A Travellerspoint blog

December 2010

Brazil: Rio: The Sky Looks Bright for 2011

December 31, 2010

semi-overcast 82 °F

We woke up with a brilliant idea: “everyone is going to the beach for the big New Year’s party . . . so let’s go up to see Christ the Redeemer.” Little did we know that almost everyone and their mother had that same idea! It was like a bad day at Disneyland! By the way, South Americans love to wait in line for everything! If you take the bus up to Christ the Redeemer you will be in lines forever on any busy day, you have to take a total of 4 busses to go up and down the hill, one line for your entrance tickets, and then don’t forget about the one you will be in to grab a Coke or even worse go to the ATM (if there’s even any money in it). Our advice if you go is to take the Cog Train up (www.corcovado.com.br) not the busses at the bottom that only look like a smaller line. While walking around we spotted a caterpillar--which Ruby thought was kind of symbolic for all the big transformations we have gone through over this last year including her finishing intern year, matching and our big move to NYC by way of this Around the World trip. It's gorgeous up there on Corcovado and after a few hundred photos of every angle we could think of it was time to grab our bus to Copacabana Beach. The energy in the air was palpable, there was tons of excitement building and let’s just start by saying Brazilians are crazy at baseline, so when you put 2-3 million (yes, million) on the beach at one time you know it’s going to be a New Years to remember! Almost everyone dresses in white, most jump in the ocean (do this early because later people are lined up peeing into the water), and everyone (including us) throws a flower into the ocean and makes a wish. There was lots of live music (mainly Samba), drinking, and street food. We fell in love with the bacon and caramel popcorn mixed together! Mmmmm it was hard not to give today a Foodie Alert just for that snack. The fireworks show at midnight was spectacular; it ran all along the beaches for miles and well worth squeezing all the way to the beachfront for an unobstructed view. Wee would recommend reserving a balcony room at the Copacabana Hotel for the upscale version of our experience! After a long night we luckily squeezed into an overcrowded city bus and got home safe. This year is already starting out great. By the way, our New Year’s Resolution is to travel more! ;-)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:53 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Brazil: Rio: A-mir 24 hours Until New Years--FOODIE ALERT

December 30, 2010

semi-overcast 78 °F

Once again we woke to the sound of rain. We don’t know what is going on with us “bringing the rain” but we decided that it was time to buy an umbrella . . . because whenever you’re carrying an umbrella it doesn’t rain! Ruby really wanted to get another manicure so we found a place—which was not easy ONE day prior to New Years Eve with every woman in Brazil getting ready for the parties?! Starved we were off to find a good lunch, we wound up at Confeiteria Colombo recommended by Nancy and Phil (from Paraty) and got the most delicious fruit tart ever! It had the freshest and juiciest pineapple and mango on it! Then we argued about whether to eat lunch there since Tony didn’t want Brazilian snack/fried food. . this led to a “McDonald’s Moment” which is when we are both so frustrated/hungry/tired that we just end up eating at McDonald’s because anything else is just too much trouble. By the way, “McDonald’s Moments” usually happen every 3 weeks or so. . .and help us keep our sanity. Finally, happy with something in our stomachs, Ruby was on a mission to find a white dress for the NYE party on the beach. We went to tons of different shops until she found the perfect dress at the perfect price for our budget! Tony didn’t have any luck finding the perfect white linen outfit—he thought he looked like a painter in all white! We headed to the beaches for dinner and ended up at a place called Amir which was a hookah Mediterranean spot. We couldn’t have been happier! After two months in South America, the hummus and falafel satisfied our craving perfectly. We checked out the pre-NYE party beach set up (called Revellion in Brazil) going on and then headed back since Tony was a bit tired. On our way back to the hotel we saw a street party going on and decided to get off our bus and check it out. We ended up drinking Caipivodkas in the streets of Lapa while listening to Samba play. Tony even joined in the dancing a little bit—he’s not half bad. We then had a long, dark walk home since we ran out of cash to pay for a bus!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:52 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Brazil: Rio: Lost on our Way to Lapa

