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Old 02-22-2014, 05:18 AM   #241
Harti OP
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Berlin
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Asuncion is a vibrant city. We got adopted to local transportation and even with backpack and guitar we feel comfortable in overcrowded busses.

I have to wait another ten days, before my means of transportation changes entirely. My BMW is already in the Arica area. To depend only on public wheels or planes comes to a sudden end when I have my own bike and when I can decide for myself where to stop and where to go.

From Asuncion we flew to Montevideo. Both capitals are huge, the centerpieces of their countries. We took the usual tour around downtown with no spectacular landmark in sight like the sugarloaf mountain in Rio.

Our days are busy with doing our laundry, finding good restaurants, checking busses and ferries, exchanging tipps to other travellers and talking to locals. That broadens our horizon immensly.

Today, we are in Buenos Aires, the last of the tropical mega cities in South America, before we fly tomorrow to the peninsula of Valdez to watch penguins and sealions. I can't wait for my bike...

Harti screwed with this post 02-22-2014 at 06:01 AM
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Old 02-25-2014, 04:35 AM   #242
Harti OP
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Buenos Aires is the last gigantic metropolis of roughly 13 million people we visit, before we continue overland to Valparaiso, where we will receive our bike.

The nightlife in BA is stunning, Saturdays the city runs ballistic, because all the shows, entertainment centers, movie theatres and what not present their new program.

In Boca I, the big soccer fan, had to see where the great career started of a certain Diego Armando Maradona. The locals call the arena "Bonboniera", candy box.

Wonderful to watch are the many Tango dance presentation in front of almost every little restaurant, at night even in parks.

don't worry... it's just beer...

It's a magnet for tourists and locals to walk around in areas where they have colorful houses, exhibitions, antique stores and plenty of bars and food parlors.

I actually know, that Italy claims to be the inventor of pizza, but I have never seen so many pizza places as in Buenos Aires... Tomorrow we will visit Valdez with their penguin colonies and sea lions.
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Old 02-25-2014, 05:44 AM   #243
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I've just read the entire thread over the last few days. Brilliant reading !!
Thanks for sharing and safe travels. Looking forward to the rest of your trip !!
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Old 02-26-2014, 03:05 AM   #244
Harti OP
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The peninsula of Valdez is well known for its inhabitants. It's the first time in my life, that I've seen penguins in their natural habitat. They are really cute, but they smell... let's say... interesting.

They for whatever reason do not shy away from humans, although we give every animal enough reason to run for their life in the opposite direction...

Sea lions were also to watch by the dozens. We missed the orcas this time, maybe I'll get another chance further south...

Did you know, that chewing gum takes 5 years to decay?
The other occupants of Valdez are below.

I have to make a confession: when we loaded the container a few weeks ago, I forgot my keys in the ignition. Maybe I felt rushed or I was just too excited, I don't know. I got the message today that our container has already arrived at Valpo Cargo Terminal. Actually good news, but now I fear, that other people than me or my friends will open the crate and that makes me shiver a bit, not knowing, who can't resist this out-of-negligence-given invitation to open my panniers and so on... We will see. Maybe I exaggerate my fear and nothing is going to happen...

Although in Patagonia, the wind is not jet too strong for riding the bike...
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Old 02-26-2014, 12:13 PM   #245
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Thank you for taking me with you on Your travels!

Love it!
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Old 02-26-2014, 07:16 PM   #246
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Great photos again
My favorite philosopher is Cha Ching !
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Old 03-04-2014, 12:35 PM   #247
Harti OP
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Berlin
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FINALLY. I got the bike out of the port claws. Everything is Honkey Dory now.

Let me just complete our trip without the motorcycle, before I tell you what happened at the Valparaiso port.

We took public transportation from Valdez to Bariloche, a town in the Andes, that claims to look very much like Switzerland. That is definitely an exaggeration.

We saw one hotel complex, that looked vagely like a swiss one, one restaurant was named "Tiroler Haus" and we saw one St. Bernard dog with a little barrel around his neck labeled "Hector". And yet there were thousands of tourists from all over the world, attracted by this fantasy story of looking like Switzerland. We went there, because it was just a nice place.

We listened to a flamenco band, who honored Paco de Lucia in a very professional way. He died that day of a heart attack.

We saw young karneval groups and we had the best trout since I can remember. Next day we went to Puerto Montt, a town, where Uwe, my friend from the Mongolian trip, got mugged and beaten up. To say, it didn't affect us at all, would be wrong. We were extremely cautious, took a cab to the hostel and avoided dark lonesome streets. The airport of Santiago de Chile welcomed us warmly. It took no time to find the right bus to Valparaiso and before we knew it, we met our friends I shared the container for the bikes with.

Everything is reset to zero now.

Bye-bye Martina, my partner in crime, my wife and the best person, I know...

I just took my wife Martina to the bus station, because her trip is over now. She is going home now and leaves me with the bike adventures. I get never used to say good-bye to Martina. So I choked a little and now I'm looking forward to riding to the southernmost town on this planet -Ushuaia.

I did a lot of sweet talk...

At the harbor we had fun. No one speaks any Spanish on our side, no one English on their side. But overall we got the bikes out of their custody with paying only 16 U$ per bike. World record. I have never released my bike anywhere else for that little amount of money. And the best is: my keys were still in the ignition lock. Nothing has been touched, nothing is missing.

9 hours and 16 U$ later...

Thank you Chilean customs worker.

Tomorrow I'm heading south to Puerto Montt again on my way to Ushuaia.
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Old 03-23-2014, 03:58 PM   #248
Harti OP
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Dear friends,

I have to apologize for not updating this report in the past few weeks. The lack of internet access, the long days of riding and the toll I pay almost daily due to extremely harsh weather conditions kept me from updating so far. But I'm well, I reached Ushuaia and I'm back in warmer latitudes now. When I'm back I will share my epic ride in length with you and I hope you will look me up again.

Until later,

Harti screwed with this post 04-11-2014 at 07:17 AM
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Old 03-26-2014, 08:22 AM   #249
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Joined: Oct 2011
Location: Central Connecticut
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Outstanding Reporting Harti

I've been a fan for over a year. Great information, very well written, and the pictures are simply stunning. You rode around the world and never even dropped the bike! I've been traveling buy motorcycle for 30 years and still seldom return without having landed on my head once or twice. Well Done! I'm retiring this year and will be on your heels thanks to some of the great insight you've provided on your travels.

Best of luck, ride safe, and keep it coming.

Connecticut, USA
I don't drink much, smoke, or do drugs........but I have a motorcycle problem
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Old 05-01-2014, 08:09 AM   #250
Harti OP
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Okay, here we go.

I am back in Germany, went through my photos and got myself organized so that I have time to continue my report, while my bike is still in a container half way between South America and Europe.

I completely underestimated the fact, that to serve two blogs, the German and this one here, takes a lot of time and a real good internet connection, which both I didn't have for most parts of the trip.

So I will pick up the story, when we got our bikes released from the customs authorities in Valparaiso.

Martina, my wife, just left me with the survival part of this journey, while she had to go home way sooner than me. All bikes are with us now, I even got my ignition key back, which I stupidly left in the lock, . Nothing was touched, nothing was missing. Good job, customs people.
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Old 05-01-2014, 10:48 AM   #251
Harti OP
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While my friends decided to head up north, I turned south, bypassing Santiago de Chile this time.

I had an early start and the first few miles the bike felt bulky and hard to steer. In 2010 we had the advantage of not carrying our bags, because we were accompanied by a truck. This time everything I needed had to be in or on the BMW. The only extraordinary thing about the road south is its name.

Panamericana. For me its only another highway. Four lanes, lots of toll booths and plenty of street vendors.

The good thing about it : I got somewhere. Welcome to the 21st century and to the first world. Credit cards accepted, high grade gas, food courts with European prices. After 200 miles I had enough.

If you think I'm loaded...

...look at him. 12 coffins.

I found myself a nice little campground along the highway. Actually it was a soccer field.

Germany played Chile that night in a friendly and won 1:0. That was good enough to not being hated by Chilean soccer fans. The place had seen better days. The restrooms were shabby, the reception area looked like a junk yard.

At least the manager got me a sandwich and found three cans of beer, ice cold. The next day dragged me into the mountains.

From far already I saw the Villarica volcano, one of the most spectacular ones in the Andes. Perfectly shaped a soothing buena vista for the eyes. I only had to oppress my thoughts about the vast damages this still active volcano can do to people living in its close proximity. The paved road turned into a piste with lose rocks as big as ping pong balls. Very heavy driving.

The closer I got to the Chile-Argentina border, the more I was surrounded by Auracaria trees. They are very unique and can be found only in this part of the world. The Lanin, another of the many volcanoes along the mountain range of the Andes, awaited me with an interesting question.

Why are all the trees in the vicinity dead? Not burnt or broken or cut off. Just dead. I was thinking of gas exhaled by the volcano, or by a bug, or by the bee killing everyone is taking about lately... I have no idea. From the border to Bariloche it was only a 2 hour ride.

There I called it a day after a nice B-B-Q and a bottle of Argentinian wine for dinner.

Harti screwed with this post 05-01-2014 at 11:27 AM
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Old 05-02-2014, 06:07 PM   #252
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Harti- Great to see you traveling again and sharing it with us. I'm looking forward to the rest and I'm glad to see you took your guitar along. Yeah!
"I can't think of nothing better than riding a fine horse through new country. It's what I was meant for,,,,,", Gus, Lonesome Dove
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Old 05-05-2014, 08:48 AM   #253
Harti OP
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I have a little time now to go briefly through my daily morning routine. When I wake up my first move is to boil water for coffee. Without coffee nothing works. My little gas burner with piezo ignition is so small, that it fits easily into my cup. And yet powerful. After a few sips I go to the bathroom and get myself organized.

By then, the coffee has a drinkable temperature and I start breaking down my tent. Then I waste my time a little with untangling all the straps, the bungee cords and the safety net. This determines the mood I’m going to be in for the rest of the day.

