More photos of Patagonia

April 14, 2010

As promised, here are more images from Patagonia!


The last week in the Patagonia region has been nothing but breathtaking!

We arrived in El Calafate on April 4th and spent 4 days there. We visited the Parque Nacional Los Glaciares to see the famous Glaciar Perito Moreno. Just to give you an idea of its size, it’s 60 feet high and 5km wide! This glacier truly became famous in 2004 when a massive piece of it broke off and made Lago Argentino‘s water raise 30m! We took a boat tour that took us as close as 200m from it! We witnessed it breaking off a couple of times and surprisingly it was powerful enough to rock our boat. We also spent a couple of hours walking around the boardwalks and observation decks to look at the spectacular views! The sounds of the ice cracking and breaking was very cool! On a side note, they had to move these boardwalks/observation decks away from the glacier since 36 people have died from falling ice in the last 40 years!

We then made our way to El Chaltén, which is around 3hrs North of El Calafate by bus. This place is known for its hicking trails and its biggest mountain Cerro Fitz Roy. Yesterday we took Jack on his first hike on a section of the Fitz Roy trail which took us 5hrs, it was so beautiful! Fun facts, the ozone layer doesn’t exist here which means that we can burn in a matter of minutes without applying sunscreen, the leaves are starting to change colour (it’s Fall here), the temperature is approximately 0 degrees celcius at night and +15 in the afternoon. We encountered a really nice couple from France who offered to look over Jack (while he was sleeping) while we went out for dinner! Grandparents don’t freakout, he was in good hands with lots of other people around and we were just a few steps away 😉 Our lamb dinner was fantastic!

We’re taking the day today to plan our next few days in Patagonia. Looks like we’ll be heading back to El Calafate to fly back to Buenos Aires to then make our way by bus to Mendoza! Ouff!

p.s. The internet is so slow here that it would take way too long to upload all the images that I want. Here are the only 4 that I managed to upload in one hour! More to come when we encounter faster internet 😉

p.p.s. Oh and make note that I don’t have time to process the images with Picassa.

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Yesterday I celebrated my 30th birthday with my two favourite men! We took the day easy by enjoying a late breakfast (10am – when Jack and I woke up), followed by our last Spanish lesson with Alejandra, then consumed homemade hamburgers & fries with a 1L Stella Artois for lunch! The entire day was very cloudy and humid but that didn’t stop us from going for a early evening walk to the park where artists put up tents to sell their art – I just love this area! I took this opportunity to take evening photos with my D300, it was fun! In old Argentinian style we had dinner at 10pm, this consisted of lomo de bife (a.k.a. steak), zucchini & red peppers, vino tinto (a.k.a. red wine) and some delicious cake called Chocolate Dulce de Leche! The lady from the bakery gave us a candle to put on the cake, how nice of her! I couldn’t have asked for anything more and it feels great to be in my 30’s!

Overall, spending two weeks in Buenos Aires was very interesting. We met some interesting people (locals and travellers) and witnessed weird things! The one thing that disturbed me the most were mothers (often times very pregnant) with their babies/children on the street or restaurant begging for money or food. Makes me wonder if the country offers some types of services to help them out. The homeless men tend to stay and sleep in the parks, I don’t recall seeing one begging, probably because they were too hung over.

Buenos Aires is definitely a dog lovers paradise! If owners aren’t out running or walking with or without a dog, you have the dog walkers who can impressively manage to hold a dozen dogs at once! It also seems that there are as many taxis here as NY City and as many lovers as Paris making out on park benches! In Recoleta, you will more than likely encounter older ladies walking with canes who wear designer clothing and have great hair and makeup. Women here take their appearances very seriously!

Random notes
In both the hotel and apartment we stayed in (in Buenos Aires) required a key to unlock/open our door! Talk about a hazard! We always kept a set of key in the door just in case. The keys here also look very different from the ones in North America, see picture.
The mosquitoes here are just as vicious as in Canada, I still have welts from four days ago!
Since we had been highly recommended not to go see  a futbol game with Jack, we took the opportunity to go see a POLO match which had free admission. Very interesting sport but trying it would probably be the death of me!

I can’t say that I will miss the apartment and it’s cockroaches! We only saw one (thankfully) but we hear it’s very common here due to the temperature and humidity. It’s actually so common that every month buildings get sprayed with insecticides! I will especially miss this city because of its parks and huge trees on every street. I would highly recommend this city to anyone who’s interested in consuming great food and wine at a very affordable price!

Tomorrow we leave for El Calafate, a touristic area in Southern Argentina called Patagonia. It’s located in the Andes (rocky mountains of South America) where we will visit the Los Glaciares National Park, I simply can’t wait!

p.s. In my last couple of posts I created a slideshow of images but I’m not sure how you (the readers) prefer to view them. Please tell me your preferance by answering this poll. Thanks!

