A Travellerspoint blog

November 2016

BA & Buh-bye South America!

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So, my visit to Buenos Aires was actually a really disjointed one which I have amalgamated into a single blog post as my final entry for Argentina, as well as for South America (I KNOW, I can't believe it!!). I spent some time in this big city in between the trips to Mendoza, Iguazu and Uruguay. It's a great jumping off point for all these destinations. I don't necessarily feel that I got the best exposure to BA due to the scattered trips, but I saw some great things and really tried to make the most of it.
The first day I spent walking around with Jeff! The person lucky enough to reunite with me so many times on my SA journey ;) We hit up Palermo for lunch and then onto the theatre turned bookstore, El Alteneo Grand Splendid. I couldn't decide if I thought the abundance of books or the store itself was more beautiful!!


Our next stop was Recoleta and the cemetery of BA. Which is amazing of course, don't get me wrong. I just couldn't help comparing it to Santiago. I'll just give you my favourite pictures and you can decide for yourself what you think...

(The last picture is the green space outside of the cemetery itself)

The cemetery is quite large so Jeff and I weren't 100% sure how we'd find Evitas grave (First lady, actress, activist.. "don't cry for me Argentina"). Then we realized we just had to follow the crowds of people!...


We ended our day together with a walk back to the hostel, stopping for pictures with the BA sign along the way..


On the next stop in BA I reunited again with Jeff (see what I mean about how lucky he is :) ) as well as Grace and Charlotte, the other half of our Bob Squad from Bolivia. We spent Jeff's last day in South America (and our last Bob squad day) at a tango show. It started out a little rough because the bus was late but we just passed the time waiting together on the hostel couch...


Then we were seated in the corner and had to suffer through some particularly poor wine. Despite the fancy tastings and the amount of wine I've had lately, I am still by no means a wine snob. Buuuuut this wine really did suck. Saving grace was the unlimited consumption of said wine and the dinner was pretty decent.


And then, the show itself completely redeemed the evening. They provided great displays of tango styles through the years, the dancers were incredibly skilled and I was mesmerized (except for necessary bathroom breaks from the previously mentioned bottomless wine).


It ended up being a great final night for the Bob squad after all.


So lastly, my final time spent in BA, I joined a walking tour in San Telmo and the Centro area. San Telmo is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Buenos Aires. We walked along streets that feature some popular Argentinian cartoon characters..


Found the city's smallest house..


Then got a little bit of history of the city, visited two of the largest churches, and beautiful streets around Centro that remind me of Europe for sure..


We finished the tour at Plaza de Mayo..


And after returning to the hostel, I had finished my touring in South America.
As with Uruguay, I'm going to skip my typical list of Argentinian favourites. Between mountains, natural beauty, wine, beaches, etc. it's really fairly similar to other countries. Instead I will opt for a list of my favourite things from two and half months in South America:
- Natural beauty is all around- No matter the country, you don't have to go very far on this amazing continent to find something in nature that will completely blow you away.
- Culture- each country is full of unique and beautiful cultures to experience. I love my country and I love living in Canada but the rich histories and extensive cultures of South America are wonders to discover.
- People- I've found South American's on the whole to be so much more friendly than I expected and so interesting to spend time with. Every country has their differences of course but I have also enjoyed the things that make them similar.. Intense, passionate individuals who are fiercely proud of their countries and their cultures.
- Tourist experience- Now don't get me wrong.. I love each and every one of you who have continued to read my blog, keep in contact with me on my trip, send me messages, contact on Facebook, what's app, Instagram, snapchat, etc. But I've heard about 1001 times to 'be careful' or 'be safe' and so many warnings had me nervous to begin travelling around SA for two months largely by myself. Which was something I have been pleased to find was fairly exaggerated! I'm not negating the importance of smart decisions and common sense, and I believe that I have those and have maintained it throughout the trip. But everywhere that I have been so far has been very tourist friendly, very safe (with the appropriate precautions), and just a great place to be!
This is truly the trip of a lifetime and I'm so lucky to be here. While I am sad to go, I am also extremely excited for the next chapter.. To see my Mom!! And spend time in Central America!

