Category Archives: Argentina

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Teatro Colon and El Tigre- last few days.

Always good to get out of the city sometimes so I took a trip to El Tigre which is a 45 minute drive from central BA but a world away in style and pace.

Once again I utilised the Services of the excellent guide Patricia from Eco Buenos Aires

First we made a stop at the beautiful rose garden in one of the central parks.

Then a quick stop at the memorial for the people killed in two terror attacks in the 90s in Buenos Aires aimed at the Jewish population but which in fact impacted many others. Each block represents someone who was killed and each has an etching on it determined by their surviving relatives that reflects who they were individually – hence everything from handbags to bicycles. A really nice idea to humanise a memorial.

In El Tigre we had a look at the local market – the wood required for wicker is grown here and so there are a lot of woven goods and then a boat for a leisurely ride through the islands that make up El Tigre. They are only accessible by boat and include permanent residents and those with summer homes as well as a lot of recreational sites for picnics and walks. Supermarkets are accessed by boats carrying all manner of goods.

Then we made a stop at the house of Victoria Ocampo – an early feminist and creator of a feminist magazine that run during the 30s to early 60s. She was quite the lady – did what she wanted and scandalised many but i think she was pretty cool and her own person.

On my last day I paid visited Teatro Colon – the Italian style magnificent opera house in the centre of BA. Refurbishment was completed about three years ago and the outcome is splendid. Book your times ticket in advance as there are only limited spaces for English speaking tours. A highlight of the city for me together with Recoleta cemetery.

Next stop – my 100th country!!!

Argentina, Iguazu Falls – tips for a two day visit from Buenos Aires

It is easy to take a side trip to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires and as this spot had been on my ever extending bucket list for some time I was not going to miss the opportunity. It was indeed magnificent.

Yes you could just do an overnight trip (flight time is 90 minutes each way) but I recommend two nights so that you can take it in properly and also because it is in the rain forest where there is not unsurprisingly a lot of RAIN! If you stay two nights you are more likely to enjoy some sunny moments or at least clouds without rain – and that is worth it.

I stayed two nights – one in the the city (Orchideas Hotel – 3 star standard) and one in the Iguazu Falls Park (Gran Melia). If I did this again I would spend both nights in the lovely Gran Melia as it is a 5 minute walk into the park meaning you can be in just after 8am and able to enjoy the walks before the crowds. It has views of the Falls, a beautiful pool and generally a cool vibe and direct access to the Park is the biggest attraction. There is very little to do in the town (other than the excellent Argentine Food Experience) and it is not far to get a car to take you there and back – if you leave late afternoon you can see whatever you want to see in the town before the Experience).

You can organise yourself onto one of the many tours around the park or do it yourself. I took a tour with EcoIguazu which included my accommodation in Iguazú and a tour guide. All the logistics were well handled by this company but the main purpose of the tour guide seemed to be logistics so if getting from place to place bothers you then use one. I could have done the Park visit alone – as indeed I did on day 2 from the Gran Melia. You buy entrance tickets and choose whether to go on the train, take the Devil’s throat walk and/or the jet boat (a waste of time in my view as it seems ridiculous to pay so much money to get thoroughly drenched – but I guess that’s just me as others seemed to enjoy themselves?!?). If you are interested in the history of the Falls and the geography and geology of the place then I suggest you get a private official guide in the park so that you can bombard them with questions which was not so easy to do with a group of 10.

The train journey takes you to the highest point where you can see Devil’s Throat and there are two other walkways – both take about 45 mins to an hour. The upper walk and the lower walk (which would provide much the same view as being on the boat but only getting wet from the spray).

Because it rains a lot I strongly advise one of those attractive rain ponchos(!) – a long one. If weather is warn then shorts and a t shirt under that is fine. Use Mosquito repellant – they didn’t bug me but they did bite me! Also keep valuables in watertight containers or leave them in your safe. When I say wet I mean wet! Don’t bother with umbrellas – not enough space on the walkways to use them without banging into other people.

Finally, the Argentine Food Experience is something different. A fun way of learning about local food, doing a bit of cocktail making and cooking (they do most of the work), meeting some fellow travellers (it is not a large crowd so quite fun) and drinking local wine. My kind of evening and they do it very well.

The walkways used in Iguazu. They are designed so that the base is fixed but the slats you walk on can be removed when the river is due to flood at which point it comes way over the top of these walkways. The water is brown due to previous heavy rains which churn up the ground – this is not the case all year.

The Iguazu Express below is somewhat misnamed but nice journey through the rain forest up to Devil’s Throat and check out the view at the top!

There is wildlife to be seen – see below and I did see some toucans flying – very cool but too quick to take pics. I kept a watchful eye for jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, capuchin monkeys and snakes – especially when walking early in the morning (you cannot enter the park before 8am) – didn’t see any – fine with that except would have liked to have seen a tapir.

The Gran Melia Hotel Iguazu – a haven in the park with the falls in the distance.

Same pic, different filers:)

Views from the Upper circular walk.

In Iguazu Town.

Scenes from the Argentine Experience and my rather pathetic effort at an empanada. It tasted a lot better than it looked!

The Frontier Experience – The river changes colour where the rivers of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. Can be seen when in town.

Argentina, Buenos Aires – the highlights. Recoleta Cemetery, La Boca, Evita, Casa Rosada, El Ateneo bookshop, MALBA, the Cathedral

What a great city Buenos Aires is – and an excellent place to spend a few days just taking in as much as possible. Great climate at this time of year too – perfect for wandering about.

First stop is the renowned Recoleta Cemetery just down the road from my hotel – the beautifully restored Palacio Duhao plus gardens

The cemetery is especially famous for its sumptuous mausoleums (cUSD12000 per square meter to buy), for being the place where Eva Peron (née Duarte was buried) but the big surprise for me was to find “the only Jew in the cemetery”! Note the Star of David on Benjamin Breitman’s tomb.

My fabulous guide was Patrica Kanelson of Ecouruguay (but don’t be fooled bye the name – they do excellent small group or private tours in Iguazu and Buenos Aires too). Another must see is the La Boca area – once a run down port but now a lively and extremely colorful area – one of the few parts of the City that does not look early century European.

The European feel plays out in the charm of the surroundings – cafes and parks.

And there are always reminders of Evita as you stroll past the Casa Rosada – and the balcony she waved from is first floor (or 2nd if you are from the US) 2nd balcony to the left of the main arch. Apparently the guides have to let some visitors know that Evita did not actually sing Don’t cry for me Argentina from that spot (or indeed anywhere else!).

Then a quick whirl round the main cathedral – especially well known as this was home to the current Pope before he headed out to the Vatican 3 years ago. I also caught the changing of the guard that takes place every two hours by the main tomb.

Of course I couldn’t not go an visit any art galleries so I chose MALBA which focuses on Latin American art and includes one Frieda Kahlo and one Diego Rivera. Like the country the art is very colorful .

Last stop is one of the top three named most beautiful bookshops in the world. It’s called El Ateneo and by chance the store is owned by the family of someone I met in Melbourne who now lives back in Buenos Aires! It is wonderful – formerly a theatre and now a book haven for everyone to enjoy.