Bariloche, Day One

So many highlights, so little time to capture them all.

I’m going to try to let our photos do much of the talking for me.

How wonderful it was to spend time with our dear friends, Sharmon and Luis, who took us to dinner at a fantastic Argentinian restaurant. It was an evening of great food and great company!

But first we toured their new business venture, currently under construction. That blue area to the right in the above photo? That will be a gorgeous infinity pool. Best of all — there will be zumba and yoga classes offered in another area of the building.

If you’re longing for a panoramic view, all you need to do is ride the chairlift to Campanario Hill.

Not satisfied with staying in the usual viewing area, we explored further and found this monument. I asked one of my new friends, Karen, to take my photo, and she did exactly as requested.

BUT, she went above and beyond. She thought it important to show how hard I had to work to get way up to that cross. It was a rather steep climb, which is probably why it is not part of the usual tourist experience!

Next was a nature walk with our local guide, Fernando.

That was just a warm up. Lunch at a family owned brewery would include a tasting, so we moved on for some serious hiking.

It is hard to gauge how high up we managed to get from this photo, but my iPhone said we did the equivalent of 66 flights of stairs. My Fitbit thinks it was closer to 100. I think I’m going with the Fitbit.

Whatever the true number, we were all quite pleased with ourselves.

Buenos Aires

Expect the unexpected and you’ll never be disappointed. That’s my frame of mind whenever I travel. That, and firmly believing that no matter what happens, “it’s all part of the adventure.” Fortunately, all eleven of my fellow travelers share that outlook. So, when Buenos Aires’ central square was completely blocked off, keeping us from visiting all of the major sites on our city tour, we were all perfectly content to go with Plan B.

The pink palace. Notice the balconies? Peron made his speeches from the one on the left (or was it the one on the right?) 

Mike and I had visited the cathedral when we were In Buenos Aires in 2005, so we were able to see the tomb of San Martin which is located inside. Before he became Pope Francis, this was the former cardinal Bergoglio’s church.

Our guide figured out a way to get us to the lovely London City cafe, where we drank coffee, ate the most delicious croissant and listened to her description of what life was like during the military coup.

During the late ‘70s, 30,000 Argentinians disappeared. Some were activists. Others were artists, poets, actors, students. About 400 were pregnant women. Until recently, no one knew what happened to the babies. A few years ago, the government set up a DNA bank, which resulted in over 100 of these babies (now in their 40’s) being reunited with grandparents and other members of their extended family. Unfortunately, no one knows what became of their parents.

Why was the square blocked off? On March 1, Argentina’s President Macri was giving a speech, as was the mayor of Buenos Aires, and both have offices around the square. This attracted demonstrators, which further disrupted traffic. We were safely inside the cafe, so missed most of the noise and chaos.

When things settled down, we headed for La Boca, formerly the “working class area of town, now a center for artists and (to me, at least) a bit of a tourist trap.

La Boca was significantly more crowded than when we visited in 2005.

Another notable event during our stay in Buenos Aires was our private tango lesson at the hotel. Not only did we learn a beginner version of the tango, but we also were schooled on the RITUAL of the tango: how a man asks a woman to dance, (with his eyes and head) when you are allowed to talk, (never while dancing) in which direction you dance (always counter clockwise, with woman dancing backwards).

Remember my motto: expect the unexpected? It should have been “have cameras ready for the unexpected”. After our lesson, our teacher demonstrated how un hombre asks una Senorita to dance, and to my surprise, I was chosen to demonstrate what we’d learned. My one big chance to dance the tango with a genuine Porteño, and there is no photo or video of it. Damn. I DID have the presence of mind to get a picture of him with his REAL partner.

I did NOT have shoes like those!

Next stop, Bariloche.