Welcome to the wonderful world of long haul business class flights, this time on Iberia! Jealous much?

I would be too when you’re seated in a lounge with an open bar, a decent spread of food and free Wi-Fi. This completely eased us into the prospects of a ten-hour flight from Bogota to Madrid. After getting priority passes through the outbound immigration, priority boarding onto the plain, and offered glasses of wine, whiskey and anything else we could possibly have wanted we settled in with our airline socks and began the moving watching with some olives and peanuts to tide us through for the two hours until dinner… it’s a hard life backpacking through business class. We can thank James for years of collecting frequent flier points and bouncing between credit cards… the mess of multiple credit cards was definitely worth it for this luxury!

Wine in the lounge


After a three course dinner, some more wine, movies, a little sleep and scrambled eggs for breakfast it was time to get ourselves back together and ready for EU immigration and to our hotel. Immigration into the EU is quite easy an Australian, they barely looked at our passports before shooing us through to the other side. We were thankful for being able to check-in to our hotel early at 11am… it was time for a quick nap (we’d been awake for 22 hours at this point and needed to try and be somewhat functional for a little bit).


More dinner

Ways to recover from jetlag…

Although we’d been in business, and had a little sleep when we’d arrived into Madrid, arriving in the morning wasn’t our first preference for flight times… The jetlag was yet to come, but we needed to try and stay awake as long as possible to try and avoid 3am wake-ups. We ventured out early in the afternoon to grab lunch at a bar across the road then onto a few beers. Beers are good for jetlag right? The afternoon was spent outside in the sun for as long as possible enjoying the numerous restaurants and bars around our hotel. We finished the evening at a little tapas bar around the corner called ‘Happig’, you buy beer, and you get free food… Spain is definitely going to be somewhere with lots of meat and beer/wine by the look of it. Happig was a very cool little place, filled with legs of Jamón, cheese, fresh bread and craft beers; we’d hit the jackpot in the first 10 hours of being in the country!

First the pig was happy, and then it was delicious

Cured meats

Investigating the city

The following day we decided that we needed to get a little more sunshine to try and kill any jetlag vibes we were getting… this was great in theory, not so amazing in practice. We’d neglected to set alarms so we didn’t oversleep, we both woke up close to 10am after having slept for 13 hours… whoops? In saying that, nothing starts in Madrid before midday. We decided to spend the remainder of the morning having a look around the Buen Retiro Park. Huge is an understatement for this beautiful area! The park is 1.25 square kilometres and home to over 15,000 types of trees; it is home to a grand lake that you can hire boats to paddle around in, a few museums, a glass house that dates back to 1887, sculptures and numerous gardens. One of the prominent features in the park is the Fuente del Ángel Caído (the Fountain of the Fallen Angel), the only monument of its kind in the world, it symbolises the devil’s exile from paradise. You could easily spend days wandering through the park and seeing all of the beautiful gardens, along with some very interesting people watching… We spent just over two hours there, but then desperately needed to seek some shade from the heat and humidity.

Us in front of the monument

Fallen angel statue

Crystal palace

Where else to seek shade than in a little bar across the road, with €2 beers and free crostini bread topped with jamón. After a wine and a beer (or two, each), James decided he needed some proper food that didn’t involve having to drink copious amounts to get fed. We ventured a little further down the road and came across a small taberna called ‘El Refectorio de Ibiza’, which offered a €10 Menu Del Dia. Not expecting too much we settled in and became acquainted with another glass of wine and sardines on toast for Dee, and for James one of the largest menu del dias we have ever come across: bread, olives, beer, prawn scrambled eggs, steak and chips, desert and coffee. Not one to stray from a good feed James finished off his monstrous meal, then proceeded to wallow in his self-induced food coma. Not wanting to gallivant around the city any further he retired back to the air-conditioning of the hotel while Dee went to have a hunt around for a shop to buy some new shirts… not great with directions she got lost and wound up back at the hotel around four hours later, armed with shopping bags.

Steak dish

All of the food

It’s obvious where this is going…

Friday we didn’t do much at all, we really needed to try and stay outside to try and avoid the jetlag (still) and not feel the urge to sleep all of the time. Unfortunately, the eight-hour time zone difference was not doing us any favours… fortunately though; we had access to beers and good food. If nothing else so far, Madrid has been fantastic for good food and plenty of cheap beer and wine. Starting the morning with a little admin time, we decided after a few hours it was time to again venture out into the world of food, wine and beer… just to make sure we knew exactly what it tasted like. On the way around we saw a giant white church (not sure what it’s name was but it was pretty), and then we overindulged in the local specialty of tapas. We didn’t have anywhere to be, anyone to keep appointments with, and were far too exhausted to have another day of 15km walks. It should be noted at this point, we were very aware that beers and wine probably wasn’t helping with the jetlag situation… but you know, it’s cheap and delicious!

White church

We will return!

Not knowing what day it is can be difficult when you’re travelling around, living a life of no stress… It might be Tuesday, it might be Sunday, it might be August - one has needed to set alarms for travel days to make sure we don’t miss things like flights and buses. Friday was one of those days… we had to pack, checkout, make sure we had double and triple checked the wine situation in Madrid, before catching our bus onto Barcelona. This round of Madrid was only short as there are plans to return before our flight over to Mexico a few weeks later. This stop in Madrid has been a little holiday inside the holiday, enough time to get some decent sleep and get a taste of what we want to see upon our return… next stop! Barcelona!!!

Go see all the photos from Madrid

Bogotá Distrito Capital or Santafé de Bogotá or just Bogotá is the largest city in Colombia, the third highest capital in South America and is our last stop before heading to the great big world of Europe.

We’d finally left the heat of Cartagena and arrived in to the hustle and bustle of the Bogotá airport and then out to the screaming taxi men. Arriving at the BoGo hostel we were welcomed by the lovely staff that showed us to our room, gave us a proper map of the city and a lot of good recommendations for food close by. We wound up at the De Uno Travel Bar, which had some very tasty food (teriyaki pork and a chicken salad) with really cheap beers from Bogota Brewing Co… lunch altogether cost about $10aud for both of us, with multiple beers. Winning!

Teriaki pork

Chicken salad

After probably over indulging a little bit too much in the delicious food and beers we wandered our way back to the hostel to sort out what we were going to do for our week exploring Bogota. We did this for a grand total of maybe an hour, before deciding that we needed to go and explore one of the craft beer bars close by. The uniquely named “Delfo’s” bar, brews and serves it’s own beer. It’s a dingey little place on the corner of a park, the inside was quite dark and almost as uninviting as the bar tender, the beer was average at best but still we had to try it! During our walk around in the day we had come across a fairly fancy looking Mexican joint, we realised that it wasn’t too far from Delfo’s so cruised across to get some dinner. Along with a few nice margaritas we had barbecued beef tacos and quesadillas… they were good but a little expensive for what they were.


