Argentinawithfriendstravel’s Weblog

December 18, 2010

Penguins, Dolphins, and Welsh History in Patagonia, Argentina

One of the most fascinating and enjoyable day trips from Puerto Madryn, Argentina is the journey south to visit the penguin reserve at Punta Tombo. With stops along the way for Dolphin watching and a traditional Welsh Tea in the historic town of Gaiman this is a full day of unequaled activities. The Flamenco Tour agency offers this day trip starting at about 9AM in the morning and returning to Puerto Madryn by about 6PM. With bilingual tour guides who are knowledgeable on the region and comfortable vehicles, this day trip is a must for those who enjoy nature and unique experiences.

The small peninsula of Punta Tombo is on the Argentinian Patagonian coastline. Thousands of tourists gather here to be amazed, entertained, and educated by one of the most fascinating shows performed by nature at the Magellan penguin colony. Approximately half a million penguins come every year in order to breed. The first of them arrive in September and stay until about mid-March, but the best time to observe them is after November, once the babies are born. One of the greatest features of this Nature Reservation is the fact that you can actually walk among the penguins, follow them and learn their habits, see how they feed their babies, the rites of pairing, the fights for the defense of their territories, how they build their nests, and the unending walks they take to and from the ocean. This is a truly singular experience with wonderful photo opportunities. Penguins and their individual style of waddling and behavioral patterns are always entertaining.

Punta Tombo is also a paradise for other sea birds that have chosen this site to nest. Kelp gulls and dolphin gulls, skuas, two species of cormorants—the king cormorant and the rock shag—steamerducks, snowy sheathbills, and several species of terns and giant petrels all make their nests in this region. Be sure to bring your binoculars to enjoy the bird watching.

At Puerto Rawson the boat tours head out to sea where the dolphin sightings are a major attraction.

Usually the Commerson’s dolphins—called Toninas locally—and also known as bottlenose dolphins, can be observed year-round. This is one of the few places in the world where these dolphins may be watched in their natural environment. Semi-rigid boats leave from Rawson’s harbor in the afternoon because in the mornings the dolphins remain feeding in the ocean depths. Theses dolphins are not at all shy and love to dart back and forth in front of the boats’ bows and leap into the air performing a great show for the passengers on board. On one boat trip it is almost guaranteed that you will be able to observe numerous of these fascinating sea creatures having fun in their natural environment.

For a change of pace the next stop is a visit to the town of Gaiman where the first settlers arrived in 1865 by boat from Wales. These immigrants were escaping from the English domination of their homeland as well as from the attempt of the latter to impose their culture upon them. They were looking for a virgin territory to be able to establish the “New Wales” where they could follow their own rules and customs without being attacked. Patagonia offered this safe haven. Today much of the Welsh culture is still apparent in the historic buildings, architectural style, and street names. Even the Welsh language is still spoken and taught in the schools, and real Welsh Tea Houses are open for all to enjoy a traditional Welsh Afternoon Tea. The Welsh village essence and small farms retain the charm and character created by these original settlers even in today’s modern society. This is a bona fide step back in time with historical overtones for an incomparable Patagonia experience.

From wildlife to local history this day trip from Puerto Madryn is a fascinating education of the local culture and yore. The gay and gay-friendly staff at Flamenco Tour agency will be happy to arrange this journey for your enjoyment and will also ensure that you learn from your time spent with nature and yesteryear.


JESS Kalinowsky Professional Travel Consultant

Friends Travel LLP


December 14, 2010

Buenos Aires, Argentina JESS Kalinowsky Friends Travel LLP

“I flew to Buenos Aires for a cruise around legendary Cape Horn to Santiago, Chile. My schedule was to fly from the United States late one evening, arrive in Buenos Aires the next morning, do a quick city tour on the way to the ship, board and sail away. What a pity. I would breeze through one of the world’s greatest cities and see almost nothing.

