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Patagonia: El Chalten

Posted on 25 September 2016 by Dreidel Regala

El Chalten

Week 19

El Chalten

“Oh we love El Chalten. You can do day hikes and there’s no park fee and Fitz Roy is beautiful.”

When somebody tells you this with excitement in their voice and sparkle in their eyes, and you still do otherwise, there must be something wrong with you right? I know this because once upon a time I decided to ignore the sparkle in somebody’s eyes. It’s not something out of habit but I’m running out of funds and Argentina has a lot to do with that.

Fast forward to Puerto Natales, another girl tells me this – “Between Torres del Paine and El Chalten, I’d go for El Chalten. In Torres it’s like walk walk walk then wow walk walk walk then wow. In El Chalten it’s consistently nice.” Now while this kind of description is very subjective (cause I liked Torres del Paine even though I didn’t hike it) it still hit me that I missed it. So I backtracked to Argentina and to this place called El Chalten.

***

Getting there

From Puerto Natales I took a bus to El Calafate (4hrs) then to El Chalten (3hrs) all in one day. I got in town sometime in the afternoon but it should be noted that the bus between El Calafate and El Chalten can sell out especially during peak season. Buy tickets in advance and if coming from Chile, buy it from there cause I got mine at a slightly lower price doing that.

El Chalten

El Chalten

El Chalten is a small town in between mountains. But it is far from being off the beaten path. Nowadays I think it mostly runs for tourism. And almost everyone will be outdoors in Argentina’s trekking capital.

El Chalten

There are restaurants, souvenir shops, and outdoor stores but most of them will not accept credit cards so before heading out, get cash in El Calafate.

Budget options are also not a lot in this town.

Treks

When you wake up in the morning, you can just walk to one end of town (or the other) then start the trek. It’s really that easy and most importantly – free. Sadly though when I woke up it was grey and raining. I could see the diagonal drops of rain, evidence of the winds outside. I was warm from where I was sitting and I could just watch the trekkers passing by the window all day. But I didn’t.

After consuming my unending encounter with bread and butter and jam and dulce de leche for breakfast, I put on my non-waterproof jacket. We’ve been through a lot so I think we can get through a little more Patagonia rain, albeit wet.

Now there are two mainstream day treks in El Chalten: Laguna Torre (for Cerro Torre) and Laguna De Los Tres (for Cerro Fitz Roy). These are the ones I usually hear from people’s raves. A long hike but is possible to do in one day.

El Chalten

But there are also shorter treks for those wanting to take it easy or in my case, if the weather isn’t cooperating. I decided to check out Mirador Fitz Roy instead for my rainy day. It’s more or less 3-4 hours walk back and forth. And along the way there’s a view of Rio de las Vueltas but that area was so much windy I thought I was gonna be blown away and nobody will ever know.

Rio de las Vueltas

Rio de las Vueltas

Fitz Roy

As predicted, there was no Fitz Roy that day. Sigh. One should really have adjustable schedule when in Patagonia to compensate with the weather.

El Chalten

Aside from that it was pretty much an easy hike and there was no chance for me getting lost cause the trail was well defined, felt weird at first though. If you’re still worried, I found that Maps.me covers the trails in the area too. On the way back, side trip to Laguna Capri. On a good day this is a nice short walk from town to see Fitz Roy over a lake.

Laguna Capri

Another day trek that I took but farther than Mirador Fitz Roy, is Laguna Torre. This took me around 6 hours through varied landscape back and forth.

El Chalten

Notice these guys below. This is one of the big difference between trekking in El Chalten and Torres del Paine. You walk without a big pack on your back. Day hikes, yes?

Laguna Torre

El Chalten \

El Chalten

On a good day this gives an awesome view of one of the sharpest climbs in the world – Cerro Torre.

Laguna Torre

Laguna Torre

Laguna Torre

Wait it should be out there somewhere *squint

Cerro Torre

Now my friend here is amazing. Wearing only shorts, a really light leggings, and a non-waterproof jacket (just like me!). Good thing it didn’t rain that day or we’ll be miserable lol.

