Michelle Swalheim

Joined February 2017
  • Day13

    San Telmo - Buenos Aires, Argentina

    February 22, 2017 in Argentina

    Sun, Feb 19th: If you are planning a trip to Buenos Aires, make sure you are there on a Sunday. WOW! The San Telmo market is remarkable. San Telmo is the oldest neighborhood in Buenos Aires, so the architecture alone is a must see. It also hosts a large Sunday market where local artists sell artisan gifts. This is blocks and blocks long. It's remarkable! Great place to buy gifts for family and friends rather than cheap souvenir shops. The original market is actually indoors and is located on the corner of Carlos Calvo and Bolivar, which started in 1897; however more local artisans wanted in on the action, so they started setting up stands on the streets. Supposedly to get in the actual San Telmo Market you would need to wait generations as people don't give up their spaces. Think of how long it takes to get Packer Season tickets...it's like that. So unless you inherit it, forget it!

    We grabbed lunch at Bar El Federal and tried something new other than steak and mashes potatoes and proveleta. We tried milanesa - which is an Italian dish but is also common in South America; it is breaded meat (mainly beef) that is pounded thinly. It was really good! We then walked through Plaza Dorrego, which had more stands but more specific to antiques but this is where you may see spontaneous tango dancing for tourists (which we did).

    After all of that walking around and shopping, the heat got to us (86, sunny, and humid) so we opted to rest and relax by the pool - this was the first time on our trip we budgeted in rest. It was great!

    We went out that night in the neighborhood and checked out Bluedog, a local tap room. Small, chill place which is exactly what we needed. They played a lot of 90s alternative music so Chad had to pull me away. :)
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  • Day10

    Casa Rojada - Buenos Aires, Argentina

    February 19, 2017 in Argentina

    Sun, Feb 19th: We took the subway to get over to the San Telmo area, but first stopped at Plaza de Mayo to see La Casa Rojada, which is where the Argentinian president's office is. The plaza is large and has a strong police pressence. Since it is so close to the start of the San Telmo market, we opted to stop here first.

  • Day10

    Palermo Soho - Buenos Aires, Argentina

    February 19, 2017 in Argentina

    Sun, Feb 19th: We started our morning off at a local coffee place that is known for excellent coffee called Lattente. And it held true to its word! We ended up stopping here a couple of other times. :) I am marking this as a footprint just so people know to go there if they are in Palermo Soho.

  • Day9

    Palermo Soho - Buenos Aires, Argentina

    February 18, 2017 in Argentina

    Sat, Feb 18th: We left Bariloche this day - but before we did, we had to stop at Mamushka which is a local Chilean chocolate store. Bariloche is known to be the chocolate capital of Argentina. Mamushka is said to make the best chocolate in Bariloche so of course we had to stop there.

    We then traveled from Bariloche to Buenos Aires. Goodbye upper 50s and wind and hello mid 80s and sun! At this point we had already connected through Buenos Aires twice, so it was nice to come and stay! We took a quick 20 min cab ride to our Airbnb. It is the perfect location in the heart of Palermo Soho neighborhood - residential neighborhood with lots of shops, restaurants and bars. The apartment exceeded our expectations and the rooms were much larger than we thought. There is also a pool which was something I really wanted, since Buenos Aires is very hot and humid in the Summer (think Atlanta, GA - very similar weather...which I have never been to, but comparing to based on equal distance from the equator).

    We set off right away to check out the neighborhood. We stopped at Plazoleta Julio Cortazar, which had a number of vendor stands up selling homemade items. There was a lot of hustle and bustle of people shopping and enjoying local restaurants. We stopped in at a local bar called Valk Taproom. We enjoyed some tasty empanadas and some IPAs and people watched (since we were exhausted). We also went to The Steve which was also minutes away, which had a cool beer garden and very cool vibe. We were out pretty early compared to what portenos are used to (portenos is slang for locals from Buenos Aires) but we were dead tired and made it an early night knowing we would be busy the next day checking out the city.
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  • Day8

    San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

    February 17, 2017 in Argentina

    Fri, Feb 17th: Our 10 Year Anniversary Day! :) What's a better way to celebrate than to go on our own brewery tour?! So we did. The weather was even colder and windier - 30mph winds and 50 degrees. It wouldn't be so bad, but the winds were super cold and strong (some gusts even pushing you). We opted to rent a car for the day which only cost us about $90 USD. I of course was a nervous wreck about this (always playing the "what if" game) but Chad was cool as can be as usual with it. The car was stick shift, so luckily Chad had no issue with it and even conquered a steep hill and difficult left turn into traffic to start (my heart pounding the whole time worried we would crash into another car).

