Patagonia #1: Puerto Madryn / Argentina

16 08 2010

Translation from Turkish to English: Ödül & Ateş Gürşimşek

For the complete gallery of Puerto Madryn photos:

09.04.2010 – Friday

We arrived in Puerto Madryn after a 22-hour trip, which started from Buenos Aires. Arriving in Puerto Madryn also means entering Patagonia. Our arrival was delayed for 4 hours because of the frequent ‘food-checks’ throughout the road. The reason for these food-checks is to prevent the entry  of all kinds of foreign vegetables, fruits, meat and milk into Patagonia, which is intended by the officials to prevent the infiltration of other genes and life-forms, microbes or insecticides. We’ve been stopped for 5-6 times throughout our journey.  What’s more, in one of these checkpoints, the government official entered the vehicle with his dog, and the dog began to sniff each of the seats for food and stuff. They couldn’t find anything but a few oranges. The fruits, cream-cheese and even the bacon we’ve stacked under our seat manages to survive, enter Patagonia, and, finally, into our tummies..

The road is weirdly deserted. We’re going ahead in the steps of Patagonia. The only scene we can see after loooong and straight roads of Patagonia are some small villages; and the thousands of sheep and guanacos we see along the way. Guanaco is a cute, lama-like animal that you could come across with all around Patagonia. Other than those, we’re surrounded with plains and steppes, and nothing else. The road ahead us seems like it’s reaching to the eternity through a void that is right in front of us.

The busses are pretty comfortable. Almost all of them are double-deckers. We’ve got the front row tickets from the top floor, which means two things: we’ll be able to watch the scenery all along the way, and we have the luxury of stretching our legs onto the window in front of us.

After this 22-hour-long trip (which has been delayed already), we arrive in Puerto Madryn to meet our new CS hosts Gabriela and Bernardo; they’re here to pick us up. Both of them are travelers. They tell us that they’ve moved in here recently to live a peaceful life. Patagonia is Gabriela’s home; and their life here reminds us of our future plans in Izmir. They have two dogs in their home: China, the hot-blonde, and the little Morena, a short-term guest. They’ve found the little sick Morena on the street one day. The Morena we’ve met was just beginning to recuperate and grow up to become a monster.

Other than a few apartments in the middle of city center, all houses in Puerto Madryn are private housings with gardens. We have our own room now. We relax in joy..

10.04.2010 – Saturday

The most striking attraction in Puerto Maryn is its natural beauty. It is possible to come across whales, orcas, sea-lions, sea-elephants and penguins here . We have no hope to see a whale because the season is over, but our hopes on penguins and others still persist, although dim. There are two critical points in the region: In Punta Tombo, the largest penguin colony in the continent resides. In Peninsula Valdes, however, the major attraction is the whale-tour and the orcas. It is also possible to see some sea-lions and elephant seals, and a few penguins. (Possibilities of seeing these animals change from season to season)

It is possible to visit both of these locations by joining tours, but they are very expensive. We decide to find 2 more people to carpool, so we begin to travel all the hostels around. There are very few tourists around, mainly because it is not the whale season, and the penguin season is about to end.  We visit all 10-15 hostels around the area. Most of them closed down already, some only host 1 guest. Finally, we meet and agree with two British travelers.  We’ll try hitchhiking to Punta Tombo on Monday, then we’ll do the tour of Peninsula Valdes with the British.

There’s another place called Punta Lomo. Here, it is possible to see sea-lions and cormorantes (a sea-bird) all year round. It is possible to bike the 12 km distance, but our hosts offer us a ride 🙂

So, we go together. In all of Argentina’s museums and parks, different fees apply for the locals, Argentineans and the tourists. We pay almost 3 times what our hosts do, and almost 10 times what local people pay. We’ve seen a similar trick in Turkey, but it’s mostly a fraud there. For instance, the sign in front of the Galata Tower says “FIVE TL” for Turkish, while tourists pay 10 TL, as if they won’t recognize the difference.

We see tens of sea-lions in Punta Lomo. We realize that it’s not fair to call Koala’s as the ‘lazy animal’, because sea-lions are the laziest of all. They stop and fall asleep in any kind of obstruction, if it stands between them and their way to the sea. 🙂 If I’m not mistaken, they also have the ability to hold their breaths for 7 minutes under the sea, and can dive down to 150 meters.

We see Alexa’s name there, as one of the researchers who study the animals in Punta Lomo and contribute to the information signs there. By now, we have no idea that she’ll be our next host.

11.04.2010 – Sunday

The day begins with our hope for hitchiking to Punta Tombo; we leave for a town called Trelew by bus early in the morning.  This place is only 1-hour away from Punta Tombo, and it’s on the way to there. We need to go a gas station near the outskirts of Trelew, cause that is the best place for hitchhiking. We arrive in the gas station after a 2-hour walk, but we’re exhausted. Although this is a smaller station, almost everyone who passes it stops to get a parilla – those things that you can find everywhere in Argentina. Another reason for them to stop might be the long long distance to the next gas station.

After a 15-minute wait, a car that is heading to Comodoro Rivadavia picks us up. People drive weirdly in Argentina. We were just complaining about the bus and how slow it went on a deserted road; now we meet a driver who drives soo fast, and passes the next car in traffic with a 2-meter braking distance; and who constantly drinks mate even when he’s driving the vehicle.

They drop us at the junction that shows Punta Tombo, so we start waiting for another car to take us there. The scenery is amazing: an infinite distance of plain steppes, and the never-ending road that lies straight in the middle. For a few minutes, we don’t even see any vehicles that travel towards Comodoro Rivadavia; so we lie down on the road and take photos. We continue waiting. We wait, and wait, and wait.. 3 hours pass, the wind goes crazy. We wait some more. And no cars steer towards the road to Punta Tombo.

We finally give up, thinking ‘This is what they call off-season!’. We hitchhike back to Trelew. The car that picks us up until Trelew stops in front of a casino, and we learn that our driver has been driving from Rawson town to Trelew just for gambling.

