Thursday, May 31, 2018

More travel and Oklahoma

I've spent a bit more time planning for Te Waipounamu this morning. P. is going off for lunch with Robin S. In the evening, we went to Barre for a good, if somewhat lavishly priced, dinner then went to the Production Company's Oklahoma, a splendid show which showed it off at its best. Robyn Nevin was splendid as Aunt Eller though she ran out of voice near the end. It was a rousing experience.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

More travel plans

Advice from my sister led to a lower price for car hire for NZ, plus I found Air NZ has much better times for flights to Christchurch. I've altered the itinerary to take in Steward Island at the south of Te Waipounamu and loosened it up a bit at the outset so we can take our own time on the east coast. With any luck we won't have trouble finding accommodation but we will book it for the next bits. Now for French onion soup for lunch. P. made pork chops with leeks etc. plus sweet potato mash for dinner which was delicious.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Travel plans

Whenever I run out of work my mind turns to travel, so this morning I did some more investigation on NZ for next year and possibly Brisbane for later in the year. All investigations were good, except I found it costs about the same to hire a small car as a campervan. Go figure! However, the petrol for the small car would be cheaper and the driving easier. Plus I've been finding good places to stay and eat. We had leftover chook and beef for lunch today. In the early evening, we went to the Recital Centre for a Ludovico's band concert of Lowes' works for harp consort. He was a favourite of Charles I, so I couldn't help visualising, during these sublime works, the beheading of said monarch. It was a superb concert and all the musicians were excellent with Rachael Beasley outstanding on violin. Afterwards, we had a good meal at Trotters which was quite quiet on a Tuesday night.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Monday, sweet Monday

The cleaners came early this morning and lickety-split whizzed through the joint. I did some more research on Te Waipounamu (NZ south island, I'm trying to learn it). I'm now thinking a campervan is not such a good idea, as I'm finding lots of good places to stay and lots of good eateries. Maybe a small car. P. went off to do a shift at the U3A office. He cooked roast beef with horseradish sauce for dinner tonight, with mushrooms, zucchinis and potatoes. Yum! Usual Monday night teev.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


The usual Sunday crossword was done with great despatch, almost, though not quite, before 9am. Now for the expedition to Reservoir for the I-grew-up-in-Reservoir reunion where I'm meeting up with Barry D. before entering the fray. Barry turned up as promised which was just as well as I hardly knew anyone. Janine Cullum, who bullied me into going, was MC so I didn't get much of a chance to talk with her and Jean Biggs from Florida has a brother (Brian) who has just had two heart attacks, so that was a big conversation stopper. Barry knew a few more people. The kitchen is being renovated so they had souvlaki to eat which was tough. Not a great ad. for the Reservoir rissole which we were invited to join. Never again! Tonight, salmon steaks for dinner.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

De Beauvoir

Yesterday (Friday), P. and I got Franz but not Frank and did normal shopping for us and a bit for Noel T. We delivered his to Noel then came home for lunch (leftover lasagne). In the evening, we joined Frank, taking a break from his telethon and mailout, for a very good meal at Uncle in Collins Street then repaired to 45downstairs for a one-woman show, De Stroyed, using extracts from Simone de Beauvoir's writings. Co-written by its director, Suzanne Chaundy and its performer, Jillian Murray, it is a very impressive show, both moving and thought provoking. Today (Saturday), we have a plethora of papers to plough through, though sadly today's Australian contains no Gaga Henderson sadly as it is my weekly comedy column. P. is not feeling well so I went to the Convent Market to get some Mt Zero olive oil from the Grampians. The man told me he comes to Ballarat the night before and stays there then comes in here in the morning. It must be worth their while as they keep coming, year after year. The market has expanded the meat and fish area as well as the takeaway food area so it is now quite large. I bought a fish-and-leek pie for lunch, which turned out to be surprisingly good. I'll have leftover chook for dinner and still sick P. will have soup.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Getting organised

I spent a bit of time organising things while I am waiting for the new novel to come back. P. went off to Specsavers for a check so I have the luxury of reading the new Rodney Hall novel which I am enjoying a lot. At last Toll deliverers gave us our Oxfam parcel: lots of blocks of Peruvian chocolate (including quinoa chocolate) plus two new pot holders from Nepal. P. is doing roast chook for dinner.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Novel taken flight

