Sunday, June 28, 2015

Oktoberfest Celebrations in Argentina?


Villa General Belgrano, Cordoba


Villa General Belgrano
By Roy Heale

Reputedly the third largest celebrations of Oktoberfest outside of Germany can be found in the small central Argentine town of Villa General Belgrano of the province of Cordoba.

This small mountain hamlet of approximately six thousand residents is named after Manuel Belgrano, the creator of the National flag, and is perched on a hillside of the Sierras of Córdoba. Founded in 1930, by two German land speculators, the Alpine quality of the village attracted immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria.

Local Beer Gardens

Newcomers to the village, along with the original settlers, landscaped the mountain ranges with red-roofed, wood-frame homes, microbreweries, pastry and chocolate shops imparting that unique Bavarian style which distinguishes it today. Now pedestrians enjoy the magical Bavarian atmosphere as they stroll around the scenic townsite.

Bavarian Architecture

The village economy flourishes on a year round steady flow of tourists (peaking in October) with an appetite for German delicacies like apple strudel, leberwurst and spätzle plus of course local brewed beer.

Newsstands sell the German language weekly Argentinisches Tageblatt among other German newspapers, and some of the churches offer Sunday services in German and Spanish. Like many isolated immigrant communities, Villa General Belgrano has respected traditions that fell out of favor in Germany long ago, however even though the mother tongue can still be heard, it is being lost with the passage of time.

Entrance To Festival Grounds

For more than fifty years Argentina's National Beer Festival has been held in the district of Villa General Belgrano, thus commemorating the German celebration of Oktoberfest. This event is celebrated during eleven intense days in the Beer Park---a central venue especially designed for the occasion. The attendants drink several liters of beer, which are served in giant German mugs. The main beer brands, both national and international, take part in this traditional festival, in which their premium, regular and special products are promoted at various stands. At certain times, the celebration moves into the center of the city, where there is a parade of the communities that have contributed to the formation of the present European identity of Villa General Belgrano. Thus, delegations from Germany, Denmark, Scotland, Spain, the Canary Islands, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Greece, Italy, Armenia and Ukraine show off their traditional costumes, expanding the cultural spectrum of the festival.



In the afternoons, the simultaneous opening of the beer barrels is carried out. People gather with their mugs held out trying to get some of the free spurts of beer. According to tradition, drinking the beer from those barrels is supposed to bring people good luck.

Opening of the Kegs

The pagan ritual which became known as Oktoberfest originated in Munich, Germany, five centuries ago, in which worshipers believe in the sparkling goddess that enters the body like an icy stream as she takes hold of the spirit. Argentina welcomes the continuance of this long standing German tradition upheld in the natural beauty of the Sierras de Cordoba.



Find some lederhosen and head to Villa General Belgrano in October for a traditional beer festival and fun times in a European atmosphere.




Thursday, May 21, 2015

Outdoor Vacation Paradise of Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, Cordoba, Argentina

By Roy Heale



Santa Rosa River


Hidden discreetly on the banks of the Santa Rosa River is the small vacation town of Santa Rosa de Calamuchita. Known mostly to local Argentine tourists, this small town is a popular, authentic local vacation playground for outdoor activities. Off the beaten track of most foreigners, don't expect to find a Starbucks, McDonalds, or Burger King here, but you will be treated to real Argentine cuisine in local cafes and restaurants especially the renowned parillas. Dine along the riverbank or choose an historic restaurant in the village with great food and low prices. Although it is extremely busy during the summer months, a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere prevails.

Riverside Dining


This small village in the province of Córdoba, Argentina is located in the center of the Calamuchita Valley, in the heart of a landscape that includes hills (the Sierras) as well as rivers and lakes. Located between the Sierras Grandes and the Sierras Chicas in the very middle of the river valley this tourist center is 96 km away from Cordoba Capital City and is a good choice to relax in any season. It attracts  numerous visitors to enjoy the beaches and rivers with clear water surrounded by mountainous relief.

Accommodations include a  range of hotel options plus numerous cabaña (cabin) rentals for extended stay vacations. Prices are quite modest and many bargains can be found all year round. The local tourist information bureau keeps a daily list of availability and prices.

Cabaña Resort



At 615 meters above sea level there is almost no wind with ideal temperatures to enjoy outdoor activities year round. This historic region with architecture that goes back to 1575 and the arrival of the Spanish Jesuits is steeped in local culture.

