A Travellerspoint blog

Day 134 – 141 BA Baby

Did I say we were looking forward to some sunshine in Buenos Aires? D’oh!...
It all started pretty promisingly as our flight from Ushuaia dropped us in the warmth of BA’s airport (this was a god send, so glad we did not bus it!) and checked into our cool hostel as recommended by Tommy and Clare. A quick exchange of jeans, jumpers and jackets for shorts and t-shirts and we were off exploring our neighbourhood for some dinner, steak of course! Hungers and thirsts satisfied we returned to the hostel to plan our days ahead. We generally find big cities to be a disappointment as to truly appreciate them I think you need to live like a local over a few weeks rather than snatching a few ‘touristy’ days, but having heard from so many people along our travels of the great times they’ve had in Buenos Aires we were excited to immerse ourselves in the home of tango and steak! And so despite the dauntingly huge map laid out in front of us, a plan was hatched.
The plan had us leaving BA (as the backpacker lingo insists the town be called) in 8 days time. This was largely to allow us time to take in a local football match, which I was really keen to do having heard so much about the passion of the South American supporters, but also gave us time to take in a quick 3 day trip to Uruguay as it’s only a couple of hours away by ferry.
And so it was that the following day we set about our task proper and began to take in some sights. Like any other large city BA is actually made up of many unique areas that have merged over time to create the urban sprawl that exists today. Each area has a vibe very much of its own and so to get the best feel for these we decided to set out on foot for what proved to be a huge walk! One of the problems (if that is indeed the right word) with having seen so many amazing things during this trip is that your expectation levels are greatly increased, normal just doesn’t seem to cut it! And so whilst it was nice to stroll amongst the differing neighbourhoods and soak up the atmosphere the walk was for the large part uninspiring. That was until we reached the cemetery. The cemetery in BA is one of the cities “must do’s”. Set out almost like a mini city itself with a grid like system of avenues, this is where the rich and famous of BA are buried.DSC_0018.jpg Tomb after extravagant tomb line up alongside each other down avenue after avenue and it would be possible to get lost for hours wandering amongst them and taking in the grandeur. It’s also good fun to scare your girlfriend by pointing out the tombs most likely to be home to vampires and zombies! By far the biggest reason for coming into the cemetery though is to see the tomb of Eva Peron, a woman famous for having played the role of Madonna in a film. Or something like that anyway.... Her tomb was surprisingly bland compared to many of those surrounding it but the sheer number of people crowding round it to have their picture taken showed the esteem in which she is held here.90_DSC_0008.jpg
And so after a slightly disappointing day overall we looked to the evening for some entertainment. This is where BA comes alive. Being a Monday night the place to go was La Bomba de Tiempo. This is a group of 15 or so percussion instrument playing guys who beat out improvised tunes for a couple of hours in what seems to be an old warehouse. The result is awesome as hundreds of spectators lose themselves in the brilliant beats (and the beer) and dance the night away. We had so much fun.P1040494.jpg Even the weather couldn’t dampen things as the heavens opened into a storm the scale of which neither of us has ever witnessed before. The rain was torrential and within minutes the make shift dance area was flooded in mid shin deep water but still the drums played on and still the dancing continued. It was brilliant! We returned to the hostel later that night, via a McDonald’s pit stop (purely to escape the downpour of course) to discover that the rain had knocked out the electricity. BA may indeed be a huge, modern city but we’re definitely still in a third world country! Still, we went to bed happy having had a great night.
The next day proved to be much like the one preceding it. Having learnt our lesson the day before though we did at least take to the public transport system this time. More wandering in more neighbourhoods (but this time in solidly heavy rain) left us with much the same opinion as the previous day; nice enough city but just a city all the same. We did however tick off more of BA’s must do’s including the presidential buildingDSC_0031.jpg from which Eva Peron waved whilst playing Madonna in that previously mentioned film.... The day was once again rescued by its night time activities. This time Tango! Wisely swapping our thongs for shoes we decided it was time to learn how to Tango. The Tango hall we went to had a great set-up whereby they provide free group lessons early in the evening before allowing you to dance the night away. And so we both took our places in a group of 50 odd on a dance floor made for 20 and strutted our stuff. I’d like to say at this point that we took to the Tango likes ducks to water but I’d be lying. When we weren’t bumping into every other couple around us on the cramped dance floor we were stepping on each other’s feet. Still we managed to pick up a few moves and had fun watching some equally awful gringo’s around us. Once the lessons were finished the locals took over and we had great fun leaving them to it, sitting back and admiring their skills.
