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Monday, September 1, 2008

Argentina -- First Impression 8.30.08



* Barrio Norte                           *Palermo                              *Don Julio

Because of the flight delay, by the time we arrived at our apartment, it was already 3:30 PM.  We decided to book an apartment through bytArgentina,  since I like the idea of living like a local.  The agent was waiting in front of the building when we arrived.  He took us to our apartment and showed us around.  Our apartment was a charming Spanish style studio located in Palermo within 1.5 blocks to Alto Palermo mall and subte (metro) D line Bulines stop.  The check-in process took longer than expected because the internet was not working.  We were able to resolve the problem after the agency sent two technicians to trouble shoot.


After a quick shower and change of clothes, we were eager to rush out the door and explore the city.  We got a 10 ride pass for 9 pesos, took the subte to Barrio Norte, and walked back to our neighborhood.  It was a springy weather with a very comfortable temperature.  We walked along Santa Fe Avenue, which was a bustling street with lots of traffic and shoppers.  All the different shops and sidewalks of Santa Fe reminded me of Taipei when I was in high school.  We noticed that all the apartment buildings have a parking garage right next to the entrance on the main street, which was something we did not see in other cities before.  We wondered if that was required by law, if it was for safety reasons, or for the convenience.  Walking on the street of Barrio Norte, the air seemed to be a bit heavy and still, I felt a sense of sadness, but I was not sure why.  


Heading back to Palermo, we went to a cellphone store to get H a local sim card for his unlocked phone.  We asked the store clerk if there were any good empanadas nearby and he recommended "Bonjour Pizza" around the corner.  
And it was really the BEST empanada we've had ever! For the remaining of our trip, we went there any chance we got for some carne empanadas. 

For our first night in BA, I picked Don Julio for dinner because it was highly recommended by my guidebook.  It was within walking distance from our apartment, and opened at 7:30 PM for dinner, which was very early for BA standards.  On the streets, we saw parents with kids playing in the parks, people walking their dogs, and young couples sucking each other's face.  People LOVE dogs in Buenos Aires, mostly big dogs.  We saw so many young couples making out on the streets and in the parks.  Is it because they can't do it at home with their parents' presence? Or is PDA just the norm here?  


We stepped into a local supermarket called "Disco" to see what kind of food locals were buying.  The meat section was pretty impressive.  You can find all parts of cow meat and intestines.  The portions were huge with frictions of the price you pay in New York. 

By the time we got to the restaurant at 7:45 PM,  We were beat.  After a 12 hour red eye flight, H and I just wanted to head home to sleep, especially knowing the next morning we had to get up early for our Iguazu trip.  Communicating with our waiter was a challenge.  It was a miracle that we actually got our orders right.  The morcilla (blood sausage) was a bit hard to stomach, but I was willing to try almost everything once.  The bife de chorizo was kind of plain.  We quickly finished our meal, and called it a night.  

Once we got home, we spent almost an hour just try to figure out how the phone works in BA.  I would spare you with all the details.  Bottom line was:  They were just waaaay too complicated for two jet lagged, sleep deprived,  agitated non-Spanish speaking foreigners to figure out.  Finally, we gave up, and called the radio taxi to make a car reservation for the next morning with our US cell phone.  It went through without a glitch.


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