A Travellerspoint blog

Mendoza, Argentina

Snowy Peaks, Sunny Vineyards and Steamy Pools!

sunny 16 °C
View South American Summer on BrookesSeb's travel map.

Mendoza has proved to be a beautiful relaxing town. Located close to the Andes, it`s slow pace and constant sunshine made it most welcoming.
We arrived off the night bus to a Hostel shuttle that brought us right to the door. Easy! The hostel was great and helped us organize the many things to do around Mendoza.
The day of arrival was spènt walking around and getting acquainted. We had lunch at a nice little cafe and then made our way to the independent square. A lovely place to relax and lay our heads down in the grass. That was until I was awoken to Sebastian yelling at me to run. The sprinklers had turned on and we were about to get soaked. We weren`t the only ones, so it was pretty funny to see everyone jolting. haha


That evening the hostel had organized and all you can eat pizza party, just what we needed after a long day.
The next morning we decided to rent a car and make our way up in to the Andes, through Cacheuta (where the thermal pools are), Upsallata, and finally to Punta del Inca. The scenery on the way up was absolutely spectacular. That, and a bit strange to us as well. Desert landscape, red rock, with snow capped Andes as a backdrop. What a sight to see, a combination of the Canadian rockies, and the Arizona desert! But it made for great pictures which hopefully we`ll get up soon! So about a 2 hour drive along the cliffs got us to our destination. We made our way to the Aconcagua national park. Anconcagua, located in the Andes, is the tallest peak in all of the Americas at 6959m high.

Unfortunately the higher we drove, the cloudier it got, so we didn`t get to see the peak, but we were crossing our fingers that our bus ride into Chile a few days later would grant us the view. So we drove back down to Punta Del Inca which is a natural red rock bridge used previously as an entrance to the hot thermal water, but apparently erosion has caused them to shut it down. It a was beautiful sight nonetheless, red rock covered in white snow.


We drove back in hopes of stopping at the thermal pools in cacheuta, but I guess our orientation skills still need some work. We somehow completely missed cacheuta and ended back in the city of Mendoza. We didn`t have time to turn around and go back so we decided to get some food at the local grocery store and Sebastian cooked up a storm. ummm we then headed to bed for a good night sleep in order to get up for our early morning start.
Our wine bike tour took us on an exploration of the vineyards and beautiful landscape of Mendoza. A great way to spend a sunny day! We drove around the vineyards, and stopped at 3 wineries along the way. Learning about each wine and how it`s made, the age, the taste, the amount of time it ferments or spends in oak barrels, even the different kinds of grapes used. And of course, we learned the proper way to taste the wine, by smelling, checking it`s clarity and the swishing in your mouth. Sante! Among the wineries, we also stopped at an olive oil factory, which I was surprised to find that i really enjoyed. Our tour ended at a chocolate and liquor factory. My favourite! Delicious all around, so i bought a little souvenir..that will no doubt last more than a few days. hehe That evening was spent at an all you can eat BBQ where we met a nice American couple and some other strange-rs. :)


The next day, was spent around the town, getting our bus organized for Santiago de Chile, and then touring the large General San Martin Park. Since it was too late to rent bikes, the city bus was our only option. The English agent said it would take us directly to the Cerro lookout, but we soon figured out that the bus we were on was going everywhere but. SO we ended up getting a quick tour of perhaps ¨hidden¨ Mendoza, and then landed back in the plaza independcia. An unplanned yet intersting tour. haha. We headed back to the hostel, got our laundry and then went out for the cheapest and most delicious pasta! A place called 3-90 serves 20 kinds of pasta, with 40 kinds of sauce! Yummy! Along with wine, beer and desert..the whole thing cost a whopping $10 each. What could be better? Cheers to Argentina, as we were off to Chile the following day....or so we thought.

We got up bright and early to catch our 7:30 bus and make our way to the border. After the 2 hour drive and stopping at the gendamaria, they told us the weather was too bad and we would have to go all the way back to Mendoza. Great, not it the plan, but it didn`t end up so bad afterall. We took advantage of the afternoon we had left and spent the day at the thermal pools we had missed previously. Fine by me, a relaxing day, in hot water with beautiful scenery! Then we decided we would go back to our new favourite pasta place and enjoy different dishes.
So we are up bright and early again, they told us our tickets to Chile were good for the next day, but now we have to wait 2 hours to find out if we can cross. It is testing our patients, but hopefully the result will be positive! Wish us luck!

