Honeymoon in Argentina

Inna and I are back! Argentina was amazing and Uruguay was too, here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

DAY 1 – We took the red eye to Buenos Aires with a layover in Peru. Seventeen hour flight plus a five hour time zone change and already a whole day had gone by! First thing we did: steak dinner.

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Our first steak dinner. It was so good, the best steak either of us ever had (and only $15, and big enough for both of us!). We went back to this restaurant two more times before leaving Argentina.

DAY 2 – Sunday is a quiet day in Buenos Aires, but we had two activities planned. First was the San Telmo market, an open air art market that operates Sundays only. It was amazing, filled with art and crafts, food and tango, clothes and home goods. We bought every single souvenir for everyone back home here.

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The San Telmo market. It was packed!

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Tango in the streets.

After the market, it was time for futbol! We originally scheduled our trip so we could see a Clasico (Boca Juniors vs Independente), but after we bought our plane tickets the entire futbol schedule changed and all that was left during our visit was River Plate (the number one team) vs Olimpo (a lower ranked team). River was clearly better, but the Olimpo goalie was stellar and River didn’t seem to take the game too seriously; as a result, the final score was 1-1.

A note about futbol in Argentina. It was everywhere! It was always on TV wherever we went; we saw games from England, Italy, Spain, Germany, Brazil, and of course Argentina. Also, security for Argentine games is crazy! Here’s a list of the security measures they take:

1) Only registered home team fans can buy tickets (we got ours through a tour group)
2) No alcohol sales in the stadium
3) No alcohol sales within ten blocks of the stadium
4) Five different security checkpoints before you can enter the stadium, most manned by riot police
5) Away team seats separated from home team seats by plexiglass and barbed wire (which doesn’t even matter anymore since now only home team fans can buy tickets)
6) There was a moat around the field to prevent fans from rushing it
7) For the last ten minutes of the game, riot police surrounded the field, again to prevent fans from rushing it

All this security made our game incredibly safe, so much so that I actually would have preferred some away team fans to have been there, just to make it a little rowdier.

The game hasn’t even started yet and already the chants are going. These chants, entirely fan driven (no jumbotrons, cheerleaders, loudspeakers or anything like that), never let up for the entire match.

After the game, Inna and I grabbed some pizza (Italy had a huge influence on Argentina, although Argentine pizza is not as good as Italian, or American for that matter), then we went to El Beso, a local milonga famous for tango.

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Tango at El Beso. Here we got to watch the whole tango routine, including the pairing ritual that occurs before every song. It felt kind of like a high school dance; it was strange!

DAY 3 – It’s Monday now and the city was packed. Armed with our Lonely Planet guidebook, we created our own tour through the city. Buenos Aires is a walking city and so today alone we covered: the waterfront district, Fragata Sarmiento (an old Argentine warship), Casa Rosada (Argentina’s version of the White House), the Ministry of Defense, Plaza del Mayo, Cathedral Metropolitana (Argentina’s most prestigious church), Cabildo (Buenos Aires’s former town hall), Ave 9 de Julio (the widest street in the world), Plaza and Palacio del Congreso, the theater district (including the world famous Teatro Colon), Plaza Lavalle, Plaza de la Republica, and the Obelisco. In total, we walked about five miles.

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Casa Rosada, Argentina’s version of the White House. Except it is pink, not white.

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Plaza de Mayo, just outside Casa Rosada. This plaza is the main location of Argentina’s protests and political demonstrations. We saw two demonstrations on our walk, but they were small, nothing to get excited about.

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Riot police in the plaza, just in case.

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Graffiti was everywhere.

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The Obelisco, in the middle of Ave 9 de Julio, the widest street in the world.

After our walk, we stopped by the famous Cafe Tortini, had some helato (amazing!) and took in a tango show. A great way to end a tiring but awesome day!

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Tango at Cafe Tortini

DAY 4 – Still left to do are Buenos Aires’s richer, ritzier areas: Recoleta, Retiro, and Palermo. And there was a walking tour that covered Recoleta and Retiro, so we joined in. On the tour (which was excellent) we visited Plaza San Marin (Buenos Aires loves plazas, although the city is correspondingly lacking in parks), Edificio Kavanagh (the former tallest building in Latin America and world’s tallest spite building?), a minature Big Ben (a gift from London), a tribute to the fallen soldiers of the Falkland War, Buenos Aires’s old mega-mansions (now mostly hotels, museums, and consulates), and most notably: the Recoleta Cemetary.

Buenos Aires is strange in that despite being a world class alpha city, it lacks that iconic all-star attraction that alpha cities are known for (the Statue of Liberty/Empire State Building, the Hollywood Sign, the Eiffel Tower, Christ the Redeemer, etc). But despite lacking in iconicness, the Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires number one site to see, is up there with those other attractions. I’ve never seen or experienced anything like it, especially with our tour guide, who told us the stories behind many of the graves and tombs inside.

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Entrance to the Recoleta Cemetary, the number one site in Buenos Aires.

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Inside the cemetery, which is filled with tombs like these. Each one has a story and we learned about a dozen of them from our tour guide. It was fantastic.

After our tour, we grabbed lunch at El Ateneo Cafe and Bookstore, considered by many to be the grandest bookstore in the world (Buenos Aires has so many bookstores, we loved it), then we revisited Teatro Colon and toured its insides. By night we swung over to Palermo looking for tango lessons, but the dance hall we ended up at was having a salsa night instead.

DAY 5 – It’s our last day in Buenos Aires and so we headed to Buenos Aires’s working class area, La Boca. Most of La Boca is not safe for tourists, but a small portion is, so we confined ourself to that area.

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The safe area of La Boca, a touristy but beautiful place. The locals took leftover paint from the nearby docks and used it to paint their houses, so everything is very bright and colorful. There are also numerous tributes to Pope Francis, La Boca firefighters, Maradona (who played for the Boca Juniors only a couple blocks away), and Messi.

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One thing Inna and I noticed throughout our Argentina trip was stray dogs. Apparently, when Argentina’s economy turned bad, people could no longer afford their dogs and so they released them in the streets. But don’t get too upset, these strays all seemed well fed, healthy, clean, and happy, a testament to the Argentine’s value of community, which these dogs are now part of.

After finishing at La Boca (yes we did stop by the Boca Junior’s stadium, but we did not go inside), we got ready for our last night in Buenos Aires. This meant another steak dinner (same restaurant as night one) and finally getting some tango lessons.

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Dancing tango, the greatest dance in the world.

DAY 6 – With a sad heart, it was now time to leave Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires was a strange city: because of its lack of iconic attractions and its deterioration, strange hours (dinner at 9pm, bars at midnight, clubs at 3, work at 7, and don’t ever sleep), and economic woes, the city did not leave a great first impression. But by the time we left, we loved it. I know it’s cliche, but this really is a city of culture: tango, futbol, steak, wine; immerse yourself in it and you’ll have a great time. And above all else was the Argentine people, so friendly and welcoming and so excited to meet foreigners; the city may not have given us the best first impression, but it definitely gave us a strong lasting one.

First up outside Buenos Aires, my number one most anticipated site to visit in Argentina, the greatest waterfalls in the world, Iguazu Falls. But first, we had to fly there.

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The Atlantic Rainforest, home to Iguazu Falls, is only 5% of its former size and is dwarfed by the Amazon Rainforest. Even so, it’s still pretty big.

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Our plane did a flyby of the falls. Tomorrow we’ll see them up close!

After arriving in Puerto Iguazu, a small town near Iguazu Falls, we trekked to the confluence of the Iguazu and Panera rivers, also known as the Triple Frontier, dividing Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. We found a nice restaurant overlooking the rivers and had another delicious steak dinner.

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The Triple Frontier. Top left is Paraguay, top right is Brazil, and bottom (where the picture was taken) is Argentina.

After dinner, we went back to our hotel, where Inna rested and I watched the Superclasico (just our luck that it was rescheduled for the day we left Buenos Aires); the final score was 0-0 and so the country remained calm.

DAY 7 – The Atlantic Rainforest! Iguazu Falls! Let’s do this!

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In the rainforest, walking to the falls. I am sporting a handmade backpack Inna and I bought after we realized we didn’t have anything to carry our food and water while in the rainforest.

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This picture covers only half of the falls. The best panoramas are from the Brazilian side, where US citizens must obtain a travel Visa and pay a reciprocity fee to enter. We’ll save that for the future, when we do a full-on Brazil trip.

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On a boat to view the falls. This was the best part, the boat ride was fuuuuun!

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The other half of the falls, known as Devil’s Throat. Unfortunately, in addition to not visiting the Brazilian side, the Devil’s Throat lookout on the Argentine side was closed for repairs. Therefore, this was the best view of Devil’s Throat we got.

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Getting soaked under the falls. My camera got destroyed (literally) taking these pictures.

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Inna says I look good in this picture (taken with her camera, since mine is now broken).

For those who’ve never been here, here’s a little info about Iguazu Falls: it consists of ~275 individual waterfalls, it is three times as tall and twice as wide as Niagara Falls (although it has a lower flow rate), it is also wider than and has a greater flow rate than Victoria falls (although it isn’t as tall). But the most amazing thing about Iguazu falls is it’s shape; instead of being straight like Victoria Falls or curved like Niagra, it is shaped like a question mark, which allows for spectacular views and lookout points where you are surrounded by 260 degrees of falling water. It is incredible.

The other amazing thing about Iguazu Falls is that it’s in a rainforest! The rainforest was beautiful and even though the many tourists who come here drive away much of the wildlife (except for coatis, who are so accustomed to humans that they came right up to us looking for food), we still saw lots of unique animals, including butterflies (Iguazu is filled with them), tortoises, the biggest insects I’ve even seen, lizards, and best of all: a toucan!

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A toucan, the most beautiful bird I’ve ever seen.

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Stupid coati who isn’t afraid of humans and stole a ham sandwich from our backpack when we weren’t looking.

We finished at Iguazu Falls in the early afternoon, then went back to our hotel. Inna spent the evening in the Jacuzzi while I tried to fix my camera. I was not successful.

DAY 8 – Our flight out of Iguazu wasn’t until the evening, so we had most of the day free. Lucky us, we were close to the border so that’s where we went; we got a couple more stamps in our passports and then purchased a new camera from Duty Free. Afterward, we left for the airport, then flew to Buenos Aires, where we spent the night in its airport.

DAY 9 – After spending the night in the airport, we boarded the first flight out, to southern Argentina, El Calafate, in Patagonia.

Patagonia is so beautiful it’s crazy. It is mostly tundra (it is really dry), but it is covered with lakes and has some grasslands too. And most prominent of course are the Andes in the west. El Calafate is near these mountains and central to some of the best sites they have to offer; as a result, it has become a major tourist destination. We spent our first day, after checking into our hotel, booking tours for our next couple days here.

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Our hotel in El Calafate, rustic and beautiful.

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Lake Argentino, as viewed from our hotel.

DAY 10 – The number one most amazing attraction in Patagonia is Los Glaciares National Park, more specifically, Perito Moreno Glacier. At 560 feet tall (240 of it above water level), 19 miles long, and 3 miles wide, this glacier is the third largest body of fresh water in the world. It is also one of only three glaciers in Patagonia that is growing, and it is growing fast, up to 7 feet per day. In fact, the glacier grows so fast it cannot handle its own stress and pieces are constantly breaking off it, making thunderous noises as they tumble hundreds of feet to the water below. It’s actually quite suspenseful, waiting to see this.

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The glacier, with a lookout tower in front, to give some perspective.

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Panorama of the glacier

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Another angle, to give more perspective. That boat on the left can hold about a hundred people.

Of course, we didn’t come all this way just to watch the glacier from afar. So with our tour group, we threw on some crampons and headed onto the ice (the non-breaking parts) for some ice trekking.

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Ice trekkers. We’ll be with them soon.

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What the glacier looked like when we were on it.

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Inna, standing on glacier water.

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Glacier ice. Pure, clean, and delicious. 

Trekking on glaciers is tiring, so afterward we went back to our hotel, had dinner (lamb, a Patagonian specialty), and slept.

