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London to Moorea and back via Iguazu Falls, Easter Island and Macchu Picchu (BA J, F,

London to Moorea and back via Iguazu Falls, Easter Island and Macchu Picchu (BA J, F,

Old Apr 24, 16, 3:37 pm
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London to Moorea and back via Iguazu Falls, Easter Island and Macchu Picchu (BA J, F,

This trip began with a simple plan for a two-week family holiday in Brazil. I had the return booked but this all changed when I found that I could book Easter Island to Papeete, Tahiti on Lan for 12,500 Avios each way, plus a small sum. There seemed to be plenty of availability around June last year too. I duly cancelled the return leg of the Brazil trip and decided to head much further west.

As Avios redemptions to Easter Island seemed hard to come by I added the Santiago to Easter Island return leg with paid for business class via the Chilean Lan site, which was only around 20 U.S. dollars more than economy. I could only get economy for the return here there though, on the day I wanted anwyay. The remainder of the flights were Avios redemptions.

The full trip: LGW-JER-LGW//LHR-GRU-IGU-GRU-SCL-IPC-PPT – PPT-IPC-SCL-LIM-CUZ-LIM-MAD-LHR. This also included a ferry to Moorea and a taxi, train and bus from Cuzco to Macchu Picchu.

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The flights were all taken during the Easter holidays, taking no time off from school at all.

We started the journey by finishing the final leg of a trip back from Florence last year, where I had added a LGW-JER leg at no extra cost – this policy has now ended for short-haul RFS flights.

We started the real ticket from Jersey to save around GBP400 in taxes, although that has to be balanced against the day lost travelling and accommodation at Gatwick.

So, our trip began with an overnight at the Gatwick Central Travelodge prior to heading to Jersey. We arrived around 23:30 for our 07:40 flight so were not too bothered about where we were staying. In fact, it turned out to be OK and the check-in and parking were very efficient. Getting to the airport from the hotel was a pain though. We decided to walk it, as it is not far, but I can’t say it was much fun, walking on a muddy path beside the busy road (the A23) in the pitch dark, and it was drizzling too.

The path during the day. Yep, we walked back too. With luggage. There are actually two paths, one not so close to the main road, which you can see when it’s daylight.

The ‘backdoor’ entrance to the Travelodge

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A bridge to cross the river coming back from LGW to pick up the car at the Travelodge.

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Still, the walk to and from the airport was only around 10 minutes and we were soon safely inside the airport. We used the temporary LGW North BA lounge, which at 6AM was busy but we still managed to find a table. Wife was refused her request for champagne, even though I told her not to bother asking, and I stuck to orange juice.

We soon boarded our flight to Jersey.

Jersey from the air

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Great that we did not have to show our passports once we landed- domestic flight. As our return flight was at 13:40 and we exited the airport around 9AM we decided to go for a walk.

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We quickly found our way out of the airport via the aptly-named Departures Road

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We headed for the beach. Jersey was just coming to life on one of the first days of spring and seemed like a great place for a mini break so we may be back. The beaches were large, clean, especially with the tide out.

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After a few hours around one of the beaches we headed back to the airport to pick up our feeder flight to Sao Paolo, Brazil.

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After going back through LGW we made our way by car to LHR. We parked at the NCP Hilton, which we have done before, as it seemed relatively good value. We collected our free Hoppa bus tickets and proceeded to the airport. As it was late in the day the queues were few and far between even if it was Good Friday and we sailed through to the Concorde Room. We saw TV chef Ainsley Harriott in there.

The main course

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Dessert

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After a few glasses of Laurent Perrier Grand Siecle and dinner…

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We made our way to the plane. We had seats 1A and 1K while the kids were back in row four, the two middle seats together.

This was fine by us as they are young teens and tend to binge on the in-flight entertainment rather than make a noise. I picked up 1A and 1K at T-72 hours after noticing that no-one else had taken them, moving myself up from row 5.

Great to have a few windows…

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The obligatory leg shot

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The CSD was great and my wife had the pleasure of being given a box of chocolates.

The Menu

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The inflight meals

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Amuse Bouche

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The courses

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Chocolates

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Breakfast

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The flight went really smoothly. My daughter slept until 20 minutes before landing and missed breakfast but managed to get a small bowl of breakfast fruit just as seats were put back in their upright position. I was a bit worried about the size of our luggage as we were travelling hand-baggage only but there is a large storage cupboard right at the front of the cabin where bulky items can be stashed. We were travelling HBO as we had a flight at 9AM following our 6AM arrival and I didn’t want to miss it purely because we had to wait for bags. Could we have checked them through? I’m not sure.

At GRU

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We checked in on the TAM ticketing machines but still had a fairly long queue for bag drop, as we decided to forego the HBO strategy.

