A Travellerspoint blog

Argentina

100% wet


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So you would have thought we would be use to the early starts by now, but nope we still hated rolling out of bed in the early hours to catch our next flight. But a few hours later we had landed and the taxi driver was dropping us off at the Iguazu National Park and we were ready to see us some water!

First thing we wanted to do was book tickets to do the river tour and see the falls up close, but they saw Lynden with his cast coming from a mile away and said absolutely no way was he allowed on the boat. We were both gutted, because it was something we both really wanted to do. Lynden insisted I still do it and he would go and explore one of the hiking tracks, then grab us some lunch and meet me back at the tour desk.

So off I go, completely unprepared it turned out for what I had just signed myself up for. I took my rain jacket with me because I figured there was a good chance I could get wet, so given we were there all day the rain jacket would mean I wouldn’t have to walk around in potentially damp clothes. Well 5 minutes into the truck ride down there, where the guide not only tells us we may need to stop and help move giant low hanging poisonous spiders out of the way (?!?!) she says to us ‘You will get 100% wet on this tour’…sorry what? She then proceeds to tell us that after we take some photos of the falls the boat will drive us directly into them…are you fricking kidding me! So here I am, hair done, makeup on and wearing t-shirt and leggings and as I look around I see EVERYONE else is in their bathers. I’m screwed and then it is too late, I have a life jacket on and they are handing me a dry bag for cameras and I’m wondering how much of my body I can fit in there instead and how the hell am I going to avoid 100% wet. Well I can tell you, when you take the boat tour at Iguzu Falls you cannot avoid 100% wet.

Here I am, sat on a row by myself, fully dressed and wearing a rain poncho, with 25 other people in their swimwear. I looked like a bloody idiot and I know this because people kept turning around and actually looking at me. I had sensibly removed my shoes, socks and hat and locked them in the dry bag, I attempted to roll up my leggings and pull my rain jacket over my knees in a desperate attempt to stay somewhat dry and I had pulled tight the draw string on the hood, so I resembled Kenny from South Park. Well the effort was a big fat waste of time, because a rain jacket is not designed to be driven at speed through one of the worlds biggest waterfalls.

The tour delivered on exactly what it promised, I was indeed 100% wet. The water had gone straight through the top of the rain jacket but somehow not out the other side, so it was sat inside the jacket in pools of water, I only realised this once we were out of the falls and I attempted to move, only to tip the cold water in my sleeves all down the inside of my jacket and on to my lap. As you can imagine I was less than amused and people continued to look back at the idiot who thought she could stay dry on a waterfalls tour. Back on dry land, everyone else grabbed their towels, dried off and put on clothes…I on the other hand squelched all the way back up the 250 steeps to the truck and sat in a puddle waiting to leave.

The great thing about Argentina though is that it’s hot and sunny, so by the time I reached Lynden 30 minutes later I looked somewhat human again and was already drying off.

While I had been drowning, Lynden had made it all the way around one of the hiking tracks, taken nearly 100 photos of the falls, bought lunch and had been waiting for me to return for nearly 45 minutes.

Once I was back we only had 3 hours left at Iguazu before our taxi picked us up, so we jumped straight on the tram and took it up to see the top of the falls. I hate it say it, but I wasn’t overly impressed, yes the falls are big and the crashing water is loud but it just didn’t do anything for me. It was also insanely crowded, which definitely took away from the beauty of it. The map said we needed 2.5 hours to do the top of the falls, but we were done within an hour.

We decided to re do the hike Lynden had done in the morning, as he said it had some beautiful photo opportunities, the walk through the jungle was cool and it wasn’t too crowded. And he wasn’t wrong! The falls looked amazing from down below, the mist created a rainbow at every waterfall and the jungle surrounding them looked like something off of Indiana Jones. We went a little bit crazy with the selfies because we could, without someone pushing past us like at the top. We also just stood and enjoyed nature for a while.

One of the other things I forgot to mention is that Iguazu has coatis everywhere, which are similar to racoons. They look so cute but have massive teeth so we didn’t get too close, but they all run around together, so various times throughout the day as we were walking there would be a band of coati running along through the jungle beside us. They also had no qualms if they thought we had food just boldly walking right up to us.

All watered out, we met our taxi driver and drove to the border crossing. Given the nightmares and hours we have had at every single border crossing, we prepared ourselves for the chaos and queues. Well we were through border control within 15 minutes, we didn’t even have to get out of the car for our departure stamp from Argentina and they didn’t check any of our bags!

Now for an early dinner and a very early night as we have to get up at 2.30am to go to the airport to fly to Rio for CARNAVAL!

