trips

My Buenos Aires Apartment

I’m back from my quick trip to Argentina—a week in Buenos Aires and Iguazu—and had a fantastic time! It went by too quickly, as vacation always does, but I managed to see and do a ton. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting some highlights—starting with the cute place where I stayed:

For my six days in Buenos Aires, I decided to rent an apartment rather than stay in a hotel. I wanted to feel like I was living there, rather than just passing through.

As it turns out, the BAВ Airbnb market is booming. A search on the site turned up dozens of cute, modern and stylish apartments at very inexpensive prices. (Like this, this or this.) Many were in the most sought-after BA neighborhoods: Palmero and Recoleta. (More about them later.) Best of all, theyВ were usually В in the $40-90/night range—much cheaper than a hotel.

I chose this studio, in Barrio Norte, which is part of Recoleta and very close to Palmero. The rave reviews impressed me. Plus, many were from female travelers, so I assumed safety wouldn’t be an issue.

It turned out to be a great choice. When my cab dropped me off on the tree-lined street, I was happy to see that the building was nice and well-kept. A few minutes later, the owner’s husband arrived to check me in, carrying a big bag of medialunas (Argentinean croissants) as a welcome treat.

The apartment was just as advertised—bright, airy and clean.

BA studio: seating area

BA studio: bed

Little decorative touches made the apartment feel like home.

BA studio: view

BA studio: kitchen

I was lucky to have ended up in such a prime location. The streets of Barrio Norte and Recoleta are well-lit at night, and I felt safe walking by myself. It was also easy to hop a cab, bus or subway to get anywhere around the city.В 

barrio norte street

Every street had little cafes and shops. I started each morning at the cafe across the street from me. I tried to beef up my Spanish vocab by reading La Nacion…

la nacion

…over a typical Buenos Aires breakfast of a cafe con leche and three medialunas.

medialunas and cafe con leche

Off to Buenos Aires!

buenos aires

…thank god! To be honest, I’m feeling very much in need of a vacation. Life has been pretty nutty, and I haven’t had a full week off since January.

Which is why I haven’t scheduled too much to do, in Buenos Aires. Often, I’ll create detailed itineraries of everything I want to see and do in a place. But not this time. I figure I’ll pace myself leisurely and just wander around a little, each day. I’m hoping to discover places to see when I’m there, ideally from locals.

As it happens, the only set plans I have, so far, are all food-related—ones I had to make reservations for. Good thing I’ve been doing lots of ballet, and have a ton more to look forward to when I get back—because I’m really planning to indulge!

I won’t be posting while I’m away, but if you have any BA or Iguazu recommendations, please let me know. I’d love to hear!

(Photo of Avenida 9 de Julio, Buenos Aires via Image Juicy)

End-of-Year Trip Booked: London

london

For weeks—months, actually—I’d been debating whether I could squeeze in a London trip before the end of the year. It’s an expensive flight for a relatively short distance. And I’d only have a few days there.

Finally, I decided to go for it. I caved and booked a flight to London, a week and a half before Christmas. The pros were just too strong:

  • I’ll get to see my best friend, Reen—whom I haven’t seen in nearly a year, since she moved to London! That, alone, is reason enough.В 
  • I’ll get to experience the city as a local.В On my previous trip to London, I hit up all the must-dos: Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Globe Theatre, the Tate, the V&A, the Portrait Gallery, Harrod’s—and dozens more. Now that I’ve already seen those places, I’m interested in having Reen take me to her favorite haunts: cute restaurants, local pubs, favorite markets and the like.
  • Even though I hate winter, I love the idea of London at Christmas time.В I’m picturing the streets adorned with pretty lights and decorations. And we’re planning to see the Royal Ballet perform the Nutcracker. Of course. 😉
  • I wanted to pre-empt my post-vacation blues.В As I’ve learned, I tend to get pretty bummed after a great trip—and the best cure is to book another one! I knew I’d be blue coming back from spring in Buenos Aires to winter in NYC. I figured that booking another getaway would be an investment in my sanity.
  • YOLO.В Seriously. And embarrassingly, I actually did think this as I typed in my credit card information for my ridiculously pricey flight to London. I’m halfway through my first year in my 30s, and I’ve felt like I’ve reached that tipping point where everyone around me seems to be settling down and getting married and having kids. And while I still plan to do all those things, myself, I’m not anywhere close, at the moment. And I figure I should take advantage of this time to live it up.

