Buenos Aires

Our flight to Buenos Aires was our third delayed flight (out of 3 on our post-Brazil adventures). The babies did pretty well considering that the flight was during their bedtime. We finally arrived (after a few wrongs turns by our taxi driver) to our hotel on Avenida Corrientes – a busy street with bookstores, theaters, and very close to the Obelisco.

Our first day in Buenos Aires was a Sunday, so we decided to visit the Weekend Feria at San Telmo. We walked down Pasaje de la Defensa to Plaza Dorrego. There was an interesting collection of souvenirs and antique collectibles. Afterwards we walked to La Boca for a food tour. We had appetizers and wine at one restaurant, then a traditional parillada (grilled meats) and wine at another restaurant, and finally a coffee at a historical coffee shop. It was a fun experience, but definitely did not compare to our food tour in Hanoi, Vietnam. We would have liked to go a few more places and of course nothing compares to Vietnamese street food! That evening we had a date night. We learned the basic tango steps during a tango lesson, then had dinner, and watched a tango show.

On our second day, we went and toured Teatro Colon. The tour was in Spanish, so I had to translate for Derek and the babies. Then we walked over to Centro to see Casa Rosada (the presidential offices), the Metropolitan Cathedral, and Plaza del Mayo. There was a huge political protest going on, so we couldn’t get very close to Casa Rosada. Next we went to La Manzana de las Luces. We were not super impressed with the tour, which was all in Spanish. Based on the description, we thought we would be touring a historical building (multiple old houses which had been connected over the years and used for the early government after independence), which had been excavated and had secret tunnels. This was not the case. We tours some rooms, which were not super noteworthy and just saw one patch of excavated foundation.

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Casa Rosada

On our third day, we went back to San Telmo. We visited Zanjon de los Granados, which was a very old house, once a mansion and then a tenement house. It had tunnels which were where they diverted the river in order to build the house. Then we went to one of the modern art museums, MAMBA, which was quite small. Their major exhibition was a room filled with large spider webs that looked like Halloween decorations but were actually made my spiders. Next we had a coffee at Cafe Plaza Dorrego, a historic cafe in San Telmo. We walked back through the Centro area, and there were not any protests. Then we walked over to Puerto Madero, which was the second port area, but is now a ritzy district. We saw the Puente la Mujer, which is supposed to look like a woman dancing tango, and toured a frigate from the late 1800s, the Fragata ARA Presidente Sarmiento. We ended our day with delicious empanadas.

On our final day in Buenos Aires, we did the Recoleta Free Walking Tour, which was way longer than it needed to be and seemed to stop at places that were not very notable. We ended the tour at Recoleta Cemetery. We walked around for a little while and visited Eva Perón’s grave. Then we took a long walk to Palermo to visit another modern art museum, famous in South America, MALBA. There was a self-portrait by Frida Kahlo. Derek and I don’t seem to have a good enough appreciation for modern art, and we did not stay long. We flew back to São Paulo on a 10pm flight, and the babies did pretty well considering we did not arrive at our hotel until 1:30a.

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Iguazu Falls

We were excited that we got to sit together on the plane! We learned that in July many South American schools have off, so it is high season for traveling. We lucked out that we just missed it! We had an evening flight, but the babies did pretty well. We flew into Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil) then drove to our B&B in Puerto Iguazú (Argentina). We were greeted with appetizers, caipirinhas, and a sweet old dog. The next morning we sat on the deck watching hummingbirds, while we ate a breakfast of fruit salad and toast with lots of jam options.

On our first day, we decided to go to Argentine side, which offers close up views of the waterfalls. We decided to start our day with a 2 hour round trip hike to a little waterfall. We didn’t see anyone on the way there, and Naomi talked the whole walk back to scare off any jaguars or bobcats. Then we took the train to the Garganta del Diablo. After walking 20 minutes on a catwalk over the river, we arrived at a spectacular view of Garganta del Diablo. Derek and I were astounded by the view. He said it was one of the few times that a tourist attraction has outdone his expectations. Next the babies took a nap while we walked the Circuito Superior (above the falls) and Circuito Inferior (at the base of the falls). We just missed getting to go on a ferry to visit Isla San Martín, so in retrospect, we should have changed the order of some of our activities. Afterwards, we were quite hungry and quite tired from our 12+ miles of walking in the sunny 80 degree temperature, so we were really looking forward to some empanadas in downtown Puerto Iguazú. However, we were sad to learn that this town takes its siesta seriously, and all of the restaurants close between 3 or 4 until 7 or 8.

