Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gan canny pet and other phrases

Or alternative title: Understanding Geordie.

I have just had the pleasure of attending Traverse 14, which luckily for me, was held in my (nearest) home city of Newcastle. As I'm now a southern expat/living in Nottingham, my accent constantly gets commented on and it is only now that I realise how much of a special dialect the North East is. There have been many occasions when I have caused confusion due to using a word completely unique to the North East (clarty, spelk, ket) or using different words for the same thing - breakfast/dinner/tea not breakfast/lunch/dinner! Now the lovely Emma from Gohemian travels has already done a brilliant vlog about various Geordieisms including an amazing Geordie tongue twister, which will give you a great idea for anyone is not acquainted with the accent but I thought I would chip in too!

Now I will make a quick disclaimer now, I am not  a Geordie, I am a Northumbrian and speaking-wise there are small differences. Just as there is a difference between Geordies and Mackems (Sunderland) and Smoggies (Middlesborough) but the word Geordie is the most commonly used phrase to depict the North-East, therefore to avoid confusion I will use it from then on in. 

Terms of endearment are a key part of Geordie language. Being referred to as pet or hinny is normal and the terms can be used for both sexes. For children or young people, you can use bonny bairn, a phrase also used in Scotland which means beautiful child. Marra is another word to refer to mates. Or you could use lad/lass to avoid confusion!

Geordie Shore, love it (Team Charlotte all the way) or hate it, has brought to light many a colourful expression and a few that I feel deserve particular mention:  The one expression that is synonymous with Geordie Shore is gettin' mortal, or in layman's terms, consuming copious amounts of alcohol, which conjures high school memories of pie-eyed on a bottle of Lambrini in a caravan (true story) Another phrase that was thrown around a lot at high school was, "Miss, that's shan like!" Anything that is deemed shan is unfair or shocking. One of my favourites though has got to be radge or radgey which can range from meaning a little bit irritated to full on going off the wall. Radgey can also be used to identify a chav which ironically we for once add a r into the word for it to become Charv/Charva

Perhaps, the most useful word of all is howay. Howay is a multi-purpose expression that encompasses the whole spectrum of emotions.The word can be used in a variety of contexts: to encourage ie. Howay the lads, which is regularly heard at St. James Parks, to mean 'hurry up' Howay, get a move on, to express shock or disbelief etc. The list could go on. I think this urban dictionary entry sums it up brilliantly:

North-Eastern, or Geordie, slang meaning 'come on', 'hurry up' and so on. Voice intonation specifies the exact definition, often not understood by anyone outside of the Newcastle area and thus causes much confusion for non-natives.

As you can see the Geordie language is rather complex and this only scratches the surface in regards to the different nuances of the phrases. If you're interested in finding out more, read this article which has 56 (!) different Northern-Eastern phrases. Now, I will leave you with this song to revise your newly acquired knowledge of Geordie!

Is your region reknowned for its accent? What's your favourite accent?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The perfect finale

Finally, I have just about reached the end of my South American travels (Don't worry, it most certainly hasn't seen the end of me yet) only 6 months late. And my oh my, did they end with a big fat BANG.

Cabo de la Vela in La Guajira was without doubt one of my lasting, enduring memories of the entirety of my travels. It was an adventure, the makings of clich├ęd, off-the-beaten-path stories that I will no doubt bore friends, families, grandkids (ha) for years to come. No amount of hyperboles and exaggerations and hyperboles can describe it but it was truly INCREDIBLE.

The journey to arrive Cabo de la Vela was fairly long with two changes. We started off in Palomino having left early at 8 o clock and took a bus to Riohacha which took around an hour and a half and cost $8000 ($4.50) Colombian Pesos (I think.) We then took a shared taxi to Uribia (I think it cost $12000) and then we squeezed into a 4x4 for an interesting, bumpy ride to finally reach Cabo at 3pm.

Cabo de la Vela is a popular destination for Colombian during the holidays but we had arrived decidedly off-season and the word 'tumbleweed' popped into my head as we arrived in the town. However, the lack of hustle and bustle made the trip all the more special. We found ourselves a hammock for the night and wandered along the beach as the sun was setting. A kite surf school has just set up in Cabo so we were able to watch a couple of kite surfers in action. A fitting end to our first day.

The next day started off as fittingly as the day before ended. We were woken up naturally by the sun and gentle sound of the waves (I'll stop sounding so soppy in a minute) Breakfast was in order (obviously) and as seafood was dirt cheap, we had, no word of a lie, lobster and eggs with the compulsory arepa for breakfast and it was delicious. It was my first time having had lobster so there was no better place to indulge and we even got to choose the unlucky creature ourselves.

Having teamed up with a Colombian/Venezuelan couple who kept plying us with shots of aguardiente at 8am, we hired a boat out to head to Pilon de Azucar. We passed La Cueva de Diablo before reaching the beach itself.

We spent a bit of time at the beach before we decided to ascend the viewpoint. The views were outstanding and I still can't get over how blue the sea was. 

After a few hours, we headed back to Cabo de la Vela to eat more fodd, have an afternoon nap, go back to the simple life. The facilities were basic (little running water, manual flushing toilets etc.) but the lack of technology etc. was a refreshing break. Plus the lobster was so cheap, we had it again that evening for tea, it was bliss!

