We have left Peru behind after a month of travel through the country – along the way making some great friendships. So onto Argentina it is.
Day 1 – Meeting the Argentinean Pruscino's
We arrived in Buenos Aires, after what was definitely the best flight we have had yet – lots of room, a nice new plane, and not many passengers – to be greeted warmly by the Argentinian Pruscino's (Laura's distant relatives).
The welcoming party consisted of Oscar (father), Eugenia (mother), Julieta (daughter), Angel (Nonno) – and a big sign “Welcome to Argentina Laura and Lucas”.
Leaving the airport, the first stop was lunch in a traditional Argentinian restaurant – the dish of the day, Beif de Chirizo (a beef steak) which was absolutely amazing, possibly the best cooked steak we have had! The main meal also consisted of other beef cuts, such as rib, etc – all lovley. The meat is served on a special raised tray with coals beneath it to keep the mean sizzling hot.
We also sampled some traditional Argentinian starters including, grilled cheese (very nice, similar to Greek saganaki), and of course the Empanada de Carne (like a small beef pasty).
We arrived at the apartment late in the afternoon, and decided a short siesta would be in order after our large lunch.
That night we all gathered at a lovely little home style restaurant in one of the surrounding neighborhoods. The decor was basic, but the food and service were amazing. Again we ate and drank until we were stuffed – and then we ate and drank a little more.
Here we experienced the typical Argentinean way – late dinner, starting around 9 or 10pm that continued on into the night. Many other restaurant goers were not arriving until midnight or after – this is typical in Argentina, a very active night life, especially on weekends.
After dinner (about 1am), we went out to experience more of the night life with the younger cousins – Andreas ad his girlfriend Vicky, Silvana and her husband Pablo, and Julieta. We went to one of the many local bars in the neighboring area for a few drinks and a game or two of pool, eventually getting home by about 3am.
Day 2 – Boats and Tango
After a late night we got up until about 10 – although we both could have easily slept more! We set out for a day trip on Oscar's boat. The boat trip was great. It gave us a different perspective of the city, and its surroundings. We traveled briefly out into the river delta before heading back up river towards the many small islands and canals that make up the river area around Buenos Aires. The island and canal area are beautiful – the occasional house, many restaurants, and bars as well as various other recreational facilities – and all only accessible by boat.
We pulled up at one of the many water front restaurants, dis-embarked and handed the boat over to the a young guy who took care of parking it for us while we troubled ourselves with table selection. Again we dined well for lunch – pasta, salad, and wine.
The trip home was even more relaxing. With food in our bellies, we laid on the front deck of the boat and soaked up the Argentinean sun. It wasn't long before the urge for a siesta hit, and took over.
In the evening we ventured into the city (downtown) or Buenos Aires and met with the rest of Oscar's family for what was to be an awesome night of food, wine, and tango – this is Argentina.
The theater where the dinner and tango show was staged had been restored, and was styled to fit the golden eara of tango in Argentina (1940ish) – this included the waiting staff and silver service. Dinner was fantastic – all local specialties, with desert including the famous 'Dulce de Leche' ('sweet of the milk', but basically caramel made from sweetened condensed milk)... We later found that Dulce de Leche is very common and is basically used in everything.
Day 3 - Buenos Aires Tour & Family BBQ
Today we were taken out for a tour of the sights of Buenos Aires. the tour consumed most of the day, and took us to some very interesting areas of the city including La Boca, where the streets are filled with a bohemian feel.
The restaurant tables spill out over the foot path and fill the pedestrian only streets. Most have their own entertainment including street side tango, and street performers.
In the evening Oscar hosted the other Pruscino families for a traditional Argentinean BBQ dinner. Again the specialty was Beif de Chrizio, although the home cooked touch made it just a little better.
The evening was fantastic – we got to meet with the rest of the Pruscino's, and catch up and go over family trees, photos, and the history of the family.
Day 4 – Off to Iguazzu
We caught an early domestic flight to Iguazu – this means an equally early rise, 4.30am! We arrived in Iguazu at about 9.30am and transferred to the Hostel (about 25min bus ride).
