Author Archives: Gio&Bert

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones

With our tickets bought and time on our side we decide to explore a bit more the province of Misiones, a territory named after the Jesuit settlements that flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Nothing better than going to the most impressive mission on Argentine soil: San Ignacio Miní.  Near to the ruins we find Hostel ‘El Jesuita’.  As simple as the search for an original name are the rooms, the service, kitchen,… simple but with the most friendly staff ever.  We have the possibility to put our tent in the garden and after a day of rain even under a roof.  As for the ruins: at the entrance you’ll find a small museum with some themed rooms illustrating various aspects of Guaraní and mission day-to-day life and the visitor will find also a detailed maquette of the entire site so you’ll get a good idea of the whole structure.  On the site itself, plenty panels in different languages lend context to the ruins. Free (the magic word in backpackers world) tours in Spanish start regularly from the small entrance museum.  On a dry evening it is well worthed to assist the popular sound and light shows.

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As said, in the 17th century, participants of the Society of Jesus came to the region as missionaries.  They began to establish a series of Jesuit Reductions of which San Ignacio Miní might be the most known but in a few years they set up 30 mission villages.  So another day we lift our thumps, enjoy the landscape during a 16km southwards ride on RN12 and look for the ruins of Santa Ana.

Hidden and consumed by nature, also here, as all Jesuit ruins of the area, Santa Ana is centered on a large square.  Over and under grown by roots, stand the crumbling walls of what was once one of the supreme of all Jesuit churches, build by the Italian architect Brazanelli.

We have a great time.  As many tourists take a return ticket to Iguazu and miss the beauty of this region, we simply have learned to enjoy also the smaller things in life.  We truly enjoy talking with the local people, help those making empanadas and enjoy the reward of an invitation on a spectacular ‘asado’.

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Our recommendations:

  • ‘El Jesuita’ is cheap, relax and near to the heart. You want the feeling of being part of the family? This is your house.
  • The ruins are rather a nice distraction than a true archaeological wonder but never the less part of the history of this region and for that a must-do.
  • Apart of all this, Misiones is also the area where Yerba Mate is cultivated. The surroundings of the village ‘El Dorado’ is home of countless ancient mills and small family factories where mate can be tasted, compared and bought.
Categories: Argentina, U.S.A. | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Iguazú, what else?

10/04/2014-12/04/2014

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A collection of over 250 separate cascades located in the exotic subtropical forests of Parque Nacional Iguazú on the Argentinian side and Parque Nacional do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side are unquestionably the world’s most spectacular waterfalls and our next inevitable stop on this journey.   These waterfalls flow for a couple of kilometres over cliffs from the upper into the lower Río Iguazú some 70meters below.  It’s a trick of nature and mind-boggling what we are looking at, a waterfall not the width of the river but one that is positioned in the length of the river and is actually some kilometres long!

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As vast as they are, they kept forgotten in this remote corner of Argentina, and it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that the first visitors arrived.  Nevertheless the word spreads around and today the falls are one of the seven natural wonders of the world with about two million visitors each year.   Most of the Iguazú Falls are on the Argentine ground, so that is the side we decide to explore and seems also the side best prepared to fully enjoy the spectacle of nature.  Different trails bring us close to the edge to have diverse views of the staggering, vertical drop of water and others lead us down to observe the massive quantity of water falling down and spraying up into the air.  As that is not enough, Iguazú even offers an island (Isla de San Martín) in the lower Rio Iguazú which is surrounded by this marvel of mother nature.  The view and the deafening sound are just indescribable.  Different trails through the dense forest give options to observe the exotic wildlive… just in case for those who expect even more! 😉

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It’s difficult to explain Iguazú but it certainly does what it’s supposed to do… it gives the visitor some sleepless nights while the brain struggles to absorb each detail and strives to comprehend its greatness.

Our recommendations:

  • The entrance fee for the park is 170 ARS (around 10 euros).
  • The main settlement on this side, Puerto Iguazú, lies approximately 18km northwest of the park entrance with a slightly sleepy, villagey feel, though its popularity with backpackers has livened it up a bit in recent years.
  • We find a nice hostel for 144 ARS (9 euros) per night for two persons: Residencial Uno Hostel with pretty basic rooms, many sweet dogs walking around and a beautiful swimmingpool. 2014-04-13 16.38.30
Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

From Buenos Aires with Love

31/03/2014 – 09/04/2014

This post is going to be pretty long. So please, dear friends! Don’t be scared, no hurry, no worry. Have a seat, a mug of hot tea and enjoy it.

After almost one day and an half travelling by train, we can’t feel our body anymore. Our legs are sleeping. I stick my face out the window, feel the wind as we drive. Buenos Aires is standing in front of us. We can’t believe it. We made it and we are going to tell this story for the rest of our life.

Some friends are waiting for us at the train station. What a gloomy weather! We feel the rain and its embrace. After having stretched our limbs, this sweet elderly couple takes us to their son’s place, Federico, who, without even know us, will be our host for the next few days and finally we can have a shower, rest a bit and think about the odyssey we just experienced. When Fede gets home from work, he immediately makes us feel at home. He is so caring and hospitable. We start to know each other e we let him guide us in the very heart of the city.

