Posts tagged Travel

Lakeside Tourist Paradise, Villa Rumipal, Cordoba, Argentina

By Roy Heale

 

Tercero River Reservoir

Tercero River Reservoir

 

During the Argentine summer months of December, January, and February many tourists turn to the outdoors for leisure activities under the hot sun and during the warm days. The Calamuchita Valley in the Sierras of Cordoba Province is one of the most well known tourist destinations with those who enjoy lakeside outdoor activities.

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Villa Rumipal is one of the workers settlements established during the construction of the Tercero River dam during the first half of the twentieth century. The closest city is Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, located just seventeen kilometers away. The sleepy small town with tree-lined quiet streets is peaceful, relaxing, and offers a full range of activities in and around the lake.

 

Quiet Tree-Lined Streets

Quiet Tree-Lined Streets

Nestled on the shore of the very large Tercero River Reservoir and including several waterways which contribute to this vast lake, this is a place where boating, fishing, swimming, and more water sports prevail in the crystal clear waters. El Torreón and Corcovados Beaches are the most popular and offer a range of activities.

The climate is ideal for outdoor life, including events such as the Lake Provincial Festival and its traditional swim across the lake, the Criollo Holy Week, the endurance championships, plus model airplanes tournaments with radio controlled flights. These are all memorable events for visitors throughout the year.

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Villa Rumipal has a lakeside camping site, numerous cabin rentals, and two new hotels (Lago Hotel and Posada Chapaq Nan) near the waterfront plus several local cafes and restaurants offering Argentine specialty dishes. It is recommended to book early due to the immense popularity in the summer months and the limited number of accommodations available.

Lago Hotel

Lago Hotel

Posada Chapaq Nan

Posada Chapaq Nan

Local Restaurants

Local Restaurants

 

 

Enjoy this summer playground situated beside one of the regions largest lakes.

Oktoberfest Celebrations in Argentina?

Villa General Belgrano, Cordoba

 

Villa General Belgrano

Villa General Belgrano

By Roy Heale

Reputedly the third largest celebrations of Oktoberfest outside of Germany can be found in the small central Argentine town of Villa General Belgrano of the province of Cordoba.

Local Beer Halls

Local Beer Halls

This small mountain hamlet of approximately six thousand residents is named after Manuel Belgrano, the creator of the National flag,  and is perched on a hillside of the Sierras of Córdoba. Founded in 1930, by two German land speculators, the Alpine quality of the village attracted immigrants from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Austria.

Newcomers to the village, along with the original settlers, landscaped the mountain ranges with red-roofed, wood-frame homes, microbreweries, pastry and chocolate shops imparting that unique Bavarian style which distinguishes it today.  Now pedestrians enjoy the magical Bavarian atmosphere as they stroll around the scenic townsite.

The village economy flourishes on a year round steady flow of tourists (peaking in October) with an appetite for German delicacies like apple strudel, leberwurst and spätzle plus of course local brewed beer.

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Newsstands sell the German language weekly Argentinisches Tageblatt among other German newspapers, and some of the churches offer Sunday services in German and Spanish. Like many isolated immigrant communities, Villa General Belgrano has respected traditions that fell out of favor in Germany long ago, however even though the mother tongue can still be heard, it is being lost with the passage of time.

 

Entrance To Festival Grounds

Entrance To Festival Grounds

For more than fifty years Argentina’s National Beer Festival has been held in the district of Villa General Belgrano, thus commemorating the German celebration of Oktoberfest. This event is celebrated during eleven intense days in the Beer Park—a central venue especially designed for the occasion. The attendants drink several liters of beer, which are served in giant German mugs. The main beer brands, both national and international, take part in this traditional festival, in which their premium, regular and special products are promoted at various stands. At certain times, the celebration moves into the center of the city, where there is a parade of the communities that have contributed to the formation of the present European identity of Villa General Belgrano. Thus, delegations from Germany, Denmark, Scotland, Spain, the Canary Islands, Yugoslavia, Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Greece, Italy, Armenia and Ukraine show off their traditional costumes, expanding the cultural spectrum of the festival.

 

In the afternoons, the simultaneous opening of the beer barrels is carried out. People gather with their mugs held out trying to get some of the free spurts of beer. According to tradition, drinking the beer from those barrels is supposed to bring people good luck.

