Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bus tickets to El Chalten

This is it.

We leave Bariloche on Sunday at 8pm and arrive in El Chalten on Monday at 11.30pm. There is no comfy coche-cama like the one we took from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, only a clasico bus, like any normal bus, and it's a dirt road. This morning a retired Israeli couple told me "ahh, bad road, bad road. don't do it". Thanks guys.

We'll stay in El Chalten for 3 days, go to El Calafate for another 3 and come back to bariloche -via Ruta 3- on February 7th.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Hike to Cerro Tronador

Last week Matt, Yumi and I to do something different than the usual day hikes near Bariloche and decided to go further. We found out about Cerro Tronador, an extinct volcano located on the Chilean border, about 90km South West of Bariloche and decided to give it a go, get to the Otto Meilling refuge and camp there before coming back the day after as the kids (MAtt and Yumi) have school on Monday.

The downside of travelling light is that Yumi and I have no camping equipment, so we bought a camping mat and rented sleeping bags. Matt had the tent and stove, so we were ready.

It takes about 2.5h to drive the 90km (60miles), most of it on dirt roads and we arrived in Pampa Linda. We had to register and the queue was fairly long as people were not only registering but asking for some info! What a waste of time... anyway, we have plenty of it. We met Laura and Claire in the queue (or "line" for our American readers) and asked them if they wanted to join us.

So here we were, 4 Americans and a Frenchman getting on our way. From the valley you can see the Castano Overa glacier and it is quite impressive. You can hear bits of ice falling off the glacier and it makes a thunder like noise, which is were the Tronador ("Thunder") gets its name from.

On the way up we had a geology class given by Matt who is doing a Phd in a rather small Californian University. It's realy interesting as Matt can speak so beginners like Yumi, Claire, Laura and I can actually understand what he says.

The first part of the hike was in the forest. It could have been anywhere but the sound of the falling seracs reminded us we were in the Andes.

We stopped after 1.5h to eat. There were flies everywhere and luckily most of them were going towards Yumi. At the end of the weekend we counted 33 bites on both her shoulders! That was the not so nice part of the hike. Damn flies! Time's not fun when you are having flies!

Little by little we got above the trees and started to walk on Mars, before getting across a snowy section. We were not far away from the refuge and the views were stunning.

Yumi in front of the glacier

slight change of landscape

As we arrived at the refuge, we looked for a place to pitch our tent, eat before sunset and enjoy the rest of the evening, while Claire and Laura found some space inside the refuge. They were plenty of rocks next to our tent so we decided to set a kitchen area, with a table and chairs. We felt and probably looked like the Flintstones by then and deserved to eat.
Our "campsite"

The sunset was amazing as the sky went from blue to yellow-ish and orange and purple before turning dark blue and black. With not a cloud in the sky, we were probably the luckiest hikers around.

We woke up at 5.45am to watch the sunrise and it was almost as pretty as the sunset, but it was freakin' cold!
Matt, Thomas and Yumi with Cerro Tronador behind us

As soon as the sun showed up it was time to take off some layers and eat breakfast, before returning to Pampa Linda...and have a nice cold beer.
Yumi looking towards the valley, with the castano overa glacier on her right

It was a great weekend with probably with the best scenery we've witnessed so far and we were in great company too which makes any trip so much better. Claire and Laura are now back in Santiago, and we will probably see them there on our way to Bolivia.

Friday, January 21, 2011

One more week in Bariloche

Hi All!

It's Friday already and Yumi has just finished her first week of Spanish lessons!
She is at school from 9am to 1pm and in the meantime, I either walk around, train-ish and mainly check what we think we are going to do next!

It has rained from time to time and the wind here is just so powerful that you prefer to stay inside, but we've managed to do something fun pretty much everyday.

Walk to Cerro Otto, which is about 5km away from our place. We do most of the travels by foot and our bodies are used to all this walking by now.

Go to the beach: As you can see the weather can be stormy around here

And a hike to Lago Guiterrez, 15km south of Bariloche

We've also moved in to our host family. They are very nice and easy to talk to.
The view from the balcony is great (if you look straight ahead and not below) as you can see most of the Nahuel Huapi lake and the Andes.

We are heading South next Sunday to El Chalten, a small hiking village located some 28h by bus on a bumpy road. We'll update you on this one!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Active in Bariloche

A rainy start to Yumi's birthday allowed us some time to chill out before starting on some of the outdoor activities on offer in Bariloche.  The clouds soon parted and the beautiful blue sky reappeared and we were off.  You can take a bus and a chair lift up to the top of Cerro Otto, but why sit when you can walk for 2.5 hours (one way) instead.

Along the way, we met some interesting people: 3 Chilean cyclists who were taking a break by climbing a big rock, a Jewish Argentinian couple who asked Thomas to take not one, not two, but about 7 photos of them and 2 Argentinian guys who offered to take a photo of us, but we asked them to join in in our jump photo.