After a while, we decide to go in, too. There are more than 100 people inside the place. It’s too cheap to get inside, only 2 pesos. I sit on one of the machines, and Murat begins to watch me play. I insert the money for 20 credits, and begin playing. In my first try, the machine starts to make funny noises, and I win 100 credits. The guy who plays besides me begins to watch how I play. As always, luck turns out to be on my side. Although I finish all my credits soon, I leave the casino with a strong feeling of victory.. 🙂

At night, I cook rice for Bernardo, and and eggplant salad for Gabriela. It turns out that Bernardo was really curious about how Turkish people cook rice, because he thinks rice is cooked the same way as pasta. It feels comforting to be able to cook after a looong break. Especially when my cooking receives all those nice remarks from all my customers, I relax with ecstasy.. 🙂

12.04.2010- Monday

After the hitchhiking failure of yesterday, we head on to Punta Tombo by a car this time. Annika and Simon from Britain, and Elizabeth from Australia accompany us on our trip today. We’re not sure if we’ll be able to see some penguins, but we’re all very curious. While we buy the tickets from the clerk at the entrance to the Punta Tombo National Park, we ask him if there are any penguins around. Instead of an answer, he shows us the penguin that stands right behind us; so we meet our first penguin. We learn that these animals do not only reside on the sea shore, but they spread their nests into a wide area nearby. This penguin we meet is a little lost, it’d almost leave the park..

As we go deeper into the park, we see thousands of penguins. Some prefer to stand still like a statue and watch us from there. They’re so funny. Others are simply curious; they keep looking at us while turning their heads from one side to the other constantly. Later, we learn that this head movement is not about their curiosity, but it’s caused by stress.

Penguins are not only funny because of their shapes and walks, but they sound incredibly funny, too. My guess is that a lot of people get disappointed by their sound; because normally you wouldn’t expect a donkey’s bray from a bird that cute. What’s more, one never expects this weird sound to reach to a 100-meter distance with all that noise.

After having our fun with penguins in Punta Tombo, we first travel back to Trelew, and go to another town called Gaiman. The nature here is a bit different, because of the river Chubut that crosses the region. The deserts of Patagonia suddenly turns into an area that is full of trees. We stop at a Bolivian grocery stand on the way, which has nicer fruits and vegetables than the average Patagonian grocery. Gaiman is a region where mostly people from the Wales inhabit. The relatives of the first inhabitants still live here, and run tea houses, etc. However, one cup of tea and the little cookies they serve with it costs A$ 50, which is a crazy price for such a thing. We don’t even try the tea. There’s also a park in Gaiman, which made into the Guinness Book of World Records. This is the largest Recycle park in the world. All the statues were manufactured from recycled materials. We also hear that Gaiman is a significant place for the language research about the Wales, because it still has unaltered grammar being used here. This makes Gaiman a popular place for the researchers, too.

While we’re driving with our British hosts, we learn that British tourists are the least favoured by Argentineans, because of the history of the Falkland Islands War. Although it has been many years since, Argentina still resists to acknowledge that the islands belong to the British. The Islas Malvinas (local name for the islands) posters that we’ve seen all around Buenos Aires begin to make more sense now.

There’s a feast at home tonight. Bernardo proves his  Sevillean Spanish ancestry by cooking us delicious calamari and Tortilla de Patatas (Spanish omelette with potatoes). We also have a salad: a regular green salad, but with avocados and sesame on top. It’s incredibly successful. We gobble them all with great appetite and joy.. 🙂

13.04.2010 – Tuesday

In the morning, we head off to Peninsula Valdes, early again. This time, timing is critical because we may have the chance to see an orca, depending on the ebb and flow of tides. Just like the road to Punta Tombo, Peninsula Valdes has a dust path as the road. It is highly possible for the windows or our vehicle to crack or have some kind of problem. What’s more, the rent insurances do not cover the whole expense for any damage. We’ll need to cover the first 3000US$, then the insurance company gets involved. Especially after noticing that almost every car in Puerto Madryn has at least one crack in their windows, we decide to be careful. Tour busses pass whizzing by us all through the way. There are tens of different signs along the way, which invite drivers to be careful. It seems they haven’t considered the risk of driving out of the road, when a driver actually wants to read all of these.. 🙂

Punta Norte is our first stop. It’s the northern tip of the island. There are sea-lions and sea-elephants here.  Orca’s attempt to use the flow of the tides to be able to get close to these animals and hunt them down, and of course eat them. But we’re not lucky enough to see one. Still, we feel lucky to have been in such a significant place. There are only two places in the world where Orcas go on shore to hunt, and we’re at one of them. The other, by the way, is an island at the Indian Ocean. This is how an Orca hunts here: The Orca swings itself onto the shore fast enough to place some of his body on earth, then grabs one of the sea-elephant babies. They say this normally takes place within 30 seconds, which means that huge killer whale gets out of the water for a whole 30 seconds!! It’s incredible. What’s more, they say it’s not instinctive; it’s been a taught attitude among the whales. And there are only 5 whales left who still know who to hunt this way. In English, this hunting method is called “Intentional Beaching”.

Our last stop is the eastern end of the island, Caleta Valdes. We come across a few penguins on our way. After the millions of penguins we saw yesterday, we’re not even excited about them that much. We see sea elephants and lions in Caleta Valdes. There are also different animals here; such as the Red Fox or the Armadillo. Armadillos look like half-rat half-turtle creatures that have survived since the time of the dinosaurs.  They’re hilarious! They always come close to us and wonder around dazed and confused.

Although we missed the chance to see the most significant attraction in Peninsula Valdes, the whales, we return home as satisfied as we can get by being together with all kinds of other cute animals all day. We’ll change our host today. We’ll go on staying with Alexa, who not only stays 5 minutes away from Gabriela’s place, but also is the person whose name we’ve seen on the sign plates in Punta Lomo. Alexa is a doctor of ecology, and she specializes on the birds of the sea. Along with so many other things, we’ll learn from Alexa that Puerto Madryn is full of biologists.

As we’re getting used to seeing by now in Argentina, Alexa has two dogs. Binky and Huata. Huata is a calm, tiny 8-year old dog. However, binky is a huge hyper-energetic black Golden! The night began with Binky scaring the hell out of me with its enthusiasm; but shortly after, it calmed down and I seem to get used to the madness .

