Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wallpapers of the World - Inca Trail

Reeds we encountered while hiking on the Inca trail on our way to Machu Pichu, Peru.

Weekend market, San Telmo Buenos Aires

San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Every sunday is a huge market along the Defensa street in the San Telmo area. All kinde of market stalls sell all kine of things. The origin of the market is on the Plaza Dorego, the heart and origin of the market. You can buy antiques and watch the professionals performing argentinian tango. This is the place to be on sunday!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

INFINIT, Palermo - Buenos Aires
Thames 1602, Palermo - Buenos Aires
Armenia 1636, Palermo - Buenos Aires

INFINIT is a label with beautiful sunnies and optical glasses all hand made. In Palermo they have two different shops with a similar range. Not only the glasses are worth a visit also the store is a feast for the eyes!
They have stores in Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Italy, Peru Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Spain.

Monday, April 28, 2014

MISHKA, Palermo / San Telmo - Buenos Aires

El Salvador 4673, Palermo - Buenos Aires
Balcarce 1011, San Telmo - Buenos Aires

MISHKA is a label that makes very modern stylish women shoes and clothes. I just love it! <3

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Bubbling spring @ Rio Sucurui

The rivers around Bonito are fed by underground springs which are pressed through the ground which makes them so crystal clear! 

Beautiful Bonito (16.04.2014 - 18.04.2014)

The next morning we met Raphael which whom I had talked on the phone. He has Brazilian parents which had moved to Austria where he has spent half his live as well got an education in tourism. Everybody who has spent holidays in Austria can tell they are lovely hosts! He made us welcome from the first minute, helped us with our tours (more to this later), offered us his couch so we could spend one more night in Bonito (which we gladly accepted) and when we returned had the classical chocolate-on-the-pillow-treat waiting for us.

As they take the whole eco-tourism quite seriously all the tours are planned through with a certain amount of people per slot and time. One on the main attractions in the area are the crystal clear rivers of whom you can visit several. But the only spot left to go snorkling till the next week was an hour later and the only slot to go diving the other day. It seems all the Brazilians (as 99% of the guests for the weekend where locals) had booked there trips together with the accommodation.

So we ended up floating down Rio Sucuri not much later. This crystal clear river is teaming with fish, I've never seen so much (fresh water) fish in one place!
In the evening we headed to Taboa bar, the local tourist trap for our first Brazilian Caipirinha!

The next day we went to dive in Lagoa Mysteriosa. This sinkhole goes down to more than 220 meters, with a possibility to explore some side caves if you are a certified cave diver, which we are not =(.
Anyway we where eager to be back in the water, remembering the cenotes in Tulum quite fondly.
The whole thing was excellent organised, we didn't have to lift a finger, and was set in lush vegetation. Nevertheless we where a bit disappointed for what we got for our money. Expensive in the already terms of expensive Bonito we had expected more or are maybe just spoilt ;)

As everything was booked out for the coming days and we also wanted to avoid the holiday crowds we ended up fleeing to the Pantanal!

La Fundamental, San Telmo - Buenos Aires

Pasaje Giuffra 370, San Telmo 

In the center of San Telmo you find this ultimate hat shop. They have classics like the original panama or classical argentinean hat as well vintage and fancy unique models. Most of them are hand made and of very high quality but still affordable.
The shop is open everyday from 1pm to 7pm except wednesday and saturday. 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Getting to Bonito (15.04.2014)

The whole trip to Bonito  was under a bad spell from the start, but lets start at the beginning.

When we finally decided to head to Bonito and looked around for accommodation it looked bleak. The Easter weekend being the biggest holiday in latin america, every place was booked fully. So we decided to head there for three nights and forced to leave on Good Friday.

From Concepcion we left early in the morning by bus to the border, consisting of Pedro Yuan on the Paraguayan side & Ponta Pora in Brazil. The border runs through the middle of the town, with one side of the street being Paraguay and the other Brazil. Sadly you have to take a (overpriced) cab to get through immigration, as the bus terminal & immigration offices in Paraguay and the federal police (where you get the stamp) & bus terminal in Brazil are all spread out through town.

