Argentina

Argentina

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  • Day23

    This region in Argentina is made up of lots of lovely long lakes between the mountains and is also famous for its delicious chocolate - perfect! Went around a forest and this little dog followed me. Finished the walk with some dried fruit and a banana milkshake 😍

  • Day66

    Im argentinischen Seengebiet holen wir den Winter wieder ein. So entscheiden wir uns, an die Küste rauszufahren. Dort ist es milder und zudem gerade Walsaison.

    Jetzt sind wir ja nicht die grossen Tierlifreaks. Aber dieses Schauspiel ist schon einmalig! Im kleinen Golf bei der Halbinsel Valdes tummeln sich jedes Jahr hunderte von südlichen Glattwalen. Die Paarungszeit macht die sonst sanften Riesen zu Proleten. Sie übertrumpfen sich mit ihrer Flugakrobatik - und das häufig ganz nah am Strand.

    Genau da stehen wir mit unserem Buschtaxi und schlafen am Abend zu den imposanten Walgesängen ein. Das morgendliche Qualifikationsspringen bewerten wir - noch unter der warmen Bettdecke - live aus dem Klappdach.
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  • Day34

    The Town of Puerto Madryn

    Last Saturday we had a domestic and chill out day. We did our laundry. Chris had the obligatory haircut. Then we spent the rest of the day walking around Puerto Madryn, a really lovely seaside town, mainly watching the whales in the bay. Everybody else seemed to be doing the same at the weekend. There was a jamboree of Scouts having some kind of ceremony, gathered round a series of tripods hung with red banners, singing. Some people were sitting on the beach having picnics with their children, admittedly wrapped up, but one father and daughter had actually brought their own deckchairs. Others were strolling along the prom, stopping for drinks and cake at the beachfront cafes and restaurants, or calling at a particularly old fashioned food hut - all very British. The place was in fact founded by the Welsh (hence the name of the town), 150 of them, who arrived on the ship Mimosa in 1865 - the area was very sparsely populated and needed the man power. The cafes even offer a type of fruit cake called torta negra galesa or Welsh black cake, which we sampled. In the distance, the fishing vessel that had caught fire on Thursday was still smouldering. It had made the local news - a man had been trapped and they had had to launch a large coast guard ship (The Prefecture) from the main pier to help cut him out and rescue him. We had seen this whilst watching the whales, but thought it was a drill. In the evening we returned to the fantastic fish restaurant that has the locals queueing from a minute before it opens at 8pm. By a stroke of luck, it was virtually opposite our hotel. So, we didn't have to stagger far to get home.

    I'd travel to the ends of the earth with you...

    The following morning, we headed to the airport for the luxury of a flight, rather than the usual bus journey, this time to Ushuaia, a town right at the Southernmost tip of South America, on the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, which is quite literally half Argentinian and half Chilean. It looks like somebody (probably a nasty British man) has got a ruler and a pen and drawn a line vertically down the map. The transfer to the airport took us through a dull, flat landscape (most of Patagonia is a semi-desert) until, quickly spotted by Chris, we reached the large modern prison, and I was quite taken by a smart wooden house, completely surrounded by brightly coloured gnomes. Then, on rounding a bend, just before turning into the airport, a large dinosaur - a bit like the Argentinian version of the Angel of the North (for those of us who head to Newcastle regularly). As soon as you see it, you know you're nearly there.

    The airport itself was a shiny, modern affair, with a laid back North American feel -long and low with stonework features, and so glossy inside that you could see your face in the floor tiles. A very polite barista served up freshly squeezed orange juice, cake and coffee, and the plane itself was so clean, and had such smartly dressed genteel flight staff that I felt like I was flying for the first time, back in the 70s, when air travel was a special event. The last part of the flight was a fairy tale - snow covered mountains, royal blue sea and hundreds of sharply etched islands.

    In contrast, Ushuaia itself is god-forsaken - it was too far for him to go. It has the feel of a border town, except the frontier is the end of the line, just sea, or nothing at all. How frightening it must have been to travel bravely, thinking that you might just sail off the edge into oblivion. The Belgrano set sail from here during the Falklands Conflict, and the sailors on that ship sadly didn't make dry land either. There is still a naval base here, and there are large, grey battle ships in the port, as well as the rusting hulk, creating picturesque foreground interest for the many photos we took of the bay.

    The taxi ride from the airport to the centre of town was dramatic - same snowy mountains, and the pristine Beagle Channel, seen by Darwin on his travels, when he accompanied the navigators who originally charted it in the 1800s. He liked the icebergs. In conversation with Miss Wardle on FB chat, it was suggested that I was like Phinias Fogg, and the whole area does have that sort of atmosphere - a rich history of daring (or mad) adventurers, trying to go where nobody has ever gone before in the whole history of mankind.

