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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Our Cruz del Sur night bus from Nazca rolls in spot on time in Arequipa at eight in the morning but to our disappointment we’re far away from the historic centre where all the hostels are located. We hadn’t had much of a search for places before leaving Nazca as the internet in the hotel didn't really work very well. The bus has Wi-Fi on board but only works when there is a 3G mobile connection. Most of the trip goes through vast remote countryside so for most of the journey there is no internet for further search on Tripadvisor for guest houses and hotels. It also doesn’t help that we conk out almost immediately after we leave Nazca. We have a little bit of connection as we’re approaching Arequipa and try to do a little bit more of a search but it becamomes too ridiculous with the very shifty connection and we have to just chance it with some of the once we've already researched. We decide to head for a hostel called La Casa de Sillar – it has good reviews on Tripadvisor and also at 60 soles per night has fairly good rates when compared with the other hostels we've been looking at.

We get to the hostel quite early and are in luck that they have a room to spare – in fact they have a few alternatives for us. One room is a fairly small one upstairs which has only a single bed, but the lady tells us she can move another bed into the room for us if we like. The second option is also upstairs – it’s a dorm room with five beds in it but we can have it as a private room if we decide to go for it. The third alternative is a large double room on the ground floor which looks quite nice but it’s not as bright as the rooms above, and it has a bit of a damp smell to it. We decide for the small room upstairs and we’re happy to sacrifice the space for a brighter, airier room. This of course means the lady will have to move a bed from the dorm to our room – we ask if she needs assistance but are not allowed to help out and are left to our own devices in the kitchen to listen to the rummage upstairs. The room doesn't have a private bathroom but as there is nobody in the dorm room it’s like having our own bathroom. It’s absolutely massive with a bathtub/shower in the middle of the room. It’s very bright and airy due to a large skylight window. The architecture is a tad odd though and it feels like you’re on a platform above the kitchen and although there are windows underneath the platform, so not open into the kitchen, you can’t see these windows so it’s a weird feeling of being a bit exposed when in the shower or on the toilet.

[caption id="attachment_2598" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Casa de Sillar, Arequipa. La Casa de Sillar, Arequipa.[/caption]

After our check-in we go to find some lunch – it seems a lot of places are closed as it’s early in the day but we finally find a restaurant not far from the main square. The dish of the day is spaghetti Bolognese and this sounds very tempting to us both. We’re a bit shocked when we get it served though – it’s such a massive portion it could probably feed three or four people easily – no need for a desert and I'm glad we didn't order a starter. It’s a very nice Bolognese though, so we’re not complaining. All content we take to the streets for some sightseeing and our first stop is the Plaza de Armas and the Arequipa Cathedral. When we arrive there though it’s only the museum that is open and not the cathedral itself - we decide to revisit a bit later in the afternoon when it’s reopened. There are a few recommended sights in our guide and close to the Plaza la Armas is the Casa del Moral, a lovely well preserved stately home of the Moral family with interesting furniture and paintings.

[caption id="attachment_2509" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Iglesa de la Compañia, Arequipa. Iglesa de la Compañia, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2511" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2510" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2513" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2512" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2515" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2514" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption]

Also recommended in our guide is the Museo Santuarios Andinos where the 500 year old Mummy Juanita, or “Ice Maiden” as she’s also referred to, is on display – well, normally this is the case, but she’s in for service and further research. In her place is another frozen girl sacrifice also found high up in the mountains. The “Ice Maiden” was a girl sacrificed to the gods by the Inca high priests around year 1450 and due to the constant cold up in the mountains has been completely frozen for all these years, hence the remarkable preservation of the body. After the visit to the Museo Santuarios Andinos we continue to El Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena. This is a huge Monastery that is still in use but also open as a tourist attraction. As we enter it is starting to rain and stupidly enough I think it’s just going to be a quick light shower so don’t bother going to fetch my jacket from the Hostel – the rain lasts for hours and it’s torrential so even with my jacket I would probably been soaked, just not thoroughly to the bone – my linen shirt is not exactly waterproof... Even when only quickly running from house to house trying to stay under roof I get absolutely soaked.  The grounds are absolutely massive and it takes us a few hours to walk through it all – in the end we even skip looking into some of the houses as we want to be able to find our way out before they close the place for the night. It’s a very colourful place and I can’t help taking way too many photos.

[caption id="attachment_2516" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2517" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2518" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2519" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hannah at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Hannah at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2520" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2521" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2522" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2523" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2524" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2525" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2526" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2527" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2528" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2529" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2530" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2531" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2533" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2534" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2535" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2536" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2537" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2538" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2539" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2540" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hannah at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Hannah at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2541" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2542" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2543" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2544" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2545" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2546" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2600" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2548" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2549" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2550" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2551" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2552" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2553" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2554" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2555" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Catedral de Arequipa. Inside the Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2556" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Catedral de Arequipa. Inside the Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2557" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Catedral de Arequipa. Inside the Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2558" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Inside the Catedral de Arequipa. Inside the Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2559" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Catedral de Arequipa. Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption]

