Sometimes its the cities without expectations that delight the most.

Santiago is a great city. Laid back vibe with an amazing backdrop of mountains. Great parks, good street art and fantastic markets.

Santiago Part 1

Santiago Part 1

It reminds me of the joys of the less talked about cities such as San Diego, Kumamoto, Hull, and Adelaide!

Santiago Part 1

Santiago

This is a post for those cities that are sometimes overlooked.

Santiago

Santiago

This place is so relaxed about thing that stray dogs have their own houses in the parks

Santiago

Santiago

Can you tell I like this place?

Coffee time in Santiago!

Room view

After a very long bus ride, and equally long taxi ride (seemed like an hour) we made it to the hotel.

Room view

After all the fabulous eating of the past few days we really needed no dinner. We went for a short walk around the neighbourhood… Which is made up of moderately tall buildings, courtyards with little shops, offices, bars, and restaurants.

Colmado coffee - Santiago

Inside of of these we found Colmado Coffee. As they say “time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted”. The coffee was great…. And they had great coffee menus… very reminiscent of our own favourite coffee haunts. While no food was required, we indulged with cake too! Given it is so close to our hotel, we think we will be back.

Colmado coffee - Santiago

7 hours and 29 switchbacks

That is all it takes to cross the Andes from Mendoza to Santiago.

The road to Santiago!

We took an Andesmar bus, one of the more respected private bus companies in Argentina. There are hundreds! They are a very efficient, we easily bought our tickets online in Australia and were lucky enough to score front row seats on the top deck. I was pretty excited… But when the bus turned up at Mendoza station, our front window was covered with that horrible holey stickers that are used for advertising on Adelaide buses. There should be a law against this. You can see the impact on the photos through the front window for yourself.

The road to Santiago!

Fortunately many great photos were taken from the side window.

The road to Santiago!

The road to Santiago!

Entertainment was provided with a number of action films, including Robocop and Three Days to Kill. Oddly the sound was in English with Spanish subtitles. Food was provided a glass of coke with sandwich and some fine biscuits with tea/or coffee.

The road to Santiago!

The road to Santiago!

All up for less than $40 each, the value is pretty good. Especially given the roomy seats which are wider than economy class on plane and more legroom!

My only complaints are

1) The anxiety you feel when you get told the bus will leave from one of the gates 16-22 and the bus not being listed on the departures board. To be fair, it turned up with 10 minutes to go. It was loaded up and left before 10:40 not too bad for a 10:30 scheduled start.

2) The strange process of being lined up like naughty children in front of desks at Chilean customs. We became the audience as some poor travellers were admonished for trying to smuggle in too much wine…

The road to Santiago!

The road to Santiago!

Good afternoon…. Mendoza

This is our view in Mendoza
View of the Andes

After taking in the sights of Córdoba,

Cordoba

this morning we said goodbye and once again headed west, flying to Mendoza.

Medoza

Thankfully the flight was uneventful.

Cordoba

Here in Argentina, you still get to walk on the tarmac….

Medoza

Interesting ride…

While staying in BA we caught a couple of taxis because they were so cheap, and convenient. The drivers are pretty aware of the roads. They create lanes where perhaps you thought there was only one, and get a little close to other cars at speed.. Seat belts don’t seem to be compulsory, as sometimes they work, and sometimes they are stuck so you can’t access them. All up the experiences were pretty good.

Over the years we’ve had some interesting taxi rides. Yesterday’s ride from the hotel in BA to the airport for our flight to Córdoba has to take the ultimate prize.

Once the car started the driver took off at speed and then immediately took the right corner, then the next right. Resulting in me sliding me over in the seat and gripping the door handle. There wasn’t a lot else to hang on to as the seat belts were stuck under the seat. The roads around our hotel in Palermo were grid based, and one way. The driver entered the upcoming intersection immediately after a car crossed in front of us, and narrowly missed the next car going through the intersection. This experience continued through each intersection until the main road. On the plus side, the brakes weren’t heavily applied, so at least he judged each intersection and we weren’t being lurched forward at each stop.

While the main roads did feature lanes, the driver was quite creative. He pushed the taxi through incredibly small spaces between the lanes, where you could probably wind down your window and shake hands with the person in the next car). But remember this driving is occurring at speed, with tailgating. It really was like being in one of the car chases you see in movies…. Just this time we were in the actual car.

