So the intro to South America wasn’t pretty – arrived 2 days before the tour group met and things kicked off for adventure no.2, but before that my body decided a crash diet was in order and duly tried to turn itself inside out through my arse – I’ll spare the details but 2 days in the hostel with brutal sleep were grim…. got to see Redbull Rampage though so small victories eh?! Anyways…
Thankfully started to feel a lot better and managed food minus the bathroom chaos. Chilled all day, then in the evening met our CEO, Lynne (Cuban/Canadian) and the group – Reggie and Gary from Oz, Meg, Scottish, Hannah, Irish, Phoebe & Seth, a Kiwi couple, Vish and Ellie, English, “Racist” Sami, Swiss. Headed for a dinner with 5 of them to local steakhouse – bed after to try to shift the fatigue/recover.
Shit sleep part 2 – hostel party kicked out at 2am and street got rowdy and up for few hours but hey, lie in and bike tour to make the most of Buenos Aires on the cards today. The much needed lie in lasted until 12.30 and then took off on a bike tour to see the Southern and original Buenos Aires.
We started in San Telmo – this was the original Buenos Aires town (alongside La Boca) and has the 2nd largest square in the city. Now the art district, with a local market in square – this started as a way for the new settlers to sell the belongings rich families had left behind when they deserted SAN Telmo when yellow fever started. The market still happens every week, but less of the riches now though. The rich families moved north, forming the now affluent part of Buenos Aires, where River Plate are based.
San Telmo market
On to Parque Lezama – a plaza left to the city that was originally the private gardens of the Lezama family. To be fair, not picture worthy. Moving on.
Next stop, the one I was looking forward to the most, La Boca – River Plate were the first team in Argentina, formed in La Boca in 1901, then Boca Jrs formed 1905 – and so began a huge rivalry; the teams did not want to share La Boca so their presidents decided to play, with the winner laying claim to La Boca – Boca Jrs won so Rover Plate moved north to Nunes to the affluent part of Buenos Aires.
La Bombonera – amazing
Boca Jrs initially played in black and white stripes but their president didn’t like the colours so decided to go to the Port and would pick the colours of the flag on the first ship to come into the harbour – that ship was Swedish, hence Boca Jrs are now their famous blue and gold. The Twelve control the entire area in La Boca – basically the mafia. They shut down the entire La Boca area on match days and charge parking fees based on how nice they reckon your car is, amongst other illegal shit. When we were there a car drove past a group of lads in Boca gear who kicked off – the guide said the driver was wearing River Plate colours and they “politely” asked him to leave…. Boca Jrs hols massive esteem – Coca Cola wanted to sponsor them but Coke is Red and a white, River Plate colours – so they changed to black and white just to please Boca and get them to accept the sponsorship. Didn’t get into La Bombonera, but even standing outside it, it’s an intimidating place.
Then we moved to Caminito, another artistic area of brightly coloured houses that used to house multiple immigrant families in tiny rooms. Now all converted with Tango on the street outside every cafe. And randomly dressed dogs…
Sid would love this get up
Then Puerto Recoleta – it never became a port because the water is too shallow to allow ships to pass – planning disaster.
This is the most secure place to live in Buenos Aires as its guarded by the military police aka not corrupt. Was very modern and felt a bit out of place for the rest of the south side of the city.
Next up, government square – an entirely fenced off area that is the starting point for all demonstrations/matches that happen in Buenos Aires – a regular occurrence in Argentina generally; there was one the day I arrived that I thankfully missed with riot police dandering about fending off shots outside our hostel – and it wasn’t even the 12th 🤷🏻♂️
Last stop, Avenue de 9 Julio, a mad, wide road that links the north and south parts of the city – 6 lanes each way with a green up the middle.
We stopped at Elvira Peron’s house, turns out she’s a bit of a controversial figure but popular anyways -started social welfare, but a bit of a Nazi sympathiser and the Peron reign censored all schooling so kids learned stuff like I live my mum, my mum loves Eva.
Eva’s house, southside
There are 2 pictures Eva on the house – one on the north and and one on the south face of the building – propaganda pictures. The north picture shows her giving a speech, a sign of power for the rich, the South picture shows her smiling holding a flower, a sign of empathy to the south.
Then it was back to hostel for a shower and a beer with Dutch girl from bike tour who is 4 months into a year long solo tour of South America, good craic, then out to the Red Door bar for food with the team, another beer and bed.
6.30am. Early start for the boat to Colonia de Sacramento. Another shit sleep, awake from 3.30am and no Southern Hemisphere clock change to grab that extra hour 🙈 The lack of sleep becoming a bit of an annoying theme of this trip, but activities over next few days and a move away from busy hostels hopefully help!
Welcome to colonial Uruguay – about to be destroyed by Chitty chitty bang bang
Short sail across to Colonia – a beautiful colonial town, cobble streets, old buildings, tree lined streets – Lynne organised a scavenger hunt for a bit of craic; sounded grim but turned out a cool way to see the town. We rented an electric car and spun round the town taking in the sights, going the wrong way down one way streets and driving on the wrong side of the road, gathering our pictures for the hunt, but all in vain – the other team won 🤷🏻♂️
We all met up to plan few upcoming activities for Paraty, Ilya Grande and Rio, then it was out for a bite, a decent coffee and a chill in the sun. Bit of a samba band kick off which toured the town for a few hours too, pretty cool with people just joining in along the way, dancing. Back to the hotel for a 2 hour laze in the pool with Reggie and Vish, and bed.
