48 Hours in Lima

During our trip we have tried to visit the capital of each county, despite sometimes hearing mixed reviews about a few of them. Lima was no exception, and being the largest city in Peru (with a population of over 8 million) we were curious to see what the capital had to offer. We had heard that the food was second to none, and being home to some of the world's best restaurants we couldn't pass up the opportunity to sample some of the best Peruvian cuisine. Good food also comes at a cost, so we decided to spend just a couple of days there so we didn't end up blowing our budget!

From Huacachina we got an early bus northbound along the coastline for around 4 hours before arriving in the main bus terminal at mid day. We found that one of the best areas to stay was Milaflores, a barrio on the south side of the city close to the coast. We checked into Family Backpackers Club hostel, a pink town house with quirky interior but a rather quite vibe. We dropped our stuff and headed out for lunch, keen to try some world-renowned sea food. Nearby was the well reviewed Costazul, a small pub-like seafood restaurant that seemed like the perfect place. We ordered seafood saltado and seafood pasta, which were both fresh and delicious, and a great welcome to the city of Lima.  

Life on the move isn't always as exciting, and being the first big city we'd arrived at in quite a few months we decided our first afternoon should be spent doing admin. This included a much needed visit to the hair dressers (it had been around 5 months and Joe's hair was turning into dreadlocks). They did a really good job, and luckily didn't end up with a mullet that was a high risk in Bolivia and Argentina. As Stef had half an hour to kill, it only seemed fair that she got her nails pedicured and painted ready for the beach whilst waiting!

(Note: Not Joe's nails pictured below!)

On our first evening we researched a few places to eat, and came across Panchita, a restaurant located in the Milaflores district. The restaurant is famous for generous servings of grilled meat and fish and a bustling atmosphere. We arrived at 7.30pm and got some Pisco Sours in the bar area whilst waiting for our table. The restaurant was pretty big, with many tightly packed tables, but the waiters were still very attentive and personal. We ordered a ceviche starter to share, which was fantastic with beautiful chunks of perfect seasoned fish and corn sides. For mains we had the swordfish skewers with Andean vegetables and the Soupa de Langostinos that came in a huge bowl with generous servings of large shrimp. It was a fantastic meal and the food and service was just what we'd hoped for in Lima.

The next day was set aside for sight seeing around Lima, and we decided to visit Parque Kennedy in Milaflores, a small but pretty park known for its many resident cats that had claimed the area. It was quite strange seeing so many cats roaming around the park, but they seemed very relaxed there, and the locals didn't seem to mind, with many of them sat contently petting them.

As with most cities we've visited on our travels we decided to take the free walking tour. We met with other members of the group and headed to La Cachina bar to get a free craft ale to kick off the tour. We were all given name badges, which was a bit dorky but helpful to get to know the others quicker. After the bar we all jumped on the local bus and headed to the Plaza Mayor de Lima in the historic centre. In the plaza were many beautiful buildings including the Cathedral de Lima and the Government Palace of Peru. As it was a Saturday we were able to catch the changing of the guards in the palace, which had drawn a pretty big crowd of locals and tourists alike.

After the main square we walked to the Monastery of San Francisco where our guide gave us a brief history of Lima, including the conquest of the Incas by the Spanish. He also explained how the architecture had been destroyed by heavy earthquakes, meaning many of the buildings had been rebuilt 2, or even 3 times. After a quick snack break (where we took advantage of the fresh churros!) we headed to a beautiful old railway station with a glass ceiling and intricate metal arches. Our guide explained that it is now used as a royal post office. 

The tour was concluded in the central market, where we sat down and were told about the various types of Pisco, a brandy made from distilled grape wine, including Puro (pure), Acholado (blend), and Maracuja (passion fruit) Pisco. We got to sample each one, some being more pleasant than the others, but it was a nice gesture from our guide and interesting to sample the different types. Overall the tour wasn't quite as interesting as other cities we had visited, but the effort the guide made was very apparent, and we still got to see a few sights we otherwise would have missed by ourselves. After our tour we headed to the Barranco district and wandered around the boutique shops and quaint cafes.

