Thursday, March 14, 2013

Viva Argentina

With the election of the first Argentine Pope, tourism to Argentina is almost certain to increase. That is a good thing, because Argentina is a very interesting country and one that can be budget-friendly if you take care.
Argentines tend to be friendly, and welcome visitors to the country they are very proud of. One of the most European-seeming countries in South America, Argentina is best-known for the tango, gauchos and the Perons, whose political party is still in power. It is possible to visit on your own even if your Spanish, like mine, is very limited.
Buenos Aires is a pleasant but enormous and very busy city. To my mind it doesn't have much in the way of sights, but the parks and the pedestrian street Florida are worth a visit, in addition to attractions such as the Cathedral and the Casa Rosada, Argentina's White House. When I was there in 2001, you could see tango dancers performing for tips on Florida.
 Best of all, the price can be right. A quick check of revealed hotels where, in late April, a double room can be had for as little as $24 (the Hotel O'Rei in the Microcentro.) Close to the famous San Telmo market, the Viejo Telmo is a two-star place where rooms start at $30. In the $75  range, Dazzler Suites offer more upscale lodging both in Recoleta, near the cemetery where Eva Duarte de Peron is buried, and in the Microcentro, the Argentine term for downtown.
If you stay in Buenos Aires, be sure to venture out of the city on day trips to visit an estancia and see gauchos, to Tigre in the Parana River Delta, or to see the Children's Village founded by Eva Peron. Even better, go farther afield to beautiful natural attractions like Iguassu Falls on the border of Brazil, or San Carlos de Bariloche in the Andes. Argentina is big, so air or long distance bus travel is required to see the more remote areas. I have heard that the bus system is good, but have not experienced it.


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