Bogota has all sorts of weird and wonderful things to see… the standard set of knick knack markets are around, plus the normal fruit and vegetable markets, as well as a couple of interesting museums. While we spent days enjoying a few beers and seeing what the local street performers were doing we stumbled across a few of the museums and thought we should probably should include some culture in our travels around. The Banco de la Republica in Bogota really has themselves sorted in getting tourists interested in seeing Colombian history. They have a website that has useful information about things to see around Bogota along with the opening hours and prices (most of the places are under $2aud or free).

After having learnt many things about Pablo Escobar in Medellin we were surprised to have a little more to learn in Bogota, however the feelings toward Escobar differed greatly to those held by the Medellin locals. We discovered inside the Palacio Museo Histórico de la Policía Nacional, the National Police Museum, that there was quite a show of memorabilia belonging to Escobar, including his pink Harley Davidson, his “second wife” - a Bernadelli pocket pistol, along with the jacket he died in. These were just a few of the things the police had recovered after Escobar’s death. Our free guide (no tips required, he was actually free) explained to us the building all of this is housed in was originally a police station until it was turned into the museum in 1985. The guides are local students who are completing their compulsory military service, part of the requirement is to understand the history of the military efforts of Colombia - what better way than to show a few gringos around rooms filled with memorabilia dated back to the 1800’s. The museum was much more interesting than we thought it would be, definitely worth the visit if you find yourself looking for something to do that doesn’t involve beer on a rainy day in Bogota.

Mural of Colombian police history

Escobar's pink Harley



The next stop on our cultural enlightenment tour was at the Museo del Oro, The Gold Museum. We’d been advised by a few people on our travels that if we were going to go to any of the Gold Museums in Colombia (there are surprisingly quite a few), that we just had to stop in at the one in Bogota. The museum has the most gold either of us have ever seen… three floors of gold, alloys and a few bits of pottery, dating back to Pre-Hispanic Colombia - there are over 55 000 pieces of gold in that building. The museum takes you through a chronological journey of how the ancient metallurgists mined and manufactured different metals, the significance of the metals and how they were used in day to day life along with how the metals were used in cosmology. As well as all of the metals and shiny things, the museum had a special exhibition of a pre-Colombian mummy - just wow! The museum is free to visit on Sundays, any other day of the week it’s about $2aud, give yourself a few hours to take in all of the shiny stuff, then maybe stop into one of the coffee shops across the road for some brown water disguised as coffee when you’ve finished.

Remate de Baston

Gold mask


For a few of you playing along at home it may come to you as a surprise that we are doing things other than sampling all of the beer and all of the barbecued meats, or chatting about Simon Bolivar and his mates. Our next stop on our cultural enlightenment tour was at the Botero museum. Fernando Botero is apparently the most recognised artist in Colombia - all of his artwork depicts objects and people in an overly exaggerated way. In previous cities we’ve seen a few sculptures from Botero, but nothing to the extent of the collection of art housed in this colonial mansion. Along with the couple of hundred artworks donated by Botero, there are quite a few other well known artists’ paintings displayed in the permanent collection; including including Monet, Picasso and Dali.

Fat Mona Lisa


James with a painting of a man

Dee with a painting of a woman

Right next door to Museo Botero is the Casa de Moneda, the Colombian Money Museum. As the name suggests, the museum goes through the origins and production of money in Colombia. This museum wasn’t quite as interesting as the others that we’d visited, however we were given free coins when we left and got a few cool photos of the machinery used to make bank notes and coins.

Along with the visits to the museums around Bogota we also embarked ourselves on to the walking graffiti tour. The tour was much larger than we’d anticipated - there were at least fifty people waiting for the guide to arrive, who himself is an artist. The tour took us around the streets of the La Candelaria district, delving into the stories of the artists and the meaning behind the art. Like most walking tours it was “free”, a tip is expected at the end, however it was worth the couple of dollars to learn about the impressive and thought provoking urban art.

Bricks morphing int birds

Psycadelic cat

Woman eating a butterfly


Unfortunately we weren’t able to get to the Salt Cathedral near Bogota, or go up the teleferico that rises up onto the hill behind our hostel due to a mix-up of days and a public holiday. The day that James had organised the Salt Cathedral tour we were both severely hungover from trying all of the wonderful beers; it probably wasn’t a bad thing for James that the tour had been cancelled - that particular day he spent recovering at the hostel while a few of us had organised to hire bikes and ride around and see the city. A few Sundays a month, the local council shuts down one of the main avenues so that people can walk and ride up and down and get some exercise. Dani, Henry, Larry and Daisy had organised to head out and grab some bikes, Dee decided to join them but the hunt for bikes was unsuccessful… instead they chose to walk the giant street, coming across flea markets and a lot of interesting people. Eventually ending up in a fairly shady neighbourhood (there was a lady on the side of the road without any pants on, or underwear) we got a taxi to another set of markets and took the boys on a fruit tour of Bogota. After all of the fruit we’ve seen at markets on the way around we’d become accustomed to trying mystery fruits… the day ended with a trip to another set of markets in a fancy neighbourhood and a stop by BBC brewery… not a terrible way to spend a Sunday!

Fruit selfie!

The food in Bogota really wasn’t anything to write home about, however there was one place that we’d definitely go to over and over again. José in Cali had recommended Crepes and Waffles restaurant, we were a little sceptical of this place as it is a giant chain restaurant (a similar size to that of Hog’s Breath Café). We’d decided that we needed to give it a chance before leaving Colombia, after eating there we’d regretted not going sooner - a giant menu, reasonably priced and really, really delicious food.

Our hostel was thankfully very sociable, by the end of our stay in Bogota we were extremely sad to leave as we’d felt like we’d moved back home. Between family dinners with the crew (Sasha, Vernon, Juan, Diego, Gabby, Lilian, Bec, Dani, Charlie, Sammy, Henry, Larry, Daisy - the list goes on!), a few mishaps with water and cooking and a very tragic and traumatic event, we’d all pulled together. The pulling together involved a lot of beers, a lot of food, a lot of laughs, some fairly average attempts at playing pool and a hilarious game called Tejo. What’s Tejo you ask? Throwing half-kilo metal/rock pucks at triangles of gunpowder that are sat in boards of soft clay… you buy beers; you get the gunpowder pellets for free. Yes, this is as ridiculous as it sounds, and as fun as it sounds… it’s an extremely competitive sport amongst the locals and does require a certain level of intoxication to be good at it. It would be remiss of us to mention here that the friendship and love between the staff and guests at the hostel was more than we’d ever experienced on the road - to all who involved, thank you for making us feel supported and at home when we really needed it.

