Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Argentina, Day 2

Hot! It’s calor here! The temperature climbed over 90 degrees (32 C) again today, and I saw that on Friday it’s expected to top 97 (36 C). I’m thankful to have air-conditioning in my room; the heat prevents me from going out and doing as much as I’m used to.

Since my hotel doesn’t provide breakfast, I started off the morning by walking a couple blocks away to “be Frika,” a mint-colored café with two floors and free wi-fi. Knowing in advance of the wi-fi, I brought my computer with me so that I could get a bit of work out of the way early in the day.

I ordered a breakfast set of ham and cheese croissants and a double cappuccino, which threw me back all of 11 pesos (~$2.90). I stayed here, nursing my food, for about ninety minutes before moving on with my day.

Be Frika is at the corner of Junin and French streets. Tel: 4821-0010. Web: www.frika.be.

I decided to wander about my neighborhood a little more, so I set off for an area full of plazas, museums, and other points that seemed interesting. I began by venturing to La Isla, at the top of Plaza Mitra, which was at the end of a very upscale neighborhood in which I managed to stay in tree-shade almost the entirety of my walk – in Buenos Aires, shade takes precedence over directness of route. Here there is a statue of former president Emilio Mitre riding a horse; I tried to take a photo from an angle that shows the least amount of graffiti on it.

From here I continued to Plaza Francia, which the French community in Buenos Aires, circa 1910, dedicated to the city. Other than this monument there’s not much here, and since there was no shade, either, I continued my walk.
There was a rather large sculpture garden in a long grassy area – I didn’t pay attention to the name of the park, unfortunately, though it’s only a few minutes from Plaza Francia – that I would have spent more time exploring if I didn’t feel like I’d melt first.

I crossed the street and made my way to one of the most interesting and beautiful artworks I’ve seen in any city park anywhere: the Floralis Generica, in Plaza Naciones Unidas. The giant steel flower, designed by local architect Eduardo Catalano, is only eight years old, and its petals open in the morning and close back up at night. I still need to get back here some evening to see the latter occur.

Next to the Floralis Generica is the Faculty de Derecho, a huge, many-columned building in which Argentina’s most important law school is housed.

I crossed the street again from here and arrived at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, a maroon-colored building that houses over 10,000 works of art, including pieces from Picasso, Goya, Gauguin, Monet, Cezanne, Rivera, and Renoir, as well as numerous Argentine artists. I got here fifteen minutes before it opened, which is at 12:30 on weekdays (but 9:30 on weekends and holidays), and talked with other uncomfortably hot people sitting on the shaded front steps.

After going through what I think was the entire museum, I needed some food and water. It was after two o’clock, and I decided to hit a well-known café called La Biela. La Biela has an enormous outdoor terrace directly behind a giant gum tree, and it looked much too pleasant to pass up. I sat down, disregarding the fact that orders cost more on the terrace than inside the café itself, and ordered a turkey sandwich with red bell peppers and mayonnaise.

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by what I got, but toast with a small slice of canned red bell pepper and a couple pieces of cold turkey didn’t look all that appetizing, or worth 40 pesos (~$10.50). But I was paying for the atmosphere of the place, which was indeed nice, and I really had no complaints.

I headed back to the comfort of my air-conditioned room after that and returned to my work. By the time I wanted dinner I decided to hit a local parrilla that I’d seen before, but at 7 p.m. it was closed. So I continued aimlessly until I found something I thought would be simple and quick: a pizzeria. To be exact, Los Maestros Pizza.

I ordered red wine and a medium Rusa pizza, which consisted of tomato sauce, mozzarella, ham, hard-boiled eggs, sliced tomatoes, red bell peppers, anchovies, and black olives. Altogether my meal cost 52 pesos (~$13.60), and might have been enough food for two people. And no, I didn’t finish, though I tried my hardest…

Los Maestros is located at Parana 1249 in Recoleta. They have a nice dining area and do delivery. Tel: 4815-4430. (For delivery in Barrio Norte call 4821-4658, and in Palermo call 4800-1112.) Web: www.losmaestros.com.ar. Email: info@losmaestros.com.ar.

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