Sunday, 23 February 2014

Argentina - 2014

After an action packed two weeks in Chile, Marisol and I took a short flight to Buenos Aires to spend the next week in Argentina. There was a general sense of aprehension as we had read a few horror stories which ha warned us of the dangers of using credit cards and the difficulty of using local currency which threatened false notes and shady wheeling and dealing. Armed with a multitude of suggestions we made our way not trusting anyone or anything, got ourselves a few pesos, and arrived at the Santiago airport to find that due to torrential rains in BA the flights were affected. In our case we found that our flight could only take 75 percent of the passengers and that one of was on a waiting list for a boarding pass further enhancing our unease. We were however treated to a nervous lunch and as the flight time approached we were thoroughly relieved to be both on the same flight!
A couple of hours flight and a short taxi ride later we found ourselves at the Panamericano Hotel on 9 de Julio street in Buenos Aires.
 9th of July street in Buenos Aires is 100 metres wide!

The street outside the hotel was the widest street we had ever seen, perhaps a hundred meters across, with various lanes in each direction, a separate section for buses, service lanes on either side and pedestrian walkways all over and the edges. One had to think twice about crossing this road as it took several traffic lights and a good few minutes before completing the task. Marisol had read up the guides about Buenos Aires so we proceeded immidiately to explore all the landmarks and historic sites. BA is nicely laid out and it must have been a great city in its hayday. The Cathedral and the Casa Rosada residence of the president are both elegant but modest buildings in the Mayo Square. Most of the more impressive buildings are banks or government related.
 Buenos Aires Mayo Square
 The Casa Rosada

Several of the roads in the center were pedestrianised with hundreds of people trying to drum up business for the parallel currency market that buys foreign currencies and preferrably US dollars at prices which were 50 percent higher than the official rate. There was a constant drone of 'cambio, cambio' in the air. For shopping the prices were cheap relative to Europe and elsewhere, though the press places the inflation at 30 or more percent!
 The Recoleta Cemetary

Puerto Madero
Over the next few days we explored the Puerto Madero where the waterways and restaurants create a lively calm neighbourhood and which has seen major new property development with impressive prices much like the docklands in London, and the historic area of Recoleta where the impressive cemetry is a popular tourist destination which houses elaborate tombs of many famous personalities including Eva Peron. There is a lot to see including the shopping at the Galerias Pacifico, the theatres including the Rex in front of our hotel, coffee shops and restaurants, the local beef is the best in the world and the museums which go from the Latin to fine arts and the contemporary.
 Cafe Tortoni in BA

We also met up with our friend Melina from London days who now lives in BA and she took us to a lovely retaurant not far from our hotel. Soon it was time to pack our bags and head for the Iguazu waterfalls about a thousand miles to the north.
We arrived in the afternoon on a terribly hot day, it was too late for going to the falls. We decided to visit the falls the next day. Fortunately the next day started out cloudy and we had  a little respite from the 40C heat. The falls lived up their reputation of being the most spectacular falls in the world. We spent about 5 hours going up and down the excellent trails built by the Argentinian side. This allowed us to see the amazing scene from several angles. It was impossible to look at anything else although there were butterflies and birds and other wildlife to see.

Iguazu Falls
Later the sun came out and once again it became impossible to be out and about and we decided to skip the visit to the Brazil side of the area. Instead we headed for the luxury of the hotel, airconditioning and swimmingpool instead. A romantic dinner and the next day we were ready for the next stop on our itinerary. Montevideo in Uruguay.

More photos from Argentina

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