Suitcase and World: February 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Lazy Day in Punta del Este.

I woke up feeling very sad today ūüėĘ.  Why?  Because today's our last day in Uruguay.  Tomorrow, we travel back to Buenos Aires via the Buquebus Ferry.  We have a few hours to kill, in the city, before we have to leave for the airport hotel.  My flight home leaves at midnight and Bro's shortly thereafter.  So hard to believe that our wonderful trip is coming to an end.  For now I didn't really want to dwell on all that.  We still have one more day to enjoy and we were going to make the most of it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hanging Around Montevideo. Gardens and Beach.

At Jardín Botánico in Montevideo.

After spending yesterday outside the city - we went to Colonia del Sacramento, we opted to hang back in town today.  When it comes to trip planning, I typically leave it up to my travel partners to decide on what they want to see or do when we are in the main cities.  I usually have some suggestions to get the thoughts going but today, I was a complete blank slate.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Colonia del Sacramento.

View of diners outside El Drugstore Restaurant and Bar....a missed opportunity for us :-(

Today, we did a road trip to Colonia del Sacramento, a small Spanish colonial city located about a 2.5 hour bus ride from Montevideo.  By the way, the city lies across the water from Buenos Aires.  If you take the Buquebus ferry, it's only about a 90 minute ride making it a perfect day trip from Buenos Aires.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hola Uruguay, Hello Montevideo!

Buying figs at the Trist√°n Narvaja street market in Montevideo.

Hard to believe but we're finally in Montevideo! Excited to be in Uruguay but at the same time, it means that in in just a few days, our trip will have come to and end and we'll be making our way home. Until then, we're going to enjoy our short visit to this country.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Our Last Day in Buenos Aires!

Ou last day in Buenos Aires. As sad as I am to be leaving, I have to admit, I am quickly running out of tourist steam. I really had no desire to sightsee to day and the fact that my ankle was throbbing in pain from my fall yesterday is not helping matters any. Bro started out his day with a trip back to the supermarket to pick up more steak for our dinner tonight. We have been overloading on red meat since we've been here but it is delicious and no way, we can get this quality for such reasonable prices in the US.  So, we're enjoying it while we can!

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Day in Tigre.

Tigre is a town located about an hour's train ride north of Buenos Aires. Named after the “tigres” or jaguars that were hunted there, Tigre lies on the Paran√° Delta, situated on an island created by several small streams and rivers. Tigre was founded in 1820 and today, is a popular tourist and weekend destination.  When I was planning our trip, I had set aside two days for day trips.  The idea was to spend one day in San Antonio de Areco, on an Argentine ranch, to get a feel of the gaucho life and the other was to spend a day in Tigre.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Exploring Buenos Aires....This Time on Foot.

Colorful La Boca neighborhood.

After a few hours of riding the hop on, hop off bus, we decided to get off and do a bit of walking. My legs definitely needed some stretching out!  We hopped off at the Av. 9 de Julio stop and crossed the wide avenue, heading towards Teatro Col√≥n.  Traffic is insane here!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Buenos Aires Botanical Garden.

Fading fast, I was fading fast. After more than 4 hours of wandering about in the oppressive summer heat of Buenos Aires, I was ready to call it a day.  But....we had one last garden to visit before we could cross off  *gardens in Buenos Aires* off our list of places to visit.  So, we trudged on.

For the Rose Lover. Paseo del Rosedal.

Bro is die hard rose lover. Not only does he grow them in his own garden but he also frequently visits t he San Jose Heritage Rose Garden which is located in easy driving distance from where he lives. When we were in Latvia, he enjoyed strolling through the gardens at RundńĀle Palace and admiring the huge rose garden there. So, when I was researching places to visit in Buenos Aires, the Rose Garden (Paseo del  Rosedal) immediately caught my attention. It also caught Bro's.

A Bit of Japanese Greenery. Jardín Japonés de Buenos Aires.

B oth Bro and I appreciate gardens and so if there is opportunity to visit one or more, we are there! From Recoleta Cemetery, we realized it was too far to walk to get to the first garden on our itinerary - the Japanese Garden. We decided to give Uber a shot.

Wandering Among the Dead. Recoleta Cemetery.

Greetings from Buenos Aires! Today, was our first day in this wonderful city! I so enjoyed my day, it almost made me forget about Chile.....almost :-)

We arrived very late last night so there was no chance to stock up the fridge with food for breakfast.  We had the perfect excuse to go out and look for a place to eat.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Last Moments in Chile. Hello Buenos AIres.

I was so sad today, so very, very sad.  I've so enjoyed our time in Chile that I don't want to leave.  This whole country feels like home to me; I'm very comfortable being here.

