Taking a 23 hours bus ride to Rio at 1pm today. The distance from Puerto Iguazu to Rio is around 1500km. The bus to Rio doesn’t provide food, unlike the service provided by the bus in argentine and we stopped for dinner and breakfast along the way.
Took the bus from Puerto Iguazu (315 argentinean pesos) to Rio since it’s 150 pesos cheaper than taking a bus from the Brazilian side. Brazilian economy has been pretty strong and the Reais has been strengthening against dollar while the argentinean pesos is weakening against the dollar since the beginning of this year.
Iguazu falls is right at the border of Argentine, Brazil and Paraguay. I found a tour at the bus station to Foz Do Iguazu (Brazil) and Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) for 110 pesos. The last I checked is I will need a visa to Paraguay but since the tour mentioned that I won’t need a visa for a day trip so I just sign up for the Tres Paises En Un Dia tour (3 countries in one day tour).
A van picked me up from the hostel at 8am and after passing through the Brazilian immigration checkpoint, the guide drove us to Ciudad Del Este. We just drove through the paraguay checkpoint without stopping. The city is famous for shopping and is the third largest free-tax commerce zone in the world and is the gateway for counterfeit goods and contraband into the South American market. Bought a headphone at one of the stores (US$1.70) for skyping.
Then we went to Foz Do Iguazu, which is at the Brazilian side. the city is much bigger than Puerto Iguazu. We visited the Iguazu National Park and I heard someone spoke in Taiwanese dialect and approached them. Turned out that the 2 aunties are taiwanese businesswoman. They have lived in Brazil and Paraguay for more than 20 years and owned businesses in these 2 countries. I was told that right now Brazil is giving out permanent residencies to foreigners (once every 10 years) so this might be a good opportunity to move there.
Hang out with my new met Buddhist friends at the park. The monk actually tried to recruit me and mentioned that I have potential to be a monk.
The waterfalls is at the Argentinean side but at the Brazilian side, we get a better view of the waterfalls. The waterfall system consists of 275 falls along 2.7 kilometers (1.67 miles) of the Iguazu River.
The tour was supposed to bring us to see Itaipu Dam, the world second biggest after The three George Dam, but because of swine flu, the road to the dam at the Paraguay side was closed. Swine flu is big news in South America even though we don’t care about it that much in US. I read on Bloomberg about a prediction that swine flu might kill 90,000 americans this year, scary. Story
Took a bus to downtown in the evening to purchase my bus ticket to Rio. First I missed the bus stop and then the bus broke down. Got to the bus station an hour later but fortunately still manage to get my ticket.
A friend provided me a feedback to put larger pictures..so here is it. Feel free to provide comments and feedbacks.
Arrived at Puerto Iguazu at 1.30pm after 18 hours of bus ride. Took another bus to Hostel Inn which is a pretty nice hostel 5km away from the bus station. The concierge advised me that I won’t have enough time to see the water falls since the park close at 6pm. However, I went anyway. Paid 60 pesos for the park entrance fee.
There are 2 major waterfalls, Garganta del Diablo which means the Devil’s throat and Circuito Superior
Picture speaks louder than words and video speaks even louder..
Garganta del Diablo
Walked to the bus station at Retiro today to get bus ticket to Puerto Iguazu. This will be a pretty long bus ride of 18 hours (1380km). There are 2 types of seat, Cama and Semi Cama. Cama is sort of like business class and Semi Cama is consider economy. Cama cost 270 pesos and Semi Cama cost 215 pesos. Since I took the first class seat from Mendoza to Buenos Aires which is pretty comfortable, this time I will try taking the semi cama.
Then tried Mate which is the national drink of Argentine. Similar to tea drinking.
Adios Buenos Aires!
Had cereal and bread with Dulce de lecheh (which is a kind of very sweet jam) breakfast at the hostel this morning. Since today is options expiration week, I gotta log in to my IB account to adjust some positions so I won´t get stuck with some stocks next week. The stock market went up again, what an incredible rally since March. IMHO I still think there will be a leg down for the stock market but who knows..hmm.
Uruguayans really like music from the 80s such as Madonna and MJ. Everywhere I heard songs from the 80s but not many people speak english though.
Visited Theater Solis and joined a short tour in Spanish.
Walked around and have lunch (chicken with fries) at a small deli. Again, I helped Emily finished her food but I am no Kobayashi.
Deciding whether to take the overnight bus to Tigre then to BA to save money (save $10 for the bus and $10 for hostel) or just take the Colonia Express back to BA. Finally decided to pick the later option and managed to catch the 5.10 bus/ferry back to Buenos Aires. I was just in time 10 mins before the bus leaves. The funny thing is after I sat down, Michelle and Heather (from Berkeley) which I met at the free BA tour few days ago got on the bus too. What a small world..
