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Next up: US and Canada

In exactly 1 month we’re off again! We are so lucky to have been invited to a wedding in Toronto in the middle of June, so we thought why not plan our summer vacation around this? We invited my parents this time, and they of course agreed without hesitation 😉

We are going to spend 3 weeks in total, and will be fulfilling one of our other big travel-dreams; to visit the Great Lakes area around Chicago, something we have been talking about for very long.

On June 2nd we’re flying to Chicago, where we have rented a house a bit outside the city. Here we’ll spent the smaller portion of a week exploring the “Windy City” and the Great Lakes area.

Driving towards Toronto, we will have a few days stop at Detroit, where we’ve rented the same apartment as we stayed in together with Philip and Kat, back in 2014.

We’ll spend 8 days in Toronto, hopefully enjoying the sun and participating in fun wedding celebrations. After the wedding, we will drive north and stay in a cottage near Huntville, where we plan to visit Algonquin Provincial Park and walk some of the trails there.

To see some more of Canada, and not to drive the same route back to Chicago, we decided to drive north of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. We’ll stop for the night in Sault Ste. Marie and from there go to Green Bay. This was on Martin’s must-see lists (mainly because of their football team – hello…), so we thought it was a good plan to use the city as a stopping point.

We’re really exited for this trip, the US and Canada is always such nice and easy countries to travel to and we’re looking forward to seeing how Mai will handle the trip now that she is a bit older.

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Argentina days 18-22: Iguazú and Buenos Aires

Before we chose Argentina as our destination, Martin said that if we ever decided to go to Argentina, he definitely wanted to see Iguazu Falls. So this was on the top of our list, when we planned our itinerary. I visited with my parents on our trip around Argentina and Brazil in 2009, but remembering the overwhelming beauty of the place, he did not have to convince me.

We stayed in Puerto Iguazú on the Argentinian side of the border and used this as our base to go to the falls. The town itself is very obviously centered around tourism and is not charming at all. We stayed at the Grand Crucero Iguazú Hotel, which is in the outskirts of the city, but within walking distance to the center – it took us around 30 min. A very nice four-star hotel with a rooftop pool, and very luxurious compared to the places we normally stay, but we felt like indulging.

We arranged with the taxi driver that drove us from the airport to also take us to the falls the following days. It cost 600 pesos to the Brazilian side and 500 to the Argentinian national park.

The first day we went to the brazilian side, where we started out with a helicopter ride over the falls. What an experience! It was absolutely amazing, this being the first time ever flying a helicopter for the both of us, it was a thrill just to try that and the views over the falls was stunning.

IMG_5037We then did the Macuco Safari, which starts with a quick trail through the forests that ends at the waterside. We were then taken by boat up the river through the canyon facing the rapids until reaching falls where you stop for a few minutes to enjoy the view.  The boat continues to one of the falls called “The Three Musketeers” where we were taken for a “waterfall bath”, which is basically going as close to the fall as possible, ensuring that everyone gets completely soaked. It was great fun and gives you an amazing sense of the powerful forces of the water masses.
See a glimpse of both helicopter and boat ride on my video.

The last part of the day we spent on the catwalks and trails that gives great panoramic views of the Argentinian side of the falls before ending up in front of biggest of them all: Devil’s Throat.

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DCIM100GOPROGOPR0523.The second day we went to the Iguazú National Park on the Argentinian side. We went there early to avoid the crowds. We first took the Lower Circuit trail that, as the name also suggests, goes furthest down along the river bank, ending up at the Bosetti Waterfall where there’s also great views of San Martín Island and the impressive Devil’s Throat and its typical mist can be seen at the far.

IMG_5040IMG_5078We continued on the Upper Circuit trail that starts with a panoramic view of the semicircular chain that begins at Dos Hermanas Waterfalls, going through Chico, Ramírez, Bosetti, Adán y Eva, and Bernabé Méndez Waterfalls, ending at Mbiguá Waterfall lookout as a first stop. Again as the name implies, this path is characterized by having its trails set on top of the waterfalls edge, which allows a vertical view from the top – really impressive.

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DCIM100GOPROGOPR0560.To go to the Devil’s Throat you have to take a train and of course the line was endless. I think we waited around an hour, which was a complete waste of time since the actual train ride is only 15 min. and the train runs about the same speed as you could walk yourself! From where the train stops, there’s a gangway leading to the balcony that faces the waterfall. I remember this walk a thrilling experience, walking through the rainforest and above the river getting closer and closer to the mist and steam coming from the Devil’s Throat, but I was  quite disappointed because it was filled with tourists, so instead of it being a scenic stroll along the gangway, it was a rush trying not to collide with other people going back. 

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0575.The gangway ends at a balcony, from where you can look over the huge wall of water of Devil’s Throat. Just the roaring sound of the fall is enough to impress. Sadly, the hordes of tourists kills some if the sensation, making it hard to actually find a spot from where you can get a decent shot of the entire fall. Devil’s Throat is still very impressive, but the panoramic views you get from the lower circuit was still my favorite of the day.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0588.Before flying back to Copenhagen, we had one more full day in Buenos Aires, where we had time to see the things we didn’t have time to visit the first days. We went to the famous La Recoleta Cemetery, seeing the grave of Eva Perón amongst others. We then walked to Palermo Viejo, which is a very hip and scenic neighborhood with colonial buildings, lots of small vintage shops and a very hipster vibe. From here we took a taxi to La Boca, because we liked the area so much we wanted to revisit and also to buy another Argentinian football jersey 🙂

IMG_5107IMG_5083We ended the day with an amazing steak dinner at the best Parilla in Buenos Aires La Brigada. A perfect finish to our Argentinian adventures!

