Europe, South America · 114 Days · 46 Moments · September 2018

Valentina conquering South America

9 days ago

Like all good things, also this trip has come to an end. These 109 days were the most intense and emotionally-filled days of my life. I am so happy for this experience, it was not perfect and amazing all the time, but that’s what made it real and taught me a lot of things I didn’t know about myself. You could consider this trip a 3 years’ therapy condensed in 3 months! In this time I laughed, I cried, I met some amazing people, seen stunning nature, challenged myself physically and mentally. What I take home is the great feeling of not being scared or doubting myself anymore. I’m a strong woman and the world is full of great people that can all teach you something different if you let them. Sure, bad things can happen everywhere, but if you find the balance between being careful and staying open to welcome whatever life puts in front of you, you will discover gifts and opportunities you didn’t even know existed. Thank you for following me, now go live your own adventure! Dream on ✌

10 days ago

The happiness of arriving in Lux... take me back!!

11 January 2019

Reluctantly leaving the coast, we made our way to Bogota, Colombia’s capital city, that will ease our transition from sunny Caribbeans to cold Europe. Bogota is the hub of the country, with a thriving business sector, historic buildings and many cultural sights. Through a walking tour we discovered that this city is not as ugly as they say, and the historical center La Candelaria offers colorful streets full of art, museums and street performers. We went on a food tour to find out if Colombians eat anything that’s not deep fried and covered in cheese, and sometimes they do. I tried a grilled Capibara and it was delicious, while I wasn’t brave enough to eat the fat-ass ants, a real specialty here. We then visited the beautiful Gold Museum learning about Colombia’s indigenous communities, and we dined in style at Andres Carne de Res, a famous vip nightlife venue with unique decorations. With the help of Erika and a guest from Medellín,I enjoyed every last minute of this amazing trip!

7 January 2019

The next few days were spent immersed in nature and relaxing on Caribbean’s pristine beaches. Can you blame us? :) First we headed to Tayrona National Park, which resembles a miniature Jurassic Park. We hiked a couple of hours through a verdant jungle famed for its biodiversity, before arriving at white sand beaches and azure waters in a postcard-like camping. Here we enjoyed every single ray of sun that we could, admired the wild nature around us and spent the night on hammocks cradled by the wind. The day after we rode horses to the park’s exit and we took a crazy fast bus to Palomino, a sleepy beachside community beloved by backpackers and hippies. Here we splurged on a fancy hostel with a great swimming pool and we literally did nothing other than tanning, swimming and drinking piña colada. A great way to prepare for the hard return to reality, don’t you think??

4 January 2019

After leaving Cartagena, it felt like a huge weight was lifted from us, and we could finally start enjoying our vacation. We arrived in Santa Marta, Colombia’s premier beach destination and famous within the backpacker community for its beautiful natural surroundings. Refreshed by the beautiful hostel with pool and the wonderful people we met, we ventured to Minca, a peaceful little village in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Here we visited a coffee and cacao farm that had a toucan as a pet, we admired the amazing biodiversity of the area and we enjoyed the relaxing mountain streams and waterfalls. Convinced by our tour guide, I even jumped in a waterfall with all my clothes on, while Erika stayed outside taking pics and laughing at me. At night, we went out with the people we met in Minca and we danced Vallenato (a typical fast dance from the coast) all night long! Santa Marta put us back on our feet and reminded me once again why I love Colombia so much!

2 January 2019

After Medellin I flew to Cartagena where I was joined by a very special guest. Unfortunately, despite being with the best possible company and celebrating a lovely New Year’s Eve, things took a turn for the worse exactly on the 1st of January. While walking on the street in full daylight and surrounded by many people, I was attacked and mugged without anyone doing anything to stop this from happening. We then spent the rest of the day talking with the police, crying and locking ourselves at home trying to process everything. The following days we tried to feel better by doing activities and going on a tour on the beautiful island Baru, but despite the smiles and the effort, we were still pretty traumatized and we couldn’t really enjoy it. Cartagena is a beautiful city, but this unfortunate event, the overwhelming amount of tourists and the not-so-friendly locals ruined our stay here and we decided to leave early and try to enjoy the rest of our vacation together away from danger.

