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The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler

a travel blog by Vegtibbles

So this is it, this is the very start of what is hopefully going to be the best 7 months of my young life. In a slight mode of panic before i embark on my adventure, im both wondering what the hell ive got myself into and exited at the prospect of meeting and seeing some really amazing people/places. I don't know any Spanish other than 'Ola', i know how to make a cup from paper using the art of origami and i am itching to use my knife/fork/spoon set given to me for my birthday - this is going to be one crazy trip...
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London, United Kingdom

What do you do with a drunken sailor, what do you do with a drunken sailor... What do you do with a drunken Laura on her flight to South America....

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on May 25, 2006 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged ImOff

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Week 1 - Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina

This first week away has been pretty eventful to say the least. Managed to buy myself some hair straighteners at the airport, so already im feeling more at home! (Thanks Kerry). First day went like a dream, Steve and Martin met me at the airport and brought me back to Tango Hostel in the centre of Buenos Aires. Didn't really know what to expect but it's a lot nicer than i thought it would be. I've found a new love already, Empanadas. Small pastry pockets of joy, my favourite filling so far being Ham & Cheese. As i get into my room to put my backpack away, i meet a couple straight away called Andrew & Phillippa - the maddest people ive ever met! Been pretty much hanging out with them since.

Went for a huge mixed grill at a restaurant nearby on Saturday, then onto a club after with some people from the Hostel, went around 1am, came back at 7:30am - not bad going for my second night! The club was amazing, called Opera Bay as it looks just like the Sydney Opera house. This place had 9 different rooms, all with various music - Jesus what a club... Phillippa, Andrew and i thought it would be a good idea to have a 'Dance off' Starsky & Hutch style, with amusing consequences. A guy tried to stick his tounge down Phillippa's throat as well, so like any good friend would do in a moment of crisis, i punched him. What can i say, im a good friend.

Funniest thing of my trip so far happened the next morning... Phillippa, Andrew and I were quietly minding our own business when we were awoken by a very loud and annoying American girl chatting to our other room mate Keiran at the top of her voice. The next thing i hear, Andrew comes out with a genius way to get this bitch out of our room by shouting 'Get the fuck out of our room or ill piss on your bed, you c#nt', as Phillippa murmered words to that affect in perfect rhythmic tone. The girl gets the picture that we've had literaly no sleep and fucks off out of our room. It wasn't until i looked at my watch, that we realise its actually 4pm in the afternoon, oops! The shutters were down so the room was pitch black. Guilty, us? I also managed to leave my keys to my locker inside the locker itself, and had to use a pair of massive pliers to crack it open again. This is day 3 of my trip, what a dopey C.

Been to see most of the sights in Buenos Aires, the Flower in Recoletta,

National Gallery where there are some amazing Monet and Picasso Sculptures & paintings, cemetry where Evita was buried, the pink building she did her famous speach, an awesome bridge & cow parade... the list goes on.

Met a guy called James the other night, went to a wicked Drum & Base club and partied to the wee hours (i say party, but i don't quite remember), i do however remember the Tequilla, beer wine and whatever else i was drinking to make me be sick though - classy. Anyway, i can't have been that bad, as we went out for the day on Wednesday to see some sights and do some shopping. I think the fact that we both have big chins and share a love for Ham & Cheese Empanadas brought us closer together! Unfortunatley it was his last day, so the friendship was over before it began.

Went to a Tango lesson last night, still feeling ropey to say the least from the wild night before - lets just say i was a natural (as expected). The Tango club after only had OAP's in so i thought it best to go home before i was sick on a granny's lap. And now its Thursday, a bit bummed out because i miss James, Phillippa and Andrew (the big fucking bastards), but im sure ill get over it. The weather is nice mostly, better than England - Hah!

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on June 1, 2006 from Buenos Aires, Argentina
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged FuckOffYouBastardOrILlPissInYourBedYouCNt

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Should be in Chile, still in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Made a bit of a boo boo today, well we all did. Firstly i realised that our flight was at 11:30 am 1/6/06, and its already 12 now. So we have all missed our flight because we thought it was tomorrow, for fox sake. Between the three of us, we couldnt work out that our flight was Thursday not Friday! We are in a state of shock by the time the boys come back from La Plata at 6, try and call BA & STA travel, but lines are closed until tomorrow.

To make matters worse, i went to get my hair cut today, looking for a stylish bob... came out looking like a Lesbian Bulider with a penchant for manual labour. I guess no one has died, and my hair will grow back, and it did only cost 6 pounds... SHIT.

