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.

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.

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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!