Posted on May 2, 2017

It was great to have this as our last stop to relax after our tough 3 months 😉 

So wonderful to meet up with Mum and Dad - the kids were so excited and it felt like it had been a lot longer since we'd seen them at the beginning of our trip.

A gorgeous walk in Kensington gardens, such a perfect city in this weather. I'd never seen it so busy though - crazy!

So great to visit old haunts - Belgo's is still brilliant, although it's slightly different with 2 tired children - not quite the relaxing evening I remembered!


Hamley's! This was our promise to the kids through every cathedral and monument in South America and it didn't disappoint - such an event, they loved it!

They managed to find Star Wars in Debenhams too - heaven!


The entrance to our gorgeous mews - I could live in London if we could afford that!!

Amazing that Mick was able to join us for the first evening - we had such a wonderful time. Thankyou Mick! And thanks Mum for the great food despite your setbacks!

Xavi enjoyed his first British curry!


A quick visit to Leicester Square - so strange to think we lived in London for a few years (Robb for longer) - I feel like I didn't appreciate it enough - such a great city.


Kids loved the Science and Natural History museums, as did we - so so well done and Natural History is in such a beautiful building as well and better for the younger kids - amazing. We'd love to visit the Science Museum when they're older. 

Xavi was so happy to see Cain again, it was just like old times! Great to see Alex again too, can't believe we didn't manage to get a photo - miss you!

Thanks to Phil for coming down to meet us - brilliant catch-up and great to meet his lovely lovely wife, Ellie 🙂

Randomly caught the opening of the Oliviers - what a highlight! Dad and I were starstruck seeing a few famous people including Gary Barlow!

Beach Holiday

Posted on April 7, 2017

Morro de Sao Paolo

A boat trip from Salvador, nowhere near Sao Paolo, which really confused the kids! We decided to unwind for 6 nights and had a lovely time despite poor weather most of the time. We did have enough sunny days for a nice suntan fortunately!

Luckily the place we stayed was really well set-up for kids.

We were on the 4th beach (out of 5), which was lovely and quiet, away from town. It was quite a distance between beaches, but Amber loved taking the rather expensive horse and cart rides from one to the next!

There were lots of activities and staff were great with the kids.

Making roses out of palm leaves.

Amazing watching this guy paint the scene with his finger and a cloth in about 5 minutes - very talented!


A romantic evening for...


A nice massage in the airport had everyone relaxed again!

What should have been a 2-hour catamaran ride wasn't quite that simple because of the stormy weather - speedboat, bus and ferry!


Posted on April 1, 2017

We had heard that the old town was very beautiful, but a lot of people had also said Salvador was dangerous, so we weren't sure what we'd be able to do there. We stayed in the Sheraton right between the old town and the beach area we wanted to visit, but not in a nice area - every time we asked if we could walk somewhere the staff told us to take a taxi, so we took their advice! The hotel was shabby, "an outpost that Starwood forgot about," as Robb called it! But the pool was nice and food was generally OK. It was so different from Sao Paolo, much more Carribean-feeling and obvious poverty. Really interesting to visit.

We took an elevator up to Pelhourinho (where Michael Jackson filmed the video for 'They don't care about us'), a lovely area with coloured houses and touristy shops and cafes.

Looking down from Pelhourinho - gorgeous buildings, but in such a dilapidated state - very sad.



Absolutely beautiful Sao Francisco church, sooo much gold! Cherubs are for you Dad 🙂



The beaches of Porto and Farol were in the Barra region south of our hotel with a lighthouse in between.

Playing in the rockpools which were full of little fish - we spent quite sometime saving the stranded ones as the tide went out!

Such beautiful beaches with fish swimming all around you

Xavi and Daddy watching the fishermen come in and then eating delicious fresh fish stew (moqueca) on the beach


Jardim Botanico

Posted on March 27, 2017

Lots of wild toucans - so beautiful!

You never get tired of that view!

Sugarloaf (Pao de Acucar)

Posted on March 26, 2017

We both knew this was famous, but didn't actually know it was in Rio! You can take a cable car to the smaller mountain (Morro de Acucar), stop for a coffee and then take the next cable car up to Sugarloaf. Views are absolutely stunning and totally different to the Corcovado, so it's worth doing both. It's so well-organized and equipped, you could spend all day up there and eat at the gorgeous-looking 200 restaurant (without kids of course!).

I read it was a great spot for watching planes, but was not prepared for this - they are so close and it's like they're coming straight at you! You can watch them turn and land from the same height and then from above - Dad, you would love it here!!

And a beautiful beach at the bottom with the perfect view - amazing!



Not just cute animals we stop for now! He was a particularly smiley baby!

More yummy food at Garota de Ipanema (that song has been stuck in our head all the way through Rio!).

On a walk through the forest at the end of the beach we saw loads of marmosets. "Did you catch him jumping?" Robb said, laughing. Ha! Shame we didn't have our good camera with us...


Posted on March 24, 2017


This military base at the end of the beach is open to the public and is really worth a visit - a lovely walk along the sea wall with cafes to watch the surfers and an amazing view from the headland (with guns for the boys!).

Little princess in her new swimmies (fringe courtesy of Xavi!)


We walked half the length of the beach, but chose this end because it's much quieter and Xavi could rent a boogie board. Some areas are pretty hectic, but it's still beautiful and relaxed. The people here are so helpful and friendly, lots warning about keeping an eye on your stuff, but so far so good!

Churrascaria Palace

Opened in 1951, it felt like it hadn't changed much since - great bossa nova music and pictures of the time around the walls - really fun and the kids loved it!



Far too much meat, but it had to be experienced! 

Cristo Redentor

Posted on March 23, 2017

I know the photos all look the same, but so incredible to be here!!!

A 20-minute ride up the Corcovado on the funicular railway - gorgeous jungle and we saw monkeys!

