On August 29th, 2010, MeAndFrenchie landed in South America for first time. This was also the day two French travelers, Jérémie Bellanger, age 25, and his girlfriend Fannie Blancho, age 23, were reported missing in South America.
The story that circulated the news was that the French couple spent a night partying in the village of Guayaramerin in the North-East of Bolivia, close to the border of Brazil. The couple were last seen leaving the party with Jaime Martinez, a Bolivian man known for several attempts of sexual assault. The next day, Jérémie came back to the guesthouse alone. He seemed very troubled and came to get something and left saying he was going to get Fannie.
The theory reported by the police is that Fannie was tied up and threatened. Jérémie was asked to go get money in order for her release. During Jérémie’s absence, Fannie was raped and when Jérémie came back, a fight occurred and Jaime Martinez killed them both.
This is a rare tragedy that should not discourage you from traveling. However, always be aware of your surroundings wherever you are, especially in a new country. We were extremely touched by this story when it broke out last year, especially because we can easily relate to this couple.
On September 4th, 2011, a year after their disappearance, two bodies were found in this region of Bolivia and were suspected to be the bodies of the French couple. It turned out not to be the bodies of Jérémie and Fannie. Our hearts go out to their daughter, parents and family.
Say hello to our couple of the week, Jerome and Maru. After working two years in Chili, South America, they couldn’t get enough so took off to see the rest of the world. We enjoy reading the couple’s blog, especially how they hire tour guides for their sightseeing and excursions. It’s a fun and an educational way of traveling.
Jerome and Maru
How long have you been together?
How long have you been traveling?
1 year and 1 month.
How long is your total planned trip?
How do you organize world travel among the both of you? Jerome: Maru does the planning; I carry the bags and eat a lot at the restaurants. 😉 Maru: Every time we arrive in a new country, I draft out a basic itinerary taking in consideration of the time we plan to stay. Then Jerome does his magic and finds out the most amazing places close to each area. I keep track of budgets, he takes care of maintaining the blog and preparing the platform so I can write the Spanish version. We figure out transport and lodging together.
What did you learn about each other? Jerome: That we could spend 1 year being together 24/7 without killing each other, and in fact, without any problems. Maru: The harmony of a couple traveling together comes with a small netbook and a digital camera EACH.
Would you do it again? What would you change? Jerome: We will… maybe on a motorcycle, maybe with kids. I wouldn’t change much. I think the preparation we did helped us avoid many mistakes. Maybe spend more time by the beach. Oh and yes, investigate the visas before going into a country (like Indonesia where we could have stayed longer if we had gotten a visa before arriving). Maru: Absolutely! I would add a couple of kids, and a bit more of beforehand preparation, mostly investigating the countries we want to visit. I think we did not visit one or two really awesome places because we did not know we could easily get to them.
What was your most recurrent disagreement? Jerome: Apart from being in India, no disagreements really. Maru: mmm…none.
Do you have any tips for traveling with your partner? Jerome: Let go. Maru: Talk, always talk. Never let the misunderstandings get bigger.
What was your favorite country you visited? Why? Jerome: There is not one favorite country overall actually, different countries for different things. But the top 3 are: Colombia (atmosphere + friends we met there), Nepal (hiking), New Caledonia (friends, memories, and beautiful place). Maru:I agree with Jerome. We really liked all places we visited for a specific reason … well not all places. I still have mixed feelings about India.
Buenos Aires at first sight reminded us of Paris with its large avenues and European architecture, so it’s no wonder it is known as the most European city in South America.
From the airport, a cheap 2-hour ride into the city allowed us to see the different neighborhoods. It was only exploring the locations by foot that got us to see the vast differences from one neighborhood to the next. In San Telmo, we got some tango with our cup of afternoon coffee in Plaza Dorrego. In Palermo, shopping and eating were the only things on our agenda. In Boca, graffiti was the highlight. Finally, our walking tour through the center of the city left us breathless for its beauty and for how much walking we did.
Free Tango At Plaza Dorrego
Without a doubt, the Recoleta Cemetery is an awkward attraction where it feels like you are house hunting, but for a mausoleum.
Cemetery Right In The City
House Or Mausoleum?
During our 5 days in Buenos Aires, we probably had beef or lamb every single day. Most of the time, you can get an excellent piece of meat for less than $10. For our rare or medium-rare eaters readers, you need to explicitly say that you like blood since they tend to overcook the meat. We also fancied the pizzas (and the ridiculous amount of cheese they put on them) and ice cream!
Dining With Amy
Which Cut Looks Good
Must Try Ice Cream In BA
There was so much in this one city to explore that we could use another trip back.
Thank you to our pretty awesome friend, Amy, for joining us in Bariloche and Buenos Aires!
