A Travellerspoint blog


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)

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)

Trading mountains for Mendoza & wine!

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After so many weeks down south in mountains and cool weather.. It was a big change to spend some time in Mendoza! The weather was... A lot warmer. And the wine was plentiful!
I arrived to the city after a night bus so the first day was a quiet one, walking around the city and spending some time in the big beautiful park, Parque General San Martin...


So many nice places to sit and enjoy the sun!


After this I had an unfortunate encounter on my walk to get a haircut. Another crazy trip adventure but this one isn't quite as fun to tell so I'm just going to skip over to my spontaneous decision to get a new hairdo instead of just a cut!...


The second day in Mendoza was a more successful opportunity to soak up the sun. I joined a group of people headed to the hot springs, Sabrina from Italy, Niek from Holland and Yannick and Hendrick from Germany. We enjoyed a full day together in the huge, beautiful pools, staying outside in the cooler locations!


The views of the hot springs nestled in the valley were pretty awesome..


Lots of school kids were on a field trip that day and there was a few hilarious and overwhelming minutes where a group of 12-13 year old boys swarmed around Sabrina and I, goofing around and asking us so many questions in Spanish. I'm ashamed to say my Spanish is still quite atrocious so I was no help, but with her Italian, Sabrina was able to appropriately fill them in on our names, countries, ages, etc. And affirm that we do indeed love Lionel Messi.. Just maybe not quite as much as they do. It was quite the experience.

After getting back for a steak dinner close to the hostel (getting in some of the famous Argentinian beef.. Good but it's no Alberta beef), we drank wine on the hostel's rooftop patio. A very Argentinian evening!!

Day 3 was probably my favourite in Mendoza.. Time for bike and wine! This day was a different group from the hostel, Hein from Holland, Marko from Croatia, and Steph and Allan from Scotland. We set off in the late morning for the bike shop to rent the bikes that would carry us between wineries for the day. Our first stop was Domiciano winery. We started out with the cellar tour and wine tasting...


Before heading out to the vineyard and hearing about this unique winery that harvests at night. Done in the cool of the night to prevent the fermentation process from starting in the hot climate. While this was very unique I was a little more preoccupied by the beautiful vineyard views with a mountain backdrop..


Our second stop was a long ride down to Familia di Tommaso. Another beautiful vineyard..


And tour, tasting and lunch before the group was on our way again..


The biking views were really great!


We were joined on our last jaunt by a four legged friend..


And arrived at Mevi winery, my favourite of the day. With.. You guessed it. Another great view.


And three delicious wines in front of me. What more does a girl need!?


Unfortunately after this I had to bike back for another good old night bus. It felt like the time in Mendoza flew by but it was a wonderful visit!! Cheers!


Posted by elliehirch 14:22 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Glacial El Calafate Activities

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So.. the bus to El Calafate... Was another stressor. Now the first bus issue with the reciprocity fee was my screw up. I accept that. But this one was not! I couldn't print my bus ticket at the hostel (no printer) and had been on other buses where they just took the electronic ticket no issues. Of course this company wouldn't and the man at the counter was extreeemely rude to me. I had enough time to go to the office that could print for me, only to find that their computer wouldn't let me open my email. There was literally nothing else I could do to print this stupid piece of paper. And that stupid man was still unwilling to accept the perfectly clear electronic ticket. I was.... Just a little bit annoyed. Especially when I said forget it and was in the middle of paying for a different bus company (as in my card was in the machine, processing a payment!), when the bus driver leans his head out and says "OK" and waves me over. I was able to cancel the other ticket in time and still get on my original bus, no thanks to the man behind the counter. The bus drivers acted like they were being so nice letting me on. To a bus with only about 5 other people on it. With my perfectly good ticket that I had already paid for. Now, I like having the reputation of a nice, polite Canadian when I travel. But I did not say thank-you to them and I was not particularly nice! And I was only too happy to walk away as fast as possible once we made it to El Calafate!!
Things looked up from here, I spent the evening with my hostel roommate, Severa from Italy. Then took a glacier trekking tour the next day. Perito Moreno was one of the coolest things I saw in Patagonia for sure! The bus ride and boat ride to the glacier were both beautiful! Y'all know how I feel about mountains!!


And the first views of the glacier weren't too shabby either...


Once we had our groups (by language), we walked closer to get our crampons on.


To start walking around on this huge glacier! With a surface area the same size as Buenos Aires! It was even more amazing, fun, beautiful, than I had originally expected. It is one of the most easily accessible glaciers, and is also stable in size (between the accumulation areas and percolation/melting areas), making it a big tourist attraction and great glacier for walking on..


We got up high enough for great views..


Through beautiful pools and peaks..


And unfortunately one place where someone leaned over to take a picture of the deep pools and dropped their phone into the freezing water! After my recent GoPro incident, I was feeling extra sympathetic! Despite their fishing expedition, the guides were unsuccessful at retrieving it..


