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Posts Tagged ‘Buenos Aires’

Argentina Wrap Up

We spent our last few days in Argentina chilling out in Buenos Aires.  Several people had mentioned a drum circle concert that takes place every Monday night, so we grabbed our friends Dave and Brian from Punta Del Diablo, piled into a couple of taxis and headed to ‘La Bomba’.  The show was very cool…about 15 local drummers, a few horn players, ‘magic’ cookies, and really huge beers.  You can check out some videos of the drumming on our flickr page (um, once we get it uploaded).  After the show, we wandered around aimlessly for about an hour trying to find the ‘after party’ with no success, so we called it a night.

Kelly, Dave, and Brian at La Bomba with their big beers

 Our last  in evening in Buenos Aires, Kelly and I went to a cheap local parilla for dinner with our new Irish friend Ashlyn and than headed back to the hostel where Kelly dominated at some beer pong.  We planned to have an early night, but it didn’t exactly happen that way.   Many drinks were consumed, dancing to obnoxious eighties music definitely took place, and Kelly may or may have not groped someone on accident.  

Kelly smackin' it at beer pong

Last night in Buenos Aires

Of all of the countries on our trip, we will have spent the most time in Argentina, so Kelly and I left feeling like we really got to know the place, although there is still so much to see and do.  This country is absolutely amazing and we cannot say enough good things about it.  I’d have to say that Argentina was one of the countries I was looking the most forward to and it did not disappoint.  

The landscape and weather 

The landscape in Argentina is extremely diverse…it has it all.  Tropical and desert-like areas in the north near Salta and Iguazu, the Andes mountain range lining the west of the country, flat plains along parts of Route 40, and the amazingly beautiful lakes district and wine regions.  Kelly and I experienced all four seasons from hot and humid to freezing cold and snowing.  We wish we would have brought some warmer clothing, but made out ok. 

The people 

Most all of the locals we met were friendly and helpful (with the exception of the Andesmar bus company staff).  Of course, we still got the annoying cat calls on the street from the local men (even WORSE than Costa Rica) who we found to be somewhat aggressive, but that’s the machisimo culture for you.  

We met more Americans than we thought we would and met a ton of Israelis, Aussies, Brits, Irish, and Canadians, and a few people from Sweden, Norway, and Belgium. 

The food

 Steak, steak, and more steak.  We got some amazingly cheap dinners…our last steak dinner in Buenos Aires cost Kelly and I less than $20 total, including a bottle of wine.  Other than red meat, we ate a ton of empanadas, milanesas (a thin cut of steak that is coated in bread crumbs and fried),  pasta and pizza.  For breakfast, all Argentineans eat is bread or croissants with dulce de leche (ie. caramel spread).  Kelly and I were so excited when we actually found a place that served fruit or cereal.  The food is great and cheap, but by the end of our time here, we got tired of red meat, pasta, and dulce de leche.  One thing we noticed quickly is that there isn’t a ton of variety in the restaurants.

 The booze 

This was probably our favorite thing about Argentina…the red wine is ridiculously fantastic and cheap.   A really good bottle of red wine may have cost us three or four dollars.  I cannot begin to guess how much red wine we consumed while we were here.  The beer was typical lagers…Quilmes was our beverage of choice.

 Costs

Accommodation ran us about about $10 – $17 per night, per person.  As previously mentioned, food and booze were super cheap.  We took mainly buses everywhere we went, which ranged in price, depending on the destination (I think the most expensive bus ticket we had was close to $100 one-way).  The buses in Argentina are super nice…(almost) fully reclining seats, blankets, pillows, food, movies, and toilets are all on board.   Tours that we booked ranged from $20 – $60 per person. 

Other random thoughts 

–      On several occasions when Kelly and I were at a restaurant and we would order something (like a Coke for instance), the waiter would tell us that they didn’t have that particular thing, and then 5 minutes later, we’d see the waiter bringing said thing to another patron.  It made no sense.

–      Also when you are at a restaurant, the waiter does not bring you the bill…you have to ask for it.  If you wait for him to bring it to you, you will literally be sitting there all day.

–      There is such a thing as too much cheese on a pizza.

–      Argentineans eat dinner at around 10 at night and don’t go out to bars or clubs until around 2 a.m.  As you can imagine, Kim did not adjust well to this schedule.

