A Travellerspoint blog

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

and Medoza wine tasting too!


View Holly's Destinations on HMB2010's travel map.

I understand from our B&B hosts in Buenos Aires that Katie and I were on the local news walking around in the background of the chaos of the buenos aires airport when our flight was cancelled to Iguazu Falls! Buenos Aires decided (with apparently only a few weeks notice to the airlines) to close their domestic airport for the whole month of November - I mean, imagine if LGA was suddenly closed for a month. there would be rioting!! Anyway, in addition to re-routing flights to the international airport, the pilots union decided to strike, nice. Long story short, after our flight was cancelled we were finally able to book our new flight for 2 days later after standing in about 4 different lines at the airport for over 5 hours. luckily we had the flexibility in our schedule to be able to still fly up to Iguazu Falls (in the northeast corner of the country on the border of Brazil) a few days later.

So finally and unfortunately, instead of arriving to tropical sunshine, we arrived to the falls as a storm system was blowing through. We walked the trails around the falls for about an hour before this occurred.
Iguazu before the rain

Iguazu before the rain

Torrential downpours ensued for the next - um - 5 hours! We made the best of a bad situation and headed to the only hotel/bar in the park, and had some morning cocktails to try and wait out the rain. We finally gave up and decided that we would hope for sunshine on day 2. Luckily, the clouds cleared mid-morning. what a difference the weather makes. Here is more or less the same shot!
Iguazu day 2

Iguazu day 2

The pics don´t do the falls justice. I understand that they are comparable to Niagra and Victoria falls and they were truly incredible. What I loved is the falls were really long and the bright green tropical vegetation was such a contrast to the roaring white waters. It was a fabulous experience and I am so glad we finally made the trip, cancelled flight regardless.

After Iguazu we took the overnight bus down to Mendoza, Argentina, wine country! What a change this lovely tree lined city is to bustling Buenos Aires. We have been spending our time tasting and drinking alot of fabulous Argentinian wines!! It has actually been a pretty relaxing number of days which has been welcomed. Here is a shot at one of the wineries.
Kaiken Winery

Kaiken Winery

Otherwise, a quick updates on my reading... I plowed through 4 books in the past week or so. Day After Night by Anita Diamant (loved the Red Tent by her and unfortunately this book was a let down - maybe the sad holocaust theme was just too depressing for me), and the first 3 books in a series of victorian murder mysteries by Tasha Alexander which were actually pretty good and quick reads - And Only to Deceive, A poisoned Season and A Fatal Waltz. If this is your genre, you could do a lot worse.

All for now. I will be in northern patagonia for the next couple of weeks. More from the end of the world....

H

Posted by HMB2010 15:40 Archived in Argentina Comments (3)

Buenos Aires

A food blog....


View Holly's Destinations on HMB2010's travel map.

Hola!

It was great to arrive into Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was really looking forward to people speaking spanish I can understand (in Chile they speak a relatively unique dialect of spanish which they think is spanish, but since everyone likes to speak at a 100 miles per minute and mumble their words, and use different vocabulary from the spanish spanish I learned, it was a challenging week of saying I don´t understand and can you please speak more slowly - which they never seemed to do...).

Anyway, we spent the past week and a half in both Santiago, Chile and Buenos Aires, Argentina and both are beautiful big cities. However neither of them have anything worth really writing home about other than to talk about our experience of their culture. And really when I say culture I primarily mean the food culture. So I rather than bore you with some random 1800´s beautiful building pics or stories of museums, I am going to give you a sense of what we have been eating and drinking, because to me that has been the highlight of these big cities!!

Chile: The first thing I was most intrigued about was the "completa" which the guidebooks described as a hot dog with tomatoes, mayo and avocado. They appear to be just about everywhere from fast food restaurants to diners. We ordered one at a local diner and were surprised that our "completa" didn´t include avocado - a great sadness since we both have loved all of the local avocado that seems to come with most everything down here. It included some grilled onion/sweet pepper combo along with tomatoes and lots of mayo and it was delicious believe it or not. We did finally track down the traditional later in the week which we learned is in fact called an "Italiano", not because of Italian flavors, but because it looks like the italian flag with the green, white and red food slathered on the hot dog. go figure. but again was super delicious. I recommend for your next BBQ!