Breathtaking views of Rio - Sugarloaf and Copacabana. They stamp your ticket with 'no visibility' and have a realtime video at the bottom - we saw all around luckily, but one side completely disappeared in cloud while we were up there.


Lagoa and Ipanema

Fresh popcorn and someone found a stage!


The statue took nearly 10 years to complete, finished in 1931. It's 30 metres tall and the arms stretch 28 metres wide - so impressive.

Loving Rio so far!

Posted on March 21, 2017


We just arrived this afternoon, but what an amazing place! A city with great shops (I bought 2 pairs of shoes already), restaurants, mountains and beach, what more could you need, I guess we'll find out!



Sao Paolo

Posted on March 20, 2017

Visiting the Brazil Family

We have had the best time here with Robb's family - I've now met all of Michel's brothers and sisters and many more! What gorgeous people - we love you, Arnulphys!!

Visiting the Pinheiros club, right opposite Julia's apartment - it's huge, almost like a city, with a fantastic playground and a great buffet where you weigh your plate to pay (apparently quite common here, but novel for us!)

Sipping coconuts in the park!

Enjoying the local wildlife - outside and behind glass - one snake was described as 'deadly but charming'!!

Stephanie's pride and joy, a 1966 VW - beautiful!


How cute are these 3! The youngest of Robb's cousin's children - Lorena, who is 7

A lovely walk in the atlantic rainforest, where monkeys threw sweets down from the trees 😉 Xavi made his own costume!

Second cousin, Stephanie, who visited us in Hong Kong around 7 years ago - Xavi loved learning how to skateboard with her

Throwing stones to make different sounds - great fun


Posted on March 18, 2017

Xavi was desperate to see some big cats, so we went to this zoo an hour outside of Buenos Aires. We read up on it beforehand and were generally impressed with it.

The secretary bird who eats poisonous snakes!

A female bengal tiger and her 5 cubs who were born in the zoo - they were all playing together and swimming, it was amazing to watch

The aviary was beautiful and very open. 

Xavi's favourite - the cheetah

We went on a Wednesday (everything is closed on Buenos Aires on Mondays and since March is the start of winter, the zoo takes Tuesday off as well!). It was absolutely deserted, but instead of trying to get in more customers by charging less on weekdays, they charged the same, but closed all the restaurants and didn't do any of the educational talks. The kids loved it, as it was like a private visit and we enjoyed the peace too, but it just seemed such a shame.

More Buenos Aires

Posted on March 16, 2017

Lovely green spaces

La Casa Rosada, president's office famous for Eva Peron's speech from the balcony - Plaza de Mayo is in front 

Cathedral was not that special, but the floor was beautiful!

Monkeying around the monuments!

Not sure why the national bank has such a grand building, their cash machines rarely have any money in them!

We went back to the San Telmo Feria, as it was so lovely. Got to watch more Tango this time - so enchanting - and Amber got to practise!


We spent quite a while in Buenos Aires, as we've both always romanticized it and thought it may be somewhere we'd like to live. It may have been glorious once upon a time, but in our view those days are gone for now. There is a lot of beautiful architecture and open green spaces, but it's all a bit neglected and run-down and there's a definite feeling of frustration with the economy and government. Good for a visit, but not a home for us!

We went to this steakhouse on our first night and were spoiled for the rest of our time here, so we had to go back - definitely recommended if you are in Buenos Aires - the best food and cheap!

Tiger taking a ride at the science museum (called "Prohibited to not touch") it's all interactive and Xavs loved it.



Xavi is also getting into curry!


Another sweet puppy!

Hotel and around

Posted on March 14, 2017

Loi Suites was a brilliant hotel - set in the jungle with rope bridges and a great pool - not the luxury you get in Asia, but you adapt!



Just a short walk down the hill from the hotel is the river Parana with Brazil on the other side.

Guira Oga animal sanctuary

This place gave a really interesting 1 1/2 hour tour around their grounds (English at 9.30 and 1 only). Lots of sad stories, as animals were saved from trafficking or pets that could no longer be controlled etc., but it was really well done and Xavi learned a lot.

Many of the birds were seized at the airport - they stuff them into flasks to transport them - around 5 in 20 survive - so sad.


This gorgeous bird had hit his wing on a power line and couldn't fly properly, so couldn't survive in the wild. If they put him in an aviary he would hurt himself more, so they give him 30 mins exercise a day.

Body builder anteaters - so cute!

The meeting of 3 countries - we're in Argentina, Brazil on right, Paraguay on left.


Argentina Side

Posted on March 14, 2017


Different views, as you're on the side of the waterfalls here - closer up and looking down on them - equally stunning.

The park had been closed for a few days because a puma had come in too close (apparently!) - all the info was rather sketchy and no-one knew why they reopened one part and kept the walking path closed on the day we went. It took us nearly 2 hours to queue for the crappy little train. Staff were shockingly disorganized (not unusual for Argentina we've found) and really unhelpful! We got to the main walkways on the upper circuit, but couldn't visit the Devil's Throat from this side or the lower circuit unfortunately. Food was awful too. Luckily nothing could spoil the natural beauty of the site - although a comment from Xavi, "I don't think you two realize just how boring waterfalls are," showed us that he did not feel the same!

Monkeys at the start - remember we lost our good camera 😉



The taxi driver from the airport was a lovely lady called Marcli who was happy to fit in with our schedule for the next few days, at a slightly high price perhaps, but so worth it for the convenience. She was gorgeous with the kids too.


Posted on March 13, 2017


Obviously people come here for a reason, but it really is amazing! This is the first view after we got off the bus on the Brazil side and it just takes your breath away. 

We stayed in Argentina around a 50-minute drive from the Brazil side - immigration was very efficient and the park was really well-run with buses that left every 5 minutes or so to the top with stops to get off for boat trips, hikes etc. if you wanted to.

