While living and working in Edinburgh in 2008 I set out to write one million words in 366 days... but only managed 800,737.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I´ve now been travelling for two months, and what better way to celebrate than with some lists...

Countries Visited Since Leaving Edinburgh

Costa Rica

Countries Left To Visit Before Returning to NZ in May


(* perhaps)

Best Meals

* Falafel in pita with salad, Luxor, 1 Egyptian Pound (an eighth of a British Pound)
* "Enchillada" (unlike western enchilladas, this was a deepfried pocket filled with spicy rice then topped with coleslaw and wrapped up like a soft shell taco), Grenada, 5 Nicaraguan Cordobas (about 50p)
* Guanabana yoghurt drink, Lima (1L for about a pound)... a meal in itself

Common denominator, as ever, is price. All that street meat (and veg) means I'm pretty immune to most of the nasties out their. (NB: I did get really sick in Cairo, but that was a bug that went around the tour... nothing to do with the cuisine).

Best Historical Sites

1. Karnak Temple, Egypt

2. Philae Temple, Egypt
3. The Sphinx and Pyramids, Egypt
4. Valley of the Kings, Egypt

Egypt is pretty hard to compete with when it comes to ancient stuff. The mayan ruins at Copan in Honduras were pretty cool, but just can´t compete with Egypt when it comes to age, scale, presevation or quality of artistry.

Best Museums / Art Galleries

1. Vatican Museum, Rome
1.a Egyptian Museum, Cairo

At the beginning of this trip, I was most anticipating a visit to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and by the size of the queues (4 hour wait to get inside without a 4 euro booking) everyone else was too. But it was just a decent art gallery. Sure, there were five or six pieces I studied back in High School Art History, and I´m glad I went, but I was not blown away as I was with the two places above. Both wow with scale: the Vatican museum has whole rooms dedicated to scultpures of animals, or busts, or maps of Italy. In the Egyptian Museum you can find rows upon rows of sarcofagi, or figurines included in burials, or trinkets, or stamps (used with ink rather than postage stamps). And both have pretty awesome pieces de resistance (Tutankhamon´s sarcofagi; Sistene Chapel).

Best Views

* Half frozen Niagara Falls, from the Canadian side of course

* Being a foot and a half away from a snake (first snake I've seen in the wild) in Costa Rica... and not just any snake, a fer-de-lance
* Top of the Empire State Building at night (freezing cold and cliched as hell, but totally worth it)

Best Cultural Experiences

* Seeing an NHL hockey game in Canada (Toronto Maple Leafs vs Pittsburgh Penguins, 31 Jan 2009). The game had everything: former captain's banner ceremony (+ free Dougie Gilmore bobbleheads), nine goals, an awesome fight (my video below), and the Leafs won (a rare occurence).

* Taxi ride from Cairo airport
* Dancing in jandels and shorts in Nicaraguan night clubs

Biggest Pains in the Bum

* My aforementioned sickness in Cairo
* Trying to change a flight with Aerolineas Argentinas (ongoing)
* Being talked to in English in Costa Ricano matter how hard you try your dodgy Spanish

Oh well, that's all for now. Off to the Peruvian Amazon tomorrow. Bring on those Anacondas!