A Trip without a Plan Pt. 3: Valdivia to Pucon

Life Lesson: When in doubt of things to do around town, ask the hostel managers.

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When we checked into our hostel, we asked what we could do in Valdivia while making our way to Pucon and the hostel managers were full of suggestions. They told us to start our journey off towards the coast and go through Niebla and Playa Los Molinos, dirt-road-no-stop-light kind of towns. The kind of towns where your driving and you say “is this it?” but you’ve already passed through it because yes, that was it. Simple and gorgeous.

 

I had read on a blog that the Fish Market in Valdivia was home to a group of sea lions that like the hang out waiting for the fisherman to throw them some scraps. So we headed back to Valdivia in search of the Fish Market and its overweight sea lions. But since the Lake District has a heavy German-influenced, on the way back to Valdivia we passed a famous brewery, Kunstmann where we stopped to take a look. We wanted to try some of their flavored beers (both of us not being ‘beer people’) but it was 11am…

 

When we got to the fish market, we were amazed at how massive these sea lions were, they were absolutely HUGE!! And loud! Below, in the top right picture, you can see just the sea lion’s head compared to an open wingspan of a pretty decent sized bird. There had to be close to 30 of them just waiting around for their food…being lazy. They were even beginning to sink the platform they were laying on!

 

Walking through the actual market was nice to see all the colors and fresh food, I’m a market kind of person. I ended up buying some fresh smoked salmon for lunch, Patagonian salmon is like Alaskan salmon, some of the best of the best in the world. We even found some graffiti on our walk ūüôā

 

From Valdivia it would’ve been easy to hop right on the highway and make it to Pucon in a few hours but the hostel managers gave us a scenic route that took us through small towns, farm land, mountains and beautiful landscapes. We drove through Los Lagos, Panguipulli and Licanray before we stopped for lunch at a beautiful lake. A lot of these towns survive on the tourist industry of the summer so during winter, everything is closed and there are only locals or people passing through. We stumbled upon a lake that had crystal clear water, absolutely no waves or even movement of water, cloud covered moutains with green forest surrounding us, it was so quiet and peaceful. We walked out onto a pier and sat down to have our lunch. Smoked salmon, crackers, jam, bread, cheese, peanut butter, nutella, gummy worms…snacks galore.

 

After our very late lunch we hoped back into the car and passed through one more town, Villarrica before making it to our cabin which sat about 15 mins outside of Pucon.

Our adventure in Pucon starts ūüôā

xo,

B

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Cataratas del Iguaz√ļ: The Argentinian Side

Declared one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in the World by Mankind Natural Heritage (site), the Iguazu Cataratas (waterfalls) do not disappoint.

Imagine walking through Jurassic Park, not the theme park with plastic sculptures and specifically planted trees and vines, imagine what it would have been like if you were actually there. A picturesque¬†scene of over 2,000 species of plants, 400 of birds and 70 mammals flying and crawling everywhere you look. Now imagine you turn on one of those¬†white noise machines people use to fall asleep in the comfort of their own homes. Turn it to the “waterfall” setting and listen to the soothing sound of water washing over rock. Beautiful image right? Forget it because that doesn’t even come close¬†describing how beautiful and utterly breath-taking this park was.

Like all natural wonders that can’t be explained, there’s a legend¬†that¬†tells the tale. The legend of the waterfalls goes: A deity planned to marry a woman and a man but the woman¬†fled down the Iguazu River in a canoe escaping the marriage. ‚ÄúIn rage, the deity sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall‚ÄĚ (site).

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Planning our trip, I knew I wanted to see the falls from both the Argentinian side, the adventurous side, and the Brazilian side, the panoramic/scenic side. So we flew into¬†Cataratas del Iguaz√ļ International Airport (IGR), got picked up by your Airbnb host, Erik, who was very knowledgeable about the town of Puerta Iguazu, the activities at the falls, other things to do in the town¬†and good places to go eat. He was also more than willing to drive us anywhere we wanted to go at the same price as the buses or usual transit. Him and his brother have a ‘taxi service’ along with the Airbnb business which was very useful. We didn’t have to worry about where to find a bus or how much it would be, Erik calculated it all for us. One small caveat being¬†that the power tends to go out for the whole town but usually comes back on quickly. It only went out on us twice and came back on in a matter of 10 mins…if the falls were to give power to¬†the town, it¬†would never go out! I don’t think they’re there yet…But if anyone is looking to go to Puerta Iguazu and wants to stay in an Airbnb, I would definitely suggest Erik.

