31 – 2 February – Iguasso Falls

The Falls can be seen from both Argentina and Brazil

Iguasso Falls - Argentine side

 

Iguasso Falls - Brazil side

 

Iguasso Falls - Brazil side

We spent one night on each side. Both sides are magnificent but the views are different. On balance we prefer the Brazil side because you get a wider view of the falls and at this time of the year there seems to be more water to be seen from the Brazil side.

The Hotel is also much better on the Brazil side, in our opinion!!  (there is no choice of Hotel unless you stay some 30Kms away. There is only one hotel on each side! Both are expensive and beautiful but you are a captive and have no choice but to pay up!

Hotel das Cataratas - Brazil side

 

The life of Riley- beautiful pool!

There is lots of bird life and if you’re into plants then its heaven!

Egret

Vultures

Butterfly watchers are also in second heaven. There are many beautiful species fluttering around. There are also dozens of “COATI’S” (which is like a long tailed Racoon) Very sweet but the locals think they are a pest and the tourists feed them!

"Coati's" everywhere...lovely tail!

The highlight for me is definitely the boat ride…it takes you virtually under the falls and you get absolutely soaked! The weather here is hot and humid and the water is surprisingly warm (at least not cold) so it was refreshing

On a boat - soon to get drenched under the Falls

Tomorrow we fly to Sao Paulo and drive to the coast to PARITY for three nights then onto our last stop…Rio!

 

 

27 – 29 January, Buenos Aires

Well, here I am again in Buenos Aries. This time with Merry though!

The Obilisk, Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires...Huge metal flowerv that opens and closes

I’m quite the expert on the town now! I really love it here.

It has wide tree lined boulevards, beautiful parks and squares, a great climate and lots and lots of life. it is a city of about 6 million and one of extremes. It’s probably a better place to visit than to live.

We did yet another City Tour, my third, but you see different things every time

We visited the Colon Theatre and had an expensive guided tour ($30-.. each) but it was excellent and even “Cultural Geoffrey” enjoyed it.

The Colon Theatre. One of the worlds best Opera Houses

Inside the Colon Theatre

It is a magnificent Opera house and rated the best in the world for acoustics.

The Colon Theatre

We went to a Tango Show in the evening. VERY touristy but a lot of fun and surprisingly good food and unlimited drink which went down well!

Tango Show

Perhaps more fun though is the Tango in LA BOCA.

La Boca is a colourful dockside area where they paint the corrugated houses all sorts of colours. There are lots of restaurtants all with dancers doing the tango. Great fun. Merry and I had to join in!

That's Me! Some people have all the luck!

Merry flying high in La Boca

We visited the EVITA Museum and also saw her tomb at the amazing Mausoleum.

Mausoleum - Recoleta, Buenos Aires

The museum is in a beautiful house where she worked before she met Peron.  She died at only 33 of Leukemia and was both adored and loathed. Sadly, her body was defaced and had to be secretly buried under an assumed name in Italy. She died in 1952 and was only returned to Buenos Aires in the 1970’s

Eva Peron's tomb in the Mausaleum

It’s goodbye to Buenos Aires finally tomorrow and onto Iguassu falls

 

 

 

24-26 January. Chile lakes – Puerto Varas to Bariloche

The next part of the trip is a crossing of the Andes through a series of lakes from Puerto Varas in Chile to Bariloche in Argentina. First you fly to Puerto Montt about 1500 kms south of Santiago, and take a bus the short distance to Puerto Varas. Puerto Varas is a nice little town with German origins. There is a huge church on the hill that is a replica of a German church…not sure where from though, maybe Bavaria! There is also a little park with kids playthings that actually work like gym equipment… so it is virtually a gym in the park! There were a few kids but more adults having fun on the swings and things!

Puerto Varas. The gym in the park! More adults than kids here!

The  lakes trip takes two days and you cross three lakes via Catarmaran and buses  between the lakes. This makes it interesting as the scenery is quite varied. We stayed  overnight in a little place called Peulla.

I had already been to Bariloche on the bike, just two weeks ago. It was cold and wet then….. I feared this trip would be a disaster. How wrong was I!

The weather was perfect and the whole trip was an emerging series of impossibly beautiful scenery!….I can’t express how much we enjoyed the lakes. They are all different. Some are deep aqua colour, some are deep blue and another was a milky green. This is all due to the different minerals and sediment. There are snow capped volcanoes and rugged mountains.

Volcano Osorno from Lago Margarita

Largo Blest

At Peulla,  (which comprises about 10 houses, a school with seven pupils and a beautiful hotel) there are all sorts of activities. Merry and I chose horse riding (surprise???) It was wonderful. There was nobody else but us and the ride took us through the countryside and through the river and along the river bed.

