Category: Travel Adventures

Argentina Day 13: Exploring Mercado San Telmo

After some more research last night, we learned Sunday is a great day for markets, art displays and carnival parades in the city. We took an Uber to Mercado San Telmo, the market named after the patron saint of sailors, St Elmo.

Sunday morning at Mercado San Telmo

Opening in 1897 to cater to the new wave of European immigrants, Mercado San Telmo still bears the same steel beams and structure as the original although some stalls have been updated.

There are stalls of antiques, bakeries, toys, jewelry, spices, butchers, vegetables and record albums. It truly is “un poco de todo,” a bit of everything.

Jewelry stall at Mercado San Telmo
Antique toy sewing machines
Semi-scary antique baby dolls

We came just after demolishing breakfast at our hotel, so we didn’t have much room for sampling things.

Tapas stall at Mercado San Telmo
Kneading the empañada dough

The market has grown so large over the years that it spills out of the original indoor space and radiates into the nearby streets.

Art fair at San Telmo

Just off the main fair you can find the French Salon, a small offset of higher end indoor shops. It caught my eye online thanks to the display of umbrellas spanning across the street.

#1Toddler soaking in the culture

After an ice cream and coffee, we caught another Uber back to the park near our hotel as #1Toddler has been asking for a “big park” for three days straight. Apparently the world’s largest waterfall didn’t count since it didn’t have a slide.

Plenty of slides to choose from at Plaza Vicente López

After the park at Plaza Vicente López we headed back to the hotel to hit the pool. It’s 75 and sunny today, so the pool is chilly but tolerable if you stay in the sun. The pool attendant pulled out a water noodle for #1Toddler to enjoy, and she quickly named it “my rainbow.”

Mural near Mercado San Telmo

I’m starting to feel a tad exhausted, so I think it’s time for a siesta before dinner tonight and boating tomorrow. I want to rest up because tomorrow is going to be a bear. We have a whole day in BA before our flight home which leaves at midnight.

-Steph

Argentina Day 12: From Iguazú back to Buenos Aires

So I’ve already been corrected that when we head back to Buenos Aires (BA) today we in fact have two nights in BA, not just one. We opted to stay at Hotel Recoleta Grand for these last two nights which is slightly more northeast in the city and allows for easy walking to different sites we didn’t yet explore when in BA at the start of our trip.

I’ve already mentioned how efficient the airport checkin process is here in Argentina, but there’s more to it than that. I looked it up, but it seems that in 1998, Autopuertos Argentina 2000 was founded. It’s a large group with over 2300 employees that operates all aspects of Argentina’s 35 airports.

At face value, it seems to work extremely well. Simple things like a single WiFi network across all airports ensure when you get off your plane, you automatically connect to WiFi. Each airport uses the same signage and security processes (imagine if the TSA had the same expectations at every location). Things are integrated and fairly seamless across the different airports. It makes it predictable and more navigable as a foreigner.

We had an uneventful 1.5 hour flight from Iguazú to BA, grabbed an Uber and checked into our hotel. Tired and sweaty, we cleaned up and rested for a bit before heading to dinner at Rufino, a typical Argentinian restaurant just a few blocks from our hotel.

Amir ordered a 20 oz bone-in ribeye, and I opted for pasta. #1Toddler devoured yet another sausage sampler. We ate too much. Sorry, no food porn as the lighting was dim, but you can check out the restaurant here if you are curious.

Tomorrow we plan to checkout the boat tours of the Río de la Plata. We don’t have a reservation yet, so we might not be able to make it happened. Regardless, we are central to activities that will please everyone in this crowd.

-Steph

Checking out of Loi Suites, Iguazú

Argentina Day 11: Iguazú Falls – the largest waterfall in the world

No toucans this morning, but we did enjoy an excellent breakfast at the hotel and stuck to our schedule of heading to Iguazú Falls at 9am.

Las dos hermanas (the two sisters)

The park is very well organized with trails marked for the handicapped or stroller-toting like us. Amir planned our route and we set off. First stop, the green trail on the lower loop to stop and see Las Dos Hermanas, two side by side falls tucked away off the main path to the big falls.

