Wednesday, November 28, 2012

2012 South America Adventures: Muchas Gracias Argentina

Tomorrow, I will catch an early flight back home and leave this amazing country of Argentina. Reflecting on my time here these past three weeks, there are so many emotions and visual images that race through my mind and trust me I tried to capture a lot of them with my camera. He, he.  

I have to confess that prior to my trip I had read about increased incidents of crime in Buenos Aires from other travelers. Since safety is an important factor for me, I began to approach my upcoming trip with cautioned excitement. After being here for three weeks, I can report that I am so glad that I came and I did not let the negative reports from other travelers dissuade me. I was very lucky that the only crime I fell victim to was being given a fake $100 pesos from a taxi driver at La Boca. I was actually more surprised than upset that I had fell for the switch. But I have to say that during my stay here in Buenos Aires, there were four other honest taxi drivers who went out of their way (knowing that I was a tourist and susceptible to taxi scammers) to point out the fare before I got out so I would know what “should” be the correct price of my fare for my return trip. Then there was the taxi driver that didn’t want to accept my tip saying it was too much. So for the one bad apple, there are many more that are good.

On my first night I bumped into a family (mother, son and daughter) trying to push this huge bundle of recyclables onto their carts. One of the bundles rolled back down and it made them break out into laughter. I smiled and said hola and they smiled back. Yes, some of the people here are poor, but they are honest and hardworking and I hope that the economy in Argentina improves for them. One of the things I love about traveling is how it allows us to experience all aspects of life and also how it can make me appreciate the things in life that I too often take for granted.

In all my travels I have loved the things that I have seen and experienced, the history, and in my case the drenching of Iguazu Falls, but mainly I always treasure the experiences I have with the people that I meet. I am talking about fellow travelers, vendors, tour guides and my apartment manager, housekeeper and driver, Aldo. I draw inspiration, knowledge and joy from each one of them which will shape who I am forever.

Here are some of the things, people and experiences that I will remember the most about my trip:

- The city of Buenos Aires and country of Argentina itself is a highlight for me. Argentina is a beautiful and very diverse country. There are so many things to see and do here and I tried to do as many of them as I could. :) I didn’t get to do everything, but I managed to do the things that were the most high on my must see and do list.
  
- As always, I am happy to be returning back home again, but at the same time I am sad to be leaving my wonderful neighborhood. Palermo Soho has been a great home away from home and I will miss my ice cream shop and all the cafes around Plaza Serrano most of which I have sampled during my stay. I felt very comfortable here because it is in an awesome location, there are people (locals, tourists and families) walking around throughout the day and evening that I never really felt unsafe going out and exploring around. I am so glad that I chose this neighborhood to base here in Buenos Aires.
 
- Love the street café culture here. On practically every block there is a café with outdoor seating serving everything from sushi to pizza to those famous Argentine steaks (sadly I don’t eat beef so I cannot report on their reputation, but I can see on the faces of their customers that it is a good reputation).
 
- Connection via the internet is important for me and I think for all travelers and here in Argentina it seems like every establishment has free Wi-Fi connection for their customers. Other countries should follow Argentina’s lead on this, because it has become more of a necessity rather than a luxury for travelers.

Most of the apartment rentals I looked at in planning my trip offer free Wi-Fi. Finding “how to get there” tips helped in planning my El Tigre Day trip and also helped with booking for my Uruguay Day trip. A Wi-Fi connection allows great flexibility to travelers who tend to do their planning on the fly. I’m sort of half and half. I like to have a set base schedule and a list of must and potential want to see and do list. Then once I’m here I tend to wing it day by day. Except for my Day trips to El Calafate & Iguazu, which required the purchase of airline tickets and lodging confirmations), most of my itinerary was done day by day and on the fly. I think a good balance between the two fits me perfectly.

- Visiting Plaza De Mayo, Casa Rosada and the Recoleta Cemetery to see the resting place of Eva Peron. It was pretty cool to pay my respect to Eva who did so much to further the rights of women in Argentina and who helped the poor.
 
- Street Art is around every corner in the City and some of them are pretty creative and cool. Some mornings I would just walk around and snap at anything that looked out of the ordinary and cool. Buenos Aires kept me pretty busy.
 
- La Boca, Caminito and my La Boca Jrs. soccer game was also another highlight. La Boca is very touristy, but I have to say that it was such a great place to photograph because of the bright colors of the houses. It is a walking museum with displays of the old days when immigrants from Spain and Genoa Itlay came to Argentina to find a better life. And if you visit Buenos Aires, don’t miss the opportunity to watch a La Boca Jr soccer game. Even if you are not a big soccer fan you will be moved by the experience. La Boca Jr. fans are the best in the world. So much enthusiasm and devotion. I loved it the experience.
 
- I also loved watching a tango show performance at the Porteno Tango venue. The dancers are extremely talented and I was amazed at their fast leg kicks and moves. There is this intense sexuality in this dance style and I totally enjoyed the experience.

- My long overnight day trips were awesome. First, to see the magnificent Glaciers in Patagonia was a great experience. I learned so much about glaciation and this natural wonder. Observing the glaciers up close and seeing some of the wildlife that inhabits this part of the world was also pretty cool. Second, what can I say about Iguazu Falls. The zodiac boat ride which I took to celebrate Thanksgiving Day was the most fun thing I’ve done. It was so exciting and cool to get a "taste" of Iguazu!   And let’s not forget the train ride and hike to see Garganta del Diablo in the pouring rain. Amazing and unforgettable!