Alexa invites two more biologist friends for dinner, so we eat altogether tonight.

14.04.2010 – Wednesday

Now that we’ve done all the major attractions in the city, we relax. Murat spends the day with his computer, and I go shopping. I finally find a couple of Penguin earrings; I’ve been mentioning how much I want to buy one since I was back in Turkey. Siesta is a common practice all around Argentina. The shops close down at noon or 13:00, and open back up at around 16:00. The influence of Spanish culture is noticeable here. The souvenir shops are stunning. They all sell cardigans, vests, and sweatshirts that are made of the wool from the Patagonian sheep. I have to settle with only window shopping, as they’re both too expensive and space consuming for our backpacks.

Gabriela and Bernardo are here to join us for dinner. Alexa’s two friends join us, too. We order Empanada and pizza. We’re all chatty, and we spend a very pleasant night altogether. Later on, we learn from Bernardo that the first whale of the year has been seen; which results in me wondering back and forth on the shore line, hoping to see a whale, for days.

15.04.2010 – Thursday

We’ll go to the Oceanic Sciences Museum today. In fact, there are not so many things that interest us at the museum. Only two things catch our attention: one is a giant calamari on exhibit, and the other is a temporary exhibition on orcas. Although the exhibition consists of only posters, we’re really interested and inspired by all the information. We learn all about how the orcas are fed, and the research on them is conducted. The scientist who conducts this research have observed each individual orca in Peninsula Valdes, and he named each of them. Identifying orcas and naming them is possible because their upper flippers, the part which stays above the water, are unique to each whale; just as we have our fingerprints, orcas have their flippers. We find out that orcas live by their families, too; just as we humans do.

After the museum visit, we take a walk on the beach. The beach is exceptionally long and beautiful. We are so full of inner peace that we seriously want to live here in Puerto Madryn. For the first time, we see the lower tides during the ebb and flow of the sea. The beach is widened for almost 200-300 meters. We’re truly surprised, since we weren’t expecting the movement of the water will be so massive.

Provided by the retreating water, we have the chance to see a wide range of dead sea animals. This seems to have made the seagulls happy. 🙂 We meet a enormous spider-crab. It’s still alive, and it’s trying to reach the sea.

The ebb and flow takes place in 6-hour turns. It happens twice or three times a day. Its daily schedule shifts 50 minutes each day.

16.04.2010 – Friday

When we mention Alexa that we had so much fun with the flowing tides and the sea creatures we’ve came along with, she tells us how to go to a special place where we can see some rock pools. So we go to this place, hoping we’ll be able to see different animals this time. Since the water has retreated, the underwater rocks are above the sea level now. They’re all completely covered with seashells. Millions of seashells. There’s still some water left in the holes within the rocks, and it’s possible to see some little urchins and crabs, some form of algae and anemones.

Right next to the pools of rock, there are the cave settlements of the first inhabitants coming from the Wales. Some of these caves are preserved now. Very close to here, ther’s a museum about the Welsh people. It’s possible to learn how and why they came to the island, and how they lived their first days here.

On one side, there’s Argentina, who’s trying to increase her Patagonian population and be enforced against Chile. On the other side, Welsh people trying to get as far away from the British oppression as possible. As a result, two countries have an agreement; and the first group of Welsh people come here with a ship named Mimoza, and start living in the caves. They build 16 houses inside the caves. They start moving deep in the island as they can’t find clean water near their settlements; they keep moving, and they settle near Lake Chubut, in Gaiman. They have many losses during this time. The interesting part is that most of these stories are long forgotten and depends on guesses, although it has happened only 200 years ago.

After the Welsh arrives, the chief of locals writes them a letter, stating that the real owner of these lands they settled in are themselves, and they could live here in peace as long as both sides treat each other well. He says they’ll be friends. Although Bruce Chatwin mentions deaths from each sides in his book “In Patagonia”, we see that the two nations live together in harmony. They still celebrate May 25, the day the Welsh has arrived.

Since it’s Friday night again, we’re planning to do an Asado. This time it’s in the weirdest place: a gym! They’re celebrating the 2nd birthday of Alexa’s fitness center. Everybody prepares something, either salad or desert, and gets their own drinks. All the fitness equipment is stacked near the walls, and there are tables in the center now. It’s so funny for us to see how these people gained all that weight they were trying to get rid of for months in just one night. Indeed, it’s 500 gr meat per person. And almost the same amount of desert and salad and wine and beer and…..

17.04.2010 – Saturday

We spend the whole day lying down like lazy cows. The only thing we do is to stop by Alexa’s choir practice. This choir meets and practices in the Biological Research Institude. When we arrived, they were exercising the national anthem of Argentina. I guess the reason why they chose this theme has something to do with this year being the 200th anniversary of Argentina’s sovereignty. It’s a good chance for us to get a headstart at learning the anthem as well. 🙂

By the way, Darwin’s research has a major importance in Argentina, and especially in Patagonia. Wee see writings of him on the walls of the institute, and then everywhere else. We feel sad for ourselves, who’ve been educated in the Turkish system without the necessary emphasis on his theory and his works at all.

Tonight, we’re invited by Alexa’s friends for some kind of sish-kebap. Unfortunately, we fall asleep right after we return home from the choir practice, and it’s past midnight when we wake up. We slept through the dinner! We decide to grow up by the help of mere sleeping this time..

18.04.2010 – Sunday

The name of our game this Sunday is ‘walk-the-dog’!! It’s a hard task nonetheless, mainly because Binky is an extra enthusiastic dog and it doesn’t accept going for a walk with a leash on. To avoid an accident involving  Binky and a vehicle, we go by driving until the beach. Murat tries to get Binky and Huata in control in the back. By the way, Alexa mentions how she is worried that Binky would some day die because of his extraordinary zeal. 🙂 When we arrive at the beach, everything turns normal. Binky starts running and jumping, and it runs back whenever Alexa calls its name. The only problem is that it wants to socialize (!) with strangers. He scares the smaller dogs around, and walks back. The weather is nice, the beach is nice, the dogs are nice. We’re having excellent time. As a bonus of the day, we see a penguin  in the  sea, which seems to have lost its way. 🙂

Alexa drives us to other beaches in the evening. We see some rock pools again. In addition, we get to watch the motorcycle and ATV practices of a few cyclists.

