Tag Archives: Buenos Aires

Y is for Y más: a review of my top five places

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Y más or “and more …” is my review of my top favorite places to visit — as least at of today! Here is my countdown…

Number Five:  Cadiz, Spain! I was so surprised at the  beauty and walk-ability of Cadiz. At to that a Fortress named after my patron saint that is constructed in a star shape, beautiful beaches and great seafood — what more could I want!

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Number Four: Lisbon has beautiful architecture, twisting streets, great museums, amazing music and, of course, good food and wine!

Number Three: Buenos Aires with it different neighborhoods, tango all night, and friendly people — I think I lost part of my heart there!

Number Two: Cuba!  I am still dreaming about Cuba and all it has to offer. I love Cuba and her people. Viva Cuba!

And number one should not be a shock to anyone who has read my blog … BARCELONA! If I could, this is where I would like to live. Architecture, people, beaches, food, night life, museums, concerts — it has everything I love (and did I mention football and Camp Nou?).

 

J = Journeys through the Land of the Dead

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Cemeteries can be interesting places to find some fascinating artwork as well as quiet places to walk in otherwise busy cities. Here are some of my favourite ones.

Père Lachaise Cemetery is Paris is well-known and has some very interesting statuary and “residents”.

La Recoleta Cemetery is the large cemetery in Buenos Aries with many famous Argentinians buried there, including Eva Perón.

I stumbled upon a massive cemetery in Sao Paolo, Brazil. I thought it had interesting art, then I came to the edge of the cemetery and saw there was so much more. This is the largest cemetery I’ve every seen.

My last suggestion is the cemetery in Santiago de Cuba. Not only does it have a memorial to Jose Marti with a changing of the guard and other famous memorials.

 

 

A to Z Challenge: P = Palaces

P = Palaces

PJust like cities, there seems to be one palace that many are compared to — Versailles. It may be the sheer size of the palace, or the ornate gardens. Whatever it is, all palaces seem to be compared to Versailles for one reason or another. By why should palaces be compared to another – each one has some that makes it unique and and reflects the locale. Here are some of my favourite palaces.

Versailles
Versailles
Peterhof fountains
Peterhof Palace fountains, St. Petersburg
Royal Stables
Royal Stables, Copenhagen
Hamlet's Castle, Denmark
Hamlet’s Castle, Denmark
Berlin
Berlin
Berlin
Berlin
Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden
Stockhom, Sweden
Changing of the Guard, Stockholm, Sweden
Royal Palace, Madrid
Royal Palace, Madrid
Royal Palace, Madrid
Royal Palace, Madrid
Casa de las Rosas,Buenos Aires, Argentina
Casa de las Rosas,Buenos Aires, Argentina

Here are some earlier posts on these locations

 

Review of my 2012 travel memories Part 1

I had a remarkable travel year in 2012.  Here is a list of the of some of the highlights of my travel adventures.

Buenos Aires: I rang in 2012 at a special tango show and fell in love with Argentina. I stayed at  Maggie’s B&B — great location just off Avenue de Mayo and Maggie was very friendly and helpful.

New Year's in Buenos Aires 2012
New Year’s in Buenos Aires 2012
Large tree in Buenos Aires
Great place to eat Fredo ice cream!
Gaucho booth at San Telmo Market
Gaucho booth at San Telmo Market
San Telmo
San Telmo on a Sunday

Punto del Estes, Uruguay: While it was very cold in Toronto, on January 3, 2012, I was basking in the sun on a beautiful beach watching a lab puppy take its first steps into the ocean.

Beach at Punta del Estes
Beach at Punta del Estes
Puppy at the beach
Puppy’s first trip to the beach in Punta del Estes

Montevideo, Uruguay: I had no set plans for wandering around Montevideo, however as soon as I walked off the ship, I was met by a very friendly tour guide who arranged a small tour for 5 of us in a van.  It was a great way to see the city. At the end, we were dropped off in the city centre where we wandered through the streets before returning to the ship.

Settler's statue in Montevideo
Settler’s statue in Montevideo

Puerto Madryn, Argentina: Who would have thought that Welsh was spoken here — brought from Welsh immigrants who settled in this part of Patagonia. Desolute, yet beautiful, I had a proper Welsh tea, complete with scones and clotted cream in Gaimen and saw some of the local wildlife — in the form of sea lions. A couple of them even tried to board a ship!

