Day 2: Eternautas City Tour, Buenos Aires

Trip Start Dec 02, 2008
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3
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Trip End Dec 26, 2008


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Flag of Argentina  , Capital Federal District,
Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day 2: Eternautas City Tour, Buenos Aires, Thursday, December 4th

As part of our "lessons learned" from a previous trip, I have decided that each morning on this trip I will
take two barometric readings that can be used to guide us in setting our pace and deciding what we want to do each day. Hopefully, by asking the questions it will bring awareness so that we remember that a caveat is to stay rested and nurture our spirit. Rest & relaxation is sacred. Make sure you balance the days so this
is possible." The barometric readings are:

Physical condition barometer
5=Excellent-energetic, no diet problem, slept well 4=Good-no problems, but not optimal energy or digestion 3=Fair-some issues, tired, not really functioning well 2=Poor-feeling miserable
Emotional/spiritual barometer
5=Excellent-in flow, laughing & playful, sense of discovery, relaxed 4=Good-curious, alive 3=Fair -a bit cranky 2=Poor-not exploratory, no fun, nothing of interest 1= Lousy,don't even talk to me

We wake up this morning, feeling a bit of jetlag. This morning, we are a 3/fair on physical condition and a 3/fair on emotional/spiritual barometer. We plan to take a slow walk over to the area in Recoleta near the Alvear Hotel where we will meet our guide for the city tour. That is about a 15 minute walk from the Art Suites where we are staying. We plan to purchase a newspaper and find a café to just relax and read about music possibilities for the evening. Okay, we're ready to go!

We follow the excellent map of Recoleta given to us by Art Suites and stroll the area near the Recoleta
Cemetary and go into the Pilar Church. The light streaming in creates a soft glow and the gold decorations are
beaming. It is a beautiful sunny day and we think it is time to sit down and just enjoy being in Buenos Aires. We're not quite ready for any heavy duty siteseeing. We find a newspaper stand directly across the street from the Pilar Church and purchase a Buenos Aires Herald, an English newspaper, and a copy of La Nacion, a Spanish newspaper. Right on that corner is La Biela Café, an historical café, with a large outside sitting area under avery large rubber tree. It feels peaceful. We settle down, read our newspapers and mark possibilities for the evening. La Biela has a menu that is both in English and Spanish, so it is easy to choose a salad and a turkey sandwich! We are part of the scenery for quite some time and the café fills with Spanish speaking people. We can't hear their actual words, but their Spanish sounds like Italian. Very pleasant to the ears! We are relaxing.

We make our way before 2 PM to the Alvear Hotel and text message Eternautas that we are in the lobby. We get a text message back that our guide, Nicholas, will be here at 2 PM. We have learned from yesterday and we like having our own phone to do this type of confirmation.

Promptly at 2 PM, Nicholas walks into the hotel lobby and towards the couches where we are sitting. We meet and learn that we are the only people on the tour today - a private tour! Kudos to Eternautas that they chose to run the tour for only two people. Nicholas takes us over to the van and we meet our driver. For the next 3 hours, we learn about the history of Buenos Aires and Argentina and there is ample opportunity to talk about current events as well. We visit Plaza de Mayo, San Telmo, La Boca, Puerto Madero, Palermo and Recoleta. At each location, we get out to walk the area for about 15 minutes. It is a very well organized tour and Nicholas crams our minds with information and insights into portenos. Nicholas has a masters degree in geography and speaks English fluently. We highly recommend this tour. It is well worth the $US 25 per person, plus tip. Our only recommendation is to be sure you understand exactly where the pick up is at the designated location, that you confirm it the day of the tour and if you have a cell phone give them that number to reach you with any issues. Their website is: http://www.eternautas.com.
At the Recoleta Cemetary, someone actually walks up to us and says "hi"! He was also on our flight to Buenos Aires and sat just behind us! Note: later in the day we check our photos taken on the plane and see him in one of the photos. This guy has really good recall!

Nicholas does an excellent job of explaining the history of Argentina. He also highlighted the evolution of each neighborhood and how they developed based on the immigration and economic patterns. This helps to understand the eclectic mixture of architecture, the monuments and the layout of the city. It is more interesting to hear the history while standing in the location where it was made, rather than reading about it. Both Argentina and America gained independence within 50 years of each other. Portenos are proud of their European roots and everyone from the tour guides to cab drivers emphasize the European sophistication of the country. Historically, America has emphasized the benefits of being a melting pot of cultures (even though each generation tries to close the door to new immigrants!). Both cultures seem to forget about the people who lived here before the Europeans; our American Indians and their Mapuche.

We say goodbye to Nicholas with appreciation for the time well spent and make our way back to our apartment. Next door, we stop in at the supermarket to pick up some fruit, cheese, yogurt and coca cola. Where has the day gone? It is now 7:30 PM! As I unpack, Harvey sets up the laptop so that we can check email. He says to me, "I have good news and bad news". The bad news is that the power supply on the laptop went "poof" and blew out, but the good news is that we are in Buenos Aires and there is probably an Apple store here. We stay calm and use the battery power on the laptop to access the internet and find that there is an Apple store just a few blocks away from our apartment! We check the store hours and it is almost about to close. We go down to see Sergio, the doorman, and he calls for us navigating the voice system that is in Spanish and finds an English speaking person for Harvey to speak to. Yes, they can help us and yes they can do warranty exchanges! We are relieved! We decide to take a walk over there to make sure we know where it is located when we go there the next morning. We had the same problem in Israel earlier this year. This time we brought along an extra power supply just in case. But it is really nice to have an Apple store three blocks from our hotel!

We use the laptop to check out the music possibilities that we found in the newspapers earlier in the day. We find u-tube videos and listen to consider the possibilities. We decide that we would prefer a quiet restaurant and an early evening. We once again call on the expertise of Sergio (we are really growing to appreciate him!) and he suggests an Italian restaurant within easy walking distance, called Celetto.

We walk into Celetto's at 8:30 PM and there are a few other people. It's small, they are friendly and our waiter, Javier, guides us through the menu and wine selections. Sergio seems to have listened to what we like and made a good recommendation for us. We choose two entrees which we share - a rib eye steak and a pasta, with sides of french fries and salad, accompanied with a Malbec wine that is on a weekly special. Javier, when he brings over the wine, shows us the label and tells us the "D.O.M" after Malbec indicates that it is from a very special region that the government allows certain labeling. Okay, we are learning! The steak is excellent and the wine pairing is perfect! We are not wine aficionados, but we do enjoy trying different wines! We cannot believe that we have drunk the full bottle! Yes, we are definitely happy! It is fun to just sit and enjoy each other's company and chat about this and that. Time just flows.

We would highly recommend Celetto, http://www.celetto.com.ar if you like small, quiet restaurants with good food and excellent service. They are located in Barrio Norte, Larrea 1551.

By the time we leave Celetto at around 10:30, all the seats are taken. We're ready to go back to our apartment and Argentinians are just starting their evening meals! Will our bodies adjust to this late night eating?

Our photos for today!

http://www.margieswebgallery.com/galleries/argentina/Day%202%2012-4-08/




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