South America Part 3 – Pantanal, Bonito

Hey Team. Just a quick update as we have finally departed Brazil and we are now in Argentina.

The Pantanal

After Rio we caught the most amazing bus to Campo Grande (in between town). We actually had heaps leg room and super comfy seats. Almost didnt wanna get off.
However, we did get off and waiting at the bus terminal was our connecting ride to the Pantanal, which consisted of a mini van, and then a 4×4 to the ranch once the road turn changed to mud.
We stayed at a super cool ranch called Santa Clara that had been recommended to us several times now. Being the tight arses we are we opted for the camping accommodation, where we had the choice of tent, of hammock. We spent the next 3nights sleeping in a hammock, which in the end was not bad at all mainly because we were so tired at the end of each day.

Over the next 3days we did some pretty cool excursions and trips into the jungle and down the rivers. We did an awesome boat trip down the river, where our guide caught a fish and used it to make a caiman (smaller version of a crocodile) jump out of the water. Also did some jungle trekking, horse riding cowboy style with the reins in one hand (my horse was called silver and nats was called white chocolate…nats addition-Nick made these names up), 4×4 safari, piranha fishing (we ate them later for dinner) and a night trip to see all the caimans eyes glowing on the river banks. While we were there we saw some awesome wildlife including caiman, capybara, armadillos, toucans, parrots, monkeys and heaps more. We were even lucky enough to witness 2 jaguars hunt and take down an emu 200m from our campsite, while sipping our morning coffee. No one believed us at first, but later on that day me and one of the guide went out and found the carcus, he then chopped off the wings and brought them back to site to make a feather duster for the ladies.

After an amazing 3nights and 4days on the santa clara ranch, we said our goodbyes and headed for our next stop, Bonito.

Bonito

Bonito was another stop that had been recommended to us. The main attraction here is the crystal clear rivers and the amazing abundance of fish/varities of fish.
On our brief one day stop here, we hired bikes and cycled a mere 7k´s out of town to the municipal pools (seemed like 50k´s in the heat). On the way we were lucky enough to find a group of monkeys hanging out near the road. We stopped and joined the few people there and ended up feeding them, almost out of our hands.
Once we got to the pools we snorkelled amounst hundreds of fish that were all within touching distance and in really good visibility. Was also real fun feeding them and watching them all race and fight over the few pellets of food we would throw in at a time.

Leaving Brazil

Bonito was only a short stop but a good one. After here we made the journey towards Foz Do Iguazu, where we would make our way through the Brazilian and Argentian boarders. We thought we did pretty well to buy some cheap tickets for the bus journey from another tourist who didnt need them anymore, because he was taking the mini van. Turns out our deal was probably not as good as we thought as it took 3buses and considerable waiting time to make it to Foz, rather than the 12 hour mini van that cost a few bucks more. Once we arrived we then had to catch a taxi and 3more local buses between and from the border to our final destination of the day, Puerto Iguazu in Argentina.
And this is where we now are. In our first new country and both really excited to see what it has to offer. Bring it on Argentina.

Alright chappies, will keep you informed again soon. For now we are off to hopefully find somewhere to watch the Eng vs France rugby game, then catch yet another bus……..

Take care all. Peace out.
Nick and Nats xoxoxo

 

South America Part 2 – Paraty, Trinidade, Ilha Grande and RIO baby.

Paraty and Trinidade

After a very enjoyable 27hour journey from Trancoso, with a crying baby and antsy toddler in front of us with their parents who decided it was neccesary to have their seats fully reclined from the minute they got on the bus until they got off, we made it to the beach town of Paraty. Paraty is about about 4-5hous southeast of Rio. We did actually get to stop in Rio briefly at bus station, which was exciting as we got a sneak peak at some of the floats, which i assumed were to be used in the up coming carnival……