After we finish our tour of the monastery we find a travel agent to book a tour of the Colca Valley and a visit to the viewpoint called Mirador de Cruz del Condor. It’s a long journey to get there so the tour starts at silly o'clock  We need to be ready outside our hostel at 03:00. After a quick explanation in the minivan we are left to drift into sleep as the van takes us the three and a half hour drive to Chivay Village for breakfast. It’s the usual feast of bread and jam – the bread being very fresh so I don’t mind, but I think Hannah has had enough of bread and jam breakfasts so she’s less pleased. One change in the diet is the coca leaf tea - I've got no sign of altitude sickness except for being a bit short of breath at times so don’t bother with it. After breakfast it’s back on the minivan and we start our drive into the Colca Valley towards the Mirador Cruz del Condor. We pass some amazing scenery and I keep kicking myself as I can’t tell the van to stop to take photos. We have a short stop to enjoy the view just as the Colca Valley changes into Colca Canyon (although we've missed many much more interesting viewpoints on the way already......) and from here it’s only a short drive to the Mirador Cruz del Condor. We’re in luck and get to see some magnificent condors gliding past – our guide is so happy for us that we managed to catch a glimpse of the condors – it almost sounds like it’s more normal not to see them. After the viewpoint we start our journey back towards Arequipa but with a few stops on the way. First another panoramic viewpoint of the Colca Valley before we stop off in a village called Maca with its magnificent colonial church and a stand that sells Prickly Pear Pisco Sours – very yummy, and ridiculously strong. After Maca we go to the Chacapi Hot Springs outside the village of Yanque. We decide not to hop in despite bringing with us the bathing gear – the hot spring looks just like a normal swimming pool – it’s not like what we imagined I suppose – we thought it would be natural pools in the rocks. After a very boring hour waiting by the hot springs it’s finally time for lunch back in the place where we had breakfast in the village of Chivay – when we hear the lunch is a buffet we’re at first a bit sceptic – it has a tendency of consisting of cold dried out food. Our fears though, were very much unfounded and we had the nice surprise of a marvellous spread of traditional foods – my favourite was the alpaca stew and the stuffed peppers, all very yummy. We have two more stops to make before the trip is over – the first being the highest point of the route at 4910 meters where we’re supposed to have a great view of the mountains and volcanoes, but with our luck it’s sleeting and foggy so the visibility is next to nonexistent. The very last stop is a field where they breed alpacas, it’s a very serene peaceful place and it’s a nice end of the sightseeing. From here it’s direct back to Arequipa and when we get there we’re completely zonked out. We go back to our hostel and later go out to get a bite to eat but otherwise we’re just knocked out and just want to get some rest.

[caption id="attachment_2560" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2561" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2562" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Andean Rabbit in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. The Andean Rabbit in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2563" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2564" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2565" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2566" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2567" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2568" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2569" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2570" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2571" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2572" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Colca Valley, north of Arequipa. Colca Valley, north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2573" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Colca Valley, north of Arequipa. Colca Valley, north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2574" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Photo-op in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Photo-op in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2575" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley, north of Arequipa. Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley, north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2576" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley, north of Arequipa. Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley, north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2577" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2578" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2579" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Inka streetart in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Inka streetart in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2580" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Inka streetart in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Inka streetart in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2582" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley. Street art in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2583" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley. Street art in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2584" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Sculpture in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley. Sculpture in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2585" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Sculpture in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley. Sculpture in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2586" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador de los Andes north of Arequipa at 4910 meters above sea level. Mirador de los Andes north of Arequipa at 4910 meters above sea level.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2587" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mirador de los Andes north of Arequipa at 4910 meters above sea level. Mirador de los Andes north of Arequipa at 4910 meters above sea level.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2588" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Alpacas in a field north of Arequipa. Alpacas in a field north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2589" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Alpacas in a field north of Arequipa. Alpacas in a field north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2590" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of San Francisco, Arequipa. Church of San Francisco, Arequipa.[/caption]

Our last day in Arequipa and we’re not doing much – we have an excellent lunch at a little restaurant a few blocks from the main square. The staff are too shy to come over and take our orders as they don’t speak any English. Luckily for us a local businessman picks up on this and starts talking to the staff for us. We would have been fine to make the order in Spanish but because we were of course talking English between ourselves the staff assumed that we couldn't talk any Spanish at all. The good thing about getting a translation from the neighbouring table was that we got a proper explanation of the menu and learnt that in Arequipa they have one type of soup for every day, and the soup on Monday is called Chaque. We’d been eying up this soup as we saw it served to almost every customer that came into the restaurant so we were definitely up for testing this dish out. Our Chaque was made with mutton, lots of vegetables, and it’s very nicely seasoned. You can also get a beef Chaque apparently. The soup is a starter but absolutely humongous – hence the main meal is quite small – totally the other way around from what we’re used to. It was very lovely though and we’re a bit disappointed we didn't know of this concept with a soup for each day when we arrived so we could have sampled some of the other soups. It’s our last day and there won’t be more soup-tasting here in Arequipa this time around at least.

After lunch we head over to have a look at the Convento la Recoleta museum but once again we get caught out by the siesta – we just can’t seem to get used to this concept and it continuously interrupts our sightseeing plans. Apart from seeing the facade of the church our sightseeing attempt is foiled and we start heading back towards our hostel to write a bit in the blog as we wait for our departure of the night bus to Cuzco.

[caption id="attachment_2592" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Convento La Recoleta, Arequipa. Convento La Recoleta, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2593" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Arequipa. Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2594" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Arequipa. Street art, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2595" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Arequipa. Street art, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2596" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Arequipa. Street art, Arequipa.[/caption]

Flying into Lima, Peru from Rio de Janeiro we waste no time and get some information brochures from the iPeru tourist information.  We then get a cab with Taxi Green straight to the main Cruz Del Sur bus station and get an afternoon bus to go to Nazca. The journey is supposed to take seven hours but somehow we get delayed by about an hour and a half but the bus is very comfortable so it doesn't matter too much with the extra time travelling. We had one hostel in mind before arriving in Nazca called Hospedaje Brabant but as they were full they recommended a similarly priced hotel down the road called Guang Zhou. We have a look and the room they offer us looks nice, spacious and clean so we go for it. It’s quite late and we're tired but also hungry – the hunger overrules the tiredness though and we head down to the main street to find a restaurant. We have a look in the guide and find a couple of recommendations, but unfortunately one is closed down and the other doesn't look too inviting – we're left to find a good restaurant on our own, as per normal, and end up at a place called Los Angeles. The food is excellent and the service is impeccable – the waiter is really friendly, inquisitive and full of information. Well fed we head back to get some rest before the next day’s adventures.