But, to make the ordeal more bareable, i did what only i thought i could in this type of situation, go clubbing at a gay bar! Went to a club called 'club 69' (how very apt), completely mad atmosphere. Sex shows on the stage, men teaching Tango in the quiet rooms, breakdancing on the dancefloor. A guy called Nathan who I'd met that evening, commenced to show his breakdancing moves to the professional dancer, with everyone around watching. I've not laughed so hard since James called me a c#nt the day before. Got home around 8am after a wild hip hop tuned grinding session. I will post the pictures as soon as i find an Effing computer with an Effing USB port. Not much to ask is it? For Fox Sake!!

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on June 2, 2006 from Buenos Aires, Argentina
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged MissedFlight and OnlyOurselvesToBlame

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Mendoza - 4.5 litres of wine, 3 Amigos, one night

Mendoza, Argentina

So nothing much has really happened since we found out we missed our Buenos Aires - Santiago flight...apart from this little lot!

I wake up for the checkout of Tango Hostel at 10, with 2 hours sleep under my belt. Put a call into Mummy, to attempt to sort out this mess with our missed flight. Apparently STA Travel say that BA can potentially cancel our remaining flights (all 8) as we have breached our contract. Panic sets in, but i have a backup plan. I will carry on travelling South America, go up to North America through Mexico and travel round there until Christmas, no flights needed! If i run out of money i'll become a croupier in Las Vegas. Luckily, it doesnt come to that and super Simon comes to the rescue, calls Quantas at the Argentinian HQ and explains the situation. All sorted! Close call, but now we have to make our own way to Santiago - a 13hr bus journey.

We book the bus to leave that evening. There was me thinking it would be a stagecoach quality bus smelling of wee, with chewing gum ridden seats, how wrong i was. It turns out CATA run a luxury double decker bus, with sleeper seats as big as a single bed, meals, champagne, films and music. Ive never been so excited to get on a bus in my life (note to self, send pictures to stagecoach HQ in the UK and suggest these in Basingstoke). So it wasn't that bad after all missing the flight, as now we are in a small town called Mendoza, 5hrs East of Santiago on the foot of the Andes mountains.

Mendosa is a huge contrast from the hustle & bustle of Buenos Aires, a nice change. We dump our bags at the new hostel Campo Base 2, its dead but were not bothered and set off to explore our new home. Walk to Independencia park & the San Martin park, 'one of the most beautiful in South America' as the lonely planet guide states.

The guide isnt wrong, its quite amazing with a huge lake, rose gardens and potential Aerobee space, you can even see the Andes mountains from the island in the middle of the lake.

Go shopping for our next few days at the supermarket, end up buying mainly alcohol. A 4.5 litre bottle of red wine to be precise. I come up with the genius idea of livening up the hostel the next evening by attempting to polish off the whole bottle in one night, just the three Amigos! We also bought a bottle of chocolate liquer that looked 'like Jiz' as Martin kindly put it. It did surprisingly taste good dispite the nickname.

Horse riding in the Andes the next morning stopped us from having a wild one the night before. Pretty scared of horses, but did it anyway, it was an amazing experience.

Galloping was my favourite, and were literally riding through rough terrain, i have bruises and cuts to prove how hardcore it was. Was just like a scene from City Slickers, looking for Curlys gold. My horse was called pancho *spanish for hotdog. Got on quite well, but the damn thing kept stopping to shit.The scenery was amazing, i even stroked a dog!! YES A DOG! So ive overcome 2 fears in the space of just two weeks, phew.

Lesson learnt, im a good rider ;-) Yeeeeeehhhaaaaaaaa.

When we got back, started climbing the mountain that was the 4.5 litre wine bottle, seemed like a good idea at the time. What happened between the hours 6 and 12, your guess is as good as mine. We did reach the peak though, and documented our mammoth event with photos throughout the night. Alot of cards were played, even a comedy trip to the local supermarket took place, a small fight between the three amigos and the meeting of an Isreali called Dave happened, so im told.

Managed not to be sick, (mum, i miss not ringing the doorbell at 3 in the morning t get in, 'here i am!!!')

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on June 4, 2006 from Mendoza, Argentina
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged YeeeeeeeHaaaaaa

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The Curse of Mendoza...

Mendoza, Argentina

The f*cking curse of Mendoza begins today... Ok, so the 4.5 litres of not so quality wine didn't help matters but still we were basically the only ones in our hostel!

Picture the scene, its a hot day out in beautiful Mendoza. The trees are green, the streets are buzzing with people, the...hang on a minute, how do i know all of this???

