Sunday, December 28, 2008

Where's the Beef

We're on the road again -- this time in a quest for the perfect steak and a fine Malbec wine to go with it. Argentina sounded like the best place to start.

We last visited Argentina in December of 2003 at the end of a four-month extended journey that took us to Cuba, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Chile and finally Argentina. The food, wine and European-style culture were such a contrast after the previous three months on the road in South America that we were smitten with the country. It impressed us so much that we had to go back.

Recap from our Last Trip
Here's a brief recap of that trip in 2003. Our first venture into Argentina that year was a short drive from Chile, across the Andes, and into the quaint resort town Villa la Angostura where we had our first taste of Argentinian beef. Beef and lamb were cooked whole on long metal skewers in front of an open fire. The plates were huge and the taste was incredible. We then moved on to the lovely Swiss-style ski town of Bariloche. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks and azure blue lakes, Bariloche was charming and had great chocolate, but it was too artificial and touristy.

Twenty years ago, it was quite something, we were told. Sorry we missed it. We didn't stay long in town, but did visit the surrounding mountains and stumbled upon a fabulous, but very expensive, resort called Llao Llao surrounded by azure lakes, snow-capped peaks, and a golf course of all things.

We drove back to Chile after this brief foray into the mountains and then flew to Buenos Aires where we fell in love with "bife", "Malbec" and the colonial architecture of this amazingly modern metropolis, a combination of latin Europe and South American flare.

In addition to great beef and wine, Buenos Aires boasts one of the best opera houses in the world, El Colon, now celebrating it's 100th anniversary. Unfortunately for us, the renovations are taking longer than expected (it's now two years late) and it won't be open when we go there this time.

But on our last visit, this is where Carolann demanded recompense for my subjecting her to eight days in the Amazonian jungle. I had a great time there, observing Spider monkeys, Bullet Ants and deadly wild pigs. But only after we left the Amazon did I learn that she was not quite as fond as I of spiders and snakes and all things "jungly".
So my payment was to take her to see Carmen at the Colon opera house. It wasn't Wagner, but I endured it. Actually it was great and a small price to pay for camping out in the Amazon.

Next we flew up to Iguazu Falls, the largest in the world (sorry Niagara). We stayed at an "estancia", basically a gaucho cattle ranch where we could ride horses and eat home-cooked meals washed down with more Argentinian wine.

That's a very brief overview of our all-too-short stay in Argentina in 2003. We're headed off to Argentina again on November 24, 2008, so stay tuned. This time our focus will be on the Mendoza wine region in the northwest corner, followed by a brief stop in Buenos Aires.


D.B.Cooper said...

Hey Dan,

Thanks for the invitation to join your blog as you prepare for your second journey south. I look forward to getting updates and photos of what sounds like a "must see" part of the world; not to mention a "must sample the wine" region!



Doctor1439 said...

Good for you two guys, more power to you both for having the "balls" to go on these extended treks, more cannot fathom the time or the costs, your a joy to read and just wihs I was going with you, that beef sounds delicious and the Argentine I have yet to visit..I think after 5 trips to China, that is enough there for me, Hmm once for you guys was plenty also haha..Peter

Lorraine said...

Hey, don't miss these must-see and do items which just appeared in the Sweet Nothing newsletter:
Where to Sleep:
Designed by Philippe Starck, the recently opened Fasano hotel (US$500-$2350/night) has an equally stylish lobby and restaurant so you might never want to leave the grounds.

Where to Eat:
For a hip crowd head to the trendy eatery Sushi Leblon. Shakes made from the purple Amazonian fruit acai are a local favourite; grab one topped with granola to go at Polis Sucos (Rua Maria Quitéria 70A, 021-2247-2518). A trip to Brazil would not be complete without a Caipirinha, the traditional Brazilian cocktail made from Cachaca served up at Academia da Cachaca.
Where to Shop:
Take home a piece of Brazil with one of Maria Oiticica’s creations- all of her jewellery uses materials like seeds and bark from the rainforest. Trek through the stalls, shops and supermarkets of Ipanema and Copacabana, hunting for the best selection and price for Havianas ($4 and up).

What to Do:
Join the other 95,000 football fans and cheer for your favourite team at Maracanã Stadium. See how the other half lives with an eye-opening Favela Tour (about $42 per person for 3 hours) through the largest shantytown Rocinha, Brazil’s largest favela.

Sunak said...

After the wild & barren landscapes in Bolivia our first taste of Argentina was Salta - what a wonderful city it was. We were like 2 kids in a candy shop - bright lights, shopping malls & fabulous restaurants! Why bother to eat sushi in Argentina when you can gorge yourself on massive steaks that you can slice with a butter knife. to eat sushi in this carnivores paradise seems a waste. We did manage to raise our faces from those massive dinner plates to enjoy the sights & culture around us. Thank you for including us on your journey, we too have also yearned to return to Argentina...Beruta & Noel

jack & Michelle said...

The Mendoza wine region should have been your first and last stop. Good wine will stay and warm you on your journey and will be an excellent toast as you say farewell!

Can't wait for more photos, and we will show Courtney and Chloe as they are getting quite interested and experience on the internet/computer.

Love Jack & Michelle back home!

Ron and Isabelle said...

Just received your invitation to your blog. Had not received any prior notice from you. I think I have successfully created an account and read what I think is your opening contribution. I hope you understand this blog stuff is all new to me. Incidentally, did I forget to send you our photos from our trip to Italy in September? Some of these online photo albums seem a bit unwieldy and I never know if my photos got to their destination unless someone notifies us that they were received.
As you embark on yet another travel "adventure" (never a wimpy run-of-the-mill typical touristy thing), Isabelle and I wish you the best and will follow your always entertaining accounts of your journey.

Patti said...

I'm once again looking forward to living vicariously through your travels. When Bill reads your blog, he'll point the land yacht south, key the co-ordinates into the GPS and we'll be off!!! It's warm here in Tampa tho' we've had some chilly nights and adys sonce we arrived. Think we'll hit the road in January and go exploring. Stay safe.