January 2017

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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