Friday, December 12, 2008
Congratulations to our great friends Gaby and Esteban for tying the knot last weekend. I have to give a shout out to two people that we are forever indebted to.
From almost the moment we landed in Buenos Aires, Gaby and Esteban were a big help. They met us that first week and gave us the lay of the land and advice on how to navigate the new and foreign city we had landed in.
They gave us advice on the best neighborhoods to live in and escorted us to countless apartments showings when we were looking to buy. They always had connections to handle what ever we needed.
If a medical emergency erupted, Gaby would drop everything and hop a cab to meet us at the hospital to translate for us. That happened more often than we expected, and Gaby was invaluable in making the situation as stress free as possible.
But most of all, they were great friends and we enjoyed their wonderful company over many great meals.
There is no question they have a bright future together. Salud and falicidades!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
It appears that Maradona (and over 100 other Argentine celebs) has gone to the courts to force Google and Yahoo to stop serving up websites in their searches that Maradona doesn't like. Time Magazine has a great story on the issue. Yahoo has complied while Google is waiting for an appeal.
Time makes the point that suing Google for search results is like suing the newsstand for having newspapers you don't like or forcing them to rip out pages of magazines that you don't like. If Maradona and others don't like what comes up when you google your name, sue the offending site—not Google or Yahoo! That is, if their is legal grounds to sue a site. Free speech is free speech. Libel/Slander is a different story.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
There are a lot of great photographic treasures being made accessible on the internet every day. First, there was the creation of the The Commons on Flickr which showcases treasures in the world's public photography archives like the Library of Congress and The Smithsonian.
Then came the news that Google has made available the photo archives of Life magazine including some of the most famous photos in American popular culture. The one above is my favorite. Check out the whole series.
And you think kids grow up too fast today? (Thanks to gruber for pointing it out.)
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Today, my four year old and I were outside enjoying the cooler weather with his brand new nerf football—an orange and white Texas Longhorn football of course. In between running plays, he blurted out, "OK daddy, you be the Texas Longhorns and I will be the Boca Juniors. Cause that is your favorite team and Boca is my favorite team. OK?"
Gotta love him!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Was Paul Kennedy right over twenty years ago when he predicted the decline of the United States (and Russia) vis-a-vis China, India, Japan? (ok so he was wrong about Japan.) In 1987, Mr. Kennedy published, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. For those unfamiliar with this very important and influential book, it is worth a read now more than ever.
The book examines all of the great powers starting with the Ming dynasty and works it way up through the 20th century. Kennedy looks for the root causes of both the rise and fall of these super powers over time.
The main cause for the falls? Military over-extendedness. Eventually, all great powers over extended themselves militarily around the world—especially relative to their economic growth and ability to sustain those endeavors.
With the super-power over-stretched, weaker tangential players took advantage of technological and/or economic advances and gained the upper hand.
Many critics faulted Kennedy for a number of years after the book was written. They claimed he over simplified things and did not take in to account the peace dividend of democratic nations. Democratic nations now fight in the marketplace not on the battlefield.
But, at the time the book was published, the Soviet Union was in the start of its rapid decline—a decline so rapid no one would of guessed that the US would be left as the world's sole super power in just a few short years. That is, because the Soviet Union quickly crumbled, it no longer pulled us down with it in a never ending arms race. The cold war over, we were able to reinvest in our industries not the military. Kennedy was not in a position to predict that in 1987.
But then came 9-11 and a the US found itself caught up in a never-ending war on terror. It is no secret our military is now over-extended almost to the breaking point.
Recent critics of book were still quick to point out that we continued to have the worlds most enviable economy producing wealth at an unprecedented pace. The exact kind of economic prowess that has saved other powers in history from an untimely decline.
Well, not anymore. Our economy is now in freefall. Mr. Kennedy may of been right after all.
So who will sit atop the world in the next 100 years as the dominate player? Or, can the US regain the upper-hand? Thoughts?
Friday, November 7, 2008
While the whole country seems to be celebrating and dancing in the streets with hope streaming out in tears—there hasn't been much celebrating here in Texas. The mood of most of the country seems to have passed us by and instead I am left scratching my head at the acts of my fellow Texans.
It started with friends from all over the globe teasing me about a new poll which found that 24% of Texans thought that Obama was muslim. I naturally took this as good news since well over 65% of the state gets their news only from the Fox News Channel. So by my reasoning, less than 1/2 of those people aren't believing what Fox is telling them.
Other's emailed me surprised at how big McCain was projected to win Texas. Well this is a solid Republican state home to a lot of big business and a lot of bubbas. It is no accident that George W. proudly calls this state his home.
Those two items are not what has me shook up about my fellow Texans. It is something much worse.
First, there was a report out of Baylor University (the large Baptist University in Waco) that on Wednesday morning a hangman's noose was found attached to a big Oak tree in the center of campus. Apparently one of the students wanted to send a sick message about how he felt about the election of our first black president.
I thought we as Texans had gotten past that kind of thing. Sadly, I grew up in a small town that was still proud of its history of hanging black men that were caught traveling through town after sunset.
Even up to the early 80's while I was in high school, there was not a single black family living in our town. My junior year in high school, a black engineer from California moved his family to my town and his daughter was in my Trigonometry and Physics classes. (As you can tell from reading my blog, I was not in the advanced English class with her.) We were all blown away with how smart she was.
This was not something out of the Jim Crow era and Klu Klux Klan heydays of the 50's and 60's. This was in the 1980's! A time when the rest of country and Texas had moved on from that kind of ignorant hatred. Or so I thought.
But surely after the election of Barack Obama, even small-town Texas was ready to bury its racial past. I wish I could say it has, but that kind of news hasn't stop.
Mack Brown,, the coach of my beloved Texas Longhorns, announced that they have terminated Buck Burnette, our backup center, after it was discovered that he posted a racial slur on his Facebook page and something to the effect of "Hunters should get their guns because a COON broke into the White House."
Maybe it was just a stupid copy and past of something he was sent. A stupid thing done in haste by a stupid kid. He has since apologized. But, the damage was done. Mack did the right thing in canning his ass. But, the scary thing is the number of people defending him on the Bevo Beat blog.
So the rest of the world, keep dancing in the streets. I wish I could join you, but I'm too depressed.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Fall has finally reached us here and I forgot how beautiful North Texas can be. Sometimes it takes moving away before you can appreciate what you had.
Fall means temperatures in the 70's (low 20's Celsius) with some leaves turning color. It is our short window of opportunity to get out and enjoy the outdoors before it quickly turns bleak and dreary. These few weeks are a welcome relief from the 90 to 100 degree temps of summer.
