A Final Weekend in Buenos Aires

Yes, We’re Moving On Again

We’ve arrived at the part of the journey where we begin to say, “We still haven’t done …” At this point, we typically make a list of sites, restaurants and other attractions we have seen in our wanderings and said, “We need to go there,” but haven’t yet done so. Since we leave Saturday morning, we took advantage of the weekend to go on two death marches (one scheduled and one accidental).

But first, I want to mention that Tamar and I went to Teatro Colón to see Tosca. By the time we bought our tickets, there was only standing room only left. I was a little worried about standing up for that long, but I figured we could always leave early since there are three acts. I was worried about nothing. The first act, which was about 45 minutes, flew by so fast, I didn’t even think about being uncomfortable. We could see the whole stage from where we were and the theater is known for excellent acoustics so that wasn’t a problem either. I know nothing about opera, but it was magical. For me it was the combination of the singing, sets, acting and costumes. I don’t know if I will ever listen to opera, but I would definitely go again.

Saturday, we headed to Tigre, a small town just north of the city that sits at the mouth of the Paraná Delta. After a bit of confusion about getting tickets, including waiting on the wrong line with an equally confused Canadian couple, we found out that our Subte cards were already loaded and ready to go. There are two different trains to take: One is just a commuter line and the other travels along the river and into Buenos Aires’ fanciest neighborhoods. We thought we would take the coastal train out and the commuter train back, but we ended up at the wrong station, so we cheerfully took the commuter train.

About an hour later, we disembarked at the station, walked out and saw a McDonald’s. Sigh. We had decided to take a boat ride (thank you scopalamine) so after getting tourist information from the town employees who hang around for that very purpose, we went over to the docks and chose a tour. It’s very casual and there’s no need to book ahead, so we wandered over to a kiosk and bought tickets for a boat leaving shortly. For about 75-minutes we cruised around various canals and rivers looking at the houses and trees. We enjoyed it, although it was difficult to hear the taped narration.

Everyone’s a futbol fan during World Cup

For lunch, we sat by the river and enjoyed burgers. Tigre has a couple of museums, an amusement park and a crafts market that was once the fruit market. Many people use it as a jumping off point for more water sports adventure. We walked around a bit more, but didn’t have a lot of interest in the museums, so we decided to check out the crafts market and then head back on the coastal train. We’re not good shoppers, so we walked by some of the booths an shops and decided to head back. By this time, Argentina’s World Cup match had begun so it was eerily quiet, except around the restaurants that had the match on.

Here’s where the accidental death march comes into play: The coast train doesn’t go all the way back to BA. You have to switch to another line. No problem. We saw the river beaches and expensive houses along the way and were able to find the train platform easily and get a score update — 0-0. We saw a train pulling out as we arrived. Really? It couldn’t wait 2 minutes to allow for the connection? No, the trains in Argentina run on time. We waited about 40 minutes, got on the train and then realized it wasn’t going all the way back to the closest stop to us. Can you guess what happened? You are right. We decided to walk the rest of the way, which was about 6.4 km or just shy of 4 miles. All along the route, people were cheering. I think we were the only ones who weren’t wearing futbol gear.

There was no big Saturday night out after that. We didn’t even eat dinner. Just popcorn and some peanuts. Futbol snacks in honor of the face-saving win.

We had a reservation for a nice all-you-can eat restaurant, Gourmet Porteño, on Sunday. Of course, we decided to walk even though it was a bit more than 4 miles. The restaurant is at the south end of the restaurant row in Puerto Madero. We had been there once before, but it was rainy and chilly and the Puente de la Mujer was closed. This time we lucked out. Not only was it a beautiful late spring day, but the bridge was open, so I got to walk across it. It’s just a bridge, but the views were pretty.

We arrived at the restaurant hungry and a bit warm, but there was AC and plenty of food. I thought it was going to be brunch, but it was lunch, so no omelets or waffles, but plenty of … you guessed it: Meat! There was also pizza, pasta, sushi, salads, sandwiches and, of course, desserts! We had a leisurely meal and then headed over to San Telmo, which is a giant, crazy street market full of my new favorite Spanish word: tanteria, or crap. Among the flea markety items were also nice art, plenty of mate gear, leather goods, jewelry … anyway, you get the idea. Of course, we bought nothing (23 kilos is our rallying cry). If I were on a two-week vacation and heading home, I might have bought a couple of things, but the storage locker and our suitcases are full enough. We walked the full length of the market, which extended for what seemed like miles but was probably 6 blocks, and then resumed our death march back to the apartment. (total distance for this weekend’s death marches – 20.8miles)

Today, cousin Robin arrives in preparation for our very exciting actual vacation in Patagonia! We fly out Saturday morning.

A traditional Thanksgiving?

Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the U.S., so my work was closed. Sue and I decided that since we had been back in Buenos Aires for three whole days, it was important for us to leave again – no more accurately, we decided that since we had a free day, we would head to Uruguay. There is a little town called Colonia del Sacramento just across the river Uruguay from Buenos Aries and there are ferries that run back and forth every hour or so. Sue got us tickets for a 10:30 a.m. outward bound ferry and an 18:00 (6 p.m.) ferry back.

As many of you might remember, Sue gets terribly seasick, just looking at the water. She has scopolamine patches that really help her but have the side effect of making her terribly thirsty. She put on her patch the night before and in the morning we headed for the ferry. We sat out in the sunshine at the back of the boat and enjoyed the breeze and the rays. It has turned quite warm here and ride to Colonia took an hour and a half, and was very enjoyable.

We disembarked and walked around the town. We were expecting a cute little tourist town, with colorful buildings and a nice little central square. It was quite disappointing. First, the town is fairly run down, I guess the pandemic has taken its toll. Second, many of the places were closed, we suspect because Uruguay was playing in the world cup that morning. We made of the best of what was there, wandering through the town and walking along the river. Sometime around 2 o’clock we sat down and had lunch on the terrace of a little restaurant that overlooked the river.

After lunch we wandered some more, but by 4 p.m. we were done, and headed back to the ferry terminal to await our return trip. Once again we sat outside in the back of the ferry and enjoyed the breeze and sunshine. We both agreed that the best part of the trip was the boat ride. We cleared immigration in Argentina for the fourth and final time during this trip and headed back the AirBnB.

We had a quick change and headed out for dinner. We were meeting Marco at 9 p.m. at La Cabrera, one of Buenos Aires’ best steak restaurants. I believe the total count of vegetarian entrées on the menu was two. One was pasta, the other was grilled vegetables – and that may have been a side dish, not a real entrée. Not surprisingly, Marco and I each had a huge hunk of meat, while Sue had grilled vegetables. The food, wine and desserts were all great and finished up the meal right about on schedule – three hours after we sat down.

Today, we took a bit of time and made reservations for a weekend trip to the Atacama desert in Chile. It looks amazing and is the driest non-polar desert in the world. We will write more about that once it gets closer.

This coming weekend is our last in Buenos Aries before we head to Patagonia so we are going to pack a lot in.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the U.S.

Marco … Polo!

Since our friends Marco and Barbara graciously took us to the peña, we decided to respond in kind with a trip to a polo (one l – two ll’s would make it pollo -which is chicken!) match since the Argentine Open (Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo) was starting. The polo grounds are smack in the middle of Buenos Aires and about a 30-minutes walk from our apartment. Because we have such a deep knowledge of the sport, which is very popular in Argentina, we decided we should definitely invite our Argentinian friends. They also had extensive polo knowledge (equal to our, which was zero).

A few days before the match, I looked up the rules, which seemed to be: There are four players on horses and they try to hit the ball between the sticks using a mallet (called a taco here). Wow, we were so confused. That’s it???? As baseball fans, we knew it had to be way more complicated. The rest of the rules were thus:

  • You can’t ride the same horse for too long (Yay!)
  • There are four or six or eight chukkers of 6 1/2 minutes and then the bell rings and they play 30 seconds more.
  • The pitch is 300 yards long and 200 yards wide unless it is boarded (which these were) and then it is 160 yards wide.
  • You can’t put the mallet in your left hand (although you can hit from the left side using your right hand)
  • You can nudge a horse and rider away from the ball if you are parallel
  • Every time a team scores they switch sides of the pitch.

