Wonderful trip – friendly people – distances are vast and travel takes too much of one's time. Travel arrangements hard to figure out from the U.S without much Spanish and we've traveled a lot. No problems with the airlines - all went smoothly.
An uneventful flight on Delta from Boston to Atlanta and Buenos Aires. They asked if people had paid the reciprocity fee as we boarded the plane in Atlanta – not one word from Delta prior to that announcement. Fortunately TA had alerted us well ahead of time and we had managed to get it done on line (not without some difficulties). After a very long customs line we got a taxi at Taxi Ezeiza ($220 pesos – just outside the customs exit door) to the Serena Hotel in Recoleta. A great location and lovely small hotel – highly recommended. Our afternoon was spent wandering around Recoleta, seeing the cemetery - a must - and drinks at Biela.
The couple we were traveling with joined us later in the afternoon and we had a wonderful meal at Fervor, just down the street. The service was lovely and the meat absolutely delicious. It helped that our friend is bilingual and was continually charming staff and others on our trip. Being friendly goes a long way to making a trip go well.
Our next day was spent figuring out the bus to San Antonio for the following day's trip. The bus station is very large and a longer walk than we expected (not in the train station but 3 blocks further). We were glad we had scoped it out in advance. There are many many buses and each company has it's own sales window and there are many gates for arriving and departing buses. You are given a range of gate numbers where your bus might park. It helps to know the final destination of the bus if your stop is an intermediary one. Only the final one is listed on the bus.
We toured the Teatro Colon – well worth the price which is 3 times that for locals. We walked Avenue de Mayo and then walked to San Telmo which was a nice contrast. That evening we saw the tango at Cafe Tortoni. Unfortunately they felt they had to make a “show” of it and not just have dancing. It got much better in the second half when they danced and didn't horse around. It is in a less than exciting basement area but fun to see the upstairs. Food was unexciting.
Day 3 – the early bus to San Antonio where we stayed at the Paradores Draghi. A long walk if it's hot and you have much luggage (about 8-10 blocks). The staff is very friendly and welcoming. We took a cab to Estancia Ombu for the day where we rode horses, relaxed on the enormous and shady veranda, and had an assado. The food was very good and keeps on coming. The meal was followed by a gaucho singing gaucho music and then another gaucho doing “horse whispering” where he had the horse roll over, lie down, and perform other unusual maneuvers. We had a good time; it was interesting to see the Argentinean countryside but I had expected something more like a cattle roundup and show of what gauchos did traditionally. The owner was very friendly and warm however I am glad we did not stay there for the night.
Day 4 – walked around the lovely town of San Antonio and saw the Drahgi silver museum (nice) and the Gaucho Museum which is small but nicely done – although all in Spanish. Took bus back to BA and stayed at the Duque which is on the edge of Palmero. Staff speaks excellent English and is very helpful, rooms were small but very nice and clean and breakfast was very good. Not as elegant as the Serena which is more upscale but very good. I preferred the beautiful Recoleta area which is closer to the main part of the city yet still residential. Palmero is good if you want the night life and hip shops. Dinner at the 1810 House – good empanadas and a light meal. Sorry we didn't have time to see more of BA, especially the parks in Palmero and Peurto Madero. Two full days are minimum – it's a big city.
Day 5 and 6 – Off to AEP on LAN to Iguazu. The airport was nice, easy enough to negotiate. Don't wait too long to go through security – although it's a breeze compared to U.S. - no issue about liquids and shoes. Taxi – about $25 USD to Sheraton – which is way too expensive but definitely the place to be if you are only staying one night. You get on fast track to falls in morning and it's great to come back for lunch and a break from the heat. Great view from the bar. Pool is large and very nice with good showers and changing rooms for the late afternoon after check out. Falls were fabulous – so many and so big. We didn't get out to St Martin island because you have to get the boat before 3:15 – actually earlier if you want to stay out there for awhile – last boat back at 3:45. Good to get the first morning train to Diablo – before the crowds. Also – hang back from the train crowd – everyone leaves and you get 10 minutes of easy views before the next train full. We had 24 + hours – 11:45 flight to Iguazu and 7:25 pm flight back the next day. It was just enough time. We should have done the upper loop the afternoon we arrived, the train to Diablo first thing the next morning, and then spent the rest of our day on the lower loop and the boats and then at the pool. Back to BA and the Duque where we had stored our luggage.
Day 6 – Back to AEP for the 11:45 to El Calafate. Easy flight and took taxi to Patagonia Queen Hotel – which is very nice with good location on quiet street and easy walk to town – staff helpful with laundry and other suggestions. Afternoon snack and then light soup dinner at Zaina – casual funky place with good light fare. Not much too do in town except shopping and good ice cream.
Day 7 – Hotel had arranged full day tour to Perito Moreno glacier with Huellas del Sur - no trekking as we are supposedly too old by their standards. Tour was excellent – only we thought everything was included – boat and entrance fee were not. We stopped at a couple of view points, then went to the boat on the South side which was good then on to the boardwalks where we spent about 3 hours. The boardwalks have the best view but the boat is a different view. Definitely worth going – amazing amazing glacier and we've seen them in New Zealand and Canadian Rockies. This is by far the best glacier to see. Wear layers – it's colder than you think it will be. Take a lunch. Dinner at Quidu – a wonderful view of the lake and good food.
Day 8 – South Road Transport to Chile for the rest of the trip.