A Travellerspoint blog

Happy Birthday to me !

27th of Jan... and I´m feeling older again !

overcast 21 °C
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We woke up and I was presented with a little card from Steph to say happy Birthday (with Happy Birthday written in it in Castellano!... bless !)

Being not that bothered about birthdays (especially mine!) The fact that it was the 27th of Jan was quickly dropped and we wondered what we´d do for the rest of the day.

We Met Roy on the Beach and looked after his stuff while he went swimming and then, we decided we´d give it one last chance and sped off to Punta Norte!

The High Tide was later in the day (about 5pm) so we hung around til about 6:30.

Nothing again... boo hooo :(

well.... I think we´ve learnt that you can´t expect to see something all the time and also, that the next time we come (which we will!)... it´ll be in mid to late Feb !

Anyway, we headed back to Puerto Piramides and headed to the La Estacion restaurant with Roy for a Birthday feed (Which was fantastic!) after a few cheekies we headed back to the hostel and noticed that we could see a bright star in the sky... although this star had a bright tail spilling out from behing it !

Now I´d heard that there was a comet about at this moment... however... I never thought it would be this clear !

It was fantastic and the McNaught comet covered most of the night sky! It´s the brightest comet for 40 years and will dissappear off into space, never to be seen again !

We crashed out and arranged to pick Roy up at 8am the next day as we had to get the hire car back before 10am.

We dropped Roy off, said goodbye and dropped the hire car off... a little bit dustier than we´d received it... which the guy wasn´t overly amused about... and then headed to the bus station to get the bus to Trelew ($6.50) and then jumped in a cab ($25 fixed costs) to Gaiman... the Capital of "Little Wales"... It was time to forget my rubbish Spanish and get back into my rubbish Welsh! Poor Steph just wanted the next four days to be over ASAP I´m sure ;)

Posted by Taffski 07:13 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Valdes Peninsula - Overview

Elephant Seals, Southern Sea Lions and Orca´s ???

sunny 25 °C
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We set off early to cross the Peninsula from Peurto Piramides. The road soon turned into a dirt track and since it was my first time on the tracks I obeyed the speed limits and trundled along at 60kph.

Roy, Steph and I had planned the route so that we´d end up in Puerto Norte at the North of the peninsula for about 2pm and headed directly there so that we´d miss most of the tourists... that was the plan anyway!

We arrived and the were greeted by a fairly tame Patagonian Fox (Which is very rare) and some even tamer Armadillo´s. Some photos were taken and we then set ourselves at the top of the cliff in the public viewing spot for the patient wait to see if the Orca´s would turn up!

The Sea Lions were interesting enough on their own and with Roy´s Lemon Tea, the frolicking of the sea lion pups and the posturing of the Male sea lions, the hours flew by.

Unfortunately, High tide came and went with not a whiff or Orca!

We checked in the Guarda Faunica office (which is right by the viewing spot) and apparently there had been about 12 Orca spotted two days earlier... so, seeing that it was getting close to the "Sea Lion Pup Chomping" time of year (End of Jan, Feb and early March) we thought we should be in luck!

We left about 5pm, miffed, but undaunted and trundled back via the Penguin colony just south of Puerto Norte. These little Guys were entertaining (if a bit smelly) and since you were virtually on top of the wee buggers... some quality shots were had! We then trundled back to Puerto Piramides for tea.

The next day we decided to hit the Peninsula from the South Upwards. Once again... the plan was to try and avoid the hordes of touristicos being ferried along the peninsula.

We arrived at Punta Delgada to find that the gate was shut and the notices stating that we were unable to enter the public viewing spot. Luckily Roy spotted some local guys, and found out that the public viewing area was just the other side of the gates and you were perfectly entitled to open the gate and drive the five minutes down to the public viewing spot.

This we did, although we did mutter on about how the hotel was taking a liberty by placing the gate literally on the road side of the public entry point! Obviously trying to be overtly exclusive... i.e. if you´re not in the hotel... you can´t get in!

The views from Punta Delgada were nice, however, you were quite a way up from the Elephant seals. However, this didn´t stop you from seeing how big the buggers were!

