Buenos Aires Trip Review

Old Sep 26th, 2006, 02:15 PM
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Buenos Aires Trip Review

I've never posted a trip review on this site, but since I wrote it out to put on epinions, I thought I might as well put it here, too...in case anyone likes reading these things (warning...it's loooong).

Special thanks to Saltshaker for his travel tips. We toyed with the idea of coming to Casa Saltshaker our last night (we were only there one evening that you were open), but we had to be at the aiport at 5:00 AM the next morning, and were completely debauched from all the wonderful food and wine in Buenos Aires.

My trip to BA was not my best vacation ever...we had a lot of stressful experiences on this trip, but they were not the fault of the location (beware TAM Brazilian Airlines...the fares are low, but just say "no&quot. It was still a great time overall, and this is a good destination for food-and-winophiles who want to get a good bang for their buck.

Saturday 9/15: Travel Day

We arose at 6am at the Miami airport hotel we’d procured (Miami Airport Hilton –VERY nice!) to give us (okay…ME) ample time to be caffeinated, spackled, coiffed and sprayed for the for the 14 hour trip to Buenos Aires. We had booked on TAM Brazilian Airline due to their fantastic rate of $499 r/t from Miami, and the telephone representative had instructed us to arrive at the airport at least three hours before departure. That seemed a little extreme to us, but figuring “hey…better safe than sorry”, we complied. Thank gawd, because it took us every last second of it to get through ticketing (TWO hours in line to check in...their "system was down", not that there was any sort of indication that a "system" had ever existed in the first place), race through security, and arrive at our gate just as the plane was loading. I wasn’t particularly impressed with TAM’s staff…at every turn, we found them to be at best inefficient and unhelpful, and at worst…just plain absent. During the 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo, they came through the passenger cabin twice…once to serve lunch and drinks shortly after takeoff, and once to serve snack and a beverage an hour before landing. No one offered additional beverages or checked on passenger comfort any other time during the duration of the flight. At one point, my husband walked to back behind the curtain to request a drink for me.

I could have lived with all of that, if not for the fact that when we landed in Buenos Aires at 1:30 AM, we learned that our luggage had been put out in Sao Paulo. *shudder* Stay tuned….


Buenos Aires 9/16: Day One:


First, I should talk about the hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Buenos Aires in Puerto Madero, which is completely modern and gorgeous in every way. From its top notch service, beautiful lobby (with wine bar adjacent), and wonderful multi-lingual staff, it’s a fabulous oasis retreat at the end of a heavy-walking day. The wonderful concierge staff was happy to check status on our missing bags, and make dinner and tour reservations for us for the upcoming week. Our room was spacious, modern, and well-appointed. We had a lovely full bath, with plenty of marble on the single-sink countertop and all around, separate alcove for toilet and bidet with its own door, roomy marble-accented shower (again, with its own door), and good-sized tub with bath accessories. Inside the large room, there was a wide, low armoire with a mirror above which housed a refrigerated mini-bar on one side and shelve on the other. The room also contained a very comfortable king-sized bed, decent-sized TV, large desk (with internet hookup for $20 per day) and a table for two next to the large window overlooking the city (perfect for enjoying a room service breakfast).

