November 2017 - January 2018
  • Day35


    January 3, 2018 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    My first organized tour, on my last day. It was wet and overcast so I was unsure what I would actually see today. I went with 2 of the Argentina friends. The translated most things into English so I could understand what was going on.Read more

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  • Day33

    2018 Day 1

    January 1, 2018 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Woke with a bit of a hangover so there was no rush to get up. In the afternoon I met my Argentina friends to wander the town. There was nothing open, only Mc Donald’s, even trying to find water was a trek. We did find the local boats were doing trips so we hopped on one and went for an hours trip. We saw some seals which were being feed by the locals unfortunately. Nice boat ride.

    Dinner at Mc Donald’s and home to bed. Very uneventful, was surprised nothing absolutely nothing was open.
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  • Day32

    New Years Eve

    December 31, 2017 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    Waking early I venture downstairs for breakfast - toast, cheese and cold meat is the main breakfast in both Chile and Argentina. I have eaten more bread and pastries in the last 5 weeks than in the last 2 years. The family ask me to share dinner with them tonight at 10 pm. Again in South America the days start later, shops don’t open until at least 10 and close around 8 or 9. Cafes are rarely open early. Shops will also close for siesta between 1 and 4. As it is a Sunday it is even quieter, I do not venture out until after 11.

    The street are empty, the supermarket is hectic. I wander around town seeing the local sites trying to find a tour for tomorrow, I soon realise not much is going to be happen then tomorrow. My new friends, from the bus, text and ask if I would like to join them on Tuesday for a volcano tour. Yep I’m in.

    Fighting the crowds at the supermarket I purchase some bubbles and wine for NY. The afternoon is spect resting before I head out again at 6pm. The plan was to have a few drinks and head back to hostel at around 9pm. But not a chance, most of the bars are already closed, I find 1 open until 7. So I quick drink and back to the hostel. Most families have dinner at home then go out there watch the fireworks.

    Sandra, my host, has been cooking all day. The table is set with masks and whistles. We share my bubbles before dinner commences. I am so lucky that be in this hostel, not sure what I would have done if I was somewhere else.

    Dinner is amazing a wonderful seafood dish to start followed by beef, salad and potatoes. Then the 5 varieties of dessert Sandra has also cooked. It is a very international dinner, China, South Korea, France, Russia, Chile and Australia is represented. Although there were certainly language barriers we all had a blast. Seeing the New Year in style. Happy New Year.
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  • Day31

    Chile Here I Come

    December 30, 2017 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    Finally it is time to leave Argentina and make my way across the border to Chile. Saying goodbye to Mel I board my bus. My ticket was checked before I got on but in checking the passengers just before leaving the bus driver realised I was on the wrong bus. Off loaded I find the correct bus but am directed to the wrong seat. I soon get moved on as an adamant young lady tells me to get out of her seat. Didn’t need to understand Spanish to work that out.

    About an hour into the ride we get the customary juice and de Luca biscuit. On longer trips you also get 2 epanades. The buses are quite comfortable Which make the trips a lot more enjoyable.

    We arrive at the Argentina border, the buses appear to get preference over the cars and it takes only about 20 minutes for everyone to get cleared to leave. The drive through “ no mans land” is about 30 minutes through the mountains. On reaching Chile everybody disembarks with all luggage. First to get my visa, valid for 90 days no charge. Then hand luggage is checked. You go stand beside your suitcase to get this opened and checked as well. Certainly not a through check, but at least something.

    It feels very odd to arrive in a country where cash is king and I do not have 1 Chilean peso on me. Most places to not take visa cash is certainly the most used. In Argentina ATMs were quite scarce and in some towns the ran out of cash for days. Not sure what to expect in Puerto Montt I was a little worried about how I was going to get to my hostel. When the bus arrived, about 7 hours, I ventured into the bus station, luckily there were atms with money. First problem solved. On the bus were a group of students who spoke English so I befriended them, they helped me get an Uber to my hostel. We exchanged phone numbers so we could catch up later.

    My hostel was only 1 k from the time centre, so dropping my bags I ventured straight into town. Everywhere was selling NY things, hats, masks, streamed etc. Strangely most stalls had a large supply of yellow knickers. Not sure what this was about. The shopping centre was large and modern with all the normal year end bargains. I soon found a bar to have a wine and dinner. Having no idea what I ordered I ended with the best meal of my whole trip. Salmon,shrimp and fish combination- it’s was flavoursome tasty yum.

    Back to the hostel to rest ready for New Year in Peutro Montt.
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  • Day29

    Road Trip - Ruta40

    December 28, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    I had already lost enough time trying to sort out the robbery, so I decided today was a day of action.

