Resort life for the rugged travelers

Trip Start Mar 31, 2010
Trip End Jul 29, 2010

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Where I stayed
Already amazing and still a work-in-progress, Casa Gutierrez

Flag of Argentina  ,
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sheridan, a.k.a. Gordo de Cordoba, greeted us at the bus station wearing a green golf cap with a little American flag. Immediately after the hugs and greetings he said, "Good, now I can take this silly hat off. It says gringo all over it." We plunked our packs into his Toyota 4Runner and he took us for a tour of the city. Cordoba was recently described as "the most beautiful city in Argentina", and we felt it would have a lot to live up to after Mendoza.

Arriving at Casa Gutierrez was such a treat. The Cranmers showed us to a lovely bedroom and we sat down to an incredible array of postres accompanied by delicious Argentine coffee, the special recipe for which we were later able to procure from Lillian. We were certainly excited to do some wash after our travels and Lili greeted us with an American-style washer and dryer.  (Just a side note that the washing machines typically found down here are small and dryers are really hard to find.)  Their gated community, Country Jockey Club, is very serious about security, with double fences and several guards at each gate to call residents before allowing anyone to enter. We even saw a guard check a taxi's trunk before he was permitted to leave the community after dropping someone off. Nearly all the houses in the community are situated around the golf course, so they all have spectacular views.  The Cranmer's house is currently undergoing additions (slated to be finished in 2013, j/k Lili).  The remodeling they have done so far has doubled the square footage and quadrupled the elegance.  We had no idea how much work remodeling projects take, it is seriously a full-time job for them (good thing they're "retired").  It gave Jayson a sense of the amount of work his parents put into their new house.

 We headed out for the day and hit up not one, not two, but three museums. We saw both of the Museos de Bella Artes, each in beautiful and elaborate buildings with a mix of classic architecture and modern decor, and a museum of money in the first Banco de Cordoba, which displayed the coins and bonds from the beginning of Argentine history. We also visited the Catedral Capuchino (and no, we looked for the espresso machines, but they didn't have any) and the Cathedral in Plaza San Martin, which were both impressive even to non-churchy types like us. Enough cultural stuff for one day, we took a cab back to the Jockey Club and geared up for an asada at the Cranmers! Brandon, their 18-year old son, was our asador and did a wonderful job cooking ribs, matambre, chorizos, and all sorts of other meats and meatlette items we had never tried. We also did quite a bit of wine tasting, and the conversations lasted late into the night... er, morning.

The next day we headed to Germany... Little Germany of Argentina that is. Villa General Bellgrano is a small German settlement just nestled about an hour outside of Cordoba, apparently settled by survivors of a sunken WWII battleship. We heard there were cervezerias (microbreweries) scattered throughout the small town and figured "what better way to top a tour of the wineries?" The town was very quaint and hospitable, many European looking buildings were scattered throughout and there was even a large clock tower in the city center. Some of the microbreweries had tastings and little cafe areas while others made you buy a bottle and drink it outside (is that legal Miriam?). Overall, fantastic beers with
great hoppy flavor and we discovered we really like dark beers (stouts) down here. And although we were really hoping to get some good German eats a la schniztel, bratwurst, and wiesswurst, in true Argentine fashion, the restaurants closed for siesta and didn't open again until 8pm, after our departure time. So we retaliated in our own learned Argentine fashion and made some jamon and queso sandwiches.

The next day was relax day. How could we not have one in this fantastic house in this fantastic community? The highlights of our day included riding the Cranmers' really awesome full suspension mountain bikes around the golf course and eating some delicious trucha (trout) con salsa crema made by Lillian. After dinner we settled on the couch to watch Los Secretos de sus Ojos, a wonderful Academy Award-winning Argentine film shot in Buenos Aires in 6 weeks, and Sheridan shared with us the secrets of ice cream delivery. While he and Lil went out to pick up their son (aka party with the kids' parents) they left us the phone with instructions to accept the ice cream delivery: someone will call and say, "Blah blah blah blah yaddah yaddah" and you say, "Pase". It worked! Within 15 minutes we had a kilo of ice cream in front of the big screen. Hardly traveling in poverty here.

The next morning we woke up bright and bushy tailed, in contrast to those family members who had stayed out till 2am (and one that didn't come home). Sheridan and Lil took us on a wonderful outing with another couple, Hugo and Inez, and their 3-year old "monito" (little monkey). We went to see the exclusive Calibri estancia (resort), and with Lil's charming character they let us in for a tour, despite regular protocol against public visitors. The resort was amazing (see photos) and maybe one day will be in our budget! We then went on to the Santa Catalina cathedral, which lay on the grounds of another estancia. We were welcomed out of the cold wind and into a tiny restaurant (more like small dining room) for a homemade lunch of delicious homemade ravioli and chicken followed by a unique and amazing postre of dulce de higo (candied fig) and dulce de calabazas (candied pumpkin) with sweet cheese. We took a tour of the cathedral, which notably housed the entrance of a 15km escape tunnel complete with wooden slots to place paintings in order to disguise the door as a tunnel. After all this, we returned through Jesus Maria, a town with a street of about 5 miles long with tree after tree, each over 100 years old. We stopped at Bodega La Caroyense for a tasting and despite the fact that their best product was a rich virgin grape juice, we all bought bottles.

Our time in Cordoba was so wonderful. Sheridan and Lil introduced us to some great Argentines like Inez, Hugo, Gustavo (country club snack bar owner) and some of the teachers from Sheffield's bilingual school. Another highlight - we got to see Sheffield star in a play at school! We were so impressed with the kids' abilities to adjust to a new country. They both have friends and social lives, as well as a very rich school curriculum. Of course some things will always stay American, such as the peanut butter in the fridge and the high regard for Scott brand toilet paper. We were also super impressed by both the kids' and Sheridan's ability to pick up Spanish. We are looking forward to celebrating Argentina's bicentennial independence day with these ex-pats (in absencia) wearing the little Argentine flag pins Sheridan supplied us with before we left.

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Dr.Dive on

Daß sieht echt schön (that looks really nice)

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