We loved the chilean wines and tended towards the cabernet savignon and as previously posted, they were dirt cheap and were really good if not great wines that would cost 5 times as much in the states. We have been keeping a wine list of everything we have been tasting and bottles we have been drinking. Well, ok, we are a little lazy and have decided to take a pic of each bottle of wine we drink, so barring a camera being stolen - at the end of the trip I should have a lot of photos to download with all of the info of what we loved to pass along!

One other Chilean oddity: mote de huesilla I believe it is called. it is a "refreshing" beverage that is found on street corners all over the city. It is a cup half full of a type of soft cooked barley topped off with what I can only describe as the syrup that comes out of a can of peaches with a peach (from same said can) topping it all off. Neither of us liked it at all, but the chileans appeared to love it...

That all being said, we did not have one bad meal in chile and for the most part the meals we had were full of lovely beef, corn or veggies and wouldn´t be a unwelcome on anyone´s dinner table.

Argentina: Beef - it´s what for dinner!
Dinner in BA

Dinner in BA


It seems everyone who has been to argentina has told me about how much they loved it and especially how much they loved the food. And I have to agree. Argentina, as I think most people know, is know for their superior beef, wine, ice cream, pastas (a huge italian population), and dulce de leche - usually accompanying a warm croissant! I think I lost about 7-8 lbs in Peru and I think I may have already gained them all back after one week in Argentina!!

Breadfast at our B&B each morning is warm croissants smoothered with dulce de leche and tea. for lunch some type of empanada (usually beef, but of course), or sandwich. afternoon snacks of alfohares (dulce de leche between cake layers smoothered in chocolate...) or ice cream.

And then, dinner: I was expecting to really not love the beef b/c I was convinced I was used to the corn fed american cows back home, but I have to say, the beef here is incredible. so tender and so much more flavorful than american beef. It helps that everything costs a fraction of what it would in a NY steakhouse!! the pic pretty much says it all of what we have been eating for dinner each night. to start, a grilled beef and pork sausage that is incredible on its own and even better with the mustard or chimichanga (olive oil, herbs, garlic) sauce. followed by some cut of grilled beef, grilled vegetables, creamed spinach and a bottle of wine. perfection every day!! And usually about $75 total for the both of us. We would of course stop off for an ice cream on our way home (if not - or sometimes in addition to one in the middle of the afternoon!). Every meal we have had has been great. (well except we tried to go for sushi one night - not good at all. the tuna was cooked and the rice was sweet and nearly every item contained cream cheese. I kid you not....).

Anyway. this is how I have been spending my past week. Lovely sidewalk cafes and incredible food. It has been a treat!

More updates with real sight seeing activities soon!
Holly

Posted by HMB2010 18:32 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

EASTER ISLAND!!!!!

and Santiago too.....


View Holly's Destinations on HMB2010's travel map.

Buenos dias!

I met up with my friend Katie at the Santiago airport and after a 13 hour delay..... we finally made it to Easter Island!!! I have to say that Easter Island is in my top 3 travel destinations! It was absolutely peaceful and wonderful to explore the island (either by walking or driving around) and come across the most incredible moai that were carved, moved and placed (and knocked down and restored) hundreds of years ago.