Nevertheless, it was time to leave - Argentina waits for us.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Back to Where it All Began. Punta Arenas.

View of  Punta Arenas and the Strait of Magellan from Mirador Cerro la Cruz.

The next leg in our trip took us back to Punta Arenas where our time in Patagonia began a week ago.  I cannot believe that it has just been a week; we've done and seen so much in that short amount of time.  I will really miss the beauty of Patagonia.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Layover in Puerto Natales.

It was goodbye to Argentina this morning when we boarded the bus at El Calafate this morning for the 5 hour journey back to Puerto Natales. We'll be back in Argentina in two days when we fly from Santiago to Buenos Aires. Don't ask me why I simply did not continue our time in Argentina, after we arrived into El Calafate, instead of returning back to Chile and then going forward to Argentina.  In hindsight, I should've checked for a destination between El Calafate and Buenos Aires that we could've spent time in.  Plan imperfect.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Our All Too Short Stay in El Calafate.

We arrived in to El Calafate late yesterday afternoon and will be making our way back to Puerto Natales tomorrow morning. So, we've barely spent any time here though we did have a chance to do some walking around yesterday.    

Mount Fitzroy.

The peak of Mount Fitzroy obscured by clouds but it was still incredible scenery.

From the village of El Chaltén, Bro and I followed Daniel's instructions to get to the start of the trails that circle the various peaks, lakes, and glaciers located within Los Glaciares National Park.

Road trip to El Chaltén.

El Chalt√©n is a small mountain village, situated along Rio de las Vueltas, within the Los Glaciares National Park.  It is most popularly the base for treks to nearby Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitz Roy mountains as well as to the glacial lakes that are located within the boundaries of the park.  We went to El Chalt√©n for a short hike in the area around the village.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Awe-Inspiring Perito Moreno Glacier.

The plan for today was to take a tour to see the Perito Moreno Glacier which is located in the Argentinian side of Patagonia, near the town of El Calafate. The tour is a round trip tour so after seeing the glacier, you return to Puerto Natales.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Cruising down the Seno de √öltima Esperanza.

On the Seno de √öltima Esperanza heading back to Puerto Natales.

It took us about 4 hours to cruise up the Se√Īoret Channel and the Seno de √öltima Esperanza to reach the point where we could begin our hike to the Serrano glacier. By the time we returned back to the boat, another hour had passed.

The Serrano Glacier.

The Serrano Glacier.

After cruising by the Balmaceda glacier, in the pelting rain, we went further in to the heart of Parque Nacional Bernardo O’Higgins.  The park is the largest of the protected areas in Chile and also it's least visited.

Cruising up the Seno de √öltima Esperanza (Channel of Last Hope).

Bro posing with the Balmaceda glacier in the background.  Our first glacier!

We spent pretty much all day today on a boat, cruising up through one of the channels that run off the Seno de √öltima Esperanza (Channel of Last Hope).  I had high hopes for this cruise but in the end, it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Torres del Paine. Guanacos, Flamingos and Rheas.

Darwin's Rhea (Rhea pennata)

When we were in Atacama, admiring all the wildlife we had seen one day, a fellow tourist told us that we would have far better wildlife viewing opportunities in Patagonia.  Not only would there be more diversity but we could also get up closer.  So, for as much as I enjoyed seeing the animals in Atacama, I was really looking forward to seeing what Patagonia held for us.

Torres del Paine. Salto Grande.

There are several waterfalls within the boundaries of Torres del Paine National Park and we got to see one on our way out of the park.  Salto Grande is by no means a large waterfall.  In fact, it's a bit small but what makes is special is the force at which the water rages down the rocks.

Torres del Paine. Lago Pehoé and Cuernos del Paine.

Lago Pehoé and the group of mountains known as Cuernos del Paine in the background.

After the incredible beauty of Lago Toro and Lago Grey, it was hard to believe that the most stunning scenery was yet to come.

Torres del Paine. Lago Toro and Lago Grey.

Chunks of glacial ice floating on Lago Grey.

From Cueva del Milod√≥n, we continued our journey towards Torres del Paine National Park, a place that has long been on my travel bucket list and lived up to every bit of the high bar that I had set for it. 

Cueva del Milodón.

Today, we pretty much spent all day visiting Torres del Paine National Park, located just about 60 kilometers from Puerto Natales.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Into the Heart of Chilean Patagonia. Puerto Natales.

Standing on the shores of the Se√Īoret Channel which leads to La Ultima Esperanza and the Chilean fjords.

