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10 Days, 9 Nights (including two en route)
NOVEMBER 10 to NOVEMBER 19, 2010
7 nights in Buenos Aires
2 days of racing at Palermo and San Isidro
Morning training and farm visits
Special sightseeing in Buenos Aires and environs
Tango, and hopefully football and polo
Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from Argentina or elsewhere.
Arrive in Buenos Aires. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the Park Hyatt Hotel in the Recoleta district of the city. The transfer will take about 30 to 40 minutes and the remainder of the day is free for adjustment and your own activities.
We always recommend staying active if it’s your first day in from the U.S., and Recoleta is made for strolling. With its tree-shaded sidewalks, shops, and cafes, this is the neighborhood that gives Buenos Aires its reputation as the "Paris of Latin America". The famous and intriguing cemetery is only a couple of blocks from the hotel, and this would be as good a time as any to explore it and pay your respects to "Evita" and the other rich and powerful whose final resting place is here. You can top off your walking with a drink and a snack at La Biela, a long-time favorite café of Recoleta porteños (as the residents of B.A. are known).
You might instead just want to relax and take advantage of the Park Hyatt’s exercise facilities and beautiful indoor pool, or have a rejuvenating treatment from the extensive list at the hotel’s Ahin Wellness Spa.
Late afternoon / early evening, we’ll rendezvous for cocktails in the quieter of the hotel’s bars, get to know each other a bit and plan for our week. Afterwards we’ll organize a simple no-host group dinner at a nearby restaurant for those who want to come along. We won’t be out late.
THE PALACIO DUHAU / PARK HYATT HOTEL: The best of a number of very good lodging choices in Buenos Aires, the Park Hyatt smoothly blends the modern and the traditional. Most of the rooms are in a new tower completed in 2006, and joined up to a previously private Tudor Revival mansion which contains the atmospheric public rooms. It has the city’s best hotel health and spa complex and its location in the middle of Recoleta is right where we want it to be. For more information on the property, see the hotel’s website at www.buenosaires.park.hyatt.com. A buffet breakfast is included every morning.
Today is our "Welcome to B.A." day and we’ll start things off mid-morning with an extensive private coach tour of the city to help you get your bearings and a sense of where you might want to come back to on your own later in the week. We’ll survey all of the principal central neighborhoods and sights, stretch our legs a couple of times, and have a break for lunch. We anticipate being back at the hotel mid-afternoon, but of course if you want to continue exploring and make your way home on your own, that’s fine, too.
This evening we’ll work in another Buenos Aires "must" that we think should come earlier rather than later in the week: our first exposure to tango, the dance and music so closely identified with the city. For this first look we’ll be going to a middle-ground presentation, something between one of the grand tourist-oriented floor shows and the simpler more traditional venues that those of you more interested will want to move on to later.
As to dinner, tonight presents us with a first opportunity to adjust to B.A. dining patterns — or not. This is a "late city", and restaurants don’t usually start filling up until 9:30 or 10. We’ll be leaving for the tango show at 8:15 and be back at the hotel about 10:30. You’ll certainly be able to find something quick before, or you can do it the porteño way and dine after. We’ll take the temperature of the group in the afternoon and make any no-host dinner bookings accordingly.
Our first racing day is at Palermo Racecourse and it’s arguably the biggest day of the year in Argentina, featuring the Nacional (the Argentine Derby) and the Seleccion (the Argentine Oaks). The outstanding program includes two other Group 1s — the Maipu over a straight five furlongs, and the one-mile Hipodromo de Palermo, both for 3-year-olds and up — plus a Listed race and a full supporting card.
The mile and nine-sixteenths Nacional was inaugurated in 1884, and familiar-to-us among its roster of winners is the influential sire Forli, and also Gentlemen, who raced with much success in the U.S. in the 90s. The mile-and-a-quarter Oaks had its first running in 1893.
The Palermo course (officially known as Hipodromo Argentino de Palermo) is Argentina’s oldest, debuting in 1876. It’s a left-turning dirt oval about a mile and a half around, similar in scope to Belmont Park but with longer straights and tighter turns.