We use Monday for finishing our errands, buying tickets and preparing for the road. We come along with the dog that travels on top of a car, as we’ve already read about it in Engin’s blog. When we tell Alexa about the dog, we learn that it’s actually pretty famous around here. It turns out that even the father and grandfather of this dog had the same habit of travelling on top of cars; and this one is the only dog that is officially permitted to enter governmental buildings in Puerto Madryn. We feel a sudden respect to the dog at that moment.. 🙂

Our days in Puerto Madryn are close to ending. We really want to live in this town one day, even for a short time. Puerto Madryn strikes us with its beautiful houses, steeples and crowd-less roads, its beaches with the flowing tides and its sea creatures. The only negative aspect we could’ve observed was the dog-walkers, and how they’re not restricted to pick the dog feces up. It seems to be a common thing in Argentina indeed.

We want to come back to see the whales one day; but who knows, maybe we’ll never be able to see this place again. We’re preparing to travel to the next wonderful place in Patagonia, without knowing how much Patagonia will affect us later…

For the complete gallery of Puerto Madryn photos:

Gülen & Murat


Translation from Turkish to English: Ödül & Ateş Gürşimşek


Boca Juniors game

15 08 2010

Translation from Turkish to English: İnanç Çığşar

To see the photo album of Boca Juniors game:

Today is the big day. We are going to Boca Juniors – Rosario Central match. As we are kind of people who like going to football matches and love football-fan culture, we wanted to watch one of the most famous football teams and enthusiastic fans, Boca Juniors, and to see the stadium which scares the opponents the most in the world, La Bombonera.

We have been looking for information about the match for days. Then we found out that the tickets were sold between 09:00 – 15:00 only on the match day at the stadium. Most of the the people we met or written to, warns us that it is a dangerous match and we could not be able to find tickets as we were tourists.

We heard that tourists get robbed at the grandstands because it is thought that they have a lot of money in their pockets.

Still we decided to take our chances.
We went to the stadium at 08:45 am. Already about 50 people arrived and waiting in the ticket queue.

We joined them. Not to be noticed that we are tourists, we try not to talk much.. The events that could occur during the match do not scare us. After all we are used to see many events occur in every match that we went in Turkey.

Actually there is also a tour for the tourists. They take you from your hotel and take you to the stadium and give a ride of the museum under the stadium in exchange for A$ 300. And they serve beer and pepperoni&bread during the match. As we think that the cheapest ticket is for A$ 50 the tour seems very expensive. Besides we want to watch the match among the Boca supporters not from the tourist stand.

Ticket gate opens at exactly 09:00 am. About 200 people waiting in the queue. Then a car comes by and 5 big man get out of the car. First they spit on the ground as a show of strength. (certainly spitting is not specific to them only, everyone here is spitting like lama) Meanwhile they shake the chains in their hands. Like in the movies exactly…

They break through the whole queue and move to the forefront. No one could object to them not to have any trouble. They bought their tickets and go anyway.

At last it is worth for our efforts and we buy 2 tickets, A$ 50 for each. After then we learn that we were able to bought tickets because Boca Juniors was at the 3rd place form the bottom this season. We couldn’t have a chance to buy any tickets if we come up to a season that Boca plays for the championship.

Tickets in our pockets, we go for a breakfast happily and of course we eat pizza. Then we go to Caminito again as it is very closer to the stadium. I can buy the earrings that I couldn’t buy yesterday because of the closed benches. Plus we buy a Boca shirt to become brothers. In fact we have Karşıyaka (our local team) shirts inside.

A few hours before the match, they close all the roads to the stadium, stop selling alcohol according to the law. Only people with tickets are allowed around the stadium. So jam in front of the stadium gates is prevented.

People with Boca tickets are not allowed through the streets which Rosairio fans will be sitting. We like the policy very much. People came to the match with their families. We do not come across an event like as said.

Boca stadium is called as La Bombonera. Namely candy-box. It took the name because all the stands are built by very vertical balconies.

One of the most famous stadium in the world and has 49,000 seating capacity. There is football museum beneath the stadium but we could not visit it as it was closed. Through the sidewalks of the stadium, the squads of the older championships were mentioned. Names of the players in every champion period are written in stars on the ground, like in “Walk of Fame” in Hollywood, including Maradona.

The outer walls of the stadium are painted with huge pictures. With Maradona cartoons, other legendary players, painted with flashy drawings. The whole district is dark blue and yellow as the shops around and buildings are in the same way.

As entering the gates of the stadium, we pass through the tool gate by swiping our magnetic cards. There are so many officials helping to swipe the tickets. Moreover there are other officials helping when there is a problem with the toll gates. Everything works extremely properly. We watch with admiration.

Just before the match we met with French Felix and his Norwegian friend.. Felix is a crazy fan of Argentinian football. Going to match with him is good , as we learn a lot of things.

Anyway they distribute brochures about the match. Information about Boca’s league position, upcoming matches etc. Even, they reserve 2-3 pages for the opponent team. Again it is an unknown policy for us, we like it.

About 25,000 – 30,000 fans waiting ready in the grandstands. As Boca is at the last positions in the league and totally unpretentious, they say that there is a small audience (!). Upon this we evaluate how much audience would attend if the “biggest teams” (!) in Turkey place at the last positions in the league.

The fans at the lower stand sing their legendary cheers, Dale Boca:

Our stand is behind the goal on the top floor. There are many foreigners with us in this stand. Everyone has cameras in their hands. We admire the stadium. The stands are very vertical and high. The stand that we watch from is as high as the 8-10th floor of an apartment and there is crazy wind.

As the height between the seats is too high, it is like we watch from the tv and nobody passes in front of us. Despite being behind the goal we see everything perfect.