Back to reality, its 10am and Steve, Martin and i are rudely awoken by the hostel reception guy cranking up the tunes of what can only be described as electro-tango. To make matters worse, out of the blue, sounds of powertools and removing furniture are surrounding our room (above mainly). Our heads pounding, it takes me a good hour to take action. 'THATS IT IM OFF FOR A SHOWER' - simple enough task for a Monday morning you may think. Not on our watch, as i find there is no power for lights. We soon find out that the hostel is actually being rennovated from all angles around us, and one of the cowboy builders has cut the power. 10 minutes later a knock on the door comes, we are given an ultimatum. We either leave for the sister hostel now, or stay until tomorrow with potentially no water & electric. The latter sounds good to us, as we are in no position to move, let alone pack. Basically we'd been evicted from our own shitty hostel, how embarassing!

We pack and leave, with faces like thunder - checking into what looks like a palace compared to Campo Base 2. Huge sofa's, TV's, big kitchen and internet, are our eyes plauying tricks on us? Has the curse been lifted? I think not. Due to my dodgy tummy i miss the tour of the wineries and chocolate factory, there is no key or lockers in our room, and my memory card is nowhere to be seen. Put 2 & 2 together and work out at some point the Israeli from the night before must have swiped it in our drunken state. Lesson learnt... Sulked in my room until the boys came back, then decide we need to bust this joint, and booked a bus ticket for Tuesday morning to cross the Andes to Santiago (our original destination last Thursday, tee hee). All is looking up. A few relaxed beers in the evening and an Omlette/scramble mix sent me to sleep pretty early.

Next day arrives, our trip to the bus station gets us up pretty early, but we're feeling positive about moving on. Spoke too soon, turns out the pass over the Andes from Mendoza to Santiago is shut for the forseeable future(could be up to a week) we are going no where fast today! Excellent, so back to Ardino hostel, to add insult to injury we have to check in again (those Bastards)! Wander into town in the afternoon to check out a Museum the Lonely Planet recommended about the ruin of a church in 1800's. 10 minutes later and 2 peso's lighter, the tour is over.

The majority of models looked like they were made by school children. At least it brought our spirits up. Culture is so over-rated so far! A mellow stroll and a Pasta party back at the hostel completed yet another day in Mendoza.

Wednesday morning is crunch time, decisions need to be made if the pass is closed. What a surprise, it is! So our new plan now is to head south to Bariloche, to do some snowboarding, treks and head as far South to see the Glaciers, befiore heading back up through Santiago - they say change is good (tsk!). The sun is out, 30 degrees, so ive just managed to fit in a few hours in my bikini by the pool before we head off for our bus 19hr bus trip to Bariloche this evening. If you don't hear from me in a while, its because we're probably in the Antarctic, being detoured!

Dilemma of the week: Found my beloved turbie-towel has been lost.
Things ive learnt: Trust no one (harsh but fair), men with longish hair are my 'type', don't kiss men with facial hair, i still cant cook

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on June 8, 2006 from Mendoza, Argentina
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged ProbablyTheBestMuseumInTheWorldBarNone

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4 Kayaks, 3 variations of President, 2 Irish lads and a Saga Excursion.

El Calafate, Argentina

Arrive in Bariloche at 3pm on, what day is it?? Oh yes its a Thursday. Spending 19 hours on a bus really makes you disorientated when you arrive at a new location. I can´t begin to describe the journey into the small lakeside town. The snow-dusted Andes again in the background, the town is situated on the shores of Lago Nahuel Huapi. What seems like an eternity on the bus, all seems worth it now.

From our 30 degrees weather, we are welcomed into Bariloche with sub zero temperature, just as well i packed my thermals and cozy fits! Get aclimatised to the weather by buying hats and thermal gloves, and head into town to do some exploring. Its a very Swiss town with log cabin houses, St Bernard dogs holding barrels in the square overlooking the lake. All we need now is a bit of snow to go skiing.

Martn´s birthday gave Steve and I the idea to go one of the most famous restaurants in Argentina - Llao Llao - but being closed we did the next best thing... Had steak & Salmon in a Familia Weiss, a family restaurant on the seafront and even managed to get the waiters to sing Happy Birthday in Spanish. Embarrassed faces all round, not just ours. Haha. Mini-trek all booked for the next day in Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, so its drinks all round until the early hours of Friday!

The next set of events may challenge the weak of hearts. It may even make you cry. You have been warned, so don´t come moaning when it all ends in tears...

As bad luck seems to follow me no matter where i go, it seemed only fair that it should come a knocking today. I heard that there was a ´2 week curse of Buenos Aires´ (this being the 1st day in the third week), so im hoping the curse has been lifted by the end of the day. And thus the Saga Excursion begins... out of 14 people on the mini-bus to take us to the park, 5 of us were under the age of 55 (1 being a child, Steve, Martin and I and the other being a 30stone man), we guessed it wasnt going to be a taxing day of treks and climbing. ´The tour operater really meant mini.