–      Fried eggs on burgers and sandwiches is an amazing idea.

–      MC Hammer pants (aka it looks like the person took a dump in their britches) are extremely popular here amongst the ladies.

–      Have you ever had mate?  It is a leaf from the yerba plant and is sort of like green tea (the taste is much more bitter though).  Everyone drinks it in Argentina and Uruguay.  You basically put a bunch of the ground leaves in a gourd, add hot water,  and pass it around to your friends to drink.  Kelly and I really got a kick out of seeing some one carrying a baby, a suitcase, and a couple of grocery bags, while still managing to hold onto their mate gourd and thermos.

 Now onto Chile for a week…

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It’s so great when the stars align and things just work out.  Staci, a wonderful girl that I met in my study abroad program in Barcelona in 2003, just happened to be in Buenos Aires for two days on her way to Chile.  She and her friend Gulzar would be visting a few companies through their MBA program.  We hadn’t seen each other since my going away party the second time I went to Spain over 4 years ago.  She had left Austin to pursue her career in DC and currently lives in Dallas while going to school. So random and crazy, but what a perfect opportunity to reconnect!
 
They arrived Wednesday afternoon and we made plans to meet up for dinner.  A friend of hers suggested The Standard, a restaurant that he comes to every time he visits.  Thanks Mike!  The empanadas, lamb and dessert were amazing, but the Rutini Sauvingon Blanc was the best white wine I’ve ever had!  Thanks to the recommendation from our cute waiter, Sabastian. 
Staci and Me

Staci and Me

We then headed out for a drunken night of debauchery at Congo, a nice quaint little bar in Palermo Hollywood.  We met some great guys that treated us to many cocktails and then headed home around 4am.  Kim was such a trooper! 
At the bar with a tasty mojito

At the bar with a tasty mojito

The next night they girls went to see a show at Hotel Faena in Puerto Madero.  Holy crap.  This hotel was the nicest hotel Kim and I had ever been in. It was absolutely beautiful!  Even the bathrooms were amazing!  And there was also this lovely little unicorn bar that Kim was freaking out about.  She was obsessed with unicorns as a child.  We met up with the girls after the show for a few drinks and then headed to a great little bar, Milian, in Recoleta.  We had such a great time!  Yet again, another late night.  Love you Kim!
 

Pretty Ladies

Pretty Ladies

Unicorn bar!  Can you see their heads mounted on the walls?

Unicorn bar! Can you see their heads mounted on the walls?

Lobby entrance.  This hotel was incredible.

Lobby entrance. This hotel was incredible.

We couldn't decide which camera to look at

We couldn't decide which camera to look at

The next day, the girls treated us to lunch before they left for Santiago.  We ate at Miranda, an awesome place in Palermo Soho.  Pumpkin ravioli, gnocchi….mmmm! Thanks ladies! 
Delicious gnocchi

Delicious gnocchi

It was so wonderful to be able to meet up with great, familiar people in a foreign place.  You just can’t recreate those kind of memories.  Staci…Gulzar, thank you so much and we can’t wait to reunite in Texas!!! 
the girls

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Kelly and I decided the best way to familiarize ourselves with Buenos Aires was to take a ‘hop on, hop off’ bus tour that stopped at various points of interest around the city. Aside from the bus being thirty minutes late at each stop, it was a great way to see the town.

The first stop on our Buenos Aires Bus tour was the barrio of La Boca, a working class neighborhood and old port district with brightly painted buildings. It is also home of the soccer team La Boca Juniors, a team that the locals are incredibly passionate about. Artists and tango dancers line the ‘Caminito’ (a pedestrian street), selling their work and showing off their moves. Kelly and I spent the morning strolling down the Caminito, popping our heads into the various souvenir shops and had a lunch of chorizo and empanadas at an outdoor parilla. Oh, and Kelly got hit on by a police officer.

The Colorful Buildings of La Boca

The Colorful Buildings of La Boca

Me on the Caminito

Me on the Caminito

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Us Waiting for the Bus

Us Waiting for the Bus

We then set out to the swanky neighborhood of Recoleta to explore the infamous Recoleta cemetery, where many of Argentina‘s most prestigious citizens are buried, including Eva Peron. Much like in New Orleans, all of the graves are above ground and are ornately decorated, each more extravagant than the next. Kelly and I meandered through the alleys of graves, trying to find Evita’s…it didn’t take long to spot once we decided to follow the other tourists that were flocking to one particular marker.