Back to the lost luggage nightmare. Having had just spent around $800 on cool weather clothing for our vacation (seasons are reversed south of the equator, and it was the last week of winter in Buenos Aires), I was pretty upset…not to mention that every single toiletry item I had was checked in my bags (due to the new regulations), so I had no razor, no oils or lotions, no liquid foundation or mascara, no contact lenses or solutions, no (EGADS) styling brushes or curling iron…just the grungy clothes on my back which I’d already been sporting for almost 20 hours at that point. Already suffering the fear of makeup separation anxiety, I rushed to the duty-free shop to make sure that I would have the minimum staples of foundation and mascara for the next day. Since the duty-free shops don’t offer much in the way of Cover Girl, I had to settle for Dior (at my husband's insistence), and thus a new expensive bad habit was born. We were promised that our bags would be brought to our hotel as soon as they were located….which by noon the next day had not happened. We were not prepared to miss a day in this fabulous city, so I did something that would send icy fear into the hearts of most beauty-product junkies like myself…made a list of the basics I needed to face the day, and sent the hub-unit out on a scavenger hunt I knew he couldn’t possibly win. Being quite the good sport, he rose to the challenge and actually came back with enough usable items that I could refabricate my jet-lagged self to the point at which I felt I wouldn’t be downright ashamed to venture out into a city which is known for being home to the most beautiful people in the world. My traveling clothes (the only ones I had) were still standing up in the corner on their own, just like I’d dropped them at 3:00 AM the night before…but, undeterred, I shook the nasty things out, put ‘em back on, and we went forth to face our first day. We asked our remarkable concierge to check status on the bags before we went out, and he soon offered the good-yet-bad news that three of the bags had been located in Sao Paulo…but one was still MIA. Hmmm…which would be worse? The XX-Chrome's shoe and belt bag? The XY-Chrome's techno items and/or clothes bag, or the XX’s fashion bag chock full of new with tag, latest winter fashion statements, the culmination of 8 weeks of power shopping? In the interest of world peace….let me just say that no on should pick door 3.

Not willing to waste a day, we went forth in our scrungy travel clothes of the day before, and headed to San Telmo for the weekend street market. San Telmo was charming in its own right, but on weekends it is laden with street vendors of all sorts…artisans, antiques dealers, and just plain junk peddlers. We had a great time perusing the wares, and I came away with a beautiful, substantial filigree garnet bracelet for 180 pesos (roughly $60 US) After walking and shopping for a few hours, it was time for a late lunch…and we found a real gem in a small cafe called La Casa Estaban de Luca. For around $30 US, I enjoyed three glasses of lovely dry Argentinean white wine, my husband had three draft beers, we shared appetizer plates of empanadas, sirloin carpaccio, a local ham and cheese plate, and a scoop of homemade rustic pate with toasted crostini rounds. The place was bona fide and tourist-free, but thanks to my husband’s fluent Spanish, we wound up chatting at length with a couple of fun guys at the next table who knew a bit of English and were happy to meet us half way in the communication department.

By the time we walked back to the hotel, the jet lag and the full day had taken their toll. Fully intending to go to dinner later, we took a cab to the nearest mall to buy clothing for the next day, just in case our luggage did not show up as promised (Galerias Pacifico)…if you go to Buenos Aires, please do not even bother with this place. The shops are extremely exclusive, with incredibly limited inventory. My husband almost bought a pair of casual dark socks, until he found out that they were $24US/pair (eek!). We don’t THINK so. We cabbed it back to the hotel, but by then (with all of the lost luggage/jet lag/shopping stress), we only had enough energy to stop by the hotel Diamond executive suite for a couple of cocktails and snacks before crashing back in the room at around 10:00 PM.

DAY 2:

We received a welcome wakeup call from the front desk at 8:30 to inform us that all of our luggage had been located, and would be delivered to the hotel that day. Not being one to take chances, my husband leapt out of bed and sped to the airport in a hired hotel car to pick them up personally…at which time he managed to negotiate an upgrade to business class for us on the route home as compensation for the inconvenience. He arrived back at the hotel before noon, we happily dressed in our fresh clothing, and headed out for day two of our adventure. We decided to walk to Recoleta for the day, and further if our feet allowed. I must say that the shopping along Calle Florida was incredible, with hawkers outside almost every boutique who were as tempting as a snake with an apple as they attempted to lure us inside. One that we could not resist was on of the ubiquitous ice cream shops….really, if you eat nothing else while in Buenos Aires, get yourself some of that remarkable stuff. Oh my gawd….it really is like no other. After stopping by Casa Rosada(former home of Eva Peron), we strolled through the adjacent park, and kept heading toward the Recoleta Cemetery where she is buried. We stopped for fortification at an Italian cafe along the way called Scuzi, and it SO did not disappoint! First came a lovely basket of fresh bread and empanadas. My husband ordered spinach fettucini carbonera, and I had some wonderful chicken rolades stuffed with vegetables and cheese and smothered in a creamy curry sauce, accompanied by some perfect cheesy potatoes with pancetta. Wowza! Our waiter was wonderful (as were most service personnel we encountered in Argentina) and finished us off with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine (their version “champagne”). Our meal, which included two glasses of wine and two beers came to a grand total of around $28 US.

