Exploring Northern Argentina – Days 1 & 2 – Iguazú Falls

Finally things have calmed down a little and I have some time to sit and write up my final adventures in Argentina – it already seems so long ago!

After a very delayed flight due to fog in Buenos Aires my dad and I arrived in Iguazú (the argentine side) late morning. We were picked up and taken to our hotel. It wasn’t at all how I imagined it to be through their website, not helped by all the building works going on,  which put a slight dampener on things. Nonetheless the staff were lovely and helpful and the setting – in the jungle – was pretty spectacular.

We immediately got a taxi across the border into Brazil to go and see the falls. They say that you get a more panoramic view from the brazilian side, whereas from the argentine side you can get more up close and personal, something I would definitely agree with!

In fact, we were incredibly lucky to see the falls at all. In the weeks before we visited, the area had experienced severe flooding, the remnants of which were still there. But, of course, it was still completely breathtaking…even if a little brown! Now time for a photo dump…

Iguazú Falls 1First view of the falls

10418154_10152162978516123_5158073046690641342_nThese little creatures were everywhere, terribly cute but also very vicious! 

10553556_10152162978791123_459924180944028618_n

10534529_10152162978876123_3358449207674249106_nHalf of this walkway was closed off as it had been damaged in the floods

10489859_10152162978936123_6514835111550530789_n

After following the small circuit round the various viewpoints we grabbed some lunch from the restaurant next to the top of the falls. It was horrifically expensive as expected but the food was okay! And I continued to speak Spanish due to my utter lack of Portuguese! That evening we had a delicious free 3 course meal in our hotel, I forgot to take photos but I enjoyed an amazing coconut sweetcorn soup, river fish and (naturally) chocolate volcano cake for dessert. The perks of booking directly!

The next day was spent exploring the argentine side of the falls. Whilst a lot was still closed off due to damage/extreme water flow there was still plenty to see. And up close and personal we got:

Iguazu 2

Iguazu 3The noise was just incredible!

Iguazu Boat Trip

We took a boat trip to go and see the falls from the water and got rather drenched! Our driver raced along the rapids and then swerved in and out of the cascades of water, so much fun! Although there was one rather worried looking man on our boat who I felt a bit bad for!

Iguazu Boat Trip 2

An incredible sight. The rest of Iguazú is pretty…nothing to be honest so by the time our 2 days were up I was ready for the next stage of our adventure…

Have you ever been to see a waterfall like this?

{MIMM} A week back home…

…in the loosest sense of the term. Although this week was my first official Monday-Sunday back in the UK, I wasn’t really at home much. The start of the week was spent in beautiful Oxfordshire to be with my family.

I enjoyed a couple of scenic runs and a WOD in the park…

River Thames

Warborough Green

I caught up with an old friend in Henley for a mini-picnic and a wander along the river.

One afternoon by auntie and I went for a quick stroll along the river before lunch and saw these cows taking a dip…

Cows in the ThamesThey definitely had the right idea in this heat…

The second half of the week was spent at home. Plenty of house sorting! A delicious dinner out with a friend at the new Wagamama’s in Hereford, I had a delicious tuna steak salad. Love that place.

I baked some of Amanda’s almond butter chocolate chip muffins for some healthy snacking – so good!! (I only had a small jar of almond butter so used half almond butter half pnb, am feeling a trip to Wholefoods coming on…)

Run With Spoons Almond Muffins

I saw my friend for the last time before she flies back to Australia *sniff sniff*, we had a lovely coffee outside in the sunshine and I rather raided TK Maxx’s sportswear department… It was all much needed I promise!

On Friday I cycled to Hay-on-Wye, had lunch and cycled home again. The entire trip was 80km and it was so lovely to be back on my bike again :) even if I did get rather sunburnt on my back where I couldn’t reach with the suncream… And I didn’t feel too great in the heat – be careful out there and keep hydrated!

The Granary Hay-on-WyeThe view from my lunch spot

photo 1 (11)I refuelled with my first green smoothie since getting home, holy yum! This was nice and simple – frozen banana, spinach, pnb and almond milk

Saturday was again spent driving to and from Oxfordshire whilst on Sunday I ‘enjoyed’ a very sweaty morning run and then spent the afternoon sorting out my new iPhone (5S), super excited!

All in all a pretty busy but pretty marvelous week!

MiMM

How was your last week?

{Recipe} Crunchy Turkey Tahini Salad

I enjoyed this salad yesterday afternoon, hiding away from the heat of the day in the deliciously cool kitchen to the soundtrack of some chilled summer tunes with a new magazine for my entertainment. It was heavenly.

