A Travellerspoint blog

Buenos Aires again

Short stopover

sunny 20 °C
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So from Villa General Belgrano, we went back to the lovely city of Buenos Aires. Had a few things to sort out here. Alan went to a dentist 'cause his tooth was hurting a lot - she said he had an infection, gave him antibiotics and stuffed the hole with cotton wool... Told him to change this "plug" a few times a day, and then come back when the infection was gone to get a "conductor" installed (don't know what this involves as she spoke no English, and my Spanish vobaulary regarding dentistry is very limited - best guess: root canal - OUCH).

Next day, we went back to the cool Bond Street arcade, so Alan could get the tattoo finished off. The guy managed to do the whole Buddha over again, but still some touches missing. Anyway, the colours looked great. In the mean time, I hung around and took some snaps around the arcade and the surrounding area...

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Then, on the 18th, we caught a night bus up to Iguazu.

Posted by monkyhands 14:24 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Oktoberfest

Spas and ballade in Villa General Belgrano

semi-overcast 13 °C
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So, we went to Villa General Belgrano, a small town near Cordoba, for the Oktoberfest. The town was apparantly settled by German survivors from a sunken warship - the Admiral Graf Spee. They built a village of red-roofed, wood-frame homes, micro breweries and pastry and chocolate shops. Today, the village survives on a steady flow of tourists with an appetite for German delicacies like apple strudel, leberwurst and spätzle. Oktoberfest here is hailed as the third-most important Oktoberfest site after Munich and Blumenau in Brazil.

Anyway, it was certainly great fun. We checked in and had a look round town.

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Then we went off to the beer fest, and tested all the beers... Found a favorite stand called Antares, which had an excellent red beer for me, and a dark beer that Alan liked.

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We bought ourselves some beer mugs, and Alan even got a strap to hang it round his neck, so it wouldn't get lost. We are lots of bratwurst and apfel strudel.

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There were bands performing - some German and central European ones, but also some from Lebanon and Syria (?). It was all very entertaining, especially the dancing.

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Later on, it all got a bit crazy - there were som many people, especially on saturday. Everyone was so drunk and acting crazy. People were falling asleep on the tables, drinking beer bongs or climbing trees.

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After that, I don't remember much, and I can barely tell the days apart :) It all got a bit tilted and blurry...

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Unfortunately, we don't have pictures of all the best stuff - too drunk to take pictures I guess. Jay got some more shots, maybe he will upload them to Facebook, I hope... Otherwise, that is about it. On monday we headed back to Buenos Aires.

Posted by monkyhands 16:01 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buenos Aires - More European than Europe itself

... or so the Portenos like to think :)

sunny 14 °C
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On October 2nd, LADE managed to get us transferred to an Aerolineas Argentinas flight, and we made it to Buenos Aires by 2pm. We checked into a shithole of a hotel (that's the risk of booking online I guess, they don't tend to mention the damp in the walls, the spongy matresses or the cockroaches in the fridge). At least it was cheap, and as it was a bit out of town, the area was really cheap as well, for food and the like, which is a great advantage as Buenos Aires as such really isn't very cheap at all.

On the 3rd, we went out to the Indian embassy here in Buenos Aires, to drop off our passports for visas to India. They said it would take till Tuesday to get them done. We then went for a long walk all around Buenos Aires, taking in the colonial buildings and wide boulevards (the city really does look like Madrid, although a run down Madrid).

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Also adding to the feel of the place, is the fact that Buenos Aires is dotted with cool murals and graffitti.

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We went to the Recoleta area to see a huge mechanical flower-statue there, which opens in the day and closes its leaves at night. Very cool, never seen anything quite like it.

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Then we went to the Recoleta cemetery, where the rich and the famous used to bury their families. It is not really like a cemetery as I picture it, but more like a collection of crypts, some of them huge and extremely decorated and fancy. We sat around and ate strawberries while watching the tour groups. We saw (of course) Evita's grave there.

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October 4th, we went shopping. A lot of our clothes are old and worn out by now, so we got some bits to renew our wardrobes. First we went to the pedestrian street of Florida, which is modern and European - and priced like it as well.

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Most of the stuff we bought, we found on much cheaper Pueyrredon in the Once area, which is lined with clothing shops selling non-branded clothing. On our walk from one area to another, we came across some sort of demonstration - they are common here, and add to the feeling of Buenos Aires.

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On the 5th there was a huge thunderstorm here, the streets flooded and some of the subway lines were closed. We stayed in our area and tried to stay dry.

October 6th, Jay and Milena came into town. All the hotels were full for the weekend, so they crashed in our damp cell of a room. We all went to a feria in the glitzy Recoleta area, which was lovely, as the sun was shining today, and drying all the water from the day before. Stalls selling handicrafts, jewellery, wallets, bags etc.

On October 7th, we went to another feria - this time the weekly antiques fair in San Telmo. Lovely area, with old buildings and cobbled streets.

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The stalls sold all sorts of stuff (mostly weird junk). They sold costume jewellery, old siphon bottles, boxes and jars, hats and fur coats - and even old antique syringes (?).

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It was another nice day out in Buenos Aires, and various street performers added to the colour and noise of the place - tango dancers, living statues, and even a samba parade.

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October 8th, we sorted out some tickets for the bus to Villa General Belgrano, for the Oktoberfest. Also booked a hotel there, at an extortionate price, but everything else was full. Found a cabin which all four of us could share. Jay and Milena went back to her house outside of Bs As, and we went to visit passage called Bond Street, which Milena had mentioned. It is a shopping mall, full of tattoo parlours and shops selling goth and alternative clothing. Cool place. Alan booked an appointment for the next day, to get the mess that the tattoo guy in Mexico city had made.