We’ll be headquartered for the day in the racecourse’s new panoramic restaurant, where you may be kept almost as busy with the copious amounts of food as you will be with the racing. The restaurant has a covered outdoor terrace for race viewing, and it’s located at the paddock end of the extensive Palermo grandstands, making for an easy back-and-forth to see the saddling.
We plan to head over to the course together in the early afternoon. As it’s only a fifteen-minute taxi ride back to the hotel and cabs are readily available at the course’s front entrance, you can come home when you’re ready to and not before. The racing lasts well into the evening.
For those not wanting a sleep-in or otherwise lazy Sunday morning, we’ll be organizing an excursion to San Telmo, one of Buenos Aires’ more colorful neighborhoods.
A fashionable residential district for most of the 19th Century, San Telmo fell out of favor in the 1870s as affluent families increasingly moved to the higher ground farther to the north in Belgrano, Palermo, and our own Recoleta. San Telmo went through an extended period of roughness and decay, peopled mostly by the poorer classes, many of them new immigrants. Tango had its birth in San Telmo during these non-salad times. The faded but once-grand architecture provides the infrastructure for what is now a gentrifying neighborhood.
Sunday is market day in San Telmo and many of the streets are closed to vehicle traffic. The iron-roofed Mercado San Telmo with its hundreds of small-merchant stalls is the anchor for the neighborhood’s many shops, cafes, and bars, and just a block away is the Plaza Dorrego where there is outdoor music and tango.
The Mercado opens at 10:00AM. The morning crowd is light and it’s the best time to poke around as the activity level gradually builds up around you. By the time the people press is starting to be noticeable, we’ll be on our way back to the hotel.
Sometime between 1 and 2PM we’ll depart the hotel for our second day of racing, at San Isidro in the city’s northern suburbs. Owned and operated by the Argentine Jockey Club, San Isidro shares top billing with Palermo as the other of the two principal courses in the country. Almost all of Argentina’s major races are run at one of these two tracks.
The course was opened in 1935 and the important races here are mostly contested on grass, although a dirt track was added in 1994. The grass track is left-turning and almost 1 3/4 miles around. Like Palermo, the finish is placed just before the first turn, making for a very long homestretch. The Jockey Club’s property holdings here are more than 500 acres — immediately to the west are a clubhouse and golf course, and at the far western end is the training complex, which takes up almost as much ground as the racecourse itself. (We’ll be back out here to see it tomorrow morning.)
Today’s feature is the Group 1 Copa d’Oro (Gold Cup), a test for 4-year-olds and up at the classic distance of a mile-and-half on the grass. This is a 30-year-old race that serves as a major prep for the Carlos Pellegrini, San Isidro’s biggest race, which takes place in December.
We’ll have lunch in the panoramic restaurant, enjoy a fine day of San Isidro racing, and be back in the city in the early evening.
Up early this morning and back out to San Isidro for a look at the morning training. The training center here is the country’s largest. We’ll visit with an on-track trainer to see how things are done here. Following on this we’ll walk out of the San Isidro complex and across the street to another trainer’s operation, a combined residence-and-barn setup that’s truly something out of the ordinary. Coffee and a snack will be worked in at some point during the morning.
Leaving San Isidro we’ll head just a bit further north to the riverside town of Tigre, our jumping off point for an excursion into a unique near-urban marine environment.
At the head of the Rio de La Plata, the estuary that separates Argentina from Uruguay, is a complicated system of rivers that come together to form a wetland delta, run through with dozens of little water passages. In the old days pirates and marauders hid away in these parts, but today the area is dotted with porteño vacation homes and a smattering of restaurants and modest lodges. Everything here is waterfront, and the only way in is by boat.
The entire delta is about twenty miles wide at its mouth, and Tigre sits at the junction of two small rivers at the southern end of it. We’ll board our private craft for a 30-40 minute cruise up a few of the delta streams, debark at a riverside restaurant, get a table on the terrace, have a leisurely lunch, and watch the world go by for a while.
Midafternoon we’ll cruise back in to Tigre for the return trip to B.A., arriving late afternoon. Following a long break at the hotel, some of us may want to re-group for a no-host dinner later tonight.