I was craving something crisp, fresh and cooling, with a bit of zing. And that’s just what this salad is. The cabbage provides a bit of crunch, the lemon is refreshing and (naturally) tangy. Whilst the honey offsets this and the tahini brings it all together… A plate of happiness.

Crunchy Tahini Turkey Salad

Crunchy Turkey Tahini Salad

(Serves 1)

Baby leaf salad (I used a small bag of baby leaf salad reduced from Waitrose)

1/8th of a white cabbage, chopped finely

2 spring onions, chopped finely

1/2 yellow pepper, chopped finely

1 turkey (or chicken) breast, grilled and chopped up

1/3 lemon, juiced

1/2 tablespoon runny honey

1/2 tablespoon tahini

Mix all the veg and turkey together in a large bowl.

In a separate, smaller, bowl stir together the lemon juice, honey and tahini until fully combined.

Pour all over the salad and use the mixing spoon to ensure that everything is fully coated in dressing.

Plate and enjoy!

Crispy Tahini Turkey Salad (2)

A simple summer salad to cool down on hot days.

On a side note, I now have Instagram! I didn’t have space for it on my diddy iPhone when I was living in BA but have finally sorted that out (…deleted loads of stuff) – I’m at cherries_chisme :)

What foods have you been enjoying to escape the heat this summer (or last summer for those in the Southern hemisphere!)?

{Thinking Out Loud} Life gone crazy

So I’m back in the UK and life’s all gone a little mad…

- On Saturday (5th July) I turned 23 and drove over a 4170m mountain to get to the Salt Flats near Argentina’s border with Chile… It was pretty breathtaking.

Salinas Grandes Argentina

- On Sunday we had to cut our trip short and fly home early due to a family emergency. This took 1 hire car, 2 taxis, 1 shuttle bus down a motorway, 1 car and 5 flights. Joyous.

- Monday night was spent sleeping on Barcelona airport floor with a Toblerone advert going on on repeat in the duty free shop behind. I now do NOT like Toblerones…

- We landed in Gatwick on Tuesday morning and waited to collect our luggage…and waited…and waited…still waiting. Apparently it went AWOL somewhere between Madrid-Barcelona-London. They’ve found one and it’s on it’s way to us but we still don’t know if it’s dad or mine (better be mine… ;) my whole life in a rucksack!)

- On Tuesday night I went to bed for the first time since Saturday and slept 12 hours straight.

- I have a new house! Well I did a while back (with my dad) but actually living in it now and have seen it! I love it :)

- Did my first supermarket shop yesterday and was so excited! Hello almond milk, almond butter, pnb, kale, ohhh the happiness. And emergency underwear.

(Source)

- Made myself a birthday cake last night. Chocolate obviously. With aubergines in it… Not that you’d ever know! Thanks to the goddess that is Harry Eastwood and her incredible cook books.

- It’s looking like I’m going to be living with one of my old friends in London come autumn when I start my Masters so that is super exciting :)

- All of a sudden it is summer. It doesn’t get dark until into the evening. This is confusing.

- And now because it is actually Wednesday I must hold my eyes open and watch the rest of the Argentina-Holland game before falling into my heavenly bed… Zzzz

Kudos to Amanda for letting me write this incoherent post.

Thinking-Out-Loud2

Any madness in your life at the moment?

 

 

{Reflections} My life in Argentina

I am writing this in advance, with two weeks left in Argentina. As you read this I am (hopefully) travelling somewhere in the province of Jujuy, in the north of Argentina. Either that or I’m majorly lost… Help?

So here it is, the blog post I imagined writing so long ago. My reflections on my life in Argentina. How to put it into words? I’ll give it my best attempt…

I came out here with next to no expectations. I had no idea what the past six months would bring, the inspirational people I would meet, how I would evolve nor quite how much I would fall in love with this city. Throughout my time here I have learnt so much…about life itself, Argentina, my internship, a whole new culture and, ultimately, about myself. And for that I am so grateful.

(Source)

So it seems only right to structure this post as my personal “thank yous” (graciases?) to Buenos Aires…

Gracias…for all your quirks. For not following the rules. For giving me my coffee for free because you have no change. For your crazy drivers, even if it’s a bit terrifying sometimes. For your weirdness. For making it up as you go along. For showing me that life works without rules. For doing things your own way.

Gracias…for your openness. For being my playground. For CrossFit being open 15 hours a day because you never know when someone might want a class. For it being acceptable to party any night of the week. But also for it being acceptable not to. For every day bringing a new discovery, a new marvel. For opening my eyes. For what I see when I look up.

Gracias…for giving me the freedom to be and do as I choose. For taking me away from my routine. For the adventure.

Gracias…for taking me away from all that I knew. For providing me with the time and space to think and reflect on my life. I wouldn’t say I’ve “grown-up” as such (I can already be a bit of a granny) but I have grown as a person and evolved. I’ve learnt more about myself than I ever thought I could. I’ve lost the restrictions I constantly used to place upon myself. It’s still work in progress but I’m getting there. I now know I don’t have to be the perfect version of myself. I just need to live, to the full, how I want to, everyday. I now know where I want to go in my life and what I want to do. I now know that it’s okay to be me.

Gracias…for bringing me back to me. And for making me feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

(Source)

This may seem like one of the “cheesier” blog posts I’ve written but perhaps you need to take a leap for you. Step out of your comfort zone. Open your mind. See what you learn. Then you’ll understand.

{Reflections} Cat-calling in Buenos Aires

This post is not meant to “generalise” all men here into one stereotype. It is purely a summary of my experiences. Luckily there are also some perfectly nice guys!

Every woman that has been to Buenos Aires (as well many other places across the globe where machismo is still strong) and walked down the street alone or without a man will have experienced cat-calling (piropos). They say it’s a compliment. “Oh how beautiful you are!”; “¡Que lindo!”; “¡Que hermosa; “¡Ey rubia!!” “Hello very nice how are you” to the more vulgar and explicit “I want to XXXX you” and various other things that I’m very glad I don’t understand.

One day last week I wasn’t feeling very well and as such I felt really hot all day (temperature wise!). So I wore a shortish white dress to work. Ironically this coincided with the coldest day of the year so far (the rest of me was well bundled up don’t worry). Just one block after leaving my apartment I was already considering going home to change as I felt so uncomfortable from the comments and stares I was getting. In just one block. But if I had done this I would’ve been late for work. Besides, I’m stubborn, I wanted to wear that dress, so why on earth shouldn’t I?

Now, let’s get something straight here. Cat-calling is not a compliment. It never will be a compliment. It is degrading and at times downright threatening.

In the world in which we live in today, victimisation of women is sadly commonplace. Everyday there are stories in the news of women being attacked and abused. And this is not something detached from our everyday lives, I believe it is now thought that 1 in 4 women will be victims of some sort of domestic abuse at some point in their lifetimes. Not only is that simply not acceptable but it highlights just how threatening cat-calling can be.

If I’m alone, on a run and some complete stranger makes some sort of perverse comment at me, of course I am going to feel uncomfortable. I have absolutely no idea who you are nor do I know anything of your motives. I’m already exhausted I can hardly run any faster if I need to get away!

Even the mayor of Buenos Aires has been quoted as saying that women “enjoy” getting these comments and if we don’t say so we are lying. I’m sorry, what?!

I wonder how these men would feel if they heard these comments being made to their wives/girlfriends/sisters/daughters? Furious, I’d imagine. So why is it acceptable for them to do it to a perfect stranger?

It isn’t.

I’m not a piece of meat so quit treating me like one.

What are you experiences of this?

A run through the woods, a Québec fiesta and a speakeasy

This weekend was my last weekend in Buenos Aires solo, as my dad arrives this Friday. And it was pretty darn awesome! Friday was a feriado (national holiday) and a beautiful day so I took advantage of the weather and went on a beautiful 8km run through the woods and around the lake. The man in the lift seemed a bit alarmed that I was actually going to run “a whole 8km”, he thought I was just going for a walk haha!

Bosques del PalermoWe had my friend’s leaving do on Friday night. She’s from Québec so her (chef) boyfriend cooked up a storm, Québec style, in the kitchen. We started with pâté, had a whole range of things for the main and then a sweet spongey dessert to finish off – wow!! Three of us (me included) have birthdays in July so we were surprised with specially presented dessert each with a candle in, so thoughtful!

Québec fiestaAfter a killer Saturday CrossFit session (and a very sleepy rest of the day) a couple of the girls and I went to Frank’s – a “secret” speakeasy here in Buenos Aires. We had to give a password at the first door and then punch a code into a telephone box which then opened into a door to let us in… Where we then had some fabulous cocktails…

Frank'sAnd of course silly selfies ensued…

2014-06-22 00.19.02

After a failed lie-in attempt on Sunday morning (cannot wait to get a comfy bed again!) I met my friend at a Jewish restaurant for some brunch/lunch/food. We shared this plate of deliciousness…

Jewish restaurant

And then wandered around Palermo looking at the shops and the market. We had a quick stop to escape the rain for my first ever froyo, with crushed peanuts and oreos. YUM.

