Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Team Luge

At the top of the big hill overlooking Queenstown after the gondola ride you can partake in some lugeing. I'd never seen this kind of thing before, but is quite possibly the most fun you can have anywhere in world (not including monkey-tennis, obviously). You basically sit on a little board with wheels and tootle down the hill getting faster and faster. Brakes optional. About 8 of us did this at the same time and naturally, hilarity ensued.

Caroline didn't fancy it, but managed to take some brilliant action shots. Me there at the front of the pack, closely followed by Rob and then the laggers at the back.

The view throughout, that is if you dared take your eyes off the slopes, was magnificent. This place is crazy-nice!

Every corner you seem to turn in Queenstown there's some fun to be had; the whole place is like one big Funfair. If your willing then the good times just don't stop flowing. Perfect example:

Straped in.

Correct way up (in England).


Official Team Luge Post-Lugeing Beverage-Sampling Event. Luge.

It's almost at good as Korfball. Korf!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

More Quads

After having a great time quad biking in Bolivia, we decide to re-live the glory. However, for some reason, we actually recieved instruction before we hopped on. And we were only told 1 per bike. And it cost more. Don't know why I bothered.
Me, attempting non-stop rockin'.
Was mint though and the scenery was fair better than previously. Got covered in mud and nearly ran over a few sheep but fun was had throughout nonetheless.

One of the many views. The hillock in the middle ground right side was used to film the battle scene in Lord of the Rings where they get attacked by Wargs and Aragorn falls off a cliff. Can you feel that magic?

Team Quad: Me, Em, Brian and Lenny.


Picturesque Queenstown.
After sorting ourselves out a camping spot we have a wander about town for a shufty. It's beautiful here, straight away Em and I started to feel good vibes, certainly a potential spot for our first spot of casual employment. The following day, Lisa and Caroline arrive with a bus load of others; they've been travelling on the Kiwi Experience bus which tootles you around the whole country for a small fee. The crowd that they are travelling with all seem really nice and we all hit it off nicely.

Found them: Caroline and Lisa at the top of the gondola.
We also meet up with Lenny and Brian, a couple who we met on the Salt Flats of Bolivia. They are also travelling the country in a van, so the load of us together is like one big social stew. Drinking ensues.

The lake front.

Queenstown is the outdoor activity hub of the South Island, if not the whole of NZ, so there's tons of different things to be getting on with. Crazy golf being possibly the main attraction.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Road Trip

NZ isn't really that big. Compared to South America, it's peanuts. It's about the same size as Great Britain and yet only has a population of 6 million, most of which live in one of the 3 main cities - Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. As a result, when driving in the countryside you see about 3 other cars all day, about 50 odd cases of road kill and 4 billion sheep.

Wellington seafront.

The scenery in the country is astounding. A lot of it, particulary the North Island looks like Teletubby land; rolling green hills and giant flowers that sing....maybe just the hills then. But very picturesque. Every corner you turn reveals another view that takes your breath away.

Emma strolling the beach.

Everyday we would drive for a few hours, find a campsite and have a little shufty about. It's been a good way to get to see different parts of the country and get a good feel for the place, albeit that we're flying through.

Another classic "Pownall Pier Pose".

After about 4 days of driving (and sailing across the water) we hit Queenstown, towards the south of the South Island to join Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Colonel Terry Mustard

My first car - who'd have thought it would be a campervan?

Baptised as Colonel Terry Mustard, aka the Geordie Racer (cheers TomE), he joins us after a reliable 14 years of service to date with a sturdy looking 260,000 km on the clock. It's nice to know that such experience and commitment is joining the team. Brum-brum.

Check me out! Shortly after the photo was taken I realised I'd ran over 4 goats and a badger. And they don't even have badgers here. How that happened, no-one knows.

After a mechanical check, a few tweaks, an oil change and the aquisition of some camping gear, we hop in the Colonel and we hit the road. Our plan is to meet Caroline and Lisa - 2 of our friends from University - who are currently somewhere on the South Island. Off we go.

Isn't he lovely? The van, not Emma.


Auckland - the City of Sails. We arrived in Auckland to the most courteous and efficient Customs Officers I've ever come across; he said hello in English and everything. The flight was a bit tiring and the jetlag was beginning to set in nicely. So, we checked into a hostel and emerged eventually and tried to work out what time it was. Took a while.

View of Auckland's skyline.

I immediately felt very at home in NZ. It's strange to think that it's on the other side of the world 'cos its got such a British vibe to it.

We had a week in Auckland doing various bits and bobs; a tour here, a coffee there, museums, art galleries, a few bars, you know, a bit of culture. Not only is New Zealand the first country in the world to give women the vote, but also the first to provide a state pension, so walking the streets you would pass some particulary chuffed looking old ladies. Life's easy for some.

Top of the Skytower. Canny high up. It felt like I was playing Sim City, but didn't quite have the ability to destroy buildings at will unfortunately. It was a LONG way down. While up here, or any other height for that matter, you could see Auckland going off to the horizon in pretty much any direction. Considering hardly anyone lives here, it is massive. The 4th largest city sprawl in the world, apparantly.

Some sculpture thing at the entrance to a park.

Fancy ornate Maori carving that we saw in the museum. The history of NZ - the parallel evolution of the Maori and Pakeha (non-maori) cultures since colonisation by the British - is very interesting.

