All world trips should be amazing especially the experiences you have during them however I also love the planning and the remembering aspect of such trips. This blog entry is to help me recall the trip and is Part 2 covering the Sights.
There are 4 different aspects to my world adventure I’m going to try and document;
1) The sights – what activities I enjoyed by country (4 parts)
2) The culture – what did I learned about the different cultures and religions
3) The people – the people I travelled with who I remember fondly
4) Travelling – how I travelled and what I learnt.
I visited 19 countries during this world trip:
Part 1: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Iceland, England.
Part 2: Germany, Spain, Argentina, Chile
Part 3: Antarctica, USA, Mexico, Cuba
Part 4: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
I was only in Germany for three days (22-24 October) but in reality it was a one day experience to see anything as I stayed at the Frankfurt Airport Hilton Garden Inn and the first and last day were travelling days. I do have to say the hotel was very nice and I never held a plane once inside.
This meant the highlight of Germany was visiting Heidelberg Castle and the town below. It took an hour to get there from the Frankfurt CBD. The castle was extremely impressive dating back to 12th century and it overlooked the servants / townspeople below.
This was my first visit back to Spain since July 2006 and the country has gone from expanding and building everywhere to being in deep financial troubles. I was only in Madrid for three days, similar to my Germany stop, but I got to enjoy Madrid a lot more staying within the city. One of the things I got to enjoy was the local protests against their Government, the World Bank and austerity programs.
I got to go around the city at night and obviously they can still pay their bills to light some magnificent structures up. The Flamenco dancing show was also enjoyable but when you are put on a table by yourself it isn’t as pleasant or entertaining as with friends.
The real highlight in Spain however was visiting Segovia and Avila. Segovia in particular with the 1st century aqueduct still working is something to behold. As it was a public holiday in Segovia there were holding a special religious ceremony in the Cathedral and the singing was amazing.
I loved my time in Argentina which was really in two parts, the first my time in Buenos Aires and later as part of my G Adventures Antarctica and Patagonia trip in the northern part of the country. The contrast between the south and north of this enormous country are substantial including the weather and the culture.
In Buenos Aires I had a fabulous night at a Tango show getting my photo taken with one of the dancers. Spanish blood must be very passionate with such dancing. The bike tour around the city was also a highlight as it gave me a good feel of the place especially the divide between the super rich areas and the rest of the town. I was lucky to be there on a weekend as well seeing local markets, festivals and protests.
The southern part of Argentina is a different world indeed. It is extremely remote and my first experience in Ushuaia was eye opening coming in to land passed snow capped mountains and feeling the 4 degree temperatures as this southern most town enjoyed their summer!!
At this point I meet Ben who I ended up sharing a room with for most of the next 22 days. My period in the Patagonia area was all about nature and stunning beauty. Unfortunately, well maybe fortunately, you have to hike a lot to see this beauty. Hiking for nine hours in El Chalten though the snow and ice was a real highlight even if hard at the time. Looking around and seeing almost everyone as white with such pure clean cold air to breath was a vision I hope I will still be able to recall in old age.
Ice trekking on the Viedma Glacier was also an experience. I really struggled walking with the ice boots when trying to walk down steep inclines.
Argentina was also the jumping point to go to Antarctica. I got to experience a National Strike when trying to leave Ushuaia, again against austerity programs of the Government. This again bought home how fortunate we are in Australia to have more stable conditions.
I was in the southern most part of Chile for 4.5 days as part of the G Adventure Patagonia Tour. The thing I remember most was how outgoing the locals I got to met where. Chile and Argentina don’t get on very well but as I was told by people on both sides of the border that in this remote part of the world that isn’t very important and they all have to help each other out.
Trekking up to see the Three Granite Towers in the Torres del Paine National Park was the Chile highlight. They are magnificent making all the hard work to get there worthwhile. We camped in this park which was an experience in itself with the basic facilities and the cold and rainy weather. Chile was the place I ‘roughed’ it the most probably the most I have on any world trip.
There had been a fire in the National Park and it is going to take around 60 years to regrow. Unlike most forests around the world in this region the cold weather means really slow growth and fire is not needed or desired for regrowth.
I think I’d like to go back and visit the northern part of Chile as I imagine it would be very different and I’d like to understand the culture differences between the remote and rural and the more populated areas.
Part 3: Antarctica, USA, Mexico, Cuba