The best comment wins a cheesy post card from Africa!

Stick it on your fridge, impress your friends, feel loved! In this digital age there is nothing better than receiving actual hand written mail from friends and loved ones.

That’s why we are sending the person who writes the best comment an actual old school cheesy travel post card from us, delivered to your door, all the way from South Africa.

Enter your caption in the comments section below and the best caption wins. We leave Africa on Feb 23rd so get your comments in by Feb 22 and we will send out the winning post card the day we leave.

We snapped this shot while we were flying from Bariloche to El Calafate and thought that it was just too funny so we had to document it.

Back to Buenos Aires

To my surprise leaving, El Chalten was quite sad. After a week of hiking, fly fishing and exploring, we had developed a nice routine of outdoor activities, going to great places to eat, and knowing where to shop. I can honestly say that we had both reached a level of relaxation similar to when we were in Costa Rica. With lots of physical activity being our main routine, we were able to really let go of everything else. It was a great mental break from all of the up and go that we have been doing as of late. As soon as we borded the plane to Buenos Aires my sadness dissipated and the excitement of going back to a city I love came back. We landed in AEP which is the airport right next to the downtown area and in less than than 15 minutes by taxi we were at our hotel. We chose to stay at the same hotel we stayed at when we first landed in Buenos Aires: Ayres de Recoleta Plaza, and it felt like going back home. The staff is so nice and helpful, not to mention that they were generous enough to keep our surf boards and on of our bags while we explored Patagonia at no charge.

For the most part we spent our last 3 days in the city exploring, shopping, eating and drinking coffee!

We checked out the Aldo Sessa photo exhibit. The local photographer depicted 50 years of Buenos Aires through his collection of mainly black and white photographs. I mainly enjoyed looking at the older photos from the 60’s as I found were more vibrant as they seemed to transpire the true feelings of the kids and adults living in the neighbourhood of La Boca at the time. He also showed a series of tango photos, also in black and white, that were stunning. I left the gallery wishing there was a more well rounded selection of photographs, and at the same time happy to have seen the exhibition and to have discovered a bit more of the Puerto Madero area as it reminded me of le Quartier St-Henri in Montreal.

We also spent one more day in Palermo Soho which made for great retail therapy session. The only downside of travelling for a long time is that you have to lug around everything that you purchase for the rest of the trip. I find that buying small and light stuff or things you really need is definitely key. Unfortunately the amazing pair of $300 shoes I found didn’t make the cut. I was more than happy with the bikini and purse that I did buy that were both Hecho (made) in Argentina!

Next stop South Africa!

Deeper into the Wilds of Southern Patagonia

As you drive up to El Chalten you can’t help but be amazed by how massively towering the jagged mountain peaks are as they make for the most magnificent backdrop above this little town. Everything becomes more and more miniature, yourself included, as you slowly draw closer. Their peaks look like someone took them into Photoshop and stretched them vertically into unrealistic proportions.

Everywhere we had been prior was a little more built up and touristy than what we were expecting from Patagonia so we were stoked as we pulled into the small town of El Chalten and the rugged peaks that tower over it in all directions.

Before being let off at the bus stop we were taken to the the parks information centre for briefing of do’s and don’ts. It was like when I went cat skiing and before they let you have your fun they tell you the dangers, give you some very basic survival tips and then set you free to be as extreme as you choose to be. Having packed for a 6.5 month surfing trip around the world rather than a one month trip to Patagonia we weren’t prepared to push the limits as far as we might of otherwise. Hearing stories of people who have climbed to the tops of the biggest peaks with no visible way of possibly making it up. Not to mention that the weather seemed to change on a dime with the winds going from none at all to firing in one direction so hard you would almost fall over and then changing it’s mind and firing the other direction with even more force. We did some pretty big hikes well over 20k that took us to some amazing alpine places that few will ever have the opportunity to witness so in our own way we did feel pretty extreme.

While we did have the ocasional clouds that blew in here and there the locals told us again and again that we were in luck with the weather. The days were mostly warm enough that I only wore a tank top and pants. For the first time in our trip I actually felt chilled at night and would go out bundled up in my hoody and long pants. The town of El Chalten was built in the mid 80’s as a tool used to win a land dispute with Chile. Both countries laid claim to this remote and undeveloped part of the Andes and Argentina. Before that there was nothing there, not even a road and now there is a bustling little town that caters to hard core outdoors people. There is construction on every corner and we have been told that it bustles in the summers and then slows right down in the winters. The one thing that amazed us is that most of the structures are built out of either cinder block that seems very fragile, or particle board. In an extreme location like this that has all kinds of weather I would never imagine that anyone would build a home or a business out of particle board.

