Spurins Geriatric Gap Year

Spurins

Spurins Geriatric Gap Year

Taken early retirement to see some of the world. Currently driving round the Balkans. Next trip South America...



South America » Argentina » Buenos Aires » Buenos Aires January 21st 2019

Today is rather disjointed as many tourist attractions are closed on Mondays. Our hotel is in the banking district so has been like a ghost town all weekend. However, this morning it is heaving and all the shops and cafes are open, not just McDonalds, where we had breakfast yesterday. This is a problem, as the old man doesn’t cope well with choice and we have to study numerous menus before we are finally able to sit down and order some actual food. Most of the morning we wander around Buenos Aires admiring the city’s architecture. We brave a guided tour of the Palacio Barolo; an Art Deco tower block where each floor represents a different verse of Dante’s Divine Comedy. You start in the foyer (hell) then work your way up through purgatory to heaven. ... read more
Palacio Barolo
Palacio Barolo
Palacio Barolo

South America » Argentina » Buenos Aires January 20th 2019

Today we are going sightseeing in Buenos Aires. There will be no guided tours, just us and my well annotated copy of Lonely Planet. We start with the cathedral, former manor of the Pope. Then try to get a tube from Catedral underground station. It sounds foolproof, seeing as we’re already at the cathedral. But somehow we manage to overshoot and end up at Peru, which is on a different line. By the time we realise, we’ve already passed through the barrier so have to retrace our steps, buy more tickets and try again. Second time lucky, we find the station and catch the tube to Palermo. This morning is all about parks. We walk through the Eco Parque, with its cute maras grazing by the lake, to reach the Parque 3 Febrero. It’s heaving on ... read more
Metropolitan Cathedral
Metropolitan Cathedral
Eco parque

South America » Argentina » Buenos Aires » Buenos Aires January 19th 2019

We’re up at 3 am for our flight 700 miles south to Buenos Aires, the start of our Argentinian adventure. It is a relief to (a) leave Paraguay and (b) get a bit further from the equator. The day does not start well with the old man vomiting between the hotel and the taxi. Once at the airport, my first challenge of the day; to spend our remaining £20 worth of Guarani in the departure lounge. I leave Asunción clutching 2 glass chickens, a cap and a healthy breakfast combo of empanadas and Pringles. In the plane I have an emergency exit seat. The steward explains that sitting here requires being able to follow crew instructions. He sounds fairly unconvinced that I’m up to the job. The flight arrives without incident and we are at our ... read more
Entrance to Casa Rosada
Stampy Casa Rosada guard
Casa Rosada courtyard

South America » Paraguay » Asunciòn January 18th 2019

The ancient air conditioning unit seems to serve no other purpose than to make noise. So we slept badly and I wake up rather grumpy. We have a whole day to explore Asunción. I’m not sure what we’ll do in the afternoon. Probably sleep, as we need to leave for the airport at 3.30 am tomorrow. We set off at 9 am for some sightseeing. First stop, the railway station – South America’s first station. I ponder briefly the point of being first, it would seem beneficial to have more than one or where would the trains go? There is what can loosely describe as a museum, plus an original train from 1861. Next we go to the cathedral, which is locked. We head instead for the waterfront (the Costanera) but the cathedral’s security guard tells ... read more
Railway station
Railway station
Railway station

South America » Paraguay » Asunciòn January 17th 2019

Today we are travelling 200 miles west to the Paraguayan capital of Asunción . By bus. This is the old man’s route planning; I am a little bemused why anyone would want to do either of these things. The bus departs from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, so first we must cross the border. We briefly consider the bus-border-bus-border-bus combination. Then book a taxi. The good news is that we make good time through the border. The bad news is that the taxi driver has forgotten the time zone change, so we arrive at the bus station two hours early. Fortunately, the bus company (NSA) has a VIP lounge where we can wait in air conditioned luxury, which is good as it’s 40 degrees outside. I’ve not been looking forward to this journey but the bus ... read more
Ciudad del Este bus station
Empanadas with security guard photobomb
Panteón de los Heroes

