Back in BA

On the Friday night I returned to Buenos Aires from Uruguay, I was treated to an impromptu concert in the ferry waiting room after going through immigration. It was a fantastic moment, especially as it distracted me from the group of young men noisily playing soccer in the back half of the waiting room.

I arrived pretty late at the ferry terminal in Buenos Aires, looking for a taxi. There were a bunch of men outside asking travelers whether they needed a radio-taxi, but no standing taxi line. None of the Argentines stopped to get in a cab, so I thought I should follow their lead and went out to the main street. Luckily even late at night it’s possible to find cabs in Buenos Aires, so I made it to the hotel pretty easily. I was staying one night in the Marriott Plaza Hotel (thanks to Marriott points) since I arrived too late to check into an apartment. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve read that the Plaza Hotel was the first luxury hotel in South America. It’s located on San Martin Plaza, which meant a lovely view the next morning:

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On the Saturday, I checked into an apartment I rented for the first week of July. It was a nice apartment in Palermo, only a couple of blocks from my friend Melissa’s. The only immediately apparent drawback was that it was in an old building…which means old plumbing and thus a request not to flush the toilet paper, but,rather, to throw it away. It’s apparently pretty common in older Argentine buildings, but not my favorite thing.

That night, I had dinner with Melissa and a nice Brazilian grad student. We went for sushi, and I apparently ordered all the wrong things: a tuna roll and something called a fresh roll that sounded intriguing. Well, the tuna was cooked (maybe they can’t get sushi grade tuna here?) and the fresh roll was tasty but weird with salmon, ginger, mango and some weird, slightly sweet noodle as the outer wrapper. Hmm. Melissa’s salmon roll was good, so it might be worth another try!

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On Sunday, the Brazilian student and I met for some cafe com leche and medialunas, then headed to the Casa Rosada in Plaza del Mayo. Plaza de Mayo is the location where historically citizens have gone to protest. The best known group is that of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, mothers who protested the disappearances during the dictatorship. On Sunday, I saw big signs protesting that the Malvinas – the Falklands – are, have been, and always will be Argentine. My Brazilian friend told me not to use the word “Falklands” or I’d get into trouble in Argentina. Interesting, since my understanding is that the islanders themselves consider themselves English and don’t want a change in sovereignty.

The Casa Rosada is the location of the presidential offices, and they offer free guided tours on the weekend. We saw a desk and dress that belonged to Evita, got to stand on the famous balcony where presidents and pontiffs and Maradona have stood or celebrated, and even got to enter Cristina Kirchner’s office (only at one end far from the desk). It was a great tour! After, we went to a bookstore in an old theater called Ateneo. It seemed a pricey bookstore, but you can’t beat the building! We wrapped up the day at an organic, vegetarian restaurant called Bio that I will definitely go to again. (Yummy ginger ice cream…)

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