five days in Tupiza

After Mendoza was Salta, Argentina and I posted those pictures promptly here. After Salta we headed to Bolivia and we agreed to meet up with Dermot and Darren to do the 4 day tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats together. This cemented our friendship as South America Bezzies.

Oliver and I crossed the border on foot at La Quiaca (Argentina)/Villazon (Bolivia) and it was like stepping into a different world. Whereas Argentina feels very European, Bolivia confirmed we were in South America. We followed guides on crossing the border that we found with a quick Google. But really it’s simple because the only reason people are heading to these towns is to cross the border. So follow the crowd or ask the obviously English/Dutch/Canadian person you’ll inevitably see.

We took a 2 hour bus journey to Tupiza, which is a quiet little town surrounded by mountains. It’s full of crappy backpacker restaurants that sell every kind of food and none of it especially good. Everything is absurdly cheap, a huge pizza costs 25 Bolivianos (£2.50) and a cup of tea costs 4 Bolivianos (40p). Here we whiled away a few days waiting for our friends to arrive, drinking coca tea, looking at cute little Bolivian kids and desperately trying to communicate in Spanish.

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oh Manchester

We sat today in a little cafe drinking coffee, of course, and The Smiths started to play. It was Cemetery Gates, written about the Southern Cemetery in Chorlton, Manchester. Oliver and I would cycle past that place everyday on the way to work. In the dark during Winter on our way home, in the cold mornings in Spring and in shorts and sunglasses during the Summer. I think how much I couldn’t face that journey for yet another day, but now it seems very idealistic. But isn’t that always the way? I’ll start romanticising Stockport in another month or so.

We’re in Melbourne now, staying with a friend of mine, Alice. So far her mum and dad have spoiled us with healthy, wholesome food and it’s spectacular! Our plan is just to find a job and then hopefully somewhere to stay for a few months until Alanna arrives in late June.

stuff we ate (and drank): coffee (Australia)

Delicious coffee. We’ve been told that coffee in Australia is the best. And it is. I can’t deny that I’ve become accustomed to a flawless soy flat white.

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We made Glider Coffee in Kings Cross, Sydney our first stop most days. We had a few unexpectedly delicious cups today at Amelia in Launceston, Tasmania. And I look forward to my next! d

Tassie

Last week while job hunting in Sydney we came across some farmwork at a working hostel in Tasmania. We had received no responses from anything related to fruit picking so after calling the hostel and finding they had 2 beds and work to begin straight away, we jumped.

We’ve just spent a week in Devonport, Tasmania, not the most… anything of places. The town centre looks a bit like Corby. The countryside looks a bit like England. The work was awful.

We spent a day at an orchard, picking apples, before we decided this was not the life for us. They paid by the bin. You fill it with apples and get $38. We filled 4 bins between us in 8 hours. That works out at $66 (£34) each for one day’s work. And it was hard. We slept for 12 hours when we got home on Friday. Maybe it’s a lifetime of work mostly on our arses, but £34 a day is not what I’m after. We booked flights to Melbourne and are in Launceston now waiting around for that flight.

In the meantime we worked 2 more days picking apples and applying for jobs. If the work wasn’t enough to prompt us to leave, there was the hostel… I’ve taken some pictures so you can appreciate the ‘abandoned uni halls chic’ this place was going for:

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We paid to rent a duvet for the week. One mattress had no springs. The room smelled worse than the bathroom. And there was no wifi.

At least in the city there are hourly rates for work, a little more sunshine and an internet connection. We have gained a week in Tasmania, a little experience fruit picking and and an assurance that I can’t hack physical labour. No surprise.
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the perfect excuse to just hang around and drink coffee in Sydney. pretty much all day.

We arrived in Sydney on Saturday, almost a week ago, and have been doing all the boring stuff you have to do when turning up with a working visa. Get a Australian bank account and debit card, get a tax number, apply for free healthcare and so on. We have to hang around until things arrive in the post, and then we plan to hot foot it to some Australian countryside for clichéd fruit picking.

