Looking for tickets or info for the Get Happy Tour 2018 featuring Bowling for Soup, Army of Freshmen and The Aquabats?

This domain name was used for the Get Happy Tour back in its original run around 10 years ago, when I used to do work for BFS and AOF. However, for the past 5 years it has been used for my travel blog as I never thought we would have another Get Happy Tour and I didn't want it to go to waste.

But as a favour to two bands who have done a lot for me over the years, and so you don't miss out, ticket info is:
O2 Presale: 10am on 25 September
General Onsale: 10am on 27 September.

Tickets available from ticketmaster.co.uk and bowlingforsoup.com
 


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Archive for the ‘2012 Central America’ Category

Central America is booked

November 7th, 2011 No comments

For several years I’ve been putting off visiting Central America which, for some unknown reason, has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for many years. My problem was I kept getting distracted by other destinations – in 2009 I saw a photo of somebody sitting next to a Mountain Gorilla and thought “I want to do that”. Then in 2010 I found a trip to North Korea I liked the look of and decided it was the right time to go.

I always believe everything happens for a reason and I’ve had some incredible experiences. In Rwanda I was grabbed on the leg by a Gorilla and I had an amazing time in Korea and met some awesome people.

However now the time is right to finally visit Central America. So in less than 90 days time I shall be jetting off to the region!

I’ll be staying in Atlanta USA for one night before flying down to Guatemala and spending just over 2 weeks travelling through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica with a Dragoman / Intrepid group. Then I’ll be flying back to London (with layovers in Panama and Holland).

Dragoman Logo

Intrepid Travel Logo

I almost didn’t book it-I found a trip that I really want to do in central Asia but the timing was right and I got some really good deals on flights :). However after researching it some more I’ve decided the overland trip with Dragoman through Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan is definitely top of my list for my trip after this! It just looks so amazing!

I’ll give you more details about Central America nearer the time, and also try to upload my blog from Korea before I go :).

The Overland portion of my Central America Trip

This is the full route I'll be taking

This is the full route I’ll be taking

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First stop Atlanta

January 28th, 2012 No comments

I’ve finally started my trip to Central America that I’ve been wanted to do for many years, but have only made it as far as Atlanta USA where I’m making a brief overnight stop.

I had to get up fairly early this morning for my flight to Atlanta. Even though I was at the Travelodge near Heathrow it took some time to get to Terminal 4 due to waiting for various bus and Tube connections at that time of the morning. Check-in went ok and I managed to have enough time to grab some food and brush up on my Spanish ready for just over 2 weeks in Central America.

The flight itself went well too – I had never flown Delta before but they seem to be a good airline despite what I read online. I was on the outside of a 2-4-2 configuration 767 so only had one person next to me and he only got up once so I could relax for the duration of the flight which took us up over Greenland then down over Toronto and Tennessee before making the approach to Atlanta.

Atlanta airport has an unusual setup compared to every other airport I have been through in the world. After passport control you collect your bags straight away, go through customs, then have to recheck your bags onto another system which will take them to the arrivals hall where you collect them again later on. Before the arrivals hall however you have to pass through security, use the full-body scanners and then catch a metro-style train to the arrivals hall where your bags will be waiting for you. Despite the confusion the process went smoothly, except for the extra questions the CBP official at passport control had for me after seeing my North Korean tourist visa in my passport. Out of all the pages he picked to open my passport at he had to pick that one, but it didn’t cause a problem.

I’m only in Atlanta for a short time – my flight arrived at 5pm and the connecting flight to Guatemala leaves at 9am tomorrow but it was enough time to catch the metro into the city, check into a hotel, grab some dinner in the city and then catch some sleep.

Days Inn Atlanta Downtown

My room at the Days Inn

The view from my room

My view of Atlanta

Despite the weird atmosphere of the city (LOTS of homeless people begging for money on dark street corners – even trying to get me to take money out of the ATM for them, kids pestering me to buy cigarettes for them every time I went past a store) Atlanta itself seemed nice – it had a lot of open space for a city and was clean. It also gave me a chance to sample the famed southern hospitality – as soon as I got off the Metro a city greeter came up to me and asked me if he could be of assistance before directing me to my hotel.