Posted by BrookesSeb 08:49 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Y Dale Boca!

sunny 15 °C

Buenos Aires came and went, but a bit too quickly. The big beautiful city is so filled with things to do and see that our boat arrival for 4 days really didn`t give us enough time to enjoy it to its full potential, but that`s just another reason for us to come back again someday :)


The Argentinian people were welcoming and did their best to speak English with the poor foreigners. We stayed at a great hostel in Palermo (kind of the trendy district with lots of restaurants and shops), and met some really nice fellow backpackers, doing similar trips as ours. We enjoyed the city by visiting the Belle Arte Museum, the graveyard where Evita is burried, and the surrounding markets. Markets, and more Markets! We enjoyed the San Telmo market on Sunday morning which is FILLED with the coolest antiques, and to add to the atmosphere, there are tango dancers on the street, along with other musicians and artists alike. A great way to spend a Sunday morning when everything else is closed.

Where Evita is Buried.
9 De Julio - The Widest Street in the world!!

One of our main goals in Buenos Aires was to see a Boca match, for anyone who knows anything about soccer (that doesn`t include me by the way), Boca is one of the most popular clubs in the world! So it was a must do! We went with the suggested hostel tour since its meant to be dangerous without a guide. We obliged and got our overpriced tickets and made our way with our new hostel friends. It was a great time, unfortunately Boca hasn`t been doing so well this year and lost the game, but it was again, an incredible atmosphere. Before the game even started, they intentionally caught one of the opposing teams streamers on fire. Pretty crazy, so we`re were anxious to see what the game would bring. It turned out not to be so bad, the fans cheered, sang along with the band and had a multitude of fireworks go off in the middle of the game. So many in fact, that the smoke made it hard to see the field. Only in South America! ha So we went out for pizza afterwards, possibly the best pizza I have ever eaten! Now I know why South America rivals Italian Pizza! uuummmm

Smokey Game!

The rest of our days were filled by wandering the city and taking in as much of it as we could. The main streets of BA such as Sante Fe, and Lavalle are filled with high end shops to no end. I had a hard time to believe I was even in South America, it felt more like a lively New York! But we managed to find the extravagant book shop that had previously been a theatre, still complete with balconies and all. Absolutely beautiful! Once we recovered our book stash we spent our time in gardens and parks reading a frenzy, and even managed to get a sneak peek into the zoo!


We had a great time, exchanged e-mails with our new friends and were on our way for a 12 hour night bus to Mendoza. Trying to be thrifty, we settled for semi-cama this time, which has smaller seats and cold food. haha But as comfortable as you need a bus to be! We´ve since arrived in Mendoza, a beautiful city next to the Andes we are anxious to explore!

  • Side Notes*

- The stone side walks in most cities are terribly un-even, cracked and mangled so walking can be difficult. I´ve decided to keep track of embarassing and public nose dives:
Brookes - 1
Sebastian - 0 (so far..ha)
- I´ve found a new love - Submarines- Hot milk served with a small chocolate bar to be dunked....ummmm
- Sebastian and I have also been enjoying Empenadas - A small snack, kind of like Auzzie pies, in every flavor. Delicious!

{pics to come}

Posted by BrookesSeb 17:01 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Montevideo and Colonia del Sacramento, UY

Family, Fun and Futbol

overcast 19 °C
View South American Summer on BrookesSeb's travel map.

Well our time in Montevideo was filled with family fun and yummy meals. We arrived in the evening from Salto to find Sebastian´s lovely great aunt, Lilly and her two daughters, Yvonne and Marionne, waiting for us at the bus station. A Very warm welcome indeed followed by catching up over 3 generations and a yummy home cooked meal.
The following day was a Sunday and Yvonne was happy to show us around the markets, the first a traditional clothes market where I bought a nice warm sweater, and then the historical flea market with its streets lined with shoes, next to veggies, adjacent to underwear along side woodworks and handicrafts, and hiding next to all of these tables, used goods, including typewriters and toilet seats. A strange combination of goods but in true local fashion. haha
Sundays is also the day that families get together for an afternoon lunch where we got to meet the rest of Sebastian´s family, mainly the grandkids and boyfriends. But a great gathering and great way to try traditional Uruguayan dishes. 3 hours later we all decided to walk back in order to digest the huge meal.