This morning, I finished off first pass on the new novel and returned it to its author for amendment, addition and so on. P. went off to Noel's to do various things like a bit of shopping. My deliverer from Oxfam left a card, in spite of the fact that I was at home. This has become increasingly frequent. I suspect that the drivers are not paid enough to allow them to knock properly and wait for a reply. It is very annoying. Tonight, P., Frank and I are off to Noel's for dinner and a mag. We had a very good curry dinner, plus cheesecake, then a good chat about Noel's next book (no. 3). I hope it will go well but I feel quite hopeful about it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Off in Franz

This morning, I did a bit of work on the novel, then we picked up Franz. We were going on a shopping expedition with Noel but, as it looked like rain, we cancelled as it would be risky with his walker on slippery pavements. Instead, we went out to see George P., who among other things came up with several gems about the old publishing days, especially McPhee Gribble. On the way home from Heidelberg, we stopped at the slightly chilly Alphington boathouse. While it was nice sitting by the river, their food won't be appearing in Epicure any time soon. Tonight, it's off to the Recital Centre (AGAIN) for MusicaViva. It was an enjoyable concert about Bach by Canadian group Tafelmusik, but it was the least well programmed of the last four concerts (ANAM barocca, MCO French, ARCO classical). Of its 22 pieces, nearly all were extracts and only 11 were as originally orchestrated by Bach. The concert, unlike the other three, which were fresh, felt as though they had done it a thousand times before. And the party trick of not using music is just that. So not bad, but not good enough. Meanwhile, the MusicaViva audience was dripping in wealth.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Lunch and concert

I worked on the new novel this morning and became quite absorbed in it: a good sign. Bryony is coming for lunch today without Philip who has been stricken with gastro. We had a good mag and gossip and compared travel notes. After a nap, P. and I had a quick snack then went to the Recital Centre (again!) for the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra whose chamber soloists gave an excellent concert of well-known and lesser known works by Mozart, Beethoven, von Winter and Gambaro. They were bravura performances and featured wind instruments which is a change for chamber works. Unfortunately, the audience was not large for such a good performance. The woman next to me suggested the name of the company is a bit misleading and that perhaps 'historically informed' should be included in the name.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Not so usual Sunday

The usual crossword was fairly easy but P. and I then started on tomorrow's lunch. I'd already made the mint and pea soup last night and just had to puree it this morning. Then we started on the vego lasagne (Polly Pollock version). By lunchtime (more fritatta and pork) we had it almost ready to assemble. Before we do that, it's off to the Melbourne Chamber Orchestra. Their program today was mainly French and mostly Debussy with soprano Greta Bradman doing a great job with his songs and with the premiere of a work by Calvin Bowman, Ophelia. It was a very enjoyable concert which the MCO obviously enjoyed as well. It helps!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Shopping and not much more

This morning, we were back with Franz again but not Frank who is immersed in his radiothon. It was a good shop and we came home for leftovers for lunch (pork and fritatta). After a nap, we're having oysters followed by garlic prawn skewers. We're avoiding that wedding by watching I-vue. We watched Gardening Australia and Endeavour. Much more satisfying. We did catch a bit of the end of wedding with Jeremy Fernandez and Annabel Crabb looking suitably embarrassed at having to cover this antique circus at which even Fiona Bruce wouldn't have been able to keep a straight face.

Friday, May 18, 2018

U3A plus Baroque

This morning was U3A Australian film, starring Teresa P. We watched Rats of Tobruk, directed by Charles Chauvel. It was a bit of everything, mainly patriotism and nationalism (with more than a hint of Empire). Though it was of its time, it was also quite enjoyable especially with Peter Finch playing an Englishman and a heterosexual. We had lunch at the nearby coffee shop (Red Bird) with a very small group. After a nap, P. and I headed to South Melbourne where we had a good meal at Salon de Sushi then went to ANAM where Howard Penny had curated and directed (from the cello) a program of both well-known and curious Baroque pieces charting its development up to the sturm und drang of CPE Bach. A great program, enthusiastically played. How can they keep getting better?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Novel, eh?