We knew the airport was quite close to the city, so as we were weaving in and out of the traffic we knew the end was in sight. There was a short opportunity on the expressway for the driver to go even faster pass a couple of cars on the left (they drive on the right here) then slow down create another lane as he took the expressway circular ramp off to the airport. By now we were on the road at the airport, the traffic lights ahead were red, with four lanes of stopped traffic – he kept going and took a right into a carpark. I thought he might be parking. He drove straight through the car park at speed passing the cars waiting patiently at the traffic lights, then back onto the road in front of the traffic and put his foot down to speed up to the next traffic stop. He followed the traffic as it curved round to the left in front of the airport, wove in between a few cars before coming to a stop outside the drop off zone.

We quickly got out grabbed our bags, paid the driver 80 pesos and walked into the airport. We passed a couple who were going to take the taxi we had emerged from, and in my mind I wished them good luck.

Thankfully the plane journey was uneventful!
On way to Córdoba

And it’s goodbye Buenos Aires!

Yes… It’s time to move already. It didn’t just rain yesterday… It poured, pretty much all day, so in the end we were thankful we weren’t standing out in the weather for the match. Instead we visited a market… Found excellent coffee (was there any doubt we wouldn’t?), did a tour of the Teatre Colon, saw some tango, and watched the soccer match on TV.

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All in all… It was a good day.

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Adiós Buenos Aires!

Enemy of the tourist

Today it is raining…

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Our original plans of going to the soccer match today were cancelled due to the match being a “super Classico” between two home town rivals, and members angry about not being able to get seats. I don’t blame them – I would feel the same! On the plus side it is pouring with rain… and forecast to rain all day, so it’s probably a good thing for us not to be standing in the rain watching soccer with 70,000+ people. So we have our day back… Still lots to do and see.. and Kym is planning.

Taking one from the team…

Some of you have an expectation that everything we eat is always amazing. Well Helen wasn’t feeling so well yesterday (she is much better now) so we weren’t focussing so much on looking for amazing food experiences…. So this food experience is for the team!

It is important to try and get a sense of the place. We were looking to see what middle class portenos do on a Saturday afternoon. Is it any great surprise that they go to the mall. We found this out at the Abasto mall quite an amazing mall built in a former wholesale fruit and vegetable market.

Abasto - shopping

It has one of the biggest food halls I’ve seen, but get this… you can get a rib eye steak here for about $10 and the food hall serves wine. You can imagine that I was heading there… and I did. I was in the line waiting. At that point I realised there were going to be at least three interactions in Spanish 1) selecting and paying 2) selecting salads and 3) pickup. Not at all confident with my Spanish, I freaked out and left the queue. But the problem was where to find food that was easy to order.

You would have guessed McDonalds? Well close, I have an abiding dislike of McDonalds, so instead I chose the local alternative Mostaza. On a cultural side note, I did notice a teenage worker at Mostaza commencing her shift. She greeted each staff member as she arrived with a peck on the cheek the universal way of saying hola to your friends here.

Abasto - shopping

Well you’ve scrolled past the picture to find out if it was any good. I can tell you that it was put together with as a much love as McDonalds and is about as good as it looks!

As a consolation, I did arrange for room service steak sandwich with a glass of Malbec. Total cost around $10. Try that an Australian hotel.

Kym's dinner

And… yes success at last…. this was very yum!

Latin America Art

If you happen to be in Buenos Aires and want to see some good Latin American art, that’s not on the street, I’d certainly recommend a visit to MALBA – Museo de Arte Latinamericano de Buenos Aires.

We saw a retrospective of the Argentine master Julio Le Parc. A fantastic exploration of his work that paints with light. Completely darkened rooms, with specific lights illuminating moving objects to create part visual art part movement art with light.

MALBA

MALBA

Equally impressive was its permanent collection. For which you can see a few photos below. As Helen will tell you, you can also get some excellent value piece of contemporary jewellery.

MALBA

MALBA

MALBA

Palermo…

We are staying in the Palermo suburb of Buenos Aires. I understand that this is the largest of the barrios. It is itself broken down into a number of sub-barrios. Each with their own name and character. Trust me… we did a lot of walking yesterday and they certainly do feel quite different from one another.

Around our hotel

Our hotel is located in Palermo Hollywood, so named because the existence of tv and radio producers are here. This area and adjoining Palermo Viejo are loaded with restaurants, bars and boutiques.

Around our hotel

Now, Adelaideans will appreciate the problems of Plane tree lined streets on an early windy spring day. A lot of the streets here are like Frome Street in terms of having mature Plane trees, well we are hear in early spring. All I can say the joy of Plane tree pollen is no less over here.

Around our hotel

We are seeing a few bikes around. It seems to me if Buenos Aires can manage bike lines, many of them separated from the road, with its traffic, then perhaps we could do a little more back home than carp and complain.

Around our hotel