20 February, 2010

We moved our blog: wwwbuenosairesnow.blogspot.com

Hi All,

We moved our blog in 2009 and continue to add new events in 2010. We know its a pain in the ... but to see what we are up to please go to:


We have a link there to get back to this blog if you have the need to see the photos and/or videos we have posted here.

Thanks for understanding.

Dave and Barbara

18 September, 2009

Stay Tuned - Returning to Buenos Aires in January

Our plans are all set. We will be arriving back in BA mid-January and staying in the same area of the Recoleta. This will be our third long term stay in BA and we are so looking forward to catching up with our friends and enjoying all the great things Buenos Aires and Argentina have to offer.

Until then....

11 April, 2008

Ready for the Next Part of the Adventure

Chau Chau Chicos,

This is the last blog entry until we are back on the Cape but we promise to update you with the cruise details then. We have spent the last couple of days getting ready for our departure and having dinners and lunches with our new friends, to say good-bye until next year (Hasta la proximo anios). It’s been a fantastic trip, a wonderful cultural experience and the food “ain’t too bad either”!

We are heading to the airport at noon, turning in our receipts for our tax free refund, and boarding a LAN airways plane for Santiago. Next stop Valparaiso, Chile (Vina del Mar - 1.5 hour drive from Santiago) for 1.5 days until we board the ship and then the “end game” portion of the trip begins. Until next time,


08 April, 2008

Jorge and Family -Flying, Dining and More

April 5

We now have less than one week before we leave Buenos Aires, and there are still a few things that remain on our “to do” list so, after lunch at La Cholita, a good little local restaurant, we walk to the city Centre and Café Tortoni, Argentina’s oldest and most venerated café. In the early 1900’s, it attracted a bohemian crowd of writers, musicians, artists and the like (http://www.cafetortoni.com.ar/ ).

Today, it attracts bus loads of tourists. But once you get past that, it’s easy to imagine how it must have been 100 years ago.

After a cool drink and a snack, we decide we’re too tired to walk home and will take the subway instead. But we’re not sure which line to take so we get on the A line, which turns out to be a good decision…not because we’re heading in the right direction (we’re not!) but because we’re on the oldest of the city’s subway lines (operating since 1912) – and the only one left that still has the original wooden cars.

We take the train 2 stops and get off at Congreso, which is perfect – since we come up right in front of the Palacio del Congreso and across the street from one of the city’s really impressive fountains.

Nice day – quiet evening…we eat at home, watch a little TV (yes, there are a few stations that broadcast in SAP, so one language choice is English), and rest up, since Sunday we are meeting an Argentine pilot that David has been introduced to via a member of the Beechcraft (our airplane is a Beechcraft Bonanza) e-mail list that he regularly participate in on the internet.

April 6

What a day! One of the best we have had during our entire trip. Barbara and I took the train from Retiro to Olivos to meet (for the first time) Jorge and Ana, an Argentine pilot and his wife, for lunch. They own a Cessna 310P (twin engine for you non-aviators),

and invited us to join them and their son Martin and his girlfriend Daniela for an outing to Isla Martin Garcia (in the Rio de La Plata) to lunch at a very special little restaurant (Comedor Solis), as well as a tour of the island and the nature preserve.

I was finally going to get to experience general aviation in Argentina! Jorge has many hours of flight time in all sorts of aircraft. He was a carrier pilot in the Navy, flew passenger aircraft in Fiji, and a 747-200 Captain at Aerolineas Argentina for many years (until he retired). And now a shameless plug: See Jorge’s website for information on having him fly you around Argentina ( http://www.al-cielo.com.ar/ ).

Jorge’s plane, located at San Fernando Aeropuerto, is a thirty minute drive from his home and, before we know it, we are at one of Argentina’s largest General Aviation airports. There are many planes hangared and tied down in the grass because another airport not too far away was shut down. It seems the same short sightedness regarding the value of general aviation exists in Argentina as in the US. Peering into the hangars there are lots of small business jets, a variety of Piper and Cessna twins, lots of Beechcraft Bonanzas, my personal favorite, of course, since that’s what Barbara and I own, and one of my all time favorites - a Beechcraft Staggerwing….