"I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility" - Jon Krakauer


Posted by elliehirch 18:31 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Beachin' it in Punta del Este

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I capped off my short stint in Uruguay by checking out the beaches near Punta del Este! This small peninsula town is often described as the Miami of Uruguay.. Ritzy, busy, touristy. I was lucky enough to be there during spring, low season, and still have great weather. So while I understand the 'Miami' vibes, it was quiet, peaceful, and perfect for me!
I spent my first day walking around the peninsula a bit. Starting at the surf side of Brava beach..


To the rocky outlooks along the peninsula's tip..


Through the puerto (port)...


And over to Mansa beach, the quieter, calmer side where I stopped to soak up the sun..


On the second day, I was reunited with Chelsea that I'd met in El Chalten (we had been lucky enough to be on the same walking tour in Montevideo!!), and we went to check out La Barra and the beaches there. Also beautiful of course..


We also managed to find a time on Brava beach where the Hand sculpture (called Dedos, which actually translates to fingers) was miraculously free of people!


The beaches in this area definitely lived up to their expectation. The sun was hot and I was left feeling appropriately sun kissed after only a few short days. Unfortunately that meant my time in Uruguay had come to an end and I was on my way back to Montevideo for a bus & ferry to Buenos Aires. Time really feels like it's flying.


After only a few short days in Uruguay my list of favourites would be huge! I think it's probably fairly obvious from how I've been describing things that I loved Uruguay and everything about it. The food, the beaches, cities, people, culture, values.... I'll skip the formal list that I've previously been doing and just leave you with this... For a bit more of a slow paced, relaxing and beachy (can't forget the beach!) stopover in South America, I couldn't recommend Uruguay higher!


Posted by elliehirch 05:33 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Montevideo is a capital city!

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Only two and a half days in the wonderful city of Montevideo was long enough for me to fall in love! Looking for an opportunity to relax at the end of my time in South America, I had definitely found the perfect place. I spent my first day enjoying Pocitos beach in the neighborhood I was staying..


The Pocitos area was really nice, very green, and the location of Uruguay's World Trade Center!


My second day I really got to appreciate the full flavor of the city (and the country) with a walking tour in the old city.
We started in the main square, Plaza Indepencia..

Can you spot the Canada flag?

We headed down some beautiful streets and explored other great plazas..


Between beautiful buildings, fences, greenery, etc. I was taking pictures all over the place. Just continuing my typical tourist lifestyle!


Throughout all of this, we heard a lot about the culture of Montevideo and Uruguay. They have basically no indigenous people left, which is a sad fact in itself, but means that all Uruguayans have come from somewhere else, and they are a small population (only 3 million), considering themselves one big community.. A happy, friendly family. They are quite welcoming to immigrants, boast less racism, classism, and sexism (I mean, they joke here that their population isn't growing because every woman is getting an education and doing what she wants before having a family.. How great is that). They have also have marriage equality, and have legalized abortion as well as marijuana for nationals.

They are also fiercely proud of their football team (what South American country isn't!) and love to remember their last World Cup victory over Brazil.. In Brazil. Gotta love an underdog victory, especially a country of 3 million over one of over 200 million. When I think about the feeling I get when Canada beats the US, I totally understand the Uruguayan pride! They also like to joke that more people know the name of their football coach than their president. And that his office is 'higher' than the president in their presidential building...


We also heard about their food and drink preferences. In a country of 3 million people with over 40 million cows, they feel it is their duty to eat all the meat they can so they don't lose the country to the cows! Big plates of beef and big beef sandwiches (chivitos)are everywhere. They also consume the most whiskey per capita in the world (so between the beef and the whiskey, I know a certain few people who should probably move here ;) ). They also drink a lot of wine, grappa and beer.. Saying the only thing that you really need for drinking is an excuse! And mate is everywhere (as it is in Argentina), people literally carry it with them all over the place, and it is a drink that's meant to be shared, fits right in with the friendly culture. Case in point.. The first time I tried it I was offered some by a random guy I was sitting with while waiting for a bus..

It totally tastes like they describe it.. Really strong, bitter tea. Didn't like it at first.. Then again I also didn't like coffee at first and now I'm basically a coffee addict :)

We also spent some time enjoying the unique, quirky, wonderful personality that this city has. From interesting street art/displays...


To interesting fence designs..


And interesting store names..


To marijuana dispensaries throughout downtown..


