Thursday, February 19, 2009

A bit of tourism

Before this weekend arrives, I want to tell you about some of the fun things I did last weekend!

Friday night was Nathan and Paul's last night in town (they had just returned from a trip to Patagonia-- lucky boys!) so I headed out for pizza and beer with them, Ali, and Bata. We scarfed down tons of pizza con jamón, fugazzeta (carmelized onion pizza), and faina (a baked chickpea paste dish), and enjoyed the togetherness while it lasted.

Then we headed over to a fun little expat bar called the Red Door in San Telmo, where we met up with a bunch of my classmates and drank some more. I ended up going to bed at 5:00am-- how Argentine of me! In fact, that's early. (For them, not for me!)

Anyway, one of my TEFL classmates, Paul, lives here in the dorm with me, and he and I decided to spend Saturday seeing some sights. After all, I'd been here for a week already and felt like I hadn't seen anything or gotten my bearings straight at all, since I'd been chained to the books all week! So after waking up late, due to the prior evening's festivities, we decided to take off on Saturday afternoon to see the famous Cementerio de la Recoleta.

The Recoleta Cemetery is like nothing I have ever seen before! It's more like a small city than a cemetery, with rows and rows of tall mausoleums to wind through and peak into. It's very cool, and looks like this:

It also happens to be where Eva "Evita" Duarte de Perón is buried! Here's me hanging out at her family mausoleum.

...and hanging around the tombs...

Once we'd wandered around the cemetery for a while baking in the sun (it was getting HOT!) we wandered down the hill and passed through a fun little outdoor weekend market filled with hippies selling incense and clothing and banging on drums. It was a gorgeous little park, with a view of the Retiro neighborhood off in the distance:

...and then we went on a search for "La Flor Gigante," the famous giant flower sculpture of Buenos Aires. Found!

It is so cool. This piece of art is not only enormous, but it is also solar-powered, and so the flower actually opens and closes with the sun. How cool is that?!

Then we gave a call to our friend Megan, another classmate of ours, and we all wandered over to Puerto Madero to attempt a glimpse at the ever-elusive Rio de la Plata. I am pretty sure I never actually saw it, though. I think we were just looking at some sort of offshoots or canals or something. But they were brown. Just like the Rio de la Plata. Brown. Quite disappointing, actually.

The area itself, other than some cool boats, a really weird bridge, and a Hooters, is sort of boring. It's sad really-- I personally think they should do more with the area and make it a bit livelier, since it's on the water and everything! It reminds me, creepily enough, of Boston's Financial District in the way that it was just totally dead on the weekend and filled with buildings. It's saving grace is that there is a massive and beautiful 900 acre ecological reserve there. 900 ACRES! Plus, we found some delicious ice cream to pass the time.

The ice cream melted in about 2.5 seconds, because by this point in the day the temperature had reached around 104 degrees. GAH! And guess who forgot to wear sunscreeen????

UGH. I should NOT have worn a big circular necklace! (The good news is, the burn has faded quite a bit since Saturday, and people don't seem to be laughing at me anymore! Yay!)

We hung out in Puerto Madero for a while, marveling at both the enormity of the reserve, and the extreme dedication of the locals to tanning. While watching browned men and women bake themselves purposefully in the sun, us gringos tried to focus on staying hydrated.

Then, the 3 of us walked in the baking sun all the way to the neighborhood of San Telmo (one I'm scoping out to possibly live in-- but we'll see) to check the scene. When we arrived in Plaza Dorrego, it was like an oasis in the desert... We plunked ourselves at a shady cafe table in the middle of the plaza, listened to a musician perform, and enjoyed several ice cold beers.

It would have been perfect had it not been for the nauseating make-out session going on for 30 minutes straight next to us. Yes, I took this sketchy stalker picture, because I want you all to share in my horror:

THIS, my friends, is Argentina in a nutshell. COUPLES SUCKING FACE. People make out EVERYWHERE at ALL TIMES. No shame, these ones. None. Ugh, get a room.

Anyway, we had a great time sitting in the plaza (other than the aforementioned traumatic scenery), and got to see a couple perform tango in the plaza, hear a few street musicians, see some funky local artists selling their things, and browse an antique market (overpriced!). We even ran into some sort of festival going on in the streets as we wandered around, where a very strange breed of music was playing, all dressed up in different animal costumes and carrying strange flags, and everyone in the crowd was squirting foamy silly string stuff! It was bizarre, and after several beers, quite amusing.

Finally, it occurred to the 3 of us that we were ravenous, and we decided to go right for it and go to a parrilla for steaks. So we took the subte (the BA subway) over to San Nicolás, where we went to a restaurant called La Parrilla Peña, and I enjoyed the single best slice of meat I have ever had in my entire life. People, I am not exaggerating. This bife de chorizo (kind of like a prime rib) was almost crunchy and blackened on the outside, pink on the inside, and tender all the way through. I also managed to pack away mashed potatoes (the Argentines know how to make 'em right!), an empanada, and share a salad. Oh, my! I have not been that full in ages. As my mom would say, I was "Thanksgiving full." This picture doesn't come close to doing it justice, but I'll post anyway:

I am going to gain 500 pounds here if I don't join a gym soon. Which brings me to my conclusion-- I am apartment hunting. I am looking for a place in either the San Telmo, Palermo, or Recoleta neighborhoods, something that is both nice and affordable, which as an American, is a tall order. Wish me luck-- I'm visiting a place this Saturday that sounds pretty cool. And once I have my new apartment and neighborhood decided on, then I can think about doing settling-in things like joining a gym.


atown said...

Erica, I am appalled that you didn't wear sunscreen. Shame.

Hi, I'm Erica. said...

And I am appalled that you drink on Tuesdays. Shame!

Heather said...

And i love that you take photos of the food! and the coins! and people sucking face!