8th April
written by Hazel

Since we’re about to set off on a 24 hour bus trip from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama, a town in one of they driest places on earth, I thought I’d schedule a post about one of our ongoing projects.  My mother is a quilter and quilting teacher and author and she is awesome at what she does.  Check it out!

Since Justin and I were married recently she has offered to make us a wedding quilt and so of course we wanted to find a way to make it unique.  We had the bright idea to buy fabrics in each of the countries we visit and send them back to her, so that at the end of the trip she will have fabrics from all different parts of the world to work into a quilt.  Then when we look at it we will be reminded of our travels, our wedding, and my talented mom!  Pretty sweet.

We had an easy time in New Zealand.  There was a specialty quilting fabric shop in Christchurch and all we had to do was pick patterns we liked and that seemed the most “New Zealandish” to us.  We picked ferns, prints that reminded us of Maori designs, and some green and browns.

New Zealand Fabrics


28th March
written by Justin

Well it has been a long time since I talked about the various libations that Hazel and I have tried.  Having been to both Argentina and Chile since we left New Zealand, we’ve gained even more of a perspective on how people around the world consume their beer.   Turns out that the pacific coast of the US has a different opinion about beer than most other places in the world!  (Sorry East Coast, Yuengling just doesn’t cut it anymore :) )

In Argentina, we had the realization that there just isn’t much in the way of beer.  The two main players throughout the country were Quilmes, a very light lager whose primary characteristic was that a liter cost US$1.50.  The other choice was Brahma, which costs less than Quilmes.  Neither had much going for them other than that they are cheaper than water around there.  I did enjoy the occasional Brahma (my preferred of the two) but the most interesting beers were found while we travelled around Patagonia.  We went to three Patagonian towns: Ushuaia, El Calafate, and El Chaltén (We also traveled to Chile’s Puerto Natales, but I’m saving that for another post).


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14th March
written by Hazel

Justin has been doing an awesome job filling you in on our “W” hike, but we’ve been really busy since then as well, so I’ll try to catch things up!  We had a day of recovery after all of the hiking and two awesome nights at our favorite hostel in Puerto Natales.

The next stop on our agenda was El Calafate, Argentina which is known almost exclusively for its glacier.  We took a bus to get there and had a very easy 6 hour ride, spending only an hour at the Chile-Argentina border crossing.  We weren’t quite prepared for what El Calafate would be like since it was pretty different from Ushuaia and Puerto Natales.  Firstly, it was EXPENSIVE.  Especially the food.  Secondly, it seemed to be built just for the tourists and while the other towns had shops for tourists and tours for tourists, this place had a kind of Disneyland overpricedness to it.  We were very lucky though because we stayed at a wonderful hostel (Hospedaje Lautaro) run by an incredibly welcoming family who did masses to ensure that we could make the most of the glacier and the town.  They also provided a very tasty breakfast each day.  We were also able to save a bit of money by using the kitchen instead of the overpriced restaurants.

The first night in town we cooked dinner and then went and did a little beer tasting at the local brewery, Sholken. The beer was interesting!  We agreed that their pale ale was the favorite, but the dark beer tasted EXACTLY like beef jerky.  They must use hickory or something in the process.  I have never had a beer that tastes like meat before!

Beer tasting!


26th February
written by Hazel

The national park is just a few kms outside of Ushuaia, and there are plenty of busses that run back and forth throughout the day.  We decided to do a moderate hike along the water, rather than to climb the giant mountain in the park, and we were rewarded with some amazing scenery.  The day started off gray and windy, but wound up sunny and windy with perfect temperatures for hiking!  Click any of these photos to see the gallery from the hike.

One of the many bays along the way

Mountains across the Channel

25th February
written by Hazel

There were several options for a boat trip from Ushuaia (including Antarctica!) but we chose a tour to a penguin breeding colony and it was definitely the right choice.  Penguins are absolutely adorable, and not something you often get to see in the wild.  The tour promised us that we would be able to “walk within the penguins” and it was the only trip in town that has permission to take tourists to this penguin island.

