Monday, July 30, 2012

Buenos Aires!

The Scheme
Amanda and I had been wanting to travel together to Argentina for awhile now. Schedules kept changing, new jobs and programs kept appearing out of thin air, but alas, we made it!

Tango face: Amanda and me ready to take on Buenos Aires after a long red-eye flight!
Day 2: San Telmo
We met with Amanda's family friend, Marcus, a German transplant in Buenos Aires for 3 years for a few local tips. Then, we strolled from our apartment to San Telmo, a part of town that has older colonial architecture and tons of antique shops. On Sunday, they have a street fair which attracts a diverse crowd.
San Telmo Street Market

Experienced tango dancers at the San Telmo Market. That lady had sass!

This was our only "tango show." We didn't see the need to pay big bucks for a touristy, theatrical show, and failed to find a good local show. We were quite satisfied with this couple.

Mustard trap! On our walk back, Amanda and I got green mustard goo squirted on us! Classic tourist trap. Apprentice from above squirts goo, then partner magically appears alongside with napkins to help tourist "clean up" while he cleans up all valuables from tourist. Fortunately, we left the scene quickly with all valuables accounted for + unfortunate mustard/vinegar smelling green goo. That's a first, and right out of the book! Gross.

Eat, drink and be Argentine!

In Argentina, Malbec wines are cheap, delicious and plentiful.
Amanda breaking open our first bottle of Malbec in our apartment

Meals mainly consist of meat, pasta, pizza and meat. When in Argentina, do as the Argentines do. I consumed more wine and red meat in this trip than I normally do in an entire year, which isn't really all that much.

Meat and me.
Apartment Sweet Apartment
One of the best things about this leg of the trip is that we had a fantastic studio apartment right in the city center with a kitchen (Thanks to Amanda's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, who graciously let us use their time share!) We had lazy late mornings with breakfast of coffee/tea, cereal and yogurt in a bag. Then we had nice early evening siestas with wine and cheese waiting for dinnertime at 9:30 (yes 9:30) pm. We even had quite a few "ghetto" dinners in consisting of left-overs, lettuce and treats from the local bakery.

Day 3: Recoleta and Congreso
Having NYC in our blood, we basically walked everywhere.

Recoleta Cemetery

The Recoleta neighborhood is very upscale and reminded me of Paris and the Upper East Side. The cemetery was very peaceful and also a bit creepy. Many famous Argentines are buried there including politicians, literary figures, academics and Eva Peron. Oh yeah, and there were also lots of stray cats who love Amanda.

GIANT flower
According to our map, there is a flower as large as a building near the cemetery. We couldn't miss seeing the "floralis generica", the mechanical flower that opens every morning to symbolize hope and then closes at night. Does that mean hope goes away at night? I think an architect just really wanted to make a GIANT flower. I mean, really, who wouldn't want to have one?

Bakeries galore!
OK, anyone who knows me knows I'm serious about bakeries. We were pleasantly surprised that they were abundant and delicious! s Amanda said about each individual piece of delight, "It's like they're free!" Little croissants (called medialunas - half moons) were the staple. We hit up the bakery down the street from out apartment every morning, and sometimes also in the evening.

Submarino: It's the experience!
Submarino is the act of dipping the bar of chocolate into a piping hot cup of steamed milk. We had no problem understanding that! It was about 50 degrees outside. Not cold, but not exactly warm.

Warming up at a cafe waiting for our tour of Congress.
The free tour was pretty informative. We got to see the where the House of Reps and Senate meet and also where press conferences were given. There was a lot on pink in the building!

Day 4: Colonia de Sacramento, Uruguay
We took the BUQUEBUS over to Uruguay to a colonial town for a day. It was a one hour ferry ride. The town itself was very peaceful and almost deserted since it was the middle of winter. It was reminded me of other colonial towns I've been too. Is it bad that they all start to look a bit the same after awhile?

The cobblestone streets of Colonial de Sacramento
Sunset from Uruguay looking out at Argentina

Chocolate covered churro dipped in dulce de leche = decadence + vacation!
Day 5: Rain and Museums
We planned to walk around the city more since everyday had predicted showers and we had yet to see a drop of rain. However, on day 5, it all poured down. So, we hit up the indoor museums. We were pleased to discover that we both go through museums pretty swiftly.

Evita Museum
This great little museum documented Eva Peron's life including film clips and her wardrobe.

Bench overtaking MALBA (Museum of Latin America of Buenos Aires)

MALBA had some more modern art and was a great space.

Inside Teatro Colon
The Colon Theater is world famous and very ornately decorated. All actors, singers, dancers and performers aspire to the Colon stage.

Obelisk and Eva Peron in the middle of 9 de Julio street, the widest street (18 lanes!)

Day 6: Tigre
We ventured one hour out on the local train to the delta suburb of Tigre.

One of the many canals in Tigre
Tigre is somewhat of the Hamptons for the wealthy in Buenos Aires. They have summer homes here along the canals. Since it was the middle of winter, again, it was very peaceful and relatively empty.

The town mascot appeared everywhere and never failed to amuse us. He looks a bit mischievous!

Day 7: Zoologica and Palermo

Amanda versus wild rodent-rabbit-like creature?

The Zoo was decent if not a little bare. It was the only place I saw penguins. I will definitely have to return to Patagonia in Argentina's summer to see the wild penguins.

Palermo SoHo: I had been waiting to shop in this area modeled after NYC's SoHo. It was supposed to be trendy yet super affordable. Unforunately between the lowered exchange rate and the crazy inflation (all prices have doubled since 2010), the clothes were NYC prices, so no purchases were made. A bit disappointing.

Day 8: It's a wrap.
We had half a day to do a few last minute things near our apartment in Microcentro.

Casa Rosa
Casa Rosa is the equivalent of the White House, though it is pink. The government really does like pink! This balcony is where Evita famously addressed the public. Now, it continues to be a place of constant protest by the people. We were going to tour it, but were too impatient to wait an hour with crowds. Instead, we just peaked inside.

Museo Bicentenario is a fantastic little hidden museum right behind Casa Rosa that Marcus said was not to be missed. The space was amazing as it was below ground with some of the original brick walls and letting lots of natural light flood in with a glimpse of Casa Rosa above (see pic below). It documents the history of the city. And, it was free! We definitely recommend it.

The end of Buenos Aires for us partners in crime!
We had a wonderful time in Buenos Aires. It's a beautiful city with flavors Europe and resemblances of NYC, but distinctly South American all at once. Amanda and I enjoyed walking around and exploring the different 'hoods and soaking up the culture. It was nice to take a slower pace and actually have a home base and get lots of sleep. Hmm, could this be a new way to vacation for me? We'll see. But for now, I was off to galavant the northern parts of Argentina!

Thanks so much Amanda for being an awesome chill travel buddy and adventurer in the southern hemisphere! And thanks again to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson for their generosity in letting us use their time-share!


Mr. & Mrs. J said...

Thanks, Angela, for sharing your blog and pix of your trip. Sounds like you and Mandy had a good time in BA, got a little rest and sampled the, wine, sites..... Can't wait to see what greeted you in northern Argentina and beyond!

Angela said...

I'm glad you got a look at the blog. We had an amazing time!!! Thanks so much again. I wish Amanda could've joined me for the rest of the trip.

sharock said...

Sooo jealous. Uruguay looks really nice. As always hitting up bakeries. :)

PinkStripeySocks said...

Looks wonderful. I'm going to try dipping a bar of chocolate into some hot milk and pretend that I'm in Argentina too!

Jan said...

I'm a bit late but always love to get a glimpse of your time abroad. Brought back good memories!