There it is!

The rainbows are real!



The views from this side are panoramic - you go along a walkway that takes you alongside the falls - you think you've seen the best view and then you round the next corner...

The walkways come out at the Devil's Throat and you walk out into the spray - so exhilarating!


Also just a little bit scary seeing your little ones with just a small fence between them and all that raging water!


Cute little coatis everywhere there are people and food

There are signs everywhere telling you they bite, but they still let you buy ice-cream - poor little Xavs had his snatched from his hands and they're now on his hit-list!


Posted on March 11, 2017

The Tigre delta is about an hour from Buenos Aires by train. It was fascinating to visit. It's a huge area full of waterways that flow off the Parana river with islands in between. 

We took a 50-minute public boat ride to a restaurant we found online. It was touristy, but really nice and relaxing.


There are holiday homes all along the river, each with their own private pier. 

We took the 'tren de la costa,' which was an interesting experience - they seemed to have made a big effort to start the rail line up as a tourist attraction in the 90s after it closed in the 60s, but it's since been let go and felt frozen in time. We've had this experience a lot in Argentina, as if things were started up, but then just abandoned. It took twice the time and really wasn't worth it, so we took the regular train home! 

The playground was behind the restaurant. In the space of a few hours it had almost turned into a swamp - it made for some great sliding for Xavi of course!

Recoleta Cemetery

Posted on March 7, 2017

I love visiting cemeteries, but the kids were pretty unexcited until we found the cats. It was beautiful (and the animals were very friendly too!).

Parrots in the park outside


Evita's mausoleum - very small and unassuming - the kids have been very interested in her life and she's so recognizable, they're spotting her everywhere!

These are for you Bullers!


San Telmo market

Posted on March 7, 2017

This was a lovely area with cobbled streets and a gorgeous market on a Sunday - nothing much to buy luckily, but lots of antiques and crafts to look at. Me and Amber watched some street Tango while the boys were finishing lunch - so cool!


A woman stopped us to recommend we watch this lovely little puppet show - that was fun explaining drunkenness to the kids!!

Posted on March 5, 2017

Buenos Aires Polo Day

We found a flyer for this almost as soon as we arrived and Robb was straight on the phone! We got picked up in the morning and traveled with 9 others to grounds about an hour from the city. The day was brilliantly planned and our guide, Poly, was great at getting everyone together and making it really fun. You HAVE to do this if you come to Buenos Aires! (

Watching a game of polo and learning the rules - there are 4-8 chukkas of 7-minutes each per game and a different horse each time, so they don't get exhausted - hence the huge expense!

Xavi throwing the ball to start a chukka

Amber getting into the game!!

Learning to hold our mallets and hit the ball - if you're used to hockey it's hard to remember you can't swing across your body or you'll hit your horse in the face!

There are usually 4 players per team on the grass pitch, but we watched a smaller game with 3 players on sand, as it had rained overnight

Practise first!

And we're ready!

The game


Absolutely amazing you actually got to play! The horses were incredible - so gentle and docile, but so powerful and fast in the game (not our game of course, which was more like trotting around the paddock and switching direction every 2 seconds - hilarious!). 


That's me - black no. 2!

Xavi was the only one in our family who scored a goal!

Phew - exhausted!

More meat!

My 3 little carnivores were very happy with the lunch!

Buenos Aires

Posted on March 3, 2017

Due to 2 children not going to bed on time (and 2 parents being absolutely knackered!) we didn't manage to book an airbnb and then the site locked us out for a day to verify our details. Luckily we found this lovely little boutique hotel called BeHollywood! (in the Hollywood area of Palermo) for one night with a gorgeous pool on the roof.


A pretty Palermo park

The receptionist recommended this steakhouse on the next block (Campo Bravo). The food was delicious and the bill was HK$500 including wine. I'm trying to keep the little meat lovers in check, but it's not easy here!!!

Restaurant at the Evita museum - not great food, but a lovely courtyard. The museum itself is small, but very interesting, well worth a visit. Amber loved the outfits!

The zoo closed down in June 2016 - it was built in 1888, so animal welfare wasn't thought of. They've now moved a lot of the animals out to sanctuaries and larger animal parks out of the city and are transforming it into a Biopark to educate people about animals instead. It does still have some bad press, but we were really impressed with what they're trying to do. It was sad seeing some of the remaining animals that are too big or old to move, but they're working to improve their enclosures as best they can and it was like stepping into a different era with all the old buildings around.

There are models of big cats in the cages behind to highlight the lack of space animals had.

Random carousel on the way home!

Beautiful maras lazing free everywhere - an animal only found in Argentina

There are so many different areas and we have so much more to explore, but we love the city so far. We're really enjoying wandering around, although it is a bit hot when you're out of the shade! 

A bit far away, but one example of the cool street art you see everywhere

Bus to Argentina

Posted on March 3, 2017

Border crossing in Chile

Pretty efficient, but in case you're considering it, they don't count it in the bus journey, so 5 hours becomes 6!

And  a one-night stay in the lovely little town of El Calafate. There's a huge glacier nearby called Perrito Moreno, which you can walk out to on platforms - it looks amazing, but unfortunately the kids were all glaciered-out! Next time...

More Patagonia

Posted on March 1, 2017

We stayed at the Hotel Lago Grey in the national park – super expensive, but amazing views of the lake and the Torres del Paine mountains behind. When we arrived the weather was beautiful and there was a gorgeous iceberg sitting just out front – so picturesque – by the evening it had disappeared! There was a lovely foresty walk by the side of the lake and a little rocky beach for the kids to play on.

One of the best views from a hotel room ever! The sky was so clear at night, you could see so many stars - unfortunately it didn't get dark till very late, so Xavi missed it!


A quick stop at the Milodon cave on the way to the hotel. An explorer found the skin of the extinct animal there. The cave is underneath an overhanging rock and they’re still excavating and finding things there today.

