Buenos Aires 2011 – Day 4

Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   1

Today was a very late start to the day. After arriving late from my aunt’s home the night before, all I wanted to do is sleep. Russ was also up and down all night long as he ate way too much and was feeling awful. I felt bad for him as he had to be at class at 8am that morning. He eventually went to class, but came back afterwards to fall asleep until his 2pm classes. I took the opportunity to sleep most of the morning away and then headed out on my way when he went to school in the afternoon.

Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   5

I ended up walking around towards the Plaza de Mayo, which comemerates the revolution that lead to the independance of Argentina back on May 25, 1810. The park is also where the Casa Rosada is located. This is the President of Argentina’s home and the plaza is always the scene of many governmental protests. Luckily I still haven’t seen one of the many famous protests yet.

As well as the Casa Rosada, there are other major landmarks around the Plaza: the Cabildo (the city council during the colonial era),ย  the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires, the May Pyramid, the Equestrian monument to General Manuel Belgrano, the current city hall, and the headquarters of the National Bank.

Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   19 Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   26

Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   22 Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   8

I took a break at some steps near by the park just relax and people watch, when I noticed a tour bus pull up in-front of me that said “Buenos Aires Shopping Tour”. I wasn’t sure what mall they were pulling up, but then I thought that maybe the steps where I was would lead me to a mall. As I got up and entered the door way, I notice this was actually a church, the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires to be exact.

Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   47

This Cathedral was gorgeous inside. I couldn’t believe the details, the frescos, the floor. All amazing to see. Although I didn’t get much detail about the Cathedral itself, it is obviously a very famous one. You can read more about the Cathedral over on Wikipedia, a truly amazing history.

Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   36 Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   35 Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 4 -   37

I ended up picking Russ up again and we headed to walk along Santa Fe Ave for a much needed shopping break. We loved that street the last time we stayed in Recoleta. Though the prices have changed somewhat since we were last here, it was fun to see some European style of clothing and see some trends you don’t see back in North America.

We walked around, what Russ and I like to call now, our old neighbourhood, and stopped by for dinner at one of our favourite restaurants from the last trip here – Los Inmortales. This place has some history with some great photos dating back to the early 50’s to current time. The food is fantastic, but be warned that they do charge you a $6 peso per person table fee.

We walked back home and finally got to relax a bit. The next day will be more exploring of areas we didn’t get a chance to see on our last visit. I’m also hoping to catch a museum while I’m here, but not sure which one yet to go to. I have 16 more days here to explore so I’m sure I’ll find one eventually :).

Buenos Aires 2011 – Day 3

Waiting for the Subte Today in the morning we met up with Duane Storey, who is also here from Vancouver, but sticking around for 3 months, to help him figure out to get his cell phone working. I managed to get ours working the day before and wanted to show him how to get his working. To get to his place, we had to hop on the Subte, Buenos Aires’ amazing subway system. At a cost of only $1.10 Pesos (roughly $0.35 CDN), one can travel in one direction most anywhere in the city. We hopped on the D line at stopped at Plaza Italia in Palermo. The stop is great as it is located just outside the Buenos Aires Zoo and the amazing Italian garden which I love (I’ll have to get back up there to take some more photos).

Since Russ didn’t have much time to stick around and hang out and Duane had to get back to work, I headed down to the Retiro (main train station) to see about getting us tickets to go visit my aunt later that evening. Of course I’ve never gone all the way with the Subte to the Retiro and got lost trying to find my way around, but in the end it all worked out great.

Waiting in line for coins To purchase tickets to on the train out to my aunt’s place, I had to use one of the many automated ticket outlets. The bad thing with this, is that you have to have to have coins with you. Coins here in Buenos Aires are very hard to come by. Not many stores want to give them out which is very sad as you need coins to ride the buses here. They haven’t developed a pre-paid card system as they have in Mar Del Plata (yeah I’m surprised as well). So if you need change, you have to line up at the Monedas counter to get some change. This line I recall used to be huge and would take several hours to get your coins. Luckily the line up wasn’t that long and within 20 minutes I was able to purchase some much needed coins.

After Russ finished his class we quickly headed back down to the Subte, got off at the Retiro, and boarded out train to my aunt’s place. The train ride took about 30 minutes and we lazily walked up to my aunt’s home and were greeted amazingly by her. We of course talked abit as we waited for my other cousins to arrive. One who I haven’t seen in over 20 years as he is now living in Puerto Rico.

With my cousins

I have to say the evening was a great highlight for me. It’s always great to connect with family you haven’t seen in so long and always great to see how loving and caring they are. It was also great to enjoy a great home cooked meal that included asado and some great salads. Russ got to practice his Spanish more, and he is improving. Afterall my aunts were able to understand him this time around.

Can’t wait to visit more of my family later on this journey!

Buenos Aires 2011 – Day 2

Buenos Aires 2011 - Day 2  5 Our first official full day in Buenos Aires actually begun.

Russ had to be up early and at his Spanish school Coined, by 8am and I went along for the trip. While he was in getting assessed on his Spanish skills I sat around the lounge area and surfed the net for a bit and tried to plan my day. When Russ finally got out and had time to spare we headed to the coffee shop across the school for a much needed coffee.

It was great to just sit there and just watch people hurry along on their way to work. Buenos Aires is a huge city, very metropolitan, and everyone is busy trying to make their living, but are very laid back and willing to just talk with someone along the way. It’s very refreshing to see.

