Wednesday, January 21, 2009

South America - Day 13 - Patagonia, Argentina - Paradise

For those who don´t know what or where Patagonia´s quite´s the south part of South America, which inclides Argentina and Chile. But more on this later.

I arrived in Buenos Aires on Saturday and checked into Hostel America del Sur - I am mentioning the name in the blog because it is the best hostel I have ever stayed in. It is clean, has friendly staff, amazing food, plenty of entertainment, and all for abut US$15 a day.

I immediately proceeded to Plaza Italia to watch the final minutes of the Dakar Rally, one of my main reasons for returning to Buenos Aires. I saw the first Motorbike arrive and then many more to follow, along with Trucks, Cars, and Quads. There was a hugh throng of spectators that kept on growing as the day went on. It was great to see racers who survived this truly challenging race and gladly signed autographs and took pictures with the crowd.

Dakar which originated in 1978 is a two week off road race that includes terrain such as mud, grass, rocks, etc...traditionally the Dakar Rally began in Paris, France and ended in Dakar, Senegal but due to political instability in Africa this year it was held in South America and inlcuded Argentina and Chile. If anyone is interested in joining you´ll be happy to know that 80% of racers are amateurs so anyone can take it.

After the race I went back to the Hostel and since I was by myself I began to make friends. I met many people from all over the world some who were traveling for more then six months, some professionals, some who did volunteer work, and of course a few students. The hostel offered dinner which for US$15 included all you can eat steak, salad, and wine. I took full advantage by eating 4 steaks and drinking about half a bottle of wine. I might have set the hostel record for most eaten at dinner.I decided that I will go to southern part of the country to visit more family and explore the Patagonia that I have been hearing about.

On Monday, January 19, 2009 for the first time I arrived to Bariloche, Argentina. I was met at the Airport by Nacho from BA and my uncle Nicholas. It was about 8pm and we went straight to their home. Nicholas and his wife Rosita, along with my cousin Niko live in a Chalet at the bottom of one of the mountains in Patgonia. Their property actually includes 7 units which they rent to tourists year round.

During the drive from the airport I saw that this place was special. It was a web of lakes, mountains, and trees combined together for one of the most scenic places that I have ever been to. It´s even better than Lake Bled in Slovenia, which until now was a big favorite.

We had dinner at around 10pm, which is very normal for Argentinians, and went to sleep leaving the next few days to discover Patagonia. Over the next few days we explored hidden beaches, tranquil lakes, and picturesque mountains. Right now as I am typing it is about 9:30pm and we will probably have dinner soon...this is also my last night in Patagonia. I am truly upset as I feel this to be a tease as there is so much more that I did not have time to see.

As I mentioned in the title of the post this place is Paradise. It should definitely be added to everyones list of places to see before you die.

Tommorow morning I am off to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for the final leg of my trip.

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