Showing posts from October, 2008

When my baby smiles at me...

I´m in RIO! Love it here... Our flight yesterday was delayed so we spent a lot of the day either waiting in the airport or flying the 3 hours. We only got in after dark. After checking into our respective apartments we met at 21.30 and headed out. We went to a little local restaurant and had chicken. The novelty of vegetables was almost overwhelming. Almost as novel as the salads we had for lunch today. I had grown used to not expecting much from the salads, having been in BA for so long. After dinner we went for a drink and watched the same three people singing karaoke all night. The drinks in Rio are STRONG.

This morning we met at 10.30 and went for brunch. The weather isn´t brilliant not beach suitable at all so we rented bikes and rode all the way to the far end of Copacabana and the far end of Leblon. It was fun although my ass is feeling slightly hard done by. Now I´m in a cyber cafe, struggling with the keyboard and the slow internet connection.

Being here is great, it provides …

BsAs is great

These past few days have felt like a sneaky treat in BsAs. We will have been in town for a total of one and a half days between little trips. We head off to Rio this afternoon. Although being away is great, I think being back is even better. This city rocks.

Yesterday was a typical day for me, internet in the morning, catching up on emails etc, then a stroll in the afternoon. I went to the Museo Xul Solar. I'd been meaning to go for a while. Sadly (and not so sadly), the best thing was the building that houses the exhibition. It's an original fronted house but with an excruciatingly modern interior, although it's quite messy. Hard concrete slabs everywhere and slick polished floors. Somehow it doesn't appear to have the design precision one comes to expect from buildings of this nature. Stairs end when they shouldn't, bits of the exhibition seem inaccessible. It all matches his work.

In the afternoon, after a snooze, Chris and I went to Jisca and Styjn's apartmen…

More pics

Not that I imagine anyone is THAT interested, if you want to see more pics from my excursions, don't forget to check out my flickr Photos. I upload a whole bunch more pics there.
owenaj on Flickr

Daily Pic 32 : Hotel Ceiling

In Mar del Plata we stayed in a hotel that was a triumph of 70s style.

Daily Pic 31 : Serious bathroom attendant

This guy obviously takes his job quite seriously. - Mar del Plata Terminal de Micro.

Back to reality

We're heading back to BsAs today. We spent the morning walking on the beach. All the little towns down here kind of join up so you never really leave the houses and streets. It's cool, apart from the main roads all the streets are gravel (or at least beach sand) and it's VERY quiet. All the houses have for rent signs, but only or Dec - Mar. I guess people must live in them the rest of the year and make their money when the whole of BsAs descends on the little town. If I were thinking about retiring, wanted to live in Argentina and spoke better Spanish, I could do worse than moving here.

Sadly the weather wasn't great today so we couldn't really lie around on the beach, but that's okay. We'll have plenty of opportunity to do that in Rio.


Okay, so Mar del Plata was okay. I guess it could be fun if you were in the mood. Now we are further up the coast at Pinamar, a small(ish) beach town. It's very cool indeed. Quieter and more peaceful than the frantic tat of Mar del Plata. As it's still out of season the town is mostly closed down, but unlike Las Grutas is seems like people actually do live here. We're staying in a sweet little hotel near the beach. As it's only 4 hours from BsAs I suspect I'll be coming back again soon, perhaps when it's a bit warmer.

Daily Pic 30 : Stray dog in Las Grutas

There are lots of stray dogs in Las Grutas.

Mar del Plata part two

Okay, so I was chatting to Justin in Sydney and thinking more about Mar del Plata. It reminds me of Durban city, the whole beachfront area in the 80s. It has the kind of “once was” feel to it. A place that used to be the place to go on holiday (and goodness, the Vaalies sure used to), but perhaps now passed over for Umhlanga or Cape Town (for those who can afford it).
Apparently the Peron’s poured loads of money into Mar del Plata to create a resort suitable for the working classes. I suspect also that until recently this city has seen steady decline as tourists opted for overseas travel only to see a resurgence of popularity after the devaluation of the peso when local travel became the only option for many. It’s fascinating to see the layers of the city and to think of it in those terms.

Mar del Plata

Today we travelled to Mar del Plata. Well, we left Las Grutas at 19.45 last night and travelled overnight. We arrived early in the morning. We hadn’t booked anywhere to stay so the first task was to find a hotel room and to drop off our bags. We looked at a few places and settled on the70s extravaganza that is Hotel America, at AR$80 per night it’s difficult to go wrong. That’s about 8 pounds each. This town is big and it’s full of hotels so it wouldn’t be difficult to find a room, although I don’t know what it would be like in the height of the season.
A lot of this city seems to be a throwback to the 70s, reminds me a lot of Durban when I was growing up (although of course that was later).