A couple of hours walk is enough to understand that Buenos Aires is a place full of beauties and contradictions, worthy of being discovered in its deeper shades. With the map and all the detailed information let from Fede’ s parents we spend a whole week trying to get the best of this fascinating metropolis. Wandering around, all the time with our eyes wide open and our heads strained to look up at every sign and building, so as not to miss anything, we cross parks, a beautiful rose garden e the charming Japanese Garden, built in 1967 after the visit of a member of the Japanese imperial family. Located in the residential neighbourhood of Palermo, this Zen oasis is the symbol of the historical relationship between Argentina and Japan with its cultural centre, its sushi restaurant and the Bonsai nursery.

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The more we see of BBAA, the more we fall in love with it. Parks, historical buildings, many “barrios” (neighbourhoods), all of them worthy a visit and with different peculiarities, for all tastes and wallets.

DSC06033 Puerto Madero (the old port of the city), developed along the bank of Rio Plata and built to solve the problem of the docking of large cargo ships, is the latest architectural trend of BBAA characterised by streets named after women and a breathtaking urban panorama with old brick red warehouses at one side of the river and modern skyscrapers at the other one. After a massive regeneration effort, it has become an elegant meeting point with bars and restaurants, chic hotels and offices, and a popular destination for foreign buyers interested in investment properties.

Puerto Nuevo (New Port), the real port of the city and a popular weekend destination, is located in Retiro District and provides transportation services to/from Uruguayan cities, the touristic town of Tigre and river cruise ships.

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Plaza de Mayo, the main square of Buenos Aires and probably one of the most emblematic place in Argentina’s history, takes its name from the May Revolution (25 may 1810), the first step towards the independence of Argentina. It is surrounded by several political and historical buildings, among them the executive mansion and office of the president of the Country, more commonly known as Casa Rosada (Pink House), home to the balcony where Eva Peròn stood as she addressed Argentine masses. Location of revolutions and social demonstrations, this square began in 1977 the meeting point for the Abuelas (grandmothers) de Plaza de Mayo who still fight for the localization and return of the children (their grandsons) disappeared in Argentina during the Dirty War of the military dictatorship, between 1976 and 1983. Painted on the ground of the square are the white scarves, symbol of the “mothers” engaged in the struggle for human and civil rights in Argentina and in Latin America.

The Barrio Chino or Chinatown, located in Belgrano district, is a commercial area where the Asian community live and work characterized by an impressive entrance arch. Is here, right before the entrance door that we find a small gazebo in which some people are dancing Milonga, argentine typical folk music that incorporates the same basic elements as tango with a greater relaxation of the body. Beautiful!

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In BBAA a close friend of us is having good time too. Charlotte, our French travel mate, is spending a few days in the capital and we decide to meet her at the Recoleta cemetery, a monumental cemetery where Evita’ s body came to rest in 1976. Her black tomb is all the time visited by tourists and admirers who nearly everyday leave notes and flowers. A truly evocative place! DSC05957 DSC05968

 

Walking around the city means enjoying the Buenos Aires’ street art, chancing upon unusual and spectacular artworks on buildings façade, walls or lamps. Wandering the streets of Palermo or San Telmo it is like being in an open-air museum with huge murals and creative handmade street decorations.

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Sifting through monuments, small roads and wide avenues, we end up in La Boca, one of the most visited neighbourhood thanks to its lively colourful houses, cosy pedestrian streets with tango performances and souvenir shops, and, of course,  Maradona and the Bombonera (chocolate box), the stadium owned by Boca Juniors (Maradona’ s football team). Sooo fascinating, too touristic and probably a bit “fake” (I don’t know what is left of the original neighbourhood and buildings) but still charming and worth a visit.

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As we get lost in its streets, we bump into the cine-theatre Brown. Its art nouveau façade and the huge hall welcome us in a friendly atmosphere. Lorena and her colleagues are enthusiastic of talking about their cultural centre with foreign visitors who are just chasing down stories. We suggest to visit and like their FB page in order to know more about their activities and initiatives.

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So…time flies when you are having fun. We spend a whole week in BBAA, roaming around the city during the day and having good time with dear friends at night, going out for a drink with Federico and enjoying a real asado at his parents’ place. We even have the chance to meet again Tio Cacho and Guillermo who invited us for dinner and prepared empanadillas. We talk about photography, we drink red wine and have a pleasant night walk along the shores of Rio Plata. The most delicious farewell ever! DSC05993

We will never forget them as we will never be able to get this city out of our mind and the warm-hearted people we met in this week.

One more time…we have to say goodbye and most important thing…we decide to book the flight back home. It seems like it’s time to go back. We realize it is almost one year since we last saw our parents and friends, we are running out of money and we start to feel a bit homesick. So…ticket booked…less than one month and we will have to leave such a beloved continent. To be continued…

Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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