A Travellerspoint blog

Day 4 - Cotopaxi

Conquering the Volcano

Today’s trip took me right back to my first season snowboarding. Nothing, except learning to drive a car, has ever felt that hard. Getting your balance, learning to turn, managing your speed, who’d have thought the saying “it’s like riding a bike” was so wrong. Turns out riding a bike isn’t as easy as its cracked up to be, especially not hurtling down an active volcano from 4500m on gravel roads.P1020389.jpg
The day started well. The continuing jetlag, which had us awake from 3.30am, actually worked out well so that getting to our meeting point on the other side of town for 7am didn’t actually seem so bad. There we met up with two other rippers (Lucas and Sarah) and our guide Fernando. We were planning on seeing the magnificent active volcano, Cotopaxi (5895m), which is reminiscent of Mount Fuji with its perfect upright cone and snow covered top. Not just seeing it though, we were planning on mountain biking down it. I never knew I was such a woos though.
After a two hour truck ride, we arrived at our destination and were blasted by massive winds and freezing conditions. I’d forgotten how cold it can get at altitude, and was slightly grateful for the bowel stirring fear which warmed me up as we headed down the mountain. P1020391.jpgWith my fingers firmly latched onto the brakes I trailed Lee and the others as they sped down the sandy potholed road, only catching up at photo ops. But there were millions of those and I soon started to relax and occasionally loosen my frozen grip on the brakes. The scenery was magnificent and despite passing through freezing clouds we were able to see for miles in all directions and take in the amazing sights of the Cotopaxi National Park. P1020402.jpg
After a couple of hours of downhill we made our way along the flattish (still slightly downhill thankfully – I didn’t sign up for pedalling) plains towards some of the Inca ruins and our much needed lunch break. P1020424.jpg
It was here that we got to see some of the wildlife, with wild horses and cows grazing at about 3800m above sea level just under the shadow of Cotopaxi. We were also rewarded with the parting of the clouds and our first glimpses of the entire Cotopaxi crater. P1020431.jpg
After our brief break with an awesome lunch and a geological explanation from Fernando on how lassa form (melting of the snow caps during a volcano and a massive river of water and lava which moves at huge speeds – that there is your only educational part of the blog – you’re welcome), we hoped back in the truck (it follows you the whole way in case of emergency) and retraced our steps back to Lake Limpiopungo. P1020423.jpg This was probably the crappiest part of the day as no-one mentioned we were going to have to go uphill at times. Sarah opted to do this part in the back of the truck and I wish I had joined her. Two stints of pushing my bike uphill (at altitude – which I might mention was a lot harder than just walking up to base camp) and the fat wobbling corrugations on the road truly sucked, but didn’t distract from the amazing day. I even rode most of the second half without touching the brakes (including the downhill bits) – that’s what you call progress. And it made the trays of mojitos that night the perfect reward.P1020438.jpg

Posted by LeeEmma 08:21 Comments (0)

And We're off


Finally left the not so sunny shores of England and we're leaving on a jet plane. Will miss you all and can't wait to see you either in our travels or back in Aus.....bring on the fun.

Em & Lee

Posted by LeeEmma 08:18 Comments (0)


Eurovision, an almost first hand account


15th May 2009
A weekend jaunt to Denmark hadn't been high of the list of "to do's" before leaving London, but a £40 return flight offer by Norwegian air made it impossible to resist. Needless to say the savings would be made up for later.

We caught the trains from the aiport to the city and wandered the ten minutes past the bars and cafes of NewHaven to arrive at our hotel. The hotel was stunning (Tamplin outdone himself for a bargain) it was an old grain store, right on the foreshore, converted by "award winning" architechts. It was stunning - and made even better by the upgrade they gave us to a junior suite. We bundled up to our room and the views were stunning - from our window on the top floor we could see over the city towards Amalienborg and in the other direction Tivoli gardens.

Arriving late we decided to hit the hay straight away, and wake early in the morning to explore the city. Being the culture vultures that we are we had already planned a strategy of attack to make the most of the sites. The first was - a bike ride. We had no idea what the city had to offer so we figured someone else taking us on a tour of all the must sees was the way forward. With this in mind we hit the sack with the express purpose of making the 11am start for the bike ride.

