Salta to Cafayate

Over the next days I will try to edit some more footage and make it available.

The first is the amazing road from Salta to Cafayate. I start filming at the halfway point as I started to climb into the more interesting landscape. I was filming intermittently rather than continuously then put all the videos together and then increased the speed so that trip is condensed to seven minutes.

Hope it doesn’t make you car sick. HERE it is.

Farewell to BA

I really do like BA. I don’t know why, as it undoubtedly has its issues. But, I have never met an unfriendly local, it has its trendy areas and its old run down buildings a la Havana, the weather is good overall, great café life and a lot of history.

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So for my last day I returned to Puerto Madura, the inland dock area, and now home to bars and restaurants in converted wharf buildings as in Bristol, Liverpool or Shad Thames, but 50 times bigger. It must have been such a hive of activity in the past and cranes remain as a reminder.

Then a walk to Casa Rosada and Plaza 25 Mayo, the site of Evita’s appearance on the balcony to an admiring crowd (photos did not come out). Now things are definitely different as Plaza 25 Mayo is the site for all demonstrations and a metal security fence straddles the whole of the plaza a couple of hundred metres from Casa Rosada. This was in place during my 2014 visit as was the permanent camp for those claiming that more should be done for the veterans of the Falklands war.

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Today another demonstration is brewing and the whole plaza is surrounded by skip trucks. Why I do not know, but the riot police are waiting.

Back home to pack. Fernando had agreed to let me stay in the apartment until I needed to leave at 4 pm which was great. I called a Uber cab, posted my keys back through the security box and left. So sad.

As we neared the International airport at Ezeiza I came across a familiar sight. Ezeiza is a 5o minute journey out of town, and is built adjacent to Monte Grande, which was the site for the Scottish colony in 1825. image
Then it was a three day journey by bullock train to reach this area. The familiar sight was the cotton wool clouds that are common across the pampas. The wispy clouds I remembered from 2014 were back.

Dinner at La Cabrera

La Cabrera is a renowned steak restaurant on Palermo, the haunt of locals and tourists alike. Personally I think it is overrated and there is the possibility of tourists being taken advantage. Anyway that is neither here nor there that is where we are destined.

I say we, because at the Internations lunch on Saturday I met Martine from Paris. We seemed to have a lot in common, both arriving on Friday, me from Patagonia and Martine en route to Patagonia. We were both over 65’s travelling alone for a month and whilst travelling alone is not an issue we both agreed that dining alone in the evening was difficult. So we agreed to meet for dinner and top of Martine’s list of to do’s was La Cabrera. Who am I to argue with a lady.

The advantage, of course, was that we could order the 600 gm ribeye and share it. OK so I am medium rare and the Parisian is rare so we had rare!  We settled on a bottle of Malbec, de rigeur, a green salad and papas fritas washed down with some agua con gas.

It was not a memorable meal but the company was great although I didn’t seem to say much. imageEven the waiter told her to slow down!! Martine has travelled a lot, lived in several countries and until she retired a year ago had been a tour guide for seven years. So plenty to talk about.

J W Bradley was closed on Sunday so I couldn’t return there but the Verne Club (apres Jules Verne, so tres apt) was open so we adjourned there for a caipirinha. Here we discovered that we had both wanted to walk on the glacier but age was a problem. Martine had other ideas. Formeedabluh!

This is a lady who had been to four Internations events in two days. The Saturday lunch, followed by winetasting in the evening, the brunch the following day and a tour of the Teatro Colon in the afternoon. I think she may have slowed down a bit in a couple of weeks time.

Kosher McDonalds

Unbelievably, Buenos Aires has the only kosher McDonalds outside of Israel. Originally, I thought this was rather ironic given the shelter that Peron gave to the Nazis. However, nothing is straightforward when it comes to the history of the Jews in Argentina. In fact Peron’s government allowed more Jews into Argentina than any other South Anerican country.

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I wanted to see for myself and sure enough in the vast Abasto shopping mall I found it, and decided to try a kosher burger and chips for brunch.