This pic was taken on a hike along the banks of the Trinity River at River Legacy Park. This wonderful park is less than 1/2 mile down the street from where we live now in Arlington.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Ran across a great new travel blog about a family form the North East doing the RTW thing (round the world trip). Dani, Craig and their children Caroline (13) & Conor (11) are on a year long trip around the world and are now in Argentina.
Checkout their website, The Wide Wide World. It is one of the best family adventure blogs I have seen. It has a great design and they make it easy for anyone to follow along as they bounce around the globe. Good mix of Web 2.0 features and video.
If anyone runs across them while they are in Buenos Aires, tell them Longhorn Dave says hello and I hope BA ends up being their favorite stop on the whole trip. How could it not?
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Friday, October 3, 2008
I haven't heard what my friends in Buenos Aires thought of the debate yet. (I hope they all had fun at El Sacramento bar.) But, I have to agree it with Eugene Robinson of the Washington post when he said it was the strangest debate he has seen.
To begin with, everyone was expecting a train wreck that never occurred. Palin held her own. But she managed to do it mainly without answering the questions posed to her. She did her best to channel Ronald Reagan. Not sure she succeeded, but she avoided the train wreck.
Biden did well by providing facts and giving proof that he had the experience, knowledge, and judgment to take over the top job if need be.
As far as swaying my vote, I think the debate had an effect. I have always described myself as a McCain maverick. However, in this campaign he has not shown good judgment or leadership skills. And, he has severely disappointed me on key positions. The Palin pick was the final straw that put me in Obama's camp.
It was summed up well on CNN tonight when an analyst said, "During a 9-11 like event while the president is stuck on Air Force One, who do you want in the situation room making the gut decisions on which planes to take down and who to bomb."
That vision puts things clearly in perspective. Don't it!
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Sophomore slump? What sophomore slump? Colt McCoy was back in awesome form Saturday night against Florida Atlantic and it was great to be able to watch him set records on the field after a disappointing sophomore year in 2007.
He completed 24-of-29 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 103 yards and a touchdown. He set a record for completing his first 13 passes. He left to locker room at half time 18 for 19 with the one incompletion—a pass he threw hitting the receiver square on the numbers in the end zone.
He looked great! Our defense did well under their new boss and all the question marks hanging over the team seemed to be answered for the better.
Can't wait for the rest of the games. Bring it on OU! Go Horns Go!
PS... Sorry Bruce.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
My wife and I took some new friends, Mike and Terri to Piranha in Fort Worth last Sunday. Originally from Austin, they now live in downtown Fort Worth and spend most of their time traveling the world. One of their favorite cities to visit of course is Buenos Aires.
We met through Flickr after Mike noticed a huge coincidence. I took the above picture of General Belgrano in Plaza de Mayo the exact same day he took the one below.
We were there at the same time and took almost the same picture! Two guys from Fort Worth taking the same picture on the same day half way around the world. How cool is that.
They will be in BsAs next week for a whole month. I would like to petition the Quaffers for Mike to stand in as proxy for me at the next meeting. He is a wine drinker but enjoys a few good pints every now and then. So treat him well.
Monday, July 28, 2008
I don't remember where this pic was taken in BsAs. But I like the way it turned out. Now that I have some time on my hands, I'm going through the old pics from BsAs and pulling out some of my favorites to share with you. I hope you like them.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Need to learn spanish while you are in Buenos Aires? I can't think of anyone better than Marco Luccón with Hablar en Buenos Aires.
I took two spanish classes a week from Marco for a good portion of my time in Buenos Aires. In fact, after my daughter fired me as her home school teacher, Marco stepped up to the plate and won her over as both a history and spanish teacher.
Classes are held in Marco's apartment in Palermo (off Plaza Güemes) and are only AR $30 per hour. He is great for both beginner and advanced students. So if you are struggling with that whole "vos sos" thing—give Marco a call.
They say you can never go back home again. I don't know about that.
My wife and I are have been staying in Fort Worth the last week—the place we consider home. This is where the west begins. Home to cowbosys and culture. And, it is where our relationship began right out of college. My wife was even born and raised here. Me, I was born and raised 30 minutes down I-35.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. That must be true. I have fallen in love with Fort Worth all over again and we are now looking for a house here.
Before, I could never see raising a family here because of crime or schools. But now, I realize it can't be any worse than where we were living before. And besides, with all of the Barnet Shale money rolling in things are booming here.
However, I am still going to give Austin one last chance. We were committed to Austin as our target for landing after Argentina. But, sticker price got the best of me. Fort Worth has a lot going for it and is very affordable compared to Austin.
We really could live anywhere we wanted to. But Fort Worth has always felt like home. And that is what is important.
Don't worry. We love Buenos Aires and Argentina too much to stay away for long. We'll be back.
Soon I hope.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Man life has been one big roller coaster for my family lately. I recently left Buenos Aires because of a huge medical scare with my wife. I can't say too much out of respect for my wife's privacy. However, things looked really bad and scary.
After being told this nightmare had a 10% chance of not being true, we placed all of our chips on that 10%. We came out roses. The last test came back and cleared her of everything but a nasty infection.
Now we are stuck back in the US for awhile. Don't worry I'll still be posting about life in BA. Although it looks like we will be stuck in Norman, Oklahoma of all places. I might have to change the name of the blog to A Texas-EX in OU Country.
The way I look at it, it is a small price to pay to know that my wife will be by my side for years to come... Well OK, it is a big price to pay for any Texas-EX, but she is worth it. I love her that much.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Don't even think about flying American if you don't speak "American".
Last Monday my family had to fly back to the states from Buenos Aires for a medical emergency with my wife. Don't worry. Everything is just fine now. After a big scare, it was discovered she just has a complication from an infection.
Our flight to Chicago was painful enough, but what made it especially bad was the horrible and rude service everyone received in coach. Especially those that could not speak English.
It seems American's flight attendants are very proud of the English they speak and get highly unruly if you don't happen to speak it too. It doesn't matter that our flight happened to originate in say Buenos Aires where most passengers would normally speak Spanish and not English.
Nope. You better understand English on the flight. After all, you're going to America where they speak nothing but English—at least according to the flight attendants on our flight.
After 10 hours of surly service from the flight attendants, things came to a head at breakfast service. Five rows up form me, a well dressed Porteño couple in their late fifties were being served breakfast and coffee. The flight attendant repeatedly barked, "Sir would you like milk or sugar." However, they did not speak English and did not understand her.
