by Dani and Michael JUST MARRIED !! We are now married and had a perfect and fabulous wedding in paradise here on Onefoot Island in Aitutaki. The day began with loud music and a last breakfast as fiancees. We both were very happy and a little excited. Since we spent parts of the day separately, we describe the preparation alternately in the individual perspective to better describe the individual thoughts. Preparation: Dani: After breakfast I went with our scooter to the Pacific Resort and Spa, where I had a very relaxing pedicure for the beach wedding. This was perfect because the treatment was so relaxing that all the excitement faded. At about noon I was then picked up by Tania Bishop, our wedding planner, and was taken to the Aitutaki Village (formerly Samade on the beach) where I stayed in a bungalow, in which I was able to get changed separately from Michael. Also, I met there Potini, our photographer, who did the hairstyle and makeup. Before we left for our trip I had sent him a few ideas of what I'd like. So, when he came in, Potini directly sat me down on the chair and started with the hairstyling - without a mirror. So I had to trust him that he would implement my ideas. When I looked in the mirror after about an hour, I was just thrilled! Tania brought me a glass of Pinot Gris in the meantime, so that the styling would be something funny. Immediately afterwards the makeup followed, which made me completely happy when I saw it at the end in the mirror. That should be me? Wow, I could not believe it and was just happy that I would look so great on our wedding !! During our styling it started to rain. We knew that rain was reported. But this was also reported for the previous days, where it was very sunny, so we had had the hope that the forecasts for our wedding would be wrong. Potini, Tania and I hoped further, however, that it would get better - which it did not. So even Tania's mother eventually came to me and asked me if we really wanted to go to Onefoot Island, as it were raining there too. She could offer us to marry on her big excursion boat somewhere on the water in the lagoon. But I did not hesitate and said that we wanted to get married in any case on Onefoot Island, no matter what the weather was like. Potini and I had a little photo shoot before Michael was picked up by Tania's mother in our bungalow and went to the beach, where the boat was waiting for the transfer. Meanwhile, the rain had set and it was drizzling only slightly. So our first sight could still take place on the beach. As Tania drove me with her car, I saw Michael standing right on the beach. He looked a little nervous, he wore a white shirt with cufflinks, a white linen pants, a shell necklace and was barefoot 🙂 !! We wanted to get married barefoot, or in any case both in flip flops. With its great tan Michael looked stunning! Wow, this man I would get married to marry soon! I slowly got out of the car and walked towards my future husband. It was a great moment! We then got together with the marriage celebrant, the witnesses Annie and Tania Bishop, Potini and the 2-man string band in the motorboat that took us across the lagoon to Onefoot Island. It was a great experience to go by boat to our wedding so we could see the magnificent lagoon again. Michael: After breakfast, Dani headed off to her pedicure. Then I started to clean up the bungalow to make it perfect when we came back again at night. After that I prepared the bag with key items such as wedding rings, passports, battery packs, mobile phone, camera and bluetooth speakers. Then I started ironing my wedding clothing - which consisted of a white shirt (with cuff links, so it looks a bit more festive) and a white linen trousers. The fight lasted nearly an hour. By transporting them in the backpack there were crincles all over. Even with the steam from the iron they were hard to beat. When I finished, even Dani came back from the pedicure and was soon picked up by Tania Bishop for further preparation. Slowly the excitement was noticeable. My thoughts were constantly around the question of how Dani would look like and how the wedding would be. Then I started to get me ready. Since it did not take me so long thereafter was still plenty of time to sit around nervously in the bungalow and stare at the sea :-). Should I wear the shirt rather over the pants or should I stuck it in the pants? Eventually I struggled through to wear the shirt over trousers - casual flat. At three o'clock I was released from my sufferings and driven to our meeting place. The weather was not really good, but I did not care. While driving Tania's mother Annie told me of the difficult decision that Dani had to take. I winced. Difficult decision? What decision then? Does she not want to marry me any more? But Annie told directly that it came to deciding where and how the wedding was to take place. Either on a boat in the lagoon or on the beach on Onefoot Island. Dani chose correctly for the wedding ceremony on Onefoot Island. The little rain did not matter. Our celebrant called it "liquid sunshine". Arrived at the meeting point I briefly went on the boat to drop the bag. When it was decided that we should meet on the beach, I went back from the boat to the beach. Just before the car came in which Dani sat. Now the excitement was huge. As the door was opened, the most beautiful woman in the world got out of the car!! Madness. She was a dream in white. And she beamed with joy. It was lovely. She stood in front of me. In a stunning dress. I then also got to know Potini, our photographer. When he saw me, he started to laugh because he had seen us a week earlier in Rarotonga at a party, but had not known us at this time. Obviously, we have remained in his memory, as we danced non-stop and celebrated. Then it was finally happening now. The boat took off and we went to Onefoot Island. The wedding ceremony: When we arrived on Onefoot Island, the rain was not strong. We took off our flip flops and walked barefoot along the beach to the celebrant, who was waiting for us at the other end of the beach. Meanwhile, Potini, armed with umbrella, took pictures of us. The wedding ceremony was beautiful! We knew already the little speech made by the registrar, as Tania had emailed us this before. But to hear those beautiful words live, was simply sensational. Also, the moment we mutually swore our marriage vows, was very touching! We had written these two days before. There were no tears as we both were just happy and enjoyed everything. We both beamed with joy. After the ceremony our witnesses and we signed our marriage certificate before we opened a bottle of champagne and a coconut and clinked glasses with everyone. The band played traditional songs to which we danced on the beach. Potini made a lot of photos of us. Finally, we also got the Barefoot stamp with the word "married on Onefoot Island" in our passports. After about one and a half hours and another small photo shoot on the sandbar right in front of Onefoot Island called Heaven, we again left the island and were driven to Aitutaki Lagoon Resort and Spa, where we had our wedding dinner in a small open timber bungalow right on the beach. It was decorated very pretty with flowers and candles and we had an excellent dinner with lots of wine and music, as we had brought our small portable speaker and our mobiles so we could dance between the courses on the beach. There was nobody else there, so it was very intimate and incredibly romantic! It was still raining, but the rain did not bother us! We just enjoyed every single moment. At half past eleven we were taken back to our bungalow where we briefly had video calls via Skype with our very excited parents (now both parents in law) and danced into the night! We really had a wonderful beach wedding despite the rain! Everything was just perfect for us and we really had the most beautiful day of our life that we will never forget! We are very happy that we had our wedding at this beautiful place! Of course the wedding could not have been so beautiful without the great work and organization of our wedding planner Tania Bishop (www.bishopscruises.com) and her mother Annie. So we really thank both and the whole team of Bishop's who all took care of us before and after. They just made our wedding very special and perfect. Just look at the photos in the gallery, then you know what we mean ;-)! Dearest greetings from the happy newlyweds Dani and Michael
by Dani and Michael Our last day in Moorea was fortunately very nice. Shortly before our departure from the stunning Hilton Hotel we jumped again from our terrace into the crystal clear sea and snorkeled around the nearby coral reefs. We have seen a lot of great colorful fish that you usually only see in the aquarium, it was lovely. Pictures coming soon ... From the tiny airport in Moorea (Saarbrücken in comparison is a huge airport) we flew with a little machine Air Tahiti to Bora Bora. The flight took about 45 minutes. The approach to Bora Bora was a dream, because you could see the whole reef with its motus and the huge turquoise lagoon. By ferry we went to the capital Vaitape on the main island. There we met Marc André one of the owners of Bungalove. On our way to the bungalow we had a quick stop at the grocery store because we are self-suppliers from now. On his ground the lovely house of Marc André and his wife Annette (www.boraborabungalove.com) as well as the two bungalows they rent are located next door. The plot is quite large and is located on the waters of the great bay of Faanui. The large garden is like a small jungle, has a small pond with water lilies and is lovingly decorated throughout with shells and Asian accessories and paintings and other pieces by Marc André. We were initially housed for two days in the small bungalow next door with a kind of outdoor bathroom with an open air shower and an open kitchen. After two days we were allowed to move without any additional costs in the large, luxurious bungalow because we were the only guests for the last six days of our stay. This bungalow was fantastic. It is a former water