The ones we could see were Immature males and then were roughly about 2 tonnes and about 3 metres long. A full grown male can grow up to 6 tonnes and about 6 metres long !!! These things are massive (I might be a bit wrong with the numbers here but you get my drift!)

We then headed up to Caleta Valdes, which was North and about half way to Punta Norte. Here we were greeted by the masses of touristicos and their buses. We had a quick look at the sea lions, some Lemon Tea (kindly provided by Roy Again) and a sandwich and then headed up to Punto Norte for a second days´vigil!

Nothing......

Not a sausage !

However, the Armadillos and the Sea Lion pups did their best to entertain us in the meantime!

Feckin Nature I tell you !

Homeward bound and by now the speeds in the car were up to about 80kph and I´d started to overtake other cars.... although I know it´s not big or clever... it´s a hire car... what dýa expect :)

Posted by Taffski 06:51 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Valdes Peninsula

Puerto Piramides - Hostel trouble!

sunny 21 °C
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We picked up the hire car and together with our new friend Roy (from the assado the night before) with whom we´d agreed to give a life to the peninsula the following day, we headed off for Peninsula Valdes. Luckily, Roy was Scottish, so the Linguistic issues weren´t as bad as they had been over the past few weeks.... it was nice to be able to converse with someone for a change... other than to ask for "two beers please".

For those of you not sure with the Peninsula Valdes area... it´s basically got the beach where the Killer Whales take the baby seal lions from the beach, amogst other Natural delights.

Now, I´ve seen this a few times on TV, however, the thought of not only being able to finally see Killer Whales (which we´ve still not seen in the flesh) but also seing them chomping on some poor defenseless seal lion pups was enough to get me over my fear of South American roads and more importantly, other South American drivers!

Entry to the Peninsula was $30 pesos each and since we were staying there, you only had to pay this once... which was really handy I thought. If you stay off the peninsula... you have to pay for every day you go there.

We arrived in Puerto Piramides, which is the only real place to stay on the peninsula, after two hours or so and dropped Roy off at the camp site so we could go to our "hostel"... "The Posada Piramides".

We pulled up outside and it looked rather nice. However, when we got in our room, it was a large double room with an attached bathroom which was shared with a 5 bed dorm.

To cut a long story short... we´d booked the hostel on the web with hostelbookers.com. We sent and emial to confirm the bed. The hostel replied and said they didn´t work with the web site anymore, but we could have a room for $180 peso´s per night and not the $120 pesos per night we´d seen on the web site (which we thought was being a bit flash!)

"That´ll be $220 pesos per night" the girl said..... WHAT !!!!!
Now remember this is Argentina.... Not Aruba!

This worked out at 38 pounds sterling a night (not a fortune for anyone travelling on Sterling I admit), however, when we compared this to the $94 pesos we´d been paying in Buenos Aires, which we thought was expensive... was over double the price for a worse room if anything!

We informed the girl that the room was too expensive and that we´d agreed $180 per night. She looked stunned and informed me that we had a big room.... with 5 other beds... ???

What did we care how many beds there were there.... how many can I sleep in... what... should we have a bed rotation system and spend a different night in a different bed???

Dizzy Bi..... Anyway.....

After a phone call to the manager she agreed on $180 but would need the money up front!

eh...............

"All of it?" I asked

yes, she replied!

We didn´t like this girl!

When you get cash out of the cash machine here.. it gives you $100 peso bills (up to a maximum of $500) which works out about 90 quid. If you hand over a $100 peso bill for payment for anything other than a big meal or cloths or something... they really don´t like you! All we knew was that we really didn´t like this chick!

Anyway... we said we´d pop to the cashpoint... which we did and got $500 peso´s out. This we put down as a desposit and it was agreed that I´d speak to the manager regarding the outstanding payment and the room etc.

"Can we rent out the dorm room?" the girl asked....

"What???"

So... not only were we paying twice as much... and had payed most of it already... she wanted to rent out the joining room so that we then would have five other people sharing our bathroom... that we´d payed for as an en'suite!!!

