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Salta-Cafayate-Tucuman-Cordoba-Buenos Aires

sunny 22 °C

Calling out around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summers here and the time is right, for dancing in the streets.

Dancing In The Streets by Martha Reeves And The Vandellas

Hey all

Well we have made it to Buenos Aires after a fairly hectic week of travelling down from Bolivia, stopping off at various places on the way to break up the long journey. As we have spent quite a lot of time on buses this may not be the most exciting of blog entries, but here goes.

We left you on Wednesday 23rd April and that afternoon United drew 0-0 with Barcelona in the Nou Camp.

Thursday 24th April
The alarm went off at 5.50am and after a shower and checkout we jumped a cab to the bus station for our 7am bus. It was goodbye to Salta, a lovely city with a beautiful square and lots of nice shops and restuarants. The bus journey was only 3 hours and we arrived in Cafayate bang on 10am. There was agirl with a flyer for El Balcon Hostel at the station and it looked nice so we went there.

After checking in we wandered around town and grabbed a bite to eat at the square before having a nap in the afternoon. We then walked to a winery called Bodega Nanni, which specialises in organic wine. We tasted their four wines and bought two bottles - Torrontes, a lovely white wine, and Malbec, a nice fruity red. We then went to the supermarket and bought some crackers and cheese and retired to the rooftop terrace of the hostel with the bottle of white.

Later on we had some lovely ice cream at a place called Helanderia Miramda and a light dinner at the square.

Friday 25th April
After breakfast we bought some food to make sandwiches and rented two mountain bikes with the intention of biking 6km out of town to a campsite and then going on a two hour hike to some waterfalls.

We started out, cycling out of town passed vineyards and wineries along a very bumpy and dusty road that was slightly uphill all the way. We made it to the campsite just after an hour and met some other people who had the intention of hiking to the waterfalls. We soon found out that it was easier said than done.

There is no recognised path and we met an Argentinian who recommended only doing it with a local guide and with hiking boots as it was quite a scramble to get there. As we only had our sports sandals on we decided to leave it and freewheeled back down the road into town.

After another ice cream we had a shower and a snooze (we are getting into the South merican lifestyle!). Later on we went for dinner at a restaurant called La Criolla and had steak with a nice bottle of Torrentes (Domingo Hermanos).

Saturday 26th April
We didnt sleep well as a club down the road played deafening techno music until the small hours. I still managed to make it up for breakfast at 8.30am, leaving Lynn in bed so I could watch the Chelsea v Manchester United game on cable in the TV room. United lost 2-1 thanks to a rather dubious penalty award 5 minutes from time to Chelsea.

After Lynn awoke we headed on a 2km walk out of town to a cheese factory, joined in the end of a tour and bought some nice cheese to take back to the hostel. We then went to an internet cafe and enquired and researched about renting apartments in Buenos Aires with a company called BYT Argentina that had been recommended to us.

We watched sunset from the roof with a bottle of red and some cheese and chatted to an English guy and a German guy about the Worlds Most Dangerous Road bike ride. Sadly some turists were killed the previous week, just after we had been down it!

Sunday 27th April
Another night of broken sleep due to the techno club blasting music until 5am, just when we had to get up for our 6am bus to Tucuman! It is a real shame as El Balcon is a nice hostel but I wouldnt recommend it due to the club down the street. Cafayate is a lovely town though, very relaxed with nice wineries, hiking, biking and a cheese farm, well worth a 2 or 3 night stay.

After 2 nights of no sleep we slept soundly for the first 3 hours of the journey and after that we dozed until arrival in Tucuman at 12.30pm. We did contemplate jumping straight on a bus to Cordoba, but that would have been another 8 hours, so we decided to spend the night in Tucuman and checked into the Garden Hotel after we found that the hostel we had selected from Lonely Planet had closed.

We had a wander around town and found a nice bar next to the square where Argentine indpendence was declared and had a meal with a few beers while watching the Boca Juniors game on TV. After that it was a quiet night in making the most of a quiet hotel with no techno club nearby.