29 December 2018

A couple of hours away from Medellin, the small village of Guatapé and its 200m tall monolith, El Peñol, stand alongside a majestic artificial lake. The 360° views from the top of the monolith are something out of a dream and no trip to Medellin is complete without a visit to Guatapé. I decided to go with a group of local guides who offer a day filled with amazing experiences rather than the usual touristic itinerary. And that’s how I ended up riding on top of a Jeep, eating in a finca with a breathtaking view, swimming in a lake while drinking beer and enjoying the town and the rock with the funniest bunch of people! When the time came to go back to Medellin, we jumped on a van equipped with a disco ball, lava lamp and raggaton blasting from the speakers. Definitely a day I won’t forget anytime soon!

28 December 2018

Medellín, aka the city of eternal spring, was once declared the most violent place in the world. Today is the concrete proof that when people come together and work toward the same goal, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish. Now millions of tourists want to visit and see why Medellín won the award for the most innovative city in the world and why its people, the Paisa, are considered the loveliest people ever. Personally, I fell head over heels for this city and,while I’ve seen many beautiful places in this trip,Medellin definitely takes the cake. The transformed neighborhoods are full of art and new cultural expressions, the kindness of people leaves you speechless and the nightlife is epic. Everyone is happy here and you can’t help but feel euphoric when walking these streets filled with music and smiles. I also met some amazing people (including Pablo Escobar’s driver) who showed me everything this city has to offer, which is endless! Medellín: the capital of a new Colombia

21 December 2018

Peru was the country I decided to sacrifice in this trip. I was so tired and impatient to get to Colombia that I chose to come back another time and visit Peru properly. So off I went to my beloved Colombia, starting by visiting the "other" Salento, a small colonial town located in the coffee triangle and surrounded by rolling green foothills. The first night I tried my hand at Tejo, a national game where you basically throw stones at targets containing gunpowder, which explode on impact. My awkward throwing technique helped me become friend with the owner of the place and he offered to be my guide to the Cocora valley trek. This valley is home to the tallest wax palms in the world and perhaps the single best reason to visit Salento. The rest of the time was spent visiting coffee farms, artisans markets,horse riding and of course dancing salsa and merengue every night. Colombia started in the best possible way and healed me both physically and mentally.Loving this country already!

16 December 2018

At 10am I was dismissed from the hospital and at 12pm I was on the train directed to Machu Picchu. There was no way that a stupid parasite would stop me from crossing this off my bucket list! After a very short night in Aguas Calientes and a very early alarm, I finally made it to the top of the mountain and...i was so underwhelmed! The rain and the fog made seeing anything completely impossible, and here I was: tired, drenched and weak staring at nothing but fog in any direction. Luckily I decided to be patient, postpone my train back to Cusco and spend few hours hiking and waiting for the weather to get better. I was rewarded with the most amazing view! The citadel is indeed impressive, but what really blows you away is its incredible setting: impossibly isolated with towering mountains on every side, adding to the mistery of this site. It’s no wonder that thousands of tourists flock here each day, this majestic mountain has a certain mysticism that must be seen to be understood.

15 December 2018

Omg I fell in love with Cusco!! This city has exactly everything that I love: art, history, culture and an amazing past that sounds like the plot of a movie! It’s no wonder that Cusco draws over a million visitors each year to its cobblestone streets. This is the sort of city that you visit once and end up staying forever. Whether it’s the landscape, the people or the Inca ruins, there are almost endless reasons to love Cusco. Unfortunately I spent half of my stay in a hospital and couldn't enjoy the city as much as I wanted, but I made the most of it visiting Inca sites, exploring markets, taking a cooking class and eating all the delicious food Peru is famous for (not a good idea in hindsight :)). Cusqueño people are warm and friendly, I had 2 guardian angels who made my hospital drama less miserable and everyone, from the hostel staff to the doctors were super caring and sweet. I leave Cusco knowing I'll be back to visit this country properly and enjoy everything it has to offer!

11 December 2018

The 1st thing I wanted to do in Peru was to hike Vinicunca, also known as Rainbow Mountain, part of the Peruvian Andes and with a staggering altitude of 5.200m. What makes this mountain range so special are the colorful sediments that give the site a surreal look. After seeing so many pics of this mountain, I wanted to experience it in person, and luckily this gave me enough motivation, because this 6h hike surely wasn't a walk in the park! The tour started at 3am, at 6am we walked 2h to the top. The altitude makes it a real challenge but, despite panting like a dying horse, I was in the faster group this time! After taking a million pics, we continued to the Red valley, often overlooked by tourists, but just as amazing and impressive as the rainbow mountain. We walked down the side of a red mountain for another 4h and that's not for the faint of hearts or people who suffer from vertigo! I had jelly legs for days after the hike, but look at these pics and tell me it wasn’t worth it!