Tejo set up

After a lot of fun in Bogota and quite a number of cultural experiences it was time for us to pack and head off. Bogota was a wonderful way to finish our journey through South America - our final hours in Bogota were spent in the business lounge at the airport, sipping champagne and eating canapés. Next stop, new country and new continent! ¡Hasta Luego South America, hola Spain!

Go see all the photos from Bogota

Welcome to the first of our stops at the Caribbean! Cartagena de Indias, better known by its shortened name of Cartagena, is Colombia’s fifth-largest city with a population close to one million people. It was named after the city of Cartagena in Spain when it was founded in 1533 and is the capital of the Bolivar Department.

Missioning it with the taxi…

Finding our way out of the Cartagena airport we were chased down by taxi drivers and unable to get ourselves together quickly enough for their eagerness to get us into their taxi. After collecting our bags, sorting out where we needed to go, and how much it should cost us, we were on our way to our hostel. At this point it is definitely worth noting how ridiculously hot Cartagena is… we’d barely been in the taxi for five minutes when there was sweat in places that it shouldn’t be!

The hostel we’d booked was only fairly new; when we’d researched about Cartagena there were many recommendations to get a room with air-conditioning. Now, coming from a relatively warm climate in Australia, the two of us weren’t too worried whether we had air-con or not, we’re Aussie right? Thankfully, we accidentally booked a room with cooling; we’d arrived saturated in sweat, with the temperature of the air-conditioning on a blissfully arctic sixteen degrees (the unit couldn’t get it below about 23 though).

All of the sweat

Not quite game to walk for long distances without the first world comfort of the air-con, but needing to get some food and money, we ventured out of the hostel toward the downtown area. The downtown area is filled with heavily Spanish influenced, colonial style houses; it also has a really nice place called ‘Beer Lovers‘… You know where this is going.

James in front of a wall of beer

We settled in to try a few of the beers, in the shade, and the air-conditioning and organised what we were going to be doing for the week. After downing a couple of coldies and recovering slightly from the outside heat, we headed back toward our hostel to have dinner at a beautiful place called ‘Demente’. We had fried chillies, crab ravioli, beautifully grilled steak and some wine to top it all off. Definitely worth the visit but not so great on the hip pocket!

Pimientos de Padron

Crab ravioli

Sliced steak

Checking out the downtown

After having some late breakfast Wednesday morning, and some brown water disguised as coffee, we got chatting to a few people in the hostel and had a few more ideas of things to do around Cartagena. We decided that Wednesday was going to be a little bit of a chill out day, and some time to acclimatise to the 96% humidity that was helping us drown in our own sweat.

We headed out to the walled part of the city, grabbing a few photos along the way, and ventured into the streets where people with menus and tours that we just “had” to go on, chased us down.

Cartagena street

After grabbing a few prices for bits and pieces, then finding the washing place (that also sells beers for ridiculous prices) we were very happy to get out of the sun and have lunch.

Laundry with beer...

Many of the guides and information on websites we had read about Cartagena suggested a tiny ceviche place on the corner of a busy road, outside the downtown area. This unassuming place is easy to find, it’s a hut with a huge sombrero plastered on the top of it and piles of plastic chairs placed around in a giant circle out the front. The man in the hut only sells one thing, ceviche in roughly ten different sizes (all in foam cups), the ceviche is made differently to the Peruvian version - the Colombians add in tomato sauce and mayonnaise to boost up the flavour. Our $5 cup was phenomenal, both of us being seafood lovers meant that we were always going to enjoy cheap prawns, however, this place definitely had some of the best ceviche either of us had ever eaten! We can both see why Ostreria Del Mar Rojo has been open for over 60 years.

The shop

Making prawn cocktails

For the rest of the afternoon we retired ourselves from the stifling heat into the comfort of the air-conditioning, playing a few games of cards and chatting with the other hostel guests… moving around was extremely tiring in the ridiculous heat!

Learning about the city

After being chased down by numerous people Wednesday morning, offering all sorts of “free” tours, we decided that Thursday, we might take up the offer from one of the many guides running around with their coloured umbrella and pamphlet.


We found our guide with the red umbrella, politely declining the 50 offers for boat trips, bus tours, and photos with the fruit ladies, we were also told countless times that Australia has kangaroos (who’d have thought?).

Lady carrying fruit on her head

Waiting for fifteen minutes or so, it was time for us to get moving and learn a little more about the beautiful city. Unfortunately, about five minutes in, one of the girls in our group had to leave, she had gotten quite sunburnt the day before, and had quite a number of cocktails the previous night… the stifling heat, sunburn, and a hangover were not a good combination! Thankfully, it wasn’t us for a change!

As we started walking we were “lucky” to have a little reprieve from the heat with an enormous torrential downpour of rain. It rained just long enough to completely saturate us. Usually, Dee has the ponchos in her handbag, but for some reason she took them out, and it therefore rained; we have now come to realise that when she has the ponchos on her it doesn’t rain. During our walk we didn’t really learn much about the history of Cartagena, and our guide’s English was a little difficult to understand at some points. We did, however, get to see some of the beautiful architecture around the ‘Old City’ including the Iglesia San Pedro Claver Convent, the Naval Museum, the Cartagena Cathedral (Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandría de Cartagena de Indias), Teatro Adolfo Mejia and, of course, a whole plaza dedicated to Simon Bolivar.

Church door

Sculptures of cargo transport

Defensive cannons

View down a street

James with a sculpture of a reclining lady

We also stopped by for a quick look in the Museo del Oro (the gold museum) and had a few photos taken with a Botero sculpture before dropping back by Beer Lovers for another taste of their 101 beers, and then onto some late lunch at a beautiful little café called Lunatico.

Artefacts in the gold museum

A choice of beers

Food at Lunatico

With the rain all cleared it hadn’t gotten any cooler outside, if anything, it was hotter than it was before, and both of us were uncomfortably covered in sweat. You may be getting the picture that it is really quite hot in Cartagena, the sunscreen doesn’t stay on long enough to soak in… it just drips straight off. Needing to cool down we went back to the hostel and had a cold shower, then sat in the air-con for a while to bring our body temperatures back down to a normal level. Most hostels we’d be very disappointed and somewhat annoyed for the lack of hot water in the showers; however in Cartagena there is absolutely no need for hot water what so ever. Given the heat situation and our exhaustion from the heat, we decided to have a quiet evening back in the hostel, with a little bit of Asian salad for dinner and some television shows.

Pirates we are not

Friday we’d decided that we wanted to go and check out a real beach. The beaches we’ve seen so far on the trip have been disappointing to say the least; most have been covered in rubbish or have really dirty water/sand. Having heard lots of good reviews about it from other hostel guests and wanting to escape from the heat for the day, we’d organised ourselves a bus to take us to Playa Blanca, a beautiful beach on the Caribbean coast.

