Monday, May 24, 2010

The Best of Buenos Aires

Hands down, the best part of our trip to BA was meeting new friends.

Before heading out, we were a bit apprehensive about living with other couples beyond Em and Carm, but figured that we would just hang with Em and Carm if the other folks were a drag. Turns out that we've made two new lifetime quality friends. I'll introduce you here......




MDK-20100520-0568, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


This is Parker. He's one of Em's partners at CMC. Parker is the #1 reason behind our successful trip. He had been to BA before and actually went to a party at the house that we rented. He found it again on the VRBO web page - a feat because they don't list addresses!




Buenos Aires welcome brunch, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


The picture above perfectly illustrates Parker at his best. After a long overnight flight to BA, we were picked up at the airport by the driver and brought to the house. There, Parker had already gone to the grocery and picked up noshy brunch including Mimosas. He's just that thoughtful.

During the week we learned that Parker's hobbies include refurbishing old fountain pens, as well as history and working on his antique Fords and Jeeps, one of which was purchased new by his father. Parker is old-school in the best sense of the word. Nearly every night at dinner after he visited the paper store in Palermo; Lisa and Parker would write down details about what they had eaten, and the jokes in his trip journal.

Lisa, Em, Carm and I hit it off immediately with Parker. All of us have a pretty compatible sense of humor including lots of wordplay and puns. By the end of the first day we had at least 10 catch phrases that would cause instant giggles.

I'm sure you'll lick ass, as usual.

Shoulders back, tits out.

Low talker/world narrator

At the end of the evening when we were all in the jacuzzi together we were pondering what impact Danelle would have on our little group. As it turns out, we were very pleasantly surprised....




MDK-20100520-0560, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


Danelle is a rockstar. She's a geriatrician (old people doctor) that works at Hopkins in Baltimore. She came on the trip because she's friends with Stacy who is another of Emily's partners. Danelle arrived a day before Stacy and Mike were set to arrive. Then Stacy and Mike missed their flight and were bumped back a whole day. At this point, some people would decompensate - freaking out with strange people in a strange house. Not Danelle, she took everything in stride. In fact, Danelle instantly integrated into the group. She shattered every negative stereotype that I had regarding folks who practice internal medicine, and especially geriatrics when she laughed so hard about a joke too foul to tell on this public blog. Things just kept getting better from there.

The last couple, Stacy and Mike were really cool too, but because they missed a day and had lots of obligations at the meeting, we hardly got to know them. Maybe the next time we're in Charlotte.

It's weird how sometimes you have to travel half-way around the world to make new friends. We were super duper lucky with these two and hope to see them again soon!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Leather, Tango

With the exception of the Tango show last night the past two days have been pretty chill. Mostly spending time shopping and seeing the local sites. Emmy grins during a *quick* tasty lunch break.




MDK-20100520-0550, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


Yesterday we went shopping in the leather district where countless stores all sell very similar leather products. If you want the "classic", read "high school" brown leather jacket, you're in luck. That is as long as you are shaped like a dress form. Otherwise, if you want something that fits a human being, or is edgy or unique head somewhere else. One thing that was cool is that many of the shops also doubled as factories - with a little careful observing you could see people making the goods that they sold in the stores.

Last night took us to a tango show. From what we've learned all of the tango shows in the city are touristy. We selected the Carlos Gardel show because it was suggested by one the house concierge. The prices were also quite touristy, but we decided to give it a shot.




MDK-20100521-0580, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


Most of the tango places are all inclusive - dinner, drinks and the show come together in one package. Dinner was very good, but not excellent. The show was fantastic. Excellent dancing, and live music. The band featured three accordions, piano, bass, viola and a ferociously talented and hot female violinist.




MDK-20100521-0586, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


Lisa shot a few really good videos of the show - scroll down for more!




MDK-20100521-0597, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What day is it anyway?

Vacation can be a little disorienting. Especially when you stay up late and sleep in until noon. Said disorientation results in a slightly tardy blog post tonight.

Parker says goodbye for the day......




MDK-20100519-0436, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


Yesterday brought a trip to a new neighborhood called Recoleto. It is a bit closer to the center of the city than Palermo Soho where we have been staying. Shopping in Recoleto was quite a bit more upscale, but not quite as hip. Still, Carm scored a sweet new work bag, Em scored a cool laptop sleeve, and Lisa found the perfect present for Marcia. The quality of the goods in this neighborhood seemed to be a bit higher than what we had found in our neck of the woods.




MDK-20100519-0443, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


We have been constantly trying to find a dining alternative that doesn't take three hours for a "quick lunch". So we decided that we would try a cafe; Danelle found one in her guidebook that sounded nice. The cafe was situated at the edge of a sizable city park. On the edge of the park was a massive tree whose trunk was at least 10 feet in diameter. The branches stretched out over at least 50 yards with wooden supports holding up many of the branches. After our tasty brunch and some coffee we headed out to our destination for the day, Le Recoleto Cemetery.





MDK-20100519-0466, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


The cemetery is unlike most cemeteries that we had seen before. Each tomb consists of an above-ground structure that was usually about 10 x 10 x 10 feet. Nearly all of the tombs had tiny staircases going down and a large hole in the floor just wide enough for a coffin to be passed down into the tomb below. All of the tombs were built next to each other separated by 'streets' making everything look like a weird miniature city.





MDK-20100519-0518, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


The variety of tombs was amazing - many of the graves were ornate with stunning bronze and stone work, while others were decidedly modern with glass and poor font choices.




