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Trip Report One Month Circuit of Argentina

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I have been totally remiss in filing this trip report for our Argentina trip in February, 2011 and have promised myself that I will get it posted, in parts, before year-end. Thank you to all who have helped me over the years with your trip reports and responses. The forum is the first place I check after buying a map and before purchasing a guidebook.

Background
We’re a couple in our late 50’s who enjoy hiking, fine dining and good wine. We prefer to spend no less than 3 nights in any one place, but are willing to break up long travel distances with an overnight stop.

We were joined on this trip by our 22 year old daughter who is Spanish language proficient and served admirably, and in one case, beyond the call of duty. We opted for shared quarters when it made sense financially and treated ourselves to separate accommodations when it worked out. (After the trip she let us know that she met families on her trip through Mexico who put the kids up in hostels while the parents stayed in finer settings. That could actually be a great way for all to have a good time if traveling with teens.)

Argentina is a huge country with many attractions, and even though we had a month it was difficult to pare the itinerary so that we were not on the road constantly. We all knew we wanted to spend time in Patagonia, 2 of us insisted on Iguazu Falls, and I was intrigued by all I read about the Northwest. We opted for domestic flights over far less expensive bus travel to save travel time.

After much consideration we chose to use a travel agent based in Buenos Aires. We have never felt the need to work with a travel agent before this, but as I began to put our itinerary together it became complicated by the fact that certain domestic flights only operate a few days each week. I decided it would be an affordable luxury to have someone in Argentina who could deal with the nitty gritty and who would referee my plans.

We chose an agent whose name frequently came up both here and on the TA forum – Isabel – contact@buenosaires-tours.com.ar. Isabel worked with me almost daily via email during the planning phase of the trip and I called her via Skype to relay credit card and passport information. Once we were on the ground she monitored our trip the entire time. She phoned ahead to make sure all was prepared for our arrivals, she emailed us with restaurant suggestions, she dealt with flight cancellations, she advised us when we got into a bit of a jam (more about that later). We felt like we had a fairy godmother. She was able to arrange discounts for some of our accommodations and she did all this for US $100/per person. While it is certainly possible to travel in Argentina without a travel agent, for this trip we were absolutely pleased to have her help. She is a delightful person and I highly recommend her.

Itinerary – following is our trip plan (with notes as to how I might change it in retrospect)

Buenos Aires 3 nights

El Chalten 3 nights: (+1-2 nights)

El Calafate 3 nights: ( -1night) turned into 4 due to flight cancellation

Bariloche 1 night: skipped on this leg due to flight cancellation

Villa la Angostura 3 nights

San Martin d. Andes 2 nights: (+1)

Bariloche 2 nights

Salta 3 nights broken into 3 separate stays during travel in the Northwest

Purma Marca 2 nights –back to Salta

Cafayate 2 nights : (+1) back to Salta

Iguazu Falls 1 night

Buenos Aires 2 nights

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    Arrival and Buenos Aires – Recoleta
    Recoleta Studios www.recoletastudios.com can’t be beat. We paid $100/night/studio with a $200 security deposit and 20% down. The studios were spotless, modern, had small kitchenettes, a small rooftop pool and balconies in a secured building. They were one level above the street so there was some traffic noise in the morning. Our daughter’s studio had a larger kitchenette, a dining table and a bed separated from the dining area by a low wall. Ours had a kitchenette, large sitting area with the sleeping area in an ell. The building was a short walk away from Recoleta Cemetery and just about anywhere else we wanted to explore in the first few days. Mauricio, the owner, meets guests at both ends of the trip.

    Our daughter, who had been traveling solo in Mexico for a month, flew to Buenos Aires from Mexico City via Santiago and was arriving very early (5 a.m.) in the morning a day before we were to arrive. Isabel had Mauricio arrange transport for her, wait for her at the apartment at 6 in the morning and make sure she was settled. He then called Isabel to report all was well. When I awoke, an email from Isabel was waiting for me reporting that my daughter was safe, sound and sleeping.

