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Argentina

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]

It feels very sudden, despite months of preparations, but it's now less than a day before we head off for what will be a very big adventure. Tomorrow the flight will take us to the first stop on our journey, New Delhi. We're braced for a bit of a culture shock but more and more excited for each hour that passes. A quick outline of our trip: India, Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Bali, Singapore, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Mexico. We've been trying to catch up with as many of our friends as possible before heading off. But alas, some we have not had the chance to meet up with. We'll be sure to get around to see everyone on our return in five months time. We're feeling very humbled by all the well wishes from everybody - and we had a most wonderful leaving-party (sorry neighbours). One of the highlights must be the cake by Lauren http://cookingbakingandallthingsfood.blogspot.co.uk Absolutely amazing! We've been repeatedly stabbed by various doctors/nurses and injected with many concoctions to vaccinate us against what felt like every disease known to man... Everything (almost) is now packed and today we're sorting the very last details out. Soon we'll not have any more time for more details and what has not been sorted just won't be - tough luck... This reminds me I have to get started. We're off!!!