A Travellerspoint blog

"Don´t cry for me Argentina"....

Buenos Aires - the Paris of South America. Home of the Porteños, Maradonna, Boca and TANGO.

sunny 28 °C
View Year Off 2007 on Lejla's travel map.

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Hola amigos ! It feels like being back in Europe. I am understood and i can understand; at least to a certain extend and it feels good being back in this city which i must admit..."I love !". It is indeed the Paris of South America, the food is superb, for us it is more than cheap. there are far too many dogs (with and without owners), not to mention the tons of dog sh** on the streets. Walking mainly in flip flops you can´t dare to wonder around, you must concentrate on the floor.

It´s pretty cold when we arrive and i am still not sure whether it is summer of autumn (change on the 22-3), but the taxi driver meets us in a pretty thick jacket which we are obviously not used to anymore and i read that they had floods the day we arrive, but it is the ideal temperature to do plenty of walking as it is not unbearably hot, but nice..ish warm.

It is the first trip to BA (´good air´) for Ljubi, hence we do most of the sights in the 4 days we spend here:

Day 1: Our Hotel is in the St Nicolas Quarter which is pretty central and we go for a walk to the Avenida and the Plaza de Mayo with the Casa Rosada in the back where Argentina´s president Kirchner works or should i say resides (apparently of swiss- croatian descent from what i heard). We can´t wait for our first proper steak so we head to the Puerto Madero (cool trendy hip port area) where we go to an "all you can eat" place. This place is amazing ("Siga de Vacha"). I have never seen so many different meat pieces (don´t forget my parents used to have a steak house for 20 years), no clue to which part of the cow they belong, but i am glad that i am not a vegetarian in this place.....the salads and all the rest are just fab and the wine is included in the fix price of 10 euros....so definitely no dieting in this place.

Day 2: The location of our hotel is really handy and we can even walk to Recolleta which is probably one of the best quarters. A visit to the "Cemeterio de Recolleta" (pls don´t look at my spelling in any language..) is a must ....good comparison is the Pere Lachaise (???) cemetery in Paris and like everybody else we head to the grave of Evita Peron. It is a nice day, hence we decide to do a lot of walking and sightseeing around the many many parks in this part of BA and end the day in the Jardin Japonais sipping green tea.

Day 3: San Telmo - this is one of the oldest neighbourhoods and it has got plenty of charme. Sundays there is a great market, but what fascinates me the most are all the tango dancers and the tango music around as....i am slowly getting into the tango mood.
For the evening we booked to see a tango show which is a must while you here. We get spoiled - pick up from the hotel - have a 3 course meal and around 10pm the show starts and it is fantastic. Tango is so emotional, the music, the singing and dancing is just great....can´t wait to start myself...(and then drag Simon to the milongas every night after midnight once he makes it....YES ! I am sure i am dreaming !!!!!)

Day 4: La Boca - Carminito. Famous for Maradonna and the Boca Stadium, for sure i am not being dragged to a futi game this time, but we make it to Carminito. The area with the colored houses made of "well blech"...sorry´forgot the english word, but you can guess what i mean...the cheap material you build a house if you can´t afford bricks :-). This is where all the immigrants (mainly italians) started their new life in the new world (it is close to a port).

We finally decided to spend the money and book a trip to Bariloche which is Argentina´s Lake District. Due to the fact that the plane ticket is fairly expensive and it is the 2nd flight in a month, we move to a hostel and stay in a double bed room. For one night we move a little bit out of the city to the Boedo district, another tango district and really enjoy the hostel atmosphere. Easy going, but crap matresses ! Never mind !

Posted by Lejla 16:07 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (6)

Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais

Not "Blood Diamond" but "Black Gold"

semi-overcast 26 °C
View Year Off 2007 on Lejla's travel map.

