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Showing posts from March, 2012

Arica to Arequipa: we travel to Peru

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Being beside the sea in Arica was invigorating - our hotel was right on the water's edge and the crashing of the surf at night is something I have always loved. But it was time to explore again.
None in our small party was keen to spend another day on the road travelling through the desert but we were all looking forward to Arequipa. Our bus was late because of the danger of land mines! Pretty serious reason. The Chileans laid many land mines half a century ago in their fight with the Peruvians over land on the border. It was believed they had all been found until recent unusual rains exposed two - one on land and one that floated down to the sea and so there has been a serious search to find any more. The border was shut and our bus was coming from Peru. So when we finally did go through the long process of checking out of Chile and into Peru we couldn't help but feel a little apprehensive.
The desert in this part of world is like an endless moonscape and makes you aware just …

The driest place in the world and an amazing village

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Driving across the Atacama Desert is the type of trip you only want to do once in a lifetime - unless you love deserts, which I don't. I have never driven across the Australian desert, but it is not on my wish list - now I have driven across the driest desert in the world. It is so dry that there are no glaciers even on mountains that are around 7,000 metres!! And it is seemingly endless.
We left San Pedro early in the morning as the sun rose and headed across the desert to C and then north towards our destination of Arica. What was planned as an 11 hour drive ended up being about 14 hours because of stops to see geoglyphs (large designs made of stone and drawn on the sides of mountains and hillsides as 'signposts' to ancient travellers and traders) and to visit the absolutely fascinating town of Humberstone - which made watching desert go by for hours on end, fascinating.
I love history - especially social history - and this ghost town is in an amazing state of preserva…

Chile: the Atacama Desert

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We've left Buenos Aires behind and on our first full day staying in the Atacama desert we started the day with a visit to the Moon Valley (Valle de Luna). Moon Valley is aptly named - it is a surreal landscape of rock, clay and salt pans. Huge mountains shaped like the spine of a stegosaurus, folded like the pleats of a kilt or precariously balanced boulders form this environment. A harsh environment where very little lives - an occasional butterfly fluttered by - it has a strange beauty. The village of San Pedro where we are staying is situated in one of the oases that make it possible for humans to live here - and for the huge copper mines to function.
In the late afternoon we travelled to the Atacama Salt Flat. It is possible to hike, horse-ride and bicycle in this environment, but it is incredibly hot and our choice has been to go by car. This trip took us briefly to the village of Tocanoa, which has recently been inundated by a flood! that swept away a number of houses and s…

Cafe Tortoni, the tourist bus and the Atacama desert

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I am writing this from our hotel in the Atacama Desert. We flew here via Santiago on the next stage of our South American adventure.
Our last 2 days in Buenos Aires were spent welcoming the newbies to B.A. The flight from Oz on Qantas is bad enough, especially travelling in economy but when it is discontinued at the end of this month and the choice is either to fly via Santiago with Qantas or direct with Aerolineas or LAN it is going to be a difficult one! I for one will probably think twice.
On the day that the new members of our party arrived we took them for a welcome coffee to the magnificent Cafe Tortoni. Unlike Confiteria Ideal Cafe Tortoni has been preserved. It may still have the furniture and decor of the 1850s but it is in excellent condition. It was full, but not crowded and we all soaked up the history and atmosphere with our cafe con leches. Then it was time for a rest before the evening's pleasures.
A tango show is always offered to visitors to Buenos Aires by our t…

Day 5 in Buenos Aires: good food, Ideal and a bit of jazz

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Each day begins with a leisurely communal breakfast where we plan our day - and spend some time planning our day. Of the 6 of us, only one has not been to BA before and 4 of us have been a number of times, so we are exploring part of the city that we have not yet visited, or re-visiting favourites. Los Remolinos comes in the last category. A typical Argentinian restaurant on Suipacha which we discovered 9 years ago when we stayed in a hotel opposite for the World Tango Festival. In those days we were greeted by non-English speaking older waiters who proffered sherry when we sat down together with the ubiquitous  basket of bread. Those days are long gone, taking with them the complimentary limoncello at the end of the meal as well. An excellent parilla, together with other typical Argentinian dishes have been joined by a more modern salad (no longer the separate grated carrot, shredded lettuce and sliced tomato).
I ordered a Medallion de Lomas , which,  unlike our medallions which are…

Jet lag, Japanese garden and paso doble at Los Consagrados in Buenos Aires

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Slow postings... my apologies, but I seem to be in an internet fog at the moment and am finding it really difficult to get online much of the time!

