Returning to Argentina six years after my original trip has given me a great opportunity to compare the differences between travelling in my early 20s and again in my late 20s. Some of the changes are due to circumstances, while others concern my preferences. Either way, it is quite interesting to take a look at what has changed.
With a steady job I don't have the ability to just take off for three months like I did in 2009. Instead, I had two weeks annual leave, including travel time, which meant limiting myself to a small section of northern Argentina, Iguazu and Uruguay. Six years ago I went all the way down to Ushuaia and weaved my way back up between Argentina and Chile.
This was a very different kind of trip, but my travel companion Tania and I were pleased with the route we decided to take. This was essentially a loop, starting and ending in Buenos Aires, but taking in some key sites along the way. Iguazu was as amazing as I remembered and the Uruguayan cities of Montevideo and Colonia del Sacramento offered a relaxed contrast to the freneticism of Buenos Aires.
Notes at an antiques market in Montevideo
The aforementioned job means I have a little bit more cash to spend than the bare basics I could justify back then. In my early 20s I just wanted to get away, even if I couldn't really afford it. As I draw closer to the big 3-0, however, I find myself requiring a few extra creature comforts. They came in a number of forms.
Cama instead of semi cama
Argentina is a vast country and the need for overnight bus journeys is inevitable. Back in 2009 I would only ever pay for semi cama seats, whereas this time I was more inclined to go for the whole cama experience and lie back flat. With only 11 nights in South America and three of these used to cover some lengthy distances, a cama seat offered a better opportunity to get some sleep and make the most of the time available.
Our palace accommodation in San Telmo
Airbnb over Couchsurfing
I have really loved my Couchsurfing experiences and believe that Airbnb is a relative of the movement. It means a little bit more comfort and guarantee, but with the same ethos. A more grown-up version for a more grown-up me. This trip was my first one with Airbnb and it went well. We especially enjoyed staying in a palace in the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires.
Digital over SLR
It pains me to say it, but a digital camera is more convenient than my faithful Olympus SLR that I have dragged on many of my trips. I am still in love with my old manual camera, but it is not best suited for blog posts and tweets, which meant I left it at home. I'm sure my previous travel companions would agree that digital photography is quicker, but I still love the romance of travelling with my SLR and listening to the satisfying 'clunk' it makes when taking pictures. One day I will adventure with it again.