That southern hospitality was also evident when I grabbed a meal at Ted’s Montana Grill – a restaurant owned by Ted Turner just across from the CNN building. The restaurant was expensive but the food was really nice – I had bison nachos to start, bison potroast for the main course and then finished with apple crisp for dessert but I was unable to finish it. The waitresses thought the fact I was from the UK was amazing and kept talking to me asking where I was from and what I was doing. Maybe not many tourists go in there but I’d recommend it if it’s your sort of thing.

Bison pot roast

Bison pot roast

Atlanta at night

Atlanta at night

There’s not really much to report today as this is just a stopover but it was nice to visit a new part of the USA as I’ve never been to the southern states before except for the touristy areas of Florida. I’m off to bed now for what will probably be my last good nights sleep for a long time – I’m expecting lots of early starts and long travel days over the next few weeks during my time in Central America!

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Welcome to Guatemala

January 29th, 2012 No comments

So I’ve finally made it to Central America – I’m currently sat in my hotel in the lovely town of Antigua Guatemala after what has been a long few days.

Today was another day of mostly travelling just like yesterday. After a 6am checkout of the hotel in Atlanta I made my way to the airport where I printed my boarding passes (I had already checked in online), checked my bags and then proceeded through security where I used the free wi-fi to save a couple of key phrases from Google Translate onto my phone. The flight to Guatemala was a little delayed but we managed to pick up most of the time in the air – we flew down over Florida, Mexico and then finally down into Guatemala City.

Atlanta Airport

Atlanta Airport

Immigration in Guatemala City was fast but there were no signs for which baggage carousel we should use and after a long delay, and after asking a few people, I finally found my baggage and waited for the long line at customs that had formed by this point due to several flights from the USA all arriving at once. After customs there’s a tourist information desk with bi-lingual assistants who can help you with whatever you require. All I needed to know was how to get to Antigua and they directed me to the place outside where the shared minibus taxis wait.

The shared minibus system is pretty efficient and probably the best way to make it to Antigua if you’re going straight there from Guatemala City Airport. They wait until they are full, which is never usually long, and then take you straight to your hotel in Antigua for only $10 compared to the $70 my travel agent wanted for a transfer. The journey seemed to progress slowly due to the mountain roads but the scenery was nice. It also gave me a chance to chat to my fellow passengers – a Canadian who had just left the Northwest Territories where it was a chilly -20, an American who visits Central America every 6 months, an Australian and a few Americans including this one guy who needed a fresh start so had arrived in Guatemala with no plan carrying a bag containing everything he owned. I have a lot of respect for him for taking that risk.

I was due to stay at the “Casa en Familia”, which is the starting place for all Intrepid trips in Central America that depart from Antigua, but when I arrived they explained they were overbooked so had checked me into another small family run place just around the corner which they lead me straight to before telling me what time to be back at Casa en Familia for the group welcome meeting. For those of you that are having a hard time finding Casa en Familia or anything about it – it’s a small family run place on Calle Camposeco, to the west of 7a Avenida Norte (walking from the centre of town when you get to the intersection of the two roads turn left and the hotel is a 20 second walk on the left hand side). The shared minibus should know how to get you there – but there’s a big barn door with a doorbell and a small sign with the hotel name next to it.

The hotel I was booked into

The hotel I stayed in due to Casa en Familia being overbooked

My room in Guatemala

My room in Guatemala

The famous arch in Antigua

The famous arch in Antigua

The park in Antigua

The park at the centre of Antigua Guatemala

Street view in Antigua

A street in Antigua

After relaxing in my hotel room for a bit I went into town to grab some snacks and a coffee before relaxing in the park to read for a bit. It looked like rain was going to come so I wandered to Frida’s bar for some Mojitos and to use their free wi-fi connection. After relaxing with my Mojito for a while the sky cleared and the rain never came so I made my way back to the hotel ready for the welcome meeting. After the welcome meeting, which was fairly brief, we all went out for dinner (we ended up at Frida’s again) before making our way around the corner to a rock / metal bar. We also made time for group photos under the arch before making our way back to the hotel ready for an early start tomorrow.

