Saturday, October 31, 2009

Iguassu Falls, the Argentinean Side. Argentina: 6th. Part.

Iguassu is just… wonderful!!!! As I mentioned at the previous posts, I had been at Iguassu falls 2 times, I´m talking about the experiences at the second one, when I went with my friends Montse, Patxi and Topo in 2008. We had gone thru the Brazilian first and also Topo and I did a Helicopter Tour.

Most of the waterfalls are located at the Argentinean side and they had built a lot of gates for doing walking tours around and over the different falls. So, to go there means to walk a lot and also to climb a lot of steps (better if you take that into account) ;)

Our first visit was to the Devil´s Throat:

At the lunch time Patxi and I played Scrabble at the park! :D

After lunch we did the Adventure Tour, that is sailing, at the river, they put you as close as possible to the falls:

In 2004, the Adventure Tour was before the lunch time, I had the good luck of being seat at the side of a French boy that after sharing that great experience together, invited me to lunch! :D

Back in 2008, after the Adventure Tour at the river, we had a Jeep Tour:

And after that we continued walking thru the park, the wonders weren´t already over!

Oh yes! I would love to go back there again! I could say I have visited the falls at all the possible ways to… but… actually I think there´s something missing here: to do it diving, so you can cross them as well! ;P :D

The next day I went again to the hotel´s SPA to have a great massage. The only complain I have about it, is that they allowed kids to be at the Jacuzzi and at the SPA swimming pool… I really can´t understand it, the SPA is a place for relaxing, that means a place for adults… you can´t relax with kids playing around you! :( But well, I had a great time anyway.

That day we went back to Buenos Aires.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Iguassu Falls: Helicopter visit and the Brazilian Side. Argentina: 5th Part.

As I mentioned at the previous part, I went to Iguassu in 2008 with Montse, Patxi and Topo. We arrived at morning, went to the hotel, leave the bags, eat and visited the Botanical Garden of the Hotel. We even had time to rest a bit at the side of the swimming pool before the bus picked up us for going to the Falls, at the Brazilian side.

The bus picked up us a bit late, but actually it didn´t meant a problem and it´s usual in Latin America, I´m afraid.

To go to the Brazilian side from the Argentinean one, means, to cross the border, of course. Always in Latin America that could be something not nice if you do it alone. Please don´t get me wrong. I´m not trying you to be scare about that, but you see, on one side, it´s about the power the person in charge of saying if you can or not to cross the border, it´s about the low payment they have, it´s about a lot of people trying to cross the border carry on things that aren´t allowed… and a lot of other reasons, the point is that depending on the day and the good or bad luck you have with the people you find at the border, that could be something so simple or could be almost a nightmare. You avoid at all the nightmare when you cross a border being part of a tour, the guide takes care of all that is needed, you just have to wait inside the bus/car and to give the guide your passport and your filled out form. So, as far as you can, my recommendation is to take a tour for travels that mean to cross a border in Latin America.

And here another recommendation: if you are visiting Iguassu from Argentina, it´s better if you stay in a hotel at the Argentinean side, the reason: you´ll arrive at the airport at the Argentinean side, from there you should go to the hotel to leave your luggage, depending on the time it will be, after that you surely will have your first visit to the Falls, usually at the Brazilian side, the they after you´ll have the tour at the Argentinean side and at the end of the day you´ll go back to your hotel and the last day you´ll go to the airport, again at the Argentinean side. So, if you do that all staying in a hotel of the Brazilian side, it would mean a minimum of 4 times you crossing the border. If you stay at the Argentinean side, you´ll need to cross the border just twice. ;)

But in case you are going from Brazil, I recommend you the Hotel Recanto.

At the entrance of the Park, at the Brazilian side, you have the option of visiting the Waterfalls by helicopter. I strongly recommend you to do that tour, this definitely gives you a different point of view, but also, just to experience the travel by helicopter is so exciting. I haven´t done that in 2004, I have no enough time to do it, and in 2008 I almost didn´t, due the price… but I finally did it, with Topo, and after doing it, be sure, you don´t think anymore about the price! :D He was in charge of taking pics, I was in charge of taking video… here the results:

You just can have this tour from the Brazilian side, in Argentina they are forbidden due the environmental pollution… and yes, they are right, but, well, maybe if they would propose another option like a balloon tour, but as far as right now this is the only one option, I´m afraid I vote for conserving the helicopter tours, I mean it, IT´S UNFORGETABLE! MAGNIFIC! AN EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCE! :D

After this magnificent experience, we all did the Brazilian Side Tour. Almost all the falls are at the Argentinean side, but you appreciate them better from the Brazilian side, here what you can see from there:

I even interviewed my friends about their impressions of the Falls: :D

At the end of the day, we went back to the hotel, played a bit of Scrabble, of course, Topo and I went to the hotel´s SPA for a while and Topo was not walking but hovering after the great attention at the SPA!! :D

Friday, October 16, 2009

Iguassu Falls, Hotel Cataratas.Argentina: 4th. Part.

I had been twice in Iguassu and I would love to go again! Due the distances and the fact that you should cross the border for watching the falls from the Brazilian side, I think it´s better to do this visit in a concerted tour.

In 2004 an Argentinean colleague of mine did me the favor of searching a travel agency for arrange the tour, but I´m afraid I haven´t keep the name, so, in 2008 I had to search by my own. After comparing and searching info (at forum s, by example), the travel agency I recommend for tourism in Argentina is Rektour, that seems to work (or to belong to the same company´s group) of / As far as what they were recommending at the web wasn´t exactly what I wanted (due the number of nights and activities to do), I contact them by mail and a couple of times by phone (skype actually), and they really had a great attitude for helping me to find the best options. Maybe the only one thing that from my point of view they should improve, is about explaining in a better way the hotel options, but actually I think the problem was that they didn´t have enough info for explaining that point in a better way.

I had the very good luck that Montse, Patxi and Topo wanted to do this tour with me, so, it was a great and very funny travel.

Let me introduce you my friends. Montse and Patxi are couple, they met each other due Scrabble and they both are excellent players, but better people, maybe the most generous ones I know at the Scrabble environment. Patxi is from Murcia and he moved to live to Girona for being close to Montse, she´s from Girona., They are also a couple of winners. Patxi was champion of the National Tourney in Spain in 2008 and also at the Master´s Championship in Spain in the same year. 2008 was his best year and in 2009 is usually part of the podium at the tourneys he plays. Montse was the champion of the National Tourney in Spain in 2009, is with no doubts the best female Scrabble player in Spain and during 2007, 2008 and 2009 had been almost always part of the podium of the tourneys she plays. They are the ones that usually bring me hospitality when I go to Girona and it always means hours and hours playing Scrabble, mostly with Patxi. Topo is one of the most noble people I know. He´s brilliant in math as well in language matters. He´s always happy (or mostly) and his thought speed is incredible. He´s also an excellent Scrabble player… who would tell me I had been travelling with the Duplicates mode World Champion of 2008! :D

So, with that company, the joy was assured at this travel! And the Scrabble´s matches as well! :D

Our flight to Iguassu was early in the morning. So we went sleeping a bit.

We arrived at morning, so we had time to go to the hotel to leave the bags, it was the Hotel Cataratas, at the Argentinean side. The hotel is good, not excellent, but good. It´s best part was the swimming pool. It´s worst: the restaurant. Problem there is you don´t have more options due everything is so far away, but don´t get me wrong, you can eat there, just that is not exactly a delicious food, not a place to enjoy the Argentinean cousine.

We had time enough to eat and to have a walk at the Hotel´s Botanical Garden. Worth view! :D

(To be continued).

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Argentina. Third Part: Doing Tourism in Buenos Aires

As I´d mentioned in the First Part, till now I´d visited Argentina twice. In my first visit, in 2004, I had been in Buenos Aires just 2 weekends. The second time I was there in total 7 days, but taking into account the Scrabble in Spanish World Championship days (4 days).

So, I really had short time to visit Buenos Aires, then I tried to maximize the time the best I can. For this what I do is to start with the recommendations of people I know, then I do a deep search in Google about what the place I´m visiting could offer me, I also try to look for interesting places/ restaurants/ plays / concerts at the magazines of the flight, also I collect information from the tourist information desk at the airport, the same from the tourist information desk of the hotel and at last (but not at least) ;) I ask the people of the hotel. Time to time I also buy a book of the city, but it wasn´t the case this time.