    Day 1 We arrived from San Francisco in a mental fog, in part due to a 3 hour lay-over in Dulles. Immigration and customs took time, but was easy. The reciprocity fee of $140 could be paid in cash or with a credit card. There is a bank just outside of the arrivals area, but we exchanged money in the U.S. due to a cash shortage in Argentina at the time. As it turned out, this was unnecessary. The only place we had trouble getting cash was in Buenos Aires on that first afternoon and that only took 3 different ATM visits. Mauricio was happy to accept US $, and I think Isabel would have gladly taken them as well, but possibly couldn’t come out and say that…? In this same area of the airport we arranged a car transport with Manuel Tienda Leone for 148 pesos. When we passed through the next set of doors there was the kiosk for Taxi Ezeiza which our daughter had taken the previous day for 150 pesos.

    We passed our first day walking the neighborhood, visiting ATMs, and had a short nap after an unremarkable lunch. Armed with both guidebook suggestions and New York Times reviews we headed off to scout out dinner locations. (Isabel gave us recommendations, which others have said were great, but our daughter is a vegetarian which makes dining at parillas problematic.) We had a lovely meal at Teatriz Riobamba 1220 www.teatrizrestaurante.com.ar in a gorgeous building and a beautiful space. Dinner was around $150 US for 3 appetizers, entrees, desserts and a bottle of wine. I know you can eat very well for far less in BsAs, but we were quite content with our choice. One of the dishes, pork tenderloin with an apple/mango chutney, was one of the best meat dishes I have ever tasted. We went to bed fairly early and slept until 9 the next morning.

    Day 2We set off to see some sites, beginning with a BA Free Tour www.bafreetour.com which met at the Plaza del Congreso at 11 a.m. We had an engaging, fun guide named Gascon who works for tips. He did a good job in giving a brief survey course in Argentine history as we walked from Plaza del Congreso up to the Pink House and back to the Obelisk. We thought that the tour was fun, informative, just the right length and not crowded. It is a good way for a new tourist to get a small taste of some of the city’s highlights and then to decide if they want a more in-depth private tour. Gascon answered many questions regarding the current government, discussed the situation between the Madres and Abuelas of the Disappeared, and caught a pickpocket in action. There is an additional 5 p.m. tour which meets at Plaza San Martin which we did not make time for.

    After a snack at Pizzeria Guerrin and a siesta we attempted to visit Recoleta Cemetery but couldn’t get in as it was too close to closing time. We walked across the street for what we all thought was expensive and so-so ice cream at Freddo. Then began another very long sight-seeing walk to San Martin Plaza along Alvear, stopping at the Israeli embassy bombing memorial and on to Galleria Pacifico to see the ceiling murals. We had a very long slog back to our apartment along Santa Fe but it is the best way to get over jet lag and as it had rained the day before we arrived, the heat spell had broken so the weather was pleasant.

    We had dinner at Chez Felix in Palermo which was recommended by a friend of a friend, as well as the New York Times. I will say that Isabel politely tried to dissuade us. This is a “private” restaurant in the home of a young couple to whom I will give an “A” for effort, creativity, presentation and atmosphere and a “B” for food. Portions were small, and contrary to their stated goal of serving food only at its peak, they should have tried their own rock hard figs in the dessert. At 150 pesos per person, I would not go back.

    Day 3 While I stayed in to rest, my daughter and husband went to Puerto Madero due to a fairly enthusiastic Fodor’s review. Their experience was that it was hot, the river was not pretty and they had a so so lunch. Sometimes our experience is based on the luck of our moods, the weather and whether or not we stumble into a good place to eat. We made it into Recoleta Cemetery and I have to write that it was not a highlight for me. My daughter and husband don’t necessarily share my sentiments, but for me it was just sad to see so many abandoned crypts in disrepair with tourists gawking all about. I left after about 45 minutes and got cash for our week in southern Patagonia.