After lunch, we strolled on to the cemetery. All I can say is…if you don’t see anything else in Buenos Aires, see this. I was in no way prepared for the way that the cemetery resembled more of a gothic village than a graveyard. Each mausoleum is larger, more ornate, and more statue/gilt/marble embellished than the last. We utilized one of the free guides who loiter outside the entrance hoping to show touristas around for tips, and it was well worth it. He gave us such a fabulous narrative and tour that we felt compelled to tip him 100 pesos ($30 US approx.) after our two-hour walk through the cemetery. This cemetery was like nothing I have ever seen before…definitely not to be missed.

After returning to the hotel to rest and refresh for dinner that evening, we headed out for Cabana Las Lilas…THE premier restaurant for Argentinean steaks in Buenos Aires. We were glad that we’d had the hotel concierge make reservations for us upon our arrival in Buenos Aires, because the place was absolutely packed on a Monday night. The atmosphere was warm, slightly rustic, and animated. We were presented with a lovely little appetizer plate of salmon, olives, cheese, and other tasty tidbits to nibble on while we perused the menu. We tried several Agentinean wines while during the meal, starting with a bottle of Bianchi Extro Brut (a South American “champagne”), with was wonderful…and also shared an empanada and a grilled sausage appetizer, both of which were divine. We both selected the Las Lilas Club Steak as our entree, which was a huge rib steak, with about an 18” bone attached. The waiter raised an eyebrow when I ordered it, and suggested that I should share my husband’s, but I was undeterred. As it turned out, he was right…neither of us made much more than a dent in the dinosaur-esque cuts of fabulous Argentinean beef. We also shared a la carte side dishes of potatoes souffle (crispy fried potato puffs), mashed potatoes, and sauteed Portobello mushrooms, washing it all down with a bottle of Benegas Syrah and another of Q Chardonnay (I know, I know…so many Argentinean wines, so little time ). Out of respect to our livers, we didn’t drink ALL of the wine. We finished up by sharing a dessert of crema catalana (sort of a creme brulee) and rolled back to the hotel. This was a fabulous meal…at around $175, expensive for Buenos Aires, but a relative bargain by US standards.

Day Three:

Today I wanted to go to La Boca to see the pastel colored homes of Caminito. I wish I’d heeded the advice in my Frommer’s guide which described the area as tacky and over-rated, but I didn’t…we walked the four or five miles to La Boca, which was overall a horribly dirty and uninspiring part of the city, only to hop in a cab as soon as Caminito came into sight. Ick…what a mistake. We cabbed it back to San Telmo, which is an unbelievably charming section of town, even when the weekend market is not going on, and window shopped antiques all afternoon.

After a nap, it was time to eat again (YAY!) so we hopped in a cab to Te Matare Ramirez on Paraguay (I’m Going to Kill You, Ramirez). The name comes from playful arguments that the owner would have with a friend who was a casanova of sorts, and apparently this was a common threat made against him from the men whose wives he was romancing. Oh…by the way, cabs are ridiculously cheap in this city...you can easily ride for 20 minutes and not pay more than $3 US, and the cabs are VERY plentiful. Really, I would not recommend trying to drive yourself in this city by any means…drivers are maniacal and streets are poorly marked and have very few signals and/or directional signs that I could detect.

On the subject of cabs, be very cautious when dealing with cabbies. Most were very helpful and friendly, but we did have one negative experience which resulted in our getting scammed (and we’re pretty savvy folks). The cab driver who took us from San Telmo back to the hotel on this day pretended to have car trouble a few blocks from the hotel. He said he didn’t think he could make it any further, and asked us if we minded getting out and walking to the hotel so he could work on his vehicle. When my husband went to pay him, he looked at the money and told us that it was obsolete currency and he couldn’t accept it. We hadn’t heard of such a thing, but my husband then handed him a 100 peso bill, and asked him if that one was okay. The cabbie was comparing it to some other bills in his pocket, ostensibly to show us how our particular bills were not acceptable. He handed (we thought) our 100 peso bill back, and then we handed him another, which he again made a show of comparing with other bills and rejecting. In apparent aggravation, he finally accepted a 5 peso bill and told us to just go. We figured everything out later that evening, when we got a little talking to from the restaurant staff at Te Matare Ramirez after we tried to tip with a counterfeit $100 peso bill. They were understanding, but it was still extremely embarrassing. We then realized that the reason the cabbie pretended that he couldn’t make it to the Hilton was because the staff there would’ve been able to alert us to the scam. I recommend using only Radio Cabs in Buenos Aires…according to our hotel staff, they are the most reputable.

Okay…back to Te Matare Ramiriz. It bills itself as an erotic “Restaurant Afrodiasico”, and it is just that. The restaurant is very dark and candlelit, and decorated in antique bordello red, with murals of nude men and women in sexual positions on the ceiling and erotic art on the walls (all for sale). Soft, sexy music played throughout much of the evening, only stopping when a couple performed a somewhat sexually explicit (yet humorous) skit. Even for a non-Spanish speaker like myself, the gist of the storyline was fairly easy to interpret. There was no nudity (although the female was fairly scantily clad, but wore no less than a swimsuit would reveal), however I would not recommend this restaurant to anyone who was not at least fairly open-minded and comfortable with sexual situations and innuendo. The saltshaker on the table was in the shape of a spermatozoa…and these were available for purchase, as well (what a nifty souvenir some of our pals shall receive ). The erotica spills over onto the menu. The appetizers we shared were “Sculptured In Moans and Sweat” (tender lobster legs wrapped in slices of crispy smoked bacon, lying on soft potato and leek cream with crispy potato threads) and “I Burned My Tongue With the Desire To Lick You (Asian chicken wing lollipops marinated in Tandouri sauce and wrapped in Orly dough, served with magrebi couscous and syrupy reduction). My husband’s entree was “Childlike And Of Insolent Loquaciousness, She Emanated The Scent Of Her Secret Juices” (Virginal and aromatic little veal loin scallops in perverse goulash sauce, wrapped in a bamboo leaf and served with creamy spaetzle sprinkled with black sesame seeds), and I had “Your Body Opens Like A Star While I Drink Your Sky” (natural mini cannelloni au gratin made with spinach dough, stuffed with ricotta cheese, pine mushrooms and nuts, in asparagus cream with petit warm salad of broad beans and mushrooms lightly browned in olive oil). For dessert, we shared “Lovers That Share One Another”, a thick chocolate fondue with seasonal fruits, brownies, coconut brittle and fig and date truffles for dipping. We had a bottle of Argentinean sparkling wine, as well as a bottle of chardonnay and one of the reds (we’re big wine drinkers, but we didn’t manage to finish it ALL). The meal was romantic, the food sublime, and even with all of the wine we spent a grand total of around $125 US before tip. The exchange rate is truly criminal. I definitely recommend this restaurant for a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

Day Four:

Today we explored the rest of the main parts of Buenos Aires by foot. We took a cab to Palermo, and walked back to Puerto Madero, through the city’s Centro area. We passed the city zoo and botanical gardens, but did not tour those attractions. The walk was approximately 15 miles, and took about 5 hours, including stopping into interesting boutiques and taking the occasional empanada and beer break. It was a great day with fabulous weather for walking, and we really enjoyed our close-up view of the city, its people, and the architecture. One thing that was more apparent to me as a pedestrian which detracted from the beauty and style of the city was the litter. Even the parks and the botanical gardens were filthy. It is an extremely populous city, which I guess could explain some of it, but I was surprised that people who had so much obvious cultural pride would allow their public areas to deteriorate to such a state.

