Welcome to Dodgy Knees
Welcome to Dodgy Knees Travel Blog. We're spending 2016 and the first half of 2017 traveling through the Western Hemisphere - South, Central and North America and the Caribbean. The last part of the trip, through May and June 2017 will be a trip from Amsterdam to Athens in Europe before returning to Australia.
We started in South America in January 2016. The posts on this page are in the order of our travels with the most recent at the top. There is also information about us towards the bottom of this page and in the sidebar on the right. We hope you find it interesting. If you do, feel free to sign up for our monthly email updates.
Ken and Cally Hardaker
Posts from Europe
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is an interesting and attractive city. There is Viking history, world famous art, ancient castles, and excellent parks, just to name a few possibilities. But Oslo can be an expensive city, one of the costliest to visit in Europe. While you won’t get by without spending any money, here are five things to do in Oslo that are affordable for most people and represent some of Oslo’s main attractions.
Posts from USA and Canada
After our time in Central America we headed for USA and Canada. We started with a road trip from Los Angeles to New York and then back to LA. Next was a trip to Alaska to see the Northern Lights and the amazing Alaskan landscape.
In 1763, after the British had defeated the French to take control of what is today Canada they ceded a small archipelago of islands off the Newfoundland coast to France. Today St Pierre et Miquelon remains a little piece of France in North America. It is a self-governing overseas territory of 7,000 people. The currency is the euro, the language is French and the baguettes are authentic. I'd always wanted to visit since I learned about it as a boy. Here is my pilmgrimage to St Pierre et Miquelon.
We had a hire car booked for a week starting and ending in Vancouver, and we’d both always wanted to see the Canadian Rockies, so it was a no-brainer as to where we were going to head when we arrived on Canada’s west coast. The only problem being that it was the first week of April, and the ski season was in full flight so snow and ice were potentially going to be a problem.
But, we decided to give it a crack and see if we could reach some of the major attractions such as Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper.
So, you’ve only got one day in Seattle. It’s definitely not enough, but if that’s the predicament you find yourself in, here’s a plan for how to make the most of your one day.
The Alaskan Maritime Highway (AMH) is a system of ferries that connect 14 coastal towns on the Alaskan Panhandle (SE Alaska) with each other and the rest of the US via the port of Bellingham just north of Seattle, Washington. The ferries carry cars and pedestrian passengers.
We wanted to see this part of Alaska and decided to use the AMH ferries to get around. These are cheaper than cruises and they run all year around, while the cruises don’t. We did the trip in March 2017. Here's what happened.
A long held ambition of Cally's was to see "The Lights" of the Polar Regions, either Southern (Aurora Australis) or Northern (Aurora Borealis). With no luck over the years with seeing the Southern Lights we went in search of their northern counterparts in Alaska. Here's how we went.
This post covers a road trip we did over four days in early March 2017 from Portland, Oregon to San Francisco, California down the Pacific coast.
We’d spent a lot of time recently on interstate highways travelling across the country, so we wanted slow it down and cruise down the coast.
We spent a spectacular day touring Yellowstone National Park in a snowcoach in winter. It was a blast. See for yourself.
Many of us have heard of the Badlands but what are they and where are they? Well, they’re in the western part of South Dakota near the Wyoming border. The name maco sica (badland) was originally given by Native Americans due to the strangeness of the landscape with it’s weird spires, mounds and walls. What we had read sounded interesting so we decided to check it out and to see what else was in the area.
First time in New York? Not sure what to choose from the huge range possibilities for things to do and places to visit? And you’ve only got three days.
Here's how we tackled this challenge.
No, this isn’t about our trip to the shops to get supplies for a weekend barbeque and a new pair of shoes. It’s about The National Mall in Washington DC– the 2 mile/3.2 km strip which has the majority of Washington’s iconic tourist attractions.
We had one full day in Washington and wanted to see as much as possible so the only practical thing to do was hit the Mall. At one end is the Lincoln Memorial and at the opposite end is the Capitol, the USA’s parliament. And in between is a cavalcade of possibilities – museums, war memorials, art galleries and more. Here's how we spent our day.
Special Post, A Travel Memoir from 2011 - A Weekend in São Tomé
For over 20 years I'd dreamed of visiting the obscure, tiny African nation of São Tomé and Principé. In 2011 the chance finally came, but missed flights and an overly officious immigration offical almost prevented it. Here's the story of what happened.
Posts from Central America and Mexico
Having completed our travels through the Caribbean which started in Aruba and ended in Cuba we flew to Panama City to commence our trip through Central America. We planned to travel from Panama City to Playa del Carmen on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico then back down through Belize to reenter Guatemala and Honduras before making our way up through Mexico heading eventually to the US and Canada in early 2017. Here are our posts from the trip.
Maybe it’s just us, but we’d never heard of Guanajuato until recently. But having read that it was one of Mexico’s most picturesque towns, and it lay on our route from Mexico City to the country’s second biggest city, Guadalajara, we decided to check it out. As things transpired it turned out to be one of the most visually attractive and interesting colonial towns we’d visited in Latin America.
Tikal, the ancient Mayan city in Northern Guatemala is probably only surpassed by Chichen Itza on the “must see” list of Mayan archaeological sites. But how does it stack up against Monte Alban, the significant site of their neighbours, the Zapotecs of Southern Mexico? Here's what we thought.
We took a day trip from the small Guatemalan town of Lanquin to the nearby limestone caves and amazing natural pools of Semuc Champey. The day consisted of an awesome river cave experience, tubing down the river with beers in hand (provided mid stream by some enterprising locals), a hike to an impressive vantage point overlooking Semuc, and a well earned dip in the pools to finish the day. All in all one of our best days ever in Central America.
