Buenos Aires and Carmelo Trip Report

Nov 17th, 2004, 01:43 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 78
Buenos Aires and Carmelo Trip Report

My wife and I just returned from a wonderful nine-day trip to Argentina and Uruguay. Although we travel fairly frequently to Europe, this was our first trip to South America. Fortunately, a friend of ours, who has been to Argentina many times in the past, was with us for the Buenos Aires portion of the trip. We spent five nights in Buenos Aires and three nights in Carmelo, Uruguay.

In Buenos Aires, we stayed at the Sheraton Park Tower. This was a luxurious modern hotel and we were able to get a junior suite thanks to my wife?s Starwood Platinum status. Although we enjoyed the hotel, it was on the wrong side of a huge street and it was a bit of a hike to most of the sites and more charming neighborhoods. That being said, it would be a good location for business travellers as it was in the midst of big office buildings. Our friend?s hotel, the Four Seasons, had a much better location for touring the city.

We started out our vist to BA with a stroll down the pedestrianized Florida Street, which was interesting but not particularly charming. We came to the central Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada (Pink House) where Evita used to address the assembled multitudes. We stopped at the historic Cafe Tortoni for lunch and then explored the upscale Recoleta neighborhood. For dinner on our first night we went to De Olivas i Lustres at Gascon 1460 in the Palermo neighborhood. This was an eclectic dinner of unusual and tasty tapas served in a variety of interesting ways. After dinner we walked around Palermo, which was filled with a large packed bars and cafes.

The next day we visited the Recoleta Cemetary and paid our respects to Evita, at her elaborate tomb. We had lunch at the nearby La Biela, a very European ourdoor cafe. We then departed from the city to see a polo match, arranged for us by the concierge of our hotel. We had never seen polo before and it was very exciting. We returned to BA and had a delicious dinner at Cabana Las Lilas in the Porto Madero area. This was quite possibly the best steak I have every eaten ? certainly it was the best steak I have eaten for the equivalent of $8!
The following day, Sunday, we took the subway to the San Telmo outdoor market (note that this is only on Sundays). There are many vendors selling various craft items in a square and there are dozens of antique shops in the neighborhood. We found a table that we liked in one of the shops and bought it. It should be noted that relatively few Argentines speak English and that it would have been very difficult to buy the table or do many other things without the help of our friend, who is a fluent Spanish speaker.

One can not visit Argentina and not see some Tango dancing, so we visited the ?Ideal? an ancient ballroom where young ladies from around the world come to dance the Tango with octagenarian Argetine men. We also saw Tango at Bar Sur in San Telmo, a very initimate venue with excellent dancers (recently featured on the cover of the New York Times ?Sophisticated Traveler?). In addition to Tango, we saw a very nice production of the classical ballet ?Don Quixote? at the majestic Teatro Colon.
On our last full day in Argentina, we visited an estancia (ranch) about one and a half hours outside of the city. Although not quite what we had expected, it was nice to get out of the city for a day. We rode horses, watched gauchos ride horses and perform tricks, saw more Tango dancing and so forth. All this activity at the estancia would have been fine, but it just went on for too long (over four hours), with too many period of inactivity.

We checked out of the Sheraton and took a ferry to Colonia, Uruguay. Without knowing it, we had purchased first class tickets. There seemed to be no real advantage to this and I would not do it again. We were met by a driver from the Four Seasons resort who took us to the resort in Carmelo, about a hour from Colonia. The resort was delightful and our suite was essentially a small two floor house. We had a view of the Rio de la Plata and the resort pool. Unfortunately it was a bit too cool for me to take a swim, althugh some other brave guests took a dip (briefly). The resort has plenty of activities and we played tennis, took a golf lesson, rode horses, had a massge at the spa, etc. A highlight of our visit to the Four Seasons was a romantic private dinner that was served for us in a glass-enclosed gazebo by the river. We had a private chef and waiter, who served us far too much delicious food. We also visited Cerros de San Juan, a nearby 150 year old winery and were given a tour by the very gracious owner. At the end of our time in Uruguay we took a tour of Colonia, which was a bit disappointing. Although Colonia is a mildly interesting place, it seems rather over-rated to me. However, I have to note that my opinion is biased because we had a very unimpressive and very overpriced tour of the town. The lesson is that Colonia is worth seeing if you are in the area, but it is easy to explore on your own.

We really liked the Four Seasons but found that it was a bit isolated. The area is very rural and is somewhat lacking in scenery. This Four Seasons is supposed to be one of the best resorts in Latin America, and that is probably true, but we were left asking ?why here??

We returned to Buenos Aires for one more night at the Sheraton Park Tower before flying back to New York. We had dinner at the fantastic La Borgogne. This restaurant is rated as the best French restaurant in South America and it lived up to its reputation. We had the chef?s tasting menu with paired wines, a splendid haute cuisine experience that would have cost several hundred dollars in New York but which only amounted to about $80 per person. It certaily was a nice benefit to visit one of the few places in the world where the U.S. dollar still has some value. The next day we had one last steak at the wonderful Cabana Las Lilas and then got on the plane for the ten hour ride home. A great trip!
Biz is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 05:22 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 136
Does anyone know if we will fly over the Amazon River on the way from IAD Washington DC to Buenos Aires? My son has studied the area and would be very excited to know what he is flying over on the way into Buenos Aires.

