A Travellerspoint blog


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!


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 :)


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 :)


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!


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. .


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.


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

Argentina: Mendoza: Buses, Bicycles and Bodegas!

December 16, 2010

sunny 83 °F

We started our day with Ruby hitting the corner of the bed and splitting her skin just below the knee. This is a bad day to have a hurt knee as you’ll see. After a quick stop at McDonald’s-- our only recommended non-Argentinean spot, we caught the Group 10, Number 171/2/3 bus to Maipu. This is part of Argentina’s wine country about 40 min outside of Mendoza (total cost 50 cents each). It was a gorgeous day so we decided to rent bicycles from Maipu bikes (we also recommend Mr. Hugo’s) for $10 each, Ruby wanted a tandem bike but Tony didn’t want to do all the work! The ride started off kind of ugly and industrial and had us worried but as we kept riding we were soon surrounded on both sides with vineyards and tree-lined streets. Argentinean men are not shy and on our ride there was no shortage of cat-calling, honking, whistling and thumbs-up signs for Ruby! Tony found this very entertaining and laughed most of way. After riding for a while we discovered that the map we had of wine country was NOT to scale and what we thought was going to be a 10 minute ride turned out to be more like the Tour de France! Our first tasting was at a small bodega/winery called Carinae, where we discovered that they can make a Rose out of Malbec grapes. We were hungry by then so we decided on an olive oil tasting for our next stop. At Laur, the olive trees were so fragrant; we wish we had smell-o-vision for you guys! We learned that green and black olives are the same (they turn black the longer they stay on the tree). After that delicious tour with a generous helping of olives, bread, sundried tomatoes and gherkin pickles we headed off to Di Tommaso, the oldest winery in the area. This winery has been around for 140 years and the grape vines were a perfect setting for some pictures. The day went really fast so don’t expect to visit more than three or four wineries in a day since everything runs really slow in Argentina. By this time we had to return our bikes and complete our total 20 km bike ride, I’m glad Ruby made it despite the pain in her shin and knee. We finished our day back in Mendoza at Zinc for more sangria and a yummy dinner of chicken in a mustard sauce (mostaza).


Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:04 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: Mendoza: Doctor Recommended Dose of Fruit

December 15, 2010

sunny 83 °F

Our night bus arrived in Mendoza around 1:30pm and our teeth were feeling quite fuzzy.... must remember to pack our toothbrushes in our carry on! Just some advice for your travels, never ask people who work at the bus station how to take local buses because they always say “there’s no bus going into the city, take a taxi”. After a short walk around the station we located the correct city bus and made our way into town. We arrived at our hostel and immediately showered and brushed our teeth after 15 hours on a bus . . . I can’t tell you how good that feels. We went off to explore the city and immediately noticed the relaxed feel. With all its parks, you just want to just sit and read. After a 15 min walk from our hostel we got to Aristides Villanueva where you can find all the restaurants and bars. It was super hot and Ruby was craving sangria, we stopped at a bar called Zinc and Ruby asked if they had sangria there. Anna the waitress told us no but she’d see if they could make it for us. Tony had his doubts about how good it would be (if it wasn’t even on the menu) but boy was he wrong! This was one of the best sangrias we have ever had with delicious fresh peaches, oranges, mango, and pineapple to name a few. Needless to say, we got our daily serving of fruits that day =) Thank you Barbara the bartender and we think we’ll be back to see you tomorrow! For a change we tried the only Mediterranean restaurant in town- a word of advice, stop ordering non-Argentinean food in Argentina Ruby!


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

Argentina: On The Road Again

December 14, 2010

sunny 84 °F

We woke up early and exhausted because we had to pack for our night bus to Mendoza and check out of the hostel by 11am. We only got this accomplished with the help of some delicious Argentinean coffee and although our bags aren’t any larger. . they sure feel heavier when you’re tired! By the way. . it’s always a good call on the roller bag/backpack conversion option. We feel so sorry for all those backpackers! It was another beautiful day outside and on the way to meet up with Dina we stopped for some super refreshing and delicious pineapple (anana) gelato at Filippo’s just around the corner from Nadia’s sweet apartment in Palermo. We relaxed at Nadia’s place while waiting for our jet-lagged friends to get ready. Another traditional Argentinean lunch: meat, meat and more meat –along with really disappointing ravioli with what I think was their version of pesto. Ruby really needs to learn to start eating more steak because that’s the staple food here. Tony tried morcilla (blood sausage) but didn’t care for it. Both of us enjoyed the chorizo but we wouldn’t eat too much of it because it’s really greasy. Tony went skateboarding at a small park near the Plaza Italia while Ruby went to help Dina shop. Sadly, the day went by really fast and we said our goodbyes as we headed off to the bus station. We spotted a whole wall of pictures of Nick Jonas at this bus stand and couldn’t help but be reminded of our favorite teenager ;-) Thank god we still like each other because it was going to be a long night with a 15 hour bus ride ahead of us . . . by the way tonight’s movie: The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston. . in Spanish hahahaha!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 09:50 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: R&R u ready to come out for a drink?

