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Published: June 13th 2017
Treasure Trove 1
Jewelry and purses
Geo: 38.5776, -90.4245
Thought you might like to peruse through the digital scrapbook I just completed on our trip.
I always like to save the last page of my blog for some retrospective thoughts. I will be adding to this page over the next few weeks, mainly with information for those considering this or other similar trips.
Things to Pack for Spring Visit (Sept-Nov)
Bring a little bit of everything. We had snow. Rain. Temperate. Hot. Humid. It was colder and snowier in Bariloche than we had anticipated for mid-spring. It was also cooler and not quite as humid as promised at Iguazu. Our temperatures ran from 32 to 88 degrees F; two weeks before us the range was 40-100. That's a tough range for which to pack.
Here are my thoughts about what you should bring if you travel in their spring:
Raincoat with a hood and removable lining
Fleece and/or vest
Gloves/hat for chairlift ride
Shorts and long sleeve top that wick for Iguazu. It took cotton clothes that were soaked on the boat ride 60 hours to dry even with serious wringing.
No need for a poncho. You are going to get 100%!w(MISSING)et if you take the boat
Treasure Trove 2
Knives and spoons
ride. With or without the poncho.
Slacks or capris for ladies in the capital cities.
I brought all black bottoms ... 2 pants, 2 capris, 1 long short, 1 long skirt. I brought a variety of tops including long and short sleeves, shawl, jacket, sweater.
Bring sunhat (my colored hair became whorishly blonde) and sunglasses. And sunblock.
Bring both open and closed toed shoes. Include a pair that can stand getting wet. We only sprayed ourselves one day for bugs and that was our full day at Iguazu. And even then, the bugs were not mosquitos. Tauck folks provided the DEET which we put on as we left for our walking tour. Things I bought.
Let me start by saying that there never seems to be a lot of time to shop in a Tauck trip. Once in a while you have to beg for time. Having said that, I did come away with some pretty things.
I have significant non-buyer's remorse because I did not buy one of several beautiful handcrafted shawls I saw in store windows and especially at the Los Dominicos Handicraft Village we visited on our own in Santiago. It was at the end of the red subway
line near a church.
In Chile, several people brought straw hats to protect their face and hair. I should have.
At the winery, some folks made wine purchases. Not sure any of it made it to customs declaration. Argentina
I had been told ahead of time I would for sure buy something leather in Argentina. Great quality and incredible exchange rate. I don't believe anyone in the group bought leather. Not because we didn't like it but because we didn't have a chance to do so. We lost 1.5 days in Buenos Aires due to weather delays and whoops! there goes another shopping opp.
In Puerto Varas, lapis is the thing. Several people bought earrings at a store in town that opened just for Tauck. In both Santiago and PV, there was jewelry made of horse hair that was quite beautiful. Several participants nabbed those. Saw a pretty necklace I let go by.
The first big buying day was in Bariloche where we had lunch at El Patacon and a jewelry/accessory woman who has a store at the restaurant made a killing. Almost everyone bought something. Jewelry. Belts. Shawls. Rings. I got a necklace/belt combo that has a chain that
lengthens the necklace to a ride-your-hip length. Very fun. I also got a stylized metal cross on a metal collar. Again, fun and inexpensive.
The next day, our "bonus" snow day in Bariloche, we had 45 minutes to shop. We bought luscious chocolates at several stores and made our way through an artisan gallery where I bought silver-colored earrings. Unusual, very inexpensive, and South American in flavor.
Some participants made purchases at Llao Llao gift shops. Golf clothes. Fur hats. Sweaters. We shopped for Patrick there but they had nothing in XXL. We did get a football shaped golf ball from Llao Llao for our collection.
In BA, I personally had mass confusion about the exchange rate. We read that we didn't need pesos in Argentina ... that the dollar was golden. Then, when we arrived, we were told only $US50 and $100 bills were golden. So, when I found a necklace I wanted (at high-end jeweler H Stern) that was deeply discounted because of the exchange rate, we couldn't work out the logistics. To get the deep discount, we would have had to have our American cash with us as we were dropped there after a full day of touring.
After we found what we wanted to buy, we would have had to go out on the street and negotiate with a street vendor for the exchange. Our tour director, Murray, warned that this worked much of the time but not all were reputable. I had a friend who worked in South America for decades who told me where to go to get the 14:1 rate (instead of the official 8.5:1 rate) but it was near the obelisk and it would have meant taking a cab there, finding it, getting back to H Stern before closing and still getting to the evening's activities. We were stressed about the whole thing and ended up with a similar beautiful item in Brazil. Still lovely but not a bargain. The steals are in BA at the good stores but you have to be prepared and accept that it is not the way we do it in the USA.
When we didn't get what we wanted, we wandered to several other stores that our local guide, Gaston, said were good. We entered a small jeweler, Manu Lizarralde, where we bought a raw amethyst necklace. Very unusual. Very pretty. Semi-precious.
Argentina is known for its
rodochrosite, a pink stone mined only in Argentina. Many folks bought earrings, pendants, etc.; the high-end clear pink stones should come from H Stern and the like. The striated stones of pink and gray/beige are readily available throughout the city. Many are just lovely. Meant to buy.
The afternoon we toured La Boca, people made street purchases (e.g., art) and store purchases. There was a cute collection of handcrafted items available to take home as gifts. Including $20 rhodochrosite stud earrings - obviously, not great quality but pretty.
Starbucks: I am a Starbucks mug collector. I bought a thermal "Chile" mug in Santiago which allowed me to take warm coffee on the tour bus each morning. And I bought a regular Buenos Aires mug with tango dancers and a Rio mug with Sugar Loaf for my houseguest collection in Florida. Brazil
When we crossed the border from Argentina to Brazil, there was a huge souvenir store with a wide variety of goods in a variety of prices and quality. Many folks bought things there. I bought the infamous onyx steak knives that I unwittingly tried to take on the plane in my carry-on luggage. And some lovely serving spoons destined
as gifts. And it was there, at the JA'KK store, that Patrick bought me my 40th anniversary pendant in a rainbow of gems from South America.
They had high quality tee shirts with nicely embroidered logos of soccer teams. These were very popular.
In Rio, there are some seriously fun shops on pedestrian streets in the city but little time to purchase while touring. It would be worth taking a cab back to the streets near the Colombo restaurant to explore. That is where I spotted the Sobral shop where many of us bought brightly colored resin items crafted in Brazil. There was a sister store four blocks from our hotel where we made our killing. See my photo of Sobral purchases.
On the free day at the end of the tour, some PAX went on the H Stern factory tour and additional purchases were made there. Where there's a will there's a way.
Purses: There was a street vendor, vetted by Tauck, who was at the Caesar Park Ipanema when we arrived back in the afternoon. (See photo.) He had a shoulder full of cute purses, maybe 6"x8", in a variety of colors. Black as an evening bag; striped;
pretty solid colors also. They pack well; they are light weight; they are inexpensive; they even make great mahjong bags. Many of us bought some; and then bought some more. Great gift item.
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