Patagonia near Gaimen, Argentina
Patagonia near Gaimen, Argentina

 

Patagonia
Patagonia
Sea lion catching some waves
Sea lion catching some waves

Cape Horn, Chile: I’ve already talked about this in an earlier post. It is still one of my highlights of my travel adventures — to “round the Cape” while schooners of old.

Cape Horn
Cape Horn

Ushuaia, Argentina: This is another place I cannot talk enough about — from the beauty of the mountains and Tierra Del Fuego National Park, to the quaintness of the city, to more wildlife, more isolation, and the gateway to Antarctica.  Yes, I will want to come back here and spend more time. It is stunningly beautiful!

Ushuaia sign

Lighthouse at the end of the world
Lighthouse at the end of the world
Sea birds taking off
Sea birds taking off

Sailing through the Beagle Channel:  How could I forget standing on the deck of the ship in a formal dress and taking pictures of the massive glaciers that line the sides of this waterway.  I am still surprised I got any pictures, as I was shivering! But every time I thought I was head back inside to the warmth, I would caught a glimpse of a new wonder — and would  stay outside, mesmerized by the beauty.

Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel

Punta Arenas, Chile: Not only a nice place place to stop for handicrafts, but also a great place to see wildlife.  I went to Ottway Sound to see a colony of Magellanic penguins — penguins are just too cute! Then is was a chance to visit the market in the centre of town.

Market in centre of town
Market in centre of town
Statue of Magellian
Statue of Magellian
Statue of Magellian
Statue of Magellian

Puerto Montt: While the town is not really much to see, once we were outside, there were volcanoes, waterfalls, and lakes! Plus an amazing lunch of local fish and pisco sours!

Osomo Volcano
Osorno Volcano
Petrohue Falls
Petrohue Falls
Trinkets
Trinkets

Valpairso, Chile: The sad part is leaving the ship — it was the best cruise I’d ever taken — but Valpairso is very interesting and close to nice beaches and a wine country that reminded me of Napa Valley.

Vina del Mar
Vina del Mar

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El Cuadro winery
El Cuadro winery

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Santiago, Chile: I think by now on my journey, I was getting tired and it was really hot — not a good combination for me. But I did see some interesting things and got a great sunset picture!

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And this ends part one of my travel year in review!

Trying to write …

… and I am trying to maintain a series of thoughts regarding finding your passion. While so far this has been a mild winter and the days are starting to get longer, there is still this natural drift that occurs where the best part of the day seems to be when you snuggle deep within the covers of your bed and sink into the warmth and comfort of your favorite blanket …

Writing is always a challenge for me, so image my delight to have this article tweeted to me this morning — a list of places to travel to for writing inspiration! And to think I just came from two of them — Buenos Aires and Valparaiso — and I have so much to write about both!

My favourite things in Buenos Aires– and a few tips I learned along the way

Here are just some of my favourite things in Buenos Aires– and a few tips I learned along the way

View from my roomI loved staying at Maggie’s B&B.  Several friends suggested that I stay in the Palermo area which is very nice, but I did not find the Subte (Metro) connections very good there and that is one thing I always look for when I travel – how close am I to city transportation hubs.  Maggie’s B&B is just a block and a half from Ave. de Mayo with easy access to walk most places – or take the Subte (more below). Maggie’s apartment is in an older building with a century-old elevator that reminded me of the one in the movie Thoroughly Modern Millie (although I do not think I would tap dance in it).  The rooms were clean, bright and comfortable. Maggie is also very generous with information about Buenos Aires and helped me to acclimate to the city and how to get around it.  Breakfasts were simple but good – I loved the homemade marmalade! Using skeleton keys was an interesting experience but I also like how it just added to the charm.  Above all, Maggie is very warm and charming and I hope to stay there again on future visits to Buenos Aires – I do not think once is enough, especially since I planned my trip during a holiday weekend.  What was I thinking!

The "metro" in Buenos AiresThe Subte: The A Line runs underneath Ave. de Mayo and is an experience all to itself! It still has the old, wooden cars that first ran along this line in 1913 – making it the oldest subway inLatin America. One thing to remember – the British built this line, so the trains’ direction is opposite the way traffic runs.  I made this mistake, and had to get off, cross the street, and head in the “right” direction! Fortunately, the ticket takers helped me and I did not have to pay a second time (although the cost is $0.70 a ticket).

