Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Cordoba, a little taste of Germany in Argentina


Cordoba is the Argentinan city where my lovely Spanish teacher, Sofia was born and raised. There's been so many times when I have been thankful about those lessons as the pronunciation in Argentina was quite different from the Spanish I studied at school!

We had booked to stay at a hostel called Lacadona, which was pretty average and we decided to move hostels on the 4th night. The private room was incredibly cheap but very, very hot and noisy. There were lots of Argentinians living in the hostel while they worked in Cordoba and as they worked shifts hey would stay up until incredibly late. On the first night, the cupboard door in our room swung open, and hit the fan sounding like someone was shooting a gun! It was so scary that we made the decision to leave when we could.

Cordoba's center was really beautiful, with cobbled streets that were overshadowed with so many old churches and university buildings. Yet everyone told us that the best bit about the city was getting out of the city!

Our time there was filled with amazing gin and tonics at a bar called La Ley near the university. We went for a tour to the uni where we saw hundreds of ancient books and lots of grand rooms and chapels, we also met three really nice people, so hello to Kristin, Cynthia and Kevin!
Cordoba
Cordoba
Cordoba
Cordoba
Cordoba
With our new friends, we decided to take a day trip to a small town called Alta Gracia, the place where Che Guevara was raised. Alta Gracia was very quaint and peaceful. We walked around the church grounds then headed out of town to find the waterfall. There were lots of local kids diving into the pool, a wood fire burning where people were cooking steaks and a horse tied up, waiting to take its owner back home!
Alta Gracia
Alta Gracia
Alta Gracia
Alta Gracia
Alta Gracia
Feeling hungry after smelling the BBQ, we headed back to town where we got a Milanesa at a sandwich/inflatable shop, served to us by a gent called Julian Cordoba, who told us he was actually a famous performer in the US. His sandwiches were amazing, obviously a man of many talents!
Alta Gracia
Alta Gracia
Feeling stuffed we wandered to the Che Guevara museum, based in the house he grew up in. It was really interesting and the information depicted of his early years seemed far removed from the guerrilla leader he became. We saw the day out with some mate, the drink that all Argentineans love!
Alta Gracia
Alta Gracia
Continuing with our German vibe, Nick and I decided to visit Villa Belgrano the following day, a German village in the mountains. It was like a theme park, so after checking out the chocolate factory we hot footed it out to Le Cumbrecita, an Eco German village even higher in the mountains. This was much prettier, and we did the hike to a waterfall. Having earned it, we treated ourselves to some amazing cheesecake and beer before heading back into Cordoba. Back in town it was time to say goodbye to our friends as they were moving on the following day.
Villa general belgrano and Le cumbrecita
Villa general belgrano and Le cumbrecita
Villa general belgrano and Le cumbrecita
Villa general belgrano and Le cumbrecita
Villa general belgrano and Le cumbrecita
Villa general belgrano and Le cumbrecita
Villa general belgrano and Le cumbrecita
Our last day in Cordoba, we relaxed around the square with some drinks with another British couple, Gav and Gemma. Nick started a Bromance with Gavin so us girls tagged along and went for a lovely dinner at an Arabian restaurant. I'd forgotten how much I love hummus!

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Friday, 24 January 2014

Rosario

Piranha attacks! That's what everyone from home was telling us about Rosario before we got there. We arrived about a week after 70 people were attacked by piranhas in the river paranha. It was also a day before the Dakar car races started so there was a lot of buzz around Rosario when we arrived.

We were staying at the hostel La Lechuza and we were greeted by the lovely Juan who kept referring to us as 'good little British' in his Argentinan accented slur. We only picked this hostel as it was the only one with availability for the whole 5 nights in the area, but I'm so happy we did. It had a lovely garden and was a really nice place to relax. The staff were really friendly and helpful and although it wasn't the cleanest hostel we'd stayed in, there was a really good sense of community about the place. Plus, there's Rita. Rita was a tiny black kitten who lived in the hostel and could be found making lots of mischief.
Rosario
Our time in Rosario was filled with hired bikes around the city, lunches by the river whilst watching lots of people run or skate past. I'm pretty sure I saw a couple of roller derby players skating around and it made me pine for my skates. Add into the mix the biggest monument to a flag in the world, with an elevator operator who created a mini disco, he wasn't so friendly when he discovered we were English. Afternoons on the beach and lazy days on the island across the river, surrounded by young Argentines with deck chairs, mate cups and their bottoms on show in their itsy bitsy bikinis.
Rosario
Rosario
Rosario
Rosario
Rosario
Rosario
Rosario
I also have to mention that we went to our first Milongas, which is a tango event where you pay entry into a huge dance hall and can dance tango to your hearts content. It was amazing to watch so many couples dancing. They all looked fabulous. We went with a guy from our hostel who was obviously a tango fanatic as he would always catch me while I was doing the washing up and try and explain the basics on tango.