Monday 28th April
It was a quick stop over in Tucuman and the alarm went off at 6am and we made our way to the station for our 7am bus. We watched a couple of films on our deluxe bus, one with Michelle Pfiffer that we didnt catch the name of and The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. Both pretty predictable and nothing to write about but they passed the time.

We arrived in Cordoba at 3.30pm and checked into the Morada Hostel, run by a very friendly guy called Diego. We wandered through town to Plaza San Martin and ended up getting a McDonalds. We then had a quiet night and booked a bus to Buenos Aires for the following evening.

Tuesday 29th April
We made the most of our one full day in Cordoba by walking around all over. At 11am we arrived at the UNESCO World Heritage site that is a University/Mueseum/former Jesuit church and went on a 1 hour tour around the site. It was very interesting and we learned a lot about Cordoba and Argentina from our excellent guide. Cordoba is a University town and produced most of Argentina´s doctors.

We went back to the hostel at 3pm, in plenty of time for the 2nd leg of the United v Barca ECL semi. We ended up watching it with a nice Englisg guy from Bristol called Matt. It was a cracking game, very exciting and nerve wracking with both teams playing well. United took the lead through a cracking goal from Paul Scholes and defended excllently for the rest of the game, while still producing several more chances of their own.

Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand, Park and Tevez were particularly outstanding and I was quite emotional when the final whistle went. I am very pleased for Fergie that he has taken United to another European Cup Final and also for Paul Scholes who missed the 1999 triumph through suspension. I am also pleased for my friends from the Glasgow Supporters Club and know that a few of them will make it to Moscow for the final.

Later we went to the bus station and almost missed our 10.15pm bus by looking for the wrong one.

Wednesday 30th April
I found it hard to sleep on the bus, despite it being the most luxurious yet. Lynn slept well though and we arrived in Buenos Aires at 8.45am. We jumped a cab to a hostel in the Palermo Soho area called SOHostel. It was fully booked so we checked into one nearby for two nights before we move into our apartment a few blocks away.

After a shower we jumped on the underground to the 9 de Julio stop by the huge independence monument and had lunch in a cafe bar nearby. We then wandered around the shops in Central BA (very nice they are too) and down to Plaza San Martin and sat in a park for 20 minutes, basking in the sunshine. It is nice to be in a country where the sunshine isnt so fierce that you cant enjoy it. The weather in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia was nice but it was pretty much factor 50 all the way and it due to altitude you couldnt really sit in the sun for long.

We then found a bar to watch the Chelsea v Liverpool game. I really didnt know who I wanted to win but found myself applauding Liverpool´s equaliser. The scousers lost though due to Gerrard not playing well and Benitez strangely taking off Torres. Liverpool simply dont have enough quality in depth. Chelsea didnt play much better it has to be said and they have two of the football players I hate most on the planet - Ashley Cole and Didier ´diving b***ard´ Drogba. They both represent a lot of what is wrong with football these days, mercenaries and Drogba is such a diver and moaner.


Thursday 1st May
We slept late until 10am and then wandered through Palermo to have a look at the building that will be our home for 1 month until 2nd June. We move in tomorrow and you can check it out at - Serrano and Cabrera III: www.bytargentina.com/re/propview.php?view

We got the underground into Central and then walked to the San Telmo neighbourhood for lunch at the leafy Plaza Dorrego. We enjoyed watching Tango Dancers dancing in the street before our very eyes and also an excellent funk soul band jamming in the square.

It is a national holiday today, so with a lot of places closed we may go to the cinema tonight and then we move into our apartment tomorrow at 2pm.

I will write again soon.

Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 11:25 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

A 30 hour bus journey, the Andes Beatles & Bariloche

sunny 27 °C

'Love you forever and forever, love you with all my heart. Love you whenever we´re together, love you when we´re apart' I Will by The BeatlesSunday 20th January
The alarm went off at 3am. Ouch! We headed around the corner to the bus station and the bus left promptly at 4am and we both fell asleep not long after. Buses in Chile and Argentina are extremely modern with plenty of leg room, chairs that recline up to 180 degrees (on some buses), toilets, films and food.