Me at the Piazolla New Year's Eve show
Me at the Piazolla New Year’s Eve show

Tango Shows: There are different forms of tango – the type performed at a tango show and the types performed in the milongas.  Tango shows are really for tourists, however they are fun and I think a “must see” especially if you only have a few days to spare.  I went to Piazzolla Tango. The space is beautiful – an old-style theatre with balcony box seats above the main floor.  I was seated in the box seats with a couple fromSao Paulo,Brazil. This was my New Year’s Eve treat, so the show was a bit more expensive than it usually is. The food was ok – I have to say the steak I got was one of the largest pieces of meat I’ve ever seen on a plate! We also had a bottle of red wine on our table – and could have requested more.  The desserts were great!  We got one with dinner, and then there was a dessert table setup for the New Year’s party after the show. The show was wonderful – good performances from the dancers, the band and the singers.  Personally, I want the dresses worn by the female singer – they would fit me perfectly!  I also liked how she danced a bit, showing that sometimes the simplest tango is just as passionate as the “fancy” lifts.

The Hop-on Hop-off bus: This can be a good option to get around Buenos Aires, especially to visit some areas that are not connected via the Subte and you are not up to figuring out the strange bus routes.  That said, there are some things to help you make this a viable option. Buy your ticket online!  You get a discount, you do not have to stand in line, and, if they are “full”, you are still guaranteed a spot.  Some additional “tricks” if you have not bought a ticket online, go to the main stop (stop 0: at Diagonal Norte and Florida) to get a ticket – and if it is a weekend, go around 8:30.  The service starts at 9 – and this should give you a good chance of getting on the bus and giving you a full day to “hop off” and see things. Or give you time to take the 3 hour tour then take a nice nap during the real heat of the day! The lines were very long and they were turning people away that first two days I was in Buenos Aires.  The last day, I got up early and got on the second bus that starts at 9:30 – and by the time we go to the 6th stop at Caminito, they were turning people away who did not already have a ticket – even though there were spaces on the bus!  I did enjoy the tour and I was able to see a few places that my walking just did not get me to!

Cafe TortoniCafe Tortoni is consider by many to be a must see place – however because of this, it can be hard to get into because of the long line of tourists waiting to get in to see the beautiful tiffany lamps, etc.  However, go, it you do get a chance! It is a nice way to start the day and an easy walk down Ave. de Mayo to Casa Rosada (the Pink House) and the Plaza de Mayo.  In fact, it is an easy walk from the Plaza de Mayo to the Plaza del Congresso – and there are a number of wonderful places to see along the way!

Another view from my room Palacio Barolo Building – near the Saenz Pena Subte stop, Line A (or halfway between Plaza de Mayo and Plaza del Congresso) – is an amazing building but I found it difficult to take really good pictures of it from the from side.  Fortunately for me, my room at Maggie’s gave me the best view and I have great pictures of the back!

 

 

 

 

Recoleta Cemetary
Recoleta Cemetary

Want some peace and quiet in the midst of a busy city?  Head to Plaza Francia and its neighbouring attraction, the Recoleta Cemetery.  I love my stroll through this space – then again I also loved strolling through Père Lachaise Cemetery inParis! Maybe I just have a thing for cemeteries with unique architecture!  Regardless – this is a great place to see and the opportunities for great pictures are phenomenal!

San TelmoSan Telmo and the Sunday Antiques Fair is a must-see!  Expect crowds of people – but also expect the unexpected – music, tango dancing, gauchos, art – just get lost in the magic!

More to come on my favourite things in Buenos Aires!