7.30am – I slept 💪💪💪💪💪 up and had breakfast then we all piled on the bus for the 3 hour trip to Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital.
Got checked into our hotel, then had lunch before making our way along the coast on a bike trip to the beaches along the promenade – 18km later, smiling because I got my ass on a bike, and back for a jacuzzi chill in hotel, spruce up and dinner.
I love cycling me
Our dinner spot for night 1, Montevideo
Not bad Montevideo, not bad
Bit of a lie in then up for a breakfast in hotel before crowd of us headed out to the west part of Montevideo with Lynne, to the old town and port.
The view from the topThe Opera, MontevideoAs close as we got – screw you Roger
Got soaked, was humid and overcast, plenty of hills but a great day. We stopped at the rebuilt original gate to the city, the Opera, the Estadio Centraium where the first World Cup was held and won by Uruguay (no stadium tour thanks to Roger Waters crew banning any pitch views setting up for his gig).
Never happy unless I’m dicking about with a bike
After a few mechanicals and absolutely no help from Reggie it was back to the hotel for another jacuzzi chill/model shoot and bed.
Form a line ladies….
Breakfast at the hotel before we hit the road for the ropey 4 hour bus trip to Mercedes and Colonia de Concordia for a 2 night stay at an estancia; the land of no signal/internet. Carlos our driver liked to use all the lanes on the road at once, tried many late braking manuoveres to ensure the brakes were working, and swerved all the time to keep us awake. He also enjoyed using his phone for calls, texts and to Shazam the music Gary was bluetoothing to the bus stereo. The road was literally being constructed as we drove along it. Views were great though – like driving through countryside at home, loads of green with the odd burst of lavender fields and massive fields of crops – definitely a welcome change from 7 days of city grey. The view from death road
Then it was finally safely to Estancia La Sirena – and it was super peaceful. The main house is 150 years old, no noise, hammocks in the trees, birds were the soundtrack for a lunch of chorizo, lettuce, tomato and onion salad.
The estancia house
Then we took a horse each and headed off up the track, trotting back through the countryside with Vish and his sore arse from a days biking now bouncing about on a saddle having us in stitches.
Vish and his poor horse – coming to a McDonalds near you soon
Then it was chill and a great dinner of bean stew, a stunning pink sky sunset, before we all had our faces painted by resident artists Lynne and Meg, a beer and bonfire under a completely cloudless and star filled sky before a trip standard of Cards Against Humanity. Crazy beautiful, peaceful place.
Here we are now, all the lads
Up at 10 for breakfast and a stunning morning – no clouds, sun out, on the loungers. Learned how to milk a cow –
Dale Farm, Uruguay
More lounging then a Yoga class by Lynne before lunch of bbq beef shank, chorizo, potatoes and fried onions. Vish decided to finally make an appearance after 2 bottles of wine last night. Then more lazing in the sun – tough day today. Made empanadas – traditional dish like a Cornish pasty, with either meat or spinach filling, usually with egg or cheese. Vish then decided in his hungover state he wanted to shave his head – used my clippers and had to go full heap after Reggie took a chunk off the back.
This is Vish, check his Tinder ladies
Went fishing for no fish in the Rio Negro, then had our empanadas and caught up on a brutal day/nights travelling due for tomorrow, then hammock and headphones before dinner, bit of banter and bed early. Yes, it was a tough day.
Breakfast, shower and on the bus to head back to Argentina for the overnight bus to Iguassu; safe to say no one was looking forward to approx 18 hours on a bus with no stops but all part of the fun. Toilet paper packed, let’s go. Part 1 was a 1 hour private bus to the border. Passports stamped and we were back in Argentina. Another half hour and it was food stop for the big bus journey, then a spin on to the terminal to await the night bus. And that was some journey – 16hrs 45 start to finish on a double decker tube of farts.
Start to finish – proof
Paulie loves buses
Sleep was on and off but we made it. And then it was cross the border to Brazil 🇧🇷 onto our guide Antonio’s bus, dumping the bags at the hotel, and straight to Iguassu Falls, knackered. But well worth the journey, pictures….
Iguassu Falls, Brazilian side
We stopped for groceries on way back to hotel, I ate and crashed.
Some sad news from home on my mind today, having me grateful for this mad adventure and not bothered about some of the muck that’s happened so far. Perspective eh.
Up early for breakfast and onto Antonio’s fun bus to cross back into Argentina for their side of Iguassu Falls, couldn’t be better than Brazil… That made 4 border hops in 2 days, 5 for the way back to the hotel. And what a day – the sun was out, the park was really well set up and the falls, well look. They were incredible.
We spent the morning taking in the superior loop walk then broke for lunch (meal of the trip so far in an all you can eat buffet) then we split with Sami, Lynne and Gary all hitting the boat trip to the falls, the rest of us taking in the inferior loop for a close up, soaking look at the falls. Amazing place – hard to take it all in. Just beautiful.
Then it was a quick loop to a lookout where standing in Argentina, you could see Paraguay on the left and Brazil on the right.
3 In 1 – standing in Argentina, with Paraguay on the left and Brazil on the right
Then back over the border to Brazil for a chill at the hotel pool, dinner and a few beers before bed – what a day. Still thinking of home and how lucky I am to be here, and well. Here’s to the next part of the South America adventure, stay tuned