We were tired when we returned to the hotel, so we decided to try one of the many nearby Puerto Madero restaurants. We selected Il Gran Caruso for Italian, and once again enjoyed a fabulous meal. While I’m on the subject, I must say that we had the best food in Buenos Aires that I’ve ever experienced on vacation before…even better than what we found in Italy…and at unbelievably low prices. We started with an appetizer of empanadas (mainly because I had an uncontrollable desire to eat empanadas whenever they appeared on any menu). The restaurant boasted the most beautiful salad bar I have ever seen (at least that’s what they called it…it was really more like an antipasto bar). There were thick slabs of buffalo mozzarella, thin slices of proscuitto, corn relish, beautiful olives of all sorts, salami, marinated artichokes and mushrooms, and a bounty of other treats…all wonderful and super-fresh. I couldn’t pass that up, and it did not disappoint. As an entree, I selected a curry risotto with chicken and langostinos (which was fabulous), and my husband had cannelloni stuffed with wild mushrooms, onion, and pancetta, and followed that up with an order of lamb chops, which he proclaimed to be sublime. Everything was so good it was ridiculous, and we washed it all down with a bottle of Argentinean “champagne” and another of their wonderful chardonnays. Even with dessert, the tab only came to around $125 US. The restaurant was beautiful, the staff were warm and attentive, and the food was outstanding…I highly recommend this place.

Day Five:

Today we took the ferry to Uraguay to visit the scenic town of Colonia del Sacramento. First class r/t tickets cost around $75 US each, and bought us a one-hour ride each way across the Rio De La Plata in an older (albeit quite comfortable) boat that closely resembled a small cruise ship. Snacks and drinks were available on board, and there was even a duty-free shop. Colonia dates back to the 17th century, and was absolutely charming, laden with historical buildings, a plethora of flowers on lovely tree-lined cobblestone streets, a lighthouse, an old fort, and numerous art galleries, boutiques, and quaint waterfront cafes. It was a wonderful, peaceful place to spend a day, and a nice break from the noise and frenetic energy of Buenos Aires…it will leave you feeling as though you have stepped back in time. We happened to be there on the first day of spring (September 21st), and got to enjoy the town’s Primavera celebration, including waterfront concert and a parade put on primarily by the schoolchildren of Colonia.

The ferry left Buenos Aires at 11:15 AM, and returned at 5:30 PM (arriving at 6:30). If you take the ferry, arrive at least one hour before departure time on the way out…there are at least three different lines you must stand in before you will finally be ready to board. It was one of the most inefficient systems I have ever seen, and was actually quite maddening. Happily, the return trip is easier. Be sure to bring your passport…you will not be able to enter Uruguay without it.

We had reservations for dinner and a tango show, but were exhausted by the time we arrived back at the hotel at almost 7:30, and opted to have a bite there, veg out, and retire early instead so we’d be fresh for our Estancia Tour the next day.

Day Six:

Estancia and Goucho Tour Day…yippee! Yes, it was touristy (and perhaps even a little hokey), but I loved it! We joined two other English speaking tourists on a structured tour offered by Friendlyvisit (the company was recommended by the hotel). With only four of us, it was very intimate, and we had a fun, super-knowledgeable multi-lingual guide named Rosa Aboueid. We went about 60 miles NW of the city to a cattle-ranching area of Argentina…the historical gaucho town of San Antonio de Areco. On the drive to the town, we learned a great deal about the gauchos…Argentinean vagabond cowboys of the 18th and 19th century…from Rosa, whose grandfather had been a gaucho. When we arrived, we took a quick drive around the tiny town, stopping into a local silversmith shop (whose owner happened to collect gaucho memorabilia, and also had a small museum displaying these items), and then headed over to a now nonworking historic estancia (or cattle ranch) which is now outfitted solely for tour groups.

