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Prague, a beautiful city if not overrun by tourists...

Prague, Czech Republic

We took the overnight train to Prague from Krakow. the train left at 10:20 and we got in at about 7:30 or so... Adam was clearly having trouble sleeping and my chainsaw-like snoring didn't help. He got angry at his lack of sleep and the bear sounds coming from the bunk below and he lost his temper at me a little. Entirely understandable.

We were told that we could check in to the apartment from 7:30 or so because there was no-one in the apartment the day before. Well, when we arrive it turns out that the guy here the day before went and got hit by a car, and needed another day's rest. Talk about inconsiderate! So we were told that we could check in at about 12:00 or so.

At 9 we left our bags at the agents office around the corner, and walked in to the centre of town. A nice 15 minute walk. The new town, especially Wenceslas Square is very nice, busy and active. Lots of young Czechs and foreigners walkinga round, but as we were both tired, and Adam wasn't talking to me, we decided to go to the apartment and have a day of doing nothing. We sat back and watched the 1008 channels of satellite... Every channel had shit on it... Adam went to bed at 10...

Next morning, get up and Adam is chipper again! Yes! Very pleased about that... We went out to do some sightseeing in town. Started with a pizza for lunch, went to the old town square... Millions and millions of tourists there, you couldn't move for tourists... But it was entirely understandable. Prague's old city square is absolutely stunning, and as it turns out, even more beautiful at night.

The same thing can not be said about the smell. The city square, particularly up around the Astronomical Clock smelling like horseshit, mostly on account of all the horses shitting there... The trams, also, smelled like B.O. or at least our one home last night did. It reaked of the two homeless people sat in front of me. Mostly on account of the fact that they needed a shower...

Dinner and drinks followed, and we went to a traditional Czech bar called Caffreys, to watch the second half of the Arsenal/Dynamo Kiev game. Drinks at this bar proved to be expensive, so I only had 2 more after the other 7 or 8 I'd had through the day, and went back to the apartment at 12:30 to play an online poker tournament... My KK came up against AA and I was out just outside the money...

Today, (our 3rd and final day in Prague) is another day of sightseeing. Heading to Prague Castle, and hopefully taking some pictures around the city. I will eventually add some more pictures to the blog and to Facebook. Hopefully I can get that done tonight... And, hopefully, I can survive the smell of horseshit...

I meet up with Mum and Dad tomorrow afternoon, so that's pretty exciting too...

permalink written by  Big_T on September 18, 2008 from Prague, Czech Republic
from the travel blog: Big_T's Travel Blog
tagged Prague, Horseshit and Horses

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High in Huancayo

Huancayo, Peru

I woke up in middle of the night. We were half way through our 8 hour coach ride and though I had managed to fall asleep reasonably quickly I was now woken up by a feeling of nausea which was impossible to ignore. I made my way to the toilet, falling over sleeping travellers as the coach swung along mountain roads and, failing to find a light switch in the toilet, spent some dark moments trying to make myself feel better. When we reached our destination all I wanted was bed.

The next morning I was awoken (after the usual unneccessarily early rustlings and suugestions of breakfast from Josh which I now ignore) by a marching band! I dragged myself up and looked around the museum-like hostel. Rugs, paintings, carvings, blankets - everything wall was covered in Peruvian artwork. Thankfully I had slept off my sickness and only now realised the cause. It was no the cerviche of the day before, we were 3271m up in the Andes! To put that into perspective Machu Picchu is only 2380m, Snowdon is 1085m, Ben Nevis is 1344m. We were stupidly high up. It was the infamous altitude sickness I had heard so much about.

We followed the band down into the town and to the local market which is supposedly the largest in Peru. Ladies in traditional dress, with big skirts, wide brimmed hats and colourful sacks hung across their backs, were everywhere and the market was filled with the usual artwork and outrageous knitwear. There wasn´t a gringo in site. The locals were friendly and clearly in high spirits, the marching band procession formed only part of the fiesta and we would later see people dancing in the Plaza de Armas and supplying beer from the backs of trucks. It was a wonderful scene.

