A Travellerspoint blog

C does NOT = Cold

Note to self

overcast 15 °C
View South America on Al Jam's travel map.

when in South America:

C = Caliente
Caliente = Hot
Therefore, C on a shower tap does NOT = Cold
Result = Scolding

Side note: F = Frío = Cold

It took me a couple of 3rd degree burns to figure this out.

Posted by Al Jam 13:57 Archived in Argentina Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (1)

Day 8 and 9 - Puerto Varas & Chiloe Island, Chile

Where you can get $3 bottles of wine and 1kg of Salmon for $5...But that´s about it.

overcast 15 °C
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Puerto Varas is a 6hr bus ride north of Bariloche and crosses the border into Chile. The Bus ride itself was uneventful although it does go though some beautiful lakes and mountain district of South Chile. Even the border crossing into Chile was easier than trying to buy groceries with an ARP$100 bill (refer to last blog).

The Hostel could have doubled as a meat locker

Our lodging for the next 2 nights was Hostal Ellenhaus, owned by a tall blonde lady who looked anything but Chilean. Pt Varas was settled by the Germans and probably explained the Hostel name and owner. Even the streets and buildings were of German Architecture. The Hostel was streets away from the dominating Lago (Lake) Llanquihue and overlooked by the even more dominating Volcan Calbuco (2015m) and Volcan Osorno (2652). I sound like a Lonely Planet guide...Put it away Al. The Hostel could have doubled as a meat locker it was that cold!

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Out first afternoon was had by the lake drinking Beers and Cocktails on the rooftop deck of Mediterraneo Restaurant. I don´t think the waitress was all too happy about a group of foreigners dropping in during siesta. We´d just been on a 6hr bus ride, it´s gonna take more than some bad vibes to stop us from our respective poisons. Our ´poisons´ on the deck were cut short when the grey clouds and spitting rain rolled in and we retreated into the lounge area with a log burner going. My first souvenier purchase was made that afternoon at the local market. A set of fashionable fingerless brown Alpaca gloves. My weather/windproof, but uninsulated gloves just weren´t cutting it

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That night we ate at Donde el Gordito, made famous by Anthony Bourdain´s travel show, No Reservations. The owner, Alfredo Sauss happily boasted about this fact. It was a warm and cosy little restaurant that served great seafood. A not so happy tummy made for an early night although some others found a bar with what they think was dancing pole, in which any case, they made it dancing pole (Photos to come)

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That feeling quickly disappeared as soon as I tried the onboard toilets

We all decided that the next day was to be a tour around the island of Chiloe, an hour drive south of Pt Varas and on the other side of the port city of Puerto Montt. It was cold and grey and it really set the scene for the Port towns and Island. The vehicle boat that carried our bus across was a highlight. I had my Alpaca gloves and beanie on and I felt I was living on a port and working on a boat. That feeling quickly disappeared as soon as I tried the onboard toilets. Land-Lubber I am.

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Chiloe didn´t really impresss me that much although the guide gave us a nice history of the little island. The island was quite different to the mainland in that it distinguished itself, quite proudly, as being backward. They still had horse drawn carts and old farming techniques. The houses were covered in wooden shingles painted in various colours to draw the grey and dullness of the island away. We did visit a nice little bay where they dived for the famous Chiloen Abaloni. We also had what I thought was some of the best oysters ever. The Best Jerry! Some of us jumped on a boat to view some Penguins but having walked with penguins on Philip Island, Australia, Sam and I gave it a miss. The day drew to a close as it got darker and our visit to Puerto Montt was cut short due to the fish market closing, which was unfortunate as I was really looking forward to checking it out. As a consellation, we did manage to get some smoked salmon. 1kg for $5! This we took back to the Hostel, along with bread, capers, tomato, cream cheese and $3 bottle of wines...Bargain! We sat in the kitchen dungeon (because it was in the basement and no windows), enjoyed our catch and talked crap in between power failures in the hostel.

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My stay in Puerto Varas ended with me shouting at the TV that night because of some ridiculous American reality tv show in which two blonde, bisexual twins were looking for love. I think the town is better in the summer. Quite uneventful, but that was soon to change. Next stop, Chile´s adventure capital, Pucon.

Posted by Al Jam 11:21 Archived in Chile Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

My money ain´t good enough?

Argentina, where ´giving away´ money may be as tough as spending it


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I don´t know anywhere else that will not accept your hard earned cash in exchange for goods and services but Argentina is a good place to start. It may be due to the ramapant problem of fake bills and the lack of small change and bills. Walk into a grocery and you better have anything less than a ARP$100 bill (Approx AUD$30). Try buy some groceries with a ARP$100 bill and they look at you as if you´ve eaten thier first born, well maybe not so drastic. If they do accept it, they examine the bill so vigorously it would make the American Sercret Service proud. Small bills and change are almost worth gold as shops are more willing to accept them. Credit Cards? Leave it with your passports. Even some of the exclusive restaurants don´t accept them. Maybe one way of avoiding the taxman or maybe just a way to piss off western tourists?

So if you do plan to travel Argentina, keep the small bills close and your first born closer.

Tip - If you withdraw money from an argentinian ATM, withdraw amounts that will give you some small change of ARP$10 or ARP$50 bills.

Posted by Al Jam 12:19 Archived in Argentina Tagged tips_and_tricks Comments (0)

Day 4 to 7 - Bariloche

Lonely Planet Guide is not the bible

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21 Hours is a long time. Even longer on a bus. It´s the journey time between Buenos Aires and Bariloche, our next stop. We took an overnight ´Semi-Cama´ Coach with 13 fellow travellers for 3 days in the winter resort town of Bariloche. One of us almost didn´t make it to the bus in time. 20km away is the Ski Resort Cerro Catedral, the largest in South America, but we´ll get to that.

