Accommodation with character
In Buenos Aires in November 2001 and again in June 2004, we stayed in the Apart Hotel Recoleta. It was very quaint, with elevators on which one had to close the doors before it would go anywhere!
CAD$ 158.40 My picture shows the view from my room - the cemetery and park in Recoleta.
My favorite budget hotel in Buenos Aires
What a great place! I moved here after staying at the Hotel Recoleta for a week. Hotel Principe was only 5 pesos more per night than the Recoleta had been at 55 pesos (less than US$20) and was infinitely better. (Update from 2004: it's now 60 pesos per night).
There are three rooms per floor (seven stories total). Rooms that end in one or two (i.e., 71, 72) have windows facing the street. Rooms that end in three are in the rear of the building and offer more quiet. Laprida isn't a horribly busy street, so noise shouldn't be that much of a problem anyway. All the rooms have Italian-style roll-down shutters that block most light. My room (73) was very large, had a double bed, two nightstands, several windows with an interesting view of other buildings across the way, a small dining area with a round table, a kitchenette with a granite counter, a small fridge and a sink. The bathroom was medium sized and had a bidet.
The front desk people were very helpful. The man who worked at night was determined to speak English with me (to practice, I imagine). They serve free breakfast from 7-10am daily in the lobby or you can have it delivered to your room for two pesos. Check-out time is a very early 10am. There is cable TV with English and Spanish channels (over 40 channels). There is a restaurant on the ground floor and an elevator. They only take cash.
The location is superb for a tourist because it's within two blocks of Avenida Santa Fe, which has a subway station, good restaurants, ATMs, internet cafýs, etc.
Everything was in good condition and I warmly recommend this hotel.
Bariloche (part 2) and Buenos Aires
Head to airport about 18:00, in order to get through security and what-not prior to flight time of 20:00. Met colleagues prior to boarding and ended up on a different flight (something to do with my early arrival at the airport and the check-in person trying to help out as my flight was looking like it would be late. Some help! In any case, I finally leave Ottawa, meet up with my colleagues again in Toronto and we board the plane (business class!) and head for South America!
First stop was actually Sao Paulo, Brazil, for about an hour on Friday morning. So we head to the "lounge" for some coffee and quiet. We eventually get back on the plane and head to Argentina. Sometime after lunch, we arrive in Buenos Aires, collect all our belongings and head out to look for a car to take us to our accommodation. The sky was very black, in spite of it being mid-afternoon, and it was pouring with rain and the odd flash of lightning. Very exciting!
We found a car that could fit all 3 of us and all our belongings and headed off across the city to the Apart Hotel Recoleta. This quite nice little hotel is in the Recoleta district. This district of Buenos Aires is well known for the restaurants and night clubs, as well as the cemetery where Evita (Eva Peron) is buried.
While the weather had been rather warm and muggy when we first arrived, after the thunder shower, it cleared up and was rather nice when we walked out later to look around, find a cerveza or two and some food.
Turned out I probably had too many cervezas last night. After breakfast, I did a little work and then met later with the others and we went to visit the Recoleta cemetary. After a little more wandering around the neighbourhood, we returned to the hotel to get our car for the domestic Aeroparque to catch our flight to San Carlos de Bariloche.
Disaster! Or it could have been disaster... we were actually booked on an earlier flight, which we had missed. Fortunately, we were all booked business class, so were able to get onto another flight (the last one of the day!) that was about to leave for Bariloche. So much for the special seats - we were just glad to get on a plane!
A couple of hours later, we arrived in Bariloche. Our host and driver who had been trying to find us on a different flight was quite glad to see us (not half as glad as we were to see her!). Off we go to our hotel and home for the next few days.
While in Bariloche, we had our meeting at and stayed at the Hotel Edelweiss. It was quite nice, though I would have liked to be able to open the windows, on occasion.
While settling in at the hotel, we bumped into some colleagues from the USA and later went to the Hotel Llao Llao, a spectacular hotel and resort built in the 20s or 30s. In addition to the scenery and the hotel surroundings, the food was wonderful.
After last night's dinner, it was nice to sleep in a bit and try to get myself organized for the meeting ahead. I took some time on Sunday to get my stuff together and to help the meeting organizers a bit. I also took a little time and looked around Bariloche a bit. We were in a much better position this time to get to the town. We were also in a much better time of the year to have weather and daylight to do so!
Early on this afternoon, I had to get together with the other Canadians for a bit of a "gab-fest". This was followed a little later by a bigger "gab-fest" with all the other meeting attendees who had arrived. This is useful, it is also fun, since we get to see people we haven't for a while. This part of it happened mostly at the reception that followed the meeting to finalize arrangements for Monday.
And Monday, the meeting started. That went ok.
After the day's meeting, we got to go on a Circuito chico (Small Circuit) tour. According to the hand-out, "...Opposite to Puerto Pañuelo the Llao Llao Hotel and the San Eduardo Chappel are some spectacular sites for the visitor - together with the traditional Swiss Colony." In addition and I think because we were a forestry group, we got to see the Myrtle wood. These trees (Arrayán, Peruvian Myrtle, or Luma apiculata), apparently related to eucalyptus, looked to me, sort of like an arbutus (or Pacific madrone). The stand of them was quite lovely.