South America » Argentina » Misiones » Iguazú National Park January 16th 2019

Today we are going to Iguazú National Park on the Argentinian side of the falls. For a local, this trip is simple; a bus to the Argentinian town of Puerto Iguazú and a second bus to the park. For a foreigner is more complicated as you have to disembark for immigration twice and the bus doesn’t wait, so it involves taking 3 consecutive buses on the same route, then a 4th bus to the park. We walk to the international bus stop and wait. A bus to Paraguay pulls up and everyone else gets on. This happens a few more times before eventually a bus driver asks why we’re sitting at the bus stop and explains that buses to Argentina depart from the other end of the road. On our complicated journey we have fallen at ... read more
Walk to Garganta del Diablo
Garganta del Diablo
Garganta del Diablo

South America » Brazil » Paraná » Iguaçu Falls January 15th 2019

Iguaçú Falls are on the border between Brazil and Argentina. Today we are visiting the Brazilian side and the Parque Nacional do Iguaçú. Once I have transformed the bathroom into a Chinese laundry, we take a bus to the Park. Brazilian buses only have a few seats; for the majority it is a standing experience. Signs instruct you to give up your seat for elderly passengers, so when someone taps the old man on the back and offers him their seat, I laugh. A lot. Then I return my focus to trying to remain upright on a rickety old bus hurtling along rickety old roads. It’s quite a workout, requiring balance and core strength. And there’s no air conditioning so by the end of the 40 minute journey we’ve worked up quite a sweat. We bought ... read more
Iguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls

South America » Brazil » Paraná » Foz do Iguaçu January 14th 2019

We are up at 5 am this morning to fly 750 miles south-west to Foz do Iguacu on the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. The old man has survived the night without succumbing to dysentery – a fact he puts down to a combination of luck and having killed the germs by drinking caipirinhas. We have booked and prepaid for our taxi, which sounds like a recipe for disaster. But 15 minutes ahead of schedule and before we’ve even had chance to worry about what to do if it doesn’t arrive, we get a call to say the driver is in reception. One advantage of being up so early is that we see the sunrise over Rio en route to the airport. It really is something; the city and its monoliths silhouetted by the bright ... read more
Itaipu Binacional Dam
Itaipu Binacional Dam
Itaipu Binacional Dam

South America » Brazil » Rio de Janeiro » Rio de Janeiro » Copacabana January 13th 2019

It has come to my attention that I don’t apply sunblock right up to my clothes. I have woken this morning with 3 pink rings around my neck and shoulders outlining yesterday’s vest. So this morning I am wearing a t shirt. I feel hideously overdressed is a city where the preferred attire is a bikini which barely covers your nipples. It’s our last day in Rio so we’re going up Sugarloaf Mountain. We’ve left it till last because frankly I hate cable cars. It’s not natural to hang in mid air in a glass box on a bit of wire and Sugarloaf Mountain requires some serious mid air hanging. First you take a cable car up the neighbouring Morro da Urca. Then you take a second cable car to Sugarloaf. Basically you travel a kilometre ... read more
Morro da Urca
Morro da Urca
Sugarloaf Mountain cable car

South America » Brazil » Rio de Janeiro » Rio de Janeiro » Centro January 12th 2019

Today we are going sightseeing in Rio. So, on a sunny summer Saturday, we set of by Metro from Copacabana to the city centre. Not surprisingly, we are travelling in the opposite direction to almost everyone else. We buy Metro tickets, which are quite decorative and thus a good item for my scrapbook. However, at the turnstile, we insert the ticket and it isn’t returned. I look so disappointed that on the following journey, the old man buys 3 tickets so I have one to keep. First stop is the Bonde, the old streetcar which clambers across the Arcos de Lapa viaduct and up the hillside along cobbled lanes decorated with murals. We’re taking the Bonde just for the sake of it, so buy a return ticket, worrying that we’ll look a bit sad when we ... read more
Bonde
Bonde
Bonde mural




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