Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Photos Photos and More Photos

We took way too many pictures on this trip, so I've placed them all up on flickr yee! No more hassling Caroline about wanting to see photos :)

Heres the link --> http://www.flickr.com/photos/carolinerojas/


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Neil heads back home

17 April 2006

Today arrived back in Melbourne after flying out of Santiago on Saturday night Santiago time. Lost a day there somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. Caroline will be staying in Santiago another two weeks and hopefully she will keep you posted of any further adventures. I really enjoyed my trip to South America and hope to head back there soon.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Karaoke leads to bad singing

13 April 2006

Took most of today easy and relaxed after a fairly busy week and also did some shopping. Late in the evening we went out to a karaoke bar in downtown Santiago with a bunch of Caroline´s cousins. A good time was had by all and we ended back at home about 5am. Caroline and I along with Caroline´s cousin Alejandra graced the karaoke stage to absolutely butcher a version of U2´s ´The Streets Have No Name´. I think my dreams of becoming the next Australian Idol have been totally shattered.

14 April 2006

We both woke up this morning feeling a little worse for wear. Australian bars could learn something from Chilean and Peruvian bars where most basic spirits are mixed fifty-fifty with any post mix.

Today we headed down south about 100km to the seaside town of San Antonio. We had a look around at the various markets and the other goings on. There was heaps of people around as it was Good Friday and everyone was getting away for the long weekend.

After lunch we headed to El Quisco, a short trip from San Antonio and also by the sea, to pay a visit to Caroline´s great aunt. She lives in a great spot - you just walk out onto the front porch and you get 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean. We also found out that she was the dressmaker for the family of Salvador Allende, the Chilean president who was in power when Pinochet took power back in 1973. Would have liked to ask her a whole bunch of questions but my Spanish isn´t that good. On our way home we dropped into the house of Caroline´s uncle Juan. Have been doing a lot of eating and drinking in the last couple of days.


Alejandra, Neil and Caroline belting a very bad version of ´The Streets Have No Name´

Caroline and her cousins, Carolina and Alejandra

Caroline and all her cousins that came to the karaoke bar

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A new bus, waterfalls and some rare wine

12 April 2006

Today was our last day of the tour and with a new bus that had arrived during the night we headed off from Temuco and back to Santiago. We finally made it Saltos del Laja mid morning. Here we spent about an hour or so having a look at the falls from various angles and also the surrounding river.

Our next stop was a visit to the Balduzzi Winery which is a small boutique winery of Italian origin about 250km south of Santiago. We had a tour of the wine making facilities and sampled some of their fine wines. We tasted some Carmenere wine which is only found in Chile as it was totally wiped out in Europe where it usually grows by disease hundreds of years ago. Caroline and I made some purchases which we will hopefully share with you all. We then headed back to Santiago and we got dropped off right near where we are staying in San Bernardo and we said farewell to our group and guide.

I got some unexpected news as we were confirming my flights when we got home. We found out that I wasn´t flying out tomorrow as expected but on Saturday - so my holiday is extended by an extra two days.


A beautiful old Citroen by the side of the road

Saltos del Laja waterfall

Caroline near the base of the waterfalls at Saltos del Laja

A few from near the top of Saltos del Laja

Some of the vines at the Balduzzi Winery

That´s where the good stuff comes from at Balduzzi Winery

Rain and a broken down bus

10 April 2006

Today we left Valdivia and headed further south to almost the end of the Pan American Highway, which runs almsot the length of Chile, at Puerto Montt. Puerto Montt is the stepping off point to the rest of southern Chile. Here we stopped off for some lunch and had a look at the local handicraft markets. After spending about two hours in Puerto Montt we headed north to Puerto Varas which sits on the edge of Lago Llanquihue. Caroline and I took a stroll around the town before it started raining. This is the first time that we have experienced rain whilst in Chile and the second lot of rain that we had experienced in our whole trip around South America. We went out for dinner - where the waitress was playing Kylie Minogue´s greatest hits on the stereo - however, the food was good which made up for it.