    On Monday we took a half hour taxi ride to the Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino or Railway Line of Southern Tierra del Fuego. Originally built as a freight line to transport timber to the prison of Ushuaia, this is where you ride the little steam train which takes you to the edge. We went for the upgrade. You get food - cordero (which is lamb) and sweet beetroot relish in a baguette, and sparkling wine and biscuits. Only one other couple went for this service so we had a plush (in an old fashioned and slightly cramped way) carriage virtually to ourselves. Think Judy Dench as Queen Victoria, being taken on a train ride through the Highlands. This was a very narrow gauge railway (only 500mm) that trundled through a weird landscape - an ancient forest of weather-whitened, petrified stumps of trees, through boggy marshes and past leafless trees (there don't seem to be many evergreens), draped with an Argentine version of mistletoe which doesn't have berries, in shades of bright green and autumn peach. The final view, before uncoupling, and shunting the engine for the return journey, is of mountains - sheer cut, super smooth, ice-faced, Eiger type peaks.

    The weather here is cold, very cold, with a biting wind, a strong gusting wind. We tried all day on Tuesday to get on board a boat to a couple of islands in the channel, so that we could see the wildlife (cormorants, sealions etc) and to trek across one island to see the plants up close. The morning boat was postponed until the afternoon - the captain said the wind was supposed to drop in the afternoon. The wind in Ushuaia did not cooperate, and the whole port was closed by 3pm.

    We didn't really do anything in Ushuaia after the train trip, apart from eat, and wait, and be slightly disappointed. The snow, and even colder weather came on Tuesday morning, just before we set off down the hill at 4.45am to catch the 5.15 coach out - to anywhere else. The place we were headed was Chile - Punta Arenas for just one overnight, and then onwards the next morning to Puerto Natales so that we could see icebergs - our own voyage of discovery, and an eventful one at that.
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  • Day23

    The first of September is a memorable day for us. The start of our adventure - well, the South American one at least. We finally flew out of London at 11.45pm yesterday, headed for Buenos Aires on the only delayed flight out of Heathrow. We still arrived on time though - strong tail winds. Even the babies in our section were 'flying high' in their wall-mounted cots. Exactly 8 years ago this day, a Tuesday, I began working at MHS. Chris was still encarcerated in the LRI following major surgery (although I broke him out a day later) and we were at the school barbecue together on the Friday. There were hotdogs, and he had brought beer and a bottle opener, despite the fact that he was 'nil by mouth' and couldn't partake of any of it. He didn't like to think that I would be missing out on anything! We talked to Mary who I had known all of three days, about supporting a student in a cookery lesson where the ingredients were 'all via mouth' on the way to the bowl, and occasionally up the nose as well. We are hoping that this journey will not be short on such contrasts, and we are definitely not going to be holding back on savouring the experience in full on this trip, preferably with all of our senses.

    This morning we have checked out our new neighbourhood of Recoleta, an up-market area of Buenos Aires, full of cafes and small restaurants, homeware stores, beardy hipster barbers, and best of all, panaderias, full of cakes and patisserie, all of which seem to contain custard. This afternoon we visited a local cemetery - oh yes, he knows how to show a girl a good time. It is a pretty spectacular cemetery though, the second most popular tourist attraction in Buenos Aires apparently, like a small city - reminiscent of Pompeii I thought, with similar width 'streets' between the tombs. Of course, the most famous resident is Eva Duarte Peron, but she rests in quite an unassuming family tomb, off the main tree-lined 'plaza'. Nextdoor is the Church of Nuestra Senora del Pilar, described in the guidebook as a 'jewel of colonial architecture'. It was a cool resting place before we explored the craft fair opposite. It has been very warm this afternoon, unseasonably so for early Spring. Tonight we are staying local to eat - the Parilla Laureana comes recommended. Central Buenos Aires and San Telmo tomorrow.

    No mountains so far, but Olivia knows my record on getting lost and the heights we've climbed.
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  • Day31

    We left Buenos Aires on Wednesday. We had to check out of our apartment at 10am but the 'overnight' bus to Puerto Madryn did not leave until 3pm. So, after a little confusion with the concierge about timings (I need more practice telling the time in Spanish), we left our luggage in reception and headed into town for a quick whizz around the Botanical Gardens. You can never see too many exotic plants (long pink dangly things and large bushes) in my opinion. After collecting the bags, we had an early lunch in a very friendly cafe - before we left, the solicitous proprietor asked if we were ok and supplied us with bottles of water for the onward journey. Perhaps we looked a little frazzled after the 'broken backpack strap incident' earlier. A swift but difficult tube trip (same backpack problems) saw us emerge into the area around the station. The main street was lined with alleyways of corrugated tin shanties and was full of fast-moving commuters and street vendors. The homeless lay sleeping across the pathways, chunks of bread still clutched in their hands. I soon noticed that all the women were wearing their backpacks on their fronts, and quickly switched the position of mine too. We entered the haven of the station building to await the announcement of our bus platform number. We waited, and we waited, then we waited some more. At 2.50pm, we were worried enough to head out to the bus points, armed only with the information that it could be anywhere between numbers 10 and 25. After a frantic half hour of pigeon-Spanish with anybody who looked official, and running up and down the platform (to cover all numbers), our coach finally left at 3.30pm.