Caribbean beach

We met a Canadian lady called Janey on the previous day, and she had coincidentally booked onto our bus to Playa Blanca as well. After the hour or so bus trip, the three of us found a nicely shaded hut a little way down the beach and chilled in the cool breeze and the crystal clear water.

James in the shade hut

Huts near the water

A beach worth photographing

Us in front of the water

The beach was definitely the best we’d seen by far in South America, in saying that, it still had many similarities to others, people selling canvas art, drinks, trinkets, massages… and when the two girls weren’t around, James was offered drugs and happy endings amongst other things. He was sensible enough not to take anyone up on the offers. We were starting to get a bit hungry, and the roving food salesmen weren’t looking that good, so we started thinking about going to one of the “restaurants” behind us. Just as we were about to get up to investigate their menus, a man came past selling a cocktail of prawns, octopus, and sea snails - and they were even kept on ice! The price was quite expensive, 20k COP for a small container the same size as we paid 10k for in the city, but we haggled and got three for 40k (around A$6 each).

Our seafood being prepared

After some more sun and water, we decided we needed to head back up the small hill to the car park, so we didn’t miss the bus back to Cartagena. The ride was fairly uneventful, and shortly after we were dropped back into the city. On the walk home, we stopped into Caffe Lunatico again, only for a few beers (we promise). A quick trip back to the hostel to wash off (and cool down), and we headed out for a date night. The previous day we had seen a restaurant called “Saint Roque Indonesian” just up the road from Lunatico, and it seemed fairly authentic - with Gadu Gadu and other proper Indonesian dishes. Talking with the owner out the front, he was half Indonesian and half Dutch, and he tried to make the dishes as authentic as possible. Shortly after we sat down, the power went out. Having a bit of wine to pass the time, it came back on and we were served some delicious Indonesian food - properly spicy too. Not cheap, but definitely worth it to have some actual Asian food in South America.

What’s a weekend again?

There have recently been a few memes on Facebook stating that it’s hard to be an adult (or something like an adult) when you can’t tell what day it is… The two of us are not sure if it’s May, August, Sunday or 2016. Many of the days blur into one and we need to set reminders for our travel days so that we don’t miss our busses or flights.

Our realisation that it was indeed the weekend in Cartagena was the amount of children running around, playing on the street at 6am… Most days it’s not until much later, if it all as they head to school. The hostel we stayed in wasn’t particularly old, and many hostels we’ve been don’t allow children under 18 (I think this is mostly sensible, given some of the antics we’ve seen and/or been involved in at hostels). Our hostel didn’t have this rule, so along with the shenanigans happening out on the street, one couple in the hostel had their six children running amuck through the kitchen, unsupervised. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem except the two younger ones (maybe 6) drank all of the coffee in about ten minutes, the two slightly older ones were trying to light the gas cooktop - and they appeared not to know how it worked (yes, they did receive help, eventually), and they all managed to get through three loaves of bread in one sitting. The hostel staff were in a little shock as to how much food those boys could put away in such a short time, and there were a few disgruntled guests because of the lack of brown water (“coffee”) there was.

Not quite the anticipated start for the weekend, or any day for that matter… the rest of Friday night’s sleep wasn’t much better, as a result we were two moody adults looking for coffee and more sleep. We were supposed to go on a street art walking tour that Jolanta from the hostel had suggested, however, Dee’s attitude resembled that of a 16-year-old moody teenager, and James couldn’t make a decision to save himself; this was not going to work for us. We opted, instead, to spend the day apart and do a little exploring for ourselves. Whilst neither of us saw anything particularly exciting it was good to spend some time outside of each others’ pockets.

Sunday on the other hand, we had a much greater start to the day, filled with coffee and ready to set of on the street art tour, we were raring to go. Finding the guy who ran the tour was a little bit of a mission, he was running on South American time, and we were fifteen minutes early; we found him and a fairly large group of people, and we were off. The company who runs these particular tours do everything they can to find the original artists, and get the story about the paintings… please, if there is anything you do in Cartagena you need to go on this tour - the political messages, the faces, the stories behind these paintings are intriguing and really give one much more of a sense of the real Cartagena.

Street art woman

Street art man

Street art

Street art

Street art

During our weekend adventures, we started talking to a few more people in the hostel, and met an English couple that coincidentally have pretty much the same jobs as us. Many of the females we’ve met one the way around are also teachers, and if not a teacher a nurse. We went on a mission to get dinner and the bar we were planning to go to was closed (despite the website staying open) so we found another restaurant with beers and shared travel stories over a delicious dinner.

The king of the castle and a parliament

Looking down across Cartagena is the well-preserved, and quite large Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. The castle was built in 1536 by the Spanish and over a period of time had been expanded to house more military as it fell to the French, and then the British. It’s filled with tunnels and has some fairly spectacular views over the city; though, there are the standard set of hawkers trying to sell you stuff on the way in, and the way around, and on the way back out.

The castle from below

James on the castle wall

View of the castle walls

Showing how large the castle is

View over the city

After visiting the castle and getting 100 or so photos of the view, the canons, the walls, the tunnels and the hawkers, we headed back into the Old City to find parliament. We’d been hunting online for the address, and assumed, like many other places that it would be a fairly prominent and obvious building. After walking around for what seemed like forever, completely drenched in sweat, we found the parliament building: a small unassuming building on the corner… right down the road from the Beer Lovers Bar. You’d think we would have seen it on the 10 times we walked past.

Us in front of the parliament

For lunch we went to Stefano’s Bistro, where James had an arepa and Dee had a calamari salad, then had a few more beers out. The arepa was strange, with the South American version of sweet-and-sour meat in it with a lot of julienned capsicum. We didn’t do much for the rest of the afternoon, but headed to Café del Mar for sunset, with a few expensive cocktails, and met another Australian couple that are travelling in South America for a few months. This time not a teacher! The sunset was beautiful and definitely worth the expensive cocktails for.



Sunset in front of the flags

Strawberry cocktail

For dinner, we went to Café Lunatico with Jolanta and Oren, where Dee and I both ordered the grilled octopus which was great. Jolanta had a rare steak, which was actually rare - apparently we need to order them “pink” - we’ve not faired well having stakes cooked to our liking on the way around… useful tips for the next place!

Octopus dish

Onward and upwards, to the cooler weather

Although Cartagena has been quite nice, the heat has nearly killed both of us. James didn’t burn the back of his hands this time around; however the amount of sweat both of us had during the week was not great. Tuesday there was not reprieve from the heat, and it was time for us to do the wonderful task of packing, again. Our next stop: Bogota.

