A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: gemchez

La Paz

Pancakes, tea and Dulche de Leche

sunny 25 °C
View Bolivia on gemchez's travel map.

So our trip to La Paz began at 3am in Buenos Aires, driving to the airport in an unmarked taxi with a driver who spoke no english. He dropped us at the airport and we head to departures.....only when looking for our flight we couldn´t see it, we wandered to Information to see if we were at the wrong terminal.....not only were we at the wrong terminal, but the wrong sodding airport!!!!!!!! Who new Buenos Aires has 2 airports!!!!! So a crazy taxi ride later we made the new airport in the nic of time and began our 18 hr 3 flight day to La Paz!

We got to La Paz about 8pm and took a hair raising taxi to the hostel, Adventure Brew. The views on the way were out of this world, we could see the whole of La Paz by night. The hostel was really nice, and we had a room to ourselves, bliss after the day we had just had! We woke up on day 1 to an all you can eat pancake breakfast and headed out to see what La Paz had to offer-what an amazing place. Traditional women everywhere in the mahoosive skirts, ponchos, top hats and colourful back baby carrying bags, (note traditional women dont like having their photo taken...you will get spat at!) merged with ridiculous traffic, masses of pollution, beautiful buildings and everything and anything to do with or made from Llamas!!! We explored the little cobbled streets up to the witches market (where the streets were lined with dead Llama foetus´, apparently a lucky charm!) The little shops where packed with Llama cardies, hats, gloves, toys, leg warmers, arm warmers.....you name it it was Llamafied!!!! Needless to say later in the week we stocked up on Llama goodies! The hostel was awesome if only for 2 reasons....1-the free beer every night and 2-the incredible food for dinner every night!! We ate like kings and queens for 3quid!

Day 2-the day Bolivia was closed!! So who were we to know that A- sunday was the countries presidental elections and B-by law nothing is allowed to be open and no one is allowed to drive!!!! With no Llama shops to keep us entertained we spent the day wandering the empty streets (totally different to the day before) and chilling back at the hostel.

Day 3 was amazing, we woke to yet another pancake breakfast then took a 4x4 up into the hills to some stables where we would began an afternoon of horse riding up into the mountains, just us 2 and a bolivian guide...who spoke no English!!! The trip was incredible, We road up and up and up with views out across to the desert and the cities in the valleys. It was so quiet and beautiful. We made it up to the 4500m devils tooth point where we had a picnic lunch on the rock edge and then chez and the guide climbed up further to get the 360 degree views at the very top....amazing!!! The ride back down was very lesurly apart from gemmas horse who got scared of cracks in the ground and refused to cross them, with 15 minutes of persuasion and chezs horse acting as a guide she made it over the 10cm gap!!! and we trotted and cantered past small villages, sleeping pigs and noisy donkeys and back down to the stables 4 hours later.

Day 4 was much more adventurous!!! Today we did the Death Road bike ride...its apparently the worlds most dangerous road...and we most definatley agree!! Google it!!!! We drove up to the top of the road and biked all the way down at 70km/h in the pouring rain, mist, mud and gravel dirt roads, around hairpin bends with sheer drops of 600m a few inches from our tires. We also had to negotiate traffic even though the road was only 5meters wide and lined with grave stones!!! The mist helped for Gemma as she couldn´t see the huge sheer drops of the cliffs!! The ride was more than worth it when we reached the bottom and visited and animal sanctury hostel for lunch!! There monkeys can roam free and the sanctury along with parrots, dogs and various other animals!! Chez wasnt best pleased to be told that they had snakes, but they were in a cage so not too freaked out! After lunch we went to the pool area where most of the monkeys hang out and we got to sit and play with Spider and Howla monkeys.....having them sit on our knee and hold our hands and touch our faces...literally an incredible experience!! At one point Chez got rather broody as one of the babies curled up in the lap for a sleepy cuddle!! After the sanctury we had to drive back up the road we rode down.....way more scary in a mini bus than on a bike believe me!!!! and with running comentry of where different people had gone off the edge! sporting our "i survived the worlds most dangerous road" t-shirts we celebrated with beer and a huge feast.

The last day was spent doing bits and pieces before our 7pm night bus to Sucre. It was really sad to leave La Paz, we had fell in love with the city, but it was definately time to move on and experience another side to Bolivia. Off to Sucre on a night bus we go!

Posted by gemchez 07:22 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Buenos Aires

Steak steak and more Steak + red wine and a beautiful city....we miss you Buenos Aires!!!

sunny 25 °C
View Argentina & Bolivia on gemchez's travel map.

