Getting up to Speed

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Well, we left Australia on the 24th of December, so we've already been underway for five months and the site has only just been updated. There are photos up for the whole trip so far and you can see where we've been, but I'll run through a few of the highlights to bring everyone up to speed before hopefully resuming more regular updates to let you know what we're up to.

Since leaving Australia just before Christmas we've been back in NZ for Christmas and our first wedding, over to Thailand for another wedding (taking a bit of time out to relax afterwards as well), around the world for a brief visit to the UK to visit London and nearby family and friends, a short hop down to Morocco for a month before quickly rushing through Spain, Germany and the Czech Republic. From there we caught a flight over to the Americas, landing in Cuba and travelling around there for three weeks then heading over to our current location, Mexico.

It's been quite a busy trip, different from our normal travel style. The need to book flights far in advance in order to avoid savage airfares really does force you to be more organised, locking you into a certain route or timeframe. Our last trip, to the Middle east, was relatively easy - we had a flight in to Jordan and a ticket back out again five months later, but in between time our only limitation was the duration of our visas to various countries. Before that, travelling overland from Europe to Asia, it was all done overland, so could be booked at the last moment. I've got to say that I prefer to have the flexibility, the ability to just find a nice spot, sit back and stay there for a week or two, rather than having to rush onwards.

So now we're in Mexico and we are finally a little more open ended again. The plan from here is still undecided. One option is to head down reasonably quickly through Central America to Panama and charter a boat around to Colombia, then move through Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, but we feel that this may leave us a little short on time. The other option is to fly from Mexico to South America and focus our time there instead. Unfortunately budget airlines have yet to really take off in South America, so flying is a very expensive option... Don't even get me started on tickets home :-/

So what have been the highlights of the trip so far? London has completely changed my opinion of it; I've visited several times before and never really been much of a fan. This time was different; our friends George and Sophie lent us their place in the middle of Soho, putting everything almost literally on our doorstep, the sun was out (something I don't really remember seeing before in the UK) and the English Pound was weak, making London a more affordable city than Melbourne. So we went out, ate good food, saw the sights and generally loved the place. Two weeks was not enough, but then two months would still have been too little, so we had to leave some time... Big thanks also to Auntie Beth for taking us touring to Avesbury, Stonehenge and Stourhead, sights that we would probably never have got to on our own.

Morocco was a place we'd wanted to go for a long time. It was originally on the cards for our last big trip, where we intended to travel overland from Morocco along the north coast of Africa to Egypt. The logistics and costs were too much, in the end, so we didn't make it but we had to go this time. It was, in most ways, similar to the Middle East, so perhaps not as exciting for us as for those that recommended it to us, but there were bits that we really enjoyed. Hiking out of N'Kob through the Saghoro Mountains with Rashid and Youssef was fantastic, such stark terrain, arid mountains, towering rocks and cliffs. The medina of Fez, more tangled, interesting and friendly than any other in Morocco. Chefchaouen, blue, white and relaxing in the green Rif mountains. Overall well worth the trip.

Our time in Spain was all too brief, but very enjoyable. If we'd had a little more time we would have made it out to Granada and Cordoba as well, but Seville was enough to leave me wanting more (perhaps a trip dedicated to Spain some time in the future...). If nothing else, the food was a revelation. Moroccan cuisine is generally not very exciting, and is terribly limited in variety, so arriving in the birthplace of tapas almost caused sensory overload! June's friend's on Facebook probably remember this time well, from the several-times-daily drool inducing updates describing all the amazing food that we were eating. There were also some sights to see as well (Seville Cathedral, third largest in the world, and the Alcazar chief among them), but to be honest... they were of seconary importance here.

We were lucky with our timing in Germany; we arrived in Berlin the day before May Day, the annual street protest-and-party attended by 7000 police and I have no idea how many people. Take away cocktails and beers and food and music and people everywhere for kilometers in any given direction, focused mainly (it seemed) in Kruezburg. I hear that Berlin is generally a pretty cool city and that there's a lot to see, but we didn't get to see so much of it. Maybe next time :)

I'm running out of steam now, so I'm signing off... I'll be updating soon with stories from Mexico.