Ceremonial Opening of the Kegs

Ceremonial Opening of the Kegs

 

The pagan ritual which became known as Oktoberfest originated in Munich, Germany, five centuries ago, in which worshipers believe in the sparkling goddess that enters the body like an icy stream as she takes hold of the spirit. Argentina welcomes the continuance of this long standing German tradition upheld in the natural beauty of the Sierras de Cordoba.

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Find some lederhosen and head to Villa General Belgrano in October for a traditional beer festival and fun times in a European atmosphere.

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Outdoor Vacation Paradise of Santa Rosa de Calamuchita, Cordoba, Argentina

Santa Rosa River Valley

Santa Rosa River Valley

 

By Roy Heale

Hidden discreetly on the banks of the Santa Rosa River is the small vacation town of Santa Rosa de Calamuchita. Known mostly to local Argentine tourists, this small town is a popular, authentic local vacation playground for outdoor activities. Off the beaten track of most foreigners, don’t expect to find a Starbucks, McDonalds, or Burger King here, but you will be treated to real Argentine cuisine in local cafes and restaurants especially the renowned parillas. Dine along the riverbank or choose an historic restaurant in the village with great food and low prices. Although it is extremely busy during the summer months, a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere prevails.

Dinner by the River

Dinner by the River

This small village in the province of Córdoba, Argentina is located in the center of the Calamuchita Valley, in the heart of a landscape that includes hills (the Sierras) as well as rivers and lakes. Located between the Sierras Grandes and the Sierras Chicas in the very middle of the river valley this tourist center is 96 km away from Cordoba Capital City and is a good choice to relax in any season. It attracts numerous visitors to enjoy the beaches and rivers with clear water surrounded by mountainous relief.

Accommodations include a range of hotel options plus numerous cabaña (cabin) rentals for extended stay vacations. Prices are quite modest and many bargains can be found all year round. The local tourist information bureau keeps a daily list of availability and prices.

Cabaña Resort

Cabaña Resort

At 615 meters above sea level there is almost no wind with ideal temperatures to enjoy outdoor activities year round. This historic region with architecture that goes back to 1575 and the arrival of the Spanish Jesuits is steeped in local culture.

Historic Architecture

Historic Architecture

Close to the Champaquí mountain range (2884 meters high), hiking or mountain biking are popular activities plus photo safaris to enjoy the natural environment. The Santa Rosa River is an ideal place for sport fishing or to discover pools of calm water with white sandy beaches amidst the riverbank parklands.

Calamuchita

At night, Calamuchita invites young people, adults and all visitors to join the locals at discos, bowling alleys and video games arcades on the bustling main street.

Gay-Friendly Rosario, Argentina

Florida Beach, Rosario, Argentina

By Roy Heale

Rosario is a radiant city on the move with a tolerant and gay-friendly population. The city is nestled in a gentle twist of the mighty Paraná River about 300 km northwest of the city of Buenos Aires. Due to this close proximity to the Capital City, it is often overlooked as a potential gay vacation destination by first time LGBT travelers to Argentina.

However, Rosario freely displays its natural ‘water-world’ of the Upper Delta with its magic islands covered by lush vegetation and the many desirable sandy beaches. In the city proper there are a number of museums, a curious blend of Spanish and Italian architecture, lovely parks harboring beautiful statues and monuments. The rainbow adorned LGBT Paseo de la Diversidad walk and monument is proudly located on the river boardwalk—located between Corrientes and Paraguay streets—for all to see. There are numerous beaches along the river front, restaurants with international cuisine, and steakhouses where you can sample the renowned Argentine beef cooked on a parilla, or taste the local gourmet speciality—fresh river fish.

Paseo de la Diversidad, Rosario, Argentina

Vacation activities abound for the LGBT traveler to enjoy in Rosario. Night life is exciting with several gay discos—mostly open only on weekends— gay-friendly bars, sidewalk cafes, and restaurants in a balmy, romantic atmosphere.

The local gay map and guide De Ambiente is an excellent source of Rosario LGBT information which is updated and published four times per year. It is readily available around town including the Official City Tourism Information Centers—another sign of how gay-friendly this city really is!

You know that you have arrived at a gay-friendly Hotel when the De Ambiente is displayed prominently in the hotel lobby along with other tourist information brochures. Such is the case with The Plaza del Sol Hotel in the heart of downtown Rosario where the local gay guide is readily available in the foyer. The welcoming gay-friendly staff are also extremely helpful and it is nearby all the historic attractions, including the Paseo de la Diversidad, Independence Park Theatre, and El Círculo Opera House, plus numerous gay-friendly cafes, bars, and clubs.

