Gold Coast and Brisbane

Surfing Part One

This post actually covers two separate parts of our trip, because we stopped by the Gold Coast twice. The first time, an extended stop over in the Gold Coast saved us a bundle on flights from Tokyo to New Zealand. Then, the Gold Coast turned out to be a very convenient airport to fly back to Australia as we prepared to explore the final country on our trip. The Gold Coast was also where Eric made some career moves, a stark reminder that the end of our adventure was not far off.

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Exploring the World’s Largest Metropolitan Area: Tokyo

Our flight to Tokyo from Seoul was very early in the morning, landing at 9:30am. After getting through customs and finding an ATM to take out some Japanese yen it was time to find our way into the city. Tokyo, and we would later discover, Japan in general, has a huge number of trains, all across various train systems. This means that most of the country is highly accessible by train (which is great!), but it can be a bit overwhelming at first to figure out which train you want, and extra hard to avoid very expensive trains by accident. We went to an information desk to get help rather than trying to figure it out ourselves, and we were quickly on our way.

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So we left Bali and made it to Singapore, a fascinating city/country. It is famous for being a wealthy shoppers paradise (not exactly our scene), but there are plenty of cool cheap-ish things to fill a three-day stay. The first thing to pin down was accommodation, which can be very pricey. We knew a private room was out of the budget, but Jess really did not want to stay in a pod hotel; she thought it was too much like sleeping in a coffin… so we ended up in a kind of unusual dorm room, a queen bunk bed in a dorm to be precise. Privacy amounted to a curtain on the side of your bed, but it was perfect. We had a busy schedule and didn’t do much there but sleep. 7 Wonders ended up being a clean and comfortable launchpad to go out and explore.

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Purmamarca and Tilcara

After our adventures in the desert, we returned to Argentina. We had a couple more days before we had to be in Bolivia, so we decided to take our time going north. Our bus ticket from San Pedro de Atacama would take us all the way back to Salta, but the bus stops in Purmamarca and Jujuy on the way to Salta. We decided to ask the bus driver to let us out at Purmamarca so we could explore some of the smaller towns in the north.

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Budget Update

As we settle into the long haul, we’ve started taking the budget quite seriously, so it’s time for a progress update.
TLDR; budget was broken but we’re good at being frugal. 🙂
The goal is $50 per day per person, so $100 per day total.* We’ve been tracking our expenses on a really neat app totally geared towards budgeting in this way. It lets you record expenditures in any currency, and does the conversion and tracking for you.  This has been super handy, and dare I say fun, when it comes to actually precisely tracking every single thing that gets purchased. Jess is our accountant, and she’ll tell you more about this awesome app later.

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A Tale of Two
Bus Rides

We took an overnight bus to Montevideo, Uruguay. Not only is it nice to sleep as much as possible during an 8-hour trip, but it also means that you don’t need to pay for a night of accommodation. We booked a Condor Estrella bus leaving at 22:30 (10:30PM) and getting in at 6:30 the next day. Everything basically went according to plan, but Jess and Eric had very different rides.

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BsAs Solo dos

Our trip started with a bang! The adventures in Puerto Natales and El Calafate were amazing, and we were super lucky to start the trip with Sol and Travis.  Right now it feels like this trip could be almost a normal vacation for us. The days have been filled with activities, and we’ve moved around to three different locations in ten days. We’ve done two-week trips like this before, trying to see as much as possible in a short period of time and we’ve even done them with friends, so in some ways this is a “normal” trip.

A journey is best measured in friends, not in miles.

Sign in a hostel… actually by Tim Cahill

Alas, all good things must come to an end, Sol and Travis are leaving us :`-( This is our first time doing a vacation with Sol and Travis, and I must say we’d happily do it again.  Without them we’re about to shift into a new mode of travel. We’re settling in for the next few months in South America and this is where the new adventure starts.

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Buenos Aires (BsAs)

The next spot with Sol and Travis is Buenos Aires! All 4 of us had the same flight from El Calafate to Buenos Aires. We landed at 11PM Wednesday, which had us wandering around looking for food at midnight. Fortunately BsAs is a city that (like New York) never sleeps. After a little bit of wandering past convenience stores and bars that weren’t serving we found a spot to grab some sandwiches just on the other side of our block! A quick bite and bed was all we could do.

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