That evening we met up with Daniel and Amanda, an Australian couple we'd met a few times before in Peru who are doing a similar trip (you can follow their great blog here) and headed for some dinner. As we were in the city of world-class food we wanted to treat ourselves and so headed to La Locanda, a restaurant situated inside the Swissotel in the San Isodro neighbourhood with great reviews.

On entry we noticed the restaurant was pretty fancy, and felt a bit under dressed, but the waiters seemed friendly and quickly sat us down at our table. We decided to share two starters, grilled octopus and ceviche, which were both delicious. For main course we ordered the short rib cannelloni (recommended by the waiter) and the pork shoulder with vegetable risotto. The presentation was amazing, and the flavours didn't disappoint.

After our fantastic meal we headed to the Parque de Reserva, a centrally located park with many water fountains, and we haggled down a taxi as much as we could and made our way there in a hurry before it shut. We thought it closed at 9pm, but on arrival we realised we had an extra hour which made it a lot less stressful. After paying 10 soles each we walked through the entrance and were met with an amazing 40 meter high illuminated water fountain with classical music playing around us. 

As it was late we pretty much had the place to ourselves, and spent a fun hour waking around the various colorful fountains. Some of them were interactive, including a timed fountain that you could walk inside of, and one that even arched right over you to create a tunnel. It was a great way to end our short time in Lima.

(Photo Credit: Daniel Tran

On our final morning we had booked a bus to Mancora at 2pm, and so headed for a breakfast in the nearby Buenavista cafe for a great view of the ocean. We wandered through the Parque Isaac Raban to the cafe perched on the hilltop overlooking the sea. We ordered apple pie, corn bread and hot chocolate and relaxed and watched the surfers in the distance before our long 18 hour bus journey to the northern beaches of Peru. 

For us, Lima was never a key stop-of during our trip, and although short, we felt 48 hours was enough to fit in everything we wanted to do. The food was by far the highlight of our visit, and definitely the best we'd had in South America, making it worth the trip for that alone. Seeing the water fountains at night was a nice bonus for us, and it was nice to enjoy an evening with friends we had made on our travels. We were glad we stayed in Milaflores, as it was a nice and safe area, but the city just didn't to have the vibrancy or interest of Buenos Aires or Cusco, and so we didn't feel too bad that our visit was short but sweet.

Galapagos Planning in Mancora

Before heading to the much anticipated Galápagos Islands we needed some time to research the different options for cruises, diving and day trips, as well as work out a budget to keep our expenses minimal. To do this, we wanted to stop off in a place not too far from Guayaquil airport, and Mancora, a relaxed surf town in the north west coast of Peru, seemed like the perfect choice. We got a comfortable overnight bus (Cruz del Sur) from Lima that took 21 hours, and arrived at the small, slightly run down town just before lunch.

We checked into Laguna Surf Camp, a hostel located a stones throw from the beach, and complete with grass huts, hammocks and a small pool. It was the perfect stop-off for which to do our research. The only downside of the hostel was the absence of the owners, who didn't seem to be around at all for advice or help on what to do in the area. This didn't matter too much as luckily there was wifi so we could crack on with our research for the Galapagos.

The following day we took a break from research and headed to the beach. We stopped off at Green Eggs and Ham for breakfast, a wooden clad house in the beach serving excellent breakfast options. We then strolled down to the left side of the beach away from any crowds and sunbathed and swam for a few hours.

That evening we headed to Aqua for food. It was one of the best restaurants in Mancora, although due to the size of the town we weren't expecting anything amazing. On arrival the place was full, and we sat down and ordered some cocktails while we decided what to have. We ordered the tempura prawn starter followed by the seafood curry, which were both really tasty! It was a nice surprise to have such great food in an otherwise fairly basic town. The following day we took a bus with CIFA to Guayaquil where we were to get our flight to the Galápagos Islands!

Bolivia — Cities In The Clouds

After our incredible 3 day tour from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni we journeyed up through Bolivia towards Peru, stopping at a few key cities on the way. Bolivia is home to some of the worlds highest cities, many reaching over 4000m. Even though we had been gently climbing in height since Salta, and in the Salt flats we reached 5000m, we were still curious as to how the altitude was going to affect us. We were really looking forward to experiencing the traditional Bolivian cultures, and as Bolivia is one of the cheapest countries to travel in South America, it was a big relief for our travel budget after our relatively expensive time in Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina.


