January 31, 2011

Argentina: Mendoza

After a quick trip to Rosario (another big boring city) we took an overnight bus to Mendoza. Wine country!

Turns out wine country is so hot during the summer. We are melting. The first night at Mendoza Backpackers we stayed in a non air-conditioned dorm room to save a few backpacker pennies. Huge mistake. We spent the whole night sweating and awake. It was a rough start to beautiful Mendoza.

On our second day in Mendoza, Laura and I rented bikes from Mr. Hugo and biked from one winery to the next sipping red wine until our mouths matched the wine glass. We found the biking winery crawl to be a bit more dangerous then expected. We didn't wear helmets on small two lane busy roads. Laura's bike even broke down a few blocks into our adventure. We ended up finding the closest construction crew and asking for their tools and help. After two wineries and a lunch stop it was already a days adventure. We are self proclaimed wine experts now. That night and the following nights we upgraded to an air-conditioned room. Finally, sleep.

We chose not to do any of the outdoor actives Mendoza offers since we had the chance to do so many free activities while working in Pucon, Chile. So we have been exploring the town which is amazing. There are also lots of great souvenir shops. Mendoza is our last stop in Arg... Off to Chile, again!

January 24, 2011

Argentina: Buenos Aires

We made it... Buenos Aires! After a very delayed bus ride from Puerto Madryn we arrived in hot Buenos Aires, however, it poured rain the day we arrived. The one day it rains we have to get from the bus station to our hostel... walking, subways, more walking and getting lost. All this while sweating in the humidity with our rain jackets on, backpacks on and market bag in hand. We were wet from head to toe when we arrived at Pax Hostel but we made it using only public transportation. Win! Our hostel was in a great location and Buenos Aires turned out to be everything we imaged.

La Boca was colorful with tango shows and street art. San Telmo (where we stayed) had a huge street market on Sunday which we spent all day exploring in the hot 86 degree humidity. The famous cemetery in Recoleta was amazing... built for the wealthy of Recoleta. New York apartments are smaller then these mausoleums. Florida street had a Starbucks and yes we stopped in and had a venti shaken green ice tea.

{ Recoleta }
{ Out side of Recoleta (we bought some great charms here) }

Argentina: Puerto Madryn

After El Bolson we bused about 20 hours over to Puerto Madryn. A beautiful beach town on the Eastern coast of Argentina. We stayed at Chepatagonia Hostel which was a block from the beach and  laundry service around the corner, great location. We spent our first day walking the beach to the farthest point. Thanks to me, it turned into a very long afternoon of collecting sea glass and searching through tidal pools. We spent the next couple of days collecting more sea glass and exploring the town.

January 16, 2011

Argentina: El Bolson

{ Our tent }
{ Campsite dinner: hot dogs and yogurt }

Like I said in the last post, it´s peak season, which means every hostel and bus ticket is booked. We arrived in El Bolson with no place to stay so we decided to camp - adventure time!

Gavin, Laura and I went to an outdoor supply store and rented a tent for four and sleeping bags (no sleeping pad, we wanted to save money). We walked  out of town to the camp ground just across the river to discover they are busy with tons of backpackers. Who knew? 

As Gavin started to set up the tent Laura and I went to the grocery store to get food for dinner. As we walked back into camp looking around for our tent and we were really hoping the small pointy one was not ours. Of course, it was. Gavin was in complete turmoil. This tent was suppose to sleep four people but we would be lucky if we could fit two of us and our backpacks. As other campers joined us in staring at our tiny tent someone mentioned they had an extra one person tent. Thank god... we were saved! 

That night we sat around the picnic table eating hot dogs and yogurt while we listened to music with our new Argentine friends. We stayed up all night drinking mate and learning about Argentina. As Laura and I crawled into our tent and laid down (our arms were on top of each other all night, the tent was so small) it started to rain. It rained all night and all day. Gavin's tent did not have a rain fly so he was in a swimming pool by morning.

The next night we went to a hostel.

