A Travellerspoint blog

Brasil

Colour and passion, plus a cool beach

Iguazu to Brasil

Some travel that went right to plan for a change !! arrived in Rio around midday - transfer driver didn't speak much English and I had hardly stepped into hotel than he was off .. I guess to enjoy the rest of the holiday monday. Excellsior on Copacabana Beach is pretty flash I notice it's internet prices are pretty flash too, so I resisted the hotel internet on my apart from one day .. almost $25 for a day ... but I get my moneys worth that day ... food is abundant (and cheap) beer is cold (and cheap) woman are hot (and I wouldn't know)

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Day 2

First tour - Up Corcovado Hill to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer ... unfortunatley for the first time on the trip the weather is not co-operating ... occasional light drizzle and heavy mist, but we take the tram up anyway ... the USS George Washington is in port and half the tram is US Navy ... also at the end bumped into Nancy from Miami whose husband is a big exec with Kraft in South America .. he works and she travels around, great life !! Right at the end I notice this couple ... and they turn out to be James & Judy farmers from Te Awamutu - good to swap stories
Picture 100 or so people standing under a statue preying that the mist will clear for some shots before we have to go down again ... the first time it cleared I was mucking around with ISO settings and the great shots I thought I got turned out to be white outs ... damn .. fortunately with 10 minutes to go there was another chance, not perfect but better than nothing. No chance of a view of the city though ... under cloud.
People always tend to pop up on tours, I catch up with another Australian couple that I last saw at Santiago airport two weeks ago ... they had been heading the opposite direction to me
A Samba band hopped on for the trip down and the whole place was rocking

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That evening all four of us and another Aussie couple were off for the Brazilian Barbecue meal (Don't Stop The Meat) ... and a Samba show after that ... great colour, great cotues, great action ... really great experience

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Day 3

NZ'ers may remember the Tip Top Trumpet ad about how far from the beach you go for speedos to change to undies ... and when it's not right to stray from the beach in speedoes ... well they haven't heard this at Copacabana ... men of of all ages and shapes wandering blocks away from copacabana beach in nothing but speedoes ... certainly some interesting sights, of course I was more interested in the female versions ... sure are some eye openers there ... walked into a few lamp-posts because of them !!

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Sugarloaf Tour in the afternoon - splendid weather and great light at the end of the day ...

Day 4

Free day .... at 1.25 AM tomorrow until hopefully 8 PM I will be on three flights to get to Quito .. so slept a bit .. got some laundry done ... caught up on FotoThing

Transfer to the airport picks me up at the hotel around 5 PM ... and it turns out to be a 30 seater bus just for me ... 45 minutes in my own bus ... not that smart for the environment !!

So a long wait over 6 hrs until check in then another two for flight ... hope all goes well with flights ... Rio to Santiago via Sao Paulo ... then to Buenos Aires for next flight to Quito.
I found a power supply so laptop has been on for last 5 hrs ... sorting through some files and photos and preparing entries for this blog. A book to read on the plane, but I hope sleep may be more likely ...

South America so far ???????????????

Loving it .. getting to see some wonderful scenes .. getting by with language barely Portugeese was harder than Spanish of course ... fortunately in most of the tourist spots English is pretty common.
Hotels are a class above what I was expecting .. but given where I am and the language difficulties maybe it is better this way ... certainly nice to be pampered a bit
Travelling by yourself has advantages and dis-advantages - dinner can be lonely but I find something to keep myself occupied .. write up diary or study the country or phrase book, or watch a football game on TV

The trip from Rio to Santiago was unventful even managed an hour or so of sleep, concerns about timing were unfounded a good hour available before check in ... much the same with Santiago to Buenos Aires flight although I do have 3 hours to kill here, hence updating the blog. Seems a heck og a round about way to get to Quito ... but it is the same carrier and hopefully my bags will catch up with me there, this way I don't have to pick them up at each stop and go through customs.