Boca’s most crazy fan crew is just below our stand. Stadiums superb&terrific scary acoustic and the unconditional and crazy support of the fans, has brought Boca fans the nickname, La Doce (Number 12). They already started to sing before the match starts. Everyone is standing, singing in a harmony and do not stop. People in this group are the ones who have seasonal tickets (combined ticket), this is not a stand which you can buy a ticket an enter. In the meantime, several people get interested with our Karşıyaka shirts, asking questions.

There are stands with balconies on the 3 sides of the stadium. On the other side there are open and close lodges in a vertical building structure.

We can say that they look like apartment balconies, lodges are like magnets sticked on the wall. We learn that Maradona ,who played for Boca, has a private lodge here.

Interior of the stadium is like the out of it, dark blue and yellow.

As their biggest rivals River Plate’s colors are red and white , on different locations of the stadium, they printed Coca Cola advertisements not in classical colors of the brand as red-white but with white and black, and Coca Cola does this policy only in a few places of the world.

Match starts. Although the team is in the 3rd place from the bottom, they greet with enthusiasm. We wonder what would the group below us do when there is a goal. First goal comes from Rosairo, Rosario fans bubble over. No change in the Boca group. They continue singing with the same enthusiasm. Then Boca scores and 1-1. No change again. They sing continuously 90 min. Occasionaly they bubble over very much.

Our stand shakes due to their bouncing/jumping like an earthquake. They sing their worldwide known famous cheers “Dale Boca“ abundantly.

Then we learn that the shake of the Bombonera is well known and famous. Upon Boca goal, the fans below us bubble over. From the 37th second you can see the shake of the stadium from the fixed camera: 

With Rosario’s last minute goal Boca loses 2-1. Everyone is calm except couple of guys throwing plastic bottles the field.

We return home tired and warped by the wind. Estefania cooking beef at home and I make a nice salad . We ate with joy.

To see the photo album of Boca Juniors game:

Gülen & Murat

June 14, 2010

Translation from Turkish to English: İnanç Çığşar

Buenos Aires / Argentina

5 08 2010

Translation from Turkish to English: Alper Güner

For all the Buenos Aires photos:

28.03.2010 – Sunday

From the moment we enter the city, we understand that this city really lives!!! We walk to our hosts´ house because it is close to the port that we get off the ferry. It would normally be only half an hour´s walk but it takes 2 hours because we encounter something interesting at every corner.

It is full of street sellers because it is Sunday. We will stay at San Telmo. Center of the city, tango and the drums. We see the similar drummers that we had seen in Uruguay again. This time they are more crowded and there is someone in front of the group that is waving a huge flag. We hang with them for a while and switch to another street where we meet another group. They all come out of streets one by one. We go to the house because our backpacks become heavier.

Here we will stay with Samantha and Miguel. People call Miguel as “El Turco” because he is dark skinned 🙂 Arab origin people are usually called Turco in South America because they had come with Ottoman passports long time ago. After spending some time at home, we go out to Plaza Dorrego to see some tango. They have tango nights in this square every Sunday night. There are about 50 couples that tango. After a while, couples come aside and leave the space to some professional tango dancers. It is the first time that we see tango this beautiful and we get fascinated.

We also admire the beauty of women here. Most of them are dressed very elegant and nice. We understand that Brazil is an urban legend 🙂

We buy something to eat. Murat tries chorizos (a big and long spicy meat in bread, like hot dog) and I try pizza. It is the best in my life! The food is very cheap but we have to wait until the morning to eat more 🙂

Because I have a lot of sunburns, Samantha cuts a piece of aloe vera at home and tells me to rub my legs with its juice. When I wake up in the morning, all the pain is gone. It is a very fast solution!

29.03.2010 – Monday

The house is so peaceful and calm that we don´t feel like going out. After spending some time at home, we go out, eat a huge pizza and walk to Plaza de Mayo, which is the main square of the city with a lot of people lying around and resting.

Casa Rosada (Pink House) that we know from the movie Evita, in the balcony of which Eva Peron had a speech to the public is also here. The president´s office is in Casa Rosada and it is considered to be the zero point of all the streets in Buenos Aires (BA) and also of all the roads in Argentina.

Plaza de Mayo is also a square to host political manifestations. It is bombed by warships in the port at Eva Peron period and many people died. Still meet the mothers and symphatisans of the people kidnapped and murdered by the military coup here. On the square there are paintings of the symbol of the mothers: the head scarves.

There is a percussion and drums show in the night at Konex Cultural Center which we will attend. It is easily a few thousand people there and a significant number of tourists. We even see some faces that we recognize from Uruguay 🙂

First, some amateur bands play emprovized. Then comes the main band: La Bomba de Tiempo. Then they invite a guest band with 2 dancers. They dance very moving and we compare them to some low quality belly dancers in Turkey 🙂

At the exit, we see a lot of street sellers in front of the gates, selling pizza, sandwich, space cake. We think that the parties after the concert will be very crowded because the nightlife in Argentina does not start before 2 a.m.

30.03.2010 – Tuesday

We walk to the Obelisco from Plaza de Mayo. On the way on Avenida de Mayo is the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires: Cafe Tortoni. We have to wait a queue to get in. It is full of pictures and old photos inside, along with waiters with white towels. There are tango shows every night at the cafe´s halls. We even see photos from the days of construction of the underground of BA on the walls. The line that connects the first two stops pass underneath Cafe Tortoni.

We keep on moving on Avenida de Mayo and meet a crowded manifestation. Thousands of people are marching. In front moves a truck and there are singers on the truck. The avenue rocks with the songs. There is not even a single policeman around and everything seems to be very well organized. We walk with them to the Congresso where they gather. People are used to it since this is the place for manifestations a few times a week.

We go back home to move to our new host, Jose. He lives in Almagro and dislikes football and tango just as Samantha and Miguel.

We take a walk on Lavalle Street in the night. This is the main tourist street with tons of souvenir shops and street sellers. There are parrillada restaurants everywhere. They thrust their flyers into our hands as we walk. There is of course tango where there are tourists around. You can have your pictures taken with tango dancers if you like. All the Argentinians we meet tell that tango is not a part of the daily life and just some touristic thing now.

We feel very safe in BA. The city booms with tourists and people are very friendly.