The weather in Auckland during this week was a mint mental. It would literally have 4 seasons in 1 day. Well, actually, more like 4 seasons in 20 minutes. The sky could be blue in all directions and then be raining within a blink of the eye. After enduring zero rainfall since leaving the rainforest in Peru it was a bit of kick in the teeth.

Emma traversing the main park in style (?).

NZ is well known for the fact that it has amazing scenery. Also, in this country it's pretty much impossible to sue for personal injuries so there are a lot of different adrenaline and extreme sports that are available to do very easily. Let's get on with it then.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Boca Juniors 3 - 2 Velez Sarsfield

The last day in South America, a sad day without a doubt. How better to spend it than at a football match! We arrived in the 57,000 capacity staduim just over 2 hours before kick off and were pleased (well I was at least) to see that a reserve match was already underway as a warm-up to the main event, sort of like a warm band for the main event at a gig. Why they don't do this in the Premiership I have no idea. Looks-wise the place didn't come close to the mighty St. James', but for atmosphere I think Boca just pipped it.

The staduim slowly filled to pretty much maximum and the game finally got underway. Boca Juniors are reknowned for their fanatical following, the atmosphere always guaranteed to be electric regardless of who they're playing. Both sides of the ground are seated stands, but the ends (where we were) were still terraces. It resulted in the loudest ground I've ever been in, where the stand actually shakes when the entire ground jumps in time to the constant singing. Quite the carnival.

All aboard the fun bus. Toot-toot. Beep-beep.

Anyway, the match was quite dull throughout the first half. Boca let 2 in and had a man send off before half time, but the standard of football was pretty poor if you ask me (and yes, my skills are good enough to judge). The fans didn't seemed to be bothered mind, the party continued on regardless, it even amplified when they concided.

However the second half was BRILLIANT. Sarsfield got a bloke sent off as well and the momentum returned to Boca, topping the match off with a crackin' stike to win the game about 2 minutes from time. The crowd at this point went mental. Being on the terraces was more like being in a mosh-pit when they scored. Totally totally totally awesome.

Boca Juniors got their colours from the Swedish Flag. Stone wall fact.

As it was Emma's first ever match I think she got a bit daunted at first, but was won over in the end by the sheer party atmosphere. Fun times.

Tango 1, Football 4 me thinks. A fair overall scoreline.

Now we´re off to New Zealand, land of Kiwi´s, kiwi-fruit and sheep. On paper the flight appears to last 6 hours, actually lasts 13 hours, but technically takes 2 days. Work that one out at your own peril. When some worldwide phenomenom happens on the 2nd October 2006, many people in the future will ask me where I was for such an occurrance. My answer will be simple "I didn´t exist". Magic or what? Smoke and mirrors no doubt.

Leaving, on a jetplane....

Tango 'n that

I'm not the most cultured and refined person, I know, quite shocking. So, The Tango Night we went to consisted of a good feed, free wine and a bunch of blokes in tight trousers jumping about. They had a magician as well who was good.

I can appreciate that it takes a lot of dedication and skill to be good at it, never mind the need for strength and excellent coordination and the like, but I wouldn't say the earth moved during the performance. Definately glad I went mind, so I can say I've done it.

My personal highlight of the evening was working out that the singer bloke was Vin Diesel and Trevor Nelson's love child. Happy days!


Monday, October 02, 2006

Good Air

The capital of Argentina, the Paris of the Southern Hemisphere, the Steak Capital of the World. Buenos Aires! In all it´s glory! This place is pretty big. It can be smoggy with all the traffic and smoking that goes on, so in my opinion they should rename it Smoggy Aires or something to that effect.

The main road, only a measley 17 lanes wide.

Lots of sights to see in this place, so the first time we arrived (we´ve dropped by a total of 3 times over a couple of weeks) we took a bike tour of the city which was a hoot. Got the feel of the place and managed to stay on the bike (which was about as old as "the wheel" itself) despite the heavy traffic. There are lots of different areas, or suburbs if you will, each of which have their own attractions and things to do and see.


La Boca, home to the world famous Boca Juniors, Maradona´s club, is a colourful dock suburb where there´s lots of street tango going on with some good art markets to boot. Typically the lower classes reside here and as a result it had become a tradition to paint their houses with whatever paint they find lying around on the docks; the leftover paint from painting the boats and ships. So all the buildings are madly multi-coloured, bringing a very optimistic feel to the place.

Colourful La Boca.

Recoleta is described as a more aristocratic suburb and houses a few large and strange cemetary. Originally the first public cemetary to be opened in Buenos Aires, a lot of important figures from Buenos Aires and Argentina´s history are laid to rest here - Eva "Evita" Perón being the most famous. It´s a strange place as it feels like a town in itself, each of the tombs being very large, some almost as big as small churches. A sombre place.

The cemetry skyline.

Speaking of Evita, that famous balcony that Madonna did a gig from, with Antonio Banderas lurking in the background, is also a prominent Bs As building. Found on the Plaza de Mayo (no free mayonaise, to my distaste) this bright pink building carries a lot history with it. It was once the Presidents home, which had now moved across the street, and was the famous location where Evita addressed the masses. Girl Power all the way.

"Don't fry for me, Sergeant Tina" or words to that effect.

The view from the top of the hostel.

Only a couple of days before we had to depart, we had 2 things left to do. We had to fulfill our pact. I had to endure a tango show and in return got to watch some football.