Travel Diary: 2013, Week #11

Travel Diary: 2013, Week #11

Monday 11th March

After a lazy breakfast, and interviewing the owners of the guesthouse we'd been staying at for the blog, we finally packed up our things and went out to buy a few provisions for our journey and have lunch before leaving.

We got to the train station in Bariloche only about 20 minutes before the scheduled departure and spent 10 minutes trying to buy dinner and breakfast vouchers. Once on the train, we relaxed in to our cabin and watched as Lake Nahuel Huapi drift by and the landscape changed from alpine to steppe.

Tuesday 12th March

We woke up relatively well rested to the chugging of the train and opened the blind to see that we were in the middle of endlessly flat scrub land. We breakfasted as we spotted guanacos, horses, cows and abandoned trains out the window, then eventually arrived in Viedma.

We walked from the outskirts of town to the centre and crossed the river Negro that acts as the boarder between Río Negro province and Buenos Aires province, officially leaving Patagonia behind. In Carmen de Patagones, the town on the Buenos Aires side of the river, we bought bus tickets to our next destination and had a light lunch in a pleasant cafe by the mostly deserted main square.

After an uneventful three hour bus ride to Bahía Blanca, we walked to our couchsurfing host's place and relaxed and chatted with him before his girlfriend came over and we cooked banana curry, ate and then had an early night. I slept like a log.

door in Carmen de Patagones

door in Carmen de Patagones

Wednesday 13th March

Soon after our host, Juan, went out, Zab and I did too, exploring the surprisingly empty streets of this city of 300,000 people. Once we got to the centre and found the main shopping street, however, we discovered where everyone was. We had lunch and ran a few errands then went back to our host's place, napped and spent the rest of the afternoon working. In the evening, we cooked together with Juan.

Thursday 14th March

In the morning, a friend of Juan's came over and they worked together on practicing tongue twisters for their clown routines. Later, Zab and I went out for lunch and a café, then came back to do some work and get ready to leave.

After a nice dinner with Juan and his girlfriend, we took a taxi to the bus station and caught our midnight bus, snuggling in to the comfy seats and eventually falling asleep.

dinner with our Couchsurfing hosts in Bahia Blanca

dinner with our Couchsurfing hosts in Bahia Blanca

Friday 15th March

We awoke to a cheery bus attendant serving us breakfast on trays moulded to fit in our laps and ate biscuits and jam as we trundled through the outskirts of Buenos Aires in morning traffic. Once we arrived in the centre, we went to view a couple of apartments that we'd been eyeing with a view to renting for a while when we return from Uruguay. Over lunch we discussed what we'd seen, made a decision and paid a deposit.

We then walked through Puerto Madero, a part of the city we didn't visit the first time round in Buenos Aires, and which reminded us more than a little of the docklands around Canary Wharf in London. Later, we boarded our ferry to Uruguay and arrived in Colonia after dark, settling in to our hostel for a good night's sleep.

Saturday 16th March

After an adequate hostel breakfast, we went out to see Colonia under a bright, cloudless sky. We walked along the tree lined streets, down to the port where Zab dreamt of owning a sailing boat, and over to the Spanish-built wall that used to surround the town. We then climbed up the lighthouse and got views of the whole town, out to sea and even a glimpse of the Buenos Aires skyline on the other side of the water.

We sat down in a quirky restaurant decorated with mismatched artwork and had lunch to a bohemian looking woman singing popular songs in a melée of languages. In the afternoon, we relaxed in the hostel, then changed our plans last minute and went out to buy bus tickets for the next day. In the evening, we cooked, worked and watched Battlestar Galactica.

Colonia's old town

Colonia's old town

Sunday 18th March

We had to get up earlier than we would have liked in order to get out cash, have breakfast and check out of our hostel before our 9am bus to Montevideo. Once at the capital's bus terminal we simply bought a sandwich and boarded our next bus to Punta del Este, a popular beach resort.

When we arrived there in the afternoon, we tried to find a café, but it all looked rather tacky, overpriced and uninteresting, so we caught a local bus to a small town to the east where we'd accidentally booked a hotel. It turned out to have been a lucky mistake, however, as the room we were given was infinitely nicer than our previous place, but for the same price.