bungalow of a luxury hotel, which was closed. Marc bought it and it has been transported in one peace over the sea. It has a waterfront terrace from where you can watch fishes while you are having breakfast in the morning. The first day, however, was somehow disappointing. We have found out that we still need about a day to get used to the new environment. On the way to the bungalow we were able to get a first impression of the island, which is very original. The people here live mainly outdoors and therefore don`t give much value on a nice house. Additionally, everything here is very expensive. So many people live very basic here. Well, we already knew this from Moorea. But we imagined Bora Bora as island having many great white beaches and crystal clear water. Things we didn`t see on our way from the wharf to the bungalow. We grabbed therefore the free bikes offered by Marc and Annette on the same day and rushed towards the only public beach on the main island at Matira Point, which should be one of the nicest beaches. We finally wanted the typical Bora Bora South Seas scenery to see. Due to the old bicycles and on a duly potholes road we took almost an hour to get up there to deal with the 14 km distance. When we got there we did not see the beach and what we saw was all marked as private property and are not accessible. Funny, we have expected something different. Where should we swim and snorkel the next week? Except for a few small shops and bars there was nothing else on the island. You could still walk, but we already had so many mosquitoes stitches that we excluded this alternative. Truly depressed, we returned to our bungalow. Finally, it even began to rain, which then gave the rest to us and we were bound to our little bungalow. This should be Bora Bora? Oh no... On the second day (Friday) we woke up in the morning and it was still raining heavily. This was going to be great here. After breakfast I skyped with our office team, which was 11 hours ahead in the evening celebrating strongly our Christmas party in the Hofhaus. For a few greetings and comments I turned me on Skype to what was quite funny. Then Marc told us in the short rain breaks which activities we could do on the island (in case of good weather). We were pretty confident and planned for the next day a lagoon tour where you could swim with sharks and rays. In addition, Marc told us a little bit of Bora Bora, e.g. that there was almost nothing on the island 50 years ago. At the time of conflicts at Pearl Harbour the Americans built up a base in Bora Bora so why everything started to develop from this time on. The Americans build virtually everything on there. They built an airport, the second airport at all after Maupiti in French Polynesia (Tahiti only built in the late 1980s an airport), they built the complete and only road around the island, they built a water supply and built two docks for the transport of cargo and cannons that they installed at four points on the island and that can still be seen. Only decades later the French discovered her interest in Bora Bora and started to support the island and the entire region of French Polynesia with money and goods. With the French also many laws and rules have been put in place, which the natives first did not like. Even today there are movements that want to make French Polynesia politically independent of France, but this is absolutely impossible for economical reasons. On the third day (Saturday) we unfortunately had to cancel our plans for the lagoon tour due to the ongoing rain. We spent the day with skype, reading and a bit of snorkeling in the rain in front of our bungalow. In the afternoon, however, the weather got better and the rain had stopped. We realised the opportunity and took advantage of the offer to finally visit one of the small islands located in the lagoon (so called motus) where all the hotels are located. Perhaps we would finally experience there real beach feeling. We took therefore the shuttle boat to the nearby Pearl Beach Resort, which offers like many other hotels in Bora Bora, external vacationers the opportunity to use the hotel facilities and the beach either free or for a payment of a daily fee. As I mentioned before there is only Matira Beach on the main island and the other beaches are all located on the outer Motus. And what can I say ... despite clouds we were finally arrived here in paradise. When we got off the boat, a white with palm-fringed beach and the crystal clear warm waters of the South Pacific lay before us. Like a dream!! We were absolutely thrilled! THIS was Bora Bora. And just as we had imagined it to be. We spent a great afternoon with minor rain showers along the beautiful beach with views of Mount Bora Bora. It was a wonderful setting, even without much sun. In the evening we went out for dinner in the Maikai Yacht Club. We have been fetched and returned by a free shuttle service of the restaurant which was very pleasant. On the way to the restaurant we talked a little with a driver named Philippe. He asked us where