Category Archives: Argentina

Chile/Argentina Day 6: Red, Red Wine (Malbec mostly) ­čŹĚ

Four wineries. 6 visitors. One van. Can we do it? Yes…we…can!

Ampora Tours picked us up just before 9, and soon added an individual traveler from Dallas and three women from Australia.

First stop was Bodega Benegas, just about 15 minutes outside of Mendoza.

An older winery, they ferment their wine in cement tanks, lined with epoxy paint. DSC_0844

We bought a bottle of malbec.

Second stop was Terrazas de los Andes. owned by Chandon. In an old winery, but updated.

3rd winery was very small and very modern.

And last was lunch!

Back to Mendoza, we ate pasta at an Italian restaurant because we were tired of meat!

We ended the evening walking home. Plaza Indepencia was beautiful. 

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Chile/Argentina Day 5: Walking Mendoza and Fire Dinner

The plan today is to walk around Mendoza, absorbing the city. No rush, no hurry.

First stop was the Central Market. We always enjoy wandering through the markets, seeing the colors and sights and smells. DSC_0763DSC_0770

We learned only yesterday that 9 July is Argentina’s independence day. Where better to go then Plaza Indepencia? There was food and entertainment and Argentina blue fountains. We felt so lucky to have lucked upon observing their celebration.┬áDSC_0790

 

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Mendoza is a city of plazas. We then walked to Plaza Espa├▒a and Plaza Italia. Espa├▒a was especially pretty with the tiles.

We kept walking to Parque General San Mart├şn. It is their equivalent to Central Park. We could only cover some of it, it was so big!DSC_0840DSC_0832DSC_0836

The best part of the day was still yet to come! Chef’s Table chef Francis Mallman’s 1884 Restaurant. It was a 15 minute cab ride to a world in itself.

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Greated at the door by security, they checked the list to make sure we were on it. We were! They called inside to alert them to our arrival. We were seated and given the menu and wine list. Over 500 wines! 114 Malbecs alone, I counted them! We had empañadas for an appetizer, charred from cooking in the clay pots. IMG_3190

We both had grilled meats for dinner, Ellen had rack of lamb and I had a rib eye. Incredible!IMG_3196

We were invited outside to the grill. IMG_3191

Here was the wine we selected with the help of the sommelier, a Malbec/Syrah blend. IMG_3199

Dessert was chocolate! Gelato, cake and mousse. IMG_3197

This meal was one of the best we’ve had, anywhere in the world. The service made the difference, so many different wait staff served us, all polite, friendly and welcoming.

On the way out, we were invited to visit the wine cellar. IMG_3198

If you ever get a chance to dine here, take it!

We had a great day, not rushed, no set agenda, just getting a sense of the city by walking it.


Argentina Day 8: San Telmo, the Obelisk and Coming Home

San Telmo

Last day in Buenos Aires, and the temperature was going up to 93. We had to check out this morning too. So we wore our lightest clothing, stored our bags and headed to San Telmo.

It is a colorful street festival, with all sorts of arts and crafts for sale. Ben had wanted a mate cup for tea, so we found a porcelain one. The artist who made it sang the song whose lyrics were on the cup and gave us several slips of paper explaining them. We also got Ben a wallet.

Ellen got some earrings and I bought a glass made from a Quilmes beer can.

A beautiful church was in the neighborhood, Iglesia de San Ignacio. We stopped in to cool off and admire the interior.

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Next it was time for lunch, so we walked to Bar El Federal. It was tight quarters inside, but we had a good meal and enjoyed the interior.

We had some trips left on our subway card, so I suggested we stop at the Obelisk. ┬áWe had seen it from a distance, but didn’t know much about it. It clearly resembles the Washington Monument, but was built to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Buenos Aires.DSC_0731

In walking over to the Obelisk, we noticed a large crowd. Ellen was concerned it was a protest. But the people were too young. As we approached, it was clear that the crowd was mostly tween girls and it had something to do with Justin Bieber. Searching on our phones, we didn’t find that there was a concert. So we aren’t sure what was going on. The kids were spaying shaving cream and silly string, so we decided it might not be our scene.DSC_0738

The area around the Obelisk has LED billboards that make it the Times Square or Picadilly Circus of Buenos Aires. DSC_0736

We took the subway back to our neighborhood. We stopped in a coffee bar for cool drinks, and then we returned to the hotel. We had some time, so we found a deck of cards and had some mean games of gin and crazy 8’s.

Around 6:30pm, we headed out to the airport. There were lines to check in to United, but not too bad. We got 105 pesos (about $11) back as a VAT refund, which gave us a little more chocolate to buy at the duty free store.

Our flight to Houston went smoothly. We had taken off from Argentina just about kick-off time for the Redskins/Cowboys game. There was no internet available on the plane, so it wasn’t until we were able to turn our cell phones on after landing in Houston that we got the good news that the Redskins had won the game and the division. See you at FedEx on Sunday!

We had to go through immigration, claim our luggage to go through customs, then recheck it and go through security again to get our DC flight. All that went well, getting us to the gate just a little before boarding.

Ben met us at Dulles, we went out for lunch at Sweetwater Tavern in Sterling, then came home to the puppy. So nice to have another day before returning to work and only two hours of time change to adjust to.


Argentina Day 7: Final Full Day

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With the museum we wanted to start with today not opening until noon, we decided to return to Casa Rosada and take a tour. We were awfully glad we did, it was one of the highlights of the trip.

The palace is the office, but not the home, of Argentina’s president. The picture above is where Evita addressed her crowds. Madonna was able to use the same place for the shooting of the movie, “Evita.” The view of Plaza┬áde Mayo from the balcony looks something like this:

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We got to see many ornate rooms and the president’s office.

