Argentina is the place for lovers of food and wine.  In Mendoza, visitors will find a Napa Valley-like wonderland of vineyards, bodegas and gourmet restaurants (along with some very cheap, very delicious Malbecs).  In Buenos Aires, NYC-quality restaurants serve world-class food at small-town prices.  Ushuaia has seafood aplenty, and the rest of the country abounds with beef and lamb.

Argentina, like Chile, its neighbor to the west, is also a place for those who love nature.  From the spectacular Iguazu Falls in the North to the Perito Moreno glacier in the middle to Tierra del Fuego National Park at the southern tip, this country is full of natural wonders.  Although domestic flights here are expensive, the buses are cheap, clean and very comfortable, so getting from place to place is no problem.

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Argentina has one of the few currencies in the world against which the U.S. dollar hasn’t weakened.  That’s just one more reason to come to this country, where there’s something for everyone.

Blog Entries We Wrote

  • To see all the blog entries we wrote about this country, please click HERE.

Pictures We Took

  • To see some of the pictures we took in this country, please click HERE.

Cities/Areas We Visited

  • Mendoza (March 14-20, 2008)
  • San Martin de los Andes (March 20-22, 2008)
  • Ushuaia (March 30-April 2, 2008)
  • El Calafate (April 11-14, 2008)
  • Buenos Aires (April 14-28, 2008; May 2-5, 2008)
  • Iguazu Falls (April 28-30, 2008)

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Places We Stayed


  • Hotel Cervantes (March 14-17, 2008) – This place has some great assets (namely, a really nice patio out back), but it desperately needs to be renovated.  (This process may already have started; they were tearing out the carpet on the floor above us.)  At $100 a night, it’s definitely not a great value.

Hotel CervantesHotel Cervantes









  • Villagio Boutique Hotel (March 17-19, 2008) – We came to this new “boutique” hotel after we checked out of Hotel Cervantes, and we’re so glad we did.  For about the same price as Cervantes ($109 a night), we got true luxury–a really nice room with wooden floors and wifi, as well as an incredibly helpful staff and a great, central location. We would definitely stay here again.


Villagio Hotel - Fantastic!Villagio Hotel - Fantastic!







San Martin de los Andes

  • Casa de Eugenia (March 20-22, 2008) -  This bright blue bed and breakfast feels really homey, right down to the family pictures in the living room.  The room was a little small for Derek’s taste (Shanna likes them cozy), but it was clean and very comfortable, if a little pricey at about $100 a night.  In a funny note, we had to literally break OUT of the place on the morning we left… We had an early bus to catch, and the staff had not yet woken up to unlock the doors!

La Casa de EugeniaLa Casa de Eugenia in San Martin de los Andes








  • Tango ByB (March 30-April 2, 2008) – We will forever refer to this $65-a-night bed and breakfast as “Tango Bed.”  We’re not sure what happened to the “Breakfast” part of the name–the bread and jam available in the mornings certainly didn’t stand up to the other great breakfasts we’ve had at B&Bs.  Staying here, we felt a little like we were intruders in the home of a family whom we didn’t know.  The owner and his wife, who was sick at the time, share their living spaces with guests, and we would’ve liked some more privacy (as, we’re sure, would’ve they). On the upside, though, the owner was once a professional tango accordion player, and he treated all of us guests to a great concert.

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El Calafate

  • America del Sur (April 11-14, 2008) – This hostel ($50 a night) seemed liked the place to be in El Calafate.  Its huge common spaces were definitely a meeting spot, and its nightly BBQ seemed to draw a lot of backpacker crowds. We would’ve liked it to be a little cleaner, though.  The towels were stained and the floors definitely hadn’t seen a mop in awhile. Interestingly enough, it had heated floors!

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Buenos Aires

  • Apartment in Palermo (Avenida Libertador 2698) (April 14-28, 2008; May 2-5, 2008) – We cannot say enough good things about our beloved apartment ($100 a night) and the amazing things it did for our collective sanity (and sanitation).  Anyone going to Buenos Aires for longer than a week or so should strongly consider renting an apartment (maybe this one!), rather than staying in a hotel.  We had so much more space than we would’ve in a similarly priced hotel, and the washing machine, gourmet kitchen and DVD player were invaluable.  The staff who managed our rental were very responsive and always available to answer our “where’s the nearest post office”-type questions.  We found our place through www.apartmentsba.com.

