Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nov 24

Today we decided to visit Casa Rosada - The Pink House. It's kinda like our White House, but pink. Unfortunately, tours of the house and the adjacent museum were canceled because they are undergoing renovations for next year's centennial celebration.

Instead we found a wine bar where we could sample a couple of Argentine wines. Out of fear of being able to fit stuff in my luggage, I only purchased 1 bottle of wine.

Nicole took me to a restaurant on the 19th floor of a building. Great views. Expensive food. It was our most expensive meal - 65 pesos each. Actually it wasn't that bad, only $17 each.

We wandered through town and visited another wine bar. More fun to look and taste than to buy!

It was INCREDIBLY humid today. In the subway station I felt like there was no oxygen. Just when I thought it couldn't get hotter, the doors to the subway train opened. It was like stepping in to a hot box! I appreciate the DRY heat of Redding.

We had our daily dose of ice cream and then went home to make dinner and watch a movie!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Nov 23

Nicole and I shared a coffee at an upstairs cafe. That, along with some pastries, was this mornings breakfast.

We took a bus to the Recoleta area and visited the Recoleta cemetery. Doesn't sound too interesting, but it's actually a famous cemetery where all the wealthy and famous are buried. The tombs are laid out in way that resembles a city street network. Hundreds of tombs, closely spaced, and very intricate. Some look like miniature gothic cathedrals, others like greek temples. Very impressive!

We met up with Nicole's friends and visited the MALBA museum (modern art). They were featuring work by Andy Warhol, "Mr. America".

After that we went for our daily dose of ice cream. It was a smaller, non-chain, store, but the flavor choices were numerous.

I attempted to impress Nicole at home by making some sort of meat with vegies for tacos. Three probles: we were short on time, her apartment was not equipped with a sharp knife, and the meat I purchased was more of a roast and couldn't be cut into small pieces. In the end it was a healthy meal. Just not what I planned for!

We dressed up and headed out to a local favorite: La Bomba. It's like the drummers of Marketfeast gone professional and about 100 times as many people attending! Lots of "hippies" selling things such as jewelry, pipes, and brownies! Insane amount of energy at the dