Monday, September 29, 2014

Amazing Night out in Buenos Aires

 All this for just over 100 pesos.  About 7 dollars US using the black market exchange rate.  The drink on the left is Fernet.  You mix it with the coke cola on the right.  The beers in the middle are Isenbeck, my favorite cheap beer in Argentina.
 This is my buddy Jan, born in Germany but living in France.  Here he is teaching me how to make Spaghettie Bolognese.
 Sunny day, time to have a delicious Alfajores.
 Disgusting McDonalds.  A triple bacon goes for 25 pesos apparently.  I still havent eaten here in Latin America.  I cant remember the last time I ate at McDonalds in Calgary,  not counting McFlurries.
 Here is a shot with some friends in Boca.  The part of town made famous for the recent backpack theft video.  You can see Pia on the left and me on the right bending our knees to look shorter next to the Latino American crowd.  Otherwise this photo might give people other reasons to fear Boca.
Here we are buying some churros from this guy on the bicycle.  He sells three for ten pesos.  Best churros in the city.  I am sure you can find this guy at the Boca Market every weekend.  I was at the hostel not doing anything and Livia on the left asked me if I wanted to go to Boca for a free dance show.  Seeing as I had no money and nothing to do, I was down.  Unfortunately once we waited for all the Argentinos, who run on Buenos Aires time, always soooo late, the dance performance was over.  Still a great afternoon in Boca though.

 Next day went out for dinner in Palermo with this crew.  Palermo is the nice part of town that is very high class.  So safe, nobody will steal your packpack.  Police enforce they area quite well to keep property values high, which they are.  Went to an awesome American style burger place on Borges Avenue.    Didn't have enough money to buy a burger and fries so I told the lady I just wanted fries.  She told me that if I bought a burger I would get free fries because she really thought I had to try their burgers while I was in Buenos Aires.  I took her up on her offer although to be honest it was the second time I had had one of those burgers.

The guy standing on the very right is Daniel.  Funny story.  I hung out with Daniel with another group of completely different friends the week before at a dinner party.  Then I show up to meet these guys for burgers and Daniel is there and he knows my other friends.  Such a small city considering there are 13 million people that live in Buenos Aires.  Daniel is from a small town near Rosarita, Mexico which is a small town near Tiajuana, Mexico.  I visited Rosarita a couple years back.  Another random occurrence.  At this rate I think I may run into Daniel randomly again at some point this trip.
 Fell asleep on the streets of Buenos Aires.  Don't worry it was in Palermo the safe neighborhood.  Woke up and someone had drawn a mural of me on the wall.  But I think whoever painted the mural also stole my Isenbeck.  At least they were nice enough to leave my backpack.  The best street art in this city that I have ever seen, So Next level!

After burgers in Palermo we went to this random little Arabian restaurant to smoke Hookah or Sheesha (dried fruit and tobbaco... not drugs mom).  Julián Álvarez 1272 is the address.

The restaurant was nice on the inside.  It was a Sunday night so it was quiet.  But during our stay a lot of people came and went.

 We got to smoke outside in a beautiful courtyard on a patio table all to ourselves.  The stars were out, all two of them in ever polluted Buenos Aires.  And beautiful plants and flowers growing everywhere.  It was very nice.
 Beautiful elegant Hookah.

Look at some of these luxuirious rose.  They even had a lemon tree too (not in photo).

 Came back home and got one last picture of me in front of my hostel in the theater district of Buenos Aires. Time to go to bed... or is it¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿¿

Was chilling at the hostel writing some emails ready to go to bed when Augusto came and told me we should go and party.  I didn't know enough Spanish to explain to him that I was tired and had to write emails; so I ended up just walking out of the hostel with him and the beautiful girl he was with.  We walked to a few bars and clubs but everything was closed because it was Sunday.  We hopped in a cab and Augusto instructed me not to talk.  This is always a smart move because if taxi drivers hear a whisper of english they automatically assume you have money and take the longest route possible racking up the meter.  We went to one Boliche (spanish for nightclub) but it had just ended because it was 230am.  Out front people gave us wristbands for another nightclub that was apparently still going.  We went but it was completely dead.  So we went to a chill pub and had a few beers.  After Augusto paid the bill I assumed we were going to walk home because it was 430 am... But no.  Back to the dead Boliche.  This time it was really bumping!!!  Really good party for a Sunday night.