Turns out to be a wicked day of sight-seeing, with beautifully calm lakes, rivers, mountains, lagoons, an Island in the shape of a heart (ahh & yuk) and Glaciers to be seen.

The slow paced bus tour seemed to pay off, as we were knackered by the end of the day. Had a bit of a stare-off with the Spanish kid, so i was occupied for the day with that too. Slept most of the way back to hostel Periko, where i dreamt about the good life at home, and huge double bed & bath. Luckily a BBQ night had been arranged upon arrival back at the ranch, good Perilla filled us up.

And it´s at the BBQ where we met them, the 2nd craziest set of people i had met so far this trip. Vinny and Mike - the Irish lads. Or as later to be nick-named, the ´giver and ´the taker´. The usual meal followed... too much steak, black pudding and sausage garnished with 1 leaf of lettuce to make it a balanced meal. Just so happens the Irish guys sit down next to us for a good old chin-wag about football, the Euro and our travels so far. They´re accompanied by 2 more Irish people Noreen and Paul. And the drinks begin... and it gets loud...and pubs are visited...and 4 hours sleep is had!

Football is the call of the day on Thursday, firstly England then Argentina & Ivory Coast. As you well know i am no football fan, but since buying an Argentina shirt back in Buenos Aires, ive got into the spirit of things. Watching mens legs & bums on a 4ft projector in a Bariloche local pub kind of swayed the vote for me too. Made a small mistake by cheering for Drogba when Ivory Coast scored a goal - in front of 200 passionate Argentinains, not a good move. So the drinks flowed from 4pm. We all went back to the hostel to get some grub early evening, when a couple more stragglers Jamie and Zoe join us for post dinner drinks and teach us a few more ways to play President. This also attracts the attention of a German girl Jessica and the party begins.

A couple of hours later, our Quilmes is running low and Jamie, being the gentleman that he is goes uo to the corner shop to stock up on booze. It isnt until he gets back and sits down, that he realises that he actually went out without any shoes on. Being so drunk he didnt notice until someone pointed out that wet sock syndrome had hit, as it was pouring with rain and snowing - what a dick! 1am comes and we all decide its time to go out, kags at the ready hitting ´South Bar´ a small but very well equipt Irish themed local bar. I was convinced that the bar was in fact called ´South Park´ so i decide its a good idea to enter ´Kenny Style´ with my hood pulled round my face shouting ´You Bastard, you killed Kenny´. Im lucky to be alive looking back. Vinny with his bleached hair looks like the ´Taker´ in the relationship between him and Mike, and we are proved right by the time we get to the Grisu club. 5 floors of absolute mahem! Vinny attracts what only can be discribed as a member of the Argentinian Mafia, with trench coat and suit while Jessica and I dance & grind the night away. To our delight and surprise, a foam party kicks in at 7am accompanied by 90´s dance classics. I really know how to party, dance on tables and get the boys to hoist me up on their shoulders to take pics. As we collect our coats, Vinny only discovers he´s been given a girls jacket once outside. He tries it on, arms coming down to his elbows, and we all agree it looks good. So he keeps it! Haha, nutter! Arrive back at the hostel to be greeted by oven fresh croissants, so i tuck in and go to bed.

I ask myself the question, ´is it a good idea to book a kayaking trip on the Nahuel Huapi lake with the knowledge of a beastlyhangover´? The answer is no, but Steve, MArtin and I head out for it anyway. Although raining, the lake was peaceful and so clear you could see 6metres down to the bottom in some places. The snow capped Andes and the steaming forests on the other side, it is is pure tranquility (although the forest reminded me of the Jurassic park Island). Can you OD on mountains? Ive seen so many now. Sleep was the call for the rest of the day, with will follow a 19 hour bus journey the next day to our next location, El Calafate.

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on June 10, 2006 from El Calafate, Argentina
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged GrisuAndTheFoamParty

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El Calafate - Moreno Glacier

El Calafate, Argentina

So relieved to be off the mammouth stint on yet another South American ´Tour bus´, phew! I´ve arrived at possibly the best hostel ever made, as we walk into America Del Sur on the outskirts of El Calafate town, im asked to take my shoes off. ´You won´t be needing those in here´. Still tired form the journey (and the fact its 1:30 am), i realise that there is heated flooring throughout the hostel eventually. Excellent! What a great start to the visit.

My first day here was quite uneventful. As it is off season for most Southern towns in Argentina, a lot of the restaurants and shops are closed for the winter. Its mad seeing a town so desterted, a huge difference from Buenos Aires. The further south we get, the lower the temperature gets too. Ice and snow is ever increasing - im actually beginning to enjoy it. By the end of the day i have aclimatised to the luxury hostel, which also includes a huge lounge area with widescreen TV and sofa´s, and as the sun sets the most amazing view (yes i know i always say that) can be seen from our dining room. The evening presents us with some more new faces, a Kiwi Shaun and a frenchman Pascal (Princess Pacal of Patagonia to be precise). They tell us of theNAvimag, a watered down cruise shiptaking passengersfrom Puerto Mont to Puerto Natales over 4 days. The way they descibed it sounded like heaven, so we book up for an alternative to hefty bus rides. They also give us some good advice on Chile and their travels so far. In return we get them drunk and show them how to play President! We also meeta German guy, Michael who suggests going for a walk down by the lake the next morning, while the boys are pre-occupied by the damn football. Im so embarrassed by the next tur of events its unreal. Apologies again Michael for standing you up. Inmy drunken state the night before i agreed to meet Michael in thelounge to go for a walk at 7:30. THATS RIGHT 7:30. Even writing it now it doesnt seem right. I roll out of bed at 10:30 having slept through my alarm, which resides on my arm. Sheepishly i get dressed, and head down to the lounge, to my surprise Michael is still waiting for me! I make my excuses and we head out to skate on the ice laden lake, check out the scenery and have a good old chinwag. Persuade Michael to educate me on the topic of Omelette making in the evening, eatdrink and geerally be merry with Pascal, Shaun and the Chicas.

Next day is the big one, the reason we have travelled down to El Calafate. Drum roll please.... ... ... yes its the day trip to see the Moreno Glacier! 60 metres high of jagged ice-peaks, this is the most active Glacier in the world, situated in the Parque Nacional Los Glaciers (genius name). Mini-bus collection at 7:30 meant that a long 2hr bus journy was ahead. As we head up the mountains to our drop off point, thick fog clouds around as far as the eye can see. Not a good sign for seeing the Glacier. Our guide tells us not to panic, it should clear up, and continues with the tour, unfazed. She shows us on a map the 7 walkways to which we can see panoramic views of the Glacier. Not much bloody se when I cant see more than 10 metres in from of me, ay! I wander down to the closest point to theGlacier in Hope of catching a glimpse of soemthing other than white, and hear a deafening sound of ice breaking off the Glacierinto the waters below. A few hours pass of looking a basially nothing, and after Steve and i declined the boat trip in front of the Glacier, our move begins to pay of.

You know me, the dare-devil i am, trek down the 400m trail to the furthest point on the Glacier in icy conditions. The fog begins to clear, with breath taking consequences...

Steve and I even see a huge chunk of ice break off into the sea, we almost go mad with excitement!! So the trip wasnt´t a waste and we go home with happy faces. Our bus for Ushuaia leaves at 3am the next morning, and Shaun is travelling down there too so we´ll have another pal at the end of the world! Yawn, im fed up with 20+ bus rides from hell...

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on June 14, 2006 from El Calafate, Argentina
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged MorenoGlacier

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Its the end of the world...as we know it.

Ushuaia, Argentina

After much nagging from my mother and friends that i havent been keeping my blog up to date, here is the next installment. God you guys, if i didnt know you any better i might almost think that you are actually missing me! How could you not miss this face x

We arrived in Ushuaia at 8pm ...i think. Our plan in this town was just to get a stamp in our passports to confirm that we had indeed reached the end of the world. Now thinking of it, with all the bus tickets, food and hostels, it has been an expensive stamp! But well worth the trip down. That smug Kiwi bastard Shaun (god love him) from El Calafate made the wise choice to fly down, so he is waiting for us in our hostel Antarctica, fresh as a daisy. The 19hr bus journey has left us undeterred, and we popped to a Perilla buffet restaurant and eat like kings for 24 pesos! As if that wasnt enough, cheap drinks in yet another Irish bar ´Dublin´ ended the long day. The boys drinking Beagle, the local beer, and me with cosmopolitan coctails, we look like a right bunch of prats. I didnt realise how much i missed vodka, unitl it was taken away from me (well it´s always been there, just too expensive) But what do i care, im at the end of the world baby!!

Steve and Martin stay out drinking, Shaun and i are pooped. This is where i find i am a connect 4 and Jenga genius (El Calafate i thought was a fluke game) back at the hostel. So i have found a new talent, Master at kids games, among other things i might add... The boys get back quite late, having found 2 ropey strip clubs on the way home ´by accident´, tsk.

