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For the last hurrah of our trip we decided to spend a few days on the beach in Uruguay.   We took a ferry from Buenos Aires to Montevideo and then on by bus to Punta del Este.  The beaches were beautiful and we had a great time relaxing and soaking up the sun!

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Along the coast in Punta del Este was some cool art work – a hand sticking out of the sand and some crazy mermaids.DSCN5819 DSCN5821 DSCN5836

Of course we ate some good food, including Uruguay’s famous steak sandwich called the chivito.  We stayed at a very relaxing hostel that had little cabana like rooms and made a delicious BBQ one night, complete with melty cheese and too much meat to eat.

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We spent one day exploring Montevideo, the capital city.  We lucked out and got to see a samba parade the night we were there!

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Buenos Aires Food

Or this post could be titled “Buenos Ares makes me fat”.  When I studied abroad here 7 years ago, I packed on a few lbs but I attributed it to lots of drinking combined with little exercise.  Turns out it was the helado and dulce de leche all along…

Food in BA is pretty similar to the food you find all over Argentina.  It is a pretty meat heavy culture with steaks and choripans (sausage sandwich) galore!



The food also has a heavy Italian influence and any traditional Argentine restaurant will have pizza, pasta and gnocchi on the menu.  Being on the backpacker budget, pasta is something that we cook for ourselves a lot so we don’t typically get it when we go out, but we do get pizza!  Pizza here is a bit different.  The crust varies by restaurant but is many times thicker and almost like focaccia bread.  The pizzas typically only have  thin layer of sauce, but have tons of melty mozzarella cheese.  Plain pizzas usually come topped with green olives.  Brandon and I usually get a Neapolitan pizza that has tomato slices on top and some times some herbs.


A very common food here (and all over South America) are empanadas.  Argentine empanadas are usually baked instead of fried and popular fillings are ground beef, chicken, ham and cheese, corn, and spinach and cheese.


Another common food is a quiche like pie called a tarta.  The fillings are many times similar to the empanada fillings – ham and cheese, corn, spinach and cheese, onion, and zucchini and carrot.


Argentina has the best desserts though.  They love dulce de leche, which is a thick, spreadable caramel sauce and put it in and on everything.  One of the most popular desserts is an alfajor, which is 2 cookies with dulce de leche between them.  There are tons of variations of alfajores, though.  The cookie type varies as does the coating.  Many times there are dipped in chocolate or rolled in coconut.


Dulce de leche plays a huge role in my favorite dessert in Argentina – dulce de leche helado (ice cream)!  There are heladerias (ice cream shops) on almost every block in Buenos Aires.  Most have between 30 and 40 flavors of ice cream, with 1/4 dulce de leche flavors, 1/4 chocolate flavors, 1/4 vanilla flavors and 1/4 fruit flavors.  While Brandon is partial to cookies and cream and granizada (vanilla with chocolate shavings), I always go for a dulce de leche flavor, my favorite being dulce de leche con brownie.

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Breakfast is also a sweet filled affair.  A typical desayuno will be cafe con leche (coffe with milk) and a few medialunas, which are sweet croissant like pastries.  And don’t forget to put some dulce de leche on it!


Something that we loved about BA that was different than the rest of the country – food diversity! While there were all kind of international restaurants in our neighborhood, we were pretty excited for some food options that we missed from back home – gyros, burritos and gourmet burgers!  Brandon and I were also really happy for the wider variety of craft beers in the city, although when my brother and sister-in-law tasted them, we were told that we had forgotten what good beer tasted like 🙂

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More Buenos Aires

Besides Christmas, New Years and Christopher and Susan’s visit, we had a great month in BA! We saw some tango – first in a square in San Telmo, then we took a lesson and went to a milonga (tango club) and finally, we saw a show at Café Tortoni, a famous café downtown.

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We had a welcome surprise one day when one of Brandon’s old coworkers messaged him to let us know he and his wife were in BA for vacation! We met up with Gareth and Betsy a couple of times while they were in town.