…even though “living it up” also means that I’m being super-careful with money so I can pay off my two trips. (Hello, homemade huevos rancheros for dinner, every night! Not happening: shopping for cute fall sweaters.) But I’m already thrilled with my decision. Instead of being down about the end of summer, I feel nothing but excitement for the fall and winter.

(Photo via Pinterest)

On Solo Travel

Over drinks last week, two of my girlfriends and I were discussing a travel phenomenon that we’d just recently noticed:В When you tell people where you’re going on vacation, the first thing they’ll ask is not, “What will you be doing there?” or “How did you decide on that place?” But “Who are you going with?”

Though I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that, myself, it strikes me as so odd! That instead of inquiring about the amazing experiences lying ahead—the restaurants you’ll eat at, the trails you’ll hike, the neighborhoods you’ll explore—most people first want to know who you’ll be with.

I suppose I’m especially attuned to this now, with my fall trip just a few weeks away. Because when I tell people I’m going to Buenos Aires by myself, unless they know me well or have traveled alone, themselves, their reactions tend to be similar: They look impressed. They look surprised. And sometimes, they look like they feel a little sorry for me.

To be completely honest, my solo trips haven’t stemmed from a burning desire to travel alone. It’s more that I have insatiable wanderlust—and if no one is available to join me when I’m ready to go somewhere, I’d much rather head out on my own than miss an opportunity to travel.

Last year, I took my first solo trip in six years. While I was considering it, I was a little nervous about traveling on my own, again. I wondered if I’d get bored and lonely being on my own for so many days. And I worried about my safety in a country with a high murder rate and a dubious public transportation record. Deciding to study Spanish through a school assuaged those fears. I knew I’d definitely meet people to spend time with, when I wanted company. And I’d have plenty of time to be on my own, as well.

I ended up having an amazing time. I met lots of smart, interesting people, climbed a volcano, ate mountains of tortillas, immersed myself in Guatemalan culture and history—and improved my Spanish a ton, too! And I relearned an important lesson I’d forgotten from my first solo travel experiences: That traveling alone is quite a luxury.

Because you can do whatever you want.

You can sleep as late as you choose, go to whatever restaurant you desire (even if it’s the same one a few nights in a row), hit whatever museum looks appealing, and then leave after a few minutes when you realize you’d rather not waste a sunny day inside. As a college kid, I got my first taste of doing things on my own: I went to anВ Australian music festival alone, and spent long days wandering around hip Sydney neighborhoods. On my last pre-Guatemala solo trip, when I was 23, I hit up Lan Kwai Fong bars by myself, and spent one night doing nothing but relaxing and staring out at the Hong Kong skyline for hours.

Those are the kinds of things I’m looking forward to doing in Buenos Aires. I’m excited to rent a studio apartment that’ll serve as my home base, and take my first ballet classes in Spanish. I’m eager to explore different neighborhoods and find a cute cafe where I can get coffee and medialunas every morning. I’ve found a few restaurants I want to try, and I’m seeking places to tango.

None of those activities are all that different from what I do every day in NYC—usually on my own, as well.

Earlier today, Peter sent me this.gif"http://nycexpeditionist.com/img/2013/09/4ngb7yr.gif">iguazu falls

That’s all I want to hear when I tell people about my upcoming trip—no awkward looks of surprise or awe or pity. Just excitement.

(Image via Reddit)

So What Happened to Patagonia?

perito moreno

For the past month, I was fixated on going to Patagonia. Whether they wanted to or not, anyone I spoke to during that time had to suffer through hearing heard my plan:

LAN was having a fall fare sale, so I was going to fly into Santiago and spend one day exploring the city. Then, I’d fly to Punta Arenas in time to meet up with a group that would be hiking the Torres del Paine “W” Trek for five days; there, I’d see the picturesque Valle France, the massive Grey Glacier and the iconic, granite towers that give the park its name. (And since I was planning to go in October, the park’s shoulder season, the tour was 30% off.) After that, I’d fly back to Santiago and spend three days bumming around the coastal towns of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. Then, I’d take a red eye back to NYC and show up for work that morning.