Easter Island is in the middle of the pacific ocean literally over 1500 miles to the next inhabited island (some tiny islands in the south pacific) and over 2000 miles to mainland South America. I definitely felt the remoteness of the island which enhanced the mystery of why people made these incredible stone carvings to begin with. No one knows for sure who originally discovered and populated the island, although the main theory is people from the Polynesian islands rowed outrigger canoes across the pacific to mainland chile and then backtracked and settled easter island. Crazy! It is guessed that there were at least a few separate tribes which carved the moai in a kind of my moai is bigger than your moai kind of way. When the tribes ultimately ran out of living resources on the island fighting commenced and literally ALL of the moai on the island were toppled over and many broken or destroyed in the process. Few people either survived or remained on the island after this period thus the loss of history. Even now only about 4,000 people live on the island and they all pretty much seem to make a living on supporting us tourists.

Here is a favorite shot of one of the largest Moai.
Moai 2

Moai 2

The island is a volcanic island that is rocky and a little grassy and full of wild horses (along with the requisite stray/street dogs) that seem to have pretty much free range of where ever they choose on the island. It was not unusual to see horses wandering through town - although the dogs like to claim this area and would bark them away from time to time.

One of my favorite spots on the islands was the quarry where all of the moai were carved. There are hundreds of moai still in the nursery as it is also called in various stages of completion. Many are heads or upper torsos leaning out of the grassy hills seeming ready to lurch to life and meander down the hill. Personally I think that most of these were not intended to be moved to permanent sites and were in fact completed and meant to be in a group here. Who really knows. Here is a shot of the nursery.
Moai

Moai

Here is one last shot of some of the moai that were restored even though many of them were pretty damaged in their fall.
Moai 3

Moai 3

One last comment on Easter Island, the food and especially the local beer - Mahina - were all excellent. We understand that nearly all ingredients have to be imported to the island, but they then brew Mahina and we loved it!!!! If you have a quirky beer importer, you should request it (although we don´t know if they export all all).

After Easter Island we have been spending some time in Santiago and the Andes mountains about an hour away from Santiago. It is your typical large city and we have been enjoying exploring and eating and drinking. A couple items of note, the earthquake last February is still pretty visible. Many buildings are missing parts of their facades and lots of places are under construction. Many places are now closed while repairs are ongoing so we have learned we need to call ahead to whatever we plan to do to see if it is open.

We were however lucky to find one of the local wineries open and had a great afternoon at Cousina Macul. We loved the wine tour and the wine!! They told us that a majority of the wine from the last harvest which happened right at the time of the earthquake was destroyed which has caused a shortage of wine and beer in Chile as it is common here that all wine that is produced is released into the market when it is ready. They don´t seem to have the practice of holding back wine and aging it longer. So we have been drinking imported Peru beer and we understand that chilean wine is much more expensive then normal (shocking since you can get a decent bottle for $5 and good bottle for $10-$15!). An interesting thing we noticed is that all wine lists here are organized by grape, region of harvest and producer. There is no date of harvest ever on the menus. Date of production has no real meaning here since they release all of their wine. I think nearly every bottle we have ordered was a 2008 and they have all been delicious!!

Last update. As always I have been reading a lot. I finished Cutting for Stone which was a fabulous novel set in ethopia. It was hard to put down, even at Easter Island - I highly recommend it!! I also just finished a Jane Austen Classic Pride and Prejudice.

We are off to Buenos Aires tomorrow. More updates to come. Hope everyone had a great Halloween!!
Holly

Posted by HMB2010 06:02 Archived in Chile Comments (2)

Last of Peru

Lima, Ica, Nazca and Arequipa


View Holly's Destinations on HMB2010's travel map.

It has been a very busy week so I will limit myself to the spectacular highlights!
I took a bus from Lima along the PanAmerican highway/Pacific coast to the tiny town of Ica. There is not much to Ica besides the normal adobe huts, stray dogs, a little bit of pisco grape cultivation and desert as far as the eye can see with the exception of the Huacachina sand dunes a little over a mile out of town. I headed over to the dunes and was amazed that I felt like I was in the Sahara desert. The standard "tour" of the sand dunes is about an hour long dune buggy ride with 8 or so new friends stopping along the way to boogie board or snowboard (for the truly brave) down some of the enormous sand dunes.
Dune Buggy