When Russ headed back into class, as his afternoon is fairly booked, I headed out to explore and get a SIM card for our phone. I went to several locations, Movistar and Claro, but no one seemed to be able to sell me a SIM card. I thought it was very odd. I even went to one of the Claro’s main stores and they told me to go to another store up the street, where they of course told me they didn’t sell them. I was beginning to think that no one wanted my money.

As I walked along the street I saw a convenience store that was advertising pay as you go cards, when I asked the clerk if they sold the SIM cards, she was quick to say yes. WOW score! She asked me which provider I wanted to try out and since I’ve heard that Movistar was great for data, I tried one of their chip. Alas I wasn’t able to get a signal from them. Actually even on roaming the Movistar signal is poor in my area of Buenos Aires, so I opted to try out a Claro SIM. That worked perfectly and it only cost me $10 pesos (about $3.50 CDN). I then purchased a $50 peso pay card and now we are hooked up with a cell phone that works here. I’m not sure how long it will last at the rate since we are charged per call and internet use. Time will tell ๐Ÿ™‚

I met up with Russ at the end of his classes and we just relaxed for a bit before heading back out on the streets to check the sites out. We are close to two main pedestrian streets – Florida and Lavalle, which a night time spring to life with merchants selling everything. It’s also fun to walk along these streets as you get to see some great street performers do their best to have you part withย  your money ๐Ÿ™‚

We were fortunate enough to see a quick tango show which I thought was interesting. After the male/female pair finished, the two male dancers began their very own tango. I have heard that the tango began with men dancing together, but have never seen it before in action. It was fun to see and the audience really got enjoy a great free tango show.

Buenos Aires 2011 – Day 1

So we finally made it here to Buenos Aires.

I have to admit I was starting to get my doubts while we were in Toronto waiting for our flight. Our initial flight was to leave at 11:45pm local time, but then they pushed it to 12:30 and then 1:00. Supposedly there was a “maintenance issue” with the plane that needed to be dealt with. My sister was working on a plane next to ours (yeah she works for the airlines) and she was able to tell me that the plane had some washroom problems. Needless to say her rendition of the event was far more entertaining.

At any rate, we finally boarded our plane and pretty much sat there while they loaded the plane. You see they hadn’t even loaded the plane since they were working on the bathroom. The flight attendents were great enough to let us know what the true issue was and they had a few options:

  1. Fly without the use of all the bathrooms on the right side of the plane
  2. Wait 2 – 3 more hours while the changed a plane
  3. Cancel the flight all together

I for one wasn’t looking forward to option 3, and option 2 would still get us there, but much later than I would have liked.

At any rate, they opted for option 1, but we still had to wait while they loaded the plane and then had to deal with another plane behind us. We ended up leaving 2 hours after our scheduled flight.

The flight down wasn’t that eventful and fairly comfortable. I managed to get some sleep on the plane and the neck cushion I purchased before the flight was awesome. No neck pain at all today.

We landed in Santiago Chile and had to disembark the plane as they cleaned it up and loaded it with newer passengers. What would have taken 1 1/2 hours initially, we only took 1 hour to make up for the lost time.

Chile Airport

Finally making it to Buenos Aires 2 hours after our scheduled landing, the process was fairly quick. I was traveling with my Canadian Passport, but since it lists me as being from Argentina on it, I didn’t have to pay the $75 Visa fee that Russ did. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t have to pay. That said, there were a few passengers that were surprised they had to pay. So be warned Canadians, you have two options; pay a one time fee of $75US or pay $150US to allow you entry into Argentina for the next 5 years.

We rented a Remise, which is a personal taxi service that takes you door to door and met at our rented apartment for the next three weeks. Little to my knowledge we waited outside for over 1/2 hour and when I finally was able to get a cellular signal, I called our rentor to find out they were waiting in the apartment and all I had to do was buzz them in.

Our Buenos Aires View

The apartment is tiny, but for what it is and what it will do, it will be just fine. We have a very small working kitchen, a table, a bed and a bathroom. Perfect I would say.

Now tomorrow Russ begins his Spanish classes and I will start to explore the city further and hopefully meet up with the other Vancouverites who are in the city now as well as go visit my family if I can make it out at one point this week.

I haven’t gone out and take pictures yet, except for my those through my iPhone, but I hope to rectify this fairly soon.

Last Minute Details

With just 3 days left before Russ and I take off to Buenos Aires, I’m frantically trying to wrap things up both at work and at home.

We have a few of the bigger details dealt with already. We have someone that will be looking over our condo during our time away (sorry folks, the condo won’t be left alone ๐Ÿ™‚ ), we have our pet’s boarding reservations completed and we’ve extended our Buenos Aires apartment for the full 3 weeks now.

Now it’s just the little things. I need to make sure all my toiletries are bought, granted anything I’ve missed I can buy down there, we need to make sure the condo is cleaned and in good order for our guest, get some money exchanged and I need to tie up any loose ends at work.

I would have hoped this week at work would be slower, but already I have 3 meetings booked for the remaining 3 days left. I’ll also be here at work later than I would have hoped, but these after work meeting are important to me and it will make sure that my IABC/BC board duties are dealt with.

So even though I’m sort-of in “holiday mode”, I’m still nervous I’m missing something and worried that I’ll forget something before I take off. I think I’ll be more relaxed once we are in our Buenos Aires condo and our vacation can actually begin.