It's an odd feeling to be relatively non-plussed by a 13 hour flight but having spent upto 24 hours on a bus journey, the flight to Auckland went like a breeze. Especially when you factor in that you're unlikely to have snow coming in through the windows, a drunk Bolivian falling onto other passengers laps, or passing away due to over exposure to endless ham and cheese products!
The last blog ended with Buenos Aires and after that we travelled to
Iguazu Falls. The falls are amazing and the sheer power of the waterfalls are impressive enough, let alone the panoramic landscape of countless falls dashing onto rocks hundreds of metres below. The Falls are a tourist attraction (hence we were there) but they're fairly well done, with pathways diverting in numerous directions and providing you with different views of the Falls without impacting on the landscape too much.
From the Falls we travelled to Cordoba; hardly a looker in terms of cities but it provided access to the German-descendant towns of a Alta Gracia, General Villa Belgrano and La Cumbrecita. These varied in terms of their German authenticity and tourism attraction. Alta Gracia was the largest and had a number of Jesuit Estancias (essentially large estates where the Jesuits tried to live in harmony with their surroundings whilst converting the native people); Villa Belgrano was the most touristy of the three with wooden signs above each shop and brattwursts, leiderhosens and the largest Octoberfest outside of Germany. La Cumbrecita was a picturesque village for hiking; pedestrianised to an extent it featured alpine forests (seeds imported from Europe) and Goulash by the bucketful.
Founded by German immigrants in the 1910's these towns were allegedly supplemented by 'you know who's' after 1945, escaping Germany for entirely different reasons to the first wave of immigrants. However, we have no evidence of the above and the only person we asked about it (the nice receptionist, Herr Goebells and his Alsatian 'blitzkrieg'), said it was all a myth. Ah well, worth asking...
From Cordoba and its surrounds to Mendoza, the wine region famous for its Malbec and another tour of vineyards by bike. We tried to source a tandem bike but alas there weren't any, which in the end was probably a good thing for our health (both physical and of our relationship). The hostel in Mendoza was excellent and arranged trips, events and the mandatory* 7-8 free wine hour (actually decent wine as well).
From Argentina to Santiago, Chile, for a few days prior to our flight to New Zealand. Apart from our crossing into Chile, at the coldest border crossing we've ever came across(!), the days went quickly, punctuated by walking tours, national museums and a trip to the ballet.
On to New Zealand...!
*mandatory as dictated by us