9 December 2018

On the other side of Titicaca lake there's Peru, and I went to Puno in order to catch a boat and visit one of the most unique communities in the world: the Uros. Before the Inca invaded the region around the lake, the Uros lived on the shore in conventional towns and villages. However, while other groups either bent the knee to the Inca conquerors or fled to Bolivia, the Uros came up with a very novel solution: live on the lake itself. They constructed huge mats of the local totora reeds (which they also use to create nearly everything else the use),and set sail on the world’s highest navigable lake. The construction of the reed islands are true feat, as new reeds must be constantly added to the top to replace ones on the bottom that have dissolved into the water. The “ground” on the reed islands feels unstable and spongy, but people have been living on it for hundreds of years. Although undeniably touristy, the ingenuity of these resilient people make the visit entirely worthwhile.

7 December 2018

After the quietness of the jungle, I couldn't spend one more minute in La Paz, so I faced another 9h of travel and went straight to Copacabana. Happy to be alone again, I took it easy and enjoyed this quaint little town on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. One morning I took the first boat to Isla del Sol, a tranquil escape from the South America bustle and a stunning landscape that juts up in dramatic fashion out from Lake titicaca. Incas believed that isla del Sol was the birthplace of the Sun God, and you can see where the island has gotten its name from: at more than 4000m (oh how I didn't miss the altitude!), the sun shines quite intensely, reflecting on the surrounding lake,making for some of the best sunsets I've seen so far. Typical of island life, everything seems laidback here; add to that some great hiking trail,lookout points, Inca ruins and free roaming livestock. This combination makes for a fascinating and unique place in the world.

5 December 2018

After 1 flight, 3h in a jeep and 2 boat rides we arrived in the Amazon was one of the best experiences of my life! Who would have thought?? I have a phobia of insects, so I thought I would be terrified all the time, and well..I was, but everything else was so amazing that I adjusted perfectly and I wish I could have stayed longer! The transformation from city girl to nature lover is complete.🌱 I don't have the space to detail everything we've done, but we were woken up every morning by howler monkeys, we tracked jaguars at night, we paddled on a self-made raft, we saw fireflies, monkeys, parrots, spiders,snakes,caimans and a ton of birds and mosquitos. These were a real torture and 2 guys had to be rushed to the hospital for an allergic reaction to the bites. But even that turned into a great adventure as we had to take the boat to reach the hospital and it was a fantastic starry nights and pink dolphins were swimming around us. Definitely one of the highlights of my trip

30 November 2018

La Paz, capital of Bolivia: while the city itself didn't strike me for its beauty, there are a ton of things to do in and around it. Starting with a walking tour, we learnt more about the tumultuous past of the city and nation, as well as the present conflicts due to the upcoming elections of Evo Morales. Moving onto less sensitive topics, we went on a gastro-tour, but I wasn't too impressed with the Bolivian food, as it's basically chicken and rice for days. What did impress me tho was the witchcraft market with llama fetuses! La Paz is best enjoyed from the top, so we had fun going up and down the many teleferico around the city and ending in El Alto,where there's a very impressive market and the best thing I've done here: Cholitas wrestling (videos on fb)! Tired of the chaos, we escaped to the Moon valley, a stunning place nearby. Then Austin decided to jump out of a window, I made a fool of myself dancing folkloric songs, and we partied in our hostel playing Jenga with our feet!

25 November 2018

My next stop was Sucre, also called "the white city" and considered one of the prettiest cities in Bolivia and the symbolic heart of the nation. There I met with my friend Jakob and then I was joined by my American friend Austin. It's like the universe sent me some reinforcements after the crappy weeks I had, and it worked. Sucre was a beautiful city and people were so nice (for Bolivian standards anyway). I visited lots of museums to learn more about the history of this country, I visited markets who sell everything - and I mean everything, and i enjoyed the many shows of folkloric dances and music. I've never seen so many people dancing and singing like they do in Bolivia! Finally we went to see real dinosaurs footprints in Parque Cretacico and observed the city from the many viewpoints scattered around Sucre. It was a nice and relaxed few days who recharged my battery and prepared me for what was next: la Paz and then the jungle!