Laguna Torre

Laguna Torre

Laguna Torre

Laguna Torre

Laguna Torre

Finally, let me say that El Chalten can also be a multi day hike. Although I didn’t have experience on this, the treks I mentioned plus some other farther out can be combined to create a more intense adventure. There are several campsites but I’m not sure if there are refugios like those in Torres del Paine. Most are free though.

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Transsiberian: Where to stop along the way

Posted on 06 August 2016 by Dreidel Regala

Transsiberian

Week 2

Transsiberian

Direction: East to West
Transsiberian lines: Trans-Mongolian and Trans-Siberian
Number of train changes: one
Major stops: Beijing, Ulaanbaatar, and Moscow
Time in train: Approx 127 hours
Visas: Chinese, Mongolian, and Russian

While the main (and probably longest at approximately 7 days) transsiberian route runs from Moscow to Vladivostok, there are other branching routes which goes through China and Mongolia. I would say doing the whole Moscow-Vladivostok vv train is quite extraordinary but I’ll probably be train exhausted in the other end. So the tolerable version is to make stops along the way and enjoy some scenery.

That is what I did when I took the railway last year. I passed by three countries (China, Mongolia, Russia) and made a stop in all three in a span of almost 20 days. The actual time spent in the train was around 5 days. Of course one could easily spend a longer time on each.

Transsiberian

Transsiberian

Terminus #1 | Beijing

Beijing is a destination in itself that is why I don’t see the reason not to make time and see some of it when passing through the city. There’s actually quite a number of things to see there but it’s no question that at the top of it is the Great Wall of China. This should take at least a day out of the train. Tip, don’t go there on a holiday or weekend.

Great Wall of China

Another one is the Forbidden City. This was a palace in the old days but is now a museum. The place reminds me of Chinese movies with kings and queens or royalties in red robes and women in silk dresses. On the flipside, what I didn’t like though are the unbelievable amount of visitors it gets.

Forbidden City

Terminus #2 | Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar or Ulan Bator is the capital of Mongolia. I have to admit I didn’t quite experience much of UB save for the Naadam festival that I got to watch when I got back from the desert. The festival happens in July wherein competitions in wrestling, archery, and horse racing take place. It’s a weekend affair so allot 3 days out of the train for this.

Naadam festival

Now I’m sure UB has it’s own charm too but what you’ll really like is a roadtrip in the Gobi desert. It’s a rough drive because the Gobi is mostly rocky instead of sand. There are wild horses, lone gers, sand dunes, vast landscapes etc. And if you really want to go deep in the desert you have to at least have 8 days.

Gobi desert

Terminus #3 | Moscow

The transsiberian starts or ends in Moscow and here is maybe a good place to get to know Russia, the creator of the railway. The Red Square is pretty much where you’ll want to be. From here you can walk to Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral.

Red Square

Here’s something interesting, the Moscow metro has some gorgeous stations. Hop on a train and discover the underground architecture.

Novoslobodskaya station

There is also the Cafe Pushkin which first appeared in a song and was later built into reality but that is only after a lot of people have mistaken that it existed even before the song came out. And the setup, let’s just say you can either eat in an old library or a pharmacy.

Cafe Pushkin

Extra | Other possible stops

The stretch from Ulaanbaatar to Moscow is 4-days long. This can be further cut by adding stops in the Russian side.

  • Ulan Ude – Ulan Ude is in Russia but there is a strong Mongolian influence.
  • Irkutsk – If you want to go to Lake Baikal, this is where you should stop.
  • Yekatarinburg – Also called Ekatarinburg. Yekatarinburg is an urban city but it has monuments, churches, and even a Mafia cemetery for the curious.
  • Kazan – Kazan is predominantly Muslim. If you want to see how this looks inside Russia then head there.

Transsiberian ticket

It must be noted that all train tickets are point-to-point basis. This means it is only valid for the duration of your ride. If you plan to get off the train for a day of sightseeing in Irkutsk, you will have to purchase another ticket for the succeeding ride. Think flight tickets. Of course it is a different case when you go down the train to just stretch your legs for a few minutes.

