[D56 – D60] Buenos Aires

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D56, Feb 10, 2014, BsAs

As it’s not raining in the morning, we set out to the Cemeteria de Recoleta. We took bus 110 (we were becoming really good at this bus thing). A really impressive cemetery! There were real building-high tombs and statues. There were streets lined up. In front of Evita’s there was a constant flow of tourists. Her tomb (along with her husband’s) was definitely not the impressive one, rather more humble ones. The one next to it was up fir sales… If location location location matters, it’s a spot destined to be regularly visited.

We the pushed onto Panerai boutique, as Nicolas is a fan (although with the current spending rate he’s not going to buy another one any time soon). Very disappointing as there were only 6 watches on display.

We ran to an old-time charming resto/bar in the corner called El Sanjuanino. Like back in time. I had locro, a sort of stew with sausage, veggie, maize. Quite hearty. Love the deco and feeling of the place.

After lunch we crossed a few blocks and a massive road, wanting to visit the BsAs Fine art museum. But it was closed, alas! We walked to the paeque de nacions unidade seeing the giant sculpture of flower. It reminded me of the one in HK.

Took a  taxi home as it was going to rain. It did. We stayed inside mist of the day. A day for rest and think what’s next after BsAs.

P.s. Some national icons displayed in president office, Mafalta us one of them. I didn’t know much about this cartoon figure, let alone knowing that it’s an Argentina one. Looks like worthwhile reading to learn about social events and background in 60s, 70s.

P.s. 2, as a big city, BsAs is quite special, in the sense that it’s actually quite quiet – no honking of the car, no hassling of the street vendors. Even pollution seemed to be in control – I didn’t realize its existence. It’s naive to say that it’s all just beautiful – but the infrastructure was quite solid, the metro, the extensive bus, the city bike, the universities, the drainage system that drained all overflowing rain water within hours.

D57, Feb 11, 2014, BsAs

It’s raining again. We decided to discover the kids amusement park inside a shopping mall in Abasto – a neighborhood that no regular tourist would be interested in going.

The so called Museo de Los Ninos is in fact a playground of 2 floors in a big shopping mall, with all sorts of real-life size objects to simulate the play, such as a truck, bus, a supermarket, a bank the kids can go withdraw money from the cashier of another kid, the laboratory to make milk and yogurt, a basketball court, a library, a veggie patch. I was quite impressed and Nina was even more. Her favorite was driving the bus … Her dream coming true … It’s funny to see her little hands controlling the big wheel while trying to sit on the driver’s seat way too big for her and way too far away for her not to slide down. It’s a 40$ well spent for a rainy day. Kids are universally the same creature, curious, adventurous, thrive with the love from parents.

The chef who made our Japanese lunch (udon, rice, bento) perhaps never saw a real Japanese dish in his entire life … It’s like frying spaghetti with some veggies. Anyway Nina seemed to enjoy the udon.

We were getting better with buses, taking two more lines, 188 and 64.

Went to the nearby playground before dinner. It’s becoming our routine. Nina always claimed 沙子, and dug deep. Some local kids came to talk to us. Alas what a shame I couldn’t understand and talk much. My Spanish is not coming back. We today even went to have a look inside the church around the plaza Güeme, at 7:30ish there was a mass. In front of the church a group of kids were playing football, with some quite impressive kicks. People were walking their dogs. Having a coffee in the bars around the plaza. At 8pm, it’s still very day like, lively, and we were part of it. Mundane it may be, it’s the moments like this life really came into being.

Our dinner time was now officially pushed to 8pm or later.

A street in Abasto was named after Boulogne Sur Mer!!

Suddenly I thought about where the name of Buenos Aires came from.

D58, Feb 12, 2014, BsAs.

We have been here for a week. With our own apartment of all normal facilities, it feels a bit like home, although the days were filled with visits and new things and frustration of not knowing enough Spanish. It suddenly occurred to me, while I was waiting in the pharmacy that it’s the normality of such travel that is not so normal. Does it mean that life as we know it can be established everywhere? I shouldn’t be too surprised by this, yet I was a bit taken back by this revelation/question. The existence, and choice of geographic existence, is nothing but a state of mind, plus a bit of material familiarity and comfort.

A sunny day, wanted to do a bit of nature in the park/ecological deserve in Puerto Modena. We got off the subte (getting really good at this public transportation thing) of Cathedral/plaza de Mayo, and started walking towards the direction.

Nina showed great interest in Ministeria de Defensa, as they had a few tanks in display in their big garden and everyone could enter freely – no question asked.

Puerto Midena was a renovated/refurbished old port, now a trendy/modern office/bar/high rising residential area. It immediately reminded me of Pudong in Shanghai, with its broad, neat, and artificial waterfront walks with fancy overpriced restaurant and cafes, with trees still not quite big enough to provide shade in a sunny day like today. One interesting fact was that this area paid homage to the women in the Argentinian history, hence even the fancy bridge was called women bridge, Puente de la Mujer.