Our plane to Bogota

Go see all the photos from Cartagena

Medellin, what was previously the most dangerous city in the world and one of the many homes of Pablo Escobar, is now one of the best cities to live in South America and filled with a wonderful sense of pride from the locals.

Colombia as a whole was regularly in the news in the late 80’s and early 90’s, for terrible things. This means that when the country Colombia is mentioned to someone there is usually a response about something to do with Escobar, or the Miss World/Universe pageants. In reality, there is so much more to Colombia, and particularly to Medellin!

Due to some of the “do not travel” warnings the Australian Government had listed while we were organising our trip into Colombia, we were unable to travel overland between cities because our insurance wouldn’t cover us, so we unfortunately had to fly (instead of taking an 8-10 hour bus). We’d arrived into Medellin and then spent an hour in the taxi to get to our hostel in Floresta and then out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. We’d decided to stay a little way away from the main backpacker area due to our dwindling money situation… this was a good idea in hindsight!

Planning and stuff… again!

It seems on our trip that we are forever planning; however, it is important to note that pretty much every city we’ve been in, there are a million things to do and just not enough time to do it all. We’d decided for Medellin that we wanted to go on one of the Escobar tours to learn about the cartels, a trip out a place with a giant rock with a boat cruise, a look at the telefericos and a trip over to a few microbreweries (we can all see where this is going to end up, right?).

After planning out our week and getting organised, we thought we’d ask for the assistance of the reception of our hostel to book us in for a full day trip, as our Spanish over the phone isn’t amazing. We were promptly told that “there’s a phone over there, you can book it yourself”, this was not a good option, and so we went for the second option of going to the hostel that the Escobar tours are booked from, and organise the other one via WhatsApp. Unbeknownst to us, the Copa Libertadores (South American equivalent of the UEFA Cup) final was on, and we were staying less than 1km from the stadium. Coincidentally, the stadium is in the same area as the other hostel we were trying to find was. Always willing to be apart of the festivities, we decided to join in and enjoy a few beers with the locals. Knowing that football is almost a religion in South America, and being in the city where the final was held, we decided that it might be safest for us to head back to the comfort of the hostel before the end of the game - just in case Atletico Nactional (the local Medellin team) lost and the wallowing crowd took to the streets. Fortunately, they won, we could hear the stadium from the hostel and there were no riots, however the hostel definitely was the best option for us!

Trips to the big rock and the most colourful town in the world

After eventually getting ourselves organised on to a tour we were up and at ‘em at some ungodly hour Thursday morning to head to the middle of the city, where our tour was leaving at 8am. We were told to make sure we were on time as they had been known to leave people behind… the question is, is on time South American on time or the rest of the world on time? The answer, South American on time; we were there ten minutes early and didn’t get picked up until 8:30am. On the plus side, we were able to navigate ourselves on Colombia’s only metro system very easily (and for the fantastic price of AU$1). The metro is a source of pride for the people of Medellin, it has no graffiti, extremely efficient, extremely clean, very safe and always jam-packed with people no matter what time of the day.

Once the bus arrived to the main square, already half-filled with people from one of the other districts coming on our tour, we were away. We were fortunate enough to have two guides with us, one who spoke Spanish and the other English; this was excellent in theory, not so well executed in practice. The Spanish guide gave a twenty-minute synopsis of what we would be seeing and doing throughout the day, the English guide gave a two minute garble of missing information that was supposed to be a translation.

We started going up the highway, which took ages, and then about fifteen minutes past the outside of Medellin we stopped at a roadside restaurant for breakfast, which consisted of an Arepa, some Queso Campiseno (“farmers’ cheese”), and a coffee. Apparently we could get things like chorizo too (at extra cost) but this was some of the information the English-speaking guide didn’t translate from the earlier information - we would attempt to understand the Spanish version from now on.

We continued on to a small town named Maranilla where we stopped at the main plaza, unsurprisingly it was named after Simon Bolivar and had the big horse statue with him that we have come to know well. We were given a 10 minute tour of the city with almost no information, but saw a Jesuit church with a small door, and an old house with a big door so they could ride horses in. We only had 15 minutes free time, so we grabbed a mystery food bakery snack, since breakfast wasn’t filling.

After being piled back onto the bus and then having to wait for the few stragglers still running on South American time, we continued on to Peñol, which looked very new because they had moved the town. The old site was flooded as part of a hydroelectric dam. There is a “phoenix” statue in town, which is a women with the back and wings of a bird, rising from the water, representing the town being re-born. We walked up the big stone staircase to the town hall at the top and then had another 10 minutes of free time (20 minutes in South American time) before again, waiting for the stragglers and heading onward to La Piedra.

Phoenix woman statue


La Piedra is a massively impressive rock formation that stands over 200 metres high nearby to the Guatape town. The formation is over 70 million years old, and even with two-thirds of the formation being under ground, it still has 649 steps to get to the top. At a little over 2000 metres above sea-level we began to scale the 649 steps, in the thirty degree heat… We felt every single one of those steps on the way up, however the view at the top was definitely worth it! On a beautifully clear day there are 360 degree views from the top of the rock, and if you’re willing to pay for a drink or ice-cream at the top you can climb to the top of one of the cafés and have that view completely uninterrupted. Simply stunning!

Stone of Peñol

View from the top

Us at the top

Climbing those stairs definitely built up a fair amount of hunger between us gringos; and we were promptly summoned back onto the bus where we had to hurry up and wait for the same set of stragglers, after which we headed into Guatape town for lunch. We were taken to one of the local restaurants that apparently had a very decent version of the local specialty dish “bandeja paisa” (a pork dish with rice, vegetables, fried plantains and beans). Please note the use of the word ‘apparently’.

Bandeja Paisa

This is a proper version of Bandeja Paisa, not the bad one

After the less than impressive lunch, we were taken down to the water edge and led onto a fairly large cruiser to take a look around the stunning lake. The water is crystal clear and beautiful, the beers cold, and the company pretty good. Not a bad way to spend an hour killing time!

Lake view from the top of the boat

Returning to shore we had an hour free time to wander around the Guatape town, it is filled with colourful paintings on every house and shop, and is also one of the most important electric production centres in the whole of Colombia. Every single street, every single corner and every single house is covered with beautiful paintings depicting everyday life; the original purpose of painting the houses in such bright colours was to stop chickens pecking at walls. The artwork is just incredible.

Tile for the card house



After the huge day, it was time to head back to Medellin… obviously, the bus left an hour later than it was supposed to, thanks to the same group of stragglers holding everyone up. We drove the two hours back and were dropped off at the big square we began at, and then headed back on the metro toward our hostel for some dinner and some well-earned rest.