Pretty sweet, right? So what made me change my mind?

The night before the LAN fare sale ended, I mapped out my trip: how much it would cost me, how much time I’d have at each place. Even with the discounted airfare, trek and staying at inexpensive hotels and hostels, the trip would cost about $3,000—more than what I was hoping to spend. But that wasn’t the dealbreaker. It came down to how I really wanted to experience Patagonia.

In an ideal world, I’d spend a month…or two…or three…traveling Chile from top to bottom.В Unless I quit my job (insanely unlikely, at this point), that’s not happening. So next best case scenario would be having a little over two weeks to explore southern Chile and Argentina—not just Torres del Paine, but also El Calafate,В Los Glaciares National ParkВ and the Perito Moreno glacier;В Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego; the lake district to the north, and more.

I may not have enough vacation time for that next year, or even the year after, but I think it’s worth waiting for.

In the meantime, I will be more than consoled with my time in Buenos Aires and the many other shorter, but just as amazing trips I plan to take in the near future.

(In case you’re wondering, I actually chose BA solely because it was another option on that LAN fare sale. I figured going to Santiago would remind me of what I wasn’t able to do this time around, but a BA trip wouldn’t have any of that baggage! And now that it’s booked, I can’t wait to go.)

(Perito Moreno photo byВ Jordi Oller MaciaВ via 500px’s Pinterest)

Fall Trip, Booked: Buenos Aires

buenos aires

I am so excited to have a fall trip to look forward to: At the end of October, I’ll be going to Buenos Aires!

Like last year’s Guatemala adventure, this is another solo jaunt. But unlike last year, I only have one week off from work. I’ll be squeezing in as much as I can, without exhausting myself!

I can already tell that’s going to be tough. Thanks to fellow bloggers, my wish list of Buenos Aires activities keeps growing. So far, I’m hoping to:

  • wander around various neighborhoods and parks:В This itinerary has some appealing suggestions!
  • take a cooking class: Maybe thisВ empanada-making one?
  • eat at a puerta cerrada, a “closed-door” supper club
  • go tango dancing! (Of course!)
  • take a ballet class:В This is something I’d like to do in every city I visit, though it’s not always feasible—ballet studios with daily, open classes for adults don’t exist everywhere in the world. (I couldn’t find one in either city I visited in Guatemala, nor in La Paz, Bolivia.) But it looks like I won’t have too much trouble finding a studio in BA.
  • take a day-trip to Colonia, Uruguay. Just so I can say I’ve been to Uruguay, as well. It’s only an hour away by hydrofoil. (Montevideo isn’t all that far, either, but I know I won’t have time to go there.)
  • see the Iguazu Falls.В I need some nature while I’m on vacation! I can’t just go from one major city to another without a little green respite.

In the meantime, I’ll be brushing up on my Spanish and taking a few beginner tango classes, here in NYC.

If you have any recommendations about what I should see or do in Buenos Aires, please let me know—I’d love your suggestions! Especially if you know a good place for tango. 😉

(Photo by Taylor Moore via 500px.com’s Pinterest)

Off to Eleuthera!

glass window bridge

I’m not gonna lie—I’ve been counting down for a couple weeks!

This whole year, thus far, has been pretty insane. As you might have guessed from my earlier entries, I’ve desperately been trying to survive the Long Slog. To do so, my masterВ plan mostly consisted of performing in the spring dance showcase and running the half marathon relay. Those two events (and the weeks rehearsing/training for them!) were fun and exciting. But when I signed up for them, I’d conveniently forgotten that I was still getting adjusted to my new gig (which I’m loving, by the way)—and working on a huge project that launched right after the ballet show and before the race.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to a few days of relaxing and recharging—especially with summer plans on deck and more work projects revving up. A few days of lounging in the sun, in a gorgeous place, is what I need, right now. (Seriously, how stunning is the photo above? That’s Eleuthera’s Glass Window Bridge, with the deep, blue Atlantic to the right and the soothing Caribbean to the left. Can’t wait to get there!)

(Photo via Pinterest)