Author Archives: carolinehelbig

Tales from the Graveyard: Buenos Aires’ Recoleta Cemetery

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Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires

Recoleta Cemetery is no ordinary cemetery. Consistently ranked as one of the top three attractions in Buenos Aires, it houses 4700 mausoleums and 30,000 souls. The cemetery was established in 1822 and its labyrinth of narrow passageways contain a treasure trove of elaborate marble crypts and stunning sculptures. Recoleta is the final resting place of many of Argentina’s who’s who, including the country’s most famous first lady Eva Perón. And, it’s loaded with stories—tragic, bizarre, disturbing, heartwarming tales of the dead. Dominique, our guide from Free Walking Tours Buenos Aires had me enthralled. I bring you a few choice tales from the graveyard… Continue reading

Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , , | 18 Comments

Cycling Weekend on San Juan Island, Washington: The Island that Could’ve Been Canadian!

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Wonderful cycling on San Juan Island, Washington

Back in June, I had one of my best weekends of the summer—a two day cycling trip on Washington’s San Juan Island. Just days before our departure I was perusing  John Crouch’s Cycling the Islands. I was looking for an island within reasonable distance of Vancouver, with great cycling and scenery that wasn’t too large, too small, too mountainous, too flat, too busy, too quiet, too beholden to too many ferries…Bingo! With its stunning coastal vistas, pleasantly rolling terrain, good roads and courteous easy-going drivers, San Juan is a total pleasure for cyclists. Damn! To think that this island could have been ours (Canada’s). Continue reading

Categories: Biking, United States | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

High on Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni: The World’s Largest Salt Flat

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The impressive mirror effect at Salar de Uyuni—C.Helbig

“One, two, three… jump,” yells Elvis our guide. Easier said than done at 3656 m (11,995 ft) but I muster the energy for the requisite crazy photos on the world’s largest salt flat. We are on a 4-day Salar de Uyuni tour, traveling from Tupiza, Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile with La Torre Tours.  Our off-road journey takes us across the giant salt flat and through volcano-studded landscapes dotted with outrageous rock formations, flamingo-filled lakes and steaming geothermal fields. Continue reading

Categories: Bolivia, Places | Tags: , , , , , , | 34 Comments

Road Trip Part 2: Argentina’s Quebrada de Humahuaca

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Llamas on the road to Salinas Grande

After a one night pit stop in Salta, our road trip through Argentina’s northwest continues. On this excursion, we travel north through Jujuy Province and the enchanting Quebrada de Humahuaca all the way to the Bolivian border. We enlist the service of Poncho Tours, an excellent operator who runs private, customized tours. Over the next two and a half  days, we visit indigenous Andean villages, giant salt flats and multicoloured mountains that would make a perfect album cover for a psychedelic rock band. And, I might add, we eat the best empanadas ever. Continue reading

Categories: Argentina, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

Road Trip Part 1: Argentina’s Valles Calchaquíes, Salta-Molinos-Cafayate Loop

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Piattelli Winery in Cafayate, Argentina

As Mike and I were digging into the fourth course of our wine pairing lunch in Cafayate’s elegant Piattelli Winery our heads were swimming (and not only from the good wine). Just two hours ago, we had been driving along a gravel road through a tortured landscape of razor-edged hills. That morning, we’d woken up in Molinos, a tiny, sun-baked adobe village. The day before, we had started our 3-day road trip in sophisticated Salta, traveled through farmland that morphed into jungle that gave way to high desert. Our loop through Valles Calchaquíes, in northwestern Argentina, was less than 500 km (310 miles) and packed with so much variety it felt surreal.  Cheers! Continue reading

Categories: Argentina, Places | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Iguazú Falls—Experiencing the Drama in Brazil and Argentina

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Iguaçu Falls National Park Brazil—C.Helbig

A Jesuit priest is tied to a wooden cross and set afloat. He plunges headfirst down a monstrous waterfall and is swallowed up in the churning cauldron. That’s the opening scene from the 1986 movie The Mission, filmed primarily in Iguazú Falls—the mighty cascades between Argentina and Brazil. It wasn’t just that scene that left a big impression on me, it was the extraordinary scenery. I wanted to see the dense jungle shrouded in mist, hear the thunder of  hundreds of  waterfalls, and stand at the top of one of those falls, peering into the  abyss. In April, I finally got to do all that (and more). Continue reading

Categories: Argentina, Places | Tags: , , , , | 27 Comments

The Astounding Size, Sound and Beauty of Argentina’s Perito Moreno Glacier

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Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park—C.Helbig

So…you think glaciers are boring? Well, go visit Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. It crackles and groans and rumbles. Sometimes it sounds like rapid gunfire, and occasionally like a giant explosion. You’re almost guaranteed to see large blocks of ice collapse from the glacier’s edge and crash into Lago Argentino. Perito Moreno Glacier is active and noisy and huge and gorgeous. It’s also easily accessible with many viewing options. No wonder Los Glaciares National Park, which also includes the incredible hiking mecca of El Chaltén (Fitz Roy) is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Come take a look at this breathtaking, blue-hued beauty. Continue reading

Categories: Argentina | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

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