Argentina 2011

Argentina has always been on my list for several reasons…ones I’ll mention are the soccer, the skiing, Patagonia and Buenos Aires.   Now an opportunity presents itself…more on that in a minute, let me first mention my semi-heartbreak at not going to Spain at this time instead as one of my Top To Do’s takes place not just once, but actually twice in the matter of 3 days…that would be Real Madrid vs Barcelona (El Clasico);  they play each other on the 17th in La Liga and then on the 20th in the Copa Del Rey Final plus both are in Champions league right before.  Those that dont know, these are probably the 2 best club soccer teams in the world right now;  include some of the best players in the world, specifically current World Player of Year Leonel Messi (Argentina/Barcelona) and the 2 runners-up Xavi and Iniesta (Spain/Barcelona) plus past WPOY winner Ronaldo (Portugal/Real Madrid)…and most of the players from the Spain national team that won the World Cup.  Practically the whole country shuts down when these teams play each other and the place will be going off the hook.  But my travel partner, Steve, talked me out of it and into this trip.

I’ll introduce Steve:  he is one Stephen “Steve/Esteban” Hamilton who played soccer with me at UNC Greensboro…as a matter of fact we were road roommates senior year, though we’ll spend way more nights on the road for this trip than we did in college.  Esteban (calling him that from now on in order to be in Argentina mode) is a bit of an outdoorsman who enjoys mountain biking, running, skiing, golf and a little soccer.  He is from New Jersey (of course a huge Springsteen fan…more on that later), spent a few years in Portland and has been out in LA for quite a few years and lives on next street from me.  With both of us having jumped from the lost ship in the dark we now have the opportunity for this experience of a lifetime.

How this trip came about:  I have always wanted to go to Argentina to hit Buenos Aires, go to Patagonia and ski Bariloche or Las Lenas.  Esteban has been talking about Patagonia for 15 years and is into mountain biking.  So he hit me with this trip via Sacred Rides (http://sacredrides.com/tours/patagonia/pedalpaddle/)  to Patagonia.  This trip is already been named Outside Magazine’s Trip of 2011.  Basically its a 9-day trip to Patagonia with 7 full days of mountain biking, kayaking/rafting, yoga and sightseeing .  So I agreed given the condition that we hit Buenos Aires for a few days and catch some soccer games.

Lets examine the core activities of this tour:  mountain biking – no problem, we will train some and its mostly moderate;  kayaking – I have only kayaked in the ocean, not in whitewater…but they will teach us, plus I have been whitewater rafting many times (some good stories there);  yoga – I have never officially done it…I have been interested as I’ve heard the great benefit of increasing flexibility, which I need & helping sports injuries.  I actually found a special deal for 30-days unlimited yoga membership for only $40 at a cool spot in Manhattan Beach & bought for Esteban & I to hit up before our trip but we havent activated it yet…looks like a post-trip thing.

Some may not be familiar with Patagonia…it is a geographic region of South America at the southernmost tip within Chile & Argentina.  It is made up of the Andes mountain range, volcanoes, glaciers, terraced-plains, lakes, rivers, fjords, etc.  Fauna includes penguins, cougars, foxes, skunks, lots of birds, whales, orcas (Killer Whales), seals, etc.  We will actually be in the northern part of Patagonia around Bariloche known as the Lake District which is known for skiing, fishing, climbing & hiking its mountains, huge forests, glacier-fed rivers & lakes, alpine-style villages & spectacular sights.  Pictures of all the Patagonian mountain ranges, volcanoes, lakes, glaciers and more are breathtaking…check them out online & see my pics (upon return)…definitely check out pics of the areas I wont see like Fitz Roy Range in Los Glaciares National Park or Tierra del Fuego.

Bariloche is on Lago Nahuel Huapi (thats a lake) in the middle of the national park with rising 8000-ft peaks such as Cerro Catedral rising above it just 12 miles away, which is one of the biggest ski areas in Argentina.  Bariloche is known as Argentina’s chocolate capital & for its European/Alpine architecture.

TRIP DETAILS:

March 31st:  Fly out of LAX thru Houston (Continental #53) and arrive in Buenos Aires (EZE) on April 1st in morning.  Spend 1 night in BA to chill/recover then fly to Bariloche on April 2nd.  Our return is Mon April 18th (Continental #52) arriving back at LAX on Tuesday the 19th.

April 2nd (Tour Day 1 below):  1pm flight from BA domestic airport (AEP) to Bariloche  on LAN arrive 3:30 and get picked up by tour group.

Bike/Paddle Tour Details: mountain biking, kayaking, all meals, daily yoga, etc

Tour Day 1 – Fly to Bariloche (2 hrs from BA) and get to eco-lodge, La Confluencia, in Nahuel Huapi National Park in the Rio Azul (Blue River for you gringos) Wilderness Area.  Dinner & get to know the 8 other guests & 2 guides.