We booked an all-day tour with a guide, who was brilliant, and just as interested in wildlife as Xavi which helped! We were a bit worried about them being in the car all day, but they were really good and Amber managed a 2-hour nap too. 

The first hotel in the area, built in …., apparently a puma once crossed the bridge when it was closed in winter, but was too scared to go back over, so they had to drug him and carry him back!



We saw lots of lakes and waterfalls and clocked up a good list of animals too – guanaco (same family as the camel), flamingos, armadillos and lots of different birds.

The next day we did the Lago Grey Navigation which takes you out onto the lake right up to the face of the glacier. There are 3 sections where it has split and each has different formations – so interesting for us to see, but the kids were really tired and Xavi was bored stiff and wouldn’t go outside after the first time (it was pretty cold and windy!!). It was incredible seeing icebergs floating everywhere with all the different colours in them and amazing to think the landscape is constantly changing.

Just off out to the glacier for some ice…

And here it is in our drinks – not sure who was more excited, Xavi or Robb!

A solar eclipse on the way – first we’ve ever seen – amazing!

The hotel from the lake

We resorted to a selfie after Xavi failed to get both the Pisco Sours and the glacier in the photo!

And one photo of Puerto Natales where we stopped for one night on the way to Argentina. Last picture there as we left our camera on the bus!!! It was a fairly quiet town, but did have the world's only Zambian Chilean fusion restaurant, which comes highly recommended by us all!


Posted on February 27, 2017


A walk around the town of Punta Arenas 

Any wildlife will do for Xavi!

Ready to see the penguins

And there they are!!!

An hour's boat ride away on Magdalena island, there are loads of Magellan penguins - we just caught them shedding their feathers before they head off to Uraguay and Brazil in March. They head here around November and babies are born at the end of December if anyone is planning their trip!




Dolphins on the way home



Posted on February 24, 2017

About 1-2 hours outside Santiago (depending on traffic) is this city whose historic part is a UNESCO world heritage site. We didn’t really do our research before we took a day trip there and were a bit surprised at the scope of it – I got the impression that you could just hop on the funiculars wherever, but actually they were quite spaced out and we ended up walking up far more hills than we wanted to in the heat! We managed to catch a few down though and it was pretty cool and fun for the kids. 


The city itself has a reputation for crime and is quite rough and ready with lots of graffiti and dodgy parts alongside the pretty, colourful murals and beautiful buildings.

A quiet moment!

Another puss-cat!

More Santiago

Posted on February 24, 2017

Painting in the park



Just opposite our flat in the Central area of Lastarria was a huge playground and park – Parque Forestal. On the weekends they set up activities for the kids and there are musicians and clown shows. It has a real family atmosphere with everyone enjoying the sun – a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

Museums in the Quinta Normal park

Science and Technology

Models of all the planets to scale and really helpful staff – none of us knew that the earth could fit inside the sun so many times!

There were a few pools in the park too where kids were splashing about – so cool – literally (hehe).

Fantastic free Natural History museum


When all else fails – Burger King!!

I didn’t particularly like the octopus balls in Japan, but the others all agreed these weren't as good! Sushi is interesting here – lots of nice citrusy flavours, but they focus more on the sauce than the fish and they use a lot of cream cheese.


Planetarium in Spanish - just about managed to keep Xavi interested between Robb's knowledge and my translations. Amber not so easy!


Posted on February 19, 2017


What a beautiful city, we love it here. It's much more developed than Peru and much easier to relax in! Gorgeous squares, interesting neighbourhoods, amazing parks and really friendly, chatty people.


Beautiful old buildings with just a few modern ones

Stunning cathedral - columns look like marble, but they're all painted

Parque O'Higgins (Chilean independence leader whose family moved here from Ireland if you're wondering about the name like we were!)

Xavi rockin' his panama hat

And of course we found more animals to fuss - this one was so chilled it fell off the wall, then looked all nonchalant like he meant to do it!

Smallest aquarium ever


Xavi still loved it!

Mercado Central

Poor Robb didn't get to go the fish market in Tokyo, but we managed it here!


Great food inside and looking forward to our salmon and clams tonight too

The Metropolitan Park is absolutely huge and within walking distance of our apartment in Lastarria (a really cool funky area) - we took a funicular up one side and a cable car down the other with walks in between, Unfortunately we forgot our camera, so here's a few images off the web!


Blogging on the balcony

Stopped for a swim in this gorgeous pool (one of two in the park)

Someone got upgraded on the way here - sadly it didn't last when they realized she was with us!

One more night in Lima

Posted on February 17, 2017

Circuito de las aguas

Stayed in a different part of Lima - San Miguel - a newish area with views of a beach they're developing and hoping to open within a year - very nice, but saw the more dodgy parts of the city on our travels this time! Traffic is crazy and it's pretty claustrophobic in parts.

We were exhausted, but determined to go to this park with 13 fountains and 3 light shows per night, as we knew the kids would love it. We weren't disappointed - it was brilliant!

Fuente Túnel de las Sorpresas

Lucky we wore our swimmies!





Bloody Marys for breakfast

Someone's happy!

Lake Titicaca

Posted on February 17, 2017

Breakfast by the lake

Robb was so excited that our basic little hotel had a trout farm attached - apparently he had no idea 😉 My translation was a little sketchy, but I was able to pass on that the owner had 25 years of experience in aquaculture and was the first to successfully breed golden trout (or something like that!). Xavi was absolutely fascinated too and changed from wanting to live on the Galapagos to wanting to run a dairy farm to wanting to run a trout farm – watch this space!!!



We went to this tiny little town 10 minutes away by very crowded minibus for a lunch of fried and grilled trout.


It was very sweet with lovely views, ice lollies, horse rides and animals to cuddle, so everyone was happy!