We get up semi-early and looking forward to the included breakfast, but it’s not quite what we'd hoped for. Two small pieces of bread, with not enough butter and a little bit of jam is all they spare us. I'm used to bread and jam so that’s fine but I'm used to more food than this – it’s not enough food to fill the gaps in-between my front teeth, let alone to keep me going till lunchtime. For Hannah it’s more the fact that once again it’s just bread and jam and no option of cereal, some fruit or maybe some eggs and bacon.

After our less than impressive breakfast we go on a mission to find a travel agent who won't rip us off too much for the privilege of sending us up in a tiny flying tin box. As it turns out, the first office we walk into is already cheaper than what our guide suggests, so no need for further investigation really and we settle with this one. We also ponder on booking an afternoon sightseeing trip for after our flight but leave the decision for later – a good decision as we don't really feel like cooking in the sun any more after returning from the Nazca Lines sightseeing. Had we more days here it would have been nice to see some of the ruins from the ancient civilisation, but it wasn't to be. We have a little wait in the office of the tour agent before our taxi arrives to take us to the airfield, which is a ten minute or so drive out of town. After registering with the reception, and of course paying for the flight, we have to wait for about half an hour before it’s our turn to take to the sky, so we sit down to watch a documentary about the mystery of the Nazca Lines (Nazca Lines: the buried secrets). It’s difficult to hear the commentary due to some loud Russians making a racket behind us and we get called up before the film ends, meaning as we go up in the air the history behind the Nazca Lines are still all a mystery to us and all we can do is to admire the view and make up our own theories. Our captain goes through the flight-path with us before takeoff and points out on a map where to spot the shapes and also very importantly how to spot them - this proves to be essential information as we're cruising at an average height (according to my camera’s GPS) of about 975 meters, which works out as roughly 400 meters above the ground, and many of the shapes are hard to spot. Some of the figures are quite faint and not very big whilst some are absolutely gigantic but still difficult to spot because they're faint, damaged, or disappear into the landscape due to the amount of stronger lines that are crisscrossing everywhere on the ground - I hope you are able to spot the figures in the photos... The captain also warns us that the flight can be a little bit bumpy and he was not exaggerating... I hardly ever get any motion sickness but at the end of the flight I'm starting to feel a little bit on the edge, but it seem I get out of it the lightest followed by Hannah. Our other two fellow passengers are having a bit rougher time up in the skies with the lady next to me sounding like she’s is trying to vomit all her internal organs out half way into the flight – it does not sound like she is having much fun. Despite being thrown around in a tin can for almost an hour we all come down to earth in one piece though. And even our fellow passengers seem to be glad they did the tour despite their condition. I would really recommend taking the light airplane sightseeing of the Nazca Lines – it’s really amazing to see these ancient monuments, and the only way you can see them properly is from above. It’s not cheap but also not so expensive that it’s out of reach for us on a budget. But remember to take the advice about only having a light breakfast seriously.

[caption id="attachment_2452" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The light aircraft that were to carry us over the Nazca Lines. The light aircraft that were to carry us over the Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2453" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hannah getting ready for take-off, Nazca. Hannah getting ready for take-off, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2454" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Whale, Nazca Lines. The Whale, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2455" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca Lines. Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2456" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Giant, Nazca Lines. The Giant, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2457" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The Giant, Nazca Lines. The Giant, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2458" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca Lines. Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2459" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Monkey, Nazca Lines. The Monkey, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2460" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Dog, Nazca Lines. The Dog, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2461" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2462" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Hummingbird (Colibri), Nazca Lines. The Hummingbird (Colibri), Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2463" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca Lines. Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2464" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Spider, Nazca Lines. The Spider, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2465" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Condor, Nazca Lines. The Condor, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2466" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Heron, Nazca Lines. The Heron, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2467" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Pelican, Nazca Lines. The Pelican, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2468" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Parrot, Nazca Lines. The Parrot, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2469" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Hands and The Tree, Nazca Lines. The Hands and The Tree, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2470" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2471" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca Lines. Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2490" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2473" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2474" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2475" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2476" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption]

Back in the town centre again we search out a place to have lunch, and although they have no menu and don’t speak a word of English, and I can't decipher anything that the waiter tells us about their selection, with a pit of pointing we get a lovely lunch served including a drink for a very reasonable price – I think it must be the cheapest meal so far in South America. After lunch we initially plan to go to the museum but half way there we’re feeling drained by the immense desert heat – during the flight the plain had become like an oven and we were still suffering from this along with the fact it’s the hottest part of the day and there is no shade to hide under. We decide to can the idea of the museum and go back to our hotel to relax by the pool and maybe update our blogs a little while waiting for our bus to Arequipa in the evening. To our surprise we find one of our fellow passengers from the flight earlier relaxing by the pool as well also waiting for his bus but in a different direction – he’s heading back to Lima. He had arrived by bus to Nazca earlier in the morning and had bought his flight ticket from one of the touts at the bus station – something our guide had strongly advised us against. We're therefore curious of how much he'd paid for his flight and it turns out he forked out about another 50% more than we ended up paying. We feel sorry for the guy and he tells us he sort of knew that he was being taken for a ride but didn't want to have the hassle of searching for a travel agent after a long overnight bus journey – we know that feeling well but we still always squeeze the last of our energy out to avoid any touts when we get presented with that kind of situation. It’s exactly why they prey on people who are fatigued – it’s often much easier just to give in even if you full well know you'll be paying over the odds.

