So here I am, back home for the first time in seven months looking out my window onto a grey British sky wondering how my year abroad has finally come to an end. Along with the denial and reverse culture shock (trust me, it’s a thing!) comes my final blog post on my favourite country of my travels, Brazil. We had just under three weeks to see as much as we could before our flight home and as this map shows we didn’t get very far given the sheer size of the country.
Land of steak, wine and a £135 ‘illegal immigrant’ fine…
We finally arrived in Argentina after a nine-hour train, a 40-minute walk across the Bolivian border (more on that drama later), a six-hour bus and four days’ worth of dirt accumulated from not showering in the Uyuni Salt Flats. We were excited to be back in a larger and more modern town, to be warm and mainly to shower! Salta is a perfect place to relax as it is really picturesque and laid-back, especially around the main square, which was our favourite spot. The bus journey through the north of Argentina is also stunning as you drive past different rock formations such as the Quebrada de Humahuaca, pictured below.
After showing my home-town bestie Alice around the city I’ve called home for the last five months, and a heavy-hearted final goodbye to Santiago, our true backpacking adventure began in La Paz. Due to extensive research on all the horror stories and scams that tourists get tricked into (fake policemans and tourist officials, street violence, kidnappings and the phlegm scam to name a few), it’s fair to say that we arrived in Bolivia’s chaotic capital with our money belts securely fastened and a distrusting attitude. To overcompensate, we stayed in the Wild Rover, the city’s self-proclaimed (and indeed well-deserving) party hostel for gringos. As soon as you set foot into the building, it feels more like a Durham college on the night of a big social or formal rather than cheap accommodation in the heart of La Paz. Whilst it’s far from an authentic Bolivian experience, it’s great fun to meet fellow llama-jumper-clad backpackers and make the most of the affordable British pub-grub served in its bar (I had long been craving a cottage pie!)
In honour of my birthday month, I’ve set myself a bucket list of things to do in Santiago before I turn 21 and leave this deceivingly underrated capital city. It’s easy to take it for granted when everyone’s so keen to escape the urban bubble to travel around the rest of Chile, but Santiago itself is a top tourist destination and has many hidden treasures, some of which I have yet to discover…
After two months of living in Santiago, I’m finally getting used to the big city life and Chilean culture. Here’s an update of all-things-Chile, from the very best to the very worst: Continue reading
Just a three-hour flight south of Santiago is the town of Punta Arenas, the regional capital of the Chilean Antarctic. At 8309 miles from my native Tunbridge Wells, it’s safe to say I’ve never been this far away from home.
Punta Arenas is one of three cities in the world, along with Ushuaia in Argentina and Puerto Williams in Chile, to brand itself as the “southernmost city” to boost its tourist appeal. Whilst not technically as southern as the other two, it’s the largest of the settlements and is where my adventure in Patagonia began.
I stepped onto my 15-hour flight to Santiago de Chile feeling reasonably confident with my Spanish. Never mind nine years of studying it at school and university, I had five months of experience of living in Spain under my belt. Although I’d been warned by a few Latin Americans I’d met in Salamanca that Chilean Spanish was notorious for being one of the hardest- if not THE hardest- to grasp out of the entire Spanish-speaking world, I naively thought to myself, how different could it be? Continue reading
As my time in Salamanca comes to an end, it’s time to look back on the blissful highs and hilariously tragic lows of my first semester abroad in Spain. Exams, losing just a few of my personal belongings, frustration at Spanish bureaucracy, language barriers and homesickness aside, the innumerable highlights by far outweigh the lows. Since there were so many memories to choose from, I decided to pick moments and trips I hadn’t mentioned in previous posts! Continue reading
The run-up to Christmas has been somewhat different this year. Needless to say there are no mince pies in sight, no Costa Coffee Christmas drinks to fuss over and no Cadbury chocolate advent calendars on sale. Christmas in Spain is, in general, quite different to in the UK as the festivities start a lot later, and the sun is still shining relentlessly…
Until a few weeks ago on a weekend getaway to Lisbon, I naively believed that Portugal and Spain were pretty similar. After all, two countries that were united for centuries must have a lot in common, right? Continue reading