Trip Report: Our Week in Buenos Aires.

Old Apr 18th, 2006, 02:54 PM
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Trip Report: Our Week in Buenos Aires.

My friend and I, two females, traveled to Buenos Aires this past March for a weeklong vacation.

In an effort to start re-paying those on this board for years of lurking, but mainly because of prodding from cmcfong, here’s a mini-summary of our trip to BA.

I started out idly browsing various destinations with no real intent of going anywhere (yeah, right), and ran down a list of destinations during an idle conversation with my friend. She jumped when I said Argentina, and I decided further investigation was due.

I must add that I had recently obtained a copy of The Hotel Book-Great Escapes South America, and had my eye on a few reasonably priced places that appealed to me immensely.

From the board, I had seen the travel agency WOW!Argentina referenced a few times, and always with rave reviews. I sent out my first enquiry to the company, and received a reply the next day from Cintia Stella, the owner. I was impressed with the speed of the response, the detail, and her perfect grasp of English. I had meant to survey a few companies, but this ended pretty much after the first couple of responses from Cintia.

I’ve traveled to a few countries in the past, and even though this was my first trip to South America, I’m pretty set in my likes and dislikes. Cintia took this all in stride.

The hotels I chose, La Pascuala Delta Lodge and Hotel Del Casco, were the first hurdle. They were challenging because the lodge is located over an hour away from the dock, and Hotel Del Casco was outside BA proper (although still in BA Province). We spent the first couple of nights on the delta recuperating from the long flight, and the rest in the pretty suburb of San Isidro.

My friend and I were also determined about what activities we wanted to participate in. No more university campus tours for us! The list was finally narrowed down (over several weeks) to a BA city tour, a night at a Tango show, a visit to Temaiken Animal Park, a day trip to Iguazzu waterfalls (of course!), a day trip to Colonia Del Sacramento (Uruguay), a visit to an estancia, and lastly, a free day for shopping. I only realize now that transfers must have been a nightmare to arrange.

Back at WOW!Argentina, my ‘case’ was handed over to Carolina. The transition was seamless, and Cintia did e-mail me from time to time to let me know she was keeping an eye on things.

In the interest of brevity, what follows is a synopsis of our trip. Feel free to ask for details.

Overnight flight on United (business class for me) was just OK. When we landed at EZE, there was an airport representative waiting beside the customs officers holding a sign with my name on it. She showed us where to collect our bags (helping sundry lost passengers along the way) and took us to where our driver (the ever gallant Vicente) was waiting.

We were driven downtown to the offices of WOW!Agentina where we finally got to meet Cintia, Carolina and Matias and were given our vouchers, tickets, maps, reading material, folders etc.

We were then driven to the San Fernando dock and eventually met up with the shuttle boat to the delta lodge. All the staff at the lodge were very gracious and obliging. It was a very low key, relaxing place to hang out. Not much to offer by way of activities, probably because I had neglected to plan the guided walking tour I wanted before our (low season) arrival.

The first thing we did when we got back to BA was a city tour. We adored Alejandra (our guide) and Horatio, driver and maintainer of order. I was worried that it might be a stuffy/boring recitation of facts, but Alejandra was more than willing to go with the flow, and spoke freely on whatever topic came to our minds! Most refreshing.

The tango show we opted for was ‘La Piazzola’. Prior arrangements had been made for us to be picked up at the hotel by a driver from the show. He was quite late, which meant that when we arrived at the show we were seated so far back, I probably saw only half of what went on. The food was OK.

The next day we went to Temaiken Animal Park which was quite a pleasure. They have a great aquarium which is not to be missed. It is located a ways outside of BA proper. Entrance fees were a very reasonable fifteen Argentine Pesos. We spent the whole day at the park, and if time would have allowed, another visit would have been nice.

The highlight of the entire trip was, of course, the waterfalls. From what I understand a day trip (on my insistence) was pushing it, but with the Aerolinas Argentina strike, and Cintia’s heroic efforts at re-arranging our flight times, we barely squeaked by. We got to see the upper and lower falls, took the boat ride J , and the jeep ride, and we were quite happy with that.

For our taste of Uruguay, Cintia and Carolina decided (because of our preferences and time constraints) that we would visit Colonia. We made a day trip of it and went by ferry. It felt quite similar to the historical district we were staying in in BA. Had we stayed in downtown BA, Colonia would have felt like an oasis. Didn’t shop like I had planned, because prices were quite a bit higher than in Argentina.

We chose to spend a day at the estancia La Bamba. My friend enjoyed horseback riding, while I went for a ride in the cart. There’s a small pool for those who wish to cool off. They even had extra bathing suits on hand for those in need. The asado/barbecue did provide the best beef we’d had in Argentina. I’m not a big beef eater though, and was quite happy with the variety of side dishes.

We spent our last day shopping, and flew home that night.


Overall Impressions

*We were surprised at how quiet (we live in the States), and gracious the people were.

*We were also surprised at the quality of the beef. We had expected far better than we got. I was better off most of the time ordering chicken or pasta dishes. I am sure this is simply because I was not in ‘the know’ as to where to dine. We ate at a variety of places including an American restaurant (Kansas), and a parrilla (‘La Vaca’??). I did enjoy the empanadas (esp. the suave) from ‘Solo Empanadas’. I know, I know, it’s just fast food, but we liked it! The food at Piazzolla in retrospect, was better than that at a lot of the other places we tried.