Buenos Aires Day 4

Buenos Aires Day 4
There was a change in the rhythm today – you could sense it. It was like a new energy was surging through everything and there was a new purpose to the day. I was up early—Maggie even earlier. Not only did she have to prepare for my departure, but for the arrival of a group who were going to take over her whole apartment – and she was packing her things to stay elsewhere! But, as with everything about staying with Maggie, she was warm and giving – a proper hostess!
For me, this was my last time on this trip to see “everything I need to see” before heading off to new places. I thought I would try the hop on, hop off bus one more time and if I got to the ticket office when they opened, maybe I’d have a chance! So I was out on the streets early – and it seemed that there were a lot of people out and about this time.
I thought I would save my poor feet and ride on the oldest subway line in South America – especially since the A Line goes along the Ave. de Mayo. So, for 0.70 peso (yes, that it 70 cents) I got to ride on a wooden subway car where you have to open the door – and if you are not careful you can open it while the car is moving! Of course, wrong-direction Catherine had to get on the first time going the wrong way, but with some assistance, I was able to squeeze in to a very full car and head on my way.
There was a line at the ticket office for the bus tour, however it was not like previous days – and so I was able to get a ticket and on the bus. Next time, I will remember to do this online and just show my voucher – you get a discount and you get to go to the front of the line! There are 20 stops along the way at major attractions or you can stay on for the whole loop which gives you a ~3 hours. If I time it right, I would be able to do the tour, get tango shoes (the shop was near where I got the bus) and be back to Maggie’s before the next group arrived!
I will not go into complete details on the bus tour – I will go into more details and include pictures for that. But I did get to see the Boca Juniors Stadium; Caminito, the artist’s block; The other side of Puerto Madero that I did not walk to the day before; Plaza San Martin, the English Clock Tower; the Argentina Polo Field; the Flower sculpture; Barrio Chino; the largest mosque in South America; and the Opera House where the first opera ever done there was Aida – just like the opera house in Palermo! See, this will be much better with pictures and descriptions! Once cool thing I have to mention because I’m not sure I got a good picture of this – there are people who travel around Buenos Aires in a little horse-pulled cart who go around collection recycling (plastics, paper, etc.). I thought it was interesting and the horse I saw was wearing a little straw hat! Anyway, 3 plus hours later, it was off to buy shoes!
Did I mention I hate shoe shopping? Alanis is a great place to go and she really knows feet and how to get you into the right style and size. I told her that I wear a 38 European. She looked at my feet and said, “You’ve got short, wide feet – you need a 37 wide.” She started pulling out the most appropriate shoes for me (including a pale pink pair). But then I had another problem. Remember all my walking the day before? Well, my favourite pair of walking sandals did not like it and I now had blisters that prevented me from being able to try on the shoes to ensure a proper fit – so no shoes this time. I really do hate shoe shopping. I hobbled on my sore feet back to Maggie’s to prepare to leave for the ship.
I loved staying at Maggie’s B&B. My room was perfect. I slept well and had a great view. I got all sorts of advice – stay in Palermo or Recoleta areas, etc. While both of these neighbourhoods were very nice, I prefer a more central location – especially if there is a lot of character. And let’s face it – skeleton keys, a 100 year old elevator, a beautiful, homey feel and even a bird sitting on a nest on one of the window planter boxes! I like being central to the historic district as well as able to walk to San Telmo. Maggie can also tell you a lot about the tango “scene” and can help direct you to some of the best places to go. When I come back to Buenos Aires – because you know I will – I will try to stay at Maggie’s again!
Last thing Maggie did for me is call a radio taxi to drive me to the cruise port, since Nicco was not available this time. We left together Jimmy drove me to the port. Did I mention driving in Buenos Aires? While there are clearly marked lanes on the road, these lane markers are really more of a suggestion than and actually way to keep multiple lines of vehicles from careening into each other – although I did not witness an accident, there were a few close calls.
Check-in for the ship was quick and easy and before I knew it, I was doing a tour of the ship to see where everything was – then I headed to the pools because I wanted to cool off from the heat. There is a Solarium with a hydro-spa pool – and the water was warm. Then there is the outdoor pool and that was perfect – cool and wonderful! Both are salt water pools, something I really like.
So, I sat by the pool for a bit and just settled into this new rhythm.
I had an early seating for dinner at Table 308. When I got to my table, I met Scott from Denmark. Then came 3 ladies from North Carolina who travel together – Donna, Gay and Gail. The Wine Steward, Richard, joked that Scott need there to be two more women to complete his table – and then there were two more – Judy and Mary – who are cousins – Judy is from Austin, Texas and Mary is from St. Louis, Missouri. Our waiter is Herman from Indonesia and our assistant waiter is Diana. For dinner I had a goat cheese tart, mushroom soup, prime rib and puff pastries with praline ice cream and chocolate sauce – and Spanish wine. It is a lively and entertaining group.
The first night’s show was just an into to what to expect for entertainment on the ship. There were, of course, tango dancers along with the regular cruise ship singers and dancers. The band is very good and there is an amazing Spanish guitarist.
So much for my last day in Buenos Aires and my first day at sea.