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Iguazu Falls

  • Hostel-Inn Iguazu (April 28-30, 2008) – There surely can’t be many hostels on earth like this one ($45 a night).  At least, we’ve never seen one.  It was kind of like a 160-person backpackers’ paradise, in that it had everything from a huge pool to wifi to a travel agent to gigantic meeting spaces in which a nightly dinner was served.  “Downtown” Iguazu is a 20/30-minute walk away, so everyone mostly stayed at the hostel, which made meeting other travelers very easy.

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Places We Ate


  • Quinta Norte – Sidewalk cafes are everywhere in Mendoza, and this centrally located place seemed to be a popular one.  We came here twice, once for pasta and salads with Derek’s parents and the next time for a quick meal of sandwiches and antipasto for the two of us.  The food was good but not as nice as the setting.

Quinta Norte - pasta and salad near Plaza Independencia









  • Arturito – The four of us (Derek, his parents and Shanna) came to this parilla in search of the excellent grilled meat we’d heard they served.  As it turned out, they served up HUGE portions of a wide (and kind of intimidating) variety of grilled meat, but none of it really tasted that good.

Arturito - fairly bad parrilaArturito - fairly bad parrila









  • El Meson Espanol – This Spanish-style restaurant is the only place we’ve ever been where every diner is served a complimentary shot of sherry to kick off the meal.  (Maybe it was their way of making up for the fact that we waited almost an hour for our entrees.)  Most of the food was pretty good, but Shanna’s seafood casserole turned out to be the first thing she’s ever ordered that she disliked so strongly that she truly couldn’t eat more than a bite.  (It had something to do with the fact that they included a lot of the fishes’ insides in the concoction…)  Her failure, while embarrassing, was otherwise without consequence–the portions on everyone else’s plates were so huge that they all had plenty to spare.

Spanish restaurant - good trout, but bad seafood casserole









  • Azafran – This was one of the best restaurants we visited during our stay in Mendoza.  First off, the front portion of the place is a wine bar where sommeliers choose wines to suit the tastes of everyone with a seat at the small table therein.  Happily, the sommeliers make their way to the dining room, as well.  One of them picked out an amazing (and amazingly cheap!) red wine that we’ll be looking for as soon as we return to the U.S.  And the wine wasn’t even the best part–the gourmet food blew us away.  We started with an amazing baked cheese appetizer and continued on to steaks and filets that really helped us understand why Argentina is famous for its beef.

Azafran - great steaksAzafran - great steaks







  • Cafe del Pasaje – We wiled away an entire afternoon happily playing cards at this sidewalk cafe that’s smack in the middle of Mendoza’s walking street.  The staff didn’t seem to mind that we occupied a table for hours, ordering little more than a pizza and some snacks.  (It seems to be a fairly common occurrence in Mendoza on the weekends.)

Cafe del Pasaje - 5 hours of lunch and playing cards (including "Tonk")Cafe del Pasaje - 5 hours of lunch and playing cards (including "Tonk")







  • Estancia La Florencia – We arrived at this guidebook-recommended place at about 10:00 p.m., only to find it empty.  We sat down anyway and, within 1/2 an hour, it was packed.  (A great illustration of the fact that people in Mendoza eat really, really late!)  Shanna’s “salad” turned out to be canned fruit covered in heavy cream, and our pastas were coated in what must have been at least a pound of cheese apiece, so we wouldn’t recommend this place for those on a diet.  Otherwise, though, it was pretty good.

Estancia La Florencia - lasagna, "fishy" salmon, pork chopEstancia La Florencia - lasagna, "fishy" salmon, pork chop









  • 1884 Restaurante – Another one of our Mendoza favorites, this gourmet place really felt luxurious. It’s on a vineyard in a building that almost feels like a castle.  1884 is famous for its grilled meats, but Derek’s grilled suckling pig wasn’t really worth, err, writing home about.  On the other hand, Shanna’s fish was fantastic, and the bread and dessert (an amazing lemon tart) were among the best we’ve ever had.

1884 Restaurante - Grilled chicken and pork1884 Restaurante - Grilled chicken and pork







  • Salotto Restaurant -  We had lunch at this place, located in the Villaggio Boutique Hotel.  In addition to the great location (we were staying in the Villagio), we enjoyed pretty good pastas at a great price.

Salotto (in Villagio) - good pastaSalotto (in Villagio) - good pasta









  • Anna Bistro – This popular lunchtime place was in a great loft space with a lovely outdoor patio.  And the food was good, too; we loved our trout and roasted vegetables.

Anna Bistro - very goodAnna Bistro - very good







San Martin de los Andes

  • Deli Restaurante - The view (over Lake Lacar and its surrounding mountains) from this restaurant was probably better than the service and the food.  But the burgers were edible, the beer was cold and they had wifi, so who are we to complain?

Deli - Burger and Fries









  • Dublin South Pub – No shepherd’s pie or tasty pub fare to be found at this “Irish” pub, but we were too focused on watching the NCAA tournament (on our laptop) to really eat… The wine and cheese we had were good, though, again, definitely not what one would expect at a pub!

San Martin de los Andes







  • Tio Paco – We stayed at this restaurant for hours (again, watching basketball on the laptop), and the friendly staff never lost patience with us.  It has a cool, bistro-like atmosphere, and the pizza was really good.  (Though, if you’re here and you get a salad, you should order the dressing on the side; there was more sauce than there were veggies!)

San Martin de los AndesSan Martin de los Andes









  • Posto Criolla – We ordered so much grilled meat at this parilla that they had to bring over a separate table just to hold it.  While that was pretty embarrassing, it was delicious!

San Martin de los Andes








  • Moustacchio Restaurante – We’ve eaten a LOT of lamb during our time in South America, and the stuff we had at this parilla was, hands-down, the best we’ve had.  (The fish, on the other hand, was just ok.)  But it’s worth the trip for the lamb alone.

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  • Tante Sara Cafe & Bar – This casual, cafe version of the Tante Sara restaurant down the street was pretty good, though we had to wait a loooong time for our fajitas and salad.

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  • Tante Sara Restaurant – This fairly upscale place was 1/2 restaurant, 1/2 amazing-looking bakery.  The dessert, of course, was great, and the food (lamb stew and grilled fish) was really good.

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  • La Casa de los Mariscos – We’re still dreaming about the king crab that we had at this cozy place.  Ushuaia is famous for its crab and, surely, this is some of the town’s best.  All of the crab entrees on the menu involved parmesan cheese or other ways to overwhelm that taste of Shanna’s favorite food on earth, so we ordered the entree-sized appetizers that were just shelled crab on a plate.  It was amazing, especially after our waiter brought us drawn butter.  (He thought were were nuts–apparently, drawn butter is an American thing…)

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  • San Martin 376 – Looking for food at about 2:30 a.m., we stumbled across this place–one of the few open at that time of the night.  It’s basically a little grill set up in a drug store.  The burgers we got were actually fairly good, given the circumstances.

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  • La Rueda – The best part about this restaurant was that it was a “tenedor libre,” an all-you-can-eat place.  We loved having unrestrained access to the salad bar and as much grilled meat as we could stomach, but the food wasn’t actually that good.  For about $8, though, we got all that food, as well as sodas and dessert, so it was a pretty good value.

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  • Dolcissimo – As we’ve learned from experience, Argentinean ice cream is delicious, and the stuff Shanna got here was no exception.

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El Calafate

  • Casablanca – This bar was packed in the middle of a Saturday.  It was a little smoky, but they served up huge salads and fairly good pizza, though, like most pizza in Argentina, it needed more tomato sauce and less cheese.  It did, however, come topped with carmelized pineapple–delicious!

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  • La Tablita – This upscale parilla was the place to be in El Calafate on a Saturday night.  We had to wait a long time to be seated, though, and, for the price, the lamb and steak were only ok.  It was still a nice place for a dinner date, though.

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  • La Vaca Atada – This popular place served good grilled salmon and pasta in a casual environment.

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Buenos Aires

  • Bella Italia – This place is a BA all-star.  The dishes are inventive (we had excellent risotto and ravioli with lemon and smoked salmon) and the staff is incredibly friendly.  When they learned we were new to town, a few staff members dropped by to say hello, the manager came over with restaurant recommendations and they treated us to free glasses of limoncello.  Definitely recommended.

