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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Los Angeles

Well I managed to check in at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires without too many problems. I mean sure the combined weight of my bag and box were over the limit, a situation which was easily overcome.

I just had to hope none of my fellow traveller's or the Customs people wanted to check the little bag I'd removed from my larger North Face bag cause it contained nothing but my dirty laundry! Given the fun and games I'd had on my way to Quito months ago I sorted of figured if they were going to confiscate anything it could be my smelly socks!

What was pleasing though, was that I got through the whole process / bureaucracy of checking in, negotiating the Customs rigmarole so quickly that I ended up at the Departure Gate a whole two hours early. That's a bit of a first me actually being somewhere early or on time. Pity it's such a boring airport with not a lot to look at or buy......

I did however find a little restaurant that was open, so was able to grab a Cafe con Leche, but once I'd finished that I found myself a sit in the boarding area, quietly humming to myself the well known song by Andrew Lloyd Webber - "Don't Cry for Me Argentina"!

Why, cause as much as I've enjoyed some of my time in the country, it's certainly not the easiest of places to get around!!!! I mean, fix the banking system so that withdrawing cash from ATMs is easier (and more of it would be great as well), get rid of the siesta break, so much of the bureaucracy, spend a little bit of money maintaining things and we might be right! Aggh, hopefully you'll have got it better by the next time I head over...... Okay, Okay, I'll get off my soap box now....

Eventually the boarding gate began to fill up and shortly thereafter we were allowed to board the plane! Whilst Lan Chile aren't ever going to win any awards for "Service Excellence" they did manage to leave the terminal on time, even if the plane lacked an in-flight entertainment system.... At any rate, we got to Lima several hours later and without any drama.... 

Transiting through their airport was quick and easy and provided me with the perfect opportunity to peruse the shops, not that I'd have had the ability to buy anything.

Not cause they wouldn't accept my $USD currency, but rather I didn't have the physical ability to carry another thing.

Finally arriving in LAX several hours later, you possibly heard the audible sigh of relief when both my goodies appeared on the luggage carousel, but better than that though, was finally being able to catch up with my dear friend - Betsy!

Now I've just got to get my head around being on another continent (one which should be easier in many respects) and the start of the second leg of my holiday.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Pro Forma - Buenos Aires

I had a great day today wandering around the city of Buenos Aires in the morning, my camera in hand when the opportunity presented itself. I then found my way to one of the outer suburbs of the city, to join a Street Art tour where I have got to say I gained a lot more appreciation of what I would previously have just titled graffiti!

We saw work, painted frequently with the permission of the land owner that certainly made a considerable impact on the local landscape. We were also shown the difference between the different styles of work and told the reason certain types of paint were used, not necessarily just a spray can along with a bit of an explanation of how the "artists" applied the paint because there's seemingly a variety of techniques needed to make their art "work".

I won't be coming home to OZ, grabbing a few tins of spray paint and heading out to "decorate" a train, the lane way down the road or what have you, but I will be looking at "graffiti" in a new light!

At any rate, once the tour concluded, I headed home to my hotel, to pack and get ready for my flights tomorrow morning! 

It's funny but as much as this country, frustrates the day lights out of me at times, Buenos Aires is a city I could stay in for another week or so to explore! Ah well, next time!

In saying that though, I'm looking forward to heading to Los Angeles, with one of the things I'm most looking forward to being (and its probably one of those things one shouldn't reveal on a blog site such as this is) is the cuddle or hug I receive from Betsy when I stumble through the "Arrivals" door at the airport.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Pro Forma - Buenos Aires

Yeah!

After wandering around most of the city for the better part of a couple of hours I finally found a Post Office that not only was able / willing to accept a 1.75KG parcel of cycling gear but also sold boxes in which to send it home....

Being clever (or so I thought) I bought a spare box at the same time, one which is seemingly capable (authorised) to hold up to 5KG. Well that's according to what's written on it.

Having made such a wise purchase I subsequently went back to my hotel in order to fill it and thus lighten my load just that little bit more.....

