A Travellerspoint blog

Day 3, Buenos Aires

Shop Until You Drop

rain 20 °C

Surprise! We decided to go shopping and had more parrilla today. We walked everywhere in the center, and visited so many shops that I lost count. At the end of the day, I was so tired that I could barely walk. I had no doubt that we had walked at least ten miles today.

I did so much better shopping than Ken, and got quite some new clothes. We got one last mission for the day -- visit the world famous Theater Colon. Not knowing what was playing the day, and when the show would start, we ran into the theater before 8pm. It was ballet tonight, starting at 8:30pm. Unfortunately, Ken is not a big fan of ballet. We then hurry back to subway, and tried to get to Cafe Tortoni for the 8:30pm tango show. Luckily, we got the last seats, and the show didn´t start until 9pm, which gave us time went back to our hotel, which was three doors up the street, to shower. Tip for travelers, it is always worthy to stay closer to where the actions are in cities.

Cafe Tortoni was so well known that it was mentioned in every Argentina tour book. It has a high ceiling cafe, and a good size old cabaret style basement where the tango show took place. We really enjoyed the show though it was not just tango dance. Both tango singers were quite good. There was also a traditional dance that I didn´t know what it was called. The two dutches sitting at the same table with us were having a great time -- the four liters of beer worked their magic.

Posted by travelchic 23:16 Archived in Argentina Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Day 2, Buenos Aires

Parrilla Experience

sunny 25 °C

We were waked up by the noise of the service cart rolling on the Mosaic tiles in the early morning. After taking care some errands and a little shopping, we headed to Avenidad Santa Fe to find restaurant Camuna, Lora´s favorite restaurant in town. On our way there, we went into the biggest book stores in BsAs. It was converted from an old theater. You could still see balcony, lodging and boxes. The stage was a cafe. People were reading in boxes. It was definitely the most beautiful and fanciest book store I had ever seen.

Restuarnt Camuna serves great home-cooking meals and small plates. Its hot stew beef with pumpkin in clay pot was so yummy that melt in your mouth. The empanadas were excellent too.

Buenos Aires is a fashionable city -- people are well dressed. Women are in all the latest and colorful outfits. There are shopping streets in the center, and thousands of shops in town. They are very good at retailing as we can tell. Every store, regardless size, is artistically decorated, and goods are nicely displayed. We went to the Palermo district, a middle class neighborhood that is much quieter and cleaner than the center, in the afternoon. Strolled down the tree lined streets in Palermo was a very pleasant experience.

Dinner at El Portugués, Gabriel´s top choice, was more than satisfactory. Our waiter stopped us when each us was going to order a parrilla dish. "The meal is huge, and it is for sharing," he said. He was right. The one order of beef parrilla, an Argentina special grill meat, came with two long strips of beef steaks, each was over a foot long and an inch and half thick. The meat was unbelievably favorable and juicy. Hats off to the Argentineans. They definitely figure out how to cook meat, and cook them well.

I was so full after the steak, and left my shopping under the table. Our taxi drive drove us back, and luckily, the bag was still there. We got a free city tour because of my mistake. The night of Palermo was vibrant. Young people were hanging out in restaurants, bars and cafes at every street corners. Driving down Avenidad Libertadar, we saw many old colonial style architectures, new luxury buildings, public parks, and statues. No one can question that Buenos Aires is an amazing international city.

Posted by travelchic 22:29 Archived in Argentina Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Buenos Aires

Getting into the Big City

sunny 21 °C

Bummer, my boarding pass once again got all the ´SSSS´check mark, and I was searched in SFO. I was glad that I checked in my roller bag, and my carry-on daypack was practically empty.

The flight to Dallas was as boring as the city itself, and I was so tired that I slept the whole time. While I continued to catch up my sleep on my flight to Buenos Aires, Ken was enjoying some great conversations with Gabriel, a Buenos Aires native, now a controller in Toronto, Canada. He gave us some great tips and suggestions.

Buenos Aires is a busy big city. Narrow one way streets, old buildings, uneven sidewalks, and the humidity, all remind me the old city of HongKong and Guangzhou, China, where I grew up.

Hotel Gran Hispano looked exactly like in the tour book -- beautiful Spainish style court yard garden, to where our room opens to. Each room has the old style glass panel french door, and a wooden slot panel French door in front, so you can close the outside door but leave the inside open to let air in. Bathroom is noticeable new. However, there is no window in any room but you can get sunlight from the courtyard.

We decided to go to lunch at Sobat, a Lonely Planet suggestion because it is on Avenidad de Mayo, the same street our hotel is on. It turned out that Sobat is on 25 de Mayo, a complete different street, which intercepts with Avenidad de Mayo. After about ten blocks of walking, we arrived at Sobat, which only had a tiny sign stick out that I could easily pass it without notice. It was right at noon. A waiter opened the door for us, and turned on the light. I instantly felt that I was completely out of place. This was a fancy restaurant by any standard -- white elegant table clothes, warm cherry wood walls that hang with a few poster size portrays, mostly black and white. The waiter seated us all the way at the back, and told us that all other tables were reserved. I ordered the Merluza, which is pan fried light breaded white fish, a very typical local dish. Ken had the steak. The fish was very fresh, and the steak was simply exceptional.

People started coming in at 13:00, and within 15 minutes or so, the restaurant was completely full. It was obvious that was a power lunch place -- everyone was in suits or ties, and we were the only two tired travelers. We soon learned that Sobat was the No. 1 choice by Buenos Aires (BsAs) food critics and locals, and it was both TimeOut and Lonely Planet´s top pick.

We paid a visit to Lora´s office from Chalten Travel. She helped us finalized our excursions, transportation and hotels in and around El Calafate. By the time we left her office, the streets were crazy. The famous BOCA football team, a BsAs team, just clinched the Championship. Hundreds of young people in team jerseys, waving flags rushing down the streets to the Independent Plaza, where there were already hundreds if not thousands fans gathering to celebrate. We couldn´t help but enjoyed the moment with them.

Posted by travelchic 21:38 Archived in Aruba Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Last Minute Prep

Few days before our trip, I was all tired but ready. Running around like a chicken to try to shop for new travel gears, and to book hotels and excusions.

Ken and I found some great travel clothes at Destination Travel Store in Fishmen´s Wharf in San Francisco last Saturday. The store was liquidating all its inventory and will be closed soon. We were happy to get some great deals on Royal Robbins and ExOfficio until Ken realized that he lost his TimeOut Buenos Aires book. After searching for a few minutes in the store, he went up to ask the casher lady. "Oh, my God! I just sold it." Someone picked up the book from the shelve where Ken left it, and checked it out. The casher lady thought that was one of the few travel books they sold. Good thing is the other customer didn´t buy Ken´s TimeOut Buenos Aires special magazine that just arrived a day before from London.

I had average four hours of sleep every day the week before my trip. The night before I flew, I packed until 4am. I didn´t think I could have just carry-on though I was able to pack everhtying in my new carry-on size roller but it was really heavy. The last thing we did was to convert all travel documents and bookings in PDF files, and stored them in our jumpdrives.

We were ready to go.

Posted by travelchic 00:00 Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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