Once I have all the info about places I would like to meet, I try to find them in google maps and to see if it´s viable to do a route by my own. Usually it means a lot of time, due I would like to stay more time than what is usual when you do a concerted tour, but also you can see exactly what you want the time you want. As far as what I haven´t enough was time, in this case I preferred to do it in a concerted tour, that was planned to be in a whole day, but due the problems of the flight, it was a half day one.

I had a lot of Argentinean friends, in Guatemala and in Spain. Always they said Buenos Aires was the most European city of Latin America and a very beautiful one. They told me a lot about its beauty, so, going there was one of my dreams. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe Buenos Aires changed after Corralito quite a lot. I really don´t know, but the point is that Bs. As. disappointed me a bit. Ok, it´s big, quite big compared with most Latin American cities. Yes, there are a lot of entertainment options there, I think that was the part I liked more. But yes, there were a lot of things I liked in Bs. As, point is I wouldn´t go back to Argentina just due Buenos Aires. I really would love to but due Iguassu, Calafate, Patagonia and other places I still haven´t been.

Here my recommendations in Buenos Aires:

Caminito: this is a walk road - museum where you can “live” an important part of Buenos Aires history. You will find there a lot of souvenirs stores, tango dancers at the street and a colorful surrounding. Here some pics:

And some videos:

Florida Street: this is a commercial pedestrian street. You can find here good leather stuff, good prices, but if you have time enough and you have an Argentinean friend, there are also good outlets with better prices. You also can find here tango street exhibitions. I´m afraid I had a bad experience here. I bought some chocolates in a precious wood box, the chocolates were great, but at the bottom of the box I discovered… some small cockroaches!!! :((( Yeap, I´m afraid it was after eating some chocolates! :(( and at home in Madrid, so no possible to claim anything.

Here some pics:

Topo´s pics.

And a video:

Close to Caminito is the Boca Football Stadium, where you can go to a tour as well. I haven´t because I stayed outside with some “friends”… ;)

Palermo Woods or September 3rd. Park: it´s a magic place, worth view with enough time.

Botanical Garden: precious place, deserves you to go with time. Also has a Japanese Garden.

Blai´s pics.

For eating I really have no complains about any place I had been in, but my favorite one was La Caballeriza in Puerto Madero.

In 2004 I had an invitation for going to a family barbecue and definitely it was the best food I had in Argentina! :)

If you are interested on Tango shows, you have street options at Caminito and at Florida Street, but I had gone also to La Ventana. This is a show, I mean, you don´t find there what you would watch at the streets. But it´s marvelous! :) They offer a pack of show + dinner and even to pick you up at the hotel.

I had a “situation” going to La Ventana ;P I´d book a reserve for a Saturday night, thru the hotel. The receptionist told me to be at the lobby in a specific hour, I did. There was a Uruguayan guy, Fer, waiting for going to La Ventana as well and we started to talk. He was in Buenos Aires also due job. We were waiting for more than a half of hour after the time they told us they will pick up us, but we both considered that in Latin America that should be normal. When the time of the show was so close, we finally asked at the reception desk and they called to ask what was going on… and… they didn´t have our reserves! It wasn´t clear if the problem was a La Ventana or at the hotel, but they had no more spaces for that night, no possible at all for us to go that night… in my case I still had the next weekend to go, so I did a new reserve for next Saturday. Fer invited me to go to din and I was a bit confused about what to do (you know, due that rule about not going out with strangers… this was before going to Moscow) and was in a bit embarrassed situation, you see, he already knew I was there alone and with no plans for that night, so, it would be a bit rude to tell him no and he seemed to be a good person, so I finally thought… “Why not?” (All this in seconds, of course) and I accepted. He took me to a place he knew to din, warming me that it wouldn´t be a fancy place but with very good steaks. I´m afraid I don´t remember the name, but yes, the food was really good and we laughed a lot. After the dinner he invited me to go to a Photograph exhibition of Yann Arthus-Bertrand that was at San Martin Square. Great one! :D

It´s really worth to check out the concerts and Plays, but you should check that out with time enough in advanced or you could not find entrances. In 2004 I had seen there an Eros Ramazzotti concert! :D Btw, I think it´s worth to mention that I went alone to that concert but I haven´t feel insecure or afraid about anything and I think it´s related with how friendly are the Argentineans.

(To be continued)