Here I am with Augusto on the left and Vivina on the right.  Augusto is from Usuyayia which is the Southern most city in the world at the bottom of Argentina.  The only place further South is Antarctica.  Vivina is awesome. If all the Women in Argentina were this amazing, beautiful and nice I would be applying for teaching jobs here tomorrow.  I only wish I knew more Spanish so I could get to know her better.

On a side note, a lot of Argentinan's ask me what I think of Argentinian Woman.  I always lie and say that I don't know too many Argentinian woman and that my hostel is full of Europeans, Brazillians, Chileans and Paraguayans; which is true.  However I do know a few Argentinian Woman.  They are very nice and easy to get to know quickly.  They are so friendly and will go out of their way to track you down to hangout.  However I have met a few that are crazy, immature or mooches (they borrow your beer for a sip and they drink half of it). Immaturity makes sense.  Argentina is a very difficult place to transition out of high school or University to finding meaningful employment because the economy is harsh right now.  That transition was even hard for me in Canada.  But here I can understand more why young people don't want to grow up and be adults, because the prospects aren't great.  I have met a lot of other amazing Argentinian Women though that are so nice and friendly.  Are they better than Canadian woman?  That is a loaded question.  I can be in a better position to answer that if I spend another month here at some point and especially once I know Spanish.

Walk home on the streets of Buenos Aires at 6am.  Downtown in San Nicolas.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Beers of Argentina

 (Stella Modelled by Pillar from Paraguay)
European Beers are common in Argentina.  This is a Stella Artois.  You can also find the Stella Noir and Heieneken very easily.  I try and stay away from the European beers because they are slightly overpriced.  They are still brewed in Argentina at the Quilmes factory.  All the best beers come in 1 liters.  This beer will set you back around 25 pesos-35 pesos.
(Quilmes modelled by Vivi from Paraguay)
Quilmes is a nasty beer.  I like it but the Argentinians and the Brazillians think it is disgusting.  The shitty beer in Argentina is still way better than the shitty beers in Canada (Boxer, Lucky, Bow Valley etc.)  Expect this beer to set you back 13 pesos for a 1 liter.  Its better than Corona because it actually has a nice body.  Its a great beer to share with broke ass friends and to use while playing beer pong.
(Imperial modelled by Claudia from Paraguay)
Imperial is my favorite Argentinian beer.   They have about five different brands of it.  This is a new one I forget the name.  My favorite is the Scotch and the more typical Amber Lager.  It is a classy beer that you want to bring to dinner parties and classy nights of good times.  This one will set you back 20-25 pesos but it is definitely worth it.  Be careful drinking this beer.  Everyone will ask you if they can have some because it is so good.  Giovanni in the background is poking his head into the picture to ask Claudia if he can have some beer.  In true Argentinian fashion she shared it with him.
This is a shot of the beer in a store in Chinatown.  Some very delicious Argentinian Beers to be found here.  And good prices too.  I would definitely recomend Chinatown as a good place to go to save a couple pesos on beer.  Look at that Imperial for 19 pesos.  The beeres for 33 pesos near the bottom left are the only micro-brews that are common to buy in Argentina.

Living the Cheap Life and Having Fun in Buenos Aires

 Today me and some friends from the hostel decided to use the free bicycle services of the City of Buenos Aires.  After a 2.5 hour bureaucratic nightmare of walking around town to different Bicycle Stations to find one that had a camera to take our picture for registration (there are over 40 stations in the city each with two staff and dozens of bicycles), we came to our fourth station and had some luck.  Once you are signed up it is a breeze and you can freely rent bicycles at your pleasure.  You only have them for an hour but you can renew that hour by visiting another bicycle station.  They operate on a three strike rule so you are allowed to be late three times before they take away your services.  I plan on pushing the limits on this policy during my final ten days in Buenos Aires.  Here I am with my friend Pia who works at my hostel, she is from Austria.

