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Showing posts from March, 2009

"the U.S. can take at least one important lesson from Argentina's recovery, which is to draw a firm line in the sand in its dealings with banks"

A very interesting interview with Roberto Lavagna about the global financial crisis, Argentina's financial history, the US and the UK.

Roberto Lavagna was the Argentine economic minister 2002 to 2005.

In order to reduce its debt level, Argentina got 76% of its foreign creditors to accept 35 cents on the dollar for its obligations. As a result, he says Argentina is now exiled from the international capital markets -- a status that, ironically, has protected it somewhat from the global crisis. Nonetheless, Argentina is now fighting rising inflation and has seen two million people, roughly 5% of the population, drop below the poverty level in the last two years.
The Street

Daily Pic 119 : Recoleta

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She unfolds by Day

I love film festivals. They're just a different atmosphere in which to watch films, the titles are all selected or programmed and the audience all want to be there, for the love of film. The only downside to film festivals, particularly those focussed on independent cinema is that they can pick some duds. And one of gets the impression that no one knows or will admit when a film is a dud.

Tonight, I went to see "She Unfolds by Day" at BAFICI. It's an observational piece following the lives (well in reality one or two days) of a old woman suffering from alzheimers and her son's attempts to deal with her demise, juxtaposed with National Geographic style footage of wolves, bugs and spiders. Not a bad premise.

The problem is that it all feels terribly self indulgent. The actual amount of footage is small, it's played over and over again in non-linear arrangement. Considering the amount of actual material it would probably have made a great short film. As it stands …

Daily Pic 118 : Dada

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Gorgeous restaurant on San Martin.

GPS tracking - a mini review

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At the risk of this beginning to look like one of those other, dime a dozen blogs here are my thoughts on personal GPS tracking software. It's become a recent interest of mine. While travelling and exploring the city, I would love a record of my movements, for personal use of course.

My requirements didn't seem too grand, but are seemingly difficult to deliver. What I wanted was:

* Software that could run on my Nokia N82.
* The ability to track the movement live via the data connection.
* The ability to store the location information to be sent later, when no data connection is available.
* Integration with fully functioning googlemaps, I want to be able to share my "tracks" etc on my social networks or save to My Maps.

Doesn't seem that complicated. I have tried out four solutions:
* findonmap.com
* 3D tracking
* GPSed
* Sports Tracker

Simply put, they are all disappointing. findonamap.com worked, straight away, but the phone application is very limited, no ability to sto…

Daily Pic 117 : Last of the Summer Sun? Park Las Heras

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Scorcher

It's a scorcher of a day in Buenos Aires. A great start to Autumn. I went for a walk but wasn't able to go too far. Plenty of people out lying around in the parks enjoying the heat.

Tonight I am going to visit Chris who has offered to make dinner! Last night Chris came over and I made dinner. We really should try to make some more friends!

Daily Pic 116 : Little Cakes in the Confiteria

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Who says Argentine's are racist?

Dada

Last night Chris and I went out with some friends for dinner and drinks. We tried a new restaurant (well, it's not new but we'd not been before) called Dada in micro-centro. It had great reviews. It was a strange night... mixed.

I'd made a reservation for 4 people and when we arrived there was only one table for four free but it was reserved for some other people who had also arrived. The restaurant asked us to wait a few minutes as our table was about to clear... it didn't for an hour! I had to get really stroppy and was shocked by the manager's inability to do anything. He seemed really stressed and all he could say was, "I have two table that have paid but haven't left, what can I do?". In typical Buenos Aires fashion there is no rushing people along. Eventually the waitress, who is amazing asked the folk loitering at the one table to move to the bar. An annoying start, mainly because the rest of the experience was superb. The service great and the…

Daily Pic 115 : Sunset in Buenos Aires

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The old days

Last night Chris and went out to Sitges. We haven't been there for ages so it was nice to be back. We got a lovely reception from Veronica and the other guys that work there. It was quite quiet and it felt a bit like it did when we first started going there. I guess the season is over.

It always makes me laugh... they have these video displays on before the drag show which alternate between music videos, little compilations featuring pictures of the staff, upcoming event etc AND clips from America's Funniest Home Videos. You know, people falling over etc. The best part is how everyone watches them and falls about laughing at the silliest things. It's infectious and you can't help but join in.

