Archive for March, 2012

After a very pleasant bus ride to El Calafate (fabulous drivers and great crowd on the bus) I hooked up with a Polish girl (Marzena) and a French guy (Greg), so since none of us had a hostel booked we decided to listen to Lonely Planet’s recommendation: I keu ken.

It was a cool hostel, not many people, helpful staff. We planned on a quiet afternoon, decided to cook Spaghetti alla Bolognese together and crack a bottle of Malbec with it…It felt like being in a the middle of nowhere, nice music, no crowd (imagine this scenery: )

Turned out quite quickly that 1 bottle of wine wasn’t enough for the 3 of us, so while i cleaned up the ruins of lunch, Marzi and Greg went to buy another one. After that we decided to do a bit of sightseeing (it was dark already). Calafate has a special’s very touristic but it’s a superb little town with wooden houses and North Faith and Colombia branded shops something like this:

After a 3rd bottle of wine and a couple of beers we knocked ourselves out around 1am. Next day 8am bus to Perito Moreno glacier. 2 hours bus ride, 100 Pesos entrance fee to National Park and 2 options to choose from: boat to glacier and 3 hours walking or no boat and 5 hours walking around glacier. We chose option 1.

View from boat:

Walking path:

Returned to Calafate at 4pm and me and Marzana had a bus to El Chalten in the evening.

It’s a 3 hours bus ride from Calafate with a 20 minutes stopover at Hotel el Leone.

Again we didn’t have a hostel booked and since it was late when we arrived we went into the first hostel (La comarca) and stayed there throughout the whole time we spent in chalten. It was a great choice as the guy who was running it was very friendly, helpful and hardworking.

So imagine El Chalten as a little young (built in ’85) mountain town. It’s not a party town, people come here to hike. There is no entrance fee to the National Park, you can spend here days just to enjoy the mountains and get sorted your life in your head. (you need a bit of a stamina to do 3-4 days hiking) El Chalten operates only 6 month of the year. We came here in the very end of the season as winter is coming and based on what we saw in the nature (twisted trees) Patagonia in winter is windy! So all these people who are running hostels, supermarkets or any other business pack up and move to Buenos Aires or somewhere else. This guy is running ON HIS OWN this hostel (which is always packed because it’s the closest to the bus station), cleans every day the rooms and common places and during the day works on the top level of the hostel to finish. All my respect is his. Oh yes and there are not many places in Patagonia or the North of Argentina where you can find a hostel for 40 pesos (around $8)/night.

So day 1 in el Chalten..Laguna de los tres (the main path that people are coming here for: to see the Fitz roy). This is a 5 hour walk up to 1500m (3 hours back so altogether 8). Difficulty level- medium to high. The last 1.5 hour is killer…imagine something like this:

But all the efforts you put in this climb pays off in the end…having this view:

After enjoying it for hours we made our way back to El Chalten..needless to say by the end your knees and legs are fairly sore so stretching is essential. We decided to ease the pain with a few beers in the Cervezeria in the evening along with Greg who arrived a day later from Calafate.

On the second day we went on a much easier route to Cerro Torres where similar view was waiting for us but still not quite the same.

Marzena left in the evening to go to the End of the World and we had dinner together with Greg and his friend who arrived in the evening.

On the last day I had my bus back to Calafate at 1pm, so I packed, checked out and did a very easy 2 hours walk to a waterfall. After Iguassu I won’t even insert this picture:)

Calafate was easy..quick sock shopping for the W trek in Puerto Natales (4 nights 5 days starting from Wednesday…cross your fingers for my survival please) and a quick visit to Laguna Nimez. to sleep…waking up in less than 5 hours. Update on Chile soon! Thanks for reading 🙂

After a pleasant 23 hour bus ride I arrived to Bariloche in the afternoon ( 15th March). The hostel  (TangoInn) seemed very nice with Jacuzzi –which i didn’t take advantage of. The first day in a new place is always a bit hard. Sometimes you don’t feel like meeting new people and telling them your story over and over again. But once you do it, there will always be some nice people who give you good tips for your future destinations.