The combination of the quirky with the traditional old city gives a unique and perfectly Uruguayan feeling to Montevideo. It has that friendly, relaxed, enjoyable vibe.
Based on what I have raved about in my blog, and to basically anyone that knows me... I love small places and countryside. So I actually surprised myself by saying I would 100% live in this city. First time I've said that on my trip. That's not to say I don't love a lot of cities. I just don't see myself living there. So I just need to improve a wee bit on the old Spanish first ;)


Posted by elliehirch 04:14 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Uruguay --> Colonia del Sacramento

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After routing through Buenos Aires, I took a ferry to enter country #6.. Uruguay. And Colonia del Sacramento, or just Colonia, was the perfect place to start.. Adorable, old, colonial city. I spent the first day walking all around the old town. Taking in old buildings...


The old city gate...


Seaside views.. Somehow beautiful despite the dirty brown water. Or maybe I'm sugar coating it, decide for yourself..


Perhaps the harbor views are more appealing...

The flowers throughout the city are phenomenal!


And the lighthouse (faro) is a beautiful sight...


With beautiful city views from the top...


I also hit up a few museums, most notable being the textile museum. I thought it had some beautiful pieces and explained some of the designs of maps on the streets..


Ended the day with a brilliant sunset by the beach!


Day 2 I headed off to bike outside the city with Jacquie (Australia) and Maya (USA) to a local winery (if there's wine around, I'll find it!!). We had a beautiful bike ride down a tree lined road...


Then took a detour for lunch until the winery was open. Bodega Bernardi is a small, family winery that gives free tours and tastings! The building was great and the wine was delicious!


We got back in time for another great sunset...


And a barbecue and wine evening together at the hostel. After which my time in Colonia had already come to an end. Off to the capital of Uruguay next!

Posted by elliehirch 16:16 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Iguazu Fall--ing in love

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If my natural high after visiting Iguazu falls was any indication.. Those negative ions got to me! They say that air around mountains, big ocean waves and waterfalls produce negative ions that 'make you happy' (serotonin is involved so you know it's gotta be good). No wonder I am addicted to the natural wonders.. And Iguazu falls was no exception. There aren't enough words to describe it.. You've just gotta see it.
On this beautiful November day in the spring of Iguazu's jungle, I joined a group of solo travellers that I now happily call my Iguazu squad. I set off from the hostel with Lubnah from Holland, Cléa from France and Alex from the US. We met Neel from England as we were planning our route at the park entrance. (And later in the day we were joined for supper by Ben from Australia and Nick from Germany). All of us travelling on our own, all of us from different countries and all of us about to have a fabulous time together! It was amazing.
Our first views of the falls absolutely started the day off on a breathtaking note..


We could get closer and closer to the base of the falls and it was absolutely euphoric to stand below them and enjoy the rushing water..


All smiles for the Iguazu squad..


Even the smaller spots that we passed were beautiful..


Our next stop was the train ride and walk to the Devil's Throat, the overlook of the biggest mouth of the falls, roaring down into the abyss...


Another place to get soaked and get smiling!..


The beautiful rivers and greenery of the jungle are also pretty damn perfect..


There is also plenty of wildlife to enjoy in the park.. Monkeys, iguanas, bullet ants, scorpions, and these annoying/interesting creatures called coatis..


I managed to capture a video of one leaping from a tree to the railing of the walkway. He was a daring little bugger. But of all the insects/animals to see.. The butterflies flying around are the most beautiful..


Our last jaunt around the waterfalls gave us views from above..


And one last look from afar..


Before it was time to be on our way to catch our ride back to town. We had a nice night all together. Capped off a great day with a great squad!

I saw a few other sights in the adorable little town of Puerto Iguazu during my short stay. Walking the streets was an absolute pleasure..


And I headed to Tres Fronteras.. Where Paraguay, Brasil, and Argentina meet at the mouth of the river. They have a viewpoint from each country..


Along with an obelisk in the colours of each country...


The last things I really enjoyed about this area was the lush greenery and beautiful flowers. Once again, turning into my mother taking flower pics ;)...


The fast paced nature of my trip has meant quick visits to beautiful places. I could have spent days in Iguazu, but unfortunately I only had one. An absolute highlight of the natural beauties throughout South America. I am falling in love with this continent!


Posted by elliehirch 05:51 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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