09
Jan

The Honeymoon Is Over

By: muttler
that's all folks!

that’s all folks!

So, that’s it my friends.

It was pretty epic as far as honeymoons go. None of this lying around taking it easy. That’s not the way we roll.

The trip home was pretty exhausting. It all began at Iguazu and took 2-3 days to make our way back to Melbourne. in this time LAN airlines didn’t endear us too much. Over that time we had cancelled flights, rescheduled flights, delayed flights, lots of sitting around airports, and alas my luggage going AWOL between Buenos Aires and Santiago. At this stage I THINK it is in Sydney. Keep your fingers crossed.

Hope you found it all interesting and not too indulgent! And apologies again for the tardiness. But you know… I had better things to do ūüôā

09
Jan

“You WILL Get Wet”

By: muttler
yeah, we got pretty wet

yeah, we got pretty wet

05/01/2015

Today was our second and last full day at Iguazu, and sadly the last day of “fun” on our trip. After this it is pretty much all plane travel, airports, and the odd airport hotel. So we needed to fill in the rest of what Iguazu had to offer.

We had one of the Iguazu “must dos” booked for today. One in which we were destined to come back drenched.

IMG_0395

ready for adventure

It all started at about 10am, where we met our guides for a half hour drive through the nearby jungle. Sadly we didn’t really get to see much of anything. It was good to see the surrounding jungle, but alas no animals or birds were out, so the local Tucans were going to avoid us this trip it seemed.

calm before the storm

calm before the storm

We then arrived at waters edge, where we all got into a speed boat for a cruise up the Igauzu river. Well, cruise is not quite it, rather a cruise with moments of burning through rapids and getting a bit wet. But this was really just a taster for the main course.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

After about 20 minutes we arrived at the foot of a number of the huge waterfalls that make up Iguazu. Down below the noise was deafening, and the sight was incredible… looking upward at the waterfalls that we peered down just the day before.

It was then that our guide warned us that everything, and he repeated EVERYTHING, had to go into the numerous dry bags that the tour group supplied. So we dutifully listened, popping everything away except for out totally waterproof camera and GoPro. When everyone was done, the real fun started…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

before…

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

… and after

Our driver directed us at one of the key waterfalls and in no time at all we were pretty wet. We had gone right to the edge of one of the main waterfalls and felt the brunt of it. But our driver was not happy with that. Rather we did a quick lap and went back for seconds. This time we seemed to venture in a bit more and then we were SOAKED. Getting wet was an understatement… we were both drenched. Awesome!

This wasn’t the end of it though. We went back around to some waterfalls we had seen earlier and got given a closer look at those. And by closer look, I mean getting even wetter, if that was possible. We did a couple of goes into there, and before we knew it we were all done. The boat was full of water and everyone was a mess. But we all loved it.

IMG_0410

 

IMG_0427

 

IMG_0441

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

We clambered out and started making our way up the path. This was a great spot, as unlike the day before, the trail had us at the foot of the waterfalls, so it made for quite different vantage points and pics. We slowly made our way up, leaving soggy footprints all the way.

IMG_2509Along the way we bumped into some more butterflys. There was the most amazing assortment all about the park.

It was about 1pm when we were done, and we decided to take advantage of the fact we had a hotel at our disposal. Getting dry was a priority.

IMG_0445

 

Given we had been on all the trails in the park, and our time away was winding up, we decided to take it easy during the afternoon, soaking up the humidity and heat next to the hotel pool. Ahhh… that felt good. The hotel iguana was just kicking back too.

Later in the afternoon, I decided to go for one last quick wander, up to the main entrance of the park. We had bypassed this when we came in, so I went to check out the gift shop and it was pretty mediocre. Not that I was after anything really, but unless I wanted a t-shirt or dodgy handicraft, it was not worth the walk.

Kate and I enjoyed a last dinner staring out at the falls from the hotel bar balcony. All good things come to an end.

09
Jan

Exploring Iguazu

By: muttler
the power of iguazu

the power of iguazu

04/01/2014

Today was our first full day at Iguazu. You could not have more of a contrast from our previous journeys this trip. As we walked out of our hotel, straight into the national park, it was about 30 degrees and what felt like 1000% humidity. Suddenly I missed the cold.