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Chile: The Atacama

Posted on 24 July 2016 by Dreidel Regala

Atacama

Week 14

San Pedro de Atacama

The Atacama Desert. To some, it’s the driest place on earth. To others, a stargazer’s junction. To me, it’s Mars. It looks so much like it! Not that I’ve been to Mars already. But my imagination has and I think Mars is a perfect description to Atacama Desert.

San Pedro de Atacama

About 2,400m high in the Antofagasta region of Chile is the oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama. I went here a few days after entering the country from the north. Took an overnight bus (Turbus) which was supposed to take 12 hours from Arica but mine took longer. At some point in this 12+ hour journey the attendant took my passport and I think he said something about an inspection but I didn’t quite understand a lot of Spanish then. He did give it back though, the next day after the said inspection, but not after I asked him many many times about it. The inspection was pretty much straightforward save for food which has strict rules. Chile is dog-sniffing serious about this and some people end up being fined. By morning we’re near San Pedro and when I looked out the window I was convinced that I will never say no to NASA if they asked me to go to Mars. Let me say that again – hello NASA, I’m ready for Mars.

San Pedro de Atacama

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While the town is pretty small, it makes up for popularity. Throngs of outsiders busy themselves with the idea of desert cycling, sandboarding, stargazing parties, archaeological tours, and a visit to a salar, laguna or geyser. It’s very touristic and expensive but it’s kinda cute.

Valle de la Luna

Valle de la Luna or Moon Valley. Another cosmic reference in Atacama but it’s really otherworldly out there.

A vast land of sand and salt formation caused by wind and water coming from surrounding mountains. The valley’s landscape is so extraordinary that it has become well visited.

Atacama

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As I’m not keen on biking from San Pedro, I took a guided tour with a friend from one of the many shops in town. It was less than ch$10,000 with haggling if I remember right, excluding the ch$2,000 park ticket. We started around 4pm and went on until after sunset.

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These elements are actually alive. If you take the time to just quiet down and listen, you will hear the forming and unforming or the breathing they make.

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We were led through canyons, caverns, and slopes of salt and sand in red hue. How did all of these happen, I kept asking myself quietly as I followed everyone.

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The formation on the right is called Tres Marias and the one on the left is for your imagination.

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The guide let us wander for some time but there were areas that were off limits. Even if I don’t understand much Spanish I think the message is fairly obvious.

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Now this isn’t called the driest place in the world for nothing. The air really felt dry and the sun as if it was on your back. You should have water at the least. After sunset though you’ll need a jacket for the cold.

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Atacama

Sunsets in Valle de la Luna are magical. But turning around from it was my favorite. A palette of pink, purple, and blue with the moonrise was all it took. The moon in the picture below was the beginning stage of the Supermoon. Later in the evening we were out again to watch it turn blood-red.

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Tip: San Pedro de Atacama is close to Bolivia’s Uyuni Salt Flats. Many travelers go from one to the other by signing up on the many tour operators in both San Pedro and Uyuni.

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Arequipa: Trekking Colca Canyon

Posted on 05 June 2016 by Dreidel Regala

Colca Canyon

Week 12

Colca Canyon

I think we’ve been walking for six hours and still no sign of our town. Fure, where are you? Up ahead I see another incline and an involuntary curse escapes me. We’re here! One of my friends yell. Yah? Where is here, I don’t see a town anywhere, I thought to myself. It doesn’t help that I’m ways behind from everyone so I just drag my body in hopes that we are indeed here.

Fure is a small town in the middle of Colca Canyon. This is the second stop in our two night trek in one of the world’s deepest canyons. Deeper than the more popular Grand Canyon.  No more than thirty houses greeted us along with the sound of wind. You see, Fure is empty tonight.

By the time we realized there was no one coming, we had waited for three hours already and the sun no longer high. All the doors were locked and all of them have been yanked with no luck. It was dark. It was cold. We were hungry. We were tired.

***

Arequipa

Colca Canyon is found in south Peru. It is closest to Arequipa city which is about 16 hours away by bus from capital city Lima. Three volcanoes surround the city: El Misti, Chachani, and PichuPichu, and two of those are possible to climb.

