Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Way We Were; Horse Riding, Hiking Up Glaciers, Doing the Tango: Argentina Was Never Going to Be a Relaxing Second Honeymoon Destination for Jackie Annesley

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Way We Were; Horse Riding, Hiking Up Glaciers, Doing the Tango: Argentina Was Never Going to Be a Relaxing Second Honeymoon Destination for Jackie Annesley

Article excerpt

Byline: Jackie Annesley

THIS is me on a horse in Argentina. The transformation from harridan mother from W10 to gaucho girl was a year in the planning and about a week in the making. By the time I was cantering through these alfalfa fields, I had almost forgotten I had three young children, that the world was deep in recession or any other thought that could be construed as a worry.

We had arrived in the country seven days earlier at the start of a second honeymoon. It had taken us only 10 years of marriage to realise that relaxing family holidays were a cruel myth.

To hell with the credit crunch -- this was our bid to reclaim one of those lazy vacations that the allure of babies had consigned to history.

We had managed to offload the kids for just 10 days -- after an overnight flight we were walking the boulevards of Buenos Aires. The last time I'd been was in 1990 on a $10-a-day six-month tour of South America. Little had changed in this glorious city which has been in economic decline since the Thirties. The Alvear Palace hotel -- which I remember sneaking into to use the loo as a backpacker -- was our crispsheeted, marbled-bathroomed home for the next 48 hours.

A pavement cafe lunch and walk through the extraordinary architecture of the Recoleta cemetery was followed by an early evening visit to the little known Confiteria La Ideal, a Belle Epoque tea room converted into a dance space. This slice of old Buenos Aires, with its authentic Thonet furniture --where the social inticracies of asking a women to dance remained -- cannot compare with a touristy tango show.

John and I shuffled around the floor like two elephants amid the graceful throng of over-50-year-olds and marvelled that such places still existed.

It was the highlight of our short time in the capital, closely followed by lunch the next day in the El Obrero steakhouse in La Boca, and a visit to the suburbs that evening where Argentinian chef Diego Felix feeds "underground diners" local cuisine and wine in his garden for about [pounds sterling]25 a head.

The low point was being fleeced for [pounds sterling]60 by a cab driver who turned crisp 100-peso notes into fakes with a sleight of hand.

No matter, Patagonia beckoned.

It is hard to do justice to this vast tract of empty land a three-hour flight south of Buenos Aires, other than to say it contains the most spectacular ancient landscape I've ever seen. Our hotel, the

Eolo, had huge picture windows that looked out from the eastern face of Mount Frias. If a brontosaurus had bounded down the wide treeless valley, I'd hardly have been surprised.

The next morning we found ourselves staring into the blueness of an iceberg in Los Glaciares National Park. I'd never expected to witness this in my lifetime -- the extraordinary colour of ice that had fallen as snow up to 15,000 years ago, forming a frozen river that had crept down the mountains before breaking off in massive chunks. …

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