A Travellerspoint blog

Buenos Aires

Poor but beautiful

sunny 31 °C
View Brazil 2009 - 2012 on erodrigo's travel map.

When arriving at Buenos Aires Airport, use earplugs when you go to pick up your luggage. The baggage belt was squealing like a pig at the slaughter and the high squeaks where a terror to the ears. I do not understand why they did not fix it, because it is a poor welcoming committee to your country.

When going into town from the airport think about how much money you want to spend. Because taxi´s get you to your hotel quik, but are all but cheap. A 15 minute trip from the airport downtown cost you 110 Argentina pesos. On the other hand taxi´s inside Buenos Aires are very cheap, so do not hesitate to take one if the next place you want to visit in Buenos Aires is Just a little bit to far to walk.
Taken on the whole, at the moment it is all in all a very agreeable city. Because all the prices in the city are very good. It looks like the global economy has struck Argentina hard and therefore prices in the city are very good for the visiting tourist. Even if you go to the most famous café in Buenos Aires, café Tortoni, you will find that you walk out with a feeling of wow that was cheap.
Cafe Tortoni, established in 1858 at Avenida de Mayo, is well worth your visit. The atmosphere and the decorations are good. It is a mix of the old and the new and the coffee is great.

When walking down Avenida de Mayo you arrive at Plaza de Mayo and you will see that it is still a place of protest in Argentina. These days it is the veterans of the Falkland war, or Islas Malivinas, as they are called in Argentina.
They fight for recognition for their efforts in their war. It seems to me that maybe the Falkland war veterans suffer the same faith as the Vietnam veterans did when they returned home. Honoring the soldiers of a war that is lost seems to be an embarrassment for the people of a country and a problem for its government.
Plaza de Mayo has some very beautiful buildings however and, apart from Casa Rosada the presidential palace, Cathedral Metropolitana is well worth you visit. It contains some very nice murals and a national monument, permanently guarded by two soldiers in uniforms looking like they where dressed for a ball in the 1800´s
But next to this it looked to me the city of Buenos Aires has some problems itself too, mostly financial by the look of it. Every where you walk in the city you will find that the footpaths have either been patched up with some concrete or are missing complete pieces of the footpaths and you have to be careful not to step in a hole. Which I think is a real shame, because Buenos Aires is a very beautiful city with a lot of marvelous architecture.

A must go in the city is Puerto Madero and the adjoining Reserva Ecológica. Next to the architecture and the old docks in Puerto Madero, lies the Reserva Ecológica. If you are a nature buff and want to enjoy a lot of different birds in a big city visit this park. It is beautiful.
And when visiting Buenos Aires do not forget to take the boast one day and cross the Mar del Plata for a visit to neighboring country Uruguay. Just a one hour boat trip will bring you to a marvelous piece of history: Colonia del Sacramento. But more about this city in my next blog
But inform yourself before you buy a boat ticket, because there are several companies that provide this transfer and their prices differ enormously. Busquebus is the most modern and luxurious one and also the most expensive, but if you look around you can also go with for example Seacat Colonia. Their boats are maybe a little bit smaller and older, but just as fast as Busquebus and cheaper.

All in all I recommend you go visit Buenos Aires, because it is a city with a lot to offer and maybe at the moment with some financial problems, but just overlook that fact and go.

Posted by erodrigo 14:39 Archived in Argentina Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

São Paulo airport

Be prepared for chaos

overcast 27 °C
View Brazil 2009 - 2012 on erodrigo's travel map.

Landing at São Paulo airport turned out te be a scary event for almost everybody on the airplane.
After a flight of 11½ hours, starting in Amsterdam airport, we approached São Paulo. It had already been a very bumpy ride the moment we hit the South American continent. As soon as we where above Brazil the turbulence started and the pilot requested everybody to go sit down and put their seatbelt on. But close to São Paulo he said to the flight crew to go sit down, but his warning came just a few seconds to late.

Before the flight crew reached their seat they where rolling around in the cabin, we had hit an air pocket. A loud scream of frightened people roared trough the plain. I just looked at one of the stewardesses and saw she was not in panic so I relaxed. After another 5 minutes of bumping around we hit the landing strip of São Paulo airport and a loud applause from the people on the aircraft filled the air. I never understood this phenomena because the pilots are justr doing their job. But I guess in this case everybody was very happy and thankful we made it to the airport alive.

São Paulo airport is very hectic and it is very hard to find your way when you are in transit. Since I had to catch another plane, to another city within Brazil I had to gather all my luggage and go trough customs. So waiting at the bagage belt for a long time, my backpack finally arrived, and after another long wait at the customs I was in the arrivals hall with no idea where to go for national flights. Luckely I speak a little Portuguese so I could ask the airport officials. Do not aspect that all offilcials at the airport speak English, only a few do so be prepared if you have to ask your way around.