Today, I spent most of the morning on the new novel which has turned out to be very good. After soup for lunch, then a nap, I made fritatta (onion and rosemary) for dinner plus leftover fish curry. We then watched tellie. How boring are we?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Busy, busy

I started the day working on a new novel, which is very novel as I'd expect from its author. Then Rochelle turned up for lunch which we had at Cam's cafe which was very busy. It was good to catch up and compare notes about Peru. In the early evening, P. and I went to Barre for a quick and good meal then saw The Bleeding Tree, a production by Griffin Theatre of a play by Melbourne playwright, Angus Cerini. It is an ingenious three-hander about a mother and two daughters who murder their violent husband/father. There are superb performances by all three, Paula Arundell (Helpmann award-winner, Best Female Actor), Sophie Ross and Brenna Harding in this intense yet funny 70-minute piece.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

At home

Yesterday (Monday) was an at home day. I tidied up some files and the cleaners came. Wa Wa seems to have retired to an executive role and sent two new 'girls' whom P. and I had not seen before, though they cleaned away with the usual expedition. P. went into town to avoid them. After a nap, I made a good fish and pea curry for dinner, even if I say so myself. We watched the usual nonsense on Q&A starring that odious Judith Sloane of the Catholic Boys' Daily who is also an honorary professorial fellow at Melbourne Uni. I would pity her students, if she had any but I think she swans away in a research position. She did that ploy which I thought was eschewed by conservative commentators, she played the woman card when she was interrupted by Ben Oquist about a matter of fact. Today (Tuesday), I went to the Health Centre for some pills (my scrips were running out). I saw a new doctor who was very nice and suggested a chlorestorol test as I haven't had one for years. I also ran into Hilary from down-the-road who is moving into new accommodation next Monday as she is getting very frail. It is The Gables in Camberwell. I also ran into Jenny Blackett-Smith, the retired doctor, who was there to pick up some medicaments for another trip to Vanuatu. It was good to see her. At home again, Joe and Anne came to visit for a tea. We haven't seen them for ages. Tonight, P. is cooking roast pork.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Crossword and lunch

This morning, we finished off the Sunday crossword quite early then headed to town in a really torturous way. The Smith Street tram was 30-minutes late and consequently was sardine-packed. However, we had quite a good lunch at the Elephant and Wheelbarrow with my sister and her husband, Ian. We swapped holiday snaps: theirs of the South Island of NZ and ours of South America. Home for a quick nap then we had French onion soup for dinner plus baby cheeses.

Saturday, May 12, 2018


In spite of having resubscribed, the system hasn't caught up so we missed the hardcopy Saturday Paper again today. Maybe next week. We had to be satisfied with the Rage and The Saturday Australian where the columnists are starting to sound like a cracked record, just repeating the same things over and over. I made French onion soup for lunch and later. Now it's nap time. Afterwards, we had a quick dinner at Yoyogi then went to the Recital Centre for the Brandenburg Orchestra's concert: The Harpist. Showy French harpist, Xavier de Maistre did his party pieces. Apparently he has had various commissioned pieces done for him. It's a pity he didn't play one or some of them. It was an enjoyable concert but could have been so much better if this virtuoso harpist could have been given more opportunity to strut his real stuff. Home again for George Gently to let us down.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Shopping plus

Boring as usual, we did the shopping today in Barnaby the Yaris (Franz is absent) but without Frank who is stricken with a bad cold. I got pills at the pharmacy at the Health Centre first, then we picked up two books from Magabala from the post office. They were both books I worked on and look good (I won't look hard for mistakes). We shopped at the magnificent Victoria Gardens for us and Noel, then delivered Noel's in the pouring rain. We followed up with a good brunch at Doctor Morse, again in the pouring rain. Now for a nap! It's been such a blustery day that it's nice to stay in tonight and have P.'s leftover tagine with couscous and settle in with the telly and the heater. But spare a thought for those flooded: see First Dog on the Moon on The Guardian website.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Busy Thursday

