A Travellerspoint blog

Colonia

Sept 27th

sunny 23 °C
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A 1 hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires took us across the border into Uruguay. Having gone through passport control and customs before we got on the boat, we were immediatey ushered through immigration for Uruguay whilst we were still in Argentina! On the other side of Rio de la Plata, we arrived in Colonia del Sacremento. As the name suggests, it is a small colonial town which was named the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Uruguay. Pretty coloured buildings line cobbled streets and it was really nice to spend the afternoon wandering the streets. There were lots of street signs of tiles and plaques, and we even found one with Sarah J´s birthday on it (8th October).

The afternoon took us to the Bull Ring which is a 100 year old stadium where bull fights used to take place. It opened in the early 1900´s and was closed down approx 4 years later when bull fighting was made illegal in Uruguay in 1912! You couldn´t go in to the site as it was quite unsafe but you could walk around the whole perimeter and see into the centre. Our mode of transport there and back was quite unusal to say the least. You can hire golf buggies in the town of Colonia to pootle around town! It was quite comical speeding along at about 15mph as the cars constantly overtook, and not great suspension for the road humps and holes!

That evening after dinner we headed back to El Drugstore where we had had lunch, to have a few drinks and listen to a guitar man playing local music. It was nice to sit and chat with everyone in the new group and get to know them better.

Posted by slking 04:56 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Buenos Aires

Sept 24th - Sept 26th

sunny 28 °C
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A 22 hour overnight bus journey brought us into Buenos Aires in the early afternoon. We had all decided to upgrade to Cama class (comfort) so we had wide, fully reclining seats, movies and wi-fi to get us through the journey, as well as food being served on board. Just like being on a plane, but much more comfortable. As we made the transition from snowy mountains to hot, sunny climates, we drove through more of the Lake District area, which I was this time able to appreciate. The numerous lakes were a stunning ice blue/green colour with the surrounding mountains reflected in the water by the bright sunshine.
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Well, Buenos Aires was a completely different kettle of fish. From the serene location amongst the lakes and mountains, we entered the bustling and vibrant capital city of Argentina. It has such a European feel to it with it´s history, cuisine, shopping and nightlife. It´s a great city with so much to see and do, that we had a few busy days ahead of us.
After checking in around midday, we all jumped in cabs down to La Boca area of town where the buildings are brightly painted and the atmosphere is eclectic with the many street performers and artists showing off their talents.
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There are numerous murals on the walls and some really impressive graffiti going on. We had lunch in a small cafe along along one of the main streets, and I was very glad of salad on the menu. I feel like all I have eaten lately is meat and carbs, it was a welcome sight when the delicious Nicoise salad landed infront of me, of which I savored every mouthful. In many of the cafes and restaurants around La Boca there are Tango shows going on to watch whilst you eat. They perform their intricate dance for the tourists and you can even get up and have your photo taken in Tango-like poses with the professionals, which I didn´t do but it was funny to see some of the older men loving every second of having their arms around the scantily dressed ladies.
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Next stop was Recoleta, and in particular the cemetery where the previuosly rich and famous are kept.
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You can walk amongst the plots, of which many are very grand and adorned with statues and plaques. In particular, we went on the hunt for Eva Peron´s family plot. There were lots of people queuing up to see this so we had to wait in line to pass it. In truth there was not much to see, just lots of plaques on the wall of the Duarte family.
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The cemetery got quite creepy after a while seeing all the many coffins in their resting places, so to lighten the mood we all indulged in the most amazing ice-cream creations where you can have three scoops of a huge range of flavours interspersed with various toppings, after which I was feeling very sick!

