Page 5 of Bellini Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Iceland » Southwest » Laugavegur June 21st 2017

I had a difficult time finding practical info about walking the Laugavegur Trail in the opposite direction- from Thorsmork to Landmannalauger (skipping the Skogar portion because it's a little sketchy in mid-June), so this entry mainly falls within that scope. I hiked the 55k trail with my buddy Dan, but without a guide. If you're just here to see what I'm up to, there are photos throughout. Hopefully my spellings of Icelandic locations are somewhat consistent. Don't ask me to pronounce any of them. Booking the Huts and Buses For the huts, all you need to do is send an email to with your booking request. I sent an email two months ahead of time and my preferred huts were already fully booked, which is why we had to walk in the opposite direction. The ... read more
River Crossing
View from Álftavatn Huts
Landscape after the climb toward Hraftinnmusker

Central America Caribbean » Aruba February 25th 2017

Before our trip, when I searched for things to do outside of the usual all-inclusive, package-oriented Aruba vacation, I found very little information, so this blog will concentrate on getting off the beach and hired jeep path. Peggy and I stayed two nights at the posh Stellaris Marriott (using her points), two nights at an Airbnb in St. Nicholas, and the last night at the Renaissance near the airport. Anything on the northwest coast of the island (where the best beaches and calmest waters/winds are) caters toward traditional tourists. From Palm Beach and north, it's mainly honeymooning couples and retirees. The restaurants are 100% short-stay tourists and are very expensive and predictable. This extends into the town and mall area near the beaches. However, walking fifteen minutes inland from the resorts for much more authentic and ... read more
Moro Beach, in Arikok National Park.
Palm Beach

South America » Chile » Santiago Region » Santiago August 8th 2016

Pros of Santiago: surprisingly clean, very good metro system, impressive parks, mountain views Cons of Santiago: smog (can't escape because of mountains), lack of cultural flavor Day Trip to Aguas de Ramon The longest hike here is a 16 km loop, but you have to start early or the park rangers will turn you back after the water crossing about 4 km in. It was only a 15 minute Uber ride from the city center to the entry point, making it very accessible, but as such it was horribly crowded on a Saturday, so it wasn't really worth going then unless you like hiking like mules roped together. Day Trip to Cajon del Maipo (see photo at bottom for map of area) We took the metro to Plaza de Puente Alto, the last stop on line ... read more
View from Trail in Cajon de Maipo
Santiago Park
Map of Section in Capon de Maipo

South America » Chile » O Higgins » Santa Cruz August 5th 2016

The Colchagua Valley, a 3 hour bus ride south of Santiago, is often visited on a day tour from the capital. Santa Cruz, the principal town, has pretty poor accommodations unless you're willing to splurge, but Peggy and I found a private apartment in town on Airbnb that was suficiente. The town itself was pretty ordinary, especially in the low tourist season (early August). We hired a cab for 30,000 for the day (42 dollars) and visited 3 wineries: Montes ( Peggy arranged a wine tour here, and since it was low season and we requested an English tour, it was just the guide and us. The guide looked half our age but was surprisingly knowledgable; his youthfulness translated into being a wine fanatic. Thankfully, he didn't concentrate on the separating of grapes or the process ... read more
Grapevines at Viu Manent
At Estampa Winery
Tasting Room at Montes

Valparaíso is probably the dirtiest city that I've ever enjoyed. Even Cerro Alegre, a touristy hill where I stayed at both a boutique hostel and a bed and breakfast, has a serious stray dog and trash problem and nearly every wall is plastered in graffiti. But it's also a vibrant and mesmerizing city, with graffiti artists dipping brushes into plastic cups in narrow pasajes, street musicians playing on most buses and trains; clever ways to deal with the terrain (funiculars, pedestrian stairs, and even slides), naval officers in uniform carrying light briefcases along the muelle, and the buildings painted a mosaic of vibrant colors, often with murals fringed by tags, and some yards of creative reuse of plastic or hubcaps or tires, cradled in the robust vegetation that survive the winter but remind me of Pittsburgh ... read more
Above Reina Victoria Funicular
Parque along Atahualpa

South America » Argentina » Mendoza » Mendoza July 27th 2016

Mendoza is an attractive enough Argentinian city on its own, but most make a stop there because of its proximity to the mountain crossing to Chile or to visit wineries in the nearby valleys. But on my budget, I felt trapped there, since most excursions required going on expensive guided tours, even the most basic of which cost 90 USD a day. This would feel inevitable in countries like the US and Australia, but it's difficult to pay that much somewhere where it is $10 for a dorm bed, $5 for an acceptable bottle of wine, and $3 for all the groceries I need for dinner. So instead I booked four nights at my hostel and got a free bike rental in Maipú (pronounced My-poo, making for endless puns, considering how ugly it was), which is ... read more
At the Border
Approaching the pass

South America » Argentina » Salta » Cachi July 21st 2016

Even though it's a route frequented by tourists, most of the 157 km stretch from Cafayate to Cachi is unpaved and there is no direct bus (see map). Suggestions of how to get between the two ranged from going all the way back to Salta first (see map below) or taking 2 days by making use of the limited, semi-daily transports. I took an 11AM bus to Angostaco via the famous route 40 (think route 66) and the scenery on this leg of the trip- especially the Flechas (rocks that look like arrows) - made the rest worthwhile. I made the mistake of getting off the bus at the town itself rather than at the junction with route 40, which added another km or two to my walk. Once back on the road I started walking ... read more

South America » Argentina » Salta » Cafayate July 21st 2016

The Cafayate (CAH-fah-SCHA-tay, as the Argentinians pronounce it) valley is one of the finest wine regions in Argentina. There are around 20 public bodegas (wine factories) in and around town; the valley floor and surrounding hills are covered in vineyards. The 4 hour bus ride from Salta was stunningly beautiful, especially in the tight, broken valley (Quebrada del Río de Las Conchas) about 20 km before Cafayate, with moonlike eroded rock formations like parts of the American West. It's possible to return to do tours and treks, or to rent a bike and ride there from Cafayate, with proper bike trails part of the way. The town itself isn't much- mainly a cluster around route 40 that's a hub for tourists and bodegas. The quality of the wine at the bodegas varies quite a bit- some ... read more
Vineyard with Clouds and Quebrada
Waterfall Trail
Red Rocks

South America » Argentina » Jujuy July 16th 2016

Theee or four hours (by bus) north of Salta is the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a river gorge formed by the Río Grande, which is no more than a stream in July, the driest and coldest part of the year. Argentinian schools are on break during July, so the region was overrun with tourists, but most stuck to tourist vans and buses and were only a problem when it came to finding accommodations. Dayhike to Alfarcito I stopped first in Tilcara for two nights. Tony at La Albahaca hostel told me there is a good day hike beyond the Garganta del Diablo waterfall, so I set out relatively early the next morning to avoid the crowds that I dreaded. It was near freezing when I started, but an hour later when the sun rose above the red ... read more
Inside the Hacienda
Painted hills in distance

South America » Argentina » Salta » Salta July 14th 2016

I just used Salta as a hub for visiting Tilcara to the north, Cafayate to the south, and Cachi to the west. The city is comfortable and pretty and genuine, with countless food stalls near the long park by the bus station. There's a teleférico that goes up a big hill for nice views and a parallel trail that's a 40 minute stair hike. To make up for the unavoidably expensive taxi in Iguazu, I walked to and from the airport in Salta. There was a bike trail along the road most of the way and it took about 2 1/2 hours. ... read more

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