An Aussie and a Frenchy go to South America

Departure from Melbourne, 28 June 2011 – Arrival in BS AS 3rd July

Our big South American trip started with a bang, or should I say and eruption. Three weeks before we were due to travel a volcano erupted in Chile near the border of Argentina. With fingers, toes and eyes crossed we hoped that our flight would still go as normal.

 Unfortunately when we got to Sydney for our connecting flight the night before, it had been cancelled and supposedly rescheduled for two days later. Long story short, we spent five nights stranded in Sydney, hopping from accommodation to accommodation.

 

Qantas would only put us up for three nights and our travel insurance company said ‘you’re on your own, kiddos’ (apparently insurance companies can make and change their own rules whenever they want – subject to their interpretation only).

 We finally arrived on the Sunday night after six days of delays, 15 hours of flight (offset of course!) with two Brazilian toddlers, two films, three meals and one whisky…and no sleep later.

With all the fuss we didn’t have the chance to reserve a hostel so we chanced it and ended up at an upmarket hostel called America del Sur on Chacabuco in San Telmo where we ended up staying for three nights.

Our first night was spent with a Brisbane girl called Heather whom we met on the bus. We decided to go have dinner together, and since we were in Argentina, determined for it to be a steak dinner.

 Antoine and I had slept since our arrival so in fact, we hadn’t actually seen the city. By the time we left the hostel it was dark.

We took Chacabuco westwards to find our steakhouse and were greeted with the stench of garbage as piles of rubbish bags strewn across the footpath every 5 metres. A bit further down stray dogs were roaming looking for their dinner.

Every shop, restaurant and café was closed and a grey haze floated above us, which was no doubt a mix of pollution and frost from the 2 degree air temperature. Not a good first impression of an obviously not very ‘green’ city.

The next day was much better. We went on a walking tour around the very European city centre. We could have been forgiven for thinking we were in a different part of Paris.

That night, jetlagged but motivated, we headed to a warehouse-looking venue called Konex where every Monday they have the awesome booming sounds of an Argentinean drumming group called La Bomba del Tiempo.

 

We danced the night away and dragged our feet exhausted feet back to the hostel.

    

The hostel was nice, clean and stylish for backpackers accommodation, unfortunately the staff were not so. Every morning we were forced to change rooms, which doesn’t seem like much, but if you have been essentially travelling for a week, getting up and repacking every morning takes every last bit of energy you have.

Apparently they also take commission for tours they recommend, so there are no helpful local tips there. We weren’t the only ones that got sick of their shenanigans and left, so it’s not a hostel I would really recommend.

 After a rather turbulent (‘scuse the pun) start to our trip we recovered from our arrival and all the humps along the way, and we started to discover the area, San Telmo, known as the home of Tango.

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  • Natasha Malinda from Melbourne, Australia
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