View from our room. You don't see it but the Atlantic Ocean is on the horizon
View of the lobby from our room
Lee at the hotel lobby
Buenos Aires is four hours ahead of Central US Time and since we didn't sleep on the plane, we took a good nap then proceeded to see the City. One of the first sights we saw was the Women's Bridge because it's close to the hotel. Famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava designed this bridge and it is said that he was trying to emulate the tango slide. I'm very familiar with Calatrava's work because City of Dallas is currently building two of his bridges.
Puente de la Mujer (The Women's Bridge)
Lee at the Puente de la Mujer
Buenos Aires has a subway system but it doesn't reach all parts of the city and therefore, we use a combination of subway and cabs to go places. The current exchange rate is one US dollar is equal to about 3.5 Argentinean pesos. I'm glad we had bought pesos from the US because I haven't found a place that would take the dollars. Things are not very expensive here in Buenos Aires. Cab fares are usually less than $5 a ride, coffee at restaurant is $2 a cup, nice lunches and dinners can be had for $10 and $25, respectively. It was hot and humid so we took a cab to Florida Street, one of the main streets in downtown Buenos Aires. The street is closed to vehicular traffic and shoppers and street vendors are everywhere.
Lee on Florida Street
On one end of Florida Street is the Galerias Pacifico Shopping Center. Its ceiling is painted with art fresco and shops are extremely nice.
Tango dancers getting ready to dance
Back out on Florida Street, tango dancers started to set up their shop. I video taped several of the tango dances and will post them on YouTube for you to see.
We then went back to the neighborhood near the Hilton Hotel for dinner. Steak dinners are so sumptuous; the waiter demonstrated for us how tender and juicy the steaks were by cutting them with not a knife but a spoon.
Buildings in Buenos Aires
These buildings remind me of those on the Seine River in Paris
Buildings in Buenos Aires
In the afternoon, we went to a section of the City called La Boca. This is a working class section of the City but it has characters. Buildings here are painted in different colors because they used whatever paints they had available. Sidewalk cafes and tango demonstrations are everywhere.
Lee in La Boca
Tango Dancer in La Boca
A rag tag band going by
Paintings for sale in La Boca
At night we went to a dinner-tango show at the El Viejo Almacen. It costs $90 a person but is well worth it. They serve you an excellent steak dinner with salad, desert and a bottle of wine, and then present a wonderful two-hour tango show. We enjoyed this a lot.
Dinner at El Viejo Almacen
Tango show after dinner
Tango show after dinner
Friday 2/20/09 Our plane landed in Buenos Aires on time and we found two of our three bags at the baggage pickup. The third bag was missing. What happened was that our carry-on bag was removed when we boarded our flight because the flight was so full and the overhead compartments were packed. Despite the gate agent's assurance, our bag didn't make the flight with us and unfortunately it contained important stuff like medicines, electrical adapter, tooth brushes, shavers, etc… I had to make a quick shopping trip after arriving at the hotel to get the replacements.
The Hilton Buenos Aires is in the Puerto Madero section of town which is full of restaurants, night clubs and shops. Our hotel is very new and has amazing amenities.
Lee at the hotel lobby
Dinner at a riverside restaurant
Saturday 2/21/09 We took a tour of the City today. The tour bus picked us up and off we went. Buildings in Buenos Aires resemble those in Paris, France but the people here remind me of the Italians. They are tanned, tall, great looking, and their body language is so expressive. They are helpful but not outwardly friendly. They don't make eye contacts with strangers but would go out of their way to help you if you need help. My Spanish gets me by as I was able to converse with taxi drivers, waiters at the restaurants and people on the streets.
They will take your picture and photoshop it if you let them
Sunday 2/22/09 Delta finally delivered our lost bag and everything inside was intact. It was cloudy and drizzling in the morning. We walked from our hotel to Casa Rosada (the Government House) which is the equivalent of the White House. This is where Argentinean President, Cristina Fernadez de Kirchner, works. We took a tour of the place and were thoroughly impressed.
Lee in front of Casa Rosada
Inside Casa Rosada where the President addresses Congress
Lee with one of the stern colored guards
Inside Casa Rosada
We then took the subway Line A to the Piedras Station where Café Tortoni is located at. This is the oldest café in Argentina and it still retains all its splendors. You have to come here once if you ever come to Buenos Aires.
In front of Café Tortoni
Inside Café Tortoni
They even demonstrate the tango here
After lunch at Café Tortoni, we walked a few blocks to Avenue 9 de Julio, the widest street in Buenos Aires. Here one can find the Obelisk Monument which is similar to but not as towering as the Washington Monument.
We then took a taxi to the Recoleta Section of the City. There are just so many things to see here. There is the Flower Monument that consists of metal petals that open when the sun shines and close when the sun sets.
Lee in front of the Flower Monument
Not too much traffic on Liberado Avenue on a Sunday
Lee in front of the University of Buenos Aires and the Flower Monument
We then went to Recoleta Cemetery and folks, you cannot believe how extravagant people build their graves here. I guess the richer you are, the bigger the mausoleum you build for yourself.
Lee in front of Eva Peron mausoleum
I call this a boulevard of mausoleums
More money spent in death than alive
In the Ricoleta and Palermo Section of the City, sidewalk cafes are everywhere
Sidewalk café in Ricoleta
More sidewalk café
This tree is more than 200 years old. Look at its root system
Some of its branches have to be supported by wooden blocks
We then took a taxi to San Telmo, another interesting part of the City. This is where the hippies hanging out selling their crafts. Argentina is famous for its leather goods and Lee bought a purse and I got a leather belt here.
Lee in a San Telmo alley
In front of a craft store
We hung out a long time then went back to the hotel to change and at 11:00 PM, hailed a taxi cab to go to dinner. We went to the El Establo Restaurant at the corner of San Martin and Paraguay. I knew about this restaurant thanks to all the bloggers on the internet. Lee had steak again (three nights in a row) and I had salad and pizza with vino. It was an excellent dinner and the bill was $50. We met some girls from New York City and quickly struck up a conversation with them. They were traveling from New York to Brazil and Argentina. At midnight, people continued to stream into the restaurant. I really wonder about their jobs.
Bo and Lee at El Establo Restaurant
Other things that I have observed: Buenos Aires has quite a few professional dog walkers and it is very interesting to watch them maneuver the dogs and dodge the traffic.
Dog walker in Puerto Madero
Dog walker in La Boca
OK now let's talk about foods. I believe people here are on Atkins diet because they eat a lot of meat without rice, bread, or potatoes (they do eat french fries with their steaks though).
When you order steak, expect a large piece of juicy and tender steak
Lunch of ham and cheese on thin toasts
A typical lunch: salad, sandwich, juice, coffee and sweets
People do eat well here. Our first couple of days in Buenos Aires have been great and I'm looking forward to the next couple of days. By the way, we ran into Rudy Maxa and his girl friend in San Telmo.
Rudy has several travel shows on TV and he came in from Uruguay for a vacation. I was glad we ran into him.
Bo and Lee with Rudy Maxa in San Telmo
I am so glad we decided to make this trip. We will be here until Wednesday and I will post another blog before we leave here for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. So long everyone. We miss you.