    We first started off at a local brewery called Kuntsmann. Bariloche has a pretty strong craft beer scene and this one was rated well. We enjoyed some English Pale Ales and some empanadas (another food we can't get enough of),

    After that we set off to go to the Aerosilla Cerro Campanario which is a chair lift that takes you up Campanario which overlooks the city and the area lakes and other peaks. The views were amazing and the winds were CRAZY! Luckily the chairlift was protected well by the large trees (hardly felt the winds on it suprisingly) but when you got to the top, hold onto your hat (and your friend!). Elevation at the top is about 3400 ft above sea level, and the chair lift brings you up about 900 feet.

    We then set off to check out the Circuito Chico (Small Circuit). There are a number of spots you can stop at on the way to check out the views. One of the earlier stops we wanted to check out was the Llao Llao Hotel, which is THE hotel in Bariloche. This is the same hotel that past presidents have stayed at (Obamas stayed and Bill Clinton). It has beautiful views and is secluded - honestly why we didn't want to stay there, as we wanted to be able to be on foot most of the time. But we had to check it out and it is just beautiful!

    Next, we continued on the Small Circuit and stopped at some sites along the way until we got hungry and thirsty - time for more beer. :) We stopped at Cerveceria Patagonia which is AWESOME. They have multiple outdoor spots to hang out (which no one was due to weather) and it is just a great hang out for friends and families. Chad and I are both sad we don't have this at home. It is a huge place! They have great food and great service. We love breweries and this is hands down the best one we have ever been to...for real. We may just go back all the way to Bariloche again just to hang out at this place more! If you visit Bariloche, this is a MUST.

    We ended our little brewery tour at Cerveceria Berlina. This was also a cute little place that was very cozy inside and had lots of wood work and windows.

    We ended our day with another nice steak (and proveleta and mashed potoatoes - because at this point it was a competition for all of the places we were visiting) dinner at Jauja Restaurante. This was very good food, not as cool of an atmosphere as the other two places (but I am fairly certain we had visited two of the best restaurants in town!).
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  • Day7

    San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina

    February 16, 2017 in Argentina

    Thurs, Feb 16th: Today we woke up with MUCH cooler weather. We truly got a taste of the weather in Bariloche which is always dependent on the winds and Andes Mountains - it can vary in Summer from 50s to 90s so we packed well. It was overcast with rain on and off and low 60s. We started off the morning with having medialunas (sweet croissants specific to Argentina and Chile - SO GOOD) and cafe con leche (similar to latte) at Cafe Delirante which was connected to a local sporting goods store that offered outside/walk-up seating.

    We booked a tour on Lake Nahuel Huapi that day which covered a tour of The Arrayanes Forest Park (Bosque de Arrayanes) and Victoria Island. A bus picked us up in town outside of a local hotel and then took us to the boat. This is the same boat tour that the Obamas took in March 2016 (in fact their photo was posted on the boat from their visit). While the weather was disappointing, we were not going to let it spoil our visit, so we wore warm clothes and brought our rain gear. The tour we booked described to be English speaking however this is not true - everything is in Spanish, however they made sure they had some guides that could speak English. We were fine with this - we are visiting a foreign country and didn't expect special treatment, but I must say that they were kind and checked in on us from time to time. It gave me a chance to really practice my Spanish and I was pretty proud that I could keep along. There was just one other couple on the boat that spoke English, but they were from Germany so it wasn't their primary language and they didn't know Spanish (so man I bet they were confused!).