Another thing we admire here is the wide avenues. Avenida de 9 Julio where Obelisco stands on has 20 lanes in total both ways. It is known to be the wildest street in the world. Traffic is dense but moves with order. The streets are busy at any time of the day. 11 millions people live here anyway, out of a total of 40 million Argentina population.

31.03.2010 – Wednesday

Our first stop is Puerto Madero: one of the richest neighborhood in BA. Once it was a part of the old port. Then the buildings around are restorated and rebuilt as stylish restaurants. Adding the recently erected skyscrapers, it is totally a new environment. We like the apartments and cafes around. You have to walk over bridges to enter the neighborhood. They have placed the old cranes on the bridges as decoration.

We see some guys walking 6 or 7 dogs. In fact this is their job. The maximum number of dogs to be walked is defined by law as seven but only people living in the center respects that. Later on we see 10 dogs walked at a time at other parts of the city.

Tango monument is also in Puerto Madero.

We go to Galeria Pasifico to get online. This is a shopping center with wireless connection. This is a splendid and historic building which actually you can take guided tours to visit.

We go to Plaza San Martin when done. This used to be a bull fighting arena in the 19th century but it was banned in 1819. Here is a giant statue of San Martin the Libertador. When we pass by, a guy comes and talks to us. He talks about Galatasaray and Fenerbahce and seems very happy to see us. Then he asks for contribution for Ministry of Health (!). When we reject, he gets very angry and begins talking about Armenian genocide in Spanish. We ignore him and walk away.

Then we see Teatro Cervantes and Teatro Colon. Teatro Cervantes seems magnificent but they won´t let us see inside.

We go home with Linea A of the Subte (underground). This is the oldest underground line in Southern Hemisphere and in South America. Still the old train is used on this line. This train is wooden and you can open the windows. We sit in the very front and film the journey.

01.04.2010 – Thursday

Today we will be with Jose because it is Easter holiday and he does not work. First we go the oldest underground station, Peru. In the station, there is a permanent exhibition of the photos of the construction.

We go to Recoleta. This is a real tourist´s paradise. Since the weather is fine, people are here to sunbath on the parks with their bikinis on.

We come to see Floralis Generica. This is a giant metal statue of a flower. It blooms every morning at 07.30 and shuts at 08.30 p.m., thanks to the mechanism inside. This is one of Murat´s favorite so far.

We visit the famous cemetery in Recoleta. This is the cemetery for the most recognized people in Argentina, including Eva Peron. Most of the tombs are very brilliant. The simplicity of Eva Peron´s surprises us.

Recoleta is more expensive when compared to any other neighborhoods, including icecreams. Icecream is very tasty and cheap in Argentina in general. We have icecream almost everyday. We eat ¼ kilogram of icecream everyday, because it is much cheaper than in cones 🙂

We walk to Palermo from Recoleta. On the way, we visit Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum) and Museo de Arte Popular Jose Hernandez (Popular Arts Museum). On the entry floor of the Fine Arts Museum is the European art. Upper floor is dedicated to Argentinian art. We especially like the Argentinian part. The other museum takes only 5 minutes because we can not find anything interesting.

There is a huge park in Palermo, actually consisting of many different parks: Japanese Garden, Rosedal (Rose Garden), skater´s areas, large spaces to cycle, for picnic, etc. We can walk only a small part. People are very devoted to sports. Hundreds of people are either skating, running or cycling. Now that we understand how they can remain fit even though they eat so much meat. Argentina has the highest meat consumption per person on the world, with 70 kg per person. In Turkey it is 10 kg per person and we will try to fill the gap here 🙂

Today does not seem to end. We go back home, change clothes and go out for the night. We eat a few empanadas first. Empanada is a kind of pastry, including minced meat, cheese, chicken or whatever you like and is usually very delicious. In front of the discos are hundreds of people, waiting in lines to enter, most of whom under 18. We prefer a Cuban bar. After a while we decide to wander around on the street having beer. We go to a kiosk to buy some beer. Behind the kiosk is like a bar where they play an interesting music and old guys dance in a funny fashion. We watch them a while and Jose informs that this is new fashion and is called Cumbia.

We get our beers and sit around the streets, watching crowds of youngsters. We decide to return home at 3 a.m., when it is still hundreds of people waiting in front of the discos, to enter.

On the way home we hop into a bar called Pelvis. It is a very normal bar, except that girls wearing tangas are serving.

02.04.2010 – Friday

Today we will change our host again. We will stay with Estefania at a neighborhood called Ramos Meija. Estefania lives with her family. She has two siblings and a blind dog. We are their first Couchsurfing guests and we can feel their excitement. In the night, her friends join us and we eat homemade pizzas at home. One of her friends has gone to Patagonia a few times and knows a lot but we can not get a lot of information because our Spanish is not good enough yet.

03.04.2010 – Saturday

In Argentina there are two kinds of grills, namely “Parillada” and “Asado”. This is the reason why all the streets smells like barbecue at the weekends. Since we haven’t tried before Estefania’s mother decides to make asado for us. The difference between Parillada and asado is that parillada has all kinds of meats, such as kidney, intestine, meat, sausage, etc… On the other hand Asado contains only meat, chicken and sausage (chorizos). Actually the names depend on the material used for the barbecue. Asado is made by hanging it to the vertical metal piece named Asador. Whereas Parilla is made on the plate named Parilla. Since people use at home only parilla they are used to differ the meals according to their contents.

What we eat is Asado grilled in Parilla. There are red meat, chorizos and morcilla (called also blood sausage or black pudding). We like all the meats other than Morcilla, for which you definitely need self courage. That’s why we only taste it.

Besides the meat we eat green salad and potato salad with egg. Here they use everywhere egg. Even in the sandwiches sold in the markets. I cannot eat so much egg, as the smell from my primary school times comes to my mind. However Murat eats with pleasure.

