• rose

Buenos Aires, Argentina

What I knew of Argentina before traveling here was only what I had learned from Evita, thanks to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. The theme song of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” plays in my head whenever I think about Buenos Aires - apologizes, now you will probably have it stuck in your head too!! Neither Devon or I knew what to expect, but we were excited to explore the city which we had heard was very European, and known for delicious beef!

The Presidential Palace, Casa Rosada, or "The Pink House". From this balcony, President Juan Peron and his wife Eva Person would address the people of Buenos Aires.

By happenstance, we spent a solid amount of time in Buenos Aires. The food, the culture, the tango, the hustle and bustle of the city, and not to mention the nice weather - what’s not to like?! After camping and hiking through Patagonia for a month, we were both relieved to feel the warmth and sunshine again. A few highlights for us were:

• Visiting the San Telmo Market.

This market was PACKED on the weekend, very similar to Granville Island in Vancouver, BC. We got to see San Telmo on a Sunday when they have a vintage market, and vendors selling art and other goods line the streets.

• Watching a tango show.

When in Rome right!? We went to an intimate show at El Viejo Almacen, which was full of lively music and dancing. The band had not one, but TWO accordionists (yes, accordionists is a word). We were both in awe of the fancy footwork of the dancers; we definitely now have some inspiration/intimidation for our upcoming wedding...

• Going for a steak dinner (or two!). One of the best parts was enjoying one of the finest wines on the menu for only $15 CAD!

The amount of meat is astounding...we watched a documentary that stated that Argentinians eat approximately 70 kg of meat per person...per year! I wonder if any of them have seen the documentary Cowspiracy, or would consider "Meatless Monday"?

• Walking around Palmero Hollywood and SOHO and enjoying all the bright coloured and trendy cafes, bars, and restaurants. And getting our daily fix of Chori...so deadly.

• Experiencing Carnival and getting sprayed by aerosol cans of what we believe to have been soap and water...

• Exploring the city's main tourist attractions and taking advantage of the FREE bicycle share program.

• Meeting up with our Aussie friends we met hiking in Chile. Sadly I don't have a photo of this! It's been so much fun meeting other travellers along the way - we have managed to run into friends both intentionally, and unintentionally this trip which has been so serendipitous!

• One of the other highlights for us might seem silly to those of you reading this...but actually getting back into a “normal routine” of buying groceries, making dinner, going to the gym, doing laundry, reading a book, etc was really refreshing. It feels crazy sometimes to “waste” a day doing mundane chores or catching up on social media or current events when you are halfway across the world in an amazing new and exciting city...but there is also a lot of relaxation and rejuvenation that comes with the experience of taking time to take care of yourself. At the beginning of our trip I think we put a lot more pressure on ourselves to see and do as much as possible. With time, we have come to learn that there is so much more to travelling than checking off a list of “must see” and “must do’s”. Travelling is always a balance of time, money, energy, and interest - and we have realized that it is so unique to the individual traveller.

  • devon

Updated: Mar 13, 2019

El Chalten and El Calafate, Argentina

As I write this we are in the air, halfway to Buenos Aires, and are ready to get back into some warmer weather, after camping and hiking for nearly a month in Patagonia! We have survived the Patagonian elements, and we even got a small taste of snow in February which cured us of any homesickness we were feeling. Nearly every morning waking up in El Chalten, Argentina, the tent walls were covered in frost. Not quite the -30 C temperatures that Calgary is getting right now, but cold enough for us. That being said, being out of the sweltering heat for the last five weeks has been a welcome change.

I have learned on this trip that my body is not well equipped to deal with 35 C and 90% humidity conditions - not conditions you have to deal with often, living in Canada!

We made it within a few hundred kilometers of the infamous Torres Del Paine, but we weren’t able to book campsites for the W route. Initially this was a disappointing realization, but after tons of research and talking with other travellers, I have come to peace with it. We were trying to do the trail in peak season, and began trying to book about five weeks prior to when we wanted to do it. It was an unlikely proposition at the time, but most things like this have worked out so far for us... Unfortunately, this was not to be. We realized in Coyhaique that we had to walk away from that idea that we would be doing this trail. We got bookings at two of the four campsites that we needed to complete the trek, and it didn’t seem worth it to make the travel arrangements to do half of the W route. This would’ve have been unfathomable to me when we were planning in Santiago, but after camping and hiking in Patagonia for the last four weeks I am completely content with what we have seen and done in lieu of doing Torres. I am sure, given the popularity of Torres, that it is a outstanding multi-day hike, but it’s not as if we haven’t been witness to some outstanding vistas ourselves. Also, it’s just a gut feeling but after talking with many people who have done it, but it sounds like “rush-hour” hiking - half the reason I love hiking so much is the fact that I can get away from people, so hiking with swarms of other people is not my idea of a great time. I’m sure in shoulder season, when fewer people are doing it, this hike is legendary. Hopefully one day I will conclude my Carretera Austral bike-packing trip, in mid March, with Torres Del Paine. I can soak up the vistas and bask in the solitude - exactly as hiking is supposed to be!

For those of you who are adventurous and desperate to do Torres, we have heard through the traveller grapevine that it is possible to do this trail if you don’t have permits… I’m not saying you should, but if you are a little sneaky it can be done. Talking with people along our journey, this doesn’t seem to be uncommon… I suspect that if the reservation system wasn’t an absolute joke to navigate through, people wouldn’t be doing it.

Our furthest point south, in South America, was El Calafate, Argentina. Our journey to this point involved some spectacular sights in El Chalten and El Calafate.

From El Chalten, there are multiple very easy day hikes leading to unbelievable vistas. The town itself is small, a little ragged, but is developing some genuine personality. It doesn’t feel like a tourist town that has been slapped together by a designer - not that we have seen many “designer towns” in SA.

My favourite tourist destinations are the ones that have sprouted organically. They feel personable, genuine, and are visually more interesting.

We were lucky to meet up with some friends from Calgary in El Chalten! How surreal to be halfway around the world and hike with friends from home.

A highlight was visiting the Perito Moreno Glacier. Hearing and seeing ice falling was an incredible experience.

  • devon

From my perspective, there are only a couple negative aspects about Chile: it is tough to stretch a dollar, and the washroom situation is horrendous.

How can an entire country be so complacent about washroom design and function!?

If you find a washroom in Chile which supplies toilet paper and soap, you should count your lucky stars… If there is one thing that is down right horrifying, it is when a restaurant washroom doesn’t supply soap. I’m no hypochondriac, but it really makes me wonder about how sanitary the food prep is… Now, don’t get me wrong, these kinds of amenities are pretty sparse throughout a lot of countries in South and Central America, but in a country like Chile, which prides itself on meeting “Western Standards”, and charging equivalent prices to Canada, washrooms need to be stocked with toilet paper and soap.

When’s the last time you went out for a nice dinner in Canada, and brought your roll of T.P. and a bar of soap? Somehow these things go overlooked here.