Palmertours is a multi-cultural non discriminatory charitable organisation and that is why I have opened the door for the first time for those with bingo wings, cankles and suspected hairy upper lips...yup Palmertours also caters for the older generation...and I mean old!! Now obviously my mother who joined me this week for 3 weeks doesn't meet any of these criteria but I was willing to make an exception.
So looking like a New Yorker (smart dress with sneakers) mum and I ventured from neighbourhood to neighbourhood seeking out all the major sites Buenos Aires has to offer. From La Boca in the South with its colourful housing to Tigre in the North with its boat houses and waterways. Fantastic effort as ever from my mum who didn't complain...much...and just needed the occasional coffee as a pick me up. As this was my 3rd visit to the city I was able to navigate with ease but this time actually go into the museums and galleries rather than just a fleeting visit. The city has enough to see for 4 days but no more and luckily our timing coincided with the Madres protest on Thursday who are still looking for their children taken under the dictatorship regime. What was also nice to explore were the numerous antique shops with old Louis Vuitton trunks, Harley bikes and pinball machines...could see myself opening up a shop in Notting Hill next to Hugh Grant book shop!
For me the plus side came in staying in a hotel...free towels...TV in the room...sharing with a non-snorer (most of the time)...and more importantly unlimited breakfast every morning. Like a true backpacker this is red rag to a bull so made sure our breakfast sitting was 30+mins to last the day!
Our aim most nights was to find a decent hotel bar for a drink before a nice slap meal...well steak and red wine essentially as that is what the Argentinian's do so well. Drinking in a Philippe Starck designed hotel was a good start and followed this by a top steak house Las Lilas...only issue we didn't have enough cash with us as credit cards are pointless as costs 30%-40% more...luckily no washing up or a quick sprint was involved but dessert consisted of a McFlurry rather than something covered in Dulce De Leche.
Back home I enjoy a bit of culture now and then whether theatre or art and thus made sure this was ticked off during these four days as not done much over the past 6 months. Visited a Mario Testino exhibition; watched a tango show in the famous Cafe Tortoni and the highlight the opera Caligula at the majestic Teatro Colon. Worth mentioning the opera...wonderful setting...but the opera was in German with Spanish subtitles (Just like watching Apocalypto in Peru eh Dave) so didn't understand a word...plus being an ENO production the show had a modern twist with a lot of nudity!! something the BA crowd didn't enjoy as many seats emptied at half time.
We headed north by plane...another advantage of Palmertours does SAGA...Iguazu Falls voted one of the natural 7 wonders of the world (along with Table Mountain) and it certainly didn't disappoint. Wow what a amazing magical place. On this trip have been to the Victoria Falls albeit in dry season but these falls blew me away. To go to the Devils Throat you need to walk a 1km over the river and the excitement builds as you get closer...you feel the spray...you hear the crashing water...then when you arrive and see it in full flow it is magical. The place also has an Avatar feel due to the moss and plant life around the falls.
We continued around the falls as there are around 250 to see and by the late afternoon it was time to do the Great Adventure tour...15 min boat ride in and out of the falls. Some wore swimming costumes and goggles - extreme...we were more casual which we later regretted as you don't get wet you get DRENCHED! Ponchos and waterproofs don't even work...the boat drives into the falls so all around you is water. Apart from having a girl scream in my ear the whole time it was awesome and a great thrill and after wiping the mascara off we both looked semi presentable coming off the boat although the squelch with every step gave the game away as to where we had been. Our reward was a drink at the on-site hotel overlooking the falls although had to act like we owned the place as we continued to squelch through the lobby to the bar!
The next day we planned to go to Brazil to see the falls or the animal sanctuary but as on holiday we sat by the pool and just chilled. Given mum was asleep until lunchtime sometimes you forget that guests are here on holiday and with an intense 10 days to come in Peru and the Inca Trail recharging the batteries was just what the doctor ordered.