The following day was the first of our planned 3 in Uruguay. This came as a welcome break from walking around BA and despite an early start we were in high spirits on the ferry as we headed to South American country number 6. The ferry from BA takes you over to the town of Colonia – the oldest town in Uruguay and it is absolutely beautiful. The ferry may have only taken 2 hours from BA but it also took us back 300 years in time. The cobbled streets and colonial buildings were gorgeous, the Portuguese showing they have more flair for design than their Spanish counterparts!5DSC_0047.jpgDSC_0045.jpg We happily wandered around the old port town for a few hours and had a nice relaxing lunch. In hindsight we should have enjoyed the tranquillity and stayed a night here but having walked round the entire town we decided to jump on a short bus journey and give ourselves more time in the capital; Montevideo.
Now I’m trying to think of something nice to say about Montevideo but sadly it’s another city that falls into that ‘just another city’ category. Having stayed the first night in a really crap hostel which seemed to be located down the darkest, quietest road in Uruguay we moved to a pretty nice place nearer the beach. Yep, Montevideo has a beach so I suppose that is one thing going for it. To be fair it also has an awesome meat market in which you can watch various cuts being cooked on huge asados and then gorge on until fit to burst.DSC_0073.jpg So actually that’s two things going for it! However I think the place is best summed up by the fact that we were at our happiest here when we cooked up a huge spag bol in the hostel then took over the TV room for the night watching the Winter Olympics! And so after 3 days we said goodbye to South American country number 6 early Saturday morning and returned to BA.
The ferry arrived back in BA by midday and we headed straight for one of the few areas we had left to visit. This was the area of La Boca, famous for being the home of the legendary Boca Juniors Football Club and also the highest crime rate in BA! Fortunately we were headed to the touristy area surrounding the famous street of Caminito so there would be no problems with crime. Unfortunately Boca Juniors were not at home this weekend so the game we’d be taking in the following day would be that of River Plate (Boca’s arch rivals from across town). As soon as we arrived in the Caminito area we finally felt that we’d found what BA is all about. The area is extremely touristy and plays up to this in every way imaginable but beneath all that the area is submerged in a bohemian, artistic, tango culture that is fascinating to soak up. The houses are coloured every pastel shade you can imagine with bright tango inspired signs hanging above shop windows.DSC_0091.jpg90_DSC_0118.jpg Every restaurant is an assault on your senses as the bright colours of a couple tangoing to the crowd accompany a live singer whilst hungry tourists enjoy their steaks.7DSC_0114.jpg Despite being a small area we really enjoyed our few hours here. Even the ridiculous bus system in BA couldn’t spoil our afternoon. For anyone going to BA a word of advice: keep any change you are ever given. Nowhere in BA seems to give out change yet their buses will accept nothing else leaving you in the ridiculous position of not being able to go anywhere! Even attempting to buy things from the shop owners to gain some change was met with a ‘try walking’. Anyway, like I said, couldn’t ruin a good afternoon.
The following day was our last in BA and most importantly, football day! Now the football did not start til 4 so as a compromise for dragging Emma to a game I grudgingly accompanied her along to the famous San Telmo Sunday market. This was actually ok, I still maintain that every market in the world sells the exact same things but the great street meat sandwich for lunch made it all worthwhile.90_P1040519.jpg And so onto the football. Not knowing how popular the game may be we decided to arrive early to ensure we got a ticket. It was strange being in a ground over an hour before kickoff (I’m nearly always late to the Hammers!) but I’m glad we did. We managed to score seats opposite the diehard home fans and this meant we got to see the preparation that they put into every game. Already banners were hung all around the stadium but more were appearing with every minute as more and more fans arrived. By the time the players came out onto the pitch the throng of red and white hard core fans were bouncing up and down and in fine voice. It made for a great spectacle and I couldn’t help but watch the fans more than the game which in truth was disappointingly average. There was very little South American flair on show and apparently River Plate are having a bad season which was reflected in the final score of 1-1 against a team which probably had only a couple of hundred fans in the ground.P1040522.jpg It was excellent to witness though and I wish some of those awful Hammers games over the years had had such great crowd participation to take your mind off the game!
And so that was BA! In the end we liked it. The last couple of days especially showed us what a great city this can be, experiencing the culture of the tango in La Boca and seeing the passion of the locals at the football. Our nights out were great too but at the end of the day it is just another city and it’s definitely time to move on. Excitingly our bus journey up to the Iguazu falls will see us experience long haul Argentinean bus travel for the first time – we’ve heard it’s quite an experience! Bring on the champagne!
Love to all