A view from the terrace

A view from Casa en Familia

Dinner in Guatemala

Dinner in Guatemala

Antigua seems like a nice place it’s a shame I didn’t book an extra day and spend more time here but we’re off to Honduras in the morning. One thing I like about the town is it has kept its traditional charm with the old cobbled streets and traditional courtyard houses. There are branches of subway and other western outlets like that but they’re not allowed to put up huge signs they have to just have small ones hanging in their window so as not to change the character of the town.

Musicians

Musicians under the arch

Street view

Antigua Guatemala

The others on our trip seem nice too. There are a few who are starting in Antigua like me but the majority have come down from Mexico and are continuing down to Costa Rica. I also met a really nice guy who finished his trip in Antigua today called Andy – apparently he played Mundungus Fletcher in the Harry Potter movies among other things. Our guide, Mena, seems nice too – we seemed to make friends when we found out we had similar music tastes and when she found out I had been to North Korea.

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Into Honduras

January 30th, 2012 No comments

Today was a very long day of travelling. We were due to leave Antigua at 5 so I got up at 4 to repack my bags ready for the trip ahead. Unfortunately one of our group was a little late getting ready so by the time we reached the Guatemala City ring road the traffic was horrendous and it took a long time to get through. Our minibus driver did the best he could but this involved some very positive driving which made me feel a little carsick which is a very rare occurrence for me.

We were due to stop for breakfast on the way between Guatemala City and the border but this turned into a late brunch / early lunch but it was at a nice rest-stop cafe where I decided to have an Omelette. The journey on from here, however, was just as chaotic as the journey through Guatemala City.

A bridge

A bridge in Guatemala City

Traffic jam

A traffic jam during our rest stop

Scenery in Guatemala

Scenery in Guatemala

Lunch time!

This is where we stopped for lunch

Most places around the world when they do maintenance on the road they either do it overnight so as not to cause chaos or they have some sort of alternate route in place. However in Guatemala they just close the roads for hours and create all sorts of chaos when people try to force their way through anyway. When we finally came to a halt the maintenance workers told us it would be another hour before they opened the road again so we gave up and sat outside in the sun for a bit – before a rather hasty scramble back into the minibus when traffic started moving again 10 minutes later.

Yeah this is good!

Solution to a Guatemalan traffic problem - force your way through!

More Guatemalan scenery

More Guatemalan scenery

It took about an hour to cross the border from Guatemala to Honduras, which was up a mountain pass on the way to Copan Ruinas – our first destination in Honduras. As soon as we arrived at the border area money changers came from nowhere trying to exchange our money just like when I was in Africa. They’re usually honest but make sure you know the official rate in advance and have a calculator handy so you can check their calculations as sometimes they will try to short change you. They’re more accurate when you speak a little Spanish though and I ended up with a load of coins which I decided to spend buying bottled water before the border formalities had been concluded.

The border with Honduras

The border with Honduras

Me and Anne at the border

Relaxing at the border

Yep I had to!

On the roof of the minibus

Now we’re in the town of Copan Ruinas, just across the border in Honduras. It’s quite a nice town with very steep cobbled streets leading to a central square. We had a group dinner in town at Via Via while discussing what activities were available to us in the town – top of my list are the Mayan ruins just outside town but we’ve worked out there’s a way to fit in the ruins, the local bird park and a visit to the hot springs so it should be quite a busy day tomorrow. Time for a few drinks with the group before heading back to the hotel to catch some sleep.