Within the national park, around the falls, there are a number of walks you can do to explore them. As I mentioned, Iguazu is on the border of a few countries, and each apparently offers their own unique perspectives. From Brazil (which sadly we would not have time to get to), you see the entire waterfalls, however from in Argentina, you get to be in amongst them all. While the idea of seeing them from Brazil was appealing, given the amount of mist and spray, we were not sure what you would really see, so were happy to be here in Argentina.

IMG_0207

 

We started with the Paseo Superior walk, which took us along the top of a number of the falls. It was a bit crowded along the walkways between falls, but there was always time to try and get photos as we moved along. But you know, photos never do justice to raging torrents of water do they?

IMG_0216

 

IMG_0221

 

IMG_0274

 

IMG_2400

 

IMG_0258

 

Every now and then we would catch the spray from the nearby falls, which was glorious on a hot and steamy day like this one.

IMG_0222

 

While we were out and about we came across more of the furry little critters. This one did the craziest thing. Someone had set an empty coke bottle on the seat next to them. The little guy jumped up, unscrewed the lid using his mouth and claws, and started licking it clean. They certainly have learned a few tricks!

It took a couple of hours to wander that path and we were super sweaty by the time we got back to the central area. The limon icy pole tasted so good!

IMG_0295

 

Next plan was to head to the top most falls, Garganta del Diablo, or Devil’s Throat. Now usually you can take the train up or enjoy an half hour walk. We were keen for the walk but for some reason it appeared the path was closed. Ordinarily you would think no probs, but this meant that EVERYBODY was waiting for the train. Oh boy.

IMG_0303

 

It took over an hour of waiting in the heat to get on a train. It seems the line/queue system kinda breaks down here in Argentina and things become a bit more free-for-all. Hhhmmm.

IMG_2401

 

Although, we did see the coolest facial hair so far. This guy was rocking it in a pretty unironic way… much different to back home.

IMG_0311

 

But we got on and made our way to the top and made our way across a kilometre of walkway over the fast flowing river. We eventually got to the Devil’s Throat and om my! It was a fury of water and noise and spray. There were numerous falls all descending down. It was pretty awe inspiring.

IMG_0345

 

IMG_2467

 

IMG_0376

 

IMG_0369

 

Sadly any kind of line system was also breaking down here and it was every man for themselves in trying to get a good vantage spot. Seemed all the park guides could do was blow their whistle without effect, trying to get people to move along.

But it didn’t diminish things too much as the sheer force of nature just swept you up.

IMG_2497

 

We were super hot and sweaty by this point and made our way back to catch the train back to the main part of the park. One the way back I met this lovely butterfly who wanted to hang out and be photographed. Check out the freaky green “fangs”.

It was getting close to 5pm, so things would be winding up in the park and would be shutting up soon. Seemed like a good time to have a swim. Ah, now that is an advantage of staying the park.

Now cooled down we had an early dinner, kicking back and watching the falls as we had a beer and contemplated how awesome things were for us.

09
Jan

Talk About Extremes

By: muttler
a bit different from the last lot of blog posts hey?

the view from our hotel. a bit different from the last lot of blog posts hey?

03/01/2015

One of the tough things about air travel is the unpredictability of things.

Yesterday we took hours to check in at the small Ushuaia airport, and this morning, having seen Jorge Newberry airport busy on our way down to Ushuaia originally, we got there early. Sure enough we were checked in in 2 minutes and had a couple of hours of sitting around to do.

Anyway, we eventually got on our last main destination flight, to Iguazu Falls. Iguazu is on the corner of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay and is the second largest waterfall in the world. We had a few days before we had to head home, so why not pay a visit?

our digs for the next few days

our digs for the next few days

We arrived no problems in to the tiny airport mid afternoon and went to our hotel. This was an extravagance in our trip, as rather than stay in the nearby town, we decided to stay at the one hotel inside the park. It is a bit pricy, but given you can watch the waterfalls until nightfall, when everyone else is out side the park, and can hear the constant rushing of water and the noise of the jungle, why wouldn’t you stay there?

IMG_0133

 

IMG_0130

 

matt has a bright idea

matt has a bright idea

We enjoyed a late lunch soaking up the environment, and then got out for a couple of hours to see some of the smaller falls. While we were inside the park, hotel guests can’t wander about at their own leisure, so we had to be back by about 6pm.

