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Barcelona

After what felt like the longest travel day we’d ever done, we finally arrived in Barcelona, two hours and fifty-nine minutes after it was scheduled to arrive, and I’m not even joking, airline rules state that you can apply for compensation if you are more than three hours late to your destination, and according to the flight scheduling we arrived exactly one minute short of the three hours, the pilot must have put his foot down to get us there for that time.

We got off the plane, waited for immigration, waited another hour for the bags, then got to the train station and the ticket machine froze up for the final minute the train was in the station ready to leave, so we missed that and had to wait another half an hour for the next train.

By the time we got to the city center at 8pm, we had been travelling to here since 6pm the previous day, but the flight is only supposed to take seven-and-a-half hours.

Within ten minutes of being out in the city, we’d obviously forgotten all about the numerous delays and the fact we’d been awake for thirty-six hours already, we were throwing Cava back like we’d just discovered Barcelona for the first time all over again.

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Grand Cayman

We landed in Grand Cayman on the Wednesday afternoon, we were going to be staying for 11 days and staying with family here; Dawn, Rich and their daughter Chloe. To be honest, Stac was really nervous, we hadn’t stayed in any one  place for 11 days on this trip, so the thought of staying in somebody else home, somebody who she’d only met once before, and I had never met, actually petrified her. It didn’t bother me, we’re used to getting to know strangers, it’s part of the fun of travelling.

Within a couple of hours, all her nerves and angst had disappeared, it turned out that Dawn was exactly the same, pacing up and down waiting for us to arrive because she was just as nervous as Stac, but we got to know each other, all get on well, and became the best of friends. Over the next week and a half, we explored everywhere together, we snorkeled most days, swam with turtles, went to pristine stunning beaches and got to see some stunning spots on what is an amazing island.

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Mexico Road Trip

The flight from Mexico city to Cancun was only one and a half hours, and we had soon landed, got out of the airport, and went to pick up our hire car. It wasn’t exactly a smooth process, but an hour later, we’d got a decent, couple of years old Seat Toledo, definitely comfortable enough for driving around here for a couple of weeks.

We didn’t want to stay in Cancun, so we drove straight south to Playa del Carmen. This is obviously a very touristy part of Mexico, but until you see it for your self, you don’t really know just how big tourism is here. The hotels that we drove past on the Riviera Maya, which is the coast from Cancun going South, are insanely big, the biggest, grandest resorts you could imagine, with hundreds of rooms in each, and there are dozens of these hotels.

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Mexico City

We flew in the afternoon from Lima to Mexico City, but the flight takes six hours, so we didn’t arrive until almost midnight, we got to our hotel in the centre around 1am and just went to sleep ready to explore the city for the next few days.

Our first day, we got up and I was excited to try the street tacos and show Stac some of the Mexican food, Mexico city is a fantastic city, full of food, music and activity. It didn’t take more than five minutes of walking before we found our first amazingly tasty and spicy street food tacos, they were epic.

Later on, we ate a full set menu lunch with Chicken Mole, soups, drinks etc for just a few pounds each, the Mexican food might not be the healthiest, but its some of the tastiest food in the world. Washed down with an ice-cold beer for £1, it’s perfect.

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Lima

We left Santiago about 3am to go to the Airport, and flew at 6am to Lima, the capital city of Peru. We had always planned to go to Peru on this trip, but we had considered going to Cusco and Machu Pichu, unfortunately we had missed the chance to book the trek, and probably didn’t have the right gear with us to do it anyway, so we just had to settle for a few days in Lima, as a stop between South America and Mexico.

We landed in Lima around 8am, and went straight to the city centre to our hostel. We knew nothing about Lima really as a city, but I knew it was one of the biggest cities in South America, I was a little confused when on the drive to the city, we hardly saw another car.

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Mendoza & Patagonia – Bariloche & Villa La Angostura

Mendoza

Our first overnight bus in South America actually went much quicker and easier than expected, it was due to leave Rosario around 8pm, but it didn’t arrive until an hour later. Within five minutes, it was fully loaded and we were setting off towards Mendoza for the twelve-hour journey.

We got on, immediately they started a game of bingo and the winner got themselves a bottle of cheap Argentinian wine, after this, a Spanish film came on, that was actually an American film, dubbed in Spanish and then with Spanish subtitles also.

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Buenos Aires & Rosario

Buenos Aires

We arrived back in Buenos Aires and went back to Elena’s place, we were going to stay for another five nights, there hadn’t been a place on this trip so far, that we’d stayed at for 10 days total, so it shows just how much we liked it here.

We’d already seen most of the tourist sights to be seen during the day, but we still spent every day walking 8-10 miles each day just exploring this huge city. The metropolitan area of BA has a population of around 15 million, it’s big. Even the central districts can take half an hour to get between by bus.

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Uruguay – Colonia del Sacramento and Montevideo

We got the ferry from Buenos Aires over to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay, the boat only takes around one hour and the crossing was smooth, much better than the New Zealand ferry experience.

Colonia del Sacramento is famous in South America for being a beautiful historic city, and it most certainly is, something that isn’t that common in Argentina and Chile, is any building older than the 20th century, some of the streets here look like they haven’t been touched since the Spanish arrived and built them in the 16th century.

We loved just walking around the old streets and admiring the stunning houses and cobbled streets, the centre is quite touristy, inflated prices for food and accommodation, but it was still a very nice place to be. We found an amazing bar with great wine and platters of cheeses and meats, in stark contrast to the majority of Uruguayan food, this was delicious.

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Buenos Aires

We flew from Auckland, for twelve hours, direct to Buenos Aires, Argentina, and experienced the strange sensation of arriving in Buenos Aires before we actually set off. Because we had passed the international date line, we flew at 8pm on the 8th of September and landed in Argentina at 5pm on the same day, now that is efficient travelling.

We had fortunately managed to land ourselves the business lounge in Auckland airport for free with Air NZ, so we had a few relaxed drinks before the long flight, but we were so excited for South America, we barely slept at all overnight.

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Gili Islands; Gili Air & Gili Meno

We arrived at Bangsal port in Lombok to take the public boat over to Gili Air, the public boats are only about £1 each for the short crossing, the boat is only small, seating about 30, but of course more than that got on, we clambered on from the beach and set off to the legendary Gili Islands.

Gili Air is the Gili closest to Lombok, the medium-sized one about 2km across, Gili Meno is the next island over, a little smaller at 1km across, and Gili Trawangan is the biggest and furthest away, the island for partying. We decided we’d only go to the quieter islands, but Gili Air was still fairly busy.

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