A Travellerspoint blog

Man down for Mendoza

Friday 1st of March was a sad sad day ....Shinners/Fanta aka Sinead was leaving us! :( ... (Something about a lovely boyfriend and a trip to Vegas...oh and a great job back home ....blah blah blaaah!) Anyway as you can imagine it was total DEVASTATION for myself and Diana. But to be fair we had some FANTAstic times together so we'll just have to remember the good ole times!!! ;)

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So then we we're back to 'Just the 2 of us' ... and we still had one last place to visit before heading to New Zealand! So off we went for some bicyleta y vino!

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So our last adventure in South America was to Mendoza, a wine region ....for some cycling and wine tasting! (Cycling AND drinking - ohhhh good lord!!) We signed up for the infamous Hugo's wine tour ...rented our bikes and off we went to the vineyards! Now I was a little bit hungover so pretty much all the wine tasted the exact same to me! (Like poison!) But the surrounding wine connoisseurs enjoyed great in depth conversations about the variance of the different grapes ...the origin, flavours and of course ..the aromas!! (It was all a bit grown up for me but a great day all in all!!) We also visited an olive oil tasting which was delicious!! (Defo best part of the day!)

Mr. Hugo

Mr. Hugo

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Well didn't we get back to the hostel to a fantastic surprise!!!! One of our favourite fellow leprechauns Anne-Marie was in town with her lovely friend Noreen! (We met in Bolivia) ...sure it would be rude not to go for a few!!!

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After JUST about making our bus the following day we made it to Santiago in Chile to get our flight to New Zealand!!

Goodbye South America!!! :(  .... I'm sure we'll meet again!!

Posted by Julie Kavanagh 02:53 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buenos Aires (the good times!!) and Iguazu Falls

So it might not of been the greatest start to Buenos Aires but luckily the best was yet to come.... Our Argentinian friends Juan and Leo (who we met in Rio) invited us over for an asado (Argentinian barbeque). The food was soooo good but by gawd do they like their meat ...and a lot of it!! As in the food just wouldn't stop coming ....it was like a Christmas Day food coma ...but WORSE!! We had originally all planned to go out after the asado but the 3 of us girls actually had to leave their apartment early to go to bed as we were all falling asleep! (Yep we're pretty craaazy!!!)

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....sleeeeeepy!!!

....sleeeeeepy!!!

The following morning we did a free walking tour of Recoleta cemetery. (FYI - the most expensive place to be buried in the whole world!) To be fair the tombs are pretty spectacular ...but its not exactly a relaxing place to go to pray for loved ones...the daily intrusion of hundreds of tourists with flashing cameras is probably a bit off putting!

Evita`s grave

Evita`s grave

Irish grave at Recoleta

Irish grave at Recoleta

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Hahaha soooo the next day we signed up for a bus tour of the city. Seeing as we booked through the hostel (we had moved to Milhouse at this stage!) we figured there would be other young travellers too. No no .. we were the only people under 60! The poor tour guide was drowned out by loud and angry Americans for most of the day. 'I can't hear you' 'Can you speak slower' and my all time favourite 'I can't see out the window'. One of the passengers left the bus after about 30 minutes as the bus was just 'too small' for him. With such fantastic entertainment on board the bus it was quite hard to take in all the facts ....but we did visit La Boca, the President's Palace, the Obelisk and some beautiful plazas. La Boca is an extremely colourful Argentinian neighbourhood renowned for it's tango shows and Italian taverns. It's also home to Boca Juniors, one of the world's most famous football clubs. We had planned on attending a game but after realising that quite a large number of people have been attacked and (some) murdered at Boca games we decided to give it a miss! ...plus the fact we don't actually like football!

IMG_5502.jpgIMG_5491.jpgMyself and Di tango dancing in La Boca

Myself and Di tango dancing in La Boca

IMG_5483.jpgThe President's Palace

The President's Palace

That night a few of us headed off to Ultra Music Festival that was on in a local park. So we got into some festival getup and headed on our very merry way. (We quickly realised that it's just in Europe that people wear luminous rave gear and multi-coloured headbands, ah well I thought we looked GREAT ....plus it was much easier to track down the girls in their lumo tops!) The night was amazing - we went to Carl Cox, Knife Party, Armin Van Buuren and Afrojack.

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After just 2 hours sleep we checked out of the hostel and got on our 20 hour bus to Iguazu Falls. Oh and just before hopping on the bus didn't I realise that 'someone' had frauded my credit card and was currently using it in Istanbul! (Ooohhh Juan!!!) It did cross my mind to mail the police again to say Juan Carlo's current location may have changed to Istanbul but I was very tired and hungover so I decided just to succumb to the defeat.

