In its annual “destination scorecard” of historic places, National Geographic Traveler has ranked Argentina’s “Mendoza Wine Estancias” as the tenth-best of 109 destinations around the world. According to Traveler, its wineries and vineyards, are “in excellent shape, relatively unspoiled, and likely to remain so.” It describes the city of Mendoza, as “a pleasant walking city with lots of cultural activities and nice parks,” and notes an “amazing number of first-rate restaurants in both the city and countryside.”
Traveler rates its destinations according to half a dozen criteria: 1) environmental and ecological quality; 2) social and cultural integrity; 3) condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites; 4) aesthetic appeal; 5) quality of tourism management; and 6) outlook for the future. By all these standards, Mendoza ranks high.
For more details on Mendoza and vicinity, please go to Southern Cone Travel.
Last week I got a note from the operator of a small tourist lodge in Tierra del Fuego asking me what I thought the impact of the current global economic crisis might be on this summer’s season. On the surface, of course, it makes sense that people whose mutual funds have lost a third of their value might be reluctant to spend money traveling great distances but, at the same time, there’s a certain logic in going against the grain. I’d never suggest that people should throw away their retirement funds on a two weeks’ vacation but, just as investor Warren Buffett recently said, he’s moving his money into U.S. stocks because of the financial meltdown, international travelers may find they’ll get more for their money in traveling to the Southern Cone countries. Continue reading »
My boys and their peers are soccer freaks. We recorded nearly every game possible for the 2006 World Cup and I would love to take the family to see the 2010 games in South Africa. I was recently pondering the possibility and checked out some ticket prices for the events. Interest in soccer is growing every year in the United States and is certainly strong in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A recent article in the New York Times chronicled the opening of a Soccer Museum, where else but in Sao Paulo, Brazil. An elite sport that has become a sport for the masses, it has great lessons to teach both on and off the field. Continue reading »
Nearly thirty years ago, when I first visited Argentina during the Proceso military dictatorship, an apparently drunken policeman in the Patagonian town of Puerto San Julián insisted in telling me how much he loved Americans. In those grim days, any such attention from an official figure made you uncomfortable and, as it turned out, the policeman in question was heavily medicated - having shot himself in the foot the day before.
Fortunately, Argentina is a stable democracy now, but that doesn’t mean the country doesn’t shoot itself in the foot sometimes. Last week, interior minister Florencio Randazzo announced that the country would institute a “reciprocity fee” - similar to the one collected by neighboring Chile - on foreign visitors whose governments impose visa fees on Argentine citizens. This would mean, for instance, that US citizens entering Argentina would have to pay US$131 per person for the right to enter Argentina, while Canadians would pay even more. Australians and Mexican would pay less. Continue reading »
The author Moritz Thomsen, who died in 1991, didn’t have a huge following for his work as he toiled away in a poor Ecuadorian fishing village after a stint in the Peace Corps, but those who discovered his books—Living Poor (1969), The Farm on the River of Emeralds (1978), The Saddest Pleasure (1991)—loved his haunting and evocative revelations about life in equatorial South America. Now he’s seeing something of a revival in Ecuador, as Tom Miller reports in “Notes on an Andean Pilgrim” in The Washington Post. Miller, in his Introduction to The Best Travel Writing 2005, called Thomsen “one of the great American expatriate writers of the twentieth century…a soft-hearted cuss, a man of almost insufferable integrity, a lousy farmer and a terrific writer.” Can Bad News from a Black Coast, Thomsen’s unpublished memoir, be far behind?
It’s time to think about traveling to the Southern Hemisphere and, over the next several weeks, I will be giving slide talks about Patagonia and Buenos Aires at various bookstores and other locales on the west coast and the Eastern Seaboard, so this will be the place to ask your questions and, perhaps, win a free ticket to Buenos Aires or Santiago. The first event is at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow, October 2, at Get Lost Books in San Francisco. This will be followed by events at Village Books in Bellingham, Washington, on Sunday, October 5; Travel Bug in Vancouver BC on Monday, October 6; and Wide World Books in Seattle on Tuesday, October 7. For complete details of all events, as well as the air ticket raffle, see my Southern Cone Travel blog.
Daniel Craig, who many say rivals Sean Connery as the best Bond ever, shot the latest Bond feature Quantum of Solace in the Atacama Desert of Chile, according to a recent article by Deanna Palic in the magazine International Travel News. The film opens in the U.K. October 31st and in the U.S. November 14th. Chile is fast becoming a hotspot for filmmakers with Quantum of Solace being just one of many films in production. Continue reading »
I walked out of Woody Allen’s recent film Vicky Cristina Barcelona with a gut feeling: I desperately needed to go to the Spanish city of Barcelona. The movie gave me such a hankering to visit the city, a city which, in a way, was a character in the film. The outdoor cafes, the robust red wine, the Spanish guitar and the Gaudi architecture all worked their magic on me. Continue reading »