Not content with horse-riding in the Andes, i thought it best to try it again in ´Narnia´. A guy had said that horseriding in mount Susana was like nothing on earth, and he was right. Being a pro at riding now, i was confident on the horse... back at the ranch...before we started out on the ice and snow...and rivers... and steep slopes... It was a pretty terrifying experience, but our guide Adolf had been riding these paths for 20 years so it was safe (hmm). Picturesque views, literally of Narnia are amazing, more mountains and snow! Ill let the pictures speak for themselves...

Our horses ride through a part of the Beagle channel before we stop for a rest.

More galloping on the way back - of course. Get back just in time to catch a boat trip from the pier out to a few islands. I brush past this like it was nothing, but we got a metre away from a sea-lion island, with them jumpping around the boat next to us. Also get off the boat onto an island called ´the gateway to Ushuaia´ for a trek. This is situated between the Chile/Argentina border and can see both countries from the peak. The sunset over the bay as usual was beautiful ( ahh i sound so gay when i say that don´t i!). Back to dry land around 7 and early to bed for the next adventure in the morning.

Someone had the bright idea to hire a car between the 5 of us (Shaun, Steve, Martin, me and a lady from our dorm). Being that its minus 5 and ice on the road at all times, not such a good idea looking back. Shaun steps up to take on driving, being the extreme nutter he is. Our aim today is to go Husky-dog sledding and pop up to the national park. Luckily the sledding is ony 5 miles away, but still takes us most of an hour to get there in the mountains. The Husky-dog sledding was excellent fun, taking 2 of us at a time on a deep snow course throught the woods.

As if that wasnt extreme enough, we drive a bit further up the mountain to check out Snow-mobiling. With awesome results. Our guide took us around a half hour course of snow and bumps, telling us the controls are just like driving. I just smile quietly, knowing i have failed my driving test twice, im probably not the best candidate for such a dangerous sport. But what the hell, im here now. Get up to 45 miles an hour, despite being told that was too dangerous and almost lose control. But the main thing is that i didn´t, and i was the fastest out of the lot of us, ha! Adrenaline pumping, i look around for a ramp, to no avail, i give up and park. Im now a hardcore extremist. Phew what an intersting day so far and its only 1pm! Our Renault Laguna is serving us well on the icy roads, we get about an hour up into the mountains before we realise that we are alomost out of petrol on the most dangerous (and quiet) road in Argentina. Such a shame as we almost got the the park, but as we had a deadline for the England game we had to hurry back. Just manage to get back to camp, with minute petrol left in the tank, living on the edge is turning out to be a trend for us. Yet another bus is booked for our getaway to our next destination, Puerto Natales to board the Navimag boat. Unfortunalty this leaves at 5:30 the next morning, so the only thing left to do today is visit the Museo Maritimo prison. This once held 600 naughty inmates and contained exhibitsfrom expeditions, as well as information of the history of the prisoners. Found myself stroking one of the guards chins, as you can see from the picture he wasnt too impressed, but let me out with a caution. There is always time to shop for tacky souvineers and send postcards home, which i did next, as if that wasnt enough, i ventured to a cafe at 12pm to attempt to conquer what felt like a Kg of Black Forest Gataux. It won in the end, with me leaving 2 spoonfuls. Damn cake.

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on June 18, 2006 from Ushuaia, Argentina
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged HuskySleddingSnowMobilingAndJenga

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Navimag 2006

Puerto Montt, Chile

That Gateaux (Jesus, how do you spell that?) was not a good idea just before an 18 hour bus journey i can tell you! Ill say no more than that. I have become a bit of a sleep master though on buses, being equipt with ear plugs, sleeping mask and travel pillow is a must. We stop off for a bus change at Punto Arenes, a nice clean town, before embarking on our destination Puerto Natales. Meet a Canadian guy Raffi, who just happens to be on route for our destination also, and the Navimag Ferry. And if that wasnt enough, he recognised us from our boat trip in Ushuaia! Small world huh! Ill just point out here, that the Navimag Ferry was recommended to us by our friend Sean. The tales of 3 lazy days watching cool Chillian films while the backdrop of amazing wildlife and scenery coasting by appealed more than getting a smelly coach for days up through Chile.

