A Travellerspoint blog

January 2007

The Valdes Peninsula

Puerto Piramides - Hostel trouble!

sunny 21 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

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
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

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)

Iguazu

Hostel, Buses and the best waterfalls in the world!

storm 25 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

We stayed at the hostel Iguazu... which the night we arrived seemed to be the partry place in town... which after a 17 hour bus drive... we could do without!

We dropped our bags and went for a nosey around town!

Puerto Iguazu is a lovely little town and we felt secure and safe around the place!

As a result, we stopped and had something to eat in town in a little restaurant and then walked home later that evening.

The Hostel had quietened the next day as a group of Brits and Israeli´s had left which meant the hostel was much, much more quiet.

The girl at reception was brilliant and told us all the options we had for Iguazu (both the Brazilian and the Argentinian) and the relative costs of each... cheap Options included. If we needed to reserve anything we could do it with her.... however... there was no overhead with this and she´d also quite happily cancel anything we´d booked with a phone call should we change our minds.

So we booked for the next day to go to the Argentinian side of the falls.

The yellow bus left from the bus station at 7:30am... and every half hour thereafter. We caught the first one and got to the falls just as it was opening! We payed our $30 each and then went into a relatively quiet park (This would change as the day progressed!)

We jumped on the little train to the first stop and then walked along a gang way to view the falls!

They were fantastic! and since it was early morning... we had them pretty much to ourselves!

We spent the rest of the day walking around and viewing the numerous water falls in the park before we headed down to the Island in the centre of the falls from where we were to get our Jet Boat Tour "under" the falls which we´d bought from the girl in reception!

This was brilliant and relatively cheap $45 peso´s per person, however it was fairly short lived (some 15 minutes) however we were thoroughly soaked, having been dunked under two water falls! They luckily gave us a water proof bag for our stuff, and Steph got to use her xmas present from me... the Underwater bag for her camera... which I´m happy to say worked perfectly!

After a long day at the falls we decided to head home at about 4pm and then on the way out got out tickets stamped, which meant we had the option to return another day for only $15 pesos!

Posted by Taffski 09:09 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Bus Travel in Argentina...

Buenos Aires to Iguazu

all seasons in one day 26 °C
View The Three A´s on Taffski's travel map.

we´ve arrived in Iguazu with nothing missing and apart from a accident involving a motorcycle and a lorry on the way up causing a delay, the bus was fantastic!

Unfortunately for the motorcycle driver though he ended up being killed in the accident and when we passed him, he was lying in the middle of the road with a white sheet over him... but I digress......

so... we got the taxi from the hostel direct to the bus station (Retiro), went to departures and had about five buses to pick from... Steph went on reconnaissance and managed to find which bus we were on. Bags were loaded into the hold for which we received a ticket (and tip was payed to bag man... so as to look after the bags!) and then we boarded the bus.

We were travelling Cama class (Bed Class) so the seats were wide and the blankets and food we received en'route also expecially welcoming!

We slept....... well Steph did almost instantly.... I on the other hand was still eyeing up all the other passengers trying to ascertain which was most likely to nab our day packs if I slept...

We woke up the next day still on the bus and still with our day packs!

Watched a crap Yank film... listened to some Israerli´s making out in the seat in front of us and then about four hours later (the total travel time was about 17 hours!) we pulled up in Iguazu Bus station.

We unloaded, got our bags... which were still there... and walked up to the hostel (having to change direction a few times as our sense of direction was a bit muddled!)

We checked into the hostel and dropped our bags on the bed.....

Operation OmniBus was a Success.. we´d made it intact, with baggage and alive!

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

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