Chachani

El Misti

From Arequipa, it’s a 3-4 hour bus to Cabanaconde which is the starting point of the trek. There is a tourist ticket (70 soles) to the park, we got ours from a man who saw us standing in front of Pachamama hostel. If I’m not mistaken, the trail is on the right side of the plaza. After that you decide your route.

Colca Canyon

We did a 3days/2nights trek stopping in Llahuar (hot pools), then to Fure, and then Sangalle (oasis) but didn’t stay the night in Sangalle. I’m not sure where my friend got this map but whatever happens don’t set off without one. Maybe ask the guys in Pachamama hostel or your place in Arequipa.

Colca Canyon

Depending on where you’re going, the trek may involve altitude so prepare you’re body for a few days if possible. Most hostels in Arequipa serves Coca tea. That helps.

Colca Canyon

Bring the following:

  1. Chlorine tabs/water purifier – rivers and springs are your source of water in between towns and they’re not really clean
  2. Trail food
  3. Swim wear
  4. Torch
  5. Cash

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Those lines are where you’re going to be walking so wear good comfortable trekking shoes. Sometimes there will be jumps but I’m sure you’ll manage.

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

In September the weather is cold. However you may get hot during the trek so wear something that can easily be taken off.

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

I didn’t see a condor during the trek but maybe I wasn’t looking up much. If you want to see condors though there is a mirador enroute to Cabanaconde from Arequipa. You can either stop there before or after the trek.

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Colca Canyon

Above picture is Sangalle, also called oasis. There are hotels down there with pools. And that faint zigzag line on the right is the trail to Cabanaconde. There is an option to mule it up for 60 soles instead of walking.

Colca Canyon

I do consider the trek difficult but that is because I’m not a good trekker and especially not with altitude. There were moments I thought I can no longer make another step but those guys kept me going. That said I still think inexperienced trekkers can make it, maybe just a bit slower.

Colca Canyon

Finally, I think Colca Canyon is really beautiful. I’m glad to see it. Oh and I recommend jumping in the ice cold river in Llahuar! And by the way the pizza in Pachamama hostel in Cabanaconde is quite an awesome reward.

Note: There is an option also to arrange a guided trek. I saw many operators in Arequipa around the Plaza de Armas and also in our hostel. Price ranges from 75 – 135 soles not including tourist ticket.

***

The electricity came on some time after dark. To be honest it was kinda creepy, an empty town that seems to have the basics still up and running. Like everybody just disappeared in the middle of the night.

We have pasta with tuna, a squash-looking fruit, some dried raisins, and nuts in the table. A few minutes ago we may have pried open the door to a kitchen and a bedroom to seek refuge and find food. It was crazy move and we’re not proud of it but it was our final card. The survival card.

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Patagonia: Torres del Paine for a non hiker

Posted on 28 May 2016 by Dreidel Regala

Torres del Paine

Week 19

Torres del Paine

Some ten thousand miles from Manila is a place called Patagonia. A region so vast it covers two countries – Chile and Argentina. Go to the south end of both and you’ll find yourself surrounded with trekkers from all over the world. Why? This is because the region is among the list of renowned climbs along with Everest, PCT, Mont Blanc, Kilimanjaro, and many others. From green landscapes to icy peaks, angry winds to shy animals, cold nights to pink mornings, Patagonia seems to be in the mind of trekkers looking for a beautiful challenge. But as for me, I don’t even dare say I’m a hiker. It’s not my first trek but my skill in this area has a lot of fine tuning to make. So with the abundance of excitement, I sorta forgot I’m not trained for Patagonia.

Puerto Natales

Puerto Natales

It was early November when I got to Puerto Natales, Chile. The nearest city to Torres del Paine. It was this that made me decide to see the region. Go ahead and google images “Torres del Paine” and prepare to be amazed.

I stayed in Hostel Cuatro Estaciones which is in between the water and Unimarc. After a few minutes of checking me in, Yasna was already explaining to me in front of her wall map how to trek Torres del Paine and where to camp. Goes to show that this is the norm. And I’ll be the exception.