December 29, 2010

sunny 82 °F

We were awakened by the sound of someone knocking on our hotel door at 8:30am. . . as it turns out Claude at the front desk had somehow assumed that 8:30 was the time we would like to have breakfast delivered to our room. Despite being in a “dodgy” neighborhood, we had quite a pleasant surprise when he delivered fried eggs, fresh fruit, meats, cheeses, bread, cake, coffee, tea and fresh squeezed orange juice every day of our stay! When we walked out the door to go explore we didn’t know it but this would be our only day of actual sunshine during our entire time in Rio. We wanted to find the famous staircase in Lapa made by a Chilean artist who uses tiles from all over the world but we inadvertently ended up walking up to Santa Teresa . The Santa Teresa area is a cool, eclectic, hippy sort of neighborhood with old mansions and sits up on a hill with views of the city. They have cute yellow trolley cars running around (reminded Ruby a little of SF) and some of the loudest rattling buses we have experienced yet! The Museu da Chacara do Ceu has some of the best city views around. We were considering going to Sugar Loaf mountain but it was starting to get cloudy so we decided to skip it. After this major detour we finally did orient ourselves and make it to the famous staircase. It was so fun going down the stairs and taking pictures of our favorite tiles! There are so many that we didn't post all of them. As we walked down the stairs, it was our lucky day and Selaron the artist was sitting right there! Tony really liked the “favela tile art” and purchased one that Selaron so graciously signed for us. Feeling accomplished, we then caught the subway over to Ipanema Beach to watch the sunset and then went under the cover of awnings at Opium (Asian fusion) for a yummy dinner and Ruby’s first Caipivodka with lychee! Needless to say we would be returning to Opium before long. We were pretty exhausted from all the walking so we decided to come home a little early only to find that the internet has not made it to Rio yet, okay well that’s an exaggeration but compared to other parts of South America, finding WiFi here was almost as bad as pulling teeth!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 06:47 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Brazil: Ilha Grande: Lopes Mendes is Not Just a Name

December 28, 2010

semi-overcast 80 °F

With our ferry booked going back to the mainland around 5pm we got up and moving pretty early. We booked a boat to a beach called Manguess on the east side of the island ($12pp) from there we walked about 30 min to Lopes Mendes beach just over the hills on the South side of the island. On the way we encountered the cutest little monkeys (we think? white/black tufted-ear marmosets) hanging out in the trees. They would make this little squeak noise and come down and eat bananas out of our hands. It was pretty amazing and worth the slippery and muddy hike. Lopes Mendes is rated one of the best beaches in the world so of course we had to go and see what all the hype was about. Well, it was pretty amazing, miles of the softest white sand, no buildings and clear blue water. Unfortunately, we wish we had more sun that day! Despite the debris on the sand, big waves and strong currents from the recent storms it was still worth the hike and the trip over. On our way back we stopped at the Bambu Bar which is on the water—you take a little dingy out to get there. Ruby had her first Caipivodka in Brazil and was in love! This one was a mango caipi and had a whole mango cut up into pieces in the drink-YUM! This is also when we met our new friends Gerard, Kieu and the gang from San Jose! It’s nice to see Bay Area folks and they were heading up to Rio as well! We ran back to our hotel to grab our bags---with the muddy dirt paths we actually got to use the backpack function of our rollerbags! After the ferry, Kieu and Gerard ended up offering for us to join them in their private van to Rio. We were grateful because it wouldn’t be another bus ride—yay! Two hours later we arrived in Rio and Tony and I were getting very nervous as the driver pulled up to our neighborhood. . because we had booked a hotel in the Centro area of Rio (about 20 min away from the beaches). The neighborhood seemed a bit ghetto which was probably worsened by the fact that it was dark and rainy outside. We quickly ran into our hotel with plans to meet up with the gang in the next day or so. No one at our hotel spoke English so it was back to charades for us. Our room was clean but the bed felt like a coffee table with a yoga mat on top! At least that’s good for our backs =)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 01:04 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Brazil: Ilha Grande: The Blue Lagoon