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Over the last week, we have managed to walk around 30+km by visiting other nearby districts. The weather has just been nothing but fantastic so far, a great reason to spend most of our days outside!

The following districts are listed in no particular order. To have a visual of the areas that we have visited look at this map (North-East area).

Palermo South is filled with parks (a.k.a. jardins) and small lakes. We spent last Sunday walking through that area and witnessing some pretty funny stuff! It turns out that certain roads are closed to cars on the weekends to allow people to bike, walk, roller blade and etc, just like Rockliffe Parkway on Sundays. The funniest thing to watch were people renting roller blades and trying to skate! But then there was this guy who we named “fruit loop”, we thought he was a woman from a distance… no need to say more, just watch the video! The one thing we learned from walking through the various jardins is that Jack loves fountains! We also walked by: the Planetario Galileo Galilei, the Jardin Zoologico, the Canadian Embassy and  Flor Floralis (a huge metal flower that blooms in the morning and closes at sunset).

This district is known for the arts, antique stores and cobbled streets. We took the subte (subway) to get there and Jack didn’t waste any time charming ladies! Watch the video.

We ventured downtown on probably one of the worst days possible. Who would have known that Argentina’s Remembrance Day (March 24) would have been so chaotic? To us, it appeared like they were protesting instead of remembering the fallen! There was a helicopter hovering above us, police with batons everywhere and ugly Peruvians! The Peruvians here are known best for their pickpocketing skills, we actually witnessed a woman get her wallet stolen in broad daylight! We also walked through Florida street since it was recommended in various books. In Bruce’s words “It’s was like Sparks street but on crack!”. I didn’t like it and wouldn’t recommend it.

We went back to the downtown core a couple of days ago to buy our plane tickets to El Calafate at Aerolineas Argentinas. We also went to Cafe Tortoni, a cafe that to this date maintains its original appearance since it’s construction in the 19th century!

We visited the bus & train stations out of curiosity. We plan on taking an overnight bus to Mendoza after our adventures in El Calafate.

This is a new district of  BA. It boasts new buildings that are very modern looking compared to the rest of BA. This is where we visited our first museum, the Pte. Sarmiento Frigat (1897) ship. We also saw the Woman’s Bridge which was pretty impressive.

It was so hot and sticky a couple of days ago that we swam on the rooftop of our apartment rental agency. The water was very refreshing and the view of the city from above was quite the treat!

I have other things to share but I will save it for later 😉

p.s. I hope you enjoy this post because it took me hours to upload the images and videos!

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Over the past couple of days we have ventured in our neighborhood called Recoleta.

Day 5, we had to stay in due to the heavy downpours which lasted all day! That gave us the opportunity to watch some television, mostly American shows with subtitles. I didn’t realize how trashy they were! Bruce had to run in the rain to buy ingredients for dinner. He returned drenched with fresh spaghetti pasta and sauce, it was delicious!

Day 6, we visited the Buenos Aires Design: mall, which contains mostly trendy furniture and things to decorate your home. We then visited the Cementerio de la Recoleta (Recoleta cemetery), which holds bodies of wealthy and prominent Buenos Aires individuals, including Evita Peron (a.k.a. Evita, 1996 movie featuring Madonna). Although we didn’t see her tomb, it is said to be the most visited in the cemetery. The tombs are quite interesting to see but their contents are at times disturbing. I peaked in one and noticed that it went down about 3 meters with multiple shelves containing multiple coffins (photos of coffins are prohibited). We overheard from a guided tour that each tomb is private property and that all living families must pay taxes in order to maintain possession of that property. I’m curious to know what would happen if the taxes weren’t paid!

For lunch we ate at El Sanjuanino, a restaurant known for their empanadas (pies). This place is always packed with people, no wonder the food is to die for! We stayed in for dinner again and had mero (Grouper, Argentine Sea Bass). Considering the lack of ingredients that we have here at the apartment, Bruce managed to make another great meal!

Day 7, we had a coffee date with Luciana, a girl we met at a restaurant a few nights ago. She introduced me to làgrima, a type of coffee containing mostly milk, it was very good! We went back for empanadas for lunch because they were sooo good!

Every morning so far, we have been indulging in pastries, fruits, yogurt  and coffee in our apartment, yum! Tomorrow we have our first Spanish lesson with Alexandra. She’ll be coming to our apartment, can’t wait!

I’m so excited to show you our apartment (called Dos Chicas, on 6th floor) for the next 2 weeks! We are situated in the Recoleta District, which is known to be the tourist area. We get a lot of daylight but we have no view. Our windows face the exteriors of other buildings, it doesn’t bother us because we get more privacy that way!

The agency we rented from is called They’ve offered us great service so far! Turns out the guy who gave us our keys, Marcelo, was Mr. Gay Argentina 2009 and went to Toronto for Mr. Gay World 2009 and placed in the Top 10, can’t wait to Google that!

Bruce is out trying to find a grocery store because it’s 2pm and we still haven’t had lunch! I stayed in because Jack is napping and I really wanted to upload some images!