We arrived at Paraty in the evening and tried to just check into a few hostels but they were all full. It was now we really started to realise that booking in advance is a must around Brazil especially carnival time. Eventually checked into a mosquito ridden room, which we got out of as fast as we could the next morning. No wonder there were vacancies. Paratys old town had proper cobble stones streets, made from small boulders, which you pretty much had to jump between. Was definately a recipe for a sprained ankle but luckily we survived.
While we here we did a really good day boat trip on a Schooner boat around some of the many small islands and beaches near by. Met a few really nice couples on the trip who we have continued to bump into alot and most likely will again. Did a spot of snorkelling, swimming, jumping off the boat (although it was against the rules and we were warned we would be fined for doing it again), and i even did a bit of salvage diving to recover Mark and Gemmas (English couple) snorkel and masks, which sank to the bottom when they threw them in the water. Oops.
That evening we met up with the boat trip people and probably had one of the most fun evenings we have had in a long time. Antonin and Sarah, a couple we met on boat, took us back to their hostel where the owner was having his birthday party. Originally we looked like a bunch of out of place gringos hanging around the fringes. But eventually after a few beers we were all in there with a drum, or shaker, or some sort of instrument and were playing away with everyone and singing songs, although we didnt know the words. We even got stuck into the nibbles and huge chocolate birthday cake. That was probably the highlight of Nats night. Super cool evening, and i have to say brazilians know how to make some great music and party.

From Paraty we spent a couple of nights in another near by beach town called Trinidade. Stayed in a really cool hostel in the bushjungle with neat little cabin type dorm rooms. Were some really cool walks to other beaches and a massive natural swimming pool on a rocky point. Hostel was really cool and met some more nice people. Nat even got a hair cut from one of the ladies working at the hostel.

Ilha Grande

Next stop we took a bus and then ferry out to the island of Ilha Grande. No long bus trip required. Phew…. Ilha Grande was super touristy and seemed to rain like clock work at 2pm most days. We were also without power for 1.5 days as they decided it was a good time to up grade the transformers, just before carnival when the island is probably at its busiest. Of course it was only meant to take 3-4hours but took slightly longer (2days)
While we were in Ilha Grande we spent a bit of time walking to some of the main beaches and doing a bit of snorkelling. Our biggest walk saw us cross the island and hike over 2 hours to Lopes Mendes beach. I think Nat had springs in her shoes, because she was flying along. Lopes Mendes is meant to be one of brazils best beaches. I was super excited because it was the first time the waves were decent enough for a good surf. I ended up hiring the shortest board on the beach, which was a 7ft gun normally used for surfing monster waves. However, i adapted and used it to surf much smaller 2-3ft waves. I was even treated to a group of dolphins cruising past me and a turtle popping up next to me. Who needs to go snorkelling aye?…….. And yes it started  raining mid afternoon, so we decided to catch the boat back. 
Once again spent alot of time relaxing on beach or in a hammock. Both of us starting to get a bit beached out now and are ready to see some new scenery. We did have a good night out with another couple, Dara and Lisa, where we were treated to some brilliant live music by a group of guitarists from Uruguay. They were so up tempo and played amazingly quickly. We even picked up their CD.
Next Stop……. RIO RIO RIO.

RIO DE JANEIRO!!

Spent the best part of a day travelling from Ilha Grande to Rio, but we made it there in one piece and we were even met at the bus station by our driver ready to take us to out hostel. After we checked into our million dollar hostel (we spent alot on it because of carnival) we pretty much got down to the bar and mixed it up with everyone and got to know some of the people we would be spending the next week with. For example, Paul is the awesome dude behind the bar that make wicked Caipirinhas.
The very next morning we got straight into things as there is so much to do and see in Rio as well as get involved with all the carnival block partys and parades. First thing we did was went hangliding. Was a real spur of the moment decision, but we were taken out to a near by beach. From here we were swarmed by crazy men all telling us `you are with me`. Eventually they all calmed down, and once we had paid a membership fee to become members of the hangliding club (money making scam), we drove up into a section of national park about 500m above sea level. We both did a tandem flight with a crazy instructor. Best part was running off the cliff at take off and landing on the beach. The actual gliding was quite peaceful. We made up for the peacefulness later on that night with our first Bloco (block party), in Lapa with a group from hostel. For those who dont know, during carnival they throw heaps of random street parties everyday all around Rio. They pretty much block off a street, play music from the top of a bus with massive speakers or sometimes people performing on a stage, and drink beers and dance and party. Some of the Blocos are during the day and some at night. Awesome idea.