On October 9th, we went back to Bond Street, and Alan did a sitting of three hours. The guy fixed the lotus and the other flower up, in colour (!), and they came out great. Al made another appointment for next week after the Oktoberfest, to get the rest touched up.

On the 10th, we checked out of the hotel, hung around town and then caught the night bus to Villa General Belgrano.

Posted by monkyhands 17:36 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

El Calafate

Icebergs and glaciers in Southern Patagonia

overcast 5 °C
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On September the 27th, we just waited for our bus in Puerto Madryn. Jay and Milena headed back to Buenos Aires at 3pm, and we caught an all night bus to Rio Gallegos at 6.30 pm.

The 28th, we arrived in Rio Gallegos at 2pm, and then got straight on a bus to El Calafate. It took about 4 ½ hours, and then we went to the Hostel America del Sur and got checked in.

On Saturday the 29th, we went on a boat tour on Lago Argentino, in the Parque Nacional los Glaciares, to see glaciers. This national park, created in 1937, is the second largest in Argentina. Its name refers to the giant ice cap (the biggest outside Antarctica and Greenland) in the Andes range that feeds 47 large glaciers, of which only 13 flow towards the Atlantic Ocean. In other parts of the world, glaciers start at a height of at least 2,500 meters above sea level, but due to the size of the Ice Cap, these glaciers begin at only 1,500 m, sliding down to 200 m, eroding the surface of the mountains that support them.

We went first to a peninsula, from where we did a short walk through a forest, to a smaller lake, Lago Onelli, which is fed by several smaller glaciers.

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The lake was completely packed with ice chunks and small icebergs.

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After that, we sailed past the smaller, receding Seco glacier and on to the Spegazzini glacier, which is the tallest in the park. Its walls are between 80 an 130 meters tall.

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From there, we sailed on to the Upsala glacier (named after the Swedish city), which is the largest in the park, It is around 4 km wide, and really was impressive. The Upsala Glacier is a large valley glacier, which flows out from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. The terminus of the glacier is at Lago Argentino. The Upsala Glacier is well known for its rapid retreat, which many see as evidence for global warming.

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Several huge chunks of ice broke off while we were watching, and crashed into the water. The water around the glacier was full of huge icebergs, and we had to manoeuvre between them to get back out. Amazing to see how blue the ice really is, and not white as you’d expect.

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It was a grey, cold and rainy day, with grey skies, but it was cheered a bit by several rainbows.

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September 30th, we chilled out, and went to watch the Ireland v. Argentina rugby game - which Ireland unfortunately lost.

On October 1st, we went to the airport to catch a flight to Buenos Aires on LADE air. They told us the flight was delayed, and so we waited till around 9pm, when they finally told us it was cancelled. The airline then put us up in a hotel, and said we would be able to get seats on Aerolineas Argentinas the next morning.

Posted by monkyhands 12:23 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Puerto Madryn

Penguins, dolphins and whales

semi-overcast 15 °C
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On September 22nd, we arrived in Puerto Madryn. We checked into a hostel, and then walked down to the beach to have a look. The town itself is not much to look at, but the beach was nice.

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And we spotted whales right off the beach! There were at least seven of them, rolling around and waving their tales.

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On the 23rd, Jay and Milena arrived from Esquel, and we moved from the hostel to a shared appartment with them. We walked around town looking at some tours for tomorrow, and looked at the whales from the beach again.

September 24th, we did a tour of Peninsula Valdes nature reserve. First, we drove the peninsula, which took several hours. On the peninsula, we saw guanacos, rheas and maras.

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On a point of the peninsula, there was an elephant seal colony, about 50-100 of them lounging on the beach. The females were separated into several harems, ruled by a male. Cool animals, and so huge!

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From there, we drove to a different point, where several magellanic penguins were nesting.

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Then, we went to the town of Puerto Piramides, located inside the nature reserve, From there, there are boats that take you out to see the whales close up. The tour was amazing! The boat was surrounded by whales on either side - so close that the sound of them letting out their breath was extremely loud. The whales here are Southern Right Whales, and so they are not the largest of whales, but they still looked huge close up!

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After the boat ride, we went back to Puerto Madryn.

September 25th, we did another organised tour, this time to the penguin colony at the peninsula of Punta Tombo. The 3 kilometre long, 600 metre wide peninsula is covered with sand, clay and gravel. Between September and April, up to half a million penguins come to this site to nest - the largest such colony in South America. The penguins were everywhere, although they were more spread out than I expected. Still, it was great fun to walk between the nests and watch them - they are hilarious animals really.

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There were other animals in the area as well - we saw lots of guanacos, and even an armadillo.

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After the penguin colony, we went to Puerto Rawson, a small town from where they do boat tours to see Commerson's dolphins. Commerson's Dolphin has a very distinctive patterning. It has a black head, dorsal fin, and fluke, with a white throat and body. The demarcation between the two colours is very clear-cut. In shape and size—the creature is stocky and grows to around 1.5 m. Milena and I went on the boat tour, while Jay and Alan decided to stay on land. Their loss, as the tour was fantastic! The dolphins were so pretty, and they were zipping around the boat at high speeds, playing in the bow wave. Amazing. As icing on the cake, there were also whales all around, some coming really close to the boat. It looked like the dolphins were playing with the whales, swimming circles around them.

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After the boat ride, we went to Trelew's dinosaur museum, but it was quite small, and all the dinosaur bones were plastic. The only interesting thing was the model of the front legs of an Argentinosaurus - the largest dinosaur ever found. It was huge! Done with the museum, we returned to Puerto Madryn again.

The 26th, we spent in Puerto Madryn, just chilling out and taking care of some practical stuff.

Posted by monkyhands 14:09 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

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