Los Angeles 2021 – Sports

In 2028 the LA Memorial Coliseum will become the first stadium to have hosted the Olympic Games 3 times, having previously been the venue for the greatest sports show on the planet in 1932 and 1984.

Perhaps it deserves this accolade because Los Angeles is a sports mad city, a heaven on earth with teams at the highest level representing the city in each of the Big 5 sports in the country: American Football, or ‘catch’ as it should be called, Soccer, or football as it should be called, basketball, baseball and hockey, or ice hockey as it should be called 😊

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Los Angeles 2021 – Hollywood & Beverly Hills

What’s the first place anyone thinks of to visit when they go to Los Angeles? Probably the first place we headed to – ‘THE’ sign. I had Googled the best spot to view the Hollywood sign from, and the answer it gave was Griffiths Park. We went to that park, but could not see the sign from where we had parked, illegally as it turned out. In the UK a no parking spot is indicated by double yellow lines next to the kerb, in the USA they simply paint the kerb red. Carol had discovered this in a quick chat with a local in the park. “Don’t worry” he said, it’s only a $100 fine.

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Arriving in Los Angeles, California – June 2021

Looking at moving on options from Ecuador it seemed the natural progression from there was the US. Whilst we would have liked to have spent a lot more time in South America as per our original pre-covid plans we weighed up the options, risks (re covid rates, entry requirements and what was open) and the US would not only allow us in, their rates of Covid had dropped considerably and their vaccine programme was well underway. We decided our first US stop would be Los Angeles.

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Ecuador 2021 – Guayaquil

You can’t fly directly to the Galápagos Islands but have a choice of 2 cities in Ecuador which will get you there on an internal flight, Guayaquil and Quito. Even if you choose Quito, your plane will still stop in Guayaquil on its way. We chose Guayaquil (pronounced wirekeel) for a couple of reasons; the first being that flights were slightly cheaper and the second because at the time of our visit there were reports of hospital overcrowding due to covid-19 and higher cases in Quito. From reading reviews Quito is the more interesting of the two places, at 2,850 metres altitude, however we had some fun in Guayaquil so felt it warranted a post of its own. We spend a total of 4 nights there both before and after visiting the islands

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The Galápagos Islands 2021 – Part III – Isabela

Yay, we saw a penguin! Actually we saw 4. Not looking too dissimilar to a duck in all honesty, and too far away to get a good photo, but I am confident we will have other opportunities. We made it to Isabela, the largest of the Galápagos Islands, and it straddles the equator. Puerto Villamil is south of the equator, but the same breed of penguin also inhabits the north of the island, and are the only wild and free penguins to be found in the entire northern hemisphere.

We saw them as we reached the harbour, and were a very welcome sight after another 2 hour boat ride in rough seas, which saw a few passengers fall victim to mal-de-mer, including one young man who was the most nervous traveller I have ever seen, throwing his hands up in the air and covering his head with every large wave we hit. Every single one. We hit many big waves. On this occasion I am very happy to report Carol was fine 😊 The 50 centavos she had spent on a packet of anti-seasickness tablets appears to be money well spent.

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The Galápagos Islands 2021 – Part II – Santa Cruz

We left our home with the Ruiz family in San Cristóbal at 6.30am when a taxi they had kindly arranged for us came and took us to the ferry port. The fare of $1. 50 was excellent value and saved us from carrying our bags for too far. A 2-hour ferry trip to Santa Cruz followed. We had been advised that the early morning crossings were on much calmer waters than the late afternoon ones, and that may well be true, but it doesn’t mean Carol enjoyed the trip any. The seats were plastic and hard and the trip was bumpy and rocky. Gratefully on terra firma we attempted to find our Airbnb for the next 10 days.

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The Galápagos Islands 2021 – Part I – San Cristóbal

At San Cristobal ferry terminal we were met by Lelanes, the 18 year old daughter of our host family. The walk from the ferry to our accommodation is one we have done several times since, is only about 800 metres and takes between 5 minutes and half an hour depending on how long we stop to look at the local wildlife, but on this occasion, fully loaded, we were grateful Lelanes hailed a taxi to get us ‘home’ and she also paid the $2 fare. We unpacked, settled in and started talking about how we would get the most out of our time here.

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Travelling to the Galápagos Islands – April 2021

Some of you may have previously looked into travelling to the Galápagos Islands, and found the cost to be quite prohibitive. This is because the most commonly offered packaged trip is a cruise. A very convenient one-stop shop option for planning purposes, but also very expensive. Apart from not having £10,000 to spend on a two week holiday, Carol also gets very seasick, so for those very good reasons, cruising is not an option for us. We currently have less money, and more time, so our plan is to spend a month here, staying 10 days on each of the 3 main inhabited islands. Our trip will be largely land based, with over-water travel restricted to ferries between the islands and the occasional boat tour for exceptional trips such as the opportunity to swim with hammerhead sharks. As always, we aim to get value for money and whilst doing this trip as inexpensively as possible, we are hoping this does not detract from our wildlife experience. Like most other people, we’re here to see the animals.

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Costa Rica 2021 – San Jose

We ended up having 3 separate stays in San José, at the beginning, in the middle during Santa Semana, and at the end just before going to the airport for our next destination. It seems only right therefore that we include San Jose in our blog posts. On our gap year travels this turned out to be the first country we had visited that was part of our original plans. We arrived with high hopes of seeing things we had never seen before. In that time we saw much of the capital, which included both highlights and low-lifes.

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Costa Rica 2021 – Drake Bay & Corcovado

This was the last proper stop on our epic two month Costa Rica tour and we hoped it would be one of the best…we still had a couple animals to tick off our ‘must see’ list we had mentally made but would we get to see them here?  We had big hopes for this little peninsula after speaking with others and reading reviews but would it live up to our expectations?

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