Tag Archives: buenos aires

All About Day Tours

A new, foreign country can be daunting. Imagine heading out with only yourself and a guidebook. You can waste precious trip time wandering unfamiliar streets and unexpected corners with only a vague sense of the highlights. Where is that Cafe you’re friend told you about in Montparnasse?

Why not hire a local guide for a few hours or even for a day? Friendly, approachable guides love to chat about their city and introduce visitors to the local culture. Theirs is a personal, tailored touch that can’t be replicated from a guidebook. Since they already know all the best places to visit and the best way to get there, they can be a great source to save valuable time and money you could instead spend on that gelato.

Day trips can be simple walking tours around Rome, dinners with flamenco dancers, or full day excursions to see Stonehenge. They can be tailored to your needs, providing private services for you and your family or group tours with 12 or more people at affordable prices.

We at Willamette Intl Travel have contacts all over the world that come highly recommended. Have a destination in mind? Let us open your experience by arranging day trips with any one of our great guides. Here is a sample of the best:

Anselmo in Lisbon. Anselmo and his band has provided tailor-made tours all over Portugal and Spain for the last 15 years, specially designed for private families and small groups. They can take you on unforgettable day trips to Sintra and Lisbon or multi-day tours through the Douro Valley, Santiago de Compostela, or the amazing cities of Batalha, Tomar and Evora. “Just a note to tell you how wonderful Anselmo has been. If you can imagine being squired around Portugal by Mr. Carson of Downtown Abbey, but with a sense of humor, you can get a sense of Anselmo” ~~ Carla, client of Wittravel

Spanish Trails in Barcelona. This group offers amazing and unique tours in and around Barcelona.Their tours include wine tastings in the Catalonia countryside, sea kayaking along the Costa Brava, and food and wine tours in the city.

A&R in Rome. Adrienne & Renato are a husband-wife team, she from Portland and he from Naples. With their team of local guides they can arrange everything from private Pompeii tours to dinners in the Tuscan countryside. Their services include close, personal attention illuminated by a background in art history and mythology.

Chocolatine in France. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Chocolatine offers private services in France that are 100% tailored to your needs. We work closely with them to arrange private excursions in Paris and elsewhere in France. Recently, they have helped to track down a client’s ancestral ties in battlefields in Alsace-Lorraine.

Meli in Istanbul. Meli is the founder of MeliTours, an exceptional tour company based in Kusadasi. For years they have escorted our clients in unique itineraries in Turkey, Greece, and on sailing trips along islands and coasts.Their guides are passionate, knowledgeable, and geared toward the interests of each individual guest.

Laura in Cape Town. Laura’s Township Tours is operated by Laura Ndukwana who was a born and bred in Guguletu, South Africa. As a tour guide for 17 years, she is the perfect guide to Cape Town, opening up the experience with her personal anecdotes of day to day life in the area. Laura is also actively involved in community projects that aid local children.

Marissa in Buenos Aires. Marissa is a unique one-woman operation in BA, and has organized tailor-made tours in and around the city for the past 12 years. “When you spend a day with Marisa in the fabulous city of Buenos Aires, you become Argentinian!!” ~~ John @ Wittravel

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Argentina Feature: Empanadas

The empanada appears in many shapes and forms all across the globe, and each chef has their own unique recipe. In Chile, they tend to stuff their empanadas with pino, a traditional filling of beef, onions, raisins, black olives, and a hard-boiled egg. Costa Ricans serve dessert empanadas with guava, pineapple, chiverre squash and dulce de leche.

The empanada is one of the national dishes of Argentina, second only perhaps to the famous and succulent beef barbecue. Nowhere else in South America do we see such a variance in these delicious hand pies: beef, corn, béchamel, ham and cheese, onion and cheese. In Buenos Aires alone there are about fifteen flavors! There are also so many regional variants, from the olive empanadas of the Mendoza valley to the seafood-stuffed goodies of the coast.

Empanadas can come in savory or sweet flavors. Baked or fried, they can be served as a snack (2-3 pies) or a larger lunch (4-5). They are said to come from Spain and Portugal, in the Spanish version empanadillas. The world empanada comes from Spanish empanar, “to coat or wrap in bread.” Originally a dish for festivals and celebrations, the empanada is now very common in Argentina restaurants and as a take-away food. While strolling down a street in Buenos Aires, look out for the repulgue, a pressed pattern on the dough that indicates the filling.

Want to delve more into the world of the empanada? Book an empanada cooking class in the bohemian neighborhoods of Buenos Aires or try these recipes at home!

 

photo by mumumio

RECIPE – SHELLS (from http://laylita.com)
You can purchase shells of the empanada in most Latin markets; the two types of shells are estilo criolla or the flakier estilo hojaldre. Or make them yourself at home—it’s not as hard as it sounds! To make 15 medium empanada shells:

Ingredients

3 cups flour
¼ teaspoon salt
6 oz unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 egg
4-5 tbs water

Preparation:

  1. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor.
  2. Add the butter, egg and water until a clumpy dough forms.
  3. Form a ball and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
  4. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out round disc shapes for empanadas (use round molds or a small plate).
  5. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer to use later.