On the Metro

Retracing steps of a drug lord

The locals of Medellin have tried desperately to bury their past, and turn the city into somewhere safe and welcoming for tourists to visit; however it’s dark past is still very present in the city and still affects many of it’s residents. It is also, widely known amongst the locals that tours are run through the city, showing the tourists around Medellin and talking about the destruction that the cartels and Pablo Escobar had caused. We decided to take one of the tours - not the one where Escobar was made out to be a hero and you meet his brother, but one where the tour guide grew up surrounded by the violence and horrific scenes that the cartel had caused.

On Friday morning we had an 8:50 departure time for our Paisa Road tour which left from Wandering Paisa, a hostel a few blocks from the Estadio station, so we headed over there after an early breakfast. We all piled into the van, which was difficult since the seats were closer together than most others (one extra row of seats) and one of the guys was very tall, probably 6’8” or so.

Once inside the van we were thrown into the world of the Medellin drug cartel, we were told about Escobar as a child and how he came to be one of the biggest names in the cocaine industry. Our driver and our guide both grew up in Medellin and were children when many of the major destructive events happened, both had friends killed in roadside bombings, family killed as a result of random shootings and lives filled with the fear of not seeing tomorrow. The television show ‘Narcos’ really glorifies what was a terrifying time in Colombia’s history.

We started off with a quick rundown of Escobar’s childhood… a seemingly normal child, who dropped out of school when he was 14 and got involved in “the wrong crowd” early on, starting his criminal career by stealing headstones from graveyards to re-sell. This spiralled into him making money by selling drugs and eventually leading into him being one of the many leaders of the Medellin cartel. We stopped off at one of Escobar’s apartment blocks, which he built across the road from an exclusive country club that denied him membership. The building is twelve storeys tall and currently empty, covered in bullet holes and guarded by security employed by the government. It was tall enough that it was the only thing the country club (who had denied Escobar membership) could see from their grand bay windows.

After seeing one of the many places Escobar owned and lived in we wound up in the bar area of town to see another. The apartment blocks and houses are now government property, but due to the political situations going on in Colombia, no one can decide which government department owns the houses, who should sell them, and most importantly (to the government) who should get the money from the sales. With the amount of homelessness apparent in Medellin it is sad to see mansions and apartment blocks completely empty, and guarded by paid government officials, instead of being used for more useful purposes, like government housing. It was made very evident through the entirety of our tour that the government is trying to help people, but doesn’t have the means to make the help available to all people.

Although the local Medellin cartel was bad, a lot of the problems were due to the conflict between the Medellin and Cali cartels, and the fight with the government. The big eruption of violence in Medellin started when the Cali cartel bombed a building owned by the Medellin cartel. Retaliation soon followed, and the two cartels (and some smaller ones) were bombing each other’s cities, and sending “Sicarios” on the streets. The Sicarios were drive-by shooters who carried pillions on a motorbike, and when the government out-lawed male pillion passengers, they just responded by giving women the guns. When the police attempted to stop the cartels, they just became involved in the violence - police stations were bombed. The police and government weren’t really the good guys in this whole situation either, at one point they were tired of trying to kill the cartel leaders, so they sent a squad to a small playground and massacred the cartel leaders’ children.


After a short stop at a memorial for the Virgin Mary, where people believe that miracles happen, we had a twenty-minute break for coffee and brunch. A few questions were aired in our bus about the legitimacy of the show ‘Narcos’ on Netflix, and how close it was to the reality of Colombia in the height of the cartels. Unfortunately, because of the way that television shows are, Narcos has minimal resemblance to the reality of the cartels in Medellin and Cali… Escobar did not build schools, he did not take from the rich and give to the poor, he was not a Robin Hood-esque kind of person; he “helped” people out by either letting himself or his band of followers lend people money or let them get into huge drug debts. This debt resulted in many murders, not of the person with the debt, but their family, friends and associates. Hearing some of the terror first hand completely changed our view of Colombia, the people are not proud of their history, but they are proud of their country.

Escobar had poured money into having some things built in Medellin, but only to make himself out to look like a good guy… he was doing this because he wanted to be a member of the government. When hearing this we were a little confused, surely this man didn’t want to have anything to do with the government and politics? The reasoning? Colombia had a special extradition treaty with the U.S. where drug producers and traffickers could be extradited for trial and prison there, even if they have never been in the US nor directly had criminal business there - and members of the Colombian congress are immune to extradition.

At some stage in all of this, Escobar was convinced by the government to surrender stop all of his criminal activity; in return he would get preferential treatment and a reduced jail sentence. At this point the law about extraditing Colombian citizens to the U.S. had been changed, probably with some fairly heavy influence from Escobar and a few of the other drug lords at the time. So Escobar went to prison, and instead of going to one of the public prisons, he was allowed to build his own “prison” and pretty much stayed under house arrest; with a Jacuzzi, a football field and a waterfall amongst other luxurious items.

After our break we moved onto the next sight, the house where Escobar was killed. The house itself belonged to an aunt of Escobar, he apparently was sitting down for a late breakfast of noodles when the authorities had closed in on the house and a gunfight ensued. It is unclear as to whether Escobar shot himself, it was a bullet from one of the government authorities, the US DEA, or one of the “Pepis” (Cali cartels grass-roots anti-Escobar group) that killed him. Unfortunately, for Medellin, Escobar’s death didn’t really effect the distribution of cocaine at all. He was after all just one of many members of the cartel. The house itself has had an extra storey added to it, and looks like any other house on the street, it looks like people live there but we were unsure.

House Pablo Escobar died in

After seeing the house, we made our way across to the other side of Medellin where the cemetery is, and where Escobar and his family are buried. Most of the graves in the cemetery are very plain, there are headstones on a few but they aren’t decorated in anyway… except for Escobar and his family’s graves. They have big headstones, surrounded by palm trees and covered with marble.

Grave stones

The tour ended near the Itagüi shopping centre and station, so a few of us got off rather than be dropped back at the hostels. The food court there was average, but we were hungry so we grabbed some food, and then caught the train back towards the city for the next tour.

Seeing Medellin from a local’s perspective

With our brains full of information already, what better than to try to cram even more information in by doing another one? This time it was the Real City tour, which was actually difficult to book - you need to book it online (despite being “free”), and they only open bookings up one and a half days in advance. When we arrived at the meeting point at the train station, it was a bit of chaos. They had four different guides, taking 35 people each, which is a lot for one tour.