Posted by Midworlder 15:58 Archived in Brazil Comments (4)

Iguazu

Wonderous !!!!!

sunny 28 °C

Iguazu

All the hassle of yesterday was worth it a beautiful day at Iguazu and stunning scenery. I've seen Niagara and will take Iguazu any day. so wide, so much variety ... Argentinian side in the morning ... two Aussie couples on the tour so there is a fair bit of ANZAC spirit flying around ... but the main thing is the falls .. indescribable and very special. Butterflies also landing on you willy nilly as you walk along the track to get to the falls

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Brazil side in the afternoon .. not much formality when travelling by land over borders as opposed to air ... but one big hiccup ... turns out it is a long weekend in Brasil and every man and his dog has decided to come to Iguazu. The queue is 3 hrs long to get in and we can't drive our Argentinian tour bus through .. but they do a shifty deal with a Brazilian tour firm and use one of there buses. This side is different not as many features close up but a wonderful panoramic view
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Just a special place .. words aren't enough so I will let some photos tell the tale

If you are reading this on or around the 10th ... I am a few weeks (and countries) behind with this blog should get pretty much up to date while lazing around Acapulco in the coming days ...

Posted by Midworlder 06:40 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Buenos Aires

Smoking City !!

overcast 22 °C

Bolivia to Buenos Aries

Luckily I had Hector from the Travel Service to help me negotiate the La Paz airport ... he couldn't help me avoid excess baggage of $40 though .. will have to take that up with travel agent who had promised me all would be alright, To many flights to fit on the Round the World Ticket unfortunatley.

On the flight and we land in Santa Cruz after about an hour. I know understand I will need to through immigration here and the flight to Buenos Aries leaves in three hours ?? not sure hope it all is ok .. tapping this blog out while I wait for an hour before I am allowed through immigration ... Ok through immigration, they tend to be quite unsmiling until they see your NZ passport .. they tend to lighten up a bit after that.

Long flight, struggling with the lack of Spanish on this flight, there seemed to be some excitement near the end something about cabin pressure I heard in English a few rows back, but we landed safely. The lovely and very helpful Jessica - staying at the Marriott Plaza - super flash - and despite arriving late at the hotel my room wasn't ready, in fact that was a bonus because they gave me access to the Executive Lounge for my stay. Apart from giving me another place to access wireless it also has free snacks and drinks pretty much all day !!!!

Is it called the Paris of the Americas because of their love of smoke ??
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I find out that the smoke has been caused by farmers burning of vegetation, I believe in protest at taxes ?? Anyway it started two days ago and all the locals are very embarassed about it.

The city bus tour was interesting as always, only a couple of stops so limited photography, a couple of kiwis on board which was nice, stopped by the Boca Juniors football ground, lots of references to Maradonna

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I would come back to Buenos Aires with more time and hopefully no smoke, it was also pleasant not to have the street vendors at every stop

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Buenos Aires to Iguazu

Smoked in !!!

The smoke strikes !! planes can't get in to Buenos Aires because of the smoke so my flight is delayed, Jessica from the Tour Service helped me through check in she charmed the desk jockey and no need for me to be paying excess baggage which on this flight may have been heaps. I have a Round the World ticket but you can only have a certain number of flights per area and so Buenos Aires to Iguazu was separate and the E-Ticket siad 15kg only - I'm carrying around 40 kg I think

Tapping out the template for this blog while waiting for the flight, some people in the waiting area next to me are bi-lingual and going to Iguazu on the same flight so I'm relying on them to know when we are off !

Later ... and my new american friend and her husband turned out to be life savers perhaps without them I may still be in the airport .. flight due to leave 11.50 AM was cancelled we had to rebook on a flight supposedly going at 5.30 PM (eventually left about 9 PM) had to claim our luggage and take it back to be checked in again ... some anxious moments with a hysterical Japanese tour group wanting to storm the officials ... so in very late to Sheraton Iguazu ...

