The plot thickens
New York Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
At the end of the last article we were stuck in Mexico unable to afford the flight to South America. The way we overcame the high cost of flying to South America was not by travelling south by bus but by flying north to America. We caught a cheap flight to New York and stayed there for four days before flying south to Brazil, almost halving the cost of our original flight.
America suffers a lot from its negative image of un-sophistication but there is no doubt that New York is where America hides its culture. The city is very reminiscent of a European capital with numerous cultural venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the world’s largest art museums. There is however one factor that makes the city distinctly American, that is it’s scale. On almost every one of Manhattan’s blocks, buildings tower 30 or 40 stories above you and you are left feeling like a mouse in a maze. Whilst wandering through the maze we met up with our friend Tom, surprising him under the Empire State building, and spent the last days of his worldwide trip with him. Culminating in a trip to Times Square, where thanks to an advertising campaign by Ray ban we were to see our faces displayed on 40 foot high electronic billboards.
After our brief hiatus in the frozen New York City we headed to sunnier climes in the form or Rio de Janeiro. This was the city I had been most looking forward to, we had missed the Carnival but the city, like all of Brazil, maintains a vibrant party atmosphere all year round. Unfortunately our first experience in the city turned out to be our worst of the entire trip. Even after we had been told of the dangers of Rio we let our guard down and walked under the main tunnel leading towards Copacabana beach. As we were about half way through, a teen of about 16 ran across the road and confronted us with a knife, we turned round and were accosted by four more kids and we were forced to give up our wallets. We did not loose too much money but it was a real shame that we had to be part of another South American scare story.
After that bad experience we were determined to enjoy ourselves in Rio. We checked into a new hostel that had the best atmosphere of any we had been to. We spent the next 4 days sightseeing during the day and partying during the night with some of the best people we have ever met, an international group made up of Brazilians, Germans, Dutch, Australians, Peruvians and three British guys from Hertfordshire. Undoubtedly the most impressive side of Rio is the view of its bays and districts from one of the surrounding mountains. We managed to obtain an extra special vantage point of the city by Hang gliding over the top of it. Looking down onto the top of the skyscrapers below with Ipanema beach in the distance was an amazing experience in an awe-inspiring setting.
Our next stop in Brazil was the Iquacu falls right on the Argentinean and Paraguayan border, it is made up of 270 waterfalls, offering an impressive view of nature that we had not experienced before, with thousands of gallons of water cascading over an edge that covers 1.67 miles, unfortunately we felt the falls were slightly tainted by the numerous gift shops and food stands that took something away from the beauty of the surroundings.
After Iquacu we entered our fourth country, Argentina, bizarrely crossing the border in a taxi. Almost as soon as we had arrived on Argentinean soil we sought out a good restaurant to sample the country’s famous steak. We were treated to great food and wine with excellent service all for little over £5. From that point on we knew we were going to enjoy Argentina.
We took a surprising comfortable 18-hour bus ride and were served more food and wine onboard before arriving at our next destination, Buenos Aires. The capital had a slightly slower pace than the hectic Rio de Janeiro and also a welcome safer vibe to it, however we soon discovered that the pace changed dramatically after the sun goes down. Most families in BA do not go out to dinner until after 10pm and if you are to visit a nightclub do not expect to finish until 8 or 9 in the morning. After we had finally acclimatised to the odd body clock that BA lives by, we really grew to love the city. Out of all the places we have visited it was definitely the one we felt most at home in. It has a modern European feel, earning it the title of ‘The Paris of South America’.
Our final outing in Buenos Aires was a trip to the infamous Boca stadium to see a football game. The Boca Juniors fans have a very negative reputation and after our experience in Rio we were a little apprehensive, but we managed to brave the neighbourhood and buy a ticket from a tout. The match itself was a bit of a walk in the park for Boca Juniors, they won with a 2-0 victory, but the fans themselves behaved brilliantly creating a real party atmosphere, with the party not stopping until the final whistle was blown.
Our next stop, and last of this article was Puerto Madryn. It is a peninsula on the east coast of Argentina that is the start of the Patagonia region of Argentina and Chile; it is also home to large colonies of marine wildlife. We hired a car and travelled around the peninsula and were very lucky to see Orcas attempting to attack Sea Lions and Seals on the seashore. On our second day there we travelled down the coast and visited a large Penguin colony of over half a million penguins. It was possible to stroll through the colony and get right up close to the birds. We were expecting this part of our travels to get really cold and yet we were viewing penguins in our shorts and T-shirts. Little did we know just how cold it was about to get as we ventured further south.
In the final article I will describe our journey into Southern Patagonia as we descend close to the Artic circle where we spent our time trekking on glaciers. We then head north to the wine regions of Chile and Argentina and then on to Peru and Bolivia.