Back in time for tea

Travelling the world, hopefully with a cuppa in hand

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Next stop: London….and then?????

Where´s Lou when you need her?

Our ten-month long circumnavigation of the world is nearly at an end. We land back in London on Tuesday morning and we´re spending our last day in South America sightseeing and packing in Sao Paulo. We´ve got three huge bags so it´s just as well there´s a generous luggage allowance with British Airways. We can´t wait to see everyone, especially our family and friends. We´re only back for a fortnight (more on that later) but we´ve got a lot planned.

The main reason we´re back is for the wedding of one of our best friends, Mike, to his gorgeous fiancée and soon-to-be-wife, Soraya on Sunday. We´re really looking forward to it. For one thing we haven´t had much opportunity to dress up! Jon is honoured to be one of the best men and has been drafting out his speech while we were sunbathing on the beach in Ilha Grande.

Other things we are looking forward to is staying with Lou´s sister Donna, getting some good real ale at the Great British Beer Festival in Earl´s Court on Wednesday and visiting our parents in Northallerton and North Shields. Lou will be returning to her old habit of eight cups of tea a day and Jon will be hitting the cheese counter of the nearest supermarket to get  his continental cheese fix.

So, not to keep you all guessing much longer, we finally arranged our last travel fling before returning to real life. We´re off to our most tropical destination yet: Borneo! We selected the location based on temperature, sunshine and wildlife. We´re also happy to be heading back Asia-wards for some good food! South American hasn´t really matched up in terms of cheaply available culinary delights. We´re going to the north-east Malaysian part of Borneo and have arranged a four-day trip into the rainforest for wildlife safaris and a trip to an orangutan sanctuary. Orangutans are only located in the areas of Borneo and Sumatra. In addition to the orangutans at the sanctuary, there´s the chance we might see some in the wild too. Borneo is also one of the best places in the world for marine wildlife, including turtles, so we´ll be able to do some snorkeling too and enjoy some more beach time. All in all it should be an amazing three weeks and we can´t wait to share it with you on the blog.

We´ll keep blogging while we´re back in the UK and we will also add our final sets of photos from Peru, Bolivia and Brazil once we´ve caught up with ourselves. See you all soon!


Open-air living

Home Sweet Home

We´re in Ilha Grande, an island off the coast of Brazil, about a 3 hour bus ride and 1.5 hour boat ride from Rio. With just a week to go before we fly home we´re grabbing as much beach time as we can, including but not limited to sunbathing, swimming and beach cocktails at sunset. At our accommodation (the Jungle Lodge), we had a choice of a normal room or open-air chalet. We were feeling adventurous so opted for open-air living. The chalet looks like a bandstand with a thatched roof and has a mattress in the middle of the floor, protected by a mosquito net, and a hammock from which to enjoy the views. After a very mosquitoey first night, we sprayed the net with repellant and have enjoyed peaceful bite-free nights ever since. It´s an amazing feeling to be greeted by such stunning scenery when we first open our eyes in the morning. We´re surrounded by banana plants and the lodge also has it´s own guava, papaya, cocoa and lime trees.

Not too shabby - just one of the beaches on the way to the ´best´beach

After tearing ourseles away from the views and having a leisurely breakfast with the rest of the guests on the
outside patio, we have been walking to different beaches. On our trekking through jungle across the island, we´ve heard and then seen howler monkeys, smaller cowled monkeys and a type of possum. The beaches are amazing, each one bettering the next. Lopez Mendes beach is meant to be one of the best beaches in Brazil; just a cove of perfect white sand stretching on endlessly with lapping blue waters. It´s the first time we´ve encountered squeaky sand which sounds like walking on crunchy snow.

After Bolivia, we´re finding Brazil expensive. Things cost a similar amount to the UK so to keep to budget we´re doing a bit more self-catering and taking picnics to the beach. We had a night out in the main town last night and enjoyed relaxing over very strong caipirinha before a beach barbecue of freshly caught red snapper and a steak.

Tomorrow, it´s our last night on the island so we might have to test out some more variations of the caipirinha. Apart from the classic recipe with cachaca (sugar cane rum), lime juice and sugar, you can get versions made with vodka, sake, added tropical fruit and/or condensed milk. Someone mentioned passion fruit which sounds like a winner to me and we´ll update you with the results next time.


Ipanema but no sunshine!

Christ the Redeemer

Rio has been really interesting for us but unfortunately we haven´t had the best weather. Think of a typical British summer day with heavy cloud and a sprinkling of showers and you´ll more or less be spot on. Not to be put off by a little rain, we´ve been out and about – taking refuge from the drizzly beach in a great little cafe not far from Copacaban beach where Jon fell in love with the torta de limao (lime pie), enjoying tram rides to the bohemian Santa Teresa district and up to the statue of Christ the Redeemer and watching a dramatics arts group performing a play in Portuguese in the Parque das Ruinas.

The reality of the crowds. Everyone wants a photo with Jesus.

We could easily spend another week here. The city has an energy which can be felt from the people and glimpsed in moments such as the impromptu drama, people enjoying pavement beers or samba music heard from open windows. We´re set for the beach though as we head to Ilha Grande, a couple of hours away by bus and boat. The forecast is looking better for the next few days so we´re hopeful of some sunny island time. We´re staying in a jungle lodge, with the jungle quite possibly closer than you think since one of the rooms is more like a pagoda; just a floor and a roof!


Rio de Janeiro

Ready for the beach

We haven´t blogged since arriving in Brazil four days ago but it´s been fairly hectic. From La Paz, we woke up at 2.30am to catch an early flight to Sao Paulo. It turned out to be a long day, we landed at the airport without any accommodation and had to call 15 different hostels before we found one that had space for us. Luckily it turned out to a good one even stocking M&S tea bags, our first decent cup of tea since New Zealand, and free caipirinhas.

We spent one day looking around cosmopolitan Sao Paulo and then moved on to Rio yesterday. We´re staying in a great old house up on a hill with a view of the sea (and the airport). The house could easily be a film set for something like the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, with hidden staircases, higgledy piggledy rooms and eccentric guests. It´s got a pool and the garden contains the biggest dog we´ve ever seen – Lou thinks he´s a great dane. He´s about the same size as Lou.

Last night we went out for all-you-can-eat pizza. It was definitely a mistake since we´re hitting the famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches today. It´s salad for dinner tonight!


Gooooooooooooaaaal – the Copa de America

The end of Brazil´s chances in the Copa de America

We´ve been enjoying watching the quarter finals of the Copa de America football competition. We´re not sure that it gets much coverage back in the UK but it should; it´s hilarious. Firstly the way the commentators shout goal which lasts about three minutes cracks us up. The football is completely different with end-to-end entertainment, fake dives and last ditch defending. This year all the major teams have been knocked out with the surprise elimination of Argentina, the host nation, by Uruguay in penalties and yesterday Brazil just couldn´t score against Paraguay despite loads of chances. This continued into the penalty shoot out with three Brazilian strikers missing the goal. We thought it was so funny we´ve linked to the footage here (Brazil in yellow).