Tag Archives: Argentina

Argentina Day 7: Final Full Day

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With the museum we wanted to start with today not opening until noon, we decided to return to Casa Rosada and take a tour. We were awfully glad we did, it was one of the highlights of the trip.

The palace is the office, but not the home, of Argentina’s president. The picture above is where Evita addressed her crowds. Madonna was able to use the same place for the shooting of the movie, “Evita.” The view of Plaza de Mayo from the balcony looks something like this:

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We got to see many ornate rooms and the president’s office.

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It was well worth an hour for the free tour.

Next up was a subway ride and a walk to the Museo de Arte Latinamerico de Buenos Aires. Also known as MALBA, it houses some of the best works of Latin America artists. Most of the art was modern. I really enjoyed the vitality in the art, it was alive. I loved this bench, which went from a serviceable place to sit to something resembling spaghetti on the wall.

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Also featured was the work of Diego Rivera.

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Another walk led us to the Museo Nacional de Bella’s Artes. Admission was free, and it included impressionist works.

We stopped for our daily Freddo ice cream. I don’t know what we will do without their chocolate con almonds ice cream.

Back to the hotel for a short rest, then out for our last dinner. We chose steak for some reason, and walked 1/2 an hour to Don Julio, where we had the hotel make a reservation. We had empanadas, tenderloin steak, potato straws ( they resembled waffle chips, just much better), Malbec, and fruit and chocolate mousse for dessert. It was a great meal and a fitting end to the trip.

Tomorrow we will try to fit in a few more things. It is supposed to be 93 degrees, so we will have to take it slow and easy.

There will be another entry or two. I hope you’ve enjoyed traveling along with us. As a marketer, I live for feedback, so leave a comment on the blog or a comment on Facebook or Twitter to let me know what you liked.

Thanks for reading!


Tango!

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The tango show was a lot of fun. While waiting in the hotel lobby to be picked up, we met another couple from our hotel who were also going. Jeff and Lauren were from Dallas, so the conversation quickly went to Redskins/Cowboys and RGIII. A 2nd couple joined us, Michelangelo, a performer from Venezuela and David, a designer. They both live in Miami.

We talked about what we had seen or should see in BA, where else we have traveled and what we like to see. On the drive, we picked up another couple. They were Swedes who now live in Oslo. So there was plenty to talk about.

We got to the theater and were seated with the 2 other couples from our hotel. We talked and talked, and drank a little wine.

The show, Esquina Carlos Gardel, featured dancing and singing. There were around 5-6 couples, there were group dances, solo dances and singing. The Spanish was lost on us, but it was an enjoyable performance.

Afterwards our performer friend, Michelangelo, told us we should next time see “Señor Tango,” a better tango performance. We had nothing to compare it to. We had more conversation in the van ride home, getting back around 12:30.

We were told we had to see a tango show while we were in BA, and I’m glad we did.


Argentina Day 6: Walking Tours & Shopping

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This vacation has allowed us to operate at a more leisurely pace than others. It is nice not to have to hurry to cram everything in.

Today after breakfast we set off by subway to do 2 walking tours. We started at the statue above, San Martin, the liberator of Argentina. Nearby were impressive mansions from an earlier time.

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Next was the monument to the war over the Malvinas. You don’t call them the Falklands or mention the British around here. The monument reminded me of the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial, with the names of the fallen etched in stone. Two soldiers stood guard.

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We stopped in the Retiro train station for a snack.

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Next, we walked along the Florida pedestrian mall, which allowed us to combine shopping with a walking tour. I got a leather wallet (Sorry, Coach. you are being retired for something nicer and cheaper). There are stunning buildings in Buenos Aires, many of them in shockingly poor condition.

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The tour included entry into a Burger King, to see the most stunning inside of a fast food place you will ever come across.

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The walking tour ended at a stop on our subway line, so we took the train back and walked through our neighborhood. We stopped for a cerveza (Sprite Zero for the wife) and some baked goods. We are off to an early dinner tonight, and then are being picked up for a tango show at 9pm, the celebration culmination of our 27th anniversary celebration.

I’ll leave this post with a picture from our neighborhood. Beautiful graffiti art with a pile of trash in front. That’s the juxtaposition of Buenos Aires, a city we are growing to like more and more as we experience more of it.

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Argentina Day 4: Evita

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This was an “Ellen Day,” we left the hotel at 9:30am and got back just before 11pm.