Arriving in Puerto Natales at 11pm is not a good start for the quest of finding a nice hostel. This is demonstrated by the following events... No time for hanging around the bus stop in minus degrees so the four of us get coaxed by a crazy little lady to Nikos hostel, with the promise of a warm bed and shower. At 3000 Chillian Pesos (3 quid to you and me) we couldnt really complain. The lady helps us organise a trip to Parque Nacional Torres Del Paine the next day, our impending ferry journey to Puerto Mont looming the next evening. Aparently Nikos dont believe in heating upstairs rooms, as we find out when we get shown to the attic room. I resort to sleeping in my clothes, with the discovery of a draft on my face from the window, sob sob. I think it was warmer outside come to think of it... Ready for a ruck in the morning, i get up for our early start to find a bottomless coffee and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Ahh, how can i be cross with service like that! She was actually really helpful too, made 4 new friends, Gill included, and had a minibus for 8 booked to take us for our tour. Ill let her off (just this once mind).

So we all head off to the national park. To the female populations delight on the minibus, we pick up a few hitch-hiking Army men and drop then at the entrance. Its a wonder how much that can warm you up on a frosty morning. We see the main mountain peaks of Torres Del Paine with turquoise lakes beneath and an amazing reflection. On our next stop, we visit a waterfall with roaring rivers and i get all Ray Mears and get up close to a fox. Our finale of the day came after lunch, heading over to Lago Grey where there are small glaciers and a small island to trek around to see them from all angles.

I also managed to squeeze in some serious chat with Gill about THE BIG PICTURE, life and the plan when i get home. It was deep.

Head back to our Igloo, sorry i mean hostel with just enough time to grab dinner before boarding our floating home for the next 3 nights and days at 12pm. Foolishly had ideas from what Sean had said of something not too far from a luxury cruise liner, how wrong i was. It doesnt get off to a good start, being guided aboard via the cattle loading bay. What they failed to mention in the brochure in El Califate, was that on the trip north to Puerto Montt cows and horses get transported along with us in the cargo bay. Ive now got the smell of shit and sound of cattle to look forward to on this trip. Yippee! Our cabin isnt that bad, and the toilets are clean, the only other problem (they seem to be mounting) is that we have to go outside to get to the living quarters and galley in the above deck, and besides that, there is no heating in minus degrees in the pacific ocean for 4 days. To pass time over the next few days, ive come up with a cunning routine as follows: Snooze until lunchtime, get up have lunch in the galley, then retire to the top deck to watch the breathtaking scenery for a few hours or as long as my fingers stay pink. Read my book in the early afternoon before squeezing a shower in (providing i have enough time) before dinner. Sample the first and last good entertainment in the evening with a Chillian political film Machuca, eventful day in all so bed early ends the day nicely. The next two days have a similar trend. We hit rough waters the following day so most passengers, excluding me are hit with sea-sickness (dad, your sea-legs have been passed on to me, aren´t you proud!). As our new friends had been drinking heavily the night before, it makes for a messy day. Keeping out of the way on the top deck seemed to do the trick for me, and i had the best day on our trip!

Having had 13hrs sleep the night before, i was revitalised the next day for a fun pack time. The rocking of the boat must have sent me to sleep like a little baby. As no TV signal could be reached on the boat, that days England world cup game had to be listened to up in the captains cabin by radio. Commentry was in Spanish, and i still only know a handful of phrases, so translation from 'Cappy' provided us with the knowledge of a win. Later on that day, we are taught the rules of poker, and play and drink until 2am, when we are evicted from our living quarters. Reeling with fury (and drunk from Pisco, the national tipple), we go to bed, too tired to cause trouble.

The next morning, or should i say, 5hrs later, we have a knock at the door. Our delightful wake up call at 8am, the boat has been in the harbour for an hour and we have 2minutes to get off! Brilliant. Still wankered from the night before, w drag ourselves out of bed, and head down to the bus station to purchase our bus ticket to our next destination that day, Pucon.

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on June 22, 2006 from Puerto Montt, Chile
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged IsThereAColderBoatOnEarth

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Go Go Gadget bum

Pucon, Chile

I am now on solid ground in Pucon just across the way from my friend Bariloche, the only things separating the two(apart from 10hr bus journey & the border) is the Andes. It feels so good not to be swaying to and to unvoluntarily watch people throw up on deck due to sea sickness! There is 9 in our gang now, which works to our advantage. Discount on our hostal, and trips we may go on. So, friends do have uses...

Being restricted to a boat for four days has put our arses into gear, and we book our next adventure, and the main reason we are here in the small town of Pucon. To climb to the top of the active volcano Villarrica. The concept of climbing the 2847m high volcano in a lifetime, let alone in one day is daunting enough. Finding out that spurts of moulten lava may jump up and hit you when you are peering in is another story all together. One to scare you off, you may think. But all 9 sign up for the following day. The little town, although small in size, is perfectly equipt for the traveller. A few bars, cafes, a big supermarket and a nice view of the beast of Villaricca. And there was me thinking i would be roughing it in Chile! It is a bit of a shock price wise, with everything around a third more expensive.

