Friday, May 17, 2013

Buenos Aires impressions

The dogs are very friendly, both rhe strays and ones with owners, many of which walk off the leash. The strays are smart about crossing streets, even busy ones. We watched one dog pace at the side of a busy street and finally go when there was a break in traffic. Apparently there are no rules about picking up the poop, or else they're not enforced. We both stepped in piles.

The sidewalks are universally in bad shape, a mishmash of different types of tiles and concrete, much of which is coming apart. I'm certainly glad I didn't bother bringing anything besides comfy walking shoes. It would be very slow going in heels.

My Mary Jane flats are more than sufficient anyway, even at night. We had heard that due to the European influence, Buenos Aires is a city where one dresses a bit nicer for dinner. The first night I wore a dress with leggings and was massively over dressed. Jeans and a nice top is ideal.

They eat crazy late here. Many restaurants here open at 8pm and going before 9 is like going at 6 at home. 11pm is when a place would be jumping. Clubs open at 1am or later. A friend who has lived here a while told us that when he used to go clubbing they'd arrive at 2 and wonder if the place was going to be dead all night long. Eventually around 3 people would start showing up. Where they would be before that is a mystery to me. One bar had a sign that happy hour is from 8-9pm.

The street art is amazing. Unfortunately, much of it that I'm seeing is from a speeding taxi.

Empanadas are delicious, as long as they are not bought from a woman selling them cold out of a basket on the street. Choripan is a sort of chorizo on bread and it's yummy. Fernet is an herby, spicy bitter that Jeff tried on a dare knowing full well it would be disgusting. (It was.) Coke and Pepsi not made with high fructose corn syrup are so good! Although I'm glad we can't get it at home since that makes it easier for me to avoid. Dulce de leche is of course popular. We've had it in filled cookies and pastries, as a condiment with bread at breakfast, as an ice cream flavor and as an ice cream topping. There were 5 varieties of dulce de leche flavors at an ice cream stand but we couldn't make out the differences.

A bottle of Argentinian wine costs less than two glasses of macro brewed beers.

There are no stop signs, only lights at some corners and speed bumps at the rest. The cars manage to artfully ease into the intersection and not hit each other and a couple cars from one direction go and then the other.

No one wears bicycle helmets. Traffic lanes are a mere suggestion. A street named Thames is pronounced Thomas.

Domestic flights are quite expensive, so a slew of bus companies offer luxury overnight trips with fully reclining seats. Without very good knowledge of Spanish, the gargantuan Buenos Aires bus terminal can be a nightmare. Our bus was delayed and no info about it was displayed on the monitor. We spent a harrowing 15 minutes running around trying to find people to ask who would actually know what was going on.

We spent the first two days seeking Yerba Mate, the local caffeine-free tea. We'd see people drinking it out of the traditional gourds as they strolled, but none for sale to sample. On the evening of our second night we met up with a friend of a friend who initiated us in the ways of mate. We liked it a lot so we bought a bag of the loose tea and two gourds (one traditional and one modern). We only need one since the way it's drunk is shared between people, but apparently locals collect different cups for it anyway.

We are tired of steak.