But that was not the way my experience in Buenos Aires turned out. I changed my flight to arrive in the Argentine capital two days before the cruise, and I’m glad I did. I found Buenos Aires easy to get around, inexpensive and offering lots to see. Whether you tack on a couple of extra days before or after your cruise, you won’t regret making time to see one of the world’s most vibrant cities.

Two Nights/Three Days
Though Buenos Aires is a large city, you can take in the major attractions in two nights/three days. Be sure to check your ship’s schedule, as some overnight in Buenos Aires, so that you’ll require only one night in a hotel.

During my short stay, I dined extravagantly on world-renowned Argentine beef, took in a tango show, hopped on a city tour and walked the city streets. If you have more time, you can also get out to an estancia (ranch), but if you decide to spend all of your time in the city, you will likely have opportunities to visit estancias on shore excursions during your cruise.

The first day you’ll spend a good portion of the morning getting through passport control and customs — and checked in to your hotel. If you’re fortunate enough to get a good night’s sleep on the flight to Buenos Aires, you’ll arrive rested enough to begin sightseeing right away.

Getting From The Airport To Your Hotel
If your travel agent has not made transfer arrangements from the airport to the city center for you, head for the taxi dispatch stand inside the terminal, where you’ll pay around 53 pesos (about $18 — U.S. dollars are accepted) for the 22-mile trip to the city. There’s also a shuttle that will transfer you for about $9 as well as busses that run on the half hour. Argentina’s official tourism department operates kiosks at the airport, so ask for help — and a city map. ATM machines for changing money also are inside the airport terminal.

Where To Stay
Buenos Aires has more than 450 hotels, including big chains such as Four Seasons, Intercontinental, Sheraton, Hilton, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, Marriott and more. On the recommendation of someone familiar with the city, I stayed at a local chain, the American Buenos Aires Park Hotel at 699 Reconquista for about $90 a night, including breakfast and the 21 obligatory percent room tax. The hotel was conveniently located, cool and clean.

As I walked through the city, I stopped in at hotels priced as low as $40 per night and as high as several hundred per night. The city’s most expensive hotel is the Alvear Palace Hotel, priced from $550 per night to $4,500 per night, and these rates do not include the room tax, but if you’re due for a splurge, this is the hotel for you.

I also peeked in at the Etoile Hotel, priced at $118 per night (breakfast and tax included) and located in the charming quarter known as La Recoleta, a neighborhood reminiscent of Paris with lively outdoor cafes, neoclassical mansions and world-class shopping.

Only a few steps away from the Etoile Hotel is the Recoleta Church and Cemetery, where Buenos Aires’ most illustrious departed lay at rest in ornate mausoleums. Among the most visited is the tomb of Evita Perón, much loved by Argentines for championing the causes of the working class.

Puerto Madero

I never spent more than 9 pesos (about $3) to get anywhere in the city. I rode in a taxi for 20 minutes and spent only 9 pesos getting from my hotel near the trendy Puerto Madero docks (where reclaimed and restored warehouses feature some of the city’s finest restaurants and shops) to colorful La Boca. One porteño — as the 3 million residents of this port city on the Rio de la Plata are known — told me he sold his car when he moved to Buenos Aires, because taxis were so inexpensive.

While I used taxis plenty, I also walked. I made strides along six blocks from my hotel to Plaza de Mayo, a square dominated by the Casa Rosada (Pink House) presidential palace. Nearby, I stepped into the cathedral where San Martín’s repatriated remains lie (Martín helped liberate Argentina from Spanish rule in 1812) and strolled down the grand Avenida de Mayo, opened in 1894 and designed after the avenues of Paris.

La Boca

I hopped a taxi to the neighborhood of San Telmo, where I sipped coffee at Plaza Dorrego Bar while watching young people hanging out and old men play dominoes on the small square. Sundays, the square becomes an outdoor antiques fair.