DAY 11 – Yesterday was tiring and tomorrow is going to be even worse, so today we decided to take it easy. We went into town, did laundry, stopped by the bank and the grocery store, and had lunch at a cool library themed bar (where I had a great home brewed beer and a delicious Argentine styled hamburger).

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Main street El Calafate. It kind of reminded us of Big Bear.

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Stray dogs hanging out outside the grocery store.

In addition to its proximity to the Andes, El Calafate has one attraction of its own: a glacier museum. We didn’t go inside but we did visit its accompanying “Glaciobar”, a bar frozen down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, where everything is made of ice, including the seats, walls, sculptures, cups, and even the bar itself. Groups are let in for twenty minutes where you can drink as much as you are able to in the freezing cold temperatures. It was kind of gimmicky, but so what? It was fun!

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Inna and me in the Glaciobar.

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While in the Glaciobar, we ran into one of my old friends from middle school. This marks the third time in a row that I ran into a long lost friend while exploring another continent. If this streak ends, I’ll be really disappointed.

DAY 12 – It’s time for another excursion. Only a couple hours away is one of the most secluded and beautiful national parks in the world: Torres del Paine.

As the crow flies, Torres del Paine is only 70 or so miles from El Calafate, but due to the Andes, it is a four hour drive to get there. Additionally, Torres del Paine is on the other side of the Argentine/Chilean border, which meant more stamps in our passport and also a long wait at the border. Because of all this, Inna and I opted for an offroad tour company that took a dirt road shortcut (many roads in Patagonia, even important highways, are unpaved) to save about 90 minutes of travel time.

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Our offroad tour vehicle, picking us up at our hotel. We took so many shuttles and buses on our trip and we were almost always picked up and dropped off at our hotel. Nice!

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Patagonia at the border. So vast, so empty, so beautiful!

We made good time on our drive, especially with the shortcut, and we didn’t have to spend too long at the border, meaning we made the five hour journey to Torres del Paine in about three and a half hours.

Torres del Paine was very peaceful, beautiful, serene; it was a nice change of pace from the other nature destinations we visited on our trip. Iguazu Falls and Perito Moreno Glacier were so vast and awesome that we could only be humbled by them, whereas Torres del Paine allowed us to connect with nature, to feel part of it. The relative lack of tourists here also helped with this.

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Our first view of the park, from Lake Sarmiento. The centerpiece, Cordillera del Paine, is the mountain group in this picture. The centerpiece of the centerpiece, Torres del Paine, are the three vertical granite peaks just to the right of the large snow-covered mountain.

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A hotel on an island in Lake Pehoe, the Cordillera and Torres del Paine behind them.

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Torres del Paine was peaceful but it was windy! Especially this hike we went on, Inna and I have never experienced such strong gusts of wind.

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Inna fighting the wind on our hike.

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The view at the end of the hike. Fighting the wind was worth it.

In case you are wondering why we didn’t get closer to the Cordillera and Torres del Paine, that is because Torres del Paine is primarily a camping and nature trekking park. There are several hikes in the Cordillera, the most popular of which are three, seven, and nine days long, with numerous campsites and lodges to stay at along the way. Since we were driving through the park, not hiking or camping, we stayed on the outskirts, out of the way of the campers. Not that we’re complaining though, the scenery and views we experienced were amazing!

And like Iguazu, we saw lots of wildlife on our Torres del Paine excursion. Most notably, we saw sheep (domesticated, as sheep are the main livestock in Patagonia), guanacos, and rheas. In fact, on our way to and from the park, these animals would constantly sprint across the road right in front of our vehicle, which would have to slow down and honk to ensure the animals got out of the way in time. But Patagonia is so vast and empty, why didn’t those animals just wait for us to drive by before crossing?

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Guanacos. They traveled in herds and we probably saw more than a hundred of them on our excursion.

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Rheas. Large flightless birds similar to ostriches.

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Sheep. We also saw domesticated cows and horses, but the sheep were much more exciting because they were cuter, where we are from they are rarer, and the cows and horses never ran across the road the way the sheep did. Also, unlike cows and horses, you can get sheep to look straight at you, as evident by the picture above.

After finishing at Torres del Paine, we recrossed the border and took the same three and a half hour drive back home. By this time we were beat, and so we went to sleep.