22 November 2018

After the Uyuni tour I was so tired I decided to stop a couple of days in Potosi and splurged on a private room. It's incredible the miracle that a warm shower and a night's sleep can do! As Bolivia was starting to treat me better, my mood was improving, too. I went to visit the mines where thousands of workers spend 15+ hours everyday, hoping to find resources that will give them enough money to take care of their families. I was sad for the work conditions of the miners and their short lifespan, amazed by the fact that they still carried a smile and an incredible sense of humor, and terrified for being in dark narrow tunnels, which is my biggest fear in the world. Afterwards I visited a cloistered convent where rich Spanish families used to send their second born daughter to become nuns, they were never allowed in the external world again and they had to spend their days in silence and praying. Both experiences were extremely humbling and made me realize how lucky I really am.

21 November 2018

This tour has been on my bucket list for long time. It consists in 4 days crossing the Bolivian desert and other amazing landscapes in a 4x4, culminating in the Uyuni salt flats, the biggest in the world. The trip is pretty hardcore, as there are no streets and you feel like you're inside a washing machine rather than a car, there's no bathroom, no showers and a looot of dust! Also, you reach 5000m of altitude, which leaves you panting at every step. The 1st day I was so sick I just lied half dead in the back of the jeep, but luckily on the 2nd day I felt better, although every other person in my group fell ill one after the other. I guess it's true what Bolivians say about Europeans: we're all weak :) Don't be fooled by the smiles in the pics: the overall experience wasn't ideal: we had fights, tears and lots of body fluids 🤢 Despite that, this trip will stay in my heart forever.Our guide and his wife were amazing people,the landscape breathtaking and the salt flats just unique!!

17 November 2018

Bolivia punched me in the guts and kicked me while I was down. After a (very) traumatic border crossing, I felt like I arrived in another world. Bolivia has nothing to do with the countries I've visited so far. This is the real South America and, even though I was prepared for poverty and lack of infrastructure, I wasn't expecting extremely rude people, being treated like crap and being scammed every step I took. For my already worn out brain, this was a real culture shock. My plan was to stay in Tupiza a couple of nights before starting the Uyuni tour. When I arrived in the city, I was exhausted and angry. However, there was a parade going on: every new university student was celebrating with dances and music that went on the whole day. This put me in a better mood, at least until the evening, when I fell incredibly ill. I spent the night on the bathroom floor like a dog, puking and everything. All this before embarking on a 4 days tour in the middle of nowhere. To be continued...

15 November 2018

Final thoughts on Argentina: What more can I say, I definitely had a special relationship with this country and I left there a piece of my heart. The funny thing about Argentina is that as soon as I arrived, I had the feeling I was going back home. I felt like I belonged here, which is something that rarely happened before in my almost-gipsy life. People here think that Argentina has the best EVERYTHING in the world, but it's true that they have something bigger than everyone else: their ego :) Despite that, they're absolutely adorable, they make you feel like you've been friends forever, they're funny and most of all, charming! It's a shame that the economical situation is so unstable, because Argentina has a ton to offer and has the potential to go back to be the rich beautiful country it once was. "So I chose freedom, running around trying everything new... Don't cry for me Argentina, The truth is, I never left you" Until next time! ❤️

14 November 2018

After Chile I came back to Argentina to visit the north of the country but, as you can imagine, I couldn't enjoy it much. When I first arrived I was sick, I then received the news of my cat, so I just spent 3 days in bed either with fever, crying, or both. After few days of self pity and bursting into tears, I decided to at least try and snap out of it and I went on a couple of tours to visit the region of Jujuy, with the highlights of Salta, Purmamarca and Humahuaca. The north of Argentina is completely different to what I had visited so far, with people and landscapes closer to the neighbor Bolivia than the rest of the country. This region features rainbow-colored mountains, colonial architecture and immense canyons. Unfortunately all this beauty didn't help the emotional wreck I was at the time, and I just went through the days trying to keep my mind off things and not crying in public. I left Argentina knowing that I'll be back and I'll complete my visit in a better mood.

13 November 2018

More than once I thought that I was scared of all this happiness, because life tends to balance itself out. Turns out I was right. I received the extremely sad news that my sweet cat passed away. He was sick and I knew there was a chance this would happen while I was away, but nothing can really prepare you for the pain and emptiness you feel when it actually happens. After 15 years together, a cat it's not just a pet anymore, it becomes part of the family and part of you. I'm devastated and, if the beauty of the places I'm visiting will help soothe my pain now, I'm scared of how I will feel going back to Luxembourg, where most of my closest friends moved away and my house will be empty. I'm scared of feeling alone and guilty. One thing that this trip is trying to teach me is that love, beauty and happiness are ephemeral concepts;we need to make the most of them when they're in our life and learn to let go when they're not. I'm failing at it now,but I'll keep trying. I miss you my baby

