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Our trip to Buenos Aires and Rio

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Apr 15th, 2011, 02:13 PM
  #1
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Our trip to Buenos Aires and Rio

I'm very sleepy. We got on a plane at Dulles last night at 10:30 and finally off a plane at 1:00 at AEM in Buenos Aires. We changed planes in Sao Paulo. I don't sleep well sitting up. I don't sleep at all sitting up. I sit there and think how they could reconfigure the planes and put in lots of multi-tiered beds so people could sleep. It would be a big fun pajama party in the sky. But, aside from that we are having lots of fun already.

We are visiting our son who is studying abroad for a semester. He also studied abroad in Madrid one summer. We visited him there too. We're thinking of sending him to study in Tahiti. Just kidding.

So far we got met at the airport by a driver with our name on a card. That is a very cool way to feel really important after feeling like dirt, cramped dirt, in a little airplane seat for 16 hours. BTW, the officials at AEM charge each us citizen $140 for a visa, just like the big airport (EZE). Canadians pay less. Very annoying.

Anyway, the taxi driver took us to a way cool apartment we're renting through vrbo in San Telmo on Defensa near Chile Street. The apartment is on the third floor and has marble stairs and high high ceilings and french doors opening onto little balconies where you can watch cool people and, a while ago, you could listen to tango music come wafting up from a nearby shop or bar. Is that cool or what? And there an old fashioned cage elevator with the accordion doors you operate yourself. Holds two people.

We walked out and got some empanadas, then found a store to help us get a loaner cell phone to work (you buy credit, something to do with a clara card), then bought a few groceries.

Now most of us (DW and DS#2) are napping, waiting for DS#1 to join us and we'll try one of the places in the neighborhood recommended by Fodorites for dinner. DW has made a list. So did I but I can't find mine. I'm looking forward to going out for pastries and coffee tomorrow morning. And tango in the park at the feria on Sunday. And we got to do a free city tour. And see the teatro colon. Gotta find the list.
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Apr 15th, 2011, 04:07 PM
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Great initial trip report, santamonica, particularly considering you are "very sleepy"! LOL!!!

Keep up the good work!
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Apr 15th, 2011, 05:50 PM
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Love your sense of humor!!! Keep on posting about your adventures in Tangolandia.
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Apr 15th, 2011, 07:11 PM
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Hey SM! U made it! Have a fabulous time on your trip. I love those elevators, so cool. Wish I was still in BA....
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Apr 15th, 2011, 07:14 PM
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Sigh, your post brings back such wonderful memories of BA. I miss it. I'm coming back...
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Apr 16th, 2011, 05:46 AM
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I am such an embarrassment to the fodor family of travel planners. I just learned that the cicerones need more lead time to arrange a volunteer guide and it looks doubtful that we can arrange something in the several days we have here. Thus we will be forced to fend for ourselves. We will walk over to Plaza Dorrego, have a coffee, and figure out what to do. Maybe recoleta cemetery this afternoon. Of course we could pay actual money for a guide, but that seems too easy. We need edgy.
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Apr 16th, 2011, 05:56 AM
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You could try:

http://tinyurl.com/c2d7wr
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Apr 16th, 2011, 08:26 AM
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Recoleta will be fabulous today with the feria and everything going on here.
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Apr 16th, 2011, 09:37 AM
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Definitely try the BA Free Tours - the one we did at 5 in the afternoon was fabulous! I'm like u and often don't like to plan stuff like that in advance, so with BA Free Tours u just show up for either tour on the day it works for u. And if that doesn't work out, we had several trips to BA and never did a tour and managed just fine, but then againwhat is that Recoleta cemetery???something we should have seen??? Actually been every trip and its fascinating. love wandering around it
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Apr 16th, 2011, 10:28 AM
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A guided tour, free or paid, is recommended. Sure, you can wander the "streets" of the cemetery on your own, eventually stumble upon Evita's tomb and snap photos of some of the more impressive marble and granite mausoleums on your own but a good guide can enrich your experience with a plethora of historic fact and folklore about the "residents."

