Buenos Aires and Iguazu FallsAuthor: cindy murry
Date of Trip: September 2007
Colonia, Uruguay The Bobo Hotel made a first-class travel reservation for us on the Buquebus catamaran (fast boat) It was for a Monday and a reservation would not have been necessary because it was empty. Also, there was no need to go first class—the only difference I could see was that tourist class had more seats in a row—and the trip is relatively expensive for even tourist class (about $60pp). They requested that we arrive an hour early to go thru security then they were 45 minutes late leaving port so it was a long morning. The ride was quite smooth but boring. We had 5 hours in Colonia and that was too much time, in our opinion, because the museums are pretty minimal. The old part of the town is a complete contrast from Buenos Aires—very few cars, stores, or restaurants. The visitor center about 3 blocks from the port is very informative with English speakers. As I read back over this, I realize how negative it sounds and don't mean for it to be—it was a drizzly rainy day and I'm sure we would have enjoyed it more had there been sun. That being said, if you have plenty of time—and some extra money—it makes for an interesting side trip.
Tigre—Delta Area This was another rainy day (we had a lot of those) and I had read from a trip advisor reviewer not to bother to go on a rainy day but ignored this very good advice. We enjoyed the train ride up but the charter taxis were not operating and we saw almost no river taxis. We talked to visitors who had taken the catamaran and they found it rather long and boring with the inclement weather. We shopped for awhile—prices are better but the fruit market consists of mostly tourist items and household goods—nothing too exciting. It is an easy trip to make. At the Retiro station, there are instructions at the ticket window on how to get there. The highlight of our trip was a train stop at San Isidro on the way back. This is apparently a very wealthy suburb and the homes are amazing. There is a nice plaza and church and just walking up and down the streets and looking at the mansions was fascinating. And the tourist shops at the station were pretty nice and had reasonable prices.
Estancia Los Dos Hermanos We had read about this estancia on trip advisor and had to try it. Despite the rain (once again) it was a lovely day. The guides Mercedes and Don Juan were very gracious hosts—making sure everyone was comfortable and having a good time even with the challenging conditions. Arrangements had been made for a driver to pick us and two other couples up around 9:00 am for the 75 minute drive ($40 for each couple).
The rain had flooded the entry road to the ranch but Mercedes met us in a 4-wheel drive vehicle and loaded us into the bed to take us on the last leg of our journey. After a continental style breakfast and introductions, we mounted our horses and began a one hour ride around the ranch. I think they doubted my riding ability (ok, so I was the oldest and fattest one of the group and had already told Ana that I hadn't been on a horse for 10 years and not many times, period) and my horse fancied being at the back of the pack—way at the back. Every few minutes Mercedes would get behind me and employ her switch because no amount of kicking on my part could persuade my horse to "get-up". After a delicious barbeque including a lomo (tenderloin) steak that melted in your mouth, we mounted our horses again for a two hour outside-the-estancia ride. This time, Don Juan stayed behind with me and continuously mad a "tsking" sound and my horse did much better about keeping up. We didn't get to gallop as much as other groups because it was so muddy that the horses sunk down in at places—but, the ride was challenging enough for me! After a snack of warm, homemade cake and a tour of the overnight cabins we returned around 6:30 to the city. I believe the total cost was $65 per person plus the transportation.
Iguazu Falls Truly awesome—and I am not a huge nature lover. We spent two half days on the Argentine side and ½ day on the Brazilian. The guide books and trip advisor both cover this area pretty well so I won't go into detail—just follow their guidelines for touring. One question I had before leaving was if I could store my luggage at the airport and I could not find an answer or anyone who knew.
So, I emailed Jorge Newbury Airport (the domestic one) and they assured me that I could (we had more luggage weight than allowable) and to just check with customer service at the terminal. At the customer service desk, I filled out a form and was escorted by a porter to the storage room. There were only 5 other bags stored. He gave me a claim check and locked the bag. When I returned 2 days later, I went by customer service for paperwork and paid my 18 pesos then picked up my bag at the storage room—all super easy. I want to highly recommend traveling by LAN. Our flights were on-time and hassle-free. Aerolineas was on strike two different days while we were in the country and did not try very hard to accommodate passengers who were unable to make their flights (told them they could reschedule their trips for 3 days later). And, two different couples who had been traveling extensively in Argentina reported that they never had one single "on-time" flight with Aerolineas. Also, I had a hard time seeing a good reason to stay at the Sheridan. You certainly have an excellent view of the falls from the rooms but they are definitely not right on top of them. And, I do think you would feel very isolated. One good feature of the Sheraton is their high tea from 4-6pm. The desserts are really good and it is only $6US. This is a nice way to end the day visiting the falls.
Shopping We hit several of the popular outdoor markets. The first weekend, it was warm and sunny and there were so many vendors and shoppers that it was a little overwhelming. The San Telmo Antique Fair, La Boca, and the Florida St. area were very entertaining—lots of performers. The Recoleta/Francia Fair and Plaza Serrano seemed to have more crafty items and less mass-produced souvenirs. To be very honest, we did not find great bargains but we live in a pretty inexpensive area of the country and realize that Americans, particularly living on the East and West Coasts, might differ with us.
Gallerias Pacifico was the only true "mall" that we visited and I recommend it not so much for the shopping as for the beauty. I also enjoyed the Design Recoleta stores—wonderful art and home furnishings.
This was a good trip and I could go on and on but this report is already longer than I intended. I hope it is helpful to at least a few others who are traveling to Argentina. I would like to emphasize that all of the above is simply my opinion/impression. You may not agree with me or like/dislike the same type of activities that I do. For that reason, I respectfully request that you limit your criticism. I am obviously not a professional writer or traveler. Reports take a great deal of time to prepare and I really don't care hear about it if you don't like the one that I am submitting. With that said I rely a great deal on Trip Advisor and appreciate all those who contribute to the website.
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