One of the best things we did in Rosario was deciding to go on a tour organised by Cameron, one of the guys working at the hostel. It was really interesting as he explained lots of the things we'd seen the day before but didn't understand. One really sad thing we learned was about the bikes graffitied on many walls in Rosario. Cameron explained that back in the time of the Dirty War in Argentina, many young people had radical ideas against the government. These people would often mysteriously disappear. A popular way for all these young people to get around was to use bikes, so hundreds of bikes would be abandoned. Locked up outside shops or homes and would never be retrieved again, so someone would paint a bike in this place to show that someone who disappeared had been there. So sad.
Rosario
Rosario
Rosario
The tour was free and is every Saturday, I would really recommend it to anyone that wants to find out more of the city.

We left Argentina on Wednesday and we're now in Santiago in Chile, and have to say it's a strong contender of my favourite place so far. I'll share more soon!





Sunday, 19 January 2014

Chascomus

Needing a little break from the city before New Year, Nick and I booked a few days in Chascomus. A small town two hours South of Buenos Aires. Every time we told anyone that's where we were going they would say 'why?' Apparently only Argentine tourists go there, so much so that it was pretty impossible to find details of accommodation in English.

We ended up staying at Hostel Chascomus, and I'm so happy we did. It's run by a man with a booming voice who is obviously a little boy trapped in an overweight man's body called Cecal. He was so friendly and helpful, and had lived in Busan previously too!

Chascomus is known as it has a big lagoon, surrounded by estaciones, big farms where horses and cows roam grassy fields. Argentina has a large culture of cowboys and this little town is an example of it. Not only with the surrounding farms, but everyone seems to know everyone in the little town, old people sit outside their doors eager to talk to passers by and around noon everything shuts down, avoiding the afternoon sun like a showdown.
Chascomus
Chascomus
Chascomus
Chascomus
We watched the sun set over the lagoon our first night. The following morning we hired bikes and cycled the whole 33km around the lagoon. It was so hot, but nice to stop every now and then to get a drink and talk to the locals.
Chascomus
Chascomus
Chascomus
Chascomus
Chascomus
In the evening, Cecal recommended a friend's restaurant, and strangely another of his friends offered to drive us. The restaurant was an old club house and was amazing. I felt like we were on the set of a period drama, the room had high ceilings, wooden floors, a big piano and chandeliers. Even better was that we were completely alone in the room! The food was delicious and we got a 'friends of Cecal' discount.
Chascomus
Chascomus
The next day we relaxed around the lagoon where Nick tried to teach me to juggle and we got tricked by a man with lots of birds, who put them on us and the charged us!
Chascomus
Chascomus
We headed back to Buenos Aires on New Years Eve ready to see in 2014. I really enjoyed our stay in chascomus, I wouldn't recommend it to people who are looking to meet other travellers, but it's a nice place to relax, practise Spanish as very few people speak it there, and get a taste of the gaucho culture. Follow me...
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Friday, 17 January 2014

One month of travelling

It's nearly a month since Nick and I left England, which means only 5 months left! Time flies so, so fast! We{ve done absolutely nothing all day apart from stay around the hostel's pool. Sometimes the best bit about travelling is having enough time to take a break from sightseeing and just doing nothing.

Looking back through my photos today I remembered my last couple of days in England and all the exciting build up to our trip and the festive ness that was in the air.

On my last Friday I went to say goodbye to Caroline and Kat with some mulled wine at the Christmas market in Sheffield.

The Saturday morning, all packed and ready, I finally left my mum's house and started travelling to Nick's house in Southend. Not forgetting an amazing pit stop in Cambridge. Despite it being close to Tasha's home, I'd never ever visited, and I'm glad I did now!

I met Hannah for a spot of shopping and sight seeing, before we took shelter from the chill in Bill's where I had my last afternoon tea. I loved how colourful and busy it was, and the mini cakes were delicious too, especially the lemon meringue. Hannah had even brought me a little gift to say goodbye of my favourite sweets, Percy Pigs, and a new MAC lipstick which I am waiting for the right time to use.

It was sad to say goodbye to everyone but I'm glad that we did it in style!
Sheffield Christmas Market
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge
A day in Cambridge