Posted by LeeEmma 07:49 Comments (0)

Day 127 – 134 The end of the world

But not as we know it.....

Still on a high from the stunning ‘W’ we returned to Puerto Natales for well earned pizzas, beers and an early night! We were exhausted but ever the gluttons for punishment we’d booked ourselves an 8am bus for the following day! The destination? El Calafate.

El Calafate is known for one thing and one thing only – it’s the gateway to the Perito Moreno Glacier.moreno__132_.jpg It’s unlikely that the name will mean anything to many but you’re likely to know of this glacier without realising. It’s infamousy coming from videos where huge chunks of ice ‘calve’ from the face of the glacier and crash down into the waters below with a loud crack and a huge splash. Know the ones? If not it’s worth a Youtube! The ‘calving’ takes place because Perito Moreno is one of only two glaciers in South America that are actually advancing. The glacier has reached a natural end at a lake and therefore rather than growing in length as the glacier creaks and groans in advancement, the ice at the front of the glacier is pushed from behind until the strain becomes too much and chunks break off and crash down into the waters below. moreno__103_.jpgThat’s the geography lesson done, in more simplistic terms..... it’s awesome! moreno__29_.jpgThe glacier itself is huge and simply breathtaking. Nature can be incredible and this is definitely one such example. We could have happily sat and watched the glacier for hours, listening to the cracking and groaning and taking great delight every time a chunk would fall. moreno__64_.jpgHad we done so though we’d have missed out on a great boat trip along the North face of the glacier which gets you up close and personal and gives you a great perspective on just how vast this glacier is as it towers above you! moreno__34_.jpgAll in all a fantastic day which was happily topped off with watching the Superbowl in a small bar back in town. I love the time difference here – first time ever I’ve not fallen asleep by half time!

With little else to entertain us it was time to head for our next destination; Ushuaia. A town more commonly known as the End of the World as it’s considered to be the most Southerly town in the World. Definitely some poetic license here as you can actually go further South but as it’s a pretty big town it gets the credit!Ushuaia__32_.jpg Interesting fact time – Ushuaia is only as far South as Belfast is North! So after a little panic where our bus tickets had been sold on and we faced the prospect of another night in a dead end town, we jumped on our hastily arranged bigger bus (good work bus company!) and set off on a 19 hour trip during which we’d cross borders twice – fun, fun! The journey didn’t prove to be too bad however and gave us our first views of the landscape you can expect at ‘the end of the World’ – mountains and glaciers apparently rather than the fire and brimstone I was expecting. Think I may not fully understand this whole end of the world thing....

We stayed in a great hostel in Ushuaia called Freestyle which I would thoroughly recommend to anyone heading that way. ‘Rasta Max’ does a great job looking after everyone and the free beer on the first night definitely went down a treat. Ushuaia itself is a nice enough town, or rather a nice enough street, Ushuaia__31_.jpgbut its true qualities lie in being a gateway to other adventures. We had hoped do some husky sledding but unfortunately this is only in winter. It seemed to me that down here it’s always winter as the shortest of strolls required coats, hats and gloves but apparently not! Unfazed though we filled our 3 days with a boat trip into the Beagle Channel Ushuaia__117_.jpgwhere we were spoiled with copious amounts of seals and cormorants (not penguins!)Ushuaia__96_.jpgUshuaia__67_.jpg, a beautiful walk in a nearby National Park (which Emma loved considering the pains from the W had still not subsided!)Ushuaia__136_.jpg, and best of all a trip to see penguins!

