A Travellerspoint blog

Time to Board the ship

Last free day in Buenos Aires

sunny 24 °C

It is so sad to say goodbye to Ada and Valentyn at La Perla in Buenos Aires. We have had a remarkable time and owe a great debt to our B and B owners. Our third Milongo, this one bringing us home at 5:30 in the morning does not set you up well for a busy day. No worries. Our 'landlords" moved the breakfast time until 11 am and graciously allowed us a late checkout. (All six guests had joined Ada and Valentyn at their favorite They made sure we had a subte card when we arrived, showed us how to use it and rode with us to the MIlongo. At the end of the night aka morning they got us the taxis, gave the driver directions and got us home safely.

Breakfast done and happy with the good news about not needing to pack up just yet we teamed up with Irene, another guest, and wandered the San Telmo market. A one minute walk had us right in the midst of all the action. There was plenty of local goods, flea market items, commercial - made in China stuff, food, music, dancing and lots of wonderful sun. We managed to spend hours and bought only a coffee and wine.

We had two great tours in the preceding week in BA. JoyofBuensoAires was awesome and today we shared some of the things she told us with Irene and encouraged her to contact Joy for a walking tour. Well worth the visit with this passionate and friendly local.

Posted by mhussen 10:51 Archived in Argentina Tagged ship cruise b&b la_perla joyofbuenosaires Comments (0)