After a fairly quiet morning just tidying up, I had a quick nap then headed off to the Club (Royal Melbourne Hospital) to get my glasses fixed which went bung on the last few days in South America. Greg (my cobbler/elf) was on holidays so Geoff, his offsider, helped me and fixed them in a trice, then cleaned them, then regaled me with the same stories Greg had when I was last there. Laws of defamation prevent me telling the stories. I then went to Ear, Nose and Throat for my regular (every six months or so) check. Unfortunately, though three doctors were scheduled for ENT there was only one, as the others had been called away to emergency or surgery. Needless to say, there was a certain amount of discontent as some patrons had driven for four hours or two and a half hours to get there. It was intriguing watching the dynamics of the waiting room. One bogan didn't understand the specialities so went berko over doctors doing nothing while she waited for the one ENT specialist on deck. She then refused to give blood ('No one is putting a needle in me.') then left in high dudgeon. Others were more stoic.I was from relatively near, but did tell them I had to be gone by 5.15pm (the appointment was for 3.30pm). At just 5.15 I was called to a very thorough young trainee so didn't emerge until 5.30pm for a 6pm concert. I caught a cab to the Recital Centre but didn't arrive till 5.10pm so was let into the concert after the first item (the Debussy after whom the concert was named). The rest of the concert by Syzygy was superb including works supposedly influenced by Debussy's legacy. There were pieces by Jolivet and Mantovani (Bruno) plus a world premiere by Emile Frankel, an Australian resident in Amsterdam. We then went to Tiamo for a quick dinner which gave us far too much food but very good food. My pea and pasta soup with cheese balls was superb but huge.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Now for getting on with life

This morning I did a bit more tidying (a bit left to do: the filing, that always comes last). We then went off to Sally M. and John H.'s place for a scratch lunch. We were catching up because of John's medical problems and we wished him well. Home again for a nap and then off to Noel's for dinner. We met filmmaker, Barb, who is interviewing Noel for a series and had the usual excellent dinner of terrine, beef and mushroom casserole and cheesecake. Thanks Noel.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Now the tidying seems finished

At last, I think I've succeeded in posting all of the holiday pics in the cloud, but lest I speak too soon, I'll wait for the remaining 63 files to load, extremely slowly. I've also caught up with the missing postcards which I have sent electronically or by hard copy, depending, so all is right with the world, more or less. P, has gone shopping and to the health centre and I've had a long phone conversation with Rochelle J. reminiscing about Peru, prompted by the electronic postcard. I can now sit back and relax. After canned soup for lunch, P. and I went to Blondie at the Recital Centre for a very fine dinner. It can be variable but this one was excellent. We then saw Tales of the Silk Road, a concert from China with musos from the Central Conservatory of Music on plucked instruments and percussion. They had a fine soloist on Pipa: Zhang Hongyan as well as many other players on the Chinese banjo: the Ruan. It was a bracing concert of old and new (some a bit poppie) tunes but it was good to hear an unfamiliar sound. We missed the budget, not.

Monday, May 07, 2018

In the cloud

I spent most of the morning trying to get P.'s overseas snaps into the 'cloud'. I succeeded with about half/third of them. Now I have to figure the rest. At least it's something but it missed out Machu Picchu entirely. A nap while P. went to help Noel T. and now it's anchovy pasta for dinner.

Sunday, May 06, 2018


Now we're really back into gear with the Sunday Age big crossword completed. Sally S. dropped in this morning and we went to the very busy and inefficient-as-usual Convent coffee shop for coffee and cake. I've made several attempts to upload the holiday snaps to share them but nothing works. If I can upload them, the captions get lost so they are next to useless anyway. I'll try again tomorrow. Baby quiches for lunch and P. made tagine with quinces and couscous for dinner. Delicious!

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Wrapping up

This morning, we're back to the Saturday newspaper routine, though our Saturday paper sub. has lapsed so I renewed it and read today's online. P. spent an enormous amount of time transferring and labelling 363 photos to the computer, so now our holiday is 'fully' recorded. All I need to do is work out how to put the photos in the 'cloud' so that they're accessible to anyone who wants to see them, if anyone. For lunch, we had salmon fishcakes and the last of Carmel's welcome soup. We had leftover roast chook for a quick bite before heading citywards for Oz Opera's Don Quichotte by Massenet. In a production with San Diego opera, it was a workmanlike production of a so-so opera. P.'s description of some of the music as 'treacley' was fairly accurate. However, it was an enjoyable night in the theatre, even though Melbourne got the 'second' cast as usual from this Sydney-focussed company. In spite of being 'second-best', Sian Pendry made a very good fist of Dulcinea. It was also good to see an opera in which the main roles were not all high voices.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Now for something completely different

Yesterday (Thursday), I spent most of the day at home while P. went off for lunch with Robin S. We then went to the very familiar Yoyogi for the usual then to the Fairfax Studio for an excellent production of Antony and Cleopatra by Bell Shakespeare. They have been touring it for months, so it is very well oiled. Catherine McClements does a good Cleo. Today, P. is off to American lit. and I have been blogging the trip. Tonight, fish dinner.