After the meal they take us to Caminito in La Boca (the district of Boca Juniors). Since La Boca is not a safe place, the parents of Estefania wait in the car and we wander around the place. Caminito is an absolute highlight for the tourists. In all the restaurants you can find a tango show and if you want you can take a photo with the dancers. Everywhere is painted in different colors. In some of the balconies of the houses there are statues of Eva, Maradona or Carlos Gardel. If you like you can also take a photo with Maradona (!). There is a man here, who is just like him. When you look at the photos of him with the real Maradona, you cannot say which one is the real one.

We take also lots of photos, watch Tango, see some stands and return to the car.

Estefania’s parents take us to the house of her boyfriend, Eric. Eric also lives with his mother and his dog, Apu. There isn’t almost a house in Argentine without a dog. Apu is a very funny dog. It makes sounds like a sea lion and it is cute and a bit old.

Eric is a student at the university and at the same time earns money by selling and buying vinyls (LP’s) from all around the world. He has some rare underground vinyls and he sells them for very nice prices. He knows Pentagram and Hazy Hill of Turkey. We give him some Pentagram songs that he does not have.

At that night we are invited to a birthday party of a friend of Estefania. There are about 20 people. They serve Pizza and empanada. The people eat only and have a talk with the guests around them. They are not enjoying the party altogether but with small groups. Anyway, we are enjoying the party and having a chat with our hosts and taste the pizzas. We are having so many pizzas since we arrived in Argentina.  They are both tasty and cheap…

04.04.2010 – Sunday

We are going to the Boca Juniors match, one of the most legendary teams and tribunes of the world. You can read about it by clicking here.

05.04.2010 – Monday

We have a calm day. At home we do some stuff in internet. Meanwhile Eric’s mother comes and cooks for us pasta with egg.
Most of the students are both working and studying here. Estefania goes to work in the mornings and then to her school. When she returns we play together drums or rather she shows us some rhythms and we try to play. In short time I succeed 🙂

At night we take Apu out. This is the first time I walk a dog.

06.04.2010 – Tuesday

It is time to change our house after staying for 3 nights by Eric. This is our 4. house in Buenos Aires. Since it is Easter, there are too many tourists and the Argentineans are on vacation. Therefore we change our house regularly.

This time we are in a neighborhood called Villa Ortuzar. Our hosts are Edgar and his family. Edgar studies engineering. We are welcomed warmly by his father as we arrive. He is a great geo-politics fan. He asks us questions about the political situation of Turkey. He is very happy that we are from Turkey and that we can answer his questions in his mind.  We can’t talk much with Edgar’s mother, since she can’t speak English. Actually we don’t see her much because she sits in her room together with her 5 dogs.

Edgar takes a short introduction journey with us. First we go to a small sandwich-kiosk. For about 50 sandwiches we pay approximately 30 Argentinean Peso !! Sandwiches are all fresh made. We go to a park and eat them.

We continue to wander around. In the near of Edgar’s house a district called Belgrano R. starts. Here is a place, where the level of income is quite high. The beauty of the houses also proves that. Almost all the embassies are here.

We do not have a plan for the night. I see a nice picture as I surf through the website of Lonely Planet. Suddenly we decide to go that place. Since the house of Carlos Gardel’s, father of tango, is in Abasto, here became a tango-center. We cannot see the dancing people as we walk in the dark. What I like the most is the houses having tango notes on their walls.

We go the shopping mall in the near. We see some people buying cinema tickets since the Argentinean independent film festival has started. I miss the Istanbul film festival. We go directly to the food court. We see there Mc Donalds Kosher.  Because of some kind of a holiday they are closed. Since it is a rare thing to see such kind of a thing, we take a picture.

At night there is the champions league game of Barcelona. Messi scores 4 goals and the whole Argentina celebrates that.  All the news canals on TV show Messi. Messi Messi Messi…

07.04.2010 – Wednesday

It’s our last days in Buenos Aires. We are not sure, whether we can see Penguins in Patagonia or not, people have different opinions. Some say “all the penguins are gone” and some say that there are millions of penguins out there. Nevertheless we decide to go to Puerto Madryn and make our way to Retiro bus station in order to buy the tickets. It is a huge place. To travel by bus is very usual in South America. There are unbelievable bus routes. It is even possible to find a bus between Lima and Puerto Madryn, even though it takes 150 hours.

All the buses to Patagonia are at the same place. It is possible to find the companies from the table at the entrance according to the destination.

We buy our ticket to Puerto Madryn. The name of the company is El Pingüino. The name is a good start for Patagonia.

At night we meet with Diego from Argentina, who is a contact of Murat due to Pirelli. He picks us up from the metro station with his wife and takes us to Palermo Soho. Palermo Soho is a beautiful place with lots of shops where you can actually feel the effect of fashion. We eat picada and drink beer. Picada is a sort of small finger-food that you eat with your drink. They bring salami, bacon, cheese, olive, chicken, etc. in large plates. I am looking forward to prepare such picadas for my friends as I go back to Turkey. It is a very nice night with Diego and his wife. We feel close to them. It is as if we spent the night with our friends in Turkey.

08.04.2010 – Thursday

The last preparations before the journey. I buy a new wind-stopper jacket; Murat is doing final stuff in internet. Little Arda has his birthday on 1st of May. We buy a T-shirt with penguins for him and send it to Turkey. As we are already in the post office we send also some cards.

At night we get on the bus and say goodbye to Buenos Aires. We loved Buenos Aires, that resembles Madrid but full of music, dance and people who know how to enjoy the life.

For all the Buenos Aires photos:

Gülen & Murat


Translation from Turkish to English: Alper Güner

Colonia del Sacramento / Uruguay

4 08 2010

For all Colonia del Sacramento photos:

28.03.2010 – Sunday

We are informed that the Easter holiday in Uruguay lasts one week and the city becomes a ghost city during it. That is why we decide to go to Argentina even though we stayed only one week in the country. We have to go to Colonio del Sacramento to take the ferry to Buenos Aires. It is an old port town used by Portuguese before. The historical center is called Barrio Sur. The town is full of cafes and restaurants and booming with tourists. Most of them are day-trip Argentinians.

It is possible to walk the city center or rent a golf car or scooter. We climb up the lighthouse. It is possible to see Buenos Aires from the top. Because the pain of the sunburns that I got in Cabo Polonio increased, I decide to rest somewhere and Murat hangs out alone.