Horse riding at Puella

They also had an enormous “flying fox” which we couldn’t resist doing. Great fun! Its high above the treetops and some 200 meters

Merry soaring through the trees

The Hotel in Puella was very nice and we enjoyed some fine Vino Tinto and a lovely view!

View from Hotel in Peulla

We liked this wine, a "Carmenere"

So now we’re in Bariloche. How different it looks in the sunshine!

Bariloche

We are in a flash Hotel about 100 yards from the place John and I stayed in just two weeks ago!

Bariloche  is a ski resort in winter and a lake resort in summer. There are some superb places around the lake and hundreds of people swimming in the freezing cold water. Not us I have to say!

The place was devastated last year when a volcano erupted, and infact is still spewing ash out, 10 months later.

Flights are regularly grounded so hopefully we will get out ok tomorrow. The sky is hazy though and there is ash on cars and in the street.  nature has the last say!

20-23rd January Santiago and Valparaiso

Merry arrived and we are now onto stage 2 of the trip. It’s great to be together again.

Geoff and Merry...together again!

The bike is safely parked at my relative, Robert Peebles’ house about 25 miles north of the city. The Hotels for the next three weeks are a different class altogether! The “smelly biker” is no more for three weeks!

In the last post I mentioned how I found Robert. He shares the same Gt Gt Grandfather as me.

On Saturday, Robert picked us up and drove us to his lovely house.

Robert Peebles' Garden

We met Sarah, his wife (English, from Winchester) and two of their three daughters. Nataly and Melanie (Nichole, the youngest is away) and Abby, Nataly’s two year old daughter. We also met Max the dog.

Peebles family Abby,Malanie,Max,Nataly,Sarah,Robert

We had a lovely day. Roberts house is set in a “gated” rural development. The garden is big and amazing. Wendy, you would LOVE Robert’s garden!

Robert is a superb amateur photographer. If you’re interested in photography, look up his facebook page…he puts up his photos. They are terrific. Infact I have one of his photos as my screen saver!

Robert doing his favourite thing..photography!

The house is set near two excellent golf courses, riding stables,( which we had to visit…naturally!) lake, tennis courts etc. It is so beautiful and peaceful here. I could move in!

Sunset near Robert's house

We all went to dinner and Robert introduced me to PISCO SOUR…Very good. It goes down very easily!!….. We had a magnificent steak and some CARMENERE wine…That is a local variety not available in Australia…… Robert told me that the variety is originally French but French root-stocks were destroyed by phylloxera and so Chile has control of the variety

On Sunday we drove the 100k to Valparaiso. Valparaiso is an old Port town. Lots of history here! There are some beautiful old houses and a historic Funicular.

Historic Funicular Valparaiso

Valparaiso

Wall painting Valparaiso

There is an Anglican Church with a huge and very beautiful organ that is incredibly loud. It was quite magical to sit and listen for a while…There was quite a large British community here in the last century

Magnificent Organ in St Pauls Anglican Church, Valparaiso

En route we visited a winery called Emiliana which is 100% organic. It’s interesting how they do it. They have chickens, Alpacas wandering the vine rows. They plant flowers, garlic etc and have bee hives all around. The wine is terrific!

Next we tried to find the grave of my Gt GT Grandfather (lucky Merry!)

Cemetery in Valparaiso where Geoff and Robert's common ancester, Robert Paterson Peebles is buried

We failed but the cemetary is fascinating and i could hardly drag Merry away.

Today, we flew to Puerto Montt about 1500kms south to board the boat across the Chile lakes!

 

 

 

 

17th January. Mendoza to Santiago

Well done Mr BMW Mendoza. Roho was fixed.(it was the fan that had gone) and Azulo had his panniers welded up, a new tyre and an oil change. So we’re off!…. a few dollars lighter but happy!

The road to Santiago is simply fantastic. Wonderful scenery over rugged mountains and fabulous roads to ride bikes on. Lots of lovely bends!….

If only there weren’t so many trucks…. Can’t have everything though!

Azulo handled the height brilliantly (3000m +)

The only downside was the now familiar customs queue. This was the worst yet. The queue stretched over a kilometer!

3 hour queue at Chile Customs...Ridiculous!

Everybody is so patient. I suppose they have to be. Now, I’m no expert in these things but surely there is a better way?….When eventually you get to the front of the queue, all they do is stamp a few bits of paper and off you go.

Whilst in the queue we were told of this Ski Hotel by the Lake. We decided to visit to get a drink. Well….it is VERY posh.

