A Travellerspoint blog

Buenos Aires

sunny 30 °C

Hola!

At our last stop, Puerto Iguazu, we made the decision to book a luxury bus for the 20 hour bus ride to Buenos Aires with our Norwegian roommates. It was way out of our budget, but at least we got a good night’s sleep :)

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Bus Champagne :)

Finally in B.A the hostel hunt started. After knocking on about 20 doors we started to get worried. Yes, it was Friday, but Buenos Aires is a big city, we should be able to find four beds.

As it was nearing lunch time we sat down at a café and eventually found a hostel online. After another ten block trek with all our gear we were ready for a shower and a snooze. Needless to say we were not very pleased when the girl at reception announced that they were overbooked. However, after much back and forth, they eventually managed to find a room for us, only eight hours after our arrival.

On the plus side we ran into some friends from Rio, and decided to go on a pub crawl with them the following night. Buenos Aires is famous for its night life, and it would just be wrong not to check it out.

We started out at the hostel with free pizza and beer for an hour. The pizza was average at best, but the beer was good :)

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The Crew

We hit a few bars in the area around the hostel before getting onboard the party bus.

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The Party Bus

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After a short drive we arrived at a MASSIVE club. Our pub crawl host told us its maximum capacity was 5000 people! Being part of an arranged pub crawl we got to skip the line-up, and entered the belly of the beast. It was packed. Hot and sweaty doesn’t even begin to describe it. After a while I checked my watch and realized that it was 7 a.m., although that didn’t seem to put a damper on the party. It was starting to get late for us northern hemisphereans, and we caught a taxi home. At this point I still had plans of hitting the Sunday antique market at noon.

We didn’t get up to much the next day, even though I did make it to the market :) We were almost functioning normally by dinner time.

Our last day in B.A we did the obligatory sightseeing.

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The presidential Palace

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The balcony from which Evita Peron sang to the people

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As some of you might have caught on to by now, Jason is not a city person, and Buenos Aires was starting to get on his nerves. It was time to get out, and in a unprecedented chaos of traffic and bad planning we miraculously made it onboard a ferry to Uruguay, more accurately Colonia del Sacramento. Pictures will be up later!

Posted by CanWay 13:28 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Iguazu Falls

sunny 40 °C

Hola!

From the beautiful beaches around Rio it was time to move inland again, towards the Iguazu falls and Argentina. We had found a cheap flight from Rio to Foz de Iguazu, and saved ourselves a 24 hour bus ride :)

The big attraction in Foz de Iguazu is the Iguazu falls. The falls are definitely a must see stretching almost 3 km long and 70 m high. The falls are divided between Brazil and Argentina, and you really need to see it from both side to get an accurate impression of how massive it really is.
On our first full day in Foz we jumped on the bus to go see the falls.

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En route to the falls

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First view of the falls

Legend has it that the falls were created by a jealous forest god. The god was planning to marry a beautiful woman, but she managed to escape down the river with her mortal lover. Enraged, the god caused the riverbed to collapse in front of the lovers , producing the falls. The woman fell over the falls, and at their base was turned into a rock. The warrior lover survived as a tree overlooking his dead lover.

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After a day at the falls we finally made it to a churrasqueria, a Brazilian all-you-can-eat barbeque restaurant. The waiters keep bringing different cuts of meat straight from the grill to your table. Jason was in heaven.

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Jason's idea of heaven

The following day we went Ciudad del Este which is just across the border of Paraguay, to check out some cheap electronics. I was in need of a new camera. Jason had done a substantial amount of research on the different cameras we were interested in before we left, in an attempt not to get ripped off. It is not uncommon for shops to sell refurbished and stolen cameras, which of course we were trying to avoid.
After a hectic day in Paraguay I had a new camera, and we headed out to dinner to check off yet another Brazilian specialty; moqueca.

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Moqueca is a Bahian dish, a stew flavoured with dende oil and coconut milk usually made with seafood.

On our last day in Brazil, we got on a bus back into Paraguay to see the Itaipu dam, the second biggest dam in the world.

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To be honest, we found the tour a little disappointing, but we'll put up some pictures anyway.

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If this dam breaks, the water is going to make it all the way to Buenos Aires!

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The electricity produced at the dam is split 50-50 between Brazil and Paraguay, as the river that feeds the reservoir runs through both countries. Paraguay sells 90% of their share back to Brazil.

After spending a few hours at Itaipu, we picked up our backpacks at the hostel, and headed for the Argentinian border.

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This was the easiest border crossing on this trip, just a formality. At the Argentinian immigration office we met two Norwegian guys which we ended up sharing an apartment with once we reached Puerto Iguazu.

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The air-con situation causing us to wake up to a flooded living room.

Well rested and equipped with a new camera we made our way back to the falls. The Argentinian part of Iguazu is significantly bigger than the Brazilian part and people spend two days seeing all of it. We decided we could probably manage in one day and headed out early.

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These little guys were everywhere :)

There are two trails and one look out point reached by a small train on the Argentinian side of the falls. Since we got there early we started out with the two trails, saving the view of Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) for last.

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Probably the best view of the falls on the lower trail.

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I'm so small compared to these falls!

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So much water!!

For the grand finale we hopped on the train to take us to the top of the falls and Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat).

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Some butterflies we met on the way up

Pictures does not do this justice. First of all its impossible to fit the entire fall in one photo (Jason took lots and stitched them together after). Furthermore you cannot hear the incredible roar this enormous amount of water makes when it drops 70 m, and you're missing the spray of cool water coming off the falls.

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From Puerto Iguazu we got on a 20 hour bus with our new-found Norwegian friends. Pics will be up later :)

Posted by CanWay 16:26 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Buzios and Arrail do Cabo Beaches

sunny 38 °C

Bom dia!!

After a week of celebrating carnival in Rio de Janeiro, we needed to find a place to relax for a couple of days. We considered several beach towns in the Rio area and finally decided on Buzios and Arrail do Cabo. Buzios is a two hour bus ride north of Rio and is known a fairly touristy, resort-like place. Still there are a few hostels around, so it doesn’t necessarily have to be too expensive.

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The best sunset in Buzios could be enjoyed on the pier right outside our hostel :)

Jason still wasn’t feeling very well, his hangover was turning into an actual cold. Therefore we didn’t do much but hang out at the beach.
Buzios has 27 different beaches, we didn’t make it to all of them, but tried checking out a new one every day :)

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After four days in Buzios we decided to head for the more low-key Arrail do Cabo, which is supposed to have even more beautiful beaches than Buzios.

Our first day here we hit two beaches; Prainha and Praia Grande.

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Prainha

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Acai cart!

We spent most of the day here at Prainha, but headed for Praia Grande in the late afternoon as it is supposed to be the best spot for watching the sunset in Arrail do Cabo.

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Praia Grande

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Waiting for the sunset with a the Brazilian version of wine...

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Sunset at Praia Grande

On our second day we signed up for a boat trip to which would take us to a couple of beaches in the Arrail do Cabo area. Some of the most beautiful beaches are only accessible by boat as they are on an island just off the coast.

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I'm on a boat

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We visited three beaches on the trip, the first one being Praia do Farol. It is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Brazil.

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From Praia do Farol we headed to yet another beautiful beach. We were the only gringos on the trip, and all the information was given in Portuguese, so we don’t really have much info about the places we saw. However, there were endless caipirinhas and beautiful beaches so we weren’t complaining :)

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You could rent sandboards at this beach :) Jason in action.

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I'm more of a tobogganer myself...

Our last stop was a beach on the mainland, Praia do Forno. It was, like the other beaches, absolutely gorgeous.

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Luch on a stick

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Praia do Forno

Unfortunately this was our last day in Arrail do Cabo, I could easily have spent a week here. However, it was time to leave the coast for a while; we needed to get to Argentina. Next stop Foz and Iguazu falls!

Posted by CanWay 14:40 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Carnival in Rio

sunny 40 °C

Hola!

Next stop Rio!! Carnival in Rio de Janeiro was the only thing we planned before leaving for this trip. The hostel was booked in September(!) and when we got off the bus after 28 hours in transit, we were ready to party.

The hostel was over-booked, like every other hostel in town, and Jason ended up sleeping on a makeshift bed while I enjoyed a view of the packed dorm from my three-tiered bunk bed penthouse.

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Even though the hostel was not the best, it was full of nice people, and the location was great for street parties, three minutes from the Lapa Arches :)

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Arches of Lapa

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The Crew at a street party at the Lapa Steps :)

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Jason and Ciaran trying to steel a beer cart...

Predictably, we spent most night partying. There are arranged parades in the streets, so-called “blocos” all over town, but the best street parties take place in Lapa. Right outside our door in other words :)

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Street Parade

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There is no excuse not to party during the day; welcome to the "day-bloco"

With all the partying, it's important to fill up on food, in Rio it usually comes on a stick or with a ridiculous amount of condiments

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Meat on a stick

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Burgers with everything

The climate of Rio does not allow for sleep ins. At least not when you’re sharing a shoebox of a room with ten other people and the air con is turned off at 10 a.m. ( No Mom, 10 a.m. is NOT a sleep in, especially not when you get home at 6). On the plus side, this forced us to get out of Lapa and check out the rest of the city.