That was OK, we were both still tired and happy to just get out and about a little before a couple of big days.

IMG_0127

 

IMG_0180

 

It was funny to come across the very friendly, if quite aggresive wildlife. These guys were cute but then would try and grab food of visitors, leading to some startled children. There was also the odd lizard that just decided to wander about.

freaky bird

freaky bird

Being in the jungle we were starting to come across a number of cool birds. My mind was still trying to get around the fact that were were almost in the exact opposite to our recent expedition. From ice to jungle in a matter of days. Surreal.

IMG_0196

 

IMG_0199

 

IMG_0202The rest of the night was just enjoying the sunset on the falls and some drinks before bed time. Exploration awaited.

09
Jan

Back to Buenos Aires

By: muttler
last morning in Ushuaia

last morning in Ushuaia

02/01/2015

The day kicked off with the familiar wake up call from Jonathan but nice and early. 6am to be precise. Bags were outside the cabin, and there was little left to do but have breakfast, say goodbyes, and disembark. It was strange saying goodbye to everyone, and there were hugs all round with all the staff. It does legitimately seem to mean a lot to them that they have this job and do make a connection with many of the passengers.

the morning view is not nearly as exhilirating

the morning view is not nearly as exhilirating

Our flight was not until 3pm, so we had the morning in Ushuaia. There was not much to see or do that we hadn’t already, so the day was simply going from one cafe to the next to chill out. We kept bumping into both crew and other passengers which made for a strange, and almost anti-climactic end to the trip.

ushuaia bakery treats

ushuaia bakery treats

It came time to get on our shuttle to the airport, where we were greeted with the Argentine efficiency were were seeing a bit. For a small airport, it sure was a loooooong queue. We got to the airport about 2.5 hours ahead of time, and it seemed that some of our group only just made the flight. Oh well, we were now all Buenos Aires bound. Antarctica was officially all done.

Kate and I originally had dinner reservations for the night, yes another big steak dinner, but alas our flight was rescheduled while we were on the boat and pushed back a couple of hours, so sadly we couldn’t make it. Booo. Seems they are happy to change the times of flights happily enough over here. Makes planning a difficulty.

So we went straight to our hotel near the airport where we were both exhausted anyway. Try to get a good nights sleep before our morning flight tomorrow to our final Argentine destination.

09
Jan

Land Ahoy!

By: muttler
IMG_0062

reaching cape horn

01/01/2015

“Good morning everyone. It’s 7:30am and the weather is a balmy 8 degrees celcius. We have approached Cape Horn, the southern tip of South America.”

So spoke Jonathan in an impromptu wake up call. Since we had such a smooth passage over the Drake, our Captain chose a sailing path that took us much close to Cape Horn that we would ever had gone, another small reminder of the amazing captain and crew we have.

IMG_0037

 

IMG_0079

 

It was a buzz to see the southern most continental tip, being in Chile. We actually needed Chilean permission to enter we ended up that close. All this before breakfast on a quiet sailing day, and a very distinct reminder that we were going to be back in Ushuaia later today.

Today was another day of some lectures and formalities, with some farewells thrown in. First up was Scott introducing a short doco on the sailing around Cape Horn, and the life of a sailor in the 1920’s. They were all hard men.

The second lecture was by Gerard, who gave us a talk on his winter in Antarctica as resident chef in one of the British Antarctic Survey stations. This was probably my favourite talk of the entire trip, as he told his story that was equal parts about the history of food in Antarctic expeditions, but also his experiences and how he went about feeding 14 men during an 18 month stay.

It was quite incredible as he talked about the challenges of not just feeding them, but finding ways to keep their spirits up and how you stop everyone from going mad. It was an amazing insight to life on these stations, and from the chefs perspective made for a riveting tale.