we came from. We told him that we live in a small town called Saarbrücken in southwest of Germany near the French border, but for sure he won`t know it. But he nodded his head and said that he knew of course Saarbrücken. He spent several years living there with his family because his father was at the French military and was stationed there. The world is really small!! The dinner was excellent - and quite expensive. We eat here in the South Pacific for two weeks of course only fish that is prepared here deliciously. But the food or even life in French Polynesia is just insanely expensive, because almost everything has to be imported. Our travel budget has been significantly reduced, so we decided to cook on the other evenings at home. But on that evening we have eaten the world's best Schokolavakuchen with a warm liquid chocolate heart. Divine!! On Sunday we decided to hire the car of Marc to go around the island because of the bad weather forecasts. Amazingly, the weather changed, however, and it was a mostly sunny day with only light rain showers. In the afternoon we finally discovered the real beach of Matira Point, where we bathed in clean crystal clear warm water and lay lazy in the sun. Monday we wanted to go to the Hilton hotel, but we had to give up after we were surprised by heavy rain on our bicycles on the way to the boat. We were really soaking wet, as if we would have set ourselves under the shower. In the afternoon, however, the weather was a little better, so we could go to the Hotel Intercontinental and enjoyed there the extraordinary facility. This was crowned with a great experience at the beach. There we were able to participate in sting ray feeding. Here the rays swam and climbed up to our legs (as far as possible without arms and legs) and pushed us to get fed. It was so beautiful! The Rays felt all soft and tender and I could feed them for hours. Meanwhile, we saw our hosts barely, as both were caught by the epidemic Chikungunya that is rampant in French Polynesia. This is a disease that is only transmitted by mosquitoes and has similar symptoms as dengue fever or a very severe flu. In comparison to malaria you just get it once. Unfortunately there is no vacination for that disease. Since that we applied the mosquito repellent more often but it helped not much. We still were able to count new bites on a daily basis. Despite rain and thunderstorms forecasts on the internet, the last two days we were really lucky with the weather so we could finally make our tour of the lagoon in bright sunshine on Tuesday. The better weather we owe our tactic that we had been used successfully with our tour group in Patagonia to toast with a glass of wine or beer to the weather. However, we have now expanded our nightly toast. We no longer toast only to the weather, but also against the mosquitos and for our health. Our lagoon tour was beautiful. We spent the day observing hundreds of fish in a huge beautiful coral garden while snorkeling, swimming with small black tip sharks, a ray and large lemon sharks in the sea. Before the tour I had been a little afraid of swimming with sharks. But when we were in the water and the sharks suddenly appeared out of nowhere and swam next to me and the others, it was just fascinating and not at all scary. Finally, we had a somewhat more dangerous situation when Michael was nearly attacked by a 1 m long moray that swam towards him, bit into the camera, tried again to bite until he could push her away with a slight thump. Afterwards, we were told that it probably was the camera that had irritated the moray. These stupid snorkeling tourists ;-)! Finally, we stopped at a small motu where we could swim. It was just great! We spent the afternoon again in Pearl Beach Resort on the beach and in the water. In the evening we treated ourselves again a nice dinner at the Yacht Club in very relaxed sophisticated atmosphere right next to the water. On the last day we cycled quite relaxed in fantastic weather to Vaitape, shopped souvenirs and sent the first souvenir box at home by mail, so that we had not to carry all the souvenirs with us all the time. We spent the afternoon again in Pearl Beach Resort on the beach and in the water. On this day the water was so warm that I just could not go out. I jumped and swam almost continuously for two hours in the water because it was just too good! It was a wonderful end of a wonderful week in Bora Bora. We had very lovely landlords, who warmly welcomed us despite illness, who were very generous and very helpful to us in organizing our activities. It was really nice with them. And we have learned to love especially the island this week despite initial misfeelings, and even despite the bad weather. Everything here is very easy and relaxed and all original. And the nature and underwater world are so fascinating that you cannot get enough of it. Here you can realize that you really do not need much to live and to be happy. This is the way how the people live here which easily can infects you. Everyone smiles friendly at you and greets you with a warm "ia orana ("jorana" spoken what "hello" means) - that is contagious and very relaxing! Now we also love Bora Bora and would like to come back!! Pictures coming soon ... Strange things about Bora Bora and Moorea:
- there are no cemeteries, therefore, the dead are buried in the front gardens (no joke)
- you can surprisingly drink the tap water in Bora Bora, so we had not to buy any water
- for scooter riding you have to wear a helmet here (as in Moorea), but the kids sit just without helmet behind their parents on the scooter and get only tied with a pareo to the driver and are quite happy with this - this is perfectly normal here
- there is only one road that goes around the island, and of course no traffic lights
- food is very expensive, on the other hand sending parcels is very cheap
- internet works great (no joke)
So, we are now in Bora Bora and enjoy our current life as world travelers very much! It's wonderful to be relaxed for such a long time and almost every day ... We can only do this because among others there are very many people at home who support us and have taken over our work so that we can enjoy our (well-deserved) vacation. Therefore, we would like to express our sincere thanks with very warm greetings from the South Seas to you great helpers at home:
- to our parents, Ingrid, Manfred, Isolde and our brothers Erik and Andrew and his family that you have supported our trip, that you share our joy with us about our experiences here, that you take over our work in the office (this is Manfred meant ;-)), that you have cleaned up our home and did all the laundry and ironing (this is Ingrid meant ;-)), that you gave us tips for the trip and over all gave us the idea (so that Erik is meant ;- ))
- to our work colleagues and bosses from Orbium and my super great ENTIRE team of WAGNER Rechtsanwälte webvocat, particularly my girls Heike, Dominique and Carolin, that you are doing our job and have taken over our representation and support us in our absence and making relaxing on this trip actually possible for us
- to our dear neighbours and landlords Martine, Magali and Heiko that you also liked our idea and now are taking care of the home and look after everything
- to all our dear friends that you have also supported us to make this trip, that you share our joy about our experiences here, that you keep us informed of the news at home (this is Beate meant ;-)) and that you are also excited about our wedding here and supported us with borrowed things (so Steffi is meant ;-)),
- to our previous guides, tango teachers, landlords of accommodation and travel friends that you have allowed us until now a great trip with great experiences
- and finally, of course, to all other relatives, friends and other readers who are so interested in following our blog and comment (we are very pleased with comments) and participate in our journey.
by Dani We have arrived in paradise!! On 1.12. we headed to the South Seas, finally to warm temperatures!! We have had a stopover in Santiago de Chile and a stopover surprisingly on Easter Island, where we even got out and stayed for an hour there, yeah! From there, we finally flew to Papeete. The flight was really annoying and this time we had a total of 26 hours trip before we fell tiredly in our pension (Ahitea Lodge: very nice and helpful owners) at night into bed. The next morning, we felt the high humidity, to which one must get used here first. In the beginning you're drenched in sweat at the slightest movement. Also to the new language again we had to get used to. The first sentences I could think of, were all in Spanish. As if I had a hole in my French language part of brain. Michael could not help it either! But step by step the memories came back and I was able to communicate. We met in the pension even a Frenchman, who emigrated from Normandy to Tahiti and his wife comes from Saarguemines which is right next to Saarbruecken. What a small world! After a wonderful breakfast at about 25 degrees and with fresh fruit (pineapple here is so sweet and insanely delicious) and finally real juices and fresh baguette we wandered around Papeete and the Market Hall, in which you can buy lots of fresh fruit, fish and flowers. In the afternoon we rented with the help of a very nice employee of the tourist office a car and drove a little over Tahiti. We saw very nice beaches and high, very green mountains. In the evening we went with the last ferry to Moorea. We got out and collected calmly our luggage, while all the others stormed into the bus, standing in front of the terminal. Funny, we thought, because we wanted to wait for the next bus and did not want to hurry. As the bus then drove off in front of our eyes, an employee of the terminal came to us and asked us why we stood around here and why we have not taken the bus. We said that we were waiting for the next bus. The man laughed heartily, shook his head about so much stupidness and said that this was the last bus and taxis will not come either any more today. He recommended to get on