The restaurant is magnificent and is beautifully laid out with very fine table cloths etc. it overlooks a beautiful lake…..

Not quite the place where they appreciate a couple of smelly bikers! Anyway, it was too slow for us and we still had about 200kms to go so off we went.

Ski Resort Hotel Restaurant...Beautiful lake

 

Countryside and Vineyards near Santiago

We found our hotel by hiring a Taxi. The GPS didn’t seem to work.

I’ve been having trouble with the “stand” on my bike. The extra weight lowers the bike and makes it very hard to put down the stand when getting off the bike…. and when you get on the bike, it is very easy to tip it over.

I decided to have the stand lowered, so I needed an engineering shop or a welder…again!

Its amazing how easy it was to find one and get things done immediately!

I went to a bike shop and they made a call….they gave me an address and off I went. 20 minutes and $16 later my stand had been chopped off and re-welded.!

Today we have done the touristy bit.

Santiago from Cerro San Cristobal

 

Congreso Nacional

Arty photo...reflection of the Cathedral

Santiago is clearly booming and the whole country seems so much more prosperous than Argentina. It is a vibrant modern city. Lots of fine buildings and quite a buzz

Santiago Financial District

The fish market is terrific. My good friend Rod would like this place!

Central Market...fabulous seafood and Restaurants

A$1 = 550 Chile peso's

Yesterday, I met my relative Robert Peebles for the first time. I think it’s an amazing story….

As a child, I always knew I had some Spanish in me somewhere….. We used to call my Grandmother “Madre”. I thought that was her name. Of course Madre is Spanish for Mother
A few years ago, Cousin Juliet and I were doing some work together on the family history. Juliet knew that the “Spanish” side was actually Chilean.

A Dr Charles Peebles, a Scotsman and a Gt + Grandfather on my father’s mother’s side, went to Chile and married a Chilean girl back in 1840 odd (Juliet, please correct me if you read this)

Well. I wanted to know more about our Chilean relatives… that is, if there are any…..So, I looked up “PEEBLES” in the Chile phone book on the internet. (I thought that there was a chance that anyone with the name PEEBLES may be related to me) There were about half a dozen “Peebles’ in the book.
I wrote a letter, Juliet had the letter translated and sent it off!….A little like putting a note in a bottle and throwing it in the sea…

Well, you wouldn’t believe it…Robert Peebles answered the letter. He is also directly related to Charles Peebles. So I have a Chilean family!

Robert has kindly offered to “host’ AZULO for three weeks whilst Merry and I go on a holiday together

Merry arrives on Friday 20th. I can’t wait. We go to the Chile lakes, Buenos Aires, Iguasso Falls and Rio. After Merry goes home, I fly back to Santiago. Azulo and I then continue north, to USA! John meanwhile has had a holiday with his wife in Galapagos Islands and we meet up again, all things being equal, in Quito in March

Kicking our heels in Mendoza

We have to get John’s bike fixed and I need a new tyre and a welder for my panniers.

If you have to kick your heels in Argentina, Mendoza is not a bad place to be. It really is a very impressive place. Grand squares and parks and a good lifestyle…

Mendoza

 

Many lovely parks and statues etc

Mendoza

 

Lots of Cafes and Restaurants in Malls cleared of cars

Have a look at the photo of the shop that sells “white goods” and motorbikes! It’s like “the Good Guys or Harvey Norman expanding their range!

Motorbikes are sold along with fridges and dishwashers in this shop

Another thing that is simply fabulous is the ice cream…I’m not much of an ice cream fanatic but I’m hooked!

SERIOUSLY yummy ice cream!

On Sunday we decided to rent a car to visit the Vineyards, have lunch and do some wine tasting. Great idea except nobody told us everything is closed! Yes, EVERYTHING!

Never on Sunday...everything closed!

 

Poorly kept vineyard...don't know if this is typical

Monday arrived and off we went to BMW to get John’s bike fixed. To avoid wasting time I thought I would get them to fit a new rear tyre and do oil change and fix the pannier…… I hope that doesn’t prove an expensive mistake!

8.30am outside a locked BMW Dealer...

We arrived at 8.15 only to find the place in darkness and the gates locked. At about 8.45 the gates were opened and in we went. No early starts here!

We looked at the “opening times” on the door and noticed they take a THREE hour siesta!

They open again at 4.00pm and work through till about 7.00.

It seems to me that having a three hour break in the middle of the day must make it a very long day They don’t go home to sleep, as say in a Greek village….. As far as I can tell, they just hang around and gossip and drink MATE and have lunch!