The hotel where we were staying had photos of the owner holding huge rainbow trout in the 20 to 25lbs range so I knew that we were in a good area. I was considering getting a fly fishing guide, of which there were two in town, so that I could finally catch some bigger trout. The main guide in town told me that for almost $300 CAD he would provide waders and flies, feed me lunch and take me fishing on a river for the day. He told me that we would catch 40 fish in a day which seemed pretty great, until he told me that most of them were going to be around 7 inches with only a chance of a bigger fish. We went to the other guide and the girl working at the front desk told me that for the same price we would fish a lake and would likely catch 2 or 3 trout about 2lbs each. I knew that I didn’t want to pay for a guide to catch loads of small trout as I can do that back home for free. I also knew that I didn’t want to pay to fly fish from shore on a lake because I knew that I didn’t need a guide for that as I could do it on my own.

I ended up going to a small outdoor store that also sold flies and the old guy that worked there showed me a few dry flies that he thought worked well in the rivers. I was stoked to see that they looked a little bit similar to the multitude of flies that I had brought from home. I bought two flies from him in exchange for his helpful knowledge and the next day we set off on a 1 hour shuttle bus trip to a lake that buts up against the boarder of Chile. Right when we got off the bus there was a sign that we translated as no fishing for 200m. I wasn’t sure so we asked the bus driver and he explained that we were not aloud to fish on the lake side of the sign for 200m. I was stoked because there were trout jumping everywhere so I quickly started casting into the crystal clear river. Within minutes I hooked a big rainbow trout about 3 or 4 pounds. It was funny because within minutes there was crowd of about 20 Argentinian tourists watching me fight this fish. I got it right up to the shore and as I was about to release it it snapped my line. I was surprised because I had just bought new 6lb tippet which should have been more than enough as to not snap. It felt good to hook into such a big fat trout and I was a little bummed that we didn’t get a good photo before I released it. I was also bummed that I had only bought one of the particular flies from the guy and that it was now gone. Before I was even able to get a new fly on, a military/ parks guy came up to me and asked for my fishing licence. In all of my years of fishing I have never been asked to show my licence so I’m happy that the one time it cost me $100 to buy it it actually got put to use. On top of wanting to see my licence he also informed me that the sign read that I could not fish within 200m in any direction of which I was clearly within about 5m. Luckily there were a few locals there who were with me when I was asking what the sign meant and they backed me up and let him know that a local had told me is was OK. He was cool and pointed out where I was aloud to fish and let us go. Josi asked him if we were aloud to keep fish in the river and he said no we had to let them go. He then said that he would make an exception and if we were to bonk it and put it in our bag quickly he would let us keep it. It seemed a little fishy to me, kind of like a story a surfer friend of mine who was in Mexico who bought a joint off a local, who’s friend was a police officer that just happened to be around the corner. The cop busted my friend, took the joint and gave it back to his friend and then took $100 from my buddy to let him go. Regardless of being a trap of not, as soon as we knew that it was all catch and release river we decided to not keep any.

Having just lost my one fly that hooked a big trout I went straight for one of the flies that I tied. I’m not sure if its just me, but I love fishing with flies that I personally tied way better than store bought flies so I was stoked. I was even more stoked when I started getting bites on almost every cast and catching fish after fish. The biggest fish I caught that day was a brown trout about 20 inches and I lost a rainbow that was much larger. The river was packed with fish. I caught about as many browns as rainbows. The thing I noticed about the rainbows is that they were really fat in compared to the ones back home. There was a glacier hike that we were planning on doing that day, but I was so excited to be fishing, and catching fish, that I couldn’t leave. Josi was a sport and sat in the chilly breezy sun and read while I had my fun.

A few days and a couple of really big hikes later we came back to the same spot for another day of fishing. This time Josi did the glacier hike on her own and I stayed and fished the river once again. The water had dropped quite a lot over two days and this time I was able to wade out into the small cold river allowing me room to cast to the banks on the far side. There I hooked into a really large rainbow that got off and shortly after that I hooked into another really big brown. This time I was determined to get it in and fought it more gingerly because I knew that I didn’t want to snap off again. Right when the 4lb brown was at my side and I was about to lift it so that I could take the hook out it snapped off. I couldn’t believe that another one snapped off. I tested the line that I had bought and it was strong so I’m not sure what was going on? Perhaps the pull of the river was adding a few pounds to their already large size, or perhaps it was because I wan’t handling them in like I do when I want to keep them. Either way it was great to hook into some really decent size trout on a beautiful river using a dry fly.

After spending a week in El Chalten I started to hear about more and more spots with great fishing, all of which are off the beaten path. When we come back to Argentina we will be sure to bring full trekking gear and will spend way more time way off the grid in search of some of the really big trout that I have only heard about in this part of the world.

