Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back to Kinder Bueno

After old Rio we got the flight back to B.A., for one more night. It was the first night we had to spend in different dorms. I had to share a dorm with the hostels resident slapper. She was really loud talking while I tried to sleep. So I listened to Dimmu Borgir serenade me to sleep.

A funny memory about the Clan Hostel in BA was that the brekky chef listened to Coldplay´s new album every morning. And I kept Me and Mark´s ongoing joke running that you start to love Coldplay when you reach your mid 20s. haha. Everyone thought I was slagging Coldplay but really I wasn´t! I´m mid 20s myself.

The next place was Puerto Iguassu. A village that called itself a city. With one banklink. And no shops took credit card. Scaldaloon. The attraction of Iguazu is the giant waterfalls on the Brazilian border. It was very epic. How many massive waterfalls will I have to see to get numb to their unfathomable power!

We did this boat ride and actually went UNDER the waterfall and got destroyed! Absolutely soaked for the day. The water was freezing. And there was a kid crying behind me. That made it for me. Because he thought it was over but the boat just kept going back in and the kid was going mental. His dad was just laughing. A good man.

We went on a walk to a waterfall named ´The Devils Throat´. Metal. There was a sign that warned about snakes and Elaine went mental. I told her that there are no snakes on the path because they are afraid of humans. haha.

You learn loads about people when you go travelling. There was this pair of very masculine women also at Iguazu Falls on the same day. They just gave out and snapped at each other every time we saw them. Why the hell are they travelling together if they are like that all the time? Mental. I wonder what they are arguing about as I type this.

We did not go to the Brazilian side of the waterfalls for a different perspective of the falls. We just headed to Salta on a 23 hour bus journey - a bit horrific. But the buses are better than Bus Eireann buses. They have food and movies. I have heard stories about people having their cameras and passports and even their full bags stolen on these buses. We have been ultra careful so far and have not have any issues. Apparently Ecuador is the place where the thieves (or ´ladrones´) are the cleverest. I´ve heard of some ingenius ways that people have stolen handbags. We will be there in a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Copacana, Favela, Old Rio.

Rio de Janieiro is mental. And that´s it. Partyville. We arrived at our quietish hostel in Copacabana around the 7th of July and stayed there for 5 nights. We were all scared about being outside the hostel after dark because of the fear mongery that is the Lonely Planet book warnings. The Copacabana beach is class. Very long and the sand is nice. We went to a stall where the guy gets a big machete and butchers a coconut and puts a straw in it and you can drink the milk. It´s brilliant stuff for a hangover. I´ll craving one every weekend when I get home. I might plant a coconut tree or two in Navan. And buy a machete. In Centra.

Another deadly thing about the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are the waves. They are perfect for surfing because they are huge only 10 metres off the shore. So you don´t have to paddle miles out and get eaten by a shark in order to get a good wave. Gooooood.

A downfall is that you can´t go at night because you might get mugged or chloroformed for your money or valuables... Another downfall is when you are lying on the beach in the sun you get about 25 people coming up to you per hour offering you necklaces, bracelets, drinks, scarves, flags and other crap. I felt really sorry for them when I turned them away though. It killed me to see them move along with all their stuff to try sell to the next person.

On our first full day we went up to the Sugarloaf mountain on a cable car. Epic enough. Then a cathedral yoke, and then the ´Christ The Redeemer´ monument that overlooks Rio. It is a great big Jesus lad on a mountain. I´m sure you know it. It is not as big as you would think but it´s way better than one I could do anyway. There we saw a sunset and I took a few award winning photos. (Queue Elaine saying ´Self praise is no praise, Brendan.´)

We met a 19 year old European who has been travelling a long time and while he was in a jungle in Mexico he married a 24 year old lady with a child. They got giant matching tattoos instead of wedding rings. And his parents don´t know he did that yet. They didn´t even know he was in Rio. I might be wrong, but I have a feeling he is a bit of a fool. It was funny when he fell from the top of a triple bunk bed in the middle of the night with a giant ´THUD´ and then got up really quickly so no one would know what happened.