January 15, 2011

Argentina: Route 40

We arrived in El Bolson with the plan to just power through and head all the way down to El Chalten, a 24 hour bus ride to the deep south. When we got to the ticket office in El Bolson and asked about tickets the plan quickly stopped. It´s peak season right now and I have never seen such an influx in prices. Bus tickets and hostels are almost double in price and on a backpackers budget we could not make our money stretch. These sort of things happen and all you can say is... next time! Although I was still in a terrible mood. From day one all I wanted to see in SA was Patagonia.

Goodbye Route 40.

January 14, 2011

Argentina: Bariloche

{ In San Martin waiting for the bus to Bariloche }
Next stop south was Bariloche! We stayed at Los Troncos (the most beautiful hostel ever) and of course were able to master public transportation to get there. Bariloche is on a huge lake with amazing views of snow capped mountains in the distance. We spent the afternoon exploring and preparing what we were going to cook for dinner. Gavin is a bit of chef so once we started sautéing mushroom for our gourmet burgers the whole hostel was jealous but they didn't understand why we were eating at 6pm. This humored them. Most of the other backpackers staying at the hostel were Argentines who ate at 10pm.

January 12, 2011

Argentina: First stop, San Martin

We have made it to Argentina! Our first stop was San Martin de los Andes. A cute little town on a lake five hours from Pucon, Chile. We wanted to break up the drive from Pucon to Bariloche and this town was a perfect halfway point. We stayed at Bike Hostel and spent the afternoon exploring. Laura and I have a new appreciation for hostel staff after a month of working at Etnico.


January 8, 2011

Chile: Trailblazing

Gavin has arrived in Pucon! We have a few more days here before taking off to travel Argentina together.

Yesterday, Bridget (Gustavo´s, the owner of Etnico Eco Hostel, girlfriend) took Laura, Gavin, Kelsea and me horseback riding through the countryside of Pucon. We followed trails through the forest passing rivers, mountains and wooden homes. We also dodged bushes, smacked into tree limbs and held on while our horses galloped. We went up one really steep short hill and our horses galloped so fast we all caught air. It was an adventurous ride. The countryside was absolutely gorgeous and we all felt lucky we had the opportunity to go!

{ found a kitten }

January 6, 2011

Chile: Active Volcano Villarrica

Yesterday Laura, Hanna and I climbed Villarrica an active volcano near Pucon.  The climb up took about three hours. It was the slowest and most boring climb (besides the beautiful view of the mountains). There were a lot of people climbing yesterday because Pucon had a few days of rain so there was a huge build up of people waiting to climb. The top, however, was very rewarding as I have never been able to walk inside a crater before. The smoke was bubbling and the ground made it feel like you were on Mars. After being on the top for about a half hour we headed back down. Not by walking but by sledding. It took about an hour and half to sled down and we were soaking wet by the end. I had puddles in my boots. At one point I some how flipped over and tumbled down completely out of control, trying my very hardest to stop by using my ice axe but in a time of complete madness it is hard to get your ice axe in the snow. I had snow everywhere. Stuffed under my sunglasses, up my sleeves, between my back and my backpack... everywhere! At that point I realized my entire body was just going to be soaked. The pants and jacket they gave us were only wind breakers.

January 4, 2011

Chile: It´s 2011 and we´re in Pucon!

New Years Eve started off at Etnico Eco Hostel with an asado/bbq. Great meat and great pebre! The whole hostel was out in the backyard drinking and eating to the new year. At about 11:30pm Laura, Hanna, Kelsea and I (with the rest of the hostel) walked down to the beach to watch the midnight firework show. The beach was packed full of people... it was a great NYE!!

Chile: No swimmers!

Laura and I have made some great friends at the hostel this past week. Hanna, from Boston and a senior at Northeastern University and her cousin Kelsea who for the last year has been teaching English in Chile. Definitely people I hope to stay in contact with.

Last week we all went rafting together down the Trancura River here in Pucon. A class 4/5+. It was crazy the rapids that we went through, duking into the raft and holding on for dear life and then popping up and all paddling together as quickly as possible. We were awful at staying together but we made it down the 1.5 hour run with no swimmers. YAY!! Definitely don't need to do another class 4/5+ but it sure was a blast!!