Our first bus actually headed South to Rio Gallegas and arrived at 8am. Our tickets that we had originally bought had changed so the 36 hour bus journey turned into a 30 hour bus journey. This immediately improved my mood! The second bus left at 10am and headed to a place called Comodoro Rivadora. I had planned to re-read the excellent Anthony Keidis (from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) autobiography and listen to my Nano, but the bus played a series of films to keep us amused. The scenery outside was pretty desolate and bleak, the roads were straight and we watched 4 films to pass the time - Next, starring Nicholas Cage. Do not watch this under any circumstances, it is terrible. Employee Of The Month - watchable only if you are on a long bus journey. Big Momma´s Adventure 2 - I did dig out the book at this point. The only watchable film was 'Failure To Launch starring Sarah Jessica Parker about guys living with their folks into their 30´s and being in no rush to move out. I could relate to that one!

Our bus was delayed by roadworks, meaning that we arrived in Comodora Rivadora at 9.45pm and our bus was scheduled to leave at 9.30pm. Thankfully it had waited and a few of us transferred over double-quick. This was the most luxurious bus yet with leg rests, more than ample leg room, blankets, a waiter (I kid you not) and more films. This time it was an Anthony Hopkins film called 'The Perfect Crime' that we watched while eating dinner before falling asleep.

Monday 21st January
Our waiter awoke us at 7am with a light breakfast and another film! 'You, Me and Dupree' that was surprisingly funny at times, although naturally predictable.

Our bus sped through the desolate scenery and pretty soon it changed into lush green forests, mountains and lakes. We were close to Bariloche and arriving in the Lake District. The bus arrived at 10.30am and we jumped a cab into town, checked into the Freedom hostel for one night and headed straight into town for lunch. As it´s peak time for travelling in Argentina and as Bariloche is such a desirable location for Argentinians and foreigners we are spreading our 5 night stay across 3 hostels as we couldn´t find one for 4 or 5 nights!

Bariloche is a lovely town with an town square surrounded by lovely old buildings on 3 sides with a view out to the lake and the mountains on the horizon on the other. We had a wander round then went for a sleep. At night we treated ourselves to dinner at a nice restaurant and had steak washed down with Quilmes and wine. Lovely!

Tuesday 22nd January
After breakfast we had to check out and move to another hostel - La Justina. It was only a few blocks away, so we dumped our bags there and headed into town with some laundry and then booked a bus back into Chile for Saturday. We´re heading to a city on the coast called Valdivia that is supposed to be nice. We´ll stay a few nights there before heading back to Santiago for our flight to Rio and the CARNIVAL!

We had a pretty lazy day wandering around in the sunshine eating ice-cream, looking at market stalls and generally appreciating the chance to stretch our legs at will after a long bus ride. The bus wasn´t as bad as I thought it would be though and I´m now glad we took it and saved some money for Rio.

At night we went to the Town Hall to see a band that played Beatles songs on traditional instruments. The night was billed as De Los Andes A Los Beatles (From the Andes to The Beatles). 3 guys and 2 women in their 50´s (I reckon) took to the stage and played acoustic guitar, flute, percussion, bass, small guitars and various pipes. The band jammed and only the vocal melody played on flute or pipes was instantly recongniseable. They were all fantastic musicians and as we were sat in the front row we had a great view.

Check them out at http://www.andes-beatles.com.ar/SITIO%20LA%20FRAGUA%20ENGLISH.htm

The highlights included a brilliant romping version of 'A Little Help From My Friends', 'Blackbird', 'I Will' and an encore of John Lennon´s 'Imagine' segueing into 'Give Peace A Chance'. We both really enjoyed the night and I wish I had bought a cd. I might order one through their website!

Wednesday 23rd January
We went down to breakfast quite late, after 10am and discovered that two Scottish girls were also staying in the hostel. Elspeth and Lucy, only 17 and 18. I don´t think I would have been capable of travelling around South America at that age. In fact I don´t think I was capable of turning on a washing machine or cooking!