I’m looking forward to working (I know) and working hard, having a routine, some space and purpose and, mostly, earning some money. Before that, as we wait for things to arrive, we’ve been wandering around Sydney in the sunshine and eating and drinking some of the really good food in this city.

Every cup of coffee in Sydney is infinitely better than every cup of coffee I’ve had in the last four months, and probably the 4 months before that. (Aside from the delicious coffee from Coffee Lab, São Paulo!) There is cheap Asian food everywhere. And ‘Asian’ is a cop out of a description because it’s not Tampopo; there’s ramen and sushi and Korean and pho and Chinese on most streets.

More of that later. For now, pictures from today just sitting about in the botanical gardens, sniffing everything in the herb garden and enjoying the view.

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The birds here are huge and brave and loud.

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We saw a wedding in the botanical gardens! Their wedding song was by Michael Buble. I’m feeling a little hormonal and I nearly cried. That’s just who I am.

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Oliver just squeezing some lemons.

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We had a little snack at Harry’s Cafe de Wheels, which is either a Sydney institution or trying hard to be. I’ll go for the first because I quite enjoyed it and there were lots of pictures of celebs eating pies in the same spot. Pamela Anderson and Jason Biggs are the only ones I can remember but I promise there were some A-listers!

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While we’re sitting around doing bugger all, eating ramen, drinking coffee, burning through money, let me know if there’s anything you’d recommend for us to see/do/eat in Sydney or the rest of Australia!

More Mendoza.

Only the best for us…

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This picture below made me think of my friend Alanna and the first time she told me about somebody she knows called Geraldine. I honestly was clueless as to what she was saying, for minutes. She’s Irish you see.

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I’ve included this picture below just because we seemed to eat Gobstoppers for aaaages. I think we bought them in Buenos Aires and ate them on the bus and then for days in Mendoza. They make me think of that!

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This is the view from our little balcony at Punto Urbano Hostel. It was a cosy little place, and the street was noisy but became very familiar. Especially when I picked up some bed bugs from Buenos Aires and we spent an entire day wiping rubbing alcohol over all of our possessions on that balcony. Don’t worry, I washed all of my clothes and my backpack and we fumigated the whole dorm using this guide for help. Tedious.

It sounds totally gross but lots of backpackers pick them up. The key is never to just dump your bag on the bed in a new dorm. Check the mattress and bed frame for bugs first. Okay, it still sounds totally gross. It was gross. I was miserable being bed bug girl.

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Because Mendoza sits at the base of the Andes mountains they get lots of snow melting and running into the city, so there are huge ditches everywhere to accommodate this. I didn’t fall down one, which I was surprised by.

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Aaahh…

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Mendoza, Argentina. Wine and Irish friends.

Embarrassingly, I realise that I didn’t take any pictures in Buenos Aires with the fancy camera. It must have been a haze of heat wave that meant we didn’t do very much and the frustration of changing money that meant even on the walking tour of the city, I didn’t have my camera with me. I’ll have to scour Oliver’s phone for some snapshots to share.

So onwards to Mendoza, which we visited about 2 months ago. Yes, I have a lot of pictures to catch up on. We took an overnight Primera Clase Andesmar bus, which I couldn’t recommend any more than I do. It was an hilarious experience. It cost about £60 each but you can’t put a price on horizontal sleeping on an overnight bus! £60 for an 18 hour journey, one night’s sleep, dinner, breakfast and champagne! It’s alright. You can book online and choose English so things are easy to follow. If you’re ever presented with travelling options in Argentina… always Andesmar and first class where possible.

So we must have picked the best hostel in Mendoza, Punto Urbano Hostel. It was lovely, huge kitchen, huge garden, wild guinea pigs running around and free wine every night!

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The walking tour just seemed to be plaza after plaza. But that’s kind of Mendoza. Lots of tiles.

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At the end of the walking tour we spotted Darren and Diarmuid, the Irish guys we met in Uruguay and had hung out with in BA and we’re sad to say goodbye to, sat on a bench. We went out for dinners and wine tours and white water rafting, pictures of that somewhere too.

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