Thursday, September 29, 2005

Photos from the CD (Rio, Iguacu, BsAs, Peninsula Valdes)

Okay, remembered to bring the CD with me this time to the net cafe.

Before you see those (I´m still trying to login to flickr on this incredibly slow connection), I´ll bore you with the no-news I have for the day.

Puerto Natales (where we are right now) is in a stunning location. All the buildings are pretty run down (but pretty all the same) but it´s set next to an amazing lake with huge mountains on the other side. Makes for a great wander around. Which is all we did today.

That and went to the doctor´s to get something for my cold. 10,000 Chillean peso to see the doctor and another 7,000 for the perscription. Had a terrible night last night but seems to be getting better now. Was also a bit of a Blair Witch Project night as something seemed to be scraping up and down the walls of our room (which is basically a prefab shed divided up into about 5 rooms in someone´s garden). Then the dog started barking outside the window in a very protective way and didn´t stop for the rest of the night. Good dog. I don´t want to get eaten by scary giant porcupine llamas or whatever they have around here. Actually, they have very nice black-necked swans on the lake.

Looks like we´ll both go on the day tour of the park tomorrow, but while Eva strides out from the bus every now and then, I´ll stay wrapped up and warm on/in it. Haven´t asked yet, but will try to get a discount.

So here are the photos from the earlier part of the trip. We´ve got loads of photos but you´re only getting a taster here. Putting the photos up is quite time-consuming (this post has taken about an hour with this connection). We also have some cracking photos that we´ll save till the end.

Enjoy ....

One of Rio from Sugarloaf Mountain. Excellent view.

Jesus Christ!

Iguacu falls. Now imagine that this view stretches all the way around the corner as well.

Buenos Aires. Just a quick street pic that reflects how colourful South America can be.

Whale watching on the Peninsula Valdes. The male was horny but the lady was having none of it. She kept rolling in the water to make him prove himself.

The females look normal, but the male elephant seals are huge. They all look dead but really they´re just resting. Though we did see one with a nasty wound that was getting pestered by hungry gulls.

P.p.p.p.pick up a penguin. You probably could here. There were quite a few around and very close. Not really the season for them at the moment. A few hundred here right now but down south in a couple of months there will be hundreds of thousands.

As we were just a group of 4 people we had just a single 4x4 instead of a big bus. This meant we could stop at any time to get out and take a look around.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Okay, try these.

I was able to pull some pics direct off the camera as I had the cable with me (bought a spare in BsAs).

These are fresh photos from yesterday (Tuesday 27th) on the glacier. No explanations here, no time and probably not necessary.

Puerto Natales : Hacking Coughs and Gloopy Internet

Been out of touch for a bit. Had a mobile phone signal in the last couple of places but couldn´t send SMS. Down in Puerto Natales now and absolutely no signal here. Oh well. Internet has been a bit of a hit and miss affair too. Tried a netcafe in El Calafate which was about 4x more expensive than the other one´s we´ve tried. Had a terrible keyboard and the connection was so bad that I just wasn´t able to reach some sites (e.g. blogger). When we complained, the guy just shrugged his shoulders and said it´s the same for all of the places in that town. Great.

To be honest, I wasn´t too keen on El Calafate. Don´t get me wrong, we came here for the glaciers and they were amazing (more about that later), but the town seemed to be very pricey for what it offered.

I may also have been influenced by the terrible cold/flu I have right now. I believe it´s going away but yesterday was very bad. I think I picked it up after standing close to the Iguacu waterfalls, getting soaked and then sitting in airconditioned rooms, planes, buses for a few hours. Yesterday I could hardly eat anything (painful to swallow), blocked up nose, head about to burst and a hacking cough that just wouldn´t stop. Plus I was getting very very cold.

So of course the best course of action is to stand on the deck of a boat, ride it out in icy winds to a massive glacier, don crampons then trek across the glacier for a few hours. Maybe not, but that´s what I did anyway. The glacier is huge in a way I don´t think the photos will explain. I was also surprised at how blue it all was. With the light shining through thinner parts of the ice, you get great colours. And then there´s the loud cracking, popping noises as huge chunks of ice fall off into the water below. The odd thing is that everyone´s waiting for the next chunk of ice to fall and listening to the sounds (which really are very very loud), but the volume of the noise doesn´t seem to correspond to the size of the ice chunk. Ok, I´m wittering on now.

The glacier trek was finished with whisky on the rocks with the guides. A nice touch. As soon as we got back from that trip, I took a shower and went straight to bed. I felt terrible. Eva went out for dinner with the two Belgian brothers we´d hooked up with back up at Puerto Madryn.