From La Boca, I took a taxi through the slums along the waterfront, past trendy Puerto Madero, along Avenida del Libertador and the Malvinas War Memorial (a symbol of Argentina’s claim to the Falkland islands and its loss of the islands to Britain during a 10-week war in 1982), which was tauntingly constructed opposite the Tower of the English. The tower offers a free elevator to the top for panoramic city views.

Delicioso Dining
I was told not to leave Argentina without trying carne asadas (grilled meats) at a local parrilla (steakhouse) and enjoying the sweets known as alfajores. I decided to eat my way through the city by sampling both.

Plaza Dorrego

Plaza Dorrego

For carne asadas, I stepped into Las Nazarenas, directly across from the Sheraton at 1132 Reconquista.

I started with grilled Chorizo sausage, followed by grilled provolone cheese topped with oregano and olive oil drizzled over. For my entree, I ordered Bife de Lomo, a small filet mignon and a glass of Malbec (the famed Argentine wine) to wash it down.

The next afternoon while walking through the city, I stopped at Havanna for an alfajor, the popular Argentine sweet. I’ve heard alfajores described as a Moon Pie with dulce de leche (caramel) instead of marshmallow. That’s a good description, although alfajores are typically smaller in circumference and thicker.

Two To Tango
That night I headed back to La Boca. My driver dropped me at La Bombonera, the stadium of one of the world’s toughest soccer clubs: Boca Juniors. I wasn’t here to catch a game, however. My destination was next door: La Boca Tango. Open for only six months when I arrived, the new complex features three venues that you move through during the evening.

First, there is an exhibit that presents what La Boca looked like during the early 1900s when Italian immigrants poured in to the city. I walked through recreated rooms where multiple families shared living quarters and one bathroom. Next, we sat down for dinner, similar to the one I had Las Nazarenas, then followed that by returning to the exhibits, where actors portrayed what life was like for the immigrants. The show was lively and illuminating.

Afterward, we went inside a belle époque replica of a Parisian theater for a 60-minute tango performance that was mesmerizing. Though it appeared a difficult dance, I talked to travelers who took tango lessons while in Buenos Aires.

Setting Sail
Fortunately, the cruise terminal is near the city center and most cruises depart late in the evening, so you needn’t be in a rush to depart Buenos Aires. You may want to return to the market at San Telmo if your cruise is departing on a Sunday. Otherwise, just enjoy your time in the city. You’ll have plenty of time on the ship during your cruise.

If your cruise ends in Buenos Aires your flight will likely depart for the United States late at night, giving you time to extract the final hours from a city that continues to surprise and delight all who make time for her. — Ralph Grizzle

ARGENTINA!  24/7/365

JESS Kalinowsky Professional Travel Consultant

May 1, 2009

#BuenosAiresDestinationGuide Friends Travel LLP 90048

Buenos Aires Guide





Buenos Aires, Argentina, is a wonderful combination of sleek skyscrapers and past grandeur, a collision of the ultra-chic and tumbledown. Still, there has always been an undercurrent of melancholy in B.A. (as it is affectionately known by expats who call Buenos Aires home), which may help explain the residents’ devotion to that bittersweet expression of popular culture in Argentina, the tango. Still performed—albeit much less frequently now—in the streets and cafes, the tango has a romantic and nostalgic nature that is emblematic of Buenos Aires itself.However, travel to Buenos Aires is still a popular trip, especially with stops in places like San Telmo, Palermo and the array of plazas that help make up Buenos Aires tours.

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October 15, 2008

Experience Buenos Aires like a local with

Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan city best experienced through its monumental passions rather than its monuments.

Argentines adore steak and red wine dinners that stretch on for hours, the sultry nostalgia of tango dance halls, a nail-biting match between rival soccer titans and spirited conversations that keep the vibrant cafe` culture humming — and their fervor is contagious.

Visitors get the most out of their stay delving into these pockets of passion in Argentine life, rather than scurrying from cathedral to war monument — many of which are often less impressive than their European counterparts.