Once at the Brazilian terminal we where in for a surprise, next bus to Bonito would run the next day at 06:30... Besides being stuck in a ugly and dangerous (so we where told) place, we would also miss out on a day in Bonito, for which we already paid big pre-easter-holiday-rip-off price. And besides would reduce our time there to two meagre days. Sadly everybody we approached at the terminal wouldn't speak english or spanish (for a town which is split in half with an spanish speaking country quite a feat...) and where unhelpful to rude to our situation.

So we ended up calling our hostel in Bonito about our options. They sent us a private driver, 4 hours/275km one way, to pick us up, not cheap =/.

When we arrived in the night we went straight to bed, but the surprises weren't over. More to this later!

Arriving late at night in Bonito

PAUL, Palermo - Buenos Aires
Gorriti 4865, Palermo - Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has so many beautiful shops and boutiques, espacaly in the Palermo and San Telmo district. So I decided to post a selection of my personal highlights and start with PAUL.
PAUL Franch Gallery is a beautiful home decor shop in the middle of Palermo. They sell furniture, decoration articles, soaps, wine, cloths, accessories and other things you just easily fall in love with. Just a nice place to get some inspiration!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Granja El Roble (11.04.2014 - 15.04.2014)

In Belen, 20km east of Concepcion lies the Granja El Roble. Run by Peter from Germany together with his Paraguayan wife and their three kids. Besides some chickens, pigs & cows from his earlier days as a milk producer Peter has giant fish ponds for Tilapia, Surubí & Pacu. But the main income are the cabañas, the restaurant and the entrance to his little zoo. By word of mouth it came to be known that he has a heart for discarded pets and hurt animals, so they end up in his place. When we visited him he had a blind Anaconda (probably run over), a discarded howler monkey (became too aggressive), different parrots and doves, a Screamer bird (evil creature), a Toucan and best of all a Tapir as his guests!

A stay at El Roble is always full board, meaning three meals a day which you eat together with the family on one long table. You can relax in the garden, in the pool or one of the hammocks. You can gaze at the fish in their aquariums or in the koi pond. Play with the various pets or follow the Tapir around the house. In the morning they drive the kids to school, so you can tag along and have a look around Concepcion. We visited the tiny (and rund down) museum, which nevertheless welcomed us heartily and showed us around, free of charge. 
The main "attraction" is Peter itself. After twenty years in Paraguay he has always a tale to tell or a documentary (about the country or in which he helped/participated) to show off. 

From Concepcion leaves a boat once a week to plough up north with the possibility to cross into Brazil later. Since having heard of this opportunity we (okok, I) wanted to take this route. Sadly the catholic nature of latin america made this impossible, on new years eve and easter the boat doesn't run =/

So we headed north-east by bus to the border of Brazil, wanting to reach Bonito...


Monday, April 21, 2014

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Asuncion & Concepcion (08.04.2014 - 11.04.2014)

To enter Paraguay we had to cross through Brazil again. We hopped of the bus at the border control in Ciudad del Este and got our entry stamp. To get some Guaranis, the paraguayan currency, we entered one of the many shopping malls in Ciudad del Este. It is the least valuable currency in the Americas with one million valuing around 200CHF, but Guarani is also an indigenous and official language in Paraguay which kids lern at school.
Walking past the shopping window I couldn't help but notice the low prices for the GoPro Hero3+, which I planned to buy for my next trip... Not much later I was the proud owner of one of these little wonders! Super excited!
We had an enjoyable six hour ride to the capital as our bus was of the big sleeper chairs type.
In Asuncion the next day we strolled through town, snapped pictures of the presidential palace and city hall and had a gigantic picada. A picada is a platter with assorted cheese, meets, sausages, olives & etcetera. We would call it "es Plättli" back home ;)
Heading north to Concepcion we caught a bus which ventured into the Chaco before turning east again.
Paraguay is split into two pieces by the Rio Paraguay with East Paraguay on the eastern shore and the Chaco on the western side. Where the eastern part is densely inhibited and developed the west is sparsely populated, mainly by indigenous groups, and difficult to access. Over this semi-arid land Paraguay and Bolivia fought a bloody war in 1932 which cost more than hundred thousand lives and was "won" by Paraguay two years later.
Our accommodation in Concepcion was the totally run down and dirty Hotel Center, so we where glad when we got picked up the next day to head to Granja El Roble!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Stellarium - Planetarium for your computer

When we visited the star gazing facility in Chile, our guide showed us different views of the sky above us with Stellarium.
This is a free and open source application, available for all mayor platforms (Windows, Mac & Linux) and in dozens of languages which enables you to travel in space and time to have a look at the stars.

