Argentina, South America, Travel diaries, Travels 2010-2011

Travel Diary: Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, Argentina

We have come to the end of our exploration of ancient ruins and are now heading to the land of steak and wine ... Argentina!

3 June – Cuzco to Lima (Peru) to Santiago (Chile) to Buenos Aires (Argentina) in one day!

Today is the day we are crossing through 3 countries. As the Bolivian border is still closed and flights to La Paz (the capital of Bolivia) are really expensive we are going to head straight to Argentina instead. The only way we could cheaply get to Buenos Aires without sitting on a bus for over 3 days was to take 3 different flights. Cuzco-Lima-Santiago-Buenos Aires. It took us a day to get there with all flights in quick succession but it was better than sitting for 3 days on a bus. We left Cuzco at 9am and arrived in Buenos Aires at 9pm. We grabbed a taxi, who ribbed us off but we were too tired and knew too little Spanish to argue so we let it be. He dropped us off at the hostel we had booked, Republica San Telmo, where Augustin met us. Augustin runs the hostel which is basically his mother’s house where they have converted 4 of the bedrooms into dorms and doubles. Dying of thirst by this point we went out to try and find a shop to buy water but they were all closed. Even the bars and restaurants wouldn’t sell us any as it was in glass bottles so we went to bed thirsty and grumpy.

4 June – Buenos Aires and big steaks

After a very cold night we woke up early to explore the great city of Buenos Aires. We took a walk around San Telmo, the old historical arty area we are staying. We went for lunch in a nice local looking restaurant and what did we order ... steak and vino of course, we’re in Argentina! And some steak it was as well it was HUGE! A good 30 ounces. Plus an amazing side of roasted veggies and salad. I think we are going to like this place. I can’t believe Shaun has turned me into such a carnivore. We wondered around San Telmo for the rest of the day before heading back to the hostel. This hostel is really nice as it is a family’s home where they all live. In the evening we stayed in, still stuffed from lunch, we didn’t even go out for dinner.

5 June – Buenos Aires

As the hostel doesn’t serve breakfast on a Sunday as ‘they need to sleep’ we headed for lunch at the same steak restaurant as yesterday and we walked all the way to the bus station around 30-40 minutes away to book a bus out of Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls. We have now ruled out skiing in Bariloche as the season doesn’t start for another 2 weeks and we don’t have the money to spare. Never mind, there is always next time! After asking multiple people where the bus terminal was we eventually found it tucked away behind the local train station. We settled on the bus company Tigre Iguazu/Via Bariloche for a tutto letto suite – a 180 degrees laying down bed! Feeling pretty exhausted from trying to communicate with the locals we got a taxi back to the hostel to chill out. In the evening we walked back to Florida Avenue for dinner and walked back for an early night ahead of our 20 hour journey tomorrow.

6 June – Palemero and bus to Puerto Iguazu

Today we explored the bustling shopping district of Palemero. After figuring out which direction we needed to head, with the help of the English speaking security guard, we got our subway tickets for 1.50 peso each (21 pence). A few stops and a change of train and we reached the Palemero stop. We walked up to the plaza where the many shops and restaurants are based. After walking around in the rain for a while we headed to the other plaza to find a restaurant for lunch. This is the first rain we have had since Quito over a month ago. Anyway we found a nice English pub looking restaurant and of course ordered steak and a bottle of vino. We’re going to miss this! We wondered around the shops for another few hours before catching the subway back to the hostel. This time it was a little more challenging as it was now 4.50pm and rush hour was approaching. Everyone pushed in front of us and crammed into the carriage with me and Shaun left on the platform not daring to try and squeeze in too. Another train came with the same situation. Another train came and it was now or never so we squeezed in first and got crammed until all the available space was gone (it was like those You Tube videos of the Japanese subways where the guys push people in so the door closes). Back at the hostel we got changed and said our goodbyes to Augustin and his girlfriend/sister (I have no idea who she was) and we went outside to grab a taxi to the bus station. As luck would have it no one would stop and we even asked a taxi driver in a shop if he could take us and he said no. About 10 minutes later a taxi came along and dropped us off at the bus station just in time, half an hour before the bus was due to leave. Unlike Peru the bus station is very unorganised as we were told our bus would be on any platform between 37 and 50. About 2 minutes before the bus was due to leave it pulled up and some guy chucked our bags on the bus, 3 other people boarded and we were away. How they make any money I don’t know as there were 5 of us on the entire bus. We had been told that Argentinean buses are the best but compared to the buses we had been taking in Peru it was quite rubbish. They might serve free champagne, wine and whiskey but it doesn’t make up for the fact that it was rubbish. After a couple of films and a horrible tv tray dinner and a polystyrene cup of wine we settled into the bed position (which still isn’t fully flat, the 180 degrees just doesn’t exist) for a long night.

7 June – Arriving in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

We arrived in Puerto Iguazu about 18 hours later, sometime around midday. The hostel we had booked was only one block away so we walked up the hill and found The Iguazu Falls Hostel. Once checked in we headed straight out into the eerily quiet town to find something to eat. We settled for the only nice looking restaurant we could find, a parilla of course (grill house) and as we’re still in Argentina we ordered steak. We had a good 20oz steak between us and it was the best one yet and cooked to perfection. Now our bellies are satisfied we headed back to the hostel for a well needed snooze. We ended up snoozing for a very long time and woke up at 8pm so we went to the bakery down the road and had some bread and the amazing Argentinean dulce de leche (a kind of caramel spread).

8 June – The truly amazing Iguazu Falls

After grabbing some roles from the bakery we headed to the bus station and got a return ticket on the local bus to Iguazu Falls for 15 pesos each which left straight away. Half an hour later we arrived at the Iguazu ticket office and had to pay a 100 peso entrance fee. The falls are based in a huge national park which you can navigate by the paved walkways and train. We walked to the second train stop and boarded the train to the Devils Throat. Once there you walk along some dodgy looking platform for 1 km before you reach the end of the walkway where you are staring right over the edge of the waterfall, truly awesome! One side of the devils throat is in Argentina and the other in Brazil. We waved by to Brazil and got the train back to the second stop where we walked the upper circuit looking over the entire falls. Nothing could have prepared us for this, it was absolutely breathtaking! There are numerous separate waterfalls next to each other covering a HUGE area! The view is so spectacular! We then headed around the lower circuit walking at the bottom of the falls where you get to grips with their awesome power. From here you can also take a rib to get really close to the falls but seeing all of the soaking wet people we opted out! It was 5pm by time we took the bus back and we have had such an amazing day! In the evening we headed out to what will be our last parilla as we are heading to Brazil tomorrow. We splashed out on a posh looking restaurant on a hidden little street and had our best steak yet! Our English speaking waiter was very odd throughout the meal making comments and very odd as he looked at our pathetic tip! Shaun then felt bad about not tipping by American standards and felt bad for the rest of the day!

9 June – 24 hour bus to Rio de Janeiro

We packed up yet again this morning and went to the bus station and booked a ticket on the only bus that goes directly from here to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil today. We quickly ate some lunch, booked a hostel online then boarded the bus at 1.10pm. Well, we were supposed to board at 1.10pm. We ended up waiting around for a coach to pick us up which then took us to another bus station where our bus pulled up which had come directly from Buenos Aires. They unloaded the passengers, emptied the toilet and let us jump on. This is our first bus full of tourists - usually it’s local people. Very uneventful as usual, we stopped off at a restaurant for tea at 9.30pm and that’s about it.

A la perchoine, Jodie and Shaun

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