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Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile

ARGENTINA | Monday, 20 October 2008 | Views [1462]

Bariloche

Bariloche

October 18 - December 18, 2008

I arrived Salta, Argentina with 9 other people and we all stayed at Hostal Yatasto (www.hotelyatasto.todowebsalta.com.ar) which was a pretty cool place to crash for a night.  The following night I caught a 10 hour bus to Cordoba at 9 pm (165 pesos/3 = $55).  When I arrived Cordoba I did not have a couchsurfer in line, so I went to hostel Patagonia Lodge (www.patagonialodgehi.com.ar) and spent four nights there (35 pesos/3 = $10.51 per night).  It was a nice hostel, and I had the whole dorm room to myself because there were no people staying at the hostel.  It was nice to finally relax a little bit, and do some walking around, and also a little studying of my Spanish after some exhausting rapid travels.  Cordoba (1,272,000) is a city with 7 universities, so it is definitely a younger crowd with a lot of lively night life.

On Friday, October 24, I took a 19 hour bus to Asuncion, Paraguay (1,200,000) at 12:30 pm (145 pesos=$43.56 for semicama bus), and arrived Saturday morning around 630 am.  Then I caught a local bus to my couchsurfer Cray´s house and spent Saturday and Sunday night there.  He was an awesome guy and had a huge house by himself with a couple extra bedrooms.  He was actually from California, but teaches English in Asuncion, and had been there for almost two years, and was in Brazil teaching english before that.  There was not a whole lot to see in Paraguay that I was aware of, but seeing I already bought my visa for the country there was no reason not to check it out.

I caught my next bus to Cuidad del Este, Paraguay (223,350) at 9 am on Monday morning, October 27 (5.5 hours 40,000 pesos/4,400=$9).  I arrived there around 4 pm or so, and the whole city shuts down about 4:30 pm.  I have never seen a city shut down so early...every business in town was closed, and you could not even find a restaurant that was open to get a bite to eat, so I just ate at some vendor on the street.  I spent Monday night there, so I could get up early for the giant electronic street market to buy a new camera.  I am sick of fixing my stupid casio camera, so I bought a new Canon camera, and also made a new laptop impulse purchase.  It was a little tiny laptop and I got a good deal on it ($630).  I figure I can sell it in Brazil and make a little profit off of it after using it for a couple months, or maybe I will just keep it for the rest of my trip.  I definitely can feel the additional weight in my backpack now.

On Tuesday, October 28th, I caught a bus to Puerto Iguazu which was only about 30 minutes or so from Cuidad del Este.  I actually some how ended up at the border of Argentina and Brazil...so I was not able to stamp out of Paraguay, but they told me no problem, and I continued on into Argentina.  Once I arrived I checked myself into Hostel Inn Iguazu and crashed the night there early so I could get up early and take the first bus to Iguazu falls at 8 am.  The falls were amazing and mind blowing.  I have never seen or heard anything like it.  It was definitely worth making the trip there and paying the $14 to get in.  I got completely drenched from the falls, but dried off quite quickly.  It ended up raining very hard about mid-day as well, but I had enough time to get some pictures of the falls. I did not go to the Brazil side of the falls, but I heard the Argentina side is better anyways.  They have so many different ways of seeing them at all different angles.  Some people even took a boat to see them, but I decided against it because it was raining most of the time. 

On Thursday, October 30, I took a 19 hour bus (140 pesos=$42.05) to Buenos Aires (13,000,000) at 250 pm, and arrived at 10 am Friday morning.  I stayed two nights with couchsurfer Pedro in a neighborhood called Palermo.  One of the days we went to a town nearby called Tigre.  We took a train and then a boat to get to the small town which is on a river.  It was Pedro's friends birthday, so we had about 14 guys who all went to this town to BBQ.  They made up some excellent steaks and we played some soccer as well, and had a really good time. 

On Sunday, Nov 2, I left Pedro's house because his parents were coming, and I moved to Nicolas' house which was only about 10 blocks away.  Nicolas was kind enough to drive me around the city the first night I arrived at his place.  During my time at Nicolas' place I just walked around the neigborhood to get a feel of the people, and decided to stay away from the tourist site seeing things because I knew I was coming back to Buenos Aires again anyways.  Nicolas was a great host who made a copy of the keys for me, and just let me come and go as I wanted.

On Monday, Nov 9th, I caught a 4.5 hour bus (51 pesos=$15.32) from Buenos Aires to Rosario (909,000) through Friday and then went back to Buenos Aires for a concert, but my friend was unable to get a hold of the guy he was getting the tickets from, so I didn´t even go to the concert.  My couchsurfer Nacho and his two roommates were awesome guys in Rosario and had a huge place.  They also had two other couchsurfers staying there from Germany.  They just let me come and go at their place as I wanted, and I just walked around every day in the HOT weather, and checked out the beach they had there as well.  It was a very nice city and people say that the most beautiful women in Argentina are in Rosario.  I definitely would have to agree with that statement.

I arrived back in Buenos Aires on Friday, Nov 14th, around 10 am, and did not have a couchsurfer for Friday.  I tried to go to a hostel to check in, but was unable to check in until 2 pm...so I just sat around waiting to check in, and the following day I went to another couchsurfer Adams house to stay Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights.  I decided to basically stay and kill time in Buenos Aires to wait for my friend Adam to get his new passport that was stolen, and then we are heading south for a few weeks together and then returning back on Dec 6,7,8 for a big couchsurfing gathering in Tigre nearby Buenos Aires.