December 27, 2010

semi-overcast 85 °F

There are two ways to get around this large island: your own two feet and boat. It was a clear day in the morning so we were able to see the Pico de Papgaio (Parrot's Beak formation and tallest point on the island). We decided on a boat tour (approx $18 pp) since it had been raining throughout the night and we were worried that the trails would be very slippery and muddy. Our first stop was Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon) for some snorkeling. The water was nice but we have been very spoiled by the beaches in some of the other parts of the world. There were lots of fish but not that many species (see told you we’ve been spoiled). The next beach we stopped at was one of the first settlements on the island called Japariz. Not much there just a few old building and an old church called Igreja Da Freguesia De Santana built back in 1843. We stayed there for a little over an hour, took some photos and off we went to our next beach, Saco Do Ceu. This is a small cove with a few beachfront restaurants on the sand. The lunch consisting of chicken strips, fries and the standard rice and black beans was nothing to write home about and our Caipirinhas (Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar and lime) were like drinking gasoline. But, with these amazing views who could complain? We made it back just in time to avoid getting drenched in the late afternoon downpour. We were told by the locals that there are two types of weather in Brazil, hot with rain in the summer and cool with rain in the winter. They don’t call it the Green Coast for nothing! That was ok because it gave us a little time to book our ferry back to the mainland and take a nap with movie time. We ended up eating our leftover shrimp risotto (Yum!) from the night before as we wrote some updates that night :)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 05:20 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Ilha Grande: Charades--Your Phrase: Karate-Chop Pineapple

December 26, 2010

semi-overcast 83 °F

Add another two city busses to our list because we’re off to Brazil’s 3rd largest island called Ilha Grande (pronounced Il-ha Gran-gee). Near the ferry entrance Tony spotted an alley where locals were eating and since Brazil is not very budget-friendly we decided to eat there while waiting for our 1pm ferry to Ilha Grande. Lunch was cheap (around $3 USD), we were surrounded by sailors drinking beer, watching futbol and yelling at each other in Portuguese. After a shared cheeseburger we tried one of the local foods that was like a corndog without the stick. For dessert, we went to the market for fresh fruit. . . I think the guy at the market thought we wanted to karate-chop some pineapples., but after a few minutes of looking at us like we were crazy, he finally did cut the pineapple into slices! An hour catamaran ride to the island dropped us at Abraao Village. There are no cars, buses or paved roads on the island and we were so thankful for the heavy-duty wheels on our bags which worked great over the dirt paths to Overnativa Hostel. where we were staying. We grabbed our bathing suits and explored some nearby beaches. We stopped at a beachfront shack for some sangria and a snack—we highly recommend the pastel de camarao which is basically a Brazilian version of a hot pocket filled with seasoned shrimp—yum! We left just as the standard 5pm downpour began and finally had a chance to watch an episode or two of “United States of Tara” which Tony’s sister Vicki had so thoughtfully given us before we left on the trip. Later that night we put on our trusty raincoats (thanks again REI) and walked down to one of the local beachfront restaurants called Lua y Mar which came highly recommended highly by Christina our awesome hostel manager. We ate on the sand under candlelight as the thunder and lightning continued overhead. The shrimp risotto was delicious and the staple rice and beans on Tony’s plate were better than the fried fish he ordered. Upon arrival to our room Ruby immediately passed out in a carb coma. Tony felt like he was trying to wake up the dead, practically drag her out of bed to take out her contacts.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 05:18 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Brazil: Paraty: I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas!

