Argentina / Chile (Patagonia)
- Steak – A post about Argentina couldn’t begin without mentioning the delicious Steak(s) that is on offer. The meat in Argentina is fantastic. This is due to the many estancias and cow farming they have. They really know how to cook the steak to perfection. Medium-Rare is a must, anything higher and you ruin it! A pinky-redish colour, soft and juicy on the inside and bbq’d taste on the outside. I think I had steak every second day I was in Buenos Aires, maybe even a few days in a row and I stayed there for around 20 days. You would think I would be all Steaked-out but no, I’m craving for more! One of the restaurants even shows us the steak he served could be cut with a spoon. Now that’s just ridiculously tender. Hats off to the chefs!
- Spanish School – I signed up to El Pasaje Spanish School for a week as I knew little or no Spanish and in South America, you literally have no hope without basic Spanish. For example, my arrival day I just wanted a sandwich and the questions fired back at me about the sandwich from the deli counter, I just had no clue and the lady must of thought he’s got no hope. The first week of Spanish school was pretty good and I think I got to grips with the basics, but thought I needed more learning, so I stayed for another week. The second week was allot more intense and I won’t lie but I did struggle a bit! All in all a great experience and I walked away with basic skills to be able to travel around.
- Graffiti Bike Tour – I took a bike tour with Graffitimundo, in the scorching heat of Buenos Aires for around 4 hours. Cycling through various neighbourhoods (some looking a bit dodgy and dangerous) but we was in a group with a guide, so it was all good. The Graffiti is superb and the artists are very talented.
- Empanadas – You can’t go to Buenos Aires without shying away from the lovely empanadas filled with either carne (meat), pollo (chicken) or vegetables. They are pretty damn good, and great for a light snack of grab a few for lunch.
- The Argentine Experience Night – A fantastic night to go to where you get a true experience of the food in Argentina, including that famous, tender steak. Here the night begins with trying different wines from Argentina (unlimited might I add) and then we being with a Empanada making competition. We all make our own shaped empanadas and then a winner is chosen by the chef. After we are given this amazingly cooked steak (one of the best in Bs.As) with some vino tinto (Red Wine to complement the steak. To top it off we have biscuits with Dulce de Leche (famous Chocolatey mixture) with some Sharing of Traditional Maté. Maté is the famous hot drink Argentinos have all day, everyday. It’s like green tea but allot stronger in this special shaped cup.
- Speak Easy bars – There are lots of hidden bars or secret type doorways to get to bars which require a password to enter. We got the password for one bar and turned up there. Initially it looked like a quiet and small drinking spot, but then you go up to the bouncer and you tell him the password. He then confirms and pushes a door (which looks like a wall) and suddenly opens out a bar behind the scenes full of people. So cool!
- Tango Lesson – A group of us went for a Tango lesson in a place called La Cathédral. It’s an old cathedral which is now host to a bar and Tango lessons. The lesson was in Spanish, but still awesome. Who needs to speak the language when you can talk by dance? The lesson lasted about 2 hours, then it turned into a Tango Club. Great fun and there are many beginners there so you can fit right in,
- La Terrazzas Nightclub – One of the best clubs I’ve been to. It has a huge outside area near the sea and also a huge inside area. Music varied from dance music to raggaeton. The crowd is great and everyone is so friendly. South Americans can really dance! Girls and guys, we’re just no match for their moves.
- Freddo’s Ice Cream – Buenos Aires is famous for ice cream (Heladerias) as it has allot of Italian influence. A chain shop is called Freddo’s and after being discovered I think I had allot of them. Each session of Freddo’s was half a kilo of ice cream!
- Cemetario de Recoleta – A Massive cemetery where lots of famous families are resting in Peace. You would think this was a sad place being a cemetery but it’s more of a tourist attraction with huge graves.
- Blue Dollar Market – Interestingly, there is a thing called the Blue Dollar Market in Argentina. Now this is basically a parallel currency market with an impressive rate if you’re carrying around dollars, euros of pounds. The Government stopped any foreign currency from being bought in the country and therefore there is a high demand for foreign currencies. It’s a known fact that this market exists, considering the number of vendors in the street shouting out “Cambio.. Cambio… Cambio” (Change, Change, Change.) and the police know it exists but it’s something they just let happen. At this point in time, the official rate for 1usd would be 8.2 Argentine Pesos, and in the Blue Dollar market you can get upto 40% more, at a whopping 14 Pesos to the 1usd. Definitely a bonus if your visiting Argentina, make sure you bring your pounds or dollars!!