    We had a fabulous last-night-of-phase-1 dinner at Sucre, another NYT rec. Sucre is a beautiful restaurant in a happening area with some amazing menu choices. We had 3 apps, 3 entrees, 1 dessert, and a bottle of wine + cover for just under U.S. $150. Among our selections: baked egg with prosciutto, grilled octopus, ahi tuna, rib eye steak with some incredible potatoes, seafood risotto, tagliarini with squid and coconut flan with chocolate ganache, along with a malbec/cab blend that was perfect. The only lackluster dish was the dessert and somehow we managed to eat it all up!

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    What a pleasure to read your report. I'm glad you had such a good time.
    What a great itinerary ! I'm so glad you were lucky enough to use Isabel. She is the best! She planned my trip and I could not have done it without her.

    Looking forward to reading more of your trip.

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    Patagonia – Chalten
    Day 1 Mauricio met us at 6:30 a.m. in order to return the apartment deposit. He had only collected a deposit for one apartment even though we rented two. He arranged a remise to the airport which showed up at 6:45 and we were on our way back to EZE even though we were on a domestic flight. Thanks to Isabel we were armed with this updated departure information.

    Our flight to Calafate was uneventful, even departing and arriving on time if memory serves, and we took a reserved Lengas van to el Chalten approximately 3 hours away with a short rest stop mid-way. The driver was very good, battling strong winds the entire trip. The van itself was completely full so it was not the most comfortable transport. The most frustrating thing was the limited visibility in what has to be some of the world’s most beautiful scenery. However, unless we had opted to rent a car, we would have had to taxi into Calafate and wait several hours for the large Chalten Travel bus. We knew we did not need a car in Chalten and we were quite content to get on the road quickly. The van dropped us off at the door of our inn.

    Confin Patagonico http://elchalten.com/confinpatagonico/index.php turned out to be a very nice, reasonably priced, comfortable little inn with gracious hosts. The rooms were simple , clean and very well lit. The inn sits next door to the hosts’ home, and consists of 4 equally sized rooms with a narrow breakfast room lining the back of the square building. Jorge and Claudia did not speak English, but I am sure that they are experts at universal tourist sign language. Jorge spoke extensively with our daughter giving her trail suggestions depending on weather conditions each day. His hiking suggestions turned out to be spot on, but his dining recommendation for the first night was so bad that we didn’t ask for others!

    We headed out late afternoon for a short walk up to the condor look-out but the wind was so strong that there were times we were blown into the cliff side. It quickly became overcast, spitting cold rain so we headed back down the hillside to visit the National Park office which we missed as it had just closed at 5 p.m. Dinner at Pangea was sub-par with very expensive wine. The 3 of us whiled away a few hours playing SET and hit the hay.

    Day 2 After a typical continental style breakfast we hit the trail to Lago de Torre. The day was sunny, with some wind, and Jorge said if we were to see Cerro Torre, this would be the day. The trailhead is at the edge of town, and after the first very short climb out of town, it was an easy trail with gorgeous views. Even with clouds obscuring the highest peaks we still saw plenty of glacier and surroundings. By the time we got to the lake it was socked in and cold so we opted out of the additional hour’s hike to the other end, instead hiking back down a bit out of the wind to eat our lunches by the river side in the sun. The packed lunches arranged by Claudia were so ample we ate one and saved another for the next day.

    On our return we found a lovely little spot of sand with a driftwood log just made for resting our heads on while lying in the sun-warmed sand and taking in the sight of the glaciers and peaks. We enjoyed this little playa del sol for quite some time before we were overtaken by a large group who also liked the looks of the spot. It was time to push on.

    We took an alternate route back into Chalten which brought us to a hill overlooking the little town with a very pretty walk down. We were looking forward to showers and snacks, but the power was out at the inn – no heat, no hot water. We wandered back into the main part of town and stopped in at Rincon del Sur Vinoteria or La Vineria (there seemed to be 2 names) at Avenue Lago del Desierto 265 where we sat at a pleasant window table in the sun, drank beer and wine, and ate great tapas while playing Set for the remainder of the afternoon into the early evening. The owner gave my husband a tour of his wine collection and made recommendations for us to look for during the rest of our trip.