The first Bolivian city on our list to visit was Potosi, located around 200km north east from Uyuni and positioned at the foot of the famous Cerro Rico mountain, once rich in silver ore. The altitude of Potosi is 4090m, making it one of the highest cities in the world. We arrived in the evening with other members of our salt flats tour group and decided to take the small local bus from the bus terminal to the centre. After cramming onto the tiny bus we made our way to the main square whilst flicking through the guide book for a decent hostel recommendation. As we walked up and down the streets we could definitely feel the altitude, but not long after searching we decided on Hostal Carlos V, which although lacked in atmosphere was still pretty good value.

Potosi has a fascinating history due to the adjacent Cerro Rico mountain, which contained an abundance of silver and tin. Potosi was founded as a mining town over 500 years ago, and by 1672 was one of the richest cities in the world under the rule of the Spanish empire. However, due to low silver prices the mine is now run by a workers collective who extract the remaining minerals from the mines. The working condition are pretty dire, and the life expectancy of the miners isn’t great, yet it has become the main tourist attraction for the city.

We weren’t feeling particularly well due to the altitude, and were also unsure about the voyeuristic nature of the mining tour, so we decided to take it easy and casually stroll around the city, lapping up the beautiful yet run down architecture from Potosi’s glory days. We briefly visited the Casa de la Moneda de Bolivia (one of Bolivia's best museums) where we learned about the historical importance of Potosi’s National Mint where the first coins in South America were made.

We then wondered into the sleepy local market, well stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables and meat and watched the Cholitas (traditionally dressed indigenous women) hard at work. We grabbed a quick lunch of freshly made soup and chicken milanesa at one of the small market kitchens, which was tasty despite being the cheapest meal we’d bought in South America (roughly £1.60 for both dishes!).

After lunch we decided to take a tour of the Museo & Convento de San Francisco after reading that there were great views of the city from it’s very impressive rooftop. For 15 Bolivianos each (£1.50) we had a private tour guide who took us around the convents grounds and into the church, explaining the historic importance of the paintings hanging on the wall in broken Spanglish.

After taking in the interiors we ascended to the rooftop and walked along the narrow path that connected the roof to the central dome. Being amongst the domes and tiles was awesome, and we were really surprised to learn about that the curved terracotta tiles had been moulded from thighs of muscular workers! The view of the city was great, giving a really clear panoramic view of the ageing colonial buildings and the once lucrative Cerro Rico mountain.

We then headed back down and visited the catacombs, which had a subterranean river running through the middle of them. It was pretty creepy seeing so many bones and skulls of past priests, but it rounded off the tour nicely, which despite being short had surpassed our expectations for the price.

We found a couple of days in Potosi was more than enough time to recuperate from our salt flats adventure whilst lapping up the atmosphere of our first Bolivian city. The following day our hostel host explained that it was more cost effective to get a taxi all the way to Sucre rather than a bus, and within 10 minutes a taxi driver had pulled up ready to take us door to door. We had to make a stop to find two extra passengers, but after 15 minutes of our driver shouting ‘SUCRE!” 2 others got in and we were off! It was incredible value, working out at around £5 each, and we drove for around 2.5 hours, descending a few hundred meters in altitude to the city of Sucre.


Having read great reviews on Hostel Kultur Berlin we had booked a room a couple of nights in advance, meaning we were able to check in seamlessly on our arrival. Although Kulture Berlin is known to be a party hostel, we were luckily given an amazing little detached studio apartment in the garden area, giving us peace and quiet away from the bar. We spent the afternoon chilling in hammocks, drinking beer, updating our blog and researching the next stretch of our trip.

A few guys we had met on the Salt flats tour had also decided to checked into the hostel on our recommendation, and that night we went out for a simple dinner at the socially conscious Condor Cafe. After dinner we hit the hostels bar and club, which seemed to be one of the most popular in Sucre, with as many locals as tourists knocking back 2-for-one cocktails. It was a great feeling to be able to crash into our quiet little studio right around the corner once we were danced out!

The next day we headed out with Toby, (a friendly German traveler we’d met during our Salt flats tour) to explore Sucre and learn about it’s history. Sucre is the constitutional capital of Bolivia (La Paz being the administrative capital), home to home to the executive and legislative branches of government and where Bolivia first gained its independence. It was a beautiful city, with most its architecture built from white stone, and we really enjoyed wandering around the pretty streets in the sunshine.