So we went from Puerto Madryn (whales, penguins, elephant seals etc) to El Calafate (glaciers, overpriced restaurants) and took a bus (about 5 hours) down further south to Puerto Natales. Here´s the place to go trekking in the national park of Torres del Paine. Most of the treks take several days and you can either stay in hostels inside the park (bloody expensive) or camp (cheap). Originally we were planning a few days in the park but I´m more concerned with getting well again, so it looks like we´ll rest up a couple of days and then just do a quick one day tour and not sleep in the park.

Oh just a point of interest. The tourist information places have normally been very good, but here, although they seemed helpful giving a list of nearby hostels it turned out to be crap. 2 of the places weren´t open and absolutely none of them had rooms anything near the right price. We wandered around a bit and then went into one of the hostels that approached us after we´d got off the bus. It was a bit more than we wanted but after visiting about 5 other places, it was obviously worth paying the extra for a bit of cleanliness and comfort.

Photos, yes photos are on the way. We got them burned to a CD in El Calafate which was a bit of a mistake as if we´d waited a couple of days then it would have been a lot cheaper to do it here. Oh well. Anyway, we only popped into the netcafe now on the way back from the shop (I needed my hot tea!) so don´t have the CD with me. I promise to bring it with me next time.

I´ve also got a load of stuff to write up from my notepad that I jot notes into while on the road / in the sky. Maybe that will come soon too.

Thanks for the comments guys and hope all is well whoever and wherever you are.

Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics

Most of the pics for this entry are already up in another post but there are some new ones just below.

Waterfall in the Torres del Paine park

Lakes so clean and calm that they look like mirrors. Plus an incredibly expensive hotel.

A bizarre landscape of mountains, beach and icebergs

Punta Arenas was the furthest south we got. Not much there but they do have a nice cemetry (full of Scots) that looks out onto the Magellan Strait.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Whale Watching and Seal Spotting

I´ve got a long post written in my notebook (the pen and paper kind). Wrote it all out while sitting in a terrible seat on a flight for 2 hours. Forgot the notebook though so it´ll have to come later.

Got into Trelew and then hooked up with a couple of Belgians. Took a taxi to Puerto Madryn and found some accomodation there from a guy hassling us on the street. We first tried some other places but they were full. Then we met some Americans (?) on the street that were staying in this place and they recommended it. In fact it´s been great and we did the tour of the Peninsula Valdes with the hostel / apartment people and got first class treatment. We squeezed 4 of us plus the driver into a big 4x4 and headed off. The tour lasted a full 12 hours and included a boat for whale watching.

It was absolutely fantastic. The whales were ahem mating or trying to mate right in front of us and going under the boat and twirling around etc. Very very good. Then we headed off around the peninsula to see huge Elephant Seals (males weigh 3,000 kg) then saw loads and loads of penguins (very cute).

Got to get up early in the morning to catch a bus at 6am to the airport for our next stop at El Calafate. Going for glacier gazing and trekking. Of course, absolutely nothing booked for accomodation or tours but we´ve got a good reference from the hostel people here so it should be good.

Right, off to pack, shower and bed.

I know, still no photos. No time to get it sorted out. There really hasn´t been any time to sort it out. Maybe at the next town.

Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics

Whale Ahoy!

Whale Wave

Down to the beach for seals

Elephant Seals are big

Need binoculars for the babies

Penguins Galore

Llooking at Llamas

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Steaks Are High (2)

Okay, so back at the keyboard again for the 20 minutes I´ve just bought. B.A. is a bit of a strange one. Yes, it´s European-like but then again you´ve also got a load of pollution and people peeing on the streets, dog crap absolutely everywhere. Bit like Bp really. Maybe not.

Our hotel (yes, it´s a hotel, not a hostel) is very central and we´ve got a huge triple room for just 65 pesos a night (about $22). It´s got it´s own bathroom but the shower is actually just the bathroom with a shower head stuck in the wall. They give you a squegie on a stick to move the water into the drain. The room is on the first floor and the noise from the street is just amazing. Oh well, it´s very comfortable and is a good base.

We took the bus over to Boca. Looked at the colourful houses, tango dancers on the street and the Boca football stadium (though didn´t do the tour). Then walked back via a huge park and fed the pigeons and a parrot.

Also stopped by the renovated docks which is impressive. Tons of places to eat and drink. All looking very new with lots of buildings being built all over the place.

For the evening we went out to a parrilla and ate copius amounts of steak. The waitress advised Eva not to order the one she wanted as it would be too big. She went for the "mini" version which was pretty huge. I opted for a t-bone steak and they brought two of them! Mind you, they were so great, we managed to finish it all off. That, along with a couple of cokes, a water and a generous glass of wine came to about 30 pesos or $10. I think I have an idea what we´ll be eating again tonight.

Today we´ve put in the laundry to be washed. We took a look on the net for a place to stay at the next stop in Puerto Madryn but then decided that we´ll just phone places when we get there. It worked well here, we´re out of season and there should be plenty of places free. Also, it might be cheaper if we go direct to the hostel / hotel.