    We were disappointed to find that there was still no hot water so we cleaned up as best we could and headed out to Estepa which the wine shop owner had recommended only to find they were full. It was too bad as it looked very nice and smelled fantastic. We made a reservation for the next evening. We continued trekking down San Martin in search of a parilla that had also been recommended. On the way we saw Ruca Mahuida up a small hill so we trudged up to discover that they had just filled the last seat for that night’s dinner. It looked so inviting with its cozy room, fireplace and views that we decided to eat there the next night even though we had just made a reservation at Estepa. We finally made it into a parilla called Mi Viejo which turned out not to be the one recommended. That one is all the way down San Martin at the very end of the road. Blame our very bad meal on me as by that time I was totally done with walking!

    After dinner we walked around looking for the chocolate restaurant that our daughter had read about. We found Abuela Goya only it was not a restaurant, just a candy store. We purchased alafores to eat on the way back to the inn – still no power or hot water and too late to deal with it. Good thing we all have headlamps! To bed.

    At this point, given my tales of wandering the town, I should point out that Chalten is not large at all and I think our unsuccessful wanderings were due to fatigue rather than true difficulty in making one’s way about town!

    Day 3 Fabulous day! It dawned sunny with little wind, at least once we were up out of Chalten. Jorge had suggested we take the through-hike trail to Fitz Roy rather than the in-and-out trail from Chalten. We had breakfast at 7 and a remise arrived at 8 to take us to the trailhead at Hosteria el Pilar which,by the way, looks like a great place to stay except that it is quite remote.

    We headed off on the gentle, beautiful trail in the woods along the river with occasional glimpses of what was to come – Fitz Roy! Such an amazing sight and we were all awe struck at our fortune to be in such a place. My husband said that he had seen photos of Fitz Roy when he was quite young but never dreamed he would see it. I think we all shed a few tears of wonder. Two hours of hiking with each vista continuing to amaze found us at the junction of trails leading back to Chalten or UP to the base of Fitz Roy – no question.

    This next part of the hike was extreme for me as I promised myself to do more aerobics! Steep, steep uphill constantly for an hour. I made sure I had water and told my husband and daughter to go ahead. I went steadily, but slowly. The only way to do that type of hike is one foot in front of the other with no stopping. Then… a false summit! where I did stop until two older guys caught up with me. When I said “termindo” they encouraged me to continue “dies minutos” so up a steep scree field I went, already beginning to be concerned about the descent and very much looking forward to some lunch. The view was indescribable – all the peaks with blue sky and bits of cloud. When I got to the top overlooking the glacial lake I couldn’t see my husband or daughter anywhere, and that is when I found myself close to tears in spite of the beauty. Then I heard my daughter calling to me from a small trail I had missed which lead down to the lake. She scampered up to me with a power bar and I determined that I was not going to go down even 1 foot that I would need to come back up again! We sat for quite some time marveling at the spectacle. Most people were very quiet. This is a sacred spot if ever there was one on this earth.

    As we headed back down to the false summit we spied two condors slowly gliding above us. Close up they are ugly raptors, but they made an awesome sight in that backdrop. They owned the mountains. Down we headed, not as hard going as we thought it might be, against large groups of people making their way up. My sympathies, but we had lots of waiting for them to pass as uphillers have the right of way. There were beautiful mountains in the own right in front of us as we headed down, down, down to Rio Fitz Roy two and one half hours back to Chalten with the Fitz in full panorama behind us. If only we could walk backwards! We made many, many stops to gaze back. The mirador was pretty much our final unobstructed view of the range before we had to enter the forest and begin the long descent into Chalten.