IMG_1032.jpgIMG_1035.jpgIMG_1033.jpgIt was time to leave the sun and the beach and to explore a part of Brazil i hadn´t seen before and in a pretty spontanoues call, we decided to head for Minas Gerais - the size of France - bordering Rio de Janeiro state for Ouro Preto which again was one of the "Don't miss things" in my South America Handbook. So, we took the bus back to Rio, lucky enough to get a fairly quick connection to Ouro Preto - what are 4 hours waiting when you are travelling and reading "Shantaram" (another 7 hours on the bus, no "coche et cama" seats, but ordinary cheap seats at 10pm).

At the bus station in Rio i tried to book a hotel as we would arrive at 5am - potentially at a funny looking dark bus station very early in the morning. Searched the net, called the guys and after a couple of words in spanish and english trying to make a reservation, i gave up to book the bloody thing and asked the girl in the internet place to call the hotel for me. They promised to pick us up - once we arrived, i would just need to call them. We did survive the journey - otherwise i would hardly write this travel update - and pretty much in time - 7 hours later, but what a journey this was. Thinking these were our last moments, i must admit, i didn´t like it as not only is Ouro Preto in no man´s land, but to get there you drive for hours on a hilly, cury, steep and very scary road in particular in the middle of the night when you are half awake and half asleep making up too many stories in your dreams. I even managed to drop my rucksack on my mum´s face in the middle of the night trying to get some more layers against the cold and....yes - she managed to wake up the whole bus with her scream.

BUT, we got there in the end. Obviously, i didn´t manage to get a pick up organised, i failed for a second time. A taxi ride later and a night porter who took 25min to check us in and we fell into sweet dreams.

OK, more about the days in Ouro Preto. Stayed 3 nights in this "jewel in the crown of exquisite colonial towns" which is "deeply cut by ravines and divided into a number of irregular hills, upon which narrow crooked streets are built" to see a different side of Brazil. In the 18th century Ouro Preto had a population of 110.000 people - mainly slaves while Rio had 20.000 and NY about 50.000 due to the gold rush. The majority of gold didn´t stay in OP or Brazil, but in Europe - except of some stunning 13 churches they were able to build with some of the money and gold. Shame on us, we didn´t see any of the famous churches from the inside (that´s why tourists come to this place), i think we were busy recovering from the bus trip and arranging hairdresser apointments for 3 pounds, but you just can´t get too stressed about these things.

Our first priority was to visit a national park, which was closed on the day and decided then to make a trip to the "Minas de Passagem" - apparently one of the largest open to visit gold mines in the world from where about 35 tonnes of gold were digged out. We decended on a trip with a rickety antique cable car 125m deep and 300m long to see where many black slaves must have lost their lives, but found tones and tones of gold. We were there with a group of french students, with one of them even jumping into the gorgeous, but cold sparkling 2km wide subterrean lake.

Ouro Preto was a nice experience and worth the trip. It is a student town and hence a young brazilian student crowd is keeping the place pretty cheerful in the evening....but it is time to move on, leave the country to visit lovely Argentina. NEXT.

Guys, thanks for the lovely messages and emails. Keep up the good work with staying in touch. I also have the first of pictures now which need uploading, but somehow i can´t manage it. Hasta luego !!!!

Posted by Lejla 13:42 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (2)

Brigitte Bardot´s Buzios

Heading for the famous retreat

sunny 33 °C

IMG_1013.jpgIMG_1020.jpgIMG_1028.jpgWell, in fact we are leaving Brazil today, but at least i wanted to give you a quick update on what we have been up to since beautiful Rio de Janeiro. Just to make you a little bit jealous - it is still summer in Brazil though the clocks have been changed and i don´t know whether it is due to my travel partner, but it still hasn´t rained since we arrived. This is not normal as it always rains when i travel - even if it is only a tiny bit. Time difference to the UK is 3hrs at the mo.

After a week in Rio we decided to head somewhere close, but nice and i decided to head for Buzios which i visited with Simon in 2005. It is a peninsula - 3hrs bus ride from Rio (approx. 100km) with 25 different beaches like Geriba (where we stayed), Ossos, Orla Bardot ....all sandy - some for walking, canoeing, running, surfing and i must admit - shame on me that i forgot how beautiful this place was/is. BB came here in the 60´s and the locals must have loved her, hence beaches, pousadas and restaurants are called after her.

