A Travellerspoint blog

Salta

Getting closer to South America....

Salta is so different to the rest of Argentina. People really look South American and it really starts feeling like we have finally arrived in South America. Both K and M stand out like a sore tumb. Salta suprises us- it is probably the prettiest town in Argentina so far with loads of colonial buildings. We stay in a lovely if not a bit too quiet hostel called Las Rejas.

First day is spent walking around the city and we go to the MAAM museum. The north of Argentina has a fantastic Inca history and the museum shows a girl that was found in 1999 in the mountains outside of Salta. She is something like 500 years old but is next to perfectly preserved. She was offered by her Inca tribe to the Gods. It was really bizzare to see her as she just looked like she was asleep.

That evening we have a nice meal in a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant and have a stroll down the main bar street. Looks really cool but quiet as a only a weekday. We should have stayed here at a weekend and partied as looks like a great party palce. Ah well…..

All good until we try to book a mountain trip the next day with our credit card. We notice that we lost it Ouch. Luckily we left it at the restaurant from the night before. Our hosts at the hostel kindly helps us retrieve it Pheww….
All the travelling is starting to catch up with us so we take it relatively easy. Decide to go up to the viewpoint San Bernard just at the outskirts of the city. We decide to walk up the steps although there is a cable car- for a reason we soon find out. Steps up- all 1500 of them- are very steep which would be ok if it was not for the fact that it is sooooo hot. We get up eventually sweating like mad but views are really cool of the city and the mountains surrounding it. We opt for the cable car back though….We book a mountainbike tour for the next day.

Meet our guide at 9am. Fransisco is actually the son of the owners of the hostel. Really nice guy who is very knowledgeable of Salta and the surroundings. We drive for about an hour outside Salta where we start our tour. The tour goes along where the famous train of the clouds normally go….It is a beautiful trek, surrounded by the mountains. We cycle along the track with the mountains around us and the river along side us. Our guide is really good. We even stop at hidden gems like a small waterfall and try our hand at climbing.

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As we get back to the hostel we hang around to wait for our 12am bus to La Quicaca. For once we have time to catch up with some emails. Little did we know that we would end up being out of touch with the world for over a week…..

Posted by kmandmc 08:41 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Mendoza

the land of wine and where we hung out with gauchos on horsebacks

Arrive in Mendoza in the morning after another 20 hour journey. Hostel Chimbas is cool although a bit inconvenient outside of the city- near the bus terminal but that is in a really dodgy area. Run by a lovely lady and her son which is nice but is definitely a bit weird.

We decide not to waste any time but to do a wine tour that day. We are in the land of wines so why waste any time????? We get the bus out to Maipu which is one of the wine areas and go to Mr. Hugo´s to rent some bikes. We are greeted by Mr. Hugo himself who is a lovely man. Unfortunately only crappy bikes left but hey we only need them to get us from one place to another…So off we go with the maps of all the bodegas in the area. First stop is a lovely winery called Di tommasso where we also stop for a lovely lunch and yummi wine. We are well tipsy and there is something really odd about cycling around tipsy surrounded by equally tipsy tourists and as the day goes on people get friendlier and friendlier- as we leave for an olive factory where we get a tour and lovely tasting. Across the road is another bodega called Canea- another small winery where a lovely girl gives us a tour and winetasting. Ok, so now we are well tipsy but decide to go to another bodega before they close. Our brains are totally mellowed by the wine and we are in a rush so we set off in one direction which unfortunately turns out to be the wrong one. Shit. We end up cycling for over an hour longer then necessary and when we arrive at Hugos slightly peed off we are met by a funny sight. Loads of tourists who have returned to leave their bikes are hanging out at Hugo´s drinking wine and it is not long until Mr. Hugo has filled our glasses with a lovely Malbec. We seat ourselves with a gang consisting of a Aussie couple and a couple from NZ and two sisters form Holland who also stay at our hostel. As if we weren't drunk enough Mr. Hugo keeps on filling our glasses with wine. We had had close to 2 bottles of wine each on top of everything else. All free of charge. .....you really get your moneys worth at Mr. Hugos- that is for sure. He is such a nice man and we have a great laugh. We eventually leave Mr. Hugo´s for the bus at around 10 in the evening. At that stage we have been drinking wine for 10 hours or so and the busjourney back is great fun for some strange reason.....

Mr Hugo (the image of Karolinas uncle)..
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As if we don´t have enough to drink we decide to meet up to go dancing. Yeah right…that was never going to happen. However, just because we are in the same hostel as the sisters we end up making each other go- no way would we have mad it otherwise after all that wine. So we end up going into town and surprisingly enough no one else shows up. We end up going for more drinks but funnily enough we fade pretty quickly.. And oh do our heads hurt the next day or what…..We should have taken the lead from the others….

Next day seriously hungover. We make it into the city for some lunch and look around. Go for a snooze in the parque. We end up going home and having dinner in the hostel and hanging out with a nice bunch of guys that evening. Despite our hangovers we can´t resist but to have some more local wine that evening….