The weather on penguin day was foul and it barely stopped raining but even that could not dampen the enjoyment. After a couple of hours journey time (car and boat) we arrived on a small Island that thousands of penguins have come to use as home during two separate periods a year. The first to build nests and have their young, the second to have some dry land whilst they change their plumage. Even as we approached by boat we could see that the Island was covered in small black and white bodies with the odd flash of an orange bill thrown in.Ushuaia__198_.jpg There were literally thousands of them! We couldn’t wait to get off the boat and get amongst them (respectfully of course). Once on foot the sight was even more incredible, we were literally surrounded and immediately started popping off photo after photo.Ushuaia__177_.jpg Having taken this in we moved further in land to where the penguins nest. A little known fact is that penguins mate for life Ushuaia__224_.jpgand therefore live in nests with their family - Mum, Dad and little ones. I couldn’t confirm if they had Sky TV inside the nests as we weren’t allowed to get too close but I suspect it’s the case. Ushuaia__215_.jpgMore incredible though is that to find their way back to their nests the penguins rely on the calls of their family. It all makes for a very loud, very cute and very amazing spectacle. To us all the calls sound exactly the same but any one family is able to distinguish their own amongst the thousands and find their way back. No doubt this comes in very handy when Mr Penguin has had one too many down the pub!

All in all Ushuaia was lovely but after 3 days we were ready to leave. Patagonia has been beautiful and incredible but we’re excited by the prospect of some warmer weather and civilisation in Buenos Aires!

I should at this point reference the amazing run I’ve been on lately. On our way to Ushuaia I managed to lose the keys to the padlocks on our bags. Disaster was fortunately avoided by finding a random spare key we didn’t even know we had! So down to one key I then very cleverly placed said key inside a locker and used the very padlock it opens to lock it in along with all of our bags! Disaster fortunately avoided this time with some brute force – if you’re reading this freestyle hostel, there’s a broken locker in room 4! Still feeling a little stupid but somewhat relieved I then headed out to get some cash. This time disaster was not avoided as I brilliantly left my card in the machine and walked off without it! By the time I realised some 4 hours later it was nowhere to be seen! Yep, I’m on a role! No doubt this will prove to be a pain in the ass further down the track but for now it’s a handy excuse to get Emma to pay! I’m putting it down to my brain having switched off through lack of use, let’s hope it doesn’t require a key to turn it back on as no doubt I’ll lose that along the way too!

Love to all

Lee and Emma

xxx

Posted by LeeEmma 19:25 Comments (0)

Day 123 – 127 Uve Doble...with a capital “W"

