Buenos Aires & Uruguay Trip Report

Old Apr 20th, 2005, 08:32 PM
  #1  
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Buenos Aires & Uruguay Trip Report

I found trip reports to be very helpful when planning, and I hope mine may also be of use.

Buenos Aires lodging:
1) Design Suites. Friendly staff, generally helpful although they gave some misinformation. On check-in, I asked about what looked like construction materials outside, and was told there was no construction. But there was. Noise level inside wasn't too bad, as there are only two rooms on each floor. The style is modern, but shows signs of wear. The room (not suite) was small, the bathroom tiny. Jacuzzi bathtub had good water pressure, but was poorly designed so that water ran off the edges. There were strips to keep the water in, but they didn't really work. Breakfast featured coffee, fresh orange juice, breads, and flan. Gym - Megatlon - had the usual and classes. The spa seemed reasonable, but I didn't use it.

2) Malabia House. Marcus was the nicest person on the staff. The others seemed OK, except one, who just seemed to have a bad attitude. The place is pretty, but is definitely in need of the renovations (painting, carpeting, plumbing, etc.) it will be getting in May. High ceilings and light, airy feeling in the rooms. Breakfast featured bread (good croissants), coffee, juice, milkshakes, and fruit salad. When the guard isn't outside to let you in, you have to buzz the receptionist.

My stomach seemed to be out of sync with Bs As time and food, and my schedule sometimes kept me from eating when I was hungry, but I enjoyed the following cafes:
1) Molo Molo?. San Telmo.
Good pasta.
2) Cafe Tortoni. Centro. Nice atmosphere and service.

Sights:
1) Casa Rosada. It's become harder to visit the White House, but you can still get into the Argentine version if you have your passport.
2) Museo Xul Solar. Small one-man museum. Reminiscent of Klee or Arp.
3) Centro Cultural Borges. Various exhibitions.

Nightlife:
1) Spent quite a lot of time hanging out in private houses or cafes, mostly with portenos (some I knew before, others were new to me). They really liked to talk about everything - politics, history, sports, themselves . . . I was definitely around more smokers than usual, but fortunately we were outside much of the time.
2) Dance. La Viruta, in Palermo, for classes in tango and rock & roll (50's style couple dancing). Azucar, on Corrientes, for rock & roll and salsa. The classes at Azucar seemed to advance much faster, probably because there are way fewer people. I preferred La Viruta.

Taxis: Radio taxis only, of course. A few drivers obeyed no traffic laws, but they did it relatively carefully. Almost all were friendly and talkative. Some drivers had no buttons on the back doors. When I asked about that, one told me he took them off so that children wouldn't play with them.

Shopping: I had expected to buy more, but not much appealed to me style- or price-wise.





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Old Apr 20th, 2005, 09:32 PM
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Colonia:
Lodging - Posada del Gobernador.
Nice building which has seen some updates - sinks, showers, hair dryers. What should be next, although it appears pretty new, is the horrible carpeting which continues halfway up the walls. Maybe it's supposed to provide some soundproofing. People seemed to be competing to see how loudly they could slam their doors shut when they got in, no matter how late. Breakfast was bread, coffee, juice, milk shakes. Pretty gardens. This place could be great if they found a stylish interior designer.

I saw a few other places as I walked around town. La Posada del Virrey looked very nice. It's an old building whose interior seems to have been completely updated. The price ($50US) is the same as Posada del Gobernador.

Restaurants:
1) Meson de la Plaza. Nice atmosphere, especially the back garden room, and good service. Unfortunately, my shrimp were salty and my salmon too sweet. Other people really seemed to like their food, though, so maybe I picked the wrong dishes.
2) Pulperia. At night much of the town, including the restaurants, is deserted. This almost-empty one had been recommended by a local, but they didn't have the dish he recommended. What I did get was salty again.

Sights:
1) Museums. Small but interesting. They seemed to close earlier than 4:45.
2) Lighthouse. Nice views, good exercise climbing the steps.
3) Walk along the water in the old town and then out to the beach. The beach was nearly deserted and I felt a little unsure if I should be walking there alone, especially when some guys on a nearby path whistled, etc., but it was a nice clean beach.
4) The ruins of the old forts, especially the one next to the art center, because of the art inside and sculpture outside and view of the water.

