This morning, VERY early (4:30am) I headed to the airport. Once I arrived, I got checked in and had my money perfectly calculated to leave me just enough for the taxi, airport tax, and a ham sandwich with orange juice, with just about $1 left over.
As I went through security, they asked to see my bag. They asked if I had a swiss army knife, which, I know better than to pack one of those. We couldn’t find what was causing the xray to show this, and I kept emptying things out, and then we would go back to the xray to see this blade looking object in my bag yet again. They kept searching, and sure enough, there was a swiss army knife. I was shocked, as, I know I didn’t JUST pack it, and if it HAS been in there, that means that no one in Atlanta, Houston, Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro ever found it. It is EXACTLY like the one that I have, so I don’t think anyone ‘plotted’ it on me, but I just don’t know how I would have had it in there. The last time I used the backpack was in Australia, and we brought it on board with us, so I know it wasn’t a leftover packing from there.. who knows, anyhow, it’s gone now.. and I’m off to Brazil for a long layover–on the beach!
Walking around the city, IÂ´ve found myself indulging a bit too often to the wonderful confiterias around town (bakeries). The chocolate delights just sit there in the window watching me as I pass by. And, as I am techically on vacation, I donÂ´t hesitate to try all the different little packages of joy especially when I can get a quarter of a kg for just $1.
The real question is this–how is it that Buenos Aires can have so many sweets and goodies on every block, yet I have not seen one obese person?
This morning, I headed out for a nice breakfast of eggs, ham, toast, orange juice, and my favorite, Submarino. After breakfast, I headed down to the Plaza de Mayo again to walk from the Casa Rosada up to the Congresso building, as the architecture is so grand. I then wandered in and out of shops, and headed back for Galleria Pacifico–I realized I had not actually looked at all the shops there! It turns out that if you buy $150, you get a free lunch, and I had my receipt of my leather jacket that I bought just several days before, and I got a coupon for a free lunch at a chic restaurant on the 3rd floor. I had a great lemon chicken breast on mashed sweet potatos with a puree of salsa and apple chips. It was great! and it was even better being free!
I then headed around town and looked for more photo ops, but the weather has not been the best, so I am hoping it clears up some. Anyhow, tomorrow is my flight home, and I must say, I have been so impressed by the friendliness, safety, beauty, and excitement that BsAs has to offer, and I know this is a place that I will visit again!
Leo has been gracious enough to spend time taking me around and showing me the city. His knowledge of the history and politics of Argentina really amaze me.. This morning, the sun was bright and we headed for Porto Madero, the port where all the immigrants arrived into Argentina. It used to be quite run down, but it is being rejuvinated with new residences and high rise office buildings. LeoÂ´s university was there as well.
We then headed back for the Plaza de Mayo. Today was a national holiday of the flag, and on our way, we stopped at the church that Belgrano, the creator of the flag, is at rest. We then walked around the Plaza de Mayo, and went to the A Line Subway, as it was the oldest, and has wooden made cars. Unfortunately, the train that came was one of the new ones, so I didnÂ´t get to see any of the old trains. We rode down a few stations to the Congress building, which is strikingly similar to DCÂ´s capitol building. We also went into the Catholic Dome located here, and then headed to meet Maxi for lunch in Palermo.
We had a great lunch and then walked around the fairs of Palermo SoHo a trendy neighborhood. I didnÂ´t really find anything I wanted to buy, so as the sun was still up, I decided to walk around more to see if I could find any other photoops during the daylight.
So tonight Leo and his friends and I all had dinner at LeoÂ´s apartment. There was Carlos, Maxi, Oscar, Leo and myself. We had traditional empanadas, and chatted the evening away. It was great fun!
Today I headed for the fairs on San Telmo. The day didnÂ´t start out well, as my taxi ride was 3x the amount it should have been. But then, after wandering around the cobblestone streets of San Telmo and arriving at a cafÃ©, I had a nice sandwich for lunch. My stomach hadnÂ´t been feeling too well from a meal the previous day, a shishkabob with not-so-cooked chicken. Anyhow, after I finished my meal, 2 girls came upstairs where I was sitting, so I offered them my place. They then asked me where I was from, and we started up a big conversation. Turns out Melanie is working as a missionary in La Plata, and her sister Danielle was just on holiday visiting, about to start her freshman year at the University of GA. They were nice girls, and I stayed for their lunch as well.
After their lunch, we headed out and wandered around looking at all the little trinkets and street performers, including a miniature horse. We then ended up in the Plaza de Mayo, where the Casa Rosada looks out over the square. Here is where Evita gave her famous speech, as well as Madonna, from the balcony.