The circuit of Paine

Let’s clarify one thing first, Lee likes to walk, me.......not so much. I like to see, seeing is nice, but exercise hasn’t ever been one of my favourite things. But we’d heard such amazing things about the W circuit in Torres del Paine national park, that even I thought I could manage that one.
The “W” as it’s affectionately called, is so named as the shape of the trail has three main prongs, and therefore resembles the shape of a W. It’s a four day hike, and the wimp’s version of the full circuit. So this is the one we chose. Still, it is a four day trek carrying all your own kit, so we weren’t too disappointed about it. In fact I was pretty impressed with myself before it even began – what with not doing walking or carrying.
We started at the western side of the W and caught a bus from Puerto Natales at 7.30am which took us to the edge of Lago Pehoe where we caught a catamaran over to Refugio Paine Grande, arriving at about 1pm. This is where I started to worry a touch. We got there, grabbed a spot and set up our tent, ready to head off at 1.45pm. The only problem being that the walk to the Grey Glacier was 3.5hr each way, meaning with minimal turnaround time and even sticking to schedule, we wouldn’t make it back to camp until at least nine. Add in my lack of fitness and the first day of walking and we were pushing it to make it back before sunset (luckily 9.30pm here at the moment). But we kicked in and with Aly pushing away at the front we set an even pace. The weather was spot on and the views were stunning. Each direction provided something stunning to look at, from the gorgeous green waters of Lago Pehoe to the snow capped peak of Cero Paine Grande. After about forty minutes of walking where Lee proclaimed we were only a fifth of the way there, we worked out we were on track and were only just starting to get into our stride. In the end it took us about 3hrs 15 minutes to get up to the Grey Glacier lookout and the whole 11kms were worth it. DSC_0158.jpgThe glacier was gorgeous and run straight into the water on two sides of an island. So pretty. The walk back wasn’t so fab though. My knees obviously hadn’t had sufficient warm up and down was pretty taxing. But even whilst I felt like a cripple, it seemed Aly had become one and was hobbling down the trail looking mighty taxed. We ended up making it back in good time, despite the injuries and were in the kitchen cooking up our cheeseburger before nine. Bed by ten – all good. Day one tick, 22kms and seven hours of calorie burning check!
That was until it rained during the night and leaked in through the tent. That, the cold and the ripping wind made for an awful night’s sleep, but waking the next morning to glorious weather lifted the spirits. 8DSC_0111.jpgAll but Aly’s that is. Seems the damage she had done to her knee the afternoon before wasn’t improving and she was going to have to end the W and call it an I. Lee and I set off in high spirits though, with the aim of making it to and up the middle prong of the W and camping there at Campamento Italiano. The walk continued to be stunning, and despite lagging on suggested walking times, we made it to the cute little Italian camp around about eleven.DSC_0195.jpg The walk up the middle prong, Vallee Frances is equally as stunning as the Lago Grey leg, if not a little more gorgeous. The whole time you are climbing along the rocky path, or walking in the tree covered ridge you can hear massive rumblings from the glacier del Frances. DSC_0223.jpgWhen we got half way up we reached the first lookout and were able to have our packed lunch whilst watching massive avalanches tumble down the side of the mountain. We continued upwards after lunch, pushing on for another two hours through still beautiful scenery to the mirador which overlooked Cuernos and the Torres del Paine. After a very brief spot of viewing in the wind, and some lovely shots, we began the descent and reached camp around about six pm. I had forgotten that there’s not a lot to do when you’re camping, and even less when it’s freezing cold. After finding a good spot to set up camp, and making friends with our neighbours, we did the very sociable act of bringing our stove inside the tent and eating our tuna pasta by ourselves. It was freezing I tell ya!!! Another solid day, which I was still enjoying, covering 22.6kms and 7 hours of walking. Day two – tick.
We kicked off day three with a stunning walk along the Lago Nordenskjold from Campamento Italiano towards the Refugio Cuernos. Despite the swollen knees and aching muscles – where I didn’t even know I had muscles – the walk was pretty spritely and we made great time. At Cuernos we treated ourselves to the world’s most expensive cans of coke, put them in our bags (saving them for Ron) and kicked on. One thing I couldn’t complain about on this trip was the views. Torres Del Paine National Park is simply stunning. On one side you are confronted by the massive granite and magma towers of rock, and on the other stunning glacial lakes. SO BEAUTIFUL.DSC_0276.jpgDSC_0232.jpgDSC_0290.jpg So Despite feeling like there was a lot to complain about on t he body side of things, we pushed on enjoying the stunning scenery. Day three was massive. After missing both the apparent shortcuts to Campamento Chileno, we finally got directions for a turnoff and made more kms than any other day. I’m guessing about 30kms, which took us a massive nine hours with minimal breaks. The highlight was making friends with the world’s best Americans at Campamento Chileno. Doctor Elliot and his wife were lovely, giving us hot chocolate and half a block of chocolate – we obviously looked insanely pitiful by this point! It did get us thinking though and we’ve decided that in order to fund the rest of our travels we’ll pout and play up to all rich American couples in the hope of handouts! No, we have no shame. So refreshed, we kicked on and arrived at Campamento Torres DSC_0355.jpg(45 mins from the Torres summit) at just after six thirty and set straight away to setting up the camp and cooking our tea so we could once again get into bed before the sun went down. Oh how wild we are!
Lee woke up for Sunrise on the final day, but I have to admit to not even entertaining the idea as everything was still hurting. Knees, hips, muscles that lie somewhere under the layer of fat – everything, even my massive bones! So it wasn’t until 8 am when the intrepid traveller returned from his 45 minute scramble up, little sunrise stationary stint and then 45 minute scramble down that I saw what I had missed. It looked stunning, the towers were lit up orange and the sky was a gorgeous mix of pinks and purples. DSC_0343.jpgDSC_0344.jpgDSC_0351.jpgBut the weather soon turned and by the time we had packed up our tent for one final time, the drizzle had set in. The horror walk up from the previous day was turned into an equally painful downhill charge (the knees weren’t happy), but one that thankfully only lasted 2 hours. By 11.30am we were down – the walk was over – and the body didn’t feel like it had far to go either before it packed it in.DSC_0303.jpg
But despite all the aches and pains I would do it again in a flash. After 4 months of travelling, 5 countries and countless amazing sights and events, this almost makes the top 5. Now if I could only get a double leg replacement (models only need apply).
Love you all loads
Em & Lee