Our hotel in Copan

Our hotel in Copan

Walking into town

Walking down the hill to town

The centre of Copan

The centre of Copan

Sampling local food

Honduran food at Via Via

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Mayan ruins and a survival experience

January 31st, 2012 No comments

Today was my first day which didn’t involve lots of long distance travelling and I managed to fit in a lot of activities, despite not getting much sleep last night due to my assigned room mate being a VERY loud snorer. Luckily I brought some silicone ear plugs with me in case I went swimming so I’ll dig those out of my bag ready for tonight.

I met up with the girls ready to head into town fairly early. First stop the casa del todos which is a shop / laundry / Internet cafe / restaurant all in one. I needed to get some laundry done as we had been recommended by our guide not to use the ones at our next destination. After some negotiation I managed to persuade them to have my laundry done early, rather than at 6pm, so that I could pick it up after visiting the ruins. Then it was back into town for breakfast and a quick souvenir shop before making our way to the ruins.

On the way to the ruins

On the way to the Copan Ruins

The easiest way to get to the Mayan Ruins outside Copan is to take one of the tuk-tuk taxis from near Parque Central as there are usually a few around and it’s fairly cheap. Just tell them you want to go to the ruins and they’ll even come back to pick you up at a specified time (I recommend having a couple of hours at the ruins but you could easily spend longer if you want to visit the tunnels and take time looking at everything).

We decided that since there were 9 of us it would be best to hire a guide to give us a tour – entry to the ruins is $15 per person and the guide was $25 split between the 9 of us. Our guide, Mauricio, was fluent in English and very knowledgeable about the ruins. During our visit, which probably lasted 90 minutes, we were shown the petroglyph staircase, ball court, statues, temples and many other features and given detailed information and history about them all. During our visit we also saw some wild parrots and a few other animals. The site is small compared so some other sites in the Mayan world such as Tikal and Chechen Itza but if you’re here then it’s worth a visit.

Enterring Copan with our guide

Entering Copan Ruins with our guide

Wild Parrots

Wild Parrots at Copan Ruins

Copan Ruins

Copan Ruins

They used to execute people here

They used to execute people here

Copan Ruins

Copan Ruins - the canvas covers the famous staircase

Me and a Monkey statue

Me and a Monkey statue at Copan

Me at Copan Ruins

Me at Copan Ruins

Some of our group at Copan Ruins

The members of our group that toured Copan Ruins

After returning to town I grabbed a snack for lunch before running a few errands – taking photos from the lookout above the town, picking up a few more souvenirs, sending postcards and picking up my laundry before heading back into town to meet up with the others for our journey up to Macaw Mountain. The price we paid included the Tuk Tuk up to Macaw Mountain and the entrance to what was a really nice bird park. They have all sorts of birds including Hawks, Parrots, Owls, Toucans and even one at that says “hola” to you when you enter. They have an interactive centre at the end of the recommended walking route which allows you to get up and close with some parrots, as you can see.

Yummy!

The dulce de leche cake and Dark Maya milkshake were lovely!

A view over the town of Copan

A view over the town of Copan

This bird said Hola!

This bird said Hola!

Macaw at Macaw Mountain

A Macaw at Macaw Mountain

Lovely scenery

The scenery at Macaw Mountain

A Toucan

A Toucan at Macaw Mountain

Me and some Parrots

Me and some Parrots

Mena managed to organise things so that we could fit in the ruins, Macaw Mountain and the Hot Springs all in one day. We decided to be collected from Macaw Mountain and then do the hot springs in the early evening as they were along the same mountain road anyway. However I wouldn’t recommend doing the hot springs as late as we did as it was dark by the time we arrived, and that caused a few problems.

Our guides for the evening told us to leave all of our bags, shoes, torches, towels etc at the bottom and just walk up with them but this was a mistake. We needed to take flip-flops and torches as when it was time to descend back down the hill to the car park we couldn’t see anything and it was a case of feeling our way down the mountain – luckily a couple of people remembered the way. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it was still light, if we had torches, or if the guides didn’t have to take one of the others back down to the car park before we all finished due to a few problems – taking the torch with him. I have new respect for people that have to survive in the jungle after getting lost. The hot springs themselves were refreshing and worth a visit if you’re into the area, during the day, and they’re your sort of thing.

