Hello friends, family, and followers!
We are WAY behind on our blog. Quality internet access in South America has been more difficult than we expected.
When we last left off we were leaving Lisbon and heading to South America. We left early in the morning and were excited to be visiting our final continent before heading back home. We were off! Not so fast!!
We had a 10-hour layover in Rome before heading to Buenos Aires so we took a bus into the center of town and spent the day sight seeing. Both of us have been to Rome before so we decided the best thing to do would be to follow a walking tour app that we downloaded from TripAdvisor and see the popular sights.
One of our biggest pet peeves while traveling is tourists who complain to other tourists about how touristy places are but we're going to break that rule for just a second. We forgot how many tourists are in Rome. Wow! They were everywhere, we even saw that guy from The Food Network and the Applebee's commercials. What's his name? Guy Ferrari or Fedora or something like that eating lunch at a sidewalk cafe. We guess it's just part of being in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. When in Rome.
Among the many sites we visited were Trevi Fountain.
There were so many people that we couldn't get a photo of the two of us. You are supposed to throw a coin over one of you're shoulders into the fountain and this means you'll return someday. We couldn't remember which shoulder it was so we did both to be safe.
Leanne walking the streets, backpack and all.
The Pantheon. Still one of the prettiest buildings we've seen anywhere.
We continued to walk around and make the most of our layover.
Ahh, yes. A little cannoli break never hurt anybody.
We finished the day at the Spanish steps amongst our fellow thousands of travelers. God bless us all.
After an uneventful bus ride back to the airport we were off for South America for real this time!! We were exhausted and slept for the majority of the 16-hour flight.
Josh surprised Leanne by getting a fancier hotel room for 2 nights. The room was in celebration of our upcoming 4th anniversary. The last time we splurged on a fancy hotel room was a year ago for our anniversary. We figured we deserved it.
Leanne was beyond thrilled! The jumping on the bed occurred after taking a long shower so those are clean feet on the sheets. Too bad Leanne suffered from severe jet lag and couldn't sleep more than a few hours during the two nights we stayed at the fancy hotel. It was still some of the most comfortable and clean lying in a bed we have done in almost a year.
After two glorious days of hanging out in a hotel room and not doing much of anything it was time to move on to another, less than desirable, budget room in the seedier part of town.
Tango lessons are quite popular in BA. Leanne desperately tried to get Josh to take a lesson but he stuck to his non-dancing rule. The man hates dancing and there's nothing that will change his mind about it. That was a little bit of a bummer for Leanne but this non-dancing rule was clearly established during the dating days so there were no surprises when he wouldn't partake in tango lessons.
Part of what makes Buenos Aires such a charming city is its grit, grime and graffiti.
We visited La Boca, a neighborhood that retains its strong European flavor. It was one of our favorite parts of the city.
Does anyone know what is going on with this guy?
Everywhere you look there's a great photo to capture.
There's always entertainment during a red light.
Argentines love their dogs! Whether or not this is the most humane way of treating an animal is still up for debate. That's a lot of dogs to walk at one time.
La Casa Rosada (The Pink House) is the executive mansion and office of the President of Argentina. Contrary to popular belief, Eva Peron (Evita) did not say "Don't cry for me Argentina" when she made her famous speech from the balcony of La Casa Rosada.
Camping protests on the street
One day we did our own food walking tour of the city. Josh was the tour guide and he was aided by a TripAdvisor walking tour on his itouch. One of the stops was Cafe Tortoni, a famous coffeehouse frequently visited by many renowned people including politicians, popular idols and international figures. While we do not fit into any of those categories, we still enjoyed drinking our over priced coffees and not so delicious cake.
The days melted into each other but the visuals of the city were unbelievable. The city was a constant feast for the eyeballs.
Just in case you need a little help the sidewalks told you which way to look.
Argentina is divided into 48 barrios and each one has its own character. We were staying in San Telma which is the oldest barrio. On the weekends various vendors selling everything you can imagine set up shop hoping to make a little extra money.
Leanne loved these little record purses. Too bad they were expensive and not practical for traveling. She plans to recreate these when we get back stateside.
BA has some really nice malls so we popped into a few of them to hit up the food courts. The food courts are pretty amazing in that they have fast food steakhouses called "parrillas." We ate at these places several times during our 9 days in BA. On this particular day it was pouring rain so we had to waste some time inside while we waited for the storm to pass. We got artsy with this picture that we took of ourselves in the mirror.
There is always something going on in the streets. We don't know what this was but we ended up watching it and couldn't leave all the dancing and smiles.
What in the world is the magazine with the monkeys and why is this guy so interested in it? It's going to have to go down as one of life's great mysteries.
While visiting the Recoleta barrio we stopped by the Cementerio de Recoleta (Recoleta Cemetery). Many of Argentina's most famous citizens are buried here and the big draw is Evita's tomb.