Historic Buildings

Close to the Champaquí mountain range (2884 meters high), hiking or mountain biking are popular activities plus photo safaris to enjoy the natural environment. The Santa Rosa River is an ideal place for sport fishing or to discover pools of calm water with white sandy beaches amidst the riverbank parklands.



At night, Calamuchita invites young people, adults and all visitors to join the locals at discos, bowling alleys and video games arcades on the bustling main street.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Taking The FerroCentral Train From Buenos Aires to Cordoba Capital, Argentina


By Roy Heale
FerroCentral Train

Sadly over the years most of the trans-continental trains in South America have vanished from service.

However, in Argentina there is still train availability from Buenos Aires to Tucamen with several stops along the way. Operated by FerroCentral this journey is longer than traveling by road, but for those who enjoy train trips it is a very inexpensive way to make this journey. Used mostly by locals, this requires considerable advance booking---often several months----as there is limited frequency of only twice per week with a small passenger capacity. Tickets can be purchased at the FerroCentral offices at Retiro train station in Buenos Aires and several classes of service are offered ranging from economy seats to small private cabins.

Our Camarote
        
Recently we chose to experience this train journey for our vacation in the Sierras of Cordoba, taking the long twenty-two hour trip to Cordoba Capital from Retiro. Costing just around US$30 round-trip for two persons we reserved a sleeping cabin (camarote) for comfort and sightseeing pleasure. With this class of ticket a complimentary breakfast for two is included and a simple, adequate dinner is available for an extra US$6 per person including a main course, dessert pastry and beverage. Although the train departed exactly on schedule we encountered problems on the tracks about half-way through the journey close to Rosario and ended up with a seven hour diversion.

Dining Car

Our sleeping compartment was cozy and comfortable so we were able to enjoy the exceptionally long trip. The dining car offered reasonably good, simple meals at exceptionally low prices, but no alcoholic beverages.

Dinner Main Course

Dessert

We opted to get off the train early in Villa Maria and finish the journey to our final destination of Santa Rosa de Calamuchita by bus, which proved to be more efficient whilst still allowing us to enjoy the scenery.

One week after we returned to Buenos Aires in early March, 2015 the Federal Government replaced all the FerroCentral train carriages with brand new equipment and we just missed experiencing this upgraded service.

Overall, if you have the time for the journey and can plan your trip far in advance, this is a unique Argentine experience and the cheapest way to travel to the North West regions of this vast country.

For More Information Visit:




Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A New Shopping Addition To Palermo Soho, Buenos Aires

Distrito Arcos---The Arches District

By Roy Heale
Paraguay Street Entrance to Distrito Arcos


The first day of summer in Buenos Aires heralded the opening of the new Distrito Arcos outdoor shopping district. After just over one year of protracted court proceedings regarding the environmental impact of the new shops and parking the new mall has finally opened.

Lush Tropical Landscaping

Bounded by Juan B Justo, Santa Fe Avenida, Godoy Cruz, and Paraguay streets, it is close to the new Science Center and the Metrobus or Palermo Subway stations. The developers have recovered the old railway viaduct arches of the San Martin train line for boutique shops and created new retail shops and lush green spaces.

Unique Design

The shops open inwards onto roofed spaces and the common areas are almost all outdoors. The building’s main feature is the brick construction of the railway viaduct that defines both the inner walls and the façade. Outside, the focus is placed mainly on the green spaces. The commercial promenade is landscaped with green areas that provide the design’s motif. Street benches and other urban features are strategically placed all along, together with terraces, benches, and also a special area for holding events. The building is ornamented with a series of canopies along the arches that convey a rhythmic perspective to the overall construction design.

Incorporating The Old Arches

Distrito Aros is an urban commercial concept with original and unique features that set it apart from traditional shopping centers. Imbued by the premium outlet spirit, it offers a unique shopping experience in the city, combining the best brands with an outlet concept, an interesting range of products, gastronomic options, and the best prices in a unique environment.


Incorporating New Architecture

There are sixty-five local shops, twenty kiosk market stalls, 450 underground parking spaces, a room for artistic activities, and space for art exhibitions. Green areas were planted with over 200 trees and lush tropical plants. It will function as a clothing outlet with known premium brands, more dining options, a fitness center, and other services. It is estimated that would create about 1,200 full time jobs.