16th May 2009
At ten am we woke to torrential rain. Quickly we replanned and decided bed wasn't such a bad option. They were just so comfy. So we lazed around and finally wandered out of the hotel around lunchtime. DSC_0403.jpg
The weather had picked up a little so we wandered via the seafront to Amalienborg to have a look around. The morning was reminiscent of our first day in Krakow. We were seeing gorgeous stuff, but had absolutely no idea what we were seeing. DSC_0401.jpgWe wandered up thought Amalienborg, checked out Friedrick's church and then headed up to Rosenborg DSC_0407.jpg(the palace) through the gardens. Our lack of warmth and food was starting to take its toll then and instead of paying the £20 to see the crown jewels (I mentioned the cost could catch us up again) we wandered around the gardens towards somewhere to eat lunch. DSC_0404.jpgIt wasn't a complete loss at this point, Lee had learnt most of the names for varius flowers in the garden, and we'd snapped a few ok shots.

Lunch was incredible. We found a little french/italian cafe which was packed out and settled in for some wine and food. I had the beef and cream pasta which was amazing and Lee had mackeral and scrambled eggs which were scrumptios. With full bellies and warmed feet we were tempted to call it a day and head back to the hotel but with only three hours out we felt a little bad. So we headed through the pedestrian mall over to tivoli gardens. At this point we had a choice. We didn't realise it would cost us £20 to get in, and then more for the rides, but it was this, or walk back to the hotel and chance it tomorrow. We decided on now, so paid our dues and headed in. Leethal, who had rejected the umbrella, was prety sodden at this point, but the promise of a rollercoaster cheered him up. IT was pretty fun in fact and the joy of watching all the kids running around the park going on the rides was worth the wet. The place was stunning though, so many flowers and waterworks, I can imagine it would rock in the Summer. Having had almost all we could take of the wet, we dragged ourselves into a cafe for a £4.50 hot chocolate. It was at this point which we just had to say "suff it - hope Lee gets a good bonus".

We headed back to the hotel after that for a nap and dinner preparations. After a quick cat nap and some very horrible bubbles (who knew Spumanti was so disgusting) we went downstairs for dinner. We decided to head out to Newhavn, it had been quite nice when we had arrived in on Friday night so we were looking forward to some seafood and meat. Nobody bothered to mention Euravision to us though. When we got down to NewHavn it was dead so we decided on a drink before dinner (9pm) and wait for some action to kick up. Lee opted for a pint and I went for a coke - which shocked us at coming in at £12.50. We were amazed. These kind of prices almost threatened to ruin an otherwise lovely night. But to be fair, the drinks didn't ruin the night - dinner did. As we wandered back past the restaurants looking for the right one to eat at, we noticed they were all closing up. Apparently 9.30 eating it too late for the Danes. We were forced back to the hotel where they also announced that the restaurant was closed, but we had ten minutes in order to order bar food. After a dissappointing meal and another round of impressively priced drinks we decided to cut our losses and headed upstairs. Lee dropped off to sleep and I lay awake checking out Eurovision. Some ridiculous song about a fairytale by Norway was romping it in, leaving Andrew Lloyd Webber and the Brits in its wake. Just as they announced the final votes and confirmed that Norway had indeed won, the city went mental. I had to jump out of bed and Lee woke up as fireworks started going off everywhere. Seems thats where all the Danes had been hiding ourselves, and we'd chosen our weekend poorly.

17th May 2009
Sunday morning started much more positively, with blue skies and a visible sun. Not having a lot left to cover on our "to see" list, and our flight not being until about 6pm, we lazed around until mid morning before heading down for the full complement of breakfast. After that we were headed for a boat tourDSC_0408.jpg - one which would take us out of NewhavnDSC_0409.jpg, down to the little mermaidDSC_0452.jpg, back through the canals of ChristianshavnDSC_0417.jpg, and then back through the old town DSC_0421.jpgof Copenhagen to Newhavn. The boat ride was gorgeous and the sights finally had meaning as our guide rattled off the history in English, Spanish, Danish & German. We'd managed to see everything we wanted to, with mountains of time to spare so decided to retrace our steps from teh previous day and see if things looked better without a film of water on them. We also wandered up to the little mermaid statue to get an onsure view. My little mermaid was by far the better looking of the two. DSC_0455.jpg

All in all we had a great time. Lessons learnt are:
1. Scandi's love Eurovision, don't compete with the Eurotrash music contest &
2. Spumante is aptly named

One of the prettiest cities I have ever seen, entirely livable, but insanely expensive! Go the Scandis!

Posted by LeeEmma 09:28 Comments (0)

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