The Uros islands

Interesting to see, but not the most pleasant tour - we just went with what the hotel offered, don't think it was the best option!


We turned up at 7am and were herded like sheep onto one of the many boats waiting to ferry tourists out. Having already paid for the tour we were told at the first island that you need to pay extra for the islanders to take you on their traditional boats (it’s not optional!)

What do you do on an island with a house this small for you, your husband and your 2-year-old? It's so hard to imagine what life is like! I'm not ready to give it all up just yet, but it does make you think about all the stuff we have and what we could actually live without.


When we got back there was an interesting talk about how they make the islands, then each group got handed over to an islander to go and see their house. The men make things with the totora reeds and the women make tapestries. It’s hard to believe it’s not all a set-up when the islands are so close to the mainland, but apparently storms in 1986 destroyed a lot of them and they rebuilt closer in. Also I read that they were originally built as a defense, so it made a bit more sense. I also quizzed the lady we bought from who seemed quite genuine – she said she came from a different island (there are around 40-90 – no-one seems quite sure!) and came to this one with her husband. She said they go into Puno on Saturday and bring back everything they need. She said outright that they make all their money from tourists and you don’t really mind buying stuff since they’re giving up their time for you, although there’s unfortunately not a lot you want to buy – we ended up with some cushion covers and toys for the kids! 

There are apparently 3 schools on the island and kids are on holiday at the moment. So strange to think of them growing up here, so differently from ours, but interesting to see kids will make trains out of furniture wherever they grow up!


The second stop was this beautiful island. It looked very Mediterranean and was so peaceful.


Again - just so interesting thinking about how differently children grow up and how it shapes their lives - and how they have no idea!

Xavi's new favourite game


Andean Explorer

Posted on February 14, 2017

This 10 1/2 hour train journey from Cuzco to Puno was absolutely brilliant - with just 30 people onboard you could wander up and down freely to sit in the bar area or on the balcony part of the train at the back. The kids really enjoyed it too - they played with their no-mess glitter books, ate, drank, ran around and played games on the phone. It went really quickly!

Making friends

We did our Machu Picchu tour with the lovely Annie and Malcolm from Hampshire. It was great to meet them again in the waiting room for our train.


Xavi showed Annie all our Monterey Bay pix (lucky thing!) and Amber spent a lot of the train journey playing with her, trying on her jewellery, scarf and shoes - thankyou Annie!




Robb enjoyed posing too!

Great food

The entertainment

Music, dancing and a pisco sour lesson!


Ollantaytambo to Cuzco

Posted on February 13, 2017

We had a super friendly and helpful driver who was so knowledgeable about the area – only spoke Spanish, so I was translator for the journey!

The Sacred Valley

Apparently the weather is always lovely

Ollantaytambo – a pretty little town and another place to stay over to catch the train to Machu Picchu


For any adventurers out there, these are 3 pods you can stay in up a mountain – climb up and zipwire down!


We weren’t too comfortable with this stop – the llamas and alpacas seemed a bit scared and people standing all day in the sun just to please tourists was a bit sad, but they were so lovely with the children and Xavi loved the animals again!

This stop to see how they make the natural dyes was surprisingly interesting. It’s amazing the colours that can come out of plants and we saw real cochineals for the first time – Xavi loved crushing them up on his hand and adding lemon juice to change it from red to orange.

Poor little guinea pigs waiting to become dinner! Xavi didn’t seem to mind, he still wants one as a pet.




Typical Allman though, he did find a gorgeous little kitten and stopped off for a cuddle - so gentle and docile, it would have been a keeper had we been at home!

The outskirts of Cuzco

As soon as you go outside of the cities it's all a bit of a mess!


Posted on February 11, 2017

Machu Picchu

I'm going to post a lot of photos because it was so incredible, but photos cannot do it justice - the sheer scale of the mountains surrounding it and the whole of the citadel is just absolutely incredible - if you haven't been - GO!!! If I could go back tomorrow, I would - it's magical!



We were so lucky to have great weather the afternoon we arrived. The hotel we stayed at (courtesy of an article for online HK Tatler) arranged a Hiram Bingham guide who was brilliant and we took a 2-hour tour in the sun of most of Machu Picchu. It was wonderful to go to all the major sites and get a real sense of the place and she was perfect for the kids too showing them the family of 15 llamas who live there and the chinchillas who sometimes show their faces!

It was quite tough for the kids having just done a 2-hour car journey, a 1 1/2-hour train journey and a 1/2-hour bus journey (which they both slept through - so bumpy!), but they were fantastic waiting while we listened and entertaining themselves.

An amazing meal at the hotel

Such good food and great pisco sours too! According to Xavi the best trout he'd ever eaten and his first Shirley Temple too (diluted with soda of course, poor child)!!

The views from the back were breathtaking and so unexpected - I had no idea that the surrounding area was so striking as well as the actual ruins.


The second day the hotel provided a wake-up call at 5.30 if the weather was good. That never came. Apparently at this time of year it is in fog 85% of the time. At 6.30 we thought it was lifting and rushed to get ready and go in. Half way up it looked like it was clearing, but by the time we got to the top (the guardhouse) you couldn't see a thing. It was unbelievable and made you wonder if explorers had been close before it was discovered in 1911 and just couldn't see it! I would have been pretty annoyed if this was the only view we got, but it was really atmospheric if you'd already seen it.

Staying at the Belmond Sanctuary, we were able to pop back for a delicious breakfast of Eggs Benedict with local smoked trout before we headed out to face the rain again!

Although I think Xavi actually preferred it in the rain!!


Great train journey

We took the Vistadome Perurail train, which has windows in the roof so you can see the amazing scenery from all angles. It was brilliant - drinks and snacks and extra special treatment due to the article I'm writing - really special 🙂

They do a fashion show of Alpaca wool clothing (I could have bought lots!) and a dance from an Inca character.