11 April 2006

Feeling a little sad today as I will be heading home in a couple of days ending my visit to South America. Today we were meant to travel from Puerto Varas to Saltos del Laja - Chile´s widest waterfalls. Unfortunately our plans came unstuck as our bus broke down just outside of Temuco, about 200km south of our destination. It was pouring with rain, as it had been doing most of the day, and our bus had to be towed back to Temuco with us inside. We decided to spend the night in Temuco and visit the waterfalls in the morning on our way back to Santiago. Not much happened in Temuco apart from many games of fussball in the hostel we were staying at.


Down at the docks of Puerto Montt

Neil doing some shopping at the markets in Puerto Montt

Some boats waiting for high tide at Puerto Montt

Caroline taking it easy in Puerto Varas

Some poor fisherman´s boat washed up on the beach at Puerto Varas

Some rocks at Puerto Varas

Some Chilean cowboys practising their moves near Puerto Varas

Sea lions, rivers and german-chilean beer

09 April 2006

Today we left the town of Pucon and headed down souh to Valdiva which is the meeting point of three rivers as they go into the Pacific Ocean. These rivers are the Calle Calle, Cau Cau and Cruces. On our way to Valdivia we made our way past two of the seven lakes that are a key feature of the area. We stopped off at Lago Panguipulli and Lago Calafquen. This area has a strong Mapuche (native Chilean) tradition and in many places you can´t own land if you are not a Mapuche. We made it to Valdivia mid afternoon and we had a quick look around the local fish market which has some resident sea lions looking for an easy meal.

We then grabbed some lunch with our group at a local seafood restaurant (fortunately, there was something on the menu for me). Today was the Chilean superclassico - Colo Colo vs Universidad de Chile and there was heaps of people in the restaurant watching the game. For the record Colo Colo won 3-1 much to the chagrin of our guide is a Universidad de Chile fan.

After lunch we checked out a fort on the coast on the Pacific Ocean and then stopped of at the Kunstmann Brewery where we sampled some of the brews they produce. Kuntsmann is a Chilean beer that was started by the large German population that came to the area.


Caroline on the shores of Lago Calafquen

Looking out over Lago Panguipulli

The fresh fish market at Valdivia

A sea lion looking for an easy meal at the fish markets in Valdivia


Neil sampling some of the Kuntsmann brewery produce

Volcano climbing

07 April 2006

Not much happened today as we spent most of the day in bus as we travelled 770km from Pichilemu to Puco - which is the adventure capital of Chile. We did stop of at Santa Cruz and have a look at a private museum which is owned by a former Chilean arms dealer and one of the richest men in Chile. Rumour has it that sold arms to both Iran and Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war and made the best cluster bombs.

08 April 2006

Today we spent the day in Puco and we decided to do a climb of the nearby Volcan Villarrica. This volcano is still active and is about 2500m in height. It was an early start in order to make the most of the fine weather. It was a four hour hike to the top of the volcano through rock, ice and snow. Unfortunatey, Caroline had to pull out of the climb part way in because wasn´t feeling very well. The climb was pretty tough and I was very glad when we had breaks. The pain was worth it though when we reached the top the views were spectacular. Coming down the volcano was a whole lot easier as we slid down channels in the snow and ice. It only took us just over an hour to get down. After a quick dinner we went to some local hot springs to ease our sore bodies for a couple of hours.


Caroline reached this point of the volcano

Neil taking it easy during the climb up the volcano

Neil all suited up for his madcap slide down the volcano

Coming down the volcano on your arse

Volcan Villarrica in all its glory

Sunset over the Pacific

06 April 2006

After spending a few days relaxing in Santiago we set out today on a week long tour of the lakes district to the south of Santiago. Its not a proper organised tour - you just pay for the bus and the accommodation is extra. You also get to choose what activities you want to do at each stop and you can hop off the bus anytime you want.

Our first stop was Pichilemu - which is the surf capital of Chile and obviously has the best surf in Chile. Its only about 200km from Santiago so it didn´t take us long to get there. Caroline and I decided to some horse riding along the beach. Both of us had never ridden a horse before and we probably thought we were controlling the horses but they probably just went along the path that they usually go.