Some might say the big news was that we got SIM cards and got them working. I realize many might not. So I will quickly summarize what it took to reach this blissful state.

1. Visit Movistar store
2. Go to smaller Movistar store around the corner to get the SIM chips
3. Return to big Movistar store to have chip cut to micro-SIM size
4. Visit Internet store to buy prepaid cards and load them on phone
5. Connect to Internet to download Movistar phone profile to get data working

It did not take all that long and only cost us $10 each for the chips and the credit. You can stop cheering now. We had fun along the way, from Serge  the bald guy, who cut our chips to the nice guy at the Internet store who used Google Translate to talk with me and try to help out.

Today was mostly about Eva Peron. We first took the subway to visit her museum. It chronicled her life, and included report cards, dresses and hats, and a death mask. For someone who only lived to 33, she made quite the impact.
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Because we were nearby, the next stop was the zoo. They had these weird animals roaming free. Recognize them? (Update: we later learned they are capybaras. )

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I think I liked the zebra who rolled on its back like Colby does. 20121226-233552.jpg

Next stop was the Retiro Cemetery . It is the wildest cemetery you will ever see. The crypts and mausoleums feature pictures of the dead, and you can see the caskets.

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Of course you have to visit Evita. You’d think she would be easy to find, but given the history of her body’s travels, I guess it is a surprise she is in Buenos Aires at all.

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We made a quick stop at a mall across the street from the cemetery. We then walked to Hotel Sofitel, where my mother arrived yesterday for a departure tomorrow on a cruise. This happy coincidence allowed us to meet her for dinner for an early anniversary celebration we went to the The New Brighton and had a delicious dinner and great conversation. It was nice to meet up so far from home.

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Tomorrow is a day trip to Uruguay. Something a little different and a new country to visit.


Argentina Day 3: Feliz Navidad

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Today was a low-key day for us. We even sleep in until a little after 9. We had breakfast at the hotel, and then went off to explore.

We took the subway to the Pueyrredon stop on the D line. We then proceeded to walk through town, looking at buildings and shop windows. More was open than we expected—many restaurants, a few shops and the ice cream places.

We had lunch at Pertutti on Avenida Corrientes. We shared an empanada, which was in more of a puff pastry shell than the fried ones we are used to. We also shared a calzone. We had heard much about Freddo ice cream, and finally got our chance to try it. We’ve been having chocolate with almonds everywhere we go. This might have been the best.

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We came back to the hotel and had a drink outside. After a short stop in the room, we went to dinner. We went for steak again, this time in the neighboring Palermo Soho. The restaurant was La Cabrera. It is written up everywhere and very popular. We didn’t have a reservation, but only had to wait about 35 minutes for a table. We were seated outside, on a comfortable night. The service was lacking however, we didn’t see our waiter for more than 1/2 an hour, and only after having approached the host. We didn’t have our drinks until almost an hour after being seated. That’s bad, anywhere.

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The food made up for the wait. Ellen had a 200gm steak, I had a huge sirloin.

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The steaks alone would be something, but they came with a whole array of sides and sauces and toppings and other things we did not even recognize. It was an impressive sight, overwhelming and delicious.

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Ellen wrote a TripAdvisor review while still at the table. With all the steak available in Buenos Aires, why subject yourself to upsetting service. There were never apologies or acknowledgement that they were trying. It just came off as indifference to our experience.

We walked back to the hotel, and are ready to hit the Evita sights tomorrow. My mother arrived today for the start of a trip that includes a cruise to Rio. We are meeting her for dinner tomorrow night.


Argentina Day 2: Plaza de Mayo

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Today was for heading to the main plaza and doing a walking tour. Even if it was close to 90 degrees.

First off though was breakfast at the hotel. The presentation of the juices, scrambled eggs and yogurt was nothing short of beautiful.

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Although cabs seem popular here, we like to get to know a city via its public transportation. We walked about 10 minutes to the subway. A 10 trip ticket was 25 pesos, the equivalent of $5. Do the math, people. That’s 50 cents per subway ride.

We took the D line to the Plazo de Mayo. Described as the political center of the country, it is full of green space, fountains, and protestors. Perhaps the precursor to the occupy movement, you have Malvinas war veterans protesting no combat pay, the madres also protest the dirty war here.

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There was a Christmas tree in the plaza.

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The Casa Rosada is the focal point of the plaza.

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We happened to see guards walking down the street. They must have been so hot!