Most of the penalties involve actions that would endanger horse and rider, so the angle of approach to another horse is very important. You cannot intersect the imaginary line of the ball unless you’re so far away that it doesn’t really matter. The worse infractions are basically a free goal for the offended team because they put the ball right in front of the sticks and no one can defend. Other penalties may mean a free pass at various field positions. It’s also forbidden to hit another player’s taco above the horse’s height or underneath the horse.

Two referees ride on the pitch, and a third acts as the final word.

Simple! We figured we would absolutely know what was going on.

We didn’t realize that there were two matches, so we arrived in time for the first, which was played on the smaller of the two pitches. We were very confused, because we were told we could sit anywhere except a special middle section (which was mostly empty and stayed that way) and we had numbered seats. OK, it’s Argentina, said Marco and Barbara.

I chose a side, which immediately was down by a goal. We could see well enough, but it took a little time to acclimate. By then, Las Esquinas, my guys (yes, they were all guys), were down by several goals. The basics were simple to follow, but penalties or play setup — not so much. We cheered with the crowd and decided that we definitely loved polo AND that our tickets allowed us to watch the second match on the nicer pitch (we got a polo twofer).

La Esquina lost to Cria la Dolfina, 9-5 (this is why we don’t let Sue bet on sports).

Lunchtime! The polo stadium (arena, whatever?) was really nice. I guess the rich folks who enjoy polo also enjoy decent food (including veggie options), pleasant seating and clean surroundings. I couldn’t resist the pepas, which are shortbread cookies with a jelly center, except Marco said these were gourmet style. The jelly was fresh, not congealed like you would get if you bought packaged pepas. Well worth it. (Marco, Tamar and I all had the traditional choripan – a sandwich made from chopped sirloin steak – Yum!)

After eating, it was off to the second match (but be warned that if you want to take your beer to your seat, you will have to hide it somewhere). This time, our seats were up high (sorry Steven, although you were a great sport)(for those of you who are familiar with the stadium that White Sox play in – this grandstand was steeper than the third deck) and we could really see the plays developing — or maybe the teams were better. We let Marco pick who to root for, and he chose Ellerstina over La Irenita. If I were you, I would follow Marco’s picks.

We were totally into it and even were able to pick up on why penalties were happened. Score one for us! Perhaps the best part of the second match was that Marco and Barbara broke out the mate(a traditional Argentine warm drink – a little like herbal tea). I was a little afraid it was going to taste like dirt because I have had it before and it tasted like dirt, but there’s was very good and we learned all about the ritual of mate. (If you say “gracias” you’re not getting any more. That’s the signal that you are done.) I’ll save the full mate lecture for another blog.

As we sat, the shadows from the apartment building next door grew diagonally across the pitch and the wind kicked up. By the time the seventh chukker came around, we were chilly, but we knew we could last another 15 minutes, so we stuck it out to the end of this incredibly close match. Marco’s Ellerstina won by the slim margin of 16-8. At one point, we were trying to describe the slaughter rule in Spanish to Marco and Barbara.

We think since it was the beginning of the tourney, we were watching low seeds against high seeds, but what do we know. Maybe the scores are always lopsided. At any rate, we had a blast! If you’re so inclined, there’s an Argentina Polo Channel on YouTube.

(The finals are on December 2nd – so maybe we will see another round.)

Dance Party! (and there’s more)

Cacio e pepe in the making!

Wow, did we have a busy weekend. Our friend Tamar arrived Wednesday so now we have another partner in this adventure. But even before I get to the dance party, I have to tell you about the very best dessert, which I had following fabulous cacio e pepe (yes, I had extreme dog belly, but it was worth it) on Thursday night. I love chocolate. I really love chocolate mousse. When I heard that I could have the special chocolate mousse at La Locanda, I leapt at the chance. I thought it sounded odd because they add salt, pepper, and olive oil to the already delicious treat BUT, porque no? So I ordered it. First, the waiter had us try the standard chocolate mousse before he put in the extra ingredients and it was really yummy. Then, he salted, peppered, oiled, and stirred. OMG! It was creamy and amazing. Try it!