Amy & Boris Exploring The City
We Got Standing Seats For Camerata Bariloche
Wicked Trees In The Park
Mercado de San Telmo
Group Dinner With New Friends
Ceiling Decor Inside Restaurant
Savoy Hotel: Albert Einstein Stayed Here & We Did Too
America Del Sur Hostel
Fish Special Of The Day
MuiMui At The Evita Museum
Underground Milongas At La Catedral
What We Paid:
– Visa fee for US passport holders
– Local Bus From Airport To Center [2-hours]
– Taxi From Center To Airport
– Subway Or Bus
– America del Sur Hostel [4-beds per room, super clean & trendy, great location, free wifi, free breakfast, great staff, highly recommend]
We have been very fortunate to have friends and family join us along the way. It does take a little more planning and coordination, but it’s always wonderful to see familiar faces.
Getting to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina was a bit of a pain as two of our flights got cancelled. While the airline did hook us up with 5-star accommodations, all expenses paid, we were just eager to get to Bariloche because our friend, Amy, from San Francisco was meeting us there. Two days later than planned, we finally arrived.
Cooking Together With Old Pal, Amy & New Buddy, Hannes
Our first reaction to Bariloche was not so positive. It is a very popular holiday spot among the fortunate Argentineans. The city has all the first world amenities and English is well understood so we felt right back at home. Because we have been accustomed to travelling in 3rd world countries, we were taken back a bit by the high prices and how easy everything was.
View From Our Bedroom At 1004 Penthouse Hostel
Boris & Hannes Enjoying A Beer And The View
One of the great perks of traveling with holiday-goers is because of their limited time, everything is well researched before arriving. With Amy, we just took the backseat to planning. She found a great hostel, 1004 Penthouse. It was on the top floor of the tallest building in Bariloche so that meant amazing views. The vibe and the people of the hostel were awesome so we highly recommend this place.
Every night, we either cooked at the hostel or dined out. If you like meat, Bariloche is your city and parillas are a great way to try wonderful meats like bife de lomo or chorizo; we especially liked the lamb.
Dinner With New Friends
Lamb, Our Favorite
At the end of the night, we always did a supermarket run for wine. Wine was inexpensive and it was nice to chill out with new friends while sipping on a new kind of wine. We were most impressed with the Chilean wines and overall, Malbec was good.
To explore the popular El Circuito Chico (the Short Circuit), we rented bicycles for the day. It was just refreshing to be in the outdoors and be wowed by the picturesque landscape around Lake Nahuel Huapi. It took us about 5 hours to bike the loop. I admit it was pretty tough for me. I got so tired of pedaling that whenever we went up hill, I walked it up. Boris, however, was a super trooper and pedaled the entire way. If you have time, make a tea stop at the super luxurious hotel, Llao Llao, and say hello to Paola for us.
Me & Frenchie
Mountain Ranges All Around Us
Along with the folks we met at the hostel, we hiked Cerro Catedral, but didn’t make it all the way to the Frey refugee because it started to snow. It was still a very nice easy hike. Thanks to Hannes for redirecting us on the way back as Boris and I started to take the difficult path into the bushes.
Hikking @ Cerro Catedral
Bariloche ended up being a very relaxing spot for us. It was a great stop before heading out to the active city of Buenos Aires. Also, don’t forget to try the chocolates.
Lake View From El Circuito Chico
Lunch At Lago Perito Moreno
Beautiful Views Everywhere
What We Paid:
– Triple @ 1004 Penthouse Hostel
[shared room, shared facilities, great views, great vibe, friendly staff, highly recommend]
– Public Bus
[bus 20 To Campanero For El Circuito Chico, bus 26 To Cerro Catedral, bus 72 for airport]
– Parilla At El Boliche de Alberto [highly recommend]
Before leaving Peru, we thought it would not be complete without a visit to the capital of Lima.
With a population of 9 million, Lima is the 5th largest city in South America. Our first impression, besides being a gigantic city, is that it is a mix between modern and old. We stayed in the historical center where most of the streets and buildings are in colorful colonial style.
Cathedral De Lima On Plaza Del Bosque
Balconies Of The Cathedral De Lima
Horse And Carriage
Couple Kissing In The Covento De La Merced
Old Building Front
Beautiful Commercial Alley
When we went outside of Plaza Del Bosque and crossed a small bridge, we felt like we were in a totally different city. Everything around us was very old and uncared for. Some of the buildings look like they were about to collapse any minute. Without ever leaving Plaza del Bosque, we wouldn’t believe there was an extremely large population of poverty.
The No-Tourist Zone
While we enjoyed wandering around the city and trying new eats (yummy Ceviche), I wouldn’t say, Lima is a must-see compared to the rest of the country.
The next several pictures are from the 5-stars Novotel Hotel where LAN Airlines put us up in for canceling our flight. More information on this in the next post.
Our Room @ Novotel
Underground Pool & Gym
Traditional Dancing During Diner
What We Paid:
– Flores Bus From Arequipa To Lima
– Private Double Room At Inka Path:
private bathroom, wifi, balcony, central location, clean rooms [recommend]
– Dinner at McDonald’s
– Taxi From center to airport
[negotiated before going inside cab and hotel took down license plate number]