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06th October 2009
Arriving in Buenos Aires at 6:30, the LAN pilot surprised us by announcing the temperature was 1 degree. Can it be so cold? Yes, it was!
Our first week we spent hours wandering around the city getting our bearings – easy enough as Buenos Aires is laid out in a grid. There is an excellent metro system called the Subte (Subterráneos) which can take you most places, but we preferred to walk.
We’re staying in Palermo, a leafy suburb with some cobbled roads and many restaurants, bars and boutiques. Next week we’ll move to San Telmo, another old suburb, to start our Spanish lessons.
19th October 2009
We have been at the Rayuela Institute learning Spanish for two weeks now. Jeff has one other student in his class, Pam is by herself – nowhere to hide! We both have lovely profesoras.
We spend 4 hours per day there so usually go for a long walk after class to clear our heads before doing the homework.
The weekends are for sightseeing.
02nd November 2009
We spent the weekend in the Delta north of Buenos Aires. First to Tigre by train, then by river ferry (the only way to travel) into the narrow channels amongst the islands. We stayed in a cabaña on stilts and spent the weekend kayaking and walking. The weeping trees hanging over the water and the lovely houses each with their private jetty made a pretty picture.
Back in Buenos Aires, we are enjoying the many Italian restaurants and shops selling fresh pasta, sauces and freshly grated parmesan cheese (an easy meal which we have every second night). The pizzas here are smothered with cheese and delicious.
09th November 2009
After a 20 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires, we arrived in Bariloche in the Argentine Lake District as it started to snow and it was summer.
For a little bit extra we took the bus with beds and enjoyed the movies, meals and wine on the way.
31st December 2009
Back in Argentina, we spent a few days in Ushuaia, the most southerly city in the world. It was founded as a penal colony and the prison, now a museum, shows the harsh conditions of the past. The old prison steam train (Tren del Fin del Mundo) carries tourists along the valley to the Tierra del Fuego National Park.
The history of the indigenous people from this area is particularly interesting as they traveled for long periods of time in large bark canoes completely naked rubbing their skin with seal fat to keep warm. In the National Park, large mounds of their shells can still be seen along the coastline.
The National Park is close to Ushuaia and has many wonderful walking trails. We spent two days there and were lucky enough to spot a red fox and woodpeckers.
11th January 2010
We stopped in El Calafate to visit the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier, staying at the beautiful Posada Newenkelen. The glacier is 5 kilometres wide and 60 metres high and the only glacier advancing.
It is peak tourist season and the little town was bursting at the seams with visitors. We experienced the full force of the Patagonian winds (95 kph), like being sandblasted while walking the dirt roads.
Further north is El Chaltén, situated right in the northern sector of the national park. It is possible to step out of the hostel and begin walking. It is free to enter and camp. We spent 4 days trekking around Mount Fitzroy (3405 metres) and were fortunate to see many wild flowers, birds and animals. The weather was perfect to start, but deteriorated into howling winds, rain and hail by the last day.
18th January 2010
We were happy to arrive in El Bolsón after 2 long 12 hour days on a bus heading north on the adventurous (code word for unpaved) Ruta 40.
El Bolsón is a hippy town with a lively craft and organic food market. The delicious berries and cherries are in season. We spent a pleasant afternoon sampling the local homemade beer, lying on the grass listening to music.
Not far our of town is el Bosque Tallado, a forest of huge sculptures carved out of trees burnt in a forest fire. We also trekked beside the Rio Azul (blue river) up to el Cajón del Azul, a narrow canyon 3 metres wide and 40 metres deep.
To go back in time it is possible to ride la trochita (the old Patagonian Express steam train) on a 2 hour round trip from Esquel. It was from there we accessed the National Park Los Alerces, hiking above the tree line and were almost blown off a steep ridge by the strong gusts of wind.
Before leaving we made a special trip to Trevelin, where the Welsh settled in the mid 1800´s, to sample a Welsh afternoon tea at one of the Casas de Té.
24th January 2010
We continued north on Route 40, now paved to Bariloche, winding through beautiful green Andean foothills. We were back in the Lake District but this time (last time) there was not a cloud in the sky as we set off hiking in Nahuel Huapi National Park.
We took on a walk a bit harder than we expected having to scramble up big rocks, in between cracks, walk across snow and descend on almost vertical loose unstable rocky slopes. The camping was great though.
29th January 2010
In Lanin National Park, the centerpiece is Volcan Lanin in the Argentine Lake District on the border with Chile.
We hired a car for 4 days to explore the lakes north of Bariloche, camping in the national parks and taking advantage of the wood fires to cook our food.
Before leaving the area we sampled the delicious local trout washed down with Argentine Sauvignon Blanc.
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