MDK-20100519-0503abc, originally uploaded by monkeydoc





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Several of the graves had fallen into serious disrepair - forgotten by families who had since moved on.




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We had a great time walking around until, Carm almost got abducted by a monster.....





MDK-20100519-0510, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


.....and Lisa fell prey to her nature and started petting the numerous cats roaming the grave yard. No one thought much of this until we realized where they had likely been (see disrepair picture above).....




MDK-20100519-0473, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


Several famous Argentinians were buried in the cemetery including Evita Peron.




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Some of the more fantastic graves had huge statues, large columns, and plaques.




MDK-20100519-0520, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


It was an amazing place for photos - click any of them and check out the flickr photostream for more.

Dinner last night was one of the best yet. Social Paradiso, one of the places that was closed on Sunday.




MDK-20100519-0546, originally uploaded by monkeydoc





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We had an excellent meal with lots and lots of wine and aqua con gas. The cherry on top of the evening was when for 5 pesos each ($1.50) Emily and Parker jumped into the pool naked. Just another day in BA.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lunes

Whoever said, "A man's home is his castle" probably grew up in BA.  I say this because, likely due to the city's rocky history and all of the grafitti/tagging even beautiful houses like the one that we're staying in look like a nondescript citadel from the front.




MDK-20100517-0393, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


Lunes brought the next guest to the house - Danelle.




MDK-20100518-0416, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


We had all wondered how Danelle's arrival would change the house dynamic, but it's turned out fabulously. Luckily, she is a quick study and picked up all of the running jokes within a matter of hours (dribilization, tits out, etc).

One thing that has really plagued our plans for two days in a row is that hours aren't as consistent and predictable here as they are in the states. Most times we take for granted that a restaurant will be open 7 days per week and won't close before 9P or 10P. Unfortunately we've now walked to two eating establishments only to find them closed. For lunch yesterday, our folly was fortuitous. A local Argentine woman with electric blue circumferential eye shadow (whom we've dubbed Carol Burnett) saw us standing in front of a closed restaurant and directed us to an Argentine BBQ.

With the exception of Lisa, we all had our biggest "meat meal" of the trip. I ordered the house specialty, steak with grilled eggplant, tomato, and topped with bacon....yum!




MDK-20100518-0417, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


You definitely can't be in a hurry for a meal in Argentina. The pace here is quite a bit slower with lunch taking over an hour including at least two bottles of wine and 3-4 bottles of aqua con gas. We had in fact sat for long enough that Carol Burnett returned and we invited her to sit with us for coffee. We had a great conversation where we learned about her chihuahua, and that she had spent her entire life in Buenos Aires. She was decidedly coy when we asked her about the living conditions over her lifetime. She did comment that she was unable to afford many of the stores and restaurants in her neighborhood due to tourism, and that restaurants would not even give her scraps for her pooch. Tourism of course is a double-edged sword - perhaps without all of the boutiques and restaurants, the Palermo Soho neighborhood would be in shambles. Emily likened Carol's situation to living in New York City where food and lodging are frequently too expensive for everyday use for visitors.




MDK-20100518-0421, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


After a brief, partially successful shopping trip we headed out for dinner. We went to Francesco, which is an upscale Peruvian restaurant here in BA. We all enjoyed a pisco sour and had a great meal.

Two appetizers, entrees all around, six cocktails, two bottles of wine, three desserts, and three coffees - all for $45/person including tip - pesos FTW!





MDK-20100518-0434, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


The evening ended with Carm and Em playing tennis with ping pong paddles and a ball in the middle of the living room.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Antique, Tag, Food, Jacuzzi

After a well deserved nap, we headed out to the Sunday antique market in San Telmo. As with most antique markets, it was filled with lots of crap and a few cool items.




MDK-20100517-0382, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


One of the things that has been the most striking is the sheer amount of tagging and grafitti that's everywhere. This picture shows the juxtaposition of the ubiquitous cute hand-painted numbers and a big shiny tag.




MDK-20100517-0384, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


We had two great meals yesterday and realized that servers here don't understand the concept of writing in a gratuity when paying with a credit card, so we basically tell them how much tip to add before they run our card. The food has been tasty and the company has even better. Below is a picture of Carm's completely flattened half chicken from lunch.




MDK-20100517-0388, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


After trying to find our planned dinner restaurant, which ended up being closed on Sunday we ended up at an Italian restaurant. After dinner and a few drinks we wandered back to the house and chilled.




MDK-20100517-0405, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


The evening ended after a few hours in the jacuzzi tub. Two people who will remain nameless fell asleep in the tub. It was a great day.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Buenos Aires

Carm said it best on on facebook yesterday - "Don't cry for me Argentina....I'll be there on Sunday".

We left Saturday at 5PM and had an uneventful flight to ATL where we met Em and Carm. The flight from ATL to ETE (Buenos Aires) also went well with the exception of some rough air, which bothered Em. We all were able to sleep on the plane. I had the best rest I've ever had on a plane - Ambien...it's a hell of a drug....




MDK-20100516-0362, originally uploaded by monkeydoc





MDK-20100516-0363, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


The house is freakin' amazing. Mad props to Em's friend Parker. The main floor is all one big open living space - kitchen, pool/ping-pong table.




MDK-20100517-0365, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


This is the view looking out into our small lap-ish pool. Since it's fall here in the southern hemisphere it will likely be a bit cold for swimming, but it looks amazing nonetheless.




MDK-20100517-0374, originally uploaded by monkeydoc


We're about to venture out into the city for some noms. Stay Tuned.