My 2016 new years resolution was to learn Spanish so it was only natural that South America was one of the many destinations that year. As a friend and I were deciding on a place to escape the NY winter, Argentina came to mind for many reasons besides the fact that they have summer in February – nature in the form of Iguazu Falls, food in the form of steak, empanadas and wine and culture in the form of architecture, government corruption and protests of the people. And I can’t forget all of the “juh” sounding double ls that made it extremely confusing to understand their style of Spanish but turns out the brain adapts pretty quickly!
We started our trip in Buenos Aires with a couple free walking tours that helped us get an overview of the major sites in the city and the overall history of Argentina. I wasn’t able to retain everything (it was hot and my feet hurt) but I do remember one story from our afternoon guide: from that day he recalled a time in his childhood when the Argentine Peso was so unstable that while he and his mother were grocery shopping, the store workers were yelling out the prices of the vegetables as they changed. Needless to say, they made sure that grocery trip didn’t last long so they could take advantage of the “discounted” prices. We could somewhat sympathize because, during our trip, the peso dropped from 15:1 to 18:1 compared to the USD, in just one week! We also visited La Recoleta Cemetery where we got lost walking through all of the tombs.
The next day we spent a few hours in San Telmo Market. It was alive with people, colors, music and tango (well, a couple showing off their skills in the middle of the market). There was a lot to see and do around the area including eateries and museums. We went to the MACBA – Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires and the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires. There are so many museums around the city to explore like the Museo Histórico Nacional, Museo De La Pasión Boquense (dedicated to all things Boca Juniors) and Museo del Holocausto de Buenos Aires (tells the story of the Holocaust and its impact on Argentina and South America – only one of its kind in Latin America). We also learned a thing or two about the legacy of Eva Peron, the first lady of Argentina from 1946 – 1952, at the Museo Evita.
No trip to Argentina is complete without visiting Iguazu Falls (aka “Big Water”). It’s the largest waterfall system in the world made up of almost 275 individual falls. The day we went it was spectacular, the weather was perfect (& hot), the walkways weren’t too crowded and we picked the better side to view the site (Argentine side). It was well worth the quick flight, staying a night in Puerto Iguazu and the investment in loads of mosquito spray for future needs.
I said no trip to Argentina is complete without seeing Iguazu, but NO TRIP TO ARGENTINA IS COMPLETE WITHOUT DRINKING MALBEC. We traveled to the heart of the Argentine wine region in Mendoza and biked our way (yes, biked our way) to different wineries.We stayed at the Park Hyatt and had a few days to walk around the town and eat empanadas and alfajores (the other two food groups of the country). When we returned to Buenos Aires, the indulgence continued as we ate at Don Julio, La Carniceria and a random spot with amazing milanesas de pollo. Argentina is a food and wine lovers dream.
Okay, you can’t actually ski the Andes in the summertime but work with me here. During our stay in Mendoza, we took an excursion through the rugged mountain ranges and made stops at Los Penitentes, where we rode on a ski lift to get exceptional views, Puente del Inca, a natural arch and hot spring, and the border between Chile and Argentina with an amazing view of the Andes Mountains. Even the drive there and back was breath-taking although my ears were popping as we made the climb up the single lane road to the La Cumbre pass where we saw the Christ the Redeemer of the Andes Statue. This only made me want to visit Patagonia so much more. Next time…
Where should I go next? Perhaps Ghana.
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