We’ve spent an entire month in Argentina and drove nearly 4000 km around this beautiful country. We’ve seen and experienced so many beautiful things, that now, a month and a half later, it is hard to recount them all. There were so many jaw-dropping views that we often wondered if we somehow ended up on another planet. It took us about 6 hours driving from Colonia in Uruguay to our first stop in Argentina, Buenos Aires. Crossing the border was easy-peasy. We never left the car and the border officers quickly checked our passports and vaccination cards.
Buenos Aires is everything beautiful you read about it, and more. Lucky us, we got great tips from our friend Andres who used to live there. We stayed for 4 days in an Airbnb in the “fancy” (read LV shops and super expensive hotels around) neighborhood of Recoleta; such a contrast to cabanas we lived in previously. Recoleta, except for its super interesting cemetery and its beautiful buildings in Art deco style which definitely do remind of Paris (like many other parts of the city) was nothing really special to us. But the neighborhood bordering it, Palermo, was really our cup of tea. Its bustling streets are filled with cafés, bars, restaurants and walls decorated with amazing street art. This is where we would stay if we go back to Buenos Aires. Obviously, we also did all the touristy stuff, from the Obelisco to the famous pizzeria Guërrin (loved the ass burning sauce!).
Needless to mention, we had some really good beer, cocktails and food around Palermo (which we forgot to photograph). Speaking of cocktails, we did afford ourselves one very “fancy” place – the rooftop bar called Crystal Bar (in Alvear Hotel). The views from up there are great – one can see Uruguay across the Rio de la Plata on the one side and the beautiful Buenos Aires skyline on the other. The view was worth 10 euro cocktail, the cocktail itself (mine) was awful – don’t order daiquiri there. Negroni was good, Jorge says, but he never had a bad one anyway. LOL.
Another amazing place in BA is San Telmo neighborhood, especially on the days of the street market. Music everywhere, arts and crafts, street shows, old market with amazing smell of food and sweets… Perfect for a day stroll and enjoying art. Another “must-see” is La Boca, probably the most colorful neighborhood you will see. Even though it is super super touristy (and you should be careful to not wander off the main streets), it is a great place for an afternoon visit while enjoying tango shows in almost every (overpriced) restaurant.
So.. tango? As you can imagine, it is probably the best thing you can experience in Buenos Aires and its streets will let you experience tango many many times. People randomly starting to dance in cozy bars, or in the restaurants of colorful La Boca, or, for the full experience, in one of the famous theaters.
We went to the Piazzolla theater and saw the Tango Carlos Gardel show, with dinner and unlimited drinks included in the ticket price. We paid around 70 dollars per person for the show, dinner, drinks and the transport from and to the Airbnb, and it was worth every cent. The dinner was delicious (3 course meal) but the show… it’s really breathtaking and should be on everyone’s “must do before I die” list.
We ended our stay in Buenos Aires full of joy and decided that we cannot move on with our initial plan (which was to travel directly to Mendoza) before going south to explore Patagonia. We did not regret so many hours driving even one second. The way to Bariloche, some 1800 km from BA is an experience on its own. We sometimes drove for over 300 km without seeing anything but deserted mountains around us. Better fill your tanks if you plan to do this! Luckily, gas is rather cheap in Argentina (in comparison to Luxembourg but also Uruguay and Chile) and while the distance is huge it is really worth doing it.
The long trip to Patagonia called for another adventure! We brought our tent and an inflatable mattress with us from Brazil and decided to camp on the way. Adventure, it really was! We found a camping near a beautiful Laguna Cochicó, near the small city Guamini; no phone reception, barely any facilities, but the surroundings were very beautiful. We put our tent up in like 10 minutes, like pros. Then we started pumping the mattress and… we could have been pumping it until this day if we didn’t figure out (like 15 minutes later) that it was full of holes. We tried to repair it with some super stupid tape and chewing gums. Guess what? It didn’t work. So the only option was to sleep basically on the ground (we did have a sleeping bag to put under). We woke up with sore back but we still had a nice dinner prepared on the camping gas (Jorge takes credit for this!) and we were excited to move on towards Bariloche. But, we had to stop near Neuquén for another night of camping first.