The Mantaro Valley surrounding the town of Huancayo is the reason for the abundant artwork in the hostel and the market. There are a number of villages and each specialise in producing different goods (carving, weaving, jewellery making, etc). I wondered whether you would be evicted if you lived in the carving village and discovered a passion for weaving but I did think it was a very amiable set up and on our second day we rented bikes to go and see the villages for ourselves.

Before we left we poked around the local food market - a staggering collection of stalls trailers and blankets on the floor which were all covered in colourful and fragrant piles of exotic fruit, strange vegetables and bundles of herbs. There was also a section devoted to meat and fish where rows of freshly plucked chickens hung awkwardly by their necks, huge trout stared and giant slabs of beef waited to be hoisted home. I was reminded of the amazing food market I had seen in Shanghai´s old town. This market was larger and more organised but I find that is the disorganised parts which I liked best - they seem to have the most character.

We were given our bikes by Lucho, a Peruvian man whose passion for Huancayo and the surrounding area was particularly contagious. He gave us a series of maps and talked us through the seemingly simple route which would allow us to visit each of the main villages. I say seemingly because within minutes we were puzzling over these hand-drawn things and wondering whether the church was on our left or our right and why the park had a line through it. After a few conversations with locals starting with "Donde esta" and ending in a series of directions which we probably didn´t understand, we found ourselves on a dusty rock strewn track passing through small villages where children stared and animals wandered around casually. Soon we were pushing further into the rugged mountains, geting off every now and then to push up particularly steep sections.

We entered small mountain villages and were called into random homes by artists who carved or weaved and were pleased to demonstrate their talents and techniques. I won´t go into a detailed description of each part of our journey because I know you will probably be far more interested to hear about my fantastically bruised bum and spectacular sunburn but I will say that it was worth all the pain. The colourful locals were visibly amused by the site of two intrepid gringos (especially the bright pink one who kept rubbing his arse) and when we arrived back I was so deleriously hungry that I ate a whole guinea pig. It was like eating someones leftover chicken - all fatty skin and bones with no meat. I ate it all anyway.

If my bum had the ability to communicate I would surely have got an earful the next morning (interesting image...). Despite the abuse inflicted by the previous days adventures, I had signed up for more. This time it involved a horse... Thankfully, however, the saddle was soft sheepswool and as our horses pushed their way up the rocky slopes the surroundings and the fact I was riding a horse in the Peruvian Andes distracted me completely from any aches and pains. The views were indescribably immense and the sun shone brightly in the clear sky (I had coated my face in factor 50 in order to avoid any further embarassment).

Eventually we reached the Huaytapallana Snow Mountain where we sat in awe and ate our sandwiches. On the way down we followed a stream through the valley which soon turned into a shallow, rushing river. We splashed through this a few times, zigzagging our way through the deep valley which hung over us dramatically. By the time we got back to our taxi driver (who not only drove us up along crazy rocky mountain roads but also seemed to magically re-appear 4 hours later just as we emerged back onto the road) my legs were wet, muddy and sore and my bum... well, if my bum had had the ability to communicate it would have been actively not speaking to me.

permalink written by  steve_stamp on June 11, 2009 from Huancayo, Peru
from the travel blog: The art of being lost
tagged Horses, Sunburn, Altitude, MountainBike and Band

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Around Malaga

Malaga, Spain

\As we walk to the Alcazaba we saw this interesting Fountain and multiple horse drawn carriages passed us by.
Then we arrived at the Alcazaba, an ancient moorish palace from the 9th century. In front of the palace was a Roman theater shown in the picture. Here is a picture of my sister and I standing in one section of the castle and here is another picture of my sister fumbling with a no hands water Fountain.

Here's a picture of Daddy getting used to using a clothesline.

permalink written by  andres3009 on June 29, 2012 from Malaga, Spain
from the travel blog: Spain Trip 2012
tagged Castle, Spain, Fountain, Ancient, Horses and Alcazaba

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