we decided to skip it and we went to a Monastery, the Santa Catalina Monastery, such a beautiful place! A pure village in the city center, but a cloister… Nowadays it is mostly a touristic place with just a few nuns living there, but its history is quite interesting and worth reading a bit more about it, but not as much as to visit the place!
Lunch, was again at the arabic restaurant! Two days in a row eating at the same places, and both days with non-Peruvian food…, but it was really good! We went then for a walk throughout the city center, with a nice ice cream to cool that heat down! And more “girly moments“, we found a very nice market with several hand-made stuff, quite cheap comparing with european prices!
Our time in Arequipa was almost done, time to catch a taxi and going to the airport, and when we thought that the adventure was almost ending…, things also can happen at the airports 🙂 Starting with a manual search through out luggage, and when I say “manual” I actually really mean that they opened our bags and start digging through our dirty underwear for a few seconds until they gave up. Then, we found out that we had to pay an airport tax that was not included in the ticket price. WHAT THE HECK??? Almost 10 Peruvian New Soles! And then, we had to wait until they decided to open the gates…
When they announced the gates, we could proceed to the x-ray area, and then, more fun happened 😀 Ramón indeed over-packed, and he had a huge bag just for souvenirs and one of those was detected by the x-ray 😀 He literally had to unpack it just because of a piece of dust-gatherer 😀 Oh, that was a funny moment that I have on video 😀 We just had to wait more for the departure…
Arriving in Lima, and going to the hostel. I totally forgot how much they robbed us the last time with the “scheduled” taxi, and again, the same mistake! 30 soles… And, if I wasn’t enough pissed of with that “deal“, they forced us to pay in advance, the only hotel in our whole trip that required a pay in advance. Oh, I was really pissed of! And then, a very bad sleep night, hot, bad bed, and etc….
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Again, more than a year ago and when I read my notes I think “wow, I don’t remember this happening”. But while I read them, I get some flashbacks and it is quite cool to remember details that were already forgotten 🙂
The 13th day, we were in Mollendo and it was time to get back to Arequipa, from there we would fly back to Lima which meant that our vacations were close to an end.
We couldn’t sleep more than 8 am, so we just went for a breakfast, an ice cream after it and a last walk through the town. Time to take the bus, so we went by taxi to the bus terminal and preparing for a few more hours in a bus… This time, I made sure I went to the toilet before 😛
The bus was really old, quite like expected, and the trip took about 3:3o hours to Arequipa, with several stops in each of them people tried to sell us stuff. Seriously, some of those stops were in the middle of nowhere, and people there waiting to sell stuff? Some of those people even got inside the bus, to sell, and were with us until a few stops later they just hopped of. I think at that point of tiredness, I was already too “annoyed” with everything, according to my notes an “asshole” (quoting myself) as all the time changing the roof door to get air, either closing it or opening it. It was a sauna inside the bus…
Arriving in Arequipa, we just took a taxi to the hostel we were thinking to stay. I believe we made a booking before, I am not sure now about that detail. Crossing the city was a huge surprise! What at first sight seemed to be another very ugly city, like almost all the other cities we passed through before, the city center is really beautiful! And the hostel, was another pleasant surprise, a mini-hotel with just a few rooms (I am not 100% sure, but I think it was the Casa Andina) very cosy, nice and very close to the city center!
We were starving, after that long trip, and so we went for a walk trying to find any restaurant, so, instead of keeping with the traditional Peruvian food, we tried an arabic restaurant that totally is worth all the money we spent there! I don’t remember if it was expensive or not, but I didn’t care, it was really good! After that, we did a small tour through the city center, just to get familiar with the place.
At night, time for dinner! And again, not Peruvian food…, we went to a creperie, and again, the money was well spent! And before going back to bed, I bought two books for the rest of the trip, I kind of “devoured” the book I had with me in just a few days…, one of the books I bought was the Kon-Tiki, which took me back to our adventure in Oslo a few months before 🙂 I really should write a full post about Kon-Tiki, a story that really impressed me! And time to sleep!
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Another early wake up, and another beach day was ahead of us! Really eager for that, if I reckon properly, we decided to go to Catarindo Beach because we say a photo of that beach and we asked where it is, so there we go! That’s something that I really enjoyed about our vacations, everything planned on the spot, everything enjoyed without too planning 🙂
We had a nice breakfast, oh those papayas were H-U-G-E! Like the size of a pumpkin, I never saw papayas that big, and that taste…., that juices… Now I miss Peru 🙁 Well…
After the breakfast, we just took a taxi to the beach, and getting there was really cool, a nice bay so no wind, and fewer waves. Great to enjoy another very relaxing day! It was really a vacations day, lunch at the beach, a nice barrack just for us, and at first a bit worried about how to get back to the town…
The water was cold, but not as cold as the Portuguese Atlantic coast, and it was not that warm outside as well. I’d say that was just perfect, nice weather not too hot, nice water not too cold and no wavy 🙂 Hell yeah, vacations!