[caption id="attachment_2477" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Dentist sign, Nazca. Dentist sign, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2478" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The local clinic, Nazca. The local clinic, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2479" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Enrique Fracchia mural, Nazca. Enrique Fracchia mural, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2480" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Murals, Nazca. Murals, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2481" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Murals, Nazca. Murals, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2482" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mural, Nazca. Mural, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2483" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mural in honour of Maria Reiche Neumann, who discovered the Nazca Lines. Mural in honour of Maria Reiche Neumann, who discovered the Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2484" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Random food-shot - the starter of the Menu del Dia, Nazca. Random food-shot - the starter of the Menu del Dia, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2485" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Statue in honour of Maria Reiche Neumann, who discovered the Nazca Lines. Statue in honour of Maria Reiche Neumann, who discovered the Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2486" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca "skyline". Nazca "skyline".[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2488" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca "skyline". Nazca "skyline".[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2489" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The pool area at Hotel Guang Zhou in Nazca. The pool area at Hotel Guang Zhou in Nazca.[/caption]

Our bus leaves at 22:00 so we have a few hours to kill before we have to head from the hotel to the bus station. We kick back and write a little bit in our blogs and have a couple of beers, but making sure not to drink too much beer as they might not want to let us on the bus if they notice we've been drinking – they’re very strict on this at Cruz del Sur apparently. The journey to Arequipa takes roughly ten hours and is a very comfortable ride – I had planned to make the best out of the time on the bus and spend a few hours writing for the blog but fall asleep almost instantly after the snack we get served and wake only about an hour before we reach our destination.

After a long tiring journey up from Puerto Iguazu we finally arrive in Rio de Janeiro and make our way by taxi to our hotel Poussada Girasol on Copacabana. It's a basic place but we're glad to see it's really clean and the staff is really nice and friendly, unlike what we'd read in many of the Tripadvisor reviews of other hotels in Rio. The guy who checks us in doesn't speak any English but he understands enough to fill in the gaps for when I run out of Spanish vocabulary and then answers back in what Brazilians call Portuñol, a mix of Portuguese and Spanish. We've heard a lot about guided tours of the favelas from other travellers and find a brochure for Favela Tour in the reception and book a tour right away. The guy in reception also recommends a restaurant just around the corner for a traditional Brazilian buffet. We are in two minds about whether to go out for dinner or not but do in the end decide to go out despite being completely bushed after our journey up from Puerto Iguazu. It’s a good thing we do because as soon as we’re sat down in the restaurant we start feeling more energised and less tired. We go for the full wallop buffet which entails unlimited various grilled meats and salads and desserts. There is a buffet table with all sorts of salads, rice, pasta, fruit and cakes and there are waiters that come around with the meats on skewers fresh from the grill and they cut off portions for you. We’re obviously lightweights at this buffet business and after eating more meat than I thought possible we hand in our towels to the big surprise of our servers – it looks like they almost take it as an insult that we don’t want more meat. If I could I would, as it’s really, really tasty stuff with so many varieties of different sausages, plain or salt or garlic infused beef, pork or lamb, also chicken hearts and the likes but we didn't go for that this time around... I don’t know how much time we spend in the restaurant but it is really late by the time we wobble out of there. Even though it’s really late and I'm really tired I'm still not able to sleep so decide to try to catch up a little bit with the blog with the result that I end up only getting a few hours’ worth of sleep before an early start the next day. We have a fully packed program in order to get to see as much of Rio as we can. We only have one full day here and want to make the best of it.

We manage to drag ourselves out of bed fairly early in the morning to start our day of sightseeing. After breakfast we go to have a look at the Sugarloaf Mountain. Initially we plan on taking the bus but as we have to be back again in time for our favela tour we decide on taking a taxi to avoid running out of time. To get to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain we have to take two cable carts which takes us up the about 400 meters to the top. The first cable cart goes swimmingly well – there is no queuing required so we’re on the halfway point in a jiffy. Once there we decide to have a little walk around here before continuing to the top but this turns out to be a bit of a mistake. When we get around to taking the last cable cart up to the top a few bus-loads of tourists have just arrived and the queue is unbelievably long. It takes us an hour and a bit from when we join the queue till we finally get onboard the cart. At the top we get the gorgeous panoramic view of Rio and the harbour – it’s a bit hazy but still a great view and well worth the waiting in line to get up here.  After soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the view with a couple of beers we decide it’s about time to get down. We hope to get some time to have a bite of food before our tour of the favelas but hit more queuing again as we try to get down from the mountain – it’s again a few large tourist groups hogging the cable carts. It looks like we won’t have a chance to get much food before our tour so when we finally get down to the middle level we quickly get some ice cream and pick&mix fruit salad – what a wonderful idea – before getting onto the last cart to take us down to ground level. Again we hail a taxi and go directly to our pick-up spot for our next adventure.

[caption id="attachment_2397" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2398" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2399" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2400" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. Half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2401" align="aligncenter" width="533"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2402" align="aligncenter" width="533"]On the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. On the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2403" align="aligncenter" width="533"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2404" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2405" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2406" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption]

We’re at the pickup spot for our favela tour about 20 minutes early and consider having a drink in the restaurant next door but then our tour-guide also turns up early, so into the van we go to pick up the rest of the people for the tour. Our first stop is a charity called Para Ti, a charity education centre for kids in the Vila Canoas favela, they have a small stall selling handicrafts and paintings and we decide to support this little charity and purchase a small painting and a bracelet. Next we take a quick walk within the narrow lanes within the favela, finishing off with a stop in a tiny “hole-in-the-wall” bar for a Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail (sugar cane spirit with sugar and lime) it’s very strong and make our bellies all warm and fuzzy. Next stop is the Rocinha Favela – the largest favela in Brazil with a population of about 70000. First we have a walk through the commercial centre of the favela before we head up the hill for a nice panoramic view of Rocinha.  Last stop is along a little strip of street stalls where we can buy some souvenirs to support the local businesses. A few nick-nacks later, and a stop to look at the view, we go back into the van for our return to the pickup point at Copacabana beach.

