Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Buenos Aries February 22

We ordered room service the night before for 6:30 and there is a knock at our door at 6 am!  Blah, should of figured and scheduled it for a half hour later so it would get delivered at 6:30, will know better next time.  Also we ordered tea for two and got the water, milk, and sugar but no tea bags!  Will have to do without for now.

The ship maneuvers into place very stragically going thru breakers and finally settling into the berth along side container ships and a very working port.  When we get off we pose for the ship’s photographers – even if we won’t buy the photo we know how hard they work and pose happily.  We board a bus, everyone has to ride a bus from the ship to the port terminal for safety reasons because it is a working port.  As soon as we exit the port we notice a bunch of cameras outside – we later find out there is a famous person on another ship that they are waiting for, surprisingly they are not waiting for us!  To the left is the taxi stand and we get in to head to the Sheraton Hotel and convention center to meet our tour guide, which cost about $5.  Note taxis here are metered and in Argentinean pesos but they will accept US if necessary but I would recommend getting some pesos even if it is once you get here from a bank machine, especially if you are on a private tour. 

Jessica our tour guide meets us right on time at the hotel.  We booked her thru Buenos tours you can find them at the price was $300 for the four of us or $75 each for a seven hour tour, we did have to make a small deposit thru paypal. 

The ship did have a tour too but it was half the time and only visited a few of the spots we did for $50 per person and we saw the tour and it consisted of at least 20 people.  Our group of four was easy to get around but was mainly a walking tour but according to Jessica she can accommodate most groups and most ages and plan accordingly so talk to them about what they can do for you.

We started by taking a taxi to the San Telmo neighbourhood where you can see the history in the neighbourhood where the immigrants came to this area and settled, the homes narrow but very deep was shown to us.  The squares where people spend their days enjoying a coffee and shopping, the cobblestone streets and the architecture a mix of eclectic and more modern is found.  Lots of antique stores but many of them were closed, Sundays is the day for the antique sales in the square.

Bernie trying the Mate

Jessica takes us to a Mate store, now mate is a ritual, we saw it in Uruguay too but are happy to learn more about it here.  The owners welcome us to their store and Jessica explains to us all about the ritual of mate, it is a cup that is shaped from a gourd you fill it up with a dried tea (there are flavoured versions, we try the orange flavour) and then hot water.  A straw (made of bamboo or steel that has one end that has small holes in it to strain the tea leaves).  The host conducts the ritual by filling the cup with water and passing it to the person who drinks from the straw and enjoys the tea, then passes it back to the host and refills it with hot water then passes it to the next person who sips from the straw then returns it to the host again for refilling.  He knows we like it because we don’t make a face when we drink it…it actually taste quite good, kind of like a green tea. 

look at the selection of Mate cups and straws, they make all these in house

We love the artistic side of the cups, they are beautiful and we buy a cup and bamboo straw that has the San Telmo neighbourhood on it to remind of us the area and Bernie picks us a lovely hand woven belt sash too that they make there.  We find out they have four kids so we hand over four Canadian tattoos and they are happy and we are so glad they shared a bit of their culture with us.  The belt, the cup and straw came to around $22 and a lovely souvenir.  You can learn more about his store at

We walk to Monserrat which is the oldest neighbourhood with many old beautifully restored churches and Jessica tells us all about the history of the area and churches and the battles they faced and their restoration.

A short walk away and we are in the city center and the streets criss cross and traffic flies by and we learn about the government buildings surrounding the square of independence, both the municipal and federal buildings.

Jessica explains to us the importance of demonstration and translates the current demonstrators, including the mothers who continue to demonstrate about the injustices their children faced when they were arrested and not heard from demonstrations in the 80s.  Their children spoke out on injustices and were arrested and the mothers circled the square back then demanding to know what happened to their kids, they wore white scarves and carried signs with their kid’s picture.  Today the square has painted white scarves on the cement surrounding the square in memory of these mothers who protested.  Jessica explains that every Thursday they continue to march in memory. 

I am moved personally, I fight every day for injustices and am so proud of these people and how they have stood up and demanded to be heard.

Our next stop in the square is the Casa Rosada or the Pink House their federal house.  The building is beautiful and I love the story that the left wing is bigger because of the “left” power!  Argentina is a great example of social democracy and their history is one I have learned and teach within my union.  What the Peron’s started is what I dream of in Canada and the world.  We are shown the balcony where Evita gave her speech and I smile and am so happy and honoured to be here.