I then took the girls to the bus stop where they were going to head over to La Boca for some Tango sights before they headed back to La Plata. As I was writing my contact information, I felt a liquid hit my hands and BRAND NEW Leather jacket. I thought it was from a pigeon at first, but then these two strangers came over and started rubbing it off of us. The girls had it all over their backpacks and pants, and my poor jacket I thought was going to be ruined. After some water and delicate rubbing, it seemed to come off, but just in case, I left the girls and headed back to Galleria Pacifico, where I bought my jacket to ask what I should do. It was such a foul smell, and the guy at the shop identified it as a cement of some sort — any how, they said the jacket would be fine after it air dries…
So, tonight, Leo and I went to AlvaroÂ´s birthday party, which ended up being one of the oddest events IÂ´ve ever joined. It turns out that this Alvaro, while only turning 23, has already published 2 books about Philosophy and is well renowned by policticians and other aristocrats alike. When we arrived, I thought what an odd potpourri of people sitting around the living room. Ages from about 8 – 60Â´s, I couldnÂ´t quite figure out what this party was about. As in Argentinian way, we are introduced and kiss on the cheek, which is quite a nice custom. I met a girl who had lived in LA for 10 years. She was just 18, but moved to the US at 5, and now has returned to a new life in Buenos Aires. She was a very nice girl, and it turns out that instead of going to University, she is producing her first Pop/Rock CD album, all with 10 tracks and a bonus track. She explained different aspects of her recording and mixing of the CD, which was all quite interesting. But then, as more people arrived, Leo let me into who was joining this party.
There was the Chief Designer of South AmericaÂ´s Chanel stores, all in her regalia of Chanel. There was Nelly Prince, a famous Tango singer in the 40Â´s or 50Â´s. She even sang a song for us. But the most interesting guest, came in with her sunglasses on and waltzed over to Leo and myself, and gave each one of us a kiss on the cheek–she was Patricia Bullrich, who was a Congresswoman and ex-Labor Minister who ran for President during the 2003 election after the huge Argentine Crisis.
I kept thinking to myself, this 23-year-old kid must be something if all these people are showing up to his birthday. Anyhow, during the party, there was a woman singer, and a man guitar player, who played all these patriotic songs that apparently Â´defineÂ´ Argentine culture. This is according to an older woman who was perched down right beside me as we listened to the songs. She was quite into the music as she even took the microphone herself sometimes! Anyhow, it was definitely an interesting night!
After Teatro ColÃ³n, I headed for a quick bite to eat on the pedestrian streets of Florida and Lavalle. After lunch, I walked around to the Central Post Office and found bus 152 that takes me to La Boca. The sun started to come out so I was excited to see the bus come straight for me. I reached up my hand, and he passed right by me, but slowed down, as two ladies were waiting down the block from me. I started to run toward the bus as the ladies got on, and before the bus even closed the door behind the woman, he sped off! I was not sure what I had done wrong, but apparently, he did not want me on his bus. So, I waited at the next street down which had more people waiting on it, and I got on. Turns out I was going the wrong direction, so I got off the next stop, and crossed the street to get on the other bus. I got situated and enjoyed the scenery as we drove through downtown Buenos Aires.
Once off the bus at the end of the line, I headed for the street stalls selling artisan crafts. I headed toward the colorful area which La Boca is famous for. I wandered around for a while taking pictures of the colorful buildings and signage all around, and then found myself at the center of Caminita, where street Tangos are performed. There were two teenagers who were preparing for their dance, so I started snapping pictures. They enjoyed posing for me, and every few minutes, they would beckon me over to show them what I had snapped. It turns out they are brother and sister and dance there every weekend. They were magnificent, and quite friendly. During their dance, I snapped several great photos, and at the end, took a few posed pictures of me in Tango positions with the girl. They turned out great!
After their tango, I headed for a Submarino at another end of the street that had some Tango dancers as well. While sipping my hot cocoa, I watched them practice for their show tonight as well. They too wanted me to send them the photos I took during their practice. It was a great afternoon!
This morning, I took a taxi to Avenue July 9 where Teatro ColÃ³n is. I took a guided tour throughout this impressive opera house and learned about its construction, history, and shows. We went into one of the boxes to view the stage, and there are two boxes right next to the stage that are reserved only for the President and the other only for the Mayor. They will remain empty if they donÂ´t attend the show. Beneath the opera house was a massive area full of rehearsal rooms, stage construction, seamstress rooms for costumes, ballet halls for practice and more. It was a great tour!
The bus pulled in the terminal at 7:30 this morning and I was ready to get some more sleep. The streets were damp, the clouds were low, and the city looked so tired. The tree-lined streets made for such a nice drive to Recoleta, where I am staying. I took a nap, and headed out for the day wandering around the main avenues of Libertador, around the zoo, through parks and around to Santa Fe. I stopped at a mall for lunch, and then an amazing little delicatessen that had all their mouth-watering desserts displayed like little soldiers in the window. Of course you canÂ´t pass by one of these and expect to continue on without trying one.. or two, or a bag of them. So, I managed to pick out about six little desserts, and headed for the internet cafÃ© to catch up on some of these entries! Tonight, I will be going out with friends of Leo to a dinner party!