That evening after yet another steak for dinner, we all sat around playing cards and drinking back at the hostal, then a few of us decided to sample the nightlife that BA had to offer around the Palermo area, and in particular Plaza Serrano.
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The next day, without a hangover (yay, I can still do it occasionally!) I went to explore the city. I walked down the La Boca area again and this time went to see the stadium of The Boca Juniors. It is quite an impressive stadium that just appears out of nowhere at the edge of the busy La Boca area. Later on I visited the San Telmo antiques market and Defensa street where there was a huge long street which stretched as far as the eye could see lined with stalls selling all kind of wares such as old coins, watches and trinkets as well as souveniers and gifts.
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I had a very filling lunch of pasta in a little cafe and watched the world go by as all the tourists and locals mingled together to check out the market. On the way back I passed a sculpture by the side of the road. She is called Mafalda and is a 6 year old girl made famous in cartoons in the 60s and 70s.
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That evening we headed out to watch The Boca Juniors play Argentinos. Unfortuately it wasn´t at The Boca Stadium as they were playing away, but the atmosphere was still great with lots of chanting and singing. The Boca fans held their own against the home side as they continued to sing throughout the entire match. The final score was 0-0, a little disappointing that neither team scored but it was a good match nonetheless.
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Another free day took Sarah J, Leanne and I to the Palermo area. We travelled on the Metro which was just as busy as the London Underground with passengers crammed in like sardines, with a little more air-conditioning. The streets of Palermo were quiet and tree-lined, filled with small boutique shops and cafes.
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Such a contrast to the busy downtown where we were staying. We just wandered the streets and browsed in the shops, a very relaxing day. On the way back we walked throught the Botanical Gardens which housed lots of different plants and flowers. Hoping to take a bit of a short cut and exit out the other side, we ended up wandering around trying to fins another exit that was open. All the gates bar one were locked and so we had to double back on ourselves and come back out where we had entered. Next up were the Japanese Gardens which were very peaceful and tranquil. They were filled with beautiful pink flowers which acted as a backdrop to the token red bridge and waterfalls.
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That evening it was time to meet up with the new group and say goodbye to the old one.

Posted by slking 04:12 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Bariloche

Sept 21st - Sept 23rd

snow
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Well, it�s been a while! Being so busy and a lack of computer access in some places has meant that I have been a bit slack updating this recently, apologies! I have also had some problems uploading photos, so I will add some in at a later date when I get this sorted.

We left Bariloche and took (another) bus over the Andes, leaving behind Chilly Chile and entering into Argentina. I�m told there was lots of lovely snow and nice landscapes as we made our way to Argentina�s Lake District area, but to be honest I was asleep! I did however see lots of ash still on the ground, left over from the Volcanic eruption in Chile a little while ago, there was a grey, dusty blanket over everything in the area.

We arrived in Bariloche quite late in the day so onlt had time for a quick tour round the town and then out for dinner. Bariloche is a summer and winter destination set on the shores of Lake Nahuel Huapi with the peaks of Cerros Catedral, Lopez, Nireco and Shaihuenque (to name just a few) standing guard over the town. It was Cerro Catedral that some of us decided to tackle the next day. No, not another mountain climb, but this time skiing! It was my first time skiing so myself and Alix decided to take a 2 hour lesson.
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It was difficult to see much up the mountain as it was quite misty but this started to clear and by the end of the day we had really nice views over the town and nearby lake.
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It was a bit frustrating to begin with not being able to control in which direction I was going and also not being able to stop, but by the end of the 2 hours, Alix and I were whizzing down the baby runs turning corners as we went without our poles and totally unaided. It was a very tiring afternoon, tough on the knees and ankles, and I can see why you need the apres-ski to help you recover!

The next day we had a free morning to explore, so I took a wander round town and down to the lake. Again it was quite misty, but the views across the lake were beautiful, it�s easy to see why this area earned it�s name as te Argentinian Lake District.
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As I was the only one down on the shore, it was so peaceful. In my contemplative mood, I walked up to the church and spent some time looking at all the stunning stain glass windows inside.
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After this there was just enough time before taking our 22 hour bus ride to Buenos Aires to visit some of the shops and in particular the chocolate shops. Bariloche is Argentina�s chocolate capital and there are many enticing shops with huge window displays of every kind of chocolate you could imagine.

