““All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber
Just a quick post to say we have made it safely to Africa and the start of a new chapter!!! We will spend the next five weeks volunteering with big cats at the Harnas Wildlife Foundation in Namibia. We’re not too sure what the internet availability will be there, so this blog might be a bit quiet for a short while. We will post when we can!
Thanks for keeping up with all our adventures!
Days 156, 157 & 158 – Travel Day and Buenos Aires, Argentina
And back to the very beginning!! After 150 days on the road, we are back to where we started, wide eyed and naive. It’s so strange to show up to a town and know where we are going and how to get around! But nice to feel knowledgeable!
Along with Conor, we got the midday ferry from Colonia, and with my twelveth(!!!) Argentina stamp in my passport, we were back! (side note – why on earth do they give you a 90 day visa and then give you a new one every time you cross a border? With Iguazu Falls and the border of Chile, you normally have to cross multiple times just driving on the road. Ridiculous!) After a bit of a wander through San Telmo, we wished Conor safe journey on his way to Santiago, and went in search of the Euro 2012 game, ending up in the Gibralter Olde English pub with a lot of expats! Fun stuff, especially with the game being close.
Next day, after realising we had covered Buenos Aires pretty darn extensively the last time here, we decided to walk up to the Plaza De Mayo and the presidential palace, Casa Rosada. This time we were able to take a tour, and it is pretty amazing! It’s the working seat of government and Christina Kirschner is there monday through friday. But on weekends, you can go into her office! I can’t remotely imagine hordes of tourists passing through the Oval Office while Secret Service just lounges nearby. Mental.
Saturday night was our last night in South America and so we had to splash out. The plan was steak, malbec and tango, and it was fantastic! We splurged on the most gorgeous piece of meat at the BA favourite, Desnivel, and toasted our first leg with a beautiful Mendoza Malbec. It does’t get much better than that! Then we met up with our new mates Kiwis Aimee and Richard to try our hand at the Tango. It was just us in the class, and so fun! Even though they deny it, both Jon and Richard can dance, and soon we were gliding across the floor with roses in our teeth and passion in our eyes. Ok, maybe not quite, but definitely making it across the room! After the lesson, we went next door to the milonga to watch the experts show us how it’s done. We stayed til 1 and the place never got too busy, but we were told if we wanted to see it heaving, it really kicked off at about 4am. Seriously? No wonder they all siesta!
And suddenly it was Sunday, and nearly time for us to fly! We went with Aimee, Richard, and Londoner Romin to the fantastic Sunday San Telmo market for last minute souveniers and steak sandwiches. The market is amazing – hundreds of stalls on blocks and blocks of city streets. A seriously great way to spend the day, and the absolutely perfect thing to do for our last few hours. Then it was time to go!
Thanks for everything South America, it’s been fab!
Days 154 & 155 – Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay
From a touristic point, Colonia is a veeery small town. As in impossible to get lost in and only a kilometer long. Surprising then, that it seems to be a major tourist destination for the Argentinians! But as it’s only an hour across the Rio Plate, they come here in droves in the summer for the beaches. In the winter (ie now), it’s veeery quiet, and veeery cold.
So, along with our new Irish friend Conor, who we met in Montevideo, we explored what (veeery) little there was that was open. In truth it’s a cute little colonial town, built by the Portguese to smuggle goods into Spanish controlled Buenos Aires (great reason!!). But two days was plenty.
For me the highlight was definitely the Shipwreck and Nautical Treasure museum! Built by someone with a major vision, and quite possibly on drugs, it’s like a poor man’s Disney attraction. There is a two story high tall ship inside, with the world’s ugliest pirates. And displays on all the local shipwrecks, information on the most infamous pirates and corsairs (and the difference between the two), and some truly amazing dioramas. It has to be seen to be believed. I think the only thing that could have made it better, (well besides some actually realistic dummies), would be more English translations. Totally worth a visit.
Other top moments – walking through the city gates and hearing a loud thud!, then realising we have just witnessed a possum falling 20 feet out of a tree. And it looked tremendously embarassed. Too funny.
And the best way to use a nonworking vintage car? Why make a dining table out of it, of course! Why didn’t you think of that??
Honestly, it’s some of these days that you enjoy the most. Just wandering around and seeing what happens. That said, I would totally come back. In the Summer.
Days 152 & 153 – Montevideo, Uruguay
Woot woot!!! We just had our final overnight bus of South America!! That’s 14 in total, and 10 hours on this last one. Yay, done!!!!
Uruguay marks our 10th country on this journey and our 10th currency to master, another type of peso, sigh. But we really enjoyed this town, so happy to do it. Montevideo is to me, very cute. The architecture is gorgeous in so many places, and I think there must have been a building spree in the 1930′s as there are tons of stunning art deco edifices all over the city. Like Paraguay, we didn’t have a major sight-seeing plan for this place, prefering to just wander and see.
Day one was really chilled out. We slowly ambled down to the Old City (Ciudad Viejo), and walked the small roads there, looking at the colonial houses (now sadly crumbling, though they are trying to restore the area). Though we’d been told it was safe, it felt a bit on the rough side, so we didn’t stay super long. Instead we went to the Mercado, where they serve the most amazing asado (grilled beef), before heading back through the various plazas, stopping to take pictures of hidden gems along the way. Our favourite was the Locks Fountain, where lovers are encourages to leave a padlock with their names on to ensure they stay together forever. Heartmeltingly romantic!!
Day two we had a bit more of a plan, and we made our way to the Gaucho museum. I was under the impression that Guachos were only the men on horseback that herded cattle, but the museum showed us they were a group of people, men and women, that lived nomadically, working with horses and the land. The interesting thing was these guachos were a mix of indigenous, spanish decendants, and africans, all working and living together. I think that must have been a first where all those people counted as equal. The museum was quite interesting and had some stunning displays of silverplate for the horses tack and knives, as well as the traditional weaponry of bolas (kinda like nunchucks, but with heavy balls attached – not something for the fainthearted!).
After the museum, we explored more of the city center, the amazing Palacio Salvo (formerly the highest building in South America and situated on the site of the birthplace of the tango), and the Solis Theater, built in 1856. We found lots of cool bits and pieces, including some fantastic street art, and really unusual artists craftwork in the street stalls.
As it started to get dark, we made our way to the seawall (or rather, riverfront, as it’s on the massive Rio Plate) to walk the Ramblas back to the hostel. It’s a beautiful view, and it was even warm as we sat taking in the last of the sun!