We spent the next week doing a combination of all the touristy stuff and getting involved with carnival. We went to see the Botantical gardens, went to watch a Brazilian football match, went up Sugar Loaf mountain for sunset, went up to see the Christ Redeemer statue overlooking the city, did a trip into the favelas and spent some time on the famous Copocabana and Ipanema beach. Unfortunately we just missed out on getting to watch a big beach volleyball match at the statdium on Ipanema beach, but we did get a free volleyball singlet. Score.

By far the best thing we did of course was go to the Sambadrome to watch the actual carnival Parade. The parades start at 5pm and go through to 5am in the morning, and go for several days. We went to a sunday viewing, which was meant to be one of the best nights when all the biggest groups with the biggest floats and most amount of people and dancers show off their stuff. Have to say it was all absolutely amazing and so massively over the top. The sheer size of some of the floats were amazing, not to mention the amount of detail and crazy themes they come up with.
CARNIVAL = AWESOME.

We have had an absolute ball in Rio and have met some awesome people. We were even getting taught Salsa last night by Colombian dudes. Think we will be visiting them in Colombia for a night out in the Salsa clubs. And believe it or not we even went to a Beatles themed Bloco, where all they played was Beatles songs, but brazilian style.

Soo so people. Hope everyone made it to the end….. Ill buy you a beer if you did (not). We are departing Rio tomorrow for the Panatal to go and see some wildlife, crocodiles and hippos. We are both really looking forward to it.

Hope everyone is fine back home in NZ, England of any other country your from. Stay safe and look after yourselfs.

Peace Out, for now
Nick and Nat 

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South America Part 1 – Salvador, Lencois, Itacare and Trancoso

Hola everybody. so we are gonna give this blog business a good crack while in south America. Been away 4 weeks now and time has flown and we have done so so much already.

So it all began…………. with a shakey start at madrid airport when we werent allowed to board our connecting flight to Salvador. Apparently you are meant to have proof of departing brazil within 90 days before you are allowed to enter the country. Thanks Air Europa for being the only airline in the world that actually checks this and refusing us to board. Luckily thanks to some help from the Piddock parents and Air Europa actually being fairly nice about it we were able to get a new boarding pass free of charge after spending 2 days holed up in an airport hotel in Madrid. Bingo, and off to Salvador we went……

Salvador

First stop was the old town of the city of Salvador. Was all a bit daunting when we first turned up. Was a big party night, heaps of drunk people around the streets, very few people spoke any english, was late at night, and we had been warned a lot about not going down the wrong street and staying out to late by a local we had met on the plane. Once we made it to our room we locked it behind us and didnt dare leave……. not quite like that but it felt a bit like it.

In Salvador we spent some time exploring the old city, took the elavator to the lower part of town, watched at awesome percussion group do a street performance, and sat back at a street bar having a few beers listening to a really talented duo. 

We also spent a night out on the Barra beach, Salvadors nearest main swimming beach. I think we are definately spoilt back in NZ because we didnt really like it much and couldnt get out of there faster to our next destination, Lencois.

We had to quickly learn that travelling south america isnt anything like travelling SE asia and nothing is as easy. We soon got good at catching local buses hoping we were going in the right direction, booking bus tickets, and learning the right phrases to get by.

Lencois

Our first long bus trip took us to the beautiful town of Lencois, located on the outskirts of a huge national park. Was so nice being in the small town of Lencois with only 10,000 residents, cool bumpy cobbled streets and heaps of trips out into the nature at offer. Was quite refreshing heading out here after our original bad start to the trip and being in the hustle and bustle of Salvador. While we were out in Lencois we spent one day exploring the town and a few close by rivers, waterholes and waterfalls. Went to a sick waterfall about a 45min walk out of town with a huge natural waterslide about 20m long. I thought i was pretty cool sliding down on my arse, but some of the locals were sliding down on their feet the whole way down. Obviously they spend too much time there.