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Evita's Grave

Evita's Grave

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After our long day of sight-seeing, Kelly and I headed back to San Telmo for a chill night at the apartment. We had to save up our energy for the nights of drunken debauchery that would take place when Kelly’s friend Staci was in town…

 

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Buenos Aires! Kim and I arrived bright and early at 4am Friday morning after 10 hours of travel.  We grabbed a cab and headed to Milhouse Hostel located in the downtown Monserrat barrio.  Check in at the hostel wasn’t until 1pm, but luckily the nice guy in reception let us get into to our room early. 
  
The hostels are MUCH different in bigger cities than in Costa Rica. This one was in a large, old refurbished home, and it slept well over 150 people. The common area was nice and big and always had people hanging around.  We ended up meeting Vic, a guy from NYC that invited us to join him and group of others for dinner.  After a nice walk around Plaza de Mayo, we headed out with our new friends for a Peruvian dinner in the Congreso barrio.  MMMM ceviche! 
Us at Dinner

Us at Dinner

Yummy Ceviche

Yummy Ceviche

We then headed back to the hostel were we had a few drinks.  Kim stayed and I went with the guys to Palermo, another barrio known for its nightlife, for some clubbin.  I loved that area! After a few too many drinks and a few hours on the dance floor, Vic and I headed home.
 
Sure enough, I woke up hungover as hell and had to pack everything up to check out by 11am.  Kim and I had some delicious empanadas and coffee and went to Plaza de Mayo for a nap in the grass, which is the political hub of Buenos Aires.  La Casa Rosada (the Presidential Palace) is located here and is the venue for many political protests.  This is where Eva Peron and her husband made all their famous speaches to the portneos back in the day. ..you know, ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina!!!!’  Nice.  We also stumbled upon some Bolivian parade that was going on in the streets.  Everyone was dancing around in unison in some crazy ass costumes, singing and yelling…it was great!  One of the guys looked like an old 70’s pimp dancing around with his ladies. Ha! 
Plaza de Mayo

Plaza de Mayo

 Plaza de Mayo...you can see La Casa Rosada in the background
Bolivian Parade

Bolivian Parade

Nice Outfit

Nice Outfit

We arrived at our apartment and couldn’t be happier.  It was so much bigger than it looked on the web!  Cute little kitchen, nice size living area and bedroom.  It was perfect for me and Kim .  We took a walk around to get our bearings and headed to the store for some groceries. 
Our very own kitchen

Our very own kitchen

Loungin' in the living room

Loungin' in the living room

Our landlord provided us with an excellent reading selection

Our landlord provided us with an excellent reading selection

The Bedroom

The Bedroom

The next day was the famous San Telmo ‘feria’, an antique market that takes place every Sunday in San Telmo.  We were very excited to check it out and even more excited that it was in our neighborhood!  For some reason, Kim and I were having a hard time reading the map of the area, so we asked a few locals where the “feria” was located.  After we wondered around for a while, we stumbled upon a park with some tents set up.  We took a look around at a bunch of what we thought was pretty much…well, junk.  We were both a little confused and had expected a bit more from what we had heard about this market.  After about 2 or 3 hours, Kim suddenly realized we were in the wrong place!  We were at the park located right near our apartment that also has somewhat of a “feria” on Sundays. So after a few more locals’ directions, we found the REAL market.  It was awesome! There were tons of vendors, people, artists and musicians in the streets, along with quaint little restaurants and cafes. We both felt quite stupid for spending so much time in the wrong market earlier that day and plan to spend much more time here later in the week.   
 
The next day, we took on the subway system, which is pretty user friendly, and headed to the botanical gardens in Plaza Italia.  Besides all the crazy stray cats biting little kids, it was really nice.  We plan to do some more sight-seeing the next few days and meet up with a friend of mine, Stacie, that will be here for 3 days on her way to Chile.  We studied abroad in Spain together and I haven’t seen her in 5 years!  Should be good times!  Kim will be writing again soon! Stay tuned…
At the Botanical Gardens

At the Botanical Gardens

Sculpture at the Botanical Garden

Sculpture at the Botanical Garden

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