After this went and watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean - something that we have never seen before. Whilst watching the sun set we partly gatecrashed a celebration a bunch of surfers were having - I think there was some kind of competition on today. Later on we had a barbecue at the hostel where we were staying and then had some drinks at a local bar and sampled some of the local beers.

The beach at Pichilemu

A surfer in search of some better waves

Pichilemu as the sun starts to go down and the fogs rolls in

A bunch of surfers celebrating something in Pichilemu

Sunset over the Pacific Ocean

A cheesy photo of us as the sun goes down

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A little bit of tango and some thoughts on Buenos Aires

31 March 2006

We returned to Buenos Aires today from Puerto Iguazu after a short delay at the airport. Once back in Buenos Aires we enjoyed a meal at a vegetarian restaurant in San Telmo - our first visit to such an establishment whilst in South America. The food was great and they had a large selection of food to choose from. We also did some more shopping. Most stuff is fairly cheap over here.

Late in the evening we saw a tango show in downtown Buenos Aires with our friends Ashley and Alex. The show was great and an absolute bargain at only 25 pesos (about $12). It showcased the music, songs and dances of the tango. We didn´t get home until the early hours of the morning.

01 April 2006

Today was our last day in Buenos Aires. I have really enjoyed our visit to Buenos Aires and would have liked to spend a little more time here. We will definitely pay this city another visit. Of all the major cities we have visited in South America I like Buenos Aires the most and could quite easily see myself living here for a while and I don´t stand out as much as in the rest of South America that we have visited. We caught up on some last minute shopping and visited the suburb of Palermo - which is heavily influenced by the Italians before we headed off to the airport.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Fat tourists and the biggest shower of our lives

29 March 2006

Today we headed up to Puerto Iguazu to check out the Iguazu Falls - the biggest falls in the world. We would be staying for two nights and three days. We arrived early afternoon after our flight was delayed briefly. We took a tour of a local Indian village and the surrounding jungle. We then took a ride on a catamaran up the Iguazu river to the meeting point of three countries - Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. We then went for a bit of a cruise up the river. Not much else happened for the rest of the day.

30 March 2006

Today we took a day trip to check out the Iguazu Falls and we had an early start. When we arrived at the entrance to the falls we took a train to a point where you walk about a kilometre to visit the Devil´s Throat waterfall. This waterfall is the highest of all the falls and about 70m in height. It was very noisy and there was heaps of spray going everywhere and soaking everyone on the viewing platform. We took lots of photos and then headed back to the train.

Unfortunately our train was delayed and it took us a while to get back to our next stop. I think the delay was caused by all the fat toursits that seemed to be at the falls. I have never seen so many fat tourists in all my life. We then went for a walk along some of the upper walkways and checked out some pretty amazing views of the waterfalls. After lunch we went on a Grand Adventure that involved a tour through the jungle on the back of a truck and then a trip on a jet boat along the Iguazu river. The jet boat went through the rapids and then took us right underneath two waterfalls so that you got totally soaked. You couldn´t see much as the water was absolutely pelting down on top of you. We then did a short walk back up to the train. I think we missed out on part of our tour because of the earlier delay but overall it was a pretty good tour and we were pretty tired by the end of it all.


Visiting the locals in the jungle. These people don´t actually belong to any country which prompted a young American tourist to ask: ¨What happens if they kill a man?¨.

Caroline crossing one of the many bridges in the jungle

Neil + Caroline taking it easy on the Iguazu River cruise

The Devil´s Throat waterfall. If you can see the little black things they are birds that fly around amongst the spray

Neil overlooking the Devil´s Throat waterfall

The Devil´s Throat waterfall

Some of the many waterfalls that make up the Iguazu Falls

Getting close to the edge at one of the waterfalls

We were about to follow that jet boat into the waterfall

Caroline and Neil on the jet boat before we got soaked

Neil on dry land but still thoroughly drenched from our trip under the waterfall

A different view of the waterfalls

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Finally some photos

I know you all have waited a long time but we have finally managed to post some photos for you to have a look at. You will have to look in the entries for them.