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Every Thursday afternoon in BA a protest takes place in front of Casa Rosada (the president’s house) by mothers and grandmothers whose family went missing during the dictatorship in the 70’s.


We also went to BA’s Chinatown and La Boca neighborhoods!

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There aren’t a lot of good skyline views in Buenos Aires, but one of them is at the top of Palacio Baralo. We did a tour one day so we could go to the top.

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Even if we didn’t have a planned place we wanted to go, we explored different neighborhoods every day and are sad to be leaving this beautiful city!

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A month in Buenos Aires

Since we wanted to stay in BA for a month, we rented an apartment on Airbnb. We picked one in the neighborhood of Palermo, close to Plaza Italia, which is a big transportation hub in the neighborhood. We were close to the huge stretch of parks in the city.

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We celebrated both Christmas and New Year’s in BA. Christmas was a pretty low key affair with a mimosa brunch, a walk, some movies and more bubbly with dinner.


New Year’s Eve in BA was absolutely dead! We had expected the party city to be wild, but it wasn’t. There were only a handful of bars and restaurants open and most of them were either booked or had really expensive set menus or cover charges. Apparently most of the city empties out to the beaches in Uruguay or Mar del Plata. We found a pizza place that was open and then headed over to the planetarium where there were fireworks and a DJ.


On New Years Day, my brother and sister-in-law arrived! They were in BA for 5 days and then went down to Patagonia to hike for a few more. We had a great time on their visit and did a lot of touring around the neighborhoods. One day we did a walking tour of the downtown area and then went to Recoleta cemetery.


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Another day we went out to Puerto Madero, visited the ecological reserve and stopped by the San Telmo fair.

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We visited a few museums and did a wine tasting.

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We spent one day out of the city visiting Tigre, a city 45 minutes north on a delta. We did a boat cruise around the area – it was really pretty!

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And of course, we ate steak!

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Workaway in San Rafael

After months of hiking and exploring in Patagonia (with an Antarctic cruise slipped in!), we finally headed north.  We decided to take a break from the constant traveling and save a bit of money by doing a work exchange for 2 weeks.  We used to find an expat couple living near San Rafael (a town a few hours outside the city of Mendoza) that wanted some help on their farm in exchange for free housing.  The “farm” wasn’t really a working farm – they didn’t have crops (besides a small garden and an apricot tree) or animals (except for 2 dogs) but they did have quite a bit of land (it used to be a working vinyard) that needed to be maintained.  We actually had a lot of fun doing the manual labor!  For 4 hours a day during the week, we pruned trees, burned brush piles, cut wood and cleared the path the ran from one end of the property to the other.  My favorite job was burning (I never knew I was a pyro!) but Brandon really liked using the chainsaw and splitter to cut firewood.  Here are some action shots of Brandon at work!

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When our work was done for the day, we relaxed!  San Rafael gets pretty hot during the summer (highs were in the 90s most days we were there) and siestas are part of the culture.  Most businesses were closed from 1 – 5pm so everyone can go home and relax during the hottest part of the day.  While we didn’t take a nap every afternoon, we always would lay down and at least read.  When it gets that hot and there isn’t any air conditioning, there isn’t much else to do.  Luckily we had great digs to relax in!  Our “free accommodation” was a two bedroom house with a fully equipped kitchen and a projector in the living room.  We didn’t have much access to the internet during our stay, but they had a collection of movies and tv shows to watch and we got hooked on the old HBO show Six Feet Under.

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One of our favorite parts of the work away was having pets again!  They had a 2 month old Rottweiler puppy named Cali who was super cute, but always chewing or biting something (or someone).  We had a hard time getting her to stay still for a picture!  We really loved their other dog Catorce though.  He was the perfect dog!  He hung out with us for a lot of the afternoon and evening and really like to cuddle and go on walks.

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The farm was smack in the middle of tons of orchards and vineyards and the surrounding area was absolutely beautiful.  We had a great time and I think it’s fairly safe to say it was the most relaxing two weeks of our trip!

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