There are many churches in Sucre, so once we were ’churched out’ we headed to the Mercado Central, a popular spot for locals to pick up fresh produce. We decided to sample some of the freshly made juices (cheap and delicious in Bolivia) and spent a half hour or so people watching and wandering around the food stalls.

After another very cheap and cheerful market lunch we walked up to La Recoleta hilltop where we found a peaceful bar overlooking the city to have a few beers and lap up the glorious sunshine. Although we had been treated to sun whilst in Bolivia it had been pretty cold, and we were relieved that the climate in Sucre was lovely and warm. Sitting at the top of the hill in deck chairs, overlooking the city with no real agenda made for a very chilled afternoon, and rounded off our 2 day stay in the city perfectly.

La Paz

After our short stay in Sucre we decided to take a night bus to La Paz. It was a white-knuckle ride (probably the hairiest bus journey we’d had in South America) and we unsurprisingly arrived early at a pretty inconvenient time of 5am. We had decided to book a room in Wild Rover Hostel in La Paz the day before, renowned as the party hostel of the city. After getting a quick cab from the bus terminal with two other travellers who were heading the same way, we arrived at the hostel, a little worried we would have to sleep on some chairs and wait to check in. To our luck the room was already prepared when we arrived, and we spent the morning catching up on some much needed sleep.

After a hearty late breakfast at the Wild Rover bar we decided to take a walking tour of the city. This was provided by the Red Cap Tours (another tips based tour) and we met at the Plaza de San Pedro where we learned about the gritty history of San Pedro Prison, and the corruption and drug trafficking that filtered through it's walls. We had read the book ‘Marching Powder’: the tale of a British drug smuggler Thomas McFadden who had spent time in there, and even personally run tours through the prison up until the early 2000's. It was interesting to see the centrally located Prison even from the outside walls, and although though there were still unofficial tours of the prison available, it was strongly recommended that we didn’t take one.

After passing through the central food market our guides explained to us more about Cholitas: broad, hard working, and fascinating women who are the integral workforce of the city. We learnt about the origins of their their iconic bowler hats, which according to the guides were shipped over from Europe in the 1800s to sell to Bolivian men, but as they didn’t fit their heads the merchants devised a plan to sell them to Bolivian women as the ‘height of fashion’ in Europe, and the trend stuck. We then walked on to the Witches Market, where weird and wonderful medicinal remedies overflowed onto the narrow streets. Our guides explained the reasoning behind the rather creepy dead llama foetuses that were strung up in the stalls, apparently which are used as offerings to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and buried under newly built houses to bring good fortune.

The tour ended near the main square outside the beautiful cathedral, and we visited at an Irish bar where we were given a strange Andean drink, and we got chatting to other tour members about their experiences around South America. We found the tour really interesting as it was less about monumental sights and more about the traditions of the people that made up the bustling, culturally rich city of La Paz.

On our second day we decided to take one of La Paz’s brand new bubble lifts to the highest point of the city. As it was another clear day we got great views of the sprawling city and the snow topped Huayna Potosí mountain in the background. Once at the top there wasn’t much to do (unfortunately we had missed the giant El Alto market) so we wandered around and watch more Cholitas hard at work. We had previously learnt that in Bolivia the men tended to be drivers and desk workers and the women are the muscle - this was apparent as we watched a number of Cholitas throwing heavy paving slabs to each other to build a pavement. Overall we found La Paz to be a fascinating city, and a great way to be introduced to Bolivian culture. It was also a great launch pad to do activities such as the infamous Death Road.

Death Road

The North Yungas Road (known as ‘Death Road’) is a popular tourist attraction consisting of narrow, single-lane rocky paths with sheer drops on one side. Its notoriously known as the worlds most dangerous road. Built in the 1930’s, the 69km ‘Death road’ was the only link between La Paz and the Yungus region, and therefore many crowded buses and trucks overloaded with people would fall off the 900m cliffs, with an estimated 300 deaths each year. With the addition of another (safer) road 17 yeas ago, the death toll decreased dramatically, and is now mainly used by cycle tours and a few local daredevils. It’s still treacherous however, and cyclist fatalities tot up to 22 since 1995, the last one being only a week before we arrived. Despite this, we had an urge to overcome our fears and give it a go. We did lots of research on the best tour operator, and decided on Barracuda, one of the longest-running companies.