The airport is a chaos and after asking and looking I fianally found the check-in for national flights. Here I had to stand in line for another half hour before I could finally check-in. Luckely I had 3 hours for my transit, because only after 2½ hours all the official fuss was over and I had my boarding pass. So with half an hour to spare I could go find gate 3 which the ticket said would be the gate for boarding. But on arrival in the domestic pier the computer screen said my gate would be 1A. So I walked up to the people at gate 3 and asked if this was still the gate for Porto Alegre and they said yes. So I waited for some 10 minutes and went to the computer screen again and it still said gate 1A. I decidsed to go to the down stair area of the airport where gate 1A is situated. In this area there are three gates next to each other 1A, 1B and 1C.

Upon asking one of the people behind the desks, he said just look on all three screens and see on which Porto Alegre will appear. And when it was time for the plain to leave on schedule finally the name of Porto Alegre appeared on the screen of gate 1C. So we could board and with a delay of 30 minutes the plain left São Paulo airport. But without some of the people I had spoken earlier at the check-in. They came in on the same flight as me from Amsterdam and where from France. I guess with all the changing of the gates (From, 3 to 1A to 1C) they got lost at the airport and missed their connecting flight.

So come to São Paulo airport well prepared for some chaos.

Posted by erodrigo 17:42 Archived in Brazil Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Pitcairn Island Adventure 9

To Henderson and back; a fairy tale

sunny 28 °C
View Pitcairn March 2009 on erodrigo's travel map.

The old lady, “Bounty Bay”, is in dyer need of retirement or at least having a complete overhaul by a skilled ship plastic surgeon.
On our way back to Pitcairn, having paid a visit to Henderson Island, she showed us some more of her problems.
Jack our wonder mechanic already had declared our bilge pumps dead, so every 6 hours when he checked the engines he spend 5 minutes pumping up water out of the engine rooms by hand.
Next to this “minor" problem the lights on the dashboard went out, so now when I have my night watch I need to use a torch to read the gages. And this morning it turned out that our VHF-radio was not working, but finally Super Jack got it fixed, again.
Apart from those “little” problems the trip back to Pitcairn was very uneventful. Weather was calm, although in the early evening a weather front looking like the Poseidon Adventure tidal wave promised no good, but we arrived back in Pitcairn at 12.30 hours without a problem.
At 16.00 hours all our supplies where delivered together with some extra British luggage for Mangareva called Neil. I call him extra luggage because he is not very sociable; he hardly talks and only asks questions, small talk is strange to him. For example although he spent 10 weeks on Pitcairn, only on the last two days he packed our his brand new video camera and starts making pictures of the place where he’s been for 10 weeks. And this was only after one of us asked him if he made some nice films about Pitcairn. So we all think he is writing a book about Pitcairn after the bad publicity of last years, but he will not admit to that. Why we think that? Because he is married to a Taiwanese woman and was now returning home to Taiwan and while on Pitcairn he interviewed most of the population like he interviewed us. What girl lets her man go off for 10 weeks? Either he is a very lucky man or he is a writer.
The supplies consisted of fresh fruits and breadfruit harvested at the island. So on our way back to Mangareva via Temoe we can enjoy freshly picked banana, pineapple and passion fruit. They came in big supplies so the danger of scurvy will be lost on us.
We lifted anchor from Bounty Bay and set course for Temoe atoll and while we where leaving, big rainclouds began to surround the island and made Pitcairn Island disappear in a haze accompanied by a rainbow.
An ending for our adventure almost fitting for a fairy tale; like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Is the island really there, does it really exist or had we all just experienced a wonderful dream?
And as we headed off into the sunset with all shades of red, we sunk in our dreams of the last few weeks, thinking about our adventures and ready for new travels and adventures and being sure nothing ever will surpass these last weeks.

Posted by erodrigo 06:10 Archived in Pitcairn Islands Comments (0)

Pitcairn Island Adventure 8

Off to Henderson

sunny 30 °C
View Pitcairn March 2009 on erodrigo's travel map.