We started out by walking to the state parliament, which was convenient since we needed to get our photo for Tristan’s challenge. We were told a bit about how this is the administrative centre of Medellin and Antioquia, but it wasn’t that interesting. We then went for a walk along some streets, being told about how the government was changing old buildings previously used by drug cartels into useful places, for example the government department in charge of education. As we learnt that morning, that seems only to have been if the government departments weren’t arguing. Shortly after this, we found ourselves in what used to be a square, a dangerous square, where black market and stolen goods were sold, and deals done. The government has a program called “democratic architecture” with the plan to turn bad places into good places, so they have installed around 150 high light poles into the square, which makes for a cool sight if you look up.

Sculpture in the administrative square

Light poles

The next stop was the old court buildings, which have been turned into a shopping centre. The coffee shop at the bottom has an interesting sign which roughly translates as “One coffee: $4. One coffee please: $3. Hello, one coffee please: $2. Good morning, how are you? One coffee please: $1”.

Colombia has an artist called Botero who is famous for making sculptures and paintings with over-weight people in them. Close to the centre of Medellin, there are a lot of replicas of them. As usual, it’s considered lucky to rub the sculptures in various places - so the genetalia and breasts are well worn!

Botero horse sculpture

Botero woman sculpture

The end of the tour was at another plaza, which has been often used by government announcements, small concerts and other events. Botero has a few sculptures here, including one of a (fat) bird. In 1995, drug cartels placed a bomb under the statue which went off during a youth concert, partially destroying the sculpture and killing 20-30 people. As part of the clean-up, the mayor of Medellin said the sculpture was going to be removed, and he then received an angry call from Botero saying he should not remove it since people would forget what happened. Instead, Botero created another bird sculpture, so that the damaged one would have a friend to talk to.

Destroyed Botero bird sculpture

With the tour over, everyone started heading off after giving a tip to the guide. With 35 of us in the group, and them doing 12 tours a week, I think that those guides must make a fair bit of money!

Back at the hostel, we had a fairly simple dinner, chorizo and morcilla stew, which we ended up sharing with the staff at the hostel as we had far too much to eat by ourselves. The night ended fairly early, we were both exhausted and needed to process the mass of information we’d received during the day.

Being a tourist… oops there was some beer

After a brief time at the hostel in the morning, we headed over to El Poblado (where many of the city’s hostels are) to take a look around and go to the Bogota Brewing Company pub. Since it was early, we went to a café for a quick coffee (and delicious apple pie).

Unfortunately, when we arrived at BBC they weren’t quite open yet, so we went to Medellin Beer Factory, which had a few of their own brews and many imported ones. Unfortunately their beers were fairly average so we only had one each, and all the reviews on Trip Advisor said how bad their food was, so we went elsewhere. Next up we went down the road to a fairly swanky looking place, which had a good cocktail selection, and a great gin one - eight types of gin and six types of tonic! James had a Hendricks with 1724 tonic water from Chile, while Dee had a red wine and rum mojito. The mojito was quite good, and you couldn’t taste the alcohol too much. We also grabbed a delicious nacho-type thing in a hot pan with corn chips on the side, for a small lunch. This was turning into a bit of a pub crawl, and the Hendricks may have been prophetic for later.

James' gin cocktail

Finally it was time to head over to BBC where we had a couple of beers. There were some interesting quotes on the walls, one near us was from a few centuries ago in Germany: “He who drinks beers sleeps well, he who sleeps well does not sin, he who does not sin goes to heaven, amen.”

Next stop was Barbas, where we had some more drinks, and a bit of food for a dinner-ish snack. As we left, we discovered something very strange in the street. It was an open-side cart thing with bicycle seats on the sides, a front seat with a steering wheel, and a Hendricks logo. A bicycle-powered street cart bar that served gin! Even better, it was free - so we boarded and got peddling to go around the block while the bartender told us about Hendricks (which has only recently become available in Colombia), and serving us a small gin and tonic with each person getting a different one of the Hendricks flavours, in it. Dee got juniper berries and James got red peppercorns. As we left, we also got given a cucumber and gin icy pole!

Bicycle-powered gin bar

The bartender

When it was time to hop off they bike we were dropped at a different bar to where we started, so we went in for a two-for-one cocktail, which was okay. As our final stop before heading home we stopped for a beer at a bar we don’t remember the name of. They had about 15 beers on the menu, so we ordered one we had never tried before - Buckler. Unfortunately that turned out to be alcohol-free beers; who even makes that?!?

Heading back to the hostel, we managed to get to the train station, change train lines and get home, although we did leave our free Hendricks cups at the last bar. Safe to say we were pretty munted at this point and we needed to go to bed…

Seeing something other than beer…

Sunday morning we were feeling fairly average, but we had things to do and all sorts of sights to see! It was time to continue our tour of South America’s telefericos. We caught the B line train to San Antonio, then the A line train to Avecedo station where the K line teleferico starts. It goes to three stations the last being Santo Domingo, where you can change to the L line cable car, which is not public transport but goes up to Parque Arvi. This all sounds very complicated but is actually quite easy! The telefericos were put in to help bridge the socio-economic gap amongst the locals, making public transport quite affordable and easy.

The L line goes up in altitude very quickly, and then has a large horizontal section to get to the other side of the park where the buildings are. We weren’t sure what was in the park, and if you could go look around - all we could find was a small market. There was the usual collection of fruit, juices, snacks, knick-knacks, but also a beer stall for “Son del Barril” (established 2016), and a permanent barbecued mushroom hut, which had several types of Santisima beer, unfortunately they had run out of the Shitake mushroom flavour. It’s funny when you hear an Australian accent out of the blue… we hadn’t met any Australians for quite a while, we also underestimated how bogan our accents can sound at times. A voice from behind us demonstrated the boganness beautifully, “Oi mate!!! Check this shit out!!! They have chocolate and strawberries with marshmallows!”. Safe to say, you can hear an Aussie accent from a mile away! For the rest of the afternoon we hung around the Estadio area, watching the locals and enjoying some of the sunshine Medellin was offering.


Dee in front of ... something

Seeing the last little bits of Medellin

It was safe to say that by Monday, we were both pretty exhausted… we’d seen quite a number of sights around Medellin, and the following day was our next travel day. We felt it was time to probably catch up on a few of our admin tasks, and make sure that we were ready for our flight. These tasks included laundry (hooray for having to adult again!), we both hate having to organise laundry, and in many places the lack of water pressure, warm water and washing machines has made laundry more difficult. The lack of sunshine and clotheslines also hasn’t helped much! We eventually got the laundry organised, however, we could only pick up the laundry after our checkout time the following morning - not an ideal situation but had to be done.

After the laundry drama doing other menial tasks was off the cards, we decided to head into the downtown area instead to have a look around and get some extra photos of things we’d missed on our walking tour. We did some shopping (James even bought a shirt!) and then decided to grab ourselves some lunch at a place called Hacienda - steaks on the menu for both of us! After lunch we were planning to go to the Hellriegel brewery near Estadio on the way home, but after getting there we found out it was closed on Mondays, so we had a few 3 Cordilleras beers at El Buho again. The “rosé” beer was terrible, not a nice savoury flavour but very sweet red fruit. We decided to try a few of the beers there just to make sure we knew what they tasted like.

