Things To See and Do in Argentina!


Argentina is a great place to travel to if you are on a limited budget. For the American, every dollar becomes roughly about $4. So instead of getting some clothing for your trip, purchase the clothing and goods when you are in Argentina! Try to go to Argentina when there is a FIFA cup of some kind going on in the world! The Argentinians ENCANTA their football (soccer)!

Me in front of Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires

In case you didn’t know, the Argentinian’s have a female president! Her name is Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Cristina underwent thyroid cancer surgery sometime this past year. I would have to say that she is quite dashing and stunning like most Argentinian women! She has style and power!

 Source: images22.com

Obelisco de Buenos Aires

The obelisk is located in the Plaza De la Republica. It was our first stop on our tour of Buenos Aires. This is also the area where the “Mothers of the Disappeared” also known as the “Mothers of Plaza De Mayo” congregate on Sundays to bring awareness to terrible events that took place during the “Dirty Wars”. The mothers in white scarves that show up each Sunday are victims to their children being kidnapped or killed (1976-1983) The terrible tragedies that these mothers endured still haunts them today as more stories are being exposed. To make a long story short, a military dictator by the name of Jorge Rafael Videla took power and gave orders to make people “disappear”. Not sure if Videla has ever been charged with anything because everything was “mysterious” and many records were probably destroyed. In many cases, young adults were targeted, specifically college students who were voicing their opinions against the military dictator. Babies were kidnapped since Videla and others feared that parents or activists would influence the babies. These babies were then either purchased or given to military elite who may have had problems conceiving children. Oftentimes, these kids would get older and start to question more about their lives feeling that something was “out of place”

Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires
The liberator of Argentina, Jose De San Martin rests here in this elaborate marble tomb draped in an Argentine Flag. Make sure to turn your flash off. This has to be one of the most important tombs in Argentina since there are military guards dressed in “old school” military dress.
It is always a treat to see mosaic tiles! Make sure to look down on the ground to appreciate these little beauties!
La Boca
There is always a rugged, rough and tough part of town. That place in Buenos Aires happens to be the birthplace of Tango, La Boca. Of course there are areas of La Boca that cater to the tourists who are looking to spend their pesos on kitschy items that they might cherish for a month or so, but there are also places in La Boca to STAY AWAY FROM. Be careful venturing at least 3 or more blocks of La Boca as it can be dangerous and quite sad. There are areas close to La Boca where there are people sitting on the streets with literally nothing to do. It probably wouldn’t be smart to snap photos on your SLR of kids living in poor conditions thinking that you will be National Geographic’s next photographer. Stay out of Dodge! Just be happy strolling through the various little shops and spending some pesos on items like cool posters or T-shirts. Of course there will be craploads of Tango style aprons and Tango music to choose from as well. You’ll hear Tango on every single corner and you will definitely see a girl wrapping her leg in a stacatto type of way around her Tango partner as she stoically dances around him. You’ll see the locals sitting outside puffing on their cigaros and you’ll see the mingy looking dogs running around for some kind of scrap action. I enjoyed seeing graffiti art of Maradonna and listening to conversations in Spanish of which I could only understand very simple phrases.
As for Tango, it has a curious and original story that is worth sharing. So from the talks that I had with our tour guide Mauriano, he mentioned that Tango has it origins with economics. There are many stories regarding the birth of Tango because a lot of it was not recorded. This one make sense to me! Many young men frequented the brothel houses. Buenos Aires had a huge demographic shift during the turn of the century due to their cattle industry and British investment. Many young men were looking for love…but of course in the wrong places. The brothel houses could not keep up with the amount of men that were coming in for a temporary fix. While the men were waiting for their turn, they started drinking. When you get horny, young men and booze waiting their turn for sex, then strange things start to happen and that includes dancing with each other. The men as a way to joke around started dancing with each other playing hard to get. They topped it off with major theatricality by adding the Rose. Men hooted and hollered as they drank, danced and laughed. It became quite serious and people started to realize it. People brought the dance to France. The French said great dance, but ditch the male and put in a female and VOILA…TANGO!!!!!!! Try Bar Sur or Rojo Tango to watch a sophisticated and classy show.
Recoleta Cemetery
It might be a bit creepy if you go by yourself. Definitely go with others to see this curious and fascinating cemetery. Make sure you check out Eva Peron’s grave. You’ll see homeless cats and mausoleums that will make you think you are in Europe. If you peer inside some of these mausoleums, you can see the coffins of people from the 1800’s. Some of the tombs are very well kept and locked up very well, while others are crumbling and decaying. It was one of the most stunning and beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen in my life.
Eva Peron Museum
The Eva Peron Museum can easily be done in an hour or less. It walks you through her life. She did a lot of charity work for women and children. This room pictured above was a place where single mothers could sit and relax. I can’t honestly remember too much about this museum because I was pretty tired at this point. I do remember seeing some beautiful clothing that Eva wore. She was quite fashionable.
Eat Potatoes!!!!!!!!!!
One day at dinner we were commenting on all the different types of potatoes that we have eaten. The waiter overheard us and delivered us this plate of prep potatoes. He went through each potato and explained what style of potato they were for eating. The patata noisette is a round ball. The patata fritas is the typical french fry. Unfortunately, I forgot to write down the rest of the names. If somebody knows them, please email me!
Eat Empanadas!
You’ll see empanadas on street corners and practically on any menu as an appetizer. It is the quintessential Argentine snack or appetizer! It is a flaky pastry that is either shaped in a crescent moon or square shape as pictured above. It usually consists of beef, egg and green olives. An Argentine told me that this is typical. There are many more variations on the empanada, but it is one of my absolute favorites! Put some chimichurri sauce on it and I’m in heaven!
Shopping in Palermo
This is your chance to shop till you drop. Pick up leather products like boots and jackets. Remember that you shouldn’t go over the $1000 limit or you’ll have to pay a little more at customs. You can also get back some money at the airport for certain goods that you purchase. Keep your receipts! I could have claimed about $200 back, but didn’t have time at the airport. Pick up some Mendoza region wine or some Malbec and definitely get some of those alfajores that I told you about. Submarino chocolates to make hot chocolate at home are always great as well!
While you are in Palermo, go get your hair styled or dyed! If you are adventurous like me with hair, I got a cut and dye and style for $40! It was fantastic and my fellow travelers were amazed that I did something so gutsy. The Argentinians know how to do hair and they do it quickly. They didn’t even do a strand test, they just started pasting away and I haven’t been able to get the same color since. It was a fabulous experience for me! Don’t do it if you are finicky about your hair. Just go get your hair washed and dried and styled for a cheap cost. I recommend the hair salon located in the bottom of the original house of Jorge Luis Borges in Palermo. My hairstylist spoke pretty good English.
When you are tired from all the shopping around, go to a local cafe and get a cafe cortado. They put a small amount of milk to cut down the acidity. Cortado means to “cut”. This is a great time to chat about the day and to catch the score for a football game. If you are not into coffee, have a submarino. They give you piping hot milk and then you literally dunk your pieces of chocolate into the milk and stir away!
Other Recommended Spots:
  1. MALBA (Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires)
  2. Cabana Las Lilas
  3. Shopping for Leather Products
  4. Galerias Pacifico Mall
  5. Cafe Tortoni
  6. San Telmo Flea Market on Sundays 
Much more places to see and experience. Vamos Argentina!
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Ziplining in Iguazu


On this trip we took 22 high school students to Argentina. Part of the trip was trekking through the jungles of Iguazu. For many of the students including myself, it was the first time to be in the rainforest. We were rearing to get some nature and fresh air. My mission, to find TOUCANS! This was our 4th day in Argentina. We had been on several tours around Buenos Aires and we were all at the stage where we feel comfortable with each other. The Iguazu trip was bound to BOND us all together and IT DID! We took a flight from the Buenos Aires International Airport (EZE). We laughed going through customs because we could walk through with liquids. Most of us had coffees or water in our hand. It was an uncomfortable yet exhilarating feeling! On our flight we were able to see Uruguay from the plane.