The ferry is mere a sea-bus, little and boring. It only lasts one-hour to Buenos Aires. There are bigger and more fun ferries that goes in 2,5 hours but we find it expensive and unnecessary.

Gülen & Murat


For all Colonia del Sacramento photos:

Montevideo – 2 / Uruguay

20 05 2010

For all Montevideo photos:


Because it is Easter, one of our hosts decides to travel to Argentina and the other to Brasil and we have to change our host. We will stay with Natalie and it does not take a long time before we find out that Natalie is one of the most funny and humorous people that we have met so far. She lives in a district called Emilio Reus where Jews used to live once. The houses are old but nice. It used to be a cheap place but then became expensive so people call it “Satan” here 🙂

We meet Natalie in front of the Tres Cruses International Bus Terminal. In the middle of the great main avenue is a giant Cross. It was erected when Papa came to Uruguay.

We go to Estadio Centenario (Century Stadium) together. The museum is closed because of Easter but we are able to get in the stadium by bribing somebody inside with the usual entrance fee. This stadium is where the first World Cup was organized in 1930 and Uruguay was the winner! Uruguay was chosen to be the host of the first tournament because it was the 100th year of their independence. Around the stadium are large sports fields of all kinds, including a velodrome.

We go back and eat at home because Natalie is vegetarian. Meeting a vegetarian in a barbeque smelling country is quite interesting for us 🙂

After the dinner we walk around the Beach Ramirez and then head to Barrio Sur, where most of the residents are Africa-rooted people. This is a colorful district. We see a bunch of people around a small fire, heating up their drums and preparing for their weekly drum show in the town. After a while they are ready and begin playing their colorful drums. They are very organized and like a big drum orchestra. Some black girls are dancing along them. They begin moving slowly down the street and we follow them. They do it every Saturday and Sunday night and it is called Camdombe. Our host Natalie plays drums with another band of women, recently they have played in front of Parliament, to thank to the government for the recent steps taken for the subjects like education and health.

We come across a wine house called Museo del Vino when walking from Barrio Sur to the centro. We learn that Popo Romano, the most famous bass player of the country will play with his band here in a few hours. Since it is not possible to draw money from our bank’s ATMs in the night because they are inside the bank, we only have money with us enough for the bus back home and they do not accept cards. At last the owner of the bar allows us to pay later. We like the music and the wine a lot. We go to a CS meeting in a German Pub afterwards, and then we go home.

On the way to home, we come across a hall like a restaurant. There are only very old ladies and gentlemen inside and all of them are dancing with some local music and eating parillada! We watch them for a while. We spend a lovely night, beautified with a lot of nice surprises.

Gülen & Murat


For all Montevideo photos:

Valizas & Cabo Polonio / Uruguay

20 05 2010

For all Valizas and Cabo Polonio photos:

25 – 26.03.2010

We take the bus to Valizas early in the morning. It is only 30-40 km but takes longer than 2 hours because we have to change two times. We meet a CSer from the Netherlands here. They have bought 3 houses in Valizas. They rent the houses in summer. They don’t have any problems because the government has some incentives for the foreigners to move to Uruguay and establish business. When the southern hemisphere is in winter, they move to the Netherlands and live northern hemisphere summer. After having a few hours with them, we go to a famous fish restaurant that they recommended. We have a lot of seafood here and enjoy having seafood on a nice and huge beach beside the ocean.

After the meal, a long walk awaits us. We will walk to Cabo Polonio on the dunes. We start walking on the beach and cross a river with a small boat. After that is the huge dunes as if we are in Sahara.

We come to a rocky hill, where we can see both Valizas and Cabo Polonio. On the top of the hill are a French student, an Uruguayean professor and a family from the USA. As the professor discovers that we are Turkish, he says “what a multi-cultural rock!” 🙂

We go on the beach after the hill. We see dead sea lions on the way, beached. We reach to Cabo Polonio after 3 hours. This is a town with no electricity and water grid. They use candles or power supplies run by petrol and get the water from the wells. Here is hippy culture, too, and not many people around because summer is over. We easily find a place to stay.

This is one of the famous places where sea lions live. That is why we go on a walk to see them but come back without seeing any of them. It is getting dark, too. The sea lions are on a rocky island a few hundred meters away from the coast and we can hear them shouting and screaming, as if they are partying.

The beach is beautiful in the night because there is no lights around. We have our wine under a million stars.

We decide to try again in the morning. This time we are lucky and we see a few sea lions from a very close distance, on the coast. I stay a long time sitting there with them and get heavily sunburnt.

After the sea lions we climb up the lighthouse and watch the island, and then swim…

We have to go back to Montevideo by bus in the night. Cabo Polonio is a protected natural reserve, so they do not allow cars or buses inside but only some vehicles that deliver goods and some modified trucks to carry people. That is why we take the truck to the bus stop outside the reserve area. We sit on the top of the truck, which have some seats there actually. It is a little shaky though, because we go through sand and bushes all the time.

After a while we begin going on the beach and with the sunset, it is an amazing experience. We reach to the bus stop in half an hour and the bus is late as usual. We are already used to having buses and other thing to be late here and we do not complain anymore 🙂

Gülen & Murat


For all Valizas and Cabo Polonio photos:

Punta del Diablo / Uruguay

20 05 2010
24.03.2010 – Wednesday

Punta del Diablo is a small town on ocean, 4-5 hours away from Montevideo by bus. It changed to be a hippy town recently. It is all colorful around. We see a few people around because summer is over. We stay at El Indio Hostel here, which is cheaper (10 usd/person/night) and very clean because established recently.
After leaving the backpacks, we go to have lunch. We have pasta with shrimps and rice with squit. They turn out to be delicious. After the lunch we go to the beach for sunbathing. The ocean is too wavy and and too windy. A bunch of people are moving a small boat from the sea to the beach, with the help of beams and pulleys.
7 guys begin playing football on the beach and call Murat to play with them. Thus Murat joins the football madness in South America 🙂 In the evening we have our pizza at the hostel and have our wine against the ocean view. I feel cold because it is too windy.
Gülen & Murat