I wish I had more time to have ventured further up to Punta Gallinas but at least I have an excuse to return! Cabo de la Vela is worth the journey so if you ever make it to Colombia's Caribbean coast, La Guajira has to be on your list.

Have you been to La Guajira? Where's your favourite place for a getaway?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

The ideal getaway: Palomino

I had well-intentioned plans to properly explore Colombia's Caribbean coast. Parque Tayrona (I almost made it there but a disastrous bus journey meant I didn't make it), Ciudad Perdida trail, maybe even back to Cartagena. Those well-intentioned plans went completely out of the window once I made it to Palomino. I had heard it be named Gringo paradise by a few travel-snob types and such accusations may be true but for me, it was perfect. I had a routine set up. Up at 7, a nice half-hour run along the beach. Back to The Dreamer Hostel, you pay a premium but I had adopted a end of the trip mentality by this point, and it was worth it. Breakfast. Relax by the beach. Afternoon snooze. More sunbathing. Chill by the bar with a few beers. Eat the most incredible garlic prawns (my god, the PRAWNS) Maybe stay up all night. Maybe go to bed at a decent hour. It was bliss.

The beach alone shows it.

For me, it is completely unspoilt and that is what makes it so alluring. I could have spent all my time here but luckily I didn't. A venture up to Cabo de la Vela in La Guajira was about to change all that!

Have you been to Palomino? Where is your favourite beach?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Parque Arvi...Finally

To-do lists, buckets lists etc. are all very well-intentioned but rarely, will I ever get past the first or second item on the list. I think Clare hits the nail on the head when she says that finishing the list full stop is hard enough. I agree and this was most certainly the case with my list of things to do before leaving Medellin. I didn't even make it to Plaza Botero.

Luckily for me, I had a second chance to put things right and I had four days in Medellin before heading up to the Caribbean coast for my last part of my South American adventure. So I, along with my Australian friend Matt, finally made it to Parque Arvi.

Parque Arvi is an ecological park in nearby Santa Elena where you can go walking, biking and it's a great place for a day trip. To get there, you need to take the MetroCable Line K from Acevedo (Line A) all the way to the top. The ticket will cost you $3500 Colombian pesos ($2), which includes entry to Parque Arvi and the journey will take about 20 minutes.

It's worth it for the journey alone which allows for amazing aerial views of the city. It was unfortunately a unusually grey day in Medellin so the photos don't do the view any justice.

You will have trust me when I say the views are gorgeous.

We arrived at the top and this is where we realised the fatal flaw in our plan - Parque Arvi is huge and as per (for me anyhoo) we did not have a clue where to go. We wandered around aimlessly for a bit which just resulted in going round in circles. We did however come across a gourmet mushroom stall which sold lots of interesting dishes, including a mushroom ceviche which was incredible. I wish I had bought one for myself. 

Eventually, we found out we could hire bikes for free (as long as you provide an identity card - my ISIC worked just fine - and along with a Dutch guy we had just met, off we went to find the lake. But, we quickly hit a stumbling block. The last guided tour to the lake had already left and we weren't allowed to go any further.

 The next bit that I'm about to tell you would only happen in Colombia. A policeman, Miguel Angel, stepped in and offered to guide us there. He used the opportunity to practise his English, that he had only learnt during a month long course. He was extremely proficient in swearing, as he enjoyed dropping bullshiiiit in the majority of the sentences. He also gave us an albeit improvised tour of the area which lead us to have this beautiful view of Medellin.

Despite the lack of concrete knowledge of the park, Miguel Angel was a great guide and he also proceeded to show us pictures of his hija which caused great confusion when it turned out he was referring to his dog! We finally arrived at the lake, which as he had already warned us, was a slight disappointment. Still, the impromptu tour with Miguel Angel more than made up for it.

Having seen the lake, we headed back, said our goodbyes to Miguel Angel and decided to indulge in a chorizo con arepa before descending back down to Medellin. The above example of Miguel Angel stepping in to guide us shows how warm and friendly Colombians are. Even though, our trip to Parque Arvi was ill-thought out, it is one of my lasting memories of Colombia. Although, next time, I would like to properly explore Parque Arvi!

Have you been to Parque Arvi? Where are your favourite places to walk in Colombia?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lima, why so grey?

After effectively a month and a half of blue skies throughout Chile, Bolivia and most of Peru, it all conveniently came to an end when I arrived  at my last stop before heading back to Colombia and was greeted with a decidedly grey reception in Lima. I had little time to explore the city as my flight left at stupid o'clock the next morning so I immediately hotfooted (or hottaxied) it over to Miraflores.

I was dropped off by Parque Kennedy and surprise, surprise, I didn't know where I was going. I went to tourist information and they advised a walk along the seafront.

After a quiet walk down to the seafront, it was clearly here that was the hub of activity. I had a look around Parque del Amor, with all the poetic quotes about all things love and colourful mosaics, before wandering further along the seaside.

With no sun to entice me to stay, it was about time to do some last-minute haggling and shopping. There were arcades upon arcades of market stalls and I even came back with some alpaca slippers that my granny now wears to death. I had one last explore around Miraflores before going to my hotel for the night in order to prepare for the next day's early start and my return to Colombia.

I really wish I had more time to appreciate Lima as I feel the first impression didn't even scratch the surface of the city. I would love to give Lima a second shot especially to try the world-famous food and it's pretty likely I'll be back!

Have you been to Lima? Where was your favourite neighbourhood to explore?