We are back from our trip to Argentina; I travelled there with my husband and two teenage daughters over the holiday period. Just want to thank everyone through this forum that helped us plan this trip with their helpful advice and suggestions. I personally only posted a few questions but got most of my answers by searching through the forum. It seemed like any question I had someone had already asked before. So thank you to all the people who help travelers by answering questions on these forums.
Coming back to Argentina, what a beautiful country!!!! 11 days are just not enough to take in all of its charm and beauty. Wish we had more time to do things at a slower pace as the air travel was quite cumbersome. After taking a 15 hour flight from New York to Buenos Aires we had to take several others in 10 days to travel to Iguazu and El Calafate. Worse thing is there are no direct flights between their cities and all flights originate in BA. It takes a significant time at the airport to check-in etc, security lines are long, move slowly and airports in the other cities are small and not well equipped to handle the load of tourists. Good news is I saw a lot of construction at Calafate airport so maybe it’s going to change in the next year or so. Flight back home was long and tiring, again several never ending airport lines. After being on 8 planes in 10 days I do not want to be on one for at least 6 months.
Travel hassles aside we had the most amazing time of our lives and I have come back with memories that will last forever. I worked with Isabel from buenosaires-tours.com.ar who made all our flight arrangements, provided hotel recommendations in Iguazu and El Calafate plus suggestions for activities etc, everything was on the money. I got her name through this forum and I’m so glad I went with her. If you’re considering her, do not think twice and go for it. She met us on our first day at our hotel in BA, a very nice person, we went through the whole itinerary, and she provided us vouchers for the things that we had paid in advance plus a lot of helpful advice. This is the first time I used a local agent for our travel and I’m so glad I did. Just knowing that we have someone to turn to in a foreign country for help was comforting.
BA is an interesting city; I found it very similar to any other metropolis with its good and bad areas. We stayed at the Sofitel Hotel in Retiero for 3 nights and at the Loi Suites in Recoleta for our last night. After checking out all the neighborhoods the only other place where I would consider staying is Puerto Madero, but then it’s my personal opinion. On our 2nd day in BA we had a private guided tour with a very nice gentleman, Jorge Jordana that Isabel arranged for us. He stayed with us for over 7 hours and took us around in his car, walking with us through the Sunday market in San Telmo, La Boca, Puerto Madero, Recoleta cemetery and Palermo Soho. It was good to get the perspective of a local, he had several personal anecdotes to share and explained the sights in detail, something that you cannot get when you do things on your own. We had a nice lunch together at Puerto Cristal (seafood restaurant) in Puerto Madero. Besides Puerto Cristal we ate at La Cabrera (Palermo), El Mirasol, Piegari and Fervor (around Recoleta area) during our 4 days in BA. Food is an important aspect of our travel and whenever we’re planning a vacation it’s always to places where food interests us and Argentina is one such place. The food was good and fresh wherever we ate. My personal favorite was Piegari (Italian) as I’m not a big meat eater. When people say big portions they really mean it. In most restaurants sides have to be ordered separately and they do not come with the meat. I mostly ate the veg sides as my main course while the rest of my family gorged on meat.
The 3rd day in BA we walked around and exercised our wallet on Posadas Street in Recoleta, could not leave without buying shoes and bags Later had lunch at Café Tortoni after waiting in the line for 45 minutes in 85 degree temperature. Food is mediocre but the real charm is the history of the place and that does not disappoint. We already miss the food, the city and helado. Where do I start about helado (ice cream)… we ate at every possible place but my favorite was at Volta in Recoleta. I’m sure they have other branches. Freddo was not bad either.
For safety, I took the advice from fellow travelers on this forum and left our attention grabbing bags, big camera and flashy watches behind. I carried a small cross body purse, wore a cheap watch and carried a pocket camera, thankfully nothing happened to us. However, we saw a woman getting robbed in front of our eyes in Palermo Soho, this happened in broad daylight with hundreds of people around. We saw a couple walking on the road and then saw a guy grabbing the lady from behind, a minute later the guy jumped on a motor bike that came from behind and rode away. It all happened very fast and then next thing we know the husband screaming and running after the bike. I spoke to the woman, she was from the US and had just lost an expensive watch. I felt sorry for her but obviously nothing could be done anymore, wish she had done some research and given heed to the advice given by other travelers.
After 3 days in BA we headed to El Calafate in Patagonia.What do I say about Calafate and Patagonia, it’s a magical and mystical place indeed! I wanted to go to Mendoza due to the limited time we had but Isabel persuaded us for Patagonia. Now I cannot thank her enough. It would have been a sin going all the way to Argentina and missing breathtaking Patagonia. I used to read about how windswept this place is in travel magazines and have now experienced it first hand in Calafate. The wind blows all the time, air is crisp, sky is a beautiful blue and weather perfect or so it was in summer. It’s a vast expanse of land with snow capped Andes as its backdrop and milky blue Lake Argentina in the foreground. Wish I had time to explore more areas in Patagonia like Bariloche, Puerto Madryn but hopefully next time. We stayed for 3 nights at the Esplendor Hotel. On our 1st full day we did the Mini Trek to Perito Moreno glacier. Not an easy trek on the glacier but an experience that I and my family will remember for a long time, it’s not to be missed. The excursion takes one full day, we left at 9am and got back at 8pm. The trek itself is only one and half hour but it’s the process of getting there that is long. Beautiful scenery abounds so no one can get bored. The 2nd day we wanted to take it easy so decided to do ½ day horse back riding. Another great experience. We had never been on a horse before and were joking how we had to fly from north to south hemisphere to get on one. These horses are trained very well and most of the people in our group were first time riders. The horses go in a line one behind the other with two guides, one in front and the other on the side. It’s a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the wonderful scenery.
From here we flew back to BA and onwards to Iguazu. It took us a whole day to get from Calafate to Iguazu, not very convenient. Maybe in a few years they will start flying directly between popular tourist destinations. We stayed there for 2 nights at the Sheraton inside the National Park. The Sheraton is expensive but you pay for the convenience of being really close to the falls. We left at 8am to do the upper circuit, while walking we were the only people there as the park was still closed. It was a surreal experience, being all alone with the majesty of the falls. Next we did the devil’s throat and then came back to the Hotel. Rested for an hour and then went to the lower circuit. Girls did the nautical adventure and we were done by 1:30pm and back at the hotel to shower and nap. One day is more than enough for Iguazu, we decided to stay at the hotel for dinner, too much flying the day before and we wanted to take it slow. Dinner at Sheraton of Pacu and Surubi fish from Parana River was quite delectable, not to be missed are these local fish by fish lovers. There was live music and a very family friendly atmosphere. Sheraton had the best breakfast out of all the places we stayed, a large selection of fruits and every kind of hot or cold breakfast item that you can imagine.
From Iguazu we flew back to BA, stayed there one night and flew out the day after. On our last day in BA we walked around, just wanted to take in as much as we could. We kept the Carlos Gardel tango show for our last day, nice show, good singing, smaller version of a Broadway style show but we enjoyed it. Next day was our sad farewell to Argentina and a promise to come back again.