Monday, 16 September 2013

Tango Country

Buenos Aires is a very European city and extremely cosmopolitan. Coffee shops, bars and restaurants are in abundance. There are also lots of currency touts that shout 'cambio' who want your American Dollars to change to Argentinian Pesos. Be warned though, if you change your money then want to change Pesos before you leave Argentina, a lot of places won't change it for you or if they do, they need a receipt of your transaction.

Buenow Aires is great city to walk around and discover. You can go visit the Boca Stadium. You can walk to the stadium from the city centre if you have a free morning or afternoon. The official tours are pretty prices so unless your a die hard footy fan I wouldn't bother if you're on a budget.

Calle Florida is the place to be on a Sunday. The street just goes on and on and is full of little pop up shops and street sellers all interlaced with impromptu tango dancers. Great if you want a few bits and pieces before you fly home. Also a great night out is a Tango show. It sounds cliche but they are fabulous. I booked my ticket through Tango Tix  and went to see a show at El Querandi. I booked a dinner and dance show and it was fabulous. You get a three course meal and a bottle of wine. The food is lovely and there is a good selection, all tastes catered for. I would recommend going for the house trifle as it's not really a trifle and tastes truly magnificent. From all the Tango shows / Tango dinner nights, this one looked the most reasonable and it certainly exceeded my expectations. Here is a taster...

The sound of the city:

Saturday, 7 September 2013


I had heard a lot about North Patagonia's biggest city before visiting. How it's lake was the centre piece of an Andean dream.When I arrived it did not disappoint. I stayed at Hostel Penthouse 1004 near the centre.Even though I arrived at night in the pouring rain,I awoke to find a stunning view from the hostels balcony and a welcome touch of home made bread and jam to start the day.

The view:
The bread:

Bariloche itself is saturated with chocolate shops and ski shops. In summer it attracts people for hiking,kayaking and biking. In the winter the slopes are the main event.

There is a bus from Bariloche you can get to the ski resort. At the bottom of the slopes you can hire ski gear which you can pick up everyday you ski. I went skiing for a couple of days and I think to hire skis and poles for two days was about £80 and then a ski pass for two days was about £80 too. The view from the top of the mountain is beautiful and slopes are vast and white. There are also plenty of bars and cafes dotted about the slopes with lovely fires too. If you are in the season and go skiing, it's well worth it.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


El Calafate in Patagonia, Argentina, is where the journey to Patagonia for most people starts. It's a fairly small town but has everything you need. On the recommendation of another traveller I stayed at the America del Sur hostel. It's a short walk just out of the main town centre and it's situated on top of a hill so the views are brilliant. It's clean, friendly, really warm and the staff are really friendly. The people who work there will also help you book tour and buses to other parts of Argentina. I walked into town to see if we were going to be paying more by booking it through the hostel but it wasn't the case. A tip for Argentina is take lots of American Dollars. It's easier to pay for things in dollars and the rate is generally better if you change dollars.

Apart from changing currency, the first on the list was the Perito Moreno Glacier. There are boat trips that take you to see lots of glaciers but there are also day trips that let you see the Perito Moreno Glacier and then go walking on it. I opted for the day trip which included the glacier hike. The actual glacier is breathtaking. The sheer size of it is just phenomenal. There are viewing platforms opposite the glacier so you can really appreciate its size and beauty. I saw a pice of ice fall away from the side which was magnificent. Take a look for yourself...

Day tours cost around £70 but the whole day is worth it, especially if you go walking on the glacier. You get a little treat of whiskey at the end of the walk which was sublime!

Another great place to visit n Southern Argentina is El Chalten. It's a smaller town than El Calafate so if the weather is bad you can't really do anything. But from El Chalten you can do lots of walks. There are paths leading out of the town up to lakes and mountains. Monte Fitz Roy is a huge mountain which dominates the landscape and it is beautiful. I went in winter so I was lucky with the weather. If you get a bad snow storm or it's overcast you can still walk but the views aren't as great. The best thing about this area is that all the walks are free and getting into the National Park around El Chalten is free.

 As I was there in the winter there weren't that many people in the town but I can imagine that in the summer the paths are packed with tourists from abroad and Argentina. Depending on the weather I would spend about 2 nights in El Chalten in winter. You could camp and stay for about a week or so in summer I should think.

I found it was hard to find travel information during the winter months in Patagonia. There are buses but the routes and times are limited during winter. It's also worth noting that most buses from the south go from Rio Gallegos. So if you want to travel from El Chalten up to Bariloche, you would have to go back to Rio Gallegos to get a bus, rather than travel up the middle of Argentina. I think the roads are open during the summer so it's easier, but in the winter, some of the roads are shut.

Visiting El Chalten and El Calafate was a highlight of my South America trip. It is more expensive in Southern Argentina than other places but it's worth it.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The End of the World

I travelled to Ushuaia from Punta Arenas in Chile which is about 16 hour bus journey.Including a ferry crossing,border control and some of the most diverse landscapes I have seen,it's a long but rewarding journey. I travelled with Techni Austral and even though the bus was cold and you don't get any food on the journey,you are escorted through the border which is pretty good.

Ushuaia has a lot to offer. I stayed in Ahnen Hostel which turned out to be one of the best places I've stayed. My room was upgraded at no extra cost to a self catering small house!It was brilliant!I cooked a bit of a roast and apple crumble-bliss.

Ushuaia itself is fairly small but a busy place with lots of shops and lots of tour operators offering whatever the weather allows you to do.I went on a boat trip. I was due to go in the morning but the weather was too bad and the sea was rough so I had to cross my fingers hoping the weather would clear.Luckily it did and at 1500 I was off on a boat with four Argentinians.

It's hard to recreate with words the magical scenes the Beagle Channel has to offer.I just couldn't get out of my head that Antarctica was just over 1000km away. The Beagle Channel is not the only thing to be named after the infamous ship.Beagle beer is another delight.It's a lovely pale ale and accompanies the rigid landscape beautifully.