A Travellerspoint blog

Welsh cream tea in Gaiman

sunny 27 °C
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Gaiman is a town in Patagonia where the Welsh settled, and cream tea can still be enjoyed here. We even managed to bump into a bonefide Welsh man (a farmer called Mike) and persuaded him to partake in cakes and tea at Plas y Coed with us, to make the experience all the more authentic! Not even the 3 of us could polish off all the cakes that were served - even though they were very tasty (and the Brunton Juniors are greedy buggers).

Posted by bruntonal 12:36 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Punta Tombo

and lots of penguins

sunny 20 °C
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We really enjoyed our afternoon visit to the penguin colony - which apparently is home to over 175,000 breeding pairs of Magellan penguins - the largest in Sud America. In peak season, over a million birds can be seen here. We went a bit daft with the digital camera and also took a few video's too.

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Penguins coming back after a swim

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Posing penguins

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The beach at Punta Tombo

This shows a hungry chick being fed

Breeding season lasts a few weeks, so whilst some penguin chicks have been born (as above), some penguins are still incubating eggs and this shows a male penguin nest building (quite right too - Lb) (it has to be done properly you see- Ab)

This penguin got a few funny looks from passing penguins, carrying the huge stick in its mouth. We thought it may have found an alternative way of fishing

Penguins at play on the beach and in the sea

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Guanaco that stood still long enough for a photo! These are becoming 2 a penny, we've seen them everywhere.

Posted by bruntonal 18:17 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Puerto Madryn

sunny 25 °C
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We caught an overnight bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn. It was very luxurious, with the seats turning into beds - better than BA business class pods. Lisa b slept most of the way (all 18 hours). Andrew was awake for a large part of the journey, content with observing the never changing landscape. Patagonia is a vast, low lying scrub land, with only the odd telegraph pole, guanaco or plastic bag to alter the scenery. Apparently Charles Darwin once commented that of all the landscapes in the world, Patagonia leaves an inprint in one's mind and we can understand where he was coming from.

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Puerto Madryn is a pleasant little sea side town with sandy, seaweed strewn beaches; a perfect base for exploring the surrounding wildlife. We took a trip to Peninsula Valdes to see the local marine life, with Tito Botazzi, whose guide was very knowledgable about the animals and area. The only disappointment was the whale watching boat trip which was over populated with a bus load of tourists from Mendoza. For the majority of the time, when the whales appeared, they were on their side of the boat - so the well fed tourists obscured the best vantage points - fair enough. However, when finally the whales swam underneath the boat to make an appearance on our side, so did the Mendoza crew, totally blocking our opportunity to take photos! We quietly tutted and the Italian couple (next to us) displayed their dismay with much hand gesturing and loud latino groans. It was still a memorable experience, as we got to see a mum and her calf at quite close quarters.

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There was the odd shot like this that captured the whale unobscured

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But alas many more photo's were like this!

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Elephant seal cubs having an argy bargy with one another

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An armadillo after it had just been told "lisa don't share food"

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Sealions in amongst some elephant seal cubs

We were expecting colder climes as we had travelled much further south, but we were blessed with hot, sunny days and even braved a dip in the (not too cold) atlantic ocean! Unfortunately, Lisa didn't manage to take any sneaky photo's of Andyb in his new trunks (boo).

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Andyb beside the seaside

Posted by bruntonal 06:21 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Buenos Aires

sunny 28 °C

The Bruntons pitched up in Buenos Aires (Bs As) with the intention of learning a little of the local lingo. After a leisurely weekend (which included going to see Boca Juniors thrash Velez 4-0 at their home stadium) we got down to some semi serious study. A little too much fun was had in the classroom and if we studied as hard as we giggled, we would surely be fluent by now. Highlights included the time that Andyb was asked to read the part of Juan from a passage in the "Spanglish for Dummies" book. This is what happened:
"Buenos dias" said Andyb
"Buenos dias" replied the class, including teacher (playing their part as students)
"Buenos dias" repeated Andyb (somewhat straying from the text)
"Buenos dias" answered the class again, patiently
"Buenos dias" stated Andyb as he corrected his lancashire lilt
"Buenos dias" repeated the class, with a now somewhat questionning tone
"Buenos dias" Andyb was now starting to sound like a stuck record
"You must READ the rest of the passage" spat Ohad, a normally mild natured Israeli student. Poor Andyb had thought that each time Lucy (our teacher) replied with "Buenos dias" that she was correcting his (very lancashire) pronounciation and so repeated the line until he thought she was satisfied - instead she was merely reading from the text. My, how we laughed! By day four, Andyb had admitted defeat and was sporting a "no habla español" t-shirt - this was particularly funny given that if he was to say "I do not speak Spanish" his t-shirt should read "no hablo español" - instead it say's he/she doesn't speak spanish. Still Lisa is usually walking beside him, so it is infact very accurate.

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Lisa & Andrew studying hard (and not messing around with the camera's self timer)

Lisa's main guff was to walk into a shop and buy a VERY comfortable skirt and on the way out noticed that it was a shop for pregnant ladies - the pregnant mannequins in the window should have been a dead give away on the way in (Andyb was with her, she might add). "Embarazada" gleemed the sign above (we had to look at a newsagent stand for a magazine that sported a cover picture of a pregnant woman with the title "embarazada" for confirmation of said guff). Lisa wasn't "embarazada" but v.embarrassed - however you will be pleased to know the skirt comes in v.handy after one too many empanadas.

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Andrew looking very pleased after Boca win 4-0. He had his Boca shirt on underneath his coat (thank you Jules & Malcolm), but it was brass monkeys at the top of the stand and he was too cold to remove it.

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Notice the tunnels that the officials and opposing players have to walk down for fear of being hit by objects from the crowd (and not just a meat pie like in England, or by a King dog in Brazil!) One opposing player was sent off, and the poor man had to walk off the pitch under the protection of two riot police, fully kitted out with shields and helmets.

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The pedestrian bridge at Puerto Madero

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We thought this was the balcony where Evita gave her speech, only to be told later that it wasn't! (but we haven't got a picture of the correct balcony, so you'll have to make do with this one).

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Obelisco - and half of the widest street in the world. It is very scary crossing ANY street in Bs As, let alone this one which has seven lanes (or more) of traffic in each direction.

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This is a typical "professional dog walker" in Bs As. He had 18 dogs on leads, and two hangers on! No wonder the streets are paved with dog poo (that Lisa didn't step in ONCE - and if anybody knows how prone she is to detecting and then standing in said muck, will testify that its a miracle! Especially since she wore her flip flops for the whole 2 weeks! Asking for trouble...)

Yet ANOTHER protest that we witnessed in Sud America. They like to take to the streets. We think this one was to complain about the needless waste of paper!

On one of our rare nights off from the masses of homework we had to complete as part of language school, we ventured out to a tango show. This one was at El Complejo, and was enjoyed muchas by both. This is a quick video of one of the many dances of the evening, acompanied by the live band and tango singers.

On our penultimate day in Bs As, we headed off to La Boca, a suburb that houses the famous Caminito street (where the painted houses are). More importantly, we had been told that a Maradona lookalikee accepts payments in pesos for the privillege of posing for a photograph with the gullible tourists. Andyb set off (fully kitted out in his boca shirt, in anticipation) only to find that it was Maradona's lookalikee's first day off in 2 weeks. He was gutted and had to calm himself with a couple of Quillmes (or at least thats what he told the missus).

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Posted by bruntonal 07:33 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

3 countries IN A DAY!!!

Moving from Argentina, through Brazil and into Paraguay

sunny 35 °C
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After leaving Puerto Iguazu (Argentina) we headed into Paraguay via Brazil - we are so worldly!

We had to get our passports stamped to exit Argentina (we all piled off the bus and back on again). Andrew got rugby tackled by some old ladies who wanted to get off the bus before him. The trick appears to be to get back on the bus before the foreigners, in order to nick their seats. We had to get entry stamps into Paraguay at Ciudad del este. This is a frantic place which the whole of Argentina & Brazil visit to buy duty free on a Monday morning (or so it seems).

The following photo`s were taken on Argentinian soil, where Paraguay is to the left, Brazil to the right, and Argentina in the foreground.
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Before heading to the capital Asuncion, we decided to sample a small town first, and made our way to Villarrica. We loved the bus journeys in Paraguay. The buses make several stops and people come on to the bus (as well as surrounding the bus with their wares) in order to sell you anything from meat kebabs to plastic blow up cows - evidently an essential item for any bus trip. However, everybody waits in anticipation for the lady to come on board with a basket full of chipa`s (cheesy bread) on her shoulder to sell; we thought it would be rude not to sample a few (very good they were too!) Villarrica was a very small place and we suspect the locals do not see a pasty white foreigner (Lisa) from one year to the next (judging by the number of stares she attracted off the locals). Villarrica has a lovely little brick church on the outskirts of town and a cafe bar that delighted us with Shakin`Stevens (miss) hits at very high volume. After staying in what resembled a stable, and because nobody visited in the night to bestow us with myr, we bussed it to Asuncion the following morning.

Asuncion has a small city feel, despite it being the capital of Paraguay. We witnessed a number of street protests during our stay, which appeared peaceful (although the demonstations were always accompanied by a large police presence and the protesting men carried large sticks which made them look menacing).

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Palacio de Gobierno

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Strossener (ex dictator) statue that was dismantled and encased in concrete after his downfall

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Typical local bus in Paraguay

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Panteon Nacional de los Heroes

Each day the soldiers guard the Panteon during the time it is open to the public. At around 5pm each day (though they were never very fussy regarding time keeping), they hold a ceremony to bring down the flags at the Panteon; this is accompanied by a bugle playing soldier. It reminded us of Menin Gate in Ieper, Belgium, although there were no crowds of onlookers, just a few interested tourists looking on from cafe Lido (a fabulous cafe that is regarded as an Asuncion institution). The "Panteon Nacional de los Heroes" was built to house the national war heroes and to honour the thousands of soldiers who have died for Paraguay. It contains (amongst others) the tombs of Carlos Antonio Lopez and his son (Lopez II) who thought himself the Napoleon of S. America, apparently. It also contains the tomb of an unknown child soldier to honour the child soldiers who died in the battle of Acosta Nu in the Triple Alliance War (1869). The boys would only have been in their early teens when they lost their lives. The Triple Alliance War killed around 180,000 Paraguayans (they only had a population of around 400,000 to begin with) and left the country with around 28,000 males, with most being either very young, or very old men.

In keeping with the bus journeys, the Paraguayan`s on the streets also love to sell their goodies. Whilst sipping Cerveza (at cafe Lido) Andyb was offered a fetching pair of sunglasses, which he politely refused to buy. The next moment, Andyb had a flick knife thrust about an inch away from his face. The man wasn`t trying to steal his wallet, but attempting to tempt him into a different purchase! Again Andyb (somewhat shaken) politely refused the weapon, and the man then played his trump card - showing Andyb the knife`s pieste de la resistance - a torch at the opposite end to the blade - why Andyb still declined to buy the useful gadget remains a mystery.

Posted by bruntonal 11:07 Archived in Paraguay Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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