Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Down Mexico Way

The Bugger Me Moment
We are getting very excited now about our South American trip - only 3 sleeps now until we head Down Mexico Way!

We love to cruise and this time we are trying out Holland America - have always done the Princess Cruises before, but we are now looking for new and exciting places to go and like most people Machu Picchu has always been on the must do list.  I don't like to call it a bucket list, because to me this implies you are on your last legs, for me this is about doing these types of things while you can.

I still remember the first time I heard of Machu Picchu, it must be 15 years ago and I was reading the Sunday paper, as always I had my head in  travel section, even though back then we didn't travel quite as extensively as we do now, but thought to myself, this is a place I want to see, this is a place I want to experience one day.  Well one day is here.  

At the Great Wall of China
My love for going to out of the way places started in 2005 when we went to China - prior to that our overseas travel consisted of Island paradises where you could sip cocktails, laze on beaches and not do too much of anything but soak up the sun.  We had kept the big travel until the kids where old enough to remember and old enough to have a room to themselves.  The feeling inside me when I first set eyes on The Great Wall of China was indescribable, it was something I don't think I have ever felt in my life and from then on, it was always about seeing the incredible things in the world and having holidays that left you awestruck.

While wanting to do these types of adventures we soon found however that travelling on bus tours can be tiring and while there is no doubt about it, you get to see heaps of things it was our 28 day Europe trip with Trafalgar Tours that I realised that waking up at 5am every morning, packing 4 suit cases, being on the road all day was exhausting and left you with little free personal time to either relax or explore.  I really felt like I needed a holiday when we returned.  

Probably my favorite moment of the Holy Land Cruise
Our first big holiday without the kids saw us taking our first cruise - The Holy Land Cruise - discovering the Mediterranean, and all that is ancient in places like Pompeii, Ephesus, Israel, Egypt while still enjoying those island paradise destinations of the Greek Islands, plus pampering days at sea and from then on we were hooked on the cruise as it provides you with a good blend of holiday, no packing and unpacking (except when you do an overland trip - which we always do, but it is a small suitcase only job), great food, great entertainment, the ability to rejuvenate from long day excursions, a home away from home to always come back to, and we feel great value for money.  It was this trip that lead us to go "what are we doing here", as we sat in the Plaka in Greece post cruise enjoying fabulous food, sun, wine, music and being happier and more relaxed than we had been in years and with the thought that it was only a few days before we would be back at work.  This was our bugger me moment, when we decided to start planning for retirement, put a date on when we would retire, and began to seriously think about the things that we would need to do to enjoy retirement. Our count down had begun!

We are taking the 31 day Incan Empires cruise, which starts at San Diego, from there we head to Cabo San Lucas, Hautulco and then onto Puerto Chiapas for the first round of Inca ruins being the Izapa Ruins.  After these 3 Mexican ports (with a few days at sea in between), we head to Panama where we are taking a Canal Experience, I simply cannot wait for this, as you take a special boat through the canal along with the ships passing through. 

Heading onto Peru into Trujillo we will be visiting Chan Chan Citadel, which I can't wait to see, we have been watching a great documentary on South America and last week it was on Chan Chan and WOW how incredible does this place look, where they built an oasis in the desert via canals around 800 AD.

I suppose though  the piece de resistance is our 3 day Machu Picchu Overland adventure where we get off the boat and fly to Cuzco and begin our Lima and Machu Picchu experience.  With altitude sickness medication on hand, and staying at a motel that has oxygen machines we are feeling confident that we should be OK, and we are taking the train up - not walking so hopefully fingers crossed  we make it OK.

The journey continues on to Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Guatemala (where we will be doing Zip Lining across the jungle canopy).  The last week sees us cruising back into San Diego, with more stops in the up market Mexican beach resorts  of Manzanillo and Puerto Vallarta.

I think this will give us a great overall experience of the old, new, modern, up market and grubby of the area, and with a great range of excursions to experience a wide range of activities.  At first I didn't like the Holland American way of booking excursions in so much as you had to pay for them straight up, where with Princess you book them and then when you take them they charge you.  Now however with everything fully paid, I think this is not a bad idea, outside of drinks, any pampering or souvenirs the whole trip is now fully paid for  and I was able to do most of these when the AU dollar was high rather than taking my chances.

So if I don't blog in the next 5 weeks, you will know where you can find me - Down Mexico Way hopefully with a Tequila in one hand and a Burrito in the other !

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