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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Buenos Aires- Day 3 - Jan 21st

Well, we finally arrived at our last day. We had been thrilled with our visit. so far. Today would be a tough to get through the day with $21 US, until 11:00 at night, when we would leave.

We made good use of the breakfast buffet at the hotel. We stayed around the room until checkout time at 12:00 noon. We showered, dressed and packed everything up. They allowed us to keep the two bags in their storage room. When I checked out, I offered the desk worker a $20 peso tip, but he declined. I had mentioned the previous day our little cash flow problem, when I asked him where I could changes some Uruguayan pesos. I really had wanted to give him something for his help, but he was adamant. You will notice that Denise has a little plastic bag with an apple- very prudent on her part.

We left the hotel in time to take a subway downtown and pick up the tourist bus again, at one of the stops. Remember our bus ticket was 24 hours and we still had a few hours to use it. We had planned to go to Boca (the picturesque harbor town of immigrant shacks) and Recoleta Cementario (where Evita and many other prominent former residents are buried).

We caught the bus and enjoyed the ride to Boca. That portion of the city is still very run down, as it was in the old days. Originally the immigrant workers, too poor to build proper dwellings, would use scrap materials to put together rough dwellings. It is still a barrio that is the seat of radical politics, following it's unsuccessful attempt to secede from Argentina in 1882.

People told us that the main tourist section in Boca, right at the water's edge, had been done up like Disneyland and was very fake. True, but it was great. Going there on the off season and during the day, we felt no apprehension, as some have suggested while visiting this area. It was fairly straight forward tourist fare. Quaint shops, great art. We had our picture taken in the traditional cutouts. If we had had a few spare pesos, I would have had us pose with any number of the fake tango dancer couples. They give the man a hat and drape the woman in a shawl, and pose you as a tango dancer with one of them for your partner. It would have been fun- perhaps the next time. By the way- there were public restrooms right near the entrance to the street. Inside a little series of inside shops were 2 nice restrooms. Good to know.

Well, we still had time to take the next bus over to Recoleta, so see the cemetery. But the first bus that came along was full and we had to wait another half hour in line. If we didn't catch the next bus, however, our ticket would expire. The next bus came, and as we boarded and they checked our ticket, the attendant had to look at her cell phone for the time- we had 10 minutes to spare and she let us board.

The travel back to Recoleta took us by now familiar sights. While Buenos Aires is big, it is much easier to get around in that either Montevideo or New York. I think this is because of the broad streets and seeming open area. We arrived at the Recoleta stop and paused by a statue while Denise ate the apple that she had "borrowed" from the breakfast buffet. She lamented that she had left her water bottle in the tour bus- then we headed up towards our destination.

The Cemetery is located in a very posh section of town. Inside the cemetery it is pretty dead (you have to forgive me), but outside, it is lively. Shops and restaurants line the square and lots of people are about in this upscale part of town.

We entered into the cemetery through grand gates and located a display that shows the location of the "residents". There is no charge for entry, but you may contribute for a brochure or a guided tour. We were approached for donations to help the children (only the 2nd time on our trip) and I parted with a few pesos (despite Denise's concern for our dwindling funds).

Recoleta Cementario is marvelous. I have never been one to tour cemeteries, but this was beyond belief. It was row after row of little mausoleums. They were granite and marble and bronze and brass extravaganzas. Each was a little architectural wonder. There was sculpture in bronze or marble. Some of it was just too elegant to imagine. We walked about for hours. We found the site where Evita was buried. A crowd was around there and we waited to take a picture. Then we wandered off and Denise snapped all that she could, until the battery expired on the camera. My battery on the video had died much earlier- so we were left with no way to record anything more.

Denise wanted one more ice cream, but the neighborhood was too ritzy for our budget. We decided that we could walk back into the center of town. The previous day, Denise had purchased a couple of empenadas near the bus terminal. Our local panederia has better, by the way. They had a special- 1/4 chicken and fries for $16.50 pesos. We could just afford that, factoring in the subway back to the hotel to pick up the bags and back to the port area for the trip home.

We walked and walked and walked. Between Recoleta and downtown there is a street (Ave. Alvear) where all of the world class retailers had shops: Cartier, Louis Vuitton, etc. Eventually we got to a little park area, and decided just to rest. Denise was kind of concerned because we had no money and no food (silly girl). So, I asked her if she would like a bottle of water (I could just fit the $3 peso cost into our budget). I went over and got a bottle and brought it back. Once she had the bottle of water, she brightened up considerably. She is a cheap date! We sat there for about an hour, enjoying the flow of traffic and watching people with their pets. They love their pets in BsAs. All of the dogs were fat. We saw no skinny dogs, like you will in Uruguay.

Eventually, we realized that it was getting time for us to leave. In fact, we actually had to move. So we got the nearest subway and headed back to Retiro, for our chicken special. At the end of the line, there were all sorts of fast food options underground. We looked at a little shop and decided to have a milanesa and fries, with coke, all for $16.50 ($4.42 US). It was really good. The milanesa wasn't the flattened chicken you get in Uruguay, but a really plump, deep fried chicken and the fries were cut like potato chips, but thicker. It was very refreshing and put us in a good frame of mind.

Now, we had to get the subway back to the hotel. We spent about 3/4's of an hour wandering around to find the right transfer points and another 1/2 hour because we got off at the wrong stop and had to walk further than expected- but we made it. They let us use the rest room downstairs, where we washed our faces and prepared to get to the boat.

Back on the subway, we got off at 9 de Julio (we had walked to this spot from the boat on the first day). Finally we found the Buquebus terminal. On the way there, I bought another bottle of water and we would leave the country with $2 pesos ($.53 US) in our pockets.

When we came to the check in- it was 11:00pm- only 15 minutes leeway. If we had made a few more wrong turns, we might have been too late. Once again through customs and Denise received the necessary stamp on her passport to obtain the UY driver's license and onto the boat. On the inbound trip, I had checked the bag at the bus and picked it up in Buenos Aires. This time I checked the bag in Buenos Aires and expected to get it at Montevideo. Wrong! I had to pick it up in Colonia, which meant a long wait, while others were going through customs and boarding buses. It would have been better to keep the bag with us on the boat.

We arrived back in Montevideo with the sun coming up. We stopped for a breakfast at the terminal. We chose the "Americano" which was scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, juice and coffee. Apparently, they thought that Norte Americanos love bacon, because it was fried bacon with a little egg. I loved it, but Denise could have passed on it. Anyway we got a bus back to Marindia and got off up by the Ruta (main highway), with our normal 10 block walk back to the house.

As we walked back to the house, on unpaved roads, it finally dawned on us just how rural our area is. After 3 days in a completely paved city wonderland, the difference was distinct. We are living in the "country" as it were. And it was a most perfect day. The sun was beaming, the breeze was light, the temperature was perfect, and as we walked back to the house and finally saw it, and the beach just beyond, we were glad to be home.

The dogs had been nicely taken care of, but the cat had hidden during the 3 days (we think up the chimney in the guest bedroom). The cat got a shower, as did we and we fell into bed for a well earned rest. And so ends our adventure- home again, at last.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We enjoyed your 3 day adventure in BA. I would have been in panic if all I had on the last day was $21. I always bring more cash than I need when I travel in case credit cards do not work. Best of luck.