Got a chance to sit first class on a short trip (2 hours) 

Our tour guide Mauriano, hired a company by the name of Sol Iguazu Turismo for our jungle adventures. Our tour host from Sol Iguazu Turismo spoke English and Spanish. He met us at the airport and had a charter bus ready for us. The bus was nice and comfy and had air conditioning. We definitely felt the temperature change from Buenos Aires weather. We were averaging about 65 degrees in the city and we now jumped to about 78 degrees in Iguazu. A lot of us were super excited since this was the first day since summer vacation that we felt like we were in summer weather. We were all coming from San Diego, which in the summer is beautiful!

It was nice to take the bus to our destinations, as it was raining in the morning.

TRAVEL TIPS IN IGUAZU LIST

  1. MOSQUITOS! Bring mosquito repellent. They even bite in the winter time.
  2. Iguazu is a RAINFOREST, so it is warm. Most likely you want to wear comfortable but AIRY clothing. You will need a comfortable pair of shoes for trekking. Make sure you have good tread on them.
  3. DIRT. The dirt has a lot of clay in it and its really RED. If you have been to the RED ROCKS in Arizona, you’ll know what I mean. The shoes that you bring into parts of the jungle should be a pair that you won’t mind getting dirty. There is a strong possibility that you might have to throw your shoes away if they GET really dirty. Keep that in mind!
  4. BATHING SUIT. I wore my bathing suit underneath just in case! I brought a change of clothes as well. That helps if you sweat like crazy or if you get wet.
  5. BACKPACK: We were able to leave our stuff inside our bus and later our jeep, but if you have valuables, then a backpack can go with you virtually anywhere. Just try to keep it light.
  6. HOTEL INFORMATION: Bring a card or something that says your address just in case. A lot of the places will drop you off or pick you up at your hotel.
  7. WATER & SNACKS: Try to bring some water and snacks on your trek. You will be out for 3 to 4 hours in some cases. DO NOT SKIP breakfast or lunch. Hydrate yourself and eat power foods like vegetables or fruits. One of our students got sick from fatigue because he didn’t hydrate himself and didn’t eat breakfast.

Sol Iguazu Turismo dropped us off at our hotel to get our belongings for zip lining. They picked us up in an World War II jeep . It was a bumpy and adventurous ride. You have to watch your head and things just in case we hit a pothole. It’s fun to drive with the tarp over your head and to be able to see everything without a window!

The Red Dust was a unique part of the ride. I was taking photos with my camera. I had to put it away at one point because the red dirt dust particles were getting into the camera lens. BE CAREFUL. My shoes, and my clothes were starting to get dirty.

As you go into the jungle you pass through an area where indigenous Guarani natives live. You will see them living in shacks, some of them looking like shanty towns, others a little more well built. Some of the houses had small tv’s in them and the natives were watching the soccer games for the world cup. This sounds cliche, but I was moved by what I saw. I actually teach about the Guarani people when I show “THE MISSION” during our topic on the Spanish & Portuguese in South America. Many of them were living in poverty. I saw people washing their laundry in the local river. I saw kids wearing hand me downs that probably were probably donated to them by some non profit organization or church. I’ve been told about this, but this was the first time I saw it. Some little kids were playing outside and they would wave to us. I was touched by their genuine happiness as we sped by in a jeep. I started to cry. Some of the students saw me, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to get off the jeep and talk to them and ask them about their life. I realized that maybe they are the ones that are VERY FORTUNATE. They live with so much simplicity that they don’t suffer from the daily stress in life due to computers, email, cell phones etc…

The sounds of the jungle are enticing. I could imagine any botanist in heaven with all the different types of plant species that I saw. The zip lining course consisted of 3 different rope courses. The rope course is up in the trees so there is some climbing involved.