The dinner they gave us consisted of some kind of Mystery Meat

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The bus ride was quite comfortable despite the fact that the TV screen had one side tinted blue and one side tinted green. Benjamin Button grew young in an aquariam. The dinner they gave us consisted of some kind of Mystery Meat that was lined with vegetables, egg and held together with edible rubber band. But I ate it as you eat what you can get when yoú´re travelling on a budget. Yummo.

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If you like chocolate, outdoor stores or dogs, then Bariloche is the town for you. The streets are paved with them. Dogs roam the streets freely but they are not strays and they somehow manage to work around the traffic and psychotic bus drivers. Anyways, arriving at 2pm in the afternoon, we spent it exploring the town and looking for free ´taster´ chocolates, again travelling on a budget...

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The first night started with an all you can eat Meat Fest BBQ at the hostel, followed by a wander into Bariloche nightlife at an Irish Bar called Wilkenny, apparently the place to be. Next stop was a local hangout, where we announced our arrival by Jon dropping a bottle of beer right in the middle of the bar and by some nipple licking tequila shots. That didn´t stop us (or maybe caused us) from nearly having a good old bar brawl with the town twats. All this on the first night in town. Brilliant!

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So what´s a good cure for a hangover? Walk around in the freezing cold on top of a windy mountain and wait for a bus in the pouring rain. We were duped by the Lonelyplanet guide book for believing we could roam around in some fancy mountain resort. The look on our faces must have been gold when we realised that we were waiting for a bus during siesta time. Luckily for us, the transport system doesn´t adhere to that local custom.

We stuck out like nuns in a whore house

The day ended with an overcooked steak that had so much potential. There was an unsuccesful search for a pub to watch the World Cup Qualifier between Argentina and Brazil. I´d never seen an Irish pub so quiet and where everyone was sitting down during a sporting event, but then again, Argentina lost. Again we ventured off into Bariloche nightlife and ended up at some nightclub where the average age was 19 and we stuck out like nuns in a whore house. Didn´t stay out too late as we had snowboarding the next day. Didn´t stop Erin from staying out till 6am. What a trooper.

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Cerro Catedral. 39 Lifts. 600 Hectares and 53 runs. The largest Ski Resort in South America. With 1 nursing a hangover, Sam, Erin, John and I headed off to the slopes but didn´t quite make it onto actual snow till 12.30pm. It was enough to get a snowboard fix with blue skies, awesome views of the Andes and lakes and the runs were 10 times better than anything in Oz. Of course I had to reinjure a niggling shoulder injury with a juicy stack thanks to faulty bindings and some over zealous manouvers. Snowboard the Andes, tick.

Posted by Al Jam 12:02 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Days 1 to 3 - Buenos Aires

Quote - "If god existed, why did he give us feet and not wheels?¨- Sam, after walking 4hrs around Buenos Aires

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Buenos Aires - It could be London, New York or Sydney. It´s like any other big city. It´s crowded, it´s fast, it´s polluted. I was in my element. After 3 months in laid back Tampa florida, it was great sucking in the polluted air and working my way through the crowded street mall for Florida Ave, Beunos Aires.

It wasn´t the most comfortable flight to BA. The seats were so old I´m sure mine had side burns and were made of corduroy. The seat didn´t recline, it declined, or at least it was so minimal it felt like it. But that´s all I have to say of the flight to BA (on unamed airline).

We spent the first day in BA enjoying the local custom of a siesta. We needed it after the lack of ´recline´. That night was left to exploring Buenos Aires ´Centro´. Watching the working people of Buenos Aires leave the offices and go home, only to come out again at 10pm to eat dinner, by which time we were well into our wine and beers. It was just great to be back in a city and be able to ´walk´, rather than drive everywhere. The night ended with a cafe pequeño at a cafe that was really a front for a brothel...We think.

Some of these people live better in thier death than I probably will ever live in my life.

Day 2 started with a 5hr walk around the neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires, visiting the famed Cementerio de la Recoleta in which Madonna is buried. Eva Peron did a good impersonation of her in the play/movie, Evita. The weather had been grey and drizzly and walking through the cemetary set the tone. Some of these crypts are abosolutely amazing. Like mini churches or temples. Some of these people live better in thier death than I probably will ever live in my life.
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Bravely but stupidly we made our way, 4km in drizzle to the cobblestoned neighbourhood of San Telmo. Of course there were no Outdoor Tango dances, being wet, windy and Tuesday but I´ve never enjoyed a seat at a cafe bar more than I had when we finally made it. We sat and enjoyed our $5 bottle of wine, watching the people of Buenos Aires go about thier lives. The day ended with us meeting up with some fellow travellers for the next 13 days. The BEST EVER steak was had. I mean it. It was definately the best ever. The best Jerry! Better than the Cape Town steak. Better than the Bernaise Sauce steak at the Grand National, Paddington. It was like I died and gone to steak heaven. Apparently there's a Steak Heaven Heaven here in Bariloche, where I currently am. in a Hostel, sipping some, you guessed it, wine. Watching the snow fall, hoping for some good Snowboarding and of course waiting for that ultimate steak. Well, I Better get back to some living.

Hasta la vista Buenos Aires, We WILL be back.

Posted by Al Jam 16:02 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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