- The All Glaciers Tour in Patagonia took several hours and I met the most wonderful people who were seated next to me.  First, a gracious lady from the Netherlands who was also traveling solo in Argentina.  And a really cool couple from a small town near Barcelona, Spain.  We enjoyed great conversations.  In fact, I saw the couple again the next day as they were doing the same Perito Moreno Glacier tour too (with another group).  I crashed into them on the catwalk.  He gave me his website so I hope to visit and see their photos.  I'm going to email them photos that I took of them.
 
- I also took a couple of last minute short day trips to El Tigre on the Delta and also the charming old town of Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay (which gave me a second stamp in South America). Both exeriences were great. 

Somewhere before my trip I had read that arriving in Buenos Aires was like jumping onto a moving Train. Well, I think it was more like jumping onto a jumbo jet just taking off. And on the jet you have a little cafe area to plant yourself along the way. :) The city is both fast and slow mannered.  Unlike my slow laid back Amalfi Coast trip last year, on this trip I have been on such a fast paced itinerary that combined with a few days of sketchy internet connection, I have had very little spare time to blog like I usually love to do. And you know that I love to blog. Ha, ha. I’ve been using my iTouch to record my thoughts and will hopefully do some post trip blogging about more when I return.

I actually managed to get at least 98% of the things on my must see and do list so I’m leaving with very few regrets. In fact, today I contemplated not visiting MALBA (Museo de Arte Latino Americano de Buenos Aires), but after getting most of my packing done by noon, I decided to hop in a taxi and go. I just knew that if I hadn’t of made an effort I would have regretted it. And it turned out to be a very relaxing and contemplative time spent.  The art exhibits (which are more modern and contemporary) were very beautiful.  

I want to say a huge thank you to all of you who took the time to read my blog and tweets and who commented. I have appreciated your support and kind words so much. I am looking so forward to catching up with all of your blogs when I get home. I have really missed reading your blogs and participating in photohunt,

I will definitely post more photos when I return home, but here are a few images I'd like to share until then: 

Near Teatro Colon.


La Boca (I went back a second time for better light).


Around my neighborhood.


I saw this dog walke the other day but he was walking so fast I couldn't whip out my camera fast enough to take his photos. But today, I saw him walking in my direction and from a block away, so I pulled out my camera and asked if I could take his photo which he was glad to oblige.



This is the train you have o catch to get to Garganta del Diablo in Iguazu Falls.


I had the first seat on the Zodiac boat ride and had  really great view as well as soaking. :)  Great fun.


Perito Moreno Glacier from the Catwalk in Patagonia.


I took a free tour at Casa Rosada. Here is a photo of Eva Peron's desk in her Salon.


This is the view from the balcony that is right next to the Balcony that Eva Peron addressed the citizens of Buenos Aires.  The real one was not open to the public.  Still, I got chills standing here and looking out onto Plaza de Mayo.


A cool vendor at the San Telmo Antiques Fair.

 
Dancers at the Feria de Mataderos. They were all dressed up and even locals joined in.  There was food, live music and crafts. It was really fun.
 

El Tigre on the Delta. 


The lighthouse at Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay.  For 8 pesos you can climb the light house for a wonderful view of the old historic center.


I really loved watching a Tango Show performance.  This was my favorite couple.  


I've been to sports events but this was a unique and amazing experience and I would recommend anyone visiting Buenos Aires to attend a La Boca Jr. Soccer match.


Muchas Gracias Argentina for a fabulous time and for all the wondeful memories that you have given me which I will always treasure.
 
 

7 comments:

  1. What a great summary for such a colorful and adventurous trip. Have a safe trip home. Thank you for sharing and the wonderful photos. Another country to dream about.

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  2. Kathy, you have the best adventures! (Perhaps because you have such a wonderful attitude.) What a fabulous trip you have had, with great experiences. I've enjoyed tagging along and have loved your photos - so beautiful!

    Have a safe trip home.

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  3. And I loved your comment about BA, "The city is both fast and slow mannered." So evocative!

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  4. I've enjoyed tagging along too! Your photos are fantastic. So many vibrant colors. And I love that dog walking guy - what a cutie!

    That's great that you got to 98% of your wish list and are coming home with no regrets - that's the best way to travel, for sure.

    Thanks so much for taking us along!

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  5. Hi girls, thanks so much for your comments and for liking my photos.

    Marta, Argentina is a great location. So diverse.

    Sandra, I'm glad you liked tagging along. It was a really fun and different trip and I enjoyed myself a lot. Thanks for liking my comment. BA is definitely both slow and fast. And the Country itself is both slow and fast. Small towns and big cities. It really has it all.

    Annie, thanks so much for liking my photos and for reading my blog. Yes, that guy does look like the rock star of all dog walkers doesn't he. :) He had a lot of dogs too. The most I've seen. I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to get most of my must see's and do's done on this trip and the ones that I didn't get to weren't as high on my list so I don't have that big regret that I would if it was something high on my list. I agree that it is the best way to travel.

    Thanks again everyone. Hope you are all enjoying the Holidays so far.

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  6. Kathy, what a FABULOUS summary of your trip!! Rich with wonderful detail - I get a visceral sense of the place reading your descriptions and viewing your photos. I love your travelling style, so open to whatever comes your way.

    Have an awesome day!

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    1. Hi Anne, thanks so much for liking my summary and photos. Argentina was amazing and I'm so glad I went. I think you travel in a similar manner too, serendipitous and on the fly. And to be honest one of the joys of traveling is not being too tied to a schedule. I think that adds to the experience and makes it even more fun. :)

      Thanks so much for your comments. Hope you are having a wonderful Holidays.

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It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.