We have enjoyed another week of exploring and learning about Buenos Aires. We started our week with an afternoon stroll through Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays (Botanical Garden). The Jardín (garden) consists of beautiful trees and plants from various parts of the world. It is arranged in sections dedicated to the native plants of the continent or country from which they originate. Some of the areas represented include Asia, Africa, Europa, America, Oceania and Argentina. To enhance the garden, statues have been placed throughout. One in particular made us smile, it was of a young couple reaching for their dreams!
Since it is still early spring here, not much was in bloom but it was still a great place for a leisurely and peaceful walk.
One of the items on our must do list was to attend a Polo match during our time here in Buenos Aires, however the season doesn’t start until after we leave. So instead we discovered the Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo, which is one of the most prominent horse racing venues in Argentina. It was big and beautiful. We tried to get into the grandstands but found out they were private, so we headed back over to the track. We enjoyed comparing and contrasting the experience to our favorite venue back home, Del Mar. We were able to see the horses and jockey’s up close before going over to the track to watch them race. We got a kick out of watching and listening to the announcer call the race and see everyone get excited shouting out “vamos cuatro! vamos siete! jumping out of their seats, hands in the air running to the track.
While there we saw a popcorn cart. The popcorn looked a little dark but we thought what the heck lets give it a try. It turned out to be similar to kettle corn with that sweet/salty flavor. Tasty!
The city of Buenos Aires offers free walking tours each day @ 11 am. Now that fits our budget! They focus on one neighborhood each day of the week. We joined an English tour of San Telmo, which is one of the oldest barrios in the city along with La Boca. We started our tour at the Mafalda sculpture and learned about these cartoon charters that are everywhere around the city. Mafalda is the name of the main character in an Argentine comic strip developed by cartoonist Quino from 1964-1973. It is very popular in Latin America as well as in some European countries.
Our guide took us past Casa Minima, the skinniest home in all of Buenos Aires– a mere two meters wide, but 50 meters long. Looks cute but probably a little tight for us.
We stopped to view one of the oldest churches in the city, San Pedro Gonzalez Telmo Church. The church is also known to have treated many of the San Telmo locals that died in the terrible yellow fever outbreak of 1871.
Along the walk, we saw several other historical buildings. One thing that our guide pointed out was that in the late 18th century the buildings had pointed corners. This caused a problem because horse riders couldn’t see if someone was coming which caused many accidents. In the early 19th century they started cutting off the corners of building for better visibility. With the invention of cars this became very helpful.
Looking for an authentic place for lunch after our tour, we found Freddy’s Place aka Nuestra Parrilla. He had a bar-be-que full of sausages (chorizo), pork (bondiola), and beef (carne). We tried the bondiola pan (pork sandwich) smothered in chimichurri rojo y verde. It was very good!
This week we celebrated our 37th anniversary. We reflected on the blessings of our family and friends who have supported us over the years even when we did something crazy like head to South America for 6 months! In honor of the occasion we treated ourselves to dinner at a special steak house called Don Julio. Their table cloths are leather, the walls lined with old wine bottles signed by past guests, and light fittings made from wagon wheels. The dining room looks into an open kitchen where you can watch them cut and bar-b-que the meat. If you love cheese, warm melted cheese that is, provoleta is a must have pre-meat dish. We thoroughly enjoyed ours!
It was such a nice night out that we decided to walk home. We stopped into one of the local tango clubs to check things out since that is something we still want to do before we leave Buenos Aires next week.
When we arrived home our host put out beautiful flowers, champagne, chocolate and lit some candles. They are a wonderful and very thoughtful family.
We have enjoyed getting to know the family. One morning Renzo (their middle son, 3 years old) came upstairs and started talking with Kimberli asking questions in Spanish. He then went out to see True, together they played fútbol with his toys. He’s a Boca fan! (their local fútbol team). After a while he went downstairs and brought back his guitar, ukulele and some bells. He told his mom that they were for his amigo (friend). Together with his little brother Guido (10 months) they had their own jam session. Now that’s making music!
Mostly the weather has been cooperative but we have had a couple of rainy days where we hung out at the apartment reading, cooking, doing laundry and taking short walks between showers.
We have continued to practice our communication skills in Spanish while enjoying the different ways other parts of the world do things.