Posted by sdyzart 13:52 Archived in Argentina Tagged waterfalls water honeymoon travel argentina south_america iguazu_falls southamerica

Reunions


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Another silly early start as we headed to the airport to catch a flight to Buenos Aires and to be reunited with SO many awesome people from our Peru tour. Unfortunately we didn’t get the same welcome as our Mendoza hotel, our BA hotel said we could store our bags but to come back at 3pm to check-in. So bags stored we headed out to check out a market that runs every Sunday and this thing never seemed to end – it was easily 6 blocks long with stalls on both sides of the street and little side alley extensions jutting out along the way.

2 blocks in, our noses picked up the scent of something amazing and lead us astray into a colourful little food court with a giant bbq that was flame grilling huge cuts of steak and chorizo sausages – of course that was lunch sorted! Bellies full and back in the market we ended up bumping into Karolina and Brigitte from our Peru tour and made plans for pre-dinner drinks that night.

It was such a nice evening and felt just like the beginning of our tour, after pre-drinks we went for dinner at an Italian restaurant, where we were also joined by Viktoria, Holly, Shane and Niamh. After a ridiculously huge dinner and being 2 or 3 drinks in, most of us were ready for a night out on the town. In all honesty I don’t remember the finer details after that point, there was $2 bottles of champagne, card games, a live musician, vodka red bulls, maybe a few shots, a very long taxi ride to the other side of town, more drinks and then a 2 hour queue outside to get into a club which never moved and at around 3am we gave up and came home.

The next morning I woke up drunk so Lynden sent me back to bed and off he went out for lunch to say goodbye to Shane and Niamh who were flying home to Ireland the next day. Once I had slept off the alcohol we headed out to explore a place called La Boca, which was a colourful district across town. Walking around there was not a single normal coloured building, every one was multi-coloured and many decorated with weird looking mannequins (we never did work out why). Our evening was very low key – Lynden had a giant calzone, which was easily enough for 3 people and probably contained a 1kg of cheese.

For our final day in Buenos Aires we had a very lazy morning (which has been a rare treat this honeymoon) and then got ourselves all dressed up for a fancy lunch at a steak restaurant called Don Julio. We both ordered steak, but different ones and unfortunately (through no fault of my own), the waiter might have given me Lyndens steak by accident, but we have no way of proving that for sure. Anyway my meal was bloody beautiful and Lyndens was average. Luckily the chocolate mousse and a glass of port turned his frown upside down.

After lunch and a quick visit to the local market to stock up on dulce de leche with Brigitte and Viktoria, we freshened up and headed out to catch a tango show. We were driven just outside of the city to a place called Senor Tango and were taken into a giant theatre that looked like a cross between Moulin Rouge and The Greatest Showman. Dinner was average but the show was amazing, firstly it started with 2 white horses being ridden around the stage and then there were flames, an orchestra (which included a guy playing an accordion), lots and lots of tango dancing, a weird mannequin accordion player floating about the stage, a guy that we thought would never stop singing and a spanish version of ‘don’t cry for me Argentina’. It was such a fun way to finish our time in BA.

Next stop a ferry ride for 48 hours in Uruguay!

Posted by sdyzart 07:19 Archived in Argentina Tagged mountains parties markets honeymoon city party argentina tango buenos_aires south_america steak mrandmrs don_julio

Mountains, Wine and Mud


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Our bus from Santiago to Mendoza was going to take about 8 hours, so to save time and the cost of a nights accommodation I booked us on another night bus. In hindsight what I completely forgot was that we were changing countries so we would need to go through border control and wow what a joy that was at 2.30am!

We had tried to ask at the bus depot how long it took to get to the border and of course things got lost in translation, so at around 1am we gave up trying to stay awake and attempted to sleep, roll on 2.30am and on comes all the lights and we are told to get off the bus. Another queue (in the cold), another stamp and then we are sent around the corner (still outside) to queue for at least 45 minutes for our bags to be checked. Cold, tired and a little delusional at this point we finally see the queue start moving, only to get through to see our bags are not there, which was good news because the Argentinian border control only check a select few bags (security seems to be getting more blaize the more borders we cross) and we were told we could get back on the bus and onwards to Mendoza we went.

We arrived at the bus depot in the middle of nowhere at around 7am and realised we had entered Argentina without any local currency, there was no cash machine and taxis didn’t allow you to pay by card #rookymistake #weshouldknowbetterbynow. By pure luck as we were walking gormlessly around the station we heard a shady voice say ‘cambio’ (which means ‘exchange’) and we were saved.

As our stay in Mendoza was over my birthday we had decided to treat ourselves to a nice hotel and we certainly noticed the improvement on customer service compared to a hostel. Firstly they served bacon at breakfast (dream come true) and secondly even though check-in was meant to be at 3pm, they had us in our room by 9am. Of course the first thing we did was shower and rest after that awful night on the bus.

Once we were back in the land of the living we headed out to explore and were delighted to find a huge supermarket, which had a proper cheese aisle. There was only one thing to do, buy cheese, meats, crackers and wine to have for dinner that night. We haven’t had good cheese in SO long. Right next to our hotel we came across a little vegetarian Indian restaurant, so decided to stop there for lunch (again we can’t remember the last time we had a decent curry) and the food was to die for, I felt like I was right back in India again.

