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My husband had to be in Rio for a weeklong MBA class the second week of May, so we wanted to build a vacation around it. We decided to hop around Argentina before making our way to Brazil. After much research, our itinerary was narrowed down to: Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Iguazu Falls and Rio.
We kicked off our South America vacation in Buenos Aires at the Fierro Hotel. We choose this particular spot because it was in the Palermo section of the city -- considered similar to NYC’s SoHo, with lots of great little boutiques and cafes.
When we visit cities we often treat them like we do a weekend in NYC -- lots of roaming and discovering while avoiding too many tourist traps. Many afternoons consisted of hours of people watching at sidewalk cafes with a bottle of wine. That said, we did sneak in must-see visits to Recoleta cemetery where we spotted a very ethereal looking bride (or perhaps ghost), and San Telmo’s Sunday antiques market. If I had to suggest one spot to eat, it would be Arumburu. The restaurant is tucked away in San Telmo’s side streets, in what appears to be a shady area. It’s unmarked and difficult to find, but once you knock and note that you have a reservation, the doors open into a remarkably warm little nook of a restaurant. The 10-course prix fixe menu is out of this world and reasonably priced at around US$60 per person in -- worth planning ahead for this experience.
Aside from that, my three food groups on vacation were: steak, alfajores (the most amazing cookies filled with dulce de leche) and Malbec. I don’t believe a day went by in Argentina when all three weren’t consumed. And those you can find on any corner in the entire city.
Mendoza was my favorite part of the trip. It’s worth getting a driver to take you around for the day since so many of the wineries are spread out, and they give you a healthy pour at each stop. Must visits include Ruca Malen winery for lunch. We had no idea we were walking into a five-course wine pairing. It was so delicious and the scenery – outside on a patio looking over snow-capped mountains and vineyards – was spectacular. Also visit Andeluna for another amazing wine-pairing lunch experience as well as Archeval Ferrer for a quaint winery tour complete with tastings straight from the barrel.
We spent two days in Iguazu, which is just enough time to take in the many waterfalls. If you’re going to visit – I recommend staying on the Argentina side of the falls because the views are grander … and if you’re going to take a boat tour, go at the end of the day because they take your right under a waterfall, and you end up drenched.
Rio was a brief two-day visit, but just enough time to visit Christ the Redeemer and relax on the beaches. For a less crowded scene, make your way off of Copacabana and head down to Ipanema or Lublum.