I decided to sit out a few days instead – walk around town, blog a little, and contemplate some more. I was almost considering the idea of doing the W. The W is the more famous circuit in Torres del Paine. It takes about 4-5 days and can either be from East to West or West to East until you form a W. I heard some people base their direction on the wind to make the walks easier. If I haven’t said it yet, the wind in Patagonia is a beast. The other circuit is the O or the full circuit. This one takes 10 days I think. The Torres del Paine trek is not an altitude trek so that’s a good thing there. The not so good is if you’re on a budget and can’t afford the luxury of a refugio stay, then you have to carry camping gear, add to that your food. But this is just a slight complication to the many trekkers that take on the challenge everyday.

Here’s a sample base expense that I found:

Bus to park (15,000 RT)

Park fee (18,000 valid for 3 days)

Camping gear (cheap rentals in town/hostel)

Campsite fee (some are free but some are paid 4,000 – 8,000)

Grey boat (15,000, can also opt to just walk it)

W circuit

W circuit. Photo by www.back-packer.org

I’ve met friends who did the W and many of them said that it’s fine for non-hikers too. Just take it at your own pace, they told me. And be prepared to encounter four seasons in a single day. As is the case when in Patagonia region, a rain/waterproof jacket can solve this although I didn’t have one. But again it’s possible to rent it out in town.

O circuit

O circuit. Photo by www.back-packer.org

And this is the O circuit.  By the looks of it, that’s a lot of nature day walking.

Now I said I almost considered the W. Until I didn’t.

One morning in the breakfast table of Cuatro Estaciones, I met Carina and we decided on the day tour. We’re both not prepared at the time on carrying a lot and camping in the cold. So the 25,000 tour was our price. This version was all spent in the park, no stop in Milodon cave. I think there were about 9 stops but some may have been due to our demand to “stop the car!” Compared to the google images I saw, the view of the torres in this tour are farther. I didn’t see the reflective lake beneath the torres but what I saw was good too. Those are not the kind of landscape I’m used to in the Philippines. So a bluish icy mountain surrounded by green-blue water made my heart skipped a beat. There were still some walks but nothing a kid can’t do.

Glacier Grey

The first stop was to see Glacier Grey. Quite cold in this area and super windy too. Here’s Carina trying to walk despite the wind. The glacier itself was very far from the shore but there were chunks floating in the lake.

Glacier Grey

Torres del Paine

After that we had lunch in this camp. The tour didn’t include lunch so we packed a sandwich and told stories with our tour mates who cycled around Patagonia but like they said – at our age, we don’t have to prove anything anymore, we just want to do it. That is so right, lovely couple!

Lake Pehoe

And this is Lake Pehoe or I just dreamt it.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

If you notice, the mountain is bluish. To be honest, I have no idea why. But it is the case so they named it Paine which is an old word for blue.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

And that’s a Guanaco. If the north has Llamas and Vicuñas, Torres del Paine has Guanacos. Behind him are the torres and those mountains are probably where the hikers are.

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine

We came home exhausted and sleepy. I came home unbelieving I really got to see that. It stuck with me that I couldn’t make myself leave the region. So I decided to backtrack and re-enter Argentina and sprint my way to El Chalten. I only had 4 days left in my Argentinian visa and I was that crazy I squeezed some Los Glaciares to that.

In the end, there’s no pressure. You don’t have to hike if you don’t want to. There are plenty of beauty around the park to be had. And I think I’ll be back for the others too.

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Getting a Russian visa in Manila

Posted on 16 February 2016 by Dreidel Regala

Russian visa

First of all, here’s Russian embassy’s general visa information: http://www.philippines.mid.ru/doc/Visa_Section.htm

The requirements you want to know are listed in there along with the visa parameters you want to be aware of. Below is just a story of how I got mine.