Green Spaces

Familiar names like Starbucks, Adidas, and Levis are present along with local brand name chain stores like Wanama, Rapsodia Vintage, and of course the popular Argentine Freddo ice cream chain. The complex exudes a relaxing, tranquil shopping atmosphere and is sure to prove popular with tourists and locals alike.

Main Entrance: Paraguay 4979

For More Information:


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hotel Urbano---Vacation on the River at Carmelo, Uruguay


Hotel Urbano, Carmelo, Uruguay
By Roy Heale

Nestled along the banks of the Arroyo de las Vacas river creek, Carmelo is a small town located in western Uruguay, noted for its wineries, beaches, and laid back lifestyle. The river runs along the east and south part of the city and serves as a port for the town. On its north bank there is the Puerto Carmelo-Tigre, where small catamaran boats carry passengers across the Río de la Plata to Argentina.

Relaxed Lifestyle

A swing bridge, the Puente Giratorio de Carmelo, which opened on May 1st 1912, passes over the river joining the north part of the city with its small southern community. Here another port along the southern banks of the river hosts a marina for private boats plus the CarmeloYacht Club. Along the coast there is the extensive white sandy beach Playa Seré, a large green space park with picnic areas and parillas (BBQs) for public use, a small zoological garden, and a Casino Hotel. It is here where every day the locals enjoy long sessions of drinking mate while sport fishing in order to catch bogas and pejerreyes from some of the breakwaters which go hundreds of meters deep into the waters.

Playa Seré Beach

Another attraction is the mouth of the Las Vacas waterway where numerous sports watercrafts and sailing boats traverse the area to enter Carmelo. The yacht pier and the nautical campsite, where it is possible to camp by the river, are distinctive and popular.

Independence Square

There are two main plazas in the city. One is Plaza Artigas, with a monument to the foundation of the city in 1816, the church Templo Histórico del Carmen plus the city museum and archive. The other, more central, Independence Square---also known as Sculptures Square---is the commercial hub of the city. The main business street is 19 de Avril, which connects at the south end with the bridge to the southern shores.

Puente Giratorio

In this small resort town there are two choices for your accommodations. One is in the resort community by the river beaches and the other is in the heart of the small downtown. The Hotel Urbano is the perfect choice on a quiet side street in the downtown area. It is just a couple of blocks from the Main Plaza Indepencia which is the heart of the city. This modern, bright and clean hotel offers almost twenty spacious rooms in different sizes and sleeping configurations. There are singles, doubles, triples, superiors, and suites to select the ideal size for your own requirements. On the second level there is a large outdoor patio and sun deck to spend those quiet moments. The main floor lobby café/bar offers a complete buffet breakfast with pastries, breads, fruits, juices, coffee, tea, ham, cheeses and more. There is also a relaxing street level outdoor patio for those who like to dine or sit outside. Rooms are reasonably priced and the buffet breakfast is included. This ideal hotel is a great home away from home when visiting the beautiful and historic town of Carmelo.
 
Hotel Urbano Café
 

Second Floor Terrace
Spacious Rooms

During the summer months this is a very popular outdoor destination for Argentines and Uruguayans who want to escape the big city heat and bustle to relax in the tranquil country atmosphere. Inexpensive catamaran ferries operate daily by Cacciola from Tigre, Argentina to Carmelo and provide an extremely enjoyable 2.5 hours passage through the Rio de la Plata Delta islands.
 
Cacciola  Ferry


For More Information:
 


 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My Favorite Place to Dine and Stay in Vaqueros, Salta


Maurias Bistro by Night
By Roy Heale

The small village of Vaqueros is just outside the Salta city limits and offers a wonderful Argentine country experience. The town is full of small stores, parkland, and of course the riverbank outdoor activities. Located in the foothills of the Andes at 4000'above sea level, with a resident population of about 4000 persons, here you will see traditional Argentina Gauchos (cowboys) on horseback making their way around the hamlet. Enjoy the small town atmosphere and great low prices in restaurants or local shops.

Visitors can experience horseback riding on the mountain trails, hiking around the hillsides, or take a guided quadricycle tour. Or you can stroll along the trail of the Artisans, a circuit to appreciate popular local arts and crafts fabricated in wood, leather, clay and wool.
 
