The overnight to Córdoba

15 Jun

The demise of long-distance train travel in Argentina followed closely on the heels of the United States. Vastly improved highways, comfortable overnight buses, competitive fares; you get the picture. By the 60s, passenger trains were but a shadow of themselves. So if you were to ask any sane individual today, how they’d get across the length and breadth of this vast country, you’ll probably get “by bus or plane” as their reply.

But there has been a bit of a resurgence in the past few years – new long-distance trains, a revised schedule; and you’d never have expected it, online bookings too! So with an e-ticket in hand, I find myself on Platform 8 of Estacíon Retiro one Friday evening, waiting to board the 20:38 departure of train 269, Buenos Aires to Córdoba.

IMG_1400

Continue reading

Paraíso en Providencia

29 Apr

A blast of warm, salty air greets us as we step off the plane at Gustavo Rojas Pinilla International Airport. Breathing is suddenly a lot easier, and my track jacket feels quite redundant in 29C (84F) weather. After a night spent in Bogotá, San Andrés certainly feels like the sea change we needed.

Armando has already spotted us at the left-luggage area, and is quick to offer his services. We negotiate with him for 20,000 COP (~$7) for the 20-minute ride down to San Luis, a little village on the southeast of the island. Filing into his dated Chevrolet, we follow the coastal road south, past many colorful homes, a smattering of Baptist Churches, and several vendors hawking coconuts.

Buggies line the narrow lane leading to Donde Francesca, a popular seafood eatery located on San Luis‘s sprawling beach. Lunch hour is busy here, and aptly so. Far removed from the commercial hustle of the island’s main town, the food here is excellent, and the setting is hard to beat…
Donde Francesca

Continue reading

Patagonia, parte dos

26 Jan

The glacier-fed waters of Lago Argentino, the country’s largest freshwater lake, shimmer in the late afternoon sun. Marking the northern limits of Comandante Armando Tola International Airport, its striking turquoise color is a sight to behold. On the road to El Calafate, windswept plains, so characteristic of this part of the country, stretch far into the horizon. Over us, an incredible, otherworldly Patagonia sky…

That Patagonia sky! #elcalafate #lagoargentino #patagonia #provinciasantacruz #argentina Continue reading

Devil’s Point

14 Dec

With the outskirts of Montevideo behind us, we join Uruguay’s Ruta Nacional 9, a lightly trafficked, two-lane affair, which rides the country’s southern rim, connecting it to the Atlantic coast. Hemmed in by sprawling ranches or estancias, the highway meanders through gently undulating countryside, as it makes its way east.

The estancias here are known to rear some of the best cows in the world, and as a result, the tastiest beef too. In this, the heart of Uruguay’s farm belt, don’t be too surprised if you come across signs displaying crossing times for cattle…

IMG_9114

Continue reading

To the End of the World

2 Nov

It’s only been a couple of hours since online check-in opened. Unhurriedly, I glance at the seating chart and there’s plenty of space available in the center section, but not a single window seat for the taking. Amateur hour strikes again!

Three hours into our flight, as final cabin checks are underway, I begin to get a little restless. The gent to my right, hogging that precious window seat, is still asleep, with the blind down. I tap him gently, podes abrir la ventana por favor? The good señor obliges, and I stretch my arm across him rather obnoxiously, eventually planting my phone against his window. The approach to Ushuaia is pretty spectacular, and if you’re smart, you’re going to secure that window seat as soon as you can…

IMG_8617 Continue reading

Fiesta de la Cerveza

21 Oct

In the lush Calamuchita valley of the Sierras de Córdoba in Central Argentina, lies the picturesque town of Villa General Belgrano. Its name betrays its origins though, for this little town of about six thousand people is made up mostly of German immigrants. And its claim to fame: hosting the second largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich!

Think Lederhosens and Dirndls, ginormous Steins brimful of Bier and plates stacked full of Wurst. Throw in a colorful parade, the traditional breaking of the keg, a Beer Queen contest, several Chicken Dances, and many thousand revelers, and you’ve got yourself a fiesta.

The celebrations kick off early in October, lasting 11 days in all. I was there for the opening weekend, accompanying a friend, who had a writing gig for VICE channel’s food blog, Munchies. Her article, This is how Argentina does Oktoberfest, was published a week later, accompanied by photos taken by me.

Since she’s already gone through the hassle of penning it all down, I’m going to leave you here with a few selected images from the fest. A full set of pics can be seen on my Flickr.

Prost!

IMG_3123
Continue reading

Las Cataratas

9 Oct

In 2011, South America scored handsomely when the world’s new natural wonders were announced, grabbing almost a third of the coveted spots. One of those was Iguazú, an area well supplied with waterfalls, claimed equally by Argentina and Brazil. For Argentina though, it didn’t exactly move the needle; Iguazú was already its most visited destination, outside the city of Buenos Aires.

Located in the northeastern province of Misiones, the Argentine city of Puerto Iguazú is well served by flights from BA (90-minutes, with prices averaging $300 for a round trip), and has accommodation options to suit most budgets. If you find yourself in the country with a lot of time on hand, you could also consider doing it on the cheap and taking the bus. But given that it’s an 18-hour slog from BA, you’re probably better off flying.

Parque Nacional Iguazú lies 17-km (11-miles) from the town of Puerto Iguazú, and although you’ll come across several eager cabbies offering their services, you can save your $$ by hopping onto one of the frequent shuttles that run from the city center to the park. Once at the park, you’ll have a choice of trails to choose from. Circuito Inferior (lower trail) is the one to pick. Up to that point, you’re all set. What you probably will not be prepared for though, is your first sighting of Las Cataratas

IMG_2729

Continue reading