We spent two days in Pinamar in celebration of my birthday!
by Mandan Lynn on December 4, 2012
I already wrote about our dinner at Viejo Lobo, but the drinks we had out on the deck the next day deserves its own space.It was late afternoon when emerged from our hotel room, having recovered from hours of beach walking earlier that day. The restaurant wasn't open for business, but they directed us to the back deck.There were a couple of other people out there, enjoying the ocean view. Our waiter was attentive and so friendly -- I ordered a mojito, and even though it took awhile for him to bring it (although my boyfriend's beer arrived in short order), he asked me to try it to make sure I liked it. I did. And it was big -- pint glass!We sat, we talked, I ordered a strawberry daquiri, then a peach daquiri. Our waiter got more and more friendly, spending more time laughing and joking with us each time he came by. When he got off work, he asked us if we needed one more thing first, then sat down at a nearby table for a drink of his own. When he saw us taking a picture, he hopped over and posed in the middle.The drinks were delicious andn reasonably priced, and you can't beat the view. Darkness fell too soon! They closed the outdoor bar around 8:00pm, and we lingered a bit alone to finish our drinks before heading back to our hotel for a light meal and a bottle of wine on our own deck.
When my boyfriend bought our bus tickets to Pinamar, the clerk told him it would be a four-hour ride. Not bad at all for a weekend at the beach! He chose a 1:30pm departure time, to allow me to sleep in after a long night at work and to give us time to walk to the station rather than taking another bus.As we got on, the man checking the tickets said we would be arriving in Pinamar at 8:30pm. Excuse me?"But the woman who sold the tickets said four hours!" my boyfriend said."Yes, but this bus takes seven hours," the man said."But she told me four hours!""That's the early bus and the late bus. This bus is seven hours.""Why didn't she tell me that?""They are supposed to. But they usually don't."And so it goes in Argentina. We weren't the only ones who were surprised. There was an Argentinian family taking up about eight seats in front of us, and half way through the trip they asked the man on the bus when we would be arriving. He said 8:30pm. They talked about that for the next fifteen minutes, and then kept counting down the kilometers at every highway sign.When we arrived at our hotel that night ("Two Nights at Arte del Rey"), we apologized for being so much later than we had expected. The woman asked us which bus we took. "Plaza," we said."Oh, the worst of them all!" she exclaimed. (Good to know now...) She proceeded to list the many companies that would have been better, and that might not have involved stopping off at every little town along the way, even when those little towns were several or many kilometers off the highway.Luckily, on the way back we ended up on a direct bus run by Plusmar -- where we found snack packs and water bottles waiting for us on our seats. Four hours later we were back in Buenos Aires.
It had been so long since we'd been to the beach, so we were up early on Sunday and on the sand. Our friend had told us about a restaurant near Carilo (see review "Hemingway") and our plan was to walk to it for lunch. I'm usually not much for sunscreen, but I applied it generously, knowing that my pale skin isn't made for an entire day in the sun right after the winter in Buenos Aires. I skipped my legs when I left, but we made a pit stop and I got them covered, too. Of course, I missed a couple of small spots and now have some weirdly shaped red marks, but they are small and turning brown quickly.My boyfriend didn't use sunscreen, as he has much darker skin than I do and doesn't usually use it, but he paid the price: the tops of his feet got scorched. His legs also burned a bit, but they were brown by the next afternoon.Don't forget your hat and sunglasses! It was a breezy day, so it didn't feel as hot and it tricked you into thinking the sun wasn't all that strong. But it was. The sand is beautiful and clean -- aside from cautious steps over big areas of crushed seashells, I wasn't worried about stepping on anything weird or painful. There were quite a few people out already, sunning and surfing or playing with their dogs or kids. There were a lot of people in the water, but I wasn't one of them -- that water is cold!The walk to the restaurant seemed short, but walking back the same distance got a little long -- just too much heat and not enough water to drink.On our way back to our hotel that afternoon, we saw a few vendors selling the usual jewelry and sea trinkets -- and others selling corn on the cob! Not the first thing I think of when I think of beach food, but there were quite a few people enjoying it -- and more than one corn vendor.Pinamar is fantastic for a beach weekend. However, a lot of people in Argentina know that, so beware during the high season, especially on three day weekends! We were lucky -- we went the weekend after a three-day weekend, and it was fairly quiet. That's always nicer than when it gets so crowded on the sand, or when you have to compete for your hotel room, so choose your dates carefully. Check Argentina's holiday calendar and avoid warm three-day weekends.