Posted by slking 03:50 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Ancud, Chiloe

Sept 18th - Sept 20th

semi-overcast 12 °C
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We arrived in Ancud on the island of Chiloe late in the day after another long bus ride (there seems to be a theme developing here!) The 18th September is Chilean Independence Day (Fiestas Patrias) so there was a big fiesta in the town where there were parades, festivities, food, music and drinks. Much of the drinking, music and dancing occurs in the ramadas, open air "buildings" with a dance floor under a thatched roof, or one made traditionally with branches, as in traditional shelters. Refreshment stands, fondas, offer a variety of national food favourites.
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I have had a few fairly quiet days here on the island of Chiloe. It has been a public holiday here all weekend to celebrate the Chilean Independence, so most of the shops and restaurants were closed on Monday. A few of us just went for a walk round the town and we found a nearby beach and fort with some great views
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and some beautiful flowers
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Luckily the weather was nice so we were quite happy just pottering around and we had some really fresh seafood in the harbour
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Today a small group of us managed to hire a car and so we set off to explore the island which is about 180km long and 50km wide (everything is in km here so not sure what that is in miles!). We went about half way down the island to the capital called Castro and then over to a few islands in the nearby archipelago.
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The towns were all very similar with brightly painted houses and a church in every town. The scenery was really nice though so I managed to take a few good photos.

Posted by slking 15:42 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Pucón

Sept 16th - Sept 17th

sunny 10 °C
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A 11 hour overnight bus ride brought us into Pucón at 11am. This small town is surrounded by lakes and volcanoes and has the feel of a skiing town with its wooden buildings, restaurants, bars and mountain views. The weather was rainy on and off all day so we just relaxed in the hostel, which is more like a chalet and huddled round the fire to keep warm, but we were rewarded by a beautiful rainbow (and I was convinced you could even see the end, but it was too cold to venture out to find the pot of gold).
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That evening we went to a local festival which was to celebrate the imdependence of Chile. We got to meet the mayor and was filmed by the local TV station, we felt like guests of honour as the mayor was presented to us! We saw some traditional dancing by the local children and had some very nice food.
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On our second day in Pucón we decided to head to the national park to attempt the ascent to the top of Volcán Villarrica, an active volcano near Pucón standing at 2847m high. During the day you can see puffs of smoke coming out of the top from the town of Pucón.
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It was a very tough day as we began the trek. We had been kitted out in lots of flouroescent gear so it was easy to keep track of where all our team were, but we very quickly started to separate up into the slow and slower groups. The views as we went up were amazing and it was difficult to comprehend how far we had actually come.
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The snow was pure white and when we started our walk at 9am there was hardly anyone else on the piste, so we found it quite difficult to navigate the way being the first to tred the path that day. The scenery was beautiful and the I couldn´t stop taking photos (when I did actually manage to look up from concentrating on where I was walking!). The ice picks that we were using were leaving a brilliant ice blue hole in the ice which I tried to capture:
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I wasn´t finding the walk easy, becoming quite out of breath very quickly. I managed to take my mind off the task ahead by just concentrating on my breathing. We stopped for a 20 minute break about half way up the mountain to re-fuel and catch our breath. Here is a picture of what I left behind when I got up:
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After the break we carried on walking up, but my legs started to feel weak and I was running out of energy quickly. I managed to make it about halfway up when I decided to turn back with a couple of other girls, whilst the rest of the group carried on further. I felt a little deflated but knew it was the right decision for me. It later turns out that only one person (Paul), the eldest of our group managed to make it to the top to actually look down into the crater (all it was was a big black hole and no bubbling lava as we had expected). I was therefore secretly relieved that I hadn´t gone through all the hassle of treking to the top just for that!

On the way down we started to walk but found it really difficult as we kept disappearing into the snow and falling over in every direction. Leanne, Alex and I were in fits of giggles so much that it was making it even more difficult to walk!
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Once we got a bit further down we strapped on some sheets and slid down the mountain on our bums. This was so much fun and made up for the dissappointment of not making it to the top.
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When Leanne, Alex and I made it to the bottom we had to wait for several hours until the rest of the group came back down, so I began to kill some time by taking a few arty shots:
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Everyone was very tired after a hard day:
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even the guide!
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So we cooked a yummy communal meal of steak and salad.
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Posted by slking 18:29 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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