The Lonely Planet calls Buzios the St. Tropez of Brazil, well i have never made it to St. Tropez, but you can feel that there is some money around - fine restaurants, posh pousadas and some affordable hostels where we stayed for the first 2 nights, but hated the noise of the main street so much that we moved to a much better pousada after 2 days which was only a couple of REAIS more expensive.

We decided to head to a different beach every day, tried to be a little bit sporty, but mainly started to chill and get some sleep which wasn´t always that easy. ME ! Miss, i can sleep at any time in any place, had some sort of insomnia after a mosquito attack the night before, resulting in about 7 bites on my face. Not a pretty picture, but things are back to normal and mum somehow doesn´t mind an ugly daughter...

Traveling Brazil (also, some sort of Alzheimer in my body) is more difficult than i remembered. OK, Rio was full of tourists, but i reckon most of them on organised trips and yes - heaps of Aussies in our hostel if i got the accent right, but hardly any foreign tourists in Buzios and as a matter of fact, nobody and that is nobody speaks any english and if lucky understands 5 words of spanish. Hence, we haven´t really made any friends or had any interesting conversations about the beauty of Brazil or the amazing and shocking history of this massive country. Surprisingly, they allow europeans / portuguese into this country after what was done to them.

OK guys - that´s it for now. Looking forward to many messages from back home. Love Lejla

Posted by Lejla 16:16 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (7)

Carnival in Rio

Samba all night...or not

sunny 25 °C
View Year Off 2007 on Lejla's travel map.

IMG_09401.jpgIMG_0944.jpgIMG_0962.jpgIMG_0962.jpgIMG_0959.jpgIMG_0956.jpgIMG_0961.jpgIMG_0967.jpgIMG_09931.jpgIMG_0996.jpgIMG_0989.jpgIMG_0988.jpgWell after an early start in London leaving 17 Hotham Road at 5am we made it to London Heathrow airport in a record time of 30min while our Somalian taxi driver kept us entertained racing through rainy London (us currently is my mum and myself - yes indeed). No real surprises at the airport - what a surprise, but that´s what you expect checking in to Munich 2 hrs in advance, or?? I managed to loose my first traveling item at Munich airport - my beloved pink water bottle, but managed to keep the rest and arrived nearly 24 hrs later in Rio after a marathon London - Munich - Sao Paolo - Rio de Janeiro flight with a backpack weighting nearly 22kg. Well, i didn´t carry it there, but the way from the taxi to the check in felt like it. Also, looks like i am not only carrying my own pack, but also mostly my mothers who definitely doesn´t like hers. So the packing was - so far - my biggest mistake. I am already planning to send stuff back with my mum in a month - also, because clothes here are just fantastic. Anyway, i am already jumping...back to arriving in Rio...

So finally on the 15th early morning we checked into our Copacabana hotel, had a short nap and started to explore the wonderful beaches around Copacabana, Arpoador and Ipanema. Our room was fairly dark and only on the 3rd of at least 10 floors. So still thinking it is miserable and cold outside i walked out of the hotel in Jeans and a longsleeve, not expecting 35 degrees to hit my face. NICE ONE! Obviously, i managed to get a sunburn on day 1 as i missed to put any sun cream on my back.

In short our Rio highlights:

Day1: 15/2 Beaching and walking on Copacaban, Ipanema and Arpodoar
Day2: 16/2 Moved to new Hotel Florida on Flamengo Beach, walking around Flamengo and Botafogo Beach
Day3: 17/2 Zuckerhut, Pao de Azucar or Sugarloaf
Day4: 18/2 Arcos de Lapa (Bonde was closed), Cinelandia (more Carneval)
Day5: 19/2 Day time: Jardim Botanico; Evening Highlight: Carneval at the Sambadrom in Sector 6
Day6: 20/2 Recovering from all the Carneval

21/ 2 Leaving for Buzios (see next trip)

Posted by Lejla 12:27 Archived in Brazil Tagged backpacking Comments (8)

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