Arrived at Porto Mendoza at around 10pm. Since the theme of my trip is budget travel, so I was pretty proud of myself in finding a local bus no. 130 to Calle Corientes then walked 6 blocks to my hostel without taking a cab. Even though I only save a few dollars but the journey was more exciting.
Joined the BA free tour this afternoon. I just thought about the free tour since I did the free tour once in Berlin and figured that there must be similar tours in big cities. There are around 10 people joining the tour and everyone is from US. After the Argentinean pesos weakens, many Americans move to BA since things are cheaper and at the same time BA offers everything a big city has, good food, nightlife and entertainmets.
Statue of San Martin
Memorial of the falkland war
Laura and Alle again brought me out to try BA local food.
Milanesa for dinner
Flan for dessert
Today is a public holiday in Argentine, it’s San Martin Day. San Martin is regarded as one of the Liberators of Spanish South America and is the national hero of Argentina.
Since it’s a public holiday, Laura and Alle decided to make a short trip to Tigre which is around an hour away from the city. It’s a nice day to go out plus the weather is warm. However there are so many cars so we have to turn back and went to a park instead.
Tango Dance at Calle Florida
Attended an event called BA Pub Crawl at night. Interestingly enough, I met an American (Carlos) who works on the same floor as me in 55 water st in downtown New York and he was here for a short vacation. Small world.. I told him not to tell my previous boss that we met..lol..
Decided to move to a different hostel (Hostel Florida) since the place I am staying is a party hostel and after partying for few nights, I will need to find some place quieter. Heard about some good reviews about the Hostel Florida from travelers too.
True enough, this is one of the nicest hostel I have seen so far, with room cleaning service, nice lockers and own bathroom in the room for 36 pesos ($10).
Laura and Alle again showed me around the city. At River Plate stadium (River Plate is a huge rival of Boca Junior’s, however River Plate is situated at a wealthier neighborhood and Boca Junior’s s at a poorer neighborhood)
Dinner at a Parilla (BBQ)place
Dinner with Laura and her friends. It’s pretty interesting to see Asians speaking spanish with local Porteno accent.
Spent today walking from City Center to San Telmo, then to La Boca. It’s around 2 hours walk.
There are many Chinese in Buenos Aires. More than 80% of the Supermercado (Supermarket or mini market) in Buenos Aires are owned by Chinese. It’s easy to spot a Chinese supermercado since it looks like this one. Since I can’t speak Spanish, so whenever I got lost I can just go to a supermercado and ask for directions in Chinese since there’s one at the corner of every 2-3 streets.
Went to a CrowBar which is a techno club with some friends in the hostel. Argentineans party late, the party here usually starts after 2.30am and goes until the morning. There is a cover of 60 pesos for the club.
Got to Milhouse Hostel by subway. The hostel is located at the city center. Took a short tour organized by the hostel to Recoleta which is a historical site and the richest place in Buenos Aires. We visited a few museums and a famous cemetery in Recoleta for the rich and famous Cementerio de Recoleta. Evita was burried at this place.
Floralis Generica (the metal flower will close its petals at night)
Met up with Laura and her family for dinner. Haven’t seen Laura since college and it’s wonderful to see her and her family since they just have a new 5 months old baby boy. They brought me to an Argentinean/Chinese place for dinner.
Argentineans usually have dinner around 9.30pm-10pm so at 8pm, the restaurant is still empty.
Had trouble withdrawing money from HSBC ATM using my HSBC debit card. Tried a couple of branches and finally went to the main branch and spoke with a manager but she just asked me to call the US HSBC. Instead, I tried my HSBC card at a Citi ATM next door and have no problem taking out cash. I went back to the manager showed her the receipt but she acted like she does’t understand english. But at least I know the problem is not with my card.
Walked around Once area which is a diverse neighborhood with people from other parts of south america. Buenos Aires is one of the richer country in South America so people from other areas come here to make a better living.
Just spent the next few days walking around the city. Buenos Aires province has a population of around 14 millions and the city has around 3 millions people. It’s around 12 miles from north south and 11 miles from east to west so the city is not very big. There are a few famous neighborhood such as San Telmo (with some colonial houses), La Boca(a working class neighborhood with some colorful buildings, Boca Junior’s stadium is located here, Palemo (hip residential neighborhood with some restaurants and shops) and the city center.
Pink House which is located at Plaza de Mayo
has been the center of political upheaval, vehement protests, and national celebrations over the years and there are protest in front of Casa Rosada (Pink house) almost daily. The pink house is the official seat of the executive branch of the Government of Argentina and it’s at the balcony of the pink house where Evita rallied the Argentinean people)
There are a lot of fake money in Buenos Aires and I heard someone withdrew fake money from the ATM. There is a sign at the hostel on how to identify fake money.