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Trip Report Trip Report: BsAs/Colonia

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Part of the second half of our vacation took us from Bariloche to Buenos Aires and Colonia de Sacramento. Escaped the reciprocity fee by arriving into BsAs at AEP. Took a mid-afternoon flight from BRC to AEP. Had pre-arranged remises for all arrivals, departures and a transfer between airports in BsAs through my travel agent in FL. It certainly makes life easier on an initial visit. Flight was late (beginning to notice a trend on LAN) and rush hour traffic was abysmal by any standards but probably normal for a Thursday afternoon about 6pm in world class city of over 12 million. We missed our first outing which was for a reservation to eat at a puerta cerrada "closed door" restaurant. When the receptionist at our hotel called to let them know, Maria, the owner seemed surprised that we had made the effort to inform them. Stayed at Eurobuilding Boutique Hotel on Avenida Lima, a couple of blocks from the major intersection of Avenida 9 de Julio and Avenida de Mayo. The room was spacious, modern, had a view to the famous "world's largest boulevard" and was very convenient for our needs on this trip. Had been warned to stay in a room that did not face the street due to the noise factor but we had no problem up on the 9th floor. A rooftop pool/sauna/workout area complemented the feeling of flying down Avenida 9 de Julio. The staff, especially, Jesica, helped us immensely. The breakfast buffet went the extra mile by offering prosciutto in addition to the ubiqitous sliced ham and cheese. I ate more bread/rolls/buns/alfajores/cake/etc. (read CARBS) during the short three week vacation than in the past year combined (well almost). Luckily, all of our walking resulted in no weight gain!
Experienced no begging, no scams, no harrassment during our stay. Only witnessed an elderly woman curled up alone to sleep next to a building near our hotel on the main avenue. She was still there in the early morning.
Ate a light dinner at La Posada Parilla and was surprised by the cover charge for bread and condiments (which were quite delicious). Quickly figured out what "no se cobran cubierto" means. Forgot to mention that not only was I eating some type of bread for breakfast but managed to consume more bread at night. Several days all we wanted was a simple, light bowl of soup by nightfall.
Our first full day in BsAs was actually spent in Colonia de Sacramento. As we were arriving into the capital at the beginning of a holiday weekend, visiting UR did not appear very attractive for the weekend. Actually, it turned out to be a good choice, as the city truly emptied on Saturday and Sunday (or at least the volume of traffic on Avenida 9 de Julio was reduced to a trickle). Got up early, a little too early for my travel companion, who complained, "We're supposed to be on vacation!" No trouble with the lines at the Puerto Madero terminal. Everyone was helpful. If you make this day trip, be certain to carry your passport. I bought our tickets for passage SeaCat Colonia over the phone and received the lowest fare that had been promoted on the website (which had appeared to be soldout). Departed on the 8:30 am ferry and arrived about 10:30 am UR time which is one hour ahead. Return ferry at 7:15 pm and, like magic, we got that hour back. Spent a couple of hours with the spirited, passionate and proud Beatrix Rivas, a local multi-lengual tour guide. We toured the historical district for an hour and half and than got in her vehicle to go to the beaches and take a look around.the residential area. My travel companion loved the now abandoned bull ring. Had several hours to leisurely walk the district, eat by the Rio Plata, listen to some music and engage some 12 year old school children out with their teachers. It was a lovely day and I am glad that we carved out the time for the visit on Friday. Forgot to mention that the 60 minute river crossing seems more like crossing a sound as it is so wide
Fortunate to have had warm (not too hot) weather during our visit to BsAs. Saturday morning we took a city wide tour with a medium sized group (less than 20 people). Throughout our travels, the tour guides have spoken both Spanish and English. I enjoyed it because I was trying to gleen words from the Spanish version but it seemed that others were not that thrilled when the English version was, at times, apparently abridged. We were left in Recoleta to meander some more around the cemetery and enjoy the Feria before heading back to the hotel to prepare for an evening out.
Buenos Aires is a wonderful city, with the juxtaposition of centuries old buildings and modern upstarts comfortable, seemingly holding hands like young lovers. There is lots of green space, especially evident when flying into aeroparque. We felt safe, even at night; however, we never ventured into unkown areas nor did we carry purses or cameras.
One evening as we strolled down the boulevard we noticed a large group of young protestors below the statue of Don Quixote. They were playing drums and chanting slogans. No translation, I'm afraid. There was also a large police presence, too. No interaction between the two. After dinner, I persuaded my friend that it appeared safe and we walked over to see what they were selling (straw handicrafts). By this time, a pop band had plugged in and started to play. Now, everyone was dancing to their hearts delight. What a paradigm shift from an hour and a half earlier when the police were staring them down. Was sorry to have missed the drumming.
Ended up dining at restaurants/cafes nearby the hotel most of the time...nothing classy save for Cafe' Tortoni. Had developed a short list from Forum favs listed by posters. Oh well, have it saved for our next visit.
Loved the tango show downstairs at Cafe' Tortoni. Small house. Great seats. Good band. Wasn't that interested in a big Vegas type production. Met some fellow travelers at our table from a small town in Brasil, Araraquara, where my sister lived and my niece was born. Small world.
Sunday was our "adventure day". We were to have been met at our hotel by a guide from Cicerones. It didn't work out and we were on our own. No problem. My travel companion is an antiques dealer from Atlanta and we headed early to San Telmo. Although this was not a "buying trip" per se for her, she managed to do quite well. She was pleased but wants to return to BsAs to look around Palermo for better bargains. I enjoyed the live guitarists and dancers. We headed back to the hotel to drop off her "finds". Walked over to the Subte A station at Avenida de Mayo. Pure dumb luck, we stumbled upon the century old subway cars and headed out to Carabobo (end of the line). Hailed a radio taxi and went to the Ferias de Matadores to drink in the atmosphere and enjoy the Carrera de Sortija. Unfortunately, due to the Monday holiday, there were no gauchos for us. Next time. Ended up sharing a taxi with the only other tourists there, a Dad and son from FL (my home state) who had just returned from a week long camping trip on the ice down in Patagonia! Another great day in Buenos Aires.
When Monday dawns, we are headed for the Cataratas Iguazu'. Did I mention how much I love Argentina?

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