Thursday, January 21, 2010
Buenos Aires- Day 1 - Jan 19th
The bus portion of the trip from Tres Cruces, Montevideo, uses lots of buses, loading hundreds of passengers. You trade in your e-ticket for a boarding pass, check your luggage and get under way for a 3 hour trip to Colonia, one of the jumping off points for Buequebus ships. At the Buquebus terminal in Colonia, you pass through customs, and have your passports stamped and examined (this means that Denise will be able to get her driver's license, as well) and then continue on to the boat.
While standing in line, a fellow traveler with a US passport introduced himself as Danny Holodek. We got to talking and spent the 2 hour boat trip sharing stories and finding out about Danny. He is an opera singer (tenor), dancer and all-around entertainer. He had just returned from Punta del Este, where they had put on a production of La Traviata, with Luz del Alba, a world famous opera star. This link gives some information about this in Spanish (Luz del Alba performance). Danny worked from Dec and they only had 60 days to put the entire opera together. It turned out to be quite successful and they plan to do this each year, bringing a different opera to Punta annually. I have taken the liberty of posting this exclusive and interesting look into the production that Danny worked on.
Well, we arrived early in the morning, after all of this travel and decided to walk a little way into town before setting off for our hotel, in Palermo Soho. On the way into town, we spotted the latest incursion of North American enterprise, the local Starbucks. We stopped for coffee and croissants, then made our way up to the main street in town, 9 de Julio. This is supposed to be the widest street in the world. And at one end of the street, the lanes all come together, but by the time it passes through the city- it is actually separated into 4 multi-lane roads, separated by landscaped park areas. It takes several stops to cross the street from one side to another. But to be honest, I looked at it as 4 separate parallel streets, rather than one giant street. Still very beautiful.
We took a taxi to Palermo Soho, to the Esplendor (a little boutique hotel booked with the package), and checked into our room. It was very clean we were very happy to have a place to sit down and shower. We called Tom and Nancy and let them know we had arrived. They invited us up to their place to discuss what we might do that day. Their apartment is only about 7 blocks from the hotel, on a quiet tree-lined street. Their apartment has a spectacular open feeling, with windows floor to ceiling, including the loft that adds a full height bedroom, office area and bathroom to the place. Tastefully decorated- this is a super place to stay in Buenos Aires. They plan to spend 6-8 months each year, there.
They decided to show us the Museum of Latin American art, which oddly enough, was featuring an Andy Warhol exhibit. Not sure whether he was Latin American, but it was interesting. To the left is one of the attendants telling Denise that she can't take pictures in the gallery (a lot of good that was going to do). While there, we saw a striking woman, dressed in a very sleek turquoise colored dress, seemingly posing for cameras. We thought she might be part of the exhibit (performance art), but it turns out that she was the wife of the visiting Emir of Qatar. While the Emir was having meetings with the President of Argentina, Shieka Mosah, his wife, was enjoying a guided tour of the museum. After perusing the collections of the museum- we met with disaster. They recommended that we eat at the little restaurant in the museum- BIG MISTAKE!
We looked over the menu, and were shocked at the prices (duh!). Anyway, we were kind of forced by circumstances to order a sandwich between the two of us (it was nice with some very tender and rare beef and thin sliced ham) and two glasses of juice, for a whopping $110 pesos (about $30 US). That included tip and a 9 peso "cubierto" charge per person (the charge for putting silverware on the table). Anyway, it would not have been a disaster, except that we had brought limited cash, and intended on using it only for small incidentals, using the MasterCard for food and drink. Just how much of a disaster this would prove to be will be addressed in "Day 3". But for now, let's just say it was an annoyance.
We returned to the hotel, intending to meet them later for a fish dinner, but after taking a wrong turn, walking another 2 hours and being up for over 24 hours- we made our excuses, fell into bed and slept until morning. We woke up refreshed, to start day 2.