Amber's first crush (unfortunately she was asleep most of the way home!) - Francisco - a lovely man who looked after us so well.

Aguas Calientes

The small town (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo) where you have to stay if not writing an article for Tatler 😉




And queuing to catch the bus down the hill which you can't avoid unless you hike or pay USD350!


Posted on February 8, 2017


Just as beautiful as Arequipa, but with a much older feel. The cathedrals and churches look very much South American, but the main square as a whole looks almost Shakespearean surrounded by low buildings with beautiful carved wooden balconies.

One of the best views from a restaurant ever

The Natural History Museum

This tiny little place (yes, that's all of it!) full of stuffed South American animals kept Xavi busy for almost an hour!

I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about all the varieties of potatoes there are with little plastic models of each - they really are proud of the little tubers here! 

Xavi was so impressed with this place, all the animals of course, but he really couldn't believe the ostrich egg - hmm...

Off to Machu Picchu tomorrow - woohoo!


Posted on February 8, 2017

Another beautiful South American city!



This city has such a chilled-out atmosphere and a lovely slow pace. It’s mostly a stopping-off point for trips to the Nazca Lines and Colca Canyon, which we decided not to do with the kids, but we found enough to do for a couple of days and you never tire of the views.

The Monasterio de Santa Catalina

This was well worth a visit – founded in 1579, it’s been open since 1970 as a tourist attraction, but still houses around 25 cloistered nuns. Described as ‘a city within a city’ with its own streets, cloisters and orchards, as well as rooms set up to show how they lived, it took us a good few hours to get around.  It was fascinating to wander through, see their cells and read about their daily lives – even more interesting to wonder what possesses a girl of 16-18 years old to want to cut herself off from society in this way. The kids really enjoyed all the nooks and crannies too and were surprisingly good at keeping their voices down and being respectful (except Xavi being fascinated by the white volcanic stone the buildings were made from and trying to pick it off!).

Not a bad start to the day!


We ended up in Norky’s fast-food chicken restaurant so the kids could have a play. Arequipa’s huge and beautiful parks with great play equipment only open on the weekend – so weird and quite depressing to drive round and see the gates locked! They love their roast chicken in Peru - we have eaten way too many! The play area was filthy, but the food was OK and the kids had a great time! We also had the whole upper floor to ourselves, which is quite a theme to our eating out, as a lot of places are empty in low season (quite a plus if the kids aren't behaving, although I must say they have mostly been brilliant!). 

A well-deserved relax

With some of Arequipa's traditional Alfajores biscuits


Chicha Beer

Mummy and Amber both enjoyed this 8% beer made from black corn - I only had one!

Hatunpa restaurant, owned by the woman whose airbnb we stayed in, served 7 types of Peruvian potato with a choice of toppings - yummy!

Wow - again!

Leaving Arequipa

Posted on February 8, 2017


We stayed in the lovely residential area of San Isidro, a mix of low-rise apartment buildings and large gated houses and a large avenue with some restaurants and a supermarket.


We visited the Bohemian district of Barranco first. It had a pleasant atmosphere with cobbled streets and pretty cafes.



Unfortunately the walk to the beach did smell a bit of wee! It seemed to be quite a hippy hangout with people selling friendship bracelets all along the way. The beach itself was what you’d expect from a beach in a large city, but the kids had fun.






Miraflores Larcomar had a very good view for a mall and provided a nice stop for a delicious gelato. The playground at the top had a statue of Paddington donated by the Brits in 2015, as if they’d decided Lima had to show some acknowledgment that he came from Lima!

Pisco sour on a rooftop and bananas with steak!



We weren’t keen on the ceviche we had, which was large chewy chunks of fish without as much flavor as we’re used to.

Gorgeous buildings in the centre of Lima

Posted on February 3, 2017

An afternoon in Guayaquil

Sadly we had to leave our farm early to take a35-minute flight to Guayaquil (avoiding the hair-raising drive back down the mountain - well worth it!). We'd previously decided to avoid the city having read and been told by our Quito guide how dangerous it was. The Hotel Wyndham we stayed in did come with a little security guide in the key holder telling you to lock your bedroom door, not answer the door to anyone etc., but the area we were in was part of an urban renewal project aiming to shed its reputation and was really lovely. 

Malecon 2000

Next to our hotel was a pretty street full of art galleries (sadly no photos, as we got caught in a rainstorm on the way back to the hotel!), which led to this wide open area along the river with viewing towers and playgrounds.

The highlight of our trip

As many of you know I love lizards, so we had to go to this park where iguanas wander freely. It was amazing! We'd read reviews that said how small it was and you could only spend 10 minutes there, but me and Xavi managed at least an hour watching and feeding these wonderful creatures (you could buy bags of lettuce which they loved). Lots of photos, I'm still in awe!







Guayaquil Cathedral

Oh, yes, there was also a beautiful cathedral next to the park!

Posted on February 1, 2017

Hacienda Chan Chan

The perfect antidote to busy, polluted Cuenca, this working dairy farm is a great place to unwind for a few days. The American family who run the farm are so welcoming and their 5 children ranging from 1-12 years old are absolutely lovely and so great playing with ours.

Our House

The Animals

A very pregnant pig

Due to give birth any minute, but it seems we will miss it!

Hope the Calf

Now 2 weeks old, but called Hope, as they didn't think she'd make it - fingers crossed.

Ben the horse

The owner, Luke, also took us down for the cow milking where we watched the 29 cows come up the valley into the milking station. It was really interesting learning about dairy farming including the differences between this small Ecuadorian farm and intensive farming in the US - for example there Luke had around 170 cows, which meant the process had to be much more industrialized. We learnt about using iodine to disinfect the cows teats and Xavi even had a go at hand-milking Bonnie, a beautiful Jersey cow! Forgot to put the memory card back in the camera, so no pix!

