Our first day in Argentina will no doubt be one of the most memorable in our entire lives.
Yesterday we saw Iguazu from the Brazilian side and to be honest, it took our breath away, today blew it out of the water – quite literally.
We started the day how we start most days, with the free, entirely bread-based breakfast at our hostel, we then jumped in a cab to Iguazu and payed the 260 Peso entrance fee and started on our way around the park, we walked the green trail up through some of the smaller waterfalls and it was notably more involved and up close compared to the Brazillian side, the fine mist caused by the spray of the falling water creates small, bright rainbows that are so close you can almost touch them. There is something mysterious about rainbows that sort of mesmerises you, you can’t help but stand almost hypnotised looking at them, the fact its in front of an amazing waterfall adds another level of beauty.
We decided we were going to go all out and go on a boat trip around the bottom of the waterfalls, it cost 270 Pesos and lasted around 10 minutes, the boat takes you UNDERNEATH the falls, we all put on our waterproofs and looked at the people who didn’t have them in a smug ‘you’re not prepared for this’ kind of way. Turns out WE weren’t prepared for this – Our measly waterproofs couldn’t cope with the amount of water pouring down on us, I mean if we had jumped into a swimming pool fully clothed (which funnily enough Jo did later on today) we would’ve come out dryer.
I imagine this is how a hamster would feel if you put it in a dishwasher. We backed out of the falls and everybody on the boat cheered so the captain screams ‘AGAIN!’ and so we go in again, in total he takes you under 4 times, on two different falls. We all got off soaking wet but with huge grins on our faces. How many people can say they’ve been IN Iguazu falls?
After drying off in the sunshine we jumped on a train to the upper parts of the waterfalls known as the Devils Throat, the boat trip had us all on a high and we all though that would easily be the highlight of our day.
After the train ride you walk along a gangway for around 10 minutes, thats how wide the river is, it takes 10 minutes to cross it, this leads to the mouth of the waterfall, the river isn’t particularly rough but the amount of water that pours over the edge every second is beyond comprehension.
If theres such a place as heaven, this is what it looks like, it actually leaves you speechless, we would all look at each other then look back at it just to check that it was actually real and everybody else was seeing what you were seeing. We stayed there, just looking at it for around 40 minutes but we could have easily stayed longer, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Tomorrow we fly to Buenos Aires, in 3 days time its Jays 30th birthday. Its looking like Argentina is going to be fun.
We had heard that Palermo was a cool neighbourhood to stay in Buenos aires so we all jumped in a cab to a hostel called The meridiano. Luckily they had enough rooms and the place was proper cool. The house was built in 1908 and was huge with gorgeous windows and high ceilings… it oozed character. That night we grabbed tapas at a local restaurant. We shared a few dishes and They did not disappoint. We had breaded aubergine, Potatas Bravas and pigs cheek with an orange puree. The food here is so good! Of course we washed it down with an Argentinian Red. Mmmmm
We all fell in love with Buenos Aires at first sight. I think it is what everyone wants from a city, Great weather, streets and streets of cafes, restaurants and bars spilling onto the street. It has a great food scene with lots of different cuisines, everyone really takes pride in their places too with them all being quite quirky and cool in their own ways. Its relitively easy to get around B.A, they have a pretty good metro with about four lines that get you all around the city pretty quickly for 5 pesos. ($1)
One thing we struggled to adjust to here was how late the Argentinians do everything. Nothing gets going till about 2am on weekends and dinner for example is usually eaten between 9-12am. This was kind of annoying but I’m sure you would get used to it after a while. I think for some backpackers though or anyone that prefers to be getting up early and doing things with their day this kind of lifestyle doesn’t suit because you can’t be going to bed at 6am and then have to wake up to do a city bike ride absolutely shattered at 8am
For my 30th birthday we booked into a lovely hotel called The Dazzler Palermo. Three blissful nights in a huge comfy double bed, a bathroom…with a bath and couple of bottles of champagne chilling in the mini bar. This was gonna be a good un. My pals all made it a special one and also Joyce had decided to check in to this hotel too which was lovely. I was spoilt with lots of cards and a gorgeous cake and we decided to head to Las Cabreras which is known as one of the best steak houses in Argentina. There was a bit of a queue but it was worth the wait. So bloody delicious, we all had a steak the size of a dictionary.