    The last portion of the trail was along an edge overlooking another valley and river. It was narrow and steep and seemed interminable! I am glad that we did the through hike, but if we had had more time I would have taken this trail another day as then Fitz Roy would have been in front of us from the mirador on – weather willing. We pretty much limped into town, purchased our bus tickets to Calafate for the next day, confirmed our dinner reservations and took a long, HOT, shower. 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. door-to door.

    By 6:30 we were off to the wine bar for another glass of yummy malbec and some tapas to hold us for dinner at 8 at Ruca Mahuida. It was still pretty and still warm with the wood stove blazing and we were looking forward to a nice dinner. We had fennel salad with orange and grapefruit, goat cheese ravioli, trout, pumpkin soup and polenta. All were fine except for the polenta. The bread and beet root spread were great. We enjoyed a wonderful pinot Salentein 2004. Even though dinner was not as fantastic as we had hoped, we had a lovely evening recounting the day and finishing off the bottle. We also began the traditional “next big vacation” discussion. Of course, no decision.

    This evening we ended up at the real chocolateria which proved to be very cozy. Who knew there were so many kinds of hot chocolate? Fortunately for us we had our translator along who could explain that there was plain, with cream to make the bittersweet taste richer, with booze or other flavorings and, of course, with dulce de leche. We also ordered a “brownie” which turned out to be a huge piece of dense chocolate torte with dulce de leche and chocolate ganache. One delicious bite for me as I was not the one in our party who had practically run up the last bit of the Fitz Roy trail. We met up with people from Colorado who we had seen earlier in the day on the trail. They were there with a private guide and had just come off of 5 days and nights on the ice field – the second largest on the planet. They had made many trips to Patagonia and said that this place had the best pizza in town - and there’s a lot of pizza here so if we ever return…

    Thoughts about Chalten As hikers, we wish that we had 2-3 more full days in Chalten. There are easily 2 more full-day hikes that we would have enjoyed. There is also a trip out to Lago del Desierto which Jorge advised us to save for a bad weather day. However, if the weather had been bad, then you are in Chalten which isn’t exactly a happening place! We thought our inn was quite adequate, but I might look for one with a lounge area if I return. We met someone later in the trip who said that they had dinner every night at Estepa and that each meal was fantastic. Guess we need to return just for that!

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    avrooster - Thank you, yes, although you may want to wait until I finish...that will keep me on it!

    Thank you to others who are reading along. I am torn between continuing the long narrative or just sticking to the facts, nothing but the facts!

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    Of course I'll wait until you finish your great report to put the URL in my "More suggested reading" thread!

    My vote also goes for continuing the long narrative, OF COURSE!

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    Patagonia/Calafate This being a travel day we slept in as it dawned gray and very cold, reinforcing how incredibly fortunate we were during our short stay in Chalten. We needed to check out of Confin by 10, and our bus was not scheduled to leave until 1, so we found ourselves in search of an open café. We ended up at Hotel Aldea where we enjoyed a nice space with plenty of tables, couches, wifi, a computer station and a pot of tea. We finally had the time to catch up on journaling and postcards.
    The 1 p.m. Chalten Travel bus http://www.chaltentravel.com/ at 75 pesos was large, comfortable and on-time. It seemed to take no time at all, and soon we were pulling in to Calafate where we hopped into a taxi for the drive to our inn where our hosts pretty much met us at the curb. The Miyazato Inn http://www.interpatagonia.com/miyazatoinn/index_i.html was a great value. The double rooms were a good size, there is a nice lounge/breakfast area and it was very clean. The hosts were exceptionally nice and helpful. The rooms could be improved with hair dryers and storage space for clothing. The single we booked for our daughter was quite small, and I would pay the extra money in the future for a larger room.

    Isabel told me that previous clients felt the Miyazato was too far from town. I don’t understand this complaint. True, it is not on the main street, but it is less than a 5 minute walk to the main street. There is a short walk on a dirt road and over a foot bridge to a street leading up to the main drag. Along the way there is a nice little coffee shop, Don Luis which has beautiful pastries and wifi. Also along this street, 9 de Julio, is La Baguette where we stocked up on empanadas and sweets for snacks.