We left Montevideo yesterday on a ferry to visit Buenos Aires. Locals from Uruguay warned us that it was a very busy city, someone even said it was the “New York” of South America. Keeping that in mind, I set my expectations to face a city full of professional snobby people! The ferry ride was approximately 2 hours long and to our surprise it was nice and cozy (much more so than a plane)!

We took a radio taxi from the port to a hotel Bruce had found on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what it appeared to be, but none the less we booked two nights in order to shop for an apartment to save money. Most of Bruce’s friends know that he’s a big fan of Tim Ferriss (author of the One Hour Work Week). From Tim’s blog, Bruce found a link to an apartment rental agency run by gay men. We emailed them before our departure from Montevideo and met with them this morning. We had the chance to meet the owner and three other staff members, one of which showed us two apartments that were more in our price range. It was very easy to make a decision since one was superior than the other. Can’t wait to share photos of it with you! Our moving date is tomorrow morning and we will be leaving on April 3rd for either Mendoza or El Calafate.

The city isn’t as busy as I was expecting it to be and the people are much more friendlier than expected! Through our encounters, we have managed to get the contact information of a Spanish teacher who, hopefully will come to our apartment to give us lessons at $10 USD/hr, can’t wait! We are blending in pretty well, I would assume that most people thought we were locals! The key is to walk with a purpose and not looking confused! Much easier said than done at times! Can you believe that we met a French teacher in a cafe? I was pleasantly surprised!

I will be posting photos of Montevideo and Buenos Aires once we move into our apartment, sorry for the delay 😉

Sorry for taking 9 days to publish a new post!

Before our departure from Orlando, I really didn’t feel like we were leaving for South America. Maybe I was in denial or maybe I just knew that this experience couldn’t be worse than Thailand!

I decided to bring my D300 with my wide-angle lens and external flash only. I’ll be taking RAW format images for my personal collection and some JPEG format for my blog. I will be processing them with Picasa, hopefully it will work out fine!

On to the details of the start of our trip. Because of the 2 hours delay on our flight from Orlando with TAM airlines, we missed our connecting flight to Montevideo. The earliest connection from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Uruguay was 5 hours later than expected. During those 5 hours we expected someone from Pluna Airlines to be at the gate and give us our boarding passes but there was no one in sight until 20 minutes before the flight. All the other passengers boarded the shuttle bus and we were left behind with the staff scrambling, why? I don’t know, they could only speak Portuguese and Spanish! All that matters though is that they managed to put us on board the airplane!

We landed in Montevideo around 6pm and it was still light out but by the time we arrived at our hotel it was dark out and we were hungry! With our broken Spanish, we managed to have the receptionist call a delivery place to our room. We were exhausted, went to bed around 10pm and woke up around 9am! There’s definitely a language barrier, most people don’t speak a word of English. For breakfast we went to a grocery store and bought a couple yogurts, bananas and water. For lunch we ventured to a busy section of the city and ate at a busy restaurant. Luckily a lady sitting next to us could speak a bit of English and explained to us what was on the menu, thank God! We also wanted to get money from a bank machine but we don’t understand the menus, hopefully we’ll figure it out sooner rather than later!

Both Bruce and I are amazed at the amount of trees in the city. Every street has full grown trees about 5 meters apart, it’s beautiful! I’ll try to post photos later because it’s baby time!

Tomorrow we plan on heading to Buenos Aires by ferry. Stay tuned for more 😉

Jack made my day!

March 8, 2010

Great news! With some intensive training over the last few days, Jack finally said MAMA! I don’t have video proof but I have witnesses 😉

Other things to mention is that we’re buying our tickets online as we speak! We’ll be leaving on March 15th and returning to Canada on April 28th. Uruguay here we come!

Florida Firsts

March 7, 2010

We knew the next couple of months would be filled with many firsts for Jack, but never did I imagine things to be happening already!

On our first morning here (3 days ago), Jack was talking to himself because he had just woken up. I don’t know what possessed me but I said to him DADA and to my surprise he immediately repeated! Some mothers might be offended by that but I think it’s wonderful! Don’t think his training for wording MAMA hasn’t started yet but until that happens I’ll settle with the look of unconditional love he gives me every time he looks at me. xoxo.

*The video attached is from later that same day, I’m so glad I managed to record it 🙂

Other firsts for Jack on this trip has been using a car seat that faces forward. I love watching his big eyes when he spots things while we’re driving!

Something funny he started doing is face planting from lowering his upper body too far forward from the sitting position. I’m sure he’ll master his weight shifting in no time and go on to crawling everywhere! 

We also went to Lake Kissimmee State Park (very beautiful by the way) and saw a prescribed forest fire (crazy thick black smoke and ashes falling from the sky), an armadillo and used a swing in a kids playground. Unfortunately though, the battery in our camera was dead and we weren’t able to capture these on film, oh well better luck next time.