Posted by LeeEmma 11:22 Comments (0)

Day 118 – 121 The Love Boat

Navimagging it through Patagonia’s Fjords

We were looking forward to leaving Puerto Montt - you might have guessed from the last blog. So when we finally boarded the Navimag - 14 hours late and with three new friends - we were pretty excited!
DSC_0107.jpgThe Navimag is a massive cargo ship which cottoned onto the fact that tourists want to check out the Patagonian Fjords and that they could charge exorbitant prices for it. Prices we were happy to pay, given the apparent views and the chance to avoid a twenty hour bus with three border crossings. And the views are stunning – or at least what we saw of them. On the first day we made our way down from Puerto Montt and cleared Chiloe to more open seas. On the second day the views deteriorated somewhat. Not in beauty, all reports are that is some of the most beautiful coastline in the world, but the weather prevented us from seeing any of that. So we played cards. And played cards. And played some Yahtzee. And then some more cards. Luckily we’d chosen our new friends well and they came well equipped with all sorts of new games and fun.
So for three full days we played cards and Yahtzee. I can’t say I was too disappointed. It would have been nice to see more of the scenery, but the food was great,DSC_0009.jpg the beds were comfy – so who can complain.
The final morning we were woken at 6am to go outside and see one of the glaciers which runs into the ocean. I am sure it would have been beautiful if we could have made it out. But the day did clear up and as we passed through some of the smallest passageways in the fjords we got some gorgeous views of snow covered mountains covered in forests that ran right down to the sea.DSC_0044.jpgDSC_0095.jpg
So not all bad, and even though we didn’t see too much, would defo recommend it – although if you can rig the weather you’d be better off.
Love you all loads
Em & Lee
xx

Posted by LeeEmma 10:50 Comments (0)

Day 109-118 Lee and Emma’s Day of Fun.....