The show was the same as usual, not terribly inspiring, but fun to pass the time. We didn't stay right to the end, the endless bows and goodbye sequences can be a little off putting. Seriously, they can go on and on.

Daily Pic 114 : Delicious Confiteria on Cordoba

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Filo

Last night I met up with Alejandro and we went for pizza at Filo on San Martin. I have to venture that Filo serves the best pizza in town. Easy on the cheese, ham isn't compulsory... and thin crusts. Delicious. The atmosphere is also good and it's reasonable.

It was a pleasant evening, low key but good.

Photos

Chris got back from Nuequen yesterday. We went for lunch locally. In the evening we went down to the Obelisk, I wanted to get some night time photos. Chris came as my bodyguard to ensure no one stole my camera! Not that I'm paranoid.

I wasn't too thrilled with the resulting photos, I think I'll need to go again but after checking out suitable angles first. It's quite tricky to photograph at night because of all the nearby lights coming from the the signs down 9 de Julio and Corrientes. I'll try again soon to get that perfect shot.

Daily Pic 113 : Obelisco

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British and bored?

Endemol in the UK are filming another season of 'Total Wipeout' in Buenos Aires soon and are looking for UK citizens living here to act as reserves for any contestants that don't make it to Argentina. Mariano, from Endemol, sent me this:
We select our contestants in the UK, but we need to have people based in Buenos Aires, willing to act as stand bys in case anyone can’t make it to Argentina or can’t do the course for any last minute reason. These people must be British Passport holders and over 18 years old. And that is the reason I am contacting you. I am hoping you know some British expats, and that you could spread the word. May be you would be interested. The production team is full of great people, and the actual show is great fun, and a great opportunity to do something completely different, and may be take the ₤10000 prize!! It would be extremely appreciated.  Please contact me at: mariano.vacas@endemoluk.com

Contact Mariano if you fit the bill.

Daily Pic 112 : Easter Eggs in Coto

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So many.

Unico and Sushi

Last night I met up with Mia and her man, Benjamin for a very pleasant evening. We started at their apartment and then headed to Unico in Palermo Hollywood followed by Sushi at a restaurant, the name of which I can't remember. All in all a very pleasant evening. It's a public holiday here today so some of the bars and restaurants were quite busy last night.

Daily Pic 111 : Esperando la Carroza 2

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Spotted this the other day. The original, Esperando la Carroza from 1985 is the must see camp Argentine classic detailing a "typical" Argentine families reaction to discovering their abuela has been killed, don't worry she hasn't really and is across the street, so it's all good fun. Satire and slap stick humour. I wonder what the sequel will be like.

Delicious slop 2

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Last night I decided I wanted a steak... so I went out. A steak with pepper sauce. Stupid me... meat is best served with nothing other than Chimichuri. Well the pepper sauce was sweet and syrupy... bad!

Daily Pic 110 : Military Hospital

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BAFICI

Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente runs from 25 March unil 5 April. I popped down to Abasto today to pick up a programme, there seem to be some interesting things programmed, so I should make the effort.

http://www.bafici.gob.ar/home09/es/films/index.html

Before getting to Abasto I went on another one of my walks... this time heading to Caballito...

Walking

Yesterday I went for a very long walk. I walked for 7.5 miles all the way up to Belgrano and Las Canitas. I was exhausted when I got back so had a night in watching downloaded episodes of Project Runway.

Today, Janer came over for lunch, I bought cold meats and made some salads. All very pleasant indeed.

Daily Pic 109 : A little house in Belgrano

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Daily Pic 108 : Avenida del Libertador

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Buddy Bears

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Today Mia and I went on a little adventure. Well it wasn't that adventurous. We took the bus down to Plaza San Martin to check out the Buddy Bears. See here. To be honest I wasn't that into it, but thought I ought to go. I was more impressed than I thought. Some countries had really made an effort and demonstrated flair and sophistication, others didn't! The UK was bad... South Africa was good. For me the real value was the impact of seeing all of them together, quite an impressive impact.