The man tried to explain he could not understand English. The flight attendant would not take that as an excuse so she announced louder, "Sir, milk or sugar? Sir MILK or SUGAR!"
The man tried to talk back in Castellano, but this just annoyed the flight attendant more. "Sir, I don't understand you. Do you want MILK or SUGAR!", was the reply.
Finally she said something like. Sir, I am not required to speak Spanish. I speak English! Just tell me Milk or Sugar!
The man said something else and a flight attendant form my side of the plane told the other attendant to ignore him if he couldn't speak English.
In full disgust the attendant turned away and yelled for the whole plane to hear, "Well you better start speaking English mister, cause your about to be in America. And that is what we speak there."
I couldn't believe what I just heard. That was the rudest and most insensitive thing I have ever heard a flight attendant say. It instantly reinforced the stereotype of the rude arrogant American from the US.
At the beginning of the flight, I even made the faux pas of asking "Que cervezas tiene" to the hispanic looking flight attendant who barked back, "Sir what would you like to drink. I asked again in Spanish, and received a more stern reply, "Sir, what would you like to drink."
At the time I thought she was just pissed because she thought I assumed she (being hispanic) couldn't speak English—A common mistake I made on the North Side of Fort Worth when I was trying to practice my Spanish.
But no. These flight attendants were really put off at having to serve people that didn't speak the same language as them. They didn't even make an effort to use non-verbal clues to communicate. If they didn't understand them, tough!
It is episodes like this that give American (the company) the bad reputation they now have. But worse, it is this kind of arrogant treatment that gives all people from the States a black eye in the eyes of the world.
I am so truly sorry to any Spanish speaking passengers that happened to be on the flight to Chicago last Monday night. Please don't think the worlds worst flight attendants are indicative of all people from the US.
American Airlines, I'm done with you. You have sunk too low on this one. Our relationship is over for good. This is one former "Executive Platinum" million miler that will not fly one more mile with you.
Chau American Airlines!
What has your experience been on American flying back to the US? The same? Or was this an isolated incidence?
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Time is running out. Our Argentina adventure is winding down. There are so many other places in Argentina we want to see and do but we can't do them all. In fact, we only have time for one more trip in before we leave. But where?
Located in the far northwest part of the country, the colorful and diverse high-dessert lanscape of Salta makes our American southwest look dull in comparison.
Argentina's northwest province is punctuated by mountains and canyons and offers first-rate wineries, superb colonial architecture, and miles cactus lined open road.
When explaining to locals about our travels around Argentina, everyone always asks, "Have you been to Salta? You have to go!"
About Iguazu falls.
According to the Wikipedia, upon seeing Iguazú, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed "Poor Niagara!" Iquazú is much larger than Niagara Falls and is rivaled only by Southern Africa's Victoria Falls.
However,Iguazú affords better views and walkways and its horseshoe shape allows for spectacular vistas. At one point a person can stand and be surrounded by 260 degrees of 270 different waterfalls.
Tourists that I have talked with were all blown away by their visit to the falls. Some say it is more of a must see than the Porito Moreno Glacier.
So tell us. Which would you choose as your last Argentina adventure?
Friday, May 30, 2008
The million dollar question—will Starbucks be successful in Argentina? The short answer after today is yes.
As you saw in my previous post, the temptation and curiosity were just too much to keep me away. My daughter was upset when she found out that I had gone to Starbucks without her. So I loaded up the family in a cab and headed over to Alto Palermo to treat them to TGI Fridays (right next door) and to let my daughter get her mocha fix.
When I arrived this morning around 9:00 about an hour after they opened, the line was out the door and to the steps at the corner of Arenales and Col Diaz. It was over a 30 minute wait.
When I went back this afternoon with my daughter the line was longer. It was snaking up the sidewalk of Ave. Col Diez. It stayed like that the whole time were eating lunch. After lunch, my daughter waited in that line for over an hour. For a mocha!
Was it worth it?, I asked her. Yes I would wait an hour for another one!, was the reply.
But what about Porteños? Will they stand in line for Coffee or demand that it be brought to them at the there table from mozos wearing bowties like in all the other cafés here?
When Mike and I were standing in line this morning, the whole line was made up of university kids from UBA and University of Palermo. The few older well dressed porteños would pop there head in and try to find a table, see that there was no mozo service, and then turn around and walk off.
It was much the same this afternoon. The older porteños were not having any part of it. Mainly, because of the hour long line. In fact, this afternoon the line was made up of 75% teenage girls just out of school. The one thing that is clear, Starbucks is going to be a hit with the 25 and under crowd. This ain't their father's kind of café.
I think the older crowd is still going to prefer the traditional Argentina café service. They will not wait in a line. They want to sit down at a table, have the coffee brought to them with the soda water and the small plate of cookies. And they certainly won't want to drink it out of a paper cup!
However, there was another demographic that was clearly present at Starbucks this morning. You know the type. They are the equivalent of our soccer moms back home. Except these women dress their kids in nothing but Gap clothes. The ones with the Gap logos printed real big on the front so everyone can see they must travel to Miami all the time.
They are the same women you see at the doctor office waiting rooms with the department store bags from Macy's, Barnes and Nobel, and Neimans. They like to subtly announce to everyone that they don't shop in Buenos Aires. They go to the States to shop. To them, anything with a "US" label is a must have. So naturally they want to be seen around town with the not-so-ubiquitous white cup with the green logo.
So will Starbucks be a success here? Based on the response today, Frank should be a very happy man. However, it will take time. Clearly, the under 25 crowd gets it. The older crowd will have to be converted slowly and I don't think the Martinez and Havanna chains have much to worry about yet.
This morning, I was talking with Ricardo Rico, Starbucks' director of Marketing in Latin America. He said they knew Argentina was going to be a tough market to crack. They took their time and wanted to do it right. But he knew it was going to be an education process here and that was going to take some time too. He was confident they had the right mix of products to appeal to the Argentine taste.
Come on Ricardo! A mate flavored latte? Yes thats right, a mate latte. Yuck!
I first came clean on my addiction in this earlier post. However, I have a new confession to make. I have fallen off the wagon. I have stumbled into the abyss of my drug addiction again. My drug of choice? Starbucks Coffee.
I fell off bad... having now consumed the equivalent of 7 shots of espresso in 2 hours! Damn me. (Damn you Mike for buying me another latte!)
I moved to Buenos Aires 10 months ago and was free of my vice. There were no
Starbucks triple-venti, non-fat, no-foam, 1-splenda lattes to be found for thousands and thousands of miles around. I thought I was safe.