DAY 13 – Our flight out of El Calafate was today, which meant we left El Calafate having visited two of the three destinations it is central to. The third, El Chalten and the Fitz Roy mountains, was something we thought about doing on day 11, but ultimately we’re glad we didn’t since our other days were so exhausting. We’ll just have to come back another time to visit Fitz Roy (as if revisiting Perito Moreno and Torres del Paine weren’t reason enough!).

But now, it’s off to northern Patagonia, the Atlantic coast, Puerto Madryn. As soon as we arrived we hit the beach, where we had a delicious seafood dinner at a restaurant overlooking the ocean, and even saw a whale!

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Inna loves the beach, even if it is cold.

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More stray dogs, playing on the beach.

In the evening, we stayed in and watched the second Superclasico that occurred on our trip. And even though we were 800 miles from Buenos Aires, when River Plate won (1-0) Puerto Madryn went crazy! For probably an hour Inna and I lied in bed listening to the honking horns, revving engines, and cheers of River fans celebrating their team’s victory. On TV, we saw victors celebrating and losers crying, and we also saw riot police running after fans who had rushed the field.

DAY 14 – Puerto Madryn is known for its sea life. We’d already seen a whale, and the area is also home to sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins, penguins, and orca. Puerto Madryn is also Argentina’s go-to spot for scuba diving, and Inna is a scuba diver, so guess what we did?

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Inna and me, scuba diving. Inna is scuba certified but I am not, so I am being monitored by the instructor who is taking this picture. I am also not a water person and am doing my best not to freak out. I lasted about five minutes.

After I surfaced, Inna and the instructor left to explore a nearby shipwreck. Inna loved it, and I had a good time too, hanging out on the dive boat, drinking mate and chatting with another dive instructor and two other newbie divers who lasted about as long as I did. We talked futbol (the dive instructor was a Boca fan, so he was sad about his team’s loss yesterday), Argentina, mate, honeymoons. They seemed particularly proud that Inna and I chose their country for our honeymoon, while I just enjoyed the warmness and hospitality that was chatting with Argentinean locals.

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Inna drinking mate, a caffeinated drink similar to tea but much stronger. Argentineans carry mate everywhere and drink it all the time, which helps explain how they handle their crazy no sleep schedule! 

DAY 15 – Now that we got scuba diving over and done, it was time to check out the sea life in the area. Most of the animals here are also in California, but penguins are not. So we jumped on another tour down to Punta Tombo, penguin country.

Punta Tombo is pretty much the furthest north that penguins naturally migrate, and they were everywhere. They are also not afraid of humans at all. The only rules we were required to follow here were (1) stay on the path and (2) when penguins walk on or across the path, get out of their way. That’s right, we had penguins walking right up to and past us.

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A penguin walking across the walking path, no more than a couple feet from us.

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Above is only a small sliver of Punta Tombo. Just look at how many penguins there are.

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Babies

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Cute little mouse-like animals that live amongst the penguins.

In the couple hours we were at Punta Tombo, we saw a wide range of penguin activities. We saw penguins walking, swimming, fighting, pooping, digging holes, mating, sleeping, feeding babies, and I think that was all but there might have even been more.

Punta Tombo is not a full day’s worth of activities, so to fill the rest of the day, our tour group made two additional stops. First, on the way to Punta Tombo, we stopped by a dinosaur museum in Trelew. Patagonia is prime dinosaur territory and in recent years both the largest dinosaur and the second largest carnivorous dinosaur were discovered nearby.

On our way back, we stopped in Gaiman, a Welsh village. In the late 1800s, many Welsh immigrants came to Patagonia, keeping their culture as they joined Argentina. The result is a strange cultural mix: having tea and crumpets from a Welsh person who speaks Spanish in the southern end of South America.

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Tea and crumpets in Patagonia. Delicious.

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I took this picture on the highway on our drive back to Puerto Madryn. Argentina has slums, and while they don’t showcase them, they don’t hide them either. We saw a couple slums like this while driving around Puerto Madryn, but the one that hit us hardest was located less than three blocks from the wealthiest neighborhood in Buenos Aires (the one we toured on day 4). 