    We headed off to the main street to check out menus, do tour research, drool over chocolate shops and taste test empanadas. We had the first of several wonderful meals at the Casimiro Begua restaurant group consisting of a vinoteca, a parilla and a trattoria (pizza/pasta place). They range from fancy to casual, with differing price ranges as well. We enjoyed each meal we had there and tried all three. The housemade pastas at the most casual of the three were some of the finest we have had - including in Italy! We chose the vinoteca this evening and enjoyed: soup of creamed greens, shrimp in garlic broth, rosettes of smoked salmon, slow roasted lamb, salmon with lemon risotto, and orange flan along with a Catena Zapata cabernet.

    Day 2 I am sure that most of the tour outfitters are pretty much the same out of Calafate. Our inn booked us for the Perito Moreno Glacier with Always Glaciers which picked us up at the inn at 8 a.m. (130 pesos/person) for what turned out to be an amazing day. The concept was an optional boat ride and then to the boardwalks, but as the bus stopped at the wharf and said they’d be back in an hour for the drive to the walks, it really wasn’t optional, but 50 pesos/person was more than worth it. It was breathtaking to be on the water level facing a 20-story high glacial face. While on the water, two large pieces of the face calved to much excitement. Then it was on to the network of boardwalks where we had almost 4 hours to view the glacier and the extensive length of Lago Argentino. The boardwalk made it possible to see out over the top of the glacial field where 4(?) separate fields converge. Four hours seemed to be the right amount of time as we walked from level to level, stopping to gaze in wonder, listening to the movement of the ice, and at times seeing the ice break free to create building-high spashes. We were lucky to witness one huge sheet crack off the face which caused an enormous roar and several minutes of wake. We were very glad to have hats, mittens, windbreakers and long underwear.

    For dinner this evening I would have been content back at the vinoteca, but we felt our mostly vegetarian daughter might enjoy pasta. After doing some TA research and another “menu walk” we decided to go to Casimiro Begua Trattoria for what turned out to be a great meal in an extremely casual restaurant. For pastas, you choose between several types and many sauces. We all had house-made fettucine with: funghi in crema for me, calamari for my husband, and arrabiata for our daughter. They were all exceptionally good. We enjoyed our dishes with a Sauras Patagonia select malbec 2006.

    Day 3 We declared a rest day as we were tired and had dirty laundry. Mostly, we all decided that another large group activity is not what we wanted to do, and it seemed to me that many of the options out of Calafate require a tour. The excursion out to Estancia Christina had some appeal to me in order to do some hiking and get a view of the Upsala glacier, but that was vetoed. We looked into going back to the south arm of the park and hiking Cerro Cristal but a rental car was going to be ridiculously expensive, the bus only ran on weekends and we lacked the ambition to even ask about a taxi. It was a pity as the day was crystal clear, although very windy.

    We dropped our laundry off and headed to what we were beginning to think of as “our” tea house, Don Luis. My husband ordered a mate which came in a tea bag with a pot of hot water and a small glass of sparkling water. Even with our daughter along there are some things we could never figure out, and the sparkling water was one of them. Did it go with the mate? Was it traditional? Perhaps it was simply a nice gesture and a way to refresh one’s palate after the mate.

    Laguna Nimez was a short walk from our inn so we decided to get a bit of exercise and some fresh air - not hard to do in the prevalent, brisk winds of Calafate! We had a leisurely walk along the preserve’s flower strewn pathways where horses grazed with Lago Argentino and the mountains in the background. Tiered vegetation sheltered over 80 species of birds, including the flamingoes the area is known for. Three small hawks fought over some type of tidbit about 6 feet from us about 8 feet off the ground. When they broke apart, one hovered within a hand’s reach of us. Beautiful! The flamingoes were stunning in flight when the darker pink of their wings showed. This was well worth the time and small price of admission. We had been laughingly told that we were free to take a swim in the lake if we wished. Maybe next time!