When we got down to the car park there was enough time to get changed before a nice BBQ that the guides had put on for us – kebabs, cheese, beans, salad, bread and tortillas. There was just enough time to stuff ourselves before getting back to the hotel. Let’s hope I get some more sleep tonight despite the snoring as we need to be up at 545 ready to meet at 630 for the bus to our next destination.

This dinner was great

This was a great BBQ

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Next stop… paradise

February 1st, 2012 No comments

It was an early start today as we had to catch the 7am chicken bus from town. I think the chicken buses were the only bit of this trip I wasn’t looking forward to as I have really long legs and was worried about the lack of leg room, however this didn’t seem to be a problem on the particular bus we had despite the fact it got really crowded for a while.

The bus took a bit longer than expected due to mechanical problems and we arrived in San Pedro Sula half an hour late which meant we had to rush to get our tickets and bags checked onto the next bus. Luckily our leader was ahead of things and she managed to get fast-tracked to the front of the line for tickets. There was just enough time to use the restrooms and stock up on refreshments in the shopping centre within the bus terminal before boarding the express bus to La Ceiba, where we were due to take the ferry to Roatan Island.

View from the bus

A view from our bus on the way to San Pedro Sula

Honduran scenery

The scenery of Honduras

The bus station at San Pedro Sula

The huge bus station at San Pedro Sula

Becoming more tropical

The atmosphere was definitely more tropical near La Ceiba

As usual in this part of the world we got stuck in traffic on the way to La Ceiba meaning there was another rush to get across town to the ferry terminal – this time a lot more urgently than the previous one. Luckily Mena was on top of things again and we managed to have our bags offloaded first and then we all got in some VERY speedily driven taxis for the journey to the ferry terminal. After checking in and passing through security we were given sea sickness tablets due to the fact the fast craft can get really choppy at times – and we definitely needed them on our crossing.

The journey itself was nice just a little too rough for me – I could have done with the seasickness tablets in advance to give them a chance to work their magic. I think every kid on the ferry was sick even with the seasickness tablets :(.

As we approached Roatan we passed a huge cruise ship which I didn’t expect to see at the island. Mena said the cruise ships create a bit of controversy when they visit the island as traditionally only the main roads are paved on Roatan Island with the smaller towns being unpaved sandy roads to keep their atmosphere and their way of life. The cruise companies don’t like this and so keep throwing money at the local government with the understanding that they will pave all the roads to keep the cruise day-trippers happy. Some of the locals are unhappy about this and I would sympathise with them – when you travel you don’t try to change a place you embrace the atmosphere and local culture and this is exactly what the ethics of Intrepid Travel are. It’s also the way I look at travelling so I don’t think the islands should change their way of life and their character just to satisfy the rich cruise passengers who invade the island for just a matter of hours before leaving again!

On the boat

On the boat to Roatan Island

Bah cruise ships

The cruise ship comes, they invade, and then go!

We’re staying at La Quinta Inn on Roatan Island which was only a short taxi ride from the ferry terminal. As well as being on a nice tropical island with unpaved roads this hotel also has free wi-fi which we all made use of before heading out to a place called The Lighthouse for a group dinner. The Lighthouse was expensive but I liked my food… and the “Giant Monkey LaLa” cocktail that I had.

Group meal on Roatan

A photo of our group meal

Huge cocktails

Giant Monkey La La

Some of our group have gone out to a beach party with some locals but I decided to come back to the hotel to read and relax for a bit. This seems a nice place and I’m looking forward to the next few days here.

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A lazy day on Roatan Island

February 2nd, 2012 No comments

Today was a fairly lazy day and that’s exactly what I needed after a few hectic days travelling – I had my first lay-in of the trip before reading and making use of the hotel wi-fi. When a few more people were awake we made our way to Earth Mama’s for breakfast – they’re famous for their smoothies so I decided to try a smoothie and breakfast burrito which were really nice so I might go back there tomorrow.