OK, on to the weekend. Our friends Marco and Barbara invited us to a peña. We had no idea what it was, but we said yes and we are very glad we did. It’s a community dance party (think the kind of dance party they had during the 1940s big band era) where everyone dances traditional Argentine dances to live music. This being Argentina, it doesn’t even start until after 10 p.m., so we wisely had an afternoon siesta. Marco and Barbara picked us up and after learning that open 24 hours does not mean the parking lot is really open 24 hours, we found a parking lot and walked over. The room has a big dance floor against a stage. There’s a small bar where you can get water, beer, wine and, of course, empanadas and pizza. Folding with tables and chairs frame the edges of the dance floor. During the week, dance lessons are offered.

We arrived in time to take the dance lesson before the peña even officially starts (and remember we arrived at 10!), so we were total experts after one hour of learning five or six difference dances. Sure thing. At the end of the class, we snaked around the room hand-in-hand in that classic of all cultures where you try to whip the end of the line by moving faster and faster and making tighter turns until everyone is just laughing. There was also a hora-ish circle dance — another staple of party dancing.

During the class, we learned (to say I learned would be a very large overstatement) the chacarera, gato, chacarera doble, escondido, and a few others. Most involved dancing facing a partner and then dancing to and around them in various steps. Apparently, we were dancing stories, but we were happy to sort of get our feet going in the right direction. In one of the dances (I don’t remember it’s name), we were lined up with women facing the men and when we met and crossed the lines over, we held our fists up. Barbara said the dance originated as a show of strength between tribes.

One dance we could manage was a couple’s dance — take two steps one way and one step the other (umm…we mostly managed, but I kept losing the count when my mind would wander). Excellent! Even simpler than a box step. We were pretty good at that one. But let’s just say that Marco is a great teacher and we enjoyed ourselves even if we ended up the wrong way round many times.

The first band had 10 members who played several different horns, piano, guitar, bandoneón (like a small accordion), and drums. If you could stop yourself from dancing, more power to you. After a break, a second band with a singer who had a fabulous voice played. We danced and talked and had a great time. We also got to see excellent dancers doing the samba, the zamba, and other dances that even Marcos wouldn’t do without more lessons. We learned that the samba has very specific moves and the partners signal each other with handkerchiefs. (the video below is Sue and Tamar doing the chacarera)

What made it so amazing was not the music or the dancing, it was the community atmosphere and joy. The crowd ranged from 20-somethings to oldies (even older than us) and everyone was on their feet. Sometimes the dance floor was so crowded, bumping one another was inevitable, but everyone was laughing about it.

The second band finished up at about 3 a.m., but we could have kept on dancing. (At least I could have, I’ll let Steven tell you how he felt. (Old, but not particularly tired. ) We did sleep well that night, but that didn’t mean we lounged about on Saturday. No way. Too much to do.

Every weekend, artisans set up shop in a pedestrian area right outside Cementeria de la Recoleta where Eva Peron is buried. We walked over and perused the arts and crafts at a local outdoor market before heading into the cemetery. When we got to the gate, an attendant asked us if we were Argentinian. When we said no, she said, Ooooh and ducked her head as if she were so sorry that we were unfortunate enough to have been born elsewhere.

The cemetery is all paved and originally we thought it was all above ground. It is full of grand mausoleums, but some of the graves are underground (some you can look in and see the coffins, others you see stairs going down). Anyway, being unfortunate enough not to be Argentinian (we must have done something bad in a previous life), we didn’t really know anyone else to visit besides Evita, but we wandered around anyway because there were many cool photos to be taken (Apparently before she was interred in her family’s crypt, her body had a unusual time — including being displayed in her husband’s dining room for a while — read about it here).

We grabbed some empanadas for lunch at a deli and ate in the glorious sunshine, did some errands, and Steven and Tamar had plates of meat for dinner. I had pasta.

I’m going to leave Sunday’s adventure for the next blog, since Tamar and I are starting Spanish classes tomorrow at the ridiculous hour of 8:30 a.m.

Bridging Valhalla, Italy, China and Argentina

Another weekend, another 30 or so miles in what Steven affectionately calls our death marches (affectionately??? they are pleas for help!). We don’t necessarily do it on purpose, but we want to see everything. Typically we intend to walk somewhere and then take public transit (here it is the Subte) back. But then, we think to ourselves, “Selves, we may as well just walk back!” and so we do.

