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ARGENTINA | Saturday, 7 February 2015 | Views [307]

Well I'm sorry it has been so long between entries. Due to my stupidity I dropped our tablet in Rio de Janeiro and thus rendered it unusable.So as it was beyond my patience to do a blog on the smartphone I left the final 55 days of our trip til home in OZ. So last entry we were leaving CHile for Argentina. We took a 9.5 hr bus trip south west to Salta in northern Argentina. During the trip we crossed over the Andes - spectacular mountain scenery,past a small slat plain,and thru little towns nestled in valleys to arrive in a bustling city in the early evening.Salta is hot and dry but we still managed to hike up a local hill for an overview and wander around the central plaza and streets the next day.We also did a day trip to the small white washed country town of Cachi.Once again the mtn scenery was spectacular and on this trip we stopped for photos. Cachi was a quiet town and few locals around - probably all having a siesta after lunch to avoid the heat.On both these days we also indulged in a midafternoon siesta.Before leaving Salta the next day we visited the museum which houses 3 mummies (in con trolled conditions) of young people found at 6700m in a glacial area of a nearby volcano.The clothing,facial features,and associated objects are very well preserved-eerie.From Salta it was south and an 18hr overnight bus trip to Mendoza.This trip turned into a 22hr trip due to 2 smashed bus windows on the way which had to be replaced.Lucky for us this was the one trip we booked a "cama" seat ie the seat laid back to almost flat and was more padded,but we were still glad to reach our destination.Mendoza is a flat city with wide tree lined streets and many shops that are european like.At our hostel we were alloted a mini apartment - bedroom,kitchenette,bathroom and dining room, up a spiral staircase,which was a bit hard to negotiate initially with backpacks/suitcase.A big modern supermarket round the corner enabled us to eat in.Due to unseasonal cooler weather here it was pleasant to walk around the streets and parks.One day we also did the tourist trip out to the wine district(Mendoza area is all about the wineries).WE visited an olive oil producing place and 2 wineries - tasting obligatory.Once again it was time to move south -another 17hr overnight trip,to Bariloche.Come morning on this trip saw us travelling through a snow covered landscape interspersed with lakes - quite a change from the hot north. WE arrived in Bariloche to a cool windy day - unseasonal here too we were told.It had also snowed over the weekend here so it made for pretty vistas - snow capped mtns around,the town beside a big lake and swiss style chalet holiday accommodation(for those with a few more pesos).WE stayed in a hosteria in the town and lucky for us it had its heating on for the cold nights.However we had 3 lovely days here doing local walks,visiting a local ski field(deserted for the summer) and hiking up a small mtn to view all the surrounding lakes etc. We also had our first taste of the famous local steak.We dined for approx A$15 on 2 big rib fillet steaks (which was only 1 serve) and coincidentlly it was our anniversary - 35yrs.However we had to keep moving and so south again but only a 2hr trip this time to the small town of El Bolson nestled in a valley. Here it is about the hiking and the "hippie" culture. So we spent a quiet weekend hiking and walking around the hippie market.As time was marching on we decided not to go further south to Patagonia(maybe another trip) and instead headed west to the Atlantic ocean and a change of landscape. From mountains and greenery to a drier dusty landscape and the sea and sand.Of course you guessed another overnight bus trip - 12hrs,to Puerto  Madryn. This was a very touristy place with  lots of ocean based trips and wildlife in the sea. We opted for a day trip a large Magellanic penguin colony 2 hrs away.At peak times approx 500,000 there (but not at this time) and saw lots sitting on nests,whilst walking on the pathways.AS trips were  expensive we just walked along the shoreline to see a few southern right whales breaching off shore.WE also had a bit of time on beach lazing.So after this it was to go north and onto the capital Buenos Aires. After 19hrs overnight on the bus we arived at the main bus station in BA and we then successfully neotiated the busy underground metro across town to hostel(a B&B really).BA was hot and we explored the "tourist" spots by walking,buses and the metro.We visited La Boca area with its famous football stadium and team(Maradona played for them) and its Caminito pedestrian walk lined with colourfully painted corrugated-metal buildings. Only certain streets here are safe and we were told once to not go any further along a street and so tuned back.Funnily one of BA's top attractions is its Recoleta Cemetery - full of mausoleums resembling buildings adorned with statues/other decorations,detailed marble facades etc .It's like a little city with streets and buildings. We saw Eva Peron's family grave where her remains reside also. The Recoleta area is an upmarket neighbourhood with lots of brand name shops and apartment buliding. We also saw a couple of the professional dog walkers(paseaperros) - one had 13 dogs in tow.In this area we had a nice coffee in a Bookshop. The bookshop was an old restored theatre and the old stage was the coffee shop area,the balcony boxes quiet reading areas and the rest full of shelves of books.We also did a free walking tour of the city centre and did a lot of wandering around by ourselves. WE had an unfortunate experience whilst here.At the end of long hot day walking around we had Gary's daypack stolen when we were off our guard. We fell for the bird poo scam - you get sprayed with a substance like poo and when the local/s try to help you clean up you get distratced and they're off with your belongings.It was more annoying than anything and we were lucky to strike an english speaking policeman the next day when reporting the theft. So that enabled us to get the all important police report fairly easily for our travel insurance claim when we got home.So after 4 days of the hustle and bustle of a big city it was time to hit the road again  and go north - 18hrs overnight to Puerto Iguazu. This small town is home to  Argentina's side of the Iguazu Falls - a spectacular natural sight. Lots of jungle surrounds here and hot and steamy. The town itself is laid back and its about the falls. This side of the falls is where you can view them from right on top and look down over them.Lucky for us part of day was sunny which enhanced their magnificence.The noise of the crashing water can be deafening and you feel very small in the scheme of things. At our hostel here we appreciated the air-conditioning in the room especially at night.After a couple days here on this side of the falls it was time to do the short hop across the border into Brazil,our hostel there and see the magnificence of the falls from that side.Going into Brazil meant that the end of our Latin American Odyssey was in sight. Hard to believe.

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