Hola! (9)

HOME AGAIN On Saturday, we were picked up at 5.50am to get our flight back to Buenos Aires, thence to Santiago. We were pleased to fall into the Airport Holiday Inn for a rest and a barely adequate dinner. The sleep was worth it, considering that the next day we had over 24-hours travelling time to get back to Melbourne. The flight out was with LATAM but the return flight was Qantas and there was no comparison with the food. The Qantas food was almost inedible. However, we survived, surfaced in Sydney, collected our luggage and caught a slightly delayed flight to Melbourne. Thanks to Frank and Carmel, there was food in the fridge and sheets on the beds, so we were able to just fall into bed.

Hola! (8)

IGUAZU FALLS We were met by our new guide, Cecilia, on the Brazilian side as the Argentinian airport is being renovated. We have now gone backwards and forwards from Brazil to Argentina so many times that our passports are full of the stamps. She took us straight to the Argentinian Falls, where we walked, after a train ride, to the Devil's Throat where we were duly sprayed by the very impressive falls. We then went to the 'adventure' part which involved a truck trip through the rainforest, then down 300 steps to the speedboat where we put our shoes and valuables in a waterproof bag and headed for the base of the falls, bumpity-bump. We were then sprayed from above until we were wet through. I'd like to say it was fun, but it was rather scary. We went back to the hotel where we tried to shower and dry off. Unfortunately, the shower rose fell off when P. tried to shower. To the hotel's credit, they did fix it rather promptly though failed to fix the useless phone which made early morning calls a bit difficult. We had morning knocks instead. In the evening, we had a fine meal thanks to Cecilia's recommendation, at Agua nearby. Early next morning (Friday), she took us to the magnificent bird park on the Brazilian side for a plethora of flamingos, toucans, Amazonian eagles and owls. There was even one lonely cassowary. We then went to view the falls from the Brazilian side. As Cecilia said, 'The best falls are on the Argentinian side, but the best view is from the Brazilian side.' In the evening, we had another good meal at a nearby place she recommended. Like the Irish, the Argentinians overdo the serving sizes.

Hola! (7)

BUENOS AIRES We had our halfday guided tour next morning (Monday), which took in the main drag and the Pink Palace (the President's office) in the Plaza de Mayo. We also visited the colourful districts of La Boca and St Elmo with its splendid food market. In the evening, we went to a theatre restaurant which had not-bad food for one and provided a 'tango' show at Esquina Carlos Gardei. I couldn't judge the quality of the tango, but as the majority of the audience seemed to be local perhaps they knew. Next morning (Tuesday), we misjudged the timing for the Art Gallery so went off to the Teatro de Colon for their guided tour. It is a fascinating place covering 7-8 acres in floor space (some underground) with much bling. Unfortunately, nothing was on show, but they were setting up An Italian Girl in Algiers for a future performance. We went very local for both lunch and dinner: both our city lunch and evening meal at Delia were very echt, though not gourmet. On Wednesday, we wandered around the Recoleta Cemetery though failed to find Evita. Then we went to the Art Gallery which has a very impressive permanent collection including one of the best Van Gogh's I've ever seen. The visiting exhibition from Hungary left a bit to be desired. Because we were being picked up at 4am the next morning for a plane flight, we had a quick local dinner. I had a massive calzone which I couldn't eat all of, so the waiter boxed it up and a beggar turned up at the right moment and took it, very pleased.

Hola! (6)

CUZCO (2) Next day (Saturday), we had a free day in Cuzco so we went to the archaeological museum (more Inca bric-a-brac), the modern art museum and the local history museum which had a very good explanation of pre-Inca history. After a quick lunch, we had a rest then dinner at a very good local eatery, Macha Papa, which we were lucky to get into. Next day, we had long airflights from Cuzco to Lima and thence to Buenos Aires. Our guide cheerfully told us that Cuzco is the fifth most dangerous airport in the world because it is surrounded by mountains. We made it safely to Buenos Aires where we were met by a new guide Monica. We were exhausted so just went to a local eatery for a quick meal. We found our hotel looked out over the famous Recoleta Cemetery, housing, among many others, Eva Peron.