So we weren't exagerating when we said the worlds most comfy bus.....Picture fully fully reclining seats, walls, tables and waiter service with personal TV screens!!! IMMENSE!
Arrived in BA setled into our boutique hostel and set out for a day of exploring..... And did we explore!! Took a 20p half hour bus journey to La Boca. A beautiful area with cobbled streets lined with Caminito's, brightly painted tin houses. Artists and coffee shops merge with tango dancers and art and craft shops nestled inbetween the beautiful buildings along with the odd full sized fibreglass farm animal! We wandered around for a few hours and sipped coffe in the sun, before visiting a new art gallery with stunning architecture and views across the port. We headed for central area and found ourselves walking through a mass protest of what looked like numerous homeless people woth wild dogs and batterns, The immense amount of police made us feel safe. We took in all the traditional sights, a pink palace, serveral mahoosive buildings and plaza's and attempted to reach the woman bridge (a pretty bridge) but roads of 6 lanes of trafficm and a railway stopped this! Wandered through the tree lined New Yorkesk streets and had the best meaty sandwich ever! In the evening the meat diet was topped off with one hell of a steak and washed down with a bottle of amazing red wine.

Day 2 we ventured to Recoletta - the rich peoples district, to see a giant metal flower sculpture, a law graduation and a haven of underground homefurnishings, (we spent along time here!) before visting the cemetery....... WOW. It can only be described as a migets city (In the least disrespectful way possible) Picture streets and streets of ornate tombs, mini chapels and mini architectural masterpieces!!!! not to mention the hords of cats, visible coffins and photos of the deceased! very weird but amazing. (also saw Evitas tomb house!)
Wandered back through parisian streets full of Louis Vouton and Channel to Florida - a pedestrianised shopping street for the less wealthy! ate mass steak sandwiches - so good and wandered around Galeroas Pacifico a huge mall with ornate ceiling paintings. Found MAC!!! Had a really good pizza for dinner before having a really early night in preperation for our 3am start and day of multiple flights and sitting around!

Good Bye Buenos Aires, you were beautiful....we will be back!

Off to Bolivia we go!


Posted by gemchez 08:20 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Sao Paulo to Foz do Iguazu

Where children live in boxes...butterflies use you as transport...theres lots of water...and mosquitoes are deadly!!!

sunny 27 °C
View Argentina & Brazil on gemchez's travel map.

So we set of for Sao Paulo on a bloody comfy armchair type bus from Paraty. 6 hours later travelling through the hills and torential rain we arrived in Sao Paulo....first impressions, there are no traffic lanes, thousands of vehicles an flooded roads!! Eventually we got to our hotel and tried to be brave going out for an adventurous dinner but got scared and settled for chicken, rice and beans next door! The following day we tried to be touristy but everything was either closed or covered in scaffolding...plus the streets where covered in close to death homeless people, including young children living in boxes!!! Not nice to see, so we were thankfull to get to the station and on our bus to Foz!

The bus to Foz was INCREDABLE! Comfy bed type seating, so we srttled in for the night and had a good night sleep! Arriving in Foz in the morning 16 hours later we headed straight to the hostel along with our new friend Sven! Hostel was lovely, had a dorm to ourselves and a swimming pool! We headed straight off to the brazillian side of the falls.....they were out of this world!!!! A pure natural beauty! On route to the 'devils throat' several butterflies thought it would be a good idea to use our bags, knees and heads as transportation being carefull not to tread on any of the oversized centipeids along the way!!! We managed to get utterly soaked at the base of the devils throat, before jumping back on our racoon bus for an afternoon of sunbathing by the pool!!!

The next day we had torential rain so cancelled our trip to the Argentinian side......10 minutes realising this was ridiculous we jumped on our jeep, with Antonio Bandaras driving, went through passport control and headed into the falls. We thought you could get up close and personal on the brazilian side but this was even more intense....we actually couldn't of got any wetter (the rain probably didn't help!)! Spent the day walking the different routes around the falls stumbling across a pack of racoons (Coaties)!!!!!!! We finished up getting completely soaked through on a speed boat not only around the base of the falls...but actually fully underneath them!!!!!!!! AMAZING experience! Back to brazil for a nights sleep before heading off to Buenos Aires on the most comfortable bus in the world!!!!!!!

Good Bye Brazil :-( you were amazing!
(the mosquitoes were not!!!!)


Posted by gemchez 07:49 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (0)


...where your sweat glands work in overdrive! and where Fernanda the pink butterfly watch was born!

sunny 37 °C
View Brazil on gemchez's travel map.

So after a hairraising 2 hour public bus journey we arrived in Paraty and got to our hostel, Misti Chill. First impressions of Pararty....... Not as pretty as every1 says... infact quite the opposite.... that was until we found the the river that devides old colonial with new "shabby chic" and the bridge! Paraty is actually very pretty and just like every one had described! Infact probably even nicer! Picture massive and uneven cobble stone walkways lined with beautiful white buildings with colourful doors and windows....+ the odd horse and cart!

Paraty seems to have a different climate to the rest of Brazil one where the hummidity is so immense, proved
by the fact that we were dripping from the moment we stepped of the bus until well into the early hours of the morning despite fans and numerous cooling aids!

Spent our first full day reclining on sunloungers onboard a rather flashy woodern boat ship, sailing between islands and deserted beaches! In the evening enjoyed a lovely meal accompanied by a live singer and musician... amazing we thought until they tried to charge us for the pleasure.... we did not agree, needless to say Chez worked her magic and we didnt have to pay!