When we arrived, we toured the grounds (which included a mud gaucho home which demonstrated the manner in which they had lived), a small chapel, a museum, and numerous cows, horses, sheep, dogs, geese, ducks, etc. It was quite charming, actually. We also couldn’t help but notice the massive quantities of steak, ribs, sausages, and other cuts of beef barbecueing on a huge, rustic outdoor grill…it smelled wonderful and looked even better. It wasn’t quite ready, however, so we had the opportunity to ride horses or take a horse-drawn carriage ride around the ranch with the modern-day gauchos who worked at the ranch before we headed into the former ranch house (which is now converted to a rustic dining hall). The food was delicious, abundant, and simple…various cuts of beef in unlimited quantities, grilled to perfection, and served with a lovely fresh salad, homemade potato chips, Argentinean potato salad, and fresh baked bread. Beer, wine, sodas, and bottled water were also available in limitless quantities. During the meal, we got to enjoy traditional Argentinean folk music with accompanying dancers. Following the meal, we went back outdoors for a demonstration of one of the historic contests which had been enjoyed by the gauchos through the centuries. In this case, a lady’s ring was dangled above a riding track by a piece of rawhide. As the story was told, the gauchos would race each other to the ring on horseback, at top speed, and try to spear it with a stick as they flew past. Whichever was successful, won the maiden…apparently, whether she liked it or not. While our contemporary gauchos did not race each other (as a matter of safety), they took turns performing the high speed demonstration of trying to spear the ring as they flew past it on horseback…not so easy. This event was a lot of fun to watch…and, at the end of the demonstration, the cowboys who had actually managed to spear a ring during one of their multiple tries got to present it to the lady spectator of their choice (and, in the gaucho tradition, hopefully receive a kiss from the recipient). Sometimes, it just pays to be a blonde in a Latin American country. I was presented with a ring (actually, it was more like a tinfoil curtain ring…but let’s not dwell on that so the romance won’t be spoiled for me ), and got to plant a beso on the rugged cheek of my handsome Argentinean cowboy. *sigh* Well worth the $80 US for the day.

This was sadly our last day, so we returned to the hotel to prepare for our 7:00 AM flight the next morning.

Day Seven:

Today we traveled back to the U.S., but my review would not be complete if I omitted the continuing saga of our nightmarish experience with TAM Brazilian Airlines. When we arrived at the airport at 5:00AM, the clerk who checked us in could find no record of the promised upgrade. Even after speaking to the supervisor on duty, we were told that nothing could be done...even after producing a written document to the effect, we were blown off with a shrug because the signature was unrecognizable, and my husband had failed to get a name. Oh, well...live and learn. It's not like we weren't used to traveling in steerage, anyway. The first leg to Sao Paulo went smoothly enough...but on the second leg to Miami, the plane failed to ever gain much speed and constantly traveled at a low altitude. After about 90 minutes, it was announced that we were experiencing mechanical (oh...I mean "computer" difficulties) and would have to return to Sao Paulo to get a different plane. OMG...I am a white-knuckle flier to the highest power, and all I can say is "thank gawd for xanax". In my horse-tranquilized state, I managed to sleep through the strange flying pattern and the pilot's announcement...and my husband had the good sense not to awaken and tell me until we were ready to land back in Sao Paulo. After reboarding another aircraft, we once again headed for Miami...to finally arrive at 10:00PM instead of the scheduled 5:00PM. As luck would have it, we had already reserved a room for that night at the airport Hilton...just in case we were too tired to make the three hour drive back to Tampa when we got in. As was the case on our outbound trip, he flight attendants were virtually invisible except for when the atrocities they called "meals" were being served. About six hours into the return flight, my husband (who is a diabetic), broke out in a clammy sweat from plummeting blood sugar and walked to the back of the plane to request a glass of juice since we hadn't had a flight attendant sighting in at least 45 minutes. They snapped at him to go back to his seat, as the "fasten seat belt" sign was lit, and refused to give him the juice. Never, ever...not even if I were given a free ticket...would I fly TAM again. It was one bad experience after the next, both ways, and overall a big price to pay for a low fare.