Tue Nov 16
The principal reason for the large city of Buenos Aires being where it is — despite not being a topographically natural port — is its accessibility to the adjoining expanse of grassy plains known as the pampas. The Spaniards first touched down at this spot temporarily in 1536, and for keeps in 1580. At the time the focal point of Spain’s South American empire was up in Lima in present day Peru, 2,000 miles away on the Pacific Ocean coast. Any trade from this part of the empire had to pass through Lima on its way to and from Spain, and the sleepy town of Buenos Aires was an extreme backwater.
What happened was that escaped horses and cattle from the original settlements proliferated astoundingly on the rich natural pastureland of the pampas, and before too long little B.A. was sitting next to a huge and densely-populated feral cattle ranch. With no fences and the animals free for the taking.
The capture, rendering, and shipment of the cattle products — first the hides and later the beef — to the rest of the world became the major industry of the region, and together with later developed grain exports, made Argentina one of the wealthiest countries in the world in the late 19th and early 20th century. The architectural richness of Buenos Aires is one of the results of this affluence.
A cowboy culture emerged and evolved to service the industry. At first this was done by wide ranging independent gauchos — the romantic image of which has been a major cultural symbol in Argentina – and later by large organized estancias. Horses of course were an integral part of the enterprise and that is why horse breeding has always been such an important business here.
Today we’ll venture out into the pampas, both for some color and historical perspective, and to visit a couple of Argentina’s leading Thoroughbred breeding farms.
Our "touring" stop will be at San Antonio de Areco, a small and quiet town about 70 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, by common consent considered the "capital" of gaucho country. Out here we are well into the region of working farms, but San Antonio’s intimate scaling and mix of shops, cafes, and small exhibits and museums make for a pleasant exposure to the gaucho tradition. Silver is a particular specialty here, if you’re in a shopping mood.
For our principal farm visit, we are fortunate to be invited to La Quebrada, Argentina’s leading Thoroughbred breeding operation. La Quebrada has been 17 times top breeder, garnered more than 50 equivalents to our Eclipse award, and bred the winners of well over a hundred Group 1 races. They stand a number of Argentina’s top stallions, and the broodmares in residence number in the hundreds. After our look-around we’ll be treated to an old-fashioned Argentine asado (barbecue). Save some appetite for this.
Timing permitting we’re hoping to include a second farm at some point on the schedule today. We’ll be back in the city late afternoon.
This is catch-up day, a chance to go places you haven’t got to yet or get back to things you wanted more time for. There is so much to do and see in Buenos Aires we think you need at least one somewhat unstructured day here to do with what you will.
Tango enthusiasts might want to take a part of today to experience the dance in a more informal way by attending a matinee milonga, or possibly even scheduling a lesson. There are probably neighborhoods that struck your fancy in our comings-and-goings that you want to see more of. You may have some targeted shopping to get done. The adventurous could even take the hydrofoil over to Uruguay to see Colonia del Sacramento, the atmospheric fortified waterfront settlement that dates back to 1680 — although frankly we’d instead recommend extending your trip to do this and save today for B.A.
A part of the city we believe you should make time for is Palermo Viejo, and mid-to-late afternoon we’ll be organizing transport for those who want to have a go at it. The name "Palermo" in actuality covers a good-sized part of Buenos Aires immediately to the north and west of Recoleta, and includes some of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods. It’s also the location of many of the largest parks and open spaces, and of course we were there for our first racing day last weekend.
The viejo, or "old" part of Palermo we’re referring to for today is further inland, and it’s historically been a sprawling and featureless working-class neighborhood, perhaps not as gritty as San Telmo but decidedly non-glamorous. That began to change a bit more than ten years ago, and in a process to which the best U.S. analogy is probably South Beach in Miami, it’s become one of the
hippest parts of the city, dotted with shops, galleries, bars, and restaurants. Predictably, outbreaks of Starbucks-type commercialism are just starting to appear, but present-day Palermo Viejo remains very interesting
territory for poking around, and due to its later start probably a good 15 years behind South Beach’s arc of development.
