Category Archives: Travel

Go to the airport and take the next flight

This is part of my 40 Before 40 Challenge.

This is a fun one, no preparation required.

I’m not actually sure how you go about buying tickets at an airport, never mind to an unspecified destination, but my sister did it as part of her 30 Before 30 list so it must be possible (she ended up flying first class to Bulgaria).

I’ve not decided what conditions to put on this challenge yet, such as cost and length of flight (I don’t want to fly to Australia for a weekend!) or whether I should limit it to places I’ve never visited before (probably not).

I might even add in some Yes Man type stuff where I just go along with whatever people suggest I should do when I get there.


Learn Spanish

This is part of my 40 Before 40 Challenge.

This is one of my biggest challenges and would probably be my proudest achievement on the list.

There are lots of excellent reasons for learning another language, but after spending some time in the Americas in the last two years, I now have an additional incentive. I’ve made friendships and connections that would be greatly enhanced if I could speak Spanish; such as my friend’s family in Mexico who showed me such great hospitality, or the children and the families I worked with in Bolivia.

On one hand, my Spanish learning so far gives me a base to build on, but on the other hand, my relatively modest improvement during six months of living in Spanish speaking countries demonstrates just how big a task this is.

Me necesito forzar a usar el español todo lo posible. Actualmente vivo con un hombre de España, trabajo con dos españoles y un mexicano, entonces debería practicar con ellos. Por supuesto que también conozco a otros hispanohablantes. Además necesito leer español, escuchar español, escribir mucho y tal vez – algún día – pensaré en español.

Aunque no he practicado mucho, he observado tantas personas hablando español – ¡en todos lados! El tren, en la calle y en la oficina. En Manchester y Edimburgo, Cambridge y Berlin. Definitivamente el idioma extranjero más común alrededor.

Learn the countries, capitals and flags of the world

This is part of my 40 Before 40 Challenge.

This challenge is to learn all 197* countries of the world, as well as their capitals and flags.

Countries and capitals have been a little hobby of mine for some time, aided by the quiz website Sporcle, so it’s mainly just flags that I need to put in some serious study for to complete the set.

In case you’re interested in having a go yourself, here are the three quizzes that I’ll be targeting:

*Sporcle currently lists 197 countries, compared with the UN’s official list of 193 but I’m going to go with the higher figure; here’s a fun video that explains why it’s difficult to give a definitive number.

Visit a country for every letter of the alphabet

This is part of my 40 Before 40 Challenge.

This is travelling with a twist and was inspired by one of the tutors on my CELTA course. Her English teaching had taken all over the globe, so she had completed this apart from (I think) the letter Q.

So in order for me to complete this challenge, these are the remaining letters and the available countries for me to tick off: Continue reading

Hiking in Snowdonia

I just went on my first UK hiking weekend!

Given how much I enjoy being outdoors and exploring when I’m on holiday, it’s a bit ridiculous that I haven’t done it before. I’ve trekked in the Himalayas and been on walks/hikes in several other countries (Bolivia, Peru and Brazil in the last year alone), but not in the country I’ve lived in all my life.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t literally my first hike in the UK – I was able to dust off some old walking boots that haven’t left the country (the cobwebs testify to their dormancy over the last decade or more) – but I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve climbed to the top of anything in the UK.

I’ve thought about this quite a bit; the fact that it’s so common to take for granted what’s on your doorstep. I’ve noticed it all over the world, particularly with Australians, and I’ve joked about falling into the same trap when it comes to what the UK has to offer.

So I’m very grateful to my cousin Claire for inviting me to go to Snowdonia for the weekend, so I could start to put that right. She’s preparing to do the Inca trail to Machu Picchu with my Uncle Jim in October, so this was part of their training. We were also joined by another cousin, Jo, and Claire’s friend, Michelle.

The weather played a huge part in our weekend and the two days were extremely different. On Saturday we were hiking to Cadair Idris, but we hadn’t gone far when visibility started to get worse, which meant we basically spent the rest of the hike in the clouds. At the point we decided to turn back, rain was falling, the wind-chill had picked up and visibility was only about 10-20 metres as we “looked” over a cliff edge (we were supposed to bear right to get to the summit, but we weren’t to know). It wasn’t extreme weather, by any means, but bad enough to sap some of the enjoyment out of it.