Argentina and specifically southern Patagonia was a wonderful adventure that exceeded my expectations and I’m sure that one day we will be back. I’m writing this blog post from my big oversized, business class seat that fully reclines into a bed as we fly over the Atlantic on our way to Cape Town. I have never been to Africa and I’m super stoked for what adventures lay in wait.

A town on the outer edges of civilization.

El Calafete is in southern Patagonai and while it isn’t the most southern town in Argentina, it’s pretty darn close. It sits between an endlessly flat, dry and barren landscape to the East and towering mountains that rocket up the the heavens to the West. The Atlantic side is really really flat and is speckled with an unlimited number of multi coloured lakes. Other than a few very resilient shrubs and grasses nothing grows here and it’s single most striking feature is the milky green Río (River) Gallegos which twists and winds it’s way through the barren land on it’s way to the Atlantic.

El Calafete’s main strip is pretty cute with lots of shops catering to trekking and tourists. We found a really great little restaurant with a bit of a hippie vibe that make kick ass crepes which was a nice change from the typical meat and veggies that most restaurants serve. The main attraction in the area is the Perito Moreno Glacier. The pictures don’t do it justice, but the face of the glacier is 120 feet high and in the afternoon on a sunny day the ice warms up and huge pieces of ice break off and come crashing into the lake below. When it happens it sounds like a cannon is going off and the impact on the lake below rockets water 160 feet out and 120 feet high.The wave that it creates is big enough that you could almost surf it. In a zen like trance we watched the powerful forces of mother nature at work as massive pieces of age old ice continually broke off and crashed into the lake below.

It was here that we saw the most wild life as well. The area is home to Alpaca’s and Emu’s which I saw many as they roamed the desert like planes eating the sparse dried grasses. Had we been in a rental car I would have been able to get better photos because we would have stopped on the side of the straight and deserted roads to get up close and in person with them, but the bus driver must have seen a million of them because he but hardly turned an eye. I on the other hand was glued to the window with my camera in hand and as we raced by I was madly snapping away. I could easily download a photo of one of these strange and interesting beasts, but somehow to me that’s cheating.

Old guy selling empanadas from a shopping cart.

I haven’t really gotten into the food in Argentina in my posts so here’s my quick two cents. If you were a gluten free vegetarian on holidays in Argentina you would be screwed because they love eating their bread and meat. I’m guessing that that’s because the cost of vegetables is so expensive. Every hotel we stayed at included breakfast in the price and breakfast includes; a basket of bread, a selection of very sweet jams, dulce de leche (which is a sweet carmel like spread), sugar coated croissants, sugar coated corn flakes, sweetened yogurt (either vanilla or strawberry), coffee with warm milk and a juice. The first few days I did what I was taught and ate everything that was given to me and then after a while I realized that if I kept it up I was going to have to buy bigger pants and board shorts so I cut back. The funny thing is that Josi finished up reading the book Wheat Belly on this trip which is basically saying that the whole reason that middle America is so dam fat is because of it’s addiction to wheat. Our goal is to be gluten free, but that was shot to hell in Argentina because bread is the staple to their diet. We didn’t really notice a typical lunch, perhaps empanadas? For those of you who don’t know what they are, they are similar to a pizza pocket except that the inside isn’t very saucy. They range in price from cheep to pretty cheep and because of their ease we often took them with us on our hikes. Dinners all come with a big basket of bread, which we eventually stopped accepting. The server usually looked at us funny, told us that we had to pay for it anyway, and then eventually took it away. Minutes later another server usually came along with more bread assuming that our waiter messed up which we also turned away. Prior to turning the bread away I was waking up feeling pretty funky and I was figuring that it was the steaks or other big heavy meals that we were eating, but I later came to know that it was the half loaf of bread that they were feeding us. The one thing that they do have dialled food wise is their steaks. They come tender, cheep, huge and delicious. I didn’t eat many, but in the last month I still ate more than I have eaten in the last 5 years back home in Canada. The secret to why Argentian food tastes so great is their Chimmy Churry sauce. We put it on everything and it rocks.

Northern Patagonia we came, we conquered

I always dreamed about going to Patagonia to experience the incredible mountain activities and witness the breathtaking views. Even the name is cool: Patagonia! It screams Adventure and Adventure it was.

As Noel mentioned in his previous post, our first stop after leaving Buenos Aires was Bariloche which we accessed by a 22h bus ride. Travelling in a bus for such a long period of time was a first for Noel and I. We had heard so much about the amazing experience of travelling by busses in Argentina that we had to give it a try. There are different classes of tickets that you can purchase and we had been told that a trip over night was best in a Tutto Letto seat which means a seat that fully reclines for a better sleep. Unfortunately for us, they were all booked so we went with the second best choice, a Cama seat, which means that your seat reclines to a 45 degree angle. Each tickets were 980 pesos which is more or less equivalent to CAD$200. It comes with a blanket, a mini pillow, snacks, breakfast, a hot dinner and wine. Not bad at all for a bus ride. We were also told that in the busy season, people reserve their seats a couple of months in advance, so if you are concerned about comfort, it’s best to plan ahead.

