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Trip Report Our Quick Trip to Argentina and Chile

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Our AA (Got tickets with points) flight left Monday 23 Feb on time from central California, arriving in Dallas without incident. We had only an hour to get to a different terminal, and fretted for our luggage, but all was ok. The people movers at DFW really work well, and when we got to the proper gate, the plane was delayed departure, so we had time for a quick sandwich at a food court nearby.

The flight took off one hour late. With a 0955 Tuesday scheduled arrival time BsAs, I had booked a 1630 flight out of AEP for Iguazu Falls, thinking I had plenty of time to get out of EZE and get to the other airport. As the time ticked off prior to takeoff, I began to wonder if I had been too aggressive.

The flight to BsAs was rough, but otherwise uneventful, and the dinner was actually pretty good. But DW says she is continually amazed at the garbage I consider good. With the help of some Ambien, I actually slept about 4 hours.
We landed EZE about 30 minutes late, breezed through customs. After customs, went to Manual Leon Tiendo stand as recommended here, hired a car to AEP for 144 ARG$. Got there a little after 1 PM, and went to the LAN desk. Yes, we have room on the earlier (1330) flight. We even had time for a pretty good meal at the food court at AEP. Plenty of alternatives to pick from. I had what appeared to be a ham and cheese quiche, DW had a ham and chees on a baguette (which she thought was OK!). I was glad we didn´t stop en route for lunch. Would have missed the earlier flight opportunity.

With the earlier flight, had time to do the Circuito Superior after checking into the falls view room of the Sheraton. Were properly impressed with the falls. The weather was not too hot, cloudy, threatening rain. When we got back to the room, feeling a little jet lagged, showered and then watched a thunderstorm pile up over the falls and let go a regular downpour which obliterated the falls. After it cleared, a brilliant rainbow appeared exactly over the hotel on the Brazil side, the roof and spire of which are visible from our third floor room. A stunning end to a long day. We sat in the room and watched in awe at nature´s glory.

The room at the Sheraton was properly appointed for the price. No complaint there, though the air conditioner was either off, or frigid. So we kept it off. Fortunately it was not too hot. The views were stunning. The food was atrocious, especially given the price they charge, the Sheraton name, and the fact that you are pretty much a captive. The second night we thought about getting a cab and going into town, but were too tired. The buffet is a marginally better deal than ala carte. Breakfast is passable, but the bacon and eggs are inedible, even for me. Breakfast and free computer use is included in high price. They had a nice business center set up with several computers available, good connection and speed.

The second day we got the train about 0900 to estacion garganta and walked out the gangway to the falls. Awesome indeed. Took many pictures, and had one of the professionals out there take a picture. 30 $Arg. It´s touristy, yeah, but it was kinda nice. There were throngs of people out there, and we had those little plastic ponchos. Need to have those when you go out there. You will get wet. Can buy them at stores around Iguazu. Returned to the hotel. Rested up and then took the lower walk, circuito inferior, stopping at Dos Hermanos for lunch. The baguette was good, and watching the coati´s was a real hoot. There are dozens of the little devils, and can get pretty aggressive if encouraged with a bit of bread or chips.

We decided not to hike down to the embarcadero for the boat ride, as I was still feeling the effects of a bronchial infection couple of weeks ago, didn´t want to have to climb back up. Felt that we´d seen enough of the the falls, and wandered back to the room, stopping at the many overlooks on the way.

I had arranged by direct call to Sheraton to have a car pick us up at the airport. When he dropped us off, I arranged for him to take us back to the airport on Thursday. (60 $Arg each way.) He picked us up at 0930 for our 1050 flight. The line at LAN was stacked up, and moved slow, but the plane took off only about 10 minutes late, and got in about 10 minutes early. Funny how they do that. There was a real high maintenance American princess (starts with a b) with more luggage than 5 or 6 of us behind her in line put together. Was really upset that she had to pay extra. Must have had couple hundred pounds. Made quite a scene. People like that disgust me.

I had booked 4 nights at 1555 Malabia House through Expedia at $152 US, about $50 less than rack rate. Through emails I confirmed the details of the reservation direct with the hotel. Malabia house has some rooms ensuite and some with private baths, but across the hall. A minor inconvenience for some, but for DW, a deal breaker. I made sure that the room was ensuite. Through the hotel by email, arranged to be picked up at the airport and brought to the hotel. ($60 Arg) Malabia House is on Malabia between Honduras and Gorrity, not too far from AEP.

We were met enthusiatically by Andrea, and though quite early, our room was ready after about 15 minutes. Andrea gave us some orientation and escorted us to our room. It was small, but quite comfortable. The tiny bath was indeed ensuite, and all the comforts, albeit a bit cramped. No problemo though, and I was pleased when DW gave it a thumbs up. Malalbia House is an old building that was once a convent. It is quite narrow, with little street frontage. Breakfast and free computer use 24\7 is included. The connections were fast.