    The Arrayanes Forest was very pretty - it was a bit disappointing because the last few years they experienced a drought so the trees color were not as brilliant as they had shown in photos we Googled before hand. However, it was still impressive. You end at a cute little cabin. The boat then took us over to Victoria Island which was much more impressive. Hisorically, this island was used for entertainment for guests for hunting and enjoying nature by a very wealthy Argentinan man - so wealthy, he imported animals to the island to hunt. Many of the trees were cut down and harvested there too, so once the government took back the island, they planted trees throughout - many of which are from North America. Huge sequoias were planted in rows to form a wall on the outside of the island to protect the native trees from the strong winds from the Andes Mts. We hiked a trail and saw some amazing views. The island is very pretty and ended up being the highlight of the day.

    When we got back into town we found the temps dropping even more - the winds were wicked cold and about 25mph and temps dropped to low 50s. We went to dinner nearby the place called Rosa Mosqueta which I swear was part of the hobbits' village in Lord of the Rings. It was adorable and had this large round door that you had to duck to get into (we actually questioned if it was the actual door...). We had more proveleta, steak, and mashed potatoes. The meal was amazing and we agreed tied with Alto El Fuego. Man, Argentina is going to ruin steak for us now in the US!
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  • Day6

    Travel Day - From Iguazú to Bariloche

    February 15, 2017 in Argentina

    Wed, Feb 15th: The majority of this day was traveling from Puerto Iguazú to San Carlos de Bariloche. We had to connect through Buenos Aires, so we had 2 two hour flights with a two hour layover. We arrived in Bariloche around 7pm and checked into our Airbnb. Our Airbnb was spacious (actually a two bedroom and two bathroom which we didn't really need, but the first place we looked at that was smaller was not available so we went with this one because the views from the apartment were amazing) and very comfortable, and just minutes from the heart of Bariloche. Bariloche is a tourist destination for Argentinians and other South Americans that overlooks Lake Nahuel Huap and the Andes Mountains. Very popular during the Summer months, since it can be cooler. We arrived on a beautiful, sunny 80 degree day. Driving into town is just breathtaking. The city is set on Lake Nauel Huapi - which is comparible to the size of Lake Winnebago however is 1400+ feet deep! We settled in, walked around the main downtown area but then opted to go to dinner. Our host recommended Alto El Fuego Parilla - and wow what a recommendation!! This is the destination we first discovered one of our favorite new Argentinian dishes - provoleta. This is a variant of provolone cheese described as "Argentine pulled-curd Provolone cheese" and it is grilled. This stuff is amazing and we are already trying to figure out how to make this when we get home!! We of course had skirt streak (entraña) and it was braided (impressive) and amazing. We were stuffed. We also tried panqueque de dulce de leche - this was first taste of dulce de leche and also fell in love with Argentinian favorite. Dulce de leche can basically be found everywhere. We don't understand why this has not hit the U.S. WOW!!Read more

  • Day5

    Tues, Feb 14th: We got up early and our cab driver Pablo met us at 8:30am to take us over to Iguazú Falls. Iguazú Falls is the largest waterfall system in the world. It was busy right away with lots of families. We knew the forecast had rain in it (all day) and it held true. We needed our rain jackets immediately. There was a steady rain from the start, so we were grateful for being prepared (hats and rain jackets were key!). We decided to head over to the train that takes you to La Gargantuan del Diablo (The Devil's Throat) - this is where half of the Iguazú River's flow falls - it is U-shaped and is approx 2,300 feet by 500 feet by 250 feet. It is crazy powerful and with the steady rain made it even more so. The water falls so intensely that water then kicks back up and sprays in the air. This was time consuming to get to - and if you don't like bridges, this entire place is not for you - especially getting to The Devil's Throat. You have to walk about 3/4 mile on nearly all bridge (only a couple of spots you are on land). The bridges throughout the park are very stead, however are made of metal, so can be slippery (especially in rain)...so tread lightly and use the rails. Next we took the Upper Circuit, which showed great panoramic views of the park and the many falls.