Either fired up because the untangling was easy or a nerve wreck because it tried me too hard. Whatever. The whole packing process takes about 90 minutes, before I am totally ready to hit the road again.

some maintanance

I toured a little around Bariloche and turned south towards Esquel. Rich and lush pastures enfolded themselves along the road and one can only imagine, that this is the land where the steaks come from.

Bariloche by night...

St. Bernard with a "hectorliter" of booze...

The driving of the people gets worse, the more south I get. I have seen several bad accidents where it was difficult to say, why they happened in the first place. Maybe the drivers get confused, when they have to use the right lane in order to make a left turn...

In Esquel I found the town camp ground, a super market and a liquor store, onlt because they had no restaurants in town. Besides the typical and most boring pizza parlors.

gouchos at work

The next day welcomed me with rain. And it was lousy cold. That gave me an idea of what the close by Carretera Austral might look like. And there she was. As part of the Panamericana she runs from Puerto Montt to Villa O’Higgins in the further south.

Most of it is still unpaved, but there is a lot of roadwork going on and I believe, that in a couple of years the name “Carretera Austral” will be legendary only for stories from the past. But as of now riding it was rough and unpleasant. Rain, cold, even snow and challenging terrain sucked a lot of energy out of me today.

The real heroes though are the bicycle riders. They are stuck on that piste for days without hostel or food stations. The vegetation indicated impressively how much rain they have here throughout the year.

In Coyhaique I found the camp ground with no problems. The only real bad thing was, that that morning the hot water boiler for the showers exploded.

Tomorrow I will go back to Argentina to the Grand Central Altiplano with desert, strongest winds and ugly temperatures.

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Old 05-07-2014, 02:50 PM   #254
Harti OP
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It was pretty hard to follow the Carretera Austral further south to Villa O'Higgins by bike. You might be stuck there for some time, before you catch a ferry to get out of there. I decided to branch off east to Argentina again.

The town Perito Moreno is not nearly as famous as the glacier with the same name. I had no luck in finding the city camp ground and after more than an hour searching I rented myself a way too expensive Motel room for 40 bucks.

No restaurant, no sight seeing, no people in the streets. Okay, it was very windy. Finally it came to me, that even supermarkets were heavily armed with steel doors and trash bins were caged not against bandits or vandalism... it's the steady winds everyone looks for shelter and protects himself against. Every piece of paper you lose is gone for ever. That's, why gas station clerks hammer the change into your hand and cashiers in stores wait before you hid your money or receipt before they open the steel door to expose you to the harsh elements again.

I have seen many empty houses and think, that this town is dying due to the strong winds.

My palms of my hands were full of blisters. It's under normal circumstances difficult enough to handle heavy terrain, but if you have to fight the wind on top of everything with wind gusts of almost 60 miles... I felt like being beaten up and abused.

whatever the wind carries away, the fences catch...

My neck was sore, my shoulders were stiff and my whole body ached for hours. I could only choose between giving up or enduring the pain. Good thing I was stubborn enough to continue. Because what I was about to see I didn't have wanted to miss in the world.

The Fitz Roy was a true highlight of this trip. El Chalten, the starting point for excursions of all kinds and all lengths looked a little like a Swiss ski resort.

The mountain, 3406 m alt., is feared and highly respected amongst mountain climbers because of its shape and most attempts to reach the peak ended unsuccessful.

I needed a few days to heal my sore body, because I knew, that the wind torture was far from over here in Patagonia.

Harti screwed with this post 05-07-2014 at 11:16 PM
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Old 05-12-2014, 02:18 AM   #255
Harti OP
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When I left El Chalten, I was deeply grateful for not quitting due to the harsh wind conditions.

The Fitz Roy was well worth the effort and left a feeling of tininess and unimportance in me... From here to El Calafate the road was in perfect condition. The wind was strong as ever and had me do some unusual maneuvers, such as slowing down dramatically or stopping entirely when oncoming traffic was in sight.

Trucks stir up the steady wind flow so much sometimes, that I’d rather stop than fighting the turbulences...

Back to the fences. South America is full of them. In some parts of the continent I saw no trace of life, hence no necessity to protect property with thousands and thousands of mile long fences.

For me it was impossible to find a place to camp off the road and for the many Guanacos they were too high, so that they strangled themselves in the wires. El Calafate is also a very swanky tourist hotspot.

Everything is so expensive compared to the rest of the country. At least you get everything you need, I even found a H7 bulb for my bike, made in Germany.

The nearby glacier Perito Moreno was another highlight of this trip. Hugh, rough, loud and cold. From time to time huge chunks of ice broke off the still growing glacier.

Funny enough, one can hike on the surface of the glacier and at the end of the trip the leader of the little excursion serves a round of drinks with pieces of ice that one cracked off from larger pieces. Of course the ice is frozen from freshwater.

The boardwalk leads you very close to the ridge of the glacier. And again I was deeply moved by the treasures of nature in this part of the world.

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