Anyway, that’s the system and it is very frustrating for us bikers who just want to get on the road!….I have to get to Santiago to meet Merry after all!

As I write it is 4.00 pm on Monday. I have no idea whether the bikes will  be ready today. We’ve been told to call at 6.00pm! Fingers crossed

We DO know that John’s bike has blown the fan so nothing serious except the fan costs an unbelievable $450!

So….you’ll have to wait till the next post to find out what happened!

 

 

 

The people you meet…

We met the “larger than life Aussie” the other day…An Aussie you never meet in Australia…

Well he was there in Chile ..with the full on accent…This is 100% true!

“Strewth, he said. I’m SPEWIN’ . They’ve closed the Park (Chile’s Parque Paine was set on fire and closed recently) and I’m stuffed mate. I’m here, livin’ the dream and they’ve closed the park. I’m SPEWIN!

My old man says I’ll be SPEWIN’ when I reach 70 if I don’t get myself a PICKET (wife and kids, I think!) But mate, I’m living the dream!”

He is a teacher from Sydney…We didn’t dare ask what he teaches..Hopefully not English

 

 

12th-13th January – San Martin to Mendoza

John’s Roho (BMW F650) is playing up. The oil light sometimes comes on. This is a worry even though we think it is a minor fault. However, you can’t take chances, so we have to get to the nearest BMW dealer which is in Mendoza, 1300 kms away.

We get up at 6.00 and hit the road at 7.00. It’s a beautiful day and fresh at 7.00am.

We make fantastic progress until we need to get petrol…..

The dreaded queue for petrol...this one took 2.5 hours!

You guessed it…no petrol!

We eventually find another garage with a queue about 50 meters long. It takes 2.5 hours!

There is a serious fuel problem in Argentina. We just don’t realise how efficient our system is at home. we take everything for granted.

Another problem here is that there is no self service and there are not enough attendants…. so it takes FOREVER!

Dry and dusty road again!

 

Dry and desolate but magnificent

 

Typical scenery

We only manage 55o Kms that day and stop at the tiniest desert hamlet called Barancolis. It literally has about 50 houses.

Our Hostel in Barancas (Population about 100)

We find a terrific little Hostel. It’s one of the best rooms we had since our flash Hotel in Buenos Aires. It costs $20 each for B & B.

John and find a “restaurant.” Actually it’s someones house and we are the only customers…In fact we are the only visitors in town!.

The Restaurant in Barancas...opened especially for us

The owners are playing with their kids in the street when we arrive. Within seconds a table is carried out and placed on the pavement. The owner then hoses down the dusty street for our comfort!

John and I dining "al fresco"

We are plonked on chairs and a mug of dubious wine arrives. We have a “Veal Milanaise’ which has a worrying colour…I would say ” I chose poorly” but there really was no choice!

The next day starts at 7.00 again…..and to our horror we hit more RIPIO.

Johns emergency warning signal comes on and my pannier snaps again (different place to the last) Anyway, we push on and get to Mendoza at about 7.00pm. Tired and hungry but pleased to have achieved the goal.

En route we meet four English bikers from Manchester. They  came over to see the Dakar rally and missed everything because they got the places wrong! Anyway they had hired some bikes in Chile and were having the time of their lives!

I’m impressed with Mendoza. It is a beautiful place. It could be a capital City. It has grand buildings and lovely squares. There are wide streets and lots of cafe’s etc. it is the centre of Argentina’s wine industry.

They also have THE BEST ice cream here!

We will spend the weekend here and front up to BMW on Monday. I might get Azulo serviced by BMW!!!!!! to save time but not money I suspect!

I’ll add pictures of Mendoza later

 

11th January: Baraloche – San Martin De Los Andes

After three cold and wet days we awoke to beautiful sunshine! Today we rode the 200 kms to San Martin de los Andes from Baraloche.

Baraloche has lots of chocolate shops! It’s a ski resort in a beautiful setting on a lake by the mountains.

Lots of Chocolate shops in Baraloche!

I checked out the Hotel Merry and I will staying at in just three weeks time… definitely an improvement on the standard I’ve become accustomed to lately!

The road to San Martin was simply fantastic. Words can’t describe how beautiful it is.

Riding the Ruta de los siete lagos

 

Baraloche to San Martin

Baraloche to San Martin

San Martin is a very posh little place and you hardly know you’re in Argentina.

San Martin De Los Andes

Great meats and Cheese in San Martin

It has almost a European feel about it. I think it has a srong German influence as evidenced by the food shops!  I wonder if the Nazi’s who escaped Europe after the war came here? I must look it up!

Reminds me of a garden at an English Pub

Our Hosteria..3 Stars..3 more than usual! Cost $50 each

Some funny little incidents I forgot to mention that might interest you...