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  • Zulu – The lunch specials at this Palermo place are a great deal.  For about $7 each, we had a three-course lunch that was delicious.  They also serve up some pretty good late-night pizza.

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  • Our kitchen – We made spaghetti and meatballs one night… It probably wasn’t our strongest showing.

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  • Itamae Sushi – This is a decent option for when you need a break from all of the meat and pasta, but the sushi was just ok.

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  • La Cabrera – This is one of our BA favorites.  (It seemed to be the favorite of a lot of people here; the place was PACKED.  Luckily, they serve you free glasses of wine while you’re waiting, and time passes easily while you watch all of the beautiful people waiting to get in.)  The portions were huge–one piece of steak was enough for the two of us–and really good.  One of the best parts, though, was all of the free side dishes they served up in small portions.  There were probably 12 in all, one of which was a truly incredible mashed pumpkin with currants.  Mmmmm.

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  • Cafe Tortoni – This crowded cafe is a BA landmark.  Once the meeting place of artists and intellectuals, it’s now more popular with tourists, but it’s still a must-do.  They have tango shows almost every day.

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  • Kansas – We were beyond excited when we walked into this American restaurant and realized it looked like Houston’s, a former Nashville restaurant.  (May it rest in peace.  Derek still has dreams of their chicken fingers, french fries, cheese toast, garden salad with honey mustard & hot bacon dressing and Biltmore sandwich.  As you can see, the man spends a lot of his time dreaming about food…)  Sadly, the food didn’t really live up to our Houston’s-based expectations.  The spinach and artichoke dip was great, but the cheeseburger was just ok, and the caesar salad had so much dressing that it was hard to find the lettuce.

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  • Cafe des Arts – We joined the ladies who lunch at this cafe in the MALBA, BA’s modern art museum.  The food was what you’d expect to see at a museum cafe, which is to say that Shanna loved it and Derek didn’t.  If you go, try the curried chicken sandwich with green apple–yum.

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  • Our kitchen – We made fried chicken, creamed corn, mac & cheese and sauteed spinach.   We suffered a bit from the lack of available ingredients (cheddar cheese was nowhere to be found…), but all the same, it was nice to have some Southern food.  That’s one cuisine that you really can’t find outside the U.S.

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  • La Casa de Gretha – Stepping into this little German cafe, we felt like we’d walked into Hansel and Gretel’s storybook cottage.  (We think that was the point.)  Derek’s knatwurst and cabbage were good, namely because they were different from anything we’d had in a long time.

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  • Broccolino – This was one of the few places near Calle Florida that was open on a Saturday afternoon.  Their calamari–sauteed with butter and breadcrumbs and incredibly tender–was probably that best we’ve ever had in our lives, and their pasta was good, too.

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  • Novecento – We’d read that this trendy bistro in Las Canitas had gone downhill, but we thought it was pretty good.  We didn’t get seated until 12:15 a.m., but that was because we didn’t leave our apartment until almost midnight…

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  • Our kitchen – We cooked chicken chili one night (Tex-Mex is another cuisine that’s hard to find outside the U.S.), and it was pretty darn good.

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  • Proba – Our Milanesa (breaded chicken) and chorizo (sausage) sandwiches at this sandwich shop in La Boca were pretty good, and the guy working there gave us a free (and unprompted) lesson in how to tell counterfeit cash from the real stuff.

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  • California Burrito Company – Ahh, this is the place we’ve been waiting for.  Owned by Americans, who probably understand how much their countrymen miss this kind of food when they’re away from home, CBC offers up all kinds of burritos, as well as great guacamole and tortilla chips.  (It felt a lot like a less commercial Baja Fresh, really.)  It’s really popular here–everyone we’ve recommended it to seems to already know about it.  Be forewarned, though: they’re only open on weekdays.  (We learned this the hard way.)

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  • Lucky Luciano – This place came very well recommended, and it ended up being pretty good.  The smoked salmon ravioli outshone the tomato risotto.

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  • Pura Vida – This fantastic health food place in Recoleta whips up smoothies, juices, wraps and soup for all those in red wine and meat overdose.