And it begins

Buenos Aires

sunny 32 °C

Our trip started with an early arrival at the airport. That was fine. The first oh oh moment came when I could not get the machine to print our luggage tags so we had to go in the lineup for the agent.
Right... We had to show our Reciprocity payment before they would finish the check in. If they let us get on the plane for Argentina without it, they have to get us back or so I understand.
The seats I had booked were changed to separate seats in different rows so I moved them to the same row. The plane was full so there was no getting seated together for the Vancouver to Toronto Leg.
The flight was fine and all went smoothly including the flight.
After a walk around in Toronto we got ready for boarding. The line up spread all the way down the hall however they were are zone 4 and 5 and We being zone 3 just walked past them and boarded. Our seats were window and middle on the left side. The flight this time was very bumpy. I took Melatonin for the first time with a little trepidation. Did it work? Maybe? I slept a lot on the flight to Santiago. I did however dream of earthquakes. I think that was from such a bumpy flight.
Our next segment was the same plane, but we had to get off with our things and reboard. We walked along until we found a line to join, then checked to see if we were in the right place. Yes. We ran our stuff through the security again and back to the gate. Here they boarded zone 1 and 2, the $$$ seats then all the others at once. We were on quickly and seated. Then came the announcement take off is delayed because one of the hydrolic levels was overfull and they had to drain off some fluid. One hour later we were on our way.
The Andes were amazing as was the scenery coming into Santiago. Santiago itself had lots of smog. Buenos Aires was soon begging us to step off the plane.
We joined one line to clear customs and then were funneled into another line which moved much more quickly to the chagrin of the ones in the first line. Then we had our photo take and a right thumb print. Then to get luggage and join another line to run our luggage though a scanner. Once we were done that we were out the doors and there was John with a card with Mari Hussen on it.
Our driver was John an expat who has lived here for a while and got us to our new home without incident.
Valentine was home and was a little disappointed we booked a limo instead of a Remis, but I needed to have someone meet us as the pre trip stress was getting to me before we left.
Our home is a heritage building. Old and they are not allowed to put in air conditioning. No problem, part of the charm of not staying in hotels is finding places that say something about an area. Once you unlocked the front door you walk along a corridor towards a courtyard. inside the courtyard you turn left and will find an old elevator. Max three people, slide the first door open, then the second and step in. We enter on the ground floor. The breakfast is served on the first floor, the owners live on the second floor we are on the third. Another key lets you into the common area of the. Third floor. We are the room with the ensuite. A little more money, but... Very nice to have your own toilet with out having to cross a common hallway.
Our Day started with breakfast downstairs, tea, yogurt, grapes, fresh squeezed orange juice, home made seedy bread and some sort of chocolate cake. There was also organic marmalade, dolce le leche and blueberry spread. More than I could eat.
Margarita was ready for us early and we were off. A quick walk found us in Plaza de Mayo. So much history there. Jumping in and out of the air conditioned car was great as it was very very hot and it allowed us a great overview of the city.
Among other things we visited an old french style coffee shop, built in 1858, which at one time was a meeting place for writers, and artists in the 1920s. There are many old coffee shops, each different, many with tango themes.
We had lunch at the Buenos Aires grill. A set lunch with steak, salad or fries, an apply, dessert and wine.
Next door is el ateneo, Splendid grand bookstore. It was a theatre in 1919, now a book stores. A reading area on the stage, tall ornate ceiling and walls, book shelves curve around stair cases and line the balcony. Very cool.
The temp is very hot, feels like 40. The Recoletta cemetery is hot!! Perhaps not a bad thing as there are few people and we are able to wander at will peeking in the tombs and viewing Eva Peron's tomb with lots of time and space.
We haves heard lots of history from Margareta and politics. The next day with Joy we heard the other side of the story. 180 degree different views.
Joy took us on a bus and showed us many different thing in San Telmo and La Boca including the safe streets.
The 1st firehall in Argentina. The firehall has museum pieces and new equipment.
All firefighters in Argentina are volunteers
The Boca Jr. Stadium re: 12 player
The graffiti wall about the disappeared
The immigrants bridge
The memorial under the bridge for the disappeared who's personal effects were found when the police station was torn down
The old tenements which are now stores but you can see where whole families lived in boxes.
Another good coffee house. Coffee comes with a glass of water and small cookies. Milk costs extra.
We saw the Rosa !
San Martin's crypt,
The British flags taken when Argentina defeated Britain.
The embassy for France, Britain
As we made our way down Defense to Plaza de Mayo we first stopped and Joy explained about Mate and made us some.
Then we began to meet union people. There was/is a big protest today over wages and a large number of people being fired from the government. We stopped and chatted with some. Joy lead us further and we met many leaving the plaza as their part was done. The plaza was still packed with people and it was a little overwhelming. Joy says this is only a small protest and we would be fine. The only time to worry is if the police get threatening. Also don't worry about big bangs it is only fireworks.
Tues and wed night we had tango lessons with Ada and Valentyn. The first night we met Carlos Rivarola, A famous tango dancer. He starred and choreography two movies. Ada used to dance with him. Thursday night we are going to a milongo.
Thursday we walked to Ritero and caught the train to Tigre. With some difficulty we managed to buy tickets on the floating bus to Tres Bocas. The locals use the boat system to come into town to get groceries etc. The river is very high right now, maybe 2 metres higher than normal. The flooding from the north has brought down all sorts of floating plants and animals which normally are not here. we did see a snake, not sure what type, but we gave him plenty of room. On Tres Bocas we wander one way until the trail around the island got too muddy and wet, then the other to a what is a restaurant but it was closed so back on the trail back the way we came. The place is on the water front and again came challenges in ordering. They do have an English menu, but then they ask you all sorts of questions about how you want your meal. Roger had the biggest burger, Meat portion which dwarfed the bun and I had Crepe de Chicken. Roger had fries as well, plus it came with bread and butter. I had a bottle of water and Roger ordered wine, what I thought was a glass of wine was a whole bottle. It was $300 pesos or $19.40 US. The BBq is amazing.
We wandered down another couple of trails before heading back to the boat launch where we found people assembled for a return boat. Perfect timing. The ride back was wonderful on the water.
We made our way to the train. The train, the subway and the buses are all newish and clean. The newest ones are air conditioned. Very nice. On the trains you are treated to buskers, beggars and sales people. Some better than others.
You see such a mix of rich and poor living very close to one another. The slum next to the Retiro train station is huge. The slum has huge decaying buildings obviously full of people living there. Water tanks sit on top of these buildings as they must not having running water, It is a good thing this in not an earthquake area.
We walked back along San Martin, where you will find the locals. On the way there along Florida which is a tourist street. Warnings abound about safely on Florida St.
We returned after a tea break to our room to hear a commotion in the hall. We have a new neighbor and our host is getting to know her. The plans are now on for a Milongo tonight at 10:45. This is a Tango event at a Tango club. We arrive and are seated at a nice table. Ada is well know in the Tango world. We watched with fascination the wonderful dancers and some who were not quite so great. We had intended just to watch but Ada insisted we dance, We did, not really great. We did the steps, but we were way too nervous. Then we learned that there were world champion dancers at the event. No wonder they danced so well. We got home just after three.