The first 2 people I met were ok however I couldn’t really talk to them as they were pro travellers (the girl from London has been travelling for years, the Aussie guy has been travelling for 13 months) and they were fairly big-headed about it. But after I met Tal (from Israel) and turned out we are in a very similar position both with regards to travels and private life, we decided to spend the next day together.

Let me give you a bit of overview on Bariloche. This nice little city is in the middle of Nahual Huapi National park. The city itself is famous for its chocolate and meat of course. Backpacker’s call it a party town..I cannot comment on this as I didn’t go out. From Bariloche you can go to the mountains doing  1 or more days of trekking. So on Thursday we went to the Lago P. Moreno Oeste (Lake) which was surrounded by a 30km road. (Circuito Chico) We hired mountain bikes and cycled around the lake. Beyond the picturesque view all over, you can have different side attractions, like turning to a side road you can lock your bike and do an hour trekking to a Mirador (viewpoint) or to a very nice cost part of the lake. During this trip I found the absolute perfect place if I ever wanted to get away in the future from my everyday life and just enjoy the stunning view, silence and the eco house for 2 weeks. Check this out:

We returned to Bariloche exhausted but satisfied. It was great doing some physical activity after Buenos Aires.  I had an early night.

The day after we planned with Tal our next days as it turned out to be great hanging out with her, and then we went to Lago Gutierrez, did some kayaking on the lake and hiking to a view-point. Since we had a few heavy days ahead us we didn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s day, instead I chatted to Angie and Phil (Swiss couple who were half way on their year trip and they gave me very good tips for my next destinations. Angie made me a really nice bracelet. She learnt the technique in Central America..I think I should do the same considering my love towards jewelleries :).

Early rise in the morning..destination: Pampa Linda (Nahual Huapi National park ). We arrived at 11am, built the tent in a camp where the season was just over so all facilities were unavailable. (yes, what you  are thinking is true: we didn’t shower for days…:P and we were the only people in the camping) The first thing we did was a half day horse riding given that there was a range, 2 guys were living there looking after the horses hoping that many people jump on the occasion like we did. Riding the horse just reminded me of Babolna (the city I lived for a while in Hungary- famous for its Arabic horses). I never got the opportunity to ride the horse as freely as I did here..crossing rivers, forests, riding fast on green fields…my biggest dream has come true. Oh yes and the destination with the horses was the Black glacier. We got to the bottom and were watching the glacier to fall…i wouldn’t even dare thinking about seeing a glacier live when I was sitting in my geography class at high school..studying about the Andes..I took a short video on this:

It was fairly cold in the tent..around 6-7 degrees…i wasn’t quite geared for this temperature but I survived. I have to add that at some point during the night we heard human steps approaching to our tent so we freaked out and slept with a tiny knife each in our hands..we wouldn’t have been able to kill a mouse with those knives but it gave us certain security J Turned out in the morning the human steps might have been only horses or cows eating pleasantly the grass just steps away from the tent.

Next day we hiked 15km-s (about 5 hours) up to the glacier. The aim was to reach the Otto Meiling Refugio and if we have the stamina go back to our tent, but the weather was so cloudy that just  before the Refugio we decided to turn back because it was very dangerous to continue..Even the last km was very mad from us to do considering that Tal was on a tour (with guides) on a similar mountain in Pucon (Chile) about a month ago with similar weather conditions where 2 people fell off the rocks and died…..

We returned to Pampa Linda just after sunset absolutely knackered..8 hours wonder.

The last day we went on a short hike as we had to get back early to Bariloche and we planned to do this hitchhiking. However there is a rule on the roads here, people can only leave Pampa Linda before 9am or after 4pm. In-between cars can only come up to Pampa Linda as the roads are so narrow and dangerous that 2 cars don’t fit on it next to each other.

