Phil Freeman


Phil Freeman

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South America

South America trip route Jan 09 - Oct 09

South America » Argentina » Buenos Aires » Buenos Aires October 22nd 2009

We arrived back into Buenos Aires gigantic bus terminal and to our final adventure. With five days in our pocket we had time to explore and enjoy another one of South Americas iconic mega cities. We had chosen to base ourselves in San Telmo, BA’s charismatic neighbourhood that gave birth to the cities Tango scene. Set in a classic crumbling European style this artesian neighbourhood has a unique atmosphere and harbours the majority of BA’s traditional and modern Tango venues. San Telmo is losing its reputation as a dangerous area, mainly due to the influx of wealthy patrons wanting a slice of its charming ambience, cobbled streets, café culture and classic antique filled shops. We left our overpriced ‘hostel world’ accommodation and found excellent, well priced, locally owned beds in the centre of San Telmo. Our ... read more

South America » Argentina » Mendoza » Mendoza October 20th 2009

Mendoza, Mendoza, Mendoza. Situated flush against the Andes this city comes with a big reputation from the people, as well as the guide books - ‘miss it at your peril’ and ‘if you’ve (foolishly) only given it a day or two on your itinerary, you’re bound to end up hanging around’ is the common denominator. With only two days in Mendoza, I was left thinking ‘will we be the fools?’ A seductive city, full of wide streets and grand plaza’s, the Lonely Planet blurted. Fresh from our overnight bus from Buenos Aires we found a vacant hostel. Knowing we had little time, we were already ahead of ourselves, knowing just about what we wanted to do. So we set off for the day expecting seduction, squeezed into a few hours leaving us yearning for more. Basically ... read more

South America » Uruguay » West » Colonia del Sacramento October 18th 2009

Originally we had planned to continue from Montevideo onwards to our next destination. For some reason we had thought it was a good idea to phone ahead and book accommodation, something that wasn’t a normal working practice for us. Good job we did as it seems the whole town was sold out! We took the time to go back to Mercado del Puerto and got lost in the best steaks in the world before finding ourselves accommodation for the night (it seems that Uruguay is popular tonight!). It didn’t bother us to stay longer in Montevideo, it’s a great city with a charming centre. It also gave us the opportunity to go to one of Montevideo’s original and traditional tango clubs. As this is Gardel country (yes he is Uruguayan, not Argentinean) it is an opportunity ... read more

South America » Uruguay » North » Tacuarembó October 13th 2009

From the bus terminal in Tacuarembo we were met by Susann, the co-owner of Panagea - a traditional Uruguayan estancia (cattle farm). We had signed up for five days of living the life of a gaucho (cattle farmer). We left Tacuarembo and were driven along the motorway to Argentina before we turned off the main road and onto gravel, leaving the modern world of Uruguay behind… The car continued deep into the farmlands of the north of the country. Noticeably the small farmhouses we passed became more simple, electricity lines disappeared along with the bridges that should cover those rivers running over the roads. We were about to experience a different world within a modern country, where living simply is a way of life as there isn’t any other way of doing things. We arrived at ... read more

We arrived early into Montevideo but not quite early enough to catch our onward connection so we took the chance to have a wander around the city centre. Montevideo is another ‘boring’ destination as far as the herds of ‘sheep’ travellers are concerned. Boring it certainly isn’t. The weather for the day was rough so we didn’t see Montevideo in the light it should be seen. We wandered around its compact centre admiring its classic colonial architecture and embracing its many plaza side cafes. This city has a very European feel with similar style shopping, fashions and culinary delights. A highlight was undoubtedly the mausoleum in the middle of Plaza Independencia. But Montevideo and Uruguay has something up its sleeve, a passion of mine and something that completely steals the show. Under an old 19th century ... read more

Set amongst a 55,000 hectare sub-tropical forest lies one of the worlds most splendorous sights. Formed over a basalt plateau, the confluence of the Rio Iguazu (Brasil) and the Rio Parana (Paraguay) has produced something truly remarkable. A natural wonder so amazingly vast, powerfully loud and serenely beautiful, its hard to think why is this place not a household name? Bordering Argentina and Brasil, Cataratas Iguazu is an astonishing collection of 275 waterfalls spread over the different levels of the plateau. On their own these waterfalls would satisfy most paradise seekers but at Iguazu, nature had something else in mind. Cut into the forest edge the eroded plateau is a haven of tumbling water, from the thunderous display of the mighty Garganta del Diablo to the less misty Salto’s surrounding Isla San Martin, waterfalls feed waterfalls ... read more

South America » Paraguay October 4th 2009

After our different and remote boarder crossing from Brasil we failed to see any immigration on the Paraguayan side before we boarded our bus straight onto the first major town in Paraguay, Vallemi. The bus was really hot but the scenery was really amazing. We were in the middle of the Paraguayan Chaco (in Brasil it’s the Pantanal). After sweating the whole way we finally arrived in Vallemi. From here we would be able to catch an onward connection to Concepcion. We were dropped off by the bus at the house/office of the bus company to Concepcion. We had been told to be very careful in Paraguay, the country is the second poorest in South America and crime is rife. By now we had heard this about every neighbouring country on this continent so it was ... read more

South America » Brazil September 30th 2009

We left Sao Paulo on an overnight service to the huge bio diverse, subtropical area called the Pantanal. After arriving bang on time we were greeted by our super helpful tour company (Panatal Discovery) who offered us a few sweeteners to seal the deal. We were offered a free day in the Pantanal and a free nights accommodation where the tour ends in Bonito. He also confirmed the boat details from the Pantanal which would transport us into Paraguay. We had phoned the captain ourselves and asked the same questions, so it was good to hear the same thing from a local, meaning our langue skills were up to scratch! We left the access city of Campo Grande and travelled deep into the southern reaches of Brasils Pantanal. We arrived at our very modern lodge with ... read more

South America » Brazil » São Paulo » São Paulo September 28th 2009

As we spent too much time in Rio we would have to cut our visit to Sao Paulo to a minimum. We arrived in the late afternoon and the bus took a considerable amount of time to get to one of Sao Paulo’s gigantic bus terminals. The ride in was impressive and we knew we had arrived in one of the worlds super cities. We found a hostel in the upper market area of Villa Magdalena and spent the rest of our evening in a local legendary samba club. It was a find with traditional samba grooves - chilled out, jazzy, slightly funky and effortlessly soul soothing. We had to get up pretty early so we would be able to fit all we could into our whirlwind stop in Sao Paulo. We headed out to Ayton ... read more

South America » Brazil » Rio de Janeiro » Rio de Janeiro » Ipanema September 23rd 2009

After eight months on the road we had finally reached one of those idyllic destinations - Rio de Janeiro. It felt strange after being completely wowed by the rest of South America, would Rio be a letdown? Knackered from our early morning flight we caught a few hours sleep in our hostel in one of Rio’s extremely exclusive areas, Ipanima. With a list as long as my arm we would be pressed to fit everything in, so after our morning nap we joined a trip to tour one of Rio’s equally as famous as it is dangerous neighbourhoods - the favela’s. Being told these neighbourhoods are far too dangerous to visit by ourselves we chose a company that gives something back to these deprived communities. We were picked up from our hostel and as we were ... read more

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