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Welcome to Argentina

Our trip to Argentina, a place that has always been the list, came a little earlier than expected. The annual, long holiday in 2011 was originally planned for Japan and Korea, but unfortunately a terrible earthquake and tsunami made for a prompt change in plans. So we swapped the years: Argentina in 2011, Japan and Korea in 2012.

That said, Argentina was more than worth the last minute changes to plan. It's a vast country, so we flew everywhere with LAN Airlines, which means you always have to go back through Buenos Aires to change planes, making for a long travel day. But LAN are excellent and (during our travels) were always on time with new planes. It also a country of vast geographies: deserts, mountains, lakes, waterfalls, modern cities, vineyards and (we presume) large cattle ranches due to the enornous amount of beef on offer!

Below are some of the highlights that we encountered, along with a few images.

Things to Do

Over three weeks, we took in Buenos Aires (twice), Bariloche, Mendoza and Iguzu Falls. Each place has plenty of activities, but our trip incorporated the following: outdoor activities like bike riding, running and walking; eating lunch and/or dinner in a mix of high-end and mid-range restaurants in search of the perfect steak (we found them - see below); getting to know even more about Argentina's fantastic array of red wine through purchasing in wine stores or supermarkets (the range is staggering and cheap) or going on recommendations in restaurants; and finally exploring the stores, cafes and historical places around different cities. There loads more to Argentina, but our trip certainly had to incorporate a decent dose of relaxation ie. sleeping in, long lunches, picnics to remove yourself from the stresses of day-to-day life.

Things to Eat

Argentina is well known for it's steak, but there's loads more to the cuisine than red meet. If you like steak, then you should love Argentina. The best restaurants (known as' parillas') for meat and maybe a few vegetables are:

Gran Parilla del Plata

On our last night in Argentina, we ate at this restaurant again, which was about our fourth time during our trip to the country. During dinner, we discussed this being the world's best steak house and felt that it was for size, quality and price of the steaks on offer, the great and reasonabe wine list, and decent service. There's plenty of good steak restaurants in the US and Australia, but we voted Gran Parilla del Plata the best. Read the review on TripAdvisor

Florentino Bistro

Situated in Mendoza, Florentino Bistro is a great little restaurant that does modern dishes in a relaxed atmostphere. You can still get steak if you want it, but pastas, risottos, pizzas and salads dominate the menu. Great for either lunch or dinner, especially in nice weather. Read the review at TripAdvisor

Anna Bistro

Another great little bistro in Mendoza. Large, modern interior opens out to a small yard with tables (although more tables undercover on the side and front). Wine list not overly exciting, but as it was warm and sunny during our lunchtime visit, we chose white wine (only time in 3 week trip). Good service and friendly staff. In a slightly out of the way area, but worth the walk or short cab ride.

El Nuevo Gaucho

This is a traditional parilla in Bariloche. Good atmosphere, steaks and wine. We tried other recommendations in Bariloche, but were a little disappointed compared to El Nuevo Gaucho. During our three visits, the restaurant was always full of locals and none of the staff spoke English, so a good sign of a real restaurant? Anyway, very enjoyable. Another review at TripAdvisor

Things to Buy

Leather, shoes, bags, wallets, steak knifes are common, good quality and well-priced. In Buenos Aires, instead of buying the large steak knife and fork sets, the concierge advised an street where has stores and stores of catering equipment. It's around the corner of Avenues Jujuy and San Juan where we got a set of eight for serious steaks for around 40 euros. Of course, you can also buy loads of wine but, as far as we know, they don't export it for individual customers. You can take it home in your bag, but we chose to simply drink and enjoy! About 1/3 of the price you can find them for in Europe - if you can in fact find them!

porte modera

Puerto Madero is the redeveloped docks area in Buenos Aires that houses offices, residences, restaurants and cafes. It's modern and different, plus provides a safe environment in which to go running/jogging away from the manic traffic and fumes of the city.

The Recoleta Cemetery is one of the highlights of Buenos Aires. It's like a city with a maze of 'streets', 'terrace houses' and 'mini cathedrals' which house Argentina's rich and famous (but dead) families.Situated in the upmarket suburb of Recoleta, it's free to enter and takes about a hour of wandering and wondering. The coffins are not buried underground, but stored in elaborate mini shrines. Some of the doors and windows have been vanilised, so the coffins are closer than you think!

dog walkers

A common site in Buenos Aires: professional dog walkers. Some have up to 15 dogs in one shift, but it looks like they are well behaved. A lot of dogs = a lot of dog crap on the streets. Paris, anyone?

Design Suites Bariloche
The wonderful Design Suites in Bariloche. Perched on a hill, this luxury but very affordable hotel offers panoramic views over Lake Nahuel Huapi and the Andes Mountains. When we weren't out exploring the amazing environment around Bariloche, we were enjoying the infinity pool and gym, or simply our junior suite with a bottle of Malbec. Of course, both of these come with views. See our review at........

Lake Nahuel Haupi when cruising around Circuito Chico.


And this is how we discovered it. We rented good quality mountain bikes for the day from ......... The riding is solid but not too difficult. Much is on (or rather off to the side of due to crazy drivers!) sealed roads with some easy off-roading. Beware of the dogs as you ride around as many like to take on cyclists!

One of the amazing views we discovered whilst on a day hike at the base of Cerro Catedral. The main ski areas is about 30mins out of Bariloche on the No.50 bus or a remis (taxi) can take you there for 70 pesos.

Well someone has to take the photo by the lake when there is just two of you....
Although in Autumn, the weather was relatively mild and we could dress fairly light for bike riding.

What better way to 'warm up' for the cooking class with Cristina than with a 2006 Malbec produced from the vines directly outside the window. There we many more of these glasses consumed during a wonderful evening with 'Chef Cristina'. See our review at ........


"Don't worry, I'm a professional", Cristina assured us as she prepared the filling for the world's best empandas for entree. By the way, we helped prepare those (but not much else!)



And then for the main course: Bife di Chorizo. Of course, Nicki had to have hers well-done as the Argentines tend to have their steak somewhat rare.


More bike riding and more wine tasting. This time it's in Mendoza at the Argentina's largest wine producer, Trapiche. They make some good wines and even the tour of the winery is interesting (25 pesos incl tasting). This is the old part of the winery though as the mass production unit is right next door.


The fine view enjoyed over Ruca Malen estate as we waited for a five-course tasting lunch. This is one of only a few wineries in the Mendoza region that has a decent restaurant, so book and arrive early to score an outside table in good weather.


Then after lunch it's time to take in some more of the winery. That's the winery, folks, not the wine.

Chilean boarder

Mendoza is not all about wineries. There's a full day trip into the Andes Mountains that offers some stunning scenery. This picture is taken at the border with Chile.

Andes Mountains

The desert oasis in the mountains outside Mendoza.

Andes Mountains

Strange sight in the Andes Mountains outside Mendoza. This was a thermal spa with hotel nearby (the was lost years ago in an avalanche) but the formations surrounding this are amazing. The guide will tell you a story about the Incas that use to pass by, and no doubt enjoy, the 36C waters.

Aguazu Falls

The truly amazing and awesome Igazu Falls in northern Argentina (on the border with Brazil). The falls are in a national park and it's set up and managed really well: lots of secure boardwalks to provide up-close views from above and below. There's even a train to the furthermost point where you experience....

Iguazu Falls

The Devils Throat

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