Puerto Natales is the closest town to Torres del Paine National Park.  When I was planning this trip, I looked into staying inside the park itself but those places are incredibly expensive.  After quite a bit of research, I decided it would not only be more economical to stay in Puerto Natales and take a day trip into the park but also being in the city would give us the opportunity to do other things.  So that was the original intent behind our coming to Puerto Natales.  I've only been here a few hours but as far as I'm concerned, I made the right call.

Monday, February 6, 2017

More of Punta Arenas.

This  mansion was once the residence of Sara Braun.  It is now partially occupied by the Hotel Jos√© Nogueira and the Club de la Uni√≥n.

With a population of around 125,000, Punta Arenas is the capital of the Magellanic and Antarctic Region XII, and it is Patagonia's most important city.  For, us Punta Arenas is our starting point for our time in Patagonia.

A Lazy Day in Punta Arenas. Cemeterio and Mercado.

Buying fish at the Mercado Municipal.

When I plan our trip itineraries, I try to have a down day every few days so we're not constantly on the move.  Typically, I also don't plan an agenda for our down day.  Its  on Bro's shoulders to bring along a guidebook and read up on suggestions of places we can go to and things we should see and do.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

More of Tierra del Fuego.

From Parque Ping√ľino Rey, it would take us almost five hours of driving (and one short ferry ride) to get back to Punta Arenas.


King Penguins.

Undoubtedly, the highlight of our day today was seeing the adorable King Penguins at Parque Ping√ľino Rey (King Penguin Park), located on the island of Tierra del Fuego.

To Tierra del Fuego We Go! Porvenir.

The highlight of our day today was spending time at a penguin colony on the famed island of Tierra del Fuego. But first, we had to get there.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Travel Day. Punta Arenas.

Photo taken from the front window of our apartment. Timestamp is 9:40p!

Greetings from Punta Arenas!  Bro and I flew out of San Pedro de Atacama earlier today.  As part of our tour, we had free hotel to airport shuttle.  We waited outside the front gate of the hostal, along with the French couple who had occupied the room next to ours.  They were also on the same flight as us but they had booked their ride through another company.  Oddly, a van, with the name of their company drove right  by us.  I could immediately see the look on the man's face - wondering if  their ride had literally just passed them by!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Salar de Talar (Tara Salt Flats).

By lunch time today, we had made our way from Monjes de Pacana to a cluster of very colorful rocks, another anomaly in an otherwise barren landscape.  We were in the Salar de Talar.

To Monjes de la Pacana (Monks of the Pecan).

Licancabur ( 5,916-meters tall) on the left and Juriques (5,704 meters tall) on the right.

Great day today! We were back out in the heart of the Atacama Desert, seeing the mountains, salt flats and lagunas that I have fallen in love with since arriving here.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Festive Parade!

What a nice surprise we had this afternoon. I love traveling for festivals and have planned several trips around them - Naadam in Mongolia, Semana Santa in Guatemala, Esala Perahera in Sri Lanka, Timket in Ethiopia and in the not-so-distant future, Hemis in India.  So,  you can imagine my joy when I discovered we were in San Pedro at the same time that one of the most important festivals in the region was taking place.  I had never heard of the Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria before so I had to quickly educate myself.

Wetlands and Machuca Village.

On our way back to San Pedro from El Tatio Geysers, we made two stops. One was at a wetlands area where we saw some wildlife.  With the recent heavy rains, the water level was high and there was plenty of vegetation for the wildlife to feed on.

El Tatio.

Bro and I have been preparing for this one day for weeks!  We spent this morning at El Tatio, a geyser field located within the Andes Mountains, about a two hour drive from San Pedro.  We had been advised to dress warmly but we really didn't know what that meant.  Do we just need a sweater and a jacket or did we need more?  El Tatio is situated at an altitude of 4,320 meters (14,173 feet) making it among the highest-elevation geyser fields in the world which meant a chance of altitude sickness.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Downtime in San Pedro.

View of snow capped Licancabur from Plaza de Armas.

We finally made it to Valle Arcoiris this morning but for me, it turned out to be a bit of a let down for me as I have seen far more colorful and interesting rock formations in other parts of the world. Nonetheless, I'm glad we went as I know it was a new experience for Bro.

Second Time's The Charm. Valle Arcoiris (Rainbow Valley).

Yesterday, we were on a tour that took us to see the petroglyphs at Yerbas Buenas.   After Yerbas Buenas, we were suppose to head to nearby Valle Arcoiris but the road was impassable due to recent heavy rains.  Apparently, about a week or so before we arrived into San Pedro, the region endured several major storms that flooded out roads.