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Mar del Plata: An Argentinean Beach Town Getaway
April 23, 2010 at 9:27 am 0


beach town!
While in Argentina the size and activity in Buenos Aires can be a bit much. So why not take a weekend off and go to the renowned beach town Mar del Plata? A short four hour drive outside of Buenos Aires, you can rent a car, take the bus, or hop on the train to get here. Once you arrive the first thing you want to do is head to the beach! The rocky shore, grassy slopes and soft sand all combine to make a beautiful beach landscape. In Mar del Plata the beaches are all well maintained, and extremely popular, so if you go in peak season prepare to be packed in the sand with 2 million of your closest friends! It will be busy, but it's worth it - the views are gorgeous, the vibe is cool, and the setup of the area will remind you of beach towns of yesteryear with a gorgeous boardwalk that spans from one side of town to the other.

the walrus on the boardwalk
If you want a more exclusive beach experience you can always go to the private beaches a bit further south. Nikki beach is just by the lighthouse and offers a great beach, parking, and a fancier beach experience. Whichever beach you chose keep in mind this is the Atlantic Ocean, and you're pretty far south, so it's pretty chilly all year round - even in the hot period of January/February. Look what happened when we went in the water!

it's freezing!
After strolling on the beach for a few hours it's time to grab a bit. If you are going to a waterfront restaurant bring your patience along because the queue to get in will be long, and service will take forever! Some of the Mar del Plata institutions include Manolo's (an Argentinean take on the American diner) and Torreon (a coffee shop designed to look like a monastery). Keep in mind that Argentinean's eat lightly during the day, and have a large dinner at night, so the lunch options will be on the lighter side.

torrean
After lunch it's time to head downtown and see the city sights and have an afternoon cafe. When downtown Boston Confectionary is a great coffee shop, and the medialunes (half moon pastries that are like croissants but sweeter) are out of this world! After your coffee stop stroll around the pedestrian streets, enjoy the parks, and take your time just strolling around and taking in the local culture. Keep in mind that any touristy areas, like the pedestrian streets, are hotspots for pick pocketing and purse snatching, so keep your possessions close to you. After some light shopping downtown it's time to head over to the hotel for an afternoon nap. Our top pick is the Sheraton hotel; it's clean, new, the service is excellent and it's a bit removed from the party central downtown. You also have excellent views from pretty much every room and breakfast in the charming La Pampa restaurant is included in the nights stay. The hotel is close to the golf course, and also close to the cool night spots on Alen Street.

the sheraton
After a long afternoon nap it's tea time. Some light sandwiches a warm drink and lots of water will have you refreshed and ready for evening. When it's time to head out on the town for dinner - typically around 930pm there are great barbecue offerings, or pasta from La Trattoria. When dining make sure you take in the great night sights of the city. There are many beautiful places to watch the city go by, so make sure you enjoy! Looking for a little night-time activity? Alen Street is a great pick for bars, cafes, ice cream shops, and watching live music. If you are tempted to go to the casino think again. It's a dark, dirty and depressing place to spend some time, and with smoking inside and no ventilation it's hard to see the poker tables through the smoky plumes of the players. Mar del Plata is a great place to visit, and one of the most charming towns/cities in Argentina. Known as the Vegas of Argentina it's a bit of a party town, but the natural beauty of the area make it a great place for families and pretty much everyone enjoy!
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Travel
Travel Diaries – Road Trip: Savannah
January 6, 2010 at 12:06 pm 0
For years I have wanted to go to Savannah. It all started when I was an ESL teacher in Korea. On one of our many nights of drinking wine together my friend Lise and I shared stories on our favourite cities to visit. Lise mentioned that her favourite city by far was Savannah - with all the gardens on every block, beautiful historical architecture and Southern charm.



Gorgeous buildings on every corner in Savannah

Gorgeous buildings on every corner in Savannah

When my fiance and I showed up in Savannah we weren't sure where to go or what to expect. We parked by the river and walked around the tourist area. It was pretty busy and lots of tourists were walking around, going in the boutiques, and tasting the local seafood. The cobble stone streets and old buildings created a wonderful ambience, but one of the coolest things were the sidewalks, which was concrete with oyster shells and other shells mixed in. It was super original - I've never seen anything like it before!

