The Last Hotel Stop

Trip Start Nov 05, 2006
Trip End Jan 14, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Sunday, October 28, 2007

Rosario is sometimes considered Argentina's greatest city.  Well preserved 19th century architecture fills the downtown area and the six mile riverfront is dotted with parks, beaches and sidewalk cafes.   The locals have a sense of civic pride not found in other places and city pride propaganda can be seen on the shirts of local residents every day.  After our visit to Cordoba, I was skeptical about this, but Rosarioīs aesthetics did not disappoint.  Itīs not all beautiful, but the well preserved victorian office buildings stand out against the less attractive modern styles that have been inserted in the grid.

Our hotel was situated in the center of the downtown area so it was a great place from which we could explore.  The first order of business was to explore the waterfront.  This is where the action is in Rosario.  Old warehouses have been reborn as cafes and bars and the outdoor dining options sit high above the river with views of distant beaches and passing ships.  The hard scape waterfront is broken up by sections of less developed green space where the locals come out to jog, walk dogs, or just sit around drinking their Yerba mate. 

A few words about Yerba mate.  Everyone drinks it here, and itīs not like Starbucks where you get a cup of it to go.  In fact, "to go" is not something that Argentines seem to be interested in accomodating.  You sit down and relax with your mate, and often you have your own mate cup with straw.  We started seeing these in Chile and here they seem to be sold in every store front.  Big money is spent on a good Yerba mate cup and it seems like maybe they get better with age.  I noticed that Rene, our host in Chile, didnīt make much of an effort to clean his when he was finished with it.   Maybe over time, the mate tastes better from a "seasoned" cup. 

Our visit coincided with Argentinaīs elections.  This was interesting from the perspective of watching another countryīs civic processes, but came with an unexpected side effect.  The waterfront buzzed with activity in the morning, but at just about noon, everything shut down!  The downtown became a ghost town.  I wandered through the grid hoping to find and open restaurant or grocery store, and managed to stock up on pastries as the bakery doors shut.    By 1:30, nothing was open except the "911 Convenience Store," which was packed all day with people.  Argentines apparently take their civic duty very seriously and donīt want anything distracting from the process. 

So our afternoon turned into one of those hotel t.v. days where we anxiously awaited the next decent program to kill time until something re-opened. 
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