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Ipanema beach with Alex and Laura :)

After lazing around at Copacabana and Ipanema for a couple of days it was time to hit the most famous tourist attractions of Rio; Cristo Redentor and Sugar Loaf ( or Muffin Mountain as Jason likes to call it).
We got up semi early and got on the bus to see Christ.

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On the way to see Christ.

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Botafogo Beach and Sugar Loaf

When weren’t the only ones eager to see the Redeemer, it was pretty busy. I guess that is inevitable, especially during Carnival. Nevertheless, we posed for the obligatory pictures;

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Jason with Jesus hair

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From Christ we made our way back down to the city, and headed for the cable cars that would take us to Sugar Loaf.

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Cable cars to Sugar Loaf

The cable car ride itself is pretty cool, and it gives you some great views of the city. Halfway to Sugar Loaf you have to change cable cars, and there are more photo ops.

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Sugar Loaf

At the top!

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Copacabana beach from Sugar Loaf

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Rio :)

After spending our first few nights at blocos in the Lapa area it was time to hit the Sambadromo! This was definitely my favourite part of Carnival :)
Even though there are parades in the street, and the blocos are awesome, you cannot not go to a Rio carnival without seeing the parades at the Sambadrome. Tickets to the show come in all price ranges so it doesn't necessarily have to be that expensive. Of course we hadn't bought tickets, so we headed for the scalpers outside the Sambadrome with a bunch of people from our hostel.
The show starts at 9 p.m and lasts all night, as in until 6 a.m. The later you arrive, the cheaper the tickets get. We rocked up at around 11 p.m and got a pretty good deal.

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Ready for some samba action!

At the Sambadrome different samba schools from Rio compete against each other, and each school gets ?? minutes to dazzle the judges. We only made it trough two schools, but it was absolutely amazing!! The costumes, the dancers and the floats, it's all out of this world!! One of the floats even had fountains, yes that's plural!

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As I said, the costumes are amazing, but strangely enough once one school is done, everyone just troughs their costume in the trash! There are containers outside the Sambadrome full of costumes! Obviously, we had to get some.

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Okay, I admit it, I would never find an occasion to wear this....

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We even found some at our hostel;
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As great as Carnival was, it left us completely destroyed. Small Town-Jason had definitely had enough of cities for a while, plus he caught some sort of permanent hangover. We decided to retreat to the beaches of Buzios and Arrail do Cabo to recharge our batteries. Pictures will be up soon :)

Posted by CanWay 16:29 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Itacaré

sunny 35 °C

Oi!

After spending some time hiking and taking in some beautiful scenery in Chapada Diamantina, it was time to get back to the beach to work on our tans. We spent a night in Salvador, before getting a boat then a bus to the beach town of Itacaré.
When we got there Morten was already waiting for us as we checked in to a nice Kiwi run hostel called Ben´s Place.

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Our time here was spent either at the beach or at the bar. There are several pretty beaches relatively close to town, and about an hour walk from the last one you find another beautiful beach called Prainha. The walk through the jungle is definitely worth it.

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One of the city beaches

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Prainha

We visited all of them, but the most beautiful one in the area was without question Itacarezhino. To get here you have to have a vehicle, or go on an organized tour. We went on a tour arranged by our hostel and another hostel in town.

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We could have stayed here all day, but after three hours we had to leave to go see a nearby waterfall. After the swimming hole with the surrounding water falls in Capao, this place was kind of a letdown, but they sold beer so it worked out anyway :)

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As we have mentioned before, Morten is a capoeira enthusiast. Stano, the owner of Ben´s Place, told us that one of the local masters was giving capoeira lessons at the beach every day. Morten was obviously keen, and we tagged along to check out his skills.

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Morten in action

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The local master

For those of you who are unfamiliar with capoeira here’s a short explanation; Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art stemming from descendants of African slaves brought to the country back in the day. It combines elements of dance and music with fighting. More than a fighting style, it was created as a hope for survival, a way in which unarmed escaped slaves could protect themselves.
Watching guys who have grown up practicing capoeira is amazing. Back flips, twisting and spinning mid-air, you’d think they’d be made of rubber. Even guys no older than thirteen were unbelievably skilled. If you ever go to Brazil, especially Bahia, see a show.

Twice a week the local capoeira group put on a show at one of the bars;

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Morten showing off his skills

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As carnival was nearing, it was time to head to Rio :) Two days before carnival started we got on a bus that would arrive in Rio 28 hours later. It was time to party.

Posted by CanWay 09:15 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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