***

I’m getting on a train in Ulaanbaatar and I’m getting off in Moscow. I tell this to myself with a smug look on my face while I stare at the map on my computer screen. I’m getting off in Moscow, I repeat that again, now in a whisper as realization sets in – I’m going to Russia! Quickly I make a pass in the internet about my passport’s visa situation to the country. I need one and it’s just about four bullet points away according to the embassy website. Doable, I whisper again, my heart racing a bit.

The Preparation

  • Valid passport
  • Passport-size photo
  • Travel voucher
  • Visa application form

Just four items and I don’t even need to buy any flights! I decide this was probably the easiest visa paperwork I’ve seen so far. And honestly after gathering them all I still think it is.

Step 1

Passport. I had no problem with this since I already have one and I meet all the parameters as stated in the embassy website.

Step 2

Photo. After an hour in the mall, I got this already.

Step 3

Travel voucher (or travel confirmation or visa support). Out of the four items here this is probably the trickiest.

What is a travel voucher and where to get it? The explanation in the embassy website is actually good already but to be sure I went around a little further. It’s basically an authorized confirmation document which is given by authorized agencies. To some people this meant going to any normal travel agency and letting them find the authorized agency for them (and eventually give them the voucher). To others including me this meant ordering the voucher from a website.

RealRussia is one such website and also WaytoRussia. But eventually I just chose my hostel’s own visa support service because they’re cheaper. Unfortunately I think the hostel closed down now.

It had two things: a reference number and a confirmation number.

By the way, I included the transsiberian in my itinerary when I filled out the order form.

Step 4

Application form. I filled out the electronic form using the reference and confirmation numbers from the voucher. And I mentioned the transsiberian again in my itinerary.

Be very careful and exact with the entry and exit dates on both the voucher and application form because they put the same on the visa. I had to double and triple check this with my train’s border crossing timing else I could be left behind, in the middle of the night, in no man’s land.

The Application

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. These are the only open days of the consular division in Rada Street, Makati. I went on a Monday and the small room was almost full already when I got there.

In the entrance there’s a security person who gives a queue number. Now here’s the thing, he asked me about my flight reservation. Of course I didn’t have this because I never read it in the requirements list but he wouldn’t give me a number without it. So I went outside and printed my transsiberian receipt. When I came back he wasn’t in the entrance anymore because he was busy organizing the applicants inside. At this point he didn’t look at my paperwork anymore and just arranged me along with everybody else after assigning me a number.

I guess I could suspect that the flight reservation was never really a supporting document because there is a possibility to sneak in but I will never know.

The consul officer didn’t ask anything but he did notice the transsiberian in my paperwork so it’s good that I mentioned that there. It was a different case though for some people in the room like the two friends who were asked something about their finances and reason for their two month visit. I have to say however that that officer was the nicest officer I’ve seen because he talked to the two friends in the most calm and understanding tone I’ve ever heard inside an embassy.

When they finished confirming the paperwork, they gave me a paper for the payment which I paid in the bank and returned in the embassy. I think the regular two week processing is around Php5,700. I on the other hand paid a whopping Php7,980 (as of 25th May 2015) to get it the following Monday. This may just be one of the most expensive visas out there.

The Release

When next Monday came, I have my Russian visa and a whole lot of transsiberian daydreaming.

Extra

I read somewhere that foreigners must register after arriving in Russia. Some say we just have to do it in the first city. Others say the hostel will do it for us. In the end I just told my hostel about it but never really know if they’ve gotten around to it.

***

Embassy of the Russian Federation
Consular Division
Room 402 A, 4/F, RCI Bldg, 105 Rada St., Legazpi Village, Makati City

Embassy of the Russian Federation (main office)
1245 Acacia Road, Dasmariñas Village, Makati City

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Street art: Sao Paulo, Valparaiso, Bogota

Posted on 11 February 2016 by Dreidel Regala

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Three cities in three countries. Sao Paulo, Valparaiso, and Bogota. All have something in common – street art.

Now I’m not an expert on this subject. I don’t even know the difference between graffiti, mural, street art, and urban art. But I like free and I like art so there’s that.

And when the morning came, I put on my shoes and started walking.