Tonight is our last night together and we’ll be making a no-host group booking for dinner. Location to be determined and announced, but we might just make it in Palermo Viejo and those who’ve been elsewhere today can meet us at the appointed time. We hope everyone will want to join in.
Sad to say, the organized itinerary ends after breakfast and checkout today. If you aren’t flying off to another part of Argentina, more than likely your flight to the U.S. will be departing sometime this evening. Checkout is at noon, but we’ll have access all day to the fitness center, pool and locker rooms for a last-minute shower and change of clothes before heading out to the airport. Could be a good time for a spa treatment in addition to your final sidewalk coffee and walk around Recoleta.
As part of our arrangements we’ll provide transport to the airport. Extenders at the Park Hyatt will get their transfer on their actual departure day.
Buen viaje, and travel safely.
Arrive back in the U.S.
POLO, FOOTBALL, THEATRE
Some of the things we’d really like you to experience in Buenos Aires we’re unfortunately not able to definitely include in our program because of the uncertainty of their scheduling. Polo is the prime example of this. The sport is played at the highest level in the world here, but is very susceptible to weather delays. Every year visitors and porteños anxiously follow the forecasts hoping that their targeted events aren’t moved to a time they won’t be able to attend, and it’s a rare season when the original scheduling is adhered to all the way through. The timing of our trip is on the border between the projected end and beginning of two major high-goal tournaments. We’ll do our very best to include a polo match if at all possible, and the additional cost for the ticketing and transport will be on a case-by-case basis.
Football/soccer is perhaps a lesser priority, but we have to say our limited exposure to it in Argentina has been great fun. The fans really get into it here: opposing attendees are strictly segregated to their own fenced-off parts of the stadium, and in some cases are required to depart at separate time intervals to avoid potential expressions of excess zeal on the streets after the game. The Rose Bowl it ain’t. Obviously not everyone’s cup of tea, but we’ll make it available if we can on a fully-escorted basis: we’ll have our own special transport to and from the game, our own block of seats, and wise-to-the-scene people will be with us at all times. We’re there during the season, but again, uncertain scheduling is the issue.
The Teatro Colon, one of the world’s most famous performance venues, has been undergoing a thorough renovation since 2006. It’s to reopen in May of this year. We hope their scheduling will allow those interested to book into a production during our stay, and in any event we’ll be getting a look at it during our tour of the city. See the theatre’s website www.teatrocolon.org.ar for potential program information, and have a look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teatro_Col%C3%B3n for background on the building.
COME EARLY, STAY LATE:
This itinerary is designed to be full and busy, but a week is really not quite long enough for Buenos Aires. For those preferring a more extensive experience, we invite you to consider coming down earlier and / or lingering awhile after our planned trip is over.
The Park Hyatt has promised to accommodate extensions as best they can, but the space is not blocked or guaranteed. Please let us know as soon as possible if you wish to do this. It’s the busiest tourist season of the year here, and all the hotels are extremely busy. The farther in advance you let us know, the more likely they are to be able to accommodate you.
And since you’re already down here, you might also want to consider seeing some of the rest of this large and beautiful country. A list of candidates would include Iguazu Falls up on the border with Brazil; the wine growing region of Mendoza to the west; the alpine-like resort area of Bariloche to the southwest; Lago Argentina and the constantly calving Petito Moreno Glacier well down into empty Patagonia; and the “bottom of the world” in Tierra del Fuego with its dramatic Beagle Channel boat excursions out of Ushuaia.
ITINERARY & PRICES:
The itinerary includes:
The itinerary does not include:
- Seven(7) nights lodging at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Buenos Aires.
- Breakfast each morning as indicated.
- Two(2) escorted days’ racing at Palermo and San Isidro, including transportation to and from the racecourse, course admission, and lunch at a reserved-for-the-day table. (Note: racing is also scheduled at both courses on other days during the trip.)
- Lunch on four(4) days: November 13 at Palermo Racecourse, November 14 at San Isidro Racecourse, November 15 beside the Sarmiento River, and November 16 (an asado) at a farm on the pampas.
- City tour of Buenos Aires, November 12.