And then today came. Starbucks has opened up its first store in Argentina at the Alto Palermo shopping mall. I thought I could stay away. I tried.
I woke up early and took my shower, and lied to my wife on the way out on where I was heading. But after dropping my son off at school, I hopped in a taxi and high tailed it over there. I had to get my fix after all these months.
The place was packed and there was a line out the door almost down to the street corner. But I waited patiently in line for 30 minutes. Fortunately, they were well staffed and handed out samples of their coffee to tease and taunt me while I waited. They even had a doo-wop group signing Mowtown songs to keep everyone entertained while we waited.
I had my first latte after 10 months and damn was it good. It tasted just like I remembered. I ran into the Yankster he bought me another 4 shot grande latte. And of course I had plenty of free drip coffee samples from this guy:
All in all, it was a disaster of a morning for me. For Starbucks, it was a huge success.
More to come in another post. In the mean time, I'll be looking up to see if there is a 12 step program for Starbucks addicts here in BA. I'll leave you with the Doo-wop group singing Blue Moon:
Thursday, May 22, 2008
As Tom (via his wife's blog) reported, our group of expat beer drinkers got together at friends house to try something different: A wine tasting. Instead of arguing about the nuances of blonds, blacks and tans, we spent the evening learning about Banardas and Malbecs.
Daniel Karlin hosted the event at his apartment. He has started a new venture called Anuva Vinos. Anuva hosts small intimate wine tastings here in Buenos Aires and features unique, hand crafted wines form some of the best small, hard-to-find bodegas in Argentina. They also make the wines available to order in the United States and Europe from their store on their web site.
I love wine almost as much as I love beer. My family was lucky enough to spend a month in Mendoza touring vineyards and sampling many different wines. So spending the evening with my beer drinking buddies sipping wine was a no brainer.
Of the five wines featured, one was a Cabernet. Not surprisingly, it was the least favorite of the four reds we tasted. Why are Cabernets in Argentina consistently bad when compared to the Cabernets made just across the Andes in Chile?
When I was a poor college student in Austin, I learned early that a good bottle of wine could greatly increase my chances of getting lucky later that night. I would impress dates by ordering a Santa Rita Cabernet or Casillero del Diablo Cabernet from Chile. They were very good and more important at the time—very cheap.
I just don't think you're going to impress many women by pouring an Argentine Cabernet. Why is that when they Cabernets from Chile come from the same mountain range and the Malbecs from here are so good?
As Daniel pointed out, The pacific side of the Andes provides more rain and humidity allowing the Chilean Cabernets to flourish. The Argentine side is much drier and favors the Malbec.
If I were back in college now and trying to impress my dates, I would pour a good Argentine Malbec like the Ikella Malbec that Anuva features. The Argentina Malbec is the best grape being grown anywhere. And you can't beat its price.
Anyone out there know of an Argentina Cab that is good and can give the Chileans some real competition?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
My daughter and I take Spanish class here in Buenos Aires. Well we can't call it spanish class because they don't really speak Spanish here in the Rio Plata region. They certainly don't speak the Tex-mex I know. Hell, they don't even speak the Spanish from Spain.
They speak Castellano.
What is the difference? A lot. It's like the old Steve Martin bit about how the French have a different word for everything! Same here but they have a different word in Castellano for everything you managed to learn in high-school spanish class, rendering all prior spanish knowledge useless.
For instance, strawberries are not fresas like in Mexico and Spain, they are frutillas here. A jacket or coat is not a chaqueta it is a campera. The list goes on and on. It is very similar to how those crazy brits have different words for things like elevator and umbrella.
But there is more. There is this whole vos sos conjugation instead of tu eres. So my most-feared part of spanish class, verb conjugations, gets all messed up down here.
Another thing that drives most Texans and Mexicans crazy is the whole "ll" sound. It gets changed to "sh" so it is not tortilla it is tortisha. It sounds worse than my New Jersey friends trying to pronounce it "tortila".
The thing that causes the most embarrassment is the large number of innocuous words that are suddenly "dirty" here. Case in point: Concha. Everybody learns that the word for sea shell is concha (see my four-year-old son's flash card above). However, here you can't say it in public because it is a very dirty word. (Think dirty slang for a female body part).
Another, word you learned in spanish 101 is the verb coger which means to take, to grab, or to catch. Everywhere else in the spanish speaking world you use it to say you want to catch a taxi or to take a bus.
Not here. In Buenos Aires, coger (pronounced co-hare) means you want to have sexual relations with the object of the sentence you use it with. You really can't say, "¡Nececito coger un Taxi!" without being hauled off to jail.
A fellow Texan and former BA expat, Brian Winter has very funny story in his book, "Long After Midnight at the Niño Bien: A Yanqui's Missteps in Argentina" about how he mistakenly approached an old lady at bus stop and asked her if he could have sexual relations with the bus.
So do yourself a favor and learn the difference between Castellano and Spanish before you come down and say something like, "Wow! Look at the size of those conchas in the window!", like I did.
What else can you not say without being arrested in Argentina these days? My favorite is "¡Estoy con el campo!"
Saturday, May 10, 2008
A lot has been made of the mom who let her 9-year-old son ride the NY city subway by himself. Her editorial in a NY newspaper (Why I let my 9-Year-Old ride the Subway Alone) has generated a lot of talk among parents all over the globe.
Some praise her while others vilify her has the worst parent on the planet. Shocked by the article at first, I found myself agreeing with the author's main point—We as a society have gotten too protective of our kids due to an irrational fear of crime. You can read more about her thoughts on her blog: Free Range Kids.
The crime per capita against children has gone down over the decades since the 60's. Only the perception of crime has gone up because of the 24-hour wall-to-wall news coverage of isolated crimes against children.
I often get asked by other parents if BA is a "safe" city for children. I think it is. But like any large city you have to take precautions. My biggest fear is that my kids will be run over by a car or bus while crossing a street.
However, for the most part we feel much safer than if we were living in Downtown Dallas or Houston with our children. There is no question to me that it is safer here than living in NY or San Francisco. This could be because crime is way under reported here.
I spend a great deal of time each day escorting my kids to school events. My son goes to a "jardin" or kindergarden for 3 hours each day. My daughter spends time between homeschooling at a friends house and various other classes around town. That is a lot of time on the bus going back and forth.
My oldest had been bugging me to let her ride the bus home from our Spanish class. As a parent, I was worried that she did not have the street smarts to figure out where she was and know where to get off.