This was one of the only places open as early as we wanted to eat! Having walked around all day the day before, and having already put in a couple of hours in the sun on that Monday (the day we were scheduled to get our bus back to Buenos Aires), we were ready to get in out of the heat -- so we choose this place on the corner with its view of the sea.The menu was, like the other places we'd been in Pinamar, pretty long. I ordered the Pinamar juice: kiwi, strawberry, and orange! It was fantastic -- when I ordered it, I had planned to share it with my boyfriend, but he only got a couple of sips.I also got the Mattone salad -- lettuce, carrots, corn, cheese, palm hearts, hard boiled eggs, and tomatos. I ordered it without cheese so my boyfriend could have some, too. It was kind of small for the price, but I love palm hearts so all was forgiven. My boyfriend got the lomo sandwich: meat, ham, lettuce, tomato, and a fried egg.We ate at a small, wobbly table and then played cards for a couple of hours. It wasn't at all busy in there at that time -- when we were ready to leave by 2:30, there were only three tables of customers.Not my favorite place, but the waitress was nice, the air conditioning was on, and the food was fine. If you have options, I'd try some place else, but if it's 11:30am on a Monday, this might be your only choice -- and you don't have to feel bad about that.
We walked down the beach from Pinamar toward Carilo, searching for this restaurant -- it had been recommended to us by a friend. It was easy to spot (after a long walk) as it was the only restaurant there on the beach.It was early, not yet noon, but a lot of the seats were filled. They had a pretty big menu, but after being out in the heat all morning we weren't feeling very hungry. Besides, the prices were a little higher than we had been led to believe by our friend, so we weren't in the mood to order a lot. We just got water and calamari.The service was friendly and fast. We were both impressed enough by the plates of rabas that we would go back and have a full meal there. The plate was piled high -- we couldn't even finish them all. I do wish they would have come with a dipping sauce of some type, though we squirted them with lemon and I used the white cream-cheesy-like sauce that came with the bread basket.Worth a stop, especially if you're hanging out there on the beach all day.
Our first concern after checking into our hotel was dinner! We were both hungry after a longer-than-expected bus ride, and were glad to find this place just a few steps from our hotel. It was already busy around 9pm on a Saturday night, and we were asked when we arrived whether or not we had a reservation. Even though we didn't we were seated right away -- and we watched the place fill up around us!The menu was large and included pastas, steaks, fish, salads, milanesas, omelettes, and much, much more. I was tempted by the proveleta and the stuffed eggplant on the appetizer menu, but we went straight for the entrees. My boyfriend ordered skewers of steak, peppers, and onions and I had the pink salmon. Both were fantastic, though both were too much food and we ended up taking some of the steak home with us. The salmon came with two small boiled potatoes, though the waiter had asked me if I preferred a substitute of some kind. I wasn't sure if the substitute might cost extra, and I figured I wouldn't eat much of it anyway, so I turned down the mashed potatoes, mashed pumpkin, and french fries. Brent's meal came with these neat little homemade chips -- a little greasy but good. We lingered long enough over wine (me) and beer (him) that my tummy opened up enough for dessert! I ordered the Copa Viejo Lobo -- an ice cream sundae that included two scoops of vanilla, semi-sweet chocolate flakes, chopped nuts, dulce de leche, and whipped cream. I was perfectly happy.The waitstaff was so friendly and nice. The prices weren't bad -- kind of along the lines of what you would expect back in Buenos Aires, or at a beachfront restaurant.
We arrived in Pinamar later than we had expected, so we were both a little nervous as to whether or not our room would still be waiting for us, or if it had been given away -- my boyfriend reserved it, but not with a credit card.However, we walked in and the woman behind the desk greeted us by name! I guess they weren't expecting too many people that night. It was the weekend after a three-day weekend -- in fact, my boyfriend had considered planning our trip for that three-day weekend, but all the hotels were full and he expected the town to be overrun by people escaping the city, so he booked for the following weekend. I was so glad! Not only because our room was still waiting for us, but because the town was much quieter than it must have been the week before.Anyway, we checked in. The reception and dining area were full of artwork, and the hallways were clean with sharply painted doors. We entered our room and were delighted with the space, the huge bed, and the modern-tiled bathroom with a great square sink. I asked my boyfriend, and he said he chose it based on their fantastic website and its proximity to the beach.Arte del Rey has a little pool, which we didn't use, and a fantastic deck where we drank wine and played cards one evening.Breakfast is included, and is your typical Argentine fare: bread, medialunas, coffee, juice, and dulce de leche. This spread also offered corn flakes and frosted corn flakes, as well as strawberry milk!The bed was hard -- a bit too much so for me, but my boyfriend loved it.When we checked out and tried to pay, the woman asked for an amount larger than what Brent had been quoted on the phone. He shook his head, and repeated what he had been told on the phone. She started an explanation of why it cost what she was asking, then said, "No, it's not important, you're right." It sucks to say this, but I would advise you to be aware of that at any hotel you stay at, as that is not the first time something like that has happened to us. Stick to your guns and the price you were originally quoted!I would definitely stay here again and recommend it to anyone traveling to Pinamar. It's clean, spacious, close to the beach, and, aside from that little incident with the payment, has a fantastic friendly staff. Enjoy!
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