Sunday, January 31, 2010

Argentina, Days 4-6

Sorry for the delay in my posts. I have excuses: work has taken up a lot of time lately, and after more than two months of traveling through South America I’ve finally just gotten…tired. And with work and exhaustion upon me, I haven’t had much of a chance to go out and embrace many new adventures in Buenos Aires. I’m starting to feel that I should have traveled here first rather than to Peru, though had I done this I would almost certainly have been one of the travelers recently stranded at Machu Picchu. All in all, then, I guess I’m where I need to be.

Tomorrow, however, I return to the U.S. Or at least I leave tomorrow. I won’t actually arrive until the morning of February 2nd. So, goodbye sweltering South American summer.

Okay, that video has absolutely no relation to my trip, other than for my reference to summertime, but I like the song.

But back to Argentina…

Since I leave tomorrow, and since I haven’t done nearly as much as I would have liked to here, I’ll just include some highlights and lowlights from my last three days in Buenos Aires.


I didn’t eat anything terribly exciting during my last few days, just ordered sandwiches at a couple of local confiterias and a couple quick meals at restaurants I already blogged about. One place that I went to but didn’t blog about however, was, Ayacucho Cafeteria.

Had I known this was a cafeteria associated with a hotel, I wouldn’t have entered. I’m not sure why I’m saying this, but in general I feel like I should try to patronize eateries whose sole aim is good food. Not good food and clean linens every day. But that’s a stupid way to be, and I freely admit it. Ayacucho Cafeteria wasn’t a bad choice at all, in fact, though the interior was sterile in the way that a lot of hotel restaurants are.

I ordered a tortilla de verduras, which I assumed (in my ignorance) would involve an actual flour or corn tortilla. However, what I received was basically an omelet absolutely stuffed with spinach.

It wasn’t bad, and I appreciated how much spinach I was given, but it was too much food for one person, and too eggy in the end. Luckily I had a banana and milk liquido, which was intensely satisfying. They served it in a glass pitcher, in essence giving me two liquidos.

Another restaurant I tried was El Club de la Milanesa, which is between my hotel in Recoleta and some of the more popular tourist sites around the Cementerio de la Recoleta.

I nearly went there last night, but I put it off until tonight instead. I’m not sure why – nothing on the menu really jumped out at me – but I think I assumed that it would offer more options. When I was given a menu and began to peruse it, I saw that they mostly just had pizza, salads, and sandwiches. I ended up going with a super doble cheddar club, which consisted of bread and cholesterol in various forms: bacon, cheddar cheese, a fried egg, and breaded beef. Oh, and it came with French fries, too.

As if that wasn’t enough, I also ordered a beer and, midway through my pig-out, a glass of red wine. The amount of food was enormous, and as I struggled to get through it one American couple walked past me on their way outside and wished me luck with it. The man said it looked like I was eating dinosaur meat, and when I looked at my sandwich I sort of saw what he meant.

I didn’t feel like eating any more after that. But the restaurant itself was nice, the service was quick, and I had a good waitress.

El Club de la Milanesa is at Las Heras 2101, on the corner of Uriburu Street. Website: They’re open seven days a week, and accept Visa and Master Card.


Two days ago I decided to arrange a tour to an area just outside of Buenos Aires called Tigre. I heard that it was Buenos Aires’ answer to “Venice,” as it has a number of charming waterways. Since I had various problems with my Buenos Aires city tour, organized by TravelLine Tours, I asked my hotel if I could go with a different tour agency. They said sure, and soon I had a full-day trip arranged. Unfortunately, when I was picked up the next morning, what did I see on the side of the bus but “TravelLine Tours.” Well, it couldn’t be any worse than last time, right?

The bus picked me up only 15 minutes late this time, and once we had everyone in the bus that we needed, we were only an hour late – still better than my last TravelLine experience. Also, my guide was much friendlier, which was a bonus.

Once we got to Tigre, we were immediately taken to a boat on the Lujan River. Inside the boat was a full buffet and tables covered with tattered cloths. I ordered an overpriced bottle of water and watched the scenery begin to slide by.

Because the boat embarkation was in a tourist area, it was no surprise that the first place we passed was a theme park. I dislike theme parks, but I have to admit that the Ferris wheel here was rather interesting – the carriages reminded me somehow of old Russian cathedral domes.

The river widened as we passed the theme park, and in a few minutes we came upon grassy areas in which people were playing soccer and having picnics, and also small sandy areas where families sat under the sun and could step into the shallow water.

There were a number of homes along the river, too, with wooden piers jutting out, motorboats suspended over the water, and bridges set back along narrow canals. It was a beautiful area, actually, if perhaps a little too busy along the river for my tastes. Our cruise lasted about forty minutes, and it was a nice beginning to the tour. Following are some photos of where the cruise took us.

However, at that point the Tigre portion of our “all-day Tigre Tour” was over. We were then taken to a train station, where we stood around in the heat for about half an hour waiting for our train to arrive.

After a twenty-minute ride we found ourselves in San Isidro, where we were herded into a shopping center and given fifteen minutes to go find a church and craft fair on our own. I think I was the only one in the tour group who ventured out of the shopping center and into town to find either place.

I thought the church was quite nice, but the crafts fair was hardly the “vibrant market full of everything we could possibly want” (not that I wanted to buy anything there anyway).

When I returned to the group, I was given a choice of three not very appetizing lunch options at the shopping center, and then was told that after lunch I’d have three and a half more hours to go shopping. When I asked if that was the end of my $65 all-day tour of Tigre (not that we’d even spent an hour in Tigre), my guide told me that it was. So I asked if I could go back to Buenos Aires right then with the half-day group and she said yes, but I couldn’t get any money back. I really didn’t care at that point.

What annoyed me more was that on our way back to Buenos Aires I asked the guide if we would be passing through Recoleta or Retiro, or even Barrio Norte, as they are all areas of the city that I could easily walk back to my hotel from. She told me, “No, we’ll be entering the city from a different direction.” So I sat back in my seat…and forty minutes later watched the bus pass through all three of these areas. I tried to get her attention, but she was on the phone the whole time and I eventually gave up. I ended up forty blocks away from my hotel. When I left the bus I told her that we had in fact passed through all three areas I’d asked her about, but she didn’t really answer me. Maybe she wasn’t allowed to drop me off there. But I highly doubt that it was against tour policy to pull over to the side of the road and let me off. I could be wrong…In any case, for anyone heading to Buenos Aires you’ll do yourself a BIG favor by avoiding TravelLine Tours. They are a complete waste of money and time. Having said this, I do think that a trip to Tigre is a nice option for anyone staying in Buenos Aires for several days or longer.

Okay, I'll try to do one final post before I return to the U.S., or perhaps I'll just update this one to include a few more small things to add to my experience in Buenos Aires.

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  1. That's a monstrous looking burger! I would love to see if I could finish it. =P

  2. Bangsar-bAbE: Haha! I bet you could! I'd trade that sandwich in the photo for one of those crazy-huge burgers you have in Malaysia. :) Now THOSE look amazing! Ah, I'd love some Malaysian food right about now...Thanks for your comment!

  3. Safe journeys back - what a heck of an adventure. Thanks for letting us live vicariously through it all. I feel much more of a connection now.

  4. OysterCulture: Thank you! I'm glad you feel like you were able to live vicariously through my travels. :) Are you thinking of making a trip to South America soon?