    There are small stands throughout the park to grab food at. We also found shelter from the downpours. You see many wildlife here - we saw catfish in the river, a crocodile, small animals called coaties (which are not at all afraid of humans - do NOT feed them or they will not leave you alone. A woman near by us threw food to them and they will actually get up on the table right next to you and probably take food right from your hand). We also saw some monkeys in the trees. So make sure you take time to look up and look around you.

    We viewed the Lower Circuit last and it was our favorite. You get up close to the falls and there is a part at the end of the Lower Circuit where you can stand very close and feel the power of them. Hold onto your hat! You also will get wet (although we already were, since it was raining/downpouring nearly the whole day).

    We ended our day at the falls with stopping at the Sheraton - it is the only hotel that is within the Iguazú National Park. We thought about staying there, but it is very expensive and we decided that while it is nice (and had great food - we had a light snack there) it looks just like any other hotel, except you can see the falls in the distance. We felt we had a better and more magical experience staying in the Iguazu area.

    We ended our day opting for dinner at the resort - of course more steak :) The service was great and the food was amazing. We really enjoyed our stay at Loi Suites and would recommend it to anyone.
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  • Day4

    Loi Suites Puerto Iguazú

    February 13, 2017 in Brazil

    Mon, Feb 13th: We left Santiago and traveled to Puerto Iguazú. You have to fly to Buenos Aires first to get there. Two hour flight to Buenos Aires and then another 1.5 hour flight to Puerto Iguazu. We took about a 20 min bus ride then to our resort. Loi Suites is magical! It looks like you are staying in a tree house - all of the buildings are connected by suspension bridges. The resort is very spacious with lots of public places to relax in. Very open air feel, everything is made of wood. The pool area is amazing! Three separate pools, the middle pool is warmer (where the kids mostly played) and the two infinity pools are much cooler. There is a tiki bar is on the same level overseeing the pool area. We both enjoyed piña coladas and took in the beautiul scenery.

    We opted to go into town, as we expected to be very tired from visting the falls the next day and the weather was supposed to be rainy the next couple of days. It was sunny and warm (low 80s) and very humid the day we arrived. The front desk staff ordered a cab for us, and we met Pablo. Pablo would become our personal cab driver for the remainder of the trip; I downloaded Wassap which is a very easy and popular way to communicate here.

    We grabbed dinner outside Parilla Pizza Color and people watched and relaxed. We window shopped a little, but in all Puerto Iguazu is very touristy and it reminded us of Wisconsin Dells - lots of shops with cheap souvenirs.
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  • Day3

    Santiago, Chile

    February 12, 2017 in Chile

    Sun, Feb 12th: We took a bus from Valpo to Santiago today. The cost for the both of us was about $20ish USD, and about a two hour trip with a few stops. The buses are large coach buses and very comfortable and you get to choose your seats when you purchase your ticket. Once we arrived in Santiago we took a short subway ride over to Bellavista neighborhood - great neighborhood with lots of restaurants, shops, bars, and walking distance from Cerro San Cristobal. We grabbed lunch down the street from our hotel (Hotel Boutique Castillo Rojo) as we arrived before check in. We then ventured down a block or two to Patio Bellavista, which had great restaurants, bars, and shopping - all protected from sun with plenty of shade (as it was HOT, about 85 and sunny).

    After check in, we decided to walk over to Cerro San Cristobal and take the fincular up to see the entire city from above. Since it was Sunday, it was a popular to go (around 5pm) so we had to wait in line for the funicular for about an hour. It was well worth the wait, as the hike up would have been grueling in the heat. At the top (elevation is 1000 ft above the city of Santiago) we tried a popular drink we saw everywhere in Santiago called Mote Con Huesillo which is a tea that has peach and wheat in it. It was very tasty even though it looks a bit odd! We opted to hike down the hill, as the line was very long to back down and we didn't want to wait standing in the heat. The hike down was a bit steep in areas, and I was only wearing sandals (Sanuk Yoga Sling sandals - they actually handled the hike very well...I was not expecting a hike or I would have worn different shoes) but there were hand rails where needed. Took about 30 minutes to hike down.

    We ended our day just grabbing dinner at a local restaurant on Patio Bellavista as we were super tired from traveling and hiking.
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