Hola! (5)

MACHU PICCHU On Thursday, we trundled our small luggage down to the train station (leaving our big cases at the hotel). We boarded the Hiram Bingham train to take us up to Agua Calientes on the way to Machu Picchu. It is a very plush train and we were served a three-course 'brunch' which kept us going for the day (at least until arvo tea, more anon). On arrival in Agua Calientes, our bags were whisked away to our hotel, El Mapi, and we were whisked by bus up a zigzag road to Machu Picchu, which took about 25 minutes. We were met by our guide, Wilfredio, who was very affable, but forced me up a huge flight of steps for what was admittedly a splendid view of the complex. No one really knows what the extremely isolated city was for. P.'s theory that it was really a resort for the Inca rulers is as good as any. We wandered around the temple side of the city watching the Inca whippersnippers keep the grass down as the resident llamas don't do a good enough job. All they seem to do is block the paths from time to time. When we had finished clambering, we retired to the onsite Belmond Sanctuary Lodge for an arvo tea as part of the package, including crotchless sandwiches to my delight. We then went down the zigzag to our rather good hotel and dinner in their frenetic dining room. Next day, Friday, we went up again, and this time we spent our time on the residential side of the city, viewing the 'ordinary' houses and storehouses. We went down the zigzag again and had a rest at the hotel before boarding the train, this time for a four-course dinner as we sped through the dark to Urubamba where Wilton (remember him) drove us back to Cuzco having picked up our large bags from Ollantaytambo. We arrived late in Cuzco but very full of our train dinner.

Hola! (4)

CUZCO PART ONE Dorhali, our guide, hates her name as it is made up from her grandmother's name (Dora) and her mother's (Alison) with an 'h' interpolated. So there! She came as a package with an excellent driver on the hilly roads with the unusual name of Wilton. Next morning (Monday), she took us on a tour of town with its huge cathedral, very dour and surrounding pre-Inca ruins of Kenko and Tambo Machay. Or perhaps they were Inca. By this time, I was getting Inca'd out. I'd better pull myself together. Next day Tuesday, we headed for the old Inca town of Ollantaytambo via the Indian town, Chinchero which had streets based on the old Inca streets, small and winding, and the Inca foundations. Its church, full of gladdies, has paintings by Indigenous artist, Chiwantito. Our hotel, in Ollantaytambo had lovely gardens and was near the train station (more anon). We had an okay dinner in the hotel, then next day we went to the incomplete fortress in town (RIGHT in town). I declined walking to the top of the vast terraces but P. did and said it was worth it. I contemplated the complex water works. The Incas were good at water. In the evening, we had dinner at the splendid station eatery where I tried the guinea pig, which was so-so, though the accompanying sauces were yummy.

Hola! (3)

PUNO Next day (Friday), Fernando and Oswalda took us back across the route we had followed before through the very high country to the turnoff to Puno. We then crossed the beautiful altiplano stark landscapes and small villages. We had a box lunch provided by the Colca Lodge. They dropped us at our hotel in Puno after we passed through the nearby airport town (what a dump: obviously a hotbed of corruption and mismanagement according to our guide). The hotel was right on Lake Titikaka and when we arrived there was a white wedding happening on the foreshore. On Saturday, our new guide, Tula, took us to the boat harbour for a trip on the lake. We first went to the Uros Indians who live on floating reed islands. Their lives are completely interwoven with the 'totora' reed that grows in the shallow waters of the lake. Another hour on the lake took us to the many-faceted Taquile island. We declined to take the walk 3km uphill so our guide Tula brought us lunch from a restaurant near the shore while we viewed the lake and nearby farms. Tula took us to the bus station next morning, and we went on a very plush guided bus tour on the way to Cuzco. On the way, we stopped for a buffet lunch at Sicuani, then to the old Inca temple complex at Raqchi with its huge storehouses and remains of a vast temple. We then stopped at Andahuaylillas with the San Pedro Apostol, a church built by the Jesuits in the 16th century. The church is very baroqua with lots of bling and is known as the Sistine Chapel of the Andes because of its murals, a bit of a stretch. We arrive in Cuzco where we met up with our new guide, Dorhali (more on this anon) and driver Wilton.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Hola! (2)