We planned to go to the beach but there was a lot of rain today so we didn’t make it over to the West Bay until the early afternoon. West Bay is the next settlement along the beach from West End where we were staying and the easiest way to get there is to take the water taxi from the dock in the town. West Bay is more built up than the West End and is where all the expensive hotels are but it’s also where the best beaches and best snorkeling are so if that’s your thing you’ll need to head here.

Air snorkelling on Roatan Island

One of our group invents Air snorkeling

It rained quite a bit

Rain rain go away, come again another day!

Snorkeling was our main aim for the day but we decided to have lunch before renting our gear and heading into the water. The water is very shallow and we saw LOTS of fish – most of which I don’t even know the name of but it was among the best snorkeling I’ve done on my travels. I probably spent an hour or so in the water before relaxing on the beach for a bit.

After taking the water taxi back I read while waiting for the rest of the group to arrive as we had another group meal tonight. Our destination for tonight was the Creole Kitchen and it was only 140 lempira for a half-chicken full rotisserie meal! A few of us are going to try to go swimming with dolphins tomorrow so we came back to the hotel to relax in case we need to head off early in the morning instead of heading out for drinks like the others.

Chicken for dinner

This was a great dinner!

Me and a cat

Me petting a cat at the chicken restaurant

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Swimming with Dolphins

February 3rd, 2012 No comments

Today was probably the best day of the trip so far as we managed to fit in a few really good experiences and the weather held out unlike yesterday!

I didn’t sleep much last night so this morning I got up at 6am to read on the balcony. Mena woke up early to call the dolphin place to see if they had any swimming with dolphin tickets left for the day and luckily they did have 3 places available at 230 but only for the “Dolphin Encounter” where you stood waist deep in the water rather than go swimming with the dolphins. This wasn’t the one we were aiming for but myself, Gary and Kelly decided to go anyway.

We went to Earth Mamas today again for breakfast but today I decided to sample the Eggs Benedict with hash browns to compare it to the eggs benedict I’ve been having back home – it wasn’t quite as nice but I still enjoyed it. I decided to make use of the snorkel rental next door as it was cheaper and the equipment was better condition too – only $5 plus a deposit rather than $10 if you hire it directly at West Bay.

Roatan Island

Roatan Island has lovely scenery ๐Ÿ™‚

Yummy!

Eggs Benedict for breakfast

Roatan Island after rain

It rained a bit overnight as you can see

The sun was out all day today so I made full use of the time over in the West Bay today. I saw even more fish than before, including some large shoals, and probably stayed out in the water for an hour in total. This caused problems, however, as I managed to miss a small portion of my back while putting my sun cream on and I ended up getting rather badly burned just above the waist line and decided to spend the rest of my time at West Bay just relaxing on the beach.

Gary on the water taxi

Gary on the water taxi

A great beach

This was a great beach

Relaxing on the beach

Me relaxing on the beach

After returning to West End on the water taxi we dropped off our snorkeling equipment before catching a taxi to Anthony’s Key Resort for the Dolphin Encounter. The resort is lovely but is fake compared to the rest of the island. We arrived a little early so after checking in for the encounter there was time to head to the bar for drinks before returning for the briefing.

It was a short boat ride to the dolphin lagoon where we changed and put all of our valuables, except for cameras, in lockers that were provided before heading down to the waters edge. The dolphin in our encounter was called Mr French and we were told all about him and the other dolphins before seeing him do some tricks. We then got into the water where the encounter portion started and we were able to rub / touch Mr French as he swam past before the obligatory official photos which we could purchase afterwards. A word of advice be careful where you put your hand when you have the official photos taken as Gary said when he put his hand underneath he felt his hand slip into one of the little holes on the underside!

