A Travellerspoint blog

Valparaiso

sunny 18 °C

Hola!

After sipping wine in Mendoza for a couple of days it was time to leave Argentina. We got on the bus and made our way across the Andes into Chile. Our first stop was Valparaiso, a small port city just outside of Santiago.

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As the original plan was to go to Santiago before Valparaiso, we hadn't booked any accommodation. We ended up staying in 3 different hostels, luckily they weren't very far apart.

Back in the day Valparaiso was the leading merchant port along the Cape Horn and Pacific Ocean routes. Foreign trade and capital made it the financial powerhouse of Chile. A 1906 earthquake started the demise of the city. Also the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914 obviously directed most ships along a different route. Today Valparaiso has the highest unemployment rate in the country, but tourism is starting to bring the life back to the once grand city.

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Valparaiso is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and is considered the cultural capital of Chile . The city is covered in street art;

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Valparaiso is hilly, and full of stairs. Most are artsy, some are just steep;

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Most our days here were spent just walking the streets and taking in the atmosphere. It was way colder here than we had planned for, but in the sun it wasn't too bad :)

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Valparaiso is very hilly. Drinks were obviously in order ;)

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Luckily there are many of these elevators to take you up the steepest hills :) Unfortunately only three of them work. Well, two when we were there. This particular one is from 1883.

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For once we also went on a city tour. Jason hates tour groups with a passion, but when we saw a poster at our hostel advertising Tours for Tips, he gave in. The original plan was to not tip that much, but tour ended up being really good (even though it lasted almost 3 hours!), and we parted with more money than intended... Plus we got to see loads of places we would have never found ourselves, and the history to go with it;

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Obsidian stairs in an old building from Valpo's Hey Day. You know you're rich when marble stairs just don't cut it.

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Almost all the houses in Valparaiso look like this. Some are clad with tin sheets and most are painted in all the colours of the rainbow. The tin was brought here as ballast on ships, and unloaded here with it's cargo. The inhabitants used it to shelter their homes. The many different colours are also related to the shipping industry. When the ships were painted the Valparaisians could buy the left over paint cheap, and therefore painted their houses in whatever colour they could get.

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Because Valparaiso is so hilly, there is always a small super market close by. This has to with the fact that it gets tiring (and really old) walking back down, and then up a big hill just because you forgot to buy milk. This guy took advantage of this, and has been selling alfajores (caramel filled cookies) out of his house for the last 20 or so years!

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A well deserved Pisco Sour after a long day of sight seeing :)

After spending some days getting to know Valparaiso, and walking up way too many hills, it was time to hit the Chilean capital. Only a short two hour bus ride away we left ealy in the morning to spend the day at Lollapalooza Music Festival :)

Posted by CanWay 20:11 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Wine tasting in Mendoza

sunny 25 °C

Hola!

After turning into such a cultured couple in Cordoba we decided to continue the trend and headed for Mendoza to do some wine tasting. The region around greater Mendoza is the largest wine producing area in Latin America, and bicycle wine tours are getting popular among tourists.

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As this would be our last stop in Argentina we realized we had to get two things done in this country before we left apart from the wine tasting: see a football game and go to a fancy steak restaurant.

Our original plan was to see a football game in Brazil, but we never got around to it. Plan B was to see Boca Juniors in B.A, unfortunately the tickets were a little out of our price range... Now we got ready to see the local team here in Mendoza.

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It turned out neither of the teams were particularly good, but the local fans were quite entertaining.

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Next on the list was Argentinian steak. Argentininan steak is known world wide, but Jason wasn't sure it was going to compare to the steaks he was used to from home. There was only one way to find out.

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We went to Francis Mallman 1884 a restaurant that turned out to be a little pricier than we thought. So pricey that we had only brought enough money to pay for the food. The waiter gave a strange look when we politely declined to see the wine list for the second time. Not good manners in wine country I'm sure. Nevertheless, the food was yummy :) Jason agrees it compares to Canadian standards...but obviously prefers Canadian beef.