Tomorrow morning we set sail again on the “luxury yacht” Bounty Bay; we are of to our third Pitcairn Island, Henderson Island.
I am on the one hand sad to leave and on the other happy we get to see the third of the four Pitcairn Islands.
I am sad because it has been such a beautiful week with all the lovely and friendly people I met and with the Warren family spoiling me rotten with marvellous hospitality and excellent food.
So for the next two weeks there will be no more blog until I reach an Internet café in French Polynesia.
I am sure I will have lots to tell you about all the things that gone wrong on our trip to Henderson Island and than back via Temoe atoll to Mangareva, in the French Polynesian Gambier Islands.
From Mangareva it will be another 4-hour flight to Tahiti.
So just be patient and I will tell you all about it in two weeks time.
I wish to thank all the people I met on Pitcairn Island and especially; Jay and Carol Warren and their family for treating me like a king while I was on the island, and Andrew, Paul and Sue for the fun and drinks we had on the two ‘party’ nights.
Just one recommendation for people who are thinking about visiting Pitcairn Island; what are you waiting for get here, it is beautiful and marvellous, for more information go to www.visitpitcairn.pn

Posted by erodrigo 17:58 Archived in Pitcairn Islands Comments (0)

Pitcairn Island Adventure 7

The good life

sunny 30 °C
View Pitcairn March 2009 on erodrigo's travel map.

The last two days I have been walking around the island and had another party.
I’ve walked Pitcairn’s first Eco trail, this is a wonderful easy walk leading up to Christians cave.
Along the route you’ll find plaques explaining you everything about the flora and fauna found on Pitcairn. It tells you about the endemic species and the species brought over by the first Polynesian settlers and offcourse the species brought over since the resettlement in 1790 by the Bounty mutineers.
The people I am staying with are mentioned on the plaques because Carol rediscovered a plant that was thought to be extinct, she saved it just in time before a landslide on Tedside destroyed the new found plant. Now it is replanted along the Eco trail and being kept in the greenery of endemic plants.
At the end of the Eco trail there is a last plaque warning you that if you wish to walk up further to Christians cave, you better remove all the prickly seeds before you come back down on to the trail and into Adamstown, because the vegetation upon the ridge is very harmful for other flora and will take its place and destroy it.
In the afternoon I went down to the Landing in Bounty Bay to take some pictures and there where some children, along with their parents to play in the landing dock. This is an ideal place for children to enjoy the ocean, because it is semi sheltered from the ocean and so if the seas aren’t to rough the swimming is good. Some of the children had surfing boards and they put them on the longboat ramp, took a sprint, jumped up their boards and surfed down the ramp into the water.
While I was there a few of the smaller boats came back from their fishing trip, one boat was from Christian’s café and it had a box full of Red Coral trout, all for the Friday evening dinner at the café. Also a boat came back with Paul and a friend, they had been spear fishing and caught some big fishes.
I was lucky there were a lot of people around so I could hitch a ride back up the hill of difficulty. The name does credit to the climb up from the landing up to the Edge, because if you are going to walk it, you better take along enough water. It is a climb up to 70 metres but really steep. Just when you are about to leave a warning sign is placed warning you for speed cameras. No worries, they are not around it was a joke from someone and along with the sigh they sticked an old camera up there.
In the evening around 18.30 hours I walked down to Christian’s café. Every Friday there is a dinner with a choice of three courses. This evening it was a choice of roast beef, sausages or fish. For 16 New Zealand dollars (about $9 US) you get a very big full plate of good food. Before and after the dinner people sit around and talk and have a few drinks.
It is open on a Friday evening, because on Saturday it is Sabbath and the only day of from work here on Pitcairn. Sabbath is the official day here, because the official church on Pitcairn is Seventh Day Adventists.
After the dinner some people were invited to come up to Paul and Sue’s place for an evening of Darts and drinks. My cousin and me where welcome too and we had a wonderful time, playing Darts, talking and exchanging jokes. Paul and Sue serve Whale’s tooth shots, these are liquors served in a Whales tooth (from a sperm whale).
The teeth have been hollowed out and hold about the same amount of liquor as a normal shot glass. But since you are holding a big ivory tooth the drinks taste so much better.
Around three in the morning it was about time to go back home and turn in for a good night sleep.
Yesterday on Sabbath I went snorkelling in the morning, I was supposed to go diving, but after the party Friday evening I rather not took the risk. The water around the island is very clear again, and when I jumped in I saw the bottom. It looked about a few metres deep, but the two people who went diving said the bottom was on 18 metres, this just shows you how clear the water around the island is.
In the afternoon we went up to highest point to have a family barbeque.

All the family of the people I am staying at came up and brought lots of very good and wonderful tasting food. Everybody brought chairs along and we had a few good laughs of the state our “Luxury yacht” Bounty Bay is in.
At sundown we all packed up headed back down again, and I turned in for the night because I had some catching up sleep to do.

Posted by erodrigo 09:39 Archived in Pitcairn Islands Comments (0)

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