Metal walkways guide you through the park

We next headed deeper into the park to get a glimpse of Salto Bossetti and his neighbors.

Crossing paths with Coati

The trek to the next site was easy in terms of endurance and dotted with beautiful views.

Along the lower loop on the way to Salto Bossetti
Salto Bossetti
Salto Bossetti

We next backtracked to the train station we’d passed along the way. The train takes you up to Garganta del Diablo (throat of the devil), the largest view of the falls in the park.

If you want to take the train, it’s free with your admission to the park, but you must go to the ticket desk and secure train tickets for each person in your party. We were initially confused as to why, but the tickets are printed with a departure time, ensuring only enough tickets are issued for each train ride and it is not overcrowded with disappointed tourists.

The train ride itself is fairly short and not packed with huge scenery (it’s all relative here), so don’t be disappointed if you get seated in the middle or backwards.

We encountered a few critters on the way to La Gargancha del Diablo, including snakes, monkeys and coati.

Mama monkey with a baby on her back
Huge catfish in the river below the catwalks
Just a small snake
Golden Silk Orbweaver Spider
Coati wrestling match

You walk the catwalks for roughly a third of a mile to reach the platforms for viewing the falls.

Almost there…

The platform overlooking La Gargancha del Diablo was quite crowded, even with park staff controlling the flow. We still managed to navigate the stroller through.

Panoramic view of La Gargancha del Diablo
Sound on for full effect

On the way back to the train, we passed a woman who appeared to be having some sort of diabetic emergency as her family members were checking her blood sugar. A few minutes later, a park ranger blowing a whistle sped by us on the platform with the woman barely conscious in wheelchair, with an ambulance awaiting them at the train station.

Frutilla (strawberry) popsicles for everyone on the train ride back
Making more friends on the way back

In total we spent about 6 hours at Parque Iguazú, drank 6 bottles of water, ate 4 popsicles, saw 7 monkeys, and exhausted ourselves. It was an amazing morning and afternoon. We headed back our hotel ready to hit the pool.

Lobby of hotel Loi Suites
Wedding guests enjoy hours of poolside cocktails
Splashing in the shallow pool
Bouncy bridges connect the different areas of the hotel
Daddy/daughter time in the infinity pool
Nighttime view of the pool and hotel restaurant
Nighttime bridges

We’re currently awaiting room service for a late dinner. #1Toddler finally ran out of gas and crashed at 7:15. We’re enjoying the peace and quiet, so there’s no way we were going to wake her to go out to eat.

Tomorrow we fly back to Buenos Aires to spend just one more night there and catch our flights back home to Virginia. It’s hard to believe yet another adventure is coming to an end. We have plans to go to New York in August 2020 as a team of 4, but no international travel on the books as of yet. I supposed I better cross some other hurdles first.

-Steph

Argentina Day 10: Traveling from Bariloche to Iguazú Falls

We were sad to leave our AirBnB in Bariloche. It gave us so many beautiful delights – majestic views, rainbows, sunsets.

Sunset on our last night in Casa Hygge, Bariloche

I awoke at 6am to ensure everything was packed and clean prior to our planned 8am departure for the airport. If you’ve never stayed at an AirBnB before they each have different checkout procedures depending on owner specifications.

At Casa Hygge we just needed to load the dishwasher, take out the trash and a neighbor stopped over to pickup the key. Some AirBnBs utilize a lockbox or keypad system; the two so far on this trip have both used old fashioned keys.

Bariloche Airport is small, just 8 gates. We checked in easily, again thanks to priority treatment of those traveling with small children as well as those who are pregnant.

Waiting to board at Bariloche Airport (BRC)

There’s no direct flight from Bariloche to Iguazú Falls, so we are connecting in Buenos Aires. Each leg is about two hours.

We’ve booked more traditional hotels for the last two stops on our trip. Our hotel in Iguazú came with transfers for each of us to and from the airport which was convenient.