The following day we were picked up at 6.30am and taken to Little Italy, a small restaurant where we could get a decent cooked breakfast, and checked in with our guide before setting off in a minibus with 7 others. We drove for around an hour, winding up the enormous mountains and stopped at the summit for a rigorous safety briefing. We all got given a bike, which were top of the range with ridiculously sharp breaks and great suspension. Before setting off, we all had to try a sip of 95% proof alcohol, spilling a drop on our tires as an offering to Pachamama (the Andean Goddess Mother Earth).

We set off on the first stretch of the ride, and sped down the smooth, winding tarmac road with an incredible view in front of us. The first 15 minutes down hill were very enjoyable, and didn’t seem too scary at all. We then stopped next to a tunnel, and our guide explained that from here on, it was going to be a lot more difficult. The technique we were told involved letting go of the breaks, leaning back and letting the bike glide over the large boulders, a little counter intuitive once the paths got pretty narrow! After 5-10 minutes of riding we realised that it made sense however, as going slowly with the breaks on was a lot more challenging in terms of balance.

Half an hour later were were fully into the misty, treacherous Death Road experience. With 2m wide lanes and nothing to our left side but clouds and 900-200m drops, we definitely started to feel the fear as we descended down the damp path, dodging boulders and roots and trying not to look down! We stopped at 15 minuted intervals to check everybody was still present (!) and give our sore hands a rest from the blister inducing rattle from the handle bars caused by the steep, rocky road.

About half way through we got a bit more confident, and really started to enjoy the fantastic scenery and challenging mountain biking experience we’d set ourselves. We descended through the clouds into the warmer jungle climate, cycling through waterfalls, muddy sections and splashed across foot-deep river crossings, and after 3 hours we finally reached the bottom, relieved to still be in one piece but thoroughly glad we’d pushed ourselves to do it.

We got back in the minibus and drove to a small jungle lodge where we took a quick dip in the (not-so-inviting) river before we tucked into a buffet lunch with the other tour members and given our free Death Road t-shirt. Despite it being the worlds most dangerous road, we realised that the only danger is people being reckless, and if you treat the road with respect, its easy to have one of the best cycle rides of your life. For us it was an incredible cycling experience, although not one we would be too quick to repeat!

Whilst travelling through Bolivia there were a number of times we were caught short of breath; from hair raising road experiences to the exhausting altitudes of the worlds highest cities. Despite this, we found it to be the most culturally rich and authentic South American country we’d visited, and were surprised at how vibrant and bustling each city was. We particularly enjoyed learning about the Cholita culture, seeing the bountiful markets and taking in Bolivia's impressive mountainous scenery. Although the cities of Potosi, La Paz and Sucre felt relatively similar in terms of atmosphere, each had their own individual characteristics and architecture due to their geography, so after visiting all three we felt we had started to grasp an initial understanding of the fascinating Bolivian way of life.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires was much talked about during our travels, so we were keen to find out what made everyone love the city so much first hand. After arriving from Colonia by ferry we made our way in a cab (BA yellow cabs are fast and cheap) to our apartment in Palermo. We had opted for an AirBNB apartment to give us a bit of space after staying in quite a few shared dorms. The apartment was great and came with everything we needed plus a balcony with a great view and even a rooftop pool! With 9 days dedicated to exploring Buenos Aires, it was the perfect launchpad for us to see the city we were so eager to visit.

The Historic Center

On our first day we headed straight to the centrally located Plaza de Mayo and took in the many impressive, politically important buildings including the Piramid de Mayo, Casa Rosada and the Metropolitan Cathedral. We then walked past the Obelisco, an iconic spike-shaped landmark, before ending up in a small square in front of the Teatro Colón for lunch where we befriended by a baby parrot!