I’m not really sure what I think of Mar del Plata, after the peace and quiet of Las Grutas it’s quite a shock to the system to be back in a big city. The beaches also seem quite dirty and really busy (and it’s only October). I don’t think we’ll stick around too long and are probably going to head up…

Beaches and Caves

We spent the last two days in Las Gutas (The Caves) and it’s been fabulous. It’s a strange town, clearly it gets very busy in the season but at the moment it’s completely dead. It’s strange because the town seems to be gearing itself up for the onslaught of local tourists. There are so many restaurants, hotels and shops but they are all closed. We only found a handful of really small restaurants open and only a couple shops. I can’t imagine what it’s like in a couple of months, the town must swell to three times its size. Nonetheless I have loved being here, really nice and quiet, peaceful and relaxing. Today we took a stroll, sat by the pool, sat on the beach, strolled some more… and that was about it.

We are catching a bus tonight to Mar del Plata which is about 8 hours away, an overnight so I’m hoping to sleep.
You’ll have noticed some problems with my blog posting, I’m really not sure what the problem is. Posts only seem to appear a whole day later. I’m trying to fix it but am also …

Daily Pic 29 : Whale Tail

Yes, the horizon really was that lopsided! It was an exciting moment and I'm without Photoshop.

So many animals

It’s been a struggle to post lately, the WiFi in the hotel in Trelew broke and we’ve been travelling a bit. Thankfully now I have a few spare moments in Las Grutas to catch up.
Our trip to Patagonia has been great so far. We started in Trelew after the fabulous 20 hour bus trip. The actual town isn’t that interesting, although fairly quaint. We had two full days of excursions planned.
The first took us to Punta Tumba to see the penguins who had recently arrived to look after their new laid eggs. There were thousands, 200 000 to be exact. After that we drove back to Trelew and then on to one of the original Welsh settlements for Welsh tea. It was a pleasant day.
Day two was longer, we went to Peninsula Valdes. It was quite a long drive. There we visited the tiny town of Puerto Piramide and took a boat out into the bay. We were virtually surrounded by whales. So many of them, all quite curious and friendly, swimming right up alongside the boat. It was quite breathtaking at times.
Then ano…

Trelew, population 100,000

This afternooon Chris and I took a walk around the little town of Trelew. There's not a lot going on. It has a population of 100,000 people and you can tell. Although I understand it's changed since our stroll (Chris went out again later with Vlad and David), while we are out it was quite bleak. The wind was relentless and there was nobody on the streets. All the shops were closed (it was 4.30 in the afternoon) and there was nothing to see except the huge dust storms.

We're heading out to dinner in half an hour.

Daily Pic(s) 28 : Trelew by Day and Night


The wheels on the bus

Well we made it, the bus trip to Trelew was a breeze. I can't really believe it was 20 hours. Here's what i did:

I read my book for a bit
Ate dinner
Watched two downloaded episodes of Graham Norton on my iPod
Went to sleep
Listened to some music in the middle of the night
Slept some more
Ate breakfast
Ate lunch
Arrived in Trelew

It was amazing, really comfortable and relaxing. Better than First on an aeroplane (except for the food). I'm now thinking I could do longer bus trips as long as I go Super-Cama or Ejec-Cama. All lovely.

Daily Pic 27 : Sunday Chess in the Park


Daily Pic 26 : Cats in the Botanic Gardens

The Garden is full of cats.

Let’s see some whales

Tomorrow we are going on a little holiday! We are catching a bus at 20.15 in the evening and then 20 hours later (yes, 20!) we’ll be in Trelew in Patagonia. Vlad and David are also going, but they are flying! He He. It’s a luxury bus and I believe very comfortable so I’m rather looking forward to it!
The rough plan is as follows: two full days in Trelew, visiting the Welsh villages and then some whale watching. Then Vlad and David head off to El Calafate and Chris and start making our way back to BA. We are planning on checking out some of the beach towns along the coast, ending up in Mar del Plata (I don’t really know what to expect, but I’m thinking something like Blackpool). We’ll be back in BA in a week, when he head off to Rio! I’m not taking my laptop so blogging might be tricky but I’ll do my best to keep posting while I’m away. And of course I’ll be taking lots of pictures too.

