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Trip Report January 2011 Visit to Buenos Aires

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What a fabulous time we had and what a wonderful destination! We are 2 couples from (northern) NJ, well-traveled but never having traveled together before, and we all had an outstanding experience! Everyday was filled with fun; we have so many memories to share. Many thanks to all the Fodorites who so graciously contributed to our planning; your excellent advice (as always) was greatly appreciated! Muchisimas gracias!

2 unrelated observations come to mind as I gather my thoughts. 1). By happenstance, it seems that our opening and closing activities sit like a pair of bookends at the front and back of our trip agenda. 2). We encountered 3 nearly trip-wrecking transportation glitches, each of which we managed to overcome as it occurred, thankfully.

On Monday, January 10, 2011, I heard a forecast of yet another significant snowfall for the NY/NJ metropolitan area! (transportation glitch #1): Luckily, I was able to change our plane reservations (both couples) for a departure 1 day earlier and also add an additional day to our hotel stay. No problem here - now we all beat the snow, plus got an extra day in Bs As!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

We all departed from Newark Airport at 5pm and flew (through Houston) to Buenos Aires (EZE), arriving at about 10am (Wed., Jan. 12).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We took Manuel Tienda Leon taxi, (actually a van big enough to accomodate the 4 of us). They have a counter right after baggage claim at EZE. This was about $30 US per couple. We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel & Convention Center, using our Starwood points. The other couple paid a reasonable rate. We were on club floors with lovely views of the river and access to great and convenient breakfast and "happy hour" daily. We all decided that we greatly enjoyed the location and hospitality of the hotel. After checking in (rooms were available at that hour), we walked along Calle Florida for a while. Then we had a late lunch on club floor. Next was much-needed R & R! We got dressed for dinner and took a taxi to Puerto Madero, where we walked around this beautiful waterfront area prior to our dinner alfresco at Sottovoce. It was very relaxing, and we enjoyed delicious Italian food and Malbec, (La Linda). (Note: they have an outstanding Capri salad, not Caprese, which is chopped mozz. cheese, different types of tomatoes, olives, basil, olive oil, which each couple shared as an appetizer, served in individual bowls - positively delish)! Also, they served us complimentary watermelon and apple sorbets after dinner, very refreshing. Taxi back to hotel. *We felt that this day was bonus time, since we would have been home stuck in a snowstorm and instead here we were in the Bs As sunshine....

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Breakfast at club floor eatery, lovely buffet with very nice view. (Every day we enjoyed descafinado con espuma de leche, delicious decaf w. foamy hot milk, which I finally learned to say correctly, but perhaps not spell correctly). We then took a taxi to Palermo and did some shopping. We went to MALBA (Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires), where we viewed contemporary Latin American art in a bright, modern space. Next we walked to Museo Evita; after seeing the exhibits, we lunched at the museum's oudoor cafe, a very pretty setting. They offered a plat du jour, which was reasonably priced, excellent and included wine. We walked to the Botanical Garden and relaxed a bit. Taxi back to hotel and enjoyed cold beverages on club floor. R & R, and got ready for dinner. Taxi to Palermo and had dinner at La Cabrera. This is a very good and popular parrilla, where we dined alfresco in a private area just for us. The steaks, served on wooden boards, were great (could actually cut them with a fork), and the complimentary hot and cold side salads were tasty. We were also served a bottle of champagne on the house. Taxi back to hotel.
* Taxi fares were reasonable; so our means of transportation were walking or taxis. My husband said that it never took us more than 7 seconds to get a taxi!

Friday, January 14

Breakfast at club floor eatery. Many thanks to LyndaS for being the first to mention Marcelo Mansilla, tour guide fantastico, and to all others who recommended Marcelo so highly! I had booked him prior to our trip, and we met him, as promised, in the hotel lobby at 9am. We needed to travel that day in 2 taxis, or walk, as we were now a group of 4 tourists and 1 guide, too many for 1 taxi. So we took taxis to Centro area (Civic Center), and Marcelo showed us Plaza de Mayo, Casa Rosada, Metropolitan Cathedral, all the while explaining the history and charming us with interesting background. We walked to Cafe Tortoni and enjoyed beverages and the rich ambiance. Then we walked to Confiteria Ideal, a milonga (Tango Hall), and watched some tango lessons, while Marcelo explained a bit about the tango. We took taxis to downtown area and saw Synagogue Libertad, Teatro Colon (which is closed during this season), the Obelisk, and the Justice Palace. Warning: on the Ave. 9 de Julio, we witnessed a purse snatching; but fortunately the tourist's purse was quickly recovered by a passing man on a motor scooter, who rammed into the fleeing thief and knocked him to the ground! Next we taxied to Once (Jewish neighborhood), where we saw the heavily guarded building that had been the target of a deadly terrorist attack. We had lunch in Tib Tuna, a kosher restaurant, so that our friend (who is kosher) could have the opportunity to try an Argentinian steak. Next we taxied to Recoleta, where we walked around and admired the elegance. Marcelo gave us an in-depth tour of the cemetery, visiting Evita's grave and telling us the haunting story of Rufina as we stood at her monument, to name a couple. Finally we took taxis back to Retiro (area of hotel) and we saw the famous clock tower (which we became quite familiar with due to its proximity to our hotel), Falkland Islands Memorial, and large monument ot General San Martin. Now it was time to bid our amigo, Marcelo, a fond farewell, after an absolutely wonderful and informative full day of touring Buenos Aires, the city which one can clearly see that he truly loves and knows well. This was such a well-spent day, in which we certainly got a thorough and very enjoyable overview/intro to Bs As. We were fortunate to "meet" Marcelo; he helped make Buenos Aires a special place! We returned to our hotel and went to club floor eatery, before packing for the next day's adventure....

Saturday, January 15

We checked out of hotel at 5am and we taxied to Jorge Newbery Aeroparque (domestic flights) for our 7:30am flight to Iguazu Falls. We brought only carry-on luggage for this mini-trip. The flight was a little less than 2 hours, and 15 minutes after landing, we arrived by taxi at the Sheraton Iguazu Falls Hotel. We were upgraded to a fallsview suite! One has breathtaking views of the falls right from the rooms, lobby, and restaurant. The location is unbeatable and allows such easy access to the trails to view the falls. We checked in and, once again, the rooms were available for us. Then we enjoyed a nice buffet brunch (with a falls view), and then we were off for a boat ride under the falls. It was awesome and very, very wet - actual sheets of water were crashing on us constantly, (making us glad that we were wearing bathing suits)! This is a must-do activity, IMO. Next we took the inferior or lower circuit (trail). Every view is spectacular, simply stated! Upon our return to the hotel, we relaxed at the pool for a couple of hours, a much appreciated respite, but not without a view. After getting ready for dinner, we had a private cocktail hour on our balcony, (wanted to maximize the view), which was definitely a perfect place to enjoy a bottle of wine and snacks with our friends, creating a special and unique memory! Dinner at the hotel was satisfactory.

Sunday, January 16

We had a lovely buffet breakfast at the hotel. Then we took the tram to Garganta del Diablo, (the Devil's Throat), the most impressive waterfall of all. Then we hiked the superior circuit; each view is fabulous. We had pizza and beverages in the lobby bar area. We showered and got ready for departure and taxied to airport. (transportation glitch #2): Due to very heavy rain, lightening and thunderstorms in Bs As, flights were being cancelled. It seemed that we'd be stuck in Iguazu. So we used our time wisely to plan our remaining agenda. Time passed quickly, and after a 3 hour delay, our flight finally departed at about 9:30pm and we arrived back at "home base" at about 11:30pm, in time for R & R.

To be continued....

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