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  • Cafe del Sol – We came here with our new friends (and fellow DC residents), Nina and Sheila, along with their friends Sophia, Helen, Patrick and Antonio.  We shared drinks, appetizers and great conversation.

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  • Campobravo – This Palermo Hollywood place is famous in BA, but we weren’t that amazed by its steaks.  (We’ve had so many great steaks during our time in Argentina that we’re getting a little picky…)

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  • Our kitchen – We stayed home one night and cooked roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and glazed carrots.  Mmmmm.

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  • Mark’s Deli and Coffee House – We waited a long time to get seats at this “American-style” deli in Palermo Soho.  It was a little fancier than most U.S. delis, but it was still good.  They had all kinds of sandwiches on offer, and the two we tried were pretty tasty, as was our salad.  They also make great lemonade and pretty darn good cookies.
  • Los Maestros Pizza – The pizza we had delivered from this place didn’t in any way resemble the one we had actually ordered, but we liked it all the same.

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  • Maria Fulo Brazilian Kitchen – This place in Palermo Soho was a great place for a Sunday brunch on Derek’s birthday.  The Northern Brazilian cuisine they serve up here is really interesting (lots of coconut and seafood), and the black bean stew with bits of pork was fantastic.

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  • Le Bistro – How do we love this crazily decorated (all in red and white with red-eyed unicorn heads hanging on the walls) gourmet place in the Faena Hotel?  Let us count the ways, i.e., the dishes they served us as part of the incredibly-expensive-but-definitely-worth-it tasting menu: (1) liquid-filled olives (we think the waiter called them “aspheric”?), polenta chips and mustard-coated pistachios; (2) silverside fish on olive toast with tomatoes and pistachio vinaigrette & a “deconstructed omelet” that was essentially a shot glass filled with an omelet in foam form–no kidding; (3) king crab and avocado cannelloni with yogurt foam; (4) octopus salad with grilled fruit and vegetables; (5) a deconstructed empanada; (6) cappelleti filled with lamb ragout, topped with carrot squares, mint foam and a dijon mustard foam; (7) red mullet filled with goat cheese and grilled tomatoes with a grilled tomato-based sauce on the side; (8) ribeye with grilled portobellos and mashed potatoes with marrow; (9) a pre-dessert foam consisting of orange, cilantro and lychee flavors; (10) dessert 1: raspberry squares and campari sorbet, tomato granita, yogurt/gelatin squares and grapefruit foam; (11) dessert 2: a chocolate base with almond crunch, passionfruit caramel and a cayenne brownie, along with chocolate/mint ice cream; and (12) dessert 3: Derek’s birthday cake–a chocolate mousse cake with raspberries and a carmelized cracker.We had to write all of that down for posterity’s sake, as it’s one of the best meals we’ve had in our lives.  To be clear: If you’re in Buenos Aires and you like food, you MUST go to this place and order the degustation menu.  It was seriously incredible (and a great way to celebrate D’s birthday).




  • Bella Italia Cafe & Bar – This is a very popular place for BAers to have lunch on the weekends, and we waited a LONG time for our food.  The salad was good, though, as was the grilled salmon with roasted vegetables, and it was pretty cheap, particularly given that it was in Palermo.

Bella Italia CafeBella Italia Cafe







  • Our kitchen – Derek was so happy to learn that our local grocery store had all the fixin’s he needed to make turkey, ham and salami sandwiches.










  • Our kitchen – Some lunchtime comfort food: grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup.  (Renting an apartment is a great way to save on food expensives.  We made our own lunches and breakfasts quite a bit during our stay in BA.)

Grilled cheese and tomato soup








  • Osaka – We had heard a lot of good things, from restaurant reviews and BAers alike, about this Japanese-Peruvian fusion place.  We were so excited to finally be able to try it out, and then so sad to realize that we found it horribly overrated.  It’s possible that we just ordered poorly, but we tried to make sure that our selections (sushi to start, then duck with orange sauce & carmelized onions and squid in its own ink) were some of the most unique on the menu.  Definitely a disappointment.