    In the early part of the journey, we passed through a pleasant landscape of flat scrubland and marshes, with the occasional highlight of an egret or a roadside shrine. This, and the Bingo kept us entertained until about 8pm. The bus host even sent down two English-speaking teenagers to explain the rules of the game. He probably didn't realise that we both speak fluent Spanish. But by now we were hungry. I hadn't got enough strength to pierce the holes in the numbers with my little plastic stick, especially since it was taking me so long to work out said numbers. If you remember back to the beginning of this saga, we ate early. We were finally fed at around 11.30pm. We slept quite well, but woke early. I opened the curtain at around 5am to see an eery terracotta landscape, lit by a perfect silvery moon. We watched the sun come up over the ridge of the horizon, and I passed the time by taking photos of anything that interested me (anything that moved, and anything that didn't). Around 7am, I noticed a policeman and a traffic cone. I didn't get a picture of the policeman, or the traffic cone. I daren't. We were being pulled over. The policeman got on the bus. Chris had a better vantage point from his aisle seat, and kept me posted when policeman two, and then policeman three, got on the bus. The first policeman visited us down in our 'first class' boudoir, spending a worryingly long time looking at the stamp pages in our passports, but was very polite, and smiled at us before he left. Phew! Visions of Midnight Express evaporated.

    We arrived at Puerto Madryn bus station around 10.30am and after a brief reccy at 'Informacion', headed towards the front to find our hotel. As he reached the sea, Chris stopped to take in the view. When I finally caught up, he said, "Are they whales out there?!" We had read in the guide book that you could see them from the hotel windows, but didn't expect to see, and hear them (they boom and snort-blow) cavorting in the bay from the prom.
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  • Day24

    As promised, we visited the Plaza de Mayo today, taking in the terracotta Casa Rosanda (Evita on the veranda). It was virtually deserted mid-morning, save for a family with mountains of luggage, killing time before their flight home. Even the ramshackle encampment of 'Malvinas' veterans which surrounds an ancient palm tree on the edge of the square showed little signs of life, the newspaper articles from Argentinian and British sources pinned up opposite almost unreadable since the thunderstorm earlier in the morning. The 'exotic dancers' (pictured) practised their routines, with direction, but without music.

    After attending a singing mass in the cathedral, and, following lunch, we went on an expedition. Wandering through the craft stalls, antique emporia and gift shops of San Telmo, we watched street performers and listened to a band singing rock classics in the middle of a barbecue. We're definitely going back for the beef, but would also recommend the delicious Spanish Omelette at the Cafe Poesia, where we had already eaten.

    A return trip on the way home later in the afternoon, and the central square looked somewhat different. The large police presence visible earlier (riot vans included) was explained by the large-scale demonstration now taking place, with banners, placards and petitions to sign. Yes, you've guessed it, it was a Harry Potter Convention. Scary!

    Further info re. Falkland veterans protest:
    http://en.mercopress.com/2016/02/27/malvinas-conscripts-demanding-war-veteran-certificates-complete-eight-years-of-encampment-in-plaza-de-mayo
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  • Day270

    After some exhausting days of travelling in Kuala Lumpur, Auckland and Buenos Aires I finally arrived in Córdoba. I'm quite sure I made the right decision with the place and the program, the first two weeks were a great time.

You might also know this place by the following names:

Argentine Republic, Argentinien, Argentina, Argentinië, Agyɛntina, አርጀንቲና, Archentina, الأرجنتين, Arxentina, Arqentina, Аргенціна, Аржентина, Arizantin, আর্জেন্টিনা, ཨར་ཇེན་ཊི་ན།, Arcʼhantina, Yr Ariannin, ཨར་ཇེན་ཊི་ན, Argentina nutome, Αργεντινή, Argentino, Argentiina, آرژانتین, Arjantiin, Argentine, Argentena, Argjentine, An Airgintín, આર્જેન્ટીના, Arjantiniya, ארגנטינה, अर्जेंटीना, Ajantin, Argentína, Արգենտինա, Arjentinia, アルゼンチン共和国, getygu'e, არგენტინა, Ajentina, Аргентина, អារហ្សង់ទីន, ಅರ್ಜೆಂಟೈನಾ, 아르헨티나, ئارجەنتینا, Arghantina, Arigentina, Arizantinɛ, ອາເຈນຕິນາ່, Alijantine, Argentīna, Arzantina, അര്‍ജന്‍റീന, अर्जेंटिना, Arġentina, အာဂျင်တီးနား, Arxentitlān, अर्जेण्टिना, Argentiinu, ଆର୍ଜେଣ୍ଟିନା, Artschenti, Argentyna, Argentin-a, ارجنټاين, Arhintina, Argentinia, Arijantine, अर्जन्टीना, Argintina, Arzantîna, ආර්ජෙන්ටිනාව, Argjentinë, அர்ஜென்டினா, ఆర్జెంటినా, Arjentina, ประเทศอาร์เจนตินา, Arhentina, ʻAsenitina, Arjantin, ئارگېنتىنا, ارجنٹینا, Á Căn Đình (Argentina), Largäntän, ארגענטינע, Orílẹ́ède Agentínà, 阿根廷, i-Argentina

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