Steph left me ranting in Pseudo Spanish... Pseudo English... Pseudo Obscenties!

We left for the beach and coffee.

On our return to the "Posada Piramides" we were welcomed by another couple in the dorm room... who´d locked the door so we had to knock to get in !!!

Now we´re not snobby, however, we´d splashed out on this room so we then spent the next hour or so, messing about with locks so that we could actually lock our door so anyone in the dorm couldn´t just walk in and nick our stuff! We Ended up with three keys. One for the room into the dorm. One to "Open" our door... and a different one to "close" our door !!!

Feckin....... Let´s just say we weren´t happy with our choice of hostel at that moment in time!

On the other hand... Puerto Piramides is a lovely little place and has a few hotels, and ATM, internet shop (albeit satellite internet) and some lovely restaurants and cafes.

We met Roy that night and popped out for some food at a little restaurant called "The Estation".... which was fantastic (The Fish was particularly excellent!)

We went to bed at about 2am.... ready for a 12 o´clock start the following day to the Peninsula and to see some Orca, seals, sea lions and penguins... Fingers crossed.

Posted by Taffski 13:49 Archived in Argentina Tagged lodging Comments (0)

Puerto Madryn

The arrival of the "new" Welsh... and Steph :)

sunny 24 °C
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So we got the bus in Retiro in BA and headed down to Puerto Madryn. The bus was a hour late leaving the station, however, when we got on it was virtually empty and it was brand spanking new!!!! So, like lord and lady muck, we had our vino en route by our butler (come attendent!) and settled down for yet another short journey of 20 hours.

The next morning we arrived in PM. It´s a sleepy little town and the bus station was a chilled as the town. We´d decided to walk to the hostel as it seemed fine and the hostel was only a few blocks away.

We checked into our 4 bed dorm and then strolled about Puerto Madryn for a few hours. Had something to eat, and then Steph decided that we´d go for a short walk to the other end of town to see the Eco-Centre.

This seemed like a good idea as the distance looked short on the map! After an hour or so, we finally dragged our sunburnt bodies into the centre.

We were given an English handbook to accompany the exhibitions and so, we set about gleaning as much as we could about the flora and fauna of the area (and specifically Peninsula Valdes)

The centre was $18 perso´s for Non Nationals, $12 for Nationals and $6 for locals.... I thought of trying to claim that since I was a "direct" decendent(ish) (i.e. from Wales) of the first Welsh to land in PM and without them the town wouldn´t even exist I could try for a local ticket.... however... thought better and bought two $18 peso tickets (being that we were gringo´s after all!)

We got to see a replica of one of the orcas (Mel), the Blue Planet film (in Spanish) for 30 mins or so and then walked up the lookout for a good view of the Massive Cruise liner (that´s based in PM) heading out to sea for a 20 day trip to the Malvinas (Falklands) and on to Antartica (Not long now.....!)

On the way back we stumbled across a little Welsh Museum on the side of the road! They had a big flag outside (of which the girl inside was particularly proud... although she couldn´t speak any Welsh) It was the official flag of the Galles (Welsh) in Patagonia...

Think of the Argentinian flag (light blue, white and light blue horizontal strips) with the Welsh Dragon set on the white bit in the middle of the flag... it´s a slightly different draig (dragon) as it´s much thinner and the idea was that it would link and yet not be an exact copy of the original.

So after an hour or so of walking round this little room, looking at the original ships (El Mimosa) log of passengers and checking out that there were two William Williams already in the area... and been allocated land in the Valley to the south... which is where Gaiman and Dolavon are (where we´re heading in a few days or so)... we decided to get a sticker for posperity and a copy of the Local Newspaper (which was in Welsh of course!!!)

On the way home we popped into a rent a car place and found out that it would cost us ($120 per day for four days and 200km´s) to hire a car and having popped outside for all of two minutes we decided we´d take it, we booked the car for the following day... ready to head to the Peninsula to "possibly" see some Orca´s eating some young seal lions.... :)

We crawled back into the hostel and bumped into a few guys who were having an Asado (Argentinian BBQ).... We stumbled in broken English and Spanish as to what we needed to do (which turned out to be... go and get some meat from the Butchers around the corner) and then the guys cooked it!

