Tuesday, March 16, 2010


From Bariloche, we set sail for El Chalten stopping overnight at a dusty, threadbare town called Perito Moreno where we met some lovely people; one lady Claire a very interesting Australian from Queensland who has travelled to the remotest parts of the world. There are people you continue to bump into on the Inca trail and it's quite exciting when you see them again by pure luck! The picture on the right is the general view from the bus of the wide flat lands of Patagonia and the Andes in the distance.

This is a pic of me at the cascades just out of El Chalten.

El Chalten is a town set between a mountain range and a huge rock-face, and it is well known for the icy winds and rain which strip any warmth off your skin. Regardless, Case and I went on a 7hr trek through the mountains in order to see our first glacier.

It was an amazing shift of landscape, where you walk for an hour or so in a bare valley, then gradually into a forest of dead trees, a forest of beautiful trees with and earth damp smell, then swamp and then finally a hill made of rock which circles the glacier lake which carves through the mountain in the distance. The walk was stunning.

El Calafate, a tourist hub 80ks west of South America's famous Perito Moreno Glacier, was our next stop. This was the first time we saw Flamingoes! They were in the lagoon just behind town and we watched them whilst standing on some strange floating moss landscape. We had our first paradilla (all you ca eat meat) with the best steaks we'd had in Argentina yet.

Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the only glaciers in the world which is still growing due to the pacific winds which hit the Andes and fall to snow at the it's feet. Here, Case and I decided to go on a ice trek on the glacier; eat it, drink the water and check out ancient water carvings and ice mimicking the land formation below. This was the first time for us to walk and climb on a glacier. We were told so many interesting things about the area, and how the glacier has carved itself into the rock-face of the land. Were were also treated to a delicious glass of aged whisky at the end of the trek, served on ice rocks that were more than 10000 yrs old - pretty cool.

Crossing briefly over into Chile (way too pricey there for us), we stayed in Puerto Natales for a couple of nights where most people start their 5 or 9 day trek around the Torres Del Paine National Park. This is our one regret really. The trek is known as the W trek whereby you trek in the shape of a w around three towers and the mountains surrounding which are completely independent of the Andes Mountain ranges. Your success is totally dependent on weather and how well you prepared for this with clothing, food and equipment. For several reasons in particular lack of time we didn't do the trek :( But we did a day tour around the whole park which was incredible. It is made up of several lakes and forests and we saw every viewpoint imaginable. If we ever come back to Chile, this will be one of our top things to do.

Puerto Natales was cool, and in general we found Chilean people a lot more accommodating and friendly than Argentinian people. Our next stop in Chile was Punta Arenas, where we got off the bus in a hail-storm! We stayed here only one night in order to get to Ushuaia - back to Argentina "Fin Del Mundo" or End of the World.

Ushuaia was a penal colony at one stage and so has a huge prison on the fringe of town. It was interesting to see the way the native lived in the area in such harsh conditions. From here you can catch a ride to Antarctica for little more than $4000US the least its been in years. It goes without saying we saw people off, and stayed put to see the penguins instead!

We took a ride to the oldest Estancia in Ushuaia from which we took a boat out to see the penguins. We chose a tour which allowed us to walk on the island where they were nesting, and got up close to these cute waddling animals. There were two types of penguins on this particular islands. Ones who were meant to be there, and others who got stuck there and so has to wait until they malted before heading off. Penguins mate for life, the female picking a burrow she likes and which then comes with a male hehe. There were thousands on the island and it was freezing! Every tour has a clown, but on our tour he happened to be a Filo from Alaska who broke the two rules - move with the group and don't step into the nesting area, all for a point of view shot! It was pretty funny actually. On the way back to Ushuaia, he showed me every photo on his camera, which made me so nautious! We of course saw him one more time at the pub later that night where the whole bar knew him as "Alaska: come take a photo!".

Monday, January 25, 2010

Santiago, Mendoza, Bariloche

Howdy all,

Welcome to our second travel update.

Since we last sent one of these horribly impersonal emails, we've been taking it pretty easy, but we have managed to cross the Andes (twice), spend a few days in Chile's capital, Santiago, do a bicycle wine tour in Mendoza, and most recently spend 2 weeks attempting to learn Spanish whilst soaking up the amazing national parks and lakes that Bariloche has to offer. If any of the above peaks your interest - read on.