Tour Day 2 – breakfast, yoga, build our bikes and hit the trails around the lodge…then dinner and a bonfire

Tour Day 3 – morning 12-mile ride in Loma Hills;  afternoon kayaking on Rio Azul

Tour Day 4 – morning ride on the Cajon Trail Loop with climbs, descents, 2 suspension bridge crossings and lunch;  afternoon riding including seeing an absolutely unique geological feature: the river has a carved canyon 125 ft deep and 20 feet wide at the bottom, but only 3 feet wide at the top where you can straddle both sides of the river…dont worry, I will get pics.

Tour Day 5 – morning 12-mile ride at Lago Steffen with a moderate 5-mile climb followed by a thrilling 7-mile descent;  afternoon kayak/paddle down the Manso River to a cabin on the river to spend 1 night.

Tour Day 6 – morning 12-mile ride through the national forest with plenty of stream crossings and 3 suspension bridges;  afternoon paddle down the Rio Manso to the border of Chile.

Tour Day 7: Volunteer Day – most of the day spent giving back to the local community but get in a few afternoon trail runs by the lodge

Tour Day 8 – morning downhill shuttle runs at Mt Piltri then in the afternoon hit the local town of El Bolson for an arts fair and take in the Patagonian culture.

Tour Day 9 – last breakfast then head to Bariloche and fly back on Aerolineas Argentinas (had to get on this airline because I read they have the best flight attendents 🙂 ) to Buenos Aires arrive 6pm.

Buenos Aires:

Spend Sun, April 10th night at our Buenos Aires hotel 248 Finisterra.

Mon, April 11th take the ferry across the Rio de la Plata to Montevideo, Uruguay for 2 nights to check it out & hopefully catch one of the biggest teams in Uruguay, Penarol, play Independiente of Argentina in Copa Libertadores.  Their stadium, Estadio Centrario, was built in 1929 to host games in the 1st World Cup in 1930 and is considered one of the classic stadiums of the world.

Wed April 13-April 18th in Buenos Aires:  catch a couple games, check out the city & eat at some parillas (steak houses).

Soccer/Futbol:  Buenos Aires is home to multiple top soccer teams including Boca Juniors, River Plate, Independiente, Estudiantes & San Lorenzo.  Boca & River are the 2 big ones and when they play its called the Superclasico and is one of the fiercest, most intense rivalries in the world…was named one of the 50 Sporting Events to Attend Before You Die.  Boca is known as the lower/working class team & play in the famous La Bombonera in the southern, not so nice barrio of La Boca…their most famous player was of course Diego Maradona.  River is known as the upper class team & play in El Monumental & is located in the northern, nicer barrio of Belgrano.  They dont play each other while we are there, but Boca is at home on the weekend so we will likely see them play…plus I have a buddy that brought them to LA to play the Galaxy and he will be hooking me up with his contacts…hopefully some VIP treatment.  Also, Estudiantes plays Cruziero of Brazil in Copa Libertadores on Wednesday so we’ll try to catch that game.

Buenos Aires is the 2nd largest city in South America (behind Sao Paolo, Brazil), has approximately 13 million people in the greater area, lies on the Rio de la Plata and is a sister city to Miami.  April will be early fall in the southern hemisphere so we are expecting good weather.

From my “1000 Places To See” book are possible places to check off and my ratings – In Buenos Aires: Alvear Palace & Recoleta Cemetary (maybe the cemetary); La Cabana Las Lilas parilla (will definitely hit some steakhouses, not sure if we’ll go out of our way to hit this one); Las Tanguerias (basically any place to see The Tango…i’m sure we’ll see some dancing somewhere); Teatro Colon & Gran Cafe Tortoni (prob not); Bariloche (obviously);  Uruguay – Colonia Del Sacramento (possibly)

Travel checklist:  we will rent mountain bikes and I bought some padded mountain bike shorts (gonna need them for 7 days in the saddle), a helmet and biking gloves.  I have a Camel Back to carry water each day, hiking shoes, sunglasses and clothes will be ready.  Plus I will bring my laptop, cell phone (is world capable but dont call me unless its an emergency or I’ve won the lotto), my new camera, iPod & flashlight.  Speaking of the iPod, unless Esteban brings his own he is going to be subject to hours of U2 (who he loves as well), Depeche Mode, Oasis, 80’s etc (all of which he says he doesnt like but I know he’s a closet fan).  But I’m sure he will have access to his entire library of Springsteen (who I do not love).  Headphones will be the norm.

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Responses

  1. very much looking forward to the pics. and hopefully some quick and interesting video.

  2. Enjoy the trip guys!

    Drew


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