Sunday in the Park with Chris

A wonderfully lazy day today. I love it. Chris and I slept late (who knew that the clocks went back last night! He He). I popped down to the little grocer, the man was teasing me because I could say the word from grapes clearly! He’s sweet. Then CMC and went to the Botanic Gardens and lay in the sun. I read my book and Chris listened to his iPod. It was a glorious way to spend the day. I feel recharged now. Tonight we’re meeting the girls from school and going to Karaoke at Sitges bar! Should be fun I think. The Norwegians are dead keen to sing and considering what a hit they were last time we took them there, the thought of them singing is hilarious.

Up to date

I haven’t posted for almost a week! It’s been busy and I really haven’t had time. Here is a quick roundup of what I’ve been doing, just to bring everyone up to date!
Back to school after the long weekend. Our last week so I was quite pleased it was coming to an end for a bit. I’ve really enjoyed learning but it was taking its toll and I was feeling busy all the time, which is not why I left London.

In the afternoon I went to visit Maxi. Well, we went up to Martinez, a very swanky suburb on the edge of the city. We had coffee up there and looked at the river (staying in the city you could be here for months and not even know that there is a river). The area is very posh indeed, big houses, immaculate lawns and gardens, every second shop and exclusive boutique. It reminded me of parts of the South African suburbs but I guess suburbs are similar all over the world. After that, Maxi showed me around Belgrano and the little “China Town”.
In the evening I met Chris at a Paril…

A film - Blindness

I can't wait for this film to come out. Loved the book. And it was filmed in Sao Paulo!

Lazy days and Mondays, let’s brunch, darling

It’s been a lazy weekend.

We went to Sitges on Sunday night to watch the karaoke! We hadn’t been for a while and it was nice to be in familiar surroundings. Matius, the waiter, seemed pleased to see us. Usually on a Sunday night once the karaoke/show is over everyone leaves within a matter of minutes, not last night. I guess because Monday is a public holiday everyone was in a festive mood and we were the ones leaving as soon as the show was over, mainly on account of the big night the night before. It was a nice way to relax and enjoy the evening and not too hectic.

This weekend has certainly been all about brunch. Chris discovered this fabulous little place a few blocks from our flat and we went there for brunch this morning. It’s called Natural Deli and is @ Laprida 1672 and there is also one in Las Canitas @ Gorostiaga 1776. It’s a café and an organic food store. Frightfully sophisticated and chilled out, super designed and with a menu to match. The walls are decorated with stunning…

Daily Pic 25 : Palermo Hollywood

Such a lovely part of the city. Again, it reminds me of Parkhurst in Johannesburg.

It's a long weekend

We started the week with all these ambitions about what we would do this weekend considering it is a long one (Monday is Columbus day). In reality we've done none of the things we were planning on doing and it has been almost the most perfect way to enjoy the weekend.

Saturday was walked and walked and walked. We went all over the place. First was a trip to Oui Oui, a restaurant in Palermo (across the railway in Palermo Hollywood) which serves English (well, American) and French breakfasts. I'd read about it on a blog and had written down the name. It was heaven, very charming and quite quirky, delicious scrambled eggs. Argentines do not do eggs for breakfast, in fact Tali, our Spanish teacher, seems almost appalled at the prospect. Why eat eggs when there's perfectly good dulche de leche and medialunas available.

After breakfast we walked all the way across Palermo to the park zone marvelling at all the massive apartment buildings going up in Palermo, some really huge ones …

More sweet things

This town is full of delightful surprises. I’m not sure if this a city wide phenomenon but standing on the side of the road (hailing a cab) this evening, I was almost knocked down by the pizza delivery man. This may not sound to unusual but in these parts they deliver pizzas on roller skates! I need to try get a pic, but it is the strangest thing to see a man roller skating down the road holding a giant pizza box!

Daily Pic 24 : Vegetable Store

These are all over the city.


I just woke up from the most amazing nap. I think I really needed it, it’s been quite a hectic week. I realise I haven’t updated since Tuesday – it’s been that kind of week. On Wednesday we went out for dinner with Vlad and some of the folk from his school. We went to an Armenian restaurant called Sarkis, just below Cordoba. It was delicious, although we did have to wait for about an hour to get a table. It was just such a welcome relief to have different food. And with a spicy salsa to go with it! It was a fairly laid back night although quite late. It meant we were a little tired the next day at school.

On Thursday, after school Chris and I decided we needed to enjoy the glorious sunshine. The Spring weather in this city is amazing, it’s almost like seasonal perfection. So, after lunch we headed out to visit a park. We decided to go to Plaza Mitre on Puerreydon, a short walk away. It’s a beautiful little park but they don’t let you lie on the grass, so we carried on to the little nam…


There are some things in this town that are so familiar. These are all over the place.

