Back from Argentina- we loved it!

Old Mar 13th, 2008, 09:18 AM
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alg
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Back from Argentina- we loved it!

We spent 2 weeks in Argentina (end Of Jan/beginning of Feb) and had am amazing time. I scoured these boards and read all relevant posts while I was planning, so I thought I'd write up a quick review.

We started planning about 6 months before our departure date and decided to send out an email to a few good friends to see if anyone was interested in joining us. They said yes and our group ended up consisting of 4 couples. At times, it was a bit hard to wrangle 8 people but well worth the effort.

After doing my own research, I contacted Mercedes from Argentina Escapes based on recommendations on this board to book everything. She was able to get us better hotel rates and coordinated our internal flights, transfers, and some excursions. I HIGHLY recommend her- she was great to work with.

So, here are the highlights:

But before I start let me just say that the wine was sooo fabulous. Literally every bottle except one (and with 2 weeks and 8 people there were A LOT of bottles) was great.

3 nights in Buenos Aires

We liked BA although it didn't feel like other cities i.e. Paris or London where we felt we had to devote all our time to seeing churches, museums, etc. Instead we spent 2.5 lovely days strolling through neighborhoods, stopping at cafes, and letting our wandering dictate our itinerary (we did squeeze a few sites in too!).

We stayed at Home Hotel in Palermo Viejo and I highly recommend both the hotel and the neighborhood. Restaurants to note include Sucre which was fabulous and La Cabrera where on our first night we had a truly decadent meat feast.

Next, 3 nights in Northern Patagonia (Bariloche in the Lakes District).

For half of our group, this was their favorite stop. It really is an absolutely beautiful setting. We stayed at the Correntoso Hotel- the rooms are small but have fabulous lake views, the staff was helpful, the common areas are very nice including the pool and library bar, and there is a great restaurant on-site (our best meal in this area). We booked our activities through the hotel- horseback riding, a boat trip/hike, and the men went fishing.

The town of Bariloche is cute and has sort of a mountain ski town vibe to it (I understand the skiing in the area is wonderful). There are a few nice shops, a really good gelato place-- enough to keep you occupied for a couple of hours although we were glad we chose Correntoso which is about a mile from downtown. Again, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either a visit to Bariloche or the hotel.

Next- Southern Patagonia (El Calafate) for 3 nights. We stayed at Eolo Lodge under the full board program. This was my favorite part of the trip and that is largely due to the Lodge- it's fabulous! The rooms are huge, have amazing views, and wonderful amenities. The food (like the 4 course gourmet dinners) was delicious if a bit extravagant (so much food!!) and the staff is unbelievably gracious. I could live here. We have had the chance to stay in a number of top properties in our travels and this is definitely one of the most memorable. Onsite activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding, and there's a small indoor pool. It's about 30 minutes from the town of El Calafate, where we spent a few hours souvenir shopping and enjoying the local beer (it was really warm and sunny while we were here, which was an added bonus).

We did 2 full day excursions: trekking Perito Moreno (one of the best things I've ever done anywhere) and a horseback ride that ended with a delicious traditional Patagonian bbq lunch. Both were booked through Mercedes and both were top notch.

Ok, if you're still with me, next we headed to Mendoza for 3 nights. We stayed at the Park Hyatt (best shower EVER!) which is perfectly situated in downtown Mendoza. Highlights of our evenings in town included a great time at the Vines of Mendoza tasting room where we were lucky enough to mingle with three great winemakers and 2 (!) meals at Francesco. They have perhaps the best pasta I've ever tasted-- although we're headed to Rome in September so that title is still up for grabs.

Ah...the wine. It was so very, very good. Mercedes arranged two full day wine tours for us, one to Lujan de Cuyo and one to Valle de Uco. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly. Both days included the most impressive lunches I have ever had paired with glasses of wonderful wines. In case you are headed to the area, you just can't miss the opportunity to have lunch at one of the wineries- really, the spread has to be seen to be believed. Our first day's lunch was at Melipal and on day two, we had lunch at what ended up being our favorite stop, Altus- the wines are fabulous, very reasonably priced, and the food was insane.

So at this point, we're tired (getting up early for excursions and then dinners at 10 or 11 pm meant many naps during our 2 weeks), we're pretty much always full, and all toting a case of wine. We spent our last night in BA at the Faena Hotel & Universe along the river. This area is much different than Palermo- newer, a little swankier, but we preferred Palermo for longer stays. We did the dinner/tango show at the hotel which was fine, but probably not worth the price. On our last day we squeezed in some last minute shopping, a site or two, and a nice lunch at one of the grill restaurants along the river.