Okay, it's not really the way I wanted to spend the day cause I'd much rather have been out and about exploring the city, but I needed to do it in order to get a bit of peace of mind.

At any rate, once I'd filled the box with what I calculated as being another 4KG of surplus gear, I headed back to one of the Post Offices I'd tried earlier in the day in order to offload it and thus allow me to begin enjoying the day.

Unfortunately however this is where the stupid Argentinian bureaucracy kicked in once again, cause whilst the box was OK for 5KG, in order for Correo Argentino to actually process it and put it aboard a plane / ship or what have you, they firstly needed it "approved" by a Customs Official and of course the Customs folk operate out of a different location to the Post Office and on different business hours....

Problem is easily solved however, as was pointed out by the postal clerk, just buy another box and split the contents into two approximately equal weights!

As I say, the bureaucracy in this country often defies logic even to the locals!

One way and another it's probably not saved me a great deal of money and ended up costing me a lot of time, which I could have put to better use, but it's done now and at least it gives me the self delusion that I've made things a little easier for myself for when I get to the airport on Sunday morning!

For now though, I think it's time I knocked back a few samples of their amber liquid!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Buenos Aires

Well it was with a sigh of relief that I managed to get all my bags checked in at Bariloche Airport this afternoon and once again I owe a big Thank You to Daniel of Cordillera Bike Rentals who not only gave me some tips on things to see and do on my bike in the Bariloche area, who minded my stuff whilst I headed to Puerto Varas, Chile and then again when I headed down to El Cafalate, but who also helped me get all my gear to the airport. 

Seriously folks he was a god send! I couldn't recommend him or his services highly enough!

Anyhow getting back to this afternoon's adventures, I was rather fortunate when I checked my luggage  in, cause I only had to pay a minor surcharge of 190 Argentinian Pesos ($AUD 25.00) which given the extent to which I was overweight, was a bargain. Having said that and because I'm not necessarily expecting to be so lucky for the next leg of my trip, I will have to have a look as to what, if anything, I can get rid of in Buenos Aires. I figure it's better to be safe than sorry, though having said that, I'm not overly optimistic as to what I'll be able to offload. A situation which isn't helped by the fact that there probably isn't too much chance of my being able to post things home from B.A, though who knows....

Fortunately and to a certain extent surprisingly, I've gotta say, the flight wasn't to bad and more importantly both my bag and my bike box, showed up on the carousel when I / we got in to Buenos Aires a couple of hours later....

Now all that's left to do is to explore the city a little, grab a bite to eat and see if I can come up with a plan for tomorrow's activities.

Monday, 1 December 2014

San Carlos de Bariloche

When you are start thinking about what your going to do when you get home, organizing your diary for the months ahead and start reviewing your budget / finances for what lies ahead, I somehow think that might be a sign that your over your holiday or at the very least bored by your present surroundings.

I mean Bariloche is a pleasant enough little city, but it's the area around it where it's appeal really lies and that's not something I was able to do today, having packed my bags and more importantly my bike into its box for the homeward journey. 

I'm not too sure whether the Troll will get to explore Los Angeles or whether I'll just hire a road bike instead for a couple of days so as to keep the legs turning and to get around a bit.

Either way though, I'm looking forward to what lies ahead, both in terms of Buenos Aries and Los Angeles, particularly the later cause I'll be catching up with a friend, Betsy, I haven't seen in years. I can't wait and believe it or not, it'll be the first time I've been to America (other than for a three hour stop over at LAX) and I get to do it over the Xmas - New Year period. Yeah!

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Bus Trip to Bariloche

Thank God I bought some supplies in El Calafate, cause if I relied on the bus company to keep me feed and watered. It's a 28 hour virtually non-stop trip and whilst they say they'll provide three meals during the length of the journey. 

A solitary biscuit in the morning doesn't count as a meal and not providing a caffeine addict such as myself at least one coffee in a 24 hour period is just in humane! 

I can't wait till I get to Bariloche.... 

Hate to say it, but I think I might be making a dash to the McDonalds store there for a bit of sustenance, if you can call it that!