We ended the day with a meal at Las Cabras, a traditional Argentinian Parilla (Steak House). Wanting to try everything, we ordered the 'Completo', the must try dish. It arrived on a huge tray! The chorizo pan, chicken escalopes and steaks were really delicious, the intestines and blood sauce were definitely a required taste and the quantity of food was completely obscene! (we had to doggy bag it). We left feeling totally stuffed having definitely had the ‘Completo’ Argentinian meat experience!



Palermo is known for being a stylish, trendy and upbeat area with world-renowned restaurants, lively nightlife and some beautifully well-kept parks in the north of the district. As the weather was good we decided to walk around the Largos de Palermo and Tres de Febereo Parks, which had tranquil lakes and a very impressive and picturesque rose garden. We also visited the Japanese Gardens, which was very therapeutic (although a little overpriced).

Spanish Class

Since arriving in South America we had wanted to improve our Spanish skills. After a recommendation from fellow travellers we decided to book ourselves in for private tutoring with a charming BA resident named Yanina. Neither of us had any prior Spanish-speaking knowledge so it was challenging, but great to have one-on-one lessons with our wonderful tutor. After the lesson we were offered some Mate (pronounced Mat-ay), a traditional bitter tea and important part of Argentinian culture. As Brits and big tea fans we appreciated the tips in Mate etiquette and were fascinated by the meticulous preparation!


Our Spanish tutor had given us lots of good recommendations for authentic tango bars in Buenos Aires, so that evening we headed to El Boliche de Roberto, a cosy and traditional looking bar in the Almagro neighbourhood. We were a little surprised to discover it was a singing-only tango night, but we grabbed a table at the front, ordered a beer and waited for them to start. The duet were totally captivating from the moment they began, with beautifully harmonious tango ballads that the locals heartily sang along to. We sat and watched for a few hours, completely enthralled by the music.

The following night we decided to try out Yanina's second recommendation: a 'tango disco' night at La Catedral, a club in the same neighbourhood of Almagro. Neither of us are natural dancers so we decided to take Tango lessons. The teachers initially seemed pretty unsympathetic to beginners, but after a few attempts we eventually got the steps right and had a fun hour circling the dance floor. Once our lesson ended we watched local couples dance well into the early hours. There was also a band that made an appearance, playing typical South American music with flutes, guitars and drums accompanied by traditional tap dancing.

Recoleta Cemetry

One of the main attractions in Buenos Aries is the famous Recoleta Cemetery, a town-sized graveyard filled with decadent graves dedicated to the rich, famous and elite Argentinians. The extremely rich even had mausoleums built for themselves and their families, from small rooms to full-sized chapels where people could visit and pay respect. It was fascinating to see how much money and effort had gone into the resting places of the deceased. We spent a couple of hours walking up and down the narrow rows of the cemetery, peering into the creepy cobweb covered graves and tombs.

Close by in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas was the Floralis Genérica, a giant metal solar powered flower sculpture designed by architect Eduardo Catalano. Unfortunately after a mechanical failure the flower petals no longer open and close, but it still looked great


As the weather was looking a bit grey on one of our days we decided to visit The Latin American Art Museum (MALBA) to get a taste of old and new artworks throughout South American history. We really enjoyed all the exhibitions, ranging from Inca artefacts, European-influenced paintings depicting the simple life in the Andes to more weird and wonderful mechanical sculptures and abstract art.

Our favourite exhibition was entitled 'Marcados' (Marked) by artist and photographer Claudia Andujar, a Polish Jew that had been liberated from Belson concentration camp as a young girl. She had embarked on a project later in life to help immunise the Yanomami tribe in the Amazon. The provocative and moving black and white portraits were taken once tribe members had been immunised and given a numbered badge, and questioned the ethics of being 'branded' for either life or death, drawing comparisons with Nazi concentration camp badges.

San Telmo

The bohemian barrio of San Telmo was next on our list, and we spent an afternoon wondering down the old colonial streets, peering into the many eclectic antique shops in the area. We had a quick coffee in Bar Plaza Dorrego, one of the oldest bars in San Telmo that overlooked the cobbled plaza.

We then stumbled into Pasaje La Defensa, a restored two-story mansion tucked away from the main street with a beautiful tiled courtyard and terrace filled with small cafes, artist studios and antique shops. We spent an hour strolling around the the sun-filled space, taking photos and enjoying the peace away from the crowds.

