You may be asking: Why Argentina? Or even better, Why Tandil, Argentina. Tandil is surrounded by 500 to 2000 foot “mountains” that are considered by geologists to be some of the oldest exposed mountains in the world; at one point these mountains were as high as 22,000 feet. Tandil is a small city with a population of just over 120,000 and it has more professional athletes per capita than any other city in the world, including tennis players, soccer players and rugby players. Nearly everyone is “active” in Tandil, because of the mild climate and the plethora of city parks and “sports clubs”. There is a lake within the city limits where there’s kayaking, swimming, jogging, camping, and fishing.
There are numerous running and hiking trails, biking trails and even outdoor “fitness trails” that surround the lake with multiple fitness stations with exercise equipment. There are also horseback riding and atv trails – all within a couple miles of the city center. The people in tandil are amongst the friendliest in the world and so is the exchange rate between the US Dollar and Argentinian Peso. You are definitely getting an incredible value for your money.
My 12-year old son and I decided that this was going to be our “bonding” adventure trip, and we wanted to try someplace off-the-beaten path, with lots of activities, but not too “adventurous”: Neither of us wanted to go on rigorous mountain treks, or isolated camping. So we began our trip in Los Angeles with a United Airlines flight (actually from Orange County, CA) to Houston, and then from Houston non-stop to Buenos Aires. We chose United because of the convenience factor (there aren’t any non-stop flights on any carrier from the LA area to Buenos Aires), and United had both the shortest connecting flights and the most convenient schedule for us. I must say, that while at times I’ve been known to be a bit of an “airline snob”, our experience with United Airlines was nothing short of great; from the phone reservation personnel, to the check-in personnel, to the flight attendants, everyone was highly professional and helpful (Note: I did not disclose to any of these folks that I was planning to write an article and blog). Even the food on United was pretty decent, and my son loved the hot croissants that they served for breakfast. I was impressed with the in-flight entertainment system, and specifically how you can connect your personal device (phone, ipad, etc.) to the system through USB port, which you can play video and music through, or even use just to keep your device charged (I had not seen a USB port part of any airlines in-flight system before). The other thing that really made our long flight very comfortable were the seats; we had Economy Plus seats, which gave us WAY more legroom than any regular economy seat I’ve ever been in, and even as much as some business seats with other carriers I’ve sat in. And the seats pitched back an additional few degrees too, which made sleeping more tolerable. I would highly recommend United Airlines, and they have an extensive service area around the globe for almost any would-be adventure (or semi-adventure) traveler.
We arrived in Tandil on a Saturday afternoon (after a 3.5 hour rental car drive from the Buenos aires airport – by-the-way: the car rental in Argentina isn’t the best so shop around and make sure you get all the costs, insurance requirements, taxes, and fees, in writing before you arrive. We rented with Eurocar, and it was a bit dicey.) We would spend the first day in Tandil just exploring the city to get the lay of the land. We learned the basic layout of the city and had lunch at a great cheese shop . One thing we quickly learned about Argentina: The Argentinians LOVE their beef. They have Argentinian barbecues seemingly on every corner, and they’re called Parilla’s (pronounced Pa-ree-jahs) (see this link to the restaurant we went to). One thing to keep in mind: don’t exchange your money at the official exchange rate! When we were there the rate was 7.6 pesos to the dollar. But, we ended up getting 11.6 pesos to the dollar by asking at banks and store owners where to get the best exchange rate. We actually ended up exchanging at an “official” money exchange store front in Tandil city center, but not at the posted rate that the “public” gets.
The second day we decided to run/hike the “mountain” in the park across the street from our rented house (we rented a great small 2 br house on AirBNB for only $52 per night – link – and the family that we rented from was fabulous!). The location of our house could not have been better – in the city, but away from the city center – and yet right on one of the most beautiful parks where we had easy access to trails, and only ½ mile from the lake.
Our activity-filled week was filled with hiking, running, gym visits, biking, kayaking, swimming, and great dinners….more detail on that in the next blog!