Trip Report Buenos Aires, Santiago, etc.

Mar 1st, 2010, 10:12 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 72
Trip Report Buenos Aires, Santiago, etc.

We just returned from 20 days in SA, first five days in Buenos Aires, 12 day cruise around the continent with Holland America, then overnight in Santiago, Chile. I will try to share the highlights of this most amazing adventure. HOTEL-We stayed at the Marriott in Buenos Aires which not only proved to be a great location, but included the added bonus of being an historical monument in itself. Many artifacts and memorabiia are showcased throughout the hotel. The service was so exceptional that we included the head concierge, and one of his staff in our tipping! We had great proximity to Florida Street and Galerias Pacifico, a local shopping mall, leather and souvenir shopping, and also were able to walk comfortably between there and Recoleta, where friends of ours were staying at The Alvear Palace. We appreciated the Marriott's understated elegance and would have been uncomfortable, as 60's and 70 hippies, with the Alvear's opulence. Yeah we really like our jeans still. CITY TOUR-We agreed reluctantly to a 3 hour city tour scheduled by our friends with The Alvear, as our cost was approx. $160 USD (for a private tour) vs. $60 it would have cost from the Marriott for a semi private tour (group of six vs. group of four which we were). I learned from fellow Marriott guests that they were more than satisfied w/ their city tour. TANGO-Our concierge recommended La Ventana for those desirous of attending a tango show but our friends had already scheduled us at el Viejo Almacen (for show only-we heard the dinner was poor), which we enjoyed immensely! If we ever return, we would like to try the La Ventana. My husband and I took a private tango lesson for $80 USD the next day with La Escuela 's Max and Nadia,, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Max is son of the owner and famous dancer, Carlos Copello, who hosts his own tango show for $200 per person, a little out of our league. I imagine it is the real thing though, and less commercial than the one we attended. They recommended some private clubs that we could go to to practice but we were not the night owls that we needed to be to accomplish this! COOKING CLASS- I highly recommend cooking with Teresita, www.TRY2COOK.COM. Teresita lives on the outskirts of the city, and opens up her kitchen and her wonderful spirit to lead the art of empenada making. My husband came along reluctantly and includes this among the highlights of his vacation. I believe she also hosts a beef recipe class and shopping trip to the market. Her accolades for Bolivian spices led to my request to my concierge and subsequent purchase of paprika and cumin from El Gato Negro in downtown BA, to support my home efforts in the art of empenadas. Cannot wait!!! LEATHER-We bought two of our leather jackets at Bettina Rizzi,, whose shop was steps away from our hotel. While her selection was small, we appreciated the quality and individual attention she gave to us. URU Recoleta,, had a much larger selection, however, you may have to put up with tour busloads of people, while trying to select your leather. Ask for Sabrina, who had several young girls modeling jackets so we could bring some birthday gifts home for our daughters. Average price of leather jackets, $300, which was a little higher than expected, but proved to be a meaningful and appropriate souvenir from this beautiful destination. RESTAURANTS- In order of prefence, La Piegari, excellent Italian, although a little higher priced than some in the city, far less than any major city in our country, Sottovoce, Recoleta, good Italian, very inexpensive, please try the dulce de leche dessert, and La Brigada, San Telmo, excellent beef, inexpensive. We enjoyed a lunch at Cafe Tortoni and wish we had time to sample the other cafes, La Biela and La Violettas. MALBEC-We drank so much wine, I feel certain that is where most of our extra lbs. came from. Our favorite was Luigi Bosca, although we drank a fair amount of Traipache because it was so inexpensive. I am not sure there is a bad MALBEC. We purchased a $40USD bottle of Angelica Zapata or something like that and while it was good, we still liked far less costly Luigi Bosca better. TAXIS are cheap and make it easy to get around the city-brush up on your Espanol though, few speak English (we enlisted the aid of our concierge who wrote names and addresses on paper, and doormen, who communicated with the drivers. CURRENCY-1USD=4 Arg. pesos. We thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality of our South American neighbors and hope to be able to return with our daughters before too long. We met a gentlemen, who decided that he would winter there instead of California, Arizona or the like, after learning that a 2BR rental with a pool would go for $350 per month during their high season, and our winter. Sounds like a great idea to me. To be continued...
lrtayloe is offline  
Mar 1st, 2010, 10:47 AM
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Great first chapter lrtayloe!

Let's have more, ASAP!
avrooster is offline  
Mar 1st, 2010, 12:34 PM
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thank you for sharing. sounds great and would like to hear more.
WILDWOOD03 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2010, 11:11 AM
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Irtayloe: did the gentleman you mention tell you how he would get the "2BR rental with a pool would go for $350 per month"?

It doesn't sound real to me, but what do I know? I haven't lived in BA for 35 years....
avrooster is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2010, 02:19 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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Thanks Irtayloe! This is helpful for my trip next week!
BostonGal is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2010, 05:53 AM
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I loved your posting and your experiences in Buenos AIres, I agree with avrooster, that is easy he should know, I guess the rental should be way over that, but at any rate reasonable. Argentina is a great country, there are many destinations besides Buenos Aires, and to spend there the North Hemisphere winter seems a great idea, and you can add Punta del Este an exciting beach resort in Uruguay that is favored by the Latin jet set and others too.
It is such a pleasure to stay in Buenos Aires and if I could afford a good hotel like the ex Plaza( today Marriot )or the Alvear Palace much the better. Because I have know better days and I have seen and lived in Argentina as a great Nation in command of its destiny without this outrageous National Debt I feel a little sad when I am there, but I understand for you as a tourist it is a different feeling. I guess all citizens of the world should however look at what is going on in Argentina today to try to avoid it in their own countries. At least this is the way I feel.
Graziella5b is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2010, 04:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
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Thanks, added those wines to my list for almost immediate consumption (leaving Friday!)
chrisk13 is offline  
Mar 4th, 2010, 03:45 PM
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Tax time interrupted my fun. No, Avrooster, the gentlemen did not say where or how this apartment would be. He just mentioned "in a good neighborhood."

Now after only five short days in BA, we boarded a cruise ship for our journey around the continent which took us to Montevideo, Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, Puerto Montt, Valparaiso and then into Santiago. In MONTEVIDEO, my husband and I walked through the historic part of the city, enjoying the public square near the port (Mercado del Puerto), which had rows and rows of different meats grilling in an open air market. We arrived early morning but by midday the tables inside and out were filled with people! We enjoyed a pedestrian only street filled with vendors selling fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and other wares to the local people. Reminded me of my childhood shopping trips in NYC with my Italian grandmother. While there was quite a bit of construction going on, my husband and I enjoyed the architecture, and the friendly nature of the people of the country identified as that with the healthiest economy in SA. We followed the walking tour map given out at the Tourist Office which was very helpful. We were directed to stay on the walking tour and not veer off onto side streets for safety reasons. There was quite a presence of security officials (not sure if they were military or police) but we did not feel uncomfortable or unsafe anywhere. This would be the only high security experience we had throughout SA. We are thinking that this must be more about prevention and less about necessity but in truth do not know. in USHUAIA, we toured Beagle Channel by boat and Tierra del Fuego on foot. This is a MUST SEE destination, if you have time. Beautiful landscapes dotted by cormorants, sea lions etc and mountains. We rounded the cape at Cape Horn on a clear and sunny day. It was quite an exciting experience. Our foray into the CHILEAN FJORDS by ship to enjoy the "Avenue of the Glaciers" and "Amalia Glacier" included landscape that took our breath away. We had never seen anything so awe inspiring...I am not sure that a land tour or small boat would provide this kind of opportunity as there were icebergs all around our ship...but it would definitely be worth investigating. At PUNTA ARENAS, my husband and I boated to a magellanic penguin reserve on Magdelena Island. I loved this experience and could have sat and watched the penguins for hours. My husband was bored about five minutes into the tour. At our Puerto Montt stop, we ventured into Puerto Varas (don't miss their arts and crafts market where we did the majority of our shopping for sweaters, alpaca and wool, average price $28 and alpaca scarves, $6, jewelry, lapiz lazuli and siliver (I bought a matching necklace and earring set for $123) and Fruittilar, a lovely little village that looked quite a bit like Germany because of its German roots. A local street vendor asked me in German, if I spoke the language. He was selling both empanadas (which were delicious) and apple strudel. This little town was on a most beautiful lake in the LAKE DISTRICT that Chile is famous for and when the mist burned off, gave way to a view of a couple volcanos. Our last port was Valparaiso. We were picked up right on time at the pier by South Excursions, I had read about their company on this blog but there were no reviews to be had. I was a pioneer. Well, I am happy to report that our party of four was more than satisfied with Loretto, our guide, Pablo our driver and SE in total. We signed on for an 8 hour tour that included tours of Valparaiso, Vina del Mar, a winery and a wine tasting (wine tasting $5 pp at Vermonte winery, very nice tour and beautiful winery in Casablanca Valley) for $95 per person (incl winery), and Santiago, quite reasonable a price we thought as previously we had scheduled a driver from Marriott Santiago to pick us up for $80 pp. Our tour guide's English and knowledge of Chilean history was very good. We ended our SA adventure on a high. While in SANTIAGO, we ate at two RESTAURANTS in the Bellavista neighborhood, one for dinner and one for lunch, both times at one of their outdoor tables. At Galindo, I ordered the local dish, which was a kind of corn topped baked ground beef casserole which was delicious. Tasted real good with the local, Austral beer I had with it. The other restaurant we sampled was El Tablao, which apparently hosts flamenco dancers, which we would have loved to have seen. Food was great (Italian influence) and reasonably priced at both places. Now when I say reasonably priced, I am from NYC and just spent 20 years living in Philadelphia area, and now live in Charleston, SC. We ate 2 or 3 course meals with wine and or beer for around $40 for two, that is inexpensive to me. We took a funicular way up high to view the city and the statue of the Immaculate Conception on the hill. Neat inexpensive activity that was within walking distance of the Bellavista area. The Marriott was a spectacular looking property with many rooms facing the Andes. It was however, not centrally located although we had no difficulty getting around with cabs. After seeing sheets of copper stacked high at the pier, we viewed many copper souvenir pieces around the City, which made for great shopping. Our tour guide directed us to the outdoor vendors on the higher level streets of Valparaiso, near the naval offices, for our souvenir shopping. Whew...need a rest. Wanted to be sure to thank my fellow fodorites who made our trip what it was, perfect in every way. Thank you so much for sharing. That is why I am here paying it forward dear friends.
lrtayloe is offline  
Mar 5th, 2010, 06:29 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 72

I can hear the sadness in your voice for your great country. My daughter is dating a young man, who spent his childhood in Argentina as a result of his mother's post WWII trek from the Ukraine which landed she and her family in BA. Despite it's troubled political history, the strong character and warmth of its people resonates throughout this city, in their food, in their music and in the way they rolled out a welcome mat and opened its doors despite their difficult circumstances. I would love to bring my daughters there so they, too, can share in our love for BA and all of its gifts.
lrtayloe is offline  

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