Finally, a good friend just said you got to let them make mistakes. They will never be 100% ready to venture out on their own in a parents eyes. Only by making mistakes will they figure things out on their own and grow.
So the other day she had to get back early for a doctors appointment which would mean that I would have to miss my hour of Spanish class. I gave in and let her go back on her own. I was worried the whole time and made her text me when she got on, passed the midway point and got off.
It was a success. She walked straight to the bus stop, go on, and rode across town and got off right where she was suppose to. She was surprised at how easy it was. She now has much more confidence and a sense of independence.
Would you let your thirteen-year-old ride the bus on her own? In the US I wouldn't even think of letting her. Here everyone takes the bus. Our route from Spanish class is often filed with kids as young as 9 leaving school on their own.
When we ask friends that live in the city of Buenos Aires, everyone agrees about how safe it is and that she needs to be independent by taking the bus to where she wants to go.
However, if you ask wealthier Porteños and expats in the northern suburbs, they react in shock at such a thought. Hell, my daughter's friends in the northern suburbs aren't even allowed in the city for fear they will be kidnapped. We always have to send her in a hired car out to the suburbs to see them.
What are your thoughts? How safe is BA for a thirteen-year-old?
Monday, April 28, 2008
Having two kids, I get a lot of questions about what to do in Buenos Aires with little ones. My four year old loves it here and we never run out of new things to try. With his help, I have put together a list of his top five things to do in Buenos Aires.
1. The Playground at the Local Plaza
Without a doubt, a visit to the local playground is my son's favorite thing to do. Most major Plazas in Buenos Aires have a playground popular with the neighborhood children. My kid loves for me to take him to the park to play on the swings, dig in the sand and well, just be a kid.
Not all playgrounds are the same and some are in need of some major repairs. However, the playgrounds in Plaza Vicente López and Plaza Mitre have both been redone recently and are two of the nicest parks in town.
2. Museo de los Niños
This is a great place to spend a cold, rainy (or even smokey) day inside. Where else can your kid be flushed down a toilette into a maze of pipes, build at a construction site, unload cargo off a ship, crawl in a giant tube of toothpaste, work in a bank, and fly an airplane—all in one afternoon.
This is one fun place. I have been to some lame kids museums over the years, but they have done things right at this one and I highly recommend it. It is one of those places your kid will have to be dragged away from kicking and screaming three hours later.
It is in the Abasto Shopping Center which also features a Neverland Park arcade center with a giant ferris wheel and kiddie rides. Mom and sis don't mind the shopping in the mall either.
3. Jardín Zoológico de Buenos Aires
Lots of great animals from all over the world and in a zoo that is just the right size for little ones. It is the perfect place to spend a beautiful fall day in Buenos Aires. The zoo might be a little too old school for some. However, it is still a hit with kids. See my earlier post about it here.
4. Paddle Boats at the Bosque de los Rosedales
This large Palermo park is a must for visitors with kids. Stroll the paths that wind through beautiful rose gardens and head over to the artificial lakes. There, you can rent bikes or my kids favorite, a boat. It is a lot of work to paddle your way around the lake, but a lot of fun too.
5. Parque Tamaikén
If the small cages at the Buenos Aires zoo seem a little inhumane for your liking, then try out this wildlife park 30 minutes north of town. Tamaikén is one of the nicest wildlife parks I have visited beating out some of those in the states. The park is nice but without the constant commercialism you see back home. Not that your small kid will notice. He'll be enjoying all the animals.
Here is my first post on Tamaikén.
Friday, April 18, 2008
We can't go outside tonight. The smoke is just too much. My wife's throat is irritated and I'm getting a headache from the fumes. It is 2:00am, and I have had to shut off all the air conditioners in the apartment because they are sucking in the fowl smell of burnt grass.
You may have noticed the news reports. Over 70,000 hectares of grasslands in the river delta region 300 km north of Buenos Aires have been burning. The fires are sending smoke all the way down to Buenos Aires and even over to Montevideo in Uruguay.
The blog, Still Life in Buenos Aires, has a good NASA photo of the area affected.
It seems that in the winter, farmers in the delta marshland use an age old slash-and-burn technique to clear dry grass and improve the land for grazing cattle. Normally, it is not a big deal. But this year, someone started a little early and the fire got out of hand because of the climatic conditions.
After a week or more of the smoke, 70,000 toasted hectares and several deaths on the highways due to the thick smoke, the government has finally labeled it a crisis. But rather than make much progress in fighting the real fire, they seem more interested in playing with political fire.
The government has used this crisis to their advantage in the farm strike negotiations, labeling the fires the result of greedy farmers that burned the land "to reduce costs and maximize profits, regardless of the consequences."
And of course this great quote circulating all the wire services:
“This is the largest fire of this kind we’ve ever seen,” said the interior minister, Florencio Randazzo. “It was started by farmers clearing land for cattle grazing, driven by greed for profit and with total disregard for human life.”
Because the area is a protected wetland, the use of chemicals and pesticides is banned. The marshland consists of 100s of islands with no roads and the only way in or out is by boat. Using heavy equipment is cost prohibitive, so the farmers have used the slash and burn technique for many years.
The only problem, there were never any safeguards put in place to prevent the tragedy we have now. But the government claiming that heads are going to roll and this is all the result of greedy farmers acting irresponsibly, sounds a bit like the Prefect of Police in the movie Casablanca claiming, "I'm shocked that gambling is going on here!" when he had been well aware of it all along.
Leave it to this government to use a crisis to drive a wedge and divide its people more.
I just don't understand this type of politics.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
A must on any Buenos Aires tour is the the Sunday street market in the barrio of San Telmo. Street Tango, street musicians, artists, antiques, crafts and an occasional transvestite make for an interesting scene.
We finally made it last Sunday after saying we wanted to go for the last 7 months. Why we have not been is beyond me. It is a short bus or taxi ride to the other side of Plaza de Mayo and we had a great afternoon even though I'm not into the whole craft fair kind of thing.
The crowds on Sunday can be quite large. Despite the crowds, the whole walk from end to end is quite manageable and makes for an interesting stroll. The knick knacks compete with the people watching as the main attraction. But there are plenty of sideshows with Tango performers and other musicians panning for your coin along the route.
The best place to start is at Plaza Dorrego at the far end of Defensa street which they close off to traffic during the fair. The plaza is filled with antique vendors selling everything imaginable.
There will be plenty of photo ops and entertainment as you make your way up Calle Defensa towards Plaza de Mayo. On the street, the antiques will share billing with local handmade crafts from the neighborhoods more bohemian citizens.