 Here is a picture of me in the Ecological Reserve of Buenos Aires.  The water behind me is the Rio Plata.  You can see straight out forever which is hard to find in water in Buenos Aires because there is land everywhere.  Keep in mind its a very short ferry ride to Uruguay.
 The beautiful beaches of Buenos Aires.  In order to swim you either have to go to Uruguay or South to Mar Del Plata.  Spring just started but all the nearby locations are all still too cold and windy to swim on almost everyday.  That is why I am going to fly to Colombia next.
 Beautiful nature views in the Ecological Reserve.
 Me and my friend Cesar from Venezuela with some backdrops of skyscrapers of Buenos Aires inside the ecological reserve.  Cesar is giving me all the best tips on how to make it on my next stop in Venezuela, after my short stint in Colobmia.
 Palm trees and awesome trails for riding.
 A sign that says do not swim.  Always listen to the signs in Buenos Aires.
 This sign says don't feed the crocodiles.  Cesar promised me that next time we come back I could strap steaks to him so we can see the crocodiles.  The crocodiles do not live in the sea, but in the nearby lagoons.
 Returning the bicycles to the estacione.  It can be difficult because everyone wants to ride bikes and there are long lines.
 After a good workout on free bikes decided to order my first set of Super Panchos.  Two super Panchos and a 500 ml pepsi set me back about 32 pesos (2 dollars).  They are hot dogs essentially with Papas on top (essentially hickory sticks).  The best part is all the sauces.  Mine had ketchup, Spicy sauce and mayonaise.
This picture is for my Mom and my coworker in Calgary Lorna who asked me to take more pictures with me in them.  In some ways I feel that super panchos are more than just a food, they are an essential way of being a human, kind of like Mate but not quite.  The other day I was walking home late at night and there were a bunch of kids eating super panchos in front of a late night tienda.  They were having a very merry time and singing songs about Super Panchos.  I learned a lot from these kids about the culture and lifestyle of this beautiful country.  (The avenue in the back is Av de Mayo and Piedras Street.)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

First day of Spring (Primavera)

Here a man on a unicycle juggles for traffic stopped at a light.

 Playstation 1 is going to be coming to Argentina this Christmas.
 This is a beautiful palace in Argentina.  It used to be owned by a very rich and powerful person.  It was likely built sometime in the 19th century.  Why can't architecture from the 21st century look this good?
 Bicyclists in a large bicycle brigade ride in the streets of downtown Buenos Aires on this first day of Spring.  Buenos Aires is a very friendly bicycling city.
 Congresso park with beautiful fountains.  In the background an incomplete new building that doesn't look like it will be finished any time soon.  A symbol of the unpredictable economy.
 These are across the city and allow citizens and tourists to rent bicycles for free.  On this Sunday they were closed though.  You only get the bicycle for one hour but it is still a great idea.  For a tourist all you need is a photocopy of your passport with the stamp that shows you entered the country legitimately.
 Kid playing soccer in the Congresso Park.  He wants to be the next Lionel Messi.  Apparently all the parents are naming their newborn babies Lionel right now.
 A shot of the Congress and the park full of people on this beautiful first day of Spring.
 Girls in the park with their thermos drinking mate.  Everyone in Buenos Aires owns a thermos.  Once they run out of hot water for their Mate Cup they just pour more in.  Mate is all about sharing.  It is not just a drink it is a way of life.  If you make jokes about adding alchohol to Mate, or suggesting that its only a drink, Argentinians get very offended.
 Building under construction in Argentina.
An advertisement for my favorite food in Argentina, Alfajores.  In the middle is a thin layer of Dulce de Leche which is a staple to Argentinian culture like Maple Syrup is to French Canadians.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 2 In BA

 When its raining and overcast you need some delicious chocolate treats.  These are alfajores and they are the most traditional food you can eat in buenos aires.  Had this one for 2 pesos and fifty cents, which is like 15 cents US.  They are really good.  Ordered some other proper ones from a real Argentinian bakery for a dinner party and they set me back a little more.  You can't say you have experienced Argentinian culture until you have eaten an alfajores.

 These guys are awesome.  The one on the left is Lucas from Brazil.  The one in the middle is Alejandro from Chile.  We hang out at the hostel a lot.  Alejandro only speaks Spanish and Lucas speaks Portuguese, and a little spanish and english.  Communication is hard but that doesn't stop us all from being good friends.
 This day was sunny so I got out and saw some of the city.  This is right beside the hostel I am staying at.  There is a house on top of this apartment if you look closely.  The architecure here is amazing.  That's what happens when you have a city that is 250 years old I guess.
 Had this hamburger before heading to Spanish Class.  I asked for it fully loaded.  They put a tonne of bacon and a fried egg on it including a fat patty.  It was really good.  With a coca cola cost me fifty pesos or about 4 bucks American.
On my way to Spanish class at 230 and some people taking a siesta in the park with these pigeons.  Living the lounge life original gypsy style.