    Heading north around the lake and Parque Nacional Nahuel Haupi I dove 80k to Villa La Angostura. I stopped along the way at Puerto Manzano - a small village surrounding a sheltered bay. What a picturesque spot, it’s a pity it is overcast but still very lovely. All the homes are made of log woods even the telephone box. Lots of sailing boats in the bay as well.

    At Villa La Angostura I stop for a wander around and a coffee. Again a small town - I notice the locals here all eat out, all the cafes are full of families having coffee and cake. This is something I have noticed in every town/ village I’ve been to.

    Next stop is San Martin de los Andes a further 108k north. The roads are pretty well maintained through the rising mountains and beautiful lakes. The roadside is once again full of flowers which makes this a beautiful drive. The roads are not busy but everyone likes to pass. Even though on most roads there is a double yellow full lines painted everyone just passes when they feel like it. There are police checks constantly where everyone slows to about 30 and puts on hazard lights while going through. I went through about 20 on today’s trip, have no idea what they are actually doing, never saw anyone pulled over.

    Also on the road there are many “mirador” spots - viewing areas. This is a very beautiful area.

    I finally make it to the lakeside town of San Martin - again it is on a sheltered inlet. This town is known for its mountain biking, there are lots of hire shops and tours. Pretty mountainous area - this would be a challenge. I was also surprised to see so many people travelling via bikes, this area is very hilly, but there are many camping areas. Good luck to those on bikes, it’s very windy and the rain comes in scuds across the valleys. This would certainly not be my choice.

    Heading home I stop at Angostura for an ice cream. I’ve never seen an ice cream shop so busy, the shop is full it takes about 10minutes to get served, and the guy is going flat out. They do have great ice cream.

    Finally reach home again at 730. A great day,
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  • Day28

    Boxing Day - Robbery

    December 27, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ 🌬 22 °C

    The day started with a hang over and a very slow start. Finally hit the road around 11 stopping at a beautiful cafe on one many bays around the lake. Homemade gnocchi was exactly what I needed.

    Then up the chair lift to Cerro Campanario for amazing views of Bariloche. I took some greats photos and some amazing panaramas which I was looking forward to reviewing later in the day. At the top there is also a revolving restaurant which provide a beautiful view of the lake below. From here you can see many of the ski runs that surround the city.

    Once down it is time to do some present shopping for those at home. We park the car not far from the main shopping centre and head off for 2 hours of shopping. It was siesta time so I had to wait for some shops to open but soon found what I was looking for.

    Mel and I met up at 6pm ready to get dinner and head back to the hotel. When we got to the car we new immediately something was wrong. The car was open the bags were gone. Flustered, shocked we locked the car and went directly to the police. Little did I know what saga this would lead to.

    The police speak no English so one has to go to the tourist office who translate what we say into Spanish. It is a little like Chinese whispers. We have no idea what they right down or if it agrees with what we have said. At the time we had no idea how the car was entered as there was no visible sign of entry that we saw. Then you take this form to the police who in turn transform that into a formal statement. So many obvious things are wrong, my name address etc. goodness knows what it actually says. 3 hours later we finally find ourselves heading home.

    This saga is not over - it continues for 3 more days.
    27/12 I ask the receptionist to translate my statement. In broken English she tells me it says my name, where the car was parked, what time and what was stolen. Nothing else - nothing about our bags, nothing about car being open etc. We then ring the rental car agency - check the locks they say. Both locks have been damaged, the key no longer goes in. As I can automatically open the doors I didn’t even think about this.

    Next the rental agency come to get the car fixed under insurance. As the statement does not say the car was broken into they go to police to change the statements. Come back tomorrow at 8am they are told. They write in Spanish about the locks and ask police to change statements. I also get added they fact that the bags were in the boot, as this was missed on original statement. I will take this with the original statements to the station tomorrow.

    28/12 Back to police station - come back tomorrow at 9am. The police officer is not on duty today. This is starting to worry me if it is not in statement how will insurance go. It is very frustrating when you don’t speak Spanish and they don’t speak English. Google translate can only do so much, much is lost in the translation.

    29/12 Back to police station at 9am as requested. I have also asked car rental company to join us, he arrives at 915. This looks more promising, some smiles, asked to sit. The female police officer even comes to ask some questions, that’s a first. We are finally given new statements. Does it say everything we need, I’m not sure. The car rental guy is happy, so I know at a minimum it has the break in via the locks included. What does it say about my gear - no idea. Well I have copies of everything, have explained the saga to my insurance. So know I will wait until I’m back in Aus to put in the claim.

    Well that’s a learning exercise in patience and perseverance. No use getting upset it doesn’t help, follow the process and rules hopefully it will work out in the end.
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  • Day26

    Christmas drive to El Bolson

    December 25, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Christmas morning means a little more that yoghurt and fruit so it's time for some eggs, ham and cheese before heading down the road to El Bolson. We travelled this route coming into Bariloche, we new immediately we needed to do this route again stopping to capture the beauty of the road.