Bottom Line:

This is a beautiful, exciting city which offers fabulous shopping, a great bang for your U.S. buck (exchange rate was 3.10 Argentinean pesos-1:00 US dollar while we were there), and super-friendly citizens who are very warm towards US citizens. As a plus, Argentinean men are eye-candy to the highest power…I didn’t think the Italians could be eclipsed, but I was wrong. Women should be prepared for the possibility of extremely overt ogling (bordering on leering) when visiting this country…there is really none of the pretending to hold back out of politeness or political correctness that we enjoy in the US (and I’m 46, not some hot young babe...they don't discriminate). The weather was also extremely nice towards the end of September...highs in the 70's and low humidity (as well as a relatively low tourist density). The major downsides for me were the volume of litter, smoky restaurants, and hair-raising traffic. Overall recommended!

sweet_polly is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2006, 02:47 PM
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Awesome report, Polly. Great insight into the city and very well written! Thank you!
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 02:51 PM
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What a wonderful report!!! You are a funny lady and it sounds like you and your hub-unit (great!)know how to have a great time.

We are leaving for BA on Oct 8th and your post brought it that much closer.

We had heard about the portion size at the restaurants and also have reservations at Caba las Lilas. I'll be sure and share!

Again, great report....I really enjoyed reading it.
Sorry for your trouble with TAM.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 03:31 PM
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Great report, Polly!
Flintstones
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 03:50 PM
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SweetPolly, your report is an absolute delight. I can hardly wait for my visit in November, this really whetted my appetite.
Do you have any specific shops you recommend?
Welcome home, I am glad you are safely back...and that I am flying Delta not TAM .....
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 04:26 PM
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cmcfong...I really can't remember them. They all sort of ran together. The coolest shopping in my opinion was at the San Telmo street fair, and on Calle Florida (where the coats and handbags were to DIE for). There were also some very nice little galleries and boutiques on Colonia...they were very expensive, though.



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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 04:30 PM
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Thanks, Polly. I will have an adventure just looking!
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 04:54 PM
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Wow Polly, what a great report. I totally agree about the men in Argentina. I was leering at a few myself. The first day at my hotel I thought they were having a tall dark and handsome man convention!
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 05:15 PM
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Something tells me I am going to love this place.........
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 05:16 PM
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Oooh Sweet Polly!
Thanks to cmcfong, I just read your entire report aloud to my husband and we both got plenty of good laughs! Thank you for posting this.
We will be there in one month, I am so looking forward to Everything!
We are flying Continental lol..
Now my husband is excited about a day trip to Uraguay too!
Muchas Gracias~
* <i> I will keep an eye out for the eye candy, and thanks for the warning .. from one blonde to another </i>
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 05:27 PM
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I'm glad you guys are enjoying it. Here's a link to some of our trip pics...beware my hub-unit's irreverent sense of humor when it comes to the captions. We're strapping on the feedbags and alcohol IV's in most of them, but there are some of the cemetary, Casa Rosada, Colonia, and the estancia, and lots of pictures of the food.

http://family.webshots.com/album/554247706VQEqlb
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 05:32 PM
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Has anyone been to Pere Lachaise Cemetary in Paris?
I am wondering how it compares to Recoleta..
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 06:19 PM
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Terrific AND most entertaining report Sweet Polly!!!

a) A couple of questions for you:
Which estancia was it?
Any more info on &quot;Friendly visit&quot;?

b) A few comments for future visitors:

1) Unless on a terribly tight budget, try to take a direct flight to Argentina, on one of the well-known airlines. American flies direct from NY, Continental from Dallas or Houston (not sure which), United from Washington and several companies fly direct from Miami, including LAN (new). I understand Continental gives the best service.

2) I feel &quot;Caba&ntilde;a Las Lilas&quot; is a tourist trap. That it may be cheap compared to the US does not make it less of a rip-off, by local standards.

But that is just me. So, if any of you feel like splurging, go ahead. I go out to dinner with my wife almost every day, to pretty good places. We spend between 20 and 25 dollars for both of us, for a very good meal, with a small bottle of wine. Unfortunately, we don't see any tourists in those places.

3) Cabs: I'm sorry Sweet Polly and her husband were caught with that fake bills scam we have often warned about.

One suggestion would be to have your hotel's front desk staff check out your local currency, so no one can tell you it is fake or out of circulation.