Here were the highlights of our stay in Northern Patagonia:


Cerro Otto

The best way to get a panoramic view of the Nahuel Huapi lake is to hiked up to Cerro Otto, a view point accessible right from the town of San Carlos de Bariloche. We started our hike from km 1 (town marker) which made for a more gradual ascent over approximately 8 km. We snapped a ton of photos since the sky was without a cloud allowing you to get a full 360 degree view. We had a quick picnic at the top and started our descent using a super steep trail right underneath the gondola. If you want to save your feet for the many hikes you will want to do, I strongly recommend to come back the same way you came. The views you get from the trail are better anyway, but most of all you will still have a smile on at the end of the hike. It doesn’t look that steep on the photo below, but believe me it was.

Cerro Catedral and Refugio Frey

Catedral ski hill is about 20km from Bariloche and is a cute little ski town with a bunch of super cheap restaurants at the bottom. The hike to Refugio Frey starts for the parking lot of the ski hill and goes up and around the side of the mountain giving you stunning views of lake Gutierrez. The path then climbs up a valley to a first refuge hut and until then it feels like the climb is pretty gradual and not exhausting. After you pass the first hut, the hike gets much steeper and more strenuous. It is so rewarding to finally reach Refugio Frey. The mountain refuge built in 1956 is nestled between the various rocky and pointy mountain peaks. If you are travelling with camping gear, definitely plan on staying up there for a night as you can access other hikes for the top. We had lunch by the little lake while watching the climbers scale amazing cliffs right in front of us before coming back down and completing our 20km journey.

Playa Bonita

Playa Bonita is about 7km out of the town of San Carlos de Bariloche is a great place for a quick dip in the turquoise, glacier cold water. For anyone who spent some time in Whistler, I would say that it’s about the same temperature as Green Lake, so it is best to dive in for a full refreshment and run back to shore before your toes freeze. Noel and I couldn’t believe how packed this little beach gets around 4pm. You would think you are in Santa Monica as you try to find a spot to lay your towel.

Hotel Nido Del Condor

Once again we lucked out and got a great discount on 3 nights at this great hotel just outside of the busy part of San Carlos de Bariloche. To our surprise, we got a room that was bigger than our Vancouver apartment and had a kingsize bed overlooking the lake Nahuel Huapi. There is no need for a tv when you get such an amazing view! I have to admit, it was a bit fancy for our needs and at the same time It was great to come back from our hikes, shower up and lay in bed while watching the sail boats go by. I would highly recommend this place for honeymooners but make sure to shop online to get a discounted rate.

Here was the view from the bed:

The Ice cream

My friend Tricia wrote me an email as we were leaving Buenos Aires to make sure that we taste the Argentinian ice cream and especially the Dulce de Leche flavour. Noel and I had a pastry filled with Dulce de Leche in Buenos Aires and couldn’t wait to taste the Dulce de Leche Ice Cream. There are so many places selling Hellados here, it’s like seeing a Starbucks Coffee shop on every street corner back home in Vancouver. Our favorite is to share a 1/4kg as it allows you to try 3 flavours. My favorite mix was chocolate with almonds, Crema Americana, which taste like vanilla and rasberry. Another flavour that I loved was the Vanilla with swirls of dulce de leche and chocolate chips….abslolutely delicious. I have yet to try the orange flavour icecream and I am sure the opportunity will arise as we have planned a lot of hiking and might need a little pick me up after our mountain treks.

I enjoyed spending a few days the Bariloche area and would love to come back in the Winter time to experience the snowboarding and seeing this magical winter wonderland.

Road trip outside of Bariloche

Hotel Tronador and Mount Tronador

I would have loved to camp on the mountain when we went to mount Tronador but unfortunately the black flies were so ferocious that camping was not an option. Luckily, we got a killer deal on two nights at hotel Tronador right on lake Mascardi: Normally it would have been above our price range and we would have passed on it, but luckily for us a family had cancelled their two bedroom suite and we were able to get it for a fraction of the price. The lodge has a rustic feel as it was built in 1933 and to this day it is still family operated. It felt like going to a kids summer camp where they feed you 3 meals a day, they provide you with a free rowing boat to explore the lake and they provide you with a list of hikes, lakes and rivers to fish, horse back ridding and many other activities. You could spend a full week there and never get bored.