I had the window seat for the flight into Iguazú. Jungle as far as the eye can see. It reminded me of Tikal, Guatemala.

Iguazú airport is small but modern. Our bags were on the belt before we got to baggage claim, and we quickly found our driver. All in all, very efficient and easy.

At some point this morning when packing up, we realized we only had 4 more diapers for three more days. Vincente, our driver, was kind enough to stop by the supermercado on the way from the airport to the hotel to allow Amir to run in and buy some.

The entire ride to our hotel, Loi Suites, #1Toddler begged to go swimming.

“Can I put my swimming costume on?”

“Can I go down big slide?”

“Can I splash splash?

We dropped our thing in the room, coated everyone in sunscreen and DEET, and made a B-line for the pool.

The hotel also has a swing set just outside our wing. This did not go unnoticed by you know who.

We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant partially for convenience, but also because it was well-rated online.

View of the pool from the restaurant

We also might have already spotted the largest beetle ever seen. Even David Attenborough would be moved. I couldn’t get a photo though before a French couple sat down. They probably would have found it awkward if I were maneuvering under their dinner table to photograph a (fortunately dead) megabeetle.

Tomorrow morning at 8am we are going to watch the hotel staff feed the toucans just before we eat breakfast and head to Iguazú Falls at 9. Vincente said to expect to spend 6 hours at the falls, so we are heading to bed early to rest up.

-Steph

Virgin Piña Colada
Tiny Planet from Tacul Beach

Argentina Day 9: Hiking to Tacul Beach

We awoke this morning, finished watching “Cars” and picked a hiking trail for the day. Tacul Beach, 1.5 hours and rated medium, seemed like a great fit.

Scenic views from the trail to Tacul Beach

The website billed the terrain as “flat,” so given our success two days ago in reaching Sendero de los Arrayanes, we set forth with our CitiMini stroller in tow.

It wasn’t long before the terrain turned bumpy with rocks and roots crisscrossing the trail. We decided the only way to continue forward was to leave the stroller behind and for Amir to carry #1Toddler on his shoulders.

Considering and dreading the trek back, we almost turned around before reaching the beach. That surely would have been a mistake.

Crystal clear water at Tacul Beach

As soon as we arrived, #1Toddler scooped up a handful of pebbles and shouted “Splash! Splash! Splash!” I’m not sure what it is about throwing rocks into water, but she could do it for hours.

Rock throwing champion

We lucked out with the weather. No rain today and 60 degrees. The cools temps didn’t stop some young Argentinian women from bikini sunbathing though. Sorry, no photos.

We made it!

We spent about an hour at the beach, resting, throwing rocks, getting our toes wet and polishing off some leftover chocolate from Chocolatería Rama yesterday. It was hard to leave, but we knew we had a rough trek back and didn’t want to have to rush.

The for the trek back, Amir carried her on his shoulders until we caught back up with our stroller. We just gave ourselves permission to stop and rest as often as needed which made the return trip pretty tolerable.

Cleopatra took a nap in her stroller

All the rest stops along the way made for a great opportunity to snap a last few photos.

We reached the car starving and desperate to find a baño for me. I’d spotted a small café on one of our many drives through town. We decided to give it a try.

Chaido Tea Room & Café

The place reminded me of a young grandmas house. Eclectic decor, small, intimate and laced with detail.

We found a table near the window and quickly made some menu selections.

We ordered the waffles with creme, two sandwiches and two fresh fruit juice blends.

Prosciutto, Brie, tomato and arugula on multigrain bread
Café con Nutella (Coffee with Nutella)

#1Toddler not having had much of a nap was restless, so we had to pay up and skip dessert.

Admiring the decor at Chiado
Do the outdoor seating if you can

Tonight we have to pack up for our flight to stop #3 on this Argentinian adventure, Iguazú Falls. On the border between Argentina and Brazil, Iguazú Falls are the largest waterfalls in the world, despite Victoria and Niagara Falls sometimes trying to steal the title. The weather should be sunny in the low 90s, and our hotel has a pool. I’m ready.

-Steph