Buenos Aires Day 3

Buenos Aires Day 3
Waking up on the first day of a new year is usually a strange experience – and in a different city it can almost be surreal. My lesson for today is this: this is my trip – not anyone else’s – and if I miss some big “highlighted” place, I was not meant to see it this time around. I guess that does highlight the events of today. Let’s just say that I faced some challenges, but I made my own memories. The challenges included the following items. Is the Subtle even running today? Will anything be open in San Telmo? The heat, the sun, and feeling cold in the shade and needing water… Underestimated how far it is to walk to … Is there a bank machine that is not only accessible but has money? Water!
So, at breakfast, I was joined by the two women from South Africa who were staying in the other rooms at Maggie’s – one was from Cape Town and one from Johannesberg. They were heading to San Telmo – my plan as well. San Telmo is one of the oldest areas with cobble-stone streets and an antiques market on Sundays. Maggie did not know how much would be open today, however they said that it was open and very busy last weekend (Christmas). So, I headed out with knowledge from my research on how to use the Subtle to get there. That presented one of the challenges of the day. It should have started by 6 AM on Sunday, but there were signs (in Spanish) that indicated that the start would be later – but I did not see a time for this to occur! No problem, I can walk.
Next challenge was getting a little more cash but the first bank I thought I would try not only locked the access to the automatic teller machines, usually a swipe of your card will give you access, but the windows were shuttered up! No problem, I had some cash, I would be ok.
I headed toward Plaza de Mayo and once there, I saw people starting to set things up along one cobbled-stone street, so I figured I was heading in the right direction. I tried to find a street sign (another challenge) and did finally saw one that said I was on Defensa. Yeah! I was ACTUALLY on the street I wanted. How could that happen without a GPS or a guide dog?
While you could tell this was a slow morning for most of us, there were sights, sounds and smells everywhere. One smell was an incense that was for sale – it reminded me of a little like frankincense, but with a wildness attached to the essence. There was music of different types being played – from tango to Spanish pop to the Beatles.
Along the route, I saw a couple of beautiful churches. The first I walked by is a beautiful yellow building called the Basilica del Santisimo Rosario and the Convento de Santa Dominigo. It contains the masuleum of Manual Belgrano, whose house is next door. He is one of the important generals of Buenos Aires. I loved the statues in front of this church. The second church I saw is the Nuestra Senora de Belen, also known as the Templo de San Pedro de Telmo that was built by a Jesuit architect who started it in 1735.
As I was walking down Defensa, something caught my eye on a street called Pasaje San Lorenzo and I made a detour to only discover I found something written about in one of my guidebooks: Casa Minima. It is “famous” for being one of the smallest houses in the city at 2.5 meters across and 12 meters deep!There are a numbers of legends surrounding why this house is so small – including one that it was built by a freed slave whose former owner allowed him to build this house on his property! I found it to be very quaint as it was squeezed between two “mansions” – but painted a bright colour as it to say “Hey! Look at me – I’m beautiful!”
Heading back up De3fensa, the street become more crowded with vendors as I headed towards Plaza Dolores. I finally found a bank with an accessible ATM – only to discover that it was out of cash! That challenge continued but did not dampen my interest in the world that was opening up – the weekly Antiques Fair in Plaza Dolores. It is a small square filled to the brim with vendors and people – and as usually I always seemed to be walking “upstream” against the crowd!
The vendors were just as colourful as the people shopping – one was a gaucho selling all things … well .. gaucho! Whips, boleros, leather belts, cow bells! Then, I found a shop where I could get my typical “tourist” souvenier – an apron. This one has tango dancers on it and will blend quite nicely with the rest of my collection!
Around the plaza are a number of bars and restaurants – many featuring tango dancers (wow … que surprise!). I sat at one of the outdoor cafes to people watch and eat empanadas with cheese and roasted red peppers. It was also a great way to people watch and relax in the shade after my long walk/. I also got to watch dancers and listen to a tango band – not bad for the price of a lunch!
After spending a nice early afternoon in SanTemlo, I thought I would be able to walk along the Puerto Maderno to San Martin Plaza. Yeah, right. Maybe if it was not 31 C. and humid. Maybe if my favourite pair of walking sandals decided to give me blisters. Maybe if there were more shade! I made it from Dique 1 to Dique 4 before I finally gave up. I found a bar were I got some water and “limone aid”. Then decided to make my way “home” even though I was not quite show how far that was. I headed back to the main central area and when I spotted the Pink House, I knew I was on the right track. Heading up Ave. do Mayo – I stopped once more at a café for “café y agua mineral sin gas” and even though I said this in Spanish, I guess it was not good enough as I ended up pointing to what I wanted from the menu. At least I did try! Refreshed, I was able to get within one block of “home” before the sidewalk tripped me. Luckily, the camera was packed in my day pack and I am physically undamaged – and no one say me, so even my pride did not suffer.