When London or New York City has called it a night, portenos — as Buenos Aires’ port-dwelling residents are called — are just putting on their dancing shoes, heading out until dawn to tango halls, clubs pounding experimental cumbia music or bars that only kick out frolickers once the sun comes up.

The city is also a bargain compared to Europe or the U.S. The Buenos Aires tourism industry has grown accustomed to the steady wave of visitors since the Argentine peso plummeted to a third of its value following a devastating 2001 economic crash. While some tourist hot spots have hiked up prices, there are ways to keep costs down while exploring portenos’ many passions.

June 27, 2008

Argentina South America with

Filed under: Argentina — argentinawithfriendstravel @ 3:35 am
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Argentina South America

Argentina has been called the “Land of the Six Continents”. Although this title communicates the country’s great geographic diversity, we struggle to limit ourselves to six. Each region in its 3,000 mile territory is special and distinct.

The country’s northern half is rich in culture and natural beauty. The high northwest cradles ancient towns, where villagers honor their Andean roots. In the northern rainforests of Misiones, Iguazu Fall’s great waters roar on endlessly. At the edge of the wide Rio de la Plata, cosmopolitan Buenos Aires bustles to the staccato steps of the Tango. The dusty central pampas are home to the Gauchos, the cowboys who herd Argentina’s famous beef cattle. On the western border, Mendoza’s prized vineyards produce the world’s finest Malbec.

In the south, innumerable penguins, whales and sea lions struggle against the elements on the wild Atlantic coastline of Patagonia. Bariloche and Calafate compel exploration of the outdoors, tempting visitors with crystal blue mountain lakes, towering glaciers and perfect powder. And at the end of world, the sparkling port of Ushuaia is the last haven of ships bound for Antarctica.

Argentina offers you an endless collection of beauty. No matter what part this vast land has captured your imagination, our expert travel counselors will help you craft the perfect experience.

JESS Kalinowsky will make your First Class, Business Class or Coach air travel reservations from your hometown to South America, and your pre and post tour or cruise hotel reservations.

JESS Kalinowsky

Buenos Aires: Cultural Capital of Latin America with

Buenos Aires: Cultural Capital of Latin America

Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan town with European flair. The city is known for its active cultural and social scenes, with special emphasis on tango, opera, theater, night-life, soccer, polo, fine beef and excellent wines. To this rich mixture, add the myth of “Evita”, the gaucho tradition and the Pampas, the river ports, art galleries, handcrafted clothing and sidewalk cafes. You will then start to understand the heart of this city—an original society born from migrant ships and open to all cultures.

We suggest a three-day visit to this irresistible metropolis. A stay in Buenos Aires is ideally paired with side trips to a private ranch, a cruise on the delta of the Parana River, or an excursion to historic Colonia, Uruguay. Longer extensions can be arranged to Iguazu Falls or the beach resorts of Uruguay.

One of Buenos Aires’ highlights is the fashionable district of La Recoleta, known for its cafés, architectural masterpieces and parks. Recoleta’s grand cemetery has been called “a place to die for.” The innumerable mausoleums resemble Greek temples, chapels, pyramids and Roman rotundas. Here, the rich and famous are buried in style. Among them is Eva Peron, the famous former first lady of Argentina.

Buenos Aires is ideal for walking. One notable pedestrian area is Florida Street, an open air shopping mall lined by chic boutiques and shops selling designer clothing, leather goods, chocolates, jewelry and books. The street itself is an attraction; the concourses of shoppers are dressed at their best, while guitarists, singers, jugglers and tango dancers perform in their midst. Other neighborhoods ideal for a stroll include Recoleta, Palermo and San Telmo.

Our city tours can be designed to meet your wishes. Although most visitors are eager to see the Casa Rosada and the colorful port neighborhood of La Boca, we can easily customize a tour to fit your distinctive interests.  We’ve designed tours highlighting artistic, religious, culinary, sporting and historical aspects of porteño culture.

