July 8 – Back in Buenos Aires
We rented an apartment for 2 weeks across from the Malba through BAHabitat. Their representative, Silvia Pascale met us at the door and helped us settle in. The apartment was exactly as represented on their web site and met our needs well. After unpacking we were able to quickly stock up on food items and Malbec at the giant Carrefore down the block at the Alcorta Shopping Centre.
We celebrated Independence Day with a walking tour of the city. We did this with Gaston of BAFreeTour (see my July 31 review). Being a holiday, the streets were very quiet. It gave us a good opportunity to stroll and take photos. Even Florida Street was empty! At Gaston’s recommendation, we headed over to Pizzeria Guerrin for lunch and had delicious fried empanadas and pizza. Sustained, we walked back to Plaza de Mayo in time to see the Mother’s March as this was also a Thursday, the day they demonstrate in the square. The group of Mothers and their family members was very small but they did attract a huge crowd of onlookers. As a treat we took the girls back to Café Tortoni for Submerinos. Being good walkers we took the return journey to our apartment on foot.
Friday the weather was mild and so we visited the zoo. The girls really enjoyed this and although it is old style with mainly small enclosures you can get fairly close to the animals. After, we headed over to the chorizo pan vendors in Rosedal for my hubby’s junk food fix then to La Rural to pick up our tickets to Opera Pampa for that evening's show. We ate supper in as we opted to just view the show and returned to Opera Pampa for the 20:30 performance. The audience was very small – no more than 40 of us – but the performance was huge. Yes, it is a glorified history of Argentina but we hadn’t expected otherwise. It was a good evening of entertainment.
Saturday was another nice day and so we visited the Hippy Feria in Recoleta. It was a great opportunity to stock up on gifts for ourselves, family and friends back home. When we had our fill and our stomachs were empty we walked a few blocks over to the Rodi Bar on Vincente Lopez and Ayacucho. Scarlett and Marniewdc were right about this place. We enjoyed the food and atmosphere so much we ate here on 3 separate occasions during our stay. With our tummies full we returned to Recoleta Cemetery. We missed the volunteer at the gate selling maps and copies of “City of Angles” but were able to navigate around, eventually discovering the location of the Duarte tomb of Eva Peron’s family. Later we tried to purchase City of Angles at several bookstores around town including El Ateneo but nobody seemed to carry it. We had to return to the cemetery to procure a copy. I recommend picking one up as you enter the cemetery as it really makes the visit more enlightening.
We had an excellent adventure on Sunday. The day was sunny and warm. It was our daughter’s 15th birthday and to celebrate we called for a radio taxi to take us to la Feria de Mataderos. Apparently not a lot of tourists venture out to this southwest barrio for the feria located near the stockyards. We wandered the many booths and purchased crafts then settled down at a street food stall for tamales, lacro and empanadas followed by a sampling of pastries. We watched traditional dancing and music on stage as well as dancing in the street by local citizens. At about 15:30 the Gauchos began the Corrida de la Sortija - a Gaucho riding game. The audience lined up on either side of the street within feet of the riders to watch them ride full tilt down the street trying to spear the ring. We returned to Palermo, where we purchased a birthday cake of brownie, dulce de leche and meringue, overdosed on sugar and crashed out at our apartment.
Monday we met up with friends and tried to visit Rosedal but it’s closed Mondays. We were able to rent a paddle boat and Hubby took all the kids out on Lago del Rosedal. In the afternoon we visited Murillo Street to find a leather jacket and boots for our daughter’s birthday gift. She was pleased to find both in a style she loved. My husband also purchased a sheep skin coat that came in very handy later in our trip when the weather turned cold.
Wednesday we visited the Malba across from our apartment. Although they did have some wonderful artwork we found the exhibition a little light on content. We much preferred other galleries/museos that we visited later especially Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes. That evening we partook in the BAFree Aristocratic Tour. We visited Plaza San Martin and the mansions along Alvear before heading to Freddo for helados. Being winter, most of this tour took place after dark so we decided to re-walk the tour again during the day for a better view.
Thursday July 16 we took the train to Tigre. We hadn’t realized just how HUGE Retiro station is but fortunately our taxi driver headed us in the right direction. We had intended to take the regular train out and the Tren de la Costa back so I was ticked with hubby when he purchased return tickets on the regular train. I laugh at myself because these only cost us 8 pesos for the four of us return! We ended staying until after dark in Tigre so it didn’t make a difference not taking the coast train back anyhow – lol!!! The train was an interesting experience for our girls as they have never ridden on a commuter train before and to see all the people trying to sell candy bars, tissue packets, cards, etc was an eye opener. On arrival we walked over to the Fruit market first. We didn’t find this area that interesting, maybe because we weren’t looking for wicker or because a lot of the shops are only open weekends. We did manage to find good prices on Boca Junior and River jerseys for gifts. We then walked back to the tourist information area and booked a trip on one of the lanchas taxis out to Gato Blanco for lunch. We had an excellent time both on the river and at this waterside restaurant. The food was delicious and service impeccable and the waiter even brought us complimentary Lemoncellos after the meal. The boat returned to collect us 3 hours later and we returned to the town to walk over to the new Museo de Arte Tigre. Here we fell in love with the works of several Argentine artists but especially Benito Quinquela Martin. We caught a late train back to BA and a taxi from Retiro Estacion.
Friday we experienced the subte system. We caught the D line at Scalabrini Ortiz and transferred to the A line at Peru. This line has the old wooden cars that are a sight in themselves. The kids loved commuting underground and we continued to make all our trips throughout the day this way. We got off the A line at Castro Barros and went for Tea at Café Las Violetes. This Café has stunning stained glass windows throughout and a tempting bakery/candy shop. We were there for the tea though! We ordered the Maria Calla (about 60 pesos) and watched the kids eyes pop when the waiter served the platter of sandwiches, cakes and squares along with pots of tea and glasses of fresh orange juice. I know this will be one memory that will stay with them a lifetime.
When we couldn’t eat another bite we rolled back onto the subte and headed over to the Carlos Gardel Museo. We had been told they do a tour in English at 3pm and so we ran the last few blocks to make it in time. Huffing and Puffing we arrived in time to discover there is no such tour but the young women at the desk was more than happy to answer any of our questions about the famed singer's life.
When we finished there we hopped back on the Subte and headed to the financial district. Our youngest daughter loves the symphony. We had learned from BASandy’s website http://www.batravelguide.com/ about free tickets to the Symphony at Balsa de Comercio for Friday evening. This was to be the first disappointment of our trip as the concert was cancelled due to the H1N1 virus and the government’s cancellation or closure of many events and venues. And so we walked back to our apartment for an early evening in.
More to follow