Cozy Interior

The small and cozy Maurias Bistro is a perfect place for dining. The food is home cooked to order with real country kitchen style and flavors. They are open for lunch and dinner offering empanadas, humitas, Spanish style potato tartas, a variety of main courses and traditional postrie deserts. The bife de lomo bordelaise (filet mignon) is a must for beef lovers or the roasted chicken breast Italian for lighter meat. Two people can easily dine here with a hearty meal accompanied by local wine for about US$15 and they have a cozy interior dining room or bright outdoor patio. This is my favorite place when I am at my country home in Vaqueros. This is off the beaten track for tourists but well worth a visit. Easily reached by taxi or city bus be sure to make this side trip if you are visiting the city of Salta.

Local Cuisine

Generous Portions

Gay-friendly accommodations are available located just 100 meters from the river and about the same distance from the village center. Luis Pezzini offers traditional Argentine cottages with all amenities from US$50 per night and they sleep up to four adults. With digital TV, WiFi, heating, and comfortable furnishings these living quarters are perfect for a country get-away and yet remain close to the city of Salta.

There is regular bus service (about every 15 minutes) to the city or a remise ride for about US$5.00 to downtown Salta. Your host is also very knowledgeable on the local area and can help with outdoor activities or tour advice.

For More Information:   http://www.parairnos.com/alquiler/vaqueros/alquiler-temporario-salta-vaqueros-los-sauces-25-5071.html

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fray Bentos Summer Vacations on the Banks of the Rio Uruguay.

Fray Bentos Sunset Over the River Uruguay


By Roy Heale


This small, sleepy town is one of Uruguay's lesser known vacation spots. From green parks, dramatic cliffs along the river, historic architecture to splendid beaches, there exists a wide variety of outdoor activities for summer fun in and around Fray Bentos, Uruguay.

Recognised for "the romance of the sun, the cliffs and the river", the town was conceived as a river port that still preserves its natural features with waters deep enough to allow large ocean going ships. This pleasant Uruguayan city is connected with the resort town of Gualeguaychu in Argentina through the Libertador General San Martín international bridge. Here the climate is temperate and humid, ranging between 17° and 20° C in the summertime and dropping considerably during the winter.

Park Along The Cliffs


The town of Fray Bentos provides "Old World" charm, historic architecture, beautiful parks and plazas. However, it does not offer many dining choices and opening hours vary. Young Theater, Constitución and Artigas Squares, the public amphitheater, and the Solari Museum are other sites of interest open to curious visitors in search of the region's history.



There is a spectacular ten kilometer scenic drive along the riverside cliffs beginning in the center of the town and ending close to the beaches of Las Cañas bathing resort, renowned for its sandy beaches, nautical sports, and fishing. Along this route lies Barrio Anglo, declared a National Historical Monument, where a group of over one hundred houses from the late XIX century with English and German characteristics surround the former Anglo meat slaughter house. This historic community was once the heart of Fray Bentos. Today there is an Industrial Revolution Museum in the old meat processing plant and buildings, a monument, and historic buildings for visitors to enjoy a glimpse of the past. This area is just southwest of the town of Fray Bentos. Its natural harbor gave birth to the town around 1859 on the cliff coast of the River. It was a major port for the region and led to the development of the city. Guided tours are available and adjacent to the museum is a small restaurant offering local fare.


Entrance To Barrio Anglo

Industrial Revolution Museum

Hotel RR is a family run property close to the main highway from the International Bridge between Argentina and Uruguay. It is a motel style complex with fourteen chalets set amongst beautiful trees and floral gardens. There is a small swimming pool for the hot summer days and the main lodge has a very large verandah with seats to enjoy the view. It is set back from the road and is very quiet at night. The rooms are simple, clean, with air conditioning and heating plus satellite TV. It is a five minute drive to the center of Fray Bentos and a car is a must. The prices are economical and include a continental breakfast buffet. It is a great place for a short stay when travelling around by car in this beautiful part of Uruguay.

RR Hotel Driveway

RR Hotel Veranda


RR Hotel Swimming Pool
For those touring this part of the Uruguay countryside Fray Bentos and Las Canas are ideal places offering unique indoor and outdoor activities to unwind during the lazy summer days.

For More Information Visit:

http://www.welcomeuruguay.com/fraybentos/index_i.html