And Tuesday, the meeting continued. Things were getting serious - no time for much carousing this night. We did, however, go out into the daylight during the afternoon for a group photo at the Centro Civico.
And Wednesday, the meeting continued some more until it ended that afternoon.
To celebrate the successful conclusion of our meeting, a group of us went to a cerverceria (pub) a little ways out of town. They had rather nice beer and we all signed a beer mat for posterity and posted it in the place.
Then, we headed back to town and out for our official dinner. It was at a very nice place, again constructed in that wooden log, "Germanic" style. Kind of like a large ski lodge. After dinner, we were treated to a show by a troupe of traditional dancers who did everything from country folk dances to the tango. Quite exciting.
We did eventually have to go back to sleep, as we were scheduled to leave rather early the next morning for the field trip. Such is life.
Our first day of field trip was on Lakes Nahuel Huapi and Frias. We went down Lake Nahuel Huapi quite a ways to Puerto Blest. We then walked a little way across a sort of isthmus to reach Lake Frias. Here we took another boat to take us to Puerto Frias, at the end of Lake Frias. At this point, we were actually pretty close to the border with Chile. After a little while, we got back on the boat, headed back to the Puerto Blest, where we had lunch. After lunch, we had a little hike to Los Cantaros waterfall, then back on the boat to Bariloche.
It was a beautiful day with fabulous weather.
Our second day of field trip was a bit more aggressive. Although we got to sleep in a bit more, as we didn't leave until 09:00, we then spent a very long day in a bus, rattling our way up to San Martín de los Andes.
We left Bariloche, heading East. We travelled through the ecotone between forest and steppe. Apparently, fires have destroyed Austrocedrus forest, which is being replaced by the grassland and bushy steppe. Shallow hills towards the airport correspond to terminal morraines of the latest glaciation, 14,000 years ago, which formed all the lake basins in the region.
We travelled from Bariloche to Confluencia. The eastern limit of Nahuel Huapi National Park (700,000 ha) follows the Limay River. Erosion in the area has created particular forms in the valley, so that it is referred to as the "Enchanted valley". Isolated individuals of Austrocedrus chilensis (cordillera cypress) can be seen and groups of trees on the tops of hills are mostly remnants of old fires. Four dams along the river produce 4500 MegaVts/yr of energy.
We continued on from Confluencia to the Traful River and Paso Cordoba. On the sides of the Traful River, low and medium density cypress forests can be seen. The density is related to aspect - on drier, NW slopes, the advance of the forest is slower. We then left Nahuel Huapi National Park and entered Lanin National Park. Along the way, we saw a relict of Nothofagus pumilio (lenga) forest.
Once we got to Paso Córdoba, we had a magnificent view of the Río Córdoba valley, with its volcanic forms modulated by wind and water erosion. Also visible on the slopes are Nothofagus antarctica formations. This species occupies sites of extreme climatic conditions, such as high altitudes, valley bottoms, and replacing burnt forests.
We finally stopped for lunch in some plantations in the Meliquina valley. We had a lovely barbeque in a fine stand of pine and Douglas-fir (Pinus ponderosa, P. contorta var. latifolia, and Pseudotsuga Mensiezii).
After lunch, we got back on the road to San Martín de los Andes. We saw Nothofagus obliqua (Roble Pellín) forests and stopped at the view of Curruhuinca lands. After the conquest by white men, Curruhuincas (mapuches), who were mainly hunters, settled down on reduced areas and began breeding cattle, sheep and goats. (Carruhuincas or mapuches are the aboriginal people of this area of Argentina).
At last, we arrived in San Martín de los Andes, a town of 18 thousand. It is situated by the Lacar Lake, in the east limit of the national park and is dedicated to tourism and recreation. A lovely town.
We had another lovely dinner at a local restaurant and got in rather late.
The next morning, we returned to Bariloche. But this time, we went via the Seven-lakes route and Villa de Angustura. We had our packed lunch sitting on the beach at Villa de Angustura. It was hard to beat.
Last day in Bariloche. Took a few more photos, did a bit more shopping, then headed to the airport for our flight to Buenos Aires. No confusion this time - we were there at the right time on the right day.
Back to Buenos Aires and back to the Apart Hotel Recoleta. We even went back to the same restaurant for dinner!
Up again - no rush. We did a little touring in Buenos Aires. We took a taxi to Centro. From there we did quite a bit of walking. We saw several sights including Puerto Madero and a pedestrian mall area (Calle Florida plus). We stopped for more sights and shopping in Centro Pacifico (this is a pretty impressive old buildings with really interesting frescos on the ceiling inside). Then it was back to the hotel for a bite of lunch, catch the car to the airport. We left Buenos Aires at 18:00, bound for Toronto, via Sao Paulo, Brazil.
We eventually arrived in Toronto at 06:00. Scattered to get through customs and try to make the next flight. Two of three of us made it - the third caught the next flight. I was back in Ottawa by about 09:00. I can't recall, but I don't think I went in to the office! It was a great trip!