One popular element of this culture is tango. This powerful dance, born in Buenos Aires in the early decades of the last century, is marked by strong syncopation and staccato movements. An evening dinner and tango show is a must when visiting Buenos Aires. For those with a deeper interest in this art form, we can arrange private lessons with world-class instructors.

We are happy to recommend fine restaurants (including the world’s best steak and pasta houses), cafés, bistros and gelaterias. In some cases, private or rooftop dining can be arranged. Many of the city’s best kitchens are found only a short distance from our suggested hotels.

“Curiosity is, in great and generous minds, the first passion and the last.” – Samuel Johnson

JESS Kalinowsky will make your First Class, Business Class or Coach air travel reservations from your hometown to South America, and your pre and post tour or cruise hotel arrangments.

JESS Kalinowsky

Iguazu: The Great Waters with

Iguazu: The Great Waters

The word “Iguazu” means “great waters” in the Guarani language, and this 2.5 mile-wide complex of waterfalls lives up to that name. The falls are actually a group of 275 distinct falls, some of which are 270 feet high. Located on the boarder of Argentina and Brazil, the falls are shared between the Iguazú National Park (Argentina) and Iguaçu National Park (Brazil). UNESCO designated these parks World Heritage Sites in the mid-1980’s.

Visitors to the falls can stay on the Argentine side at the modern Sheraton Iguazu Hotel or on the Brazilian side at the classic Das Cataratas Hotel. Both sides are enchanting, but many of our clients prefer to stay on the Brazilian side, which offers the best views. U.S. citizens must obtain a Brazilian visa prior to departing from the United States in order to visit or stay on the Brazilian side of the falls.

Day 1: Arrive in Iguazu by air. Transfer to your hotel of choice and enjoy the afternoon at leisure to explore the falls.

Day 2: After breakfast, embark on a nautical safari will take you from Puerto Canoas to Puerto Tres Marias. There, you will cruise for two hours in small boats on the upper Iguazu’s delta, admiring the beauty of the forest. Another option would be to take the zodiac boat adventure cruise, which departs from San Martin Island and speeds up Devil’s Throat Canyon. Passengers on this cruise are showed by the spray of the falls and enjoy speeding over rapids on the lower Iguazu River. Afterward, depart by air to you next destination.

Note: This is a wonderful program all year round. Temperatures tend to range between 60 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Most rainfall occurs in September, October and November.

“There are certain scenes that would awe an atheist into belief, without the help of other argument.” – Thomas Gray

JESS Kalinowsky has walked the entire Iguazu Falls, sailed in a rubber raft right up the the base of the Falls, and seen the entire Iguazu Foz by helicopter and clearly this is the most awe inspiring work of nature on the planet!

JESS Kalinowsky will make your First Class, Business Class, or Coach air travel reservations from your hometown to South America, and your pre and post tour or cruise hotel reservations.

JESS Kalinowsky

Salta: Beauty of the North of Argentina with

Salta: Beauty of the North

Argentina’s mountainous Northwest has only recently been discovered by international travelers. Rich in colonial architecture, the picturesque province of Salta offers visitors a rainbow of landscapes infused with indigenous Andean culture.

Salta, originally founded by the conquistadores in 1533, was declared a province of Argentina in 1814 following liberation from Spain. The exquisite colonial architecture of the capital city is evidence of powerful European influence. Completed in 1625, the iconic red and gold San Francisco Church, boasts the hemisphere’s tallest belfry. The city’s centerpiece, 9 de Julio Plaza, is shaded by towering palm trees and surrounded by sidewalk cafes. Here, the air is infused with the scent of fresh empanadas and the gentle strains of accordion music. The pink hued Salta Cathedral serves as the plaza’s impressive backdrop. Nearby, an enormous handicraft market bustles with local artisans, who sell pottery, woolen goods, and Wichi woodcarvings.