On the Caraterra Austral the other day a strange event took place…We were coming down from the hills and had to cross a very narrow little bridge. I was leading.

On the bridge was a man on horseback. He was wearing classic Chilean clothes…The hat and cloak.

He was blocking the road

He looked like Zorro!!…..

There was a stand off for what seemed like an age. We sat on our bikes and he sat on his horse blocking the road….then he waved us through!  He didn’t get out of the way and we had to work our way behind him and his horse. I hoped it wouldn’t kick!

We weren’t sure what this was all about. His horse didn’t look happy so maybe that was the problem.

SORRY, DIDN’T GET A PICTURE!!!

On a lighter note...We are often the centre of attention…people love to come up and talk and sometimes have their picture taken sitting on the bike.

The other day a young guy came up to me and I managed to understand that his father was a keen biker. He wanted me to record a message to his dad!

He spoke the words in Spanish and I repeated them into his mobile phone…Heavens knows what I actually said to his dad!

Tomorrow and the next day we have two longish riding days to Mendosa and the Wine Country!!!!.

Ruta 40 through to Chile’s Carretera Austral

Its now 9th January and we are in Bariloche in Argentina (again) Since the El Chalten post we have traveled up the dreaded Ruta 40, crossed into Chile at Chile Chico on Lago Buenos Aries  (the lake is half in Chile and half in Argentina. Lago Buenos Aries needless to say is the Argentinean name) Take a look at the map( top right of the blog) if you haven’t already

We stayed in Chile Chico (it sounds like a Chico Role with Chilies doesn’t it?) which is a peaceful little place. After the horrors of Ruta 40 it was so good to have a stop.

The picture below is me trying to open the door of a Restaurant that says “OPEN” but is CLOSED! This is typical and very frustrating! Restaurants typically open at 8.30 (ish) The staff can see you outside. The sign says open but they won’t let you in …even for a drink!

The Restaurant says it's open, they can see us but wont let us in till 8.30!

Just a few words on Ruta 40. The part from Tres Legos to Perito Morino, some 600 kms is nearly all RIPIO.

The frustrating thing is they are building a magnificent new road which will probably be open next year. So, here you are bumping along trying desperately hard not to fall off and just meters away is this near perfect road!

It’s not possible to get onto the new road as it’s blocked off! So as I’ve said before, it was hot, windy, bumpy and we were horribly overloaded with extra petrol…but WE MADE IT  and didn’t fall off once!

 

Ferry trip on Lago Buenos Aires

At Chile Chico we took the Ferry to Puerto Ibanez. The trip takes two hours and cost me $10 for me and the bike. The lake is gorgeous and the water is deep blue with mountains in the background

The next challenge was Chile’s magnificent Carretera Austral. it’s a 1350 kms road built in the 1970’s linking Puerto Montt in the north to Villa O’Higgins in the South.

View on the Carretera Austral

It was a pet project of Pinochet and a financial disaster…but a fabulous road through absolutely wonderful countryside.

Some of it is good asphalt and a lot is narrow RIPIO. We traveled for 500ks on the Carretera and 300 of that was ripi0 (if you think Ive got an obsession with this ripio …you’re right!)

The night of the 7th we found a GEM. We rounded a corner by this little lake and saw a tiny little shack that called itself a Hosteria. We climbed this steep bank and met Mirta. The pictures say it all.

Mirta's Hosteria on Lago Torres, Chile

There was Mirta, another lady and an old man in this tiny little shak. Mirta cooked up a magnificent meal of lamb in next to no time.

Mirta's kithcken..look at that stove!

She managed to find some beer and wine which made me happy. Two Italian bikers arrived. We all had a great time telling lies over a camp fire made from a 44 Gallon drum.

Azulo's "bedroom" at Mirta's Hosteria

Then out came the MATE. “MATE” is a tea like drink that the Argentinians (mainly)  are obsessed with. It’s drunk from a little pot with a metal straw.

John enjoying a MATE and Mirta

They share it around. You can’t buy MATE in a Coffee bar but you see people walking around with a thermos and their Mate pot. It’s sort of like “secret Argentinean drink” as you simply don’t get to taste it unless it’s offered. Mind you…I don’t know why they bother as it just tastes to me like strong bitter tea.

On the Carreterra Austral - Chile (in the rain)

The next day we hit the RIPIO for the last time. 300 Ks in pouring rain! It took us 12 hours!. We traveled through fantastic scenery which we could sort of see, got lost again!

A tough day but we both loved it and neither of us fell off! Sorry if this is a long and wordy post .