December 29, 2010

40 Hours in Argentina

We arrived in Buenos Aires at 7:40 AM. The bonus of renting an apartment vs. staying in a hotel is that you can check in whenever you arrive, then take a nap, then a shower, and finally head out to sight see right around the time when you'd finally be checking in to your hotel.

The first meal: walk to build up an appetite and view local plazas. Finally sit down to 2 hours of sparkling water, wine, bread, pickled grilled eggplant, a huge grilled serving of skirt steak and a salad (you pick each ingredient and the size of your salad -- a brilliant approach) at Minga.

As an aside, I almost cried at the deliciousness of my Cafe Americano -- the best coffee I'd had in years. I've had 3 since we arrived: no sugar, no milk, just deliciousness. Anyways, big shock -- the meat was juicy, delicious, and flavorful, as promised. The chimichurri was different than anything I've ever had -- it seemed like a mixture of oil, dried oregano, vinegar and salt (delicious, but very different). The pace was slow, the servers were amazingly friendly, and overall, we decided we were in love with this Country within 8 hours of arrival. E even went so far as to compare it to Australia, "I'd love to move here if it wasn't so damn far from everything..."

We walked about 7 miles between the nap and sleep that first day, exploring Palermo, getting lost, grocery shopping, and getting our Argentinian Spanish bearings.

And, today, the next day, was a whirlwind tourist day typical of folks who are over-eager to make the most of their vacation. Upon arrival back at the apartment, we gmap'd it, and it looks like E did his first half marathon today!

After sleeping in and some brief work efforts on both our parts, we walked from our apartment to 5 banks (count 'em). Finally, we found an ATM with cash. I am now quite proficient at the Spanish necessary to figure out if someone who is leaving an ATM has actually received cash or is leaving in dejection -- oddly, this is a set of figurative phrases I'm not sure I could translate as I've never had the opportunity to experience this situation in English (much less 5 times!). E's theory was an early morning run on the banks before the Portenos woke up. Or, he pointed to their history of poor currency management. Me, I was just totally confused, most of all by the looks of understanding and expected failure by locals who realized there was no cash to be had at a particular bank (as in NONE of the ATMS had any left).

Thankfully, we found a bank with money and acquired enough for a noon stop at a cafe (mmm... Cafe Cortado, or whatever they say when I order my Americano, I thought Cortado had 1/3 milk, but ordering an Americano gets me what I expect even when they correct me). An hour later, after sipping our coffees and nibbling the pastries they served alongside, we marched on.

The Floris Generica.

Lots of plazas and gardens.

The Recoleta Cemetary and Evita's tomb.

An amazing lunch of empanaditos gratis, Provoleta a la Napoletana served over a piece of wood charcoal, brochette de lomo, bookended by 1-inch thick pieces of bacon, intermingled with red pepper slices and onions, and served over its own piece of wood charcoal, at the table, and, of course the salad you compose from the menu (did I mention tomatoes are in season here? YAY!). Amazingly, we eventually roused ourselves from the table (post-Americano for me), fueled for the remainder of our half-marathon.

The Teatro Colon (closed for holiday, but gorgeous from the outside).

The Plaza de la Republica.

The Widest Street in the World (three light cycles to cross).

The Casa Rosada.

Half the trip to San Telmo, and then a stop at a cafe for water, and then, defeat. Maybe we'll fit it in before we move on, but if not, we're still in love with BA. So, rather than press on to the historic district, we took our exhuasted selves in a cab to a square that's a mile from our rented apartment and we walked home from there.


Walk to dinner at Ceviche. Watch the electricity go out on the block where we are to eat. Enjoy a candelit dinner of amazing ceviche and sushi while patrons sing and play violin by candlelight (why did he bring a violin?). When it is time to leave, laugh with the server about needing to pay in dollars since the credit card machine won't work. Leave a generous tip since the majority of the reservations opted not to show up due to the dark restaurant.

Walk almost home. Get lost. Get un-lost.

Sigh in contentment to realize your apartment building is not without power, which means glorious air conditioning.

Yay Argentinian half marathon!

(Photos to come)

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