Monday we we`re off to explore the magnificent city on our own. Sebastian and I haven´t been much for cities but we truly enjoyed Montevideo. Uruguay, although fought over for years by the Argentineans and the Brazilians, has been able to keep its independence. It´s considered the best port and lies along mile and miles of the Rio de la Plata. The beautiful beaches are well maintained and the city is a revel of old colonial mansions and hotels, now turned into municipal buildings and museums. They are very proud of there national hero, Artigas, to whom is birthday is tomorrow (June 19), and there are many statues and memorials dedicated to him, including that in the plaza independecia to which we visited multiple times trying to catch the right city buses ;)


The old museums, including the gaucho museum (cowboy), the historical museum and the carnival museum kept us busy for most of our days. We also took the time to visit the much anticipated Mercado del Puerto (Port Market). Known for its Parillada (BBQ), it did not disappoint. We we`re flabbergasted by the amount of meat they could fit on the massive grills, cooking over live, crackling fires. I must say, it is a meat lovers haven, not exactly catering to the vegetarian. However, we enjoyed chorizo, asado (ribs) and pollo (chicken) con Platas plomo (baked potato with butter), along with some medio y medio (wine and champagne) and a litre of beer. A definite highlight of the week!


That being said, the HIGHLIGHT of the week was our ¨Club Nacional de Futbol´ soccer game. The montevideo stadium was built to hold the first world cup of soccer in 1930 when the obvious champions over Argentina were the Uruguayans. The stadium represents the 2 time olympic game soccer champions and of course to house the national sport and the love of the South American people. Alexandro, Sebastian`s cousin got us tickets and took us to the quarter final game. A huge game here as its been 20 years since they`ve have the opportunity to play for the title. We we`re very happy to be a part of it. I have never seen such passionate fans- a sea of red white and blue, synchronously jumping, chanting and singing for the whole game. Fire crackers, streamers and a constant flow of confetti. A true sight, I was surprised the bleachers didn`t break. ha But they tied the game, and so they move on to the next level! Good luck to Nacional!!

A true South American experience for us!

So our time ended with again another delicious family meal, German style with a kind of potato dumpling sausage and sour kraut. UUM! Sebastian`s family has been truly lovely and we we`re reluctant to leave the comforts of home, but as time should have it, we must be on our way.

We have since arrived in Colonia del Sacramento. A small colonial town with lots of history, lined with cobbles streets, shops and cafes. Historically, controlled by the portuguese you can see their influence everywhere. We spent our afternoon walking around, and indulging in some sweet ice cream. It´s more or less a stop over for us until we catch our `fast`boat to Buenos Aires in the morning. Looking forward to more of Argentina!

Side notes:

- Uruguay has elections coming up, so there is constant campaigning and cars with loud speakers and annoying music. We randomly caught an election speech and the crazy party-goers in the street afterward!

' speaking of music, all of the buses, including city buses are constantly playing the worst 80`s music you`ve ever heard

-We`ve made some stray dog friends, who don`t seem to know when to leave us alone.

Posted by BrookesSeb 14:53 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Iguacu Falls, Argentina and Salto, Uruguay


sunny 20 °C
View South American Summer on BrookesSeb's travel map.

On the Brazil side of the falls, we stayed at a nice hostel with heat!! and a lovely hostess, Evelina, I came to calling her Grandma and Sebastian is sure she spoke like the Pope. A very interesting lady, with lots of information who was kind enough to give us a ride across the Border, getting our stamps for both sides. Just when we were getting the hang of Portuguese, we left Brazil of course. So into Argentina to the most spectacular views of Iguacu falls. Our Spanish is a bit rusty, but I´m sure we´ll get the hang of it.

We arrived at the bus station in the town of Puerto de Iguacu, Argentina to find some helpful English speaking travel agents. We got the info we needed for our overnight bus ride and were on our way to the falls. And spectacular they were, not to mention the gorgeous weather we finally got! This time we were able to walk many trails, over bridges, and right up to the falls where we got soaked...without having to pay. In the afternoon, we took a little boat ride across the river to Isla St. Matin where stairs brought us to the top of the falls. Beautiful, and even better because we had the whole place to our selves (well for a bit). So it made for a great day, and we were happy to get back to the town, grab some yummy homemade lasagne and catch the luxurious bus. Like a plane, hot food, movies and big comfy chairs. We're gettìng spoiled!