*Beware of the daylight savings time changes that Uruguay observes, but Argentina does not!

*Take a good mosquito repellent!


Femi is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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Thanks so much for posting your report, Femi. My trip is being handled by the gracious and well informed Cintia at WOW! Argentina. She has really impressed me, too.
I really enjoyed reading your report. Only one problem...waiting to go!!!
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Old Apr 18th, 2006, 10:55 PM
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I agree, this makes me even more impatient , waiting til we go .. thank you for the report~
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 08:46 AM
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Of course I have a bias cmcfong, but I think you've made a great choice in going with Cintia.

What are your plans and when do you leave? Scarlett?

One important thing that I forgot to mention was that English was not as widely spoken as I had anticipated. It may be helpful to brush up/learn a few words before you go.
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 11:44 AM
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I do speak some Spanish, admittedly sounding more like Tonto than I like. I am taking classes in anticipation of my visit this fall. I do like hearing your endorsement of Cintia. I have been most impressed with her.
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Old Apr 19th, 2006, 11:03 PM
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Hi Femi

Thanks for this info! It was very helpfull indeed, that day trip option to the waterfalls sounds amazing and I have already asked WOW Argentina about it.

Cobus ( South Africa )
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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 08:48 AM
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You're welcome Cobus! From what I hear, our method was very unorthodox.

I just did not think the expense and hassle of spending the night at the falls was worth it. I also really did not like the look of the hotels at the falls.

We met a couple in BA in our hotel who did check out for 2 nights and return to tell us about it. The consensus was we made a better choice by staying put.

Like I said, it was a bit risky time wise, but the biggest hassle was the airline strike.

If I had to do it again, I would still do it the same way.

Let me know how it works out for you.
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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 08:59 AM
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Cmcfong: Because of past expereiences, I have a suspicion that my Spanish sounds (at best)like a country farmer. At it's worst (and this happened frequently) I felt like I was a babbling idiot!

Most people (but not all) took it in stride.

There was a lot that went on that I suppose I will never understand, but that's part of the adventure of travel.

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Old Apr 20th, 2006, 10:05 AM
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Oh I know exactly what you mean! My Spanish almost guarantees an adventure.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 03:47 AM
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sorry to know you did not find a ggod hotel al iguazu falls
you must go to the Brasilian side were there are some of the best luxuious hotels of south america
it is worth spending at least a couple of days
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 07:20 AM
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Hi Femi,

Thanks for a really well written and well exposed report.

Can you tell us what kind of budget (if any) you maintained during your week in BA?

Thanks,
Mona
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 02:37 PM
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Mona,
The cost, not including international airfare was USD 2,200. Our fee was higher because we went as singles (i.e. stayed in 2 seperate hotel rooms). Not sure what it would have cost as doubles.
Femi
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 02:40 PM
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Edfalco,
I made the decision not to stay at Iguazzu for 2 reasons; I felt the cost of the hotel rooms was not merited by the quality, and as we were short on time, I decided to make the best of BA with other activities.
Femi
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 02:43 PM
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Sorry Mona- I meant to say that the fee was per person.
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Old May 12th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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Femi: you did or you did not go to the falls?

I understand that the Sheraton is not the hotel it should be for the rate they charge. But the rate is based on the location which is the ideal one. .
Some of the hotels in the Brazilian side are better but it implies paying a visa if you are American and that adds.
In Puerto Iguazu the Iguazu Casino is considered to be one of the best in South America and really it must be.

But, if there is a place in Argentina with low rates for accommodation, that is Puerto Iguazu. Not because of the several hostels but because there are very good hotels which offer a good service with affordable rates.
It is true that Puerto Iguazu doesnt have much to offer but after the whole day at the falls who thinks about sth else but a good dinner, maybe a pool in summer and comfortable bed. There are hotels for around u$s 100 the night for 2 and dinner included.
There are new hotels, with pool and breakfast which are for much less than that.
The Iguazu Falls are amazing and the area deserves a visit:
1 night at the Sheraton or 2 nights in Puerto Iguazu. No much time there, just enough to see the falls only second to the Angels in Venezuela.

milla

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Old May 12th, 2006, 08:49 AM
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Hi Milla,
Yes, we did get to see the falls, and I was quite happy with a day trip. I am very particular about hotels, and generally require more than a comfortable bed. Atmosphere is very important to me.
I also did not want the hassle of packing/unpacking for a single night's stay.
Femi
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Old May 13th, 2006, 06:57 PM
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Hi Femi,
My husband said as soon as I get a dog sitter, we will go but I am not sure if we want to go in the winter?
We had thought of going in September originally. It might be then anyway, since I cannot find a dog sitter so fast lol)
But I should be very well armed with tons of information and with the help of a housekeeper, better Spanish than before
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Old May 14th, 2006, 04:57 AM
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Nothing better than private lessons Scarlett!
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Old May 14th, 2006, 10:53 PM
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Yes, Femi, but I have to learn more than Good Afternoon, How are you, Fine , Thank you ~ lol~
I need to start real classes soon..
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Old May 15th, 2006, 04:07 PM
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Wow!!!!You are certainly lucky to spend u$s 2200 in a week in Buenos Aires and Iguazu!!!!
Not many people can afford that much or maybe prefer to go to more places and reach the same figure or less.
It is true you couldnt visit more in one week. Just go to iguazu and spend the rest of the days in Buenos Aires.
Whatever, that must have been a very good week and you must have enjoyed it.
That is what matters.
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