Pacific island ‘hopping’ – Easter island

Easter Island sunset

Easter Island sunset

We arrive in Easter island from Santiago on our first of many hops (well leaps) across the Pacific on our way to Australia and Asia. 3700km off mainland Chile, a 6 hour flight, part of Chile, Spanish name Isla de Pascua, indigenous name Rapa Nui, the same name given to the indigenous Polynesian population and local language.The population of 6700 live in the one peaceful, pretty town of Hanga Nui – with one main street and a handful of shops and cafes, mostly Rapa Nui people, though an increasing number of mainland Chilean people have settled here too. .

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A week in the Falklands Part 1

or….Flat Stanley does Stanley:)

On our family gap year travels, one of the most exciting places we’ve been to is the Falklands.

Pictures of Falklands

Images of the Falklands – a running-backwards-race at the racetrack fun day which we joined in but didn’t win, king penguins at, Volunteer Point, Port Stanley houses decorated with Union Jacks and Falklands flags, landmine warnings at Surf Bay and fishing at the lake beneath Mount Tumbledown

It’s partly because it’s just so British! More British than being at home. Of course everyone speaks English, which was a real treat after speaking Spanish or Portuguese for our whole trip so far, it was exciting too because we got to stay in a lovely traditional B&B called Kay’s and she was amazing! It was really interesting to find out what a small island in the middle of the south Atlantic was like where there were only a few people but where they’d had a war in 1982 when Argentina invaded and tried to take the islands over. And it was also exciting because its close to Antarctica and we got to see king penguins and rockhopper penguins and that was really unbelievable!

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Family Gap Year One – Dad’s Reflection

MMBZL written in sand above flipflops

1 year, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes or if you are Lara a fifth of your life travelling and quite a big chunk for the rest of us. I still can’t believe we did it, made it through a whole year and are still talking to each other after being 24/7 for so long.

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Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

Nature served up another remarkable highlight in South America when she created the Perito Moreno Glacier in the south of Argentina, up there with Iguazu Falls and the Bolivian Salt Flats as one of the most spectacular places and is a must visit, worth every hour of the long journey to get there!

Colours and Patterns of Perito Merino Glacier Patagonia, Argentina

Colours and Patterns of Perito Moreno Glacier Patagonia, Argentina

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Ben 10 in Buenos Aires

I had my 10th birthday in Buenos Aires. My family thought it was very funny to call me Ben 10 and give me Ben 10 gifts. My little sister Lara gave me a Ben 10 toothbrush!

Luckily I persuaded them to buy me a finger skateboard and not the cuddly Ben 10!

Luckily I persuaded them to buy me a finger skateboard and not the cuddly Ben 10 at this toy shop in Buenos Aires!

Before my birthday, I wrote a To Do list that looked like this:- More

A week in Buenos Aires

26 February 2013. We arrive in Buenos Aires at 8.30am after being served breakfast on our VIP 20 hour bus trip from Iguazu Falls.

A walk and a run around the docklands area of Buenos Aires

A walk and a run around the docklands area of Buenos Aires

We’d hoped to go via Uruguay but scouring forums and blogs for information on this route suggested complicated stops and connections with people being stranded at quiet border towns for half the night and having to hitch. Didn’t really fancy this with three tired kids and all our bags! More

Flat Stanley at Iguazu Falls

I loved Iguazu Falls. It was one of my favourite places in South America. I thought it was going to be like the waterfall in the film UP because in that film the old man has a dream of going to some waterfalls in South America but Iguazu is much bigger.

Me, Ben, Lara and Flat Stanley

Me, Ben, Lara and Flat Stanley

I took Flat Stanley to see Iguazu. More

Iguazu Wonders and Wildlife

We were at Iguazu for a few days. We stayed in Argentina and just across the river Iguazu were Brazil and Paraguay. It was wet and jungly rainforest which we hadn’t seen for a while after being in the Andes. Each day we were in a different country. We crossed the borders about 10 times in a week!  Here are some of my highlights and favourite pictures and wildlife!

Brazil

You can visit the Falls in Brazil and Argentina. We started in Brazil.  This was pretty much my first view of the falls. It looked amazing but even more amazing when we got on the boat a few days later. We could see the boats down in the river going under the falls!

Me at Iguasu!

Me at Iguazu!

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Iguazu Falls – where Argentina meets Brazil and Paraguay

Iguazu Falls panorama. Showing just a fraction of the Falls which includes 275 indivdual cascades amidst multiple islands.

Iguazu Falls  – just a fraction of the Falls which includes 275 individual cascades amidst multiple islands.

Iguassu (or Iguazu, or Iguacu Falls) is so incredible it deserves its 3 spellings, or more, if you include versions with or without accents. Then there’s Puerto Iguazu in Argentina and Foz do Iguacu just across the border in Brazil, the towns and airports in the midst of the rainforest, stopping off points for the Falls.

About to get under the Iguazu falls!

About to get under the Iguazu falls!

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A taste of wine and crime in Mendoza.

aka – Visiting Argentina’s wine region with kids plus babysitter!

We arrive in Mendoza, Argentina at 5am. Our bus is about 6 hours late! With super sleepy kids and feeling  exhausted too we gather our bags and our wits and wonder if you can get any cash or a cab at this time. A money changer offers me 6 pesos to the dollar to change a $20 bill – I know the exchange rate is 5 so I’m baffled but accept and am cautious to check all the notes I get. We soon discover there is another exchange rate – it’s called the ‘dollar blue’ aka the black market rate! There is a daily published ‘dollar blue rate’ on the internet – it’s about 7:1 at this point and climbing – more on this and how much of a difference it makes to us later!  Argentina’s economy is in crisis (perhaps as a distraction  President Christina Kirchner is making a lot of noise about the Falklands aka The Malvinas) again and so we’re cautious about the reception we’ll get here!

We find a friendly cabbie who is happy to shoehorn the six of us plus luggage into his taxi! (interesting feat) and take us to our pleasant Aparthotel Tunkelen. Determined to get some value from our paid night of accommodation not to mention being bushed, we drive the now wide-awake kids into bed and sleep till 11am,. Of course we miss breakfast but the rooftop pool is wonderful when we finally wake up.

The rooftop pool and Royal Pavillion ?

The rooftop pool and Royal Pavillion ?

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