Best Of South America

18 09 2008

Posted by: Laura

Travel dates: 3.11.08- 6.29.08

South America is a huge continent. We had to add two more weeks to our itinerary to accommodate all of our travel time. But after spending 3.5 months in four countries (Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile), we got a good feel for each country. We had more transit time than in Central America, but the sites are much more impressive. If you like outdoor adventures, this is the place for your next vacation. While we are obsessed with Argentina, if you only have a week or two, Peru has the most activities and sites per square mile. So without further ado, we would like to award the following…

BEST OF SOUTH AMERICA (Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile)

Best City: Buenos Aires, Argentina. Great food, great culture, great people. Seriously, we can’t say enough good things about this country.

Best Town: Bariloche, Argentina. A gourmet chocolate shop on every corner, great restaurants with fish and wild game, affordable leather products, not to mention a magnificent lake surrounded by mountains. It’s a good thing we left Argentina when we did, or we might have stayed for ski season.

Best Local Food: Empanadas in Salta, Argentina. Some of you may be wondering why Chris did not take this opportunity to once again talk about his obsession with steak, killing animals, eating animals, etc. But we discussed it and decided that don’t consider steak a “local” food. Empanadas were a staple for us. Even the French would be impressed with these chicken, beef, or veggie filled pastries.

Best Meal (Laura’s Choice): Reinata Nigiri, a local fish from Valparaiso, Chile. I was going into sushi withdrawal after not eating sushi for 5 months.

Best Meal (Chris’ Choice): Beef Tenderloin at Desnivel Restaurant in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The steak is better than Shapley’s (which is why we at there 5 nights in a row).

Best Drive: The bus ride from Villarica, Chile to Bariloche, Argentina. Riding in the top of a double decker (air conditioned) bus is a great way to see this at sunset.

Best Ruins: Machu Picchu, Peru. Just go there. Nothing else compares to it.

Friendliest People: Argentina. If you stand on the street corner looking at a map for longer than 60 seconds, someone will come and ask you if you need help. If you meet an Argentinian while traveling, they might even invite you home, cook you dinner, and do everything they can to make sure you enjoy their country.

Best Outdoor Experience: Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. This was Chris´ favorite experience of the whole trip. Tommy, have you bought a ticket yet?

Most Bizarre Experience: San Pedro Prison, La Paz, Bolivia. Listen kids: Don’t do drugs.

Best Transit: Biking down the World’s Most Dangerous Road, Coroico, Bolivia. Strap on a helmet and don’t look over the edge (for too long).

Best Adreneline Rush: Sandboarding in Huachachina, Peru. If they have now let BMX biking into the Olympics, sandboarding is not far behind.

Best Market: San Telmo Market, Buenos Aires, Argentina. This outdoor market stretches through ten city blocks. You can find locally made crafts and antiques. It is a great place to buy presents, you just have to hope that the Argentinian mail system will get it home.

Best Place You’ve Never Heard Of: Huaraz, Peru. Glacier lakes, green hills, and full of Incan culture. The local farmers will offer to teach you Quetchua.

Favorite Hostel: Hostel Royal Frankenstein (and owner Ludwig): Cuzco, Peru. We normally don´t have this category, but Ludwig gets the Hostel Owner of the Year award.

And once again, these wouldn’t be the Best of without the…

WORST OF SOUTH AMERICA (Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile)

Worst Town: Oruro, Bolivia. Just because a travel agency says they are going to book a bus for you doesn´t mean they will do it. Lesson learned: Book your tickets yourself, so you don´t have to take a later bus and then get stuck here.

Worst Border Crossing: Bolivia. Chris almost punched the bus driver who tried to leave us at the border and drive off with all our stuff.

Worst Coffee: Chile. Cappuccinos here come with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles. I´m not kidding. We miss Guatemala.

Most Overrated: Bolivia. Not the Backpacker´s mecca we thought it would be. It´s cheap, but price isn´t everything.

Click Here for Pictures of South America on our Flickr Site***

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