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Argentina days 15-18: Salta and the Northwest

Although I really like the beauty and vastness of Patagonia, the northwest part of Argentina has quickly become one of my favorite regions in the country. The Andean feel with indigenous communities, llamas and Inca ruins plus the warm weather really appeals to me. And the people are much more “south-american” looking than in the southern part of the country, where there’s more european influence.

We spent two days in Salta, where we stayed at the lovely Stelares Hotel Boutique. And it was our turn to get lucky – for some reason they had chosen to upgrade us to their suite! So it was maybe one of the most luxurious stays we’ve ever had on ta trip, complete with jaccuzi and a bathroom the size of our livingroom.

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Salta is a small but beautiful city, known for its Spanish colonial architecture and Andean heritage. We spent our two days here strolling the city and enjoying the sun. A must-see is the Archaeological Museum MAAM – Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montana de Salta. On display they have the mumified body of one of three children (rotated every 6 months) that was discovered on top of one of the mountains in the area. The bodies are amazingly well-preserved and gives you a good understanding of how the Inca culture and child sacrifices worked at that time.

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We then rented a car and drove north to the Quebrada de Humahuaca, which is a spectacular mountain valley in the province of Jujuy. The rock formations changes colors constantly and it was an amazing experience driving through the dusty and varying mountains, some places red, green or greyish and some dotted with cactus. Scattered around the mountains are picturesque, indigenous towns with a real Inca-vibe lined with markets and homey restaurants serving llama. We stayed in Tilcara for the night, which we read is many traveller’s favorite base for exploring the area, and we weren’t disappointed by the small and cozy town. In the afternoon we drove to the town Humahuaca, where we walked around a bit in the cobbled streets and bought a few things at the market.

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The next morning we woke up very early and drove to Purmamarca to see the Hill of Seven Colors (Cerro de los Siete Colores). The town was only just waking up when we arrived and it made the spectacular view of the colorful hill even better that we were almost alone and not surrounded by hordes of other tourists.

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We then drove through the georgeous landscape seeing cactus and llamas on the mountains sides galore until we reached Salinas Grandes. It’s an former lake that dried up and is now a giant salt desert. There was a little tourist information desk, and my Spanish skills was tested thoroughly since all the guides did not know any English. The area itself is admission free, but it was mandatory to pay for a guide to take you there, and so we did. It was a very impressive experience to talk on the massive salt flats, all white and shiny with the mountains in the background. Stunning!

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Afterwards we drove back the pretty winding roads to Purmamarca, where we had some food and checked out the artisan marked. And then it was time to drive back to Salta, where we dropped of our rental car and got on a plane to Puerto Iguazú.

 

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Argentina days 8-14: Bariloche and Córdoba

After some busy and active days in Patagonia, we felt the need to relax.
We spent Saturday taking the bus back to El Calafate, and then sat in a cafe all day booking flights for the remainder of our trip and hotel in Cordoba. In the evening we flew to Bariloche, where we checked in to our hotel and then had the best steak dinner in Argentina so far! The place was called El Boliche “de Alberto”, and we had the most mouth-watering steak – probably only surpassed by the Kobe steak we had in Kobe. It was so good and such a nice place that we went back the next day for dinner 🙂

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Bariloche is placed gorgeously along the shoreline of Lago Nahuel Huapi and surrounded by the snow-crowned Andes. It’s known for its wide range of skiing, trekking and mountaineering facilities, as well as being Argentina’s chocolate capital.

One of our reasons for choosing to visit Bariloche was the Camino de Los Siete Lagos, or The Road of the Seven Lakes. It is a 110 km route that follows a windy road through lush forests, dramatic mountain scenery and crystal-blue lakes, ending up in the small charming town San Martín de Los Andes. Although it would have been nice to do the drive ourselves, we opted for the easy solution and booked a daytrip from our hotel. The guide spoke mostly Spanish, but was nice and translated most of the things to us when we stopped at the different locations, and it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the amazing scenery from the window without paying too much attention to all the information that was said. We stopped in some small villages and at all the different lakes and arrived in San Martín around lunchtime, where we had a few hours to have something to eat and walk around in the cosy town.

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After Bariloche we flew north to Argentina’s second largest city Córdoba, where we’ve spent the last 4 days. Lonely Planet describes the city as “a fascinating mix of old and new”. I usually think they’re quite accurate in their descriptions but this time I they’ve laid it on a bit thick. The city is big and buzzling but also also quite ugly and dull, and the main shopping streets have a somewhat provincial feeling. The area around Plaza San Martín is a exception and one thing I do find interesting, is the fact that there are almost no tourists. It really feels like we’re experiencing a more authentic side of Argentina.

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Plaza San Martín

Another interesting thing about Córdoba is its history as the first settlement of the Jesuits, and there are several Jesuits Missions in the region, all easy to reach on a daytrip. We visited the town of Alta Gracia, a tranquil little town that has a 17th-century Jesuit estancia that’s listed as a Unesco’s World Heritage site. The town is also know as the city where Che Guevarra grew up and his childhood home has been made into a museum, which we of course went to visit.

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