The 9AM flight took us to Foz do Iguacu on TAM. They served a coffee, black only, on the flight and a tiny snack.

You can see the falls from the plane if you sit on the left. I sat in the middle, with the kids almost always nabbing the best seats for each flight we took.

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After landing we got straight onto a local bus that runs from the airport to the falls. It costs around 2 pounds and you pay on the bus. It takes around 10-20 minutes. There were luggage lockers at the falls so we were able to put our bags in there.

The Iguazu Falls did not disappoint and I can see why they have been included in many ‘seven wonders of the natural world’ lists.

Panoramic view

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We did the park the wrong way round to most people, heading to the restaurant first (for food) before working our way back to the exit. This meant we saw the head of the falls first but had to work our way back through crowds, sometimes. On the other hand, as people were coming out of the wet areas and we were going into them people offered us their plastic coats. They didn’t need them and we did. Thank you Brazilians! If you are going to get anywhere close to the falls you will need them.

The falls

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On the other hand, if you are going to take one of the boat rides to the base of the falls you, don’t need a coat as you will get soaked anyway. We did the boat trip and got duly soaked. I had waterproof covers for the phones and an action cam too, so the equipment was fine.

The falls can be seen from a number of angles on the Brazilian side. I’m sorry I cannot comment on the Argentina side as we never went there. I’m sure the boat crossed into Argentina waters as we had a look at a cascade on their side.

The boat

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Lots of power needed to go up river…

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but we came down the river at full speed too and when it rained it felt like hail, we were going that fast.

The trip in the boat was good fun and the captains take you to one of the smaller falls, rather than the main one or two in the photos, but it is still impressive. They take you practically underneath it and you can’t see anything. When they do. They do this around four or five times before heading back. The water did not feel cold.

We later headed back to the park entrance to pick up our bags and take the bus to the Hotel Carima. The hotel, purportedly the largest in the state, had a foyer with a selection of old cars and while parts of it could do with updating, it was full of character. The pool area was welcomed by the kids. We ate at the hotel. I said to my wife when we were deciding on where to eat that a hotel buffet was hardly going to have a pile of steaks in there, but of course they did. Breakfast buffet was great too and offered the chance to try a few local sweet pastries and cakes.

After breakfast we hung around the pool for an hour or two

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…before catching a taxi to the airport for our plane back to Sao Paolo.

We spent around five hours at the airport while waiting for our plane to Santiago. Poor connection time as there were no other redemption flights available.

Noticed these seats too late

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This was another TAM airlines plane and the meal was a bit more substantial than the domestics we had taken. We arrived in Santiago at half past midnight and stayed in the Holiday Inn, a one minute stroll from the arrivals hall. Handy that. Check in was smooth and the rooms were quiet with comfortable beds. The main hotel booking sites show this hotel as not available for booking family rooms, but the IHG website says children up to age 15 are OK to sleep in the same beds. I emailed IHG first to check and they were fine with this.

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The breakfast spread at the Holiday Inn was impressive too.

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Still, we didn’t linger as we had a 09:30 flight to Easter Island. We checked-in in the business class area but as the flight is domestic we could not use the lounge. Check-in took a bit longer than usual as I had mixed up my surname and my christian name when booking the flights, my Spanish being not as good as I thought it was. Not a big deal really and that was sorted out and we were soon on the flight. It was foggy at the airport

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…but once through the clouds you could see the Andes we had crossed the night before.

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If I had to criticise the flight I would say the crew were not overly generous in the number of times they came around to offer drinks. We asked for wine around lunchtime and while we had a glass, that was it.

Lan J seats

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Menu

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Second Breakfast for me

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The in-flight entertainment was good and one handy tip if you are travelling a lot on LATAM is to download their entertainment app onto your smartphone before you go, in case there are no TVs in the back of the seat in front of you.

We arrived at Easter Island around lunchtime

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We paid for our entry to the park almost as soon as we got off the plane – the ticket office is a small hut on the left before any airport controls. Pay in Chilean pesos for a better deal. We decided to hire bicycles to get around the island as it was cheaper than a car for half a day, is more friendly to the environment and also gave us some exercise. After hiring some mountain bikes in one of the main streets we had a steep climb out of the town. We stopped at a local place for lunch.

Menu:

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Divide by 1000 for the price in pounds, roughly.

They had some really tasty grilled Mahi Mahi and some exotic juices, maybe prickly pear? After lunch we headed out into the island, which is lusher in the centre before becoming barren as you head east towards Anakena beach, which is at the bottom of a massive downhill stretch. Very welcome when it is so hot to cycle under the Pacific sun. We rested at the beach, swimming for a while and took a few photos of the Moai.