A delicious breakfast

Freshly-made bread and butter, yoghurt, granola, fruit and great coffee!

A walk by the river


So peaceful and beautiful.

Posted on January 30, 2017

More Cuenca

We walked back along the river and up into the old town. You don't seem to be able to get away from the car fumes anywhere, the smell is so strong here it made me feel a bit sick and Xavi commented on it too. The town is nice and relaxed, but there is a lot of graffiti and crumbling buildings, which make it feel a bit rundown and not in a charming way like Quito.

Old Town and Cathedral

This was a really pretty area. The new cathedral built in the 1930s was absolutely beautiful, such a huge building with 2 domes and stained glass everywhere, We arrived  in the middle of a service, hence no photos inside unfortunately, although it was impossible to get the scale in a photo anyway. Listening to the choir sing Hallelujah was a very spiritual experience. 


Panama Hat "Museum"

This large shop had a few rooms showing the making of the hats and the equipment used through the ages, it was interesting for a half-hour stop and staff were great with the kids. As we have been told frequently by Robb, Ecuador is the home of the Panama hat. The famous shop is closed on the weekend, so we are off there this morning to find the perfect hat for him - stay tuned!!

Making their hats!

A wonderful meal by the river

Such interesting food at Restaurante El Colgado - macaroni with squid and prawns in a cream sauce, roast chicken with spicy potatoes, fish stew and baked potatoes with beefy fillings - mmm!

Finally up-to-date!

Posted on January 29, 2017


We arrived last night after a terrifying journey in a pick-up truck - Robb had read that drivers have to make the 3-hour journey there and back twice in a day, so they are constantly tired, but it was only one review, all the others said it was fine, so we decided to ignore that one - aargh! Everything in that review was right - the music was on really loud, window fully open, chewing gum - I spent the entire time watching his eyes in the mirror and coughing really loudly every time he slipped! Asked him to slow down once and tried to ask lots of questions from my place in the back - luckily the kids slept through it all! We were so pleased to get into our lovely house here and relax with a beer!

So far I'm not that enamoured with Cuenca! It's a university town, so has a nice chilled-out atmosphere and is pleasant by the river, but it isn't as pretty as I'd thought it would be. We're off to the historic part of town tomorrow, so will see if that wows us!

Old Inca Ruins and a few llamas - or alpacas - what's the difference?!

This was really interesting to walk around and seeing the llamas grazing next door was pretty cool.

Great sushi!

A real labour of love for the owner/chef - it took ages for the food to come out as he painstakingly prepared every plate himself, but it was worth the wait!


Posted on January 29, 2017


Nothing prepares you for seeing pelicans everywhere, sealions sleeping on the pier, marine iguanas resting on the rocks just a few metres away - absolutely incredible!



We stayed in a quirky little hostal (not an old fort as we thought, but built recently by the owner! Fun, nonetheless!) 

Morning boat ride to Playa de los Perros

The boat came close to an island where sealions come to rest and we took a walk to a gorgeous beach where you could get close to the marine iguanas and watch turtles playing in the surf. Then we stopped off at a lagoon for snorkelling.

Tortuga Bay

A 20-minute speedboat ride from the pier near our hotel got us to this beautiful beach with marine iguanas everywhere. You could swim in crystal clear water and walk along the pristine beach - nothing else there - so peaceful.

We booked a full-day boat trip to Bartolome island - pretty expensive, but so worth it. 

On to Santiago island. Unfortunately there were no penguins to swim with (apparently they were all our hunting or it was the wrong season for them!), but we saw beautiful fish, swam with a turtle and watched a 2-metre-long Galapagos shark swimming with a sealion next to the boat, so we can't complain!

Highlight of the trip

Watching a pod of around 30 dolphins swimming alongside us and putting on a show on our way back - it was mesmerizing.

Puerto Ayora town

We were a quite surprised the town was so built up (and pretty grotty!) after a 2-hour flight, 10-minute bus ride, 5-minute boat ride and 1-hour truck ride to get there, but at least they manage to contain it in one spot. Interesting to see, but I think stick to the boat rides if you don't want your idea of the Galapagos as completely untouched spoilt!

It had to be done!!!

Rancho El Chato

On the way back to the airport we stopped off at a place to see tortoises in their natural habitat, which was a lovely experience - so peaceful. There were also lava caves to explore with a resident barn owl and some collapsed craters a little further on.



Posted on January 25, 2017


Wow! Quito is such a beautiful place, incredible buildings everywhere you look and views all over since it's so hilly. The Basilica was one of our favourite places - you could explore most parts and even climb on 2 metal staircases to go out over the roof. There was an indoor climb for the kids too inside the bell tower.

Just down the road from our flat

The sun came out on our second day in Quito, so we headed to Parque la Carolina thinking we'd spend a few hours there, but it was huge! We were there all day and didn't get to see it all. It's a popular place for local families on Sunday and it had such a lovely atmosphere and so much to do - bouncy castles, pony rides, face painting and a farmer's market.


We enjoyed the small but pleasant botanical gardens, but the vivarium was a bit disappointing - Xavi got to touch a Boa though, which made his day!


Back into town for the third day with a stunning walk to the Iglesia San Francisco - no photos inside, but it was beautiful - definitely worth a look, you can just google images.

Xavi and Amber had a brilliant time feeding pigeons outside too!

El Panecillo

We met a very friendly retired Grandad who takes tourists around when he fancies. It was wonderful going up to the top of the hill we could see from our house with him, he was so knowledgeable about the history of the area believed to be an old Inca site for sun worship and surrounded by 4 volcanoes, one of which was smoking.

We headed back down for lunch - lots of places do set menus all at USD2 or 2.50 - you get a huge bowl of fresh broth, then a small piece of meat or fish with rice and salad and a glass of juice - both places we tried were delicious.