Savannah river sidewalks have a seashells mixed in!

Savannah river sidewalks have a seashells mixed in!

Once we had a coffee in the outdoor market we headed up to higher ground and walked around the old town. It was gorgeous! There were big, beautiful, historical homes with wonderful landscaping, and at almost every block there was a small city park. With the slow, Southern pace, beautiful homes and lovely little parks Savannah was the most walking friendly city I've been in.

Parks on every block make Savannah a great city to walk in

Parks on every block make Savannah a great city to walk in

We didn't have a plan in particular for the day, we just wanted to explore and visit the city - given the small city and walkable environment it was easy to do! So we strolled, visited the parks, read all the plaques and learned about the monuments in each park, and strolled some more. When it was time for a break we happened upon a gorgeous building - the Forsyth Mansion. We sat back, had a glass of wine and admired the phenomenal restoration of the historical building. It was stunning and fuelled so many ideas about how I would decorate my fantasy house.

The gorgeous Forsyth Mansion is worth a visit

The gorgeous Forsyth Mansion is worth a visit



One of the dining rooms at the Foryth Mansion

One of the dining rooms at the Foryth Mansion

When the sun set we strolled back to the car, admired the final scenes and headed back on the road to our next stop. Savannah was a beautiful city to visit, and if I'd had more time I would have loved to stay in the Forsythe Mansion, eat at the great restaurants and live like a Southerner for a few days. Up Next: Key West, Florida
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Travel
Travel Diaries – Road Trip: Charleston
December 28, 2009 at 12:26 pm 1
Christmas is over, it went well, and our trip to Washington DC has wharfed into a whole new adventure! We're going to the Florida Keys! In the beginning of planning our trip we decided we wanted to see many of the cities and sights along the way to Florida. Since flying to all these different places would be way too expensive we decided a road trip would be a fun and less expensive way to see all these great places along the way. We came up with a general plan, and then asked our frequent traveller friends for their recommendations. Charleston was a city that everyone kept on recommending. And I can see why. It's a lovely city. So beautiful and charming and historical. There are so many small streets, with well maintained buildings, and whole lot of that Southern Charm. We planned on only spending a few hours in Charleston. But we got pulled in. We walked randomly around the city, admired the architecture and unique character of the city, strolled some more, stopped for a glass of wine, and continued on. Several hours later we found ourselves surprised at how much time had passed! So instead of charging on we stayed at a local hotel and kept on enjoying! If I could do this leg of the trip differently I would have spent more time in Charleston, and taken a guided tour to learn about all the history. But, since we need to be in Key West in a few days it's time to motor on! Up Next: Savannah
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Travel
Siena: Italian Dream Part Five
August 3, 2009 at 4:35 pm 0
Siena After driving for five hours it was a relief to arrive in Siena. It’s a charming small city that has a rich history and amazing views of the Tuscan countryside from all sides. The city itself is perched atop a hill, and considering it’s known around the world and has many tourists, it still manages to maintain its small town feel. Walking around the city is a must, and given its size there is no need for a car, especially since most streets seem to be pedestrian only. There are lovely buildings to see, a great core to the city where they have famous bareback horse races each year, and a very relaxed feeling to the city. We went out for lunch with another couple and I had another outstanding meal. I wanted to try something very adventurous, and not the standard pasta or salad and antipasto, so I had pheasant roasted with pinenuts and raisins, and it was delicious. It was juicy and sweet and had a powerful combination of flavours that blended extremely well. As we drove out of Siena after our two days in the city it was time to face the sunset of our trip and prepare to come back to Canada. With so much moving around I didn’t realize all the places we’d visited and how alternating cities and countryside every two days had been the perfect combination. We got to enjoy a lot of exciting historical and cultural offerings in the city, but we also got to relax and recoup in the countryside. Not only did we see a ton, but we felt relaxed about our trip instead of frazzled from all the moving around. It’s the first time I’ve tried this format for a trip, and I’d recommend it to anyone, including my boyfriend for our next trip…….hmmmm….where to go?
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