December 25, 2010

sunny 82 °F

Even though we are on the Costa Verde (Green Coast) of Brazil, it is just like any other Christmas day. . . Tony is up and running around at 8am, he almost always has breakfast alone since Ruby prefers to sleep in. We made a few Skype calls to family (Hi Mom, Hi Pop) before we crossed the street to the beach. Our Christmas meal consisted of beachside grilled garlic shrimp and a chilled glass of white wine. We decided to go sea kayaking and succeeded in making it out to a small island. After that workout, it was unfortunate that the water quality was better at the beach by our hostel so back we went. It always seems so much further on the way back! Another call to the family (Tony is a mama’s boy). A short walk led us into the old town where the cobblestone streets are so uneven that it hurts to walk on them. In one of the main plazas Tony spotted a guy rolling a cart with tons of fresh fruit . . . when he saw the vodka he knew that it was time for a drink! The drink had so many fresh fruits in it that the vendor ended up giving us a whole extra glass at no charge. While searching for a dinner spot we met Nancy and Phil, a couple from Upland, CA whose twin sons just started a new restaurant in Soho called Hudson Clearwater. Nancy is a Spanish teacher and Phil a retired engineer. Our great conversation with these two avid travelers led us back to the fruit stand and we ended up getting several more cocktails there (most of which were purchased courtesy of them!). Obrigado! Nancy also gave Ruby a few tips on speaking Portuguese including that despite being spelled R-E-A-L-S, Brazilians pronounce their currency “hey-ays” because they don’t use the “R” sound so it’s not Rio de Janeiro it’s actually “Hio de Janeiho”!?! Tony and I decided to splurge and eat at one of the nicer restaurants in town, the food was not very good and a 24 Reals ($14 usd) charge for bread put us over the amount of cash we brought . . . Tony had to sweet talk the manager into letting us short pay the bill, it was either that or Dine and Dash! I hope this isn’t a common thing in Brazil since Nancy and Phil had to do the same thing at a restaurant in Rio the night before?!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:28 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Brazil: Paraty: Uba-Too Many Buses!

December 24, 2010

sunny 85 °F

Thank god the “Cell Phone Disco” bus ride finally came to an end at 11am dropping us at the hectic bus station in Sao Paolo. . . we will just consider it an early Christmas present that we got a few hours sleep and the karaoke party stopped :) Neither of us speaks Portuguese and this was the first indication that we were going to have a tough time trying to get around like a local---initially we had to resort to pointing and charades. Our plan was to make our way up the Costa Verde (Green Coast) up to an old colonial town calledParaty. . . after figuring out that Paraty is pronounced Para-che we found out that to our dismay the 4 hour DIRECT bus to Paraty was fully booked so we grabbed a burger and hopped on bus #10 to Caraguatatuba which will allow us to connect to #11 in Ubatuba. . This would allow us to connect to #12 to Paraty arriving at 11pm. The Costa Verde reminded us a bit of inner Jamaica--near our friend Makeda's grandma in Mandeville. By the way, the busses in Brazil drive fast, really fast! If you come to this area and get on a city bus hold on for dear life! The first corner we took sent our bags flying across the aisle just about killing some old lady. The driver looked at us with a look as if to say “Ha, rookie tourists”. As we sit here traveling on Christmas Eve (and pondering how strong the guardrails are), we wish we could be with family enjoying a delicious dinner and making cookies for Santa! After a long day of travel we finally arrived at Sereia Do Mar. It’s an adorable, small beachfront hostel on the north side of town. When we arrived there was a party in the street and a Christmas celebration going on inside. It was a warm night, the Gypsy Kings were playing on the stereo, the wine and beer was cold and it was the perfect way to end a long day of travel. We can’t help but think of all our friends and family tonight and hope you all have a Merry Christmas! Love and miss you all! :)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:34 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Brazil: Iguazu Falls: The Toucan Says Our Itinerary is Crazy