[caption id="attachment_2407" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The art and craft shop at the Para Ti charity education centre, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. The art and craft shop at the Para Ti charity education centre, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2408" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2409" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2410" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2411" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2412" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2413" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2414" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2415" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2416" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2417" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2418" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2419" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The Caipirinha Master, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. The Caipirinha Master, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2420" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2421" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2422" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2423" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2424" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2425" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2426" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2427" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2428" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2445" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2429" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2430" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Rio de Janeiro from the Rocinha favela. Overview of Rio de Janeiro from the Rocinha favela.[/caption]

After the favelas we wanted to go up to the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer towering over Rio de Janeiro but because it’s starting to become a bit late we decide to skip it for this time and instead head to the Escadaria Selarón, a set of stairs covered by tiles from around the world in the neighbourhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa. But first things first - after all this sightseeing we’re feeling very hungry and before we make our way there we need some food  - we find a small no frills restaurant around the corner and order an enormous plate of late lunch.

[caption id="attachment_2432" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Massive late lunch, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Massive late lunch, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2431" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art at Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Street art at Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption]

Feeling rather stuffed we then make our way over to the Escadaria Selarón, we again hop into a taxi as our guide doesn’t really explain very well whereabouts it is. Our taxi driver has little knowledge either but he goes to the general area and start asking around – after a few wrong turns we finally reach our destination. The steps are really quite a colourful and interesting mosaic of all kinds of tiles and were an ongoing project by the artist Jorge Selarón until his death on the 10th of January 2013. He called the project a “tribute to the Brazilian people”. After walking down the stairs to the bottom, snapping away as we go we find ourselves a restaurant and sit down for a few beers while watching life going past.  It’s starting to get late and it’s time we get back to the hotel to pack our bags for the silly early start in the morning. We've really enjoyed our time in Rio and are gutted that we already have to leave and decide to put it on our list of places to re-visit.

[caption id="attachment_2433" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2434" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2435" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2436" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2437" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2438" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2439" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2440" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2441" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2444" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2442" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2443" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption]

In the Lonely Planet they've dedicated the best part of a whole page with warnings of all the bad things that can happen to you when visiting Rio - why are they continuously trying to scare us about the safety issues everywhere? For the whole of South America the guide has what seems like an endless list of dangers to scare you. It’s good to know of certain safety issues but is it necessary to write it in such a way as to scare people from going around exploring, and making it difficult to relax and enjoy the places. We've found on numerous occasions that when speaking to the local people they can tell us a very different story about the safety than what our guide tries to scare us with. Generally, to be sensible, a bit streetwise and careful and you'll be fine.

At 02:00 our alarm goes off and half awake, half asleep but not feeling much alive. At 3:15 our taxi arrives to take us to the airport. At this time of the night the roads are very empty and our taxi driver takes full advantage of this of course - It’s like he’s on a Formula 1 race track – this of course means we get to the airport in very good time. Our next destination is Lima in Peru – it’s a three hour flight so it's not too bad, but we’ll be bypassing Lima for now and head straight to Nazca by bus,  which is another six hour journey if all goes to plan.

Really looking forward to visiting the Iguazú Falls we get onto the bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú. Travelling up is not done in a blink of an eye, and ahead is the longest bus-journey so far on our adventures. It's a 19 hour trip travelling in a very comfy bus where we get waited upon all through the journey with food and drinks included – we even get offered whiskey and champagne and why we thanked no to it is beyond me in hindsight – we were probably too surprised by the offer to think straight. The time goes by very fast and we're able to get a pretty good sleep during the night. We arrive in Puerto Iguazú just before one in the afternoon and have only a 100 meters walk over to the hotel we'd booked the evening before. The room is quite nice with ample space, a TV, hot shower and very importantly it's clean. As we're desperately trying to catch up on our blogging we find the lack of a proper internet connection a little bit disappointing - the signal doesn't travel to our room so we piggy-back on a neighbour's open, but sketchy, connection.

After freshening up we head out to try to find some food. We're both a bit wary of the massive portion sizes we've been served so far in Argentina and want to get something light - not tonnes of cheese over a mammoth piece of meat served with bucket-loads of fries. We'd hoped for some vegetables and maybe some rice instead of fries but we're not in much luck. It's Sunday and early afternoon (siesta) so the choices we have are a bit limited to say the least. Steak and chips it is...

After our lunch we fancy an ice cream – it’s very hot and humid here so we’re longing for a bit of cooling down. Just across the road there is a heladería (ice cream shop) that looks very busy – our thought is that if it’s popular with the locals it must be good. We go in and have a look at the menu, decide on our preference before I patiently join the queue. As it finally becomes my turn the lady at the counter just look up at me, pauses for a second and then start to address someone behind me in the queue. A bit dumbfounded I wait it out till she’s finished serving the other customer and expect to be served next, but no such luck... when she finally finish with the customer she just turn and starts chatting with some other customers who just came through the door. I start trying to get her and all the other staff’s attention but they’re all ignoring me, even the ones that doesn't have anything to do. How Fu*#@ng rude – I'm positively fuming and utter quite loudly “this is ridiculous, I'm leaving” and turn to Hannah, before stumping out of the place.

