Argentina's Capital

Trip Start Dec 28, 2007
Trip End Aug 28, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  , Capital Federal District,
Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wow, this was not what we were expecting - and it's definitaly a pleasant surprise! Apart from a delayed overnight flight from Miami with the most obnoxious and lazy staff you have ever met (never fly American Airlines - if you need to know why we can tell you) the journey was easy. We were met at the airport in Buenos Aires by a very helfpul, friendly, multi-lingual woman called Julieta who, with a funny little car and driver, escorted us to our hotel in a part of the city called Recoleta. She told us all about the local area, customs and what to see and got us into a room early (9am) so we could have a sleep and a shower.

Once we had recovered we ventured out and took a walk through the area around the hotel which is a bit like a mini-Paris. Both hungry we went into a corner café and somehow managed to order some food. Thanks to some intuative thinking (French and Spanish have many similarities) and a helpful set of waiters we go some coffee and toasted sandwiches - and they didn't speak a word of English! After ordering an older gentleman sitting near us leant over and tried, in very broken English, to have a conversation with Chris. After a few minutes he called his daughter who came to help with the language barrier - how great is that! He was a lawyer and she was studying still and both were so friendly. He made her ask if we were married too and she offered her mobile number if we needed any help while we were visiting - we just assumed they were being friendly?!

We then visited the cemetary and took a wander around the alleys that make up this kind of 'town' within the city. The tombs, for want of a better word, are very ornate and it is a very peaceful place. The main attraction, if that is ok to use, are the plaques and stories relating to Eva Peron and Evita which we found down a side alley. By this time we were enjoying the change in climate, friendly people and contrast in culture from the previous weeks that it was definitely beer o'clock. So we picked an outside bar and tried some of the local brew whilst soaking up the end of the winter sun.

We continued our walk through some of the European style streets before venturing out for some dinner. Having been used to the sun staying out so late and American's eating at about 6.30pm we found it surprising when we found so many restaurants empty at 7pm. The evening meal here starts around 8pm and goes well beyond midnight in some instances. We headed for one of the main streets and found a bistro type place and had one of the best meals we have had in ages. Although simple (grilled salmon and vegetables) it was some of the cheapest, most nutirious and tasty food during our travels and it was nice to once again be served by waiters who, despite not speaking much English, made you feel like you were dining and not just eating. You don't mind giving them a tip either when they have to put up with us mumbling random words in Spanglish!

The following day we did a winding loop on foot around the main centre of the city to take in some of the architecture and main buildings. We made stops at several 'plazas' (squares/gardens) which seemed to indicate a place of importance such as the Congress Hall, Government House (which is pink!), the port and the central Obelisk. As suggested to us we had some lunch at the most famous café, Café Tortoni, where Claire sampled the chocolate and churros and Chris struggled (yes, it was hard) with a fantastic steak sandwich. Having been out most of the day we then returned to the hotel for a rest before being picked up at 8pm. We were going to experience three of the main attractions in Argentina in one night - wine, meat and dancing. As our tour guide had said, you're a little stuck if you are vegetarian and/or don't drink - no problem on either count there then! All food and drink was included in the price so we made the most of continuously flowing, very drinkable red wine and a friendly waiter who spoke enough English to compliment our ever improving Spanish. We broke the ice with the couple next us by taking pictures for each other before taking on the challenge of conversing in SpanPortuGlish with people who live in Brazil - we actually did quite well and were so pleased that they made the effort! Dinner was fantastic too - soup and meat-type pasties, the biggest, thickest piece of fillet steak we have had cooked to perfection and chocolate puddings. To say we were stuffed would be an understatment and when we looked at everyone elses plates to find 30-40% left we could understand why! (At this point we must emphasise that Chris appered to be the only person who completed all three courses and start munching on someone elses!) What followed was a very romantic, passionate display of tango accompanied by some fantastic live music. The show lasted for an hour and a half and had some impressive footwork, singing and virtuosic playing, including an accordian solo!

Sunday we did what most others seemed to do which was get up late (feeling a little rough), have some brunch and head for the markets. We hopped on the subway and took a walk through streets of stalls and performers before stopping to try a native snack, an empanada(s). It is like a cornish pasty only filled with mince in a sort of chilli-mexican style - went down very well with a 1 litre bottle of beer! On our last day here we took a subway to the end of the line and walked through one of the, how can we put it, less affluent areas but found the football staduim where Maradonna started his career. We then continued to La Boca to found streets lined with colourful buildings and artists selling their paintings where we stopped for a coffee served by a very amusing waiter. Not only was he the only Afro/Caribbean man we encountered but he jokingly flirted with Claire when Chris visited the toilet, and then changed his mind and said he wanted Chris instead! After dodging many invitations to see free tango shows if we bought a whisky we got a taxi across the city to an area called Palermo. We had a look around the restaurants and bars before heading back.
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