We will have 4 hours of morning daylight on the flight in. What will we see in South America from the window of the plane?

travdis is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 06:43 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 30
Great trip report. My husband and I will be in Buenos Aires in December and I was thinking about making a reservation for dinner at Cabana Las Lilas. Do men need to wear a jacket there or can they just wear a nice pair of slacks and a shirt? Thanks.
Bigmamma is offline  
Nov 17th, 2004, 11:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Thanks for the trip report. Partner and I are leaving for BA tomorow night, returning 11/28. Trip includes overnight visit to Colonia, and perhaps a day trip to Tigre and delta.

We are staying at NH Jousten downtown - have stayed in a couple of the NH hotels in Europe and they were very nice.

Don't have specific plans for specific days, but am looking at dividing city by area, and focusing each day on various (San Telmo/Boca, downtown, Recoleta, Palermo). Have read that the tour of Colon theater is very interesting.

Would like to go to a soccer game this Sunday - have found schedule of games via the internet, but could not figure out a way to buy tkts. Will have to wait until Saturday to inquire.

This Saturday evening, there is going to be a demonstration in favor of gay
civil unions, and we probably will participate. Hoping it will be fun - it is being held in Plaza de mayo in heart of city, so will be a good chance to visit that area towards the end of our first day in BA.

I've read about the Four Seasons in Carmelo - it does seem like an offbeat location for them. I suppose they figure they would attract S. American's with $$$.

Thanks esp. for the restaurant tips. My partner only eats kosher meat, so (except for the one kosher parilla place we have located) we will not be going to places that serve only meat. I am sure that won't be a proble. I do have one quesiton however, does Cab. L L have non-meat items? I've read good reviews in addition to yours, and it seems like a good place for a splurge meal. Also, we are planning to go to one of the large American chain hotels (e.g. Sheraton/Marriott) for Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe we will see another Fodor's reader there???? (it is one time of year my partner eats non-kosher meat!).

Sorry you didn't like Colonia - to me it seems like a place to poke around, and not the kind of place to visit as part of a quickie tour...how much of your time was focused on shopping "opportunity"?

Howard is offline  
Nov 18th, 2004, 10:48 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 78
No jacket was required at Cabana Las Lilas. It is relatively casual and has both indoor and outdoor seating. As for non-meat items at Lilas, we loved the side dishes and the salad was great too. I recall that there were fish and chicken items on the menu, but I do not think I saw any entirely non-meat and/or kosher entre selections per se. With regard to Thanksgiving dinner, I would avoid the Mariott Plaza Hotel restaurant -- I think it was called the Grill or something like that. This had a fairly decent writeup in the guidebooks but it was our least favorite meal of the trip and we were all by ourselves in this large restaurant -- an odd feeling. We never ate at the Sheraton aside from one night when we had rather good room service.
I did not want to be negative about Colonia, it was indeed a charming little place. My point was that it was not quite what the guidebooks made it out to be nor was the tour that I took worth it. As far as shopping goes, they had some leather items but nothing special, as far as I saw.
Biz is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2011, 07:15 PM
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 1
Where and how did you book the ferry? Can you also fly to Carmelo?
Gabe_Tornqvist is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2011, 04:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 5,245
Gabe_Tornqvist: this thread you have resurrected is from nearly 7 years ago.

In this respect, I wish Fodor's did as TA. In their forum, inactive threads can be read, but not resurrected. It should be technically quite easy to copy this simple feature.

Trying to answer your question, there is a boat called "La Cacciola": http://cacciolaviajes.com/frame.php

There is also: http://www.buquebus.com/BQBWeb/HomeENG but it may not go directly to Carmelo.

There don´t seem to be any flights from BA to Carmelo.
avrooster is offline  
Apr 17th, 2011, 09:20 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 4,074
Why is the resort in Carmelo? Hard to say, it was an independent hotel bought and up graded by an investor who I understand bought also the 4SEasons in Buenos Aires.
One could say that Argentineans go often to Carmelo in their yatchs, but at the same time they also sleep in their yatchs ..
This not the only case one wonders what was behing some s choices....in Latin America....
Graziella5b is offline  
Apr 17th, 2011, 09:27 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 4,074
I also wish to say that indeed there is a catamaran service between Tigre in Argentina and Carmelo , Uruguay. One of my daughters took it going for the week end to the 4Seasons.A
classic scenario :two hard working persons, going to be away alone for a while. Time is gold. Right? but Cacciola did not lived to the expectations, she tells me that a lot of valuable time was waisted getting the pax on board....what is the matter with these people?, nice boats, couldn;t they do things a little better, apparently not. Bureaucracy is everywhere in S.A.
I recall how frustrating was Buquebus at the beginning years ago they also waisted precious time, but they have improved a lot. A lot.
Graziella5b is offline  
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