Finally it was time for the wine tasting tour!! We got on the bus early in the morning and headed out to wine country. Here there are numerous companies that rent out bikes. Jason had done some research and we ended up at Hugo's bikes. Hugo turned out to be quite the lively fellow, and sat us down for a glass of his home made wine before we even got the bikes. Wine consumed and bikes sorted we made our way to the first stop on our list; the wine museum.

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After checking out some old tools for wine making we finally got to our first tasting :)

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Right next door to the museum was an olive plantation where they also made different liqueurs. As I love olives Jason agreed to make a quick stop. Plus, there was liqueur ;)

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From here we decided to bike all the way to the last vineyard, and do most of our tastings on the way back. That way we wouldn't be lost and tipsy in the dark by the end of the day.

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Our first vineyard was Carinae. Here we tasted a couple of wines and did a quick tour.

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Back on our bikes we headed towards the next vineyard.

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At Di Tomasso, the oldest vineyard in the area, we decided it was time for lunch.

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Lunch was followed by one of the best tastings of the whole tour :)

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It was already starting to get late, and we hurried to make our last two stops ending up at Tempus Alba.

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After a great day in the sun with lots of good wine we headed back at Hugo's place, where all of us had too much of his home brew. Luckily, he made sure all of us got on the last bus back to town.

The next morning we packed our bags and got ready to leave Argentina, next; Chile and Valparaiso :)

Posted by CanWay 08:39 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Cordoba and Casa del Che

sunny 25 °C

Hola!

After catching the ferry back to Buenos Aires from Uruguay, we got straight on the night bus to Cordoba.

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Cordoba is Argentina's second largest city, full of historical buildings and surrounded by mountain villages. Just like B.A it has a youthful vibe, unsurprisingly as there are 7(!) universities in the city.

We applauded ourselves on booking a hostel ahead of time, and headed straight for Link Hostel as we came off the bus. After having checked-in the girl at reception convinced us to attend a free Spanish class being given at the hostel that morning. Being unable to say no to anything that's free of charge we did. In my humble opinion we did surprisingly well considering we just came off a night bus, some would even say we were the top of the class. (That someone would be Jason). Then, on to see the city.

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We got so carried away with how cultural we'd become we even went to a museum. It should be mentioned that on every Wednesday museums are free in Cordoba. This was a Wednesday.
Unfortunately, all the plaques in the Museum were in Spanish, so was the brochure, so we didn't really understand what we were seeing. So much for our free Spanish lesson. Nevertheless, it was obvious that this was not a feel good museum. It was dedicated to all the people, primarily young students, who where murdered by the military or mysteriously disappeared in Cordoba in the 60's and 70's.

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Now, we didn't quite get why this was happening, but judging by Argentina's somewhat troubled political history and displayed banned books of the time, it appeared that these people did not share the political views of the one's in charge of the country at the time.

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Rooms full of pictures of people who disappeared

After wandering aimlessly around the city for a while drinking coffee and people watching we made our way back home.
Back at our hostel we ran into a bunch of nice people from all over the world,and in accordance with hostel culture this evolved into drinking games.

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During the game I at some point told someone that I wanted to go to the Che Guevara Museum, which was a two hour bus ride out if town in Alta Garcia. By the end of the night it was decided that all of us were going the following morning. Miraculously this actually happened.

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Che wasn't born in Alta Garcia. Actually he was born in the middle of nowhere close to his parents yerba mate plantation (a sort of tea Argentinians seem to be addicted to). His mother even had the doctor forge a birth certificate saying he was born a month later than he actually was, the reason being that he was conceived outside of marriage. Curiously enough this was revealed years after his death when an astrologist couldn't get his sign to match the belated hero's personality. He contacted Che's mother and she finally admitted that he was indeed a Scorpio, giving the astrologist peace of mind. Eventually the family moved from the jungle back to B.A where his parents were from, but Che had developed asthma, and the climate in the capital made his condition worse. Following the doctors advice the family moved to Alta Garcia up in the mountains, where they hoped the dry climate would help cure the asthma. Of course, Che never got rid of his asthma, and it would be a burden to him later in life, but the move to Alta Garcia appeared to help for the time being.