There was no queue although the non kosher McDonalds across the mall was busy. I ordered but the assistant who didn’t speak any English was obviously trying to tell me it was kosher and I needed to go to the other outlet.image

I persisted and finally got my order. i would say that a normal burger would be a bit juicier and tastier but overall the burger meal was fine. Set up for the day I went looking for a cab to take me to San Telmo.

Internations Expat Lunch

As a member of Internations I can access members in different countries and cities to ask advice etc. Although it doesn’t always work e.g. the reggae bar.

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Each city hosts events over a whole range of interests and I signed up for the English Speaking Group lunch. In the evening there was a wine tasing event and on Sunday morning a brunch, but I didn’t attend those.

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The lunch was held at Cafe BA in the cloisters of an old church. It was a beautiful spot and cool. It was not a heavy lunch just light food and drinks and great conversation . Over thirty attended in the end and over ten nationalities.

I would recommend Internations to any expat or solo traveller.

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Back to BA

Smooth return to what seems like home. My suitcase was waiting for me in the me in the same apartment suite as before. Absolute luxury compared to the Bariloche hostel and less cost…ridiculous.

Then a quick taxi at 7pm up to my now familiar lavanderia for much needed clean clothes. I ask if possible to get it back at midday today. No problem. Fantastic as I am off to an Internations expat lunch from 2 to 5 pm. Thats what I call a lunch. Forty attending from 13 countries…should be fun.

imageThis morning ambled up to Lobo Cafe for a breakfast of fresh orange juice, medialunas with dulche con leche and coffee. I have been before and it is one of the first cafes to open in the morning with outside tables. It is before the shops open at 10am so all is quiet. It will be heaving by lunchtime.

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7.Puerto Panhuel to Bariloche

For completeness I will add this last bus section but it took the edge off of what had been a wonderful experience.

What on a clear road should have been a thirty minute journey was closer to 1.5 hours. Bariloche is full at this time of the year as many from the hotter humid north take there summer vacations. The road into Bariloche was choked with cars returning after a days excursion into the mountains. Add to that the bus stopping en route to despatch its passengers at various hotels. Because of the narrow and very hilly streets in Bariloche I was dropped at the nearest junction.

My pre trip fitness regime now came to the fore as I climbed the road for 100 metres before flattening out for another 100. I was relieved to reach the door if my hostel but the pain had only just begun. The hostel was built on an almost vertical hill and there were 70+ steps from street level to my bedroom.

I had a beer then passed out on my bed waking at 6am fully dressed with the lights on.

The benefit in the morning was the view from my bedroom window and hostel terrace.

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4. Puerto Frias to Puerto Alegre

This was the shortest boat trip through Lago Frias and we were the last through so the Argentine officials closed up shop and joined us on board in order to get back to Bariloche.

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Although short it was another beautiful gorge like spot and once completed we were quickly back back on another bus to take us the ten minutes to the final boat.

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3. Peulla to Puerto Frias

Probably the most interesting of the sections given that we had to clear Chilean border control, drive in a sturdier heavy terrain bus and climb high over an Andes pass, and finally clear Argentine immigration and customs

imageWithin a few hundred metres of setting of from Peulla we arrived at the Chilean shed. We had to wait before a previous coach cleared but then only with passports and exit docs we filed through and we on our way.

We slowly climbed through a jungle like territory as the unpaved road steepened and finally turned into hairpin  bends. We passed waterfalls and also viewed the mighty Cerro Tronador, before reaching the border between Chile and Argentina.

image.jpegIt would be another 4 kms before we reached Puerto Frias and the Argentine immigration office. This system was explained clearly by our guide Judith. We had to take all of our kit off of the bus and the Argentine customs would pick some suitcases at random which we hadn’t seen since Puerto Varas. If our luggage was picked we had to pass through immigration and then have luggage inspected at customs (a few feet away). I, of course, was one of the lucky eight who were picked…but I passed through after a cursory glance at my underware by a fierce female officer.

After the inevitable delay of everyone being checked and the luggage loaded onto the next boat we were on our way for a short crossing of Lago Frias