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It was well worth an hour for the free tour.

Next up was a subway ride and a walk to the Museo de Arte Latinamerico de Buenos Aires. Also known as MALBA, it houses some of the best works of Latin America artists. Most of the art was modern. I really enjoyed the vitality in the art, it was alive. I loved this bench, which went from a serviceable place to sit to something resembling spaghetti on the wall.

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Also featured was the work of Diego Rivera.

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Another walk led us to the Museo Nacional de Bella’s Artes. Admission was free, and it included impressionist works.

We stopped for our daily Freddo ice cream. I don’t know what we will do without their chocolate con almonds ice cream.

Back to the hotel for a short rest, then out for our last dinner. We chose steak for some reason, and walked 1/2 an hour to Don Julio, where we had the hotel make a reservation. We had empanadas, tenderloin steak, potato straws ( they resembled waffle chips, just much better), Malbec, and fruit and chocolate mousse for dessert. It was a great meal and a fitting end to the trip.

Tomorrow we will try to fit in a few more things. It is supposed to be 93 degrees, so we will have to take it slow and easy.

There will be another entry or two. I hope you’ve enjoyed traveling along with us. As a marketer, I live for feedback, so leave a comment on the blog or a comment on Facebook or Twitter to let me know what you liked.

Thanks for reading!


Tango!

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The tango show was a lot of fun. While waiting in the hotel lobby to be picked up, we met another couple from our hotel who were also going. Jeff and Lauren were from Dallas, so the conversation quickly went to Redskins/Cowboys and RGIII. A 2nd couple joined us, Michelangelo, a performer from Venezuela and David, a designer. They both live in Miami.

We talked about what we had seen or should see in BA, where else we have traveled and what we like to see. On the drive, we picked up another couple. They were Swedes who now live in Oslo. So there was plenty to talk about.

We got to the theater and were seated with the 2 other couples from our hotel. We talked and talked, and drank a little wine.

The show, Esquina Carlos Gardel, featured dancing and singing. There were around 5-6 couples, there were group dances, solo dances and singing. The Spanish was lost on us, but it was an enjoyable performance.

Afterwards our performer friend, Michelangelo, told us we should next time see “Se├▒or Tango,” a better tango performance. We had nothing to compare it to. We had more conversation in the van ride home, getting back around 12:30.

We were told we had to see a tango show while we were in BA, and I’m glad we did.


Argentina Day 6: Walking Tours & Shopping

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This vacation has allowed us to operate at a more leisurely pace than others. It is nice not to have to hurry to cram everything in.

Today after breakfast we set off by subway to do 2 walking tours. We started at the statue above, San Martin, the liberator of Argentina. Nearby were impressive mansions from an earlier time.

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Next was the monument to the war over the Malvinas. You don’t call them the Falklands or mention the British around here. The monument reminded me of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, with the names of the fallen etched in stone. Two soldiers stood guard.

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We stopped in the Retiro train station for a snack.

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Next, we walked along the Florida pedestrian mall, which allowed us to combine shopping with a walking tour. I got a leather wallet (Sorry, Coach. you are being retired for something nicer and cheaper). There are stunning buildings in Buenos Aires, many of them in shockingly poor condition.

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The tour included entry into a Burger King, to see the most stunning inside of a fast food place you will ever come across.

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The walking tour ended at a stop on our subway line, so we took the train back and walked through our neighborhood. We stopped for a cerveza (Sprite Zero for the wife) and some baked goods. We are off to an early dinner tonight, and then are being picked up for a tango show at 9pm, the celebration culmination of our 27th anniversary celebration.

I’ll leave this post with a picture from our neighborhood. Beautiful graffiti art with a pile of trash in front. That’s the juxtaposition of Buenos Aires, a city we are growing to like more and more as we experience more of it.

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Argentina Day 4: Evita

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This was an “Ellen Day,” we left the hotel at 9:30am and got back just before 11pm.

Some might say the big news was that we got SIM cards and got them working. I realize many might not. So I will quickly summarize what it took to reach this blissful state.

1. Visit Movistar store
2. Go to smaller Movistar store around the corner to get the SIM chips
3. Return to big Movistar store to have chip cut to micro-SIM size
4. Visit Internet store to buy prepaid cards and load them on phone
5. Connect to Internet to download Movistar phone profile to get data working

It did not take all that long and only cost us $10 each for the chips and the credit. You can stop cheering now. We had fun along the way, from Serge  the bald guy, who cut our chips to the nice guy at the Internet store who used Google Translate to talk with me and try to help out.

Today was mostly about Eva Peron. We first took the subway to visit her museum. It chronicled her life, and included report cards, dresses and hats, and a death mask. For someone who only lived to 33, she made quite the impact.
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Because we were nearby, the next stop was the zoo. They had these weird animals roaming free. Recognize them? (Update: we later learned they are capybaras. )

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I think I liked the zebra who rolled on its back like Colby does. 20121226-233552.jpg

Next stop was the Retiro Cemetery . It is the wildest cemetery you will ever see. The crypts and mausoleums feature pictures of the dead, and you can see the caskets.

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Of course you have to visit Evita. You’d think she would be easy to find, but given the history of her body’s travels, I guess it is a surprise she is in Buenos Aires at all.

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We made a quick stop at a mall across the street from the cemetery. We then walked to Hotel Sofitel, where my mother arrived yesterday for a departure tomorrow on a cruise. This happy coincidence allowed us to meet her for dinner for an early anniversary celebration we went to the The New Brighton and had a delicious dinner and great conversation. It was nice to meet up so far from home.

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Tomorrow is a day trip to Uruguay. Something a little different and a new country to visit.