Dune Buggy


Riding the buggy is like being on a crazy fast roller coaster without the rails. I was actually scared a number of times we would get to see the roll bar in action. The moment was always just over the crest of the hill when the buggy would start to slide down the incredibly steep hill before it caught some traction and barrelled down the slope. scary and thrilling all at once! Boarding was lying stomach down on a waxed up snowboard, grabbing on to the front foot strap and praying like crazy to not crash out into the sand at 20mph (or so it feels like, I have no idea, but I definitely didn´t want to crash!). Only one very experienced snowboarder in our group went down the hill upright and he only did so on the beginner slope so the rest of us didn´t even have to contemplate how whimpy we were! Last point to make on Huacachina is that this is a natural lagoon formed in the desert which forms a true desert oasis which has now been pimped out to 20 something partiers that drink and dance into the night - or so I hear.....

About an hour away by bus is the similiarly lackluster town of Nazca whose one key feature was the discovery in the early 20th century of the mysterious Nazca lines in the desert. The lines can only truly be seen by low flying plane so I hopped on board and enjoyed a look. The Nazca lines are geometric and animal shapes formed in the desert, it is estimated they were formed about 900 b.c to 40 a.d. by ancient cultures for who knows what, if any, purpose. They were formed by removing the top layer of sand/soil of the desert which exposes the white underlayer. I was surprised of the size of the shapes. some appeared to be smaller than a football field and some stretched out into the desert for miles. In addition to distinct shapes were straight lines that seemed to cross or extend out til eternity. Here is a pic that hopefully you can see of the hummingbird (its nose is pointing to the top left corner). As the desert literally receives zero to 1 inch of rain per year out here the lines have been preserved for so long. Crazy interesting.
Hummingbird of the Nasca Lines

Hummingbird of the Nasca Lines


I took a relatively painful bus about 11 hours!! from Nazca to Arequipa for my final stop in Peru. I spent the good part of one day white water rafting down a local glacier run off river (thank god for full wetsuits, booties and helmets!) and did some exploring about town. But my favorite part was an excursion to Colca Canyon. This canyon is appartely 4 times deeper than the grand canyon, although you don´t get the same money view as the deep part is pretty inaccessible and is comprised of mere dirt and grasslands vs the beautiful cut stone of the Grand Canyon. To me the canyon trip was about seeing the andes mountains in their glory and seeing some villages that are pretty much untouched by westerners. The villages in this canyon weren´t really even exposed to westerners at all until about 30 years ago. The villages still live off the land and utilize terrace farming BY HAND or by cow. The scenery was beautiful and it is such a different lifestyle I was pondering if they even have any sense of what our world is like. There are barely any cars, let alone enormous machines, computers, skyscrapers etc. I think they would go into shock if dropped into times square. Here is a pic.
In the Colca Canyon

In the Colca Canyon

An update on what I have been reading. I had to give up on The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, they just weren´t that adventuresome.... I did read the Omnivore´s Dilemma (sometimes while even have a meat filled meal!) and I have to say I really enjoyed it and really enjoyed reading it in Peru where industrial farming still has not begun. I have been through the markets and seen the chickens, head and feet on, ready for my dinner. Any they were delicious... But seriously, it is thoughtful about what we are doing with our food supply and may make me think twice about what I buy when I am home in the states. I have just stared Cutting Stone and should have an update after my many hours of upcoming travel.

Sorry for the long post. I will try to be a little more frequent on the updates... Hope all is well back home.
Holly

Posted by HMB2010 18:25 Archived in Peru Comments (1)

Amazon Jungle

Ahhhhhh - sea level!!


View Holly's Destinations on HMB2010's travel map.

Buenas Tardes from Lima!!!

