Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tigre, Buenos Aires Argentina

Another popular day trip is to Tigre, which is a seperate town about 17 miles north of Buenos Aires. To get there, you take a local train from the Retiro subway station. It takes about an hour but is super cheap, like $1.50 each way cheap.

Danielle and I got off the train and walked around a little and then the smell hit us. We were walking across the river (the Parana Delta) and it was just a wall of stank that assaulted us. It smelled like a cross between rotting garbage and a backed-up toilet. Eventually, as we made our way down to the river side, we saw what it was. There were hundreds of dead and dying fish flopping around on the banks of the river and along the jetty. I have never seen anything like it before. Andth e dead ones were rotting in the sun, hence the stench from Hell.

I asked a local man who was just kind of hanging around what was happening with the fish and he said it was because of the government, that they don't care about the pollution in the waterways and that's what was killing the fish. It seemed a cop-out answer but it was all we had, so who knows?

Other people I know went there after we did and they say they didn't see any fish (and they were pretty dang noticeable). Maybe it was just an off day for Tigre?

We walked alot but there's not much of interest in the town. There's an outdoor market (which was only functioning at half capacity when we were there) but they were selling old trinkets and junk you could get anywhere.

If you walk along the river (which is a muddy brown) you will get harassed to sign up for a river cruise. We contemplated it, but it's pretty steep price wise and at that point, I think we were done with Tigre.

While I had a fun day out with a good friend, I really don't understand why people like this place. It's super popular (even Madonna and brood took a river cruise during her split with Guy Ritchie--thanks Wikipedia).

Who knew?

Colonia del Sacramento

One of the most popular day trips from Buenos Aires is to Colonia, Uruguay, which is Uruguay's oldest city and was founded by the Portuguese. Danielle and I decided to check it out, if for nothing else than to add another stamp to the old Passport.

I recently read that only 30% or something of Americans even have a passport---neither of my parents do--while mine is one of my prized possessions. We do live in a freaking huge country, but c'mon people!

On a side note, living near Canada as we do now, they offer a half-price passport (which is more like a driver's license) that will allow you to travel to Canada and Mexico but that's it. Not sure of the point of this...I say spend the extra $50 or whatever and get the real deal.

To get to Colonia you will have to take a ferry. There are 2 types of service: fast (about 1 hour) and slow (about 3 + hours). You will be crossing the Rio Plata, which is one of the widest rivers in the world. In fact, it may be the widest...I'm just too lazy to look it up. Suffice to say, you can't see across to the other side so it looks like the ocean rather than a river emptying into an ocean and the Argentinians will sunbathe and hang out on the banks just like at the beach.

Buquebus is the ferry service and you catch the ferry at Puerto Madero in BA. The terminal looks exactly like an airport and it can get very crowded, so you may want to buy online or in advance. Definitely take the fast save a few dollars is SO not worth being stuck on a ferry all day (although the ferry is huge and super modern, complete with duty-free shopping).

Uruguay is 1 hour ahead, so factor that into your plans. And don't forget your passport.

Unfortunately, it started raining after we got there, which put a damper on our plans to rent scooters and cruise around the city and countryside. Instead, we opted for covered golf carts!

Yes, that is a Uruguay shweatshirt I'm wearing...did I mention it also got pretty cold. That dang sweatshirt cost like $50 and ended up getting holes in it a few months later and had to be given to Goodwill. Still pissed.....

We cruised all around, went down 1-way streets, made illegal U-turns and pretty much made road nuisances out of ourselves but it was SO fun and really recommended. Walking can get pretty blinking tiring after awhile.

We also checked out some museums on the history of the town and the Portuguese influence.

While I had a great time, Colonia for me was a one trip only kind of place. It was cool to see another country (and it's much closer than Montevideo the capital) but it wasn't that exciting that I'd want to go back. You can definitely see everything in 1 day and probably still have time before your ferry is due to depart.