The next day we tried our luck at local transport and headed into the hills to find what had been described to us as a mass natural waterslide!.....It was just that. We follwed some other people in swimwear off the bus into the jungle. All of a sudden out of nowhere appeared the mahoosive watery rock with crazed locals sliding down it on their feet, dive bombing into the pool at the base, splashing all of the opened mouthed bemused tourists viewing from the rocks below! Now it was our go however no girls seemed to be attempting it so we started off with a gentler activity of climbing behind a smaller waterfall, sitting underneath it and then sliding down the small slope into an icy pool. We befriended a local who took us under his wing and showed us the art of rock sliding.
With a pull of the arm and a push on the back Chez was first to decend follwed shortly by Gemma, both of which were extreamly successful. The second time round wasnt as successful for Gemma, filmed by chez she managed to gymnastically flipm onto her side then onto her stomach to enter the pool at the bottom backwards and with an almighty splash. Chez second attempt was a hek of a lot better..... Video footage to shortly follow!
Cooked our first successfull meal in the hostel that night followed by a well deserved long sleep!

Day 3 in Paraty..... Clare you have some explaining to do! So we took Clares advice about a hike to a beautiful beach in the middle of nowhere. A - middle of nowhere is an understatement. B - This beach was by no means near as beautiful as Lopez Mendez and C - There was no mention of snakes, spiders or crocodile sized lizards along the way! We must say however the beach was very nice, probably slightly hindered by the fact that it was cloudy and it took an 1hour uphill of pure sweat, mud and fright in total issolation to get there! Neadless to say Gemma ran to the bus when she saw it on the way back. Note Flip Flops are not a good treking aid! Evening was rewarded by all you could eat pizza and a night out on the town!

Last day was the best, we got a local bus to Trinidade.... A small beachy paradise just over the mountain from Paraty. Spent the entire day horrizontal sunning ourselves on a beach watching the local kids surf!
In the evening we decided to head out with the guys who ran the hostel again. This time not getting in until the late early hours of the morning. Brilliant way to end a lovely place... It was hard to leave.

Things we learnt in Paraty....
- Dogs are more than welcome in clubs and make good dancing partners
- Jumping off bridges in the middle of the night is a bad idea!
- Never wear flipflops treking
- Always get a room with AC
- Never sleep with the bosses neice! (not us.... just a note for good measure!)

On to Sao Paulo and the falls.....


Posted by gemchez 14:36 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Ilha Grande...

Two bottles of suncream and a bottle of insect repellent down!

sunny 36 °C
View Brazil on gemchez's travel map.

So leaving Rio was easier than geting into i... although our pre booked taxi never arrived, although a local one gave us a hairraising ride through all the favelas!
Arrived in Ilha Grande, one bus and boat later to find a beautiful little village nestled between the sea, beach and jungley mountains! Our first Pousada was really pretty and we spent the rest of the day exploring the village and beach only to then fall asleep throughout the afternoon and evening after a giant lunch of beans rice and fish! to then be rudely awakened by a tropical storm and a heard of local frogs! Chez thought it would be a good idea to try our kags in bags out by taking a very wet walk to the beach to watch the lightening around the bay..... Kags in bags are not waterproof!!!!

The next few days were spent truley relaxing on the nearby beaches, holding giant starfish and playing with the local stray dog population! whilst sampling the delights of Caiphiranas in the evenings..... due to some over indulgence we wont be having Caiphiranas for a very long time!!!!!!!

We took a boat trip to do some snorkling see some other beaches and spy on Ronaldo´s house!

Our second to last day we planned to hire a kayak and row to a waterfall....due to our near death experience within 2 minutes of getting in the water with all the big boats, we decided a different route might be in order first...! We kayaked to a couple of local beaches stopping along the way for pitstops then headed back towards the main port and realised that reaching the waterfall was no longer in our grasp. So we decided to give it back, with the help of 2 local children....4 hrs of kayaking against wind and waves with ever developing sunburn was rewarded with a huge bowl of ferrio roche ice cream!!!! After a tiring day, the seafood bbq we had for dinner was AMAZING!

Our last day = Chez´s 23rd Birthday! Celebrated in style waking up to balloons, a stack of cards, a few presensts and an amazing tropical breakfast! The guy who owned our Pousada even left a bottle of not nice tasting champagne! We went to Lopez Mendez one of Brazil´s top 5 beaches.... It was BEAUTIFUL!!!!! frolocked in the surf and played long jump and wrote messages in the sand. A perfect day in the sun topped off with a monkey encounter, huge plate of calamari and giant bottles of beer (not Caiphiranas!) for dinner!

So in Ilha Grande we learnt they dont put mixers in Caiphiranas, Kayaks plus big boats is dangerous, factor 30 suncream is not strong enough and the star fish are massive..... onto Paraty we head

Lots of love from 2 now very tanned travelers :-)

Posted by gemchez 12:34 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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