Saturday, April 01, 2006

The sights of Buenos Aires and Caroline finds a team to support

27 March 2006

We decided to check out down town Buenos Aires, as most of the museums and galleries are closed on Monday in San Telmo. Downtown Buenos Aires is extremely busy and there is heaps of people going somewhere or doing something. Buenos Aires has been busiest city we have visited so far. We checked out some of the sites of the city and the shops and took a wander down to the river and had a quick look at the bridge by Santiago Calatrava.

We the caught up with some friends who came over to Chile with us and they shared their experiences of standing in the roughest section (la doce) of the ground for the Boca-River match. We also swapped stories of our travels around Peru. We went out for dinner at a local restaurant. They did some really nice pasta (the itlain influence in the area) and we also sampled some Argentinian wine . Prices were excellent! Unfortunately the Blues were being played a little too loud so we decided to go back to our hostel.

28 March 2006

After a good nights sleep and a late start to the day we decided to check out some galleries and museums. Unfortunately the museums that we wanted to see were closed for renovations until 2007 so we decided to head back into Central Buenos Aires and have a look at some sites. We had a look at the obelisk that marks the spot where the first Argentinian flag was raised. The obelisk sits in a huge roundabout that sits within a 22 lane wide avenue, which is the biggest in the world. It takes you two changes of lights to get across it by foot. At every intersection the drivers all treat it like they are starting off from a grand prix - so you have eight lanes of cars flying off from the intersection. We checked out some bookshops - books are fairly cheap over here and there is also heaps of secondhand book shops. I purchased myself a Boca shirt at one of the many sports stores that are in this part of town.

Late in the afternoon we did a tour of the Boca Juniors stadium and museum which is called ¨La Bombonera¨ because from above it supposedly looks like a chocolate box. The museum had old shirts and some of the many trophies that Boca has won over the years. In our tour of the stadium we got to sit in the stands (the stadium is actually quite small and the stands are steep and only holds about 50,000 people); stand on a small part of the pitch; check out the press conference room and even the Boca change rooms.

In the evening we went out to a soccer match - Racing vs San Lorenzo. These are two of the oldest clubs in Buenos Aires even older than Boca and so it was a grudge match. The stadium probably about half full but the locals were making a lot of noise and it would have been deafening if the ground was full. It was a crunch match for Racing (the home team) as they were sitting on the bottom of the ladder without a win. The first half was pretty bad with both teams playing badly. The main highlight of the first half was a fight between the hamburger stall man and a disgruntled customer. Caroline also started chatting with these two old timers. One of them had been a member of Racing since the 1930s and the other the 1950s. They were complaining that the ground was never full anymore and told us about the glory days of the 1970s and 1980s when they won heaps of titles.

In the second half the crowd was trying to get their team going and the team responded by playing better and eventually they scored a goal 13 minutes before the end of the game. The crowd went absolutely nuts and the noise was deafening. People in the standing areas were shouting and everyone was taunting the opposition supporters who were own locked off section for their own security. Racing won the game and the crowd went home happy and tried to throw stones or rocks at the trains that full of San Lorenzo fans as they headed home. It was a great night and Caroline is now a passionate Racing fan.

Tomorrow we are off to the Iguazu falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil.


Neil in the Plaza de Mayo - this is where all the big demonstrations take place

The Casa Rosada (the Pink House)

Looking out from the Plaza de Mayo

Santiago Calatrava rolls out another bridge this time for the people of Buenos Aires

Buildings on the Avenida de Julio

The obelisk that marks the spot where the first Argentinian flag was raised

A Buenos Aires local taking it easy in the middle of the 22 lane Avenida de Julio

Diego Maradona´s footprint outside ¨La Bombonera¨- he was so fast he didn´t leave one

Neil giving the Boca team their orders - hopefully this team will listen to me

Inside ¨La Bombonera¨

Neil waiting for the next game at ¨La Bombonera¨

Racing and San Lorenzo line up before the big game

Caroline and one of the old timers (had been a member since the 1930s)she was talking to - he went home happy after the win

The Racing fans decide to spark their team into action by letting of a flare