I wanted to do something touristic (as they say here), so we got tickets to a tango show. Once that plan was in place, we looked in the area for a restaurant since the show started at 10:15 p.m. and we opted out of their meal option. Always a good choice. You can get a much better meal for less if you don’t eat at the show and you don’t mind being a bit farther from the stage. We decided to walk and wanted to do so in the light since we didn’t know if walking there after dark would be safe.

Of course, Steven happened to find a Viking bar, Valhalla, nearby and we love a stupid theme, so that was first on our hit parade (where else would you want to go to a Viking bar – only a place that is literally on the other side of the world!). As you would expect, they had drinks with Norse names. Steven had a Thor and I, a Wessex. They were fine, but the real excitement was the fur-covered throne and props for picture-taking. The Thor comes in a plastic horn, what else? Since we got there well before Argentinians begin to head out (ie before 9 pm), they were still setting up the kegs, etc. so we drank up and headed for a classic Argentine meal: Italian food.

We went to D’Oro, mostly because it was a short walk from there to the tango theater, but yum! If you’re looking for good Italian and happen to be in Miami, they have an outpost there. I’m not sure why Italian restaurants in Buenos Aires also open in Miami (see our last Italian food adventure) unless it’s the nonstop flights, but we enjoyed a hearty meal of appetizers and pasta, plus a delicious glass of wine each. The waiter was so kind as to explain the difficult stuff in English, too, although I think my restaurant Spanish is doing well. By the way, in case you are wondering, the service is not included in the bill, which every waiter in BA will tell you.

I’m glad we went to El Querandi tango show, but as Steven put it, an hour and 15 minutes was plenty. At this show, they cycled through the different eras of tango with video vignettes to introduce them. A band consisting of piano, bass, accordion and violin played while the dancers changed costumes, sometimes accompanied by singers. We got a bottle of wine with the ticket, but, to put it nicely, it was not nearly as good as the wine from D’Oro, so we let it sit and drank agua con gas. The only hiccup in our night was that we had a bit of trouble finding a cab. We thought that was odd, but we also aren’t really sure of the best spots to grab one and we can’t get Cabify (the most used ride app here) to work with our US credit card. Uber is not as popular, but after 10 or so minutes, we did get a driver.


We meant to go for a (relatively) short walk to Barrio Chino, but after being puzzled by the lack of an entertainment center, we decided to take a detour. I had read that Palermo Soho (we are in Palermo, but it is a huge area split into many neighborhoods) was the happening area, so off we went. I can confirm that, yes, Palermo Soho is hipstery. We ran into a big festival. I’m not sure if it was a gay pride theme, but there was a huge gay pride component. Good to see. Everywhere here there are artisans selling their goods and this was no exception. Restaurants and bars lined the streets and people were out enjoying the spring sunshine. We will definitely head back there, but this time we kept walking to our real destination — only an hour away.

Wherever we are, we like the food comforts of home and that means Asian food! We figured we would hit a Chinese restaurant and then the Asian grocery for supplies. Of course, once we were loaded down with groceries, we would take the Subte or a taxi back. (You know where this is going.)

We arrived after 3 p.m. hungry and thirsty (it was sunny and in the mid-80’s) and Barrio Chino was crowded! We found a place, ordered noodles and lots of water and walked out with enough leftovers for two more meals each. Then we hit Supermercado Asiático. We were so excited. We love a good Asian market. It was a little bit like a small H Mart (we do miss H Mart) but it also had a few Mexican items. We were very proud of ourselves, because we bought with restraint, which meant that we could walk home laden with tofu, noodles, and sesame oil!

On the walk back (yup – no subte or taxi for us), we passed by Chorifest, which we thought would be a fun Sunday activity. Choripan is a combination of chorizo and pan (bread) and Steven was excited to try out one (or more?) of these sandwiches. I looked and allegedly there would be veggie options, so we invited our new friends Marco and Barbara and were looking forward to a truly local event.

By the time we returned from our second long walking day, we were tired, so we spent the night in.