Further down the road we find another cafe that sells ice cream – it’s cheaper and we get served straight away, so at least we get something positive out of the ordeal. This episode really put me on an edge though and I start to realise that generally how we get treated here by people is not really nice, and we’re paying through the nose for the pleasure – tourists don’t seem to be very welcomed here. One thing after another puts me more and more on edge and I become more and more resentful of this town – the thing that holds me together and stop me from shouting at people is that I'm looking forward to get to see the Iguazú Falls in the morning. There are a few places where people are really nice to us though – it’s not like everybody in the town is evil. The people in our hotel are really nice despite us having slight communication problems – they are very patient with us. Also, we find a really nice little restaurant on our last day before heading off so that made up for some of the aggravation.

The plan is to go to the falls the next morning before taking an evening bus to Rio De Janeiro. We check with the tourist information about how to get there, and the cost of it. We're in shock of how expensive it is, and it kind of looks more like a Disney World theme park the way the area is explained to us - the information office offers to book us an additional boat trip to get really close up to the massive 80 meter tall wall of water and initially I think that doesn't sound too bad price-wise (although not cheap either) but then we learn that it doesn't include the transport there and the entrance fee. After quickly adding up the real price of this "offer" and recovering from the shock we politely say we'll have to think about it. We decide to just make our own way there and skip the boat-ride as we're not made of money - it'll still be expensive enough.

On our last day in Puerto Iguazú we get up early to head over to the falls. But when we wake we discover it’s torrential rain outside – it’s so loud we’re wondering if the falls have been moved over the town during the night. It’s still very early in the morning so I set my alarm to a couple of hours later in the hope it will have cleared up by then. Two hours later and we wake to the sound of... torrential rain. We thought it was loud when we woke up earlier but it’s now even louder – unbelievable. We get up and go to get our breakfast – as we go to the breakfast area there is a little dry-spell and I again get the hope back that it’ll start to brighten up. Only a few minutes later and it’s tipping down again and for every time we think that the downpour can’t get any heavier it does exactly that – I've never experienced such rain before, and there seem to be no end to it. Hannah decides quite early on that she'd rather not go but I thought I'd wait it out a bit to see if the weather would improve. With the clock ticking and the rain continuing to pour down I also finally decide it’s a lost cause - I'm not paying a fortune to be completely drenched in a Disneyland-like theme park with visibility of only a few meters - for then to hop onto the bus to Rio looking like I just jumped into the falls for the ultimate experience.

If we thought the bus journey up to Iguazú falls was a long one, next we were in for a much more testing ordeal as we make our way up to Rio de Janeiro. This journey is supposed to take 22 hours, but as we need to get over to the bus station on the Brazilian side of the border first, we have to leave in good time from the Argentinean side. The whole journey is supposed to take about 24 hours and on the Brazilian busses there is no luxury like on the Argentinean busses - more basic seats and no serving of food or drinks, just free water (we stop every now and then though so people can get some food of course). And then, with our luck the bus journey takes a few extra hours due to very heavy rain during the night, and then again the next evening as we're approaching our final destination. In the end the whole ordeal takes about 28 hours, so surprisingly enough we're slightly tired by the time we reach our hotel on Copacabana in Rio. Almost instantly after arrival though we start to feel the effect of this electrifying city - we're feeling the energy surging back into our tired bodies and start planning the next day's adventure over a magnificent all-you-can-eat grilled meat buffet.

[caption id="attachment_2381" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Puerto Iguazu. Street art in Puerto Iguazu.[/caption]

From Mendoza we arrive at the huge Retiro bus station about lunchtime. We’re a couple of hours delayed due to the horrendous traffic we hit as we get into the centre of Buenos Aires. At some stage we pass only a couple of hundred meters from the Elefante Rosa Hostel who we've booked with, but there is of course no way we can get off the bus on a flyover highway even though the bus is stuck in traffic. At first we consider taking a taxi when we arrive at the bus depot but we then decide to see if we can find the closest Metro (Subte) station and figure out how it works. As there is no signage for the Retiro Metro station at the bus station we ask for directions at an information booth and find it without major problems. On the way there we pass through a very bustling and colourful market with many stalls selling various street-food – the cooking-smells are killing us. The metro system is really easy to understand and manoeuvre through, and it’s very cheap to use. Before we know it we’re at the station by our hostel and after a bit confusion of directions, as we surface from underground, we get to the right address. We’re at first a bit confused as we can’t see any signage anywhere, not even on the door, but then we discover a very discrete pink elephant painted on the window above the door – this must be the right place and we test the doorbell. We soon hear footsteps coming down the stair inside and the door is opened by one of the two brothers running the hostel. We get shown the room we've booked and are amazed at what we get for our money. It has a mezzanine where the bed is located and the bathroom is also up on the floor above. The downstairs has a table with chairs and a large sofa-chair. We also have a TV and a small balcony. It's the kind of room you don't particularly want to leave to go out and do sightseeing – we feel like just chilling and enjoying the luxury.

[caption id="attachment_2318" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2319" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2368" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2369" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2370" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption]

After a little freshen up we decide to go and have a look at a few museums recommended by the hostel, but first it’s about time we got some food in the belly. Our guide recommends a Parrilla (grill) called Parrilla al Carbon so we head over to it not knowing what we had in store... we get served a mountain of various grilled meats – it’s way more than what we can hope to finish so it’s good we didn’t order any sides. Our lunch therefore consists of meat, more meat and even more meat and nothing else but a shared bottle of beer to wash it down with. Completely stuffed we continue our sightseeing adventure, and due to our very heavy lunch we decide to head over to the museums by foot to try and burn off some calories – should have run a marathon rather than a wobbling walk to compensate for our meat feast...  Unfortunately we have some problems finding the museums and as the evening is approaching fast we’re quickly running out of time. We find the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Art) recommended in our guide and have a look around. It’s a nice gallery/museum and we have to settle with the fact that we won’t have the time to venture further to the Museo de Artes Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Museum of Latin American Art) and we start heading back towards our hostel, with a few stops on the way to sample some bottles of beer of course.  We get back and get working on our blogs for a bit before an early night – we’re completely bushed.