Friday, 28 November 2014

El Chalten

Today was spent exploring some of the glaciers, lakes and mountains in South Patagonia and I'm so glad I did.

I had a wonderful day, got to find out a little bit more of the recent history of the country and had the opportunity to see and photograph the landscape from a different perspective than if I'd been riding through the area. IE: I had to do a bit of mountain climbing in order to get the shot below and several more like it!



Essentially I'd initially booked my trip down to El Calafate such that I had the chance of doing the glacier tour on either of two days. Why? Essentially because the tour company only accepted email (not direct web page) bookings ten days or more prior to doing their guided tour. As a result, getting lucky and doing the trip out to the glacier on day one meant that I had the opportunity last night to see what else in the way of tourist / sightseeing activities was on offer in the area!





Thursday, 27 November 2014

Glacier Porito Moreno

Today's adventure to see what I believe is one of the largest glaciers in the world, has been on the cards for a few weeks now and I can only blame my mate Terry and my travel agent Ching-Yin Ng from Flight Centre for putting the idea in my head.

I've got to say that whilst seeing it come into view on the bus from El Cafalate,  then taking photos of it from a boardwalk nearby were impressive, but that was nothing in comparison with being given the opportunity to explore it on foot. Putting the crampons on and trekking up and over the glacier was a first and I've got to say I thoroughly enjoyed it.




Seriously I'd put today's fun and games up there with the day I spent at Machu  Picchu or riding across the Salar De Uyuni in Bolivia.








Wednesday, 26 November 2014

El Calafate

Whilst we typically think of Australia as being a big flat barren country in which you need to ride (or drive) significant distances to get between places / tourist icons and so on, the same would seem to hold true of Argentina as well.

A quick search on Google tells me that whilst Australia has a land mass of 7,633,565 KM square, making it the sixth largest country in the world, whilst Argentina isn't far behind at 2,736,690 KM square and the eighth largest.

All of which puts yesterday and today's 29 hour bus trip into context and to think I'll be doing the same thing in reverse in only three or four day's time. I tell you what, this bloody glacier had better be as spectacular as everyone hypes it up to be....

On the positive side though, is that spending so many hours on a bus with little to do other than read my book, listen to music, watch the TV (some of which has been in English with Spanish subtitles, though the sound system doesn't seem to work), is that I've had plenty of time to contemplate life, set a few goals for the year ahead (maybe not so much O/S travel) and think about what I've got out of this trip other than just fitter!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Bus trip to El Cafalate

What a hectic morning.

Why, cause I spent the better part of an hour or so, haggling with the receptionist on the front desk of my hotel that I needed / wanted a statement (or something in writing) showing the nature of my payments. It's not normally something that I need to do, however I'm just a little bit jumpy about the way the hotels operate over here. 

It appears that the hotel I stayed at in Puerto Varas, Chile last week has charged not only the checkout bill for the length of my stay, but also the two individual night "deposit" transactions. Supposedly these weren't ever to be put through, but purely used to hold onto my money in case I left without paying. In other words I've paid for the same room twice. 

Hopefully the bank can help me resolve these disputed transactions.

But what's that got to do with this mornings little adventure?

Well basically, they charged my credit card on arrival (something which showed as a pending transaction on my online banking facility) then reversed it, because they'd put it through a couple of dollars short. Whilst I'd offered at the time to make up the shortfall in cash it seemed beyond their (or the systems) capability.

Unfortunately however as their reversal transaction still doesn't appear on my credit card statement (online) I am once again a little fearful I'll be charged twice and as a result was seeking some reassurance (or proof for down the track) that wouldn't be the case.

As the provision of a statement showing both sides of the ledger (you can tell who's a boring accountant,  can't you) well it seemingly wasn't possible and as a result I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed that it will all work out in the end! I've gotta be honest and say there's a good part of me which will be happy when I'm boarding my plane outta here.

Fortunately I left the hotel with just sufficient time to get to the bus station, have them print my bus ticket and to jump on the bus so that the rest of this week's little adventure could continue.