Buenos Aires – Day Three

So it was a rainy day in Buenos Aires. Good time to visit a cemetery, right?

Our intrepid guide, Pedro picked us up at the appointed hour for a stroll towards the Recoleta area, a mostly residential neighborhood but noted mostly for the famous Recoleta Cemetery.

Group Pic
Pedro, AAC CPA, Leslie & Ron go on the town

On the walk over, we stopped in at the Café Biela, which is frequented by locals and natives alike and, in 1999, was declared to be a Place of Cultural Interest by the city of Buenos Aires. Just inside the entrance is sculptural art of two very famous Argentine writers, Adolfo Bioy Casares and his buddy, Jorge Luis Borges, both of whom frequented the café.

Cafe Biela
Casares and Borges at table #1

Just across from the café is this enormous rubber tree, hundreds of years old. To keep it from collapsing, low-hanging branches have been propped up as in this photograph:

Plaza Francia Gum Tree
That’s one big rubber tree!

Continuing along, we approached the 2nd oldest church in Buenos Aires, Iglesia Nuestra Señora del Pilar, dating back to 1732. As Sunday mass was underway, we didn’t go inside to take a look around, but it’s pretty impressive from the outside.

Iglesia Nuestra Senora del Pilar

Just down the street is the entrance to Recoleta Cemetery. There are many notables buried there, but one towers above them all. On the way to that mausoleum, however, we noticed this very interesting deco artwork:

Deco Mausoleum

And then, there it was:

Familia Duarte

Familia Duarte - 02

It was raining pretty steadily when we arrived at the Duarte mausoleum. Pedro was full of information about the many travels of the remains of Eva Duarte Peron from her death in 1952 until her final resting place in this cemetery, over 20 years later.

After strolling through the cemetery a bit more, we went across the street and up to the top floor of a nearby building where I was able to take this overhead shot of the cemetery:

Recolete from Above

TRAVEL TIP: Recoleta Cemetery

By then it was time for lunch and we strolled to a local restaurant for some empanadas. Along the way, we saw this placard at the Hotel Meliá Recoleta Plaza:

Evita at Melia Recoleta Plaza
That girl is EVERYWHERE!

By the time lunch was over, it was raining pretty steadily, so we decided to cab it over to La Boca, another neighborhood wherein Italian immigrants (particularly from Genoa) settled. It was a very poor neighborhood and its residents lived in abject poverty. Today it is of interest to tourists because of its colorful houses some of which are adorned with art, as well as restaurants and tango clubs. As we walked through, we saw couples dancing the tango on slightly raised stages at several of the restaurants on the Caminito, the main street of La Boca. Outside of this small tourist area, the neighborhood is still one of poverty.

La Boca

La Boca Polo Eva Tango
Three Argentine Passions: Polo, Evita and Tango

La Boca Tango Frieze
Frieze in honor of the Tango

La Boca - Tango Demo
Live Tango on a Rainy Sunday Afternoon

La Boca - Dog Day Afternoon
Dog Day Afternoon at La Boca

Pedro escorted us back to the hotel and we thanked him for the 2 days we spent together while he showed us his city. Again, if you’re planning a trip to Buenos Aires and want a personal tour of the city, Pedro is the guy for you.

TRAVEL TIP: About Pedro

Then it was time for some relaxation before heading out for dinner.

While I was having some down time, I checked my wallet to make sure I had enough pesos for the evening, and look what popped out:

Eva Pesos
And there she is again!

Tonight we dined at La Cabrera Norte, another restaurant notable for its beef and large portions. While the food was delicious, the service was problematic.

When we arrived for our reservation at about 8:30, the restaurant was practically empty. But, within 15 minutes, the place had filled up. Our waiter presented us with menus and some “tasties” to get us started, and we ordered an excellent bottle of wine – Angelica Zapata Malbec 2011 – as we checked out the menu. As we did at Fervor 2 nights earlier, we decided to share a couple of first courses, followed by several cuts of excellent Argentine meat and sides.

So far, so good.

The first course arrived after a few minutes and all was well. But a few minutes later while we were in the middle of enjoying our food, platters of beef and pork and papas fritas and other side dishes arrived. There wasn’t even room on the table for everything, not to mention that the plates from our first course weren’t replaced by fresh ones. While it’s not as if we were confronted with an earthquake or hurricane or being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, it did put a big dent in the evening.

We soldiered on, however, and kept eating and eating and eating and, again, the beef and pork were delicious. The Argentines really know how to treat their meats.

What’s interesting is that we arrived at 8:30 and by 9:25 we had completed our entrée, setting a record for the quickest meal of the trip.

However, by the time we ordered and shared a dessert and departed the restaurant, another hour had gone by.

So, maybe it was just an off-night with lousy pacing of the meal. Or maybe that’s the experience of dining at La Cabrera. We noticed that the tables were being turned over with great frequency, so who knows?

I can tell you with certainty that, after the amazingly good service at both Fervor and I Latina, the service at La Cabrera was several notches lower.

And thus concluded our 3rd day in BA.