Daily Pic 107 : Catedral

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Protest against crime

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Yesterday while I was taking a walk I came across a large protest in Plaza de Mayo. It was a demonstration against crime. It was interesting to witness, at first I didn't know what it was about but was aware that it felt different to the many other manifestations that take place all over the city.
It seemed very well organised, it was much bigger than anything I'd seen and the crowd were different. They all seemed middle and upper class, professional types who seemingly had popped down after work.

There were speakers whipping up the crowd, who in this case demonstrated their support with polite clapping. More here.

More nationalisation

Cristina has submitted a bill aimed at securing the re-nationalisation of a Cordoba based military aeroplane manufacturing plant after it was sold to Lockheed Martin. This follows from the recent nationalisation of Aerolineas Argentina and other previously state owned (but subsequently privatised under Menem) industries, including the postal service, water company and railroad.AFP LAHT

Daily Pic 106 : Tiles in Diagonal Subte Station

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Yum

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This delightful slop was my lunch treat in La Plata yesterday... delicious. Oi!

Lens

yes yes yes, I've noticed too, my lens needs a clean... dark spots! Let's hope it's the lens and not the sensor!

La Plata

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Today I went to La Plata, I had been meaning to go for a while motivated by its reputation as the "most planned" city in Argentina.

La Plata was created as the provincial capital when Buenos Aires was made Federal Capital in the 1880s. The city was founded in 1882 and is about 50km east of the capital, a short one hour, 9 peso bus trip from Retiro.

It was designed by French architect Pedro Benoit and is formed along a rigid grid with intersecting diagonals. Every 7 blocks there are parks, all the streets are numbered with very few street names. In fact it has all the things you would add to a city if you were to create it from scratch: wide roads, parks, logic, symmetry, a bit like something I'd knock up in Sim City.

The problems is that the maps and the aerial views all look fabulously logical and ordered but on the ground it's confusing. The diagonal streets threw me for a loop every time I came across one. I found it worryingly difficult to navigate, even with my map…

Daily Pic 105 : From The Roof

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"the 40-year-old prevalent orthodoxy known as the Washington consensus in favour of free markets has come to an end"

Interesting piece, Gordon Brown's interview with The Guardian. Some *nice* sentiments included. It's remarkable how easy it appears to change the ideology of a generation in the blink of an eye.

He also claims that "the downturn marks the end of the era of laissez-faire government".

Thank the sweet baby Jesus if that's true.The Guardian

Floggers part 2

Chris took this little video of typical flogger dancing in Nuequen on the weekend.

Daily Pic 104 : Remote Controls

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There are quite a few shops like this in Buenos Aires. This one was near Once.

Early election

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is sending a bill to Congress this week to try and get the election date (scheduled for October) to be brought forward to June, it's likely to pass.

Of course there are loads of reasons why she might want to do this and certainly extensive speculation online. The most compelling argument I've heard is that she might be trying to secure an additional term before the effects of "the crisis" (yes, the global economic crisis) are felt too deeply.

Strange things

Today I went for a long walk. Along the way, near Once, I saw an old man walking his tiny little dog. Not so strange, except the little dog was wearing a cowboy hat and carrying a basket of easter eggs in its mouth.

Two new bars

I had the pleasure of discovering two new bars in San Telmo this weekend. On Friday night I went out for a few beers with one of my ex Spanish classmates. We started at The Krakow (Venezuela 474) and ended at Puerta Roja (Chacabuco 733). Both were charming but in different ways.

The Krakow is a Polish restobar with a very friendly atmosphere and efficient staff. Happy hour was until 10.00 so we got two beers for the price of one! Puerta Roja had a different vibe, it has a speakeasy feel to it, not least for it is hidden. Potentially a little too-cool-for-school it was filled with fabulous and grungy young folk, quite a few expats.

I was home at 1.30.

Daily Pics 103 : Trees

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Sorry about the quality, I took the pics with my phone.

Curious

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The plastic wall clock in my apartment seems to stop and start randomly. I have replaced the battery a few times when it stopped, but gave up as I was happening every week or so. Now it's started again, unprompted. Spooky!

Needless to say, it's useless as a wall clock.

Daily Pic 102 : San Telmo @ night

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878

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Thursday night was my first back in BA. I should have rested. Instead I went out. I cooked a meal at home... something my body was craving after all the restaurant food we consumed on our trip. After dinner Chris and I went to Thames 878, a divine bar in Palermo. We were meeting Stu & Lu (the guys we met on our excursion into the mountains of Jujuy). I also invited Martin, this guy I met through some professional inquiries a few months back. I'd mentioned on Twitter that we were going and he expressed an interest.
It was a fun night. 878 is very cool indeed, although a bit pricey. It has the feel of a speakeasy, no sign on the door and just a number to indetify it. The cocktail list goes on and on. All very pleasant. We stayed until about 3.30. This city is great, we got cabs within minutes and were home in a flash, something I will miss when back in London.
The next day was quiet and slow. Chris was leaving for Nuequen in the evening. We managed a stroll to Santa Fe to get some…

Argentine Floggers

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Recently I have started noticing the distinctive clothing and hairstyles of the young folk hanging around Abasto Mall. I now realise that I have been witness to a social phenomenon. Argentine youth society is developing a strict gang-like fragmentation, with floggers being one of the dominant groups. Originally derived from the popular activity of photoblogging, floggers are characterised by wearing neon clothing, crazy sweeping hair (usually covering both eyes) and circulation-beating tight jeans, worn by both boys and girls.

As it is clearly a stylistic definition, it’s not clear how many of these young people are actually doing any serious photo-blogging, although I’m sure they are very active on social networks like Facebook and Hi-5. Their name derives from an early interest in fotolog.com.ar.
These guys also have particular taste in electronic music and a style of dancing that somehow relates to the French tecktonik and the Australian shuffle and the Charleston (according to wikip…

I felt like a giant

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Pics from the Excursion

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Montevideo





More from Montevideo: Flickr

Punta del Este



More from Punta: Flickr

Cordoba





Salta & Jujuy










More from Salta and Jujuy: Flickr

I'm back in Buenos Aires

Well, we survived the 20 hour bus trip back! Actually it wasn't as tedious as I feared it might be. It was basically an afternoon and a night. I snoozed a lot of the way and as we were in lie-flat Cama Suite I was able to get some solid sleep during the night. The bus was also very quiet so lovely and peaceful.

It was a great excursion and although I am happy to be back in Buenos Aires, I could have carried on going. I am glad to be able to do laundry and unpack. Washing my jeans will be a particular treat. I only took one pair... I was travelling light.

While we were in Salta we did a two day excursion. In reality I think one day would have been enough, it get's very samey after a while and although the mountains are spectacular one does become quite blasé about them when they are all you see for two solid days. The first day was particularly special because it ended with a visit to the Salina Grandes. I have never been to a salt pan before and found it to be spectacular and ve…

Back in Salta City

I'm back in Salta City after a two day internet free tour through Salta Province and Jujuy Province. All lovely. Will post details soon.

I'm flattered that "someone" has started a Facebook group, Andrew & Chris have been away for ages & still haven't sent me a postcard!". I have actually bought some postcards, just this week... need to find a Correo to buy some stamps. Now the pressure is on.

Salta

Salta is a lovely town, it's quaint and cute, very charming indeed! I love it. Only wish the hotel's internet was better able to cope with my photo uploads. I think I'll have to wait until I'm back in Buenos Aires to upload the pics I'm taking.

Daily Pic 101 : Cordoba

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Salta

We're in Salta! Overnight bus from Corodoba. Yesterday we had a whole day before our bus was due to leave. So we decided to head to Villa Carlos Pez, a small town on a lake about 50 mins away. We had lunch down there and a stroll. It wasn't *that* interesting but I suspect is probably a lot of fun if you are engaging in water sports or camping.

The bus to Salta was uneventful, 12 hours. At first I wasn't able to sleep but eventually dozed off after watching some telly on my ipod first.

We arrived here at 7.30 (it's one hour behind) Cordoba, so we checked into a quaint little hotel (100 pesos a night - bargain). Had a snooze and now we are going to head out to explore the city and get some food.