We woke up relatively early to get to the park before the crowds. At the time of writing this blog post, the entry into the park is 330 ARG which is about $20 USD, not bad to see a new Natural Wonder of the World. There are three trails to hike¬†and we wanted to do all of them. Erik told us the upper trail evolves the most sun so to do that in the morning¬†would be a good idea. We waited in line for about 30 mins to get a tram that took us to the start of the upper trail, essentially a narrow two-way walking bridge over water that was about to plummet 2,000+ ft. down, we were on top of the falls. Walking on the tiny bridge, watching people trek back soaking wet with that feeling of pending doom ahead is when I truly felt like I was in Jurassic Park. At the end of the upper trail is¬†Garganta del Diablo¬†or The Devil’s Throat. It is a U-shaped waterfall¬†269¬†ft √ó¬†492¬†ft √ó¬†2,297¬†ft, which is absolutely massive. It’s by far the biggest and most powerful waterfall in the park and when you look over the edge and see water crashing down, you see where the name comes from. Standing on the ledge of the biggest waterfall in the world, we were soaked from the¬†mist of tons of water crashing down into the invisible basin but we didn’t want to move. It was one of those places where you just have to stop and take it all in, there’s no way to describe it that would do it any justice. We were on top of the world,¬†it was unreal.

After trekking back like soaked bunnies hoping to dry out in the sun, we began the hike to the middle trail. But before starting¬†we ran into some not-so-friendly coatis. To preface this explanation of what coatis are, let me tell you the road signs we saw while driving to the park. Because the falls are the main attraction in the town of Puerta Iguazu, there’s only one way to get to them with one looong road. Along this road, like most roads around the world, there are warning signs of the different creatures to be aware of incase you come across them. The animal signs I’m used to are more often than not deer signs…but not in Puerta Iguazu, coati and puma signs. Yes I said puma but don’t worry, they had¬†“don’t feed the puma” signs just in case people were really that stupid…The other warning signs were for animals called coatis which are one of the largest rodents in the world. The best way to describe them are raccoons with anteater noses and they are not afraid of you at all. We watched one climb onto a table and steal a woman’s pizza sitting on a plate right in front of her! They are vicious little animals with no hesitations about stealing anything from pizza to your camera. So along with the ‘don’t feed the puma’ signs, there were also ‘protect your belongs from coatis’ and ‘don’t pet or feed the coatis’ signs. Other than avoiding them, the middle trail was¬†beautiful. We were essentially walking along the ledge of all of the¬†other falls of the park.

Absolutely stunning views.

Finally we went through the lower route¬†to finish out the park. Of course there were a ton of people everywhere we went but that’s part of being a tourist. You fight the crowds to get that one picture that ends of having someone else’s hand, elbow or head in it but you’re happy anyways because you know that’s probably the best you’re going to get. All in all, the Argentinian park was amazing, spending time there you start to realize how wonderfully untouched and beautiful nature can be.

We got¬†back to our Airbnb early afternoon so the next thing on our list was the¬†hummingbird park in town. If you don’t know this about me, I love hummingbirds. Whenever I get the chance to see one or be around them I’m all in favor. We found this tiny entrance to a small garden¬†filled with brightly colored feeders, flowers, and a pond with a turtle. I have so many pictures but here are a few so you get the point:

After the garden, Cody and I walked to see¬†Tres Borders which is the intersection between Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. In the picture below, we’re standing on Argentina, to the left is Paraguay and to the right is Brazil.

A day filled with hiking and walking always calls for good wine, apps, and a big ol’ pizza. We ate at a very good Italian place in town, walked home and got ready to wake up¬†early to cross the border into Brazil!

The adventures continue…

xo,

B

Holiday Plans & Matadors

Here are a couple of fun¬†pictures from previous events ūüôā

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As I’m writing this, it’s currently 39¬į F at home and 92¬į F in Buenos Aires. With that being said…

Cody and I booked our tickets for our Christmas/New Years Adventure! I am so beyond excited! Not only will we be spending the “winter (our summer) break” on the beach, we’re going to Iguazu Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world and spending New Years on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! ūüôā WHHHAT?!

So excited!!!!

If anyone has any suggestions of things so do I’m all ears!

We will fly into Iguazu Falls and go to both the Argentinian side and the Brazilian side. The Argentinian side is more adventurous whereas the Brazilian side has the better view, so we will do both!

We’ll fly out¬†from the Brazilian side and head to Rio de Janeiro! The Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf mountain are obviously on the list of things to do while we’re there as well as the AMAZING fireworks show that will happen on New Years Eve! It’s suppose to be one of the best firework shows IN THE WORLD! We’re stay a few blocks from Copacabana beach where all the action happens. 2 million people go to this beach to celebrate…it’s going to be a hell-of-a party!

Other things on the list of things to do, suggestions are welcome:

  1. Have a caipirinha, in a coconut, on the beach (this has been a life long dream. I kid you not)
  2. Feria Hippie de Ipanema – a hippie market that only happens on Sundays
  3. The Copacabana Fortress and Palace (two different places)
  4. Pedra do Arpoador for a sunset
  5. Possibly the Carioca Aqueduct & Escadaria Selaron which are a little farther away from the beach
  6. and maybe a tour of a favela

As well as spend as much time on the beach as we can! I know there are a lot of safety concerns when it comes to Rio. I’ve talked with a few people who have told me be street smart. If you feel like you’re in the wrong area, you probably are.