The real delight was running into the navy museum hosted on a tall ship, the tall ship who did 37 trips to as far as Europe (Boulogne Sur Mer was on the list again!) and Australia. This massive ship was served as a training boat for navy officers, and it’s very well equipped. A visit down into the basement through a narrow steep ladder (Nina managed it) was interesting to see the dog that was brought on the trip, and the diving equipment of the day. The ship became the museum in 60s, today it charged a symbolic ar$2 for a visit. An under-valued visit! I had been onto 2 tall ships in Sydney before, none could compare with this one in terms of size, authenticity, and the historical educational value.

After a lunch at central market cafe, we made a mandatory stop in the playground before finally arriving at the ecological park. Ah the sort of park where you won’t see any man made sign except the dirt road. Nicolas would have loved it more if there weren’t so many mosquitoes hovering around him (none around me surprisingly). It’s still a delight to have such a big natural land right inside the city.

Massive ICBC building.

We took yet another bus 162 this time going through the train station and Santa Fe, a long shopping road.

Got laundry back.

Nina’s day is now synchronized with Latino time: wake up at 10am, lunch at 2pm, nap at 4pm, snack at 6 and dinner at nearly 9!

D59, Feb 13, 2014, BsAs

By the time we left home, it’s already 12 … Today was the zoo day, and a relatively cool day, hooray!

If you ask me, zoo was perhaps among the last things I would plan on visiting in a new city. But I shouldn’t deprive Nina from the pleasure of animals. Seeing lions, giraffes, bears, monkeys on the picture book coming to life must be quite something for Nina. I could see her eyes lighting up, and attention totally drawn when I pointed out the animals she’s ‘familiar’ with. Oh, wow, lions ARE big, giraffes ARE tall.

Never, I mean NEVER, buy lunch in the zoo. The worst and most expensive fast food ever, for more than 200$, we had 2 miserable (both in size and taste) hamburgers, one horrible pizza ever, 2 bottles of water, and 2 chips. That’s on top of $90/pp entry ticket.

Japanese garden? Nothing Japanese of it from the outset garden so we decided not to spare another $35/pp from us to enter. It’s perhaps as Japanese as the udon the other day.

We were finally psychologically and physically ready to tackle the late dine out. After playground and bath, at 9pm we walked into the lovely ambianced but deserted next-door restaurant La Paña de Colatado. We decided on diner only instead of diner+show as the show would start only at 10pm we were told, and we did not know how Nina would react any time from now.

Among a long list of parrillada with all parts/meats to be ordered separately, we choose the set menu for two to avoid embarrassment of ordering funny parts. It’s not the Brazilian BBQ but more like Korean BBQ, where they brought a tray  with all neat sizzling in it still. A huge tray that was! Some ribs, some steak, some sausage, some liver, some tripe. Way more that we three could handle. Nina loved the ribs the most – a bone sucking child. She showed amazing capability to handle late night meat dinner with just some tomato and salads. With a bottle of wine disappeared, at 10:30pm, other diners just started to walk in, and the show was nowhere near to start.  oh we were not that Latino yet, after all.

As usual we were presented with a bill (surprisingly reasonable at $310, esp after the lunch at zoo) marked ‘10% tip is not included’. Should I feel insulted that they thought we might escape tipping or should I feel grateful that they just wanted to help us avoiding being ridiculous?

D60, Feb 14, 2014, BsAs

We had a very late and very difficult start with Nina today. She woke up only at 11:15, and winged for 2 hours before we could dress her and got ready to go out. We decided on something nearby, just a few bus stops away.

El Ateneo,  located on Ave Santa Fe,  was claimed to be the 2nd most beautiful bookshop in the world. Although I personally was rather skeptical of such rating – isn’t beauty in the eye of the beholder? – it did trigger some sort of  curiosity in me.

Well, it certainly deserved its reputation. Through a rather humble entry, suddenly I saw a theatre, filled with books. Yes the building was originally designed and opened as a theatre, named Teatro Gran Splendid in May 1919. Only in about a decade ago it was converted into a bookstore. It’s 4 floors high, with thick crimson theatre-style certain , ceiling frescos, roman columns, all in red and gold colour throughout. It reminded me of the Garnier opera house in Paris.

Now it’s a book store, filled with books in every corner of three of the floors. The private theatre boxes in the corners were now reading area, making it a very comfortable and quiet corner to browse through what you may want to buy. The stage area was converted into a cafe, making it a cafe of old time atmosphere. We of course spent most of our time in the junior section, browsing through the kids’ books, in Spanish.

Argentina is said to be one of the highest book-per-capita countries. It’s a lovely and comforting notion that people still read books.

For lunch we finally tried the bar/cafe just down the street. It looked like having been around for decades if not longer and had an old-time vibe in it. It looked like a place where everyone in the neighborhood knew since kids and an still met for a chat.  We always wanted to give it a try. Its simple menu provided some family-like choices, like empanada, tortilla and a fish like we ordered. Nina was still in her grumpy mood unfortunately-  was she actually disturbed by the late night out last night, even if she got her 12+ hour sleep? Or was it something to do with the little red rash on her face and neck since 2 days ago? We wouldn’t know and we tried to remain calm yet alert.

It’s st valentine’s day  – Dia de los Anamorados as they call it in Spanish. I think the day was for singles or non-parent couples, as we were destined to have a night in and early bed time as parents. So not fair.

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