When we booked several nights’ accommodation in Oaxaca, Mexico for the Christmas period we were blissfully unaware that our arrival day, 23 December is one of the city’s biggest nights – the Noche de los Rábanos or Night of the Radishes. Every year on the night of 23 December displays of intricately carved giant radishes are displayed in the Zocalo (Central Plaza). Here's what we saw.
This post describes our trip from Punta Gorda in Southern Belize, via Livingston and Rio Dulce(Sweet River) in Guatemala to Copan Ruinas in Honduras. We had trouble getting clear, accurate information on transport options for some of this trip so thought it was worth retelling our experience here.
long the way we take a series of boat, bus and colectivos (small minivan collective taxis) to finally get to our destination, Copan Ruinas, Honduras's most important Mayan Archaeological site.
In 1982 I visited Belize with my mate Muz Paddison and we spent some idyllic days on the small island of Caye Caulker, just off the coast of Belize City. There were few travellers and little in the way of tourist amenity and infrastructure back then. It really felt like an unknown tropical paradise.
Fast forward 35 years and things are very different now. Tourism is Belize's number one industry and Caye Caulker is in the frontline. Needless to say the Caye Caulker of 2016 is almost unrecognizable from that of 1982. Here's what we found.
Lamanai is a Mayan archaeological site in Northern Belize. It was occupied for over three thousand years from 1500 BC until the 19th Century AD. A boat trip up the New River from Orange Walk Town is the preferred method for accessing Lamanai, which is what we chose to do. There are only a small number of temples and other buildongs that can be visited as most of the 700 plus strutures remain buried under thick jungle. Nevertheless we found Lamanai an excellent choice for a day trip.
The Mayan civilization flourished for over 2,000 years from the appearance of the first Mayan cities around 750BC to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century. Their legacy is vast and impressive. There is no better place to see it than the Mexican Yucatan. This post covers four of the most famous sites in the Yucatan, including Chichen Itza.
Lake Atitlan is a spectacular, volcano rimmed lake in the Guatemalan Highlands. Two Mayan peoples, the Kaqchiquel and Tz'utujil, live around the lake and their colourful traditional costumes, which are worn all the time, are one of the aspects that gives Lake Atitlan a special feel. We had a wonderful short visit to the lake which included a day trip to two villages. Here'e what happened.
Antigua, a former colonial capital of Guatemala, is the country's most visited tourist destination. It is surrounded by three towering volcanoes, each over 3700 metres. It has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site due to it's magnificent churches and other colonial buildings, some restored and others in splendid collapse due to the many earthquakes which have impacted it over the centuries. Join us on a walking tour of this fascinating city.
Cuba is currently one of the World's 'must visit' travel destinations. With 3 - 4 million visitors each year it is not exactly undiscovered. But that doesn't stop it being a fascinating and unique place. We were keen to see for ourselves and so spent two weeks there. Cuba is bigger than you may think (around 1200 km long) so we decided to restrict our travels to the west of the island. We visited Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Viñales.
At the end of the trip we reflected upon our time in Cuba and put together our post Impressions of Cuba along with some useful tips. This is our first post on Cuba. In addition we are posting four “Postcards” from Cuba on each of the places we visited. These are largely photo posts as our main information about Cuba is contatined in the Impressions of Cuba post. We hope you find them interesting.
Oh yes, and our advice overall - VISIT CUBA!!
After just over four months travelling through South America (Jan to May 2016) we embarked on a three and a half month trip through the Caribbean (mid May to the end of August). We started in Aruba and Curaçao in the SW, just to the north of Venezuela, then headed across to Barbados, in the Windward Islands. From there we island hopped (by boat or plane) through the Windwards, French Antilles, Leeward Islands, the British and US Virgin Islands, then on to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and finally Jamaica.
Caribbean island hopping is usually associated with private yachting trips or expensive cruises. We'd aimed to show that it was doable on a modest, mid-range budget (i.e. a maximum of $AUS300/$US220 per day for a couple, inclusive of all accommodation, meals, transport and activities).
In our final post from the Caribbean we tell you how we went and we also provide our top tips for Caribbean Island hopping on a mid-range budget.
Hi, We're Ken and Cally Hardaker. We're 50 something empty nesters who love travelling. But when we're not on the road we are at home in, Australia - a fabulous place to live.
We're going to spend 2016 having a Gap Year travelling through South, Central and North America and the Caribbean. If you want to follow or travels or to know about past adventures in Tassie and beyond you might find our blog of interest.
This is a new blog being launched January 2016. We've put in some posts of past travels to give you an idea of where we've been so far and also a feel for the style.
We'll be building the blog as we go, regularly adding content through out our travels. And while we hope you will find these interesting we also want to hear from other travellers with tips and stories of their travels.
The central message of our blog is that older travellers (we've called this the 50 and overs for want of a better description) can travel independently, just as younger travellers do. With a bit of planning and a few handy tools, you can do it on a budget, and go to places you thought you could only go to on an organised group trip.
If you fill in the email contact box on the right we'll keep you posted. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram and this way receive updates in real time.
We have found that a lot of people our age think that traveling independently, especially to places outside of Western Europe, North America of other obvious tourist locations (such as Fiji and Bali) is risky and difficult.
And while a little more planning is needed at times to visit more remote or less developed countries it is quite doable and opens up so many possibilities for travel. In our blog we'll provide some information about how we approach planning for our trips as well as blog posts on a wide range of destinations.
Tasmania is Australia's smallest state and an island. It has some of the best bushwalking and wilderness in the world. It also has a growing reputation as a clean, green location with excellent food and wine. On top of that it has some world class places to visit including Cradle Mountain, Wine Glass Bay, Port Arthur, the Bay of Fires and MONA (Museum of Old and New Art). When we're not traveling we'll write about Tassie and some of our favourite places.