Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mara and I hav arrived back in Buenos Aires safe and sound, altough it took a bit longer than expected. We finished our time in Montevideo as expected and headed to the bus terminal to bok a ferry ride across the river to Buenos Aires. We did not expect nor anticipate literally every company being booked out because it was sunday and everyone heads back from their weekends at the beach via the ferries. We were completely bummed, we had so much been looking forward to getting back to Buenos Aires and catching up with Florencia but it was not meant to be. There was a silver lining to our cloud however, we ran into two people randomly from our hostel in Punto del Diablo. We decided to head to Colonia de Sacramento (where the ferries leave from) and spend the night there. We were all ready to get out of Montevideo and going to Colonia was on our way anyways. We had a great time and barely remembered the inconvenience that had caused us to be together.

We arrived in Buenos Aires on Monday morning very close to the bus terminal so Mara and I booked our 19 hour (that is right......19 hour) bus ride to Igazu Falls. Then Mara, Fran (one of the guys from our hostel that we ran into, who also coincidentally is from PA) and I headed to Palermo to our hostel. We spent the afternoon walking the streets and checking out the great shops and architecture of Palermo. It seems to me the more time I spend here, the more I like it, I mean really like it (Sorry mom, looks like I will not be returning anytime soon...just kidding!).

As soon as we got back to our room to siesta we met the other girls in our dorm and they told us about an Argetine drum show that was on, we said why not! I am so glad we went, it was so great. It was literally in a parking lot with a stage esq/set of stairs where the performers sat. There were probably ten guys in the band and it was all controlled by the conductor. They had some had signals that indicated what the musicians would do. It was not like concert band at Sanford with Ms. Nowicki I can tell you that much. It was great especially since we had not experienced any Argentinian music yet.

Talk to you in a few days!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Some Pictures..more to come!

Mara and I in Punta del Este on the beach at sunset.

The view from our hostel in Punto del Diablo, this is where we ate our meals, chatted out with people and laid on hammocks.
New friends in Punto del Diablo.
Myself, William (Irish), Mara (Aussie Cousin) and Fabian (German Doctor)

House in Punto del Diablo, where else do you see houses shaped like boats?

A park in Montevideo, pretty park but run down city.

Lunar Eclipse, Cabo Polonia, Montevideo

On our last night in Punto del Diablo, there was a lunar eclipse. I know you all say: "Yes Pia, there was one here too", but for the first time in who knows how long I was in a place with very little light from cities. The lunar eclipse was gorgeous, Mara and I walked away from town and sat in the lifeguard stand on the beach and just gazed up. The stars were probably the brightest I have ever seen, it was one of those moments where you want to remember everything because you know how special it is even at the time. The sounds of the waves crashing, the bright stars and the golden moon made an amazing expeiernce. One that seems will never be explained in words except to say...I loved it!

Earlier in the day Mara and I caught a cab with an Irish guy named, William and another American, Fran to Fort Saint Teresa. The fort was built around 1870 and it was great. We had spent most of our time thus far looking at the beach and being at the fort allowed us to see the backyard of the beach or the rest of Uruguay. The rolling hills reminded me of being in New South Whales a bit with small signs of agriculture dotting the countryside. We then walked back 8 kilometers on the beach back to Punto del Diablo, it was beautiful and we were lucky because it wasn´t too hot. We stopped at on of the points between beach coves and it had a sign showing the various wildlife that one could expect to see, a few of the same birds that I had studied in New Jersey last summer were on that list which was pretty cool.

After four nights in Punto del Diablo, Mara and I decided to head south for another beach town we had heard of, this time there would not be the same luxuries we had enjoyed the previous days. Cabo Polonia was without electricity and running water was a luxury. We hopped on a bus mid-afternoon and were dropped off at what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. We then were told we had to catch as what can most easily be described as a shuttle to the town. The town was full of simple beach homes, lined along sandy paths. We found a place to stay on the beach for $10USD for each person, it was perfect! The night was gorgeous with no lights looking out onto the crashing waves while eating dinner at the cabin we had rented. We shared the house with three guys we had met at our last hostel from Israel, we had great chats along with a great meal.

The next day, Mara and I decided to head to the captial city of Montevideo. We arrived here last night and have just spent our time here exploring. It is a bit of a strange captial city, with beautiful historic sections surrounded by water but also sections of abandoned homes. At any rate tomorrow we are heading back to Buenos Aires to stay with Florencia (our couch surfing friend) and then it is time to plan our next adventure. I promise I will be posting pictures soon!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Early days in Uruguay

I have tried several times unsuccessfully to post some pictures from the last few days, I think the fact that I am in the middle of nowhere may contribute a bit. So I am going to post without pictures just stories. Pictures will follow.

