In two short weeks, a spell has been cast, and I am in love ... yet again, with South America! In this, our fourth visit to the continent, I remembered why I am drawn back to its rugged beauty over and over again.
Argentina is a vast country, with the eighth largest land area in the world, and diverse geographical features that are interesting to explore. It is land where dinosaurs have been known to roam; ancient land where there is evidence of human occupation from 10,000 years ago.
With just two weeks to spend, how does one choose?
There is the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, with its beautiful architecture, abundance of greenery and lovely parks with interesting sculptures and fountains, laid-back, romantic people, fascinating culture, and tango dancing on the streets.
The mighty Iguazu Falls, in Argentina's north-eastern border with Brazil are legendary ... and there are the Pampas, fertile grasslands, where the horizon extends forever and time seems to stand still.
Then there is Patagonia, with its windswept mountains, sparkling glaciers, and enchanting forests, with miles and miles of hiking trails. At the Southern tip there is Ushuaia - the "End of the World", and the Beagle Channel ...
Since we wanted to experience as much of the wilderness as possible, we chose to spend all our time in Patagonia and Ushuaia. Best laid plans can still go awry if all factors don't come together. Especially when the plan is to spend most of your time outdoors, I firmly believe that nature and the mountains have to allow you passage. This time, I am delighted to say, all factors did come together, and the Argentinian wilderness allowed us a glimpse of her exquisite beauty.
But we did have a day in Buenos Aires, where we saw enough to wish we had more time here. The city is vibrant and alive, with tango dancers and musicians at street corners, and city parks at every turn, where people sit together in the sun, talking while their dogs play in the grass.
The city has preserved most of its historic Spanish colonial architecture in spite of extensive urban growth, so that beautiful, ornate buildings stand side by side with more modern ones, blending very tastefully.
The Obelisk is a landmark at the heart of Buenos Aires, built in May 1936 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first founding of the city.
Close to where we stayed was the interesting barrio of Puerto Madero, which is very pleasant for an evening walk along a waterway. Boats bob in the water on one side, while there is music from the restaurants that line the other side.
Further along, there is a very striking bridge across the waterway, called Puente De La Mujer (Bridge Of The Woman), designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
The bridge is meant to illustrate a couple dancing Tango, the man towering over the woman who is leaning back horizontally. Since the surrounding neighborhood has streets primarily named after women, the name of the bridge is all the more apt.
After one day in Buenos Aires, we left for Patagonia and the wide open skies of southern Argentina. I hope to re-live my experiences through my next few posts. I hope you will join me for the trip ...
Happy New Year, everyone!