    Of course it was time to eat lunch so that we wouldn’t be too full come dinnertime.Empanadas or pasta? Back we went to the trattoria, each of us saving half our order for the next day’s lunch on the plane. We snagged some chocolates on the way to pick up our laundry and went back to the inn to hang it out to dry in the wind.

    That evening’s dinner was at the 3rd of the Casmiro Biguas – the parilla. All tables were started with a bread topping of lentils in vinegar and spices that we want to try making at home. There was a great smoked trout timbale with pear and blue cheese and our first taste of lamb ala cruces. The exceedingly tender and wonderfully smoky lamb came piled on a cast iron round. We also had Ojo de bife with some of the best fries I have ever tasted and a grilled trout with squid ink pasta. The meat eaters among us felt that the lamb we ate in Patagonia was some of the best we have had in the world. Dessert of a poached pear was slightly disappointing, but not so much as to ruin our very lazy day.

    Day 4/Travel Day, or so we thought We spent this morning wandering the same main shopping strip that makes up commercial Calafate until it was time to head to the airport. I was in search of a photo book I had seen and admired in Chalten by a photographer named Andres Bonetti – the Craig Potten of Patagonia which may make sense to those who have traveled in New Zealand. I was able to find many of his books, but not the one that was specific to Chalten. My husband added to his souvenir cycling shirt collection and our daughter was able to make a sneak purchase for me – a topo map of Los Glaciers NP that I plan to frame and give to my husband for his birthday. Then it was off to the airport for our flight to Bariloche.

    The main part of the terminal was jammed with humanity, but we were finally allowed through security in time to see the carts with our luggage leave the terminal and head out the tarmac. When the plane arrived, but the luggage didn’t load we knew we might have trouble. When the still full luggage carts wheeled away from the plane and back to the terminal, we joined the mosh pit that looked like it was heading to the Aerolineas Argentinas counter. There was absolutely no announcement made, just every once in a while some lucky person made it up to the agent and then left the airport. Our daughter was able to reach Isabel to let her know what was happening, so we made our way slowly up the “line” while Isabel worked things from her end. Finally, a nice young Dutch man found something to stand on and yelled, in English, above the crowd, what he had been told. We were all to come to the counter with the group we were traveling with so that we could be individually checked off the list and assigned a hotel room. The agent wouldn’t even entertain requests to book for the next flight out. Then… the wait for our luggage to come off the carts…then the conveyer belt breaking…then the wait for the assigned bus…then the wait for the other bus…then watching as the bulk of the people on our bus got off at the prime hotel on the hill overlooking the lake and all of Calafate…

    Our assigned hotel was ok, Rincon de los Suenos, but the wifi didn’t work and it was stressful trying to decide whether to attempt changing to the next day’s flight or to just stay with the herd. The hotel staff made a general announcement that we were to surrender our boarding passes and they would be told by the airline what we were to do the next morning. We were now not close enough to town to walk in and deal with the airline office, but by this time Isabel had determined that there were 6 seats on the next day’s flight to Bariloche. At first she was told that we could not book, but she made them give us the booking. Even though the airline was paying for our hotel, dinner and breakfast we took a taxi back into town for dinner so as not to be too depressed. We went back to the first of the three Casamiro Begua’s for a nice meal, but one that was not nearly as stunning as our first one there. Could it have been our mood?

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    PJ: I am enjoying your very good report. You are traveling in parts of Argentina that I did not visit, but I am neverthelessy enjoying your travels. I am looking forward to your report on places in that wonderful country where I have been, many thanks.

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    Oh, goodie, will a Oaxaca trip report follow this one? I hope so, as we went there for Christmas and New Year a couple of years ago, and we loved it!

    But, first, more Argentina please!

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  22. 22 Brazil/Buzios: Booking bus tickets in advance?
  23. 23 9 day Itinerary Advice: Lima, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu
  24. 24 Question about LAN Peru LAX-Cusco
  25. 25 Sanctuary Lodge vs. Inkaterra
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