If you have a fear of heights, this activity might not be suggested for you. The zip lining is actually not scary AT ALL! The part that is a little scary is climbing up some of the wooden ladders that have no railings, but you are strapped in. As you zip line, there is a person waiting at the next rope course to give you signals to start slowing down. They then re-clip you to the next zip line and OFF YOU GO! You feel as if you are flying and you become ALMOST one with nature!

Sol Iguazu Turismo (Guided Tours to Iguazu)

Casa De Las Botas


An article from Conde Nast Traveler led me to go check out this lovely boot shop. My curiosity led to several of our group members taking a trip to the store! TOTALLY WORTH IT!

I have had a subscription to Conde Nast Traveler magazine for about 2 years now. Reading articles from this magazine inspire me in a multitude of ways. It reinforces the things that I teach in my classroom in regards to history and culture. I am always looking for creative ways to get my high school kids thinking about how history connects in their lives everyday. By inspiring my kids to travel, I pep talk to them about how wonderful it is to go out and see the world. I always encourage them to study hard and do well with their academics in hopes that their hard work will pay off in the future. Finally after my 4th year of teaching, I received a postcard from Beijing, China. One of my students wants to be a teacher and was able to travel and teach in China!

Ok, enough rambling about teaching stuff. ON WITH THE STORY about shoes in Buenos Aires. So, I am thankful that I read a hip and trendy article about SHOES in Buenos Aires in the posh district of Palermo. A trip had already been planned for June of 2010. The page was quite eye catching. There was a picture of a blue suede shoe made by Lucila Lotti. The shoe was described as a “fab skycraper heel”. The colors of the shoe had a mixture of dark blue suede, turquoise suede and a seafoam blue/green. Below is a picture of the closest shoe I can find to the picture. I added another picture to give you an idea of the craftsmanship and avantgarde design of shoes. The designs stir up playfulness, youth and creativity. She is also a beautiful lady!

Source: Pattern Pulp

Source: Production Paradise

I did some research and found out that a lot of Lucila Iotti’s shoes were sent to the Sex and the City stylist crew for the first Sex and the City movie. Looking at the shoe colors and fun nature of these shoes, I can definitely see it being a cinderella moment for Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). http://www.lucilaiotti.com/index-en.html

Source: I Watch Stuff

If you are familiar with South American art and history, you know that COLOR is symbiotic with its history. Color makes me tick and I think the South Americans felt the same way. Color to me implies happiness, vitality and beauty. The picture of Frida on the right captures these feelings that I have for COLOR. When I think of South America, I think of beautiful COLORS. If Frida were alive still today, she would appreciate the beauty of Lucila Iotti’s shoes. In fact, I can visualize her in the Moria blue suede shoes! Her husband, Diego Rivera showcased color in his famous murals.

Source: Famous Mexican Artists

Conde Nast used buzz words to stir up emotion with their “shoe fetishists” as they so stated in their article. They also started off the article with “Footwear freaks unite!” Hilarious! I don’t share the same enthusiasm as the “shoe fetishists” but I can appreciate what they love. Halfway through the story, a shop intrigued me. A store by the name of La Casa De Las Botas talked about customized boots that were measured at the shop and picked up in approximately 5 days! WOW! Imagine that, your own boots created for you, how luxurious is that? They emphasized that the boots were made for polo, dressage and riding. I cut out the article and bookmarked it for myself. I visited the store in June of 2010 with my boyfriend and 3 high school students on an educational trip. Here is what I observed.