December 13, 2010

sunny 80 °F

It has been a long time since we updated our blog online and today we spent most of the morning updating photos, writing and posting. This is a long process so we hope you’re enjoying it as much as we are! We love to hear from you guys, so please leave comments if you feel like it :). Without our buddies to keep us on the crazy party schedule we had some time to relax. We started with a pizza at our fave spot on Corrientes near Esmerelda “El Palacio de Pizza”. Then to tie up some loose ends we researched our bus for the next stop—Mendoza. We still couldn’t resist exploring this beautiful city and headed to the Botanical Gardens—great place to relax and enjoy the shade. The sculptures are gorgeous too—who says Ruby doesn’t put Tony on a pedestal? We pampered ourselves; Ruby got a mani/pedi while Tony got a haircut. When Tony got back, Ruby took one look at him and made him go back to the same barber with instructions in Spanish on how to say he needs to cut it shorter in the front! We got introduced to our new favorite Argentinean dish at a corner café in Palermo—chicken with mustard sauce, a good break from all the steak Tony’s been eating. We went back to our hostel and relaxed for a bit before we heard from Dina at about midnight inviting us out for drinks. We were happy to oblige and met up with her friends Nadia and Ed and shared a welcoming “penguino” of malbec, we somehow managed to stay out again until 3:30 even though this was supposed to be our R&R day =)


Posted by Tony.Ruby 09:47 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: So long Sutos!

December 12, 2010

sunny 85 °F

We are so excited to hear that our friend Dina is coming to Buenos Aires from L.A! We changed our plans and are going to stay a few extra days! Let this be an example for all of you reading this blog—we would love to see you on our trip and will go out of our way to make it work! Since Mike and Lauren are leaving to Hawaii tonight we made a jam-packed itinerary for the day. We started with coffee and tango music on the streets of the San Telmo Sunday antique market. The market is famous for the funny/odd street performers and impromptu tango dancing. Tony and I did our best to encourage taking the bus but with their limited time and Mike’s ambitious itinerary we ended up cabbing it to La Boca. We had a terrible lunch. Argentina is known for its great steaks and on average Argentineans consume more beef than any other country but so far we haven’t been impressed. We definitely recommend skipping food in La Boca and taking the bus to our next stop in the Palermo district. Lauren was on the hunt for a leather bag with tassels and Ruby was in search of some new comfy flats! Despite Mike’s reminders about baggage weight limits, Lauren still went on a shopping spree . . . and the boys got to learn every street leading to an ATM! Tony and I tried coffee, ice cream, alcohol to distract Lauren and Mike but alas, they still made it out on schedule for their flight. They’ll be enjoying the beaches of Hawaii and we’ll be in Brazil next but we look forward to catching up with them in Brisbane in a few weeks. We hope you’ll have a “penguino” of wine ready for Ruby and a “tallboy” for Tony! =) After sending them off we went to try out the only Indian restaurant in Palermo called Krishna---it was terrible, not inedible but definitely not spicy or Indian at all. The only thing they had going for them was the delicious chai tea which reminded Ruby of her dad's tea.


Posted by Tony.Ruby 09:01 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: Skateboarding Penguinos in Palermo

December 11, 2010

sunny 70 °F

We started our day meeting up with Mike and Lauren near the Plaza De Mayo and “The Pink Building” (capital building). We did lots of walking around town today, mostly with Mike 15 ft in front of us and Lauren reminding him of just that! We made our rounds through Puerto Madero and over the bridge. Tony noticed some skateboarders and after talking for a few was able to borrow a board and skate with the kids a little. Then we took the bus over to some central parks and made our way to Palermo so Lauren and Ruby could do some shopping! We got stuck in a thunderstorm and instead of participating in a wet T-shirt contest we ended up eating lunch under the cover of an awning at the restaurant. It seems easy to stay out late in Buenos Aires and we left Palermo around 2 am after dinner with our standard surly waitresses and an introduction to Ruby’s first “Penguino” of wine –a traditional jug shaped like a penguin. We also went to a bunch of other spots in Palermo that night including "Limbo Club"--of course this remiinded Ruby of her friend Dr. Mary Limbo!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 08:55 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: Send off for the Northern Beavers!