Up next John¬†ran a trivia session that was actually 40 pretty tough questions. We amassed a solid group, and thanks to our handy reference books (which were allowed!) we managed to answer many an obscure question about explorers and bases and the odd easy one about penguins and whales. We ended up with 32 out of 40… a bit of a ways off the winners at 38, but we were quite proud of the achievement.

the captain says goodbye

the captain says goodbye

The night started to get more and more sad as we had a series of formal and informal farewells. First was the formal Captains farewell, where our amazing captain visited us all to wish us Bon Voyage. He had done a stellar job navigating the ice, sending us to other places, chasing whales that I can’t imagine it would have been better.

the awesome boat staff

the awesome boat staff

There was also a series of farewells to all the crew, including engine room, deck hands, cabin staff, cooks and everyone. They had all done an amazing job, and got a deserved ovation. Farewells to the crew happened in a less formal way, with everyone doing the rounds during dinner.

the whole kayak team

the whole kayak team

sad farewell number 7412

sad farewell number 7412

Mark also called a final Kayak meeting for us all to run through photos and say a formal goodbye. We were a tight knit crew, and it was pretty sad but everyone was still buzzing from our kayaking experiences. Mark and Phil were the absolute best.

with the INCREDIBLE jonathan, our tour leader

with the INCREDIBLE jonathan, our tour leader

All the informal farewells started happening in the Polar Bear bar, where Blaise was busting out a final set. About a third of the passengers were there and quite a few of the staff, having a final drink together. Again there were plenty of hand shakes and hugs to finish off the evening.

Well, the evening finished with some bag packing for the early morning disembarkation that awaited.

04
Jan

The Adventure Begins

By: muttler
my ticket to the antarctic

my ticket to the antarctic

21/12/2014

Before kicking off our big adventure, we had a free half day in Ushuaia. Being a Sunday, we were told that not much would be open, so rather than just kick around the town, we opted to explore the nearby national park, Tierra del Fuego.

We joined the guided tour early in the morning and headed into the national park. This is in interesting place, as they say it is the only park that has the ocean meeting the mountains and meeting the woodlands. It certainly is dramatic, as we had the still snowcapped mountains meeting the water.

public transport in ushuaia

public transport in ushuaia

Our first stop in the park was the start of an old railroad, that was originally built by convicts in the late 1800’s. Apparently the Argentinian government thought it best to send prisoners down to the southern tip of the country to establish it and hold on to it. Part of what they set up was a railroad to help with the foresting of the area, and while the railroad is not used anymore, the last 7km still exists as a tourist steam train into the national park. Kate was keen to ride, so we grabbed tickets and jumped on board.

kate loves a steam train

kate loves a steam train

It was a slow ride as we made our way into the park. The scene was quite lovely with the mountains in the background. The evidence of the foresting was clear for all to see though, and it was remarked that it was a tree graveyard, with remnants still scattered about.

We made a brief stop at a station along the way La Macarena, so we obviously couldn’t resist some appropriate action photos.

i'm not the only one who does cheesy things

i’m not the only one who does cheesy things

 

say hi to my new friend

say hi to my new friend

 

our steam driven chariot

our steam driven chariot

 

IMG_7216.jpg

 

After an hour we made the end. It was a fun ride, and a nice way to spend the morning in a relaxed fashion.

IMG_7231

 

IMG_7215

 

From there we continued deeper into the park, stopping every now and then for short walks and photo opportunities. The park was quite lovely, and as mentioned the mountains made for an amazing backdrop. However, the foresting of the area meant that it wasn’t as picturesque in parts as I thought it may have been.

blame the beavers

blame the beavers

But nonetheless, it was a great way to spend the morning. One thing I didn’t expect was to find out that there was a significant beaver population in the area, making dams in many of the rivers and streams about the park. They were an introduced species, brought in for their fur, however they weren’t really used for that back in the day and apparently they number in the millions. Sadly we didn’t see any beavers, but did see several of their homes, one large one in particular in one of the rivers.

a long way from anywhere pt 1

a long way from anywhere pt 1

 

a long way from anywhere pt 2

a long way from anywhere pt 2

The visit took us until early afternoon, dropping us back in town for a quick bite to eat before needing to meet up with the G Adventures group to get our passenger cards that would be our most important item on the boat. The card that makes the Antarctica trip most official!

our sturdy vessel

our sturdy vessel

 

i'm a pirate!

i’m a pirate!

 

home for the next 15 days

home for the next 15 days

After another hour of anticipation it was finally time to get on the boat and prepare for departure. It was getting super real by now and amazingly exciting. Just after 4pm Kate and I were on and settling into our cabin. I’m not sure why but the amenities on the boat were a bit fancier than I expected. I was expecting to rough it a little, but no, our cabin was nice and cozy, and the lounge and bar areas were super comfy. Even seeing the restaurant menu I saw I was going to be well looked after!

say goodbye to ushuaia

say goodbye to ushuaia

On 5pm, we departed Ushuaia, with everyone out on deck to say goodbye to the mainland and begin our 2 week expedition. It would be about 6 hours in the Beagle Channel, before reaching Drake’s Passage proper, so some time with calm waters to get to know everything we needed to know about our boat and trip.

be prepared

be prepared

 

aaaahhhhh!!!!

aaaahhhhh!!!!