Open musuem #1 | Sao Paulo, Brazil

The neighborhood called Villa Madalena in Pinheiros is home to many art galleries and artsy restaurants. In this neighborhood I found Beco do Batman (Batman’s alley) where there is a long stretch of graffiti on display.

The good thing about Beco do Batman is that I didn’t have to wander all over the city because there is a good concentration of artwork in a single alley. Though that also means watchers are also concentrated here.

graffiti

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Tip: No need for a guide. Just go to Villa Madalena and ask for Beco do Batman.
Typical time spent: 40-90 minutes

Open museum #2 | Valparaiso, Chile

Valparaiso is a colorful city. Houses are painted with bright colors and walls are covered with art. But what I think is unique about Valpo is that it is hilly. There are at least eight hills (a.k.a. cerros) and they are not easy on the legs hence I only saw few murals.

But the hills aren’t all that bad actually. Makes the city look interesting especially with the colorful houses. Some murals can even be seen only from somewhere high because of the elevation.

The bad thing, taggers or those unpretty graffiti were a lot in this city.

graffiti

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I know I’m tired of taking these steps everywhere but they’re so cute!

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Tip: Take the free walking tour. It’s a city tour that already includes graffiti.
Typical time spent: 60-120 minutes

Open museum #3 | Bogota, Colombia

I love this capital city’s sweater weather but what I didn’t know was that I was going to love the street art just as much!

My art sighting was concentrated on the historical district of La Candaleria (though there are murals elsewhere too). It’s a bit of a walk but thankfully it’s mostly flat.

In this area (maybe even the city) street art is really part of the community. Establishments and residents seek out artists to dress their walls, doors, or whatever. Oh and the artists really do make a name for themselves, appearing on magazines, comics, and games. It’s still not straight out legal but it’s just a matter of city permit.

graffiti

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Sometimes it’s an unassuming rose on a gun.

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Sometimes it’s a sculpture up there so look up!

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Sometimes it’s hand painted.

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Sometimes it’s made of small objects.

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Sometimes it’s a potato with wings.

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Sometimes it’s a poster glued on the wall that will never come off.

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Sometimes it’s political.

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But mostly it’s beautiful.

Tip: Take the free graffiti tour. They take you to the good ones and explain it well too.
Typical time spent: 90-150 minutes

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Uyuni salt flats

Posted on 09 January 2016 by Dreidel Regala

Well if you’re in Bolivia… scratch that – when you’re in South America do yourself a favor and go to the Uyuni salt flats. It’s pretty cool actually *giggles

Uyuni

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Istanbul: The Bosphorus

Posted on 05 January 2016 by Dreidel Regala

Bosphorus

Week 5

Istanbul

The Asian Turkey on the east and the European Turkey on the west. The Bosphorus is where you’ll want to be if you want to be in two continents at once. That and if you want to see Istanbul’s pretty coastline.

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“What are you doing tomorrow?”

We are sitting in the rooftop of our Beyoglu/Istiklal hostel and I just found out that my hostel mates are doing Erasmus in Istanbul. Ah I remember that time when I dare try to get in but wasn’t smart enough lol fun times.

I’m about to end my trip in Turkey and I have yet been on the Bosphorus so when a plan to see it the following day came up I was very excited.

Bosphorus

We took a commuter ferry instead of a tourist cruise. It was cheaper compared to the Bosphorus cruise, around 2.15 lira if I remember right.

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The sunsets onboard was beautiful.

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Sibel here was our awesome Istanbul insider. Showing us her university where we lost in a game of table hockey and walking us around the city. Oh I still remember that yummy waffle in Bebek!

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Another plus when you take the commuter ferry is you can hop off anywhere you want. We got off here to get our delicious waffle and the typical turkish snack kumpir.

Bosphorus

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To get information about ferry schedule and fare checkout Sehir Hatlari website.

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Hostel music

Posted on 04 January 2016 by Dreidel Regala

I once left a note for my hostel roommates saying how uncool they are and their late night noises. Of course they didn’t like it and wrote me off in my post.

But hostel roommates are not all bad. Some are awesome! Musically awesome like these two!

hostel

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