Sunday, January 25, 2009

“Monk’s Pub Mike” Visits (Again); plus a Day Trip to URUGUAY

Our good friend Mike Shaker (of Monk’s Pub fame) comes for yet another visit from Chicago this time to our latest temporary home in Buenos Aires. It seems that a tradition is in the making – Mike gets a small taste of what’s it’s like to live our world adventure. Regrettably, his wife Orly was unable to join him once more due to the unavailability of anyone to care for their two boys for a week’s vacation. C’est La Vie. (Any wonder why we chose to ‘give birth’ to our furry son Tony, rather than a human baby? Case closed).

Mike stayed for week – actually cutting his visit short by a few days, due to the untimely passing of his bartender’s sister. But, as usual, that week was jam-packed with action, and much too much good food, good wine, and good times. We will need many days to ‘decompress’ i.e. recover, dry-out, rest.

Naturally, we showed Mike every interesting site, neighborhood, and tourist attraction in Buenos Aires, including: The Capital (Congress), the Presidential Palace, the central Cathedral, Plaza de Mayo, the grand pedestrian shopping area of Calle Florida, the famed Recoleta Cemetary where among others Evita has her final resting place, our own neighborhood of Palermo including the upscale huge indoor shopping Mall Alto Palermo, the Jardin (with its beautiful gardens, and scores of feral but friendly felines), the landmark Obelisk, the Supreme Court Building, Plaza Lavelle, the central Train Station Retiro and neighboring British Clock Tower and Falklands War Memorial, the architecturally wonderous old "Water Palace" building, a stroll thru the Aveninda Alvear neighborhood with its comparable ‘Rodeo Drive" shopping, the grand Hyatt Hotel, French Embassy, Brazil Embassy, and the sad Memorial to the destroyed Israeli Embassy, the famous Cafe Tortoni where everybody who's anybody has been (even Hillary Clinton's picture is displayed from her visit), a Sunday stroll thru San Telmo and its street market and art fair, the National Art Museum ("Bellas Artes"); and, even a relaxing day of cruising up the Tigres River, including a leisurely stroll and lunch on the main island.

Of course, every day ended with an amazing dinner out at various of our favorites, including what we believe to be the best steakhouse ("parilla") in Buenos Aires known as Lo De Paka, seafood at the Puerto Madiero, two visits to China Town, an excellent Indian Restaurant, and even a Korean restaurant, all accompanied by superb Argentine Wines.

Finally, on the day prior to Mike’s departure, we took the l hour "Rapid Ferry" (it really is fast – cruising at least 50mph), across the bay to URUGUAY to the small coastal town of Colonia del Sacramento. The town founded in 1680 originally as a Portugese settlement, and was declared a Unesco World Heritage site, and is a maze of cobbled streets and cute shops. The old section is fairly small, and therefore easily toured in just a few hours, leaving us time for a fabulous lunch in a shady restaurant located on the shoreline. Because of their proximity, it seemed that Uruguay, its people and culture, are quite similar to Argentina. Other than its far smaller size, slower pace and cheaper prices, you would really never know you’re in a different country. In fact, it feels like you merely took a ride into the rural countryside. But that IS a nice change of pace, and so easy for those living in Buenos Aires. As a ‘bonus’, your Passport is stamped upon ‘exit’ from Argentina, and then you get a totally new 90-day entry Visa, upon re-crossing back to Buenos Aires. Helped us, because we would have exceeded our 90-day permission, and probably be subject to a fine, otherwise.

As always, all in all, had a wonderful time with Mike and he is always a welcome Guest!


Day Trip to La Plata

Couple of weeks ago, we took a 1hr Bus Trip to the neighboring town of La Plata. It's actually the 'Capital" of the State, while Buenos Aires is the capital of the country. Supposedly, it's renowned as an example of good City Planning, with square blocks and streets that are numbered in each direction. Wasn't real exciting to be frank, but did have a couple of nice sights -- e.g. the main Church Basillica. Only stayed long enough to walk around a couple of hours, and have a nice lunch.

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