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After around a mile of the return journey, where we had decided to take the coastal road as it was a bit different, my daughter had had enough and decided to sit down, not having enough energy even to push her bike on foot. I thought she had sunstroke or something and it was really hot. Moreover, there was no one around and no shade. I felt we were really on our own. Luckily, an English couple in a car came driving by and we flagged them down. They were happy to offer a lift but had no room for the bikes. My wife and daughter headed back to the bike shop, whereas my son and I now had four bikes between us. We tried cycling with two bikes and saw a few more Moai…

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…but cycling with two bikes uphill after a mile or two is not easy. Luckily, the park rangers had packed up for the day and were heading home. We flagged them down and put our bikes in the back of their pickup. They drove us back to the main town, Hanga Roa. I am forever grateful for their help as I think if they had not given us a lift, and water too, we would have missed our flight to Tahiti that night. The cycle ride back via the coastal road was a lot further than I thought.

Back at the Easter Island airport we checked-in for our flight. We ate a few snacks at the small bar at the airport, which has one side airside and the other not, whist waiting for the departures door to open.

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We saw this while we were there

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And a green Milky Way

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The Lan flight to Tahiti was not that busy down the back and I was able to find three seats across to sleep on. Not that much room seated upright.

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Being right at the back though seemed like a recurring feature of these Avios redemptions. I guess I could have done online check-in and selected my seats but most of the time it would only have moved us forward a few rows as we require a block of four people together.

We arrived in Tahiti around 12:30 at night after having departed at 11:30pm. You get a blast of heat as soon as you exit the aircraft.

They had singers welcome us.

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Once through to the taxi area we picked up our free shuttle service, and garlands of flowers around our neck, to the Hotel Sarah Nui, near the port for the ferry the next day.

The next morning, we grabbed some snacks in the market after drinking all the coffee we could in the hotel room and then headed to the ferry. We did not take the Aremiti ferry but rather the Terevau ferry. It was around 12 pounds each and the kids picked up a discount too. The journey was short, around 30 minutes, and it was great to just stand on deck at the front and see Moorea loom every closer.

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We took a taxi once at Moorea’s port to our next lodging, Moorea Fare Miti. The island offers great first impressions and, other than the amazing variations of blue in the sea, is full of impressive peaks yet is so very lush too (because when it rains, it really rains). To me, it was like the island in King Kong.

The Moorea Fare Miti was a great choice.

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It is five small bungalows very close to the sea in a lovely, quiet area. As we had booked quite far in advance we were able to secure the bungalow on the beach. The view from the seating/eating area was stunning. The beach was clean and while there were a few dogs around, they seemed very friendly and did not bother me.

Bedroom

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The owners of Fare Miti are very pleasant and can arrange to have fresh baguettes and coconut bread delivered in the morning – comes to something like 60p a loaf. This is what I really liked about the island though – the French influence. Of course, we had fresh baguettes every morning with jam bought from the mini market. Bon Maman jam is around four pounds a jar.

A few more photos

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We bought flour and chopped tomatoes to make pizza but only later we realized we had no oven, so we used the pan…

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On the beach

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Off the beach

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After three days we moved-on, to the Moorea Pearl and Spa

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This is one of four four-star hotels on the island and much more grand.

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We liked the down-to-earth character of the previous hotel and felt that the Pearl was much less corporate than the other choices: Sofitel, Intercontinental and Hilton. Besides, it seemed a lot easier to book a family room, was marginally cheaper and had an infinity pool.

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We staying in a premium overwater bungalow and a family room.

Both offered one double and two singles. The latter offering a mezzanine-level bed

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…while the former crammed the beds into the one area. The OWB looked out to sea but juts out over a deepwater area, so the sea is a deeper blue. If you can get beyond this, then the water is turquoise.

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Saw this while snorkeling off the bungalow

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We declined the buffet…

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…in favour of cocktails

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We checked out of the hotel at 11AM but kept our bags in the store room while we visited the Lagoonarium. This is an island where they have fed the fish, er fish, for a while, so the big ones know to come hang out at feeding time. There were reef sharks, rays (with the tails docked) and big blue fish, among others.

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After three days at the Pearl we took the Terevau ferry back to Papeete. We walked along the seafront promenade/park area and ate at the roulottes. They serve very large portions but great food. I felt like I was at an Italian sagra – that is, open air dining with high quality food, although drinks come in plastic cups.

We then headed to the airport. The kids crashed out on the seats while waiting for the check-in to open for the 02:30 flight to Easter Island. Yep, seems like at odd time but if you just transit IPC (although you need to fill in an immigration card and passport if not Chilean, so need to stay awake!) then you just get back on the plane and arrive in Santiago at 20:30. Which is what we did.

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Dinner was served at what felt like 4:00AM. Stuffed pasta, which was OK, apart from the timing of the food. The rest of the family were sleeping so I had their cheesecakes. I couldn’t manage the main.