The surrounding countryside is some of South America’s most colorful terrain. To the south, National Route 68 crosses the Calchaquíes Valleys, known for their red hills, adobe towns, and centuries-old traditions. In the southern town of Cafayate, visitors can admire the local architecture, enjoy regional cuisine, and delight in the remarkable spirit of the people. Cachi, a small historic town in eastern Salta offers similar opportunities.

“Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection.” – Lawrence Darrell

JESS Kalinowsky will make your First Class, Business Class, or Coach air travel arrangements from your hometown to South America, and your pre and post tour or cruise hotel reservations.

JESS Kalinowsky

Train to the Clouds ascends an Andean plateau with

Train to the Clouds

One of South America’s most remarkable rail journeys begins in Salta: the Train to the Clouds or Tren a las Nubes. Departing from the city’s train station shortly after sunrise, this rustic railway carries passengers deep into the region’s canyons, gliding across slender bridges (including the high, 740-foot La Polvorilla Viaduct) and through rough hewn tunnels.

This trip to the heavens ascends an Andean plateau, reaching nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, before returning to Salta late in the evening. Along the way, it zigzags through subtropical and desert climates, stopping in San Antonio de los Cobres, a colonial village known for its handicrafts.

Friends Travel Services plans customized trips to Argentina’s Northwest. We offer hotels, guides and transportation, including excursions on the Train to the Clouds.

“It is almost axiomatic that the worst trains take you through magical places.” –

Paul Theroux Train of the Clouds

JESS Kalinowsky will make your First Class, Business Class, or Coach air travel reservations from your hometown to South America, and your pre and post tour or cruise hotel arrangements.

JESS Kalinowsky

Jujuy: Land of the Incas with

Jujuy: Land of the Incas

Jujuy is the cradle of Argentina’s Andean cultures. This northernmost province, which borders southern Bolivia, was conquered by the Incas in 1480. After the Spanish Conquest, Jujuy was part of colonial Peru until the late 16th century. Today, the province is emerging as an international destination, desirable for its rich traditions and breathtaking Andean landscape. The Humahuaca Gorge, declared a UNESCO World Cultural Landscape in 2003, is extensive canyon of colorful rock formations inhabited by free-roaming herds of vicuña and dotted with charming towns.

San Salvador de Jujuy, the province’s capital, is known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and spacious plazas. Approximately 40 miles north of the city is the quaint adobe village of Purmamarca (the “Town of Virgin Land” in the Aymara tongue). Purmamarca is located at the base of the vivid Hill of Seven Colors, a mountain striped with hues ranging from purple to orange to white. Villagers gather in Purmamarca’s central plaza each morning for a traditional crafts market. The local church, St. Rosa de Lima, was built in 1648 and contains priceless artworks.

Twelve miles north of Purmamarca is Tilcara, another quiet village known for its adobe homes, steep roads, archeological museum and colorful terrain. Nearby is the Painter’s Pallet, a jagged mountainside distinguished by its zigzag bands of yellow stone. One of Tilcara’s most important historical sites is the fortified mountainside of Pucara. Here, amid towering green cacti and open skies, stone corrals and settlements provide visitors with a glimpse of pre-Inca times.

Northwest of Tilcara, is Humahuaca, a town set at 10,000 feet above sea level. The town’s narrow cobblestone streets lead past the craft market to the central plaza. Each day at noon, residents gather here in silence for a unique display of faith. As the church bells play Ave María, a pair of oxidized metal doors open in the clock tower, revealing a mechanical representation of San Francisco Solano. The world’s first animated saint then looks to the heavens before moving his arms in a blessing on the town.

“For where does one run to when he’s already in the promised land?” – Claude Brown

JESS Kalinowsky will make your First Class, Business Class or Coach air travel reservations from your hometown to South America, and your pre and post tour or cruise hotel arrangements.

JESS Kalinowsky

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