So we found an Irish family who was heading down with their caravan at 4 and we asked them if we could hop on and get a ride down, they agreed. Very nice family and it impressed me how great the idea is for a family to travel in a caravan…great spirit!

Once we arrived to the main road we had to hitchhike again because they went to El Bolson (opposite direction to Bariloche). After 1 minute on the road, a Pickup stopped and we hopped on.

I enjoyed the ride as you can see on the picture:)

Once we arrived to Bariloche I had a few things to arrange, such as buying bus ticket for the next day (time to say bye to Bariloche and move on to the South), return sleeping bag, collect my bags from the hostel, do some food shopping for the 26 hour bus ride and go to the famous El Boliche de Alberto restaurant to try this:

I am on the bus to El Calafate now..for about 9 hours..I cannot wait to see the famous Perito Moreno, Fitz Roy and Torres el Paine.

Hey Guys…I miss you…Keep those emails coming as I have no time to follow your everyday lives on Facebook but i always find time to reply to a personal email. x

Beautiful architecture, friendly people, hot tango dancers, melting steaks, cool city districts and sunshine..this is Buenos Aires.

After a 20 hour bus ride from the Iguassu Falls I arrived to Buenos Aires. I have to say this trip was rather pleasant with its 3 course dinner and Malbec, breakfast, convertible seats so you almost felt like sleeping in your bed, great crowd..i didn’t have problems with the air conditioning either so in Argentina it’s definitely worth doing the long distances on bus..(toilet liquid only..however there is always one or two who doesn’t consider this making the whole bus suffer until the smell clears from the air con…

Unfortunately upon arrival my usual acid problem came out, and I guess this was a warning from my body on the need of slowing down a bit…

I really wanted to see my great Argentinian friends, Nati and Lia though so I decided to be stronger than the pain and went out in the evening for the first steak in Recoleta district….

Well…I have always been a big fan of steak but this one…just made it my top 1 food during my stay in BA…the steak here absolutely amazing. I have to say that I wasn’t 100% happy with the wine though but maybe I didn’t choose the right Malbec (this is valid for my whole 1 week stay in Buenos Aires not just on that night).

We didn’t stay out long, just literally a quick catch up, dinner, laugh and home.

The next day I didn’t feel good at all, so I decided to have a lazy day in the hostel. I did the right thing even though I was going mental if I thought about wasting my time instead of exploring outside but hey…you need to take a break sometimes don’t you?

Early bed time, good sleep..and I was the old Aliz again!

Next day I decided with Iain (we met in Lencois and met again at Iguassu so we travelled together to Buenos Aires) to take the yellow hop on hop off City bus to get an idea about the size/structure of the city so we can pick the locations we would like to explore more in-depth afterwards. I ended up buying a 2 day ticket because BA has a lot of things to offer. Museums, parks, history.

It has become very quickly clear to me that Palermo is going to be my place…with it’s little Parisian bohemian atmosphere, crammed with art galleries, book stores, bars, restaurant. In fact I changed hostels half way because my initial hostel was in the centre and Palermo was a bit out.

Lia and Nati looked after me -they were sweet, we met almost every day. Rollerblading, house party, dinners, deep chats, we did everything together. It’s been very nice..

On Sunday I went to Tigre to check out the market, Delta tour and the legendary casino that everyone was talking about:) in the evening I went to San Telmo, where there is a massive handicraft market on every Sunday along with live tango show. I enjoyed it a lot. Then on Monday I decided to do a day trip to Uruguay- Colonia town.

Everyone recommended it instead of Montevideo and Punta del Este so I did it. Too bad that I haven’t checked the weather beforehand…That day was just a disaster.

I set my alarm at 6am, as I ordered the taxi for 6.40 (ferry left at 8am but check in started at 7am) Events on the day:

1. alarm didn’t go off, the receptionist woke me up saying that the taxi arrived. 2 minutes to get ready and check out. Luckily I was packed..I am learning:)

2. I was convinced that the Colonia Express ferry left from the same place as the major Buquebus one…well it didn’t so I had to take another taxi and go to somewhere else..obviously I was late.