So after 12 days or so in Buenos Aires we were very keen to move on. BA is a nice enough city but that was just far too long to spend there for us.
The plane trip from BA to Santiago was excellent. It starts out like any other. For a few hours we flew over very flat, featureless land, until the Andes started to emerge on the horizon. Within 10 minutes the land suddenly jutted up beneath us and we were flying over snowcapped peaks. Really quite beautiful.


Contrary to our expectations we ended up liking Santiago much more than Buenos Aires. The city itself is basically an oasis in a desert landscape. Thanks to the water that flows down from the Andes, the city is able to pump a heap of water into their numerous parks, creating a surprisingly beautiful city. Our biggest surprise though was the stunning amount of public affection that was on display in all the parks. Every direction we turned there were young couples getting it on. Apparently it is because most young people can't afford their own accommodation so still live with their parents, and therefore use the parks to meet up. All in all, pretty entertaining stuff.
What else happened of note in Santiago?
- We caught a lift to the top of a mountain that overlooks Santiago, were there is a church and a huge statue of Mother Mary (the chileans love to put statues on top of mountains).
- We got interviewed by unseen TV about our views on birth control!
- The night before we were due to catch a bus to Mendoza, we ended up having a great impromptu night with a few people from our hostel. One was a Canadian who lives in Santiago for half the year to teach English, another was a German who spends every fourth year traveling somewhere in the world. This year he was traveling through Patagonia on a bicycle. Well we had a bottle of wine with our dinner that was shared, then the Canadian brought out bottle after bottle, until we finally called it a (great) night in the early hours of the morning.

The next morning we rose early, and quite a bit worse for wear, to catch our 8hr bus to Mendoza, Argentina's premier wine district. To get there the bus has to drive over the Andes, which was a pretty amazing experience actually. One I would definitely recommend to anyone with the time traveling through SA. It was where we both experienced our first over land border crossing, where one person stamped us out of Chile, and the guy sitting right next to her stamped us into Argentina!

Mendoza, Argentina

Mendoza was good fun for a few days. It is cleaner than Buenos Aires, more of a tourist town. The primary attraction for us to go there was the wine, so first chance we got we headed out for a wine tour. We decided to do it on bicycles, which is a great idea in theory, but when it is well over 30 degrees, it was a bit of hard work. Still we had a great time. We met an animated Scottish lad (Joel), who of course had been living and working just down the road from us for the past year in Glebe. For those in Sydney, his brother has just opened "Clover", a new cafe in Annandale.

Our first stop was a chocolate / olive / liquor boutique. After coughing up 10 pesos (about 3 bucks Aus), we were given a quick tour of olive trees before being allowed to try anything we wanted. We started off with some wonderful savoury dips and olives, before moving onto chocolate and sweet jams, until finally we got to the good stuff - the liquors! They had it all. We tried a few of the softer chocolate varieties before Joel decided it was time to try their Absynthe (75% - it was the real stuff). The guide melted half a teaspoon of sugar dipped in the absynthe with fire, then dropped in the shot glass. Po and Case split a large shot glass full whilst Joel downed the whole thing.


Joel's face immediately turned bright red, Casey seriously pondered throwing up, and Po had to sit down for a few minutes. Note to self - Never, EVER, drink Absynthe again, especially before a 12km bike ride! So whilst still breathing fire, off we went on our happy way, riding along the side of the road, on our way to the next few wineries.

The rest of the day was great. Good wine and good times. The only dissappointing thing is that Argentinian wineries don't let you try the wine for free. Still it was cheap enough, and some of the wines were delicious especially coupled with their tablas (cheese and meat platter!). At the end of the day we brought our bikes back to "Mr Hugos", the shop that rents out bikes, where we were greeted with a big glass of water and and another bigger, bottomless glass of wine, complimentary of Mr Hugo himself, a very friendly old Argentinian guy who cannot speak a work of English, but can he ever pose for a photo. (See attached).


After a few days we caught a 16 hour overnight bus from Mendoza to Bariloche, where we had booked in 2 weeks of Spanish lessons. We had decided to stay at a homestay whilst studying, where you live with a family in the hope of practicing your Spanish. We were billtted with a very nice older couple, the Van Dittmars, where we have since been absolutely spoiled rotten. Every night we get a full 3 course meal, we're we manage to absolutely stuff ourselves silly.