On our secong day in Lencois we treated ourselves to an amzing 1day tour. We had an awesome guide called Toni, who had heaps in common with us and he even spent some years working in NZ. Toni took us and 3 others in his 4×4 out to several spots in or near the national park. During our travels his car (Toyota Surf, which i assured 5mins early never break down) overheated on numerous occasion and we found ourselves getting to know the side of the road quite well. None of us cared though, was quite fun actually and i even got to pretend i know about engines and give Toni some advice. On our trip we saw a crystal river river mouth where an underground river meets the surface, went in a huge underground cave and learnt all about stalactites and stalagmites, went to a beautiful waterfall, and were finally treated to an epic view on top on a mountain looking over all the national park.
Lencois and the people their were awesome. Big ups. 

Itacare

Next stop…. Itacare. After a full night and day travel and several connecting buses we made it to the beach town of Itacare. Everyone seemed to be saying a lot of good stuff about Itacare so we were glad to get there and spend a few days hanging out on their beautiful beaches and around their hippy town. We more or less spent 3days hanging out on the beach, swinging in our hammock on the deck outside our dorm, and kicking back reading our books. I actually finished all the Jack Reacher books while we were here, which was an accomplishment but now have no more to read. The 1st best thing we did here was hike to the secret beach. Everyone had said you need a guide to get there because it was hard to find and apparently people get robbed in the jungle on the way. We must have been feeling adventurous that day because we just winged it and went by ourselves and took some advice to always turn right. In the end everything was fine and the beach was really nice. The 2nd best thing we did was stumble across a bar that was playing all the Katchafire songs (NZ reggae band). Obviously we spent sometime here drinking Caipirinhas and Nat even got chatted up by a 17year old local boy when i was getting more drinks. Spent a few nights here before moving on to Trancoso……

Trancoso

After yet another long bus trip we kept to the coast and went to the beautiful little town of Trancoso. The main squareheart of the town was up on a hill overlooking the beach with a beautiful little white church as its centre piece. There were lights around the square at night and around all the restaurants, shops and night stalls it was really pretty. We were really lucky here to stumble across a really neat little family run Pousada, where we got a mint double room, with mini bar, fridge, air con, out own private balcony with hammock all for the same price as a dorm room in a hostel. We loved it so much we stayed an extra night in the end.

Unfortunately the restaurants in the main square werent as good value as our room, so we spent our first night eating with the locals at a churrascaria. Was super cheap with heaps of sides and we even were treated to chicken hearts which Nat wasnt to keen on. Luckily we had a power cut, which seemed liked a perfect time to sneak a few to the stray dog hanging around while no one could see. We did eventually have a meal in the main square at a really good pay per kilo restraunt. Was so good we actually blew our food allowance and went back the following night for another huge plate of meat.

Spent most of our time in Trancoso down on the beach or in our hammock. We did do a massive walk down the beach towards another town when we randomly bumped into some people half way along the beach who we had spent sometime with earlier on in our trip. Small world. After Transcoso we headed for Rio and the surrounding beach towns and Islands………. 

 

Nick and Nat

 

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Living in the UK October 2012-January 2013

So thought I would give everyone a quick update of what we have been up to whilst we have been living in the UK for the last few months, although we have both been working we did manage to get to do a few cool things. When we first got back we had a couple of days of resting before getting in the car and driving with my parents to Scotland to visit my nannie in Stranraer, we spent a really nice couple of days up there with my nan exploring the area, going for lunch and dinner and Nick tried some local delicacies including tatti scones, haggis and black pudding. When we returned to England we got straight back into working again, I got a job as a Social Worker in a hospital in London and Nick got a job through a family friend as a carpenter, so it worked out pretty well really.

We spent a lot of time catching up with friends and family whilst we have been here which has been really nice, we managed to go to Swindon and see some of Nicks family again, went on a night out with some of the mates we had made in Thailand and also Nick managed to catch up with one of his rugby mates now based in the UK among lots of other things. Nick also managed to join a local rugby club Footscray where so far out of 3 games he played he won man of the match twice…think he might get too big for his boots if he lived here longer :P.