Froyo

And saw this beautiful bookshop, with a reading area and huge shelves – so cute!

Bookshop Buenos Aires

Have you ever been to a speakeasy? How was your weekend?

 

{Reflections} ‘Buenos Airesisms’

Is it really Friday again already? What happened? You get catch up with my previous reflections posts here and here.

Over my time living in this beautiful city I’ve found that Buenos Aires truly is a place to live. I don’t think you can see it all as a tourist, it’s not like there’s a list of specific sights to tick off as you travel round. To me at least, Buenos Aires is a feeling. A feeling full of quirks, weirdness, slightly crazy and oh so wonderful… So, some of my favourite (and perhaps not so) ‘Buenos Airesisms’, if you may.

- Firstly, food (obviously). I love that merienda (essentially afternoon tea) is a full on thing here. Every café will have a merienda menu – to me it just kind of ‘acknowledges’ the need to eat between meals sometimes!

- Unless you go to a super touristy place it is hard to find a bad steak. It’s a big country = big space. Enough said.

- Which brings me to the smell of asados wafting through my window every weekend night…

- Wine. Cheap and bloody brilliant.

- Always awake and always alive. You can party till dawn any night of the week, yet when I leave my apartment early in the morning I’ll see people hard at work, washing down the streets ready for the day ahead. The energy here is infectious.

- You can get anything delivered. Remember my confusion over the trays of drinks being carried down the street way back in January? They were simply delivering coffee to offices, china and all. Any initiative to make money? It’s probably already been done here.

- Women get treated differently. Doors are often held open, women are always allowed on the bus first and will be offered a seat before anyone else. However, machismo is still super strong and cat calling is constant. This is something I will never fully get used to, to me this is never a compliment. Ever. It is degrading.

- People talk to one another. Sat on the tube in London? Avoid eye contact at all times. Sat on the bus in Buenos Aires? You might just make a new friend, or at least bitch about the traffic together.

- Less should, more want. Life isn’t rushed here. It is perfectly acceptable to sit with a coffee in a café for several hours. Although they work hard, porteños haven’t got caught up in the hectic lifestyle that so many of us have fallen into. Not yet anyway. Instead, they live for pleasure.

- Every day is new, one of the joys of being an expat.

- The passion of the people – fiestas, food, drink, fútbol, simply in life…

- At times the city can feel so huge and unknown…and then you go into a local café and they recognise you and bring you some water as soon as you sit down and you feel completely at home.

- Essentially, Buenos Aires is a city of contrasts. It can be so glamorous yet so run-down at the same time. A wealthy, designer-clad woman will walk past a homeless person sat on a street corner. A mad, backwards economy in a country that is so forward in so many ways. Modern skycrapers tower over beautiful colonial style buildings. A crazy football match will take place whilst just a few blocks away someone is tangoing the night away. It’s all so familiar yet completely different, completely magical.

- And my personal favourite… Sometimes you can just be wandering around, having a ‘normal’ day and then suddenly something will make you look up…and you’ll feel like the luckiest person alive.

(Source)

It is so hard to put the feeling of this incredible city into words, but I feel so lucky to have been able to live here and to call it my home.

{Thinking Out Loud} Rooftop handstands and shipping cake tins

It seems somewhat inappropriate to write a proper intro for a post that is based on it’s randomness… So I won’t. What a rebel.

Thanks to Amanda for allowing my thoughts to roam free this Thursday!

Thinking-Out-Loud2

1. One of the things that people always mention when discussing CrossFit is the community. Well that sure was evident yesterday morning when we found out it was one of the girl’s 23rd birthday – how to celebrate? She got to do her birthday ‘present’ of 23 birthday burpees with all of us standing in a circle singing Happy Birthday to her of course! After singing everyone jumped in to help her out with the burpees, birthday burpees sound horrible but it was actually super lovely!

2. On Tuesday I discovered some truly amazing coffee. It comes by the bowlful. Weirdly my coffee intake has been pretty low lately as the Brit in me has been on a massive tea grind. But when I found out the café was in had soya milk (I despise cows’ milk) I couldn’t resist. Just WOW.

Café con leche3. It seems right to follow on from talk of coffee to talk of cake. A few months ago I bought a rather nice loaf cake tin as we don’t really have any baking tins in our apartment. I am full on planning on bringing it home in my rucksack… Is that weird?