3.once we left the port the waves were just incredible..i have never had a ride like this.. spilt coffee everywhere and half of the people throw up a travel buddy half was who was the loudest person on the ferry making sure to keep the people entertained during the rough trip..he probably partied through the night so he felt confident coming up to me and making fun of me in front of the people..luckily it was funny so i joined him in his game

5.In Colonia..dark..and tornado..I have never seen a rain like that…I knew I had only a half day as my ferry back to BA left at I tried to make the most out of the situation and rent a car..after a few of them tried to screw me over i decided to go sightseeing in the rain..needless to say I didn’t enjoy it and i got absolutely soaked in rain ..and in addition to that it was cold and i was wearing a linen dress…

So after all this I went back to the ferry station and in the moment of getting back on the return ferry the sun came out..31 degrees..Murphy..

In the evening I met my Hungarian gaming fellow Gabor..he started travelling a week after me and i was always one step ahead of him. Same day I met a Hungarian girl who stayed in the same hostel..small world.

So yesterday we had our farewell night with Lia and Nati..I am sad to leave them and this great city but Bariloche is waiting for me and the whole Patagonia…

Waiting for the bus at the moment and will arrive tomorrow 2pm.

In fact I need to leave now.

Few pics of Buenos Aires to make this post more colourful:

After the Carnival Fever I started to actually live Brazil instead of partying it through.

I spent in Salvador 3 days (21-23 February) but I only saw the city in Carnival decoration and in its post carnival ruins.

Pelourinho (the old town centre ) was very nice though with all the colourful little houses attached one to another. If you’d like to get the feeling of  Pelourinho, check out Michael Jackson ‘s They don’t really care about us clip. (Rio vs Pelourinho ).

Salvador Bahia is the largest city on the northeast coast of Brazil and was the major place for slave trade. This is a typical Bahian outfit:

I stayed on the seaside –the area is called Barra- in Hostel Porto Salvador. I wasn’t very happy with the staff. In my Rio hostel  (Books hostel) the staff was so much nicer. They helped a lot. For example in Brazil you cannot book a flight or bus online unless you are Brazilian citizen as they require  the CFP number (personal society number) at the booking which is linked to your credit or debit card. Felipe in Books hostel paid for my ticket without hesitation (and without even telling me that this was his intention to do..)he just bought it and i gave him the cash. In this Salvador hostel I asked the staff if there is a chance for me to book through them and they just  said that they didn’t have their cards on them..oh well..This is just an example to show you how nice certain people are in Brazil like those in Books Hostel. Another thing that I didn’t quite like was that since I was planning on taking the 11pm night bus to Lençois, and i wanted to make the most out of my the last day, but when i checked out they just told me that they were really sorry but their storage room was full and they won’t take responsibility for my bags if i leave them at the reception. Great…so I stayed in the hostel all day. Admin need a few of them.

I was advised to go out quite early to the bus station (Rodoviaria) because it’s not safe to travel on buses after dark I arrived at 8pm to the station and although I asked prior to that about 5 people if I needed to buy a bus ticket in advance and all said it’s not necessary because they never run out of tickets they did on this occasion:)

Luckily I met a nice guy from Israel –Nir- he was in the same shoes as me so we decided to stay at the station and wait for the 7am bus there. I didn’t sleep at all, he did a bit…after 5am those 2 hours were killer. At least i had no problems sleeping on the bus for 6 hours.

Arrived to Lençois at 2.30pm, occupied my hostel (Daime Sono) right in the centre of this little town). Patricia was very nice she looked after me, and this compensated the basic features of this hostel.  So in the afternoon me and Nir took a walk and went to the first waterfall. Lençois is an old mining town. Miners began searching for diamonds in alluvial deposits. They settled in makeshift tents, which, from the hills above, looked like bed sheets drying in the wind – hence the town’s name: Lençóis (sheets).
The only way to make the most out of the place was to book tours as it’s in a massive National Park (Chapada Diamantina) and people cannot just go and explore. Plus we are living in a commercial world aren’t we?

