Sunday, January 11, 2009

Argentina

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!

29 comments:

Srividya said...

Hi Bindu,

Welcome back. Happy New Year to you ! Looking forward to your write up about argentina

~vagabond~ said...

yay! she's back!

I'm eating my heart out in envy over your travels. I've wanted to travel to south america for the longest, longest time. I wish my immigration papers would get sorted out already so I could just pack up and go somewhere. *sigh* Until then I'm just going to travel there through your posts. Cant wait to read more. :)

Chris said...

Welcome back! I can't wait to see more of your journeys. It sounds like an amazing experience!

sweetmango said...

Welcome home Bindu!
I LOVE Argentina, I have such a soft spot for her and for Uruguay, as well as ALL of South America. I can't wait for you to take us with on a return trip through photos and words.
xxsm

Blu said...

The wonderful words, the wonderful pictures...yes she's back.

Glad you had a great time, Happy New Year to you.

Jude said...

Yippee! you're back safely..Waiting with baited breath to read of all your adventures.

megha punater said...

hello bindu,welcome back.
will come back to read more about your trip.sounds amazing.
:)

Sekhar said...

Nice tribute to Argentina. Yes I do relate Argentina for its architecture, streets, romantic people... & football of course.

Kalyan said...

Seasons Greetings Bindu. Probably this is my first visit to your blog (thanks for commenting on mine!), and you've already caught my attention.

Ah, South America! Donno when I'll get a chance.

meb said...

Happy New back to you. What wonderful pictures and descriptions of your visit. Can't wait to see what's coming up next.

bindu said...

Vidya - thanks! Will call you soon to catch up.

Vagabond - I know how you feel. These technical problems will get sorted out eventually, and then the fun will begin. You're getting close! :)

Chris - thanks. It was a great experience.

Sweetmango - I wanted to ask you where you first tried Yerba Mate. I couldn't find it in any restaurant, so just bought myself a little gourd, a bombilla, and some of the tea. Have to make it myself now ...

Blu - happy new year to you too. :)

Jude - thanks. It's good to be back.

Megha - thanks. :)

Sekhar - we spent very little time in the city, but did get a taste of the wilderness. It was good.

Kalyan - glad you like it!

Meb - thank you. :)

3rdEyeMuse said...

Welcome home! It looks and sounds as if your spirit has been touched, expanded and enrixhed. the photo's you've shared are amazing. I, for one, can't wait to hear more!

thanks for sharing. :)

Robyn said...

How very wonderful! My aunt loved her trips to Buenos Aires so much she returned there year after year instead of exploring the rest of the world.
Patagonia is on my bucket list. Beautiful photo of the Beagle Channel.

Barbara Martin said...

Welcome back Bindu. It looks like you had a wonderful trip with many beautiful sights to experience.

I'm looking foward to reading your posts about Argentina.

Thank you for dropping by my blog and commenting.

ArtSparker said...

My sister is going to Argentina in two months to do volunteer health serivce, I'll send her a link to your blog. Let me know if you have any advice. She is going to be in Santa Fe. The photo of the Beagle Channel (named after Darwin's ship?) is amazing.

bindu said...

Looks like my writing has been confusing ... I apologize! The picture I posted just after I mentioned the Beagle Channel (yes, named after Darwin's ship), is of Laguna Torre in Patagonia. I haven't yet posted my pictures from the Beagle Channel. I can see why it was confusing.

ArtSparker - that's so amazing that your sister will be volunteering there. We weren't anywhere near Santa Fe, so I don't have any suggestions that will help her ... if she plans to travel south though, my posts might give her an idea about what to expect.

Robyn - I wish we had had more time to spend in Buenos Aires. It did seem quite charming.

Barbara - thank you.

nikheel said...

Sounds like an excellent experience!
dieing to see more exotic stuff...
happy new year to you too, keep blogging!

Karine said...

Welcome home! "Tango dancers and musicians in the street..." How cool is THAT?! Patagonia has always sounded so magical and tantalizing to me. I will definitely join you in your journey recounting.

Nancy and the fatties said...

How exciting Bindu! it almost looks like a different world altogether, so many beautiful sights. welcome home...

Leslie said...

Wow, I have never been to Argentina, but what you have shared so far is very interesting and lovely. Your descriptive words of the city and your photos are so nice and take me there.

Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

Leslie

dolphin said...

hi,
thanks for sharing your thoughts. i must say, i loved the second pic of mountains and the fifth of obelisk the most.

more posts please!

Cheers,
dolphin

Lakshmi said...

what a way to ring in the new year..I was in brazil many many years ago..wish i could go again ..

BrownPhantom said...

I was planning a trip overseas soon and this tilts me towards Argentina. How unaware we are about so many beautiful places :). Would come back to know more .

bindu said...

3rdEyeMuse - It really was as you describe. :)

Nikheel, Karine - thanks.

Nancy, Leslie - thanks.

Dolphin - glad you liked the pictures.

Lakshmi - I'm sure you'd love Argentina too.

BrownPhantom - thanks for stopping by. I hope my posts help you decide!

Shayla said...

Wow! Sun, romance, 'tango dancing in the streets'? I want to go!! Spanish Colonial architecture is so beautiful. I love that bit of color. That bridge is really cool. Sounds like an amazing trip.

pink dogwood said...

Wow - amazing pictures - Argentina was never on my list of places to visit, but who knew :)

Vamsee said...

Bindu,
It is such a joy to read your blog. No wonder, so many of us were anxious for you to return and write about your trip. Loved the pictures and the intro to Argentina.

4 times to South America - I am green with jealousy!!!

Femin Susan said...

hi
It is fun to read your blog.

Viswanathan said...

Dear Bindu,

We are thrilled to go through your Blog on Argentina. As a high school boy, listening to the teaching of Sri Neelakanta Iyer, in his Geography class, I developed some sort of a fascination for this great land and though my dreams did not come through I am visualizing the most lovely part of our planet through your pictures and expressive writings. We are very proud of you.

Viswanathan (Appa)