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Trip Report 15 Wonderful Days in Argentina --and a GREAT Travel Agent!!!

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My husband and I recently returned from a great trip to Argentina. Our trip was in early May. We covered a lot of ground --Bs As, Iguazu, Salta, Mendoza, bus over the Andea and one day in Santiago, Chile. We couldn't have done it without the help of Isabel of Buenos Aires Tours. Others have written of how extraordinary she is and we can only add our names to the long list of those who just love her. I swear the woman works 24-7. In addition to helping plan, she checked in on us along the way to make sure all was going well. And she is very practical--when I could find hotels on-line for less money she had no problem with me booking them. Anyway, she is simply the best and anyone planning a trip to Argentina should make contacting her at their first step.

In addition to many hotels, Isabel arranged all our travel within Argentina except for a three day car rental in Salta which I did on my own because I found a better rate. We flew Aerolineas Argentinas from BsAs to Iguazu and also from Salta to Mendoza (via BsAs). We flew Andes Airlines from Iguazau to Salta (direct flight---very good.) We had no problem with any of the flights---all were on time or within 15 minutes, luggage was checked and claimed with no issues. We were very pleased. Bus over the Andes was Andesmar which was fine.

Some info on our trip: Buenos Aires-----what a city!! We liked our hotel the Ayres Recoleta Plaza very much. Great location, nice staff and the rooms are very spacious. We would stay there again and would recommend it. The Hop on Hop Off bus was great for us---gave us a good overview and on day 2 we used it to go back to the places we were most interested in. And taxis were easy and inexpensive. Among other things we did do a tango show one night and we were glad we did---yes, it's touristy, but we were tourists and the dancers were extraordinary. We would certainly recommend it for first-time visitors. Bs As has so many high points it's hard to list them all----just a world-class city (with very crazy drivers!!!)

Iguazu---probably the highlight of our trip. Incredible, incredible, incredible. We got a great deal and stayed at the Sheraton in a Falls View room and we were very glad we did. For us and for other people who only have one night I think it is the only way to go. Yes, it was expensive but when we sat out on our balcony it was worth every penny. And staying at the Sheraton made everything easy----walk out the door and you are right there; get soaking wet on the boat trip as we did and you can easily go back to your room and get warm and dry. And those Falls-------spectacular.

Salta, Purmumarca, Cafayate--- We weren't crazy about Salta City but we loved the Parador el Lagar where we stayed. Salta was bigger than we had anticipated and just didn't "speak" to us. The drive to Purmumarca was fine and the scenery was also fine. But the village was a little too rustic for us and we weren't crazy about it. Separately, the altitude bothered both of us a bit. But the drive south and between Salta and Cafayate on Route 9 was off the scale beautiful. We loved it!!!! The scenery around Cafayate is stunningly beautiful. We also liked Cafayate very much and the Hotel Killa where we stayed was perfect. Cafayate was more of a real town than Purmumarca and more the sort of place we enjoy. I think we would have enjoyed two nights in Cafayate and skipping Purmumarca but these are the things you don't know unitl you get there.

Mendoza----Bring on the Malbec!! We stayed at the Executive Hotel and liked it very much----wonderful staff, decent breakfast, comfortable room with a GREAT shower and a good location. Although a big city, Mendoza had sort of a small town feel and we liked it. Unfortunately, our first day there was the only really bad day we had weather-wise, very cold and rainy so we didn't walk around too much. But we did take a city tour in the afternoon which was very good. The hotel arranged it for us. And we had dinner two nights at Asafran which was great. And then the Ampora wine tour!!!! Great, great, great!! We had a small group of just five people. And a wonderful guide, Alex. It was just a great day with tasting of wonderful wine, good information on the wine industry and a wonderful lunch. The Ampora people were all great and we would highly recommend them.

Bus to Chile---Now this was an experience! The day was perfect weather-wise-----sunny and blue skies. And our seats were very comfortable. But we had first class seats and were actually disappointed when we realized that our first class seats were on the lower level. Being on the lower level meant we had no view in the front (completely blocked by a wall where the lavatory was and then the stairs to the upper level) and the ceiling was very low so our window view also seemed limited. We would have preferred to be on the upper level in the front with a great view. Just a heads up for others that you may want to sacrifice the comfort of first class for the view from the upper level. And then the Border Crossing!!! Assuming Argentina and Chile want to encourage tourism they need to work on this!!! Two hours---many lines, on the bus, off the bus, luggage on and off. I know it's a border but there must a better way to do it. But the ride was beautiful and people were very helpful when they realized we did not speak Spanish and tried to help us figure out which line to get in and when to get on and off the bus. We're glad we did it!!

Santiago, Chile---only one day there but very nice city. We stayed at the Hotel Orly and liked it very much. Again, wonderful staff and an excellent location. We did a private City tour through About Chile and had a great guide and a wonderful day. Given our limited time in Chile it was definitely the best use of our time and money.

So that's it---15 great days. And I think the Lake District of Argentina and Chile could be high on our list!

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