In the evening again, I had no sleeping problems at all.

We booked a tour for next day which was an all day one with 6 different attractions:

  1. Poço de Diablo waterfall –we spent an hour here swimming
  2. Morro do Pai Inácio- amazing landscapes
  3. Alto do Pai Inacio- hiking up high then jumping and having fun on top
  4. Gruta da Pratinha- blue lagoon, snorkelling in a cave
  5. Gruta Azul- even bluer lagoon
  6. Gruta da Lapa Doce- cseppkobarlang

Fab day, great group, we made friends very quickly and went out in the evening to a Reggae party. It was fun. The party was in a house owned by the Bob Marley looking Zion…on 20 square meter about 50 people danced, drank, chatted, got stoned..

Next day most of the people who took this tour and attended the party just chilled, so we met up and went with our tour guide (Hernandez) to rebeirão- which is a kinda natural aqua park. It’s well known that I love aqua parks so the slides were my top spots. After a long day in 35 degrees we returned and went out for dinner. I haven’t really talked about food yet.

Based on 3 weeks experience I have to say Brazil isn’t a major tourist attraction because of its food.

I tried a few things but the fruits are far the best. Just to mention my favourites:

açai, cupuaçu, piña,guava, papaya

The Brazilian cuisine has lots of deep fried and bbq meat. You can buy food in restaurants ‘al peso’, where u pay by the weight of your food. I tried the famous feijoada but i found an organ in it that i couldn’t identify and based on the look it didn’t trigger the need in me to examine it in –depth or continue eating it.

I tried Farofa (a dish of toasted manioc flour with small amounts of flavoring ingredients such as pork, onions, hard boiled eggs or different vegetables)

Moqueca- typical Bahian food, similar to a curry.

Coxinha- it’s a pear shaped breaded fried chicked snack.

Tapioca- it’s like a sweet or savoury pita bread

Dulce de leche- a lot of people (especially aussies were surprised that in Brazil they serve cakes in the morning that you can have with jam, butter or dulce de leiche.  It is prepared by slowly heating sweetened milk to create a product that derives its taste from caramelised sugar. It is a popular sweet in Latin America, where it is known under a variety of names. In Chile, Ecuador and Panama, it is known as manjar.

On the last day of Lençois we booked another tour which was a day of hiking in blasting sun uphill  to Brazil’s highest waterfall called: Fumaça. When we got to the top the view was sensational..

You had to lie down on your tummy on hanging cliffs to see the waterfall.  The height is probably the greatest in Brazil but the volume of the water was very small as it was dry season.

But before arriving  to the waterfall we had a bit of an adventure lol.

The tour guide (different to the previous one) had to walk slowly because a group member was struggling uphill.

So the rest of the group (7 people incl. me) decided to try to find this waterfall alone…you can imagine what’s next: we got lost 🙂

After going circles and circles we developed great experience in identifying the difference among the paths which at first seemed to be all the same. Eventually we met other groups who helped us with directions but upon arrival to the waterfall our guide was nowhere. He went ‘into the wild’ to look for us…and came back after a couple of hours pretty pissed off but at the same time relieved that we were there.

The view was something similar:

After this we walked downhill back to the minibus (I became a roast chicken). On the way we saw a snake sliding slowly in the bushes. Turned out it was a boa constrictor..even if i freak out of snakes it was quite an experience see one of these ‘in person’.

After this we went swimming to a natural lake and then back to Lençois. Only few hours were missing until my bus at 11pm back to Salvador so we went for dinner, said bye to each other, packed and left the town. I was was amazing..I kinda feel that i will have problems let great phases go..but this trip is all about enjoying a place for a bit then leave.

I got to Salvador at 5.30 am on the 28th Feb. Went straight to the airport and took a flight to Belo Horizonte. The only reason why i got a ticket here is because this was the cheapest option to go down towards Foç do Iguassu by plane otherwise i would have needed to take a 15+ hour bus on a more expensive rate.