Despite the black flies, Noel and I did a bunch of hiking and fishing and drove to the base of Mount Tronador where you can get a decent view of the immense glacier and do a short hike to a beautiful waterfall. I have to say that getting attacked by black flies really irritated me and I had a hard time enjoying the sights as you constantly had to battle those little buggers. Most people were fully dressed with long sleeve shirts, pants and hats and still covered themselves with a towel. Apparently it is not always like that in the summer. The weather was much higher than usual and made for an extra buggy week.

San Martin de Los Andes

Hotel Siete Flores

Right outside of the little town of San Martin de Los Andes is this cute little lodge that offers well priced rooms and delicious breakfast: On top of making the most delicious marmalade, the main cook was so nice, spoke great English and gave us some great tips for places to fly fish and hang out.

Fly Fishing and swimming

There are so many lakes and rivers around where you can do a few casts, jump in for a quick swim and they are all great spots for picnics. My two favorite spots were Lago Meliquina and a secret river past Junin de los Andes.

I was a bit hesitant at first to drive up a gravel road for a few hours to reach San Martin de Los Andes and I am so glad we did as it is a lovely area not to miss. It was well worth the sweaty, sticky, dusty hours in the car.

Overall I loved Northern Patagonia and would love to come back in the Winter time to experience the snowboarding and seeing this magical winter wonderland that I heard so much about.

Patagonia – Barliloche and Beyond.

We opted for a 22 hour bus ride from Buenos Aries to Bariloche rather than spending the extra on a flight. We had been told that the busses were pretty great, as far as busses go, so we had to give it a try. Unlike the busses back home in Canada, the busses in Argentina have seats that go right down into a slightly angled bed with a full leg rest so you can actually lay out and get pretty comfortable. They also play fairly decent movies in english, feed you 2 course warm meals complete with wine and desert, give you blankets and pillows and when they do stop it’s only for a few minutes so you aren’t stuck wandering around weird buss stops in the middle of the night while the rest of the people line up for bad food. All up we arrived well rested and it was a pretty good experience. If I was a few years younger and had all of the time in the world I would likely take busses all over the country, but since we only have a month here and our next destination is a 33 hour bus ride away and then the one after that is even further we are going to take planes from here on in.

Everyone tells us that we got lucky with the weather as it’s been in the mid to low 30’s which is well above their average. Bariloche reminds me of a bigger Nelson in the way that it’s a cute hill side town overlooking a lake and is situated about 11k from a really great ski hill. The main roads are paved and most of the smaller ones are gravel and very dusty. The main strip in town is quite a bit larger than I was expecting and there are lots of scruffy hippy types milling about. The tourists, of which there plenty, flock to the many chocolate shops and buy in bulk. My overall impression of Bariloche is that it’s larger than what I was hoping for, a little run down and a bit spread out. I guess I was expecting a South American Whistler type vibe and it wasn’t quite up to par. Having such a great summer and winter vacation like Whistler in your back yard is something that I will never take for granted.

After a few days of taking busses and taxis to various trail heads for our hikes we opted to rent a car for a week. It wasn’t cheep, but it was worth it because if took us to places we would have never seen otherwise. One of the first things I noticed about this part of Patagonia is that regardless of how far up a remote gravel road you are, you are sure to run into loads of young people hitch hiking with back packs and trekking gear. They must just pop out of the mountains, find a road and start hitch hiking because they are in the most random spots. The same goes for people fly fishing. It didn’t seem to matter how remote we were people were everywhere. I guess crowds are to be expected as this area of Patagonia is considered close (22 hour bus ride) to Buenos Aries and in their summer a lot of them vacation here.

I was keen to find out where the best fly fishing was and Josi was keen to hike every mountain peak. Back home in BC Josi and I usually find mountains to hike that have good fishing at the top so we both get what we are looking for. In Patagonia, when you hike to the top of mountains you are way above tree line and the freezing cold lakes at the top are void of fish because they at the foot of giant glaciers and full of silt. We came to a silent and mutual agreement that for most every day we spent hiking a mountain we would also spend a day finding river to fly fish.

The day after we arrived in Bariloche we did a 16k hike up a mountain peak that overlooked Bariloche and the surrounding lakes. Going up was easy, but one the way down we chose the more direct route to get home which was straight down under a gondola. Going down would have been a great ski run, but on foot your toes start to jam against the tips of your shoes. By the end the day our feet were pretty sore. The next day we hiked 24k on a much much bigger mountain called Refugio Frey who’s trail head starts from Mt Cathedral. Along the way we came across a super cool cabin built partially under a massive huge boulder that is used as a refuge for climbers. At the top there was another cabin/ refuge beside a small lake. Here there were many climbers camping with their tents sheltered by small stone walls to protect them from storms. It was a really cool vibe as people played music, socialized and climbed the many cliff faces that surrounded the camp. By the time we got to the bottom we were pretty spent and getting to see such amazing sights made the trip well worth the effort.