Me with some dolphins

Me with some dolphins on Roatan Island

Mr French

Mr French again ๐Ÿ™‚

Mr French wanting some attention

Mr French coming past for a relaxing rub

Mr French

Mr French ready to be fed

The official photos actually came out well and at $10 each on a DVD, or all of the photos with us in for $40 we decided to get all of them for $40 and then just share the photos afterwards. After purchasing the DVD and a few souvenirs it was back into town where we had an early dinner at the pizzeria in town which, considering the location, was actually really nice. The rest of the group wanted to go out for another group meal but as we had already eaten we formed Team Breakaway (Mena, Kelly, Gary, Gina and myself) and had a few drinks at the bar over the water before heading back to the room to relax.

Mmmm Pizza :D

This was large but I was hungry!

Caribbean sunset

The sunset from the Pizzeria

In the bar over the water

In the bar over the water on Roatan Island

The bar in daylight

This is the bar in daylight, just to compare

Luckily it’s a lazy start tomorrow as we have two full days of travelling ahead of us, plus my sunburn is starting to hurt.

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Back to mainland Honduras

February 4th, 2012 No comments

I woke up fairly early this morning to decided to read on the balcony for a bit before heading back to the Italian place in town with Team Breakaway for a fried breakfast which turned out to be a good choice. Not only was it nice but a whole meal including drinks was the same price as just the smoothie at Earth Mamas and I’m probably going to have to save up for a bit as I’ve been spending more than I thought I would.

Road repairs

When there's rain this fixes the roads

Walking to breakfast

Walking to breakfast

My room

Getting ready to check out of my room

Our hotel

The view from the balcony at my hotel

As we had wi-fi I decided to try to get skype working on my phone with my friend who’s working out at an orphanage in Uganda at the moment but unfortunately I couldn’t get a proper connection so there was enough time to pop into town for some last minute supplies before catching a minibus back to the ferry terminal. Due to the rains of the last few days they were having to repair the roads so it was a short walk to the rendezvous point before a short but cramped journey to the ferry. The ferry crossing was smooth this time and I didn’t need any seasickness tablets which is just as well as I decided to have some baleadas for lunch at the terminal before boarding the ferry. The sun was out in full force on the crossing and most of the rest of the days so I’m playing it safe for a while and protecting myself with factor 50 sun cream to try to stop myself getting any more sun burn.

Walking to the minibus

Walking to catch our minibus to the ferry

Balleadas at the ferry terminal

Baleadas for lunch at the ferry terminal on Roatan

Our boat

Getting ready to board our boat to the mainland

Leaving Roatan Island

Leaving Roatan Island by boat

When we got back to the mainland we ended up having the same taxi as before – the guy that drove rather fast to get us to our destination last time – but this time there wasn’t as much of a rush due to the fact we had preassigned seats on the next bus which was to take us as far as Comayagua where we would spend the night.

This was always going to be one of the longest days and it lived up to the expectation – we boarded the bus at 4pm and didn’t arrive in Comayagua until almost 10pm after stopping at services a few times for rest stops and dinner etc. The bus we were on was the express bus to Tegucigalpa but Mena had arranged in advance for us to be allowed to get off at a petrol station in Comayagua just down from where our hotel was.

After some sort of military style operation with getting the taxis together we arrived at tonight’s hotel – the Emperador. The hotel itself is down a side street and isn’t the best hotel I’ve seen but we’re only staying here until tomorrow when we have another full day journey over the border into Nicaragua. As we arrived fairly late the only option for dinner tonight was takeaway Pizza Hut which was by far the worst pizza I’ve ever eaten – the only positive bit being that we ate it on a terrace overlooking the city. Let’s stick to local cuisine for the rest of the trip!

Never order Honduran Pizza Hut

We should have known better!

Comayagua by night

Comayagua at night from our hotel

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Crossing into Nicaragua

February 5th, 2012 No comments

I’m now in Nicaragua, which is the country I’ve been looking forward to visiting the most on this trip, but so far all we’ve done is travel so I haven’t had a chance to see too much yet.

