Saturday, January 16, 2010
DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA!
Yup, this is me outside the Casa Rosada -- aka the Presidential Palace in Argentina -- the place where Madonna sang that big song in the movie. Er, I mean where Eva "Evita" Peron gave her big speech. Argentina is the first country I've visited in South America, and to get there Daniel and I flew via Chile, i.e. over the Andes. Here's the view from the plane window.
Whenever I think of the Andes I think of that soccer team in the sixties or seventies whose plane crashed and the survivors had to eat their dead teammates to survive. Surveying the plane, I remember thinking I'd throw up if it happened to us. Tourists are very unappetizing. On the other hand, most are well-marinated.
This is our hotel in Buenos Aires. It's in the Recoleta area, which is pretty trendy with lots of artists and ice cream shops, not to mention the Recoleta Cemetery which has the most expensive real estate in the world. (True.) People are literally DYING to get in. Our hotel is a Melia boutique hotel. I love the Melia chain -- and owing to the downturn prices here are at 30% regular! It's tacky to mention, but honestly there's no other way we could afford a hotel that comes with a Pillow Menu. That's right. A Pillow Menu. It's like a food menu only for pillows. We chose a Lavender for soothing dreams. There's also a "Jasmine Pillow" and a "Roll Pillow" -- which the menu says is popular with honeymooners. Oh, and there's an "Orthopedic Pillow" too -- presumably for recovery from the "Roll Pillow".
Truly cool fact: Our hotel is where Peron 'kept' Eva before they were married.
Above is the cutlery chandelier at a terrific restaurant called Fervor, just a few doors down from the hotel. People eat like pigs here. A pound of steak for $15 at a 5*. I ordered the steak, and Daniel the vegetables -- everything's à la carte -- and we shared. But most people eat EVERYTHING!!! Maybe because restaurants only open at 8 p.m. and people are starving when they enter.
Also near our hotel is a little parkette with the most AMAZING rubber trees. If you look closely you'll see me among the roots of one of them.
I don't want to bore you with standard guide book pictures -- as you may have guessed -- so here are a couple of shots from a poor area known as La Boca. It's in the old port district where the houses are made of wood and painted hugely garish colours. It's been like this for centuries. A poor area, people painted their houses using the leftover paint from the old ship building places. The area used to be flooded a few times a year, so anyone who could afford to got the hell out. It's great by day but knife robberies by night. I loved it.
And here's a street puppeteer from the weekly Sunday flea market on San Telmo.
Mainly the flea market is lined with tourist-trap "crafts". See Daniel below at beginning of the gauntlet:
But there are also great antique stores, street shows like the one that puppeteer put on, and also people who just turn on a boom box and start to tango; or who walk around trying to sell odd stuff like feather dusters:
Well, I'm tuckered out. Next time out I'll take you to the cemetery. Oooooooooh! Scary stuff! :)