By entering a location you can see what kind of stars to expect, which constellations are visible & much more. You can see in real time how satellites pass and stars wander or hurry it up by pressing fast forward.
But you can also travel back and forward in time. Want to know which kind of stars are visible on the 17. of April 2017 in Reykjavik, Iceland? Or on the 1. of July in 1394 in Lae, Papua New Guinea? No problem!

The application can of course much more than most of us will ever need. There are many differen plugins and scripts available, from following the path of the sund during the year, demonstrating lunar eclipses, displaying Super Novas to sending digital commands to your telescope tracker.

All in all it is a beautiful piece of software which everybody with a slight interest in the world above us should at least try. Its free, so nothing to lose ;)

View from Concepcion with enabled constellation lines, labels and artwork.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Travel anniversary - one year away from home...

Yesterday was it exactly one year since I left Switzerland on the 11th of April 2013. Who would have thought that I would end up in Paraguay a year later ;)

I even got some cake and a candle!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Iguazu Falls (03.04.2014 - 07.04.2014)

We spent way too much time in Puerto Iguazu, nobody told us you can easily visit both sides of the falls in one day. But the main reason was our hostel odyssee.
The first place had bedbugs, which we luckily saw before it was too late. Firtst time in one year of travel... But the room they offered us in replacement was so dirty we still left the other day. The next place had only space for one night but we were too exhausted and didn't care. Therefore we had to switch again the other day.

On the Argentinian side they have a little train to bring the masses up to the devils throat. If you hurry a bit you can leave the crowd behind on the one kilometre walkway to the edge of the fall. We had the platform almost to our self till the masses arrived and we fled ;)
The place is more about feeling the enormous water masses crashing down than for the view (too much spray) or pictures (too much spray). Wet and happy we headed back to have a look at the rest of the many falls broken up by greenery before taking the bus back into town.

The other day we took a cab to the Brazilian side. From this side you start to realize how big the whole thing is as you have a perfect full front view of the falls. If you want to take pictures this is the place to go. Sadly the ways where quite narrow and every time somebody stopped to take a picture everything came to a standstill.
The highlight was again a walkway and platform built out to the edge to have a view of the devils throat from below.

On both sides there where extra boat, kanu and even helicopter tours available which we skipped, not worth the crazy price in my opinion...

As we we had a cab, the most convenient option in terms of border control, we could make a stop at he duty free center between Brazil and Argentina. It had some nice stuff, but lugging it around till we get home wasn't feasible so left empty handed.

Next stop Paraguay!

View from Brazil

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Buenos Aires, again ;) (27.03.2014 - 03.04.2014)

We spent another week in Buenos Aires, this time not doing and visiting much. More relaxing, sleeping in, cooking our own meals, playing video games (yay ^^), reading and not doing much else.

But the time flew and we had to board our flight which took us up north to the triangle of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Uruguay (20.03.2014 - 27.03.2014)

From Buenos Aires we took the ferry which took us across the Rio de la Plata to Colonia de Sacramento. This town has preserved its old part and we strolled through cobblestone streets from tiny boutique to little restaurant.
Next stop was the capital, Montevideo. Since I've heard of it I've always wanted go visit the city only because of its name :D We stayed two nights which gave us ample time to explore the city.

Around this time we came to realize how Mate crazy the Uruguayans are! Almost everybody has his Mate cup in hand and a thermos bottle tucked in the pit of the same arm. And they drink it everywhere: on the street, bus, park, beach. For breakfast, lunch, dinner and in between! All the time pouring some new hot water in their cups.

After Montevideo we headed north for Punta del Diablo. This beach town not far from the Brazilian border is famous for its crazy parties in high season which attract huge crowds. Now in the low season it was utterly deserted. Most bars, restaurants and supermarkets where closed and maybe every hundredth weekend house occupied. There where hundreds of these beach get aways for rent and sale available. Nevertheless we enjoyed to wander in the dunes and along the beach. Watching the fisher men how they pulled fish after fish out of the surf or just lying next to the pool trying to get back our caribbean tan ;)
After four days of relaxing we headed back south to Buenos Aires, took the bus and again the ferry to reach our little apartment again for a week.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Travelling latin america, a little statistic