After back to back days of climbing and one day of shopping around Bariloche is was time to go fishing. I read online about one fishing store in Bariloche that was meant to be good so we went in to buy some flies and to talk to them about where the fishing was good. When we got there the older lady working was smoking a cigarette while she helped some other customers so I checked out their fly selection. I though that I was going to be in trouble because I had packed a bunch of trout flies that I tied back home that work really well for cut throat and rainbow trout up in Canada, but the ones they had looked nothing like the ones I had. When I asked the lady what flies worked well and where the fishing was good she pulled another drag from her smoke and told me that she didn’t know and went back to her smoking. Needless to say I didn’t buy anything and hit the road with the flies I had. After driving a while we pulled up at a river to have lunch and I fished for a little. It was pretty heavily fished and I didn’t have any luck with my dry flies, but thought I may have had a bite on a nymph. When fishing in a river you can’t always be sure if you had a bite, or you are bouncing off of the bottom. After lunch we continued on and stubbled onto a little river on a dead end road that lead to a lake so we decided to give it a try. The first thing I saw when we got there was a big brown trout about 4lbs jump out of the water along with a few nice sized rainbow’s jumping as well. I was so dam excited I could barely wait to get my fly in the water. After fishing for a while with no bites I stopped a local who was fly fishing with his son and asked him if he could recommend any of the flies in my box. He shook his head in disapproval and pointed to a couple of yellowish flies and said “colour”, but that was about it. I fished for a while longer using the few that he pointed at and still no luck. We couldn’t catch them so we decided to join them and jumped in for a refreshing swim in the crystal clear water.

When we got to the next town we found a proper fly fishing shop and this time is was more of a familiar experience. The guy in the fly shop showed me a selection of dry flies that work well in the area and then pointed on a map to a spot on a river a few hours away. Unlike the flies we use back home these all had big long legs and they look very real and bug like. All geared up we packed a lunch and headed out. One thing that I find really interesting in Patagonia is how in one minute you can be in a lush green forest with lakes and mountain peaks so high that they reach up and touch the sky and the next minute you are in a virtually flat dry and dusty desert with dusty gravel roads that go straight for miles. It’s a contrast that I’m not used to having grown up in BC.

When we got there we were in what seemed to be the middle of no where and once again we were surprised to see how many people were camping and fly fishing along the banks of this remote river. Turns out that many of the people who live in the cities had for the area in Patagonia in and around Barlioche and many of them love to fly fish. After fishing for a short while and only catching few small trout we drove on. We came to a indian reserve where they collected $30 pesos ($6 CAD) from us in exchange for us fishing on their land. While we didn’t catch a lot of fish the few we caught were small, but a decent size, the biggest of which was about 17 inches.

After that we ventured to Mt Tronador which is 3,491 m mountain a few hours away from Bariloche. We got lucky because there was a last minute cancelation at the Hotel Tronador which is a super remote and very cool 50’s lodge way up a gravel one lane road 30K away from the base of Mt Tronador. It’s situated on the edge of a beautiful bright green lake and included in the costs are three meals a day and the use of a small row boat and loads of trails leading up into the mountains. The lake had huge trout that loved jumping in front of my flies, but none would bite. The local fly fishing guide told me that it was too hot and the chances of catching them were slim. He did tell us about a small lake 8k up a hiking trail in the mountains. Josi and I decided to check it out, but when we got there there were so many hungry biting horse flies that we didn’t even get a chance to fish. We drove up to the base of Mt Tronador and went for a quick hike, but once again the horse flies were all over us. Even our OFF spray from Canada wasn’t enough to keep them away. Josi was even getting bitten through her sweat shirt. Lucky they weren’t so bad in and around our hotel. Staying here was the highlight of our time in the Bariloche area.

My next blog post will feature our next stop in this amazing adventure as we fly south 3.5 hours to El Calafate and then on to the even more remote town of El Chalten. This will be the furthest south either of us have ever been and there’s a lot of excitement around our travels to this remote part of Patagonia.

Buenos Aires – Argentina

Even though I was excited to be going to Argentina, I knew that I was going to miss the laid back and healthy lifestyle that we had in Costa Rica. There is something very cool about being able to wake up and go for a surf in tropical warm water every day and eating unlimited fresh fruits and seafood for next to nothing. But it wouldn’t be much of an adventure if we just stayed in Costa for six and a half months would it? Having never been to Argentina I was exited to see what fun and cool things we would get up to.

Getting from Mal Pais to Buenos Aries was an adventure in itself. We started in a small twin prop from Tambor to San Jose where we stayed the night before departing early the next morning to Panama City. Our Panama to Costa and back leg of our adventures wasn’t a part of our around the world ticket so we weren’t flying business class. Luckily I’m always nice (and Josi is even nicer) when checking in and this time it paid in full as we got a free upgrade to first class.