We had a delicious birthday dinner and then bought some alcohol to share with our friends at the hostel, a mix of Americans and a German learning Spanish, 2 Argentinian girls on a break from uni and an Israeli who shares the same passion for basketball as Yumi.  We celebrated until 1am (very late for Yumi).  So far, the people we have met have really made the trip.

The next morning--with a bit of a hangover--we made our way on a crowded bus to kilometre 18 to rent mountain bikes for the 27 km Circuito Chico.  Thomas was a bit picky with his choice of bike.  Really, who needs back brakes.

Yumi found a way to cope with the up hill climbs...practice counting in Spanish.  This kept her from cursing at Thomas.

The last 7 km took more concentration as we had to look out for potholes and traffic.  On the last hill, Yumi was in desperate need of a water break and started yelling to Thomas, "Pare!  Pare!"  He didn't seem to hear her, but stopped anyway in front of a cafe.  Oh wait, it's the bike rental shop.  We're finished, thank goodness.  27 km in 4.5 hours including a lunch break, a dip in one of the lakes and time to contemplate the meaning of life.  4,000 km in Japan?  It's going to be very interesting...

Luckily, dinner that night was being prepared for us by the hostel owner Gaston.  Yummy asado for all!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

From Buenos Aires to Bariloche

Buenos dias a todos!

After 20h and 1600km in a bus, we have made it to Bariloche. We booked a "coche cama" (bus-bed) which is the equivalent of the business class in planes. There's plenty of space and you can sleep comfortably. 

We didn't see the time go by and we woke up in the middle of the Pampa.

Buenos Aires was great and it was a shame to leave it as we made a couple of good friends there. Stacey from New Hampshire, who is at the end of a 6 months trip in South America and Andre from Sao Paulo, who travelled to BA and Uruguay on a 2 week holiday break.

BA was quite empty and sometimes you just wonder where the people are, but it’s good for pictures J
We have walked across town and seen pretty much everything that can be seen in 3 days: from Evita’s tomb to Boca Junior stadium and its colourful neighbourhood: La Boca. We also went for a tango show and learned some tango moves, which we demonstrated to some people in the lounge of the hostel with our backpacks on (we were asked to as we were leaving and we felt so confident we couldn't say no).

We’ve learned that in BA everything is “2 blocks away”, there’s no rush, people are smiling, you can eat amazing sandwiches far away from the touristy area near the zona ecologica (which is closed on Mondays) and that –according to Andre- the “women’s bridge” looks like a man.

We were advised to go to the Tigre river, north of BA, but there's only so much we can do, and we know that we will miss nice places, wherever we go. We only have to focus on the amazing things we'll discover rather than the ones we cannot visit. Life is easy.

We are slowly getting used to being in summer and on holiday. We haven’t realised yet the extent of our journey, which is only starting...

Talk soon

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hola desde Argentina!

That's it Friends, we landed in a stormy weather yesterday in Diego Maradona kingdom!

Our bags were waiting for us  :)
Yumi's bag is 10.1kg while mine is 11.8kg. We don't know what we've forgotten yet :)

We met David in the plane, and his brother kindly dropped us off in front of our hostel in the San Telmo area.

We walked in town and enjoyed the baking heat. It was about 30 degrees and at 4.30pm, as the sun was probably setting in London, it higher than ever here. Summer. Woohoo!

Tonight, it's tango night, olé. it should be fun!
Pictures will come later

Hasta luego for now!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bags are almost packed!

Good news!

We are getting there!

It was about time, we leave in 4 days :)
Yumi has packed her back and it's empty. We can't weight her backpack, but I'd say it's about 10kg.

 Watch this space, it's worth it! :)

Wanna know what's inside? Click here!
 If you think we've forgotten something, let us know and email us:

As there is more air than stuff in our bags, we've decided to take shower gel (rather than buying it there, that is. We had planned to take showers) and other bits and pieces I can't think of now.

I'll take my favourite pair of trousers but I honestly don't think they'll survive January. I guess I'll have to replace them with some "Made In Argetina".

We've also packed a box which will be sent to Tokyo by Nico after we leave. Inside are our Bicycle essentials: clothes, trainers, helmets, horn (a really fun one bought by Santa Cécé, you'll find out more in September, hehe), gloves, tent, shirts, bicycle lights and high visibility jackets. It was worth doing it as it costs much less to send all this to Tokyo rather than buying new equipment once we get there. It will also save us some precious time :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Challenge 2.0!

If you've read us yesterday, you'll know that we want to do our 1,000 push ups in Jan.

I made a huge error though. I discussed that with my step dad Didier, who said he'd join our challenge but would like to add 3,000 abs to it. "Sure!" said Yumi. "Doh"! said Thomas.

Anyway, it's more of a mental challenge so anybody can test themself and do it, so feel free to join our January Challenge. :)

Remember, it's 1,000 push ups and 3,000 abs (any type of abs you can think of) before the 1st of Feb 2011.

Who's in?

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Kick ass and think positive!