There is also a diesel engine Cessna 182 - the first one I have ever seen.

Even though we are flying VFR (visual flight rules), Jorge must file a flight plan. The good news is that he walks down the hallway, and around the corner is flight service. Five minutes later we are boarding the plane and starting the engines.

Ready to taxi, we call ground control to open our flight plan - and just like it happens in the US, it happens here….what flight plan? There is none on file. I didn’t understand the next few minutes of conversation as it was in Spanish, but I can pretty well guess, having had similar ones with clearance delivery and ground control back in the US.

What is really different for me is that all communications are in Spanish. It was always my understanding that English is the universal aviation language. Jorge explains that if you speak in English the controllers will answer in English. For you non-pilots reading this, that certainly works and enables you to fly in the airspace of non-English speaking countries, but makes your situational awareness (understanding where other aircraft are in the sky in relation to your position) a bit more difficult.

Although the flight is only 20 minutes, you really can get a feeling for the Delta area and how close Uruguay is to Argentina. The water level is unusually low and the silt is building up many areas that only a few years ago were not there. The Rio Plata reminds us of the Mississippi river delta area in the US.

We over-fly the airstrip (Runway 17/35) as Sunday can be busy and the field is uncontrolled (no control tower). It’s a little bumpy flying the approach but Jorge has all under control and we land and taxi to parking. (See the video in the sidebar).

Today turns out to be pretty quiet. There is one plane ready to depart and two others on the ramp in front of the terminal. Perhaps the cost of flying is keeping pilots on the ground here, as in the US. Fuel prices are pretty similar to what I pay in the US at approximately U$S 5.00/gallon.

In keeping with the theme of this blog, every good event has food somewhere in the discussion, so not to disappoint; we take a short walk to Comedor Solis, a tiny restaurant with most of the tables outside under a giant tree. The owner shouts a hello (Jorge knows him well), we place our orders, and enjoy a great lunch al fresco.

After coffee we take a 3+ hour walking tour of the island, which is also a National Reserve. The trees are filled with green parrots that you certainly hear well before you see them. Their nests are high up in the canopy and they are quite large, as they live as a community (not one couple per nest).

We walk along dirt paths to the cemetery dating as far back as the mid 1800’s. Many of those buried in the cemetery died in battle or from Yellow Fever (early 1900’s).

Many battles have been fought on this island and there are still old cannons (non working) in strategic locations around the island. There used to be a naval base with over 2,500 people stationed there; however, now only about 100 people actually live here and the old facilities, abandoned over 30 years ago, are weathered and overgrown (both inside and outside) with jungle vegetation.

Walking along the path we pause to get out of the way of a local tour guide taking day trippers from Tigre (by boat) for a tour on his horse drawn cart.

Ana, who works at a local nature preserve, is also a great tour guide due to her extensive knowledge of indigenous flora and fauna, as well as environmental issues and concerns.

There are only a few motor vehicles on the island, as it is very small, and there are limited numbers of streets. Town is only a few buildings and a couple of blocks long. We walk by an interesting home that has a plaque on its’ gatepost. Jorge explains that former President Juan Peron was jailed here for a few days at one point years ago.

We begin our flight home just as the sun begins to set....

and before you know it we are back on the ground in San Fernando.

We head back to Jorge and Ana’s home, where we end up staying for dinner and a wonderful evening. First we congregate in the kitchen where Martin shows us how to properly prepare Yerba Mate, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_mate), a drink unique to this part of the world. Mate is a drink you share with friends and we feel honored to be included. It has a very unique and bitter taste which is “acquired”. Martin prepares this mate with sugar (most Argentines drink it without) so that Barbara and I don’t get turned off on our first sip. Barbara calls it mate “light”.

While drinking mate, the pizza and beer arrives and we sit down for a lively dinner with great conversation and a few Spanish language lessons, as well.