A quick panama hat purchase before a rest and dinner!

Santa Monica, LA

Posted on January 23, 2017

I LOVE Santa Monica! The beaches are amazing, the food is fresh and delicious, the parks are huge... need I say more?! The kids loved it too. Xavi had his first roller coaster experience (25 times he reckons and he's probably close!), Amber made a shop with every bar in the beach playground and we adapted to the relaxed pace of life pretty quickly!



Guy, Ida and Jack Bear!

The best thing about our LA visit was of course seeing our good friends, Guy and Ida. It was so wonderful catching up with them, meeting their gorgeous boy and seeing how happy they are. We love you guys!


Monterey Bay Aquarium

Posted on January 23, 2017

We've always wanted to come back here ever since we came around 10 years ago. It was so great to show Xavi and Amber, as we have talked about it so much. The two-day ticket (available from most hotels for the same price as one day) was well worth it since we got there quite late in the afternoon. We spent till lunchtime there the next day and could have stayed longer - there's so much to see and do - kids loved the otter and penguin feedings and the octopuses in particular and Xavi learned so much about the environment and sustainable seafood.

Incredible recycled artwork at the aquarium

Posted on January 22, 2017



This is the view from our apartment - what a beautiful city. We arrived at night in pouring rain and had a grey day yesterday, but we're still loving it - gorgeous architecture and interesting little streets and just such a lovely place to wander around. We're off to the park and the vivarium today, stay tuned for pics!

Road Trip – San Fran to LA

Posted on January 22, 2017

We stopped off for an ice-cream at Pismo Beach, but there was very little there! Amber managed to get the biggest cone ever while Xavi ended up disappointed!


After a long diversion down some really dark roads (a little stressful when you're driving on the wrong side!) we managed to pull over to grab something to eat expecting the usual service station fare. Luckily for us we managed to find one of the best restaurants we've ever eaten in instead! Lure Fish House specializes in sustainable seafood and organically grown local produce - grilled fresh fish for the kids and oysters and ceviche for us at amazing prices - highly recommended to anyone in the area!

Back in the US

Posted on January 20, 2017

Back to the US!

San Francisco

We had the most amazing time with Robb's Auntie Jeanette - the perfect welcome after not the most comfortable flight (for me, not the kids - they slept brilliantly both across my lap!). It was so lovely to be picked up at the airport and taken to see the city from the Peaks. Everywhere you go here there are stunning views of the city and we were so lucky with the weather, as they'd had lots of rain recently. 

Fisherman's Wharf and Sausalito

This bustling area was full of shops selling sweets and souvenirs, but it had a really fun atmosphere and was great for an hour's stroll along the front. We'd come for the sealions on Pier 39 and the kids were not disappointed - they couldn't believe how close they were and we stayed for ages. Jeanette then drove us to Sausalito, which is such a gorgeous area, and we had the best burgers sat on the front watching a seal play in the bay. It was so relaxing for us and there was plenty of space for the kids to run around too.

Amber's 3rd Birthday


Posted on January 18, 2017

This sums up our experience of Japan - the food was AMAZING! Everywhere we went, no matter what we chose, everything was fresh, delicious and very reasonably priced.


We loved the area around the Imperial Palace - wide open spaces, manicured lawns and swans on the moat- not what I expected from a big Asian city at all. 


Science Museum

Great for kids. We spent a lot of time in the mechanics museum where Xavi helped to move along the aluminium ball with the use of levers, pulleys, wheels, slopes and screws. We also got to stand in a giant bubble which was pretty cool!



Another great meal at Kaiten sushi in the Kitte centre - one hour's wait, but it was worth it - some of the best sushi we've ever eaten at Hong Kong supermarket prices!



A really fun area - a little more space than some others in Tokyo! Lots to look at for the kids and a delicious noodle restaurant where you order on a machine outside and take in your ticket to pick up and eat. These restaurants were all over the place, so you could pick up a healthy meal in minutes!

Enjoying the nightlife in Ikebukuro

We were all a bit dubious about Xavi's choice of a BBQ restaurant in this slightly less touristy area, but we had a brilliant time sitting on our own little platform and cooking our own food. It was all you could eat and drink for 90 minutes, so adults made the most of the sake and beer, which probably helped! 


I don't know if I was expecting more from Kyoto or if it was just too cold and quiet in the winter, but I didn't love it as much as I thought I would. The bus system was great, but understanding how to get to places was more difficult and there didn't seem to be many signs. When we hit on the right places it was pretty and would have been amazing with the cherry blossoms out. People were so helpful and friendly as they were in Tokyo and we had fantastic food again! The train museum was wonderful and we could have done with more than the 2 hours we had there - great for adults and children. 


Posted on January 16, 2017

After a late start, we made it to Monterey Bay at 3.00 this afternoon. That meant that the one night (yes, one!) where we were allowed to wing it, we’ve ended up in the Marriott in the town centre – not so adventurous – oops! Can’t complain, as it did mean we made the 3.30 otter feeding, which was well worth it, they are such beautiful creatures. The aquarium is just as amazing as we remember it and the kids are enthralled, so luckily we bought a two-day pass and will head back in the morning. Sorry for the lack of posts, will update on Japan and San Fran in the next few days!

Getting Ready to Go

Posted on January 11, 2017

December 16th - moving day...but not too far! We headed down the road to a friend's house to spend a week before moving to our final Hong Kong destination near Sai Kung. It's amazing how much stuff you can fit into a duplex, but after 3 weeks of clearance, we finally had what we needed packed into 2 large rucksacks (and a few smaller ones!!)

About Us

Hi! We're the Arnulphy Family. In December, we sold our house and began 3 months of travelling with our 2 children, aged 3 and 6. This blog is our way of keeping in touch with our family and friends, letting them know where we are and what we're up to. Enjoy! xxx

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