DAY 16 – Another travel day, back to Buenos Aires, where we stayed the night (visiting our favorite restaurant for the third time) before heading to:

DAY 17 – It’s time for Uruguay. We traveled by boat, across the Rio de la Plata, the widest river in the world. We thought we would travel on a large ferry, but when we arrived at port, we discovered that we bought tickets for a small passenger boat, one that bumped and swayed the entire hour-long journey. It was not a fun ride.

Even so, we made it across, to Colonia del Sacramento. Colonia is an small Uruguayan city known for its historic quarter, the first European settlement in what would later become Uruguay. It was founded over 300 years ago as a base for the Portuguese to smuggle goods in and out of Buenos Aires. The Spanish didn’t take too kindly to this and the next 130 years consisted of non-stop fighting for control of this city. The fighting ended only when Napoleon invaded Europe, weakening Spain and Portugal’s hold on the Americas, resulting in the formation of an independent Brazil and Argentina, of which Uruguay then broke away from Brazil to become its own country.

A note on history: the above paragraph has lots of history but the rest of this post has none. That’s because Argentinean history, primarily the last 100 years, hasn’t been too positive. Inna and I learned a little about it on our Recoleta/Retiro tour and we learned a lot from our Lonely Planet guidebook, but we didn’t learn too much from the country itself; they prefer to focus on the present, and trying to improve things for the future.

Okay, back to Colonia. Even though it is over 300 years old, the historic quarter was mostly intact, now as a calm, quaint coastal community, a nice escape from busy, hectic life that is Buenos Aires just across the river.

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The bridge (formerly a drawbridge?) and walls that mark the entrance to Colonia’s historic quarter.

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Uruguay’s oldest church, originally built in 1680.

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A picturesque beach Inna and I found inside the historic quarter.

After a couple hours, it was time to head to the last destination on our trip. We traveled by bus through the Uruguayan countryside, and after three hours, we arrived in Montevideo.

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Montevideo, as viewed from the balcony of our hotel. This was definitely our favorite hotel on this trip, historic and antique and right in the middle of downtown. That being said, it took until our last day to get this picture, as it was cloudy and rainy for most of our stay.

We arrived in Montevideo at night, to which our concierge gave us a map outlining the areas unsafe to visit after the sun goes down. This included most of the city, although thankfully not where we were staying and also not the nearby restaurants. However, it was difficult to find an open restaurant, for unlike Buenos Aires, this city closed early. Most every business closed by 8pm, although we eventually found a place that was open. We ordered something we never heard of, which turned out to be a strange Spanish/American/Russian hybrid dish. It was delicious.

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Our strange yet delicious hybrid meal. Eggs and ham = Spanish. French fries, chicken, and bacon = American. Potato salad and beets = Russian.

Another quick sidenote: store hours weren’t the only difference between Uruguay and Argentina; there was a whole host of differences between the two countries. Like how Uruguay never posted signs helping non-locals understand what was going on. Bus stops didn’t list which routes stopped at each stop, and businesses rarely posted when they opened and closed. Also, while a good percentage of Argentinians spoke at least broken English, in Uruguay almost no one did (including the workers at our hotel). Not only that, but the Spanish spoken in Uruguay was so fast and blurred together that we couldn’t understand anyone, whereas in Argentina they spoke slower and with clearer pronunciation, enough so that my three years of high school Spanish allowed us to have broken Spanish conversations with them.

But the biggest difference between the two countries was their attitude toward us. Uruguayans were always polite and respectful, but even so Inna and I felt an intangible indifference from them. Argentinians were warm and inviting, they love foreigners and are fascinated by them, which really made us feel at home in their country. We never experienced this “home” feeling in Uruguay.

Okay, back to day 17. After dinner we stopped by an outdoor Christmas display, then made our way back to our hotel.

DAY 18 – Today was supposed to be our beach day, and our main question going into this trip was: do we stay in Montevideo or do we take the bus to Punta del Este (Uruguay’s Miami Beach/Beverly Hills, very popular with Argentines as well) three hours away. Instead it rained and Inna got sick so we spent most of the day in our hotel.