After a pizza dinner it’s well documented that you must have ice cream and, believe it or not, Ana calls their local ice cream parlor and 10 minutes later - Voila! ice cream is delivered to the house. Argentines are crazy about their ice cream and the most parlors have delivery service .

By now it is 11:30pm and time to call it a night, so after a wonderful day with great new friends, we take a cab back to our apartment.

05 April, 2008

April 2-4 Lessons, Tigre and more..

April 2

Morning coffee at the "local" looking over my notes getting ready for another Spanish lesson (#4) with Diego... I get the brilliant idea that it's time I take control and let Diego know what I want to focus on, as I am not fluent yet and boy I should be after 3 lessons (very big grin)! Diego arrives and I go over my plan with him. Lets conjugate verbs.

If I get this down right then all I need to do is toss in a few nouns, pronouns and adjectives and I have this language thing down pat! With only 2 more lessons before we leave I am under pressure-my retirement career depends on immediate fluency! ''Claro" he understands. Diego has obviously sensed my impatience about not being able to read War & Peace in Espanol. He, it turns out, is totally prepared for any contingency. Out comes the papers on "Verbs", regular, irregular and reflexive verbs (verbs that describe things that you do with "your body" e.g., wake, sleep, wash, dress, etc.),

Next a sheet with rules for when they end in "AR" or "ER" or "IR", what to do if they are male or female, what do do if they are singular or plural, what to do if they are past, present or future tense. By the way, he is only speaking to me in Spanish! I think Diego had my number.....he buried me in verbs and at the end of two hours I was wasted...here's a picture of Diego trying his best to accelerate my learning (he's got his work cut out for him):

After a workout like this there is only one thing left to do....LUNCH, and then a stroll around the city and of course time to rest up for dinner.

The weather has been fabulous so we decide to go to the Hyatt again, but this time for drinks on the veranda, and then try out a restaurant that is highly recommended on "OLEO" (guide similar to Zagats, but specific to BsAs), http://www.guiaoleo.com.ar/, but never mentioned in any of the local books or magazines that we look at. TeaTriz turns out to be fabulous. Wonderful elegant setting and superb food. The best meal we have had to date in Buenos Aires, and as you already know we do eat out a fair bit.

April 3 – Time Out in Tigre

On Thursday, David and I leave our apartment early, walk over to Retiro Station (BA’s version of Grand Central Station) and board the train. An hour later, we arrive in the town of Tigre – gateway to the Delta, a labyrinth of over 6,500 miles of canals, rivers and islands. People have told us this area reminds them of New Orleans’ bayous, and now that we’ve been there we understand why.

We buy boat tickets and make lunch reservations for Gato Blanco (recommended to us by our friend Rick...who loves to eat out as much as we do), http://www.gato-blanco.com/, at one of the kiosks lining the river , then walk around town for awhile, taking shots of photo-worthy wicker stalls …

and rowing clubs....

Then we board the "Interislena XX" at 11:30 for the 1+ hour boat ride (depending on how many “locals” the boat picks up or drops off along the way) out to Gato Blanco, which like everything else in the Rio Plata is accessible only by boat. (See Sidebar for Video)

The first thing you notice about the Rio Plata is its color – brown…not dirty brown, but caramel brown, from all the silt. There are no roads or cars on the islands. And the same boats are used by visitors for sightseeing and by the locals for commuting and transporting their groceries – so every house has its own dock.

People wait on their docks till the boat comes…the boat captain pulls up to a dock, idles the boat for just a few seconds, people get on and off, and then it’s on to the next stop.

Boats are used to deliver bulk food and supplies; coolers of water, sacks of onions, bottles of soda, tanks of propane…

transport lumber for dock pilings…

and collect children who do their homework on their way home from school.

Every so often there is a gas station on the water. Check out the sign on the gas pump (double click on the picture to blow it up). Sometimes you can't escape politics!

Most of the houses are on stilts and have water collection tanks on their roofs. They are frequently small, colorful, surrounded by lots of tall trees – and often have 2 or more dogs running around the yard or barking on the dock as the boat pulls up.