We made the most out of being in London and got bought tickets to a couple of shows, first up was Lion King which was really good, we spent the day in the city and went to Harrods before and stayed the night in a small bed and breakfast in the city. Next up was Rock of Ages which also was really good and was pretty funny.  We also went ice skating at Somerset House which was really nice and Christmassy and showed me another thing Nick was really good at…not fair.  Nick also got to experience rugby in England and went to Twickenham stadium with my sister and some of her mates, had a really nice time however the game itself was pretty dull. But Nick should think himself lucky as he did have a ticket to the England vs New Zealand game but ended up flying back to NZ so missed it, which he should be happy about as England won…YAY!!

We had a really nice chilled out Christmas and New Year which was nice, had a lovely roast turkey at my parents house in Littlehampton and went for a nice walk along the coast. Before Christmas we went to the James Bond Car exhibition with my parents which was pretty cool, not only did we get to see the James Bond cars we also saw the top gear car creations and chitty chitty bang bang amongst other things.  For New Year we stayed in with my Aunt and Uncle and my Uncle’s sister and her family, we drank a lot, played dancing games on the wii and the best of British game, so had fun but didn’t spend any money which was good for us!!

So that’s a brief summary really, we have been up to quite a bit more but I cant really remember what else we have done, I have been for numerous catch ups with special people and fun nights out where in the process I have had my wallet stolen and lost my phone…good one Nats. Next up on the agenda with only 1 week to go is roller disco this weekend and more catch up’s with the Swindon family and Nicks sister.

I am hoping that in South America they have more internet cafes than in Europe so that we can be better on the blog than we were. We will soon find out as we leave to go to Salvador in a week!! SO EXCITED!!

So I will love you and leave you all and the next time I write we will be in South America! I think its Nicks turn next though.

Love Nick and Nat

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Europe Roadie Part 6 – France (Revisited)

France 

So now to the last country on our road trip…we started off just driving a quick trip up the coast from San Sebastian to Biarritz, we loved the feel of Biarritz and spent most of our time there walking along the beaches, chilling out and Nick surfed a fair bit. In Biarritz we found a shop that sold Nicks giant pairs of flip flops so we got him and Ashton a pair for his birthday (sorry Kristina). Had our 2 year anniversary here also so went out for a nice dinner, had a few minor disasters with the food that came out but got a free shot of it and also how could I be annoyed when Nick had got me such a nice anniversary present…a leaf (in his defence it was a big leaf). From Biarritz we headed to Labenne where Nick originally wanted to go surfing but unfortunately it was flat as a pancake and it was pouring with rain so only stayed for one night. After Labenne we worked our way up the coast a bit to a nice little place called Capbreton, we popped into Hossegor for a mooch around and to get a bite to eat, we would have stayed there but couldn’t find a campsite anywhere! So Capbreton it was and it was good value as it was only 10euro a night with power as well, parked up next to a nice couple from Newquay, spent the rest of day trying to battle the wind on the beach.  

Time to move off the coast but we made one last stop before going inland we headed to a place called Archachon (sounds like a robot doesn’t it) and stopped off at the Dune de Pyla which is Europes largest sand dune. Car parking was super expensive but you got 30minutes free so after a quick hoof to the top and taking photos we ran straight back down it (we are cheapskates) and got out for free…yay! After this we headed on past Bordeaux and into the wine country. We found a lovely little campsite in a really beautiful village called St. Emilion, we were able to walk i

nto town and found out some information about vineyards in the area to prepare for our own wine tasting trip! We rented some bikes for the campsite the next day and headed out ready to booze, we went to visit a few vineyards and did a tour and tasting at Soutard Chateau and bought a nice bottle of red, was a nice day.  After St. Emilion we had a fair bit of driving to do, so we drove most of the way to Tours which was an adventure as the Sat Nav took us onto French farms and to the middle of nowhere and ended up staying the night in a small UK family run site that did home made Chinese food which was quite random but very yummy. After that we headed up past Tours and stopped for the night at a small campsite in Mont-Louis Surloine where a huge thunder and lightning storm passed over us which was pretty awesome so we sat outside under the awning with a cuppa and watched…we love a good storm (bit sad).