the road and try to hitchhike. I beg your pardon? Hitchhiking? In times, when we all know of "XY Ungeloest" (a German regular report on tele about not solved crimes) in Germany that hitchhiking means murder and theft and in most cases the victims will not survive??!! We looked surprised and stupid at the same time and started first to blame loudly each other because we had missed the stupid bus. I was of course not to blame ...! We had already seen us spending the night on the road, as a man who also was waiting at the terminal, approached and asked where we would have to go to. We said that we had to go to our guesthouse Motu Iti, the name of the place we did not know, of course, and printed documentation we just had not at hand. But here on the island, which has a circumference of about 60 km, everybody knows each other. Hence, the name was known to the man who, as it turned out, was the managing director of the tourism center of French Polynesia, came from Los Angeles and was married to a woman from Moorea and therefore lived here. He was very nice and had compassion, why he offered to give us (stupid) tourists a ride. He was only waiting for his wife to pick him up. We happily accepted the offer. But suddenly a car stopped in front of us and a man who knew the managing director, asked where we had to go to. We named our guesthouse again and were then taken from this nice man and dropped off in front of our guesthouse. As it turned out, he was the captain of the ferry himself - wow, cool start on Moorea! After a quick dinner, we fell into bed. The next morning we saw where we had landed: in a beautiful little bungalow right on the crystal clear water, which sheer exotic fish swam in and the water was temperatured like bath water - and that all right in front of our terrace, amazing!! And it was warm and the sun shone! We had arrived in paradise!! In the next few days we rented a scooter, which we explored the island with. Unfortunately, we slipped in a mud hole and Michael had a small flesh wound in the leg, which is now treated expertly by nurse Dani after the advice of a Tahitian doctor and additionally treated with antibiotics. Due to the high humidity, the wounds heal otherwise very badly and an infection would spread. On Moorea there is only one road that leads around the entire island. There is only one bus which runs only at the times of the ferry 1x over the island. There are several tiny villages, of which only Mahareepa can be called a mini city and where to find a few shops. Otherwise, the island is very green and has fairly high mountains and many small beaches, of which the beach of Tamae is the most beautiful one. There exists real South Seas feeling with crystal clear water, exotic fish, white beach and palm trees - a dream! We spent our days here so far with lying on the beach in the sun for hours, with snorkeling and watching fish and just relaxing. Partly reading a bit, partly swimming, partly snorkeling, sometimes a cold beer in between - at last real holiday feeling ... was time now after almost a month :-)! The last two days here in Moorea we now stay in a water bungalow at the Hilton Resort. The area is wonderful, with private beach and beautiful bungalows that are equipped luxuriously. We had for months been looking forward to finally jump almost from the bed in the crystal clear lagoon and swim with the fishes .... but unfortunately it's constantly raining now here since yesterday and unfortunately we could not really enjoy our great bungalow! Maybe we'll later just jump into the sea despite the weather. We get wet anyway, so we should not care about the rain. Last night we saw quite a lot of sharks between the bungalows that were up to 1.50 m long. During the day, they are fortunately further out, otherwise I would not put a toe into the water! A ray swims every day past the beach and a moray was seen by Michael also while snorkeling. Really fascinating here! We still enjoy today the luxury and the delicious food here (including crepes with Nutella for breakfast, great) before going to Bora Bora tomorrow. Unfortunately, the weather forecast is there very bad, too! Well, let's see what we can make of it ... Pictures of Moorea follow soon (we want to put you a little on the rack :-))!
by DaniWhat we liked in Latin America and did not like, we want to summarize as follows: What we like:
- delicious Argentine beer in 1-liter bottles, wine in 1.5 liter bottles: -) !!!
- Liquid yogurt for breakfast
- Argentine steak medium rare
- Latin time (a form of tardiness due to German standards, which transfer oneself very quickly into a vacation mode and which you can easily get used to)
- that you can even pay in Ushuaia at the end of the world with Euros at a rate of 1:15
- Empanadas (delicious pastry filled with vegetables, chicken, meat, fish or ham and cheese)
- Argentine tango and its music
- beautiful landscapes and great weather in Patagonia
- very friendly people
- It gets dark very late. In Buenos Aires the sunset is around 21:30 and in Ushuaia in summer even at 23:00!!