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The Christmas situation here is definitely different from what I’m used to! The other night a few of us¬†went walking through La Boca (where the famous soccer stadium is), San Telmo and Puerta Madero to finally sit down and share a drink by the water. In San Telmo there was a massive parade supporting many of the South American countries. There were lots of drums, lots of noise, lots of feathers, in as little clothing as possible with lots of booty shaking! The streets were packed with people watching and cheering their favorite country. We continued walking to Puerta Madero which is where I saw my first glimpse of Christmas this year! There were lights strung on lamp posts in the shape of candy canes, lights wrapped around ships in the water, and a large lighted Christmas tree. It was a little odd walking by in shorts and a tank top with Christmas music playing at a concert near by…but again, I’m not complaining ūüėȬ†The lights were absolutely beautiful.

Sunday morning I woke up and thought I was going to go walk around San Telmo market again just because I could. But another idea popped into my head, I wanted to go to the Feria de Mataderos¬†which is pretty far¬†out of the center of the city. It’s a market celebrating the traditional gaucho (Argentinian cowboy) ways and traditions.

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I walked 45 mins to the train station and took a 30 min train ride and a 20 min uber to get to the Feria. Once I was there it was really cool! Like most markets, there were hundreds of stands set up but this one had a stage in the middle. As soon as I got there I heard the music and singing. Come to find out, on December 6th (in two days) they were celebrating 30 years of the Matadors. There were lots of traditional instruments playing, singing and tango dancing. It was quite the show!

I walked around munching on an empanada¬†looking at all of the trinkets and food available and finally decided to get a tamale¬†and oh boy was it good! I remember having tamales growing up when my mom would make them and I thought they were the coolest thing. You had to unwrap¬†the corn husk and the texture and taste of the corn meal was always so tasty¬†to me, needless to say, these were very delicious. I also had some type of sweet puff pastry with jam or jelly on the inside. I don’t know what it was but it was sugary and I liked it!

I spent a few hours walking and enjoying everything before¬†heading back home. Another successful Sunday spent at a market ūüôā

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Since I can’t show many training photos, here are a few photos of us attempting to get stronger….maybe, you decide.

xo,

B

Welcome to Buenos Aires

It’s official! I have left the US of A on an adventure with the circus! First stop, Buenos Aires, Argentina! I’ve been fortunate enough throughout my life to have been able to go to a lot major cities around the States and some of Europe but none compare to the massiveness of Buenos Aires, 15.3 million people work and live in the city. I look out the window of my apartment and see an endless horizon of skyscrapers, buildings, and houses, it’s a beautiful city. It reminds me a little of Baltimore with the “port style” city but then a little of Ocean City, MD because of the way most of the taller buildings have balconies, it has its own vibe.

The first few days have been a whirlwind! So many new people, so much information, new country, new language, new currency, new apartment, new everything! Which is very exciting but some what nerve-racking at times. The first day I went to the ATM to try to get cash out and didn’t know what the machine was telling me because it’s all in Spanish…I will learn Spanish very quickly whether I like it or not.¬†I have started my Rosetta Stone again and Duolingo to try to learn as quickly as I can. Just from being here for a week now, a lot of my high school Spanish has come back to me which is helpful. You never know what information your brain stores until you need it.

We are so fortunate to have a very nice apartment building¬†in the city. I have my own room with a bathroom, small kitchenette¬†and a bed, all the essentials! Although, I have come to the conclusion I have brought WAYYY too much stuff. 4 suitcases is too many but I’m the type of person that would rather have more than less to start so I will be sending definitely one full suitcase home, hopefully two.

After a few days of settling in, we had our first group meeting so we could meet everyone and get to know the people who we will be on tour with for the next year and a half! So far there are 2 other people from the States but other than that we are a very international cast which is really cool! Everyone has their own story of how they came to be in this crazy circus of ours.

I don’t know if anyone else uses the “save” option on Google Maps but I use it all the time, I love it. You put in a place you want to go and you save it so you can go back to it without searching. Well my google maps looks like Buenos Aires is a galaxy. I have so many places stared to visit and I’ve even¬†checked a ¬†few of them off! Here are a few of my wanderings so far (If you run your mouse over the photo or click on it, it should have a caption):

That’s all for now!

xo,

B

Less Than A Week!!

It’s official, in less than a week I will be on a plane starting one of the many adventures of my post-grad life!!!! I get more and more excited every day but I’m up to my neck in organizing, cluttering, bagging, throwing things around, and trying to assemble my luggage with nonsense that almost-sort-of-could-resemble packing…yay!…you might be able to tell, this is definitely my least favorite part of any trip. Too much thinking, I just want to be over there already! Anyways, once I have that situation all down packed (pun intended), I will be ready to ROAM THE WORLD…or Greater Europe to start ūüôā

Although only about 3 people actually read my blog (and two of them are my mom & dad, Love you guys ha) hopefully I will be able to keep up writing at least quick posts and maybe add some pictures while we’re over there.¬†Sooooo…I have to get to packing up my life for the next 30 days (the group members will definitely know my whole wardrobe by the end of the trip that’s for sure) but hopefully my next post I will be sippin’ a caf√© in Lovely London ūüėČ

Bon Voyage!