So now we were in the Loire valley and planned a scenic drive to Paris via various different chateaus along the river. We stopped at 4 of the most famous chateaus along the route and went into 2 of them (Cheverney Chateau and Chateau Chambord). They were pretty amazing, the drive was really beautiful itself and was a nice way to break up the journey to Paris. Paris was obviously super expensive and the campsite we stayed at was even more expensive as it is the only one in the city of Paris, however it was pretty convenient. We spent the next couple of days exploring the city, we got a metro pass thing and went up the Eiffel tower via the stairs, not the lift! Had a nice crepe after the exercise, went to see Notre Dame, the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa and heaps of other famous artwork, went across Pont Neuf, saw where the Moulin Rouge was, went to a famous graveyard where lots of celebs were buried and saw the grave of Jim Morrison, went to the Science museum, finally we went to the Pantheon and then Luxembourg park. I cant forget also that Nick knowing how to spoil his girlfriend in the city of love decided to take me to a sewage museum…which was exactly as you would expect it to be. Shit.

After Paris we headed out to the coast again and went to Bayeaux, not to see the tapestr

y (that was really expensive) but we went to the war memorial and paid our respects and went to the war history museum which was pretty interesting and learnt lots about the Battle of Normandy. We also went to visit Omaha beach where the US landed and to the US Military Cemetery which is mindblowing with how many people are buried there, you cant get across in photographs quite how many crosses there are, it was quite moving. We then went to Point Du Hoc and saw the remains of German gun bunkers and heaps of craters caused by the Allied bombings, they were pretty huge. Now being at the end of our trip we didn’t want to spend money on campsites so found somewhere free to camp where an old fella came round to the van and sold us home made cider which was pretty good and then the next day we had to sneak into a campsite to use their showers, we are rebels! After which we were refreshed and ready for more of the d-day beaches, we went to see Gold Beach where the UK troops landed, Juno Beach where the Canadians landed and Sword Beach where more UK troops landed. We then headed off driving again, stopped at a bakery and bought a loaf of warm fresh bread which was delish and eventually found somewhere free to stop at in St. Valery en Caux where another old fella found our van and sold us more home made cider, Nick nearly bought 7 bottles off the guy! Unfortunately the old fella had been carrying the cider in a little trolley and when Nick opened the bottle it went everrrrrrrywhere! First thing we did on our penultimate day on our road trip was buy more fresh bread…it was bloody delicious and then we went for a swim at the local pool (mostly to get use of their showers). Stayed our last night in a small town called Wissant in another free spot, and went and watched heaps of kite surfers out in the water, had a strange last meal of mixed leftovers including steak hache, pasta, pesto, tinned veges and gravy. Yum.

Then the next day we went to Carrefour, spent our last 150Euro on booze and chocolate, stocked the van to the brim and headed back on the ferry to England. Where we are currently. More to come on what we have been getting up to here.

Love Nick and Nat

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Europe Roadie Part 5 – Spain & Portugal

Hi guys, so I am doing this from memory and from diaries as we were too rubbish to complete this whilst we were actually travelling. So now I am writing this from the comfort of a sofa in Littlehampton. Apologies that its not as detailed as others, I promise when we go to South America we will make a bigger effort (if they have easily accessible internet).

Spain

So first stop in Spain was Barcelona, we drove there from the French Riviera avoiding the expensive toll roads again as being us we were being cheap. We checked in to a nice campsite about 30minutes outside of Barcelona, that had a nice swimming pool which was good as we spent the next day just chilling out around it and relaxing. When we eventually got the bus into Barcelona the next day we did some major sight seeing including the Sagrada Familia which was amazing inside and out, Gaudi’s weird park thing plus did a walking tour seeing quite a few of Gaudi’s buildings, went to the waterfront, down La Rambla and saw some of the nice squares and churches.

