Sunday, December 9, 2012

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Keys to the apartment in Recoleta

We had initially intended to spend about five days in Buenos Aires, enough time to settle down a bit, maybe rent an apartment and cook some meals.  Then, David got sick and Bolivia was mean to us, and we upped that count to 7 days.  So Lana found an apartment on Airbnb.com and booked it for the week.  Then the owner emailed to let us know the apartment was free before and after our stay, so if we wanted to come earlier or stay longer he’d cut us a deal on those days.  Our flight out was fixed end, but we told him we would come a day earlier, if we could find a flight. Lana was able to book a flight to Buenos Aires from Salta, and we settled on eight days in Buenos Aires, which would give us plenty of time to get well and still see the city.
The view from our apartment:20121122_173343_7D_IMG_13845

In all our reading about various neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, we knew that we wanted to stay in Recoleta. Some other areas aren’t so safe after dark (Boca, San Telmo) and some areas are a little too rowdy after dark (Palermo). Recoleta is upscale, but full of lots of families.  It had lots of great markets and stores, and was close enough to the center of the city that we could either walk or take the Subte (their subway system) wherever we needed to go. 
Looking from the bedroom, through the living room to the kitchen:20121121_162208_SGP4_2012-11-21 16.22.08
The apartment was great—it had wifi, and a kitchen, and a lovely comfortable bed. David was still sick and I was getting sick, so aside from heading out for groceries and kleenex, we spent the first couple of days sleeping in, drinking lots of tea, and catching up on some blog posts about the Inca Trail hike.
Looking from the kitchen back towards the bedroom:20121122_114612_7D_IMG_13835
The building came with some interesting quirks, like an old-fashioned elevator, a service entrance to the apartment (we saw maids in uniforms all over Recoleta), and a key to the building that was shaped like an asterisk (see above in the first photo).  Here’s a clip of the elevator in action:

Recoleta Elevator

After so much time in rural settings and developing countries, landing in Buenos Aires could have been very jarring. But maybe because we were already dazed by illness, we slipped right into the city. It was so clean, and it smelled pretty good.
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Spring is a great time to come to Buenos Aires. All the tipa and jacaranda trees are blooming; the tipa have yellow blossoms, and bright green leaves, which are a great backdrop to the shorter jacaranda, with their lavender flowers.   Everything smells wonderful. You might get a stray shower, or a hot day, but generally the weather is warm with an empty threat of a hot day that never quite gets there.  Everyone is happy that the gray gloom of winter seems to be over, and they’re out walking, and shopping, and enjoying the sunshine.

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They’re also walking their dogs.  We’ve never seen so many small, white dogs. All well behaved, heeling, quiet, and focused on just walking.
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We found a dog party in a park, where the dogs were mingling, even if most of the owners were not.
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The few large dogs we saw were being walked by professional dog walkers.
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It felt really good to be able to stay in one place for eight days, and slow our pace down. Eight days gave us the freedom to see one part of the city a day, rather than trying to see all of it in the course of two days. It gave us the freedom to decide on a whim that we didn’t want to go out, and go buy ingredients for dinner and cook it. We had time to just sit in the park and watch the city go by.

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We even had a brief period where we rallied enough to go for a run! 
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Buenos Aires had some fun adventures in store for us, from seeing the famous Recoleta cemetery and touring the Casa Rosada, to seeing a Tango show and taking a day trip to Uruguay.  And it had a lot of really good food for us as well, including delicious Argentinian helado (gelato).  It also had a couple of not-so-nice surprises, like Lana losing her ability to taste anything for about 6 days, and a cancelled flight.  More on those in upcoming posts!