Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Argentina 24 August – 10 September 2009

For the record we stayed in a rented flat in Buenos Aires near the Palermo Subte station with one overnight trip to Iguacu Falls. The domestic airport is on the river and in the city (10 minutes) which makes domestic air travel very easy. The International airport is a 45 minute drive and costs about 90 pesos.

Buenos Aires is South America’s richest city. However I would make the following three comments:
1. I did not see one woman wearing a diamond ring. We were correctly advised not to take any jewellery, expensive watches etc. I wore a swatch and Vivienne left all rings etc. in an Australian bank. You could tell the tourists in BA, they were the ones wearing cheap clothes.
2. Every reasonable store has a security guard.
3. There was some form of demonstration in Buenos Aires every day. On the last day there 10,000 people marching holding banners that had Maradona’s name inscribed in a coffin. Argentina had lost 3-1 at home to Brazil and then 1-0 to Paraguay and looked like it may not make it to the next World Cup in Cape Town. Maradona had fled to Italy.

On the other hand we had no problems whatsoever, but we definitely took a low risk approach to life. We gave La Boca a miss during the night.

Buenos Aires is a great city to visit if you are an Australian in that it is great value and there are some terrific restaurants. You can get a great meal with a terrific Argentinean Malbec for two for around $60. The equivalent meals in Sydney would be $200. Taxis are numerous and cheap but make sure you have close to the exact money. We gave one driver a 100 peso note for 17 peso ride and were given counterfeit notes. And I gave him a tip. This is a very common occurrence. On the other hand the people as a whole are terrific.

Here are some suggestions:

Go to the recently opened Eva Peron Museum followed up with lunch at Voulezbar. These are two great places located to the east of the Buenos Aires Zoo. The zoo looked particularly daggy so we gave it a miss.

On Sunday go to the polo followed by a meal at Las Cholas in the Las Canitas area.

The Museum National of Belle Arts and MALBA are ok however the place we were really impressed was the newly opened Fortinbrat Museum in Puerto Madero. Fortinbrat are Argentina’s wealthiest family. It was not in the Aug 2008 edition of Lonely Planet. It is located at the Uruguay ferry end of the Port. In Puerto Madero there are some great restaurants. Cabaña las Lilas is regarded as the best parrilla in BA. Directly opposite the Cabana is another new restaurant called OneCentral?? which also was filled with beautiful people and served great food.

The other great locations in BA for food are Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Soho. We had a great Sunday brunch at Olsen and La Cabrera is another great parrilla. By the way we never ordered the full BBQ. One it is too much and secondly the Argentineans love the beef very well done. I always ordered a lomo (which is the top fillet) jugaso which means juicy. The steaks were fantastic.

Other restaurants we really enjoyed were Sabot in Microcentro and of course you have to have coffee at the Cafe Tortoni. However overall the food was great value and the people serving it were friendly. At many of the restaurants we were the only English speaking couple. A little Spanish goes along way here but the famous ‘che’ makes it hard to understand at first. For example calle (street) is normally pronounced ‘cal-yeah’ in Spanish but in BA it is pronounced ‘catch-cheh’. Che Guevara was nicknamed Che because he came from Argentina.

While we were in BA it was Tango month and we went to the Semi-finals of the world tango championships which was amazing. There were couples from all around the world. We saw about 30 dancing couples. We also went to the Tango show at Piazzolla Tango which was wonderful, like the theatre but while I had been told the food was good I would rate it at below many of restaurants we ate at.

BA is a great city to walk around. There are some amazing sights like the dogwalkers and I had a blazer made in Recoleta by the top tailor in BA (George). I would certainly recommend BA to anyone for a visit. The metro is also very cheap.

As I said we went to Iguacu Falls. If you do go, don’t stay anywhere but the Sheraton. Not cheap but really it is worth it. It is a short 10 minute walk to the falls from the hotel. The park is very well maintained. When you arrive, put on a swimsuit, do the lower walk and take the boat trip and jungle trip ride on the afternoon. Nothing like two of you staying on the truck to go to the hotel while all the other 40 people disembark to catch a bus 40 minutes to a town outside the park On the jungle trip you will be told all about the animals that you don’t see. However if you get up early the next morning to do the upper walk to catch the train to the Devil’s Gorge you should see all the animals: coatis, howler monkeys, and capybaras.

The people in Argentina are friendly and civilised. I would recommend a visit to anyone.
Chris Golis
Australia's expert on practical emotional intelligence
website: www.thehummhandbook.com
Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/chrisgolis
blog: blogs.bnetau.com.au/aussierules/category/improving-your-eq/
mobile: +61-418-222219

1 comment:

  1. Hey, you are right about the jewelry and the security gurads! Last year I went to Argentina and rented an apartment in Palermo Buenos Aires because I had been told that it was one of the safest neighborhoods. I was also advised to wear cheap clothes but in the end, people could tell that I was a tourist.
    Well, I had a great time anyways.