We saw some rivers and deeper pools (where big pieces of dirt blown over have caused some places to melt faster). I held my phone eeeextra tight for this pic..


Then the fun part.. Drinking whiskey with glacial ice while standing on a glacier!


After having lunch and a boat ride back, we took a bus to the main lookout point for the glacier.


We could watch some pieces breaking off and crashing into the water below. I enjoyed standing there for awhile just taking in the magnitude of it. A highlight of my start in Argentina for sure!!


Though it was a quick trip to El Calafate, it was a good one!

Posted by elliehirch 04:23 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

More mountains in El Chaltén

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I continued my time in Patagonia with a few days over in El Chaltén in Argentina.
So unfortunately I have to start out with another stressful story.. One in which I was somewhat of an idiot and did not realize that the reciprocity fee for Canadians to enter into Argentina needs to be paid... Online... Ahead of time. In all fairness to myself, I knew I had to pay it, I just didn't realize the whole ahead of time garbage. So I rocked up to the bus station having learned this only 5 minutes before, when I'd fully read my bus ticket for the first time (I am well aware of the fact that I should have read the thing earlier, but I didn't OKK). So the bus company was basically a bunch of jerks that wouldn't help me at all. As iiif I'm the first person to make this mistake. The application wouldn't work on my phone, the information desk didn't have a printer that worked (cause you know, you don't just have to pay it yourself online ahead.. You have to print it), the bus company wouldn't print it, wouldn't let me take a different bus, really just wouldn't be helpful in the slightest. So that bus left without me. I walked two steps to the company next door where the nicest lady said "if you buy a bus ticket from me, I'll complete and print the reciprocity paper for you". What a beautiful human being. She even booked me in one of the comfier seats on the bottom of the bus. After that I had no trouble crossing the border, switching buses halfway, and making it to my hostel in El Chaltén. I met Bec and Kate from Australia that night and we set out on a hike together the next morning, despite the poor weather.
We made short work of the 9km to reach Laguna Torre. Unfortunately it was fairly foggy along the way, and started spitting rain, but we had views of a decent waterfall and a couple mountains..


It started to rain a lot more when we reached the lake.. Accurately described as 'underwhelming' by Kate!


The walk back had us positively drenched! It felt like the longest 9km return ever!! So the coffee and Baileys once we got to town was heavenly! We hung out at the hostel the rest of the afternoon, my new favourite hostel of the trip. The owner was a beaut, the place was homey and cozy, movies, cards, people and wine! All you need for a rainy afternoon.

Not to be deterred by the weather the next day either, Bec, Kate and I attempted another hike (this one shorter just in case!). We were joined by Chelsea from D.C. The Chorrillo del Salto waterfall was definitely a great choice!..


After pictures on the one side of the river, we began our 'girl adventure', exploring the whole area. Kate really wanted to get to the other side so we went downriver a little bit, climbed and jumped over some rocks and along the bank to reach our destination.


Then we found another path going up, did some more climbing to reach the mouth of the waterfall!


Don't worry Mom, totally safe, I sat on the edge (I don't love heights either!) and reached over with the GoPro stick!


We could climb along the water a bit further to reach a second waterfall! So much fun. It even started to snow while we were there. It was beautiful. I love snow.


We then made the climb back down and to the hostel for another chill afternoon and evening.

The third day in El Chaltén, I saved the best for last as it was predicted to be the best weather. And once again, I lucked out! Chelsea and I took a bus ride with Keir and Nathan from Australia to the far end of the trail that goes Laguna de los Tres and the areas most famous mountain, Fitz Roy. We passed a beautiful glacier along the first part..


Enjoyed the initial flat walk through a snowy forest that looked like something out of Narnia. Then for the big climb, 400m up in 1km. Which was pretty wet and slick, full of melting snow, and totally worth it for this..


Fitz Roy is seriously B E A uuuuuuutiful.


The opposite view isn't half bad either..


On the way down we got a couple last great looks at the fabulous mountain..


The end of this hike has another ridiculous Ellie adventure story. Before we left in the morning I could not find my damn GoPro anywhere at the hostel. After much deliberation I was certain the last place I had it was at the second waterfall the day before. So after the 20km we'd already completed, I set off for another ~8 more and the climb back to the second waterfall. As I rounded the corner and looked past the bush in front of the rock I'd been sitting on, I basically burst into tears at the sight of my GoPro, just sitting there waiting for me!! I'd left it sitting behind me while I ate lunch and didn't notice it when I stood up to walk away. Talk about horseshoes that I left it somewhere off the beaten path so I could actually go back and get it. Not letting it out of my sight from now on!
The rest of that day was spent with some celebratory beer, burgers and then, of course, wine!
I had a quiet morning the next day, packing my stuff, saying bye to people, then hanging out until my bus. Which was another adventure that I will leave for the El Calafate chapter-- this one has already had enough!

Posted by elliehirch 03:56 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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