Based on a recommendation from Andrea went right out for lunch at Cluny, just around the corner on Cabrera. We both had salads, sitting out on the sidewalk watching the action on the street. It was an excellent salad. Then we walked for several blocks, just checking out our surroundings. We were impressed with the many security guards present, mostly at restaurants and larger stores. Just about every store had a sale going on. End of summer sales, or signs of the times, even here in Argentina.

Returned to the hotel for much needed nap. Confirmed with Ivana our time tomorrow for a city tour. After a nap, went with Ivana´s recommendation and went to dinner at Lo de Jesus, Gurruchaga 1406 (recommended). Our first real parillo, we had the filet in pepper sauce and gratin potatoes. Outstanding. Again dined outside, finishing about 10 PM, watching the action which picked up the later it got. I had a crepe with apple and rum and ice cream postre (desert), and waddled back to the hotel, stopping briefly to watch some tango lessons in a studio on Armenia Street. At about 10:30 PM, it looked like things were just getting started at the restaurants and bars. But for us old folks, off we trundle.
Friday, our 2 day in Buenos Aires, the first full day. At my request, our hotel booked us on a 4 hour city tour, and we were very happy with the results. They picked us up at 8:30 (which was pretty early after eating dinner at 10PM). At a hotel downtown, we sorted out into our respective mini-busses. Our English speaking group was about a dozen. At Playa de Mayo, we stopped and watched a short video in the bus of the historic things that have taken place in this area. It was excellent and gave us in insight into the soul of Argentina. Then we walked around the plaza for a while.
Next on the route was Porto Madera. Our guide gave a running, humorous commentary. La Boca is very touristy, and we stopped for about 30 minutes walking and took a few pictures. I don´t think anyone in our group bought anything, but you can tell all the tour busses stop here. We then drove through San Telmo, a little bit of Palermo, the embassy district, and finally stopped at la Biela Cafe in the Recolto. That´s where the tour ended about 1 PM.
It was good for us to see the city this way, with the running commentary, as in our short time here, we did not have time to see all of this. Also, based on this tour, we decided we wanted to see the market at San Telmo on Sunday.
We lunched at la biela, which does not accept Master Card, only Visa and Amexp, then walked through the Recoleta cemetary, which is difficult to describe. It is on every tour guide of Buenos Aires. You just have to see it to believe it. We found Evita´s tomb, took many pictures, then took a cab to the hotel, for our requisite nap.
Tonights dinner was La Baita, for Italian, recommended in Fodor´s. Unfortunately, it was not really good. DW rated it just ok.

Saturday, day 3 in BsAs. We got up late, breakfasted leisurely at the hotel with omelettes, cereal, yogurt and fruit. Then we hit the leather shops. With the help(?) of hostess Ivana, Veronica and Andrea, we were directed to the leather goods center of the universe, a 2 or 3 block area around the intersection of Malabia and Murillo. We walked the 15 blocks or so, stopping at a cafe for a coke (actually found a pepsi, much to DW´s delight), which I consider paying for the right to use the bathroom.
There must be two dozen leather stores in this area, and DW, in some kind of nirvana, must have been in them all. She doesn´t shop much, bless her, so when she does, she does so with a purpose and concentration that is hard to describe. She turns into a hunter, every bit as driven as the female lion stalking her prey. In this case it is the skins of dead cows, maybe the one we ate the first night here.
The clerks mostly spoke some English, though my smattering of Spanish really came in handy here. I would like to have been more fluent, though I got into some interesting conversations with some, as we tried to teach each other some of our languages.
(TIP: If you know nothing else, you should get to know the numbers.)
(Medias = stockings - as she tried on some boots.)
She ended up 4 hours later with two purses, a pair of boots and a jacket, all for the stateside price of one of the above. Our hostess claims the same stuff is 2 and 3 times more at the big stores and malls downtown. There is a price, less 10% if cash, and they use a divisor of 3.5 if you want to pay in US dollars. Fortunately, we had brought enough cash along, so just think how much money we saved!!!!
Some might feel bad for DW ´cause she didn´t have a good shopping buddy, but not to worry. We do alright together. She actually asks my opinion, and I actually encouraged her to buy two jackets when she couldn´t make up her mind.
So after a very successful hunt, we took a cab back, after stopping at an ATM machine on Avenida Corrientas to replenish my depleted cash.
That night we sought out na Serapia, recommended here most highly and featured in the Fodor´s guidebook. OK, we might be missing something, and we knew we were headed for a hole in the wall. That didn´t put us off. It really does have a lot of character. But come on gang, we have tons of restaurants in Central California that serve better tamales than this place. One of DW´s friends makes ´em at Christmas and passes them out to friends. So maybe we are spoiled. And the Empanadas, well, lets just say they weren´t our cup of tea. So, we left na serapia with DW glaring at me, and found a cab home.
More to follow.

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