Daily Pic 23 : More delights


Daily Pic 22 : A fan

This style of fan is very common in Buenos Aires, usually in Subte stations. This one was in a little restaurant near our apartment in Barrio Norte.

So young

Last night we went for drinks with some folk from school. I arranged to meet at a bar in Palermo at 21.30. We decided to go to a bar called Mundo Bizarro. It was cool, although in typical fashion it was totally empty (apart from us) for several hours. Then it slowly started getting busier, just as we were ready to leave.

It was fun to meet some of the other folk at the school, although they are all so young! Makes me feel old... he he. We were home at around 12.30 so really early in BA.

Tonight everyone is going to a nightclub that they get free access to (from the school). I’m not sure it’s our scene so doubt we’ll go, but you never know.

After school today, we went to a little restaurant near our apartment for lunch. I had beef medallions cooked in a kind of cheese sauce. It was delicious, although quite heavy for lunch time. Later today we are going to look at a potential apartment for Dec and January, tonight, dinner with Vlad.

Daily Pic 21 : Plaza Aleman


Quick Update

Only a quick update today, quite busy for some reason.
Last night Chris and I stayed in. We spent part of the afternoon in a coffee shop enjoying the spectacular weather. Then I went for a stroll and we had dinner in the flat. Second day of our new teacher at school and it's taking a bit to get used to her, but it is our second last week. I am thinking about doing more, but maybe with a private teacher. We'll see.
This afternoon I started Yoga! Leslie (my instructor) does it in her apartment in Las Cañitas. It's on the 15th floor and offers spectacular views across the city. All very nice indeed. It was quite a stretch but I enjoyed it, will be going back next week too. I'm doing 4 private lessons and then might join her classes. We'll see.
Tonight, we are going for drinks with some of the folk from the school. I arranged it! We're going to a place that Vlad has been to and liked called Mucho Bizarro in Palermo Viejo. I am not sure who is coming so I hope we have …

Daily Pic(s) 20 : Belgrano y Perú

Spotted these guys holding up a spectacularly decaying building on the corner of Belgrano and Perú this morning.


Vlad was moving today so I went out to help him. It was quite cool walking up Avenida Santa Fe early in the morning, quiet and empty. Although I hasten to add that early in the morning on a Sunday in BA is 10am! I saw Vlad across town to his new apartment in San Telmo. It’s really lovely. Charming and I suspect very comfortable.
After that I popped into a gorgeous confiteria on the way home and got some compulsory media lunas and other pastries (facturas). Then Chris and I went to discover the parks of Palermo. Our new flat is very dark and although it was a gorgeous day, you wouldn’t know it when indoors. Somehow I think the next two months are going to be about going out rather than staying – at least during the day.

We strolled up along Arenales and through Parque Las Heras. It was kind of stinky, too much dog poo I think. We carried on walking and came to the beautiful Plaza Alemania. It was stunning, very manicured and calm. We sat there for a while before heading to the Japanese …

Too much beef?

On Saturday night we went out with Vlad for dinner again, we all decided we didn’t want another steak and that a visit to a Parilla was not the best idea so we went to a Thai restaurant. There aren’t very many in BA but some of the students in class had mentioned one so we mailed them and got the details. It’s out in Las Canitas (an area I’m growing quite fond of). We had a delicious meal. The food was superb and the house it was in, beautiful.
Unlike London, the restaurant was not staffed by genuine Thai people, I don’t think there are many in BA, but that didn’t matter. Our waitress looked like Lilly Allen’s younger, more beautiful sister and was terribly sweet. The menu was standard Thai fare. We had a small portion of Sate to start with. The chicken was good but the beef was amazing, as you’d expect.

After dinner we went to Cero Consecuencia again for an hour or so and then on to Bulnes. We didn’t actually make it into Bulnes as the queue was too long. I think it might be the first …

Daily Pic 19 : Skyline

Taken from the Nature Reserve between Puerto Madero and the River. Chris took it.


Oh and... we have BBC World News and CNN (in English) in our new apartment. Thank the sweet baby Jesus for small miracles. I feel like I'm missing out on the collapse of capitalism without a rolling news channel, although I fear I might be too late.