December 10, 2010

rain 75 °F

I don’t know if we can count our going to bed at sunrise as part of today but after a few hours of sleep we were off to meet our friends Carey and Gerald before they headed back to -17 C degree temps in Canada. We were all so exhausted that we decided to stay by their hotel and eat in the food court of a fancy mall. We enjoyed some coffee with the tiniest- muffins- ever. Then while exploring town Mike found a new mink coat which would be great if his new job in LA was to be a pimp. We are sad to see “The Northern Beavers” go but it was great to meet Carey and Gerald and we hope they come visit us when we get to New York. After our goodbyes, the rest of us meandered through the streets of Buenos Aires visiting the colorful streets of La Boca and checking out the Christmas decorations near the Obelisk. Mike, did you know this is the widest street in all of South America?? ;-) We finished our evening having the best pizza we’ve had in months. The pizza place even had crushed red pepper and it appeared that Mike and Ruby were having a “who can eat the largest amount of spice contest”. We all actually got into bed before midnight!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 08:41 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: Man Down---FOODIE ALERT

December 9, 2010

semi-overcast 70 °F

We had an amazing time last night and we’re surprised we feel so well considering that we tried to drink all the wine Argentina! Unfortunately (and understandably) Mike didn’t feel so hot and decided to sit this one out. Meanwhile the rest of us manned up and headed out to explore the town. We met up with Carey and Gerald and headed over the Cemetario Recoleta on a local bus in the rain. Somehow we managed to meet up with Lauren without the use of cell phones! We had the longest lunch of our lives just outside the cemetery (morbid I know) thanks to our surly Argentinean waitress! In the 10 acre cemetery the boys tried to scare the girls which wasn’t too difficult since the place was pretty creepy even in the daylight. We checked out Eva Peron’s grave and headed back to our hotels to get ready for the evening. . . we knew it was going to be a long one since we were sending off the “Northern Beavers” tonight. We pre-partied at Carey and Gerald’s place and headed off to dinner at Sudestada in the Palermo District. .. let’s just say YUM! The samosas, pad thai, lychee drinks and local brewed beers were terrific. After a short walk Mike dragged us into a bar for an impromptu photo shoot because he liked the chandelier (see pics below) . . . and after another round we headed off to a local club for some dancing. At about 3am we arrived at Esperanto and Ruby convinced the bouncer to let the girls in for free and discount the boy’s admission too! We must have stood out like sore thumbs because even the locals wanted to take pictures with us. Soon a bouncer was inviting us up to the VIP section which Mike said was filled with clappers*. We attempted to dance but the DJ kept changing songs every 15 seconds . . . which not even we could keep up with. After taking some modeling photos we were off in search of another one of Buenos Aires’ fine establishments but instead ended up eating Shwarmas at 530am. . and Lauren HATES dodgey* rotating meat ;-)

  • Clappers: Aussie term for guys standing against the wall bobbing their heads and clapping but not dancing!
  • Dodgey: Aussie term for sketchy/shady


Posted by Tony.Ruby 00:07 Archived in Argentina Comments (0)

Argentina: Buenos Aires: It takes Six to Tango

December 8, 2010

sunny 75 °F

Our cruise dropped us off and we had no idea where we would stay but knew that we would figure it out. The taxis around the port were offering to take us into town for around $100 Argentinean Pesos ($25 US) and told us that there were NO buses running in the area. Ruby could see them driving by and after a little navigating we managed to get a ride into the city for free! Yes free, we had no small cash and the bus driver told us not to worry about the 25 cent ride. After exploring just about every hotel in a 10 block radius and nearly throwing fists/Big Macs at the McDonalds with Wi-Fi we decided on Hostel Suites Obelisco which is a clean, inexpensive hostel with friendly people and a terrific location. The first thing that we noticed was the amazing architecture so we walked around exploring and did some window shopping. That night we met up with our fave gang from the ship and went to a Tango Show at Complejo Tango . . . now we are certified in “Basico De Tango”. I think that means we should all take more lessons! :) The instructor definitely took a liking to the girls and called all of them up as examples! Just look at Ruby's high leg. . she could barely keep a straight face?!? The tango show was amazing and we all took full advantage of the unlimited alcohol! If you ever do come to BA remember that the napkins don’t absorb any liquids and you should have a scarf handy to hide any of the red wine stains to come. The amazing waterproofness of the napkins allowed Tony to re-cork one bottle of wine and take it with us. This would come in handy on the way to our next destination Asia de Cuba. By the way, I think we may start importing Argentinean Napkins to Napa? Ruby has been to almost every Asia de Cuba and added BA to the list today. Mike introduced us to some Punjabis with a “Ke hal he? “ (which he learned from Ruby) and the shots started flowing. We danced till around 4am and there were still people coming in on our way out! Man, those Argentineans can party!


Posted by Tony.Ruby 02:04 Archived in Argentina Comments (2)

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