How did a Jewish person come to be buried in the cemetery, for example, and what is the story behind the mysterious disappearance in 2010 of the Star of David from the family crypt?

How many of the grave markers contain Masonic symbols and the historic role of Masons in building Argentina.

There are too many other interesting points to mention here but hopefully enough to tempt you to risk being un-edgy for a day and take a tour with a competent and knowledgeable guide, "free" or "not=so-free."
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Apr 16th, 2011, 11:53 AM
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And another vote for the Tours. We took the tour that yestravel took, and the AM tour as well. Both were excellent and, even on our 4th trip, we learned some interesting things. Especially for a first trip to BsAs, I join the posters above in recommending a tour - and BA Free Tours should be just 'edgy' enough. ANd if you want more 'edgy' consider the Grafitti Tours; I do not think they are free, but hey, probably really a tour you would enjoy.

~Marnie
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Apr 16th, 2011, 04:35 PM
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Well, ok, we didn't exactly do this day perfectly, despite being a perfect day. We walked quite a bit. I think we were in Patagonia for a little while, but my vision might have been playing tricks.

This is what we did. We had coffee and then wandered down the street to Plaza Dorrego which has a street market on Saturdays. We had a coffee, croissant, fresh orange juice, bought earrings, didn't buy a used leather jacket (scarlett is right, it was warm. And the jacket was a little too used).

Then we took a cab to Recolleta Cemetery and did exactly what drdawggy said we'd do. We wandered around looking for evita's crypt, and eventually asked some workers where evita was and were directed down 11 little streets and found her. It says "no me lloras" which is cool. I don't know why some of the crypts have downstairs. I suggested home theaters, which made DW laugh. There's no crying in baseball, no laughing in cemeteries.

Then we walked to recolleta, the corner of Junin and Santa Fe, and met DS#1 who took us by subway to Palermo where we looked for a restaurant for lunch that was closed for lunch (la casa polaka) and then went to a restaurant that was open for lunch, that's famous, and has been open since 1963 (na serapia). Then we wandered through a park, watched some soccer, learned some swear words, took the subway to the end of the line, looked at the Casa Rosada where we missed the changing of the guard which is not every hour on the hour but, from what we could tell, whenever they damn well feel like it.

Then we went home, bought a chicken to fix for dinner, added money to the cell phone account at a kiosko, figured out how the oven works, had a couple wines at a bar that plays great american music, and now we're serving dinner to family and friend of DS#1. So I gotta go. We will do the free tour. It will happen.
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Apr 16th, 2011, 05:51 PM
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Hope you had an empanada Saltena at Na Sarapia....and did you have a pitcher of the house wine? The wine is nothing special but they have cool little pitchers shaped like birds or animals...

While I love your "home theater" explanation, the downstairs is where they stash the coffins of "lesser" members of the family.

Love the travelogue. Keep it coming...

ps...which study abroad program is your son enrolled in? I did study abroad programs in Buenos Aires for 5 or 6 years,hence my curiosity.
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Apr 17th, 2011, 04:06 AM
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Love your reports so far - as our daughter was in Buenos Aires studying July-Dec 2010. If you could find the exit from Recolleta cemetary you were on ahead of me. I suggest a tour of the soccer stadium near San Telmo. I even took the open air hop on- hop off city bus tour with my daughter. Sat in the open top level - but watch for branches from trees and wires - they seem to have differentsafety standards for these things in Argentina. You can listen to narrative on headphones in about 6 languages - my daughter reported to me that what they were saying in Spanish was completely different than English content.

I most miss the "pastries and coffee" thing from Buenos Aires. Could sit forever in a cafe with good coffee and way too many pastries and people watch.

