I have visited Argentina twice, and am a little bit smitten with the culture, people, and scenery. My first trip to Argentina, my boyfriend and I spent time with his family for Christmas and New Years. We visited the metropolitan capital of Buenos Aires, where I recently stayed for 3 months studying Spanish and spending time with Marc's family. I will post photos of that trip in the near future.
Below are 3 photos of our 2007 trip. Top: the famous Cemetario de Recoleta where Evita Peron is burried. Center: view of El Biblioteca Nacional in Recoletta. Bottom: Tango dancers from a show at El Viejo Almacen in barrio San Telmo. Tango shows are a MUST if you visit Argentina. Buenos Aires has a very European feel as many of it's early immigrants were from Europe. It has even been referred to as the Paris of South America, but it has a magic and history of it's own.
After four days in Buenos Aires (which is not enough time to know the city), we went down south to Rada Tilly, a town off the Atlantic coast where some of his family lives. You can actually walk across the street from his aunt's house to the Atlantic. We also spent two days at his uncle's ranch, in the Patagonia region. The terrain looks much like parts of Southern California but there is an area with fossilized wood, from the ice ages. Some of his family hunts wild guanacos often seen in the region. I had the pleasure of seeing a successful hunt. Afterwards this wonderful animals was eaten for dinner, but I could not partake. Seeing it killed was quite enough for me! They are beautiful animals, distant cousins of llamas, and are prized for their alpaca fur.
Being a vegetarian in Argentina was a bit hard, especially outside of Buenos Aires, but I faired pretty well. Some say Argentina has the best meat in the world, but I wouldn't know. They do have some to die for helado which definitely parallels if not rivals gelato from Italy for sure!! My favorite place in Buenos Aires, Volta, happens to be Italian owned though, but the Freddo chain and a small place called Iberia, near Plaza del Congreso, are close runners-up.
Our last few days we spent in Calafate, where I saw glaciers for the first time in my life. Argentina has such diverse and beautiful landscapes. We were in Calafate for four days, and it felt like we were on our honeymoon. I don't think I can describe it! Legend says though, if you eat the Calafate berry while in Calafate, you are destined to return. I bought some jam and ate it in Buenos Aires, but I hope that counts because I would love to return. The glacial milk helado, only found in the Patagonia region is quite delicious, and blue! Did I mention I LOVE Argentine helado?
After our time in Argentina, we traveled to Easter Island, also known to the native people as Rapa Nui. Easter Island is a small island off the coast of Chile, about the same distance as Hawaii is to California. I wanted to visit here because my grandma, who was a world traveler in her own right, said this was her favorite and the most peaceful place on earth.
Being an island it does share many similarities to Hawaii or other tropical islands, but it has a uniquely rich and once violent cultural history, making it a fascinating, historical and anthropological place to explore. There is virtually no commercial development, only one flight in a day, and you cannot own property unless you are of native decent. We stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast called Tau Ra'a.
They provide transportation to and from the airport, and the couple who owns the hotel make breakfast every morning, with fresh squeezed juice for any guest who requests. The woman also gives historical Island tours a few times a week. She is well versed on the island's history because her grandfather was an archeologist who worked with Jacques Cousteau. There are no televisions, radios, or clocks in the rooms.
In this sense it is the most peaceful tropical island I have ever visited because it really provides you that distance and awareness of life sans technology and consumerism, which is usually why we need to go to a tropical island to begin with. Not too mention it is breathtaking and you can travel the whole island in a day.
This is from my grandma's visit to Easter Island in 1988: