Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

They're not cold - they're English!

We are in Buenos Aires during its winter and everyone here is walking around in coats and scarves.  At our language school, the teachers keep saying how cold it is and are surprised when we don't agree.  The exception was the owner of the school who came out with the title of this post - "they're not cold, they're English!"

And she is right.  To us it really isn't that cold at all, more like a British spring or autumn.  We could have done with a pair of gloves on Sunday when we were walking around the botanical gardens with its resident multitude of feral (though well fed) cats, but we haven't needed to bother with a coat or jumper.  And when the sun is out like today it is really quite warm.

I guess that temperature is relative to what you are used to and if you stay in one place for long enough then you'll acclimatise to the local view of what hot and cold means.  I'm not sure that we will ever be stationary enough to change our expectation of the weather, so our internal thermometers will probably stay fixed to the UK climate.  That probably isn't a bad thing, as if we are expecting British weather then most of the time we're not likely to feel disappointed with what we actually get.  And if we hit the rainy season in the Amazon we might even decide the British rain isn't so bad either!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Should we have knotted hankies on our heads?

We are sitting in front of the telly, watching Murray playing at Wimbledon and drinking a cup of tea.  And the tea is proper, decent tea.  Sometimes we have to wonder if we have even left England!

Somehow it seems wrong to be doing something so normal, and so obviously 'English', when we are living in Argentina and aiming to get beneath the surface of a new country.  So is it wrong to still do 'English' things?

We had this discussion as we sat in a bar last night.  It started because the beer and food there was predominantly not from Argentina.  We decided that this was OK because the people in the bar were Argentinian, so we were just doing as the Argentinians do.  It is a bit like going for a curry in the UK - it isn't traditionally English, but it has become a part of who the British people are and somehow you wouldn't truly get a taste of English culture without it - you just have to make sure you try the fish and chips too.

So we were allowed to sit in the bar, but should we be drinking tea and watching Wimbledon?  It's tricky because we don't want to form our own little ex-pat community and go to places that remind us of home - that isn't the point at all.  We may go along to the 'Irish Pub' that we spotted, but only because it is always fun to see how completely off the mark they are.  When we go out, we will aim to go to places that the locals go to and eat and drink what they do.  We do want to experience the different cultures and nationalities.  We expect that we will absorb some of the cultures as we travel, and we will see things that might radically alter some of our perspectives and beliefs, so we will be different to how we are now.

But at the same time, we are British, and we have no desire to pretend that we are something else; whilst we are happy to add to who we are, we do not want to abandon who we have been.  Someone suggested to us before we left that we should not take i-pods as we should only be listening to local music. We disagreed, because the music we have listened to and enjoyed is part of who we are.  We can and will add new types of music, but we aren't going to pretend that the last 40 years (or 42 for Nic!) didn't exist.  Our music history is part of us and so is our Englishness.  If we try to 'become' every country we visit we would be pale imitations of something else and won't gain anything in the long term.  What we want to do is to learn from the experience and take with us the best of everywhere.

So we decided that we can watch Wimbledon, as long as we don't do it all the time and we still get out there and see Argentina too.  On which note, we will be heading out shortly for our first Spanish lesson, so that we can mix with the locals more - whatever kind of bar they happen to be in.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Good intentions

When we chose our flat we only considered ones that had a gym, because we figured it would be an essential balance to all of the steaks and wine. So now into day 6 here and we only worked out where it is yesterday - doesn't bode well for getting up to Machu Picchu does it!
Sent from my iPod

Friday, June 24, 2011

And so we begin....

Welcome to our first blog posting.  And it really is the first time we have done this as will doubtless become apparent when we have technical glitches along the way, so please bear with us!!

So we have made it to South America.  We flew out to Buenos Aires, Argentina on Monday 20 June and arrived on the Tuesday morning after a 14 hour flight.  As we are here for a couple of months we have rented a small flat in Palermo Viejo, which is a little out of the centre but is close to  plenty of places to eat and drink.  Those of you who know us will know that we do enjoy a juicy steak and a bottle of wine, and we didn't seriously think we could break that habit overnight, especially in the homeland of our much visited Gaucho restaurants (http://www.gauchorestaurants.co.uk/), so we gave in to the inevitable.

But we also chose the flat to be close to our chosen language school.  We want to learn a bit of Spanish to help us get to know the locals and make the most of our travels.  We start lessons on Monday and are doing 20 hours per week, so hopefully that will keep us out the bars for a while and doing something useful!  We have been challenged to learn two extra words a day each - so far most of them have been connected to food and drink too - I'm concerned there is a pattern forming here!

So aside from unpacking, finding our way around and sampling the delights of empanadas, steak and dulce de leche, we haven't done too much so far, but we expect to start on some of the tourist stuff soon.