As we were getting ready to walk (yes, we hadn’t had enough walking) over to the festival, Marco emailed to say it might be cancelled because it was raining. We weren’t really looking forward to standing around eating in 60-degree drizzle, so we changed the plan. It was supposed to stop raining a little after noon but … well, you know how that goes. We put on our raincoats and started walking toward Puente de la Mujer, the Woman’s Bridge. This walk wasn’t too long — about an hour or 5 km. Well, it didn’t stop raining and the bridge was closed for renovation and has been for some time, but whatever, we were there. The neighborhood, Puerto Madero, reminds me of all the revitalized waterfronts we’ve seen around the world. Chain restaurants, glass buildings, newly made to look old walkways.

We looked around and then decided it was lunchtime. Argentina has a very meaty reputation, but everywhere we have been there have been veggie options. We went to a brewpubish place, where Steven got a pickle burger (a burger with pickles, not a burger made from pickles) and I, predictably, had a veggie burger. It didn’t really stop raining until we were on the way home. We stopped at Costumbres Criolles, an empanada spot Steven’s friend said was the best in BA, but we got the food “para llevar — pronounced here as para shevar — or to go. We’ll let you know how delicious they are as soon as we try them. One extra nice touch is the roadmap we got with the food that is similar to the ones you get in the box of chocolates so you don’t accidentally bite into coconut.

Because we are a little goofy, we went out again in the evening to see a movie. We definitely want to see a movie with Spanish subtitles, but each of us thought the other wanted to see “Amsterdam.” When we were almost at the theater, I asked, “What’s this movie about anyway?” Steven said, “I don’t know. I thought you wanted to see it.” We looked up the reviews, decided we were too tired to see a movie neither of us was that interested in, turned around, and went home to watch the Giants lose.

Another walk-filled weekend of exploring!

Sometimes, it’s the simple things

Before I go any further with this post, I want to emphasize that we feel that we are about the luckiest people on Earth. We are living our best life and no matter what the challenges, it’s really all just part of the fun.

So, when I tell you that we went to four different stores to buy aluminum foil, you will know that while it was a bit frustrating (especially since it was getting on lunchtime and Steven had a meeting coming up), it is also a funny story that gets added to our repertoire. Why is aluminum foil only found at the Carrefour? Not even the Carrefour Express? Maybe because North Americans and Europeans use foil, but not Argentinians? Who knows? Anyway, we bought two rolls, so there!

Today’s adventure involved Steven sending me out to buy meat. Ummm, soy vegetariana! I couldn’t find the place we originally went to, so I chose a different carnicería. The problem with that was, the meat didn’t look exactly the same and my limited Spanish really didn’t allow me to explain what I wanted the meat for (Sue! all you need to say is….Yo quiero el carne para mi esposo!). So, I pointed at something that looked like what Steven had already bought. This time, however, the meat was still in a giant hunk the butcher wanted to know how thick I wanted it. OK, yucky. I tried once again to match the slab Steven had at home so they would cook evenly. We still don’t know what the cut of meat is, but after Steven eats it, he’ll report.

I did fine at the farmacia y frutería, but at the wine shop, I had NO IDEA what the woman was saying. I just ended up telling her that I think I can speak Spanish, but I really can’t. Maybe if she had told me a story about Peppa la Cerda, I would have understood.

The issue with learning a language (aside from the plain difficulty) is that I always push myself into trying to speak in situations that are above my ability and then I feel incompetent. Yes, I know I am not, but I want to be fluent NOW!

And, speaking of learning Spanish: No me creo muy muy. Learn what that means with my friend Kenta!

Una otra cosa

Laundry! Ayayay. Here’s a word of advice: If the directions on the machine say, “Don’t put in more than 10 kilos,” you should listen. Nothing terrible happened, but 10 kilos is not a lot of laundry especially compared to the size of the tub. Also, jeans are heavy. And “air dry” means the machine is just going to spin some more. Maybe you want to stay close to a new washing machine just in case. Finally, ask the very lovely cleaner to leave you a drying rack from the secret, locked “limpiadoras solo” closet in the apartment.

Yes, friends, this is what our daily life is like. Going to the store and not understanding what we are buying and how much it costs, not being able to figure out the appliances (at least the stove is straight forward), and generally getting lost trying to do the simple things in life. This weekend, we are off to Iguazu Falls.

BA: Week One

Steven filled you in on our arrival in Buenos Aires, but now we have been here for a whole week. We have learned important things, like where to buy groceries (not in the supermarket on Sunday, but the fruterias are open). Also today in Dia de las Madres here, so happy mother’s day!