La Bocca & Lanín

When researching things to do in Buenos Aires, images of La Boca always cropped up, so we were keen to visit the area despite reading that it had turned into a bit of a tourist trap. Although the shanty-town style buildings made from brightly coloured timber and corrugated iron were really eye-catching, the atmosphere was a little tacky. It was a shame to see that a once traditional part of the city had fallen to cheap souvenir shops and locals flogging photo opportunities, but was worth a visit non-the-less. 

After seeing the main streets we didn't hang around too long, so after taking a few snaps we decided to visit a gentrification project we had read about on Lanín Street. On arrival we were greeted with an amazing street lined with mosaic-tiled houses fronted with colourful yarn bombed trees. It was definitely the coolest street we'd seen in Buenos Aires. From Lanín Street we decided to walk 20 minutes to the nearest metro (Constitution), but as we made our way we definitely felt unsafe and were lucky to avoid trouble before we reached the station. We later found our walk in a map of areas to avoid (worth a look if you are visiting BA).

Feria de Mataderos

Another tip from our Spanish tutor was to visit Feria de Mataderos, a traditional Gaucho market about an hours bus ride from Palermo. After figuring out the bus system we jumped the 55 bus across town and arrived at the unofficial flea market not far from the beginning of the market. We wondered past the various stalls selling everything from delicious local delicacies to hand-made musical instruments and brightly coloured woollen blankets.


Tigre is a small town an hours train ride north of Buenos Aires. It’s a popular escape from the bustle of the city, and we were recommended to go by our airBNB host. Unfortunately we’d timed it badly as we visited it on a Monday where pretty much everything was closed aside from a short boat tour showing life on the waterways. We managed to sneak into the museum grounds to get a few photos, but to be honest we left feeling a little disappointed with Tigre.

Bomba de Tiempo

We had been recommended to go to the popular drumming show by fellow travelers we'd met in Brazil. We had intended to go on the previous Monday, but as it was cancelled we had to wait a week. It was well worth the wait! We made our way to the Ciudad Cultural Konex, an open-air music venue in Almagro, and by the time of the show was about to start an eager crowd had already filled the space. The drumming was sensational and the crowd, including ourselves, we're loving it. Once it finished we randomly bumped into two people we'd met on our travels, so we joined forces and set out for the after party.

With its combination of European-esque style and it's Latin American soul we fell hard for Buenos Aries, and we couldn't have enjoyed our stay more. From elegant buildings and tango culture to amazing culinary delights and wild nightlife, we found BA to be a fascinating city of layers and surprises: for us it was the perfect introduction to Argentina.

Adventures in Uruguay — Part 2

Punta del Este

We'd heard that Punta del Este was the 'Miami of Uraguay’, so not knowing if that was a good thing or not we decided to spend just one night there to suss it out. On arrival, we found the description matched more or less exactly: the plush apartments, glassy sky scrapers and fancy shops were a drastic change from the small hippie towns we had left behind. After being dropped at the bus station we walked to Playa Brava beach where we could see the iconic 'Mano de Punta del Este' hand sculpture we'd seen frequently photographed on travel blogs. It was a little underwhelming in real life, but worth a picture during a sunset at the right angle.

One thing nearby that we were excited to see was the Casapueblo Hotel, so after wandering around the fairly uninteresting streets of Punta del Este we took a 30 minute bus ride up the coast and walked 15 minutes down hill to get to Casapueblo. Once the residence of the late artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, it now functions as a hotel, restaurant and art gallery containing many of his colourful abstract paintings and sculptures. The castle-like building was otherworldly, with brilliant white organic domes, turrets and balconies that jutted out from the steep cliffside where it overlooked an incredible ocean view.

Keen to find out more about the artist, we entered the museum and were immediately surrounded by Vilaró's expressive and colourful artwork as well as geometric sculptures and hand-painted pottery. It was a pure delight, a beautiful combination of cubist style with tribal influences from South America. We watched a 20 minute video about his adventurous expeditions he would embark on to inspire his work, largely revolving around the struggle of black populations, starting in Brazil and then spanning around the world.

After taking a final wander around the hotel balconies we decided to head down to the rocks below and take a swim in the clear, calm and incredibly inviting sea where we could get a perfect view of the entire building. Unfortunately there was no impressive sunset, but it didn't detract from what had been a truly memorable experience.