Osaka - Japanese and Peruvian fusion (disappointing)Osaka - Japanese and Peruvian fusion (disappointing)








  • Our kitchen – On our last night in BA, Derek whipped up a modified version of his much-loved Cajun fettucini.  Particularly given that our local grocery store didn’t have a lot of the ingredients he needed, it was pretty good.

Modified Cajun fettucini cooked in apartment







  • Cabana Las Lilas - According to one article in the New York Times, this is one of ten places in the world that’s worth the price of a plane ticket just to have a meal there.  Not so, New York Times!  It was good, but definitely not THAT good!  One huge selling point is that they ply you with all sorts of delicious antipasti before you actually bite into your steak, but once you do, the steak isn’t really as amazing as you expected it to be.   Shanna thought her ribeye had a great flavor, but Derek’s was cooked pretty poorly.  All in all, it was a good meal, but definitely not worth flying to BA for!

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Iguazu Falls

  • Restaurant at Hostel-Inn Iguazu – The hostel was a pretty long walk from town, so we (and most people staying there) ate our meals at the hostel.  The first night was a BBQ and the second was spaghetti, both served buffet-style.  Both meals were pretty good, for hostel food!

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Things We Did


  • Walked around town with Derek’s parents, exploring the many squares/plazas and outdoor cafes

Streets of MendozaPlaza Espana







  • Toured the Vina del Cerno vineyard

Vina del Cerno






  • Rode through Mendoza’s wine country on bikes rented from with bikesandwines.com

Bikes and Wines TourTasting at Tempus Alba - Bikes and WinesBikes and Wines Tour









San Martin de los Andes

  • Hiked to the top of a nearby mountain that overlooked the lovely Lake Lacar

San Martin de los AndesSan Martin de los Andes










  • Crossed the Magellan Straight by ferry boat on the drive from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia

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  • Listened to tango music performed by Raul, the owner of Tango ByB

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  • Hiked to the top of Glacial Martial and were rewarded with an amazing view of the town

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  • Toured the Museo Maritimo de Ushuaia, a former prison

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  • Hiked around Ushuaia’s harbor

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El Calafate

  • Hiked on and marvelled at the Perito Moreno Glacier

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  • Watched the amazing sunset from our hilltop hostel

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  • Window-shopped on the downtown streets

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Buenos Aires

  • Wandered around the Jardin Botanico Carlos Thays, which was nice but infested with feral cats

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  • Braved the smoky air caused by fires in fields over 100 miles away

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  • Walked around Plaza de Mayo–home of many protests and the Casa de Rosada (government house)

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  • Toured the Metropolitan Cathedral

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  • Window-shopped along Calle Florida, finishing up at Galerias Pacifico

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  • Visited the San Telmo Sunday Market, enjoying the many street performances


  • Meandered the colorful streets of La Boca and its Caminita

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  • Attended the boisterous soccer game between the Boca Juniors and Maraceibo (Venezuala); Boca won 3 -0 and advanced to the next round of the Liberator Cup

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  • Volunteered at L.I.F.E., tutoring kids and helping with a food drive

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  • Toured MALBA, the city’s modern art museum

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  • Viewed the elaborate gravesites of the Recoleta Cemetary, including the grave of Eva Peron

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  • Visited the Eva Peron Museum
  • Walked around Puerto Madero

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  • Visited Recoleta’s art galleries during Gallery Nights.  (The area’s many galleries stay open late and serve free champagne and snacks on the last Friday of every month.)
  • Walked around the VERY crowded Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden - disappointing







  • Watched Boca Juniors beat River Plate in the Superclasico soccer match at Sullivan’s Bar; Boca won 1-0.

Watched the Boca/River soccer game at Sullivan's - Boca won 1-0







Iguazu Falls

  • Hiked around and gawked at the amazing Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls--Lower CircuitIguazu Falls--The Devil's ThroatIguazu Falls--The Devil's ThroatIguazu Falls--The Devil's Throat









  • Rode a boat UNDER the Iguazu Falls

we took a boat for a baptism under the falls...







Country Facts

  • Capital City – Buenos Aires
  • Currency - Peso
  • Exchange Rate – 3.15 to $1

Special Thanks

  • We would like to thank the following individuals who gave us a wedding gift that we used in this country: Tonya, Allen, Faith, Ian & Halina Hunt.  We really appreciate it!

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