I was super excited when our plane landed in Puerto Maldonado, Peru and we not only got back to sea level (and yes, I immediately felt much better!), but we also warmed up since the mountains were generally a little chilly - especially at night. We were immediately sweating in the 90 degree plus heat with 100% humidity as we took our tuk tuk (a local dirt bike/motorcycle with a couple of seats attached at the rear like a suped up rickshaw) to meet our boat that would take us a few hours up river to the Jungle lodge. We had a decent lunch of essentially stir fried rice with chicken wrapped in a banana leaf on the boat and swealtered in the mid-day sun.

The jungle is pretty much as expected, lush green as far as the eye can see, humid, hot, still and full of life (although I was continually surprised at how relatively quiet it was - most of the animals were keeping a low profile, especially in the afternoon heat). During our 3 days in the jungle we went on a night hike through the forest (lots of scary looking spiders since their eyes reflected our flash lights), day hikes, and unfortunately experienced nearly a full day of rain (which kept us in the boat or the lodge and most animals were keeping hidden as well). We saw a ton of beautiful birds and butterflies and lots of tropical flowers/plants/trees and fruits. The lodge grounds had star fruit, mangoes, bananas, papaya, oranges, limes, and avocado! During our hikes we saw fabulous parrots - including the 3 species of macaws (blue-yellow, blue-green, and scarlet), lots of really cute monkeys jumping around and playing in trees and the large river rodents - Capibarras. Unfortunately we didn't get many pics because the animals were either too far away for our cameras or moved too fast to not be a big blur. Plus, Sam has much greater talent at taking pics so when she uploads her photos I will try to share some of those too. But below are a couple of shots to give you an idea. One other thing to note on the jungle was the smell. I was surprised how varied the smell of the jungle was. Sometimes it smelled pungent with decaying stuff, sometime just fresh and vibrant, sometimes sweet from flowers, sometimes almost no odor at all. every few feet it seemed to offer something different!

After the jungle Sam headed home - thanks Sam for a great 2 weeks traveling together, so I am traveling solo for 2 weeks. Given my altitude problems I decided not to go to lake Titicaca and bolivia as they were the same, or higher, altitude and instead I came to Lima for a few days and I will head down along the Peruvian coast to see the Nazca lines and some of southern peru before I move on to Chile.

As a follow up to my last post - the night I wrote my post we went out and ordered a cuy (guinea pig) appetizer for dinner. It took me about half way through the dish to get mentally over eating the cute little suckers before I could enjoy the meat. It was a mild tasting amazingly moist meat and I could see eating them again if necessary, but think I would prefer to stick to more traditional meats!

Otherwise, I am starting to get sick of the monotomy of the peruvian cuisine. it seems like every meal consists of rice, fried potato, and meat (beef or chicken typically and usually kebabs or stir fried). Last night here in Lima I had the highly recommended beef heart kebabs at one of Lima's best restaurants and I have to say it was surprisingly tender and good, although I think I would go with straighter tenderloin the next time. I do however love the passionfruit and / or pisco cocktails!!

On reading: I finished the Shackelton story and read The Day After Tomorrow by Allan Follsom which I picked up from a hotel in Ollantambo during my break from the inka trail hike. It was a very engaging murder mystery/suspense book set in england, paris and berlin. I would recommend it. I have started reading Robinson Crusoe as I believe it is supposed to be set in one of the islands close to Easter Island which is coming up in a couple of weeks. So far it is a tropical shipwreck story and since it was written a couple of hundred years ago, the language is a little slow going and not really fully engaging. I may have to give it up for something more exciting. will keep you posted.

Thanks all for your comments, keep them coming as I love to hear from you!! Suzanne - re: tree line in peru - I think we were pretty close to the tree line, but I suspect the letters are clearcut or burned into the mountains. I saw lots of other mountain sayings along the way, my favorite was "God" because with the scenery it was already a contemplative moment.

More soon,
Holly
Lovely jungle flowers

Lovely jungle flowers

Caterpillars!

Caterpillars!

]

Posted by HMB2010 18:16 Archived in Peru Comments (4)

(Entries 6 - 10 of 23) « Page 1 [2] 3 4 5 »