Josi found us a great hotel/apartment in Recoletta right beside the old graveyard. I’m not a fan of grave yards, but this one is over the top with huge statues, cool carvings and it has a real tourist draw. Our apartment was on the top floor, had a full kitchen (that we never used), a huge patio, great views and a really comfortable bed. When we go back we will either stay in Recoletta again, or we will stay in Palermo Soho which is a little more out of the way, but is a lot hipper and a less touristy part of town.

Buenos Aries is a city for lovers. There always seemed to be a warm breeze to cool the hot summer sun as it’s soft light fell onto couples making out on park benches. The people are friendly and often comical when talking to them on the streets or in their shops. From what I can tell Argentinians have a real pride in who they are and in no way seem threatening or menacing like many of the other Latin American countries that I have been to. The one thing that I don’t like so much is that most of them love to smoke cigarettes. We felt very safe in Buenos Aires, but I’m guessing that there is a darker side that we thankfully haven’t seen. Once while having a coffee on a patio close to our hotel in an affluent area and another time while shopping in Palermo Soho people came up to me and told me to be careful with my camera as they were worried that someone might steal it from me. Everyone was so friendly and everything seems so safe that I wouldn’t have believe it to be possible, but when looking up at the apartments all of the second floor units, and even many of the 5th floor units, have their balconies fully gated off so no one can get in. I wouldn’t expect that anyone would choose to live in a cage, especially on the 5th floor, unless break in’s were somewhat common.

On the weekends there are several markets selling all sorts of cool hand made things, food, and junk. There are people playing music and dancing tango and lots of tourists and locals alike experiencing the beautiful summer days. We were hoping that all of the stories of really cheep leather shoes, clothes and restaurants were all true, but we have yet to discover any great deals. A nice pair of men’s shoes costs about $160 and a main course for dinner goes for about $20. Not overly expensive, just not as cheep as it was a few years ago I guess.

I’m sure you could do it, but being a vegetarian or a vegan would be less than easy because they really love their meat. The food courts in the mall even have open grills where they cook huge steaks. I went full on meat for dinner one night and I felt full and a little funny for days. After a month in Costa Rica of eating seafood, and a lifetime of hardly eating red meat, it’s a bit of a shock to the system. What I do love here is their Chimmy Churry sauce. Every restaurant has their own unique version of it and I put it on absolutely everything.

In my next blog post I will tell you about our 22 hour bus trip to Bariloche and all of our hiking and fishing adventures in Patagonia.

Things to do in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with so much to discover and filled with taxi drivers who love to give you a free tour (in spanish) as they drive you to your destination. It is fairly easy to navigate as it is divided in different neighbourhoods which are called Barrios and all quite different from one another. We’ve only spent four days touring around the city and it went by way too fast! Noel and I already agreed that it would be nice to come back to Buenos Aires for a few days at the end of our trek through Argentina before our departure for South Africa.

Overall, we will be spending 26 days in Argentina which sounds like a long time at first, but when you start listing all the amazing places to visit and when you look at the size of the country, you soon realize that a month will fly by in no time. In my opinion, it is best to stay a bit longer in each location to get a real feel for the vibe and fully experience the place, rather than packing in too many destinations. Plus it is nice to have a few days of down time when you are on the road for so long. Both Noel and I love to travel without a fully planned itinerary so we can stay longer if we love a place or move on to the next destination if we prefer. Being on the same page has made it very easy on us to travel together.

So here is what we’ve been up to over the last few days:


The best shopping is found in a neighbourhood called Palermo Soho, about 10 minutes ($6CAD) away by cab from where we were staying in Recoleta. If you feel like checking it out, just ask your cab driver to drop you off at the corner of Armenia and Honduras and you will be in the heart of it. You can find several local designer shops offering classic and eclectic clothes, bags and shoes. The items that I have been on the hunt for are bikinis (as I love the sexy bottoms they sell in South America), bags of all sorts as well as bohemian style clothing. So far, all I purchased is this gorgeous salmon colour bikini and I plan on continuing my hunt when we come back from the mountains.

Another popular place to shop in Buenos Aires are the malls. They sure love their malls in Central and South America! Noel and I are not mall rats at all back home in Canada and we surprised ourselves spending way too much time in them so far on our trip. On top of the shopping experience, it is also a great place to cool down after walking the streets! The best mall is definitely the Recoleta Mall. Even though it’s a bit pricy it has the best stores. At this time of the year all the stores are on sale and most of them are part of the tax free program. Basically, at the time of purchase they give you a form to bring to the airport along with your receipts in order to collect the 21% tax back. It makes it a bit more enticing to make purchases.

My hot husband shopping the sales!