 This is the view from my Spanish school balcony.  This week my class will have only me and a 29 year old girl from Britain who left her job (like me) as a doctor to come and see Buenos Aires.
 I am not sure what 'pimpenella' is.  its definitely a play. there is lots of theatre in argentina especially in the central location of my hostel.  My guess is its an Argentinian version of Cinderella for children, where the red headed woman on the left meets her fairy God Pimp (the man on the right) and through her fairy god pimp she meets the man of her dreams.  I wont be seeing any theatre in Buenos Aires but I do plan on catching Sin City 3d with subtitles very soon.
 So much amazing street art in Buenos Aires.  I had the pleasure of getting to see these guys decorate this sidewalk fixture.
 Headed to the Recoletta Cemetery where a lot of famous and wealthy Argentinians are burried.  Including Eva Perron who is a very famous leader of the country.  This is the fortress like wall that surrounds the cemetery.
 Beautiful tree in the Recoletta neighborhood of Buenos Aires, just outside the cemetery.  Studied Spanish under here for about an hour on a saturday afternoon.  It was perfect.
Entrance to the cemetery.  The guy standing in front of the door was a scam artist.  He gave me a bunch of information about the cemetery, and then he asked for a donation for the Childrens Aids foundation.  I am pretty sure if I gave him money he would not have given it to the kids with Aids.

 This particular grave was very old and there had definitely been some wear and tear over the years.
 Inside you can see the casket and the lack of maintenance.  I imagine that when someone dies you pay for a certain amount of years of maintenance here and this particular grave has no payment coming from it anymore.
 This guy died in 1925.  The cobwebs were a very fitting touch.
 This style of graves forever.  Very beautiful architecture.  I would love to see them building them.

 Turns out there was cats living in the cemetery.  I am not sure who feeds them but this one was drinking out of a water fountain that was left on.  My guess is the cats were left at the cemetery with their dead masters and they have continued to breed and live there.
 Beautiful statue to commemorate this dead man as well as an apartment in the background with the official argentinian colours.
 This man was a baller.  What an amazing grave stone.  Some of these men were burried with there women.  Meaning that they had multiple wives I guess.
More cats.  I imagine if my  brother had a travel blog it would all be pictures of cats.

 I imagine one day Pope Bennedict will die and he will be burried at the Recolleta Cemetery with the most grandoise sculptures and installations for his tomb.  Kinda like this tomb.
 Wow this ones amazing.  In all of these sculptures the coffin is just laying inside locked.
 Headed downtown and it turns out its Brazillian Day.  Even though the Brazillians and the Argentinians do not get along (mainly over soccer differences) there are still lots of Brazillian tourists and immigrants to Buenos Aires.  This was a very popular event.  These beautiful dancers were staying warm by keeping their bodies moving.
 This girl was getting a lot of attention from everybody.  All the drunk latino guys wanted to dance with her on the street, and she was happy to let them.
 Waited in line to get a traditional Brazillian alchoholic drink called a 'chacassas' (pronunciation only).  It was delicious but it took forty minutes to wait out the line.  It was so worth it though.  It was kinda like a mojito except with a stronger form of alchohol and way more limes and sugar.  It was so sour I loved it.
 Ran into a buddy named Omar from Canary Islands, Spain that I had hung out with on one of the first days I was here.  Here we are drinking the Cachassus together.
 The City of Buenos Aires had tonnes of outhouses at Brazil Day because they knew if they didnt bring outhouses that the Brazillians would just piss in the streets everywhere.
Went out for dinner in Palermo with this crew of people all staying at the hostel.  From left to right it goes Me (canada), Michelle (Germany), Julian (Columbia), Victor (Brazil), Alejandro (Chile), Claudia (Paraguay).  I forget the names of the two girls on the right but one was from Brazil and the other was from a Caribbean Island.  We had Brazillian Assado (bbq) to celebrate Brazil day.  It was a great meal.