There are plenty of great restaurants to eat at along the way. I can recommend Bar Plaza Dorrego or La Divina Comedia. Both have outdoor dining right on Calle Defensa and are well suited to watching the parade of people pass by on Sundays.
San Telmo itself has some great, albeit faded architecture with the city's largest concentration buildings from the 19th century. The architecture ads to the neighborhoods bohemian feel.
If you are planning a stay in Buenos Aires, be sure to put a trip to San Telmo on your list.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Poor Homer and his family... Or should I say Homero as he is known down here. When first on the air, he had to deal with the US religious right calling for bans and boycotts. Even our President George H.W. Bush took swings at The Simpsons calling them bad roll models for America.
Then, just last week the sitcom was deemed "unsuitable for children" in Venezuela and pulled off the air by president Hugo Chavez. The government stated, "the show goes against wholesome education for young boys and girls".
So what did Venezuela put on in its palce? Baywatch Hawaii. Now there is wholesome education—hot girls in bathing suits and David Hasslehoff! Go figure?
Huego Chavez isn't the only one with a beef about Homer. Here in Argentina, a former Peronist deputy has asked the broadcasting commission to ban an episode of The Simpsons for falsely attributing the "Disappeared" to former president Juan Perón.
In the episode, Moe asks, "Who wants to abolish democracy forever?" Carl replies,"I could really go for some kind of military thing like, uh, I don't know... Juan Perón. When he disappeared ya, you stayed disappeared." Lenny chimes in with, "Plus his wife was Madonna!"
OK first off, we all know it was the right-wing dictatorship that overthrew Perón's third wife,(Isabell, not Madonna) that was efficient at disappearing people. If there was a slight historical inaccuracy is that worth banning the show? You have to admit that Madonna line was funny. It just wouldn't of worked any other way.
Besides, everyone knows that people in the US are really bad at world history. Hell, they're bad at our own history. I'm impressed Moe even knew who Juan Perón was.
If historical accuracy is a requirement for our entertainment down here, then how come they allowed the disaster of a movie 10,000 BC to be shown? Come on dinosaurs during the time of cavemen? Cavemen in Egypt when the Pyramids were being built? Come on! I would of gladly gone to a cacerolazo to protest that movie!
Friday, April 11, 2008
In my last post, I covered the disturbing trend of the Kirchners attempting to control the press and stifle free speech. It gets worse.
As I reported yesterday, Queen Cristina at a rally of supports (a chunk of whom were threatened with their jobs if they didn't show up) held up a political cartoon printed in the local newspaper Clarín, and accused it of being a "quasi mafioso" attack on her.
The ironic thing is most porteños consider Clarín very pro-Kirchner. It was odd that the Presidenta was picking on one of her biggest supports in the press. But there she was accusing them of being mafioso thugs. (She also accused them of taking advantage of her because she is a woman... but that should be a whole other blog post.)
This from the government that sent thugs into the Plaza to beat up its own citizens that were peacefully protesting the government. A peaceful crowd made up of women, children, grandparents. Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?
The man leading the group of thugs was Luis D'Elía. A man that later shared the stage with the president in her big speech right after the protests against her. And a man that has been defended by all levels of the government here despite the vile, bigoted, hate-filled remarks he has made in the press.
Over the last couple of weeks the government has been clear in letting the independent press here know that they are now in the crosshairs. So who do they put on TV to beat up the press? Of course, Mr. D'Elía.
Last night on Television, there D'Elía was attacking the press and justifying a governments crackdown.
He took Cristina's lead and went after Clarín parent company that runs the 24 hour news channel. "This channel is always putting a pistol to the head of democracy...", he said.
He then attacked Clarín, "Before you used dictatorship to remove people, today the media is the dictatorship."
The world is starting to voice its concern about the governments recent attacks on the Press. So the Kirchners send D'Elía out to defend them. Who is the real mafioso, or should I say mafiosa.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Book with Wings, 1992–94.
From the collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
I'm sorry for posting another political post. I promise I'll return to more pics and travel commentary from around Buenos Aires soon.
However, the above sculpture is one of my all time favorite works of art. It is called Book with Wings from the Museum of Modern Art Fort Worth. The wings give freedom to the printed word, something we are seeing less of here in Argentina.
I was shocked the other day, when a fellow blogger and Argentine rancher deleted all of his posts about the farm strike in fear of reprisals from the government. To keep his ID secret, we'll just call him Dandy Michael—not a reference to his sexual orientation, but to his well known moniker.
It seems that actions by the government towards neighboring farmers have served their purpose of silencing a wonderful and balanced viewpoint about life on the farm here in Argentina.
While the government's decision to seize farmers livestock is not a direct attack on freedom of speech, the end result is the same. There are plenty of recent examples that are direct attacks on the freedom of the press.
In Cristina's recent rally in the Plaza de Mayo before the rent-a-crowd audience, she held up a very unflatering political cartoon of her and publicly criticized it as a "quasi-mafioso message". Before singling out the cartoon by Hermenegildo Sábat (see image above), she compared the current farm strike to a farm strike right before the 1976 coup that brought in the right-wing military dictatorship responsible for the murder of thousands of Argentines and the suspension of most liberties.
She added, "This time farmers have not been accompanied by tanks, this time they have been accompanied by those large media corporations that in addition to supporting the lock out of the people by the farmers, have locked out the information, changing, misrepresenting, and showing a one-sided opinion."
And soon after that speech, she met with the Social Sciences department at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) to announce the relaunching of a commission called Observatorio de Discriminación en los Medios (Discrimination Observatory in the Media). Its purpose is to investigate the "truthfulness" of the press and make sure it is "fair and balanced" as seen by the government. Yeah right! Kinda of like what FOX News does for our government.
It all sounds like a witch hunt to go after journalist that disagree with the government to me. I don't think Stephen Colbert could make up such a bit.
Need more proof? A report by Reporters Without Borders noted that journalists in the provinces were threatened and harassed by police and the courts. The press was also blackmailed by withdrawal of local government advertising. That was in 2007. In terms press freedom, Argentina ranked 82 out of 167 nations as tracked by Reporters without Borders. After recent events, it will surely drop further.
This trend is troubling because the freedom of the press is a critical foundation for any democratic government. Unfortunately, here it is the only vehicle for people to be heard outside the Kirchners who strongly control congress and all local governments. If you don't like what the government is doing, you can't rely on the traditional separation of powers a strong democracy has. That just does not exist here.