There were Mausoleums galore. It was a beautiful cemetery and a must see if you're into those types of things.
Lots of tourists came to see the famous Argentine's tomb.
This cute kitty was keeping guard.
We found out after being in BA that one of Josh's friends from Denver, Monica, had relocated to BA and we were able to meet up for dinner. This was such a great pleasure and we were so lucky to have met up with her. She picked up the tab so officially we owe her. Monica, the next time you're in Denver you have a place to stay and/or dinner/drinks/breakfast/lunch or any other slashes are on us! Thanks again!! Keep on rockin' the free world.
Capturing life on the streets
Monkeying around town
We made another visit to La Boca since we didn't spend much time there the first time around. Also,
we wanted to snap a few more pictures.
Even pictures of fruits and vegetables look fantastic against the city's backdrop.
OK, we spent next to nothing on our room but that didn't stop us from sampling varieties of Argentina's finest Malbecs in the comfort of our dumpy room. Disclaimer: These bottles were consumed over the course of a week.
The night of our actual anniversary was spent on a 20-hour bus ride to a town called Puerto Madryn. Doesn't that just scream Happy Anniversary? We did bring a bottle of wine on the bus to celebrate and help pass the time.
Puerto Madryn, a town in Patagonia, is known for whale watching and that is exactly what we had in mind. Hats and gloves on a beach? YES!!! It was so cold! We mean bone chilling, we were still cold even when we got back to the room with the heater on full blast...COLD!
Puerto Madryn didn't disappoint on the whale watching front. We took these pictures from the beach right down the road from our hotel room.
That's one happy guy. Josh has been on a quest to spot a whale during our entire trip. We were too early to spot them in New Zealand but we were right on time in Argentina.
We were so incredibly lucky to capture these moments of whale watching. There were several whales splashing around mere feet from the beach. Within 30 minutes a rain storm blew in and the whales seemed to fade away like the sunset on the horizon.
Boots on the beach, boots on the beach, only in Argentina when it's freezing cold does a girl wear boots on a beach.
Whale watching? Check! We got a little crazy with the selfy pics as a result of the sheer ecstatic feeling that was coursing through our body. Well, maybe it was more of a result of freezing our buns off.
The following day we went on a tour. The tours in Argentina are also a crash course for Spanish. We wanted to fine tune our Spanish and Argentina is a great place as English speakers are few and far between. We also wanted to get up close and personal with the Southern Right Whales. While we are not the biggest fans of tours, it was a must in order to see the whales from a boat. Our first stop was a disappointment because no whales were around to greet us.
Next on the agenda was a boat ride on the sea with eager eyes in search of whales. They didn't mess around when suiting us up for the ride. Does this outfit make Leanne look fat?
Argentina or Antarctica? Either way there was excitement in the air which called for a fist pump.
This may win for the dorkiest look during the trip.
It was a quaint and personal boat trip. Not. So. Much. We settled in with 50 of our newest friends. They packed us in like sardines in a tiny tin can on the boat which was more like a large raft. We all looked ridiculous by the way.
We want whales! We want whales! The freezing, wet weather couldn't dampen our moods.
And there you have it folks…it's a whale's tail.
Blow it out your blowhole, Mr. Whale
Big smiles and two thumbs-up even though we were soaking wet.
Every time a whale was spotted near the boat, all 50 people on the boat would rush over to that side of the boat errr…raft, nearly tipping it over. It wasn't the most well orchestrated tour and safety wasn't much of a concern either but it was all worth it in our books.
The whales swam right up to us and playfully bobbed in the water. They were so close you could see the spots on their skin known as "whale lice". That's a pretty disgusting term but nonetheless it didn't take away from their beauty. Whales are unbelievably massive creatures. It was hard to capture pictures that weren't blurry due to the swaying from the crowds darting left and right and every which way.
After a successful hour on the rocking ocean tracking down whales, we headed down the coast for a few more stops. A big pat on the back for Leanne. She no longer throws up when on a boat. Yay! She's officially earned her sea legs badge on this trip.
During the drive, we saw these little guys. We can't remember the name of this animal but they resembled a cross between a rabbit and a wallaby. Maybe it's the elusive jackalope!
Who knew we would spot an owl. Too much?
Valdes Peninsula - The sight where Charles Darwin studied the local wildlife which contributed to his theory of evolution.
That's one lucky male seal. He has all of those lady seals to himself. He did fend off several other males that were trying to get in on the action.
No trip down the Valdes Peninsula would be complete without a penguin sighting.
They're pretty cute.
Scenes from the window of a bus
We circled back and stopped at our first stop from the morning to see if the whales would greet us this time around.
After four days of whale and wildlife spotting it was time to move onto warmer pastures. It was freezing in Patagonia so we were ready to move north. We enjoyed one last sunset before moving along.
We were moving onto wine country! Mendoza!!
As always, thanks for following!
Leanne and Josh