DAY 1-Wednesday & Thursday June 13 & 14-Book trip to Colonia and Palermo-Viejo
Tom and I left for the Atlanta airport at 12:30pm, and dropped Dart (our dog) off at Wayne’s in Cookville on the way. We checked in at the kiosk with our passports to get our standby number. Shannon told us to arrive 3hrs ahead for an 8:45pm flight. Tom took a great picture of the OUT OF HERE sign at Delta check-in. There were hundreds of young soldiers in camouflage uniforms sitting on all available surfaces. One cute young blond girl had her Nemo mogu-like pillow strapped onto her backpack. They were headed to Shannon, Ireland and then probably on to Iraq. They were all laughing and having a good time, at least for the time being. Our flight was 9+hours, but only a one hour time change for us, so jetlag was minimal.About 45 minutes out from Buenos Aires at 6am we saw the most gorgeous sunrise from the plane, all shades of tangerine and hot pink as just a sliver across the sky. We arrived at about 7am local time. Money was changed outside the customs area at a bank, not a “cambio”. Tom later priced the “cambio” at 2.60 per dollar as opposed to the much better 3.07 rate we received!We each had a rolling bag, and carry, and went right through to the official government taxi booth. It is important to only take radio taxis which are marked on the side and have meters. At the booth, you pay for a taxi, and a person leads you to one where you tip him 5 to 10 pesos and he loads your bags. The trip into city for 3 with luggage was 60 pesos ($20US) with an exchange of 3.07 per US$. As we left the airport the fog was starting to lift, the air was crisp, and Tom took some good pictures of the trees. As we took a 40 minute expressway ride into town, we saw lots of Queens (New York) type apartment buildings and some pretty serious slums.As we came into town shop owners were hosing off the sidewalks, and dog walkers often with ten or so dogs were out walking. Most dogs of all sizes had little jackets or sweaters even though the temp was close to 60 degrees. My sister’s apartment is on Las Heras at La Prida, in the NE section of Recoleta, which is an affluent residential area whose main shopping street is Sante Fe which has lots of high end shops and boutiques.There is a European feel to Buenos Aires with many coffee shops, well mannered dogs, and sophisticated locals. The spacious apt is on the 13th floor, and has 3 bedrooms and 4 baths. There are numerous keys to get in several front doors and the elevator, and you must lock the door with the key from the inside after you enter. There are metal blinds on all windows for security, hardwood floors and Shannon’s usual interesting artwork. We took a two hour nap and were ready to rock and roll. We walked several blocks to check with the management company to see why the second refrigerator in Shannon’s appartment doesn’t work, and also if it was possible to get CNN in English. Our next adventure was to go by taxi to Puerto Madero to book a trip to Colonia, Uruguay for the next day. None of us knew how to say boat or port. How lame! Anyway, in spite of ourselves we got to the Buquebus (also called Puente Fluvial a Uruguay), which is located at Puerto Madero: Av. Antartida 821. We went to the information desk and were directed to an agency on the other side of the coffee shop where luckily one person did speak English. We were given the choice of the fast or slow boat. We then had to go back across the coffee shop to pay. Only first class was available so we went fast 1st. The slow boat takes 3 hours over a dirty river. You need your passport to book this trip. We were told to be there at 7:30am for an 8:30am departure. P. S. The word for bus is barco.At this point I am feeling the need for a mate, the national drink, which I read somewhere has the kick of an enraged llama which I am assuming means it has a lot of caffeine. We get another radio cab. Our luck has been good; we have not been robbed. We have not felt unsafe, and have been treated well in spite of our bad Spanish.We now head for Palermo Viejo, which is a trendy shopping area. The taxi leaves us at El Salvador and Armenia at Mark’s Deli and Coffee House, at El Salvador 4701, which is very full. We stopped for lunch at Little Rose, Armenia 1672, for the special at 30 pesos or US$10. This includes salmon sushi, soup, coffee, and delicious ice cream with almonds and dulce de leche. We shared and excellent bottle of Terrazas (Argentine 2005), chardonnay. Our favorite shops in this area were Tikal Chocolate, Honduras 4890, and Owoko, El Salvador 4694, a children’s clothing store.At 8:30pm we headed for dinner at La Brigada Pena 2475, . For an appetizer we have a delicious grilled provolone. The majority of the menu is beef and Shannon recommends omo which is actually more tender than lomo.The potatoes were roasted and dessert was her favorite “Dom Pedro”, which is a glass of ice cream, topped with walnuts and whiskey.
DAY 2-Friday June 15-Colonia
We checked in at 7:30am for our 8:30am trip, and were issued boarding passes, and then proceeded through to the immigration desk; Shannon and I get though and they ask for our boarding pass,,, seems that they did not give me one, so we confer and the officials send me back to the check-in desk, with the receipts, while Shannon and Tom wait in the no mans’ land of immigration. Finally Shannon decides to help but must leave her passport, just as I comes through the gate…We sit in the waiting room and just as we are called to board we notice that there was a 1st class lounge we should have gone to for coffee. There is not an announcement but everyone is leaving so we join in. The path is not well designated and we enquire several times to insure we are getting on the right ferry, which we are, then up to the 1st class deck! And finally two small croissants and some espresso like coffees which are actually free! The water was a muddy brown that didn’t look too clean which is a good reason to take the fast as opposed to the slow boat. We disembarked after an hour and had no idea where to go but discovered the tourist office which was closed. Eventually the agent returned and gave us a map. We walked straight up the main street which is bordered by plane trees which have shed their large yellow leaves, and after several blocks wonder if this trip was a good idea. I spotted a cute shop which has the mate cups which I have been looking for. At the top of the hill we turned left and went down the main street of the town, which was so quiet. Three or four blocks later we come upon the old city which has cobblestone streets, interesting architecture and quaint stores. There is a lovely old stone church. We bought a watercolor of the town and a burgundy crocheted shawl at a small store near the water, Artesanias y Tejidos, Calle de Colegio No. 66. We wandered toward the yacht club which was recommended for lunch. We walk along the water, then a stop for mate which was a rip-off at $15 for three drinks. Shannon discovered a lovely art gallery which is not open. We see some Rousseau style paintings in a small store nearby. Shannon and I checked out a small hotel and check out rates for possible return- Posada Manuel de Lobo, Ituzaingo 160, 052-22463. . Lunch was at Viejo Barrio, Vasconcellos 169, with a crazy waiter who kept changing hats. The pasta was homemade and included gnocchi with half Bolognese sauce and half spinach as well as Pasta Sorrentino, which is ravioli stuffed with ricotta and same sauces. Dessert was meringue with dulce de leche in center and whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top.Dinner was at Sarkis Restaurante, Thames 1101 esq Jufre, Palermo 4772. The address was incorrect in the guidebook so we arrived at10:30pm.Why are we still awake? Our wine was a delicious Norton Malbec, about 30 pesos. Tom out ordered us with lomo brochette with an onion, garlic, parsley, and sour cream sauce. The appetizer, Red Peppers Caliente, was roasted chopped red peppers and walnuts. The entire meal was $100pesos. Dessert was “Dom Pedro”, our new favorite dessert. Our waiter, who kept saying permiso which means excuse me, ordered us a radio cab, and made sure we were safely inside and directed to our destination at midnight.