...and Bariloche & Chiloe

I know, I know, I’m about to get the sarcastic sympathy violin, but travelling really can be hard at times. Take today for example, it became the best day in the history of the world, just because we found a cinema showing a film in English and a McDonalds! Ahh, the simple pleasures!!! And it was all premised simply because of a boring couple of days, in a relatively gorgeous place, and a crummy hostel. Travelling is tough!
We left Valdivia on our whirlwind tour of the south heading once again across the border to Bariloche, the lakes district of Argentina. Bariloche is gorgeous. DSC_0041.jpgA little like I imagine the Rockies would be, Bariloche is set on a lake with stunning snow capped mountains across from it, and loads and loads of lakes with stunning forest surrounding it. The whole area which contains Bariloche is just kind of magical. So after arriving into town, we settled into our hostel – the first experience of a mixed dorm. We had heard that things book up fast in the summer so we booked a week in advance, pretty unheard of for us, and all we could manage to find was a couple of beds in a mixed dorm with three stinky men. Urrghh! Now, I’m hardly a princess, but the smell of just walking into this room was enough to knock out a small rodent. I have to take blame though (not for the smell, but for the fact we ended up in the room), Lee had wanted to spend the extra and get a double room, but considering the price differential, I was sure we could tough it out. And that we did, but I don’t think we’ll be trying it again too soon! We made some friends, and I learnt to live with even the most horrid of smelly feet (never knew Lee was such a fantastic example of a man!), but from now on in its double rooms all the way!
Our first day was spent in El Bolson, a small hippy town an hour and a half south of Bariloche. We had heard it had a great market and was really chilled and laid back. And that it was. We got there about midday and headed straight through the craft stalls (of which Lee was not impressed) and grabbed some of their cool organic foods. We then took this down to the park and watched the freaks. It was cool, there were all sorts of people just working on their tricks – back flips, standing on shoulders, handstands, things I didn’t even know you could make money from, they were doing them. But that killed all of two hours, and our bus wasn’t back to Bariloche for another two. So we wandered. It’s not a very large town, so we got some ice-cream and sat again to watch the freaks (I say that as an endearing term, I like freaks). Our synopsis on El Bolson was that it’s a cute town, and great to chill in, but make sure you’re up for chilling. Lesson number one.
We had an organisational day the next day, but then on Saturday we hired a car and flipped around the countryside.DSC_0037.jpg We roped in this Canadian guy named Jason to cut the costs and had a gorgeous day. Lesson number two though – all lakes look the same after about number four. That’s when travelling gets tough. You see something that is absolutely stunning, yet it barely registers as more than an “Errgghh” on the interest scale. We spent the whole day driving the 355km circuit through stunning scenery and along dirt tracks, only to be slightly relived when we returned to the hostel. That said, we did have an incredible asado waiting for us!!! Lee & I, Andy (a retired Scotsman whose wife had recently left him), Sergio (the incorrigible Argentinean who described every part of the country in relation to how hot the women were), a lovely Argentinean couple from Rosario, a couple of Argentinean girls, and Christophe (the cross-eyed German) sat down to the largest serving of meat I have ever seen. Between us I think we ate a whole cow, three pigs and a couple of chickens, it was insane, but brilliant.
So the next morning we left Bariloche, once again to cross back into Chile and head down to Puerto Varas (the Bariloche of Chile) for a night before checking out the island of Chiloe.
Puerto Varas is gorgeous, also set on a lake with Volcan Osorno behind it, DSC_0094.jpgand it has cute little shingled houses throughout the town. But that’s also its major sightseeing attraction, so after an afternoon in the sweet little town, we caught a bus down to Castro, the capital of the island of Chiloe. Now, in Lee’s defence (he planned this part of the trip), our Santiagoan friends had told us how beautiful this island is and how it’s a must not miss. I’m not sure what it is that is a “must not miss”, but it was cute. There was also the backing of the lonely planet (which is this close to being ditched I might add) as a “bustling summer holiday destination which fills up fast in the summer months!”. We travelled the island for three days, sampling the seafood of Quemchi and Achao,DSC_0120.jpg checking out the stilted houses of Castro,DSC_0109.jpg and just looking for some civilisation in Ancud. Which we never really found. Cute, but absolutely dead with very little to do. I am sure it’s a great place to go, but at this point the lack of anything to actually do was killing us.
This brings us to the best day ever. Well almost!!! It started off with the first stroke of luck we’d had in a few days. The hostel which we had stumbled upon the previous evening, turned out to be only a street away from the bus station, so after having our photo taken by the sweet little Chilean hostel owner, we were on our merry way. Merry until we reached Puerto Montt. Now we had no expectations, but we wanted accommodation close to the ferry terminal so that the next morning we would be able to get straight on the ferry and off to Patagonia – bring on the good times. After a fifteen minute walk through death town we arrived at the place that was recommended in the lonely planet. After finding out the price had more than doubled in the past two years since the book was written we moved on to the next closest place! This has to be the worst hostel I have ever seen, but on the plus side the cheapest. So we took it. At this point I was close to tears and we had to vacate the room as quickly as possible to avoid ingesting any of the toxic mould spores ( I may be embellishing). So we wandered back through death town, into the heart of Puerto Montt. This is where the day of fun started. We spotted a mall, we went shopping (and bought Lee a lovely brown down jacket), had Pizza hut, went to the movies, then had McDonalds.P1040486.jpg Oh my god, it’s amazing how familiarity can cheer you up. So that even now, eight hours into our fourteen hour delay for the Navimag, we’re happy and cheery, and renewed for another stretch on the travels.
Love you all,
Em & Lee
xx

Posted by LeeEmma 15:12 Comments (1)

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