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Che's place

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Che's room. Photo of his family at the Alta Garcia swimming clubs pool. He wasn't allowed in the water because of his asthma.

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Che made two trips through South America. One on a motor bike made famous in "The motor cycle diaries", before that he rode this thing.

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First photo of Che and Fidel Castro. Taken in a jail in Mexico City.

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Famous fatigues and beret.

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Alberto Granados ashes. Granado travelled through S.A with Che, and in "The motor cycle diaries" he is the doctor working at the leprosy clinic.

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Cuban money depicting Che.

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Che's last diary entry written only days before he was killed on October 9th 1967

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A statue of the young Che outside his childhood home

Our last day in Cordoba we made an attempt to plan the next couple months of our travels, which we succeeded to do well enough, before we had a big barbeque with all our new found friends.

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After enjoying some prime Argentinian steak we bid our farewells, and got on yet another night bus. We were about to enter wine country, more specifically; Mendoza.

Posted by CanWay 08:07 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Montevideo

sunny 24 °C

Hola!

From our last stop, Colonia del Sacramento, we were only a short bus ride away from our next destination, the capital of Uruguay; Montevideo.

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Uruguay is a country different to most of the other South American nations. Abortion was legalized in 2007, same-sex civil unions in 2008 and education is free. Truly unique in a part of the world were Catholicism is such a big part of everyday life. It really feels very different from countries like Colombia or Venezuela. That being said, we saw our fair share of horse and carts cruising down the street along with SUVs and motor bikes.
We arrived here the day before St.Patrick’s day, and realized that if there was going to be any sight-seeing it had to be done now.

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Old City Gate

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Fishermen on the dock

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The beach. After being spoiled with the beautiful beaches, and weather, of Brazil we had no desire to go in.

After getting a good nights’ sleep we headed into town to try and track down some green beer. Surprisingly this didn’t take very long.

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At the local Irish bar

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More green lunch-beer

Jason’s birthday is on the 18th of March, and he usually combines this celebration with the one for St. Patrick.

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St. Patrick's Jameson shots

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Street Meat Time

Needless to say, we had a tough morning on Jason’s 29th. We eventually got up at lunch time.

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The birthday boy at lunch

We were almost feeling like ourselves again by dinner time, which was fortunate as we had reservations at one of Montevideo’s best restaurants.

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Dinner at Tandory :)

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The best dessert ever! Seriously .

The food was absolutely delicious, especially the dessert which we somehow managed to push down. Now, our days in Uruguay were numbered, it was time to cross the river and get back to Argentina. Next stop, Cordoba!

Posted by CanWay 14:56 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

Relaxation in Colonia del Sacramento

sunny 25 °C

Hola!

From big and hectic Buenos Aires we made our way across Rio de la Plata to the quiet small town of Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay.

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Welcome to Uruguay!

We spent a couple of days here just wandering the cobbled streets, relaxing and taking in the scenery.

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Street Corner

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Enjoying a drink at the hostel

Colonia was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 to smuggle goods across the river to Buenos Aires. The Spanish captured it in 1762, and held it until tax reforms finally permitted foreign goods to be shipped directly to Buenos Aires in 1777.

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Across the river from B.A

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There is no denying it, Colonia is fairly touristy. Still, it is definitely worth a visit. Luckily we were here out of season, and therefore avoided the really big crowds.

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Colonia Sunset

After a having recharged our batteries, we headed towards Montevideo to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Jason’s birthday :)

Posted by CanWay 09:29 Archived in Uruguay Comments (0)

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