I’ve never been much of a church lover until a couple years ago when I went to visit L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph in Montreal with my parents. I love to look at the details of the architecture and the art and most of all I love the peaceful feeling you get from sitting down on these old wooden benches. On our tour of the city, we visited two smaller churches, one in Recoleta and one in Palermo. We also did a quick visit to the La Catedral Metropolitana, considered one of the most beautiful buildings in Buenos Aires. The Cathedral was fairly ordinary on the outside and reminded me more of a tribunal than a church, but is absolutely beautiful inside. I felt so inspired that I kneeled down to pray for safe travels for Noel and I (Noel snapped a photo).

The Recoleta Cemetery

This is the first public cemetery of Buenos Aires and where people of all levels of the society have been resting in peace over the last couple of centuries. Noel and I went in for a self guided visit and it turned out to be a great opportunity to snap a few photos of the amazing graves that the families have put in place to celebrate the lives of their loved ones past. To be honest I got a bit overwhelmed in there and was happy to be on a self guided tour. It is truly impressive to see how much love went into building this beautiful sanctuary.

Palermo Park

On our second day in Buenos Aires, Noel and I felt like getting our sweat on to compensate for all the sweet treats we’ve been eating. There is no better way to discover a city than by going from run. We ran from Recoleta to Palermo and all around the park area and back. On that particular Sunday some of the roads were closed off and a ton of people were walking, running, roller blading and biking on the streets. Some people where sun tanning in the grass and It felt like being in a tropical Stanley Park. On the way back to our hotel, we walked through the botanical garden which is a must see. It is a peaceful place to enjoy a Sunday morning and cool down from a run.

Feria de San Telmo

Apparently every Sunday this fair takes place in Barrio San Telmo, bringing hundreds of merchants selling all sorts of stuff from antiques through jewellery, clothes, leather items, gadgets and food. Locals and tourists gather to walk up and down the street and experience this festive vibe. There is music and tango on the street and clearly everybody is having a great time.

As I mentioned earlier, we are now on our way to Bariloche and then further down into Patagonia, returning to Buenos Aires toward the end of the month. One thing that I am looking forward to experiencing in Buenos Aires, if we manage to stay up past midnight, is the nightlife. I read online that most clubs open around 1:30am and stay open until 7am. Apparently it is vibrant with people who love to dance without taking themselves too seriously. That screams Noel and I ! Please let us know if you have any other suggestions of things we must see or most do.

View from our Balcony

Too Relaxing of a Layover

Noel and I stayed in San Jose for a night before starting our Argentinian Adventure. The price was right so we chose one of the big box hotels by the SJO airport which was characterless, and nice and easy at the same time. We were up early the next day on our way to Panama and then onto Argentina. The flight from SJO to Panama was one we purchased as it was not a part of our scheduled around the world ticket. What was great is that they upgraded us to first class which surprised Noel considering we were wearing flip flops, shorts and TShirts.

Our 5 hour layover in Panama didn’t seem so bad knowing we had access to the first class lounge and could catch up on emails and work. We got comfy, drank coffee, did a bit of work and watched planes take off. At some point, we got tired of eating Copa’s prepackaged lounge snacks so we went to grab a quick bite downstairs in the airport. After eating lunch I took my phone off of Airplane Mode to check my emails and the local time adjusted itself. We thought that we knew what time it was, but we must have had it wrong. We spent way longer than we thought in the lounge and rather than having over an hour left we were about to miss our flight to Buenos Aires. After a long run through the airport we made our flight with only a few minutes to spare. I am so glad that we didn’t miss our flight to Argentina as I didn’t want to spend the night in Panama.

Our next flight was about 6 hours and for the first time it felt like what I always imagined First Class to be… It was very comfortable. The seats reclined to a level that made it more than easy to sleep, the food was surprisingly delicious and the landing as smooth as it gets. We landed at 1am and after a quick cab ride we checked in to our hotel in Recoleta, a nice neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Since then we have spent our days discovering this super cool city, taking it in as much as we can before leaving to the mountains of Patagonia. I absolutely love Buenos Aires and could easily see myself spending a much longer period of time here. The weather is about 32 degrees everyday with a mix of sun and clouds and a nice breeze which makes it very enjoyable for walking around. The sun stays up until about 8:30pm and the humidity level has been very tolerable. I haven’t bought many things as of yet, but the shopping here is amazing and I’m in bikini and purse heaven!

Buenos Aires has a very romantic vibe and I witnessed a lot of people kissing passionately at restaurants and in the parks, which makes for a great stop for our honeymoon. The three neighbourhoods where we hug out the most: Palermo, Palermo Soho and Recoleta remind me of New York in a less busy way. The fact that there is not much traffic makes it possible to steel a quick kiss from your lover in the middle of the street as you are crossing. More photos of Buenos Aires to come real soon!