COLCA CANYON The next day, Wednesday, Fernando picked us up with driver Oswalda and we drove over the high pass to Colca Canyon. On the way, we had great views of the the volcanoes (Misti and Chachani). On the way through the national reserve we saw herds of alpacas and vicunas. By the top part of the journey (4,800m.) I was feeling quite queasy but we soon descended into the deep Colca Valley. We had a buffet lunch at the little town of Chivay then proceeded into the valley to the Colca Lodge at a modest 3,400m. The lodge is down a steep dirt road but is a very well-managed and comfy hotel with good food. How they supply it is a small miracle. We were very well housed there for two nights with a superb view and very good meals. On Thursday, Fernando and Oswalda took us to Cruz del Condor where we saw the magnificent condors roosting and soaring about the canyon. We stopped at small towns Yanque and Maca to view small town life in the wake of severe earthquakes. We retired to the Lodge for a welcome arvo rest.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018


The trip to Lima was very long, mainly because of long waits for flights in Auckland (the most boring airport on earth again) and Santiago. It took all of 35 hours to finally make it to Lima into the welcome arms of our guide Hilda. We took up time in Santiago having our first pisco sours, which didn't impress us very much: a concoction which is a bit sweet rather than sour with a slightly milky texture from the egg white. We were whisked off to our basic but comfy hotel in the 'posh' (a relative term in Peru) district of Miraflores. Next morning (Sunday, we'd gained a day crossing the international dateline), a new guide, Diana, picked us up and took us on a tour of the town which included many of its colonial relics including a splendid, if fading, Dominican monastery. We also went to the splendid Larco Herrera Museum with its great collection of pre-Inca artefacts. We had lunch near the hotel where P. had something which was later to prove very troublesome. We rested in the afternoon, then went to the very posh eatery, La Rosa Nautica on the water on the bay for a really wonderful seafood dinner. AREQUIPA Next morning (Monday), we were taken to the airport by another guide, through the relentless Lima traffic. A very skilled driver found backroads and shortcuts to make the journey briefer, but we saw much more of the seamy side of Lima than the tourist authorities would perhaps like. We were met at Arequipa airport by our guide, Fernando (nothing like Abba) who was to be with us for a few days. Arequipa is surrounded by mountains, including one active volcano and was our first taste of heights at the relatively low 2380 metres. Our short time in Arequipa was meant to acclimatise us a bit to the altitude but it didn't quite work. Fernando took us on a tour of the town but as we visited the Jesuit complex, P. became very ill, from what we're not sure. So we cut short the tour and retreated for lunch at a very good eatery, the Zigzag. The food was excellent, though P. couldn't eat much so we retreated to our hotel, the splendid Libertador. I had a lonely dinner in the hotel restaurant while P. languished. Next morning, he was a bit recovered and we went on a second tour: first to the country where we went to the colonial Molina de Sabandia and saw various critters, including fighting bulls, vicuna, alpacas, llamas and gucamos (?). We then went to the city founder's country estate which was an interesting insight into colonial life. Back to the city, we caught up with the Santa Catalina Convent which only opened to the world in 1970. Again, it was a fascinating insight into another world, that of a closed convent where you could only meet your outside rellos though a screen (look but don't touch). We had lunch at Chichas, another very good restaurant, then retired to our hotel where we again had dinner but this time a deux.

Home again vagabond shoes

We got back home quite late (around 10pm) on Monday night, after an over 24-hour journey home from Santiago. Yesterday was spent recovering from that helped very much by Carmel's frozen soup and the fact that she and Frank had left our beds made so we just had to slip into them. Now, a little fortified we are about to go shopping to stock up for the week. Back to reality. I will try to blog a bit about our three-week foray into Peru, Argentina and a tiny bit of Brazil and Chile (only the airport at Santiago really). After shopping, we proved we were back in Melbourne by having brunch at Addict in Johnston Street and I had smashed avocado with poached eggs. After a nap, we had Frank for dinner and P. cooked a delicious roast chook.