Unfortunately a week into our stay Susanna (our host mum) fell off a chair and broke both her arms. She had to travel to Buenos Aires for an operation an only arrive home yesterday, with both her arms in casts. Still when Case asked her if she needed a hand with anything to just asked, she said I'll let you know when I need two!

Since we've been here we've studied Spanish every day from 9 to 1, then spent the rest of the day doing homework and traveling around the surrounding areas. It's really beautiful here. Bariloche is situated right underneath the Andes on the Argentinian side. There is heaps of national parks and huge, crystal clear lakes. We've been on several hikes (yesterday we walked 12 kms around a peninsula North of Bariloche, this was after driving through Butch Cassidy's windswept, lake bound land!), including climbing mountains to see the most amazing views. Fortunately we've had good weather for the most part because it can get very cold here. Our Spanish has improved, but we still suck (no hablamos Espanol muy bien).

And finally tomorrow we depart again. From here we still spend the next few weeks working our way down Patagonia (including the amazing Perito Moreno Glacier), before reaching Ushuaia (the southernmost town in the world) from which we will fly up to Iguazu Falls. So we will be covering two of the most amazing natural phenomenons in the world. Can't wait!

So that's it for today folks. We love hearing what you are all up to, so keep sending us emails and we'll reply when we can (the net is a hit and miss affair over here).

Love and miss you all,

Case & Po.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hola from Bunos Aires

Hey everyone,

Sorry it's taken a while but here's our first trip update. Enjoy.

Unfortunately the start of our trip wasn't so great. Our flight was delayed 9 hours to begin with, then another hour or two at our stopover in NZ, meaning we arrived in BA roughly 30 hours after we left home. Boooo. For those thinking about it, i'd stay away from Aerolineas Argentina if possible.

Since arriving in BA, we've stayed in 4 different places in 3 very different areas of the city, downtown BA,Palermo, and now San Telmo. Downtown was very touristy in a boring kind of way. Lot's of souvenir shops and Parilla (grilled meat) restaurants. Palermo was much nicer. Lot's of interesting restaurants, bars, and shops, and it's a safe area. San Telmo is a bit more dodgy but also as good food.

Christmas was strange over here. They celebrate Christmas Eve here and at midnight everyone goes out in the street and lets off fireworks. Po and i were on the terrace of the place we were staying, enjoying a drink, when we started hearing fireworks on the street, so we raced downstairs. It's so cool, someone from our hotel came out with a huge box full of fireworks and on every street around us there was another group letting off their own fireworks. Po was worried we were going to get hit :-)

Last Sunday we went to San Telmo where there was a Sunday antique market which went for several blocks across the suburb. It was so lovely! So many beautiful things, mostly European - like brooches, lace, photos, jewelery, clothes and other typical market stuff as well. Po bought a dress and eyed off many a broach. Casey pondered a leather jacket (he is still pondering). Leather stuff is really cheap here. A nice leather jacket costs around $130 Aus. There was also some really good street buskers along the way. Definitely recommend to anyone coming here.

Afterwards we headed to the national art museum. They had some Kandinsky, Van Gogh, Degus, Picasso, Diego Rivera, and lot's of Rodin. Mostly older period stuff though. Unfortunately by this stage Casey was thoroughly burnt! So we headed back the main tourist strip for some late lunch, a hot dog, hamburger, and bottle of red later we stumbled out back to our hostel and crashed straight to sleep.

In Palermo we met another Aussie traveller who we went to see Recoletta cemetery with. It's a beautiful old cemetery full of huge, over the top mausoleums. Pretty interesting stuff.

Yesterday we went to La Boca, a pretty touristy area, but a fun one, full of bars/restaurants, tango, & markets. We finally had our first proper parilla. They bring out a grill to your table which is heaps with different types of meat. Different steaks, kidney, chorizo, blood sausage, & chicken. This is our plate after we had stuffed ourselves:

Tomorrow we leave for Santiago, where we are only planing on being for 2 days. We're a bit tired of big cities and want to get out and explore. Buenos Aires has been good but we probably should have only stayed here for 5 days or so. Still the extra time gave us the opportunity to get over our first case of Casey disease, and acclimatise. Whilst our Spanish is still horrible, we are getting a bit better at communicating to the many people here who don't speak Spanish.