We didn’t really plan where we were heading after this, started making our way to Salou, but changed our minds on the road and went a bit further down the coast to a small village called Benicarlo, stayed in a typically British run campsite, including British pub food, karaoke and pub quiz. Was pretty cool because whilst we were there the village was having its annual festival, so we got to go to the fun fair and also stuck around for the big fireworks display which was actually amazing!! After a few days chilling out in Benicarlo we headed to Valencia where we were going to TOMATO FEST, checked in to an awesome campsite Camp Coll Vert where we met up with the Aussie couple who we met in Venice and their kiwi mates they had met along the way. When we arrived at Camp Coll Vert there were HUNDREDS of Aussies there because there was a tour group called Fanatics staying there also, so the atmosphere was awesome and we pretty much spent the next few nights drinking and partying. We thought we had better be cultured and do some sight seeing whilst in Valencia, so decided to go to the aquarium and Science museum (despite bad hangovers) which was pretty fun. The main event though was obviously the Tomato Fest in Bunol, we got a coach there with the campsite, started drinking 1Euro Sangria at 8am and then when we got there it was just mayhem, it was SO busy.  We had to queue for an hour to get onto the main street, I couldn’t find anywhere to pee so had to use my bad Spanish to use an elderly Spanish ladies toilet! We obviously lost everyone so just had heaps of fun throwing tomatoes, then went and got hosed off by locals before getting into the river fully clothed to have a rinse, after that had a beer dried off, went back on the coach and drank even more at the hostel. I think I fell asleep on the floor half in half out of the van that night.

 We said goodbye to the people we had met in Valencia and headed to Granada, it was over a 500km drive so took turns, literally got to the campsite in the evening and passed out. The next day we got up super early and caught a taxi to the Alhambra, we were told you had to get there very early if you wanted to get tickets, we spent the morning walking around the palaces, fortresses and gardens was very pretty. We then walked into the Old Town in Granada had some churros and wandered through all the narrow little alleys and white washed houses, pretty cool. We then needed to make our way towards Portugal as this is where we were meeting my parents, we originally were going to head to Seville but drove there and didn’t really like it and couldn’t find a campsite so decided to keep going. Found a little place called Isla Cristina on the coast quite close to Portugal so stayed here relaxing and beaching it for a couple of days.

 Portugal

 Again we avoided the toll roads and had a nice windy drive along the South coast of Portugal, stopped in Tavira and had lunch in Lagos along the way to Burgau, the coast was very beautiful. Went and checked into our hotel in Burgau which was SO nice, the guys at the hotel thought we were a bit weird when we brought in baskets of our stuff instead of suitcases. Spent a really nice few days with my parents and sister going to the beach including Amado Beach, Dona Ana Beach in Lagos and of course Burgau beach, also stopped in Praia de Luz and literally just relaxed and ate lots of nice food, I think I speak for both of us when I say how nice it was to have a 4nights not sleeping in the van, so thanks mum and dad!! After mum and dad left we stayed in the area because we loved it so much, Nick had hired a surf board and had gone surfing a few times and wanted to find more surf beaches. We went up and had a look round Sagres and walked out to the most South Westerley point of Portugal and then went up the coast a bit further, found Casteljo beach where we chilled out and Arripana beach and then went and camped at Amado beach, sat and watched the sun set with a cup of baileys…not too bad at all. We spent our last couple of days in Portugal going around the different beaches (so Nick could surf more). We then headed back into Spain….

Spain (revisited)

 First stop now back in Spain was Cordoba so we found a small campsite about 45minutes outside of Cordoba in the middle of millions of Olive trees, we only chose this campsite because of the free breakfast, however it turned out to be a really nice one. We got a local bus into Cordoba the next day and saw the Mezquita, walked around the city across the bridge and around the Old Town, Nick had a seafood Paella as he hadn’t had one yet so he was pretty happy.  After Cordoba we made tracks for Madrid, again we spent a day walking around the city taking in the sights, however we were a little bit sight seeinged out (new word) so probably didn’t do as much as we should have although we saw the palace and its gardens, went and sat inside the Retiro Gardens and saw of the cities nice plazas. After Madrid we were headed North, stopped one night in a campsite on top of a hill in a place called Mutrica which was very pretty, before making our way to San Sebastian which was our last destination in Spain. San Sebastian was very nice, we spent some time on the beach and walked around the town, Nick loved it here because everyone was so active, running, rollerblading, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding even the old guys were out playing what seemed to me like a big squash game on the beach against the wall.

