Subject: Re: South America
Hi Minna,

I've pasted some comments from previous messages I sent to TheTravelzine regarding a trip we took to Argentina and Chile in 2001. I would also like to add that during our stay in Buenos Aires we did a considerable amount of walking in the center of the city and its surrounding neighborhoods. Not once did we ever feel ill at ease. I would say standard precautions for large urban areas should suffice. Our resident expert on Argentina and Uruguay, Graciela, would have the most up to date information on this subject. If you enjoy cinema you might consider renting the Argentinian movie "Son of the Bride" (Hijo de la Novia). Filmed in Buenos Aires it gives one a nice feel for the neighborhoods of the city. This is not a travel movie! Instead, it is a charming story of family and friends.

Some excursions you might consider includePeninsula Valdes (whale-watching) Punta Tomba (for penguins), Torres del Paine, Puerto Montt (seafood market), and Puerto Varas (Chilean Lake District).

I highly recommend a search through TheTravelzine archives to review previous messages on Chile, Argentina and Rio.

Here are some recommendations for your visit to Santiago:

A restaurant you might consider is De Cangrejo a Conejo (From Crab to Rabbit) at Avda. Italia 805, Providencia, tel. 634-4041. It's Chilean cuisine meets fusion. When you arrive at the simple unadorned building (with no sign) your first thoughts are this must be wrong. But ring the bell and the door is opened (not unlike a speakeasy during Prohibition) and you enter into a stylishly designed modern restaurant. We read about it in Conde Nast and had to try it.

Santiago also has a wonderful seafood market, el Mercado Central, with excellent restaurants despite it's location at the foot of the Andes. And the neighborhood of Bellavista has many wonderful dining choices, as well as Pablo Neruda's residence, La Chascona, which is now a museum.

As for shopping we discovered an excellent shop offering varieties of folkart from throughout the country. The Casa de la Cultura Anahuac located in the Parque Metropolitano has a wide variety of items ranginf from clothing to pottery and more.

A word or two about Iguassu Falls:

You're going to be amazed at the Falls. I think they are one of, if not THE, most impressive natural wonders I've beheld. We stayed in town (Argentine side) at the Hosterķa Los Helechos on Calle Paulino Amarante. On the same street just a couple of doors down (closer to the main road into town) was a nice little restaurant whose name I've completely forgot. It was the only restaurant on this street as I remember. There is an inexpensive bus that runs between the Falls and town, about three bucks. But it may only run until the park closes (at night fall). So you may have to use a taxi to get back to the hotel.

For whatever reason we had no success in finding a taxi driver who would take us over to the Brazilian side without a visa. Perhaps border security was a little tighter, I have no idea. But you might want to get the visa just to be safe.

Cintia's recommendations were right on the money. Especially, the hike along the Macuco Trail to Arrechea Falls. Not a difficult hike at all. Lots of beautiful butterflies. And the Capuchin monkeys were enchanting. We even continued on down to the banks of the Iguazu River (not an easy hike) beyond the Pozon del Arrechea. On a little inlet of the river we saw tracks of either a jaguar or puma (according to their size and confirmation by a park ranger).

I'm sure you'll have a great time. Oh yeah, try and sit on the right side of the plane for the flight in.

John in San Diego