Travelling is fun but it does offer it's own challenges, my personal trauma is the food. In BsAs we only eat one once or twice a week and when we do eat lunch out we are able to find places that serve varied food - like salads! I've always said in BsAs that it hardly ever h…

Daily Pic 100 : Catedral Cordoba

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Cordoba

Well Cordoba city is beautiful. I´m really impressed. It´s kind of
exactly what I had imagined but the reality of being here is something
different. Just walking around is amazing. Really old churches and
other buildings, many of them Jesuit. Very cool indeed. Also, I think
because it´s a student town it´s very laid back and relaxed.Last night we went for dinner, I managed to avoid ham and cheese! Then
we had an early night. Today we are doing a city tour.The hotel we are staying in is undergoing some major renovations!
It´s a huge place and I think a stunning building, but it´s in bad
condition. It´s old and I think that the last major revamp was
probably in the 80s (judging by the style) so you have a combination
of decay and crumbling building and the tasteless styling combined
with workmen and dust sheets everywhere. It´s bizarre. But it´s sweet
and it´s very central, so I´m not complaining.I´ll take some pictures today.

What's the deal with cheese and ham?

So Argentines like cheese and ham, and so too do Uruguayans apparently. It's not unusual to go to a small restaurant to find 8 or so toasted sandwiches, all with ham and cheese and then something extra, lettuce, tomato... the world of endless choices. I find it quite annoying and amusing that ham and cheese are so fundamental to any light meal. Well, the meal on the bus trip from Montevideo to Cordoba was classic.

Starter:
Ham and Cheese roll
Ham and Cheese swiss roll (yes, sweet rolled cake with ham and cheese)
Quiche with Ham and Cheese

I thought surely we've done all the ham and cheese we could possibly.
Main:
Ham and Cheese, breaded and deep fried!

My goodness, this was after two days of ham and cheese for breakfast at the hostel. Everyone else seemed to enjoy their plastic cheese and processed ham for the 4th time in one meal. I wanted to get up and shout "What's wrong with you!? Can't you see how strange this is?" But instead I ate it all...  When in Rome.

Daily Pic 99 : Bus driver's Eva sun shield

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Last two days in Punta

It's our last day in Punta and it's raining, cats and dogs, or should that be Gatos y Perros? It's tropical. So we are trapped indoors until we get a cab to the bus depot.

Yesterday we rented bikes and rode around, trying to explore some of the other beaches. The weather wasn't great so by the time we settled on a beach it was kind of cloudy and windy. We also had to pop into town to buy our bus tickets out of here... stopping at an ATM (cash only!).

In the evening, Chris and took a long stroll into town (this hostel is miles away) and had dinner next to the yachts. All very lovely and calm. I had fish, just seems appropriate when the ocean is 100m away. Now we are sitting waiting, either for the rain subside (unlikely) or time to pass (inevitable).

Punte del Este

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Well, Punta del Este is beautiful. It's like a posh larger version of Umhlanga! The point is cool because there are beaches on either side, each within 200 metres. One with waves and one without. It's very cool indeed. I like it a lot.

We attived by bus from Montevideo and caught a taxi to the hostel. Sadly the hostel is quite a walk from town and cabs are not cheap like they are in BsAs. In fact Punta is more expensive in every way. After checking into the hostel we went down to the beach and had lunch in a little restaurant on the sand. Then a stroll along the water front to the point. All very pleasant.

In the evening we went out with two guys who are also staying in the hostel. We went for dinner in town and then visited the casino. We all managed to win, although I only won the equivalent of 10 pounds! I'm not a big gambler.

Today I think we'll head to the beach again and try to avoid spending money!

Daily Pics 98 : Plaza Independendencia, Montevideo

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Montevideo

I´m in Uruguay, Montevideo. We came across on the ferry bright and early on Saturday morning. 7.30 to be exact. The crossing is three hours and was very uneventful indeed.

I´m reserving judgement about this city. People seem to love it so at this point, I´m assuming the reason I don´t is simply because I´ve missed something. We´re giving it another day before we head up the coast so we shall see.

I´m am blown away by the number of American tourists and they´re all so badly dressed. Our friend, Jamie suggested it might have something to with the giant cruise ships ominously moored in the harbour! I think he´s right.

We went into the old part of town yesterday to an area known for all it´s restaurants. My goodness... a huge warehouse basically stuffed to the rafters with parrillas! I have never seen so much meat being cooked. It was essentially homogenous and painfully boring. I think we might have to look further afield for variety in food.