Buenos Aires December 23

December 23, 2010 - Buenos Aires, Argentina

 I’m quite behind on my blog. With my middle aged memory I better ctach up before I forget.  I'll start with our recent adnenture, Buenos Aires (BA).  Speaking of middle age before I talk about “muy bonita” Buenos Aires… I digress.  According to this month’s Economist, life begins at 46.  Yay!  I never knew.  Apparently, people and particularly women are at their nadir on the happiness scale at age 46 and that it’s uphill from there. Supposedly, I no longer care about the next promotion, keeping up with the Jones or about being slim.  Who knew?

In Buenos Aires, they NEVER stop thinking about the aforementioned…  It’s the land of who has the best purse, shoes, hat, tie, ascot, suit… you get the drift.  And apparently, according to Sarah our Sommelier, Argentine women get more nipping and tucking than US women. They sure do something right as the women look gorgeous, like right out of a Conde Nast magazine ad. 

Ian thinks BA is more Paris than Paris.  It oozes restaurants, haute couture and stunning architecture.  There’s lots of dogs so lots of merde...  everywhere.  They have dog walkers in the residential areas of Recoleta and Palermo.  Each dog walker has about 5 to 10 dogs on leashes!!  It’s amazing. 

We stayed one night at the Caesar Park Hotel in Recoleta and although we loved the location, we thought it was a bit sterile and heard that Palermo Soho was cool so we changed hotels to Puro Baires, Niceto Vega 4788.  Not sure we’d do it again.  As much as we liked Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Viejo (all littler suburbs of Palermo) we found we gravitated back to Recoleta every day.  Fortunately, cabs are extremely inexpensive, the cheapest we’ve found in the world.

Speaking of to and fro… That’s how cabs drive, it’s organized chaos.  They ease to the left lane, then they ease to the right lane, never observing the lane dividers.  It’s like the lanes meld into one moving mass.  There’s lots of jockeying for position or rather jockeying for ONE inch.  I find it amazingly relaxing.  No honking, gesticulating, swearing, it all just slowly happens.  Cabs ease to and fro across 5 to 10 lanes of traffic.  I’m amazed we never saw a fender bender.   Ian’s thigh might have some bruises as I dug my fingers in to it on more than one occasion.

Here are some extreme driving rules… from iStopoever Magazine

So here is a list of new rules for driving in Buenos Aires that replaces the old ones:

  1. Unless you really have to drive, don’t!!! just take a taxi or a colectivo (bus) or the subte (subway) or the train.
  2. Expect other drivers to violate all the traffic rules you know. Don’t get frustrated when this happens.
  3. Expect to get honked at.
  4. Expect to get cursed at (¡Pero la puta que te parió!) even if you are the one who is driving prudently. If you want to, learn to curse back but without taking the exchange too seriously. Porteños have a remarkably interesting capacity to curse and yell without actually taking themselves too seriously. The angry yelling seems to be fleeting and does not seem to represent a deep, lingering anger.
  5. Expect people to cut you off.
  6. Don’t stay in your lane if others are not staying in theirs. Reject your inclination to stay within the white lines. Even though they are painted on the ground, you shouldn’t necessarily pay any attention to them. Since nobody else stays in these lanes, it is dangerous to do so yourself. Note: This rule does not apply to the yellow lines, which should not be crossed. There is no need to make yourself a target for oncoming traffic.
  7. Go with the flow; if others are weaving in and out, you should weave in and out; if others are speeding, you should probably be speeding; if others are running through the red light, you probably should too, unless you want to get hit from behind.
  8. If you do use your turn signal, hoping, say, to move into another lane in front of another driver already in that lane, expect that driver to speed up and block your move. Don’t get angry when this happens. Just expect it in advance. This way, if the person actually lets you in, you can be pleasantly surprised by his or her act of kindness.
  9. Don’t expect anyone else to use a turn signal or stop at a STOP sign.
  10. Don’t stay in the left lane if you are not speeding. If you are hogging the fast lane, know that soon you will have an angry driver on your trail. It doesn’t matter if you are going the speed limit or even surpassing it. For all practical purposes, there are no speed limits on the highways, so if you are not the fastest car on the road, get out of the way.
  11. Stop at most red lights, but not necessarily all of them. This is especially true in dimly lit areas where you feel unsafe. It is standard procedure to cruise cautiously through lights in such areas, particularly if it is late at night.
  12. Expect people to weave into your lane if traffic in their lane suddenly slows. Drivers here do not like to slow down and stay in their lane. If they sense traffic suddenly slowing, they will burst into your lane with complete and total disregard for what you might think about it. They will assume that you are as agile as they are and that, because of this, you will react quickly and slow down before causing an accident. This is the way driving is done, so just accept it.
  13. If you start to get stressed, take a deep breath and remember that life is too short to get stressed about traffic.
  14. Take a taxi

Cabs are not the only value in BA dining out can be quite a bargain as well.  I say “can be” because other than the top of the top restaurants, you can easily have drinks, dinner, wine, dessert and coffee for $50 for 2.  We met one couple who had an apparently good steak dinner and wine for $15!!!  Steak is the go!  Argentines take their beef seriously.  In fact, at El Marisol, they gave me a wall hanging of the various cuts of beef!  This was not one of the $50 for 2 places…  Perigori, Italian restaurant, next door to El Marisol was awesome as well.  Any place where you roll in off the sidewalk, sweaty from walking and shopping and they present you with a complementary glass of champagne is tops in my books.  The portions though are so huge that you have to share.  What fun.

Whilst eating is fun in BA, watching a tango show is more fun!  There must be 100 tango shows here and we chose, Complejo… www.complejotango.com.ar.  It came with complimentary tango lessons before the show but because of the wine and generous portions in the aforementioned paragragh, we had a siesta and just didn’t make there in time.  The show came with all you can drink and we made good use of that hour.  Ian got the biggest bottle of Quilimes (beer)!  I’ve only seen homeless people drinking beer in bottles that size! The show we chose presents the history of Tango from the 1900’s and was excellent!  It clearly deserves the high TA rating it has.

When people aren’t eating large pieces of meat, drinking gorgeous Malbecs, exercising, or watching Tango, they are shopping.  I have been to quite a few cities of late, and I have NEVER seen so many gorgeous stores.  I also have never seen so many women carrying beautiful shopping bags.  To be an Argentine woman living in Recoleta, it is imperative that in addition to sporting the newest brightly color purse that you adorn at least 1 if not 5 stylish, tasteful shopping bags.

We took the “Free Walking Tour” which I highly recommend.  Gaston has a great business model.  He does the tour on tips that must make taxes easy.  The Evita Museum is enlightening and tastefully done. Good displays in English always helps too.  www.evitaperon.org/eva_peron_museum.htm 

As much as I enjoyed BA it’s great to get back to the US and see my family for Christmas.



The PInk House
Our Tour Guide Gaston

1 Comment

December 29, 2010
The visit in BA sounds wonderful!! Loved your story.
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