Birthday Celebrations Across the Cafe Table

It’s hard to believe, but the Travel Belles‘ wonderful virtual get-together Across the Cafe Table has been going for one whole year! Congratulations to Margo and Briana, who run the show! So fittingly, this month’s natter is all about dream birthday trips – where would you go?   I’ve been thinking about this question for a few days now, and my answer has changed with startling frequency! One minute, I’m imagining myself in a chic European capital, the next on a secluded beach, then an exciting, once-in-a-lifetime destination. There’s just far too much choice in the world – I think the only thing to do would be to spend every birthday somewhere different! Really, I suppose I enjoy spontaneity too much to put a name to something like a ‘dream’ birthday trip – I like the anticipation of the possible. It’s not, Jiminy Cricket, that I don’t have a dream; I have many – and I like to savour them all! Last year, I spent my birthday in Peru, just after my arrival there. It was the start of four months of travelling and the world could not have been brighter. New-found friends bought me balloons and we went for dinner at a polleria before hitting a bar. It was supposed to be ‘dry’, because it was the night of the Peruvian elections, but the bar owner, Milly, agreed to let us have a few drinks. Soon enough, the bar was open for everyone and everyone, Peruvians, foreigners – and Ice Road Truckers sang happy birthday to me. The following day, we went to Yungay, a small town high...

Cuy: Peru’s Celebration Food

It’s the second Wednesday of April, which means it is time once again to join the Travel Belles Across the Cafe Table! This month, we’re discussing the weirdest food we’ve eaten on our travels. I can’t wait to read about what other intrepid foodies have dared to eat!   To put this into context, I am normally a vegetarian. However, when I arrived at the Delgados’ home in the small, Andean town of Huaraz, Peru, I decided to forgo my principles. Vegetarianism is not exactly a familiar concept in these parts and the family were so generous in sharing their homecooked meals with us volunteers that I just couldn’t refuse. In general, the meals were delicious casseroles or stews served with rice or potatoe, without too much meat. In the garden, four guinea-pigs lived happily in a roomy hutch. They were well-fed, petted often by the youngest child and seemed for all the world like family pets. However, one day, I got home from the school where I was teaching and went into the kitchen to make myself a drink. There, on the counter, was a metal bowl, in which two headless, skinned, guinea-pig carcasses were marinating. I knew that guinea-pig – cuy –  was a delicacy here, having seen it advertised on numerous menus, but to see them like this was a bit of a shock. A horrible thought struck me and I went out to the garden. Sure enough, two of the guinea pigs were gone. It was the son’s 11th birthday and that night we sat down to the special, celebratory meal of cuy. It was well cooked...

A Year of Starry-Eyed Travels

  Starry-Eyed Travels is a year old today! To celebrate, I have cake, streamers, balloons – and the chance to take a look back at just a few of the posts from the year. It has been quite a journey – from its inception a year ago as a personal project, Starry-Eyed Travels is now read by people all over the world and has gained a team of fantastic guest writers. I have charted my own adventures and development from novice backpacker to well-seasoned traveller and hopefully provided stories and photos to inspire you along the way.     I can’t thank you enough for reading, supporting and getting involved with Starry-Eyed Travels  – because of you, it has been one incredible year and I hope the next is just as good, if not better. So help yourself to a piece of birthday cake, grab a glass of bubbly and enjoy a meander through the Starry-Eyed Travels archives!   1. Joie de Vivre   From the very beginning, I wanted the posts on Starry-Eyed Travels to capture the unique, joyous moments of travel, so I wrote this post in order to encapsulate just that feeling – I hope it succeeded!   2. Planning the Adventure of a Lifetime Very soon after I started Starry-Eyed Travels, I began to prepare for my first backpacking experience and hoped that by sharing my excitment and general preparations, I could help and inspire other novice backpackers.   3. Discovering Huaraz Whenever I had time and a decent internet connection, I posted about my experiences ‘on location’ in South America. The first destination of...

Photo Friday: Sunday in La Paz

It’s Photo Friday, but we’re looking ahead to the weekend! Sticking with our theme of Cities & Culture, but in complete contrast to last week’s image, we’re heading to the heart of South America… Cities may be thought of in terms of things – buildings, museums, restaurants, shops – but the most exhilirating thing about cities are their people. Whether you’re joining locals at a big event, mingling with Saturday shopping crowds, haggling with stall-holders at markets, or simply people-watching from a cafe, it is the people that will make  it a vibrant and exciting place to be. And on those stakes, La Paz, Bolivia, certainly does well. This was just an average Sunday, the streets taken over by a parade – no reasons, no rules, no regulations, just a mass of people coming together to celebrate life. Which city would you reccomend for a...

New Year Travel Plans, Pirate-Style

As we bring in the New Year, I will be more than ready to set sail once more on voyages across the seas, so perhaps it is quite apt that I will be dressed as a pirate, a costume I have to get sorted this week! However, I will be land-bound for much of this year as I train to be a teacher, so I’m going to have to plan my travel pretty carefully indeed. Now, planning ahead is not exactly my strong suit, so this is going to be a bit of a challenge. So I’m starting early, whittling down my wishlist to a few realistic destinations and thinking about short trips close to home that will nevertheless provide some unforgettable experiences. 1. Whale Watching, Scotland I have long wanted to explore the rugged Northern coast of Scotland and its even more northerly isles and I am desperate to make 2012 the year I finally get out on a boat to try and spot some whales. I have never seen any of these incredible creatures and I am hoping to change that. What could be more wonderful than windswept beaches, solitary lighthouses and time spent out at sea? I need to make this happen. 2. Culture and Wilderness, Ireland Though it is on the doorstep, as it were, I have never travelled across the Irish sea to this ancient, mystical land, beloved by so many travellers. I have scant excuse for this state of affairs and need to rectify it at the earliest opportunity. There are so many parts of Ireland I would like to see, but even...
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