It was a little iffy getting out of Miami, thanks to Hurricane Wilma, but well worth the couple of days of anxiety, the 2 hours I spent on a gas line to get fuel to drive myself to the airport, and the 9 hours of flight time! One has to be motivated to travel to South America but, once there, you will not be disappointed…and there’s no jet lag like flying to Europe and other continents.
The weather was glorious in October, the ride across the Andes spectacular, and the food & wine (my favorite criteria) of top quality with gourmet presentations for very few pesos. People love their afternoon (late) coffees and sweets – in Santiago they love ice cream! While restaurants open about 8:30 PM, most people don’t dine till 10PM. We were always the first to arrive!
We visited Santiago, Chile where I had been the prior year. It is a large bustling city but not very fashionable. The people dress pretty “old world”. They are, however, very nice and there is much to do and see in Santiago. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time there. From Santiago we crossed the Andes in a bus to Mendoza, Argentina. The view was breathtaking – so were the turns the bus driver made and it took 7 hours! I’ve added that to my list of things that are done & over with like parasailing in Acapulco and flying in a 8 seater from Oaxaca to Huatulco. Oh, an interesting aside, while in the bus we were approached to participate in a donation for the aduana (customs guard)! Talk about payola!
Mendoza was my favorite city. Formerly a desert, it is now a lush and green oasis thanks to an irrigation system that runs parallel to the sidewalks. Our hotel had a colonial white façade that belied a 5 star, very modern, very South Beach type facility with beautiful rooms, a full service spa (1-hour Thai massage for $30!), and a 2 floor casino attached to it! It faced a park (but that’s not news — there are parks all over South America!)
Cordoba was less charming. We stayed in the downtown (central commercial) area and while the out-of-town excursions into the suburbs and the Jesuit monastery were nice, we agreed that that the couple of days we spent there could have been split between Santiago and Buenos Aires where we wish we had more time.
Last stop Buenos Aires – a huge and beautiful city – with much to do and not enough time. We did manage to wander around a bit on our own, get a city tour and saw a great tango show.