Ethiopia Pt I: HARAR at Lucy Guest House

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Lucy Guest House Entrance

Pick-up was provided free of charge by Lucy Guest House. As I had some credit with Airbnb, I decided to book a two-night stay with them and we paid 53 SGD per night.

There was no one there to meet us when we exited in the ADD’s arrivals area. Feeling lost, we decided to approach a girl at the kiosk for help. She was kind enough to call our guesthouse and it turned out that they were only allowed to wait for us at the carpark.

The guest house was only five minutes’ drive away from the airport and we were there in no time. Although we had booked the room Harar, we were given Lalibela.

The room was large and we had plenty of space to spread our stuff.

Lalibela

Wardrobe and TV

While we had a TV, we couldn’t change the channels. It was hooked up to the cable TV in the reception area and we had to watch whatever the staff was watching. I wasn’t impressed.

The bathroom wasn’t designed cleverly. There was no shower curtain and the entire place would get wet after shower.

Toilet

There were also issues with the water heater and I believed that it caused the electricity to trip several times. I learned that it would be wise not to let the water run for too long.

Shower

Breakfasts were included in the rate and it was quite nice.

Breakfast – Omelette, toast, jam and smoothies

Breakfast view

The staff were all very friendly and obliging and they even allowed us to use their kitchen to cook dinner. We had no issue asking them to get taxis for us and when we ran out of Birrs, we exchanged another 50 USD with them.

Reception

As our flight back to SIN departed in the evening, we decided to pay for an additional day of use. It was a good decision as we could rest and shower after a day out. The staff were accommodating and allowed us to pay with the combination of our remaining Ethiopian Birrs and US dollars.

Location-wise it was really near to the airport and we could walk to Yod Abyssinia. The neighbourhood seemed to be quite safe as well.

To be honest, the stay wasn’t perfect. I felt that there was some misrepresentation with regards to the availability of cable TV. Didn’t feel that the accommodation was value for money but I guessed that we might have to adjust our expectation here.

Brazil Pt I: Private double room with breakfast

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Us with our awesome hosts Ferdinando and Mariana

While planning the Iguazu portion of the trip, we faced a dilemma with the choice of accommodation. We had only two nights; should we split our stay between Argentina and Brazil or stay both nights in Brazil?

In the end, we decided that it would be better to spend both nights at Foz do Iguaçu. Emerson’s listing was one of the top in the area and we paid 155 SGD for our two nights there.

To get there from Iguazu National Park in Argentina, we took the shuttle bus (40 ARS) to the bus station at Puerto Iguazú.

Puerto Iguazú bus station – this side is where the international buses (Brazil and Paraguay) depart from

Domestic side

Different operators

We randomly approached a counter and luckily the guy could speak pretty good English. He told us that the Crucero del Norte had the next departure to Foz do Iguaçu.

One could choose between paying for the bus tickets in ARS or BRL; the ticket cost us 15 ARS each.

On-board the bus to Brazil

All passengers were asked to disembark at the Argentine side where the Argentine immigration officials stamped us out. We got back on the bus and were driven across Rio Iguazu to the Brazilian immigration.

The bus only stopped after we were driven through the Brazilian border. Brazil doesn’t require Argentinians and Paraguayans to go through border formalities and we were the only ones who got off here.

Our bus between Argentina and Brazil

Our arrival coincided with the World Cup match between Brazil and Mexico and all but one of the immigration officials were glued to the TV screen. I was sure that she wasn’t really happy that we disrupted her viewing of the match.

Brazilian immigration

We went back to the bus stop to wait for the next Cruzero del Norte bus. It would take almost half an hour.

Long wait for the next Cruzero del Norte bus

Bus heading to Paraguay

Spotted a truck with a French registration plate

We would check out their website later and find out that the truck belongs to a French family traveling around the world.

Dacaluf

The instructions given was very clear and we dropped off at the bus stop as given in the instructions. We found ourselves at the house after a short walk from the bus stop.

Emerson is actually living in Europe and the house belongs to his parents Ferdinando and Mariana. They had invited their family over to watch the game and Emerson’s sister helped to check us in.

Comfortable room

It had a small TV where we could watch the World Cup

While neither Mariana nor Ferdinando could speak English, they were very helpful and welcoming. Fernando brought us to the moneychangers the next day and made sure that we got the on right bus to the falls. Breakfast was included and Mariana prepared it for us for both mornings.

Breakfast

Despite the language barrier, we still managed to chat with them (Thanks Google Translate!). Learned a bit about their family and shared some interesting stuff about Singapore with them.

The accommodation itself is located in a quiet neighbourhood one block away from Av. das Cataratas, where one could catch bus to the airport, the National Park as well as Argentina. There are also some restaurants nearby and we didn’t even go to the town centre at all. We felt safe during our time there and even walked out for dinner and grocery shopping in the evenings.