10 November 2018

Final thoughts on Chile: Despite all the negative comments that Argentineans say on this country and its people, I only have positive things to say about Chile. It's incredible to me that such a narrow country can display this variety of nature, landscapes, cities and culture. People here are respectful of Pachamama (mother nature) and very attached to their roots and history. They're a proud country and not sorry for it.They had to deal with earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions since forever, but that's what makes them though and humble at the same time. They know that humans last as long as a breathe on this earth, that existed before us and will continue to exist after we're long gone. Chile is also the hippiest place I've been so far, with a mix of artists,performers, Rastafarian and weird people from all over the world. They speak funny and everything is expensive. I leave with a cultural baggage I can't be indifferent to and a lot of knowledge about the past of humanity.

9 November 2018

When I arrived in San Pedro de Atacama, I thought I was on a western movie set. With its dusty roads and clay houses, San Pedro is right in the middle of the desert and features some of the most intriguing and unique landscapes in South America. I started my tour visiting the Lagunas Altiplanica, which will literally take your breathe away with its 4.500m of altitude, I watched flamingos dance and I floated in the salty Laguna del Cejar. I then spent a full day in the Moon valley, called like this because of its resemblance with our satellite, and it really felt like being on another planet. I finally ended my stay by visiting the Tatio geysers, the highest geothermal area in South America. As if this wasn't enough beauty, San Pedro offers one of the cleanest skies in the world and when the 1st night I looked up, I gasped! I took an astronomical tour where I learnt how to recognize constellations, I was mesmerized the whole time. South America strikes again with nature at its finest

6 November 2018

I fell in love with Valparaiso! This unexpectedly beautiful city cured my post-Easter Island blues with its colorful crazy streets, music and artists. Known as "the jewel of the Pacific", Valparaiso is protected by UNESCO in order to preserve its unique identity and design. To me, it looks as if a drunk architect met with a baby full of crayons and they built a nonsense city together. Graffiti cover the entire city, the avenues are bursting with life and street art performers can be found in every corner. It's gritty and authentic, with a history shared between docks, earthquakes and dreamers, such as Pablo Neruda, who even wrote a poem about it. I keep bumping into my Swedish friend Jakob who I met back in Buenos Aires and who's following my same itinerary. Together we met the loveliest Chilean people who showed us around, invited us to enjoy the beach in Viña del Mar and a bbq on their balcony! If you love history, street art and bohemian life, Valparaiso is a must. I'll be back!

2 November 2018

At 31 I achieved my lifelong dream of visiting Easter Island, and I still can't believe it! Located in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, Rapa Nui was called by the early settlers "the navel of the world". It's the most secluded island in the world, famous for its enigmatic giant stone statues (Moai), built centuries ago, which reflect the dramatic rise and fall of the most isolated Polynesian culture. Walking through the island you will notice that tattoos are a must, t-shirts are optional and Jack Johnson is always playing in the background. Horses and cows are virtually everywhere, and if seeing horses roaming free fills me with joy, I can't say the same about cows, who are mean and attack you when you try to walk past them. I much prefer them in my burger. There are no words to explain all the things this mystical island has to offer, so you have to come and see it for yourself! And to remember both the magic of this place and what I'm capable of, I did a little something :)

29 October 2018

Santiago, capital of Chile: I had heard contrasting opinions about this city, so I had to judge for myself. I started by roaming the streets with a walking tour at first, then on my own. I browsed the artisans market, visited the wonderful museum of precolombian artifacts and paid homage to Pablo Neruda by eating his favorite dish - the eel chow, and visiting the house he built for his lover, la Chascona. I climbed two of the many cerros (hills) the city is dotted with and admired the panorama from the top, while Spanish prayers on speaker incessantly filled the air around me. My stay wouldn't be complete without visiting one of the many vineyards located in the Maipo valley, and I chose the most famous: Concha y Toro, known worldwide for its production of Sauvignon. It took me a while to readjust to being in a huge metropolis, but all in all I liked Santiago. Despite being polluted and a bit rough around the edges,it has a lot to offer and I could have easily stayed few more days.