Posted by Midworlder 03:49 Archived in Argentina Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Bolivia

Ruins and ruined land

sunny 27 °C
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Bolivia

Peru to Bolivia by bus with a catamaran from Copacabana town out to Sun Island and onto Bolivian shores
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There was a mix up with catamarans so we were delayed at least an hour on the Lake and the bus to take us from the port to La Paz seemed a dodgy option when they were loading on extra brake fluid ... sure enough after a couple of unscheduled stops on the way we stopped in the scariest part of Bolivia, El Alto at over 4km up it is an eye opener, driving reminescent of Lima airport roads ... out of nowhere someone from the Tour company arrives with room for me and two others but not our luggage .. but fortunately it arrived a few hours after me at the hotel.

around La Paz / El Alto the higher you are up the less well off you are ...

Bolivia is cheap - at the hotel restaurant I had a two course meal and two beers for USD 12 and the hotel is one of the better ones there.

The only tour was to Tiahuanaco ruins.
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I learnt a lot of political stuff from the guide Hector, The current president is the first native born, very popular at first , but having a struggle with the economy now, all the promises to the poorer and indigenous aren't happening due to lack of money.

An interesting country like so many here religion is an interesting mix of South America culture and traditional Catholic Church, for example the people take skeletised body parts or even full skeletons apparently !!(usually of immediate relatives) and have them blessed by priests on one specific ceremony in the year, but the priests are beginning to frown upon the practice as more like withchcraft. As an aside those that don't have the odd set of bones lying around can buy them from cemeteries, those poorer families that can't afford to have people buried apparently leave bodies in storage and the cemeteries are able to sell the remains to anyone after a certain time. This was told to me by the guide with a straight face, who am I to doubt it

The ruins themselves date from the time of Christ although the community itself had been around since 1500 BC a mixture of 4 or 5 tribes who joined into super group. A lot of architecturaland & cultural features, the guide could see influences from Asia etc, certainly some faces in certain displays looked very asiatic and apparently asian visitors may explain the sudden blossoming of metal crafts that occured from nowhere .. some of the faces looked like aliens too !!!

Back through the slightly terrifying El Alto to La Paz ... I saw three dogs hit (probably two dead) on the drives through El Alto

A walk around the streets of La PAz and a look in the "Witches Market" at all the vendors of potions and talismans ... escaped without getting the evil eye

Posted by Midworlder 21:02 Archived in Bolivia Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

Lake Titicaca

sunny -17 °C
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Uros Islands & Taquile Island - Lake Titicaca

Up early (again) for a full day on Lake Titicaca, the bad weather overnight has cleared for a fine morning. Saw Rob & Alison again but on a different boat from them.
I think I was the only non Bi-Lingual passenger on the boat so I got the full attention when the guide was doing his English patter.

Uros Islands first, these are the floating islands with everything is made of totara reed apart from earth blocks which form the base. They eat the totara reed as well and have fish hatcheries in the middle of their islands a facinating place, Inside the houses batteries were used for radios etc. Very colourful dress, struggling to understand the ownership context, from what I understand the people can't own the islands because it isn't land as such but I guess they don't have to pay rates in that case, you would get used to the squidgy walking conditions after a while but doubt you would be able to generate much pace off the wicket if you wanted to play a game of cricket there:-))

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. Nice float on the water in reed boat and off to Taquile Island, a bit of walking from 3800 m at lake level to over 4000 m at the town plaza where we had trout for lunch.

There was a mix up with catamarans so we were delayed at least an hour on the Lake and the bus to take us from the port to La Paz seemed a dodgy option when they were loading on extra brake fluid ... sure enough after a couple of unscheduled stops on the way we stopped in the scariest part of Bolivia, El Alto at over 4km up it is an eye opener, driving reminescent of Lima airport roads ... out of nowhere someone from the Tour company arrives with room for me and two others but not our luggage .. but fortunately it arrived a few hours after me at the hotel.

around La Paz / El Alto the higher you are up the less well off you are ...

Posted by Midworlder 20:05 Archived in Peru Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

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