So our plan from here goes roughly like this:
Santiago for a few days before heading to Mendoza (Wine Country) for a few days. Then we will get a bus to Bariloche where we are hoping to do a few weeks of Spanish classes. From there we take a few weeks heading down into Patagonia before bottoming out at Ushuaia. Hopefully we can get a flight from there to Iguazu Falls, and make our way into Paraguay where we'll probably do some more Spanish classes. From there, it's Bolivia, then into Peru to prepare for the wedding and to meet up with our wonderful friends who are able to make the journey.

Hope everyone back home had a beautiful Christmas and New Years.

Case & Po.

Happy Birthday Nat, I hope you're having a wonderful day as you truly deserve it! Let me know everything you get up to xxx

Hope everyone is having a fantastic Christmas/new years break.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Friendly farewell drinkies...


For our friends we have a preception of our own for you!

Please come to our wedding celebration and farewell drinks

at the Nude Bar,

Australian Youth Hotel 19th December 2009

from 6pm

and remain clothed

RSVP for Machu Picchu trek ~ pronto pronto!

Machu Picchu ~ splendour awaits. As the sun rises, our eyes will reflect on the incredible, sacred city.

Adventurers, send on your exact name and passport number if you are joining us on one of our three trek options. Casey and I will be going on option one: the four day, three night trek.

We will need your information before December 19th if you'd like us to organise this through the Garden House for you.

HENS - Ideas, ideas...

Heya, this is an excerpt taken from my hens email string - if you're not on it and would like to be let me know so you can get involved!

I've had most people say they are starting their trip at the start of the hens which is roughly from the Friday 26th March - Wednesday 31st March (Check our blog here)

This gives us about 6 days to play with so I must narrow my big balloon ideas down to something more.... relaxing!

What to do...?

Here's what I suggest if we're to continue with Lima > Arequipa > Lake Titicaca > Cusco:
  • If people would like to fly into Lima they meet me one or two days earlier than the 26th and we bus it to Arequipa. We meet everyone else in Arequipa (26th) if they get a connecting flight as part of their ticket or book it separately (LAN fly about $180 US one way Lima > Arequipa; $265 US return)
  • We spend the weekend partying and sight seeing in Arequipa / Colca Canyon, then on Monday (29th) pack up and head to Lake Titicaca - Puno. Stay overnight?
  • From Puno, we get a train (forums are saying around $220 US???) or a bus (Inka Express is around $50 US, with stops, food and coffee; Local bus is around $8-10 US - Thorntree Forums) up to Cusco.
Otherwise, the other option is pretty much what the boys are doing - Lima > Cusco
It would be good to do something different, but I know this is good value for everyone and there's lots to see and lots of fun to be had with you lot!! I'm sure what we plan is likely to be slightly different to them :)
  • Meet in Lima 26th March and spend the weekend in the Lima surrounds - must look into in more detail.
  • Head up to Cusco, by plane (today I checked Star Peru for our dates and it was $152 US return Lima - Cusco) or bus - the road between Lima and Cusco is a little scary, 20 hrs roughly $60AU - we can try and split this journey and stop on the way up the mountains; check out Thorntree
  • Make it to the Festival of the Lord of Tremors in Cusco and check out the party capital of Peru whilst also visiting sites such as The Sacred Valley
This blog has a good rundown of the three places in Peru we've been talking about: Lima, Arequipa and Cusco

Also, I will definitely be starting from Lima for those already booking flights. There is currently a sale on which ends 27th November through Qantas. We have a friend you can contact Kylie from Flight Centre or let me know if you get a good quote elsewhere as we have people asking all the time :)

Still alot to discuss about post wedding, but hands up if you're interested and we'll start a separate email train for that so we can get the boys involved too. Alot of talk about heading up the North coast of Peru's beached to see places like Mancora and then onto either Ecuador or Columbia.

We are leaving iin 5 weeks peeps!!!!

Buenos Noches,



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We Love Bears!


After our wedding in May, Portia and Casey will be doing 5 weeks of volunteer work.

We have decided to invest our time in trying to save the Andean Bear. Basically it will involve setting up in a remote village in Ecuador, doing lots of hiking, tracking bears, some video work for Casey, and maybe some teaching for Po.

If anyone else has the spare time you should volunteer with us. Their website is;

We will be there from the 3rd of May to the 6th of June.

Bears are awesome.

case and po wed in cusco Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Art Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template