26 October 2018

Pucon was my first long stop in Chile after the quick appetizer of Torres del Paine. I came here mainly to climb the volcano, but I liked the vibe of the place so much that I ended up staying longer than I had planned. Pucon is the paradise of daredevils around the world, as it offers any kind of adrenaline-filled activity: kayaking, rafting, climbing, zip-lining, etc. Despite that, this place it's also strangely relaxing and people have a hippie vibe that makes you instantly feel at home. Once again I came across a very cool Australian girl who left everything back home to open a hostel here and she's living her dream. The guide who took us to the volcano was staying in the same hostel and we spent our evenings all together chatting about mountains, energies and dreams. After the deadly volcano climb I couldn't even move so I went to relax at the Termas Geometricas: expensive and famous thermal baths with more than 20 natural pools with different temperatures. Now we're talking!!

25 October 2018

(continues from bottom) The guides split us in 2 groups according to our pace (I was in the slower one of course); but when we were at almost 90% of the climb, things took a turn for the worse: the weather changed suddenly, the gasses from the crater were blowing our way and the visibility dropped to zero. Our guide thought it was too risky to continue and told us to turn back. I was so overwhelmed, exhausted and sad that I couldn't see the crater,that I actually let go of a tear or two. But safety first, I get it. What came after, though, was absolutely exhilarating: the way down is...sliding on your butt! You put a round piece of plastic in between your legs, sit on it, and start speeding down the side of the mountain trying to brake with an ice axe without impaling yourself with it. With a total of 9h climb, this was the most physically and mentally challenging thing I've ever done in my life. Another lesson of strength and humility learnt. Another experience I will never forget.
So today I climbed an active volcano. The Villarrica is one of Chile's most active volcanoes - it erupted last in 2015 - and 1 of only 5 volcanoes in the world who has a lava lake inside its crater. I was back and forth for weeks on whether I was going to attempt the climb or not, but in the end I came across an agency that made me feel safe and motivated, so I signed up for it! We met at 6am to put all the gear on, then we started the drive to the volcano. While we were approaching, it was puffing away and I already knew this bitch was going to kick my ass. We started the ascent. Usually there's a ski lift that saves you 1/3 of the climb, but because this is low season, the skilift wasn't working and we had to climb ALL THE WAY from the base. Of course. And because it's low season, there were still 6m of snow turning every step into a torture. For 1/2 of the climb I kept up with the pace quite well,but when we reached the last part, I started to struggle. A lot. (Continues up)

23 October 2018

22 October 2018

A final note on Patagonia: if you like pristine waters, stunning landscapes, dusty deserts, massive glaciers, raging winds, oceans, lagunas, lakes, volcanoes... In this place you can find it all. It's no mystery why this incredible region inspired so many writers and poets; the scenery is breathtaking, the silence fills your head and your thoughts and the wilderness lifts up your spirit and make you humble at the same time. Thank you Patagonia for allowing me to explore your secrets. I apologize for all the times I cursed at you, you have to understand I'm just a naive city girl that's not used to deal with nature and the wild, but you put me back to my place and rewarded my efforts with experiences I will never forget. Here I continue my journey, with a lifetime worth of adventures already behind me...

21 October 2018

My last Patagonian stop is Bariloche, a city situated in the foothills of the Andes along the shoreline of lake Nahuel Huapi. Bariloche has a Swiss-like architecture, an alpine atmosphere and it's famous for producing the best chocolate of Argentina. Being tired of the European feeling, I headed straight for the main attraction of this place: the lake district. I used the skilift to reach the summit of Cerro Campanario where,according to National Geographic, you can enjoy one of the best views in the world! And were they right! I spent 2 hours contemplating the beauty of my surroundings and building up the courage for what came next: biking the 27km circuit I was looking at. And if you think that's not a lot, it's because you didn't see how steep the roads were! Challenge accepted: I rented a mountain bike and off I went, puffing and panting and almost giving up, but I pushed through and I did it! I went through woods and beaches and hills. I felt so happy for doing this,and on my own!

17 October 2018

The last 4 days were spent in El Chalten, a small village that can be considered a quintessentially Patagonian town. With fresh crisp air, awe-inspiring landscapes, mountain peaks and the call of the wild, it doesn't get any better that this. Maybe helped by the lack of Wi-Fi, the vibe in the hostel was great and pretty soon I bonded with my dorm companions, who helped me get through treacherous climbs, sudden snowstorms and cramping legs. They were the highlight of my stay in El Chalten and without their energy I wouldn't have been able to fight the pain in my ankle and complete a 25km trek in adverse weather conditions (and I thought ushuaia was though!). We really had the feeling of being a bunch of friends on vacation together, and one day with too much snow (ahem, hangover), we stayed inside drinking Mate and I cooked pasta for everyone! It was sad to say goodbye but it's part of the adventure and I'm happy to have new friends that I will hopefully meet again one day...