We have also learned how to watch baseball (buy a streaming package from Hulu) so that I could be disappointed once again by my Mets. Go Pads!

In our wanderings, we passed a cafe called Mishiguene (for those who do not speak Yiddish, it means crazy) and we thought, “Excellent, Jewish/Middle Eastern food.” We decided to go Friday night. I dutifully mapped us there and thought, “Hmmm, this doesn’t seem like the right direction, but I have a terrible sense of direction and everything is upside down here anyway.” But Steven thought it was the wrong direction, too. When we arrived, it looked different, but had the right name so in we went. We were right, we discovered later. It wasn’t the same place. This is the cafe we thought we were going to. This is the restaurant we went to. A happy oops.

There seems to be a candy store, called a kiosco, like this on every corner. That’s a lot of chocolate!

The menu included gefilte fish (hard pass) and borscht (also a hard pass), but they did serve us a bread basket with a pretty good bagel and challah. Steven made liberal use of the schmaltz (once again, for those who do not know, schmaltz is rendered chicken fat, so it is spreadable like warm butter), which the bartender tried to explain to us in both English and Spanish. We said, “Schmaltz” and he said, “Are you Jewish?” Of course!

Anyway, the bartender humored me and spoke some Spanish but then reverted to English at times. Steven ordered a huge chunk of meat that they called pastrami, but he said was more like corned beef. It allegedly came with a latke underneath, but it was the biggest latke I ever saw (this is a photo of what I received – the green stuff in the middle is spinach, which I decided I was better off not eating – can’t be too careful). We were warned that it was a lot of food, but leftovers are always good. There really weren’t any veggie options, so I had squid. We also ordered a sort of mushroom and potato pie as an appetizer. Needless to say, it was enorme and we have plenty of food still in the fridge. The bartender, Nicolas, somehow is a Baltimore Ravens fan so I have to say, sorry for your sad game day loss today to the Giants!

Saturday we decided on a death march to touristaville: La Boca with a stop at the Mercado de San Telmo. It was supposed to be cloudy all day, so it started raining and got worse and worse as we got to La Boca. No big deal because it was just really touristy with colorful buildings, so we called an Uber and headed back to the mercado. It’s really a combination flea market and fancy food court (we love a fancy food court). We sat down and ended up having a long conversation with a couple who are from Argentina and Bolivia, but have traveled a lot and now live in the States. We meet so many interesting people. It’s all part of the fun. Speaking of interesting people …

The four-hour dinner (six if you include travel time)

The lovely couple who picked us up at the airport invited us to dinner Saturday night. Marco picked us up at 7 and we made the hourlong drive to La Plata, a province outside Buenos Aires city near where Barbara’s parents live. There’s a lively shopping and entertainment district and that’s where we went. Marco and Barbara have a favorite Italian restaurant they wanted to share with us: Paesano.

They know the waiter, general manager, and chef, so we got the star treatment. The restaurant is expanding and is soon opening an outpost in Miami, so if you’re in the neighborhood and want some fresh Napolitano food, I recommend it. Better than the food was the company. Marco and Barbara are generous and friendly plus they speak excellent English and bowing to our American bellies, we got to the restaurant a little after 8. So early! The waiter, David, surprised us with special drink concoctions and sent an extra round of the house special drinks. Before we knew it, it was well after midnight.

I spent the ride back talking to Barbara. I am sure I missed some of what she was saying to me, but that’s just the way it’s going to be until my Spanish gets better. I think I got the gist of things anyway and was able to speak a little too (The boys spent the trip talking about the important things – sports, cars and sports cars).

I couldn’t understand why I was so tired until we said our goodbyes for now and headed into the apartment. It was 2 am! I do like allowing meals out to expand instead of feeling rushed out the door like I do whenever we are in the States.


I took advantage of having no set plans to sleep until 10. Steven was already up and had plotted our day’s death march. We walked about 7 miles if you trust my step counter and 8 if you trust Steven’s. We went to the Japanese Gardens and then just strolled through the linked parks around Palermo. The roses are in bloom in the rose garden (It is weird to see the roses just coming in to bloom in October, and with a little luck perhaps we will get to see the cherry blossoms in the Japanese gardens in a few weeks.) and the paddle boats are out on the lakes. It was a beautiful spring day.