RECIPE – FILLING (from www.fromargentinawithlove.typepad.com)
After you’ve mastered your shells, it’s time to make the filling! To make about one dozen empanadas, you need:

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1 TB butter
2 onions
1 1/2 TB smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
6 green olives, pitted and cut into slices
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into rounds
salt and pepper to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste
12 empanada rounds (tapas)
1 egg, beaten, for glazing
1 glass water, to seal edges

Preparation:

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions with a dash of salt until translucent.
  2. Add the beef, chopping as it cooks with a flat spatula. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until beef has been cooked through, then stir in the paprika, cumin, and crushed red pepper and mix well.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the tapas on a lightly floured work surface. With a spoon, put a little of the meat filling in the center of the dough round. Add a slice of the olive and a piece of the hard-boiled egg.
  4. For sealing, you’ll need your glass of water. Moisten the edge of the top half of the round with a little water on your finger. Fold the bottom half of the dough up until the edges meet and seal with your fingers by pressing down. The empanada should have a half-moon shape.
  5. Use your hands to pack the filling firmly in the center. Next, fold the edge with the Repulgue technique: using your fingertip, fold one corner of the empanada over, and press down firmly down firmly. Go to the edge again and repeat, until you get a spiral pattern. You could also use a fork instead.
  6. Beat an egg in a cup and paint the top of each sealed empanada so that when they bake, they have a shiny, golden shell.
  7. Spread flour lightly over several cookie sheets, and place the finished empanadas on top. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown and sizzling.

Interested in a vacation in Buenos Aires or the rest of Argentina? Chat with our experienced and knowledgeable agents at Willamette International Travel. Call us at 1-800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com.

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Guide to Argentina: Buenos Aires

The capital of Argentina is composed of a series of central barrios (neighborhoods). From the business district of the Centre to the wild tango clubs of Palermo, Buenos Aires has something for everyone.

Take an Empanada-Making class. Professional, local chefs will teach you all you need to know about the classic Argentine empanada. Afterward, pair the fruits of your labor with succulent Malbec wine, juicy steak, sweet biscuits and mate. Whether you’re an expert hobbyist or a novice, local chefs and guides with delight you with their local knowledge of cuisine and customs.

photo by Jameson Fink

Go on a food-themed walking tour or a pub crawl. Meet the friendly locals in popular, hip neighborhoods of San Telmo, Recoleta or Palermo. Led by an expert guide, you’ll be introduced to the best the culinary world has to offer. For a daring traveler, we recommend black pudding, liver, and sweetbreads.

photo by Pablo Dodda

Sample the drinks. Meet a local sommelier at a wine bar, and learn all there is to know about Argentina’s famous wines from Mendoza. Sample wine that has been carefully paired with tapas—crackers, cold cuts, cheese, and nuts. For a drink, sample the ingenious cocktails and browse through the 3,000 list of Argentinean reds and whites.

photo by Sergio Aguirre

Head to the Temaiken Zoo. Spend a day trip to the zoo just outside Buenos Aires. See animals from all over—sharks, white tigers, hippos, tapirs, alligators, penguins and more. Go on a Tuesday, when tickets are 50% off. Check out the Interpretive Centers, where audiovisual presentations educate the visitor on biology, the ecosystem, and the importance of nurturing the environment.

Lose yourself among the Dead. Take a sobering trip to the labyrinth of tombs and mausoleums of Cementario de la Recoleta. This is a necropolis of the good, bad and beautiful—from presidents, Nobel Prize winners, the granddaughter of Napoleon, and others. Pay homage to Eva Peron’s grave, then head to her collection of costumes, jewelry, and paintings on exhibit at the Museum Evita.

photo by Chimpanz APe

Learn to Tango. You know you want to, and where else but the birthplace of the dance? Spend an evening at a Milongas, or tango club, and admire the masters from afar or join in with the novices. Combine a tango show with delicious cuisine at the beautiful Palazzo Rossini. To see the cream of the crop, try the Centro Cultural Torquato Tasso. To delve more into the history, visit the Museo Casa Carlos Gardel, which celebrates tango’s first superstar.

photo by Gustavo Brazzalle

Sip at a Café. Café in Buenos Aires is nothing like watery American coffee—it’s thick, rich espresso. Nibble on a succulent medialuna (Argentinian croissant) while you dive into the liquidated warmth of freshly roasted beans. Delve into the countless pastries served here, from biscuits, cakes, ice cream, crepes, bonbons, flan—and the king of them all, the dulce de leche.

photo by Phillip Capper

Have a Picnic. Buenos Aires is a city of parks and picnics. Head over to the Reserve Ecological Constanera Sur and chow down on your lunch while enjoying the skittering iguanas, 200 species of birds and that oddest of fauna, the jogger. Moonlight tours can be booked ahead of time.

Marvel at Masters—Old and New. Head over to the art exhibits and galleries of Recoleta and Malba. Take a tour through the Coleccion Constantini, which boasts impressive pieces from Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Tarsila do Amaral. Fashionistas might discover funky boutiques in Palermo Viego. For the antiques collector, your best bet is hunting for relics in the bric-a-bracs of San Telmo and its main street, the Calle Defensa.

Willamette International Travel can arrange some of these experiences beforehand, and connect you with locals who live and breathe the city of Buenos Aires. Ask us about Marisa, our dedicated, personable tour guide whose vast knowledge and love of her city have charmed many of our clients.

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