So anyway it was off to the waterfalls!! APPARENTLY when your beside the falls you feel really happy and giddy ...something to do with the negative ions in the waterfalls. (Blah blah blah ...) I didn't really mind what the reason was I was just looking forward to a few days of not being robbed! Whoop whoop! To be fair the waterfalls were actually UNBELIEVABLE! My pictures don't have the same impact as being there ....but here's a few anyway! ;)

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We just spent 2 nights here and did both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides of the falls which I'd definitely recommend. On the Argentinian side we took a boat that brings you right under the waterfall ....you get absolutely soaked but it's well worth it!!!

After Iguazu it was back to BA for another few days of mayhem! This time we stayed in the Palermo neighborhood ...it's so nice that we didn't even leave this area. There's fab cafes, restaurants, shops, pubs, clubs etc. so it really has everything you need! Our last few days there were mainly filled by us wining and dining at some nice restaurants and going to tango shows and a few crazy clubs ...so not much interesting facts to offer other than a few pics!

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Tango show

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Posted by Julie Kavanagh 02:13 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buenos Aires - Day 1!

After weeks of looking forward to Buenos Aires (we were originally supposed to go after San Pedro!) we had finally arrived!!! The plan was to stay in Milhouse hostel but it was fully booked when we got there so we stayed in another hostel around the corner called Limehouse. We were "lucky" as we got a 4 bed dorm as opposed to the usual 10/12 bed dorm. A few of our Kiwi mates we met at Macchu Picchu came over for a few drinks before we headed out.

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Team Kiwi

Team Kiwi

The 3 of us girls felt bad for Juan, the poor 40 year old guy sharing with us as we'd probably wake him up when we came in in the early hours of the morning! Ah well .....off we went!!

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Argentinians go out at about 2am and go home sometime after 6! So the following morning we came home at about 6:30am. Luckily Juan had checked out suuuper early so we didn't actually need to worry about waking him. Oooooh no wait a minute... my lock on my locker seems to be gone ....I nervously open the broken locker door..... hmmmnn my bag has disappeared!! Aahhh yesss I see... Juan Carlos the thieving b*****d has robbed me blind!!!

"HILARIOUS" conversation with the hostel reception:

Me: Soooo the guy in our room, Juan Carlos broke into my locker and took one of my bags. What time did he check out?
Reception: Oh no..... only about an hour before you guys came back.
Me: How long was he staying here for?
Reception: Just the one night.
Me: ...and he checked out at 5am?!
Reception: Yes
Me: (as ya do... ) ..Hhmmnn well he must have had some tools with him as he managed to break all 4 of my locks!
Reception: Ohhhh....he did say he was in the 'sign business' and had brought a tool box with him.
Me: (At this point I recalled some wise words that a wise woman once said (my mother when I was about 5) ..'if you've nothing nice to say, say nothing at all') ....there was A LOT of silence ...
Me: Okaaaay well could I have a look at your security cameras?
Reception: They don't actually work.
Me: [more silence...] Okaaay em how about the address for the nearest police station?!

So it was off to the local police to get a report drawn up for my insurance company. (Literally took an entire day!) I even had my own translator (my friend Lisa!) so there was no need for it to take sooooo long that we had to miss the first night of Ultra music festival!! (Uurrgghhh!!)

My amazing translator LISA!!

My amazing translator LISA!!

In the police station ...

In the police station ...

After realising the police were never going to actually look for Juan Carlos (pretty sure they through the paper with his name and ID number in the bin!) I decided to take matters into my own hands and conduct my own investigation. Using his ID number that the hostel had I found his home on Google maps (I think!) and with the help of Google translate wrote an informative 'fugitive on the loose' e-mail to his local police station in Patagonia. They must be spending A LOT of time searching for him as I'm still waiting on a reply from them....eeerrr!?!

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PS: Juan Carlos if you're reading this I WILL FIND YOU!!!!! (I hope your not though cuz that wud just be weird!!)

So after a day or so of drama (and a lot of LOLs!) it was time to start enjoying some of the good things that Buenos Aires had to offer ....

Posted by Julie Kavanagh 21:29 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Patagonia -to the penguins!

THANKFULLY our luck changed for the better once we decided to go to Patagonia! After our 22 hour bus to Santiago we legged it to the airport where we managed to buy a ticket at 1pm for a flight to Puntas Arenas (Patagonia) leaving at 2pm! (Happy days!)

We're out!!!

We're out!!!