The following is from one of many warnings we have posted on the subject:

&quot;Not driving you to your hotel's door. Whenever this happens, it means the driver is going to try something dishonest. Be instantly wary and demand to be driven right to the door of your hotel.&quot;

&quot;If the driver DEMANDS to be paid with a LARGE bill, it means you'll get fake change. Here we have warned over and over that tourists should have change available when boarding cabs.&quot;

When do we expect you back, Sweet Polly?
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 06:38 PM
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What a fun report. You guys know how to enjoy yourselves. I laughed so much at your pictures and comments. I wrote down a lot of tips, we'll be there in a couple weeks. Now I can't wait.

My husband got home Thursday from a hike in Switzerland and his backpack came 5 days later! Think I'll pack a pair of undies in my purse, just in case.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 06:55 PM
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avrooster...we kind of got that feeling about Las Lilas, but it was a block from the hotel, and highly recommended in almost all of our travel guides, so we felt like we kinda HAD to do it. I really liked the food there, however...even though I knew I wasn't having a bona fide experience. We were more exploratory at lunch, and had a few hits and a few misses. Really loved Casa de Estaban de Luca...went there twice.

I don't have the card for Friendlyvisit anymore...sorry! La Cina Cina was our ranch, though. Hunky cowboys! It was touristy, too...but still fun. We tended to lean on the old Frommer's guide a little too heavily, I think.

It was a fun city, but not sure we'll be back anytime soon. So much world to see, so little time.

Oh, I got the biggest kick out of the dog-walkers, btw. Too cute.
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Old Sep 26th, 2006, 06:59 PM
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Thank you, Sweet Polly!
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 12:33 AM
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Hi S.Polly, !! I also enjoyed a lot your trip review. Every bid of advice given by avrooster is to be taken seriously, he is abolutely right.
Radio taxis from reputable companies can be easily, so easily requested from any phone on the road, restaurants, locutorios etc. From your hotel of course. Once you are familiar with a couple of good taxi companies you can also flag them in the street ( it is not a good as calling because if you call your name and address will be registered), nev ertheless I flag them all the time, the ones I try to flag are PIDALO, PREMIUM,TAXI PARIS, ALO TAXI,
Phones for PIDALO are 4956 1200 and 4932-2222 and for Alo Taxi 4855 0455.
Always carry small bills to pay for taxis, even coins.
No tip necessary.
If one day you want to drive to several places you might as well call a REMISE and pay by the hour.

I have never been at Las Lilas but of course as avrooster says it is a rip- off, why would you prefer going to a place full of tourist instead of a place full of happy locals? but of course each one can do what thinks is better for them.
Mea culpa, I have done the same in other cities, following tips let us say from the NYT, only to be among tourists, overpriced...not anymore, I try to ask the locals, mostly any local would have a favorite place to eat.
Regarding flights I also agree with avrooster, I fly often to Buenos Aires, lately only in American and Lan(from Miami). This week I am flying a new flight from LAN which is direct.( Miami to BUE) Where do I buy my tickets? From wholesalers, usually a few hundred dollars less than other places.This particular flight was a special offer from LAN, before taxes only 399.
Also it is important to arrive to Buenos Aires at a decent time, you do not wish to arrive in the middle of the night or early morning.
On the whole I loved Sweet polly 's report and I am happy that they had a good time. I agree the Hilton in Puerto Madero is very nice.
I also thought the Casa of Esteban Luca has lots of charm.
Thank you SP.

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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 12:43 AM
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One more thing, I also take the Buquebus between Argentina and Uruguay often, and I must agree it is the most inefficient system ever. They do not even consider doing a big line to feed the first available clerk.
Only good thing they have is that you can call on the phone and buy your ticket with a credit card and it will be waiting for you to be picked up saving time and avoiding lines.
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 01:55 AM
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Sweet Polly: Great pictures of some gorgeous blonde and Jimbo, the &quot;hub-unit&quot;!!! LOL!!!
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Old Sep 27th, 2006, 02:30 AM
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Sweet Polly

LOL, literally, as I read your fab report! Thanks for sharing!

AV,

A couple of additions/clarifications....

Continental flies direct to Buenos Aires from Houston. American flies direct from Miami and Dallas as well as New York. Delta flies direct from Atlanta.
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