Argentina Pt XII: Hip 2br apt at HEART of San Telmo

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Our awesome apartment in San Telmo

We had five nights at Buenos Aires and once again we turned to Airbnb. There were many great options available and Cecilia was the first to reply to our queries. Her two-bedroom apartment cost us 234 SGD in total, making it among the cheapest accommodation that we had in South America.

The taxi ride from AEP to San Telmo was 115 ARS in total (inclusive of an additional 10 ARS that the driver insisted that we pay). Cecilia had arranged for her dad to meet us at the entrance of the apartment and we had to wait a while for him to arrive.

Entrance to the apartment

Turned out that he was a Canadian who used to work in the aviation industry. He was stationed in Argentina and Brazil for a number of years and since made Buenos Aires his home.

He led through the labyrinth of the building before we got to the unit. Both of us loved our home in Buenos Aires at first sight.

Living room

Kitchen

Bathroom – couldn’t help but smile 🙂

Bed

The second room which we didn’t use

Quirky poster

We self-catered several of our meals during our time there, taking advantage of the numerous supermarkets nearby.

Meal 1

Meal 2

Its location was pretty good as well. Independencia station of the Buenos Aires Subte is only five minutes’ walk away and there were many restaurants and supermarkets in the area.

There was a laundry (Lavadero) a block away and we did our laundry twice during our stay.

Lavadero – 40 ARS for washing and drying

Waiting for our turn at the dryers

We were very happy with our apartment and could see ourselves returning there if we were to visit Buenos Aires again.

Argentina Pt IV: Hosteria Villa Cardon

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Entrance

We booked our night at the four-room Hosteria Villa Cardon through Booking.com for 498 ARS and breakfast was included in the rate.

It was really a steal as we got a fabulous room and both of us were really awed after being shown the room by the friendly staff. The accommodation was worth the drive from Salta.

From the side

Our room was on the right

Door

Comfortable bed with natural light coming through the skylight

Where we can hang our jackets

Bathroom

There was WiFi but the signal wasn’t the strongest in our room. I would need to sit at the corner to get better access.

Staying connected

Light with skylight

Breakfast was typical Argentine with toast, jams and duche de leche. Coffee and tea were made to order and there were also fresh fruits. The staff even packed some fruits for us for our drive to Cafayate.

Breakfast

It was definitely a highlight of our trip. Would strongly recommend the accommodation to anyone who’s heading to Cachi!

Argentina Pt I: Private Room Family House w/brkfast

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Bed in Salta

We would stay two nights in Salta but not in succession. Each night cost us a reasonable 40 SGD at Fernando’s house booked through Airbnb. It was located in the southern suburbs of Salta, some distance away from the city centre.

Conversation was easy with Fernando. He was a Porteño who recently moved to his wife’s hometown of Salta and his English was very good.

His wife and daughter were friendly too but we didn’t have enough Spanish to communicate well with them. And there was Bandida, their energetic pet dog who was always looking for people to play with.

Fernando was also kind enough to pick us up from the bus station and even drove us to the supermarket for some groceries. He even dropped us off at the airport where we needed to pick up our rental car the following day.

We could use the kitchen to cook our meals too. To make us feel at home, Fernando even found some Youtube clips of The Noose and stream it on his TV.

Ying happy with her soup

I had communicated with him earlier about getting an Argentine SIM card and he picked up one for us in advance for 50 Argentine Pesos (ARS). The SIM card would be useful in helping us navigate during our road trip to Cafayate.

The room that we had was pretty compact but more than adequate for our two nights’ stay. The bathroom was shared with the family and it was very well-maintained.

I was also surprised that we had a small TV in the room.

NBA Finals

Breakfast was included too and it was a typical South American one with toast, jam and tea. And of course not forgetting dulce de leche!

Both Ying and I were glad that we chose to stay at his place which was more peaceful as compared to in the city centre. Fernando was a great host and we enjoyed our stay there.

Chile Pt I: La Casa EcoExplor

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La Casa EcoExplor

An hour after departing Bolivia, we rolled into the town of San Pedro de Atacama. The Chilean immigration was located at the edge of the town and the customs guys were pretty thorough in making sure that no agricultural products were being brought into Chile.

The bus driver dropped half of the passengers near the central area and we said our goodbyes to Kelli and Johannes. The rest were dropped off nearer to their accommodation and the friendly bus driver made sure that we reached our accommodation at La Casa EcoExplor.

We had booked the accommodation with Booking.com for three nights at 29,500 CLP (67 SGD) per night (tax included). Chile was definitely more expensive than Peru and Bolivia.

The friendly owner Victor checked us in and showed us the place. While our room was quite small, the outside was quite comfortable with many area to lounge around.

Our colourful room

Lounge area

There was a kitchen where one could cook but we didn’t utilize it during the stay. We also got our laundry done at a pretty reasonable cost.