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On our second day we visited the Itaipu Dam, Parque das Aves, and Brazil side of the waterfall. The dam was fairly boring, but it was pretty incredible how much energy it generates for Paraguay and Brazil. We next visited the bird park, and we didn’t have high hopes, but the toucan and macaw exhibits made it worth it. In both, we walked into a large exhibit where birds were flying above us and landing next to us. I had never seen a toucan in person before! The parrots were beautiful and quite loud. It was amazing to watch them fly and hear them talk. The girls loved this exhibit! The waterfall experience on the Brazil side was very different from the Argentine side. After buying our tickets, we had to take a bus into the park. Immediately after getting off the bus, there was an incredible panoramic view of Isla San Martín and the falls surrounding it. As we walked along the trail, there continued to be spectacular views which showed just how big the falls really are. Finally, at the end of the trail, we walked out on a metal walkway to view Salto Floriano, which sprays a ton of water. It was incredible to see the pure joy on the girls’ faces as they got soaked! After we got back to our B&B, we ordered empanadas from a local restaurant for the second evening in a row.

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Salta

We flew to Salta after our adventure in Iguazu. The Puerto Iguazú airport was tiny and security opened 45 minutes before the flight. Derek and I both had rows to ourselves, so the babies were able to take their morning nap.

Our first day was a half day, so we took the teleferico to get a view of the city. We were surprised that Salta is much bigger than we imagined. Then, we walked to the center of town and visited the Museo de Arqueología de Alta Montaña. This museum houses the mummified bodies of three children who were Incan sacrifices and the artifacts that were buried with them, as well as the mummified remains of a mummy who was the victim of grave robbers.

On our second day, we rented a car and drove to Cafayete. The drive was beautiful, and the mountains look similar to the painted desert. We didn’t realize how long it would take to get to Cafayete, though, and we had planned to drive to Cachi before heading back to Salta. Since we would not have time to do this, we decided to visit two wineries – Bodega Piatteli and Bodega Vasija Secreta – for tours and tastings. This region has some of the lowest latitude and highest altitude of any wineries and is known for torrontés, merlot, and cabernet. Piatteli was a newer winery, and the tasting was fun because we were able to drink varietals from their Salta and Mendoza vineyards and compare them.

On our third day, we took a tour of Salinas Grandes, San Antonio de los Cobres, and Puramarca. It seemed like the tour description really over-exaggerated the highlights of this tour. First we stopped at Santa Rosa de Tastil for bathrooms, a small museum, and handicrafts. Then we visited San Antonio de los Cobres  for a long lunch. We then visited the salt flats, which were definitely the highlight of the trip. It was white everywhere with sparkling salt pools and mountains in the distance. Afterwards, we drove up winding mountains to an altitude of 4170 mt. We felt very bad because the girls got sick multiple times on the way up and down this mountain. Luckily babies are resilient, and they recovered quickly. We were really excited to see the Cerro de los Siete Colores, so we were pretty disappointed when the visit to this highly recommended location was just pointing it out of the bus window (and of course we were on the wrong side of the bus). We arrived at our final advertised stop – Puramarca – which was described as an interesting town due to its Bolivian feel and lots of handicrafts, but we weren’t super impressed. Overall, we thought this was a really long day for some scenery that was similar to our drive to Cafayete with winding roads and altitude that made the girls sick, and just a lot of stops to buy souvenirs. We even made an extra stop 15 minutes after we left Puramaraca at an extra souvenir superstore…

On our fourth and final day, we did a free walking tour of Salta. Beforehand we walked into the Cathedral Basilica de Salta. On the tour we walked around Plaza 9 de Julio, Centro Cultural América, and Cabildo (town hall). Then our tour took us over to Iglesia San Francisco and the Basilica Menor y Convento. The nuns at the convent are cloistered. We also walked to the monument to Güermes. There was some interesting information about the architecture in Salta, the history of some of the buildings, and the street numbering. However, it really seemed like there was not as much interesting information as on the Rio free walking tour we did. We spent some time relaxing in the garden at our hotel and then flew to Buenos Aires. My sinuses were ready to leave this dusty desert!