On Tuesday, November 18th, I had to make my way to another hostel because I could not find another host, and then finally on Wednesday Adam got his passport and we took a 21.5 hour night cama bus with Andes Mar (261 pesos/3.2=$78) to Puerto Madryn and arrived at 630 pm Thursday, November 20th.  We planned to check out the whales and penguins while in Puerto Madryn, but it was $100 and no food or anything was included so, we just spent the night there at a couchsurfers place and got up in the morning to catch a bus to our next destination Rio Gallegos (18 hours/240 pesos=$72 Patagonica).  We then arrived Rio Gallegos at 8 am on Sat 11/22 and had to wait till noon to take our next bus to Calafate (4 hours/48 pesos=$14.40) where they have the amazing glacier.  The Perito Moreno Glacier was amazing to see and to hear the cracking of the glacier as well.  Myself, Adam, and two other people that we met took a taxi to the glacier an hour away (300 pesos for 4 of us= $22.50/per person).  The 60m jagged ice-peaks sheer off and crash into the ice.  The glacier is constantly advancing--up to 2m per day---while constantly caving icebergs from its face.

On Tuesday, 11/25 we arrived at 10:30 pm to Bariloche after a 30 hour bus ride (300 pesos=$90), and myself, Adam, and two other guys that I had met in Bolivia happened to be on our same bus, so we all checked into the same hostel.  We spent the first two nights in a hostel called Marcopolo and then on Thursday we all checked into a hostel called "Penthouse 1004" because so many people recommended it (www.penthouse1004.com.ar).  This hostel had an awesome view that over looks the lake and had a huge balcony to look out from as well on the 10th floor of the building.  While staying at this hostel we cooked up a big Thanksgiving feast and had an excellent time meeting the people at the hostel.  The people working there were all so friendly.  If you are in Bariloche I highly recommend this place! 

Bariloche (97,000 population) is the Lake District´s largest city and sits on the shores of beautiful Lago Nahuel Huapi and also has some beautiful mountains.  Bariloche is a great city and offers camping, hiking, trekking, rafting, fishing, and skiing.  It is a city definitely worth checking out!

On Friday, November 27, I planned to catch a bus to Pucon, Chile, but all the buses were full, so they said I could take a bus to Osorno 5.5 hours (75 pesos/$22.53) and then catch a bus from there to Pucon.  Once I arrived Osorno they said all the buses were full to Pucon, and I would have to spend a night in Osorno if I wanted to make my way to Pucon.  I was short on time, so I just bought a ticket to Santiago (16 hours/10,000 pesos...)and arrived Saturday, Nov 29th around 1130 am.  I then called my couchsurfer Lori and went to her place to stay for the next two nights.  She and her mother were awesome people and very kind.  They cooked me up some very nice meals and Lori showed me around Santiago a little bit.

On Monday, December 1, I took a bus north to Vina Del Mar (286,900) at 2 pm (2 hours/4,000 pesos=$5.97 with Condor bus).  I then walked to my couchsurfer Sebastian's house and hung out there until December 4th.  Sebastian and his roommate were awesome people and introduced me to a bunch of their friends.  One night one of their friends had a bbq that they took me to as well, and I met some very nice people.  Sebastian also walked me around the city, and we checked out some of the beaches as well.  The first day it was quite warm, but I arrived kind´ve late, and then the next couple days were overcast, but the beaches were very nice there, and it seems like it would be a great place during the main summer months.  I would definitely like to go back there in January or February sometime when it is the heart of the summer there.

On Thursday, December 4, I continued my way back to Buenos Aires (24 hours 44,500 pesos=$66.51).  When I arrived Friday morning I took the metro to my next couchsurfers place Matias´ (who I had met in Venezuela at a couchsurfing outing) to stay for a night before I went to the couchsurfing weekend BBQ meetup.  I covered a lot of ground in the last 17 days and ended up in a bus for 121 hours (5 of the 17 days)... and ready to relax at the BBQ.

The camping in Tigre was a great time with all the couchsurfers.  We had almost 200 people and we all camped out there by the river.  The first night we cooked up some steaks and chicken on the grill and the second night we did up some pizzas.  During these hot two days we did some olympic event competitions as well that were a lot of fun, and also met some very nice people.

On Monday, December 8th, I returned back to Matias´ house until Wednesday, December 10th when I caught a 11.5 hour bus (Chevallier = 95 pesos=...) back to Cordoba for a week to visit some couchsurfing friends before I make my way into Montevideo,Uruguay.  I then stayed in Cordoba until Wednesday, December 17th and planned to catch a bus to Montevideo, but all the buses were full, so I had to leave to Buenos Aires at 10 pm and then booked a boat online for 330 pm on Thursday, December 18th (3 hours 241 pesos www.buquebus.com).  I stayed with a cool couchsurfer named Pablo in Cordoba that other couchsurfers recommended to stay with.  He had a huge house where people were just coming in and going all the time.  I think there was about 15 different people with key sets to the house, and it was great because they were all so friendly and made me feel like a part of the house.  It was so damn hot though, and when I put my clean clothes outside they were dry within a half hour.  I think it was hot enough out to fry an egg (100 degrees). I just relaxed once in awhile on their patio in the sun and practiced up on some Spanish, and we cooked up some meals and BBQ as well.  There was four other couchsurfers in the house as well, so we all just hung out and had a good time together.  It was nice to take a week to just relax and not be out on the streets wandering around.

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