13 October 2018

"Nature is full of genius, full of divinity, so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hands" These words from philosopher Henry Thoreau best describe today's bucket list experience: the Perito Moreno glacier. I had a ton of expections and let me tell you: they were minuscule compared to the stunning reality I came upon! After a 2h bus ride,the driver announced to keep our eyes open as we were approaching the Perito Moreno, and when it appeared in front of me in all its imposing presence, my heart skipped a beat! With an area of 250km2 (as big as the city of Buenos Aires) and a thickness of 170m, it's impossible not to feel insignificant in front of this beautiful giant. I spent the whole day mesmerized by its peaks and its cracking and roaring sounds when ice calves from the snout and plunge into the water. It was a magic and emotional day! Shame that the day ended with my body covered in bed bugs bites from the hostel, but I guess this is part of the backpacker experience..

11 October 2018

My last day in Puerto Natales I visited an estancia called Pingo Selvaje, owned by some Chilean millionaires. And you could see where all the money went: the estancia is 7k hectares big, spanning from hills to lakes to rivers, there's even a cave with remainings of saber tooth tigers and views of the Andean cordillera (man,these views!). The 4h ride was magnificent: I was the only tourist, my horse was great and we gallopped in the fields overlooking the mountains. My butt hurts a lot now, but the feeling of freedom was unbeatable! Luckily I'm not a good rider, otherwise I could totally see myself moving here and work in an estancia. Here time seems to stop, making you realize what are the most important things in life. In the afternoon I explored the town and I came across a gin distillery owned by an Australian couple who came here on vacation and decided to stay. I thought their story was so cool and I did what everyone else would have done: got drunk and spoke with them all night!

10 October 2018

After 16 hours on a bus (16-let that sink in) I arrived in Puerto natales, a small village that will be my base to discover Torres del Paine: a national park in Chile and one of the main symbols of Patagonia. This time I decided to book a tour because the area is huge and the only other way to do it is a 4-days trek camping inside the park, and: a) The temperature is around -4 with winds up to 120km /h b) The park is full of pumas c) Ain't nobody got time (and ankles) for that The tour was the right choice, we visited the main spots, we hiked for a couple of hours and we met lots of guanacos (relatives of alpacas). During lunch I separated from the rest of the group and ate my sandwich in front of Glacier Gray, with icebergs floating on the lake. How's that for lunch with a view? Before heading back we visited a prehistoric cave were explorers found the rest of Mylodons, giant sloths who lived in the area before going extinct. Another wonderful day in Patagonia with views for days!

8 October 2018

A visit to Ushuaia can't be complete without a hike in the Tierra del Fuego National Park. Tierra del Fuego was given its name because of the many bonfires Ferdinand Magellan witnessed on the shores of the region, lit by the local Ona Indians. I decided to explore the park without a tour and on my own, as I wanted to focus on hiking and enjoying the nature without distractions. It was the 1st time since I left that I was completely alone for a full day (so much for being a solo traveler!) and it was quite refreshing. Until now I had the feeling I was just on another vacation, but it was when I was sitting on the shore of a lake, looking at the mountains and in complete solitude that it dawned on me: I'm actually exploring South America on my own! I felt happy, proud and a lot of different emotions, but all positive ones. I hiked for 8h straight, I saw lagoons, mountains, fjords, beavers and the characteristic trees bended by the strong Patagonian winds. I was exhausted but so happy!

7 October 2018

After a very scary landing I arrived in Ushuaia, capital of Tierra del Fuego and gateway to Antarctica. Ushuaia is the southernmost city in South America and for this is known as "fin del mundo", end of the world. Before heading to the national park, I explored this cute city nestled between mountains and ocean, it felt like a place in between Iceland and Swiss, definitely a change of scenario from Iguazu. I learnt about the history of the native populations, killed in a genocide led by the English colonizers, and how the city was initially a place where all naughty Argentineans were sent to prison during the war. I then went on a boat tour on the Beagle channel, where I could enjoy some nice views of the city, cormorans and sea lions. A side note on traveling alone: the most amazing things are happening to me! People are so drawn by the fact that I'm a solo female traveler that I end up living crazy experiences such as having a free dinner in a museum, steering a boat and much more!