First up was a safety briefing and drill. Armed with our lifejackets we ran through all the formalities, including being introduced to our meeting points and our lifeboat. We even got to go it which was very cool! Some didn’t want to jinx things, but Kate and I rushed in to get a feel for it. Touch wood it would be the only time we ever see the inside!

After that was an introduction to all the crew and guides. I guess you would have to be an outgoing type to do this job, but everyone was so lovely and enthusiastic it made it impossible not to be beaming from ear to ear and what lay ahead.

Suddenly it was time for dinner, with a delicious 3 course meal. Man, I’m not sure I will be able to handle eating so much food! Again, I wasn’t expecting such a fancy experience, but I guess when you are paying a significant amount for such a trip maybe that is what many people expect.

ready for action

ready for action

It was an action packed night, as as soon as dinner was done, Kate and I went to grab our expedition parkas. Everyone was being given the same bright red heavy duty parka as part of the trip, so within half an hour the boat was a sea of red. A nice perk, although how to get it home?!

Things were not done yet, with an initial briefing scheduled for the two dozen of us that had chosen to go on the optional kayaking adventures. Rather than take zodiacs out exploring each time, we have the option to jump in a sea kayak and explore. Everything we had read and who we had spoken to said it was a must, so we were super excited (if a little daunted) by the idea. The initial briefing was just to meet everyone and for Mark the kayak master (that’s what his badge said) to reiterate that while it would not be super challenging, it was to be taken seriously. Kate was getting a a little nervous, but I was sure a first trip out would quell those worries.

the good ship g expedition

the good ship g expedition

Phew! What a crazy, busy, overwhelming day! We were now all done and could settle in for the evening. While Kate took the opportunity to wind down, I was still buzzed so wandered the ship some more. It seemed many had decided to head to their cabins to try and get some rest, but some of us wandered about.

i'm on my way!

i’m on my way!

I was keen to see the end of the earth (well, Argentina) and the official entrance to Drake’s Passage. At about 11pm we saw our last land and only open water to the south. It has begun!

21
Dec

You Call This Summer?!

By: muttler
USHUAIA!!!

USHUAIA!!!

I’m in the Southern Hemisphere aren’t I? Doesn’t that mean it’s summer? I’m not so sure!

Anyway, let’s start at 9am this morning, where Kate and I said farewell to Buenos Aires for the time being, checking out of our hotel and making¬†our way to the other BA airport, Jorge Newberry Aeroparque. This is a smaller domestic airport very close to the centre of the city. Our destination? The southern most city in the world, Ushuaia, the start point of our exciting journey to Antarctica.

On arriving at Ushuaia Airport, we were greeted by a slight hiccup. We were there, but alas our bags were not. Oh dear. The one positive was that it was not just our bags about about 1/3 of the plane, and the friendly staff knew exactly what was going on and assured us that they would be delivered to our hotel around 9pm. Fingers crossed! But there was no point being upset as they seemed to be on top of it all.

So we met a friendly G Adventures rep at the airport and she whisked quite a lot of us who were on the flight to our hotel in Ushuaia, the Hotel Albatros. It is hard not to think of Queenstown when coming into town. Snow capped mountains in the background, adventure town feel. They seem like sister cities.

Oh, and you know how it is meant to be summer? Well, we arrived to a balmy 4 degrees celsius. And no, it wasn’t an out of the ordinary cold snap. That is about normal. That’s what you get for being so far south. Not having our luggage made keeping warm a little more challenging, but we had actually done some prep work, popping beanies and gloves in our carry on. Smart thinking!

At the hotel, we met another G Adventures rep, who ran us through the plan for tomorrow… embarkation day! We have the morning to ourselves and have to be back by 2pm, so Kate and I decided to book ourselves on a half day visit to one of the nearby national parks.

But that was about all the formalities for the evening, with our welcome packs detailing everything we needed to know. Too easy!

hitting the streets

hitting the streets

So rather than hang about in the hotel waiting for our bags, we hit the streets to see the town. It was interesting that all the shops (tourist stores, or adventure wear) were open until 9pm, but closed tomorrow (being Sunday). Odd given so many people are in town wanting last minute supplies. Regardless, we had everything we needed, so just wandered.

we're at the bottom of the earth alright

we’re at the bottom of the earth alright

The sights to see were simply the natural setting we had arrived to which was spectacular. Aside from the odd quaint church, it was all about the snowy peaks and boats waiting for us in the harbour.

boats awaiting us

boats awaiting us

Most importantly though, it was also dinner time. Thanks to our Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor, we located what sounded like a good place to eat, Christopher’s Parilla and Cerveza. In we wandered and checked out the menu. More meat! And this time also local microbrew too. Nice choice!

mmmm... more steak

mmmm… more steak

Of course we both went steak again. We went for different cuts this time, me choosing the skirt steak. And I chose wisely! Man, mine was delicious! I must say I enjoyed it a bit more than my Don Julio in some respects. Kate’s was delicious too. We also made the mistake again of ordering too much food, also tucking into salad and sweet potato.

mmmm... beer sampler

mmmm… beer sampler

And being in a house of cerveza, I thought it most appropriate to sample their local beers rather than wine. Since I couldn’t decide, I tired them all of course!

and the winner is...

and the winner is…

And the verdict? The beers were not quite up to the standard of the beef sadly. Not bad, but they have some work to do.

With that, we were super full and thought it best to wander back to the hotel. And happily for us, our bags were just arriving at the same time! All’s well that ends well huh? Lucky, otherwise I was going to have to try and rustle up some more warm clothes from somewhere before we set sail.

Oh, and this may be the last you hear of us for a couple of weeks. Wooooooooooo! Penguins!

21
Dec

A Night At The Opera (Well, The Ballet)

By: muttler
don't we look fancy

don’t we look fancy

While we hadn’t been sleeping properly since we arrived, it was last night that the jet lag really decided to hit us. As a result we were super tired when we woke up so spent a good part of the day actually lounging about. We didn’t mind as we got a bit done yesterday, and today was just about chilling out anyway. So it wasn’t until the afternoon that we got out and about.

arriving at plaza de mayo

arriving at plaza de mayo

Our plan was to just wander the local neighbourhood. Our vibe from Buenos Aires was that it was more a place for hanging out, so we decided to see what our local area had. It was for the most part a bit more of a shopping area, although that is still being a bit generous, as there was not much of interest. More notably, it was also the area of quite a few parliament buildings, and home of the main protest area, Plaza de Mayo.

high above the plaza

high above the plaza

 

the queens pedestal

the lady’s¬†pedestal

The plaza was both what I was expecting, but also not quite. It was, as I thought, just a big public space. but having been to Spain and some Latin American countries, it was not nearly as ornate as I thought it may be. By that I mean there were no tiled areas or mosaics or anything of aesthetic interest really, besides the odd statue and monument. It seemed a cool place to hang out, however, there was not much to sustain the visit.

hanging out in the plaza

hanging out in the plaza

 

more important buildings

more important buildings

Of more interest were some of the surrounding parliamentary buildings. They were quite cool and certainly added a sense of importance to area.

you meet all kinds in BA

you meet all kinds in BA

With that the rest of the late afternoon was just spent wandering and coming across the odd circus performer.

ready for a night of theatre

ready for a night of theatre

The wandering actually had a destination. During our visit to Teatro Colon yesterday we decided to pick up tickets to their festive performance of The Nutcracker, the famous ballet. Kate knew it well and I knew it from the crazy Nutcracker Fantasy animation as a kid, but it was mostly to be able to see something in the famous theatre.

kate getting excited

kate getting excited

A great deal of the venue was sold out, and what wasn’t sold out was pretty pricey, so we elected for some high up tickets in the boxes. While it was a little more difficult to see, it was very cool to be high above everything, soaking up the theatre.

detail everywhere

detail everywhere

From that vantage we could also check out the artwork in every corner of the theatre, including the roof.

With that the main event commenced. And how was it? Kate really liked it and said it was quite different to other performances she had seen. Me, well, it’s not quite my thing. But I did enjoy just being a part of it.