We obviously had to buy another mattress for the next night of camping – my back would not like another night sleeping on the ground. And 1 complete and 3 random police checks and 8 hours later, we found another camping (on Google), near a very nice river bordered with red rocks. Once we arrived rather late in the evening, we saw that this didn’t really seem like camping at all and if it was, it just a wild one, in dusty forest. So, we asked a guy that works in small kiosk where we could camp and he said: “Here in my backyard.” We asked if there are showers and toilets and he said yes, his mum would show us later. Allrighty, why not, we thought. We put the tent up in 10 min again; mattress, check no holes. Toilets and showers? Nope, nowhere to be found. The mum arrived and was really kind and chatty and asked me if Bosnia is near Canada (which she believed is in Europe). She showed us the outside improvised toilet which we shared with many big spiders… and that was it. No shower. No sink. Another improvised dinner on camping gas, a bottle of wine and a nice stroll along the river made it fine and we slept really well.
We arrived to Bariloche very stinky but so full of impressions of the beautiful landscape we have seen on the way. First two days in Bariloche were sunny and we were planning on going to the beach but we wanted to see the mountains first so up we went hiking to the Cerro Campanario. And.. OMG, no words, just look at this:
Then the weather got super bad and it was properly cold (temp went as low as 6-7 degrees at night) and rainy. No swimming in Patagonia for us. But more mountains? Oh, yeah! This time we drove all the way up to Cerro Otto and the view again did not disappoint. Patagonia simply has these amazing views everywhere you look. One could spent a year just checking all these places around and it still wouldn’t be enough.
After 6 days of breathtaking Patagonia, it was time to make another 1400 km towards Mendoza where another Workaway experience was waiting for us. And the way from Bariloche to Mendoza is nothing less of absofuckinglutely spectacular. First, the Ruta 40, around Angostura (the Road of Seven Lakes), was absolutely incredible, even in the rainy and grey day. And then, as you go North and the Andes mountains appear closer and bigger, you want to stop at least every 30 minutes and take a picture of mountain ranges, volcanoes, lakes, lagoons…. Ruta 40 was one of the most beautiful and scenic drives we’ve ever experienced in life and we’d drive it again and again if we could.
Just when we thought it cannot be more beautiful that this, we ended up in the Cañon del Atuel. We did drive nearly 80-90 km offroad, but after seeing the beauty of this canyon, we forgot all the car-shaking hours. We keep saying that we’ve seen incredible and breathtaking views along the way, but seriously, this was one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen. The colors are really like that, no filters here:
About 300km further, we finally arrived to Mendoza, and met 11 new and amazing friends: 2 humans, 3 dogs and 6 cats which immediately conquered our hearts. We’ve spent two weeks in Mendoza, at Etu and Agus’ place, our fellow Workawayers. These two are amazing, kind and extremely smart people who trusted us with their home and their pets. We didn’t have a lot of time with Etu and Agus but will always appreciate their friendship, life views, and their help and we’re looking forward to meeting them again ASAP somewhere in the world. We did spend a lot of time with their 9 pets and our only “work” was to feed them twice a day. What a pleasurable job, these furry friends were the daily food for soul and playing and cuddling with them made every day better. Look at these cuties:
What’s a visit to Mendoza without visiting one of hundreds of bodegas they have around? We went for a several wine tastings and yeah, no need to flatter Argentinian wine, it is well known for its quality.
We visited the city of Mendoza one day, but the best stuff, for us, was the nature around the city. One of the best days was when we went kayaking in Potrerillos, a huge lake surrounded by the beautiful Andes mountains. At some point we also felt rather old and lazy and went to this crazy beautiful spa which has small pools with hot water – Jorge was really happy about the hot water part. He was also happy a lot about having his daily intake of Alfajores, super tasty Argentinian sweets which we could get directly from the company where they produce them.
But it was not all milk and honey, or wine and alfajor in this case… There were and there are also lots of moments of stress and anxiety we share with most of the world now. We only can hope for peace and do our best to be good humans and live the life we have now as good as possible.
Mir i ljubav, peeps! Peace and love, paz y amor, paz e amor… Chile is calling.
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Run, Bebos, run!!