December 23, 2010

sunny 86 °F

We started the day off checking out of our room and hauling our bags to the bus station yet again. . this time we are aiming for a new record of 10+ bus rides, one border crossing, a national park and a zoo all in the next 24 hours! Our first bus got us to the Argentinean border, #2 to the Brazilian border where we got dropped off in the middle of nowhere to get our passports checked and #3 to the Urban Bus Terminal, #4 local bus to Iguazu Falls, if you take this one—be sure to hold on tight, especially around the corners! We had a terrific day at the Brazilian side of Iguazu ($23 p/p admission). This view compliments the view we had yesterday in Argentina. This is also the better side if you prefer less walking and more #5 bus rides and elevators through the park! The views are just breathtaking and we definitely got soaked but you don’t get the full effect of La Garganta del Diablo from this side. They have a glass elevator which takes your breath away and an amazing walkway to the edge of the falls. We went for a short hike along the falls and encountered a tapir—unfortunately we weren’t quick enough to catch it on film (sorry Jeffy), the camera was tucked away to stay dry! We then took a #6 bus to the park entrance and walked out to the Parque de Aves (bird park) (admission $18 p/p). As you’ll see from all our pictures, we HIGHLY recommend visiting the birds for more than a few hours. We started off joking about being amateur orinthologists in Ecuador but are now really starting to enjoy bird-watching! It is really rare to see some of these species and we were like little kids running from cage to cage saying “oooooh look at this one!”. There are over 800 species of birds, most specific to South America, including toucans, macaws, emus etc... . It is really amazing to walk through the aviaries (giant walk-through bird cages). Tony had to end Ruby’s conversation with a toucan when he realized it was time to go and catch bus #7 back to the urban bus terminal and from there we picked up our luggage and headed to the international bus terminal on bus #8. At 7:30pm we boarded our bus #9 which we would like to call the “Cell Phone Disco” bus and it was going to be a 15hr trip. We started to regret this bus almost the second we boarded; the passengers were loud and obnoxious speaking only Portuguese. At least four of the passengers spent the night in a “karaoke contest” using their cell phones for music?!? It was going to be a long night. . . Sao Paolo here we come. PS: There are more pictures in our gallery (we try to limit the number we post in our blogs)!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:43 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Argentina: Iguazu Falls: Wet T-Shirt Contest

December 22, 2010

semi-overcast 88 °F

This morning we slept in and made our way to Iguazu Falls (the Argentinean side). We have to say that this is right up there with Machu Picchu in terms of must-sees in South America. We quickly walked through the museum and made our way to the upper circuit, as you emerge from the trees and keep walking you will encounter gorgeous waterfall after waterfall. It reminded Ruby a bit of what Jurassic Park would look like with birds in the sky, waterfalls and lush greenery everywhere. The upper circuit allows for a great overview of the falls WITHOUT getting soaked! Next, we went down to the lower circuit where you can get very close to the actual falls. . and the pictures will show our entries in the wet t-shirt contest! There’s also some great bird watching and animal scouting along this path. There’s tons of coaties in the park which are a relative of the raccoon, the babies were so cute that Ruby wanted to put one in her purse but then remembered that Tony was carrying it for her and already complains about how much stuff is in it! La Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) was our next stop on the train. There’s about an 1100 meter walk to the falls over a bridge which keeps the anticipation building. When you finally come around the corner. .. there is no way our photos can do this place justice. The power of the water is astounding; it is a mixture of sights, sounds, and sensations that overwhelm you. When the sun peeked out of the clouds we even caught a glimpse of a gigantic rainbow across La Garganta. We took over 400 photos and probably more if our camera battery hadn’t died. By 4pm the sky split open and rain poured heavily on all of us as we ran for cover. Unfortunately the full moon walk was again cancelled but we still couldn’t wait to go to the Brazil side tomorrow and experience the falls from another angle!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:05 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: Ruby Falls for Spice in Iguazu --FOODIE ALERT