We don’t have much time to explore Buenos Aires, and it doesn't help that we’re still affected by the jet-lag from our Singapore-Santiago flight – when are we supposed to be back to normal? The jet-lag of course makes it very difficult to get up in the mornings and we lose a lot of time because of this. Luckily the breakfast doesn't have a cut-off point in the hostel which means however late we get up we won’t miss out. On our second day it becomes after mid-day before we finally get out of the hostel and we head into the centre to book up a guided city-tour for the next morning and buy our bus tickets to Puerto Iguazu for the evening. All this takes quita a lot of time as we have difficulties finding the tourist office from where to book our tour, and we also have a bit of trouble finding the right office from where we book the bus tickets - then their card machine doesn't work, so we’re left to search for another company that we can book from which takes even longer... the joys of time-wasting... The rest of the day we use for wandering about the streets of Buenos Aires doing a little bit of essential shopping – my sunglasses are positively falling apart and are partly held together by a bit of sewing thread – very stylish I’ll have you know... We return to our hostel fairly early in the evening – we both feel really tired and blaming the jet-lag, so we have a fairly early night after a bit of packing and lounging in our private “living room” downstairs in our suite – we’re so impressed by this room and try to utilise it as much as we can.

[caption id="attachment_2320" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Torre de Los Ingleses, Buenos Aires. Torre de Los Ingleses, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2321" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Taking the flag down for the night at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires. Taking the flag down for the night at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2322" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Evita (Eva Perón), Buenos Aires. Evita (Eva Perón), Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2323" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Obelisco de Buenos Aires at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires. Obelisco de Buenos Aires at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires.[/caption]

It’s our last day in Buenos Aires and we start the day with the half day city-tour we booked the day before. We manage to arrive at our pick-up spot a little late and we can see the van pulling out and disappearing only 20 seconds before we get there – we call the office but they’re not willing to tell the driver to come back for us but instead instruct us to take a taxi to another pick-up point not too far away... reluctantly we hail a cab to catch up with our impatient sightseeing van. The tour is not quite what we had hoped for anyway – the tour starts off with a lot of drive-by sightseeing, and needless to say we’re not impressed by this (especially after the stress with playing catch-up with the van). We decide if it continues like this we’ll jump off at the most interesting part of the tour, the La Boca neighbourhood, and make our own way back. We’re in luck though and the van does stop at some sights later on in the tour - including the La Boca neighbourhood where we actually get a fair amount of time to explore the area. The La Boca neighbourhood is a very poor but colourful part of the city (also the sketchy part of town), traditionally it was the neighbourhood inhabited by the dock workers and its colourfulness is due to the workers using the leftovers from the painting of the boats. The neighbourhood is now home to many artists, which is reflected in many murals and lots of street art, and there is also a handicraft market in the most touristic part, and with heavy police presence around this touristic centre it's now completely safe to walk around. Most of the other sights on the tour went by in a flash, so I don't have too vivid memory of them. Boca was one of the main reasons for taking the tour anyway, so although a little disappointed we at least got to see the main attraction.

[caption id="attachment_2324" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Buenos Aires. Street art, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2325" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2326" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2327" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa Rosada (The Pink House) by Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Casa Rosada (The Pink House) by Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2328" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2329" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2330" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2331" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2332" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2333" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2334" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2335" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2336" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2337" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2338" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2339" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2340" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2341" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2342" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2343" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2344" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2345" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2346" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2347" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2348" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Street art in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2349" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2350" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2351" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2352" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2353" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2354" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2355" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2356" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2371" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2358" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2359" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2360" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2361" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2362" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2363" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Sculptures of Diego Maradona, Evita (Eva Perón) and Juan Perón on a terrace in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Sculptures of Diego Maradona, Evita (Eva Perón) and Juan Perón on a terrace in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2364" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2365" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Buenos Aires. Street Art, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2366" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Buenos Aires. Street Art, Buenos Aires.[/caption]

In the evening we go to collect our bags at our hostel and head over to the Retiro bus station for our 19 hour bus journey to Puerto Iguazu. Everyone we've met during our travels who’s been to South America has been raving about it and so does our guide – we’re quite excited to go there on our way to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.

While waiting in our hostel Luna Sonrisa in Valparaiso for our late evening bus to Mendoza we do a bit of research of places to stay once we get there. As per normal we end up enquiring with quite a few hostels and guest houses but only two hostels come back to us, and only one with a positive answer. As luck would have it it's our preferred choice Hostel Macando that has a room for us - result! It's nice to know where we were going once there so we can relax on the bus and not having to worry about going door-to-door when arriving early in the morning before opening hours.

The bus journey is supposed to take eight hours and they manage to only be delayed by about half an hour so that's not bad. It was probably because the border crossing took half an eternity. But apart from the long wait outside in the cold at the border for the slowest passport control known to man the journey was very comfortable. The bus is really spacious and you can almost stretch out as if in a bed if you don't mind squashing the person behind you. We're both trying to be a bit respectful and only take our seats back maximum half way but this is not the case for the people in front of us - we always seem to be seated behind some inconsiderable bast*%#s... At first a bit annoyed we are still able to relax and get some sleep after a bit of silent cursing.