A bike ride

Today we went on a bike ride. It was organised by the exceptionally glamorous activities coordinator at our school, Ceclia. We met at the school and took the Subte down to Plaza de Mayo. A short walk across to Puerta Madero and to the edge of the nature reserve behind it. It was peculiar that a short stroll from the heaving dense city is the reserve. It kind of forms a buffer between the Rio de la Plata (the river) and the city. When you’re in BA you wouldn’t even know it was built in a river unless you looked at a map.

We all hired bikes, AR$8 per hour and rode around for two hours, stopping for Choripans along the way. Choripans are basically hotdogs made with fat Choriza sausages. The Choriza here is slightly different from the stuff you get in Europe is that it’s kind of fatter and less dense, more fatty I would have thought. They are delicious. And for the huge sum of 60p!
During the ride we went into the nature reserve and rode along the river, apparently on a clear day you can se…

¡Ciudad Linda!

We saw a Jacaranda flower lying on the pavement on Friday. I think it's a sign. I CAN'T WAIT for the millions of trees in this city to flower... most of them seem to be Jacardas. It's going to be spectacular!


Okay, so we’ve moved. Our original flat was always only for a month. We’ve now moved to a different apartment in Barrio Norte. Incidentally Eva Peron once expressed her desire to bomb Barrio Norte in response to its profoundly middle class credentials.
Anyway, we’re here. At first we really didn’t like the apartment – we hadn’t actually seen it except on in the internet. It’s got some good and bad bits. We’re here for two months so we’re not going to dwell on its problems although except to say that it has no outlook apart from walls! So not a whole lot of natural light. However it is VERY quiet, still still still which I didn’t think possible for Buenos Aires. Oddly I had totally got used to the noise at the first apartment so that doesn’t seem like such a priority now. Anyway, I’ll post some pics tomorrow and write more about the place.

The move was pretty straightforward, the manager of the first apartment in Billinghurst came at 10.00 and gave us back our deposit. A very charming la…

Half a weekend

After school on Friday we went out to celebrate. We met Vlad for dinner and went to a lovely Parilla in San Telmo. Massive steaks, cooked to perfection. I find that the meat here can be quite well done when you don’t expect it but these were lovely. Then we went to a house party. One of the people Vlad is at school with had moved into a new flat and was having a house warming, so that was fun. It was a good night although we didn’t stay out too late as we had to move the next day!


I think I might have been over playing the drama of the language classes a bit... but I passed my exam today. So did Chris, so all is well.

Wednesday night : Cluny

Last night we went for dinner with Vlad and one of his classmates, Joel. It was one of the less successful nights out. It was very low key and we were really just looking for a casual laid back meal. I have learnt in this town that it is best to know where you are going when food is concerned. It's quite difficult to have good meals randomly. There are lots of restaurants, lots excellent and lots not excellent.

We had planned to go to la Cabrera which has a great reputation but it was full so we wandered deeper into Palermo and tried Bar 6 which was also full. So we decided to try Cluny on on El Salvador. It was shit. Very over designed and very poncy. The food was average and over-priced. I had a rib eye (ojo de bife), it was just a huge slab of flesh, badly overcooked and very pricey. We ordered a bottle of the house red, usually a good option in this town. The wine was fine but for a price. It cost AR$125 per bottle! That may not seem like a lot in pounds but it's way more t…

First Direct

I'm a huge fan of First Direct. I've banked with them for near on 11 years and have always been delighted... until now. I'm sad to say their ability to cope with the fact that I am overseas has been tragically underwhelming.Local ATMs seem to have a withdrawal limit of AR300 (approximately 50GBP), so at times I have to perform a couple of transactions at a go, at least while I'm gathering a little war chest of funds to pay rent for the next three months (due on Saturday). Every time I make a withdrawal it sends the First Direct security systems into alert mode and my card gets suspended - usually rectified by a phone call. No matter how many times I explain to them that I am overseas and will be for several months they seem unable to stop stopping my card.Now they tell me that another security alert has been actioned on my card and that they are going to be permanently suspending my card and I need to call them every time I want to make a withdrawal and request a tempo…

Daily Pic 18 : I Love Pink


It’s a lifestyle

Last night we went for dinner with our school class in a restaurant in Las Canitas called Las Cholas, a pretty standard Argentine parilla. It was good fun.

A lady from another class, Jenny, also joined us. She’s about 55 and has been travelling all around South America by herself for 6 months. Now she’s learning Spanish before starting the next 6 months. Quite impressive really. She’s off to Patagonia to go camping next.

School today was good, we’re doing quite a bit of revision in advance of Friday’s exam. Estefanía, our teacher, seems to think it will be quite easy, I’m not so sure.