We woke up to freezing cold weather in a town called Concordia where the bus doesn't stop at the bus station, but on a dirt road about 10 km away from it...Great. Luckily, there was a Renix (like a shitty taxi) waiting so we hopped in and made our way. The goal was to get to Salto, Uruguay, just on the border but we needed to make sure we got our stamps again for both sides. We got the 12;30 bus and it was an easy ride.

We're now in Salto, famous for the thermal hot springs. We decided we would spend a night in Therma del Dayman, right at the hot springs. Spoiled again, our ¨hostal¨ had its own private thermal pools. So we spent the evening soaking in the hot mineral water. We woke up to beautiful sunshine and horses in the backyard...I know, life of a traveller is tough :)


It's now evening, as we spent today walking around the town of salto, relaxing in the park, and we've just finished the museum of Belle Arte where a lovely couple we´re eager to explain everything to us in..Spanish! Hmph..we think we caught most of it, but it was pretty funny to see. Maybe we were the only people they saw all day? haha


We'll be catching our bus to Montevideo tomorrow (about a 5 hour ride) the big capital city of Uruguay. We're of course very excited to see Sebastian's family and no doubt will be happy to get home cooked meals! mmmmm

Posted by BrookesSeb 13:51 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Brazil - Curitiba/Iguacu Falls

And around..

semi-overcast 17 °C
View South American Summer on BrookesSeb's travel map.

I´m happy to say that we made it and left Curitiba in one peice, picking up a little portuguese on the way. I guess its easy to improve when you start at zero. But we`ve been able to make our way around pretty easily with the few words we now know, or by playing dumb. ( I swear we didn´t sneak into the train station after hours to check things out and get tssk-ed at. oops)

So our Journey to Curitiba began early morning to catch the 9 am bus. With rush our traffic, the lack of working ATM´s and a non-working visa card, we managed to catch the 10am bus. The only 10 am bus available however was the executive bus, a free snack, free shampoo and lots of leg room, not too shabby! After our 6 hour ride, we arrived in Curitiba a little later than planned, but we were lucky to run into an English speaking gent at the internet cafe who warned us the cab to our hostel would be really expensive. So we did as told in the travel guide and made our way (again with our bit of portuguese) to catch the centenario (like a tram) to the center park - Parca de Barbosa, where we waited with our packs for what felt like hours, to catch the small city bus. Once we were on, we were good to go. A nice lady helped us out by giving us some directions. HOWEVER- where she told us to get off was in the middle of no where, up a windy, dark road in the hills. Hmph At this point, Sebastian was sure that she was going to send her cousin to rob us. But we followed the road for about 20 min and finally came to large houses, in gated communities, so we knew we were in a good area. a few more minutes of walking and we saw a gentlemen locking his gate who was kind enough to point us a few meters away, to the lovely ECO hostel. Relief. So it was late, we had to order in, but the pousada was very interesting. A path led through the trees to our wooden guest house that faced the pool. No doubt a beautiful spot in the summer, but its winter time here...and its COLD! So we slept with our long johns and toques and pretended we were camping in a wooden tent. Not so bad after all :)


So our first day in Curitba was spent wandering around the old town, but not thinking it was a Sunday, everything was closed. So what do you do when there is nothing to do? You do like the locals- drink! ¨Dos Cervejas Por Favor!¨So we grabbed mugs of beer and chilled out in the sun for the afternoon. We then had dinner at the bust station since nothing else was open, but cheap and delicious.


We decided we would make good use of our last day there and took a lovely scenic train (serra verde express) to Morretes, a beautiful colonial town, apparently the prettiest in Southern Brazil. We chilled out, took some photos and headed back with the locals- 3 workers , one other tourist and us.



We ended back at the bus station, had our first real Brazilian meal - rice and beans, along with some other colourful items and are caught the over night bus to Iguacu falls. The 10 hour bus ride didnt turn out to be so bad, arrived even a bit early. Got a ride to the hostel and settled in easily. Iguacu is much warmer than Curitiba, but unfortunately we are enjoying our first rain today. Not all that bad when you´re well prepared.

We spent the day at the falls that easily rival Niagara, met our first travel friend -Dave from South Africa, and are now back relaxing out of the rain til we meet up for dinner. Looking forward to our last Brazilian meal for a while since we`re off to the Argentinian side of the falls tomorrow. Supposed to be even more Spectacular! Wooop!


  • Lots more pictures to come*

Posted by BrookesSeb 16:05 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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