And so our evening came to a close. While not action packed, it was a chilled out day that we needed after such a long stretch of being crazy (and being jetlagged).

19
Dec

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina

By: muttler
hanging out in the local cemetery

hanging out in the local cemetery

Hello everyone!

Hope this finds you all doing well and winding down for the Christmas break. Just the right time for you to settle in to reading about our new adventures!

So after a hectic, whirlwind of a weekend, Kate and I had no time to rest. Rather it was packing for our early flight on Wednesday. First stop was Sydney (yawn) but then after a short wait, it was off to another country. A new continent for me in fact. Destination, Chile! Our fairly new feeling QANTAS plane treated us well, and with 4 movies and little sleep under my belt, we arrived in Santiago about 13 hours later. An uneventful flight of the best kind, although a little more sleep would have been nice.

In fact Kate especially was struggling with little sleep as we had a 4 hour wait for out connecting flight to our actual destination… Buenos Aires in Argentina. We decided not to spend time in Santiago, opting to head straight to Argentina instead. So with some struggles to keep the eyes open (Kate gave up on that and had a power nap), we boarded our last leg to get to our final destination. If I wasn’t excited already, the captains announcement of “I’m going to keep the seatbelt sign on as we head over out over the Andes” sure got me pumped!

About 2 hours later, we arrived in a new country for the both of us. Too exciting! The immigration folk were friendly, and our bags were waiting for us (always the small worry when you have 3 legs to your journey), as was our G Adventures complimentary airport transfer. Smooth sailing so far! And in another half an hour we finally arrived at our hotel. Our home for the next few nights was the G Adventures picked hotel, Hotel Boca. Some of you might be thinking “Boca? As in Boca Juniors?”. Yep, it is the Boca Juniors themed hotel in the middle of BA. And of course we were staying there! Not too outlandish, just the predominant blue and yellow everywhere.

All in all it was close to 24 hours later (being 7pm Argentina time). I was doing OK, but Kate was in struggle town. So rather than head out on the town straight away, some rest was in order. We both got to sleep quickly, but alas were up chatting at 2am thanks to the jetlag. We finally got some more sleep and at about 9am we were up.

With some brekky under our belts, it was time to hit the town. In reading through the guides for BA, it appeared that there wasn’t THAT much that were “must sees”. A lot speaks of the eating and the partying and the shopping, but little in the way of touristy things. Not a bad thing as it meant we didn’t feel as though we had to rush.

that's a big obelisk

that’s a big obelisk

Our first port of call was the Teatro Colon, aka the Buenos Aires Opera House. On the way we saw this giant obelisk just standing there in the middle of the traffic. Clearly not a big tourist attraction, as there was really no way to visit it in the middle of the intersection, but I guess if it is that big all you can do is admire from a distance.

arriving at teatro colon

arriving at teatro colon

We arrived to the amazing theatre, the size of a city block. Conveniently, there was a tour happening in english in 20 minutes, so we decided rather than admire from the foyer, we would get to explore. So off we went on an hour long tour of the grand theatre.

the glorious interior

the glorious interior

 

making a grand entrance

making a grand entrance

Apparently the largest in the southern hemisphere until the Sydney Opera House took the mantle, it is certainly more picturesque inside. Sure Sydney has the iconic shape and harbour, but this is amazingly opulent inside. Built in the late 1800’s it recently had a restoration to bring it back to its former glorious, and it was wonderous.

amazing stained glass all about

amazing stained glass all about

Our tour took us through the main parts of the theatre, getting the stories behind it all, and also inside the theatre itself. Sadly, we couldn’t take photos in the theatre itself, but this is because fortunately there was choral exams happening so we were treated to some new opera singers showing their talents. To hear just the operatic voice with piano accompaniment in the theatre was quite amazing and a real treat.

one cultured person, the other not so much

one cultured person, the other not so much

Inside the theatre was spectacular. With about 2000 seats on the ground, and another 700 in boxes all around, it was ornate in the best sense. But importantly the acoustics were incredible.