4. Lately I’ve realised how normal it now feels to be living my everyday life in two languages. I love how much more interesting it makes everything and the surprises you get when you realise you’re better than you thought. But I also love the ability that I can block everything out if I want to and turn it into white noise. Instantly understanding everything with zero effort is going to feel a little weird!

5. EXCITING NEWS. Iguazu Falls are open again! We’re meant to be going in a couple of weeks and I had a bit of a panic upon reading this article about how the Falls are closed due to crazy flooding. Watch the videos, it’s madness. Ironically when I was in Venezuela in 2010 we couldn’t go to Angel Falls as it’d pretty much dried up. I felt like somebody was playing a cruel joke on me.

6. On Tuesday evening I went up onto my rooftop to practice (read attempt continuously and fail) my handstands as the sunset… I still have a fear of letting go and allowing myself to fully get up there. It’s kind of like I really want to do it but I also really don’t? But I do!! The fact that I am posting a picture showing *gasp* part of my stomach completely terrifies me, even if the bit exposed is pretty much just where my ribs are. All part of the acceptance process…

Rooftop Handstands7. Yesterday I took the wrong bus and got lost. The last time I did that was when I arrived in January, you’d think I’d have the hang of it by now! Apparently not. Naturally I gave up and jumped in a taxi the rest of the way, which cost me less than £3 as things like that are a bargain here. (A bus journey is £0.17)

8. Look who arrives a week tomorrow!! Super excited. He’s also bringing me Green & Black’s chocolate… Not sure which is more exciting actually – dad or chocolate? Tricky one.

Christmas Day RunMatching fluorescent jackets on our Christmas Day run – that’s how we roll my family.

Can you do a handstand? Do you think lugging a cake tin across the Atlantic is acceptable? (I do)

A secret restaurant in Buenos Aires…

It’s been a bit quiet on the blog as late, recently it seems that forming words into some sort of coherent sentence has been a bit beyond me! But this post fits in nicely with What I Ate Wednesday, so here we are :)

WIAW button

On Saturday night the girls and I treated ourselves to a puerta cerrada, for those of you who don’t know there is a big trend in Buenos Aires for closed door restaurants. These are often based out of the chef or owner’s home, you book ahead and then are given the address once you have made your reservation. Typically it is a set menu – perhaps with a choice for the main course – and you sit round group tables, a great way to meet people! We went to Cocina Sunae which was slightly different as it was more in the style of a traditional restaurant with a separate table for each party.

We were greeted with a warm welcome by the doorman who called for a waiter to show us to the table and give us the (essential) extensive wine and drinks list. Being in Argentina we opted for a mid-range bottle of vino tino (plus a few more as the evening went on) to share between the five of us. Obviously, it was delicious.

The first course was a couple of heavenly shrimp spring rolls with a sweet chilli dip. We were instructed to wrap them in the lettuce and then dunk away. Now, when we get Chinese takeaway in the UK this is one of my favourite things. These spring rolls did not compare – they were unreal. Totally ruined spring rolls forever for me as nothing will be as good!

Cocina Sunae Spring Rolls

Apologies for the bad lighting in these pictures!

Next up was a chicken salad course…

Chicken salad cocina sunae

Followed by the main, for which we had a choice of three. I went for the shrimp again and it was incredible. It came with thin noodles, heaps of veggies and some sort of heavenly sauce. Super classy to eat but so worth the mess. Those did that didn’t have the same as me went for the pork which I was told was melt in the mouth good.

Chicken noodles cocina sunae

Finally, we had dessert. It’s a good job I was having a hungry day that’s for sure! This was a tropical fruit concoction with some sort of biscuit and a scoop of pistachio ice-cream. Just wow.

Dessert cocina sunae

One thing I particularly loved about the restaurant was that we could go as early as 8pm (most don’t start till 9pm in Buenos Aires) which was perfect for me as I’m a rubbish Argentine – I still like to eat at 7pm!!

Closed door restaurants are such a great concept as the chef really gets to show of their talents and the best of what they can do. (They also tend to be super accommodating for vegetarians and any other dietary requirements as you are booking in advance). To quote from the restaurant’s website: “Some call me Christina because it’s easier but I prefer Sunae, my name handed down to me from my grandmother. I’m simply an Asian-American woman who believes that the epitome of Asian culture is through its food. I bring you the flavors of my childhood memories of Pampanga, Filipinas and my New York restaurant experience in my very own home in Colegiales, Buenos Aires, Argentina.”

Afterwards we went to a millonga – basically where people meet to dance tango. This was my first time watching tango not in a touristy setting and it was great to see. Don’t think I’d be very good though…

 

Have you ever been to a closed door restaurant?