Friday, 16 July 2010
Week 11 - Back on the road again, an 8 year reunion & the wonderous waterfalls!
Where to possibly begin??? Perhaps to talk about the lovely city of Cordoba, where I was reunited with a friend I met 8 years ago? Or the 22hr bus ride from Cordoba to Iguazu... or perhaps one to try and describe one of the natural wonders of the world at Iguazu waterfalls? The week certainly has been eventful! I guess I'll go for the Cordoba experience first, which was another 'surprise' stop on my itinerary. Cordoba is questionably the 2nd/3rd biggest town in Argentina and my reason for having a stop there was to visit someone who I met 8 years ago when I was traveling in Australia. The person in question was a young lady by the name of Meme, with whom I had exchanged a few emails over the past 8 years. I randomly emailed her just 3 weeks ago to ask if she was still around in Argentina, and hence a trip to Cordoba was planned. It was a 6 hour bus trip from Parana, and I arrived around 7pm, and headed for the well recommended hostel 'Cordoba Backpackers'. Unfortunately for me, I arrived during a long holiday weekend, and there was 'no room at the inn' (it was full)! When I asked if the staff could point me in the direction of another hostel they looked doubtful and explained that I could go looking for another hostel, but by this time of night they would most likely all be full. The staff then asked me if I had a sleeping bag, which I did not! Suddenly one of the staff said, "hey look, if you don't mind we can get you a mattress and a blanket and you can sleep on the floor of the staff kitchen..." I looked at the guy to see if he was serious, and on realising he was, I quickly took up the offer! Looking on the bright side, I not only had a private room, but I was sleeping next to the fridge!! And best of all they didn't charge me for that night's stay! Now that is what I call service! And here is the proof! I went for a little wander around Cordoba that very night, just to get my bearings, and I found a really lively atmosphere on the streets, and some beautiful sights around the town! I loved just wandering the streets as the place felt busy and relaxed at the same time... I also got to see some fairly entertaining night markets where clearly all kinds of counter fit goods were being sold, not in a dodgy way! But there were some very questionable items being sold.. have a look for yourself! Now, despite some initial concern at the items on sale, my walk took me around the city's main attractions, with stunning architecture... Churches, theatres and other buildings, which caught your attention at every turn! Have a little look... It's quite nice by day too! After spending a very chilled out day Sunday, (having moved out of the kitchen into a 3 person dorm with bed! - For just 34 pesos, 6 pounds). I watched the world cup final at the hostel with a fairly mixed crowd, English, Australian, Argentineans and a few others, whilst supping some very cheap beers! A perfect day! I was now feeling quite rested and was keen to meet up with Meme and see what she had been doing for the past 8 years! That opportunity arrived Monday evening as Meme came to pick me up from the hostel, and took me to her apartment to meet her housemate and sister. We ventured out for dinner (the usual time of after 10pm) and found a nice little authentic Argentinean place that served a very good steak... my first real steak here! Hmmmm it was good, and Meme very kindly footed the bill (Thanks Meme)! Here's us at the restaurant... The following morning Meme again collected me from the hostel and took me to her apartment for breakfast (great for me as I had drastically overslept and only been woken up when two French girls tried coming into the room!). I had the chance to freshen up and have a bit more time with Meme, (who has done a fair bit of traveling herself!) before we headed off to the bus station 1 minute from Meme's flat! So thanks again Meme for your hospitality, sorry I couldn't stay longer and a lesson for everyone, take a person's email because you never know when you might just see them again! So now I was back on the road and for a whopping 22 hours, to North East Argentina and the famous Iguazu waterfalls... or the 'Cataratas' as they are known as here in Argentina. These amazing waterfalls form at the border of 3 countries; Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay! I had been told to try and get to see the Brazilian side for the views, and get up close to the falls on the Argentina side... I was not disappointed!
So after a 22hr bus journey, I arrived around 10am in Iguazu (Argentina), I could not check in for another 4 hours, so sneaking into the hostel bar's toilet, I had a quick wash, brushed my teeth and changed the clothes I could reach in my big bag in such a confined small space! The receptionist suggested I go to the Brazil side first today as I needed less time there, and so just an hour or so later I was on a bus to Brazil (for just 50 pesos - less than 10 pounds)and heading into Iguauzu national park!
The initial views of the waterfalls from the Brazil side were something like this...
And then they just got better and better... words can not really describe the sensation of being so close to such vast falls, other than to try and explain the deafening noise and giddiness you feel - pictures and a video or two will hopefully tell the rest of the story! (See below)
So after a day of such stunning scenery I headed off with a room mate from Denmark for a nice fish dinner, to prepare for the following day's trip to the Argentinean side of the falls. Whilst the views are not as spectacular in the panaramic sense of the word, the falls are equally impressive and much more accessible on this side! take a little look....
Iguazu is not all about the waterfalls, there is a rich diversity of animals, especially birds, and some funny looking things that look like a cross between a badger and a racoon! (And they aren't afraid to come say hello in their hunt for food!)
And on one final note, you can always find some interesting signs when you go to places like this, and there were two signs that really caught my eye! The first was the sign showing that anyone other than a Brazilian, Argentinean or Paraguay resident must pay lots more to see the falls...
... and secondly the following sign that had many a traveler baffled as to what exactly it was trying to say! If you have an idea please leave a comment!
So that's it for another week, and now as I am sat in Buenos Aires writing this post, I have just over one week remaining!
Regards from Argentina