Painful. Returning from a not-long-enough vacation is always painful but transitioning from pleasant fall weather to heat wave spring isn’t making me any happier about being back in NYC. (98 degrees or not, no one’s allowed to call the three weeks from Memorial Day to June 21 summer. You have to be a stickler or else society will simply fall apart, you know? Last night I went nuts because friends referred to Jane’s Addiction as ‘90s when their big hits were so undeniably late ‘80s. Early June is not summer and 1988 is not 1990.)
Buenos Aires was fun, and as is typical on vacation I did little else than eat, walk a lot and generally hang out. I have a woeful amount of non-food photos to show for my travels, as you’ll see below.
This is BA in a non-comprehensive nutshell:
My Starbucks fantasy was not to be. We were shocked to arrive at Alto Palermo mall to face a line at least forty people deep, four days after opening. We unpurposely ended up at this block the next day after tracking down a theater to see subtitled Indiana Jones, which turned out to be an alien movie (and bizarrely, the day after that when a saunter from the zoo put us out nearby again) and the mob scene was the same. New Yorkers would be pitching an antsy fit, but Porteños took this as an opportunity for making out. I witnessed a lot of overzealous making out in the past week.
They eat late, which is perfect for my inner clock. If you eat dinner at 10pm, which is normal, you can eat a large lunch at 2pm and have time to digest it, plus you can sleep until 11:30am like I normally do on weekends and not feel guilty because you can still manage to squeeze a lot into your shifted schedule.
Crazy good value. Europeans in NYC are annoying because of their spending power. Yet it didn’t feel so bad dividing the cost of everything in Buenos Aires by three. A 36 peso steak is only $12. Hotels are also completely reasonable, but we went the apartment rental route because it was kind of fun to have a kitchen and small terrace with a grill even it was a bit too cold to cook outdoors. We actually had to turn the heat on, which is hard to imagine now as we're scrambling to install air conditioners. A week cost me my income tax rebate check, not too horrible, and I definitely could’ve stayed elsewhere for cheaper but I didn't want to.
Like Mexico City (the only other firsthand source of comparison I have for Latin America), Buenos Aires is a dog city. They love them (and seem to be unfond of cats—when we told our building manager that we played with the stray cats at the cemetery in Recoleta he made a face and said, “oh, I don’t like cats.”), they make them wear sweaters and t-shirts and apparently, there are no such things as leash laws and forced scooping. Yes, BA is the shittiest city I’ve ever encountered. My block of Carroll Gardens is one of the shittiest in the neighborhood but it could never compete with BA. There are probably ten piles of poop per block, it’s an obstacle course, and I was probably unwise to bring along a brand new pair of shoes which are now encrusted in mud and feces.
Which brings me to another fascination (and another New York Times link from this week’s paper): sidewalks. You can always judge a city by its sidewalks, and it’s one of the only nice things about America that I take for granted. I forget that elsewhere wide, smooth concrete, well-maintained sidewalks are a given. If I’m correct, it’s because we’re a fairly new country and the city creates them while in older countries each property was responsible for creating its own sidewalk so they differ from house to house or business; some brick, others tiny tiles, some cracked like tectonic plates and filled with mud puddles. I never wore the pair of heels I brought with me because they were too dangerous for maneuvering crevasses, bulging tree roots and crumbling stone stairs. Bangkok was pure chaos and that was reflected in their unwalkable sidewalks and dangerous uncrossable streets. BA wasn’t that bad. They drive like maniacs and have zero regard for pedestrians in BA but they do stop at stoplights (not at stop signs) and there are crosswalks at some intersections. A toddler was runover and killed by a taxi while (not in front of us—this was on the news) were in town and this wasn’t surprising in the least.
Weird blonde hair. I tried to take photos but don’t like surreptitiously snapping pics of strangers. The entire country has bad dye jobs. I’m guessing that a majority of the women have my hair color, dark brown, but persist in being blonde which creates this strange washed out quality. Some go for honey blonde, which sometimes works; others try for platinum and end up with orange streaks and black roots. And yes, Argentines are an abnormally attractive lot (though the 1 in 30 plastic surgery statistic might explain that) but the ladies should stop messing with their hair. Also, the latino mullet is alive and well in Buenos Aires.
Strange preference for 7up. Do we even have 7up anymore? Pepsi was also present but everyone who wasn’t drinking seltzer/agua con gas (I love a country that’s gung ho on club soda as it’s my favorite non-alcoholic beverage) seemed to order 7up. And there were ads everywhere.
Purple clothes. I seem to recall purple being big in fashion a few years ago here. But there’s a clear mania for it in BA this very second. Every clothing, shoe and housewares store seemed to be showcasing items in purple. Why?
You can’t escape the white trash S, even in the southern hemisphere. After hearing a gaggle of college-aged American girls walking behind us say, “we’re totally going to Olsens for brunch Sunday,” I totally lost interest in going to Olsen for brunch, despite staying only two blocks away. All tourists go to Olsen for Sunday brunch. We got Basque tapas instead and there were no Uggs in sight.
Beef is prevalent, enormous in portion and insanely cheap, duh. Beef is the meat I rarely eat in my day to day existence—I’m more into pork and poultry—but I’ll confess to getting hooked on steak. Just like not being burnt out on Chinese food after returning from China, I could totally eat a steak and blood sausage after seven days of the stuff. I’ll have to document these carnivorous exploits in individual restaurant-focused posts because there’s too much to describe in this quick run down.
MILF translates as MQQT (mamá que quisiera tirarme) in Spanish. You learn important things like this if you watch American Pie while on vacation. And despite Argentina appearing to have most of our major TV shows, they were also airing Van Helsing, which is bizarre because that was also on TV last May when were in Mexico City.
Ok, photos. Rather than continuing to ramble aimlessly, I have pictures (some with explanatory captions when "notes" appears on the bottom left) to look at instead. It’s just easier this way.