Our journey started at 7am with a chicken bus from right outside the hotel in Comayagua. It was cramped but not as bad as I expected – just make sure you don’t sit near the wheel arch. On the journey we saw Comayagua properly for the first time due to arrive so late the night before. I asked Mena about that and asked why we stayed there as opposed to just going all the way to Tegucigalpa on the bus and she said that as we wouldn’t have time to see anything at last nights stop anyway Intrepid have decided that Comayagua is a better place to stay as it’s a lot safer than Tegucigalpa.

Comayagua by day

Comayagua by day

Veg market

Veg sellers in Tegucigalpa

On the chicken bus

The view inside our chicken bus

How did Kelly manage to relax?

Kelly somehow managed to sleep on the chicken bus

The bus took probably an hour to get to Tegucigalpa and it dropped us right at the Tica Bus terminal where we were due to catch the long distance bus over the border from into Nicaragua. There was just enough time to stock up on snacks and use the rest rooms before we had to board the bus – luckily we also had assigned seats on this bus as it was a long journey. Tica Bus is the luxury long distance bus company that covers Central America and if it offers a route between the places you want to go then I highly recommend them – the coaches are comfortable and there’s plenty of leg room. That is, of course, unless the person in front of you puts their seat all the way back as happened to me. At some point during the day I talked to Team Breakaway about this and they said that it was a very un-Canadian thing to do and that as a whole Canadians don’t put seats back like that.

During the journey we were given the immigration forms for the border crossing and they even put a movie on for us although this was the Spanish version of Hachi so we didn’t really watch it. Before we got to the border our passports and the exit fee for Honduras were taken and these would all be processed by the courier of the coach in one batch to save time.

Our chicken bus

This was our chicken bus

Tegucigalpa was chaos

Tegucigalpa from our Tica Bus

The road seems to have collapsed

In Honduras - part of the road seems to be missing!

Honduran River

A river in Honduras as seen from our Tica Bus

On the Honduran side we decided to use the rest room facilities which, although they only cost 5 lempira, were absolutely disgusting. They didn’t flush at all, were incredibly messy, and we had to use a bucket of water to flush it each time. However there was time to relax in the sun while the border formalities took place and make my first phone call home in 6 days due to the fact my phone didn’t work in Honduras.

After passing across to the Nicaraguan side of the border we had to all get off the coach and take our bags individually through customs. During our time in the queue we were able to exchange money with the local money changers although this time they did try to short change me until Mena helped out. We got our passports back at this point and then it was back onto the bus to head to Managua. As soon as we started travelling through Nicaragua the scenery changed and we started travelling across flat open plains containing volcanoes as opposed to the heavily mountainous roads we had been travelling through in Honduras.

Our bus passed through the open plains and the city of Leon before arriving at its destination of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. This was only a transit stop for us and after waiting for a long time for our bags we met up with the driver of the minibus who was to take us on to Granada where we’re staying for the next couple of nights. On the way to Granada we got stopped at a police checkpoint due to the fact one of the people in our minibus wasn’t sitting down with the seat belt on when he saw us but in true Central American style he said he would let us off if we took his wife and daughter to the next town, Masaya.

Nicaraguan volcano

Our first volcano after crossing the border into Nicaragua

The Nicaraguan Capital

Heading out of Managua towards Granada

Then it was on to Granada. When we arrived we found out that the hostel we were due to stay at was overbooked and so they had transferred our booking to the sister property down the road which was a proper hotel – and a nice one at that. After checking a lot of the group headed straight out to the pub to watch the Superbowl but I decided to head to a traditional local restaurant in town with Team Breakaway. The meal was really nice and it was there where I first tried a Caipirinha drink – it was really nice so I’ll definitely be having a few more of those on this trip!

We had time for a quick stop at the Irish Pub to catch up with the rest of the group over a couple of drinks but I made a mistake with my drink order and ended up ordering the “Blue Mother Fucker” which was a combination of pretty much every type of drink they had and that ended up making the walk back to the hotel fun. I think rather than reading tonight I’ll just head straight to bed ready for tomorrow.

Granada by night

Granada by night

Group photo

Our group at the Irish Pub

Me and Kelly with our drinks

Me and Kelly with some very strong drinks!

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