    Heading out of town the road soon turns into a mixture of purple, yellow, pick and white flowers along the roadside with towering cliffs behind. The lupines are a mixture of all colours with daisies and a yellow "honeysuckle" thrown in. Stopping constantly to capture the beauty along side flowing streams. The mountains also tower the road making this a memorable drive.

    El Bolson is 126k south, when we reach the town it is clear that like everywhere else everything is closed on Christmas day. I would love a coffee but doesn't look like that will happen. Finally we find a service with a restaurant open. I wish I didn’t the coffee was awful. We even found our own real Christmas tree which will get decorated with whatever baubles we find in the unit.

    Once home it is time to get ready for Christmas dinner. I do the peeling while Mel does the cooking. We have no idea how to start the gas oven so after 3 attempts to get assistance form the front desk I finally go face to face to get help. It takes the receptionist 30 seconds to show us when he finally decides to come over. Unfortunately on opening the chicken we find it smells and the only option is to toss it. Not sure if it was bad when we bought it or we left the fridge open but either way it is going to be a basically vegetarian dinner.

    Matt, from our Antarctica adventure, joins us for dinner. The meal is scrumptious and more than enough. Mel managed a chick pea and corn salad, roast veggies, boiled eggs, cheese and ham. The 2 bottles of bubbles and 4 wine go down a treat - although I’m sure I’ll feel it tomorrow.
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  • Day25

    Woohoo we have a car

    December 24, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Today the car arrives and sets us free. Ok so the car is manual and it is left hand drive. First problem is finding reverse and then managing the hill out of the resort. You have no idea how many time my left hand went to change gears, oops, right hand needs to do that.

    First port of call the supermarket and just like home it is packed with everyone trying to buy up big for Christmas. The supermarket is not as big as home, the fruit and vege is limited but we manage to decipher most things and pick up enough for the next few days. A good shop with 3 bottle of wine and 2 bubbles as well as a huge chicken and snitzel as well as veggies, herbs etc come to approx $160aus.

    Quickly back to room, unpack, lunch and hit the road. We drive around the lake for approx 70ks stopping at camping sites to admire the view. It is a good learning exercise for me to learn more about the car, manual left hand drive etc.

    We stop to pick some wild flowers in the national park before heading home. The wild lupine are beautiful.
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  • Day24


    December 23, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ 🌙 12 °C

    Once again I find myself in another foreign country on my birthday. This year I wake up in a dingy smelly damp hostel where breakfast is sugar coated cornflakes and dishwater coffee. Not a good start.

    Quickly into town for a real coffee and to see what the town has to offer. Bariloche is a beautiful town situated on a lake, it is very hilly I soon find out. Quickly I decide to check out of the hostel and move to my timeshare booking for the week -Hotel Del Lago. OMG things could not have changed so quickly.

    Now we are right on the lake, heated pool, 2 rooms with a kitchen. Mel and I have hi 5's when we realise we can cook Christmas dinner.

    Time to get organised for the week:
    1. car hire $1000peso a day done.
    2. First bday drink a raspberry margarita
    3. Bday ice cream
    4. Retail therapy
    5. Grocery shopping including champagne.

    An easy dinner drinking bubbles and watching the sun go down. How life can change so quickly in 1 day.
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  • Day23

    24 hours on a bus

    December 22, 2017 in Argentina ⋅ 🌬 12 °C

    Oh how do you prepare for a 24 hour bus ride - drink wine of course. On our way to the wine bar we find another Antarctica adventurer in Matt. Off we head for a couple which quickly becomes 4 large glasses of red and a lovely meat platter.

    On to the bus a little pissed - it is chockers. 8pm we head off luckily i think i sleep well dozed at least. Hope i don't snore but good chance I did.

    We transfer to another bus at 7am. This one is a lot smaller no luxury here once again is full. The bus station has nothing open so no food no snacks. Naively we a pretty sure we will stop in a couple of hours to buy food.

    WRONG 2 hours passes a movie goes on 3 then 4 in fact 5 hours before the bus stops on the side of the road. There is nothing why are we stopping - i look out and see rhe driver with food oh we are saved. 2 cold epanades chocolate and a juice. Saved on we go.

    At the 7 hour mark we stop a a servo toilet stop and able ro buy some snacks. Its another 6 hours before we stop again. Oh my sore tired butt. Only 2 hours to go.

    We finally pull into Bariloche at 8pm. only a short walk the driver shows us. Yep doesnt look far at except it all uphill. Most streets have stairs and we have heavy luggage. We give it a goosld shot but give up and hail a taxi.

    Arriving at the air bnb quickly dissolves into disappointment this is a hostel and not a very good one. Oh well only 1 night. The shower does not drain the bathroom smells. yuk

    The shopping centre next door has a food court so dinner and a wine is the order of the day.
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