The weak Judiciary is slow and ineffective. Congress is in bed with the government and is just a rubber stamp for whatever the Kirchners want. What the government says here, goes. That only leaves the press to keep citizens informed and to give them a voice.
Hopefully, the Argentine press will continue to stand up for the truth and won't be bullied by the Kirchners when the truth goes against the Kirchners' wishes. The press is the last line of defense for this democracy.
All of this is ironic. Cristina and her husband were once part of the underground movement against the right wing dictatorship and the lack of freedoms that government was known for. Maybe they learned a few too many things from their enemy.
Irony... like the wings above made of lead.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Just returned from the protest here in the Recoleta tonight. It was much bigger than the night before. When talking with people in the crowd, it appears that Cristina didn't do anything to calm the emotions of the middle class here in the Recoleta. (OK...maybe some were well above middle class status.)
The cacerolazo started soon after Cristina's speech. People headed to their windows and balconies and started banging on pots and pans to announce the start.
People then started gathering on the street. I went up a block to the corner of Callao and Quitana where everyone from my neighborhood seemed to gather each night. There was a pretty good crowd, although not as big as the previous night.
When enough had gathered to block the road, everyone marched up to the corner of Santa Fe and Callao. This was the area where all of the groups from Barrio Norte would meet up before marching on to the Obelisco the other nights.
I left the crowd about 9:00 and headed home for dinner.
About 10:00 we heard a large bang of fireworks and the tin of the Cacerolazo approaching our apartment. I grabbed the camera and raced downstairs. I was surprised to see a very large march down Callao.
I guess the pro-government supporters had occupied the Obelisco and Plaza de Mayo all day. So the Cacerolazo decided to march through the streets tonight.
It was a great tactic. The group drew more and more participants as it marched down Callao. I followed the group of about 3,000 people. down Callao and onto Ave. Libertador. From Libertador, the crowd moved up Av. Pueyrredon and back up to Santa Fe.
All along the way the crowed grew bigger an bigger. And when they reached the intersection of Santa Fe and Callao again the crowd was easily 5,000. Later, they broke out in the national anthem before many left for home around 11:00. It was very moving.
The mood was more like being in a parade than a protest. There were families with small children, older couples, soccer mom types, and a large number of young adults. As we passed down the street, the balconies would fill with people banging pots or throwing confetti down on the crowd.
One thing is clear. The middle and upper classes do not like the Kirschners. They are tired of the bad government and the fact that they have no real congress to stand up for them. They feel the cacerolazo is the only way they can be heard.
I've got a ton of great video. It just takes forever to upload to YouTube. I'll post more as I get it uploaded. I promise.
I'll leave you with a moving video of the singing of the National Anthem:
Why is this man the face of the government?
This is the man that sent a small group of thugs into the Plaza de Mayo to break up the protesters supporting the farmers. The self proclaimed voice of the government and the "people".
Who is he? While none other than a former official from Nestor Kirshner's (Cristina's husband) presidential cabinet&mdashLuis D'Elía.
It is not everyday you see an official from the government punching ordinary citizens in the street (see the video clip above from La Nacion) and spewing hatred like this:
"I am replying that I have a visceral hatred for the oligarchy whore (i.e. the farmers) that has its hands full, but filled with blood from people, blood workers, but never had a problem with killing massively "
And of course this gem:
"You, the north of the city, whites, those who accumulate and concentrate and kill and that the only flag they have in their hands is its own profitability, they have a visceral hatred, sépanlo of my mouth, the only thing I hate it moves against you"
This is insane. Someone please explain why people like Luis D'Elía are inciting class warfare and splitting this great country instead of trying to solve the problems at hand.
The most outrageous thing? There he was tonight on the stage with the Kirshners as Cristina gave her speech. How can a man like that be allowed to sit on the same stage with them?
BTW...In my previous post when I mocked the woman's boyfriend for saying this was heading to civil war....I sadly retract my statement.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
My family found ourself in the middle of one of the largest protest in recent history here in Buenos Aires. Evidently (and I don't have all the facts due to my language barrier), Christina popped her head on TV and called the striking farmers spoiled, rich aristocrats—according to a couple I spoke with on the streets, although two newsreporters I talked to later stated she said "they make enormous profits and are very rich."
Whatever she said, It pissed off a lot of people. The march started around 8:00 followed by a counter protest around 10:00 by the Peronist ( I can't really tell who is who on TV). There may be others.
I was at home with my son tonight when my wife and daughter called and asked us to come meet them for diner. About 8:00, I grabbed my son and headed downstairs to get a taxi. As, I was getting in I heard a lot of banging sounds. I looked up to see the maids in my building at the windows banging on pots.
Wow, was there a big football match that I wasn't awear of? As I gave the taxi driver directions, several more women walked by banging pots and pans. We drove up Montevideo and more and more people were filling the streets. Nothing big. A few here and there on the sidewalk. When we arrived at Avendia Santa Fe, there were even more people.
I met my family at the restaurant and we took our seats at the table. We asked the manager what was going on, but no one seemed quite sure why the people were protesting.
However, the banging and the chanting grew louder and louder. We left the restaurant and were shocked to see a solid mass of people now marching down Santa Fe. What use to be six lanes of busy traffic was now wall to wall people marching down the center of the street.
A couple leaving another restaurant explained the part about Christina speaking ill of the striking farmers and that people where taking the streets in support of the farmers.
At that point (being against the Tax increase myself), we joined the marchers and marched down Santa Fe to 9 de Julio and on to the Obelisco where a larger crowd had gathered. Before heading down to Plaza de Mayo.
It is now 1:30 as I write this and it has started pouring rain. Good thing. The protest, counter-protest, and counter-counter-protest were starting to get heated. The rain will empty the streets in a hurry.
Monday, March 24, 2008
I've taken my lead from fellow Quaffer, BA expat and full-time tour guide—Alan, who has compiled a list of his favorite hotels in Buenos Aires over at his blog.
But Argentina has so much more than just Buenos Aires. So here is my list of the best beds Argentina has to offer—assuming price is no object.
Simply one of my favorite hotels in the whole world.
Even though it is brand new, the Palacio Duhau - Park Hyatt Buenos Aires has found it's place among the best hotels in Buenos Aires and has found it to the top of my list of best hotels.
To some, the Alvear (see #4 below) is the Grand Damme of Buenos Aires hotels. However, if you are like me, and all the marble, gold and gilded, white-glove service seems a bit dated and stuffy, head over to the Park Hyatt. The service at the Park Hyatt is warm and sleek and every bit as attentive with a very high staff to guest ratio.