We did the Favela tour. This is a tour of a slum area of Rio. It is the one where City of God is based. I did not want to go at first because I felt it would be patronizing of me to be visiting all the poor people and looking at them being poor. I was wrong to think this. It was a very interesting and non dangerous experience. And 60% of what we paid for the trip goes to a nursery and school in the Favela. And it is rare for money to be paid into a Favela that is not drug related.

The Favela had internet cafes, bakeries, and all the normal stuff a town would have. I dont think I´d want to live there though. It´s awfully filthy and cluttered. Houses are all built on top of each other. The drug lord and head of the Favela is only 23 years of age and this is the normal life expectancy for the head of a favela. He will probably be dead within a year or 2 and the next person will take over. They start in the drug and guns business at the age of 7 or 8. There was a night club in the favelas aswell but we didnt go and i heard it was just full of kids with guns and also a bit of a sausagefest. So no deal.

If I was to recommend one place to go out in Rio, its Lapa. It´s a giant street party with samba music, dancing, and food and drink stalls. Needless to say the lockedness was immense. We stayed out until about 5am which is actually an early time to be going home. When we were waiting for a bus, I felt a sudden pushing and shoving and I looked around and a lad was going through my pockets. I shouted NO loads of times and started pushing him away and Elaine exclaims ´Brendan stop you are being searched!!´ True enough a cop with a machine gun on his back was checking if I had any drugs on me. No officer I´m fine for the old drugs. 15 cans will do me fine.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Buenos Aires is sound

Buenos Aires is a great place - the night life is fantastic, although we didn't see much of that because the parties in our hostel were so good. We stayed in the Clan Hostel, near the centre.

We met loads of brilliant people in that hostel. The first night was a barbeque with all the red wine you can drink (but they stopped that after about 2 hours probably because we were MILLING through the wine). The steak and other meats were class. Here we met old Helen and Liz who we had met previously in Santiago. They are sound. I have never overdosed on red wine and puked red puke everywhere but I'm certain that some people did that on that night. An English lad called Charlie fell through a plastic tarp on the terrace that was acting as a windbreaker. It was fantastic.

We saw a mad cemetry called The Recoleta Cemetery, which I loved. Instead of graves it had beautifully built marble crypts. It was really spooky. Evita´s crypt is there. It´s fairly harmless. The cemetery is huge and is made up of paths and avenues all lined with the crypts. There were too many cats walking around! Elaine and I were really freaked out at first by all the coffins we could see inside the crypts, but we got used to it. You could actually reach in and touch some of the coffins if you wanted. If you were a mentaller.

Some of the crypt doors had knockers on them... I´m still wondering about that.

The Recoleta Cemetery is a really nice resting place. I think I would prefer a crypt to a grave. But I´d be dead so I wouldn´t know. Throw me anywhere I´ll be grand.

So then we went to the Evita museum. Didn´t learn much from it because we don´t know Spanish except tiny formalities and curse words.

One of the nights in B.A. (which is what some backpackers call it) we went to 2 Irish bars. I can´t believe the amount of Irish bars in the world. We also went to a pirateship themed bar. It had a cool pirateship entrance, and the staff were dressed as pirates. But sadly there were no pirates in there, and it was playing poor dance music. No deal.

There are a few "all you can eat" places in B.A. We have had some savage steak in Argentina. On Bolivar Ave we went to an amazing place where we got 18 courses. We were there for 5 hours. Happily locked if I remember correctly. Best wine and restaurant experience I´ve ever had! We had cow´s cheek as one course, which had been boiled for 13 hours. Pretty good. Also ´sweetbreads´, which is the gland around the cows heart. Also fantastic.

Also we did the usual art museum thing which I won´t bother to describe. It was good though, believe me. It had stuff like Picasso, Van Gogh and Monet.

Of course we did the whole tango thing. We got a lesson for an hour. I´d say Elaine´s toes were sore, because I wasn´t the besht! After that there was a steak meal with all the red wine you can drink (of course), along with a real tango show. Deadly stuff. It had live musicians, singing, and dancing on the stage and all around the restaurant. We got photos with the pro dancers, and they tried to sell us the photos but we are scabs. haha. I don´t have any pictures up yet because not many hostels have a pc with a USB port.

That night of course we were hammered and we were drinking at the hostel bar afterwards at 2.30am even though we had to get a taxi to the airport at 4am. Packing our bags, checking out, getting a taxi, checkin for the flight, it´s all a blur. But we made it to Rio anyway. We were actually asleep through the takeoff of the plane. That´s when you know you´re locked.

Monday, July 7, 2008


We walked 20 minutes in the wrong direction when we arrived in Mendoza. It was the worst part of the trip so far because we had all our bags and it was so heavy. But we didn't start getting annoyed or anything, which usually one would do. We started just feeling sorry for ourselves. haha.

Mendoza, Argentina, is a great place with lots of stuff to do. We met some sound people in the hostel. We also met unsound people but sher that's bound to happen!

It was in Mendoza where we went on a wine tasting trip. Not much wine was tasted I have to say! a few glasseens. Fairly harmless now! The trip consisted of 2 wineries, an olive oil factory and a chocolate factory (which was more like a kitchen). The 'chocolate factory' was just us listening to a man pointing at loads of bottles and speaking Spanish. Elaine did a massive yawn while he was talking. Hilarious!

We had a deadly all you can eat in Mendoza and there was a lad up on the stage who looked like Ronaldo and he was singing cheesy Latino stuff. Brilliant.

We went skiing on the border of Argentina and Chile. High in the mountains. The snow was perfect. An hour lesson and then skiing at our own leisure for the day. Great stuff. I picked it up fairly handy, I still don't know which I prefer, skiing or snowboarding. I do think skiing is easier though. Elaine picked skiing up easier than the snowboarding in Canada.

We were videoing each other coming down the mountain on the skis. The ONE video I didn't get... Elaine came flying down at a high speed, it was mad... but she could't stop properly in time... She went right past me and DESTROYED a baby who was in the seating area with its family. It was beyond funny. The baby was on a chair drinking Sprite happily, and it ended up on the ground 10 feet away, tangled up in the chair, the skis, the ski poles, Elaine, and the Sprite bottle. It was a mess! And of course the poor baby had a big cry. Elaine was very shocked and mortified! hahaha

We also got sunburnt to bits, but around our eyes was white because of the sunglasses. It was very embarrassing. That lasted about 6 days. Scald!

Next stop .... Buenos Aires!!! a 13 hour bus journey!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Santiago, Chile. Freezin'.

The first song I heard in Chile was 'One' by Metallica. The lads who were checking the passports and stamping them were listening to Metallica. I was thinking "this is already the best country I've ever visited", haha!

We were freezing when we arrived in South America. It was early morning and we got a taxi through the dark, dirty and silent streets of a 5:00am Santiago. I suppose any town or city is going to be spooky and quiet at 5am and in the winter. The hostel let us sleep in a room for a few hours until check in time. Sound.

There is not much to write about Santiago. It was cold and just another city. I did like the amount of dogs around the place. It's great that stray dogs are tolerated down here! They are lying all over the place! If it was Ireland they would be put in the pound and eventually destroyed. Sly Ireland hating stray dogs.

Santiago is a smoggy city. It has a nice metro system though. The hostel was cool. They had a spaghetti night and there was a limited amount of free red wine. I availed. But there was a Scottish lad drinking everyones wine and I was way too sober for the occasion! He was a Rangers fan.

We only stayed there 2 nights and went to Valparaiso next. Another place with dogs everywhere! Great nightlife there if you go to the right part of the town. If you go to the wrong part of town, you are in the Enniskillen of Chile. We stayed one night. One LOCKED night. And there were pubs playing lots of Rammstein. Fantastico. Mendoza was the next stop. We got the bus towards there the next morning.