Sunday, December 14, 2008

November in Buenos Aires

Just as cold weather started to invade NYC in late November, my friend KS and I jetted to Argentina and spent our Thanksgiving in the Paris of the South: Buenos Aires. It took us 11 hours and a lost luggage (don't get me started) to get there. And it was well worth it. We stayed at Faena + Universe, a hip (though out of the way) hotel in the Puerto Madera area. It was all about the pool scene (see pic below) at this modern hotel frequented by rockers, models and celebrities from all over the world. Loved it...a great place to relax especially given the summer weather.
We spent our first afternoon by the pool polishing off a bottle of champagne (complaining about American Airlines accidentally routing my bag to Rio) and then the evening having dinner at Gran Bar Danzon where we had some great Argentinian Malbec and gawked at the beautiful people. Everyone is gorgeous in BA, and I mean GORGEOUS. The girls all look like Adrianna Lima from Victoria's Secret (though the guys complain that they all look the same) and the guys are tall, dark and handsome and very flirty. After dinner we headed for drinks at Million. I loved the place...a historical mansion turned watering hole with a beautiful outdoor garden lounge area. Felt like Eva Peron herself was going to walk in any minute with her entourage. All around great first night in the city.

Though I did not see Evita at Million, I did pay my respects at her resting place (see pic above) in La Recoleta Cemetery, located in Recoleta, a quite posh neighborhood. All of Argentina's famous people are buried here, many in elaborate marble mausoleums. It was broad daylight when I visited but still a bit creepy, with many of the older mausoleums in disrepair and coffins out in the open for all to see. I said a prayer for all the souls buried there and rounded off the afternoon with some shopping in Palermo Soho. Remember, at this point, I still did not have my luggage (it was en route from Rio to Miami supposedly) so had to buy some bikinis, dresses, outfits for a summer evening out.

Second night, met up with some friends of friends (KCB and crew) in Palermo Viejo for some parrilla action. Ended up at a neighborhood place called La Dorita and fell in love with the chorizos, provoleta (grilled cheese with herbs) the steaks of course and had the best mollejas (sweetbread) I've ever had in my life. Oh, and bottles upon bottles of very good, very cheap cabernet and malbec. Topped off the evening with some drinking at a local bar called Congo. Good times (and LATE nights...people don't eat dinner until 10PM and bars don't get going until 1AM...thank God I live in NYC and am used to late nights sort of).

Third day, KS and I decided to walk around town and check out the Recoleta neighborhood and do some more shopping. By now we had already had so much to eat and so many late nights that I spent most of the afternoon napping after shopping. The evening was spent in our hotel restaurant El Bistro and at the hotel bar where we danced to an Argentinian rock band covering lame American songs and were chatted up by a fun gay couple from the Midwest, a very old Irish man who has clearly seen better days and a not so attractive young Brit named Percy (how very Harry Potter-esque). Not our best night in town but after 2 nights of fun, I was ready to accept a lame one. Besides, I was STILL without my luggage (which was en route from Miami to god knows where).

Last day, were were supposed to go to a polo match but instead hired a driver to show us around town. Turned out to be a great idea since Buenos Aires is a very spread out city. We checked out La Boca which is like a more run down but more colorful Lower East Side of BA. There was a football game at La Boca stadium (see below) so we got to witness some hooligan football chanting. Fun.

Also checked out San Telmo which was our favorite neighborhood, with cobblestone streets, lots of antique shops and a West Village atmosphere to it.

We took some souvenir shots in front of the balcony (below pic) where Evita sang "Don't Cry For Me Argentina"...well OK, not really that but where she resigned the Vice Presidency after she found out she had cancer. She was only in her mid 30's when she died!

That evening, we met up again with our now friend (no longer friend of friend) KCB for some final cocktails at Congo and took stock of how wonderful the trip had been despite the fact that my bags showed up 24 hours before we came back to NYC. I would definitely go back to Buenos Aires again. Next time, I will stay a bit longer, not fly American Airlines again, and have even more meat, wine and late nights and maybe venture out to see the rest of Argentina. May 2010 is the bicentennial celebration of Argentina's revolution against Spain and just might be the perfect time for a repeat visit!

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