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At IPC

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Caciucco is offline  
Old Apr 24, 16, 3:38 pm
  #2  
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We ate dinner at the Holiday Inn just across the road from the arrivals lounge. We tried these, which were very welcome.

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The following morning we took the 07:30 to Lima.

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This connected to a plane to Cuzco that arrived around 3:30pm in the afternoon.

The spelling of the cake made the children laugh as it seemed to have northern (British) accent.

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Once at the airport we hired a driver to take us to Ollantaytambo, the town where the train to Aguas Calientes leaves from. Aguas Calientes being at the bottom of the Macchu Picchu mountain.

Not our mode of transport

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Nor this

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But this

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You have a choice of two railway companies, Peru Rail and Inca Rail, for the train journey to Macchu Picchu. There is no road into the town. Anyway, we chose Peru Rail, opting for the backpacker style Expedition train to get to Macchu Picchu – our train left at 19:00 so it would be dark so we would not really benefit from extra windows – while for the return we took the Vistadome service.

The journey through the highlands from Cuzco to Ollanta was spectacular in itself, with some great light and great views.

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Expedition snack

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Macchu Picchu is spectacular

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Coming from someone not used to mountains at all I found it stunning, what with the wisps of clouds around the mountain tops and the views into the valleys.

At the entrance to Macchu Picchu you just need to show your ticket and passports. You need to pre-book tickets online or go through an agency.

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At Macchu Picchu itself we had tickets to get to the top of Macchu Picchu mountain. We didn’t get all the way up but we had a great view looking down on the site.

There were lamas too.

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The kids tried to do faceswaps and other Snapchat things with the lamas, they were that placid.

After the visit

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The following day we headed back to Cuzco via the Vistadome train. The train offered some entertainment and a chance to buy clothing items.

If you are first, or lucky, you may get the seats right at the front of the train, overlooking the track…

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The train

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Looks the equivalent of a Class 110 in the UK but with better rolling stock.

Lovely placemats on this train

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Entertainment about halfway-in for the 90 minute journey

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Snack

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We met our driver at Ollantaytambo, who showed us around a few more Inca sites of archeological interest before heading back to Cuzco for our final night.

We saw Quinoa growing at one of the major sites

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Moray

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Getting quite high here. My wife felt the altitude and was glad to return to sea level in Lima

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Once in Cuzco, Hotel Garcilaso I featured a picturesque courtyard and felt like the first hotel back in Brazil – faded elegance. We dined on Alpaca steak, ceviche and pisco sours before heading back to Lima the next day.

What a choice!

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Cuzco

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Garcilaso I

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They get everywhere

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At Lima airport

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More Keke

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At Lima we took an Iberia A340 to Madrid.

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I had booked my wife into the emergency exit seat but she did not want to sit next to the engineer next to it, so I took her place.

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Dinner

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Breakfast

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The flight was uneventful although I do notice that Iberia like to give out rolls for anyone who has not had enough to eat. After connecting in Madrid we took the 17:30 back to LHR, picked up the car and drove home.

Last edited by Caciucco; Apr 24, 16 at 3:52 pm
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Old Apr 24, 16, 6:24 pm
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A terrific report. I thank you. GREAT PICS...
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Old Apr 25, 16, 2:42 am
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Really enjoyed that, thanks for taking the time to post it. Lovely pics
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Old Apr 25, 16, 4:07 am
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Wow what a trip for you and the family. Seriously squeezed a lot in!
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Old Apr 25, 16, 4:58 am
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a great read and what looks like a lifetime of memories from it
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Old Apr 25, 16, 5:41 am
  #7  
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An excellent TR, Caciucco, you definitely got to see so much and travel so far. A part of the world I would love to visit some day, and hopefully soon.
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Old Apr 25, 16, 6:06 am
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Excellent report - great pictures of Easter Island, one of my favourite places, such a relaxed atmosphere
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Old Apr 25, 16, 12:20 pm
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wonderful pictures. thanks for sharing this.
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Old Apr 25, 16, 6:48 pm
  #10  
brg
 
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Ah
The pisco sours.
We stayed in the Sheraton downtown and the bar was a delight after a hot day wandering

We brought rain coats, not realizing that Lima is like LA - built on a desert
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Old Apr 25, 16, 7:21 pm
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What an excellent adventure! Kudos to you and the family. Thank you for posting.
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Old Apr 25, 16, 10:19 pm
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Great report and pics! Looks like you had good weather for most of the trip. Amazing set of places to visit in just two weeks.
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Old Apr 25, 16, 10:38 pm
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Thanks for a great report!
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Old Apr 26, 16, 7:35 am
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Such a nice report. Did the kids love the trip?
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Old Apr 26, 16, 9:18 am
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Fabulous report, I'm exhausted just reading it!
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