 

 

 

 

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Buenos Aires – Day Two

Greetings from sunny and warm Buenos Aires!

We’ve just come back from a sensational dinner at I Latina, but more about that later.

The day started with a delicious buffet breakfast at the hotel. So far, the weather has been warm and sunny – it’s summer down here, after all.

AAC Breakfast
AAC CPA on the terrace for his first breakfast

Breakfast Buffet 01
A sampling of 1 of the 3 buffet stations

Breakfast Buffet 02

Amazing breads and sweets

Today was our first opportunity to see this great city with our amazing guide, Pedro Werberg. Pedro is extremely personable and, also, knowledgeable about the history and geography of the city and we had the pleasure of spending many hours with him walking around the city and seeing the sights.

I can say – without reservation – that, if you’re planning a trip to Buenos Aires and want a professional private tour guide, Pedro is your man.

TRAVEL TIP: About Pedro

Here’s a photographic journal of a few of the sights we’ve seen so far:

We started by admiring some of the architecture of the city, much of which is heavily influenced by the French style of the 18th and 19th centuries:

Former Private Residence Avenue Alvear
This building was once a private residence!

Argentine Facade
Another example of French-style architecture in Buenos Aires

On our way, I happened to see the following advertisement, which should please Harvey Fierstein quite a little bit:

Casa Valentina
Go, Harvey!

Many of the sights we saw today were in honor of José de San Martín (1778-1850), an Argentine general who played a pivotal role in obtaining South America’s independence from Spain. As we walked our way through the city, San Martin was commemorated with, among other things: a park, a statue, a palace and, finally, his tomb in the cathedral, which is attended by an honor guard. San Martin was a true hero.

Plaza San Martin Retiro
Plaza San Martin Retiro

Palacio San Martin
Palacio San Martin

San Martin Tomb
Tomb of San Martin inside the Metropolitan Cathedral

San Martin Tomb Ceiling
The gorgeous ceiling inside the tomb

Circulo Militar
Circulo Militar – now a private club

Harrods
Harrods – once upon a time, but not for many, many years

Along the way, we asked Pedro to help us change some US $ for some Argentine Pesos. Since the recent Argentine presidential election, the currency has stabilized greatly but exchanging money can still be just a bit confusing. Pedro found us the best place for the exchange, and we got a rate that was more favorable than I could find online, about 14 pesos to the dollar. And look what we found next to our money changer:

The King
The King – Still very popular in Argentina

Then it was time for lunch. There’s a lovely area waterfront area called Puerto Madero, which consists of a very long row of British built brick buildings, converted into shops and restaurants. We found one of those restaurants – Happening – and had a delicious lunch on the terrace, accompanied by an excellent Malbec (of course).

Puerto Madero
Puerto Madero

Happening
Happening – where we had lunch

Argentine Urinals
The mirrored urinals at Happening – just thought you’d be interested

After lunch, we made our way to one of the most famous landmarks in the city, especially if you’re a Lord Webber fan: the Casa Rosada (Pink Palace). Two of the most famous people connected with Casa Rosada were former president, Juan Peron and his wife, Eva – you all know them, right? Pedro was really great in explaining the complicated history of this charismatic couple and the roles they played when they were in power. We also discussed many of the myths associated with this couple, even to this day.

Casa Rosada Balcony
Casa Rosada Balcony

Perons
Eva and Juan Peron

By then, it was time to return to the hotel for a little downtime and get ready to head out for a very memorable dinner at I Latina, which had been recommended to us by everyone we had asked where we should eat. It did not disappoint.

I Latina

Arriving by taxi in a somewhat questionable neighborhood, we were confronted by a locked wrought-iron fence, through which we could see a very charming restaurant. Fortunately, we rang the bell and someone immediately came to escort us inside and to our table. It is a small-ish place, probably with no more than 20-25 tables.

I Latina Interior
Inside I Latina

There is a set menu, with optional wine pairings that can complement the meal. We elected to go all the way.

The food was inventive, sometimes playful, and absolutely delicious.

I Latina Menu - 01
Our menu – part one

I Latina Menu - 02
And part two

I Latina Entree
Maybe our favorite course: The braised pork

And, btw, I just wanted you all to know that our AAC CPA ate every bite of every course. He can sometimes be a – how to say it? – picky eater, but not at I Latina. If that isn’t a great review of a restaurant I don’t know what is.

I’d also like to mention the young staff, all of whom were wonderful, spoke excellent English and were incredibly friendly. A couple of them were from the US and their stories of how they wound up in BA were very interesting.

The service was completely professional, but not at all pretentious. It was almost as if you were in a friend’s home being served this fabulous feast.

I Latina Infusion
Wonderful infusion at the end of the meal

I Latina Urinal
Signage in el baño

Our meal lasted almost 3 hours, at the end of which, our waiter arranged for a taxi to transport us back to the hotel, where we said a fond goodnight.

CUISINE TIP: I Latina

We’ll be up tomorrow for another day of sightseeing with Pedro.

Buenas noches, y’all.