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We walked up the Avenue de Mayo, past once fancy hotels, interesting architecture, and finally the Congress building. It was plenty hot, but mostly interesting.

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On the way to catching the subway home, we passed an open Movistar store. We found out that the iPhone is still uncommon here, so they don’t readily have the right size SIM card. It’s looking less likely that we will get one on this trip. But as my Instagram and Foursquare followers have likely found, there is quite a lot of free WiFi at restaurants. And a little disconnection never hurt anyone.

Meals today consisted of a few stops for snacks that made up lunch. Plus, a stop for ice cream when we were back in our neighborhood. We found out that where pies might be popular for Christmas dessert back home, ice cream serves that place down here. There was a long line as most people seemed to be getting multiple kilos of ice cream. A woman in line chatted with me, apologizing for the unusual heat. She must have quoted a funny humiture index, as she claimed the “skin temperature” was 50 degrees Celsius (122F). Not only did she apologize for the heat, but for the trash in the streets. She said that was a new phenomenon, related to a corrupt mayor. The things you learn while waiting for ice cream.

We have a fancy dinner planned for tonight. I’ll update tonight when we get back. Dinner is at a traditional Argentinian time, 9pm.


Argentina Day 1: Getting Settled

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The Buenos Aires trip is off to a good start.

We flew economy plus on United on both legs of the trip, and the extra legroom sure makes a difference. We were a little early into Houston. We stopped for a snack in the airport. I had the worst Einstein Bros bagel, Ellen had some okay Chinese.

We boarded just about on time for the flight to Buenos Aires. We are used to flying foreign carriers like Air France or Lufthansa on our vacations. In those cases, it feels right away like your foreign vacation has started. Flying United is flying United. Flight was fine though, okay meal, entertainment system was pretty good. I wasted time watching a few episodes of Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management, which was really okay. I then watched Hope Springs. It was better than I anticipated.

Arrival at the airport in Buenos Aires went fine. Argentina levies a “reciprocity fee” of $160 to enter the country. It is in retaliation for the visa requirement for Argentinians to enter the US. We had paid it over the Internet before we arrived with the idea it would save us time. The way the lines worked it probably took longer but that was okay. We were facially scanned, thumb printed, and let into the country.

Our luggage was waiting for us, and we were ready to go. We had arranged for the hotel to provide a car. Normally we try to use public transport in the fog of no sleep and jet lag when we travel. But this time we let expediency rule and took a car.

After about 20 minutes, we were at Hotel Home. A small hotel, it is in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood, which has good shops and restaurants nearby.

We ditched our stuff and headed out. First stop was at an ATM to get Argentinian pesos. Currently at 20 cents to the dollar, everything seems expensive until you multiply by .20, then it is pretty reasonable. We made an attempt to get SIM cards for our phones, but the mobile stores are closed on Sunday (and Monday and Tuesday this week for Christmas), and despite being told at the hotel that bodegas would have them and know what we were talking about, they didn’t.

So far, we’ve had to get by on my high school Spanish. English is not widely spoken, at least among those we encountered today. But given how much we have traveled, it has not been even a minor impediment. We get by.

I also thought maybe our first trip across the equator to visit a new continent might bring back that “stranger in a strange place” feeling we once had when traveling. But it is now second nature to be comfortable outside our comfort zone. Doesn’t phase us at all.

We found lunch at a small place nearby. I had chicken with rice, Ellen had Milanese (we think beef).

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We walked into the adjoining neighbourhood , Palermo Soho. A street festival was going on that reminded us of the outdoor Christmas market in New York, except a lot warmer. Temperature was in the upper 80’s today, but probably the warmest day of the trip.

We walked back to the hotel, went outside to the pool, and rested/snored. We needed the rest. It is only a two hour time difference (we are ahead of East Coast time), but we didn’t sleep very well on the 10 hour flight to BA.

It was then dinner time. We walked about a mile to Campobravo. It was time to have steak.

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We both had ribeye steaks. With drinks and an appetizer, it came to only $60.

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We then walked back to the hotel, to plan the day tomorrow and collapse.

First impressions are good of BA so far. The drive from the airport took us through neighborhoods of various wealth levels. We know Argentina has been struggling for some time now. Our neighborhood is quite nice, the biggest differences from a major US city are the trash and graffiti everywhere. Also, people don’t clean up after their dogs, so walking is an adventure.

We are looking forward to more exploring, shopping and eating. Read along with us.