Upon arrival we get approached by an old American ex-pat at the bus station who gives us tips about safety, and warns us that people would be clocking tourists who are looking at maps, in their guide or looking like they're lost and then targeting them for snatching their bags or pick pocketing them. He seems very convinced that it's very dangerous for tourists in Mendoza, but we find the streets feel very safe upon arrival and even though it's 06:30 and the streets are deserted we decide to walk to the hostel which takes about half an hour. The hostel is easy to locate and after waking up the poor tired night watch we're luckily enough to be able to dump ourselves and our bags in the room straight away - it's a four bunk dorm room which shares bathroom with another similar room, but we get the room as a private room and as nobody is occupying the other room we effectively have a private bathroom.

We doze off for a bit longer than planned and only get out of the hostel about 15:00 for a bit of exploring. First a late breakfast is needed and we find a rather posh looking cafe just down the road from the hostel called Tea & Company. It's a really relaxing place and we feel a little bit out of place as the rest of the customers look like business people and are smartly dressed as opposed to us in shorts and sandals. After a lovely scrambled egg and ham with toast and a lovely fruit salad accompanied by a huge pot of tea we head up to the central square called Plaza Independicia and find a bar there for a few beers and some simple but excellent food. Time flies fast and we find it's getting a bit late. As our hostel has a nice kitchen we decide to go shopping for some ingredients for the next day's dinner, after which we toddle back to our hostel for the night.

[caption id="attachment_2282" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2283" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2284" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption]

The next day we take it slow and vegetate in the morning before deciding to book a wine-tasting tour for the afternoon. It's one of the cheaper tours, but it's actually really good - it was recommended by our hostel and they book it up for us as well. We first visit an olive oil and dried fruit producer called PasRai where we get to learn about the process of the extraction of the oil from the olives. Afterwards we get to taste some of their products of course - my favourite is the sundried tomatoes in olive oil. After PasRai we hop back onto the bus and have a good laugh when we discover the name of the tour company to be Wanka Turismo... We then drive to the Cavas de Don Arturo vineyards for a guided tour of their production facilities and we learn how they produce their wine in a completely natural way, not adding any sugar or chemicals to speed up the processes. After the tour it’s of course time for a little bit of tasting of the goods and I have to say I really liked it very much and am gutted we don't have the opportunity to bring any wine with us home. Our guide on the tour is very good and full of witty remarks, mostly about the various effect of drinking too much wine of course – they're obviously used to deal with drunken people.

[caption id="attachment_2285" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2286" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2287" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2288" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2289" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2290" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2291" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2292" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2293" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2294" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2295" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza. Visit to PasRai, makers of olive oil and dried fruits, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2296" align="aligncenter" width="545"]We had a good laugh when we discovered the name of our travel company for our Mendoza wine tour. We had a good laugh when we discovered the name of our travel company for our Mendoza wine tour.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2297" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cavas de Don Arturo, Mendoza. Cavas de Don Arturo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2298" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Cavas de Don Arturo, Mendoza. Cavas de Don Arturo, Mendoza.[/caption]

After the wine-tasting at Cavas de Don Arturo we head over to another winery called Florio where they specialise in sweet and sparkling wines. Much of the process is the same as at Cavas de Don Arturo, but there are a few added steps – it’s still an all natural process and the tasting session is very much enjoyable. I normally don't like sweet wines so much but have to say I was impressed with the wines we were presented with.

[caption id="attachment_2299" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Florio, Mendoza. Florio, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2300" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Florio, Mendoza. Florio, Mendoza.[/caption]

It’s the end of the tour after our tasting at Florio and the bus heads back to Mendoza centre. We find it odd that the bus passes close to our hostel but does not go to drop us off – rather it starts to move further and further away from the area we’re staying in. I start to get a bit concerned and get my Google maps up on my phone and start tracking our movements. It confirms our fears, we’re moving further and further away from where our hostel is situated. Suddenly we get the signal from our driver and the guide that it’s our stop, but being about six-seven kilometres from our place we start protesting as they try to get us off the bus, convinced this is our street. After a lot of back and forth and repeatedly showing them on Google maps that we're at the wrong side of town they finally realise they've made a mistake. They let us stay on the bus and drive back all the way through the centre of town to drop us off. We arrive back at our Hostel a bit late due to this misunderstanding and are absolutely starving by this time – good thing we'd gone shopping for some ingredients for dinner the night before and we quickly dish up a lovely little meal.

[caption id="attachment_2301" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2302" align="aligncenter" width="545"]A nice self-cookrd dinner at Hostel Macondo, Mendoza. A nice self-cookrd dinner at Hostel Macondo, Mendoza.[/caption]

Last day and we have a wait till the evening before our bus to Buenos Aires. We take a walk into the centre again to buy our bus tickets and have a look around. We were hoping to do a little bit of shopping but are disappointed to find nothing but pharmacies and restaurants open because of the siesta. After a bit to eat we walk back to our hostel and start researching a place to stay in Buenos Aires while waiting for our departure.

[caption id="attachment_2303" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2304" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2305" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Mendoza. Street art in Mendoza.[/caption]

Very suddenly we find ourselves back in London and the drive through the centre back from Heathrow airport is a mix of relief and sadness. It’s a comforting feeling to see London in sunshine and the familiarity of the streets – it’s odd to recognise where you’re going and not having to constantly checking the map, trying to navigate your way around in a strange place.

The adventure will still be continuing though as according to the increasingly delayed blog we’re on the bus from Valparaiso, Chile to Mendoza, Argentina. There are still loads of posts to be finalised before the adventure is over so watch this space.

As well as concentrating on catching up on the writing of the blog it’s now the shock – but also a strange excitement – of adjusting back to real life and getting back to work.

Welcome back to London!

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