After a night of not doing much other than eating cheese and drinking wine, we were up early for day 1 of my birthday celebrations, which was a trip to the Andes. Obviously we booked this a while ago and in hindsight if we had known how long we would spend on buses while in South America, I don’t think we would have booked ourselves on to an 8 hour bus tour. Also after seeing Rainbow Mountain and Machu Picchu in Peru and the snow capped mountain ranges in Bolivia, the Andes would need to be something pretty spectacular to impress us. If we had taken this tour in winter when it was snowing I think we would have found them beautiful, unfortunately they were just big brown mountains with boarded up ski resorts around them.

To get into the Andes, we had to go through the pre-Andes and mid-Andes (spoiler alert – they all look the same) and along the way there is very little else to see. We stopped at the Mendoza dam, which took 6 years to fill when it was built (all the water being taken from the Mendoza river) and an Incan ruin sulphur town, which was a very weird yellow ice looking thing. From there we continued to drive the winding roads into the mountains and back to over 4000m above sea level.

At the top we were right between Argentina and Chile, represented by a small Christ of the Redeemer and each countries flags. Being so high up it was crazy windy and the dust partials whipped your skin, so we took a few quick photos and then sort shelter in the small souvenir shop there. We napped for most of the drive back and had a chilled evening in (eating more cheese and wine).

Birthday celebrations day 2 was one of things I had been looking most forward to, a private tour of the Mendoza wine region. Our guide Solly picked us up in a swanky salon car and off we headed to our first winery, Casarena, which had been producing wine since 1937. By 9.30am we were half way through our first glass of rose, sat in the gardens and learning all about the wine making process. We got to visit the fermentation room, sample some of the wines that were fermenting and then do a wine tasting of red wines from different years to compare how the flavours developed. I have never liked red wine, but I think Argentinian Malbec may convert me!

At 11am (and 6 wines down) we headed to the next winery, Dante Robino, which was even older and had been established in 1920. Here we were welcomed with a beautiful sweet sparkling wine and taken on a tour of their old and new cellars. After a history lesson on the process of making red, wine, sparkling and champagne, it was our turn to have a go at creating our own blend of red wine. This is where my inexperienced palate of drinking red let me down because I had no clue what I was doing and mine tasted disgusting. Lynden however nailed the blending and won hands down in the judging, which meant he got to make and name his own bottle of wine…which he called Aussie La Creacion (Aussie Creation) and while he was doing that I had the task of writing the label.

Onwards from here we visited a gorgeous winery called Renacer for a 5 course lunch and 5 more glasses of wine. The food, the setting, the wine; everything was divine!

Thank goodness for all the food because we had a 4th winery to visit before heading home, the last one was called Trez Wines and was owned by 3 friends and was a little more rustic and simple, here we did wine and chocolate pairing and really just sat around the table with our guide and the sommelier talking and drinking. It was here that we bought a 2015 Malbec (the year we met) and planned to cellar it until our 10-year wedding anniversary (I am hoping within the next 10 years I will become a red wine lover).

When we got home we had to have a little rest to let all the food and wine go down, but the day wasn’t finished there as we had a reservation at 1884, which is owned by celebrity chef Francis Mallman. The restaurant was beautiful, we sat outside in the garden, which was surrounded by purple flowering bushes and lime trees, with fairy lights above us and to the side was the outside kitchen where all the meat was being cooked. We started with a glass of sparkling wine (because it would have been rude not to) and shared a delicious octopus entrée and a pan-fried goats cheese salad. For mains we both had steak (obviously), mine came with crispy bacon, avocado and mascarpone cheese, Lyndens came with Patagonian potatoes and a tomato salad. Needless to say it took us a while to eat it all, but we weren’t going to let any go to waste. Absolutely stuffed we decided not to have dessert, totally forgetting that we had told them it was my birthday, so out came dessert anyway with a candle in it. It was 2 shortbread biscuits, filled with dulce de leche and dunked in chocolate with ice cream. It was of course delightful and we forced ourselves to eat it the entire thing.

Our last day in Mendoza was spent at Termas Cacheuta, which is a thermal spa in the pre-Andes. The day was as you expect we sat in the hot spring pools, gave ourselves a mud bath, had a massage and then a big bbq lunch, then got back into the hot spring pools again. It was a tough day. In the evening, we had sushi for dinner and rolled into bed before 10pm.

It has been a jam-packed 4 days in Mendoza, next we head over to Buenos Aires to be reunited with some of our new friends from our Peru tour.

Posted by sdyzart 18:26 Archived in Argentina Tagged mountains honeymoon argentina wine spa mendoza south_america andes thermal_baths mrandmrs

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