We arrive at the restaurant at 12:50, have a leisurely lunch, then relax on the dock until the boat picks us up at 3:30 – and the routine resumes…picking up and dropping off locals as we head back to town.

April 4

All that fresh air tires us out, so we spend Thursday evening in. On Friday, David gets a massage cause his shoulders and legs are “tight” – must be all the stress he’s under! That evening, our friend Santiago comes over for drinks. After a great bottle of Malbec (thanks Santiago!) it's 9:30pm and we are off to Kansas (billed as an American style restaurant) for good ole baby back ribs. At 10:30 we are joined by Santiago's good friend Daniela, sit down for dinner, more cervezas and margarita's and great ribs.

After dinner Daniela is off to meet more friends and the three of us head back to our apartment for more drinks and conversation. At 3:45 a.m. Santiago leaves for home and once again we have lived "la vida loca".

02 April, 2008

Nowhere to Run

March 29 - 31

We like Buenos Aires best on weekends…life is noticeably slower. Streets are almost devoid of traffic; and for us, this is the best time to explore the city on foot (which is our usual "modus operandi"). Saturday was no exception. We headed toward Puerto Madero, Buenos Aires’ old waterfront, which has been turned into an upscale waterfront area. A lengthy promenade full of new high rise luxury apartment buildings, hotels, restaurants and a “greenbelt” of waterfront parks all along the Rio Plata. By the time we ended up at Puerto Madero it was time for lunch.

We stopped at Sottovoce, (http://www.sottovoceristorante.com.ar/) and ate some of the best pasta we’ve had since our last trip to Italy.

After a great meal we walked for another 2+ hours along the promenade, across the very funky Puente de la Mujer (Bridge of the Lady),

and into the heart of the barrio.

Our only stop was at Faena Hotel + Universe, (http://www.faenahotelanduniverse.com/) the “trendy“ hotel where many of the stars that visit Buenos Aires stay. It’s very upscale in a “hip” sort of way.

We have had great weather these last few weeks (sunny, little humidity, 70s), so on Sunday we once again spent a good portion of the day walking. We took a new route and ended up in front of the Palacio San Martin, a beautiful building (very French, very ornate, very fabulous)…

with an outstanding entrance....

and then over to Patio Bullrich, an upscale shopping mall in Buenos Aires. After buying wine for this evening’s entertaining, David decided it was only appropriate (being in such a ritzy place) to do the extreme opposite and have our first McDonald’s since we’ve been in Argentina. Why the developers allowed a McDonalds is in such an expensive mall surprised us.

Not only were the cheeseburger and crispy chicken sandwich superb (what does that say about our dining palate?), but we finally understood why waiters in all the restaurants we have been going to would ask me a question when I ordered “ ¼ pollo”. Apparently when you order a ¼ chicken, you are asked if you want a breast or a leg. "Pechuga?" (chicken breast) is what the waiters always ask and also is what McD’s calls it’s chicken breast sandwich here in Argentina. This is really good news for me because now I know what to say (as opposed to pointing at) when he’s asking!

We had dinner with our friend Rick on Sunday evening…and 2 bottles of wine later I can tell you that David (who didn’t do his homework) was NOT ready for his Monday morning Spanish lesson.

April 1

The Portenos are really great. Almost everyone takes the time to chat, smile when they see us check our Spanish/English dictionary and/or useful phrase guide, ask how we’re enjoying our stay, and in many cases share a few political sentiments, usually about their government…not ours. The people here give off really good vibes, which to us is what makes this city a great place to visit and enjoy. Fortunately, many of those we’ve met lately speak a little English so that we’ve had some really interesting conversations (we think).

Today, for example, we stopped in to a small shop near our apartment to buy a few things to bring back to the States. Elsa, the owner, spent 20 or so minutes with us as our purchases were being wrapped and then gave us each a small pewter figurine as a remembrance. A very nice gesture on her part and typical of many of the business owners here. In restaurants, you are almost always served an aperitif at the beginning of your meal or some cookies with your café. Simple things that say thanks for coming here. What a novel concept - make your customer feel welcome!