I have to say my Portuguese is improving..using my Italian, French and Spanish makes a unique language that Brazilians kinda understand. Hardly anyone speaks English which is quote frustrating every now and then.  On the plane a Brazilian girl started chatting to me. She told me about her terrific time in Salvador during carnival the fact that she will not have money now for a while to travel anywhere. She offered me to take me to the hostel i booked for 15 REALS (taxi fare from Belo Horizonte Confins airport to downtown is around 90 RLS normally). Her stepfather and brother came to pick her up so in the car they told me a bit about Belo Horizonte and Brazil. We did some price comparisons in house purchase and rental Brazil vs. London/Hungary. I have to say Brazil is an expensive country for people earning 1/3-rd of what an average Londoner earns.

The hostel I stayed in was very nice, I found myself in the middle of a Portuguese lesson as soon as I arrived which was very useful and raised the curiosity in me towards this language. I like the sound, I like the people, I like the spirit, so why not learn it?

The next day I did some admin washing and beauty hours and in the afternoon i visited Belo Horizonte..this amount of time was more than enough for this city. It’s just a typical city…nothing special..a few parks and nice buildings, and as I got to know from Chris the hometown of Sepultura.

The 3rd day I went on a trip to Ouro Preto which is recommended by Lonely Planet and it’s about 2.5 hours distance from Belo. On the way there we stopped for an hour because of construction works on the road which created again a ‘survival union’ among the bus members. I chatted to a Peruvian lady (around 65 years old) who gave me her facebook details and suggested that we meet up later on in Peru. Great!:)

Ouro Preto is a little town famous for its churches and position surrounded by mountains. In the old town there are little artiginal shops selling local products. One of my favourite was Douce Leite and the different coconut products. An afternoon was enough also to this little town. On the way back the bus broke down so we didn’t skip the 1 hour wait..

And now..I am on the bus to Iguassu Falls..27 hour Marathon ride which started very good.. Bus left BH Rodoviaria at 8am and made it until BH suburbia when it broke down…2 hours wait for the new bus..Initially it was 15 minutes (Brazilian time which is min. 40) but the driver got lost so we had another hour and 20 mins to was great. We are 4 of us on the bus..2 military police men with proper guns and an old fellow ..i am assuming he is drunk.

I can’t wait to post this once I am at Iguassu:)

So that’s it, I am leaving Brazil..i saw only a few out of many many breathtaking places. Next time I will do the North and the Amazonas or Pantanal.

Argentina is my next post.


Ok so I decided to add the Iguassu Falls experience here..The bus ride took slightly more to arrive here..actually 34 hours so i guess from now on 16 -20 hour bus rides will not cause problems..

I got the hostel and stayed in. The day after Tracy came to pick me up and go together to the Brazilian side of the waterfalls ( Tracy was the first person I met upon the start of my trip in Rio and we went together to Ilha Grande so she is special for me). It was so nice to see her again after 3 weeks..we arrived to the national park and saw the waterfalls…well…words cannot describe how stunningly beautiful the scene is…we spent the whole day there walking and admiring this Unesco World Heritage…

Once we got home we took our stuff and headed to the Argentinian side. The boarder crossing was a very easy process questions, no hesitation, stamp and go. After arriving to out hostel we had a beer with Tracy and went out to celebrate her birthday with the first Argentinian steak and Malbec. Then after midnight headed to the only night club in Puerto Iguassu: Cuba Libre. we were the only guests..too early hours for Argentina,,so we went to the bar next to it to drink and chat..4am it was hard to walk back to the hostel:)

And today we had to wake up fairly early..8am and go to the Argentinian side ..

La gargante del Diablo….is something …unbelievable..

Tomorrow the plan is to go there again early in the morning because it changes from the morning to the afternoon.


So that’s it for Brazil…I’ll write soon about Buenos Aires and Uruguay.