Friday, 4 April:
After breakfast, Jim, Diane, Sarah & I took the Subte to the Plaza de Mayo. It being rush hour, the Subte was very crowded; given its 1.3 million person daily ridership, this was not a surprise.
Buildings around the Plaza de Mayo
Plaza de Mayo is the political center of Argentina, site of the Casa Rosada (president’s offices) and a large square, where most demonstrations occur.
We’d briefly skirted the area shortly after our arrival, but I wanted to come back to see the main civic buildings (and to re-visit a store that had very nice maté gourds and straws).
During our visit to Argentina, there were blockades and protests over Argentine President Christina Kirchner’s plans to tax exports (mainly soy) to encourage more growth of locally-consumable foods, and in response, she held rallies in the Plaza de Mayo practically daily. So it was no surprise that security was fairly high, with an obvious police presence.
As an aside, I found it fascinating and sad that at a time when we in the US were debating whether or not the country is “ready” (whatever that means) for a female president, both Argentina and Chile currently have one.
Plaza de Mayo
General San Martin, considered the founder of Argentina and, along with Bolivar, a leading force in South American independence from the Spanish crown, is interred in the Metro. Cathedral, and an eternal flame burns in his honor.
I got a lovely maté (the gourd used to drink yerba maté) and bombilla (the filtered straw you drink it through),
Since we hadn’t really explored the antique stores of San Telmo the previous Sunday due to the huge crowds, we decided to return there, hoping it would be quieter on this Friday afternoon. It was, and we enjoyed walking around Plaza Dorrego.
We lunched at a touristy Bar Plaza Dorrego, where I had a very good Lomito Completo, a huge and delicious sirloin steak, perfectly cooked, topped in inimitable Argentine fashion with, you guessed it, ham and cheese, and with tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and lettuce on the side. Sarah was fairly horrified by the thing; I found it delicious, but preferred not to consider its caloric (or fat) content! At only AR$12 (about US$4), it was a great deal indeed.
We returned home, rested, and then Sarah & I took a cab to Barrio Norte to check out the many shops along Ave. Santa Fe. Nothing jumped out at us here, and the street was very smoggy both due to it being a hazy day in general, and there being a lot of diesel vehicles on Santa Fe.
At the intersection with Puerreydon, we decided to walk towards Recoleta, and stopped off for yummy gelato at a Freddo branch. Nearby I spied some belts in a cobbler’s window, so we went in, hopeful to find a souvenier. Working around some minor language differences (I speak little Spanish, the shopkeeper spoke no English), I wound up with a nice gift belt for my dad, and an interesting horse leather belt for myself.
Buenos Aires University’s School of Engineering
We again walked by the huge neo-gothic School of Engineering, then hailed a cab back to the apartment.
After our last sunset, we walked out and decided to try out Canal, a nearby parilla (steak-house). It was decent, but had the unusual “feature” that only the Spanish-language menu had prices – the English-language one had none!
Our last dinner in South America over, we returned home, packed our bags, and went to bed.
Saturday, 5 April:
We enjoyed our last morning in South America, sipping coffee on the terrace of our apartment, then attempted to pre-print out our boarding passes (not possible if you’re flying w/AA internationally). Thwarted, we returned home, finished packing, and fixed up sandwiches from some of the meat leftover from our parilla the previous night.
With the remainder, we walked a few blocks back to the Jardin Botanico and fed the scraps to the cats, who, as you can see above, were VERY happy to have them!
At 12:45 we caught a cab to Palermo SoHo, and had quite possibly the best meal of our entire trip, at La Cabrera.
Lunch at La Cabrera!! Wow!
Along with the superb meat, and quite unlike most other places we ate at, La Cabrera does a wonderful job with vegetables, and we had at least 15 different dishes of veggie preparations to accompany our meats, including quite possibly the best french fries I have ever had.
Totally stuffed (and a little buzzed), we returned to the apartment, said our goodbyes to Jim & Diane (who were staying in BsAs another week and a half), and caught a cab to the airport for the long trip home.
Although I’d read that getting through the maze of Ezeia International Airport is a nightmare, we found it quite easy. The only possible catch is that you have to pay a US$20 “airport exit tax,” and this can only be paid at a few counters, however, everyone was very clear on this requirement, and where the counters were, so it was no problem at all.
Lots of travel, and a day later, we arrived home in San Francisco to our VERY happy-to-see-us kitties.
Having said so very much in the course of these 15 installments of travelogue, I have no final deep thoughts, so I will end this chronicle with: “What a trip!.”
Part 1: Getting to Patagonia
Part 2: El Calafate & Laguna Nimez
Part 3: Glaciar Perito Moreno
Part 4: El Calafate backcountry excursion
Part 5: Goodbye Argentina, hello Chile
Part 6: To Torres del Paine!
Part 7: Lago Pehoe and Paine Grande
Part 8: Mirador los Cuernos
Part 9: To Rio Verde and Punta Arenas
Part 10: Pelagic, Penguins, and farewell to Patagonia
Part 11: To Buenos Aires
Part 12: BsAs’ Sunday markets and other diversions
Part 13: Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
Part 14: Buenos Aires’ Jardin Botanico and Costanera Sur
Part 15: There’s no place like home <– You are here!