After we got ourselves sorted at the hostel we caught the local bus service, 4 Paseos, to the Iguazu Falls Park. A 40 Paseo entry fee gets you through the gate, and free to explore the park for the day.
We set out for Devils Throat Falls, the biggest of the falls in the park. After a short train ride, and a bit of a board walk over the Iguazu river we arrived at the falls – approaching the falls you can feel the air cool, pleasant on a 30c day in the jungle, and you can see a mist plum rising above the trees ahead.
Coming through the trees you see the end of the board walk open up, and the mouth of the falls expose themselves – an amazing sight. Close to the edge the air is full of water, its basically raining, making it a little difficult for photos without getting the camera drenched.
We spent the rest of the day walking the park - about 10km in total. Although we only explored the Argentinean side, we came within spitting distance of the Brazilian shore – which occupies the other side of the Iguazu river.
Tired after a long hot day of exploring Iguazu, we headed back to the hostel and then into Peurto Iguazu (the township) for dinner.
We got back to the hostel around 7.30pm and had a few drinks by the pool before hittinng the hay – we were both very tired, but nothing 12hrs of sleep didn't fix.
Day 5 – Laura's Birthday
We sat around the pool and wrote postcards in the morning, waiting for our flight back to Buenos Aires.
We got back to Buenos Aires in the afternoon, and quickly headed out to the local post office to try and post some of our collected items (that were weighing us down) back to Australia. This was an interesting exercise to say the least. Although we were given 5kg boxes to use, we were only allowed to send a maximum of 2kg per package – and this was a very precisely enforced maximum. As we found out, 2.084kg is not allowed!
The task was made even more difficult as we had not scales on our side of the counter. Basically the process required us to 'guess' the weight of the box, ask one of the staff on the other side of the glass to open the package slot for us so we could pass the package through and get it weighed.
After a lot of trial and error, and some staff wanting to go home for the night, we got there – 4 2kg boxes, costing 340 Paseos – just over AUD$100, so bearable.
After our postal experience, what happened next was not really what we needed. We withdrew some cash from and ATM and left without taking our card! We didn't realise for about 20min, by which time the card was long gone!
This was a rather scary moment, as panic set in when we came to the conclusion that with only 300 Paseos (AUD$100) in our pocket we no longer had access to cash!!
After about another 20min of panic, and pondering, we eventually remembered that Laura had her cards, so we still had access to cash – something that eased the situation considerably.
So we headed back to the apartment to make that phone call every traveler dreads (or is that just me?) - to call the bank and cancel the card – quite a simple process, once we figured out how to ring reverse charges to the bank,
So after the misadventure of the day, we headed over to Silvana and Pablo's house with the rest of the family for a birthday dinner for Laura. This was also our last night in Buenos Aires, and was a great night – Pizza, beer, champaign, and for Laura, gifts!
We also treated ourselves – with the help of Andreas – we purchased a tiny laptop, and ASUS EEE PC. We made the decision after getting sick of queuing for computer and internet access and also having to pay all the time for it. The laptop is no bigger than a midsized hard cover book, and has everything we need – wifi for internet access, USB, Web Cam, Microphone, etc. So in the short future we may look at setting up Skype to talk with everyone back home more regularly (and more cheaply – so get Skype setup, and get your microphones ready!).
Also WiFi seems to be everywhere, so we can basically jump the queues and access the internet anytime we want. The size of the laptop also makes it simple to conceal in our baggage.
Day 6 – Adios Argentina
Today we say goodbye to Argentine, Buenos Aires, and our lovely hosts the Argentinean Pruscino family. We have both had a fantastic time, and have really been spoiled by our hosts. We just hope we can return the favor one day if they venture to Australia.
So were off to Madrid, Spain, to begin the European leg of our trip.
One advantage of the new laptop is that I can pass the time on these long haul (11 hours) flights by writing my blog in a document, and I can post it up when I arrive.
P.S. Iberia airlines is probably the most basic we have had yet. LAN was great, and I think we expected it to continue. We don't have personal entertainment systems – just the old school communal screens, and no choice of movie. Whats worse is the laptop batter is just about to run out, and we are not half way! Theres always sleep and bar service i guess!
Love you all – Lucas & Laura.