A short City Bus ride—costing less than two dollars—on the special “de la Costa” bus route will take you from downtown to the extensive sandy beaches of La Florida neighbourhood. Here sun worshippers gather around the umbrellas, beach volleyball games are everywhere, outdoor bars and cafes are dotted along the shore, nautical sports and bathers catch the eye. Were it not for the calm river and the lush islands in the background, it would seem akin to a tropical ocean resort beach.

For relaxation, you can take a leisurely cruise on the Paraná River and thread your way through a maze of vegetation-rich islands in the delta or, if you are more adventure-minded, paddle a kayak across to one of the islands. Many tourists and locals alike ride bicycles or horses around the parks.

Rosario is the city where General Manuel Belgrano, one of Argentina’s most important forefathers, designed the country’s flag. One of the most popular attractions in the city is the impressive Flag Monument placed in the Parque Nacional de la Bandera (National Flag Park). There is also the possibility of heading to the top of the monument’s tower for a great view of the city and river valley.

National Flag Monument, Rosario, Argentina

The history of LGBT Rosario is extensive and fascinating. According to local historian and long time Rosario resident Carlos Italiano—writer, history and Italian teacher—even during the oppressive dictatorships and religious influences the gay community in Rosario continued to thrive in secret. Some of their clandestine meeting places still exist today like the Hotel Savoy lobby bar. Although it has been renovated and upgraded it still seems to have a gay atmosphere inherited from those early days. Even Ricky Martin chose this hotel for his gay home-away-from-home when he visited Rosario. What could establish a gay reputation more than a “Royal Visit”?

In those early days the main gay cruising street was San Juan Street dating back about forty-five years when there were no bars or clubs in which the LGBT community could gather and no internet for instant hook-ups. Coincidentally, the gay-friendly Plaza del Sol hotel is located on this street today.

The renowned El Cairo Cafe was also a gathering place for the gay community along with local famous artists and authors. Today the Cafe has undergone a major restoration and is still a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike.

Attractive Gardens and Architecture, Rosario, Argentina

The journey from Buenos Aires by bus, train, or rental car takes about three hours. It is well worth a side trip to Rosario for LGBT city life with some great opportunities for a change of pace and some relaxation during a gay vacation to Argentina.

With such a rich LGBT history, the Paseo de Diversidad, and a thriving LGBT community, it is no wonder that Rosario is recognized as an extremely gay-friendly major city in Argentina.

Contact De Ambiente Gay Guide:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/dambiente

Contact Plaza del Sol Hotel:
http://www.hotelesplaza.com/hotelplazasol/hotelplazasol.html

Gay-Friendly Argentina?

FIT Travel Show Buenos Aires

By Roy Heale

Not surprisingly, when any country or territory takes the bold step to legalize same-sex marriages the business community subsequently decides it is acceptable to adopt a gay positive attitude. Such was the case in other countries like Canada following the 2005 Same-Sex Marriage Act and it now appears to be the circumstance in Argentina since the passing of the new law in 2010.

While this is a positive outcome of gay marriage there are also some precautions for the LGBT community to observe. What really defines “gay-friendly” and how genuine is this moniker versus just an opportunity to garner new business from the LGBT consumer?

In Argentina since 2010, the National Government Tourism offices known as INPROTUR (National Institute of Tourism Promotion) have been travelling the globe attending major travel trade shows promoting “gay-friendly” Argentina as a new destination for consideration by LGBT travellers. On many occasions the Minister of Tourism of the Nation, Sr. Enrique Meyer, has personally been accompanying the exhibit and attending the travel shows to demonstrate the country’s serious commitment to the LGBT community.

But how gay-welcoming is Argentina really to the LGBT traveller visiting the country for the first time?

Before embarking on a month long journey around central Argentina, I decided to pay a visit to an official Tourism Office in downtown Buenos Aires, on Santa Fe Avenue, to garner some LGBT information for my travels.

Arriving at the office I was accompanied by two friends from Toronto, Canada who were visiting the country for the first time and also wanted some information about gay Buenos Aires.