The bathrooms were shared but they were always kept clean and dry. Both of us really enjoyed the warm showers after roughing it out in the Bolivian altiplano for the last couple of days. We also got reconnected with the pretty stable wifi connection throughout the compound.

Location-wise, the accommodation was around 700m away from the centre of the town and it usually took us around 10 minutes’ walk to get there. It was quieter without the foot traffic of the centre although we could faintly hear noises from some parties on one of the weekend nights.

Fabian is Victor’s pet dog and we identified him with his scarf.

Fabian

Taking the picture

He got really friendly with Ying and even snuggled up to her.

another new friend, Fabian, at Hostel Eco Explor in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile. it was so cold in the morning that he burrowed into me *melts* #travel #chile #SPA #shyhyingrtw14 #dog #cute

Our three-night stay was pretty comfortable. We recovered from our Salar de Uyuni tour and were well-rested by the time we departed San Pedro de Atacama for Salta.

Boliva Pt II: LANDSCAPE B&B Home – Room #1

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Illimani from our room

The taxi driver took some time before locating our accommodation which was located in the nice neighbourhood of Sopocachi. It was one of the top listings in La Paz on Airbnb and we booked two nights there for S$82.

LANDSCAPE B&B

The friendly staff on duty Raul welcomed us warmly at the door and gave us an introduction to the rest of the guests lounging in the living room. It was a big house with five guest rooms and there was also a large kitchen and dining area. The roof top was an open terrace where guests could chill out. We love the place immediately.

Living room

We love our room too. It looked exactly like in the pictures on Airbnb.

Bedroom

TV

Ying and I decided to self-cater for the first night and Raul offered to bring us to the shop nearby. As it was a Sunday, many shops were close but luckily our host knew of a place where we could get some pasta and sausages. We shared some of our laksa pasta with Raul and in return he insisted on helping us with the dishes. Thanks Raul!

There were two couples from New Zealand traveling separately staying at the house as well and one of the ladies was a chef. She decided to roast a chicken for the party and we were invited to partake as well. Pretty interesting conversation with them, ranging from Bolivian strikes to the intricacies of South American guesthouses.

Breakfast was also included and we had toast, fruits and juices every morning.

Dining table

Toast and juice

If there was one thing that could be improved, it was the number of bathrooms. There were two but only one had showers. So one may had to wait before he/she could take his/her showers.

Otherwise it was perfect stay. A special thanks again to Raul who was always happy to deal with our requests. The team was certainly doing things right and it wasn’t surprising that its listings are among the top in La Paz on Airbnb.

Peru Pt XI: Hostel Titiuta Puno

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View from Hostel Titiuta

We spent two nights in Puno and our research led us to Hostel Titiuta. We booked a double room at 35 USD per night with Booking.com although I suspected that one could get a better price if he or she booked directly with the hotel.

As mentioned in the previous post, someone from the hotel picked us up at the bus station. After we made the booking online, a staff from the hotel contacted us about the complimentary pick-up service. I informed them on our arrival details the day before and they replied promptly to acknowledge.

Less than 20 minutes after arriving at Puno bus station, we reached the hotel. The friendly lady at the counter spoke very good English and gave us the rundown of the tours that the hotel could book for us. She also quoted us a very reasonable price for the bus to La Paz, our next destination.

After getting all the information we required (including the all-too-important wifi passwords), we were shown the rooms. We ended up choosing the big double room on level 3 and we had the whole level to ourselves on the first night.

Bed

Flowers made from towels

Bathroom

Lots of room to spread our stuff and we had TV with football

We skipped dinner and didn’t emerge from the room until the next morning.

Day view

There was a small lounge beside our room where guests could use the computer.

Rather cosy

Hot water for tea (coca or otherwise) and coffee

Breakfast was included in the rate and was served on the ground floor. The mannequins never failed to creep me out.

Dining area

The breakfast was buffet-style and was really awesome with cold cuts, fresh fruits, breads and yogurts. The staff even prepared eggs for us.

What a spread

While basic, Hostel Titiuta is a decent choice for a few nights in Puno. The staff were friendly and they were helpful with the tour and transportation bookings. We ended up booking with them the half-day tour to Uros Island as well as our onward transportation to La Paz because they were cheaper than the prices that I saw online.

Peru Pt VIII: Nice Room near the main square in Cusco

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Night view from the apartment

The collectivo from Ollantaytambo dropped us at Plaza San Francisco in Cusco and we were disoriented. After asking for directions from several people, we managed to find our way to our accommodation booked on Airbnb.

The apartment was situated beside Wanchaq swimming pool and the neighbourhood was noticeably more local than the touristy historic centre. Our host Paul had communicated with us before hand that his sister Ruth would be receiving us.

We paid 28.50 SGD per night for our room, the cheapest for the whole trip. The price should have alerted us on its (lack of) quality. Our first impression of the house wasn’t great; in fact the condition of the house kinda shocked us. While one might describe it as homey, it could also be seen as messy. It was also dusty and the renovation didn’t seem to be ‘completed’.

Our room was a twin one on the second floor and there were two other rooms. One of them was occupied by a Swiss couple whom we spoke briefly to every morning.

The other two rooms and toilet (extreme right)

Twin room

Our room was fairly spartan but it was clean enough. The bad thing was that it was outside the wi-fi range and we would need to go down to the living room to stay connected to the world.

Ruth was a friendly woman and tried to make us feel at home. However, her lack of English and our inability to speak Spanish meant that we couldn’t communicate effectively. When my questions became too difficult for her, she would call Paul to ask him to speak to me on the phone. We needed the laundromat and she sent us the wrong way while the nearest one was only around five minutes’ walk away.

We were also given the wrong set of keys and we couldn’t enter the apartment when we returned in the evening. Ruth was out and there was no one in the house.

Locked out

Luckily my phone was within the wi-fi range and we messaged Paul on Airbnb. Ruth returned and let us back into the house before going out again. I had to message Paul again as the toilet paper had ran out and we didn’t know how to switch on the heater for our showers. While none of these things were really huge issues, they didn’t make our stay a pleasant one.

Breakfast was included in the rate and Ruth would wake up early to prepare it for us. Both mornings we had rice with fried bananas. The fried bananas were nice but the rice was prepared too hard to our Asian taste. Ying struggled to finish them every morning.

Paul dropped by on the second day and he was an interesting person to talk to. We learned more about Peru and Cusco through our conversation and his English was pretty good. That was probably the best aspect of the stay.

Randall, a guest who stayed after us, had a similar experience to our time there although we didn’t have an issue with the noise.

The room was very small and the building still a building site. It looked nothing like the advertised double room. The noise before midnight was very loud in the building from many sources, within the unit complex and within the unit and there were many comings and goings on the main stairs outside of the window behind the bed. As well, the light in the stairwell foyer outside the bedroom came on and off regularly.

The rooms are unfinished with a space above the doors of two bedrooms and the bathroom not having glass or other infill in them allowing noise to travel and giving little privacy.

The bathroom is small and when we arrived on Monday had not been cleaned and was not cleaned until Friday. It has no system for stopping water from the shower from wetting the toilet, the basin and the floor, meaning everything gets wet. A simple shower curtain would suffice. There is nowhere to hang a towel while showering so the toilet seat is the only option.

The circular stair from the main lower rooms to the bedrooms is made of steel and is noisy. The light for the stair was not functioning and despite Paul saying he would fix it that didn’t happen while we were there. It felt unsafe to use at night without a torch.

Paul collected us from our previous accommodation and was pleasant. Ruth was an absolute delight and made a significant effort to communicate with us.

The location is fine and convenient for visiting the centre of Cusco.

Not recommended for those with acute hearing, in need of sleep and any hint of claustrophobia.

At the end of our two-night stay, we were glad to move on and Ruth sent us off with a small gift each. On hindsight, we should have paid more for somewhere more pleasant and comfortable.

Peru Pt III: Picaflor Tambo

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Picaflor Tambo

Our collectivo dropped us off at Ollantaytambo’s Plaza de Armas and we took some time to locate our hotel which was located two block away.

Waiting to check in

We had booked two nights at Picaflor Tambo through Expedia for 60 USD a night and we would pay at the time of check-in. We had a choice of paying in either USD or Peruvian Soles. The room wasn’t ready yet and we left our bags at the reception while we went to get breakfast and explore the town.

Our room was ready when we returned from our little excursion around Ollantaytambo.

Our room (Rumi) was the one on ground floor to the right

We found our room Rumi to be big and beautiful. The firmness of the bed was to our liking as well.

Bedroom

No complaints about the bathroom which was clean and modern.

Bathroom

Breakfast was included in our room rate and the staff would checked with us what time that we would prefer to have breakfast the evening before. As we would be catching the early train out to Machu Picchu on the second day, the staff proactively provided us with packed breakfast (consisted of biscuits, juice and bananas) and the food turned out to be our lifesaver in Machu Picchu.

Otherwise the breakfast was served at the dining area. It was decent with bread, jam, fruits, juice and coffee/tea.

Dining area

On the second night, after we returned from Machu Picchu, the owner of the guesthouse invited all the guests to the dining area for complimentary pisco sours. It was great that the owner had such an event where the guests could chat and share experiences.

Although there were complaints about noise in some of the reviews, we didn’t experience anything too bad during our stay. Although our room was beside the street, we hardly heard any noise from there. The main source of noise was from the occupants upstairs when they were walking around on the wooden floor. In all, it was a nice place for a few nights in Ollantaytambo and we enjoyed our stay there.