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Trip Report Buenos Aires, Iguazu, Esteros del Ibera, Cordoba trip report

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I had the best of intentions of doing a report in real time, maybe even a blog with uploaded photos. . . But alas, I've been lazy.

DH and I started our two month trip to Argentina Jan. 1. We're jubilados ahora and have taken to fleeing cold DC weather each Jan and Feb. We saved some $$$ by using LAN's SA pass, but that meant we had to get to Miami first to do our intenational flight on LAN, thereby further lengthening pur already long slog. . . And requiring some further airport down time. Oh well, it's done and forgotten now.

BAs

We spent two great weeks in BAs in an apartment we arranged ourselves (using previous houseswap contacts). It was a nice enough loft in a gritty old building in San Telmo. Caseros Street.

We loved our block and ate our way through the restaurants there:

Caseros, Hierbabuena, 1880 Parilla, and others. Will try to write some reviews later. Also enjpyed strolls in Parque Lezama. Did some walking, but also took plenty of cabs when friends came to visit our second week. Highlights were Recolleta Cemetery, tour of Teatro Colon, Malba, cafe sitting, and drinks with the famous ba experts: MarnieDC, her DH, and VeroBA. What a view they have

At sunset. Great conversation, wine, and anti pasta. Spontaneous fun: shopping for a wine glass and two small plates to replace broken one at our apt. We were shepherded by a delightful female cab driver who picked us up in La Boca and wanted to make sure we found exactly what we needed. And she knew just where to take us.

Iguazu was our next stop. Our friends continued on with us, so we 4 stayed at Hotel de la Fonte in Puerto Iguazu, a quirky little oasis on a residential side street, owned by the charming Italian Simona and her serious chef husband Matias. He made great pizza among other things - marinated egg yolks anyone? Palate cleansers served in test tubes? In any case, the food was always great and Simona very lovely and helpful. Since we were 4 we used the hotel's driver to ferry us back and forth to the falls park, rather than take the bus. Driver Julio was very chatty and enthusiastic so we had fun with him. He was also very patient with my less than mediocre Spanish.

We spent 4 or 5 hours one day at the falls (Argentinian side). Then went back next day, same side, to do the boat trip. Both days (like all of our first 25 days) were hot, sunny, and clear. We felt like we really lucked out with the weather. The falls did not disappoint!!!

A bonus was seeing a few beautiful birds - eg the plush crested jay with BLUE eyebrows. Our friend Julio was urging us on to a local mine, rescued animal park, etc. But we were having none of that. Went back to our oasis for a dip in the small pool and a couple beers.

Ate dinner on the nice patio at the hotel 2 nights, and at a so so spot in town the other. It may be fresh river "dorado" theyre serving in town, but seemed like a granddad mud cat to us, rubber with bones.

Esteros del Ibera was our next stop. Not easy to get to for sure. In the end after researching bus schedules, dirt roads etc we hired a driver to take us the 7 or 8 hours from Iguazu to tiny dusty town of Carlos Pelligrini where our lodge was located on the wetlands. Last 60 km of drive was unpaved. But, for us, definitely worth it. Saw about 100 species of birds (there are perhaps 300 there), owls, capybaras, caiman,fox, deer, monkeys,and more. We really liked our llodge - Ecoposadas del Esteros. They've only been in business a year so haven't received much publicity yet. It's managed almost entirely by a local family. It's not fancy, but comfortable with great views onto the marsh. Food was nicely prepared, simple, but inventive. Morning and evening boat trips on the lagoon, horseback riding, bird watching, nightwalks, and other activities are included in the package price. The first day we got there it was beastly hot, but the next 3 eves were unexpectedly pleasant. Some locals provided live music for our first dinner. A very special place for nature lovers!

Of course, then we had to get out of there. Required another 2 hour or so drive half on dirt to larger town of Mercedes, where we took

An overnight bus back to BA. Alternative is an expensive domestic flight to town of Posadas, but then you still have a long drive . . .

The overnight bus. Since the bus didn't originate in Mercedes,

All lights were out when we got on at 10' and we got no food. All just as well. Fortunately we had stumbled into a decent little place in town earlier on.... The full cama seats were about as comfortable as possible, but i've decided I just don't sleep in motion, not planes, nor trains, nor buses.

We arrived at retiro station early next am. Hung out there awhile and had some breakfast with our friends. Eventually we each got remises and they went off to EZE to return to DC. DH and I went to domestic airport for flight to Cordoba.

Cordoba was hot and dry on our visit (97 degrees both days). We stayed at the Azur Real Hotel, just the place for post wetlands lodge and all night bus ride. .. . Beautiful, modern. Great desk staff.

Cordoba was an interesting mix of old and new beautiful and ugly.

We spent our first day walking around town, plazas, cathdral, open museums. Really enjpyed the Bellas Artes and also our English tour of the Jesuit complex in town. It's a busy city even when missing many of its students and vacationing locals. Had an ok dinner at resto recommended by hotel: Mercado Central. A huge warehouse transformed into a hip spot. More emphasis on decor than food IMHO. Next day we decided to get out of town. Took a microbus to

Small near town of Alta Gracia. We were aiming for the Jesuit estancia there, ut also took in the nearby Che Gueverra museo, what fun! Che spent much of his childhood in Alta. His parents moved there because he had asthma and they were looking for dry climate

(they got that right). Jesuit complex was interesting as well, but we were startong to get our fill of lovely old furnishings, etc. We had our usual adventure finding both places: asking for directions several times and receiving often either blank looks or a barrage or rapid fire

Castellano of which we'd catch 20 percent. . . But we feel so good about accomplishing it!

Another overnight bus has delivered hre to Salta, our first cloudy day,

A nice change really. We schmoozed around town today. Found the archeological museum really interesting. Tomorrow we start our drive around NW, with heavy reliance on the paths set out by yestravel here, as well as others.

More as it develops. . .

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