In the blink of an eye our visit was over, and it was time to head out onto the hot, humid BA street. Before legging it too far, we decided some food and ice cream was in order in a nearby park. Ahhhh.

an imposing welcome

an imposing welcome

Our next destination was to another of the main tourist spots, Recoleta Cemetery. A cemetery you say?! Yep. This one probably rivals only Pere Lachaise in Paris for being a must visit. While it is the home of most notable Argentinians, it is best known for being the final resting place of Eva Peron (i.e Evita), and it seems she is the main drawcard, with many folks coming to pay their respects to her alone.

cool digs

cool digs

But we decided to spend a couple of hours wandering the grounds, amongst the amazing tombs and statues. I found a really great PDF guide online (via this guy http://www.recoletacemetery.com/) and with iPad in hand we followed the trail. It was great in that it led us to well known Argentinians, like past presidents, scientists, military personnel amongst others, but also to best examples of types of tomb and statue.

lots of dramatic statues

lots of dramatic statues

 

not sure what is going on there

not sure what is going on there

It was hard not to want to snaps pics of everything, as an angle or with the blue sky led to some dramatic images.

past president

past president

 

disco time!

disco time!

The glorious sunlight was also mean coming across stained glass made for fun, disco photos.

life's tough

life’s tough

Every now and then we would run into one of the keepers of the cemetery. Of course there were dozens of cats wandering about, looking a little worse for wear sadly.

evita!

evita!

 

much more nondescript than many of the others

much more nondescript than many of the others

We eventually arrived at the resting place of Eva Peron. If not for a map, we would have missed it. One for the modesty, and two because she was in the crypt of her parents family. But the small crowd around it would probably have given it away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the end it felt like a rushed almost 2 hours we spent, and could have spent more time. But it was approaching 6pm and we were a bit tired and needed a rest, but also had some dinner plans in mind. So with a quick rest and drink stop, we legged it to the Palermo Viejo district and our dinner destination.

The drink stop involved trying a bottle of the new Coca-Cola version, Coke Life. It seemed it is being trialled in Argentina, before we get it at home soonish. Made with stevia, a more natural sweetener, Kate’s photo montage gives the appropriate review…

before...

before…

 

... and after

… and after

I was a little more ambivalent toward it, but it wasn’t great. Oh well, live and learn.

better than racv trucks

better than racv trucks

On our travels, we also came across this bus. Which as the name implied was actually a servicing bus for other buses! It was actually helping out a broken down commuter bus. It bought back glorious memories of chicken buses from 12 months ago.

destination reached!

destination reached!

After a bit more walking than we thought, we arrived at our dinner destination… Don Julio. Don Julio is a name of a traditional parilla (i.e steak barbecue place) that kept popping up so we knew we had to try it. Being unable to get a booking at such late notice, we had to try our luck at about opening time, and we scored a table no problems.

in case we needed help

in case we needed help

On entering we were greeted with the handy animal chart. Apologies to my vegetarian friends reading this… you may want to skip the rest of this entry (but it doesn’t get to graphic don’t worry).

smiles were big here

smiles were big here

 

now one of these would be a cool souvenir

now one of these would be a cool souvenir

The restaurant had a great vibe… felt upmarket without being too fancy, super attentive and helpful staff, but happy to have hot and weary travellers like ourselves in there. Awesome cutlery too. Thumbs up!

so delicious!

so delicious!

The toughest part though was decided what delicious food to order. The first dish to arrive was our appetiser. We decided to share the house speciality chorizo. It was chorizo sausage with cheese and rehydrated sun-dried tomato. And man it was amazing! While lacking in hotness (meaning Kate was up for it) it made up in tastiness. This was a big win from both of us.

Our side salad arrived (a tasty pear, leaf, cheery tomato and blue cheese mix) as a precursor to the main event… steak. Of course it was going to be. Kate opted for the rib eye, while I went the sirloin. And man it was huge. Quite daunting in fact!

that's a big piece of meat

that’s a big piece of meat

We wasted no time and tucked in to our dinner. Kate was loving her steak. Me, I thought mine was pretty great without being jaw droppingly great. It was still amazingly delicious, but maybe I was expecting to eat the BEST steak ever. Instead it was probably a top 5 steak. Still pretty good huh?

It almost¬†did me in though, barely getting to the end. But I struggled through. It was all tasty, especially the side dishes, and in the end, while we didn’t quite finish everything, we got pretty close.

With bellies full, and a bill that was only about $120 (crazy for such a huge and great meal), it was time for a taxi back to the hotel and the attempting of some sleep. Day one in Buenos Aires… done!