Ok, so the first initial thought going into the store, was “this is it?” I was expecting some HIGH END our boutiquey type of shop, but it was an actual working BOOT SHOP. Took me awhile to soak in, but when it did, it was magical. HOW COOL IS THIS? They actually take measurements, cut the leather, stitch the boot, put on the sole. It sounded like Santa’s little elves creating Christmas toys. We were impressed!

 

You can see that La Casa De Las Botas caters to famous Equestrian groups! The President of Argentina and his family order boots from this fine establishment!

I felt like Alice in Wonderland in regards to my curiosity. I asked the shoe man if it was ok to walk around and take pictures. He said it was perfectly fine. Of course I felt like a stupid tourist for doing it, but I really was impressed with what I was seeing. I walked around the corner and towards the back of the store. It was a huge workshop that was scattered with wooden shoe legs, scraps of leather, clutter on the ground, etc…The following pictures show what I observed.

I was so pleased to have experienced a TRUE Conde Nast experience and be able to appreciate it with my boyfriend and 3 wonderful students! The girls were really in tune with appreciation of craftsmanship that it almost brought a tear to my eye! It was a bonding experience with these girls. Jer even appreciated the whole experience. Mckenzie picked up her boots a couple days later. The store even stamps the inside of the boots with the seal of authenticity. She will be using them for dressage at Yale. Why can’t we have more of these types of places everywhere? Thank you Buenos Aires and La Casa De Las Botas and Conde Nast traveler!

Works Cited:

Famous Mexican Artists. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <http://mexicoart.org/2011/08/17/diego-rivera-la-civilizacion-tarasca-1950/&gt;.

“Frida Kahlo Biography.” Hovied News. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <http://www.hovied.com/entertainment/2010/frida-kahlo-biography-with-video-06076661.html&gt;.

I Watch Stuff. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <http://www.iwatchstuff.com/2008/06/sex-and-the-city-seen-by-many.php&gt;.

“Pattern Pulp – Interview: Lucila Iotti.” Pattern Pulp. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <http://www.patternpulp.com/accessories/interview-lucila-iotti/&gt;.

Production Paradise. Web. 28 Mar. 2012. <http://www.productionparadise.com/showcase/buenos-aires-issue-195-317/am-production-services-9986.html&gt;.

Dogs Walking in Buenos Aires


So you if you are a sucker for detail and observation, you will appreciate this one if you have been to Buenos Aires and have seen the dogs! Hundreds and thousands of dogs are to be seen in Buenos Aires which also leads to the stunning conclusion of dog poop!

Yes, everywhere and you have to be a good walker in Buenos Aires which means that you not only focus on where you are going but you must have dog poop radar to sense if you are going to step in dog poop. As our Argentinian friend Mauriano said “It’s good luck if you step in it”. Must have been a trademark created by the Argentinians because everyone has probably stepped in it.

Image

The Argentinians love their pooches, there is no doubt about it. I was down there during the FIFA World Cup and saw pooches parading in their patriotic Argentina Jerseys to root for their home team. It was great to see dogs dressed up in spirit wear.

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So if you are in a car, walking, or on a bus, you will frequently see professional dog walkers walking a huge pack of dogs. The most I saw was a dog walker with about 15 dogs. They were all patient, moving together in unison and very obedient. They must be trained to walk together. The question that I have is, “how much do they get paid?” Must be a good profession if there are so many dogs and dog walkers in the city. More than 50% of Argentinians live in Buenos Aires. The students that were with me on this trip kept getting excited when we would see a pack of exercising dogs. Most of the time too, the dog walkers don’t even need to pick up their dog poop. Seems like a pretty easy job. But then again, every job has its pros and cons. The other question that I have is “How do Argentinian people respond when you say that you are a professional dog walker?” I’ll never know until I meet a professional walker. Till then, Ciao!

Cabana Las Lilas Steakhouse in Buenos Aires


Consider this place to be one of the Mecca’s of steak in Argentina. There is no doubt about it, the Argentine’s love their grass fed beef! It is said that the Argentine’s consumed the most amount of beef per capita in the world! Of course the thought that came to mind is “TASTE TEST” between American beef and Argentine beef at Cabana Las Lilas.