Our hotel had a lovely pool and it was pretty empty so we had a couple of pool days just chilling out topping up our tans before we headed to Mendoza.
After three days in the Dazzler we headed back to reality in the form of the Milhouse Hostel in the Monserrat area if the city, As far as hostels go it was pretty good. Everywhere is pretty quiet in April though as it is going into low season so it definitely lacked the buzz that hostels can sometimes have but we had fun…but we had had our first beer at 11am. On Sunday we walked around two markets, one was on Palermo and the other was in San Telmo and was absolutely huge. It went on for 14 blocks and was pretty heaving. It was on ok market but nothing beats the one in Ipanema Brazil.
We also spent one morning walking around Boca, which is a town painted in bright colours, mainly for the tourists but its also home to Boca juniors, Argentinas biggest football club. Sadly we couldn’t get tickets to see a match that weekend, hopefully next time were in buenos aires we might be able to.
We’ve been a bit off the Argentinian radar for a little while because we jumped on some really cheap flights to Patagonia, we spent the last 4 days there and to be fair its amazing. I mean sure, for the most part its miles and miles of nothingness but its also got some of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
The Perito Moreno Glacier is a large expanse of ice coming down from the mountains into a cloudy turquoise lake, huge chunks fall off the face daily causing huge waves and a site you can see only a couple of other places in the world.
We also visited Mount Fitzroy in El Chalten, a 3 and a half hour drive from El Calafate, It is a sharp dagger-like mountain surrounded by lagoons and colourful forests, we took a 4m hike to reach Lagoa Capri and see the mountain from up close.
We took the same 3 hour Aerolineus Argentinas flight back from El Calafate to Buenos Aires which resulted in our SLR camera being stolen from our checked luggage, we have since read that stealing from luggage is like a national sport here.. at least we had already uploaded all of our photos!
Now we are in Mendoza; the wine capital of Argentina, tomorrow we’re going to jump on some bikes, ride round some wineries and get merry… its a tough life. 😉
We took a 12 hour bus with CATA International from Buenos Aires to Mendoza for $860, full CAMA (£65) this bus was different gravy to the ones we’ve had before..we were served 2 meals, which were nearly on par with plane food, free wine, champagne, to make it better, our seats lay completely flat and we had our own TV’s!
Jay spent about 11 hours and 54 minutes of the 12 hours asleep and swears those chairs were on par with any bed she’s slept in! we stayed at Mendoza Lodgings which was one of the more basic places we had stayed, Jay was put of by the colour of the bed sheets…apparently phlegm isn’t an acceptable linen colour!
We had heard so many good things about Mendoza and as we had just travelled all the way across Argentina we were expecting it to blow us away, in reality its just like any other city.. i expected it to be winerys and dirt roads, littered with horses and mountains but i was greeted with furniture shops and bad take away restaurants, Jay sent two meals back in the first 2 places we ate… the first a mound of cheese that was supposed to be a pizza and the second a plate of nachos containing more grease than a group of teenage faces.
We found out that the actual wineries were another 40 minute bus ride away, so we jumped on a local bus at around 9am and by 10am we had rented bikes from Mr Hugo and started our first wine tasting, we definitely jumped in at the deep end..
G was obviously a pro on the old bikes but after the big bike crash I was a little apprehensive at the thought of getting absolutely steaming drunk and then cycling 5 kms down a main road. It actually turned out to be great fun, we visited 4 or 5 wineries and stopped at one and had lunch overlooking the vineyard at Miva Winery, the wine here is nearly as cheap as water, unfortunately it wasn’t really the best time if year to come as there wasn’t many grapes on the vines but the winery all stay open so you can go and drink as much as you like!
We ended up meeting some lovely english guys and girls who we ended up getting tipsy with. So drunk in fact that we decided to ditch our plan of jumping on the night bus back to BA and decided instead to stay at our new pals hostel. All for another bottle of red..now thats dedication.
We left Mendoza the next evening after a day feeling very sorry for ourselves. We are now staying at Viejo Telmo until we fly back to BA. I CANNOT believe the first leg of our trip is over. It is so sad to think we are already half way through but we are both very excited to see what Nepal has to bring. Check out our Nepal Page for the next instalment.