Jet lag can make it difficult to get the most our of your holiday - and on Friday it really got the better of me. I slept really badly on Thursday night - though I did get a fair bit of my book read in the wee small hours of the morning.
We walked to the Japanese garden, next to the Zoo in Recoleta on another beautiful sunny autumn morning. The Japanese garden is a delightful oasis, though it is situated with busy roads all around - so that makes it less tranquil than it could be. The central attraction is a huge lake with a path which wends it way round and Japanese maples, conifers, other typical plantings and Japanese furniture along side. We lunched in the Japanese restaurant in the gardens - which felt rather incongruous, eating Japanese in Argentina. It was not of the standard we are used to at home, but it was reasonable. The white…

Beautiful Buenos Aires and the cold shoulder at Club Gricel

Buenos Aires does sunshine very well - and yesterday (Friday) we had beautiful weather again - max was probably around 27degC and the sun shone all day with a light breeze. I set off in the morning with my very good friend DJ Incredible to visit the famous Zivals (home of Tango CDs and more) on Corrientes and then the Buenos Aires Tango Club - mission CD shopping. It didn't take long to gather enough CDs for door prizes at the Milonga de Mis Amores for the next 12 months and then to collect the CDs on my wants list. I create my wants list throughout the year when I hear a piece I don't have as part of a playlist. Mission accomplished we returned to the hotel to meet up with friends for an excellent wholefood lunch at Alma Zen cafe in Diagonale Norte then off again. This time the mission was women-only - we were off to Comme Il Faut. I have had at least 20 pairs of their shoes over the years (not many compared to other tangueras I know) and knew what I wanted - and that I could…

Buenos Aires, Palermo Soho and a great concept in shoes

Day two in Buenos Aires. (no Day one report - I slept!) This is my 5th visit and every time I come I notice changes. Not to the footpaths mind you - they are still as broken up and potholed as they were on my first visit in 2003 - or maybe worse. Nor to the mess left by dogs! (I wonder if the Argentinians will legislate for owners picking up their dog's mess if they ever renew their pavements??). This time prices have gone up again (last visit 2010). However there seems to be more choice - and the food continues to get fresher. Today we wandered round Palermo Soho taking in the shops, the eateries and the atmosphere. A really pretty part of town, many of the tree-lined streets with their streetscapes dappled with sunshine are reminiscent of a European city - or parts of Melbourne! We found a great cafe for lunch - Mama Racha - which I later discover is listed in a Guardian travel article as one of BA's best cafes. A one-time corner store, it has tables outside and in, and a w…

Tango - so much to learn, so much to read

I'm off to BA in a couple of days! For a week - before travelling on to parts of Peru and Chile - some of which I have visited before some I haven't. And today, as I sat in the doctor's waiting room, I read a large part of 'Happy Tango. Sallycat's Guide to Dancing in Buenos Aires'. I'm a convert - don't travel to Buenos Aires to dance tango without having a copy. This will be my fifth trip and I have learnt a heap already. So even if you have been before you will find something in there that you didn't know before - and if you are a newbie, or this is your first visit, it's essential! As I will only be there for a week, one of the best sections is 'The Week at a Glance' - in three sections for Tourists, Traditional dancers and those who want informal, it will save any tanguera/o hours of research and probably many mistakes - as will reading the sections on the cabaceo and codigos. I have had a copy of this book on my desk for some months…

Spreading disease with the greatest of ease

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Interesting that my post about hand washing some time ago is so popular. Interesting too that in Sydney Morning Herald  of March 7 there is an article about how nearly 20 per cent of our hospitals fail to meet the simple hygiene standard of good hand washing!!
And last week my partner who runs a travel agency sent me an email about Norovirus, which is the virus most responsible for outbreaks - and how it can decimate an airliner or a cruise ship!! No-one is going to do a survey on dancers but it seems timely to remind everyone that washing hands is really easy.
Norovirus (formerly Norwalk agent) is an RNA virus (taxonomic family Caliciviridae).
It is the most infectious microbe known. (It takes as few as 18 virus particles to infect a person via food, water or dirty hands.)
Typically, symptoms begin with sudden vomiting, abdominal cramps, nausea and watery diarrhoea, although for a lucky few, symptoms can be mild or non-existent. Symptoms usually last 24-72 hours.
Dehydration is the m…