Another excellent weekend of adventure and exhaustion. Just the way we like it!

Un nuevo continente, país y ciudad

Today we arrived in Buenos Aires. It is the first time either of us has been to South America and the first day of about seven months away.

We flew from Miami on Saturday night – our flight left at 11:15 p.m. and arrived in Buenos Aires at 9 a.m. The flight was really easy, in part because American Airlines offered a last-minute cheap upgrade to business class. We have never flown business class before, and for an overnight flight, the lay flat seats were really useful. We both slept quite a bit and arrived reasonably rested. I decided I love business class, but Steven told me not to get used to it. Spoil sport.

A colleague of a former colleague of mine is a native of Buenos Aires and was kind enough to pick us up from the airport and take us to our apartment.  He and his wife found us as we wandered into the international terminal lobby and whisked us to our new digs. They both speak excellent English and one of us (the other one) speaks passable Spanish. It never ceases to amaze me how kind strangers are. This is a young couple with whom we have only a passing connection, but they went of their way to pick us up at the airport, sent us a ton of material on what to do in the city and would not leave until we were safely in the apartment. Our new friends are Marco and Barbara.

We quickly unpacked our stuff, checked the internet speed (100mb!), had a little nap to recharge our batteries and then headed out to get the lay of the land. Martin, the manager from the apartment agency gave us some ideas about where to find things and we headed out to find a grocery store. We wandered a few blocks, found a few small stores, picked up some staples for dinner and, more importantly, coffee for the morning. It was surprisingly difficult to find coffee here as everyone here drink a type of tea called Yerba Mate. We haven’t tried it yet, but when we do, we will include a review. I am pretty sure I had some bad American version of it and did not like it, but I am game to try again.

One of the interesting (at least for me, being a money guy) is that there are two exchange rates for the Argentine peso. The official rate is about 150 Argentine pesos to 1 U.S. dollar. The unofficial, or blue, rate is roughly double that and it is so common that the rates are published in the newspaper. The way it works is that if you are accessing the banking system either through an ATM or through a credit card you receive the official rate. If you have U.S. dollars you can exchange them at a cambio (imagine the currency exchanges you see at an international airport) or on the street for the blue rate. If we exchange our dollars for pesos at the blue rate, the prices fall by half for us. Western Union will send dollars at the blue rate and so on Monday we are going to try that and see how it works. I will update this later and let you know how it goes.

Later in the afternoon, we headed out for a walk. There are a series of large parks in our neighborhood, so we took a walk around them. To give you some idea of distance on the map, from our place to the Museo Nacional de Belles Artes is about one kilometer. We walked all around the parks and in the park across from the Cementerio de la Recoleta (where Eva Peron is buried, but we have saved Dead Person Bingo for another day) there was a large arts and crafts fair that we walked through, but of course did not buy anything.

Monday is also a national holiday in Argentina. It is the Day of Respect for Cultural Diversity. The link is to a Wikipedia article which is in Spanish, but given my brilliant understanding of español (and chrome’s auto translate feature), I have found that that it commemorates when people from Western Europe first arrived on the continent. I got all excited about the respect for cultural diversity thing until I realized they just meant white Europeans. Oh well.


So here is the update on using Western Union….I transferred $300 and received 91,080 Argentine pesos. The Western Union office is quite conveniently inside a Carrefour grocery store. Carrefour is a large French-based grocery chain, and we often shopped in them when we were in France and Italy. We even found one in Morocco when we were there in 2017, but that was before we were blogging. The process is very easy. Western Union gave me a code number when I sent the funds. I presented that and my passport to the agent, confirmed my phone number and gave him my address in Buenos Aires and he handed me the pesos.  

On confusing thing is that the symbol for the peso is the same as the one for the dollar, so when we look at prices, we naturally think of dollars, but the price is actually 1/300 of that price. Since we were there, we also did some shopping at the Carrefour and bought some wine that was $1,092 – in my head – in reality US$3.64. It was one of the most expensive wines on the shelf…and it was US$3. Our wine from last night was about 400 pesos, about US$1.30. Overall, the prices in the grocery store seemed reasonable at the official exchange rate, but at the blue rate, it was all very inexpensive.