Igauzu falls, Buenos Aires, Bariloche and Mendoza
31.01.2010 - 11.02.2010 35 °C
Well after seeing one side of Igauzu falls we stayed in Puerto Igauzu on the Argentinian side. Now this side off the falls offered a lot better views and let you get much closer. It was a really good day out, there was a walkway right at the top of the falls so you are standing directly over the drop – the falls are just huge. It must have been about 35 degrees that day so the spray off the falls kept us cool. After two whole days of looking at the falls to be honest I was ‘waterfalled’out.
I continued with Dave, Pat and Jo (so we were Chris, Dave, Pat and Jo) we did have a laugh about it as it sounds really common and headed on a 20 hour bus journey to Buenos Aires. After about a million games of cards and a few Caprihina's we were on our way. It was one of the best bus journeys I have been on so far – I have decided to take Cama buses for the rest of my trip – I know it’s a luxury but for the sake of an extra tenner on a 20 hour bus journey its got to be worth it – its like having a bed to sleep in. I actually had a really good nights sleep.
We were lucky to get to Buenos Aires as we saw on the news that a bridge had collapsed on the road we were just on and all the buses were in chaos. It seemed like a lot of bad things were happening around us in South America – the Inca trail had been closed for 2 months due to landslides which wiped out thr train, there had been major floods in Sao Paulo and now this. I was just hoping they wouldn’t catch up with us.
So we made it in to Buenos Aires and I liked what I saw at first. Its more like being in Europe then South America to be honest, lots of Spanish architecture. We stayed at the Millhouse hostel which a few people recommended as a great place to party – there wasn’t that much going on there. To keep everything cheap after Brazil we were drinking before we went out. Now, shopping in Argentina is cheap! Here is an example of a few prices: 750ml bottle of vodka 1.60 (yes under 2 quid) 20 Marlborough lights 90p, 2 big (and I mean BIG) steaks 1.80 and a one way ticket on the subway is 20p. That’s all in sterling by the way – ever since they had to reinstall windows on my laptop everything is in Portuguese so I haven't a hope in hell of finding the pound sign.
We spent a few days seeing the sights. We visited Casa Rosada – the balcony where Evita made her speech, the Cemetery – which I thought was a weird place to visit but it is pretty spectacular. The tombs are like little houses, it creeps you out a bit as the coffins are just sitting inside – but it is well worth a visit. Apparently Evita is buried there but we couldn’t find the grave which was a shame.
We also wandering into Boca which is known as being a bit of a rough area but we were getting pretty good at the public transport and braved it. It was full of bright and colourful buildings a must see. We also went to the Proa museum of modern art – Now maybe Im being ignorant but I do not get it at all – how someone can film a tree and call it art is beyond me. Jo had a degree in art and Im not sure if she liked it when I finished my beer, put it on the table and said that was better art then anything I had just seen (my version of modern art and in my opinion far superior quality, lol). So now I have been to see the Moma (Museum of Modern Art) in New York, the Baltic in Newcastle and now the Proa – all modern art museums – I don’t think I will be visiting another one.
Now I promise myself a decent meal out every time I get to a new country so being in Argentina we all decided to go for a big steak. Ohh my god! We splashed out on a traditional restaurant and it was amazing – the steak is one of the best I have had and it was huge! All in with beer and wine it was about 15 quid. Which blew my budget but was well worth it.We spent the next few nights taking it pretty easy – I love how the cafes are open late – it’s a lot more social then a club. That’s one thing about Argentina, people go to bed when the sun rises, something that I still need to get used to.
Now Buenos Aires would be the kind of city I could happily live in, but to travel…. Its not for me. All I have heard is people rave about BA saying it’s the best place in South America and how they stayed for months – I just don’t see it, its like being in any other city in the world. Don’t get me wrong, if you want to go clubbing every night its probably one of the best places to be in the world – but for me Im not impressed.
The next stop was meant to be Mendoza but because I cut BA short I decided to go to Bariloche in North Patagonia. Now I only had two weeks left at this point and it’s a 22 hour bus ride but I really wanted to see some part of Patagonia.
I arrived in the morning in shorts and a vest – big mistake. It was raining and freezing cold! I was tempted to jump straight back on the bus – but I'm so glad I didn’t. I got to my hostel (41 below – if you go you have to stay there, its one of the best) and met a really socialable crowd. Me and Finton, a guy from London decided to go horse riding the following day after a few beers. Now Emma-Jane my sister has had horses since she was young but I have never really warmed to them – most probably due to a reaction I have to their hair – I get all bunged up. But I wanted to do this so we headed off to the ranch the next morning. It was a total surprise – we thought we would be going with a big group but it was just us.
It was the Henock family ranch and they lived in this cute wooden house which the owner (our guide) had built himself. We were invited in for tea and got prepared for our ride. We had 2 hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. I was given a horse called Miele (honey in Spanish) which I later renamed 'Captain Slow’. We took off into the countryside and rode for a couple of hours – the views were beautiful – we were going along with the Andes mountain range on our right and a valley on the left.
Now, getting back to Captain Slow… she was the laziest horse I have ever met! She kept stopping and wouldn’t get going – when it came to galloping it was obvious her heart wasn’t in it, so I found myself constantly playing catch up with Finton and the guide. In the end we sorted out our differences ( I think it was due to me fashioning a whip out of a branch). We were climbing up some pretty steep terrain at times which captain slow did not like at all. It did dawn on me that I weigh quite a lot but Im sure it wasn’t down to that, lol.
We had the most amazing lunch at the ranch, it was huge and there was so much meat. I regretted eating so much instantly when it was time to get back on Captain Slow – as trotting on the horse was bouncing my stomach up and down – I actually had to stop once to stop myself from throwing up.
Along the trail the dogs from the farm followed us all the way, it felt like we were on a hunt, especially when they caught a rabbit. It was time to leave but not after another huge feed – we said our farewells and headed back to the hostel. It was a good day out and I instantly was glad about coming to Bariloche. Although I was aching everywhere – respect to people that horse ride, my arse took days to recover and I wont mention about other vital areas.
We had a night out that evening – we drank an obscene amount of wine (when in Rome!) and eventually realized it was 6am!. So after having an explore of the town the following day it was time to leave. It was only a sshort visit but well worth it. The photos do not do it justice at all. If you go on a long distance bus journey in Patagonia make sure some of it is in the day – the views are well worth it.
So next stop Mendoza. I arrived pretty early so headed to the hostel – I planned to rest for the day but I ended up meeting Els from Holland and we headed off on a bus to a couple of wineries. It was pretty cool trying all the different wines. Mendoza is perfect for me as I only like red wine and that’s the main grape here. Melbac wine is the most produced out of this region. So after seeing how it was made and tasting a few different varieties that was it for the day.
We went out for a meal that night (more steak!) and more red wine of course. The next day we booked a couple of bikes and headed to Miapu – a region just outside Mendoza, it was about 11km in all and we visited vineyards, olive productions and a chocolate and liquor factory. It was such a good day – it was really hot so was a bit of a struggle by the end of the day as the effect of all the red wine tasting began to take effect. I was really happy as I got everything in that I wanted to do in Mendoza so I could head off to Chile the following day.
So that was the end of my time in Argentina – I really enjoyed it – ok BA wasn’t as good as I expected but the rest of the country is great. I feel like I need to come back and visit a bit more of Patagonia so I can do that justice. The realization is hitting me now that I just have 12 days left of my ‘Americas’ tour and Im a little sad… I'm excited about Australia but I have had the time of my life on this part of my journey but I suppose everything has to come to an end at some point.. right?
Next stop… Chile