The rooms are modern and cozy. This is what luxury in the twenty first century should be like. The tea and brunch at the Park Hyatt are wonderful treats and a favorite choice for my daughter on special occasions.
The Park Hyatt is really two hotels in one. The part facing Ave. Alvear was once a private palace. It has been wonderfully restored and blends the best of old and new. The tower facing Posadas street is sleek and modern.
It is one of the priciest beds in town. But, you will be rubbing shoulders with rock stars and other celebs passing through town.
My second favorite hotel is the Llao Llao Hotel and Golf Resort located 30km west of Bariloche. The views are breathtaking in every direction.
It is a great place to stay if you are on a romantic getaway, have the kids in tow, or if you are a celeb looking to hang with your gal pals. There are plenty of activities to keep you busy. Or if you prefer, there are plenty of great spots to do nothing but soak up the sun and the incredible views.
Golfer? This is the place for you. The views from the golf course are better than Pebble Beach.
You can find more pics in my earlier blog post on my stay.
Four Seasons reputation for excellence is not wasted on the Four Seasons Buenos Aires. It is a great place to stay if you are on business or traveling on your own.
To be honest, it was about 10 years or so ago when I stayed there as a young software executive on my first visit to Buenos Aires. It was the nicest hotel I had stayed in at the time, only it wasn't the Four Seasons. It was the Park Hyatt back then.
Fast forward several years later and through a major renovation, it is even nicer than I remembered. The service, like the other two Buenos Aires hotels on the list, is top notch and its location just off 9 de Julio can't be beat.
Brunch here shouldn't be missed. My family took me to Sunday brunch here for my birthday. It was more my style than the brunches at the Park Hyatt or the Alvear—less pretentious and friendlier, but every bit as nice.
Similar to the new Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, the hotel features a wonderful french-style mansion in the back and a new, modern tower in the front. Ask for a room with a view of the pool and the mansion. You may even get a great view of the Obelisk.
Ask any porteño what the best hotel in Buenos Aires is, and they will all say the Alvear. For over 75 years this hotel has staged some of the most important events in Buenos Aires. It's white gloved service can't be matched. The english speaking staff from the concierge to the butler are eager to assist with any need.
For those looking for a throwback to a bygone era, this is the place for you. It is a beautiful old hotel filled with more marble and goldleaf than you have ever seen. The Alvear is grand without being gaudy. I prefer my hotels a little less gilded though. That is why it is not my top rated BA hotel.
However, the Sunday brunch and high tea are unmatched for their level of service and a great treat for visitors even if you aren't staying there. Either one is a must do on any tourists checklist.
If you come to Argentina, you have to experience a stay at a working estancia. Dos Lunas outside of Córdoba is one of the best. It is the perfect escape from the modern world and you get to experience what life was like for Argentina's wealthy landowners.
The food at Dos Lunas is exceptional and the hospitality warm and friendly. No TV, phone, or internet for miles.
There may be better estancias in Argentina, I have not found one yet. My family ranks our stay at Dos Lunas as our favorite memory in Argentina so far. I raved about our stay in my Dos Lunas post with plenty of pics.
There simply isn't any other choice when staying in Mendoza other than the Park Hyatt Mendoza. It is situated in the heart of Mendoza right on the main square.
Like it's sister hotel in Buenos Aires, the Park Hyatt has designed a sleek modern hotel into a beautiful old building from Mendoza's past. The rooms are large, modern and very comfy. The the outstanding service is warm and friendly and can arrange any of your outdoor activities or wine tours.
Food at all of the restaurants are some of the best bites in town. Sushi on the patio on Friday nights shouldn't be missed.
The kids really enjoyed the small, but uniquely designed pool. Can't say much about the attached Casino, but the Spa is highly rated by past visitors over at TripAdvisor
El Calafate took my breath away and nudged out Bariloche as my favorite place in Patagonia. The best place to stay in Calafate has to be Eolo.
Well, you could spend $1000 (yes, that is one thousand US dollars) more a night to stay at Los Notros and be closer to the glacier. But, is it not worth it? The staff, service and food at Eolo are all exceptional.
Above all, it is the beautiful setting that sets Eolo apart. It is the ultimate room with a view as visitors are enveloped in the beauty and remoteness of southern Patagonia. It is one of those special places that shouldn't be missed.
I wrote in my blog post about Bariloche that Villa La Angostura is the place
to stay for smart Argentine traveler in the know. The quaint
village is a lot more welcoming than run-down Bariloche across the lake.
There is not better place to stay in Villa La Angostura than Las Balsas. This small quiet inn is right on the lake with a chef that is world renowned. Probably not a place to take the kids. But, this is the place if you want a romantic getaway in the Bailoche area.
Las Balsas makes a great alternative to the Hotel Llao Llao (the other Bariloche area hotel on my list) if you prefer small comfortable inns over big resorts.
Río Hermosa Hotel is one of Patagonia's best kept secrets. It is located right on the banks of the Río Hermoso in Lanín National Park. It is south of San Martín de los Andes in the middle of nowhere.
Like Las Balsas (see above), it is a small gem of a hotel. However, it is more secluded and private than Las Balsas and ideal for those wanting an exclusive get away close to nature. My Argentine travel agent once joked, "Las Balsas is where we take our wives, Río Hermoso is where we take our mistresses. And when you are done with her, you have the best fly fishing right at your doorstep."
I guess for certain men, it couldn't get much better than that. Río Hermoso tops my list of places to stay in the San Martín del los Andes area. I will be staying here when I return. With my wife of course.
Touring Mendoza for the wine? Then you have to stay at The Cavas Wine Lodge. It is located at the base of Andes Mountains surrounded by lush vineyards 20 minutes south of Mendoza.
It was the first hotel in Mendoza dedicated to wine. Cavas Wine Lodge is known for its privacy, tranquility and romance (i.e. no kids allowed). Guests are surrounded by great wine, food and natural beauty.
The rooms are actually small casitas in the middle of the vineyard and feature private pools and rooftop fireplaces. Most guests comment that their fondest memory is drinking a bottle of wine with their spouse rooftop in front of the outdoor fireplace while the sun set over the Andes. The luxurious spa is top rated by former guests as well.
It is the one place we wanted to stay in Mendoza but couldn't because we had the kids in tow. So on this one, I'm going strictly by everyone else's strong praise.
What is your favorite place in Argentina?
What do you think? Did I leave your favorite hotel or estancia off the list? I know I have short changed Salta, Tucuman and other regions to the north. However, I haven't been lucky enough to visit the north of Argentina yet. What are your recommendations?