Rio de Janeiro: the world’s most photogenic city?

Rio de Janeiro is a vibrant, colourful, life-affirming city. Here, we illustrate why it was the perfect way to end our year-long trip around the world

We are ensconced in a small Copacabana hostel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is by far the worst accommodation we’ve had in months. Contrary to the decidedly lovely pictures on the hostel website, our bedroom is tiny, stuffy, smelly and inexplicably noisy.

10 quirky things to do in Buenos Aires

After several weeks in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego at the southern reaches of the inhabited world, we were very much looking forward to thawing out in Buenos Aires, the “Paris of South America”. We arrived in the bohemian area of San Telmo an hour early and stood on a street corner, wondering where to go to await our host and the keys to our lovely apartment.

10 quirky things to do in Peru this year

quirky-things-to-do-in-peru

Machu Picchu may be its brightest jewel but there are some quirky things to do in Peru, from fine festivals for foodies to making films with masters

As our round-the-world trip nears its end in Brazil, backpackers coming the other way have started asking after our favourite country on the continent. We tell them it’s a close call between Chile with its incredibly diverse landscape and Peru with its sweeping natural beauty.

How do you really get to know a country?

get-to-know-a-country

So, how do you really get to know a country? The answer is of course largely subjective, however, there are certain factors that will always help or hinder

As Kia and I enter the last few weeks of our big trip, naturally we are wondering how well we have come to know the countries we have visited. Over the last year or so, we have spent anything from just a few hours in a country to over two months and everything in between.

6 interesting Easter Island facts

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We examine the island’s history and explain some of the most interesting Easter Island facts. This remote Pacific island is not only beautiful but full of mystery

First thing’s first, Easter Island is far. Very, very far. 

Map of Easter Island

In fact, it is one of the most remote communities in the world. Its closest inhabited neighbour is Pitcairn, 2,000km (1,200mi) to the west while the nearest continental land lies in Chile at a distance of 3,700km (2,300mi). In short, it’s not a short hop.

And so the question one must ask is: are the Easter Island statues worth the slog? Are these great hunks of rock worth the expense of a long voyage?

14 cheap things to do in Santiago, Chile

things-to-do-in-santiago-chile

After two months of continuous travel, we decided to take a few days of downtime in Santiago. We had spent no more than two nights in any one place as we raced to get to Patagonia before winter and as a result were feeling pretty fried and in desperate need of some comfort – especially after the challenges of Bolivia. With this in mind we decided to rent a super-modern self-catering apartment in central Santiago for a few days.

The Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca, Peru

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When we set out for this trip nearly a year ago, I knew that there would be certain places, certain experiences that would leave me awestruck. I knew I’d be wowed by Machu Picchu, stand in awe of Easter Island’s giant statues and gaze open-mouthed at Perito Moreno in Argentina. What I didn’t expect is that I’d be similarly lost for words on the man-made Uros floating islands of Lake Titicaca. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of them before arriving in Peru.

Checking my privilege: why travel reminds me I’m not as smart as I think

things about the British

Privilege is so often invisible to those who have it. It provides us security and strokes our egos and lays claim to achievements that aren’t fully ours

I never felt poor until I went to university. I was one of eight siblings that grew up in a Tower Hamlets council house (vouchers for my school uniform, free school meals), but I never felt that my family was poor until I entered higher education.

There, my peer-set changed from Bengali girls like me to those whose families owned second homes, second cars and even thriving businesses – not international conglomerates like you might find at Oxbridge, but impressive nonetheless: a diamond shop in west London, a doctor’s surgery in Surrey, an accountancy firm in Redbridge.

La Paz walking tour: 10 things we learned

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From a lawless harem in the middle of the city to affectionate zebras roaming around town, this La Paz walking tour is not your average day out

Few cities have a setting as dramatic as La Paz. At 3,650m above sea level, it is often called the the world’s highest capital even though this isn’t strictly true. The country’s official capital is Sucre which lies 690km to the southeast.

San Agustin: the mystical funny faces of Colombia

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San Agustin in Colombia is a sleepy little town buried in the rolling green hills of the southwestern part of the country. The town unfortunately lacks the pretty and quaint charms of colourful Guatape or adorable Salento, but makes up for it with Colombia’s finest archaeological park within walking distance.

Cartagena in Colombia: 26 dos and don’ts

Cartagena in Colombia: the very name has an aura of old-world romance; of steamy hot days, winding city roads, and crumpled treasure maps.

Its charming architecture and interesting history certainly didn’t disappoint, but it was a baptism of fire after six months in the Pacific.

We quickly learned that there are two rules governing the streets of Colombia. First, do not offer papaya. Second, if papaya is offered, someone has to take it. They don’t mean papaya in the literal sense of course; it’s a byword for your valuables.

Pearl Harbor Memorial: a Brit’s view

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Our day starts with a 50-minute wait for the bus in Honolulu’s main thoroughfare. An hour after that, we find ourselves crawling along in the capital’s multi-lane traffic – not what we imagined when we planned our eight-mile journey in this supposed island paradise.

Kia tosses me a look. “I hope this is worth it,” she says with a tone that sounds sweet to the ears but hides much promise of pain.

“It will be,” I assure her, quietly gulping.

49 quick tips for your first time in India

first time in india

During my first time in India, I was a relatively inexperienced traveller: I was overwhelmed by its beauty and stunned by its poverty, just as any first-time visitor. The second time I went to India, I expected to be more familiar with its various vagrancies. In reality, I was overwhelmed and stunned just as before.

7 cultural faux pas in London

7 cultural faux pas in London

There’s nothing that quite ignites anger in Londoners as standing on the left side of an escalator. Avoid this and other cultural faux pas in London with our advice below.

1. Using the London Underground incorrectly

This is such a minefield that we’ve written a whole separate post about it. Read London: Rules of the Underground to avoid the many, many faux pas this gauntlet gives rise to.

An Atheist and a Muslim walk into a church…

“Do you have faith?”
Peter stumbled for a response. “I’m sorry?”
“Do you have faith?” the priest repeated matter-of-factly.
Peter stopped loading his plate with cucumber sandwiches. “Um, yes,” he managed before quietly shuffling away, elaborating no further.

The question, anodyne as it was, was unexpected. We had enjoyed a relaxing day at his friend’s summer wedding in the beautiful English countryside and weren’t expecting to share our religious affiliations with the head of service in the buffet queue.

5 surprising facts about Samoa we learned during our stay

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After nearly a month in Samoa – a country we fell in love with – we reveal five incredibly surprising facts about Samoa we learned during our stay

surprising facts about Samoa

facts about samoa samoans are deeply religious

If you were asked to name the most religious countries in the world, chances are your list would be similar to mine. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan would be up there as would Brazil and Italy. In the spectrum from Saudi to Sweden, I would put Samoa somewhere in the middle, especially in relation to the Abrahamic religions. Turns out, I’d be wrong.