We chatted away and then Lynn and I went out and caught a local bus 25km out of town to hike up Cerro Lao Lao hill, offering stunning views of Lago Nahuel Huapai - a lake over 100km long. It was good to stretch our legs and work up a sweat. Thankfully (for trekking reasons) there were a few clouds in the sky so it was a little cooler than they day before, when trekking wouldn´t have been pleasant. We had some sandwiches and an apple each at the top of the hill and spent a good half hour just gazing out at the scenery. Stunning.

The bus on the way back was rammed to the point where it seemed ridiculous. The bus driver stopped to let more people on when I really thought it was a physical impossibility. But people kept squeezing in. Thankfully Lynn and I had got on at the foot of the hill so we had seats all the way back.

We got back into town and treated ourselves to a Chorizo sausage roll each from a BBQ stand set up at the top of the market. It was delicious and we vowed to go back the next day for a steak sandwich.

We decided to have a cheap night and bought some food for a veg stir fry and cooked that at the hostel and had dinner and drinks with Elspeth and Lucy.

Thursday 24th January
We had to move hostels again, this time checking out of La Justina and heading to the rather plush modern Marco Polo. More of a hotel than a hostel. It was great to get a nice clean, modern room, with our own sparkling en-suite toilet and a shower that wasn´t just powerful but one with warm water! The simple things that keep me happy!

We wandered along about 1km out of town where you could get a cable car up a hill for views out across Bariloche and the lake. We had a juice and then on the way down we went on a concrete tobagon run. You sat on a sledge with wheels and flew down the hill, it was great fun.

After and afternoon siesta we each got a steak sandwich from the BBQ stall. Mmmmmmm. Our new hostel offers dinner and breakfast as part of the price so we chilled in our room for a bit. I had bought Ian McEwan´s ´Saturday´a couple of days ago and I would highly recommend it. I read 'Atonement' after Lynn had finished with it and surprised myself by enjoying it. McEwan is an extremely descriptive author and I miay buy some more of his books if we find another English bookshop.

After dinner we wandered into town and were passing the cinema and decided to go in to see the new Will Smith movie as it was only around 1 pound 50p a ticket. The film was alright, pretty scary at times. After that we were home for 12.30am and I finished 'Saturday' by 1.15am before a good nights sleep.

Friday 25th January
We may rent bikes today and cycle along the lakeside, stopping at little pebbly beaches to chill. Then again we may have a very lazy day as it´s pretty warm.

If I don´t update the blog when we get back to Santiago I´ll speak to you all from Rio De Janeiro!

Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 05:14 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Perito Moreno Glacier and a long, long bus trip

sunny 25 °C

´A little bit of soul is worth more than gold´Everybody Needs Somebody by Primal Scream

Hola from Argentina, the twelfth country we have visited on our round the world trip. We´ve had a few lazy days since I last wrote, but we´ve also visited the beautiful Perito Moreno Glacier so here is a quick update on what we have been up to.

Wednesday 16th
We had a very lazy day hanging around Puerto Natales. We probably needed it after our exertions trekking in Torres Del Paine, but although Puerto Natales is a nice wee town we had probably exhausted ourselves of it the previous day. But we hung out and chilled out, which you need to do now and again.

Thursday 17th
A day of travel. Our bus didn´t leave Puerto Natales until 2pm so we had a long lie and some lunch before jumping on the bus to cross the border. Two English girls were on our bus and caused us no end of amusement. They must have been mid-late 30´s and God only knows how they have managed to travel around the world. Just after an hour we reached the Chilean Border Crossing and we all got off the bus with our passports ready, along with an official slip that you receive when you arrive in Chile. The two girls had lost their slip. Not a big deal really, but it was to them.

´Oh s@@t, what are we going to do, they´re not going to let us into Argentina, we're stuck here´ said one of them.
'Oh my God, I don't have that bit of paper everyone else has, what are they going to do? Will they keep us here?'
'I have my mobile, I can phone my friend who speaks Spanish or I can phone the British Embassy.