The apartment was cool when I entered – even though there are no air conditioners – and I spent a few minutes resting and re-packing in preparation for the next phase of my trip. I was also a bit upset because everyone who had been here had given me great places to go – and it appeared that I would not see most. Then I reminded myself – this is my trip and my experiences and memories. I did not have to please anyone else – just remember that there is a lot more to see or do here and I will just have to plan to come back! But I decided I needed to try to have a plan for the next day.

So, as the day cooled down, I headed out for dinner. There were limited choices as many places were closed because it was a holiday. I finally settled on Café Iberia and had a waiter who was very nice. One thing I have learned about ordering café at the end of a meal meant you got an espresso (perfect) served with a small glass of agua mineral con gas and a small pastry.

I called it a successful day and a great way to start a new year.

New Years Eve in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Day 2
Breakfast was simple but nice – fresh coffee and homemade orange marmalade will always make me happy! I headed out with a goal to see the Recolata Cemetery since we were not sure if it would be open during the rest of my time here. Maggie suggested that I take care using my “big” camera, so as I left to walk down Ave. de Mayo, the little one was out taking pictures. After crossing Ave. 9 de Julio (I made it in 2 lights across 18 lanes of traffic and 4 pedestrian esplanades!) I started seeing other people with cameras like mine – and larger. So, once I got to Plaza de Mayo, the larger camera was out and the picture-taking frenzy began! Lots of people were out and about. I am posting some travel notes – so see them about ideas for safely carrying cameras.

After taking pictures of Casa Rosada (the Pink House where Eva Peron, “Evita”, made her famous speech) and other items of interest, I headed to see if I could get on the Tourist Bus which would be one way to get to Recolata. The line was CRAZY, so I got a taxi and asked him to take me to Plaza Francia, in the Recolata neighbourhood.

I got some great shots of the century-old ombu bushes – with huge roots and branches that drag to the ground. I also tried to make friends with the dogs that were being walked by a group of people – there were at least 1 dog in the group. Only one was brave enough to come to me for a pet.
El Cemetario de Recolata is famous not only for who is buried there (Eva Peron’s is one of the “must-see” crypts) but also for the artwork and architecture. It is a photographers dream! Yes, there are LOTS of pictures to come (I’m just not sure if I found her crypt – I got a bit lost in the images and the heat). Did I mention it is hot?

After walking in an area with very little shade, I thought I deserved a treat – one of Buenos Aires’ specialities – Freddo ice cream! I had two flavours – limon and chocolate Italiano (it had almonds and cognac). YUM! I also saw one of BA’s iconic restaurants with a large outdoor area next to one of the ombu trees (I know they are “called” bushes – but they look like trees to me). This restaurant is called La Biela.

On weekends at Plaza Francia, there is an artists’ market. So I wandered through it and bought a couple of items – a decorated hair clip and a small hollowed-out gourd that is used to drink matte tea from. The one I got is decorated with tango dancers – including one on the metal straw that comes with it. So far on my travels, I have not seen one like it.

I am on a quest for tango shoes. Maggie made some suggestions, but was not sure if any place would be open this weekend. I caught another taxi from Plaza Francia and headed to the Obelisco – the large obelisk that was built in 1936 to commemorate the 400 year founding of the city. There were two shops that were supposed to be close to this landmark, so it was easy to tell the taxi driver where to go – and I could get another picture of something “famous.” One of the shops – Alanis Tango Shoes was not only easy to find – it appeared to be open. At least there were people in the shop. While I was looking at the shoes, a very nice man came up to me and starting talking – in Spanish of course. Unfortunately, we could not find a common language (he speaks Spanish, French and Arabic and I speak English and only comprehend bit of Spanish, French, and Italian. I won’t even get into my poor understanding of German. I really need to focus more on languages). I did get contact information, though 

After admiring the shoes, I tried to enter the shop, only to be told that she was closed – however she would open on Monday at 11. Guess what I am planning to do on Monday?

