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Argentina, Buenos Aires - Jan-Mar 2010
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Part One | Part Two | Part Three
This was our third
year spending the worst of Toronto's winter months in the
warmth and sunshine of Buenos Aires summer season. It
would be well worthwhile to read our 2008 and 2009
travelogues to gain further insight into the compelling
reasons to visit this warm and gracious city.
Passengers arriving from Canada
must pay a new 70USD "reciprocity fee" each
visit (131USD for Americans, but good for 10 years).
Last year we met some folks who
were very happy with the apartment they were renting at
Pacheco de Melo 2095 at the corner of Uriburu. This was
an ideal location for us, in the center of Recoleta, so
we hustled over to find a rather new, attractive building
with a lovely lobby and 24 hour security. The building
manager introduced us to the owner of one of the
apartments who happened to be in the building. The rest
is history. We rented on the spot and can now tell you we
were delighted we did.
The unit is on the 5th floor facing
Pacheco de Melo with a splendid balcony fronting the
bedroom and living area where we could relax late in the
afternoon, enjoy a glass of Malbec wine and plan our
If we decided to cook, the well-appointed
kitchen, with dishwasher, was stocked with everything we
required including a blender for Linda to whip up her
famous fresh fruit smoothies.
The living room had a generous size sofa,
coffee table and upholstered bench. The glass top dining
table and 4 chairs easily accommodated our dining needs
with room for our laptop. The free wireless connection
was excellent. There is an attractive entertainment
center (flat screen TV and sound system) built into the
wall opposite the sofa.
We were very happy to have another
flat screen TV in the bedroom. We became addicted to
watching repeats of NCIS at 0900 local time. :-(
The room-darkening shade came in
handy when we required a bit longer sleep in the morning.
There is a phone next to the queen size bed for free
local calls to landlines and no charge for any incoming
The bathroom has a tub/shower,
bidet, toilet and good size vanity with a hair dryer on
the wooden shelf below.
The air conditioning worked
perfectly. Fortunately, we did not have to test the
The weekly maid service included a
total cleaning, linen and towel change.
The building amenities include a
rooftop pool and work-out center. There are laundry
facilities in the basement, 3 pesos each for the washer
and dryer. If you prefer, there are numerous laundries
nearby that charge between 12 and 15 pesos per load for
wash, dry and fold.
The location in
Recoleta is fabulous. All your basic shopping needs are
within easy walking distance as are many dining options.
Being steps away from Avenida Las Heras, it is possible
to make colectivo (bus) connections to just about
anywhere in the city.
After settling in we were off to do
our initial shopping at a local Disco Supermarket. We
chose the one at Rodriquez Pena near Las Heras. It's
about a 10 minute walk and close to another market and
lots of specialty shopping. There is free delivery if you
spend at least 200 pesos, otherwise a charge of 5 pesos.
You are given a fairly accurate estimate of when your
delivery will arrive - most times within a couple of
We activated our unlocked cell
phone with a prepaid SIM card from Movistar, the mobile
arm of Telecom Argentina. We make all of our long
distance calls from our computer via Skype.
With our basic needs now under
control we were ready to begin life in beautiful Buenos
Aires, a city steeped in European and Latin culture with
a relaxed pace and charm to spare. And so we become
"Porte˝os" and do our best to share their
warmth, kindness and friendliness. We explore the streets
of our favorite Barrios endlessly finding new treasures
amongst the already familiar landmarks.
Though we do still love walking, we
find that mixing it up with colectivos makes for much
more efficient use of our time and energy. There is an
excellent subway system, but we much prefer being above
ground and seeing what's around us. The fares for both
are 1.10 to 1.25 pesos (about .28 to .33 cents US).
You've got to love the colectivo
experience and appreciate the agility of the drivers as
they race along the wide boulevards and the narrow
streets at the same high speed dodging other buses, cars,
taxis, motorcycles, bikes and dashing pedestrians.
If you are going
to be in the city for any length of time and want to use
the colectivos, we suggest you buy the "Guia T de
Bolsillo" Capital Federal at any magazine kiosk.
This booklet enables you to determine which number bus
you should take going and coming. Even without the book
you will find the locals more than willing to help.
In preparing for our trip we came
across Teresita's Culinary
Tour. Teresita Bella is an
expert in Latin American cuisine and well qualified to
conduct this highly regarded culinary program. We would
learn about Argentine culture through the preparation of
traditional local food recipes and by tasting regional
The charming Buddah picked us up at
our apartment and whisked us to the picturesque town of
Adrogue about 45 minutes away. This is a suburban
paradise. Lovely homes grace lush grounds with streets
lined with a variety of trees and shrubs. The downtown is
home to at least 60 restaurants and two farmers markets
along with an abundance of food shops. A perfect venue
for a foodie experience.
Teresita's bed and
breakfast is a charmer,
designed by her Pediatrician husband, Raul. The main
house and two rear cottages sit in the middle of a
tropical garden. One couple of our group stayed in one of
the cottages and were delighted with the accommodations
In preparation for our cooking and
dining experience we started with a walking tour to town.
The first stop was a farmers market where we scooped up
some fruits and veggies for our fridge and chatted with
the local farmers. Buddah was kind enough to store our
purchases in his vehicle for the trip home.
Our first stop along main street
was a wonderful bakery where most in the group filled
boxes and bags and were reluctant to leave. Further on we
got a lesson in the various cuts of carne (beef) and
their names from the local "carniceros" (butchers).
Finally a visit to a mouth watering deli with a large
array of meats, cheeses and prepared foods.
We stopped for beverages at a
lovely open air shopping center in the heart of town and
got to know one another and discuss travel experiences.
Back at Teresita's
kitchen we donned our aprons and began our culinary
experience by making empanadas: rolling the dough, piling
on the filling (meat, onion, raisins, olives, egg,
scallion and spices: paprika, cumin, chili), folding the
dough over the filling, squeezing and pinching to close.
Mine were not picture perfect in spite of the fact I
enjoy squeezing and pinching.
While the empanadas were baking we
regrouped in the rear garden to enjoy the culinary
delights being prepared by chef Alejandra Bonini.
We started with Pejerrey, a local
white fish, marinated in white wine and vinegar served on
homemade crostini, partnered with Saurus Patagonia extra
brut sparkling wine from Familia Schroeder.
Our spicy beef empanadas humita
were served with Colome Torrontes, a white wine from
Salta, pale gold in color with clean, crisp aromas of
grapefruit, roses and apricot.
The main course was bife de lomo
with stuffed zucchini, potatoes and a Malbec sauce. A rich Malbec from
La Flor de Pulenta with aromas of fresh fruit, vanilla
and tobacco imparted by oak was a perfect match.
And finally - dessert. Poached
pears in Malbec with ice cream. A Ciclos Torrontes Late
Harvest from Salta with floral, raisin and honey aromas
finished us nicely.
It was a fine day. We met
interesting people, had an instructive and entertaining
program, and a memorable meal. Home please, Buddah.
We found food prices to be up since
last year. They remained stable throughout January into
February and then as the vacation period ended and folks
returned to the city prices magically increased. We did
not feel it because the peso had dropped in value and we
received more pesos for our dollars. It has to be having
an effect on the Porte˝os living on local currency.
It sure is hard to tell if there is
hardship. The shopping streets are crowded, restaurants
and cafes are busy, the lines in the supermarkets are
long. Some business people complain that sales are bad,
while new businesses are opening daily. For the most part
we saw people going about their business and life with a
spirit of happiness and contentment. Of course what we
see in the city center does not reflect what is happening
in the suburbs and the rest of the country.
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