However, once Inna started feeling better, I was able to leave for a quick tour of downtown. In my two mile walk I visited: the Montevideo coast (not the beach though), Mercado del Puerto, Plaza Zabala, Casa Rivera, Plaza and Iglesia Matriz, Teatro Solis, Plaza Independencia (like Argentina, Uruguay loves plazas), Palacio Salvo, Palacio Estevez, and Puerto de la Ciudadela.

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Downtown Montevideo. On the left is a store named TITS. It’s a chain.

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Iglesia Matriz, another grand Uruguayan church. It is the oldest building in Montevideo and was completed in 1799.

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Plaza Independencia, Montevideo’s largest downtown plaza, with Palacio Salvo, at one time South America’s tallest building, in the background.

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One of the coolest finds on my walk was the Mausoleo de Artigas, located underneath Plaza Independencia. Jose Artigas is basically Uruguay’s version of George Washington, and this mausoleum not only pays tribute to him, but it also is his final resting place; his ashes are in the urn in the center of the picture.

After my walk, I grabbed some food for Inna, then went back to our hotel and spent the rest of the evening with her.

DAY 19 – We are now on the last day of our journey. In fact, this wasn’t even a full day, since we had to be at the airport by 4pm. But we had half a day and the sun was finally shining, so we packed our things, checked out of our hotel, and headed to the beach.

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Playa Carrasco, a quaint, quiet beach on the far side of Montevideo.

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Walking down the boardwalk. The clouds are gone and it’s a beautiful day.

Near the beach, we explored the costal community of Carrasco and even found an outdoor clothing fair where Inna bought a couple things. Then it was time to head to the airport and hop on our plane back to LA.

That’s it! If you’re still here, wow! This was a long post! And I didn’t even get to everything, so really quick, let me hit on the things I missed.

  • Empanadas: Delicious! Great as snacks and for on-the-go meals.
  • Indigenous cultures: Only in northwest Argentina, the one place we didn’t go on our trip. Next time!
  • Alfajores: Argentinian cookies, so good! They were provided as snacks on all our domestic flights, so we had lots of them.
  • Dulce de leche: The main filling in alfajores and most other Argentinean desserts. Amazing!
  • Bug bites: We forgot to put on bug repellant our first night in Iguazu. Inna got devoured; I didn’t get a single bite.
  • Brazil: We got a taste of tropical rainforests and now we want more! I can’t wait for Brazil, and I think Inna agrees, minus the bug bites.
  • Wine: Amazing! Especially Malbec, one of my favorites.
  • Wine country: We did not visit them because we are from California and have several great wine countries of our own.
  • Ham: Per the Spanish influence, ham was very popular in Argentina. It was good too, better than what I had in Spain.
  • Driving: Argentineans drive crazy, barely following the rules of the road. But even so, in some ways their roads felt safer: because things are so crazy everyone pays attention, none of the distracted inattentive driver situations that we have in the US.
  • Safety: Argentina was one of the safest places I’ve visited. I actually felt safer here than several places in Europe.
  • Relaxation: Not much on this trip, that was more our mini-moon up the California coast. And probably our next trip, somewhere warm, I’m thinking Cabo, or Cancun.
  • Books: I read three books on this trip; Inna read a million.
  • The subte: Buenos Aires’s subway. It’s old, beat up, and clunky, but it gets the job done.
  • Taxis: Buenos Aires has more taxis than any city I’ve ever seen (I have yet to visit New York).
  • 787: Our flight back to LA was on a 787, the plane I worked on my year at Boeing. Although we didn’t have a window seat so I couldn’t see the actual parts of the plane I worked on.
  • Asia: I done Europe twice, the Middle East, and now South America. Now I really want to do Asia, starting with Japan.
  • New York: I haven’t even been to New York! So many places to travel, so much to do!

Since you made it this far, here’s a bonus, from Punta Tombo:

And now, a map of our trip:

argentina map cropped

Argentina is big! Really big! The furthest point north to the furthest point south is almost as long as Los Angeles to New York. We didn’t go that far that but we came close. All told, on our trip we flew over 3900 miles (not counting our flights to and from Los Angeles), drove (or rather, were bussed/shuttled) over 1000 miles, and boated 33 miles.

And that’s it, for real now!

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