Travel days :(

Living out of a backpack isn’t too difficult when you have the opportunity to unpack your bags and live like a normal person for a little bit… unfortunately, when you do that it also means that you have to repack the bags at some point. Both of us are getting a little tired of packing, but that’s part of the fun of travelling… it was also the morning that we had to run to the laundry to try and get our clothes back before checkout.

We finally got our stuff together and packed, got ourselves to the airport and settled in to the BBC bar while we waited for our flight. Next destination: Cartagena de Indias!

Go see all the photos from Medellin

Our two hundredth night was spent sitting under the stars on a sand dune, after a camel ride to camp in the Sahara desert. Pretty good for the night!

"200 Days" written in sand

The second hundred days had a lot of slow travel around Ecuador, internal flights in Colombia, buses and the occasional train in Spain and Portugal, more flights, and a packed minivan in Morocco. All up we had around 3560 km of overland transport and 15135 km of flying, plus around 730 km of walking around seeing things.

Second one hundred days: South America

Second one hundred days: Europe

Some of the highlights have been:

  • Going into the amazon and not being eaten or dying of malaria
  • Learning more about the drug cartels and civil war in Colombia
  • Finding a beach that rivals ones at home, on the Caribbean coast
  • Eating tapas and other amazing food in Spain
  • Helping to throw 160 tons of tomatoes with 42000 other people at La Tomatina
  • Meeting up with Tristan in Portugal, and eating a lot of food, especially amazing seafood
  • Catching up with Caitlyn and drinking a lot of beer at Oktoberfest in Munich
  • Visiting the medinas in Morocco, and spending a night in the Sahara


Ecuador is a microcosm of South America: Amazon rainforest, high mountains and volcanos, beautiful beaches (although we didn’t go there) and colonial cities

Ecuador seemed a lot more American than everywhere else; not Western but specifically American. Shops had English in their names, and so so many American people (especially Cuenca). The Internet in Ecuador has been absolutely terrible, the worst in South America.

There are some things we’d like to go back to Ecuador for, especially the Galapagos islands, but it’s probably not somewhere we would re-visit places except on the way to the things we didn’t see. The Amazon was very cool, and seeing it again would be nice, but we would probably choose to visit a different part of the Amazon, perhaps in Peru or Brazil.


Both of us agree that Colombia has been our favourite country in South America. Other places are good, such as Peru having the best old ruins, and the Iguassu falls being spectacular natural beauty, but overall Colombia has everything. The people are so friendly, and seem to enjoy that people are now coming to visit their country, no longer scared by the events of the second half of the 20th century.

There weren’t many stand-out dishes in Colombia unlike some of the other parts of South America, but the food was generally good, and the variety of fresh fruits great. Colombia is somewhere we would love to come back to, especially now that our government has lowered the travel warnings. Seeing the “coffee triangle”, doing the hike to Ciudad Perdida (at least for James), and more of the countryside would be great.


Spain was a big change for us, with such fancy luxuries as hot water in sinks (washing dishes and shaving is so much easier), and toilets you can put paper down! Despite the previous four months being in Spanish speaking countries, language here wasn’t easy – the accent is very different, especially in the parts where c/s/z letters have a “th” sound, kind of like a lisp. Then you get to the Catalonia region where their preferred language isn’t even (Castillian) Spanish, it’s Catalan.

The food in Spain was generally great, especially in the areas that do proper tapas like Grenada, and you get a delicious bit of food with every drink you order. In some other areas it was a few olives or you had to pay. Obviously the wine is good in Spain too, and so cheap.

The festival of La Tomatina was incredibly fun, we definitely recommend anyone who has the chance to do it. The Festivals All Around group we went with turned out to be a great choice, and we’d strongly recommend them too.

It was interesting when we arrived into the south of the country, seeing the major Arabic influences such as Moorish architecture. It is quite beautiful; especially some of the grand palaces that still exist.

There is so much to see here, we barely scratched the surface. I think if we spent the whole year trip in Spain we would still have not seen that much of it. We are definitely coming back to Europe some time, and I think we are going to visit Spain again.


We only spent a short amount of time in Portugal, but it was a fun time. The stay began on the Algave coast with it’s amazing beached and coastline. It was very touristy, full of English people coming for the summer, to the point where not all of the restaurants even had menus in Portuguese! There is a lot to see in the region, and like Spain we could spend much more time enjoying the sun here.

Lisbon was a very cool place, made better by having Tristan to catch up with. There is so much history here, the heart of the Portuguese empire. The food was amazing as well, we were very lucky to get an AirBnB that was a short walk from a “market” with a “restaurant in a food court” atmosphere. They were expensive, but the scarlets prawns were definitely worth it.


Germany was always going to be a different experience, since we were pretty much only visiting to go to Oktoberfest. With Keagan bailing out of his trip over to here and Morocco, we were lucky that James’ sister Caitlyn was flying to London to move around the time, and joined us in the festivities.

Beer, dirndls, beer, leiderhosen, beer, pork knuckle, beer, sausages, beer. No more explanation is necessary!

Aside from Oktoberfest, the visit to the Dachau concentration camp memorial site was a sobering and moving experience. There isn’t much to say, simply that if you are in the area, it is worth visiting one of the memorial sites.


Neither of us knew what to expect going to Morocco. We both like Moroccan food, or at least the Australianised version of it, and James has seen and read plenty from Pip who he went to college with. It was also one of the two proper tours we were going on for the trip; as neither of us speak Arabic, French (or Berber) and we had limited time for the places to visit, we decided to go on an Intrepid tour.

The tour was a lot of long days in the mini-van, and the group had its personality conflicts, which didn’t ruin the trip but it did affect it. There were some lovely people, but the conflicts became tiring especially combined with the amount of travel. Morocco had a lot of interesting things to see, although at times we felt like we were being dragged from one shop who gave a commission to the guide to another one.

The food was mostly not what we expected either, a lot less spices and flavour than any of the Moroccan food we have had at home, either in restaurants or cooked ourselves. The one exception was when Aziz (our Intrepid guide) organised a small lunch with a few of us, cooked by a lady at the riad. That was delicious.

It’d hard to say whether Morocco was not as great as we had thought, we had hyped it up too much in our minds, or the tour made it less authentic and not as good. We might come back to Morocco some time, but it wouldn’t be on that kind of tour.

After all we’ve seen in 200 days outside Australia, imagine where we could be after 300 days! If your imagination isn’t good enough to think of somewhere, how about on the Honduras bay islands?