You buy meat by the Kilo (so you can get a kilo of Rump Steak for $20).... just over 3 pounds!

The guys cooked a great feast and we all sat around being filmed by an older geezer who was filming his trip around Argentina. Couldn´t speak a word of English but a nice guy!

We went to bed about 1am leaving the guys to rant on in Castellano about whatever they´d been ranting about for the past two hours and got some kip ready for the experience of driving on South American roads the following day!!! Right Hand driving !!!

Posted by Taffski 08:51 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Puerto Iguazu

Storms and the 17 hour journey back to Buenos Aires

sunny 32 °C

As we tend to like the tropics in summer, we experienced a LITTLE rain today! Luckily we were next to a bar when it started.... just as we sat down the rain poured down and soon the street was flooded!!! Local kids outside were standing on the chairs to avoid getting their feet soaked and the bar staff were frantically trying to stop the water coming in to the bar area! There was lots of lightening.... sheet lightening.... quite impressive!!!
Well we asked for a litre of cerveza and got comfy.... what else could we do!
Its just a shame we had left the camera at the hostel, thinking this would be an uneventful trip to the internet!!!

The next day we caught the bus back from sleepy little Puerto Iguazu to happening Buenos Aires! This was pretty uneventful, apart from the bus stopping every 100 miles or so, and the army boarding the bus twice to check for drugs and checking passports!! It was fine though and we got the usual looking after with plenty of vino tinto for Alan and vino blanco for steph!!!!

We arrived back in Buenos Aires and jumped in a taxi back to the hostel. The guy asked us if we´d like to put our bags in the back but we insisted on keeping them with us in the cab.... which was a good decision we think !!!

To get from Retiro to the hostel was a maximum $8 peso journey, however, by the time we arrived outside the hostel the meter was reading $18 pesos!!! We weren´t sure if there was an extra rate for a sunday, so although we knew it was more expensive we gave the taxi man two $10 peso notes. Now we´d heard of the scams that the taxi drivers try on tourists... so when the man showed me one of "alleged" ten peso notes I´d given him indicating it was a forgery... we were taken aback and after some too-ing and fro-ing we eventually got out of the taxi and had told the git to F off (in not so many words!) He mumbled something when we got out and that was that.

It´s only 10 pesos we know, however, it´s a point of the matter that he tried to indicate that we´d given him a forgery! Rogue or what!

Anyway, we got back in the hostel and checked into our room... which had a fan in it this time we were glad to see!

We then went down stairs and met up with Bert and Ans, a dutch couple we´d met earlier whilst in BA. We were sat downstairs chatting when we heard a bang outside... we thought nothing of it until Ans pointed out that there was a load of smoke passing the window. We looked outside and right by the obelisk in the centre of town a car was on fire!!! Within seconds the fire engines were hurtling down the street and having grabbed our camera to get some priceless shots of Avenida Corrientes empty apart from a flaming car we watched as the fire service guys put the fire out.

Eventful start to BA again or what !!!

We then decided to go shopping for some last minutes things before we went out for tea and got ready to head to Puerto Madryn the following day.

We were walking down Av Florida (the main shopping concourse) when suddenly, a motorbike shot past us, almost running over Steph´s foot! We thought this was strange until hot on it´s heals was a gun toting Policeman... cocked and ready to fire!

We watched as the police sped down the streets after the hoodlums... however... it wasn´t until we got to another street that we saw the guys on the motorbike had been apprehended... and more surprisingly... were still alive!

Now don´t get us wrong... Although Steph wasn´t too enamoured with Ba, Alan thought it was OK (like any other city in the world!) just a few more guns.. rogues and fortunately police!

So we´ve now pretty much done BA and so we leave tomorrow for Puerto Madryn to meet up with the Welsh who migrated there a century or two ago... Steph can´t wait :).... NOT!

Posted by stephyd 10:33 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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