Buenos Aires

We’ve finally arrived in Buenos Aires and this is the weirdest part about it – our trip is coming to an end. After 185 days of traveling and driving nonstop on the road, we will be getting on a plane and wrap up this chapter in our lives.

As a form of celebration, our close friends have come to stay with us in Buenos Aires for our last week in South America. It’s been almost 6 months since we have seen anyone familiar and it feels like a mix between a rude awakening of reality and a sigh of relief that this is coming to an end. But first, time for us to explore Buenos Aires!

Buenos Aires has pockets of cultural neighborhoods all around the city and it’s more lively and green than we expected. It’s surrounded by large parks, restaurants, and gelato shops on every corner. The city has a very strong Europe feel and with a large Italian immigrant population, the Italian food is authentic and delicious.

Recoleta Cemetery

The Recoleta Cemetary is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world, housing notable people like Eva Peron, Presidents of Argentina, and Nobel Prize Winners. Many of the mausoleums are decorated with statues and doors which you can see the coffins right outside. They are adorned with some beautiful stained glass work which can only be properly seen from the inside. Considering how much of it looks like it should belong in museums, we are surprised to find that the entrance is free and we can stay as long as we’d like.

Ecoparque Buenos Aires

The Buenos Aires Ecoparque is also a free attraction in the Palermo district.  Due to the crippling conditions of the zoo, they announced its official closure and converted it to an eco-park slowly phasing out the animals that live in the park. The only animals that stay within the park are those that need rehabilitation or treatment of disease and they will eventually be transferred to other facilities.

Exploring Buenos Aires

We take the time to explore the rest of Buenos Aires walking around, looking at graffitis and of course – eating, a lot of eating.

We ate… a lot. So this is dedicated just to the food we’ve consumed, it deserves its own album. Due to the heavy presence of Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires, there are delicious pasta and Italian pastries on every corner. Cafes are used as spaces to hang out and have an espresso mid-day. The idea of quick fast food really doesn’t exist here – unless you go to McDonalds.

After eating a lot and exploring Buenos Aires, the two weeks in the city went by way too quickly. If I can characterize Buenos Aires, it feels like a big city in Europe. The culture in the city celebrates the importance of spending time with family and friends and really taking the time to do that maybe over a three-hour meal accompanied by wine. Most restaurants and businesses close for Siesta (nap) for 2-3 hours anywhere between 12-5pm and people don’t even start dinner until 8pm. But the prices for food, museums, and transportation is much cheaper than any European country.

We are now off to Mexico City to spend 5 days just the three of us before we go home for our final journey. Leaving South America is bittersweet, but we are also glad to be going home and staying put in one place for a little bit.

 

 

Animals of Argentina

Our final stretch towards Buenos Aires. Route 3 along the coast is quite slow and there really isn’t too much to see, but we are definitely dragging our heels since we won’t be doing any more camping after this stretch. We are almost at the end of our 6 month journey…

So we stop by a free national park where there are thousands of Magellanic penguins nesting on the coast – Parc National Monte León. They all come here from Brazil during the month of December to have babies and only stay for three months. We were incredibly lucky to have been driving up right when the babies are all grown up and they are just learning how to be grownup penguins – which also means there is lots of activity.

Anywhere else in the world, you wouldn’t be allowed to go 1 km from the penguins. But this is South America! We hike 2km from the parking lot and start seeing penguins under prickly bushes, literally right next to our path.

Sea Lions Galore

Then, off to the small town of Caleta Olivia where we are promised a colony of sea lions. We were expecting to see them above a cliff, but we drive up to a small pebble beach off the highway. After walking 5 minutes on the beach, we see a herd of them 10 meters away. We probably could have walked right upto them, but they look enormous and dangerous so we keep our distance. Did you know they have a mane like a lion? They also roar really really loudly.

On our drive up the coast, we see the Atlantic Ocean, Guanacos, and rhea birds (they look like small ostriches). It’s like argentina is trying to show us its natural wonders just before we leave.

Guanacos

We can’t believe this trip is coming to an end. Once we get to Buenos Aires we’ll be there for a couple of weeks to decompress, get a haircut, and maybe get a little fat off some food.

This isn’t our last post. We’ll do one more for Buenos Aires and another final post looking back at some of our favourite moments from this entire journey. For now, all we can say is – it really is about the journey not the destination.

Perito Moreno Glacier

In about a weeks time we will start heading North for the first time in this journey – meaning the trip is coming to an end. Our last southern visit is a small city of el Calafate. It’s the closest town to Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the 3 glaciers in the world that is actually growing instead of melting and shrinking away. It’s also part of the 3rd largest ice field in the world after Antártica and Greenland.

Standing at 65meters tall, one of the key attractions of visiting this glacier is that you can witness large pieces of it breaking off. It’s growing, pushing the ice out and with the sun melting away cracks, large pieces fall away and make scary canon like noises. You really can’t witness this anywhere in the world. This is one of the key reasons we came to Calafate and the lamb bbq (Cordero asado cooked slowly over the fire).

And at 500 Argentina per person ($11CAD), you get so much succulent lamb it’s hard to believe the deal.

Instead of going first thing in the morning to the glacier, we drive there around 2pm when the sun is the strongest and more pieces are likely to break off. The only downside is the crowd, but we plan on securing a spot on the viewing platform and bunker down. But we didn’t even have to wait long. As soon as we walk down the viewing platform a huge piece falls off making a cracking sound so loud it’s scary.

So we stay for 2 hours watching and waiting. Each time, it is absolutely worth it.

And while we were waiting, ofcourse we filmed it. The sound of the glacier breaking off really can’t be heard on the video because of all the people, but in person is deafening.

For the above video, skip to 15second mark.

After almost 20,000km on the road, we start heading North toward Buenos Aires. It’s un believe and hard to comprehend we’ve been on the road for that long.

Chile and Argentina

The big 2

After the vast emptiness of Bolivia, we are now entering Argentina and Chile. The roads are better, there are modern rest stops like in the US, and everything is conveniently close – it’s weirdly familiar.

Because the two countries are so close, we will be going in and out of both countries at least two or three times. The plan is to drive down Chile abit and then cross into Argentina for abit and then cross back into Chile to drive the Route 7 aka Carretera Austral. It’s supposed to be the best drive of Chile and as one man we met described it – “every km is like whoa, ooo, ahhh”.

The desert

But first, we drive through the Atacama desert in Chile and then crossover into Argentina to visit Mendoza – the wine heart of the country. We don’t particularly like the heat, so we drive through the vast emptiness quickly. But even then, we see landscapes that look like the moon and stars that litter the night sky. It’s not so bad.

Finally, we cross into Argentina. One of the final countries we will be visiting on this trip. The first thing we do in Mendoza is to obviously go find a restaurant, and we end up at Cava de Caño out of sheer luck.

Since I don’t drink, the food is for me and the wine is for Steve. The set menu is $835 Argentinian pesos per person – after double checking our math – it is $18 CAD. so we nod a hungry yes and get inside. Normally, you need reservations since it’s a set menu and normally, they don’t allow dogs in the restaurant. But it was 27 degrees outside so they gave us a private room with ac so our dog can sit with us while we enjoy a feast that we didn’t even know was coming. It included:

  • 25 various tapas
  • 3 courses of empanada, stewed beef in wine, freshly made pasta
  • A bottle of Malbec
  • Icecream with Dulce de Leche
  • Dessert drinks or coffee
  • Cigars (which we politely declined)

It was a wonderful start to an amazing Argentinian meal experience and hospitality.

What a perfect start to our final months in South America.