- La Bomba de tiempo – A concert which happens every Monday that is done by drums. Pretty cool rhythm they have.
- Stand-up Paddle Rafting – A different activity, where instead of sitting inside a raft you stand up on this big board with a paddle in a group. There was five of us paddling down a rapid river, though the grade was only around 2, as any higher and there no chance of staying on the board.
- Huapi Lake – A cablecar ride up to a high viewpoint to see the beautiful lake.
- Cheese fondu – Supposedly a swiss delicacy, but ou dip your meat into a cheese fondu. All in all I would say this gets a bit too cheesy for my liking.
- Lomito Completo – we think it stands for meat with everything possible!
- Osorno Volcano Climb – A days hike around Osorno Volcano in the heat. There were these ridiculously big flys flying around that are indeed biters! When I say big, I mean huuge!! We had to collect some branches and use it to hit them away from us.
- Jamon y Queso, Jamon y Queso, Jamon y Queso – I’m not sure if Argentines love ham and cheese for breakfast.. I have a feeling its just what the hotels feed us gringos. Every morning or every sandwhich consists of jamon y Queso. Even at a pizza parlour the menu was basically ham and cheese, or cheese an ham, or ham with a different cheese. When we asked for something else ‘supposedly’ on the menu they didn’t have it. Jamon Y Queso it is then!
Torres del Paine
- 4 day W trek – The famous trek in the Chilean part of Patagonia. This was going to encompass 4 days of 8 hours a day trekking through the wonderful landscapes of Patagonia with 4 nights camping.
a) The Granite Towers
b) Horns of Painec) French Valley
d) Grey Glacier
- Perito Moreno Glacier – Absolutely stunning glacier. Imagine a sunny day with no clouds, bright turquoise coloured water and a huge face of a glacier right infront of you… Just incredible! With pieces of falling ice from the face of the glacier plunging into the water making loud cracking noises. We took a boat ride which took us within a few metres of the face. The glacier towering over us glimmering in the sun, and the breakages of ice making waves towards the boat. Definitely hits the list of top sights to see.
- Estancia day – We spent the afternoon at an estancia and the showed us how the sheer sheep and ride horses. The main purposes in my eyes was to enjoy the dinner which was going to be served, lamb cooked on an open fire to their speciality. An abundance of food with spectacularly cooked meat.
- Glacier Climbing on Viedmar Glacier – Ice axes, crampons and repelling down crevasses?! Definitely something I wasn’t going to pass on, when else do you get the chance to do something like this. We ice trekked for around 45 minutes on the glacier and then found crevasses, reaching down to 25 metres and repelled down them. Once at the bottom we then had to make our way up again.. NOT.. I repeat.. NOT an easy task!! Unbelievably difficult to pull yourself up using the ice axes and digging your toes/crampons into the glacier. At some points, I thought I was never going to make it out. To top off our hard days climbing, we had whisky on the rocks.. literally ice rocks from the glacier!!
- Fitzroy Hike – A wonderful yet challenging hike up to the see Mt.Fitzroy. This mountain looks amazing with pools of water infront for fantastic pictures. Magical powers has led me to meditate above water in the picture?
- Fin Del Mundo (End of the World) – Ushuaia is situated at the most southernest point in the world before you reach Antarctica. This is where all the cruise ships which head for Antarctica embark from. A very cold place!
- Tierro del fuego national park – A Coastal national park in Argentina, where rainforest meets the coast. Another lovely days hike.
- Penguin Island – A short boat ride across to an island where a penguin colony exists of Madgellon penguins. Many penguins had just hatched so there were lots of small penguisns hiding in holes. They are not shy at all, they walk right up close to you and start pecking away at your trousers. Randomly there were also these 3 huge king penguins on the islands. Noone knows why or how they have come here, but lucky for us there were here.
- Passport stamp – So I heard you can get your passport stamped here, in which I did. The stamp is pretty cool, however I wasn’t expecting this supposedly famous postman to also put a sticker of himself posing with the stamp in my passport to. I wonder what customs think when they see this?