Flag trees on the way to the penguins

We stopped at a couple of scenic spots along the way and after about an hour on gravel roads we arrived at a ranch.  Justin and I had thought that the ranch would have a tour that involved ranchy things, but we were wrong about this.  It was actually a marine museum and research station and we got a tour of all kinds of bones and even got to see a dolphin being dissected.  That was smelly!

Scientists hard at work

Ok, so that´s not a cute penguin picture, but I´m getting to those!  We took a short boat ride out to the island and then had an hour walking around looking at the breeding colony.  There were Magellanic and Gentoo penguins.  The Gentoo are more rare and have orange feet while the Magellanic were plentiful, nest in burrows and are plain black and white.  And here are the cute penguins…

22nd February
written by Hazel

We had a beautiful sunny day, so we decided to hike up to the Martial Glacier, just outside of town.  There is a chair lift that goes part of the way up the mountain, which is pretty awesome because the hike after that to get to the glacier is extremely steep and we were glad to sit and watch the views both after hiking up from the town and then after the steep trek to the glacier.

View from the ski lift

The glacier itself was not as impressive as the ones we saw in New Zealand, but the views of the town and the landscape were just awesome.  Click on either of the photos in this post for more pictures!


19th February
written by Hazel

Well, yesterday was a long day.  We were up bright and early at 6:30 am in order to get our bus, but Justin was starting to feel really sick.  We had sprung for a hotel in Rio Gallegos (which was really nice except for the strong smoke smell in our room) and they gave us a nice breakfast of coffee, teeny-tiny sweet croissants, and rolls with butter and jam.  Unfortunately, Justin wasn´t able to eat much and we were a little worried about the bus.  We loaded up our backpacks and walked to the bus station (about 30 minutes).  No problems getting the bus, but it was about 30 minutes late.

It was our bad luck to be seated in front of a horribly behaved little boy.  On our last bus trip (37 hours) there was a kid right in front of us and he was an angel!  Not this one.  He screamed, whined and kicked our seats the entire way.  We also weren´t able to lie our seats back because he was on his parent´s knee.  We also had to stop at 4 border checkpoints and get out at 2 since getting to Ushuaia involves crossing into Chile and then back into Argentina.  The first of these stops took over an hour and we had to sit on the bus while the driver did paperwork.  He left the heating on and we were all wilting by the time he got back.  Justin was obviously not feeling well, but he was a trooper and managed to sleep for most of the trip.



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17th February
written by Hazel


After!!! Who knew they had hairdressers in the bus station?!

Views from the bus - click for more!

One more 12 hour bus ride tomorrow and we’ll have made it to Ushuaia!  Busses are very fancy here.
15th February
written by Hazel

Well, we have about 30 mintues until we´re off on a 47 hour bus trip heading south to Ushuaia and there´s a lot we could still say about our time in Buenos Aires.  I´ve had an unfortunate couple of days with a yucky stomach bug and on top of that I managed to explode our plug adaptor.  Pretty big spark there.  Despite all of that we had an awesome Valentine´s Day picnic with some bread, cheese and bubbly and we´re very excited for the next step in our adventure.

Favorite Empanadas in Buenos Aires

Empanadas are everywhere in Buenos Aires and they are a delicious snack.  This place had our favorites so we´d often run off there on our break from Spanish class.  They have a ton of different kinds.  My favorite were the Caprese – little pastries full of cheese, basil and tomato, but the beef ones were yummy too.

We´re already missing our Spanish class.  We learned so much and had 2 really great teachers over the 3 weeks.  We learned a lot about Argentina and our communication skills definitely improved.  Both of us were tempted to stay longer in order to learn even more. 

Spanish Class with Alejandro

Last week we finally made it out to tango at La Viruta where we had a yummy dinner with a view of the dance floor then took a tango lesson.  Awesome!  There were so many amazing dancers there and we had a great time watching them.  We didn´t really get the typical tourist show, but we saw a lot of real tango.

View from our table - sorry it´s blurry


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