- Dog faeces in Buenos Aires
- Blue Market at ATMs (1:10) and the black market (1: 13.5) on the streets regarding Argentine pesos, if you have taken too little cash and are dependent on the ATM
- Dulce y leche: far too sweet caramel cream that you eat here as a spread for breakfast and is found in every cookies (is not remotely a worthy replacement for Nutella, which is nowhere to be found)
- non-sparkling lemonade as kind of juice for breakfast
- Argentine chocolate
- greasy lamb in any restaurant
- toilet situation: you cannot throw the toilet paper into the toilet, but have to throw it in an, at best, closed bucket next to the toilet (thank God, this only applies to public toilets, in Hotels they adopted the European standard)
by Dani After Puerto Natales we drove by bus to Punta Arenas, the most southern city in Chile. Punta Arenas is a large, beautiful city that is well maintained, in contrast to Puerto Natales. However, the city is very quiet and there are hardly any shops. For a short recovery it was ok. We toured around the city and visited the famous cemetery, which consists of beautiful tombs and is well maintained. Almost all of the graves have photos, so you can imagine who is buried there, a very nice idea! Vladd, our guide also told us the naming of the Latin American countries: Chile means "the end of the world", as in the past one thought the world was flat and Chile was the end. Argentina comes from the word "silver", which has been translated from "argentin" or "argentum", since there were probably a lot of silver deposits. Uruguay and Paraguay mean "white trees" and "black trees on the river," Bolivia is named after its discoverer Bolívar, Ecuador means "close to the equator," etc. We also learned more amazing things, namely, that there are no mailboxes at homes, because the post would not be delivered to one's home - so it is the way at least in the smaller towns - but must be picked up at the post office. Therefore, our guide laughed when he heard that there is the profession of the postman in our countries in Europe. That is not a profession, he meant! Very funny! Furthermore, a lot of people do not pay taxes, because loan etc. is always payed in cash and also electricity, water, etc., would be paid on a monthly basis in cash. Our hostel in Punta Arenas, however, was disgusting, with mold on the ceilings and terribly cold (@Tina: these are the ugly things;-))! Probably there I have already caught the first bacteria ... After a very funny dinner with lots of wine and with the whole group, who were all very nice, we went to bed. The next day we started to Ushuaia! We drove by bus for 9.5 hours across the border towards Ushuaia, Argentina. Ushuaia is located in Tierra del Fuego, which is actually an island and was named because the locals inflamed quite a lot of fire to warm themselves. The first impression was very dreary and bleak. But at some point the landscape changed and we saw lots of green forests. When we arrived in Ushuaia, there was again beautiful sunshine. Vladd, our guide, was stunned by the great weather all the time! He always claimed that this really is completely uncharacteristic of Patagonia ... yes, yes, yes 😉 !! Ushuaia is a really pretty town, situated on the one hand directly on the Beagle Channel, the connection between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, and on the other side surrounded by snow covered high mountains, where you can ski in the winter. Unfortunately, on our arrival the ski season just ended. With our hotel we were lucky. We have been reclassified due to overcrowding in a very nice hotel with views over the bay! A great end of our trip around Patagonia! In the afternoon we explored the town and met in the evening for a cozy dinner with the group. The next day I felt already terrible and very, very tired. Nevertheless I joined the boat trip over the Beagle Channel because I wanted to see the penguins. It was very beautiful, but unfortunately we have only seen the little Humboldt penguins, but not the great emperor penguins, and no whales. In the evening I felt then so bad that we could not go out for dinner. I had a sore throat, bad cough, a cold and was completely ill. Apparently the cold temperatures and the air conditioning in the bus had made it worse. I had already begun our journey with antibiotics and which I should probably continue to take! On Saturday we have then only bought a few souvenirs, after that I went to bed again. In the evening I even got a fever. To be ill abroad is really bad! I then plundered our first aid kit and again started to take antibiotics in addition to ibuprofen, Acc. The next day we flew back to Buenos Aires where our journey had officially ended. We stayed one night in the main hotel, before the next day we headed to the South Seas. Finally warm temperatures! After another painful night with chills, I was glad to finally come back to a warm place, even if we had to say goodbye to Argentina, which has really impressed us! We will come back!
