Many of our family and friends asked us, “Why Argentina?” It was a fair enough question. I suppose there were a number of reasons that led us to choose this destination: Our love of Malbec wines and great steaks, an intrigue for a remote place called Patagonia, a fascination with the Tango, and many positive travel articles had all contributed to putting it on our “short list.” While not a traditional honeymoon destination, we chose Argentina because we wanted to experience a new culture and go on a little adventure. Simply laying around on a beach just isn’t really our style anyway.
As we researched the trip, we soon realized that while some bargains can be found in Argentina, this trip was going to cost a healthy sum in order for us to be able to do what we wanted to do. After all, it was our honeymoon, and if we were going to travel all the way to the southern hemisphere for the first time in either of our lives, we wanted to be sure we saw more than a couple places.
We flew from the U.S. direct to Buenos Aires and spent a short night there before jumping on another plane to Mendoza. Located in the northwest of the country, Mendoza is known for sunshine and wine. In fact, if you’ve had wine from Argentina, it almost certainly came from the Mendoza region.
From the airport, we took a taxi to the simple and fun Hostel Alamo. Even though we’re a little older than some of the typical college aged hostel crowd, we’ve enjoyed traveling this way for years. Staying at the Hostel Alamo only solidified our belief that Hostels are often a great accommodation option. We had our own private room with a bathroom, and the people running the place were incredibly friendly and helpful, as were the guests. We met a couple from Switzerland and I got to practice my German. We also benefited from a free Internet terminal and a community kitchen. It was fun and we got it all for just $50 per night. This bargain allowed us to spend more on other fun things during the rest of the trip!
While in Mendoza, we went on a tour to nearby Aconcagua Mountain, which is the tallest mountain in the western hemisphere, measuring some 6,962 meters above sea level. It was impressive and inspiring. After seeing the mountain, our tour group stopped briefly to see the Puente del Inca, a natural stone bridge formation, and then moved on to have a late lunch at a nearby Parilla, or grill. Argentines love their grilled meat and we all shared an Asado, a meal consisting of grilled meat that is shared amongst the table along with several bottles of red wine.
The next day we headed out of town again, but this time we went on a private wine tour. Our guide, Pamela, took us to four separate wineries, each with their own unique character and flavors. First we tried the amazing wines from the small Mendel winery, then we moved on to Dante Robino, and then to Tapiz, where we tried olive oil and had a great five-course lunch with steak. Finally, we headed to Bodega Benegas to finish our day with four more glasses. By then, we were both quite tipsy and ready to head back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation!
After spending a few more days in Mendoza, we headed to Bariloche. This proved to be a small adventure in its own right as we soon learned that no planes were flying to Bariloche due to the ash spewing from a nearby Chilean volcano. We ended up flying to Neuquen and then taking a six-hour bus to Bariloche. Despite the hassle, we made the best of it and finally arrived at 2 a.m.
We checked in to our hotel, the Charming Luxury Inn and Spa. Despite the late hour, a smiling and courteous front desk clerk greeted us and helped us with our bags and showed us to our room. He told us we could worry about filling in the check-in paperwork in the morning, as we were likely tired. He was right. We immediately fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
We woke up to a crisp and clear morning that revealed Bariloche as the “Switzerland of Argentina.” A small town situated in the beautifully picturesque mountains of northern Patagonia, Bariloche happens to be surrounded by dazzling peaks and large, crystal-clear glacial lakes. Our hotel was perched above one of these lakes and both of us quickly determined that this was one of the more beautiful places we had ever been.
On our first day we explored the small town and its quaint shops. The following day we rented a car and traveled around the area stopping at hundreds of picturesque viewpoints along the roadway. We also tied up our hiking boots and explored some of the many trails in the area, finding waterfalls, rocks to scurry over, and tranquil mountaintops where we could sit, holding each other and enjoying the majesty of nature.
While in Bariloche we also had the opportunity to go horseback riding on the nearby Patagonian Steppe. Our tour guide, an older gentleman with a broad smile represented the Gaucho well by showing us how to ride, pointing out features of the landscape, and providing great hospitality as we joined him and his wife for lunch in their simple but cozy home after our ride. When we returned to the hotel we changed and then headed to get a couples stone massage. This pampering lasted an hour-and-a-half and quickly lifted soothed any aches and pains and afforded some of the best relaxation we had ever experienced.
We didn’t want to leave Bariloche, but we had more to see before heading home. We traveled back to Buenos Aires, the bustling capital of the country, and the birthplace of the tango.
Upon our arrival we made our way to the Hotel Costa Rica, a stylishly fun place situated in the heart of Palermo and only a short distance from a number of hip restaurants and bars.
While in Buenos Aires, we explored the intriguing Recoletta cemetery, took in the sights of La Boca, and did a little shopping in the eclectic and trendy Palermo Soho. We tried out the Subte (subway) and the city bus, mixing in with the locals as best we could. On our last night in the city, we treated ourselves to yet another steak dinner at a top-notch restaurant and then took in a tango show. It was a great evening and a great honeymoon! We saw so much, met a number of great people, and made many memories.
We were lucky that we came across Traveler’s Joy as an option for our wedding registry. It helped us to have the honeymoon we had always dreamed of. Our family and friends provided all sorts of fun gifts and provided us with experiences that we will always cherish, long after those kitchen gadgets have stopped working and are long gone.
In fact, we received many compliments on from our friends who thought it was great to be able to buy us experiences and activities. The total cost of the trip, including airfare, was between $6,000-$7,000. We contributed much of this, but the generosity of others helped us a great deal as well.
We had a once-in-a-lifetime trip and would definitely recommend a similar one to others. The people of Argentina are wonderful and their home is amazing. The place offers a wide variety of things to do and the prices while in country are very reasonable. In fact, we hope that someday we will be able to travel here again. Who knows? Maybe we will make it back on some future anniversary!