5 October 2018

The next stop was Iguazu falls, in a natural park shared by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. My initial plan was to fly in the morning, go to the Brazilian side in the afternoon, then spend the next day visiting the Argentinean side. However, my flight had a 3h delay that made me lose the chance to visit the Brasil side. Anyone in their right state of mind would have given up and just did the Argentina park, but not me! I negotiated with a taxi driver to take me through border control in and out of Argentina and Brazil and I managed to do both sides in 1 day! I walked for 20km no-stop, but it was totally worth it and my craziness rewarded with majestic views! Legend has it that a deity planned to marry a woman named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover in a canoe. In a rage,the deity sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall. How's that for dramatic?But very appropriate,as the falls are even more dramatic and no pic can do them any justice

4 October 2018

And so I got to my last day in Buenos Aires. I have to say, the 1st impression of the city wasn't the best,but it grew on me and I'm so happy I stayed for longer than I had planned,because I eventually loved this place! BA is extremely European,with buildings imported 100% from France and people of 80% Italian descents,which speak the most Italian Spanish I've ever heard! With almost 3M of people,it's easy to feel overwhelmed in BA,but if you have the time to get accustomed to its hectic rhythm and understand that sleeping is for the weak,you'll be totally conquered by its vibe,people,passion and culture. The food didn't disappoint,meat and wine were the best I've ever had,but I'm also not a fan of some of the staples such as chimichurri,coffee,alfajores and pizza (please,no!). In brief: Do I think it's the most beautiful city I've seen: no I don't Did I have fun: boy, if I did! Things I liked the most: meat, tango, men Things I liked the least: being constantly alert for pickpocketers

2 October 2018

As the last thing to do in Buenos Aires, I wanted to visit a typical Estancia Argentina. An estancia is a ranch, typically situated in large rural areas known as pampas and where you can find gauchos: horsemen working in the estancia. Once arrived, we were welcomed with empanadas and delicious wine. Then we visited the estancia, first by foot,then riding a horse and finally on a horse carriage. The property was huge and peaceful, and there were any kind of animals you can imagine! Before lunch, our personal gaucho Pablo explained how to prepare the (in)famous mate, then we all had a sip pretending it didn't taste horribly. I'm sorry Argentina, stop trying to make Mate happen, it's not going to happen. Off we went for lunch with delicious Asado and folkloric shows, the singer had prepared a song for each country of the visitors and sung "o sole mio" for me :) After lunch the gauchos competed in some challenges to show off their riding skills and I loved every minute of it! Videos on fb

1 October 2018

The weekend was spent between antique markets, gaucho fairs, tango shows and drinking Mate in peñas, typical places with folkloric music and dances. I'm surprised by how much I like tango: its songs, dance, music..Everything about it it's fascinating. Of course I'm a sucker for local traditions and culture, so the gaucho world is right up my alley, and I even tried to dance with some of the mini-gaucho you see in the pics :) I finally tried the Mate, a sort of herbal tea that famiies and friends share drinking from the same straw. I didn't like it at all but of course I don't dare saying that to local people, as Mate is one of the strongest traditions and an important convivial moment for Argentineans. When I'm not making a fool of myself trying to dance like a hippo, I keep meeting cool people, and yesterday we went to watch a live show of African drummers...We needed a lot of alcohol to survive 3 hours of drums! Apparently journi doesn't support videos, so I'll upload them on fb.

28 September 2018

My first day in Buenos Aires couldn't be better! As soon as I landed I took a Uber and in the hour it took to get to my hostel,I bonded with my taxi driver:Sergio. He offered to take me for a city tour and for lunch, I said yes! We ate so much: I tried empanadas, parrilla de bife and alfajores. After we went for a walk: the center didn't exactly "wow" me from an architectural point of view as it's very European (they call it the Paris of South America), the style of the buildings is art nouveau and you can see the French influence, so it was nothing I don't already see everyday. My favorite district was La Boca, a colorful district with tango shows in the streets, art exhibits and cafes. I thought this area looked typical and it reminded me of Cuba, but it was actually built by Italian immigrants from Genoa. Despite being touristy, is also one of the poorest and most dangerous parts of BA,so I was happy I had my personal bodyguard :) I was so tired I fell asleep at 8pm,skipping dinner!

24 September 2018

I seriously have the best friends one could possibly desire! In the last few days I've received so many thoughtful gifts and precious moments with all of them, they make me feel so lucky! Thank you all ❤️

23 September 2018

People keep asking me if I'm not scared of traveling for 3 months on my own... The scariest thing for me is going through packing...i am NOT good at this!