Sunday, on the other hand, was perfect! Well, almost perfect! We were climbing Snowdon and the day started with a cloudless sky. It stayed bright for most of the day, apart from at the summit which became shrouded in cloud just as we were approaching. It was a good day for photos, as each part of my photo wish-list was catered for (blue sky, water and elevation) – I’ll add a couple, but you can see more of my photos HERE.


The walking itself was good fun and everyone did really well – especially my uncle, who noticed a huge improvement since his previous hike up Snowdon just a few weeks earlier. You can see some more details of the hikes on Strava:

Saturday at Cadair Idris on Strava

Sunday at Snowdon on Strava

My biggest challenge was actually getting to Snowdonia and back from Cambridge, but I was very fortunate to be picked up and driven door to door – 8 hours each way. My friend Matt did the Cambridge to Manchester journey and my uncle did the rest – a huge thank you to both of you as well.

I wasn’t overly keen on the prospect of camping and in the end we didn’t need to. On Friday night, the five of us squeezed into a 3-man “pod” at Hendre Hall. Since we arrived late and left early the next morning, it did the job and made for a cosy night’s sleep. Saturday night we were in a bunkhouse, which had a very handy “drying room” for all our wet clothes.

I’m sure this weekend will be the first of many, so a big thank you to Claire, Jim, Jo and Michelle for making it such a good trip.

And then there were two Higgis on tour

My blog has taken a back seat in recent weeks (and I’m too busy to do anything about that now), but I thought I’d post an update now that I’m no longer travelling solo!

My sister Kate has just arrived in La Paz after an epic 36 hour journey from London. We’re only going to spend the next couple of days here in Bolivia, just long enough for me to show her where I spent most of my time as a volunteer: outside of La Paz in Jupapina and Mallasa.

After that we’ll be bussing it to Peru to cram in as many touristy things as we can before Christmas, including Machu Picchu on 20th December. Hopefully the rainy season is kind to us. Then we’re spending Christmas in Buenos Aires, New Year in Rio de Janeiro, with a stop at Iguazu Falls in between. It’s going to be a fun four weeks!

La Paz to Cusco (via Isla del Sol)

The Bolivia Hop bus picked me up at 06:30 at my hostel in La Paz with four others – Annika, an American Swede, and three English guys on a day trip. I sat next to Annika on the bus and chatted about Up Close until they put Back to the Future on!

We arrived at Copacabana, which is on the shore of Lake Titicaca (the world’s highest navigable lake) just before midday. That gave us time to grab some lunch and see the derby highlights before catching the boat over to Isla del Sol.

Copacabana from the boat

The boat trip was a breezy 75 minutes (which only gave the English daytrippers just an hour on the island before making the five hour journey back to La Paz!) and dropped us with our bags at the bottom of a very steep hill.

Annika and I had been chatting to a Dutch couple and we found a good hostel for 30Bs (£3) each. After soaking up a bit of sun, the four of us went in search of food and drink. We had a bite to eat at our first stop before continuing up to the crest of the hill where we found a fantastic mirador for the sunset.

I had the local speciality trucha for dinner, which was also amazing – I should get fish more often.

For various reasons we were all really tired, so we got an early night with an eye on seeing sunrise in the morning.

On Sunday morning, I was up and awake well ahead of the 6:40am sunrise and it didn’t disappoint:

Breakfast lived up to the previous night’s fare and gave us the energy to embark on a trek across the island.

Donkeys everywhere on Isla del Sol

Maikel, me, Annika & Gina

After about 14km around the island, Annika and I were back at the main harbour for the 3:30pm boat back to Copacabana. From there, our bus was waiting to take us into Peru.

Everything went smoothly at the border crossing and we were soon on our way. The plan was to travel for about three hours and then stop at a restaurant in Puno for dinner, but the guide explained that wouldn’t be possible. This was because there were some planned strikes that would be affecting the roads from midnight, so we couldn’t afford to stop in case we got caught by them. This meant getting to Cusco early (the normal ETA is 6am, which is when I was being met at the bus station), rather than getting held up until 3-4pm by the blockades. I was pretty impressed that they managed to arrange a pizza delivery to the bus, so we still got fed without stopping.

In the end we arrived in Cusco at 2:30am. The bus company arranged taxis for everyone, so I went to a hostel to steal some wifi and wait until a slightly more respectable time to go to the bus station for my scheduled pick-up.

All that means that I’m about to start the next part of my journey. I’ll be moving into my homestay home, finding out more about my new volunteering project at Asociación Arariwa and discovering what it’s like to live in a South American city.