After a brief stop back at the apartment we decided to be adventurous and take the Subte (subway). (http://mapas.metrovias.com.ar/subte/metronet/recorrido.asp)

Now, we are no strangers to subways around the world but we had yet to take one in Buenos Aires, so off we went. We can now confirm that the cars are not air-conditioned and it can get hot and steamy, but then again, for only 90 centavos, US 30 cents each way, it sure beats walking.

We decided to retrace our steps and go back to Palermo Viejo and wander around. It’s a barrio that reminds us of the East Village and SOHO in NYC. A lot of shops, restaurants and buildings either needing renovation or in the process of being renovated.

A fair bit of graffiti too!

After a nice walk we went back to catch the subte home.

The weather has been nothing but dry and sunny for the past couple of weeks. However, when we came out of the subway to start our walk back home, the sky was dark and foreboding and we still had a 10 block walk to the apartment.

Unfortunately for us the skies opened up…thunder, lightning, and rain pelting down. We have nowhere to run and to stay dry. After 20 minutes of standing under awnings, we are soaking wet and decide we might as well bite the bullet and just head home. So here we are, wet to the bone, in our lobby…but still smiling.

Tomorrow morning is another Spanish lesson (#4) and while I have done most of my homework, it’s a slow road. I am having difficulty putting together sentences. Reading comprehension is pretty good and my ability to understand what people say to me has improved considerably, but speaking is a whole different world. My instructor says it’s “typico”, I think he’s being polite!

We’ll see.

28 March, 2008

Dinner and Sobremesa (March 27)

Having recovered from yesterday’s great birthday celebration, Barbara and I decided to play it low key and take care of basic necessities. So off we went to Disco supermercado to replenish food supplies as we needed to get ready to entertain our friend Santiago at our apartment prior to going out to, you guessed it, another dinner.

While shopping, Mary, our twice weekly cleaning person, stopped in to do her thing, which includes using the brand new washing machine the owner installed during our stay. She’s been having problems with getting the machine to work correctly so I volunteered to help (of course there are no directions for the machine and the controls are all labeled in Spanish).

You must understand that Mary speaks not a word of English so what happens when she’s here is a true comedy. Mary seems to think that we understand her rapid fire continuous stream of conversation, because of our lucky use of the words “Si and No”. Occasionally she realizes that all is not right with us so she repeats herself and perhaps demonstrates to increase our understanding. That being said, after we got the machine to work she told us how it proceeds to “caminar” (walk) across the floor during spin cycle, below is a picture of our fix:

Having solved our new world’s problems Barbara and I did what any properly retired couple would do in preparation for the evening….we took a nap.

Santiago arrived at 7:30 and over beer and wine etc., we had a lively conversation about life in Argentina, politics, and lots of comparisons to the US. It’s really interesting to hear about views of the US from an international perspective. We agreed and disagreed but clearly recognized a number of basic “distrusts”. It seems politicians around the world are cut from the same cloth.

We headed off to the 788 Food Bar for one of our favorite entrees “brown-sugar braised pork” and spent 3 hours continuing the discussions. After espressos and café con leche we headed back to the apartment for more wine and conversation (this after dinner continuance of the evening is known as sobremesa) and before we knew it, it was 4:00am. Santiago had to be at work at 10:00am so we had to cut the evening short. I don’t know how they do it, but this is not uncommon at all.

Barbara and I got into bed and we were wired. How we ever got to sleep is unknown at this point.

Recovery (March 28)

Believe it or not we woke up at our normal time (for those of you still working we will not get into details, as you might want to scream) – slowly, and I mean very slowly, we came alive. By this time, it was time for lunch, so of course we went out in search of perfect empanadas.

Our friend Rick just called, having surfaced after a marathon of company form the States, and asked what we were doing for dinner. I almost considered saying let’s go out, but fought myself hard and just barely resisted the urge to say yes, as another evening of great food and conversation could start us thinking about the Betty Ford clinic. So Rick and agreed to wait a day or two and get together Sunday night. Priorities you know!