Nightlife:
None. Everyone agreed there was nothing to do, especially on Mondays. The locals like to walk at night in the lamplit old town, but it's a bit creepy when it's deserted except for a few guys hanging out alone or in pairs. The restaurants by the church seemed to be the most full (of tourists).
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 04:44 AM
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Gems, I enjoyed reading your trip report, As with you, I find, many helpful tips and good advice to aid in planning. Breakfasts in both cities seem light, almost continental? Your choice or what was available? I ask because I usually like to eat a big breakfast, then less as the day goes along.

The Colonia section was of great interest too since we're hoping to spend the better part of a day there when we are in BA in May. Thanks for highlighting your adventures. Kathy
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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 05:12 AM
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Thanks for taking the time to write about your trip.


Kathy,

A trypical breakfast is very light in Argentina, consisting of toast or media lunes and coffee....SOme hotels cater to the tastes of foreigners and serve a variety of meats, eggs, fruit, pastaries, etc.....

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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 06:23 PM
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Kathy,

In addition to what I mentioned before, ham and cheese were also available. Design Suites had cold cereals. Melia in Montevideo had the best buffet by far. See rest of trip report below.

I am not normally a big (or even small) breakfast eater, but I was one during this trip. I'd wake up hungry in the morning and often not be sure when I'd eat next or whether I'd like the food (I left quite a bit of my lunches and dinners uneaten), so I'd load up with a couple of juices or smoothies, and a few cups of cafe au lait (which I normally don't drink, but enjoyed there), and some bread and fruit.

As for Colonia, I liked the architecture and atmosphere. If you plan on doing anything besides eating at a restaurant that takes credit cards or visiting the museums and lighthouse(both of which accept Argentine pesos and US dollars), you should change some money when you get off the ferry. For instance, I met some Americans who wanted to take the bus to the beach "like locals", but didn't have any Uruguayan pesos. Taxi drivers will also charge more, etc.

If you want a quiet night, Colonia is ideal. I enjoyed the tranquility of the town at night and in the morning, and I can understand why many people move or want to move there from BsAs.


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Old Apr 21st, 2005, 07:53 PM
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Montevideo

Lodging: Melia Confort/Punta Carretas
A sleek modern hotel. I had asked for a king bed, but was told they were full and had nothing but twins. The room was well laid out, with a TV that swiveled toward the beds or toward the sofa, but had a bad view of some rooftops and overhead construction noise. I asked about the construction twice. Each time I was told that the front desk didn't know anything about it (which I found hard to believe), but they would find out (if they did, they didn't tell me). Bathroom was also well designed with a large walk-in shower (no bath). Sink was outside with plenty of space to put stuff.

Small gym and pool upstairs. Also spa services. Got a relaxing massage for about $30US/50 min. Probably cheaper outside the hotel, but this was more convenient and the masseuse was nice.

Bounteous breakfast buffet consisted of different breads, cakes and pies, hot dishes, fruit, coffee, juice, smoothies. The croissants were very good. The cakes and pies looked great, but almost no one touched them. Too early for dessert for me, too.

Location near lots of stores, especially Punta Carretas shopping mall.

Restaurant: El viejo y el mar (The old man and the sea)
My favorite restaurant of the trip. On the beach in Punta Carretas. Good service. Fresh non-diluted orange juice. Good bread. Simple, satisfying salmon ravioli. I didn't like the seafood lasagna much, but that gave me a chance to finish the ravioli.

Sights:
1) Ciudad Vieja. The Mercado del Puerto didn't have much to offer to a non-meat eater, but I enjoyed seeing the beautiful, if crumbling, architecture of the old city as I walked back toward Punta Carretas. There seemed to be few other tourists.
2) Beaches. Weather was windy and a bit chilly, as Montevideo was entering into fall. (BsAs and Colonia, by contrast, were very warm, and I was bitten by several mosquitoes).

I cut my trip to Montevideo short in order to have more time in BsAs, so that's all for this leg. Also, I'd planned to go to Tigre, but the weather didn't cooperate. And I'd thought about Iguacu, but that will have to wait for the next trip too. Along with Patagonia, Aconcagua . . . .

Oops, I almost forgot to mention Teatro Colon in BsAs. The tour was wonderful, especially since we had the chance to hear the orchestra practicing for that night's concert. Terrific acoustics. Ballet dancers were rehearsing downstairs. I would love to attend a concert, ballet, or opera next time.

My favorite area in BsAs was probably San Telmo, but preferably not during Sunday's crowded market, although that was interesting too. Many young portenos told me their favorite area was Puerto Madero, which is the renovated dockland area, but I didn't really see the charm of it. As for La Boca, one cabbie said El Caminito is just a bunch of colorful houses. True, I liked them, but I agree with him too.

That's all for now. Hasta luego,

Gems



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