It was a first time visit to South America for 8 of the 10 of us so this was a perfect itinerary to get a taste of the landscape, culture, activities and food! We visited the most important sights, hit a church/museum or two, flea/handicraft markets, had a few heart-stopping adventures and we ate…boy, did we eat!
As part of our city tour, we went to Recoleta Cemetery and were amazed how much we ‘enjoyed’ it (strange word for a cemetery). The entire cemetery is laid out in sections like city blocks, with wide tree-lined main walkways branching into sidewalks filled with mausoleums.
Our transportation to the included tours was private buses so we were always comfortable.
We also took a couple of boat rides. This one was a 2-hour tour of the El Tigre (a self-contained community on a delta). No cars. Everything is done by boat, including the supermarket coming to them.
Recommendations in Buenos Aires
Food court at the Galleria Pacifico: wonderful tortas, many layered with pureed pumpkin, can be found all over the place as well as beautiful salads, grilled meats and all kinds of other choices.
They even have a bar and specialty coffee shops.
And really cute waiters.
Cabaña Las Lilas in Puerto Madero (a popular restaurant noted for raising its own meat) but always crowded.
We went to Happening about a block or two away, Gael Greene’s favorite restaurant in Buenos Aires. It was quite nice, comfortable, service great — and we loved their communal antipasto table!Other recommendations: Las Cholas in Las Canitas specializes in parilladas (grilled variety of Argentine meats presented together) — we also had a parillada of grilled vegetables. [Available everywhere: great appetizers of empanadas and proveleta, a baked provolone cheese.]
Iguazu Falls (from the Argentine Side)
And closer yet…last descent before the water. We walked for hours — up to the top of the falls and through the park to the bottom where we geared up to ride the rapids, boarded a motorized raft and got SOAKED!
We stayed at the Grand Iguazu Resort Spa + Casino and had a lovely dinner in their restaurant our first night. Here’s my gazpacho appetizer and lamb 2-way entree.
The second night we had dinner in a wonderful restaurant in town called Aqua which specializes in local fish and Italian dishes. This was the appetizer platter for 2. The curly white stuff under the avocado is edible palm flowers.
Rio de Janeiro
And later stopped for ‘rodizio’ lunch (BBQ that is carried to your table on skewers until you beg for mercy) at Estrela do Sol Churrascaria. All kinds of beef, pork, chicken and even fish – not to mention a huge salad bar.
Rio’s fruit juice are better than Jamba’s…just ask Katie.
Feijoada is the national dish of Brazil. It is only served on Saturdays — and only in the afternoon. (You need the remainder of the day to digest!) Perfect timing for us as we were leaving that evening so we had a wonder farewell brunch at the Caesar Park Hotel in Ipanema. It started with a caiprinha bar, appetizers (all things fried like this) and live bossa nova music by a trio.
Then the big reveal. Feijoada! Nice touch that it was broken out by individual cauldrons of the various meats that had been cooked with black beans so that you could avoid pig trotters if you chose to. Feijoada is generally accompanied by white rice, collard greens, farofa (toasted manioc flour) and orange slices to cut the richness. Of course, there was the ubiquitous salad bar and other specialties like roast suckling pig and chicken.
Yes, we were satiated. And, yes, we had dessert anyway. They were really tiny. Really. :)
Another recommendation in Rio: Stravaganza in Ipanema for delicious pizzas and salads in a trendy setting. For a non-alcoholic drink, try Guarana Zero, a carbonated soft drink.
OK, gals, where to next???????????????????