This is long, but I hope it's at least a little helpful. I loved Argentina- the people, the food & wine, and the landscape- and look forward to another trip. We still have Salta and the Falls to see!
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Old Mar 13th, 2008, 09:24 AM
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Thank you, alg, for a great report.

OUR winter is a great time to go to Iguazú and Salta, so you'd better hurry!
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Old Mar 13th, 2008, 12:11 PM
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I'm so happy to hear Mercedes is still planning wonderful trips for people. We used her for both our AR trips in '05 and '06 and will use her again when we get down there once more.

I, too, found Altus amazing and still have fond memories of our lunch there, it was one of those perfect 75 degree, sunny days, where we dined on amazing cuisine in the company of the vineyard. Is the woman, I think her name is Karen, who was raised in Queens still there? She was a lot of fun.

Enjoyed your report! Calafate is on our list for the next trip.

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Old Mar 13th, 2008, 12:12 PM
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Loved your report, thanks so much for posting
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Old Mar 13th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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You are so right about the feel of BA compared to Paris and London! BA is just such a nice place to take it all in, wander around, grab a drink at an outdoor cafe, etc., without having to run around to try to see all the sights!

When you return to Argentina I highly recommend the NW and try to spend at least a week. there is so much to do and see!

I will have to go back someday to explore Bariloche and Mendoza!
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Old Mar 13th, 2008, 04:18 PM
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alg
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owlwoman- no one from Queens was at Altus the day we were there. It was just us, the chef, our tour guide...and once we were seated a very nice server (but she was local, I believe). They were actually undergoing a renovation of some kind outside, so instead the tapas were served in the kitchen (i.e. right next to the huge fireplace) with all of us gathered around a long table. It was very memorable.
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Old Mar 13th, 2008, 05:26 PM
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"next we headed to Mendoza"
Was that a flight through BA or was there a direct flight?
 
Old Mar 13th, 2008, 05:48 PM
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thanks for ur report . we used mercedes services for our time outside of Bs As in january ( Iguazu, Chalten and el Cala fate and thought she was quite helpful.

cheers AndrewDavid
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Old Mar 13th, 2008, 06:26 PM
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Hey there!
Great to hear about Hotel Home --- I am staying there for 6 days in about 3 weeks.. so excited. Booked it b/c of reviews and location... so happy about the continued positive reviews.. I wish I had more time in Argentina but alas I don't so it's just BA and 2 days in Iguazu.. guess I will have to come back again.

ps... also looking forward to not feeling obligated to do the musuems and churches like in Europe..plan on strolling the districts
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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 04:31 AM
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About barbaradavis' question: "next we headed to Mendoza" Was that a flight through BA or was there a direct flight?

Not 100% sure, but I believe it must have been through BA.
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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 08:54 AM
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The flight did go through BA- that was a long day because of the flight times and a delay. We actually left the airport and got lunch along the river
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Old Mar 14th, 2008, 12:10 PM
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Alg,

We returned recently from 2 weeks in Argentina. Mercedes planned a 11 day trip for us including 9 days in the Northwest. We loved it and her planning was right on. She also put us in the LoiSuites Recoleta Hotel in BA for 2 nights and the location was great.

We plan to have her do a trip next year for us, probably fairly similar to your trip.

Thanks for your report. We'll use it to help our planning process!
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 10:30 AM
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Now that you have seen part of Argentina I feel you left the dessert for the next trip... I really expect you come back, remember there are lost of posters telling how greatly they spent their time in the NW of Argentina.
There will be empanadas ready for you when you come back, people are warm and nice and the weather is perfect from April to December.
Flintstones.
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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 04:39 PM
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Hi,
Thank you for your post. We're heading to Argentina at the end of April only for a week. We plan on 3 days in BA and one other trip within Argentina. Where would you go? We've heard Iguazu is great but we have been to Angel Falls and think maybe we'd like another experience. Let me know what you think .It sounds like you had a great trip.

Kris
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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 05:51 PM
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If you are looking for place, with diverse sceneries, with a great weather, with natural spots, and lot of exciting experience, choose the NW of Argentina.
The experience of the ones who came to Salta and the whole area were satisfied, and more than satiefied. April is perfect, and yellow fever is not a risk, the sun shines all the time and the food is really tasty and good. Even for vegetarians.
If you consider the chance, take into account Purmamarca- Tilcara- Salinas Grandes in two days and Cafayate, our wine area, also in two days to make it enjoyable.
Do not miss the wine icecream at Miranda`s in Cafayate...
Warm regards,
Flintstones.
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