Next stop is the cemetry to take a look at Eva Peron´s grave and then maybe up to Palermo which is meant to be a bit greener but still lively.

Yes yes yes, I know, still no pictures. We always seem to be in a rush. Maybe I´ll ask the net people on the way out if it´s possible to use a memory card reader.

Right that´s it. Off we go.

Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics

Hotel Europa

Colourful Boca

Not the last tango in B.A.

The cool renovated docks

Number 8 has a rest

Street entertainers in BA

The huge cemetry in BA is just like a small town

One of the many dog walkers in BA

Some great graffiti in BA

The Steaks Are High

Argh... The planned regular updates are not going according to er.. plan.

Mellow Yellow hostel in Rio was great and I´m not sure if you realised but I wrote the first post when I wasn´t really in the best of moods. I was feeling sleep deprived, irritable, weather was crap etc etc. But the next day was fantastic. We made our own way up Sugarloaf mountain (well, when I say we made our own way up, I mean we didn´t go with a tour, we didn´t walk up the thing). Then in the afternoon we went to see Christ the Redeemer on another peak. Just in time for sunset. Fantastic views.

The next day (and last day in Rio) we went over to Ipanema beach and strolled along almost all of it. Again, the weather started off cloudy then out came the sun and of course we got a bit sunburnt but nothing we couldn´t handle. Also got soaking wet after being caught out by the waves that come up suddenly. Completely soaked up to the shins. Oh well, at least it dried quickly.

Flew down to Foz do Iguacu that day and checked in to Laura´s bed and breakfast. Laura being a completely crazy Brazilian woman who makes you feel like you´re really staying in someone´s home. Excellent place. Started meeting and chatting to more people here. Went out for an all you can eat Meaf extravaganza. I was just overwhelmed.

Iguacu is the place for waterfalls. Took a trip with 9 others from the b&b to the falls on the Argentinian side (apparently much better than the Brazilian side). Our guide was 20 years old, had been a guide for the last 8 days and had only been learning English for 2 months. But he was great, honestly. Had a great time. Got soaking wet again by standing near the waterfall spray. Absolutely huge waterfalls that the photos (that again aren´t here) will fail to show.

Got back from the falls and then rushed off to the bus stop to get to the airport and fly to Buenos Aires that night. Got into b.a. just after midnight with no accomodation lined up, no money, and no real plan (see Gabor, I can be like that). After an hour of wandering around the airport we managed to figure something out.

I´ll continue this another time but my time is about to run out at the internet cafe. Trying to book the next place but failing again.

Updated with photos (29-Nov-2005) - Click for pics

Mellow Yellow Hostel

View from Sugarloaf Mountain

Down on the beach

Jesus Christ

Christ balancing on a lamppost

Copacabana walkway

Iguacu Falls (as seen from Argentina)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Not a lot to report so far but I´ll write some stuff down anyway if I can win the battle with this keyboard.

Flight in through Paris was good. Got to sit in Biz class seats (not biz class service) to Paris. Changed planes at Paris and found the airport almost deserted. Also found the world's most sensitive metal detector. I thought I was going to have to be strip searched before they let me through.

Got some sleep on the flight so haven't been too jet lagged. Staying at my cousin's hostel in Rio. Got picked up by a taxi and taken straight here. But the room wasn't ready for quite a while. Arrived at 5am, room ready around 1pm. Slept a bit in the chill room and left the luggage chained up in the reception area.

I would like to tell you how hot the women are parading around on the beach but unfortunately it's windy and rainy here. There's still plenty of activity on the beach but no girls. And no pictures. Did see some crazed amputee people jumping about in the big waves. Bizarre sight.

Just walking about today. Tomorrow should be off to see Christ the Redeemer and maybe some other stuff. There will have to be some photos taken and maybe I can post some.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Something Wonderful

I apologize for my lethargic 2 weeks at The Hungary Years. To be honest though I've been far from lazy. It's been my very activeness that's made it difficult to put finger to keyboard.

Hal: What is going to happen, Dave?
Dave: Something wonderful.
Hal: I'm afraid.
Dave: Don't be! We'll be together.
Hal: Where will we be?
Dave: Where I am now.

Phone Pic Stragglers

Not a band name, just clearing out some pics from the phone that have been hanging around for a while. Wanted to use them for proper posts but never got around to it.

Check out the picsPhone Pic Stragglers Caracas Under Pop was playing at Tuzraktar

A couple of innocent ones from the Pécs boy's weekend

Critical mass is coming again (Septeber 22nd)

Scoop the poop ads (a follow up from here)

Weird vehicles

Not so weird vehicle, just a little pimped

The new Ferihegy Terminal 1 (surprisingly comfy)

Even in this day and age, people still have wood delivered for their stoves

Class of 1962

Real photographers carry ladders