The friendly Argentine Tourism employee proved to be extremely helpful when we asked for gay information—no shocked expression or anti-gay vibes—but this subject matter proved to be sadly lacking in availability.

Firstly, my friends were offered a two year old gay Buenos Aires city guide, but with the caution that they could only use this for a reference guide as it was their only copy and must remain in the Tourism Office. They were told they could go to the publisher’s website for more up to date information. However, I happened to know that this website has been “under construction” for the past year. When I asked for LGBT information for Rosario, Cordoba, Mendoza, and other major Argentine tourist destinations I was told that none was available. Our endeavours spent heading to this important tourist resource center proved to be fruitless and a total waste of our time.

Although the employee was very gay-welcoming she clearly had not been armed with the appropriate tools and materials to welcome an LGBT traveller. She did not even mention we were a short ten minute walk away from the Pink Point Buenos Aires Information Center where we could find a wide range of LGBT information and services for all of Argentina.

Clearly this is a case where a Marketing 101 course is sadly lacking for INPROTUR to explain the importance of preparing the product and services before advertising these offerings to the LGBT consumer.

Argentina is a very gay-friendly travel destination with many diverse and spectacular attractions for the gay traveller, it was a great disappointment to see the official tourism services sadly lacking in information. The gay guide to Rosario, the gay-friendly map of Bariloche, the Gay Mendoza Wine Festival details, Gay Pride information, brochures of gay-owned and gay-friendly accommodations, and more should have been readily available for LGBT tourists.

If Argentina is going to promote a gay positive attitude internationally then much work needs to be done within the country to make this a genuine gay-friendly welcome.

Notwithstanding government initiatives—or lack thereof—my personal experiences in Argentina have proven this to be a very gay-friendly and gay-welcoming country.

Going Gay at FIT in Buenos Aires

 

Pink Corner
Gustavo Noguera (left) and Pablo De Luca
Brazil Exhibit

Entertainers at the Main Entrance to FIT

By Roy Heale

 With a great deal of fanfare and excitement The 15th annual FIT Latin America (International Tourism Fair of Latin America) is taking place once again in Buenos Aires from October 30th to November 2nd. Last year the four day event was attended by almost 83,000 people and approximately 40% of these were travel industry professionals. With the recent increases in the number of international visitors to Argentina it is anticipated that this year’s 15th Anniversary show will be even bigger than in prior years. With over 250 exhibitors from around South America and other parts of the globe, seminars, presentations, and more this is perhaps the largest gathering of travel industry representatives in South America. However, this year a new component has been added called The Pink Corner which is an exclusive area for LGBT travel businesses to promote their services and communicate the importance of the gay and lesbian sector of the traveling public.

 This new feature Pink Corner is the first initiative of the CCGLAR (Cámara de Comercio Gay Lésbica Argentina)—which is the new Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce in Argentina—in collaboration with The Argentina Ministry of Tourism.

 Pablo De Luca & Gustavo Noguera founders of CCGLAR and owners of GMAPS360 and Gnetwork360 began working on this project earlier this year long before same-sex marriages in Argentina became legal in July 2010, but only just received the go-ahead after the new law was enacted. However, according to De Luca it is now even more appropriate that the LGBT travel segment of this industry demonstrates a stronger presence at this major annual trade show and fair.

 Some of Argentina’s leading LGBT travel industry professionals participating at Pink Corner included Delta Air Lines, Gmaps360, Hertz, GNETWORK360, TIJE Travel, Glam Travelers, Friendly Apartments, GWedding, Casa Shanti, Pink Point Buenos Aires, Bariloche Gay Travel,Thennat Travel, BA Queer, Mendoza Gay Travel, Deptos Mendoza, INSIDE Resto Bar, Human Club, Pride Cafe, Libor Tour, Uomobello, Out&About, Howard Johnson, and Flamenco Tour. These local travel businesses and tour operators demonstrated the diversity of services which Argentina already offers to the LGBT traveler visiting this vast country. It is certain that with this kind of initiative by the CCGLAR and its future planned activities, the LGBT business community in Argentina will grow and develop into a major component of the overall travel industry in South America.

 If you were unable to attend this year’s FIT show then mark the dates October 29th to November 1st, 2011 on your calendar and head to the new gay mecca of South America—Buenos Aires—for next year’s 16th edition of this important industry gathering.

 For More Information Visit: www.fit.org.ar or www.ccglar.org