After the short 4 hour flight we reached the airport in Puntas Arenas. We stayed locally in La Casa Escondida, a family run hostel/b&b ran by Pamela and her husband Louis. Louis built each of the wooden cabins himself. (Twas quite impressive!) And with an open fire, hot chocolate and Pamela cooking us a dinner we all kind of felt at home. :)

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Pamela advised us on tours to do so the following day we headed off to to do the Magellan island penguin tour......which was pretty AMAZING!!! There was literally penguins everywhere!! Seeing as Valentine's Day was coming close I thought it was the perfect opportunity to find a 100% monogomous partner!! (It may not ever happen again!!)....

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Penguins coming through ....

The 3 amigos!!

The 3 amigos!!

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The following morning we were up early to catch a bus to Punto Natales. We stayed here for 2 nights and visited the breathtaking Torres del Paine aswell as spectacular views Puntas Natales offered some interesting food. I was 'lucky' enough to get a burger from the restaurant pictured below ...half way through it a worm wriggled out. ....So I've eaten a 'worm-burger' (tick √ )

Worm-burger restaurant!

Worm-burger restaurant!

Last stop in Patagonia was to cross the border to Argentina (AT LAST!!) and head to El Calafate. From here we did a day tour to the famous Perito Moreno glacier and did the incredible mini-trekking tour. After walking a bit on land you put on funny looking spikes over your runners and trek onto the glacier...it was too much fun!! At the end of the trek we stopped at 'the bar' to drink some Jameson whiskey with ice from the glacier. (Pretty cool!) Coincidently Diana was wearing her beloved Jameson hoody so we looked like proper Irish alcoholics!! And our tour guide was in a band so we had a lil sing along too! :)

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....glacier leggings!

....glacier leggings!

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Patagonia wasn't originally on our planned itinerary for South America but so many travellers we met told us we had to go so thankfully we did a 5 day detour down. Its so different to the rest of South America and definitely worth the visit!

Next stop is to the Argentinian party capital ....Buenos Aires!!! (I'm nervous!)

Posted by Julie Kavanagh 07:28 Archived in Chile Tagged argentina Comments (0)

San Pedro - The tourist TRAP!

storm

So we arrive in San Pedro, Chile with the plan of 'EASILY' hopping on a bus to Salta that night...

The problem:

The solution:

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Our plants 'protecting' our room from flooding!

Our plants 'protecting' our room from flooding!


We knew there was something not quite right when the three offices of the local bus companies going from San Pedro to Salta were filled with people desperately trying to get out of San Pedro! Our first problem was that there were no tickets left for any bus for at least 3 days later but more worryingly our second problem was that none of these buses or in fact any vehicles were able to get through the border as the weather conditions meant the border pass was too unsafe to drive. The border pass was effectively CLOSED for the foreseable future. Nobody knew when the pass would open again ...could be a few days ...a week ...or longer. (Fantastic!)

It was quite ironic as you had all these couples/honneymooners/backpackers trying to flee San Pedro any way they could and then the people of San Pedro delighted that all these tourists were literally trapped in their town spending money. (Couldn't help but notice nobody there seemed too keen to help usl!!) So anyway we did what we do best ..made new friends with 2 Italians, Sylvia and Enrico and without electricity threw the worlds most depressing birthday party for Enrico. (I actually had a lot of fun but to be fair I'm quite easily entertained!)

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The following morning we luckily got tickets for one of the buses. So we quickly packed our things and walked to the border. We optimistically got on this hot and sweaty double decker bus not knowing that we would be sitting on the bus for another 2 DAYS!!! At that stage we were told there was an even worse storm coming ...the bus wouldn't be going until at least another week and everyone had to get off. We were also told we HAD to get out of San Pedro as there was no money left in the ATMs, no electricity/water and this storm would be worse than before. So were standing there in the rain with our rucksacks on our backs but with no clue what to do!! By chance (or maybe it was the luck of the Irish!!) a Chilean man (the head doctor of the Chilean rescue team) offered to drive the 5 of us to his neighbouring town of Calama and let us sleep in his house! He had hot water/electricity/internet and food ... it was a similar feeling to winning the Lotto!! (I presume) So he literally let us take over his entire house while he went back to San Pedro to work! All he asked was that we left him some pasta for when he returned home ... The Italians obviously played a blinder on that one!!

It was great to eventually get out of San Pedro BUT the pass to the Argentinian border was still closed so finding a way to Salta was just as hard from Calama! ....the only option was a VERY expensive flight which we couldn't afford! So after a good bit of debating we decided to change our plans and head north. So we needed to get a 22 hour bus down to Santiago ....and from there we would somehow manage to find a way to Patagonia!

Posted by Julie Kavanagh 08:53 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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