On the Sunday we have booked a day of horseriding at an estancia with Argentinean gauzchos. We are going with a lovely couple Hayley and James from Vancouver and a funny guy from Scotland called Philip who has lived in Gothenburg for years and speaks fluent Swedish.

So we drive out to the country side to this estancia and we meet our horses. We make it very clear that none but James has much experience and the gauzchos just smile at us and says hay no problemas. So K gets up on her horse first who immediately starts nervously walking around. He throws his head around and walks her into trees…Despite what the gauzchos is telling us this horse is not a calm one and everyone gets nervous as they are watching me trying to calm this horse down. We all expect some easy horseriding to begin with but the first thing we need to do is to go down this ridiculously steep hill. We would have trouble walking down that hill and they wanted us to go down on horses that were all but calm. We ask to go around in a circle at the ranch for practice and they just laugh at us. So right, time to attempt the hill. K´s horse goes second after Philip who makes it down ok. However her horse goes mad and decides to reverse in the middle of the hill and nearly clashes with the other horses going down the hill. In fact all horses do the same, they start going down a number of times and then refuse in the middle of it. We all go down eventually but poor Hayley has massive problems as her horse refuses and goes up, down and to the side like 20 times. So we eventually make it and only a few minutes into the ride we already begin to think we are going to die on these horses. this is definately not easy horseriding and the horses randomly walk, trot and gallop as they wish. One horse starts and they all follow. And the problem is that it is all massive hills up and down and the horses gallop up these mad hills and we hold on for dear life. the surroundings are really cool but we don´t get to appreciate them as we concentrate on hanging on for dear life. All that went on in our heads for the first couple of hours was please don't fall off, please don´t fall off. Please don´t let me die…..you get the picture. After a rocky start K and her horse started to get along ok. Well would be an exaggeration. Martin however had a nice horse but this does not mean that he walked around calmly all day- he liked to go a bit mental too.

He might look tame here, but this horse was a nutter...
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By the time we reached the estancia we all absolutely loved it. Despite the rocky start, slightly mental horses and the definitely not beginners route it was an a mazing feeling to ride around the Argentinean countryside like that. We couldn´t wait to do it again. At the estancia we were met by the family on the ranch and they made a real argentine asado- bbq- which was absolutely gorgeous. It must be the nicest bbq we have ever had. Yummy. Over the asado we all swapped our near death experiences stories on the horses but we all agreed we had the best time ever.

When we arrived back at the hostel we decided to go for a snooze. His would be great only that K woke up feeling really bad. It turned out that she had got some kind of sun stroke. Riding around in the heat all day with too little sun protection and no hat- we never even got helmets- was not a good idea and she spent the rest of the day in bed as Martin hung out in the hostel.

Next day we were heading off to Salta late that evening. K felt better but not perfect but this did not stop us from arranging with James and Hayley to go for a tasting menu to one of the bodegas that day- hey a bit of wine and good food would make us sleep better on the bus.. Alan and John who were previously in Mendoza recommended us this bodega which had great food and wine. It says on the website that there is no need to call in advance so off we went in the taxi. Unfortunately as we got there they said it was full. Well first they said they were full, then we were allowed to sit in the garden and they gave us a lovely glass of rose and then they were full again. We then had to spend the next hour calling around for another place. Eventually we found a place and it turned out to be great. He tapiz bodega where we ended up was really beautiful and we had great wine and food. Having a long journey ahead of us did not stop us from having loads of good wine. We even topped it off by having a bottle of champagne. We had such a laugh and James and Hayley were really nice and fun…..When we arrived back at the hostel James had the bright idea of opening a bottle of champagne that he had bought. As we left for the bus we were very tipsy to say the least. It could have been a disaster on the long journey to Salta however we ended up topping up with a bit more wine on the bus and then had a lovely sleep all they way to Salta....

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San Martin de los Andes

Mountainbiking galore

So we arrive in this lovely little village that is surrounded by mountains and lakes. Another place that feels like a real ski resort-which it also is- in the summer. Stunning. After checking into our hostel- which was ok but run by a cool guy who was ridiculously layed back- we ended up in a nice restaurant-bar (called Deli) by the lake (Lago Lacar) where we had some food and we could not help but have a couple of liters of Quilmes each. this was in the middle of the day and as we got back to the hostel with great plans to go out K feel asleep like a baby for the night while Martin had a bbq at the hostel . It was one of they guys who worked at the hostels bday and all his Argentine friends came for the bbq. It was only Martin and a Danish guy who were gringos but they had a great laugh with the Argies. It should be pointed out that all the people at the party were about 18..at a push!!