Up at the crack of dawn on the 'big day', everyone is praying for good weather as this can cancel our ascent for the day, and we are raring to go. Walking over to the tour company in the darkness of 7am in town gives us a glimpse of whats to come, the lava glowing brightly at the peak of the volcano and smoke rising. Im so excited, i fall into a ditch, not looking where im going 'im ok, im ok'. Classy. We get kitted out from head to toe in the most hard wearing equipment ive ever seen. Huge calf length waterproof boots, jacket, mits, sunglasses, helmet and the best... crampons and a pick axe. Crampons, for those of you not farmiliar with ice climbing, are metal spikes we attach to our boots to climb up the sheer ice near the top of the volcano. I also notice a shiny material on the bum part of the trousers, all will be revealed later on in the day. Literally kitted out like i was going to camp in the volcano for days, is there something theyre not telling me perhaps?? Aside from the nagging sensation that we may not come back down the 2847m high volcano with all limbs in tact, we head up in a minibus to the foot of Villarrica, looking like the mutts nuts. Our guide asks us to decide if we want to go today, afterspending nearly an hour putting all this kit on, im in no state of mind not to climb this mother, and we opt for the climb. As the weather can change so quickly, there s no certain way of knowing what the summit weather will be like in 4hrs. Ill take me chances.

And so we begin, after 10 minutes of treking im feeling the strain on my lungs. This is going to be tougher than i thought. 5 days a week at the gym is not going to hep me now. Our descent continues for 2hrs, going from dirt track to snow and having to criss cross up the side of the volcano in order to stay on our feet. I am stopping every 5 minutes now like an incompetent freak, WHY WONT MY LUNGS WORK! Eventually we have a rest after 3 hrs, and change into our crampons, and get a lesson how to use our ice-picks in the event of falling down the sheer drop we had just climbed. The next hour gets tougher, climbing ice, digging ice-picks deep to help òur balance and attempting to keep on our feet with the ever increasing gale force winds. As we look up, all we can see is white, but the most breathtaking view of Pucon and the surrounding area if we dare to turn around (i brave it only once, before almost losing my feet). The things i do for a good picture for you guys! With my throat almost in ruins, im assured we are only a few hundred metres away from the top. Unfortunatly the weather takes another thurn for the worse and rain starts to fall. The guide insists that we descend now before one of us gets hurt, so the bloody vlcano got the better of us. That bitch. And here is where we descover what our shiny bums are for... After clomping down te path we had just come in our crampns for half an hour, our crampons are released and put away. Our guide then tells us to slide down this part of the snow on our arses. Yes arses. With reluctant glares all round, Nick braves the first move with amusing consequences. After seeing is body for only a few seconds, he zooms off down the volcano with his pick axe in his hands to stop his fall. Go go gadget bum! The rest of us follow, a few lose their axes on the way and we are all tricked into sliding off a ramp in the snow near the bottom. What an exhilarating experience! Unfortunalty back in the van by 2 and changed out of our gear and home by 4pm. A knackering expedition, but a fun one, we have dinner at a local place called Club 77. I find to my delight that our hostal, of all things has a bath so wallowing in my own filth finishes the day with comfort.

Obviously the bath has brought back memories of being pampered, back in those lovely days at home, and it continues the next day with a lay in and trip to the local (1hr away) natural thermal spas at Las Pozones. Again a discount is won when the 9 of us go together again. It sounds weird but the trip there was calming. Smoothe roads, green Connifers and woods is a far cry from the bustling town of Pucon. The sun also has his hat on, first sign since Mendoza in Argentina. Nice and relaxed for the arrival at the 6 30-42degree pools to come.

The backdrop of the valley, the Livcura river running beside and the good company of our friends is a great way to unwind. The biggest pool becomes host to a variety of silly pictures taken by self-timed cameras and ridiculous poses

, by myself of course. In an attempt to close my pores, we take a dip n the freezing pluge pools before getting changed for hom 2hours later. The heat made me very sleepy, so i head up to bed soon after our return to the hostel. The next daywas a surprise, rain. The only things to do when it is raining, is shopping and emailing. The former didnt work out too well for me with 7 shops of interest (and thats a nice way of putting it) emailing pictures became the source of fun before the next 10hr stint on the bus to Santiago that evening.

permalink written by  Vegtibbles on June 26, 2006 from Pucon, Chile
from the travel blog: The Crazy Adventures of the Tibbler
tagged GoGoGadgetBum

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If you are reading this, you know who i am... If you dont, then you should after reading this little lot. Having fun & doing crazy things is the agenda, and achieving it so far.

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