Friday, April 8, 2016

Gaucho Traditions Preserved in San Antonio de Areco

Buenos Aires Province, Argentina

Historic Buildings

By Roy Heale

Quite often visitors to Buenos Aires are looking for interesting escapes into the local countryside yet close to the city. Those seeking a real gaucho experience and a sample of local history often choose the quaint town of San Antonio de Areco founded in 1730 on the banks of the Areco River. Located about 110 km northwest of the city, the town dates back to the early 18th century and many of the original buildings are well preserved and function today as cafes, restaurants, and boutiques.

Unique Cafes

Residents of Buenos Aires often visit for the peaceful atmosphere and picturesque colonial streets. The traditions of the gaucho and criollo (people of pure Spanish descent born in the New World), are well preserved, especially among its artisans, who produce fine silverwork and saddlery. Gauchos from all over the pampas show up for November’s Día de la Tradición, where you can catch them in their traditional cowboy outfits astride their horses, strutting the cobbled streets.

Puenta Viejo---Old Bridge

The city is the home of the Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Güiraldes and has been declared a city of historic national interest by the Argentine Government.
San Antonio de Areco’s compact town center and quiet streets are very pedestrian friendly. Around the Plaza Ruiz de Arellano, named in honor of the town’s founding estanciero (ranch owner), are several historic buildings, including the Iglesia Parroquial (parish church) opened in 1780.

Iglesia Parroquial

There is an abundance of great dining options with prices much more reasonable than those in the City of Buenos Aires. The local specialty is, of course, meats cooked on the parilla with fresh vegetables and salads.

Parilla Delights

If you prefer a longer visit than a one day excursion, there are a few small hotels around the town offering Bed&Breakfast plus the Hotel & Spa San Carlos on the riverbank park.

Hotel & Spa San Carlos

Like many other small towns in this part of Argentina, Areco shuts down during the afternoon siesta.

Local Produce

Regular bus service runs fro Retiro Omnibus Terminal and the journey is just under two hours depending on traffic.
Take a step back in time, relax and enjoy some Gaucho history in the pampas of Buenos Aires province.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stunning Video of Buenos Aires with Aerial Shots

Watch this video and see some great aerial shots of the city parks and buildings. Then come and visit and see for yourself!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Lakeside Tourist Paradise,
Villa Rumipal, Cordoba, Argentina

By Roy Heale

Tercero River Reservoir

During the Argentine summer months of December, January, and February many tourists turn to the outdoors for leisure activities under the hot sun and during the warm days. The Calamuchita Valley in the Sierras of Cordoba Province is one of the most well known tourist destinations with those who enjoy lakeside outdoor activities.

Villa Rumipal is one of the workers settlements established during the construction of the Tercero River dam during the first half of the twentieth century. The closest city is Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, located just seventeen kilometers away. The sleepy small town with tree-lined quiet streets is peaceful, relaxing, and offers a full range of activities in and around the lake.

Quiet Tree Lined Streets

Nestled on the shore of the very large Tercero River Reservoir and including several waterways which contribute to this vast lake, this is a place where boating, fishing, swimming, and more water sports prevail in the crystal clear waters. El Torreón and Corcovados Beaches are the most popular and offer a range of activities.

The climate is ideal for outdoor life, including events such as the Lake Provincial Festival and its traditional swim across the lake, the Criollo Holy Week, the endurance championships, plus model airplanes tournaments with radio controlled flights. These are all memorable events for visitors throughout the year.
Posada Chapaq Nan

Lago Hotel

Villa Rumipal has a lakeside camping site, numerous cabin rentals, and two new hotels (Lago Hotel and Posada Chapaq Nan) near the waterfront plus several local cafes and restaurants offering Argentine specialty dishes. It is recommended to book early due to the immense popularity in the summer months and the limited number of accommodations available.
Local Restaurants

Enjoy this summer playground situated beside one of the regions largest lakes.

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


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.

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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

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