Walking back to Maggie’s was easy from here – and it was time for a break. Unfortunately, I had no idea what time it was! My phone did not re-set to Argentinian time automatically and the phone Maggie lent to me died. So I was at a loss for time-knowledge. But I did cool off a bit and decided to walk the opposite way down Ave. de Mayo towards the Palacio del Congresso. It houses the Senate and Congress and looks a lot like the Congress Building in Washington, D.C I also passed by the front view of the Palacio Barolo and I have to say, I have a wickedly good view – no way to really see it from the front. There is a nice fountain in front of the Congress building that inspired me to take more pictures. On the way back, I passed the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo Café, but it was closed. I also passed another place of business called “Open 25 hours”. I’m not sure which 25 hours they are open, since they were closed at the time.

I got back to Maggie’s and took a brief nap before getting ready for my New Year’s Eve Tango show. Before leaving, Maggie opened a bottle of champagne and shared it with me and the other woman from South Africa and her friend (also from SA – one was from Cape Town and one from Johannesburg). It was our toast to the New Year! I also kept hearing sounds like gun shots and learned that Argentinians celebrate with fireworks – including fire crackers, which is what I was hearing (Nothing like my first New Years in East Palo Alto – the then murder capital of the US – and the sounds of real gun shots and the guessing game of “hey, what kind of gun was that?”)

After the toast, I headed out. I was told to be waiting because they usually only pick up people from hotels. Fortunately, I had the emergency number to call, because they were late and I was getting odd looks from people walking along the street. But they finally arrived and we headed off – picking up a few more people before we arrived at the Piazzolla Tango.

The original building and has been restored (at one time, it was even a porn theatre, but was closed down). When it re-opened, it took the name of Piazzola, a famous musician and composer of Tango music. The space is opulent and includes private balconies that surround the main theatre area. We arrived and were directed to our tables. I was seated with a couple from Sao Paulo, Brazil – Cellian and Devin. Their English was much better than my Portuguese (back to my issues with language again … I HAVE to fix that!). But we had a nice time and a great view of the stage. We also took turns taking pictures of each other. According to them, there were a lot of people from Brazil at the show – they could tell because Brazilians tend to wear white for New Years, so they were easy to spot!

The food was ok – a fixed menu. We had red wine and mineral water to drink. The appetizer was a chees empanada with salad. The main course was the biggest piece of meat I think I have ever seen on a plate – and remember I grew up in Texas, do I have seen large hunks of meat!  The only problem with the meat was that it was not cooked according to your taste. I should have switched plates with Cellian because hers was exactly the way I like it and she would have been happier with mine. But, regardless of that, it was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had (sorry to any vegans … I am an omnivore when it comes to food and add to that the fact the my family has raised cattle for generations (think the cattle raid stories of the Irish Celts and that is my family’s story and it is just part of who I am). Dessert was an Argentinian staple – dulce con leche (similar to a flan). It was so rich that I could only eat half.

Then the show started! The dancing was awesome. There were 5 couples – each with a different style but flawless technique. There was one older gentleman who was amazing to watch – especially for a beginner such as I am who is trying very hard to learn how to follow. Watching him, I could start to see how he communicates to his partner so that she could show the magic. Incredible! There were also 3 singers – two men and a woman. I want her wardrobe! I would look fabulous in it. It was also nice to see her dance because it was not the “showy’ steps – but it still flowed with her partner and so the connection was just as strong. I loved the show – thanks Sue for suggesting I take in a real tango show for my first trip here.

After the show, we were escorted to a smaller theatre where there was champagne and more desserts – this time chocolate– and a disco floor. My new friends saved me a seat at a table close to the dance floor. We counted down to midnight and toasted the New Year – then danced. Yes, there are some incriminating videos – just not of me (except I was moving when I took the videos, so it might incriminate me after all … note to self to review videos first).