we’re baaaaackkk from Buenos Aires August 24th, 2012
You might have thought you had gotten rid of us, but we’re back! We spent the past 9 lovely days tromping around Bueonos Aires, Argentina. To make a major understatement, it was an amazing trip! (bonus: escaping broiling DC summer weather for the much more appealing boots-jeans-and-light-sweater attire, oh yeah!). We spent our first 3 days staying at Hotel Babel in San Telmo. Highly recommend! We had a cute, high-ceilinged room right off of the inner courtyard and the people there were awesome. We quickly learned that breakfast (and most meals) come with dulche de leche (a milky caramel) spread, so delcious, so I jumped right into the practice of spreading it on everything from fruit to toast to steak. Ok, I didn’t put any on my steak, but I considered it.
Our first days were spent getting our bearings. All the maps we came across were of various orientations, and rarely north, so I gave up right away and left the navigating to Matt. We walked everywhere — around the shops and restaurants at Puetro Madero, across the Calatrava bridge, around Plaza San Martin, to see the obelisk on Avenida 9 de Julio (not as impressive as the Washington Monument, sorry Argentina), through the antique markets and shops in San Telmo, to the Ferrocarrill Museum (we actually almost got ran over by a bus on our way here, like, nice knowing you, reallyclose), along the crap shops on Calle Florida, and so much more. There were many pit-stops for espresso and cappuccino and croissants. I realized my 3 years of high school Spanish was pretty worthless, as I was too afraid to attempt to speak it much, and the talking was WAY too fast for me to understand. We did quickly learn though how to say “la cuenta, por favor” for the “check, please.”
One thing that was both confusing and disappointing was the money. Lots of places claimed to take credit cards according to the symbols in the windows, but then they just didn’t. At all. Also, our first few meals we left tips on credit cards. Or at least we thought we did, they way you normally add a tip here. Because there was a little line on the bills that said “tipo.” But we also learned that you just can’t do that… you have to leave tips in cash. So by the end we finally just realized you need to carry cash everywhere. It was just much easier.
On our fourth day, we took a Pullman bus 5 hours outside the city to a tiny town called Tapalque. The Retiro bus station in BA is kind of like another universe, but that is a long story for another time. We managed to make it to our destination, and enjoyed watching the Argentinean countryside go by. Many of the fields were flooded out due to all the rain they have been getting. Lots of cows and horsies and trees, and all flat landscape for the most part. We made several stops in other little towns on our way. It was an eye-opener for sure. Dirt roads, lots of stray dogs, tiny yards, water-collectors on the rooves, people bicycling. The homes were so much denser than you find here, even for a small town, lots of people seemingly living right on top of each other.
When we arrived in Tapalque, we were picked up by the folks from the Estancia La Margarita. One of the girls was from Germany, but luckily spoke great English, and was volunteering at the estancia for a few weeks. We arrived there just as it was getting dark, so we didn’t get to see much of the grounds on the way in. We were welcomed with a delcious spread of tea and bread and cake, and shown to our cute little room (with fireplace!), just off the main shared room of the house. It was so cozy! That evening, it began to storm, the rain poured, the lights even went out briefly, but we enjoyed drinking wine and talking with our hosts. Later, we were served the most delcious homemade dinner of salad, bread, steak, potatoes, and dulce-de-leche for dessert.
In the morning, and for the next two days, IT POURED. We were basically confined to the house, no horseback riding We spent the time reading (I started and finished Hunger Games that day) and relaxing, drinking red wine, eating more amazing home-cooked meals, and learning to play Argentinean cards. In the afternoon it stopped raining long enough that we could take a quick walk through the fields. We borrowed some boots and strolled around with Lucas, one of the three house doggies, and went to see the cows, horses, and pet ostriches that belonged to the estancia. I was disappointed at first with the weather, but in the end it was a really nice break, super-relaxing, and the estancia couldn’t have been more accomodating. I would love the chance to go back in the summer…
On Saturday we made the return bus trip back into the city. Our final stay was at Art Hotel in Recoleta. We really liked this hotel too — there was a great gallery space downstairs and our room was cozy here too — really high ceilings and a big curved wooden door. We got in after dark, and spent that night again getting our bearings in a new part of town. I think we preferred it here. It seemed a bit cleaner, more put together than San Telmo, and the sidewalks were slightly less broken and crazy. On Sunday, we perused the market in San Telmo. It was wild. Extensive doesn’t even begin to describe… Everything you could possibly think of for sale. We had beer and cheese for breakfast that day and people-watched, it was finally sunny out too! There were people doing tango performances in the street. Matt bought a wallet and a new red placemat/mouse pad thing for his desk. We wandered and wandered, down through all the market stalls, then along the parks and plazas along Avenida del Libertador. We took lots of pictures of the Floralis Generica (giant flower) sculpture and layed on the grass and sunbathed — there were tons of people out and about, it was wonderful.
One of our favorite meals of the trip was at Don Julio in Palermo Soho. We had giant steaks and a bottle of malbec (ordered off the iPad menu list, so hip). Afterwards, we signed our bottle “love from Washington, DC” with the sharpie they provided, and got to add it to all the other 1000s of signed bottles that lined the walls of the restaurant. We wandered over to check out Plazoleta Julio Cortaza. For DC comparision, it kind of had an Adams Morgan feel to it, maybe slightly classier, but there were tons of bars and restaurants around the square. Another interesting place to people watch, especially at night.
We spent our final day walking around to all the shops in Palermo. We had coffee in a cute little bookstore that felt like Kramers here at home. I drooled over tons of shoe stores, and then found some cool alley ways that were all painted and muraled over. Matt took a bunch of pics of me against all the brightly painted walls in this part of town. Excited to get them back once our film is developed (I dropped 6 rolls in the mail today!!) In case you thought this wasn’t a lot of photos here…
Now we’re back in DC, happy to have slept in our own bed last night and happy to see Bowser again!
hasta luego Buenos Aires!
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