Going back, at first we thought about going by taxi, but, would we get a taxi there? The taxi drive said that was easy to get a taxi back to the city, but that was a bit outside and we were kind of in the desert. Taxis? Where? It was easy to realize that every car was a taxi, kind of funny to see people taking the “taxi” board from the trunk of their cars and suddenly, their own cars become taxis! Enjoying a relaxing day at the beach, and even getting money to pay their own trip, genius! But we decided to walk back, the weather was really cool and we had nothing else to do, why not enjoying a walk of a few kilometers to the town?
As I said before, we were kind of in the desert, so we had to cross part of that as well, walking. It didn’t take much time, but I am not sure how long either 😛 We saw a few people doing jogging through that area, it is really a peaceful place, and running on the cliffs by the sea should be awesome! Desert in one side, Pacific Ocean in the other side 🙂
Getting back in town, we were tired! Beach is a like a hard job, but more enjoyable 😛 We just had a dinner, I believe it was on an Italian restaurant? Maybe… And then, shower and bed! That shower had so much sand, I think we took part of the beach with us 😛
Early wake up! It was a huge difference, what we thought being tireless, guess it was really altitude sickness getting into our bones! It is hard to describe how different we were feeling, so much energy and so way better than the days before, that indeed was a big factor on our decision to skip the Colca Canyon. Probably it was a mistake, I guess I’ll never know that, but by then it seemed to be the best decision, vacations is not only running around, some relax time is also important and it is impossible to see every single place.
So well, we decided to go to the beach! Our first swim on the Pacific Ocean! But not before some “travel issues”. Ramón and I woke up early, we knocked Tajana’s door but I guess she was taking a shower, she didn’t hear and we assumed she was still asleep. So, let the girl rest! We went to buy some sun-cream, and we did the huge mistake of having breakfast without Tajana, obviously she was not happy with it…, after everything solved up, we went to the beach, but now it was Ramón’s turn to stay behind, I have no clue why… We tried to call him, but no battery on his phone, oh dramas dramas, there ain’t a good travel without good dramas 😀
Time for beach!!! Renting some chairs and a beach umbrella! 😀 And being flooded all the time, the waves were strong but it was a real fun for us! We even had a crazy funny guy that approached us saying the he is from INTERPOL 😀 After a few hours, our deserved and more than wished lunch by the beach!
After lunch, we went for a walk, the hotel and back to the beach. This time just me and Tajana, I think Ramón decided to take a nap 😛 It was a whole afternoon of reading, sun and waves flooding our feet! Just pure awesomeness! After a while, Ramón ended up join us, so the trio was completed again!
It was a long and amazing day, going back to the hostel for a shower to take out that Pacific salt 😛 We had a very nice dinner, another walk through the town and back to bed! This time not feeling sick, but really relaxed! VACATIONS!
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Again, it rained during the whole night, and again that feeling of being lucky during the day! Probably that’s how the rainy season works in Peru 🙂 We had the bus tickets Puno > Arequipa booked the day before, so we just had to go to the terminal and enjoy our trip on our “first row seats on a panoramic bus“! Arequipa, here we go!
In Peru we have to pay taxes for everything, even after having the tickets already pre-paid. Guess that we’ll never know if having a ticket actually means going on a trip… Oh well, again, we had to pay some additional tax after the bus ticket prior to our actually trip. This “tax” kind of made our schedule even more tighter, no time to go to the bathroom! Thankfully, the woman at the ticket counter said that the buses have toilet, uffff! Six hours is a long trip 🙂
Getting to the bus, and we started to realize that something was wrong…, where was the panoramic bus promised by the guy at the hostel? And what about the seats, wasn’t it supposed to be first row? So, we got a very old bus, smelly, dirty and that leaked water from everywhere! Great! We weren’t pissed off because of the old bus, we actually really wanted to try a “chicken-bus” (which wasn’t also the case), we were pissed off because the guy promised something that was way far from reality! Well, cultural shock, I guess…
Due to our “not so first row”, I barely took photos during that bus trip. So, unfortunately I don’t have photos to show (only one that I stole from Tajana). Again, we were again in Juliaca…, and because of the Carnival, the bus had to go through a different route outside the main road, and that according to the natives inside the bus, the driver picked the worse way… It was kind of funny and scary at the same time! Just see the photo below, we actually passed through that “road”!! As I said on a previous post, Juliaca is a flat city and when it rains the streets become rivers! This is almost true, we actually thought we would get stuck there and Juliaca doesn’t seem a nice place to get stuck in!