Mara and I took a ferry across the river (Rio de la Plata) to Uruguay arriving in Colonia de Sacramento. We immediately hopped on a bus to Montevideo (the capital city) where we caught another bus to Punta del Este. We were hopping to be able to relax for a few days in one spot and hopefully by a quiet beach. Unfortunately Punta del Este was not for us, it seemed more like Miami and less like a quiet beach on the Sunshine Coast in Australia that we had been looking for. We stayed one night at our hostel in Punta del Este walking around the area and checking out the beach a bit.

On Sunday we woke up and headed down to the beach for a bit before we moved on to another town further north Punto del Diablo. After a bit of trouble with transportation we arrived and were immediately in love. The town is spread out on a hill overlooking three beaches. The streets are only dirt, no traffic lights, no atms and it was exactly what we were looking for. We are staying in a hostel started by a 25 year old American from Wisconsin and it is great. On our second day a friend of mine had heard that you could pick your own mussels one beach down, so we headed down there to pick our own. An experience I have never had before for sure!

We have spent our days hanging out on the beach, wandering through the town, trying a few restaurants. Yesterday we walked north of the town to a beach with less than twenty people total, it was great. Heading back to the hostel, I was able to snag one of the hammocks out front and read my book as well as chat with a few others.

Last night Mara and I along with a few others walked up the hill behind town exploring new parts, we saw donkey carts and horses literally grazing wherever it pleased them. The sun was beginning t o set and the lighting was gorgeous, it was one of those moments that make travel worthwhile no matter how aggravation it took to get to that exact moment.

We splurged and went out to dinner at a restaurant in town with a few others from the hostel. One of my favorite things about travel is the people you meet. Last night at dinner I sat between a German psychiatrist and a Canadian boat Captain. Great conversations and awesome food, was a great way to end a beautiful day on a deserted beach.

We are staying here for another night and then off to Montevideo I think for a few days tomorrow.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

First Days, Buenos Aires, Spanish blunders, etc.

Mara and I arrived in Buenos Aires on Tuesday morning after flying through the night from Philly via Chicago. Once we landed we hopped on a public bus. The great part was that it only cost 1 Argentinian Peso ($1 USD = 3 Pesos) and we were able to see a lot of the city. The downside was that it took almost three hours but all the same a great introduction to Buenos Aires. We had booked a hostel in Palermo which is the Italian section of the city, it is full of pizza places, beautiful parks and fashionable shopping areas (we had no idea at the time). We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city looking at the architecture and taking everthing in.
We then spent both Wednesday and Thursday walking around as well, almost magically landing upon great sites.

On Thursday and Friday night we stayed with a couch surfer, Florencia. It was a great experience to be able to talk to an Argentine and see what life is like. She lived in a typical middle class neighborhood just blocks from her parents, spending her days working for an engineering company as assistant. On Thursday night I was able to go out to dinner with her and her friends it was a great glimpse into Argentine life seeing their interactions and social customs. We ate dinner at 12 am and stayed up until 4 am, they all had to work the next day too! She was great guide and we hope to be able to meet up with her again. (Couch surfing for those who don´t know is when people allow travellers to sleep at their homes, meet up for a coffee or even get a tour of a city for free, check it out by going to www.couchsurfing.com)

Buenos Aires in my firs four days is unlike any other city I have travelled to. It has such a sense of Spanish and Italian culture and architecture at times while also maintaining a feeling of latin America. For example in Buenos Aires, dinner is normally eaten after 10 p.m. most nights for young people it is not until 11 or even 12. The architecture is unique in South America, I literally cannot believe I am not in Rome many times. While at the same time there are many things Latin American such as the prices and many of the foods such as Empanadas.

Below is a street in the section of Buenos Aires called La Boca, it is famous for brightly colored buildings. Originally settled by Italians from Geneo, it is a traditional middle class neighborhood.
Casa Rosada is the building which houses the executive branch of the Argentine government. There are almost always protests outside in the Plaza directly infront of it making for an exciting site. It is also a central public transit location which we found great for people watching.
A church that Mara and I found nearby our hostel, it is definitly not the ornate nor the most famous we have seen just one that caught my eye, maybe it was because it was our first day or light. At any rate I liked it.
Correo Central is below and it is another government building, it is one of the original. I have been told by some that Evita Peron used to give speeches off one of the balconies but I am not totally sure.
This is the subway or the subte. I found it to be the best way to get around B.A. It was cheap, fast and a great way to see the non-tourist side of the city. This train took us out to Florencia"s (i cannot find the apostrophe on this keyboard). The train cars on her line were still wooden with great bech seats also made out of wood, nothing like the orange line for all you SEPTA goers, sorry!
A street corner near the Plaza de Mayo in the center of the city.
Mara, myself and Florencia out to dinner in Palermo at an Italian restaurant, many of the dishes had the same names but were prepared and served differently than at home. It was still a great meal.

Next up on the adventures of Pia and Mara is Uruguay. We are staying for the week and then heading back to Buenos Aires for some more Argentine adventures, stay tuned!