After speaking to fellow travellers and locals about Montevideo, we decided not to spend too much time in the capital as there were more exciting places ahead. We arrived in the early afternoon and strolled from the bus station down the grand yet tired-looking streets and dropped our bags at our hostel ‘Buenos Vibras’ (or good vibes!). We spent the evening drinking beers with other hostel guests and exploring a few of the many decent local bars in the area.

The following day we had a quick breakfast in the hostel before getting on our bus. In hindsight we felt we should have given Montevideo a bit more time so that we could explore what the city had to offer properly, but we were excited for our next and final stop in Uruguay: Colonia del Sacramento.

Colonia del Sacramento

Located two and a half hours bus ride from Montevideo, Colonia is a beautiful old town and UNESCO heritage site with cobbled streets, pastel-coloured houses, boutique art galleries and quaint cafes and restaurants spilling out onto the streets. It was a great place to amble around on a sunny day and enjoy a lazy lunch surrounded by Colonial history. 

We found a great little restaurant that served freshly made Paella, and we sat in the sunshine drinking wine and feeling like we were holidaying in the Mediterranean! After a rather disappointing view from the lighthouse (we wouldn't recommend paying, far to crowded!) we got a tub of Dulce de Leche gelato and found a patch of grass to chill on.

That evening we decided to head to Bistro Charco, one of the best restaurants in the area. It was a very stylish stone building with a dimly lit garden area and slick, minimal interior. We ordered steak and salmon, which were both beautifully cooked, accompanied with delicious Chilean Wine. We enjoyed treating ourselves after a week of much more basic hippie living!

We felt that a one nights stay in Colonia was more than enough to see everything, and although the town was very pretty in places, we found it didn't really compare with the overall beauty of Paraty's old town. It was still well worth a visit (especially as we had such great weather) and as we boarded the ferry to Buenos Aires we felt glad we'd had the chance to explore Uruguay's incredibly varied coastal towns during our trip.


The Old Town

After catching a boat from Ilha Grande to Angra des Reis, we traveled 2 hours south by local bus to the picturesque town of Paraty. We learnt that the old town was inhabited by Portuguese settlers in the 16th century after the discovery of gold, becoming an intrinsic port between Minas Gerais and Rio de Janerio. The wealth that had once poured into the town was apparent through the stylish, well-built houses and churches typical of the Colonial era. We spent the best part of the day ambling through the colourful cobbled streets soaking up the beautifully adorned houses, horse drawn carts and coffee shops around the historic town centre.

Happy Hammock Hostel

Having heard from a few people that Happy Hammock was a very special hostel, we were pretty excited on the 15 minute boat ride from Paraty. We were taken to a palm-lined pier leading to a gorgeous house set into the hills. Being an eco-hostel and due to it's remote location there was only 2 hours of electricity a day and no wifi (which for us was a blessing). Each night our hosts Patrick and Julia prepared delicious meals for us and the other guests, giving a relaxed and homely vibe to the place. We loved spending lazy evenings on the balcony chatting and drinking with the like-minded guests, swinging in hammocks, paddleboarding and swimming in the crystal clear bay.

Anniversary Meal at Banana da Terra

The penultimate evening fell our 5 year anniversary, so we decided to stay in Paraty and treat ourselves to a dinner date night. We wandered over the large cobbles of the old town where restaurants had lined the streets with tables and had a drink listening to a fantastic guitar trio playing traditional South America music.

We then headed to Banana da Terra, a Brazilian-French fusion restaurant tastefully designed and with an even tastier menu. We'd enjoyed trying the Brazilian food during our trip but it was refreshing to taste traditional dishes with the lighter touch of French gastronomy. From a beautifully soft seafood starter, well-cooked steak and sea bass for mains to a fruity dessert in a league of its own we left extremely happy customers!

Cachoeira Toboga Waterfall

As we were in Paraty the next morning we decided to a catch local bus to the Cachoeira Toboga, a natural waterslide with smooth algae covered rock. It was brilliant fun! The water was lovely and refreshing and the slippery rocks and fast-flowing water provided hours of fun. Equally as entertaining was watching the young local boys take run ups and surf down on their feet. Unsurprisingly, we came nowhere close to anything that impressive!