- Tango show, November 12.
- Morning training at San Isidro, November 15.
- River delta boat excursion, November 15.
- Pampas excursion, including farm visit and time in San Antonio de Areco.
- Transport to and from San Telmo on November 14 and to and from Palermo Viejo on November 17.
- Transfer from Ezeiza airport to the Park Hyatt Hotel, Buenos Aires on arrival.
- Transfer from the Park Hyatt Hotel, Buenos Aires to Ezeiza airport on departure.
- Welcome cocktails at the Park Hyatt Hotel.
- Complimentary racing publications.
- Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American host.
The Cost of the Trip does not include:
- Airfare to and from the U.S.A.
- The cost of dinner on any day or lunch except on days indicated above.
The Cost of the Trip Is:
- Any charges incurred at hotels other than the basic cost of the room and breakfast, including but not limited to room service, mini-bar, television or video, restaurant or bar service, laundry or dry-cleaning, business services, golf or other activities, scheduled spa treatments, and independent activities arranged through the hotel concierge. (All group members will be required to provide a credit card imprint upon check-in to guarantee payment for any individual charges.)
- Excess baggage charges. Please check flight baggage limitations if booking independent flights in conjunction with this trip.
- Costs related to obtaining passports or visas.
- Travel insurance.
- Alcoholic beverages, except for the "Welcome" cocktail hour.
- Charges incurred for anything other than what is specified in the "Itinerary Includes" summary above.
- Personal gratuities. As part of our arrangements, we will tip our drivers, farm personnel, and the hotel staff on behalf of the group. Group members should appropriately tip anyone who provides them with personal assistance, including special assistance by the hotel staff. Please note your principal escort does not expect and will not accept a gratuity.
$3,575 per person, based on double occupancy (fifteen or more travelers)
$3,645 per person, based on double occupancy (twelve to fourteen travelers)
$3,745 per person, based on double occupancy (eight to eleven travelers)
$1,245 single supplement, regardless of group size.
*Please note Argentina has instituted an entry fee of $131 per person to be paid by U.S. citizens upon entry into the country. For more on this, see the "General Information" section below.
*Please note we have not received final pricing for some elements of the itinerary, and therefore the final price of the trip is subject to minor adjustment until we do.
*Please note if we are able to attend a polo match or a football game, these activities will be at extra cost, to include the cost of transportation to the event. Attendance will be optional.
We will attempt to match single travelers wishing to double up and thereby avoid the Single Supplement, however it will always be the single traveler’s decision whether or not to accept a roommate.
Trip prices are subject to change up to thirty(30) days prior to trip departure to reflect fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the United States and Argentina. Dollar prices quoted here are based on the following exchange rate:
1 US $ = 3.82 Argentine Pesos // 1 Argentine Peso = .262 US $
- Additional Nights at the Park Hyatt Hotel, if available: will vary, depending on length of stay and the specific nights chosen. Please inquire with us.
*In the event we are able to attend a polo match some of the activities listed in the itinerary above may be transferred from one day to another.
*This trip is designed for eight(8) to eighteen(18) people. We will make every effort to operate the trip, however we do reserve the right to cancel the trip if it has less than eight(8) subscribers. Should we need to do this, all payments made to Racing-Europe toward the cost of the trip will be fully and promptly refunded.
*You must have a valid passport to enter Argentina, and your passport must be valid for at least six(6) months following the date of your intended departure from Argentina.
*There is a US$131 per person fee to be be paid by U.S. citizens upon entry into Argentina. This fee is the same amount that Argentine citizens must pay to enter the United States. The fee is collected at the airport upon arrival in the country and may be paid in U.S. currency via cash or traveler's checks, or by credit card. It then entitles the payer to multiple entries into Argentina for a period of ten (10) years. A special entry will be made in your passport to document payment of the fee. There is no requirement for a visa or any other documentation in addition to your passport. At present there is no mechanism in place to pay this fee in conjunction with the purchase of an airline ticket, so please be prepared to pay it at the airport upon arrival in Argentina.
View the itineraries for our other 2010 trips:
For June (England), click here For August (France), click here
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