Next day K woke up fresh and we got trekking maps from the tourist office and off we went. We went up really steep mountains to a viewpoint that looked over the mountains and lakes. Amazing. the area belongs to the local indigenous people called Mapuches. The are was called Curruhuinca. We trekked around their area and watched how they lived. It was so different and really good to see. they live of agriculture and like we would have a very long time ago. We also walked out to an island and on the way back met an older couple from Salt lake city who were really nice.

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That evening we went to a restaurant which looked lovely and had lovely staff. After weeks of watching locals enjoying massive asados in restaurants we decided to order some. It was disgusting. Intestines, Liver, More instestines. To say it was rotten is a compliment. Luckily the wine was good….

We were leaving the next day but were dying to go for a mountain bike ride up the mountains. We decided to go down the hill we walked up on our trekk which really is not for biking but we thought it would be fun. In order to get to the top we were told to get up another way which was ridiculously steep and it went on for ever. Like there was not one bit for like 15km that had any flat part. Once we got up and started descending down on the trek from the day before it was absolutely brilliant. We were mad even to try to attempt it but it was so much fun. Cant wait to do some more biking. So tired but loved it.

A pic of Captain Birdseyes nephew (thanks mr Carolan!!) who we met on the mountain....

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Bariloche

Arrive in Bariloche at midday and say good bye to Gary and the Dutch girls on the bus and head for our hostel La Bolsa. Bariloche is amazing and it feels like we are in Austria our something. Hostel is all made of wood and it feels like a ski lodge – which it kind of is in the winter given that it is a ski resort…. Very comfy room and even comfier beds.

It is Saturday night so we are dying for a few drinks. People in the hostel are cool so we hang out and have a few beers in the hostel before we head out. Decide to go to the hostel where the lads from the bus are staying as it has a bar and people from our hostel are going there too. As we get there is no sign of Gary and Co. but we hook up with some Irish girls and have a couple of drinks before we head to he Wilkenny Pub- what a name- where a lot more drinks are consumed. Full of backpackers….We have a great night and needless to say we fall home in the early hours of the morning.

Next day we are feeling pretty crap so we decide to look around town and get a picnic and lie by the lake. We randomly pass by a place with take away asado and it turns out tot be the nicest food ever. It is absolutely amazing sitting by the lake- views are just fabulous. We attempt to swim but it is freezing- feet get numb and it is painful to stick them in the water. We also try the icecream which is soooo nice -Bariloche is famous for its icecream and chocolate- and we will end up having a lot of it every day…Rest of the day is spent hanging out in the hostel with other backpackers and having some drinks but too tired to go out again that night.

Lazy K by the lake..Martin is in the shade somewhere getting sunburnt!!
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Next day we are hiring bikes and doing a 30km cycle around Bariloche called Circuito Chico which we hear is gorgeous. We take a bus and then hire the bikes from a place which is really helpful. The circuit is tough going as it there are lots of hills but the views are unbelievable and it is so worth the pain. We stop of at the famous Llao-Llao hotel which is fab and have tea- all we can afford on our budget. We have a picnic by a lake which is off road and to get there is a bit tough with the bike as it is all dirt road and stones and K manages to fall off as we are going down a steep hill. We have our food and the setting is amazing. We even brave the cold water and go in for a dip. It is freezing but so refreshing as it is sooooo hot outside. The cycling takes all day and when we get back to the hostel we are knackered and pretty much crash.

Cicuito Chico..

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the next morning we go for the bus for San Martin and meet the Dutch girls. Hey had to move hostel last minute and because we never swapped numbers we never got to meet. It will turn out that we will meet again as we will stay at the same hostel in Mendoza.

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Puerto Madryn

Where is Willie!


View South America on kmandmc's travel map.

Arrive from the airport to the town which does not look much fun. Hostel is nice though and Gaston the owner is really nice and helpful. PM is all about the wildlife and town is not very exciting. We rent bikes of the hostel and go off with a Slovenian girl called Spela to see a sealion colony which is a 30km roundtrip cycle. That would all be good but the roads are really bad and it is really hard to cycle and very windy. We get there eventually and it is great to watch the sealions. There are so many of them….

Next day we go off on our trip to the Peninsula Valdes to see the whales, elephant lions and penguins. Loads of nice people on the trip and this we end up sitting beside a guy called Gary- June Robinsons brother- who is from Rathcoole. What a small world….He is travelling with two Dutch girls who we will keep on bumping into on out trip. We also meet a nice Aussie girl and Miranda from Holland. It is a long day driving but we end up having a great laugh. We see penguins- they are so cool- but not for long :- as well as loads of sea lions. He we go off on the boat to see whales and although we come fairly close to a few initially Martin is about to give up on whale watching once and for ever- we saw whales in South Africa and they were all from a distance and martin thought it was crap- until we get really really close to a whale and her baby. We even see the baby jumping in the distance and it is brilliant to see. Think Martin would love to go whale watching again now after that….

That evening we meet Sebastian and Camilla who we met in Iguazu in the hostel who have just arrived.

Karolinas new best friends...

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Willie the whale....

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Posted by kmandmc 08:41 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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