Hotel La Cayetana
We arrived in Buenos Aires yesterday morning to find it was raining and chilly, weather we were not prepared for. Once at La Cayatana Hotel, a beautiful but overpriced place I would not recommend mostly because of the 125 dogs that live in the kennel/vet on the street behind it who NEVER stopped barking, I went out for prociutto pizza (at Campo del Fiori) while Martin slept (I had taken a melatonin and slept on the plane). Then I walked around the city for two more hours, discovering the parts of BA that made me think this city is more like Shanghai than Paris – cheap clothing stores I´d never heard of, Argentine department stores and malls, lots of Fisherman Wharf-Venice Beach-style street vendors, etc. I have to admit I was not liking BA at that point-cold, gray, windy and lots of dingy clothing stores were not what I had expected. “BA is like Paris,” people had told me. I was expecting Paris.
Then, in the evening, we took the subway (my feet were killing me by then) to Recoleta, an upscale neighborhood with a lot of designer clothing stores (three story Ralph Lauren shop, etc.) and restaurants. We had dinner at a place called La Cholita where I ordered a huge steak (Argentina is known for great beef), fries, grilled vegetables and a bottle of Malbec and ate every bite (I don´t like Malbec, by the way, at least not that Malbec-yeck). Later we stopped at a bar and I had a very creamy (as in clumpy cream) White Russian. We slept until after noon, about 11 hours, so today we´re wide awake.
Things I am looking for: place to have authentic mate (I´ve been told you have to go buy it and buy a gourd and bombilla and make it yourself), place to have good Italian ice cream.
Things that surprised me: The Italian influence. They don´t eat beans and rice here (why do I think all Spanish-speaking countries eat meat, fish, beans and rice?) They eat a ton of meat and a lot of pasta. Those seem to be their staples, which is fine with me.
The obelisk that is the center of the city. I don´t know its history, but it doesn´t seem to “fit” somehow. I guess I tend to associate it more with D.C. than with the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
Something strange: Argentine menus that are written in both English and Spanish translate “arugula” as “rocket” in English. So you can order goat cheese on rocket salad. Huh?