The way to Arequipa was quite traumatic for me, as I stated before, I had to time to go to the toilet before getting to the bus, and I was told that the bus had a toilet inside, which actually was not a lie. The woman just forgot to mention that the toilet was closed for some reason that the driver didn’t want to explain. So, basically I was 6 hours inside a bus, passing through amazing landscapes and desert areas, REALLY desperate to pee!!
Another detail about that trip, supposedly it was an express bus, without stops. And actually, no stops to let people exit, but the guy was stopping all the time to let more people in. At each stop, a lot of people complained with the driver, which was kind of fun 😀 But my head was too busy to panic out with my “primary needs“. I had to ask the driver to pee, but instead of using the polite way, I actually said “I need to piss now!” and as expected, the driver said I should hold a bit more. Everyone laughed, and even some people asked the guy to let me go out to pee. He didn’t.
I actually even considered to pee inside the bus, I was almost at a “I don’t care” point of no return, but…, we were in Peru, in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t know what to expect, probably the driver would throw me out of the bus, and I really didn’t want to take that chance. I just kept holding it…, and then, something strange happened to me. My brain started to trick me, it was a very weird trip, my brain actually made me feel like totally wet, like if I had peed myself! I didn’t. So every few minutes (probably less than minutes) I was checking if my pants were actually wet! It was really insane, I never felt anything alike in my life! Guess that in Peru I tested my whole digestive system. And I guess it works!
Arriving in Arequipa was even more painful, the city suburbs are like all other cities and towns in Peru, looking really awful and not appealing to stay at all. We were tired of that, and I was in pure desperation for a toilet! Mind that we were 6 hours inside a bus, and I had to drink water as well… What a challenging trip… And getting to the bus terminal wasn’t easy either, we passed through good part of the city suburbs until we stopped, and knowing that we were close my brain was pushing harder to “release“. The moment we start turning to the terminal, I just jumped to the door! I had to be the first one to get out!!! Well, guess that Ramón didn’t realize my desperation, and he asked me to take care of the luggage the moment I went out…, you might guess my reaction 🙂
Finally, outside the bus! Running to the toilet!!! And…, I had to pay to use it AHAHAH!! I didn’t care at all! Not going into much details, but it was really hard to pee, and it actually hurt! 😐 I really never felt something alike before… After that, my mood totally changed! We went on a relaxing mode, we ate something and we were deciding what to do next!
We were tired of traveling, and we really were needing two or three days of pure relaxation, so, why not going straight to Mollendo? Changing our initial plans, we postponed Arequipa! How to get to Mollendo? By bus, about another 6 hours…, or by taxi… And, fuck it! Let’s go by taxi!
Two hours from Arequipa to Mollendo, 200 Peruvian Neuvos Soles, about 60€ for a 130 kms trip! Not bad at all! Now I managed to take a few photos, and we crossed part of the Peruvian part of Atacama Desert! It is indeed fantastic, and quite curious at the same time, along the road we saw several parcels of terrain well-defined for different owners. Don’t forget that it is a desert, and Atacama Desert is the driest desert on Earth, so, why having parcels there? I didn’t understand that, but I also didn’t ask.
So, in one day we went from the 3800 meters high, from the highest navigable lake on Earth, going down to the 0 meters of altitude (sea level) and passing through amazing green landscapes at the Andes, passing through the second biggest city in Peru, passing through the driest place on Earth, a desert, and seeing the Pacific Ocean! What a day! Ignoring the “primary needs” issue, it was indeed a memorable day!
Arriving in Mollendo, time to pick a hotel! We were all tired, and everyone with low tolerance, so picking a hotel was not as easy as expected, but we ended up at a very good place very close to the beach! After that, a walk through the town and going for dinner, and finally having a very deserved ice cream! Then, bed time!
It is quite very surprising to read my tiny travel book where I write all the topics, though not in detail, about my travels. But some times, mostly when I write my posts more than one year after the my adventures, some details would be handy…, oh well.., apparently I had to take a shower in the dark right before going to the port because the electricity went off. Sorry, I just have a glimpse about what happened, I remember that I had to take the shower with the door widely open to get some light. Though, the plan for the day was to visit the famous Uros Islands, so a shower in the dark was not a bother for the day that was up to come!