Hope your son is enjoying Buenos Aires. When my daughter was there UBA (where she was studying) had a prolonged student strike that took up almost half of her semester. (more time for her to eat, drink, travel).
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Apr 17th, 2011, 06:32 AM
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DrD, thanks for the info on the crypts; I suspected the home theater idea was bogus. We got breaded meat sandwich at na seriapia, I saw the animal pitchers but we had beer. DS#1 is taking one course at UBA and three courses at the IES institute.

Gail, boy the coffee and pastries are great, aren't they? We just went out for coffee and chorros (some of us had too much vino tinto last night) and are now debating when to take a free tour (thanks AV for the link) and when to do our feria. We're hoping the rain will pass and we can do the feria, which is starting to set up outside our door and up and down the street for blocks. DW also wants to see MALBA.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. It's nice to wake up and have a bunch of virtual friends in the kitchen helping to plan the day.
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Apr 17th, 2011, 06:43 AM
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MALBA is great - go.
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Apr 17th, 2011, 10:31 AM
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A friend and I are going to BA in July so we are hanging on every word. Thanks for posting and please keep on!

Sandy (in Denton)
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Apr 17th, 2011, 07:38 PM
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Gosh, I may have let the fodor community down a bit today as we didn't do all that much as we didn't sleep that well as we were waiting for DS#1 and DS#2 to come home from playing pool, drinking responsibly, and who knows what until 4:00 am. Buenos Aires starts late and finishes late.

So today, sunday, is the feria day in san telmo and booths are set up for blocks and blocks and blocks with people selling mate cups and drinking straws, belts, ceramics, puppet performances, mimes, drumlines, tango bands and dancers. It's right outside our apartment.

So, after croissants across the street, we walked up defensa, watched some people tango, and went into Cafe Dorrego for more coffee. Then back to wake the kids. Then up and down defensa again. Cafe Siddon for lunch. Too much to eat. Up and down defensa looking for a cheap jacket. Lots of t shirts, a few expensive jackets, no cheap jackets.

It's fall here. I knew that, I just didn't believe it. My Happy Valley sweatshirt is getting a little grungy. We take a taxi to drop off DS#1 with his host family in Recoleta and then on to MALBA so we can say we did something besides walk up and down defensa today.

MALBA has many pictures by modern artists, as it's a modern art museum. One installation is a bunch of plants, intended to annoy people who think plants are not really art. I was a little bothered, but not annoyed.

Then to shopping mall next door. Just like home, but more expensive. By this time DW and DS#2 losing patience with me for not packing appropriately and taking forever to buy a jacket. And lots of guys here have black leather jackets. And DS#1 has a black leather jacket. So I bought a black leather jacket. Mostly leather. It's got zippers on the sleeves. I never had a jacket with zippers on the sleeves before.

So then home to shower. Then we went to Restaurant San Juan for a great steak dinner. Restaurant does not take visa so I gotta walk up and down defensa again to get money from the ATM.

Then walk back defensa to our apartment but I want to check out music coming from plaza dorrego so DW and DS#1 continue on home and I go watch lots of people tango dancing. One girl asked me what time it was and another girl gave me an advertisement to a tango class. They may have been attracted to the black (mostly) leather jacket.

After watching the tango dancing for a while (nobody actually asked me to dance) I left the plaza and walked back down defensa to home. So, lamentablemente, generally all we did all day was walk up and down defensa.

Don't you have to love a country that says lamentablemente? Tomorrow, for sure, free tour!
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Apr 18th, 2011, 04:02 AM
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Great! Keep going!

So that black leather jacket IS attractive! Maybe it's the zippers on the sleeves or maybe it's the contents. LOL!!!

We are all waiting anxiously for the next chapter. Somewhat cloudy weather expected for the next few days, but no rain is forecast.

So go on having a great time in our town.
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Apr 18th, 2011, 05:36 AM
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Thanks av. This morning I went out shopping for eggs to put on top of our leftover milenesas and some coffee and pastries. In a few minutes we'll leave for our free tour from Plaza Congresso.
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