by Dani From El Calafate the next day, we drove about 6 hours by bus to Puerto Natales, Chile. At the border, our backpacks were scanned and the whole bus was checked with dogs, but not because of drugs, but because of possible fresh fruit, vegetables and plant seeds. In Chile, the government is afraid of fruits, really funny! At the border we have then discovered a caravan with number plate from Lörrach (small town in Germany), which I walked by and asked where they were going to. The nice woman said that she and her partner and a couple of friends had planned to drive during the next 11 months, the whole Panamericana from Ushuaia to Alaska, wow! We have only met people who've all traveled a lot and seen a lot of crazy countries, very impressive! And sometimes there are also older couples exploring the most lonely corners ... ok, our plans for retirement are made 😉 ! Puerto Natales is located on the Pacific coast, but on the cold side. It was rainy and cold when we arrived. The place itself is quite small and does not have much to offer. But it is usually only a starting point for the tour in the Torres del Paine National Park - so as for us! Our hostel was simple but beautiful with views over the bay. In the afternoon we met our female guide for the park. She told us the tour, the daily walks and gave us the sleeping bags for camping. The next morning we drove - we had the most beautiful, sunny weather again, which was great - through great scenery up in the National Park, where we started at 11 am to the first hike. We hiked for 8 hours over 19 km uphill and downhill through beautiful scenery and landscapes. It was very impressive! In the evening we went to our first campsite. It was much more comfortable than we had previously thought. We had a cozy little tent that was at night along with the sleeping bags surprisingly warm, although it was outside about 3 degrees cold. In addition, there was a toilet and shower trolley and a small cottage where we got a delicious dinner and breakfast. The first night in the tent was a bit of getting used to, but fun! The next day we took - again in glorious sunshine and warm 10 degrees - a ferry that took us over a beautiful lake on the other side of the park, where we got our second tent. This campsite was built in front of a beautiful mountain scenery, it was beautiful! Connected to the campsite was a small hostel where we could have shower, dinner and breakfast. Shortly after arriving we started our second hike. This time we were only 6 hours on the road for about 15 km. The landscape was completely different, but also beautiful again!! We constantly took pictures and could hardly follow the group, but it was just too beautiful! In the evening I fell as almost dead in our sleeping bag and wasn't even woken up by 90 km/h wind, which almost swept away our tent, while Michael this time hardly could close his eyes. The next day we made only a hike of 4 hours to the French glacier. The glaciers here take their name from the first explorers and researchers, here just a researcher from France. Here too the wind swept us almost from the rock from which we could see the glacier. Some of us could only kneel on the ground because of the strong wind. In the afternoon we went back to the ferry, where we were picked up by our minibus again and brought back to Puerto Natales. A little misunderstanding extended our stay a little, as three of our group had missed the first ferry and arrived only with the second ferry. Back in Puerto Natales we were all very happy to have a hot shower and to sleep again in a real bed. It is incredible how much you even after a short time learn to appreciate the pleasures of daily life! The next day Punta Arenas was waiting for us ...
by Dani After leaving El Chalten we went with our minibus three hours back to El Calafate, where we were staying in a very cozy simple hotel "Hosteria Posta Sur". The next morning we went to the National Park and Glacier Perito Moreno. We had - like all the time here - very nice, sunny weather at about 10 degrees. On the way to the park we were told a lot about Patagonia, e. g. that the country was so named because the original inhabitants probably had very large feet and "pata gones" well translated simply means "big feet", that sooner most of the farmers lived from sheeps, from their meat and wool (hence is one of the specialties here in every restaurant lamb) that in Patagonia the suicide rate in Argentina is at its highest since normally there is bad weather and it is very cold and a lot of people "flee" during the winter of Patagonia in the warmer regions and the others then quite lonely remain in town, that the government allows residents more money so they can live there, and that there is virtually no crime and you can feel safe even at night alone on the street. In the National Park we were very close driven by a boat to the glacier, which was incredibly impressive. We once again shot some photos. We were taking then by bus to a viewing platform and a trail that led close to the glacier, where we could enjoy the view of the 45qkm large glacier. In the afternoon we had free and completed a few things such as laundry in the Hotel, uploaded pictures, etc. In the evening we were eating with the whole group before we had to pack it all back together. Because the next morning we were going to take the long distance coach from the local bus station to Puerto Natales, Chile.