So that was Spain and Portugal…..sorry it was quite long we did quite a bit and I am recapping this! Next up and last of the Europe Roadie is France.

 Love Nat and Nick

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Europe Roadie Part 4 – French Rivier and people with too much $

 

So from Italy we took the last of our troublesome Italian roads and headed to the land of the rich and famous…the French Riviera.

 Montecarlo (Monaco)

 First stop on the agenda was the home of the James Bond casino…Montecarlo! So this was our only stop in Monaco, not actually sure if there is anything else in Monaco. After having to park on top of a huge hill as our van is just a tad too tall for those crappy underground car parks we got time to have a mooch and admire the numerous flash cars, plastic women and miniature dogs.  We had already decided that we would splash out and have a gamble at the casino so that was our first destination, Nick quickly found himself at home on a Lord of the Rings slot machine (typical bloody kiwi), this is where we spent the majority of our time and money and although we left with no profits we made 15euro last a pretty goddam long time.  After this we walked round the marina, taking in all the a-maaaazing super yachts, some had swimming pools and hot tubs on the top deck, got a little bit jealous but nothing compares to the spacious Volkswagen campervan to travel in, we even have an awning…yes an awning. Following a quick splash around in the sea and dry off on the pebbly beach with the other middle to lower classes we headed onwards to find somewhere to sleep for the night.

 Nice and Cannes

 We managed to find a nice little campsite which had good access to both Cannes and Nice, so we started our day with a trip into Nice which is actually very nice (hahaha…dad joke). No really it is actually a lovely city, the beach is probably a little bit too touristy for our liking but walking along the promenade with the palm trees and sunshine, it all felt good. We wandered around the marina, and the skinny little streets of the old town, stopping for our first “French croissant” which was ‘tres bon’ and then stumbled across an awesome fresh produce market. We got a good feel for the city and took a fair few photos…so then we hopped on the train to Cannes.

 Cannes was quite similar to Montecarlo, but not quite as nice.  Again lots of nice cars, huge super yachts, plastic women and little dogs.  Had a mooch around here, checked out the beach tried to sunbathe but couldn’t handle the heat! Had a quick gander at how much it would cost to rent a super yacht, for one of the reasonablish size ones it was 500,000euro a week. A bit out of our budget.

 St. Tropez

 Last stop on the celebrity super-yachting circuit was St. Tropez.  Its actually a really nice little town, and not too flashy and over the top, of course there were a fair few fake tans, boobs and teeth but not enough to make you forget what real humans look like. We enjoyed walking around, but as there was no beach and we accidently bought the MOST expensive liquorice and giant cola bottles in the world (6.50euros for 2 of each) we decided to go find this beach all the celebs were talking about. Pamplona beach is just a few kilometres out of the city and is apparently “THE” celeb spot…however all we saw was far too many tits and ass, and saggy man bits.  Unbeknownst to us a large, well actually a huge part of this beach is a nudist beach, and as we had to park with the other poor folk, to get to the rich end you have to walk all the way through it.  Nick kept his eyes focused on the ground, whilst I tried to hide my awkward laughter, it seriously was like something out of a scary movie, you couldn’t look anywhere without seeing a guys sausage! Anywhoo we walked down the whole beach and we spotted NO celebs, although we did admit to ourselves, we don’t actually think we would recognise any people and if we did would we care…um not really.  We did think it was our lucky day when a paparrazi guy came and asked for our photo, and were just a bit peeved when he told us where we could go and buy it from later. After enough of the nudity and lack of being mistaken for celebs we drove onwards and found another campsite.

Next Stop SPAIN………

Hope everyone is all good. Much love Nick and Nat

  

 

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