After 9 nights in Argentina, I am en route back to my hometown. This has been an incredible vacation. I believe I have never eaten more steak or drank more wine in such a short time period. I also feel as though I have had enough dulce de leche to satisfy a lifetime.
I know some bloggers write about their vacation in a journal form, but I’m only going to share my top travel tips if you ever get the chance to visit Buenos Aires. It is called the Paris of South America for good reason. Many of the buildings look very European. I’ve never been Europe but my travel companions agreed with this statement.
Every hotel that I stayed in had a gym. I went running twice, worked out with Nike Training Club twice, and used the elliptical for 30 minutes. I genuinely like exercising. A vacation is not a vacation for me if I cannot workout. To me, traveling is only fun if you are able to do what you truly enjoy. For me that is eating, sight-seeing, sunning and working out.
If you go to BA and have the chance to visit the Iguazu waterfalls, this in my opinion is a must. It was unbelievable. If you go, I suggest staying on the Argentinian side at the Sheraton in the park. This is what we did and were very happy. We also got Brazilian visas so we could visit the falls on the Brazilian side. The views from the ground were better in my opinion. However, the following day we went on a river boat ride that intentionally drove our boat into the waterfalls. It was like a Disney water ride but real life. Exhilarating, scary, wet and a once in a lifetime opportunity. This ride is also a must.
Getting the Brazilian visa was kind of a pain in the butt, I will admit. Thirty days in advance, I needed to bring a passport photo, proof of residency from Boston, a money order from the US Postal service for $140 and visit the Brazilian Consulate. They took my passport and gave it back 8 days later with the visa attached to a page in my passport. This can be done while in Brazil or Argentina but when you visit for two nights, it’s best to do ahead of time. Of course you can opt to only visit the Argentinian side, but the views from Brazil are better.
We spent about two days in Iguazu which was perfect. If you do this, note that the airport in Buenos Aires that flies to Iguazu is not very organized when it comes to checking a bag. Allow plenty of time.
As far as restaurants go, my favorites were Gran Bar Danzon in Recoleta and La Cabrera in Palermo. Reservations are suggested but you can do it the day you want to go if you plan on eating at 8:30 pm or 9 pm. Argentinians eat dinner very late. We were often the first to arrive at many of the restaurants. When we left however at midnight, the places were packed. I didn’t take pictures because although I am blogger, I find it awkward to photograph every meal.
We also visited El Cuartito, a pizzeria that Anthony Bourdain visited during an episode of No Reservations. Last year while in Australia, roomie had the meal of his life after taking Bourdain’s suggestion in Melbourne. His choice did not disappoint. The crust was crispy, the cheese was so flavorful and it was delicious. It looked like your local pizza joint where the townies all hang out. They also had the best empanadas. Get the fugazzeta and Neapolitan. The fugazzeta is a white pie with a cream cheese type topping you do not realize is even on there, olive oil, parmesan and mozzarella cheese and lots of onions. I’m not sure if America has a national dessert but in Argentina it’s blatant that theirs is Dulce De Leche, a less sticky, more peanut butter like caramel. It’s good, but I don’t need to have it on toast in the AM thank you (which is how many eat it). It was best in crepes in my opinion or with ice cream.
Argentinians love sugar. They are also very beautiful but I have no idea how they stay so slim eating as much sugar as there is on their menus. Every “fun” drink had sugar listed as an ingredient so I stuck with wine and the occasional cocktail. An iced tea at Starbucks comes with syrup even if you ask for it without sugar as a FYI. Yes. I went to Starbucks, once.
Lastly, BA is known for its awesome nightlife. I am not a night owl. Staying up until 2 am is a challenge, let alone the typical 7 am closing call at many establishments in BA. I stayed out twice until 3 with roomie. My favorite spots were Congo and Milion. Milion felt like you were at a rich kids house party in a gorgeous mansion. Congo was more like a cool patio bar.
Side notes that aren’t cool. The US charges people from other countries to come into our country, so they charge us a reciprocal tax. This was $140 US dollars in both Argentina and Brasil (for my visa). I understand why they do it, but was not expected. The taxis drive like maniacs. They are also super cheap and super tiny. For a 35 minute cab ride, you can expect 15 dollars with tip.
Time to board the plane, more later!