 As you glide into the restaurant on your tiptoes in pure and complete     anticipation, you walk right by the meat artists that cook the steak to heavenly perfection. Any restaurant that showcases their cooking for you to see is definitely proud of what they have to serve to you. Basically they are telling you “go ahead, look at us cook, we are not hiding anything or doing anything bad behind your back.” I was blown away by the beautiful knife block that the chefs rest their super sharp knives. It was gorgeous! Already a show for us to experience and we haven’t even eaten yet!

The restaurant was definitely busy with hungry customers. They are definitely able to accommodate large parties. We had a party of 29 people and they took good care of us. I would definitely recommend that you book the restaurant as soon as possible. We were there during their winter so I don’t think there was a problem, but it can definitely get busy in the more touristy months. Also, I recommend dressing up for this restaurant. You will see people coming in with jeans or casual clothing, but it was a treat for all of us to get dressed up and celebrate a fabulous meal with each other. All smiles here!

They brought out a beautiful appetizer tray with prosciutto, pickled peppers, mozzarella cheese, pickled tomatoes of some sort. I can’t remember a couple of the other sides, but they were light, very fresh and beautiful on the eyes.  

Introduction to meats in Argentina

So there are various cuts of meat in Argentina and it is imperative that you know what part of the cow you are ordering. 

PARILLA: Special grille used for an asado style barbecue. Used to cook meat

LOMO: Beef Tenderloin

VACIO: A flank steak (I order this a lot in the San Diego restaurant called La Puerto La Boca)

BIFE ANCHO: Prime rib steaks with no bone

BIFE DE CHORIZO: Strip loin steaks (This steak was being ordered a lot when I was in Argentina) 

ENTRANA FINA: A skirt steak that is on the thinner side

Of course there are so many more cuts, but these typically seem to be the most popular. I bought a poster in Argentina that shows the different cuts of meat. It seems to be pretty popular for tourists. I saw this particular poster several places around Buenos Aires and at an Estancia.

As you can tell on the picture to the right, my boyfriend is quite ecstatic about his steak. He ordered the baby beef (800 grams) You can also buy a baby beef (500 gram) steak as well. Let’s just say that the size of the steak was worth the money. My boyfriend definitely likes his steak, but actually had to pawn off a few pieces to some kids that devoured their steak in a matter of minutes. 

If you are a person of detail, you will appreciate this little bit about steak knives. Every single steak knife at Cabana Las Lilas is DIFFERENT. Like a snowflake pattern, each knife on the table had different blades which comes to the striking conclusion of “Do they sharpen each knife everyday and differently?” It’s a good question that I will ask next time I go there! The kids and I actually noticed this and took a picture to document it. My boyfriend had mentioned to me that the Argentine’s take their steak eating seriously and that you will see men actually carrying leather holster belts that hold a steak knife. These meat connoisseurs will be ready for the opportune time that if a steak or piece of meat should happen to show up right in front of them, THEY ARE PREPARED! 

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to eat other sides, but everyone said they were “to die for.” I did get a small taste of the mashed potatoes and they were phenomenal! I did however get to have fun with the kids by arranging all the cow indicators for the steaks. AL PUNTO means medium. We had some fun arranging the cows as you can tell. As for desserts, I did not get a chance to try those either, but I was able to get some snapshots of the desserts. 

The students all sitting at the table bonding and having a fantastic time!

How about a nice cup of coffee with some pastries?

We took all our cows and arranged them into table art (how they tell apart the steak from rare to medium)

Great place to go in Buenos Aires! Expect to pay a little more at this restaurant and dress up so that you don’t disappoint the Argentines at their fine establishment. After you are finished, go take a stroll close to the Calatrava Bridge.