We head down to the subway to catch the metro – their oldest line and the cars pull up and I feel like I am back in the 30s, we board to go only a stop but it is such a great experience and glad we got to experience it.

Jessica directs us to the Café Tortoni the oldest and most ornate café in the city founded back in 1858.  We look to Jessica for direction on what to order as a local would.  I order a submarine drink which is basically a hot milk with a chocolate that you place in the milk and stir to make your own hot chocolate and damn it was good!  Bernie orders a natural coffee and a scone that is to die for and has the flavour of almond.  I also order some churros and dip them in my hot chocolate.  Rose and Jerry don't order a thing, they are really missing out on the "real" experience of Buenos Aries, but they do buy a coffee cup as a souvenir.   I get a picture with the statue of Tita Merello a famous Feminist Poet. 

We head over to the Avenida 9 de Julio the widest road in the world consisting of 18 lanes!!  Yes that is 18 lanes.  From the middle of the road we look towards the Buenos Aires Obelisk Monument and the other direction shows us a building with a beautiful image of Evita Peron at the top. 

We walk back and visit a Starbucks --- I know Starbucks but we collect the mugs from the countries and we really want one from Argentina.  The staff are so sweet and we give them each a Canadian Tattoo and they are asking us if we are staying and invite us back tomorrow but sadly we are leaving tonight. 

We are back underground on the subway but on a different line, the C line to head three stops.   We come up and you can tell we are in a more affluent area.  Jessica points out the houses of the very very rich – some houses consisting of only six people but takes up a city block!

We head to El Sanjuanino a traditional Argentina restaurant, the staff know Jessica and we are lead downstairs to a table.  I decide to order local food and order the chorizo and Bernie gets the empanada and we get Sangria, the food is rather bland but good, but seems to be the norm in South America.  The only condiment on the table is salt, no pepper or spice, there is a side of a pepper in oil and that helps but many of the meat dishes are so good they stand alone. 

After lunch we make our way to Recoleta Cemetery, now originally when I saw this and knew this is where Evita was buried I thought why would I go to a cemetery to see where someone was buried, I am so much more into seeing where someone is living not buried!  But wow was I wrong.  Now I have seen lots of cemeteries but this has to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries I have ever seen.  The mausoleums for each family are very ornate, in fact they often hire an architect to design the family mausoleum.  Each mausoleum holds many bodies, some are in better shape from the elements than others and some you can look in and actually see the caskets and the depth of some of them.  It is very interesting and very beautiful too.  Jessica explains some of the mausoleums and their importance.

Hidden very non descript is the Evita tomb.  Jessica relays the story of how Evita’s body was stolen and taken to Europe and only returned and placed here afterwards.  I am moved by the history of the Peron family and am proud to have visited here.

Evita's tomb

We exit the cemetery and head to the market called Disco, yup Disco is the chain name.  Jessica assists us in finding the items that are traditionally Argentinian, we pick up four bottles of Malbec Argentinian wine and some sparkling wine too.  We get some dried tea to go with our Mate cup, and some biscuits that have caramel de luce in them and also some local soda that is lime flavour and as I sit here and type this I am drinking some of that soda on my balcony with well some Vodka cause heck I am on vacation and everything goes better with Vodka.  (on a side note since we have been home I have had a few mate with the tea I bought, very good)

the pier is very industrial

We are not really interested in dressing up and heading to the dining room tonight we are tired so we head up to the Horizon Court and have a meal, well actually I am craving a burger and get a burger with a nice salad then we want to watch the Movies Under Stars, the movie is a Dolphin Tale and it is a nice feel good movie.  My only complaint is the people who stand to the side or sit at the tables on the side and chat, it is very distracting and annoying.


  1. Really enjoying your trip Vickie. We're doing the Star SA trip in Feb13 so I'm getting lots of great ideas. The photos are a great addition.

  2. Love what you wrote so far, we are boarding the Grand in Buenos Aries on February 14, 2013 to start our adventure around South America. Previously did the Ft. Lauderdale to Rio portion, so want to see more of South Amnerica. I am planning to continue reading about the balance of your trip and taking plenty of notes.

    Pat S