A new day started with rain. After the late Milongo breakfast was planned late and we enjoyed chatting with our host and other guests. Then it was time to actually do something. We threw on Raincoats and headed across town to the teatro Colon. We got a tour of the theatre. Great guide and awesome theatre. The structure was finished in the early 1900s. Very ornate and seats 3000. Well maybe not seats. On the 5th level there is a standing areas for women and on the sixth one for men and the seventh floor is for the cheapest standing room going. People now bring lawn chairs to watch from there. The theatre was restored up to a point, leaving some things like the raked audience seating. Roger had said something to the guide about singing so at one part of the tour she says, if anyone here would like to sing....... And so he did . An Italian song, short and sweet and to die for acoustics. If no one in the tour sings the group clap their hands. That too was very cool .

We had lunch at 4pm. It was okay and our waiter was not all that nice... The other waiter was great..I thought I ordered some thing with cheese, it was breaded Hake and it was just ok.. Oh well. Then nap time because.... It is Milongo time at 10 pm.

The following day we wandered down the the Puerto Madero and the the new port. A very classy area now with expensive housing. There is a canal and we crossed into the Ecological Reserve for a change of pace walk through the trees listening to the birds and checking out the plants we did not know. The waters edge is taped off and all through the park are dangerous snake warnings. With the late nights our days are starting later and later, thus we headed back to our room to grab our shoes and head to our dance class. Back again for a siesta and off to the Milongo.

Posted by mhussen 05:06 Archived in Argentina Tagged argentina buenos_aires tigre la_boca Comments (0)

Buenos Aires


sunny 25 °C

Our "landlord " Ada Mores is a dancer. She and her husband Valentyn gave us a couple of tango lessons. The first one they had us dance then said they will fix it or us. That we could do steps but it was not Tango. After the first lesson they said we needed more. After the class we went out for a drink with Carlos Rivarola, little did we know he was a movie star. He danced and choreographed two movies. Quite the handsome man. After the second lesson they were happy and invited us to a Milongo. So tonight we went. Oh my goodness, what a treat. We planned to just watch but Ada made us dance in amongst these very amazing dancers. Then they point out The 201? Tango world champion, Sebation, whom we had seen at the studio earlier and several other world class dancers. If I wasn't nervous before ...

The Milongo started at 11pm. We just got home 3:00 and it was still going. At this one there is a set of three dances. Not too long. People dance and when the second dance starts they stand a talk for a bit before dancing and again when the third dance starts. Then there is a different style of music and everyone sits down. Once you start a set it is rude to not finish it with the same partner.

If the man wishes to dance with a woman he tries to catch her eye. If she wants to dance she gives him a nod and then she goes to him. if she doesn't want to dance, she pretends she does not see him so as to not embarrass him.

There was one dance demonstration later in the dance. It was choreographed and we liked it, but Ada and Valentyn were not impressed.

Day two Milongo was at another venue. This one was a bit more casual and Roger and I actually danced rather than just did the steps. We left at 10 and were home just after 4 am. This time there were two dance demonstrations. The first couple was very good technically but nothing special. The second couple did some very fun entertaining Tango and I loved it,

Day three we had a group lesson, four students, Roger and myself and two young girls, because some cancelled on her. the first 1/2 hour was walking to the music... That's it, forwards by ourselves, backwards and then as a couple, but just holding arms. And so on. Ada Mores had another man there to help. His name is Leo, A world famous Tango dancer who has had a brain tumor and suffered a stroke after surgery. He no longer can dance, but he can teach and had some really interesting things to say about the dance. The three most important things about Tango are musicality, connection and embrace. So two hours later we were allowed to do two dances...

Tonight we went off to another Milongo. This one was big! The dance show was amazing and we danced some more. Home by 5:30 am. I need a vacation.

Posted by mhussen 04:58 Archived in Argentina Tagged tango milongo Comments (1)

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