Itinerary and Arrival
I introduced our world traveler and family friend Mike Addison in the introductory post for the new “Bon Vivant Travels” category for the Cajun Chef Ryan blog entitled Bon Vivant Travels, First Stop…South America. Mike embarked on his worldwide journey on Saturday, October 10, 2009, leaving from Houston, TX for a flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina where he will spend the first leg of the adventure in South America. Here is Mike’s introductory email and trip itinerary:
From: Michael Addison
Sent: Saturday, October 10, 2009 2:17 PM
Subject: World Tour 2009-2010
I hope all is well.
I am writing because I am about to leave today to travel around the world. It is something that I have always wanted to do, so I am taking a year off to actually do it. I have had requests to send emails during my trip, and attach pics if possible. Therefore, I have decided to create a distribution list and do that. Some of you I have not written to in awhile (sorry I have been out of touch) but hopefully this will start to turn it around.
Here’s my itinerary (so far):
I am flying tonight, arriving into S. America (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Sunday morning. I’ll be in Argentina for about 3 weeks. Then I’ll move north (on the west side of the continent), going into Chile, then up into Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia (all combined about 5 weeks). Then I’ll come down into Brazil, take a boat on the Amazon for 3 days until I get to the ocean on the east side of the continent. From there I’ll come down along the coast starting in Salvador, completing my trip in Rio de Janiero in January. My last day in S. America (Rio) will be Jan. 16th.
Shortly after, I’ll fly out to Melbourne, Australia and tool around the country for about a month. Then I’ll go to New Zealand for about 3 weeks (maybe more). In March I’ll go to Vietnam for about two weeks. Then I’ll head to Thailand for two or three weeks in April. Thereafter, I’ll go to Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines (May and June). Then in July, two weeks in Japan and one month in China. August-October I’ll go to E. Europe (Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic) and perhaps stop by a few W. European countries in November—returning to the U.S. in later November.
That’s my rough agenda. If I need to update it, I’ll let you know. By the way, if anyone is thinking, “hey I’ve always wanted to visit that place” then let me know and I’ll meet you there.
Take care everyone, and I’ll be in touch.
We did not hear from Mike for another 12 days, and until Thursday, October 22, 2009 when he sent us this email from Buenos Aires, Argentina (I’ve added the images to the email text, and click on them for a larger view):
From: Michael Addison
Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2009 11:08 AM
Subject: Buenos Aires, Argentina
I meant to send my first note over the weekend, but it’s been such a whirlwind—until I decided to just take a day off today to chill and write. So here’s the story so far…
The flight from Houston to Buenos Aires (BA) Saturday night (Oct. 10) was smooth–and although the flight is 10 hours, the time difference is only two hours after Houston (CST) time. So there was really no jet lag…just a little tired from lack of sleep and slight stress from the anticipation of this adventure.
Things moved along like clockwork after I landed in BA around 12noon. I immediately had to summon up my very rusty Spanish (but already getting better 🙂 as I went about grabbing my bag, getting a bus to the city center and, after arriving at the main bus terminal, grabbing a group taxi-van to the hostel in the city center. The Lonely Planet travel book mentioned that this particular hostel (V&S) was cool, cheap, and had a great location. I immediately booked a few nights there, but not consecutive as I was going to stay with some local people too through couch surfing (www.couchsurfing.org), a very cool way to learn about a new place and it’s people/culture. I felt an immediate good vibe in the hostel and started talking to other travelers from around the world who had been staying there.
After putting my things away, I grabbed my backpack and took off to explore the city. The city center is very conducive to walking, as many sites are fairly central to the center. The main (and oldest) plaza is Plaza de Mayo…, which dates back to 1580. Argentina gained independence from the Spanish in 1810 (bicentennial just around the corner), and government operations took place (still does) around this plaza. Casa Rosada is the current government seat, and also the site of Evita Peron’s many speeches as she energized the masses back in the 40´s and 50´s. You probably know Madonna played the part of Evita in a film not too long ago. I was quite hungry on my first day, and went to a local cafe, noticed a nice plate of meat that a guy was eating at the counter and ordered the same thing. Basically it was a steak sandwich—an appropriate first meal in Argentina, known for it’s awesome steaks. I then found out that every Sunday in a cool, artsy area of BA called San Telmo; a huge outdoor market/bazaar takes place with throngs of people throughout the streets (reminded me of Mardi Gras in New Orleans). I did a ton of walking and people-watching the rest of the day.
The following day, I got in touch with my first couch surfing host, Ana Londero. Before my trip, I had written her and several others who had a couch available in BA. Two people responded and since she was in a cool/safe area of BA, I took it. Ana was way cool, as she cooked some traditional Argentine dishes. We conversed quite a bit, but didn’t really go out as she worked full time and had to hit the sack early on weeknights. I stayed with her 3 nights—and one night baked her a chocolate cake. It turned out pretty good! She was impressed (ha ha).
The people in BA have been so cool to me, the tourist guy. I’ve worked hard to communicate with them, and I think they appreciate it and are probably thus more willing to provide any assistance. There were two times when I was looking for a specific place and they went our of their way to escort me there. I thought they happened to be going in my direction, but then noticed after getting to my location that they turned and went elsewhere. How cool is that?
Again, I’ve met some very cool people at the hostel, one of whom is Aaron from California. He’s about 35, and is in BA for 8 weeks, studying Spanish. He’s smart and freaking hilarious—he’s somewhat like Robin Williams, and loves to travel. He works in IT back in the States. We hung out together a few times and when I make it back to BA (I just left a couple days ago…more on that in my next email) we’re going to try to get a tennis court and play on the red clay (he played some college tennis—hope we get to play). Fellow travelers are in general quite friendly and more than willing to talk about their travels and offer advice and recommendations about certain places.
I had my first date in awhile, as I chatted it up with a girl who worked at the hostel when I returned there after Ana’s place. Her name is Elizabeth Fernandez and she’s so cool and attractive—as are many of the women here. Last Friday night, we went to a dinner and Tango dancing show (both at a cool dinner theater in San Telmo). These people here stay up LATE. I understand why they take a daily siesta—they HAVE to. We were up late as well…hitting a club after the show.
The following day, Saturday, Aaron and I met up with a couple (Tomas and Victoria) with whom I was staying that night as part of couch surfing. We went to Plaza Dorego for a drink. They are so cool and friendly. They are originally from Latvia and have been traveling the world together. They’re in BA for about a year. Tomas is a professional photographer and sells his portraits in San Telmo. Victoria is a textile engineer—she’s so funny, always cracking jokes.
P.S. I am so sorry Ryan that I could not get some pics of the foods to you. I had two excellent ones especially set aside for you. One was a tarta—it’s like a quiche, but somewhat like a stuffed pizza too. The other was an asado—which is a barbecue…many meats on the plate.
Here is an excellent post on Tarta found on the “From Argentina with Love” blog by Rebecca Caro. In addition, for the asado I found Asado Argentina, a wonderful site devoted to the barbecue methods, techniques, and cuts of meat in particular to Argentine cuisine.
Mike’s post script was due to his camera’s digital memory card getting a virus from a computer, it infected all the images and he may be able to get them restored once back to the States, he purchased a new memory card since.
Stay tuned for Mike’s next installment of adventures in South America…