This went on and on, despite the fact that I said they would get another slip. They would just have to wait a bit. But panic stations continued with Lynn and I unable to look each other in the eyes otherwise we would have burst out laughing. Needless to say that they had to wait ten minutes and then they got another slip and the problem was over. I can only imagine that travelling must be one constant source of stress and worry for the two of them.

Anyway after that, and I suppose it was funnier when you were there, we sped through dusty roads towards El Calafate. We eventually arrived at 8pm, only no-one told us there was an hours difference so it was actually 9pm. We checked into the Buenos Aires Hostel, dumped our bags and headed into town.

El Calafate is a nice wee town in the middle of nowhere, reliant on tourists visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier and sheep farming for existence. Everyone that we met in Chile that had been to Argentina had been raving about the steaks so we immediately headed for a steakhouse and ordered 2 medium sirloins and 2 Quilmes beers. One girl we met in Puerto Arenas had actually been a vegitarian for 15 years and then switched back to meat after being tempted in Argentina! The steak was lovely and Quilmes has shot into the top 3 beers from our travels list along with Chang and Monteiths Zesty. During the meal we discovered it was 11.30pm rather than 10.30pm and we headed back to the hostel for a good nights sleep.

Friday18th January
We slept well and woke around 10am, eventually leaving the hostel at 11am and heading to the bus station to book on the 3pm bus to the national park containing the Perito Moreno Glacier. The bus was $10 ARG each, around 1 pound 50. Before the bus we had a nice walk around the shops and had a sandwich. The bus took under an hour to get to the park and we then had to pay a park entrance fee of $40 ARG. We got dropped off at the boating section as we wanted to take a boat right up to the face of the glacier. The boat was $35ARG each, so the cost mounted up but we still had a day looking at one of natures wonders for under 30 quid each.

The boat left at 4.30pm and we headed around the bend towards the glacier, one of the only advancing glaciers in the world. We passed by chunks of ice that had broken off and admired the seemingly endless sea of ice that stretched before our eyes. We took loads of photos as the boat went back and forth along the glacier, about 50 metres or so away from the face.

Just as we turned to leave a huge chunk of ice came off and crashed into the lake. Lynn and I looked at each other in amazement and just as we were catching our breath a smaller section broke off into the water. We headed back and caught one more section of ice falling off. We didn´t have any luck catching it on film though.

After we landed we caught a shuttle bus round to the walkways that take you to excellent viewing positions of the glacier. We didn´t have to wait long until we heard some cracks and echoes and some ice fell into the lake. This happened pretty regularly throughout the next 90 minutes. Who would have thought that ice watching was so much fun? I can´t slag off train spotters or bird watchers anymore!

Check the following link for more info and better pictures than any of ours. The pictures will tell you more about the beauty of the glacier than I ever could. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perito_Moreno_Glacier

The bus back left at 8pm promptly and we were back in town for just after 9. We headed to a funky wee bar we had walked past the night before and had some dinner and a couple of beers.

Saturday 19th January
Occassionally you have to do things that you don´t want to do. These things are usually not much fun, although you can sometimes be surprised. Today we spent a couple of hours assessing ways of getting from El Calafate to Bariloche. It basically boiled down to a 2 hour flight for 150 quid each or a 34 hour bus ride for 40 quid each. I hate to say it but we are getting the bus, our days of flashpacking are over!

So we leave at 4am tomorrow morning and will arrive in Bariloche at 4.30pm on January 21st! Are we mad? Yes I think we might be. Try as I might I couldn´t justify the cost of the flights to Lynn and believe me, I tried. Still, looking on the positive side the money we are saving will help us enjoy Rio all the more when we arrive there.

We are going to be fairly substantially over our initial budget by the time we return, but hey, we may never do this again. Rio, Machu Picchu and hopefully (if the budget allows) the Galapagos Islands are going to eat a huge hole in the remaining funds we have, however, apart from that Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and our return to Argentina in May should be pretty cheap. I hope so!

So we´re chilling out for the rest of the afternoon, having an early meal and then catching some shut eye before going for the bus. I´d better go and charge my ipod!

Speak to you soon.

Lots of love
Murray and Lynn

Posted by murray2701 09:21 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

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