BY JANET STEINBERG
3 OF A SERIES (South America)
For singers, their song would be “Amazing grace…how sweet the
For travelers, their song would be “Amazing place…how sweet the town.”
Since I am an inveterate traveler, I will sing you my song. So
here I go…with my amazing places…some of the sweetest towns
in South America.
LIMA, PERU: Peru’s capital city, founded by the Spanish
conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 1535, has a population approaching
Plaza Mayor, also known as Plaza de Armas, is center-pieced by an
impressive bronze fountain (circa 1651) and surrounded by
the Government Palace, Archbishop’s Palace of
Lima, the Municipal Palace, the Palace of the Union, and
the Cathedral of Lima.
Lima reflects the majority of the immense wealth of Peru. Orient Express
Hotel’s fabulous Miraflores Park Hotel, precariously
the suburb of Miraflores…one of Lima’s most fashionable neighborhoods.
|VIEW FROM MIRAFLORES PARK HOTEL|
Also in Miraflores is Casa Garcia Alvarado, an impressive, 1912 house
constructed when Lima’s upper class began to move their homes
away from downtown Lima to Miraflores. The owners now
host private lunches or dinners to small groups of visitors seeking
exclusive travel experiences in Peru.
When dining in Lima you must try ceviche, the Peruvian national dish, made
from fresh raw fish marinated in lemon or lime juice, and spiced with
chili peppers, chopped onions, and seasonings. Of course, it must
be washed down with a Pisco Sour, the national drink of Peru.
AND A PISCO SOUR…WHAT A PAIR!
places to visit in South America. Back-dropped by the majestic Andes
Mountains, Chile’s capital is a bustling, vibrant metropolis of 6-million
In Santiago, Colonial structures abut soaring Tangled electric
lines, resembling those seen in third-world countries, are reflected in
the facades of sleek glass
skyscrapers. Horse-drawn wooden carts click-clack along the
same tourist routes as Mercedes limos.
For those whose taste in hotels runs to elegant old-world decor, the Ritz
Carlton should be your hotel of choice. If a avant
garde lifestyle is your choice, head for the W
Hotel. Both hotels are located in the upscale El Golf
neighborhood that is resplendent with its displays of
street sculptures and decorated park-like benches scattered along the
Downtown Santiago is the city’s center of In the blink of an
eye, the historic Plaza de Armas will transport you from
Colonial times to the present. The Plaza de
Armas is framed by the National History Museum, the Cathedral
of Santiago, the main Correos de Chile (Chilean Post Office)
and the Presidential Palace. Carbineros (policemen on
horseback) sit at attention on well-groomed horses; children jump over
silvery rain puddles; and dogs splash in the circular granite fountain.
CARBINEROS ON HORSEBACK IN THE PLAZA DE ARMAS
Cristobal Hill (Cerro San Cristobal) offers a spectacular view of the
city. At the bottom of the hill is the
Metropolitan Zoo. You can walk, run, bike,
or drive to the hilltop. If those options don’t work
for you, there are always the telefericos (aerial cable cars) that
will zip you up the hill.
|ATOP SAN CRISTOBAL HILL|
The Central Market (Mercado Central), founded in 1872, is a most popular
attraction in Santiago. Evoking the spirit, warmth, and
hospitality of Chile, it is surrounded by fish markets and restaurants.
DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL: “River
of January”…like a sensual woman…the mere mention of her name
connotes romance and excitement. Before you even arrive you’ll
feel her anticipatory magic under your skin.
de Janeiro. What remains to be said about a city of fantasy and
dreams? “God,” say the Brazilians, “made the
world in six days. On the seventh he made
Rio.” Rio is unquestionably one of the most beautiful
cities in the world.
RIO (AND SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN) BY SHIP
pleasure- loving cariocas will wrap their warmth around
you. Exotic siren-like Guanabara Bay, among the most beautiful
harbors in the world, will wrap its beaches around you. For cariocas, the native inhabitants of Rio de
Janeiro, the beach is their living room. Copacabana…Ipanema…umbrella-studded crescents of sand
where beauty meets the beach. Where the bikini swimsuit of the
legendary “Garota de Ipanema” (“Girl from
Ipanema”) was reduced to the string, and the string gave way to a
minimalist swimsuit called fila dental (dental floss).
|BEAUTY AND THE BEACH|
de Janeiro…where one mountain, called Sugar Loaf,
res Corcovado (Hunchback), is the jagged lofty perch from
which an immense statue of “Cristo Redentor” (Christ the
Redeemer) outstretches his arms above the city.
The carioca’s Rio is one of the few remaining
large, cosmopolitan cities that has managed to hold onto its soul. Its
traditional customs, sport, music and festivities have managed to
survive in the form of Candomble (the African religion
of Bahia); futebol (the sport synonymous with Pele and
Maracana Stadium); samba (the pulsating beat in which the music of Brazil
reaches its zenith) and Carnaval (the greatest show on
BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA: Hola! Welcome to Buenos
Aires (aka B.A.), Argentina’s capital city that has been dubbed
“The Paris of South
America”. Literally translated, this city of “good
airs” is eclectic and elegant, seductive and sophisticated, formal
and informal, brilliant and shabby, lively and laid back.
This captivating port city of some 15-million people is much more
than gauchos (cowboys), portenos (fun-loving locals), and
slinky black-garbed tango dancers. It is a heterogeneous taste of
Europe on an American continent.
TRYS A TANGO…IGNORED BY MIME
palace and undisputed symbol of the Belle Epoque. The
hotel’s magnificent architecture and its Louis XIV and XVI
décor put the Alvear Palace in a class of its own. This jewel in
B.A.’s crown enjoys the city’s most enviable location in the posh
Cementerio del Norte, or Recoleta Cemetery, is the exclusive burial
ground where all portenos would like to be
interred. The cemetery’s most visited tomb is that of Eva
Duarte Peron. Evita (Don’t cry for me, Argentina) Peron died
of cancer in 1952 at age 33.
Plaza de Mayo is the square on which The Mothers of May Square
met to mourn the loss of some 10,000 children who disappeared during the
bloody military regime in the 1970’s. Casa Rosada, the
pink government house, stands on the eastern end of
the square. Here, too, is the Cabildo (the
colonial town hall-turned-museum), the main Bank of Argentina and the
El Obelisco, the towering granite obelisk, the most photographed
symbol of Buenos Aires, is the tour bus driver’s most joked about
landmark. “El Obelisco,” they quip,
“is Argentina’s monument to the suppository.”
La Boca, with corrugated tin and wood houses in a riotous splash of color,
is the city’s most picturesque place. At night, San
Telmo metamorphoses into a blazing, brightly lit string of
tango bars. However, if you’re looking for the city’s most
sophisticated tango show, head to the Hotel Faena for their Rojo Tango,
the dinner show.
|LA BOCA IS THE CITY’S MOST PICTURESQUE PLACE|
see for yourself. Argen-times are good times!
STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer, and International Travel
Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY in Mariemont, Ohio. She
is the winner of 41 national Travel Writing Awards.