December 21, 2010

sunny 90 °F

Just minutes before Ruby had a meltdown our bus from Salta arrived in Igauzu at around 1:30pm! We now know what our limit is for non-stop buses. . . max of 18hrs, otherwise Ruby starts becoming non-sensical and Tony gets cabin fever. It was a scorching day and we were only a few blocks from Bambu Hostel where we had reservations. I don’t know if they understand the concept of reservations at the Bambu Hostel because they had our reservation on file but no rooms available. Both of us were too loopy to argue or put up a fight like we would have done in the US. After a few calls we found a better (and cheaper) hostel just up the road called Hostel Sweet. Showered and starved we went to Terra restaurant a rec from our Lonely Planet guidebook. Discouraged by all the bad food we have had in Argentina we decided to test the waters by sharing one entrée: chicken stir fried veggies and rice. Wow! That just made Ruby's day, it was perfectly cooked, and soooo flavorful and spicy just the way she likes it. After our great lunch we tried to visit Iguazu Falls for the Moonlight hike (since it was still a full moon) but unfortunately the rain came with us. The sky was filled with clouds so the hike was cancelled. In the meantime, we were more than happy to go back to Terra for another delicious stir-fry and share a bottle of wine sheltered from the rain! A must-do when you visit here :)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 14:00 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: The Quickest Way From Point A to B is NOT a Bus

December 20, 2010

sunny 82 °F

Did we ever tell you that “we bring the rain”? We do . . . Ruby woke up to the sound of a heavy downpour outside the window (and roosters crowing) and Tony woke to Ruby telling him to run outside and get our laundry off the clothesline! Luckily as you already know, Laura had brought it inside for us. We had another delicious leisurely breakfast of homemade plum jams and marmalade and packed for another long night. We were sad to say goodbye to Enrique and he gave us a bottle of his special wine as a thank you for the visit. . . we would enjoy it later to numb ourselves to the reality of a 23 hr direct bus to Porto Iguazu. By the way, Flecha Bus is the only company that does a direct route from Salta to Iguazu--it saved us at least 7 hrs of travel time and they had WiFi! The strange thing about ATMs in Argentina is that they often don’t have money. . it took us 7 or 8 attempts to find an ATM that had money in it! Not much else to blog about other than Tony complaining about the bus seats, Ruby complaining about the food (at least this time they had some hot food-bland chicken with rice) and both of us praying that the hours would pass quickly. If you don’t see any more blog entries. . it means that we had a total meltdown and smashed the laptop to pieces :)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 13:36 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: G-Oucho I'm Sore!

December 19, 2010

Our bus arrived at 7:30am without any reservations for the night. Our friend Nadia had suggested the Sayta Estancia so we called right away to see if we could spend the night and live the gaucho life (Argentinean cowboy). Of course they said yes and picked us up by 9am. After a 1 hr drive out of Salta we arrived at the Estancia to find a really peaceful ranch surrounded by mountains, tobacco farms, blue sky and friendly people. We were immediately welcomed by the owner, Enrique and Laura his daughter. Enrique turned out to be a total character and teased us about the Honeymoon Suite. We took a quick rinse and Tony thought there wasn’t hot water because he kept turning the “F” knob which is actually frio instead of the “C” knob which is caliente (because he thought this was cold. . more Spanish lessons are needed!). After a leisurely breakfast we saddled up for the morning horseback ride (which was 3 hrs). The ride was gorgeous and thankfully Ruby’s super tame horse Gypsy required very little experience to ride . . . maybe Gypsy was a little too tame though because when Ruby tried to get the horse to gallop—she absolutely refused! At the end of the ride. . let’s just say we were a little sore! We were welcomed back with an amazing lunch; I think the best one we’ve had in Argentina. There were tons of fresh grilled veggies, marinated lima beans, lentils, salad, corn, sautéed potatoes and an unlimited amount of steak that Enrique kept putting on Tony’s plate! We also enjoyed unlimited wine all day long that Enrique has specially bottled by Benedictine monks who live in the area. He swears that you will not get a headache no matter how much you drink. . we decided to test out that theory later that night with Sarah another guest while Enrique told us about his gaucho upbringing in patagonia. Tony even got a personal demonstration on the use of bolleadoras , a gaucho weapon used to hunt animals mostly. After lunch, half of the group saddled up for an afternoon ride, meanwhile Ruby was in the other half and decided on a siesta. When Tony got back we decided to do laundry. . but only learned after the washing portion that there were no dryers! We can’t recall the last time we hung our clothes out to dry on a line . . . with pins and all. We woke up in the morning to find that it was pouring outside and the first thought was our clothes on the line—luckily Laura had already brought them in for us. There were tons of great sounds including frogs, roosters and bugs buzzing outside. This was the first night we got to try out our mosquito netting and it worked like a charm!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:18 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Argentina: Bland Bus Food

December 18, 2010

sunny 82 °F

Yikes! Did we really sign up for an 18 hour bus ride from Mendoza to Salta today? Yes we did. . . thank goodness for the great quality of films on the “Via Tac” bus we took. Salta is in the Northwest region of Argentina and everyone we talked to said it is absolutely beautiful and there is one place there in particular that is outstanding. We decided on this little detour instead of taking a direct bus to Iguazu Falls from Mendoza (which is about 35 hrs). Tony is a little like goldilocks when it comes to these bus seats---he always has a complaint. . one is too big, one too small, one too soft, one too hard, etc. . . Hopefully we’ll find him the perfect one before this trip is over! This time we had "full cama in the executivo class" which Tony doesn't care for either. He says since he's so tall the seats are positioned in a way that requires him to bend his knees the entire time. With 18 hrs to kill it was nice to watch several good movies in English no less. .with perfect sound. Sometimes it’s the little things I tell you ;) Resident Evil and Case 39 were both horror films and then we finished off with a chick flick with Katherine Heigl and Ashton Kucher. The food on these buses is terrible and Ruby is just a few millimeters from losing her mind, she hates that the majority of food in Argentina is bland (they don’t know the meaning of spice). If she has to eat one more cold, mayonaisse covered plain white bread sandwich. . I’m scared to see what might happen! Thankfully the rest of the night went pretty well because we finally slept. .

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 03:56 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Argentina: Mendoza: Lost in Lujan

December 17, 2010

sunny 87 °F

Smack dab in the middle of nowhere . . . that’s where the bus dropped us off today. We were trying to get to Lujan de Cuyo on a bus from Mendoza and were told bus #850 would get us there. The bus driver even confirmed when we got on board. Then, he dropped us off at a freeway overpass under Route 7 (which is near where we wanted to go, but still 7KM from Finca Decero the winery that Ronnie (Tony’s good friend from Texas) had highly recommended from his honeymoon. After walking a little and contemplating hitchhiking we made the decision to walk 1.5 miles in the heat back in the direction of Norton Winery which is a larger winery and not quite what we were looking for. We tried our best to get to Finca Decero but they actually had a large private group that day and were not taking any extra visitors after all—sorry Ronnie we were not able to get your fave wines at all! =( After that we caught a taxi (which is rare in Lujan) and headed to Achaval Ferrer which came highly recommended by Joe Mara who we met on our cruise earlier. We were not disappointed! Hands down, their Finca Bella Vista 2008 was the best Malbec we tasted on this whole trip (and yes it is available in the US but costs over $100/bottle?!) After that, Julian the French guide offered to have the staff car give us a ride back into town for free after he heard about the predicament we were in earlier. . . amazingly nice! He also personally recommended Carmelo Patti Winery and that’s exactly where we went to meet Carmelo himself who gives personal tours. What a character this guy, super funny, nice and down to earth despite being a renowned winemaker (see some of the magazine clippings). After trying some of his delicious Malbecs (the blend was actually the best) we headed back to Mendoza for a romantic dinner to top off our day of wine tasting. We ended up at Anna’s Bistro which is super romantic and you have dinner on a lawn lit with glowing orange lights under the light of the full moon. We loved the drinks and appetizers but would skip dinner. We were not too impressed with either of our dishes. We topped off our last night in Mendoza with a visit to Zinc for a last round of our favorite sangria before heading off to bed.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:40 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

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