Thursday, 24 June 2010

Iguassu Falls, Argentina & Foz de Iguassu, Brazil

As I mentioned in my last post, we'd been in Salto, Uruguay which is up in the north west corner of Uruguay, so a taxi drove us about 40 minutes across the Uruguay - Argentina border and dropped us off at a bus station, where we proceeded to get on a yet another night bus for 10 hours.  This night bus however, was not nearly as nice as the buses in Chile, it was cold & they did not offer blankets or pillows.

10 hours later we arrived into the bus station, where a mini bus picked us up and drove us to see Iguassu Falls from the Argentinian side.  (they are half in Brazil & half in Argentina)  The cool part about this side of the falls is that you can walk out on these metal walkways so that you are "on the top" of the falls.  It's a great view and you can feel the mist everywhere you go, because the force of the water is so high it almost feels like it's raining.

After a few hours exploring there, we drove across the Argentina - Brazil border and spent the night in Foz de Iguassu, Brazil, which is just the Brazilian side of the falls & since they speak Portuguese instead of Spanish, the name changes a bit.  The following morning we went to see the Brazilian side of the falls, which I think I actually enjoyed more, because you see the falls from further away and you can see how wide & vast they are.  I mean the Argentina side is great, but if I had to chose just one, I'd chose the Brazilian side.

On our second day in Foz de Iguassu we decided we'd take a day trip over into Paraguay.  It took about 20 minutes to get to the border and about 2 seconds to cross it cause nobody checks at all, which just amazed me!  We hung out there for about 3 hours, walking around the shops and street vendors before deciding we really wanted to see the Itapu Hydro Electric Dam which is on a river which divides Brazil & Paraguay, so off we went to see Itapu.  If you've never seen a hydroelectric dam, it's pretty darn cool!  It was the world's largest one, until recently when China's new dam was commissioned.  We ended up there at noon, which would have been a fine time, aside from the fact that the English version of  the movie & tour are only at 11am and 2pm . . . we didn't have time to wait till 2pm, so we took the Portuguese tour & luckily the guide spoke English as well and translated for us.  That evening we took another night bus, this time for 17.5 hours to San Paulo, Brazil and then changed buses and rode from another 5 hours until we arrived in Paraty, Brazil.  More on that another time . . .

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Montevideo & Salto, Uraguay

So I know it's been forever since I last updated & I apologise for that, but the internet connections in Argentina & Brazil were not the greatest & since I was limited on time I didn't want to waste an hour in an internet cafe updating the blog, so I'm going to try to give a few short updates over the next week or so, so you can see how the trip ended up.

Last time I wrote I was headed to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.  We arrived there safely, settled into our cold hotel room and went out for Chinese.  The service was horrible but the food was tasty.  The following morning I went on an organised city tour, which was very cool!  I got to see the first world cup stadium (football/soccer) which is just outside the city centre and it was for the 1950 match.  We also got to see the beaches and the old city centre with it's cobble stone streets and section of the old city wall which they've saved.

From Montevideo, we headed north west to Salto, Uruguay.  We spent a day &  a half there, which from my point of view is more than enough time.  It's a town known for it's spas and not much else past that!

The following day we headed back into Argentina to see the Iguassu Falls . . . more on that later

Monday, 7 June 2010

Colonia, Uraguay

Sorry I wasn´t able to update from Beunos Aires because as it turned out I spent less than 24 hours there . . . I know some of you who have been there are now screaming at the computer screen because you told me BA was one of your favourite spots in all of South America, BUT such is life . . . I´ll just have to come back :-)  Jo & I chose to spend extra time in Pucon and miss out on time in BA and we´re both happy about our decision, no regrets.

We arrived into BA around half 2, were at the hotel by half 3, and eating Argentinian steak by half 4 - YUMMERS!!!!  In the evening we went to see a tango show & had an introductory level tango lesson.  We all thought we were doing amazingly well until later on when we saw the proffessionals, were we realised we have a lot to learn about tango!  We got back to the hotel around midnight from the tango show and went straight to bed.  Jo´s flight was at 11am the next morning and my ferry to Uraguay was leaving at 10am.

I arrived into Colonia, Uraguay around half 11, dropped my stuff off at the hotel and went to explore the marina area and find a spot for lunch.  I had a delicious salmon meal.  Then wondered around the town, saw the lighthouse, the city wall and gate, checked out a few touristy shops, and then decided to walk to the bull ring, which was opened in 1910.  The only problem with my lack of Spanish was that what I didn´t realise is that it´s not still open (lol), so after walking 5K down the beach to see this bull ring, you can´t go inside, you can only walk around the outside.  It´s still an interesting building and the weather was nice to be walking down the beach.  So around half 5 I turned around and started to head back to the city centre, enjoying the sunset as well.  At 8pm we went out to dinner for Brett´s birthday, but I was so full from my salmon lunch I just had a salad.

Today I´m heading to Montevideo, which is about a 3 hour bus ride from Colonia.  I´ll be there for about 2 days before heading north to Salto.  I am enjoying Uraguay so far, but I do miss my Pucon breakfasts!!

¿Hey anyone up for going to Chile in December or January to climb a volcano?  I´m thinking of it as a 33rd birhday present to myself . . . but I don´t want to go alone.  I know great cabins we can stay at and there are lots of other amazing things we can do in and around Pucon . . . think about it!

p.s. sorry for spelling errors, the spell check here is for spanish only!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Pucon, Chile Part 3

Well a slight change of plans, we´ll be leaving tonight from Pucon to Santiago via bus (10 hours) and then getting a flight from Santiago to Beunos Aires tomorrow morning.  We stay in Pucon slightly longer than planned but arrive in BA at the same time (lol)

Yesterday the four of us went to visit a Mapuche family and we got to dress up in their clothes, ride their horse, eat their food and just hang out in their house with them drinking wheat coffee around a fire.  It was amazing!  Ruben´s dad is Mapuche, so he translate most of it and what he couldn´t he says in Spanish and then Phillipe translates into English . . . as you can guess conversations were a bit slow, but they were such friendly people.  Of course it´s set up for tourists (like us) but instead of having a group of 20 it was just the 4 of us with them.  Then we were suppose to have a BBQ, but it had rained heavily all day, so we went shopping for food (aka meat and potatoes) and Ruben cooked the whole meal, while I lay on the couch watching Beverly Hills 90210 (re-runs of what I use to watch in High School LOL)  Jo and Phillipe came over to eat as well.  Meals are eaten much later here, so we had dinner at 11pm so by time dinner was over and we were just relaxing in our living room, I fell asleep on the couch. 

When I woke this morning at 8.45am, I realised I had to shower, pack, clean the kitchen and catch the bus which was leaving at 10am.  So of course I jumped outta bed and raced to the shower, got dressed and started to pack and never even noticed that Ruben wasn´t sleeping anymore, so when I ran downstairs to start on the dishes I nearly fell over to see the whole kitchen and dinning room were completely cleaned up!  Then we got the knock on the door from Phillipe to say no bus, all that rushing around for nothing, but at least it´s all done now :-)

I got some good photos at the Mapuche village house and last night at dinner, but need an internet cafe where I can upload them.

Okay, off to get some lunch now . . . will try to write from Argentina soon

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Pucon, Chile part 2

So my mate Jo & I have decided we´ll be leaving Pucon on Friday morning and taking a 22 hour bus to Beunos Aires, Argentina.  I think I can easily speak for her as well and say that neither of us is looking forward to leaving, but at the end of the day, we both need to get to BA by Saturday night, so this is the longest we can stay.  But, I´m determined to try to come back here at some point.  In the mean time I will just have to keep in touch with the people I´ve met, some of which hope to be in America later this year (yeah!) so we can hang out then too.

Yesterday, Ruben took me to a small town south of Pucon to see a less touristy town and to see the beautiful lake.  The weather wasn´t exactly fantastic, but we had a great time playing on the jungle gym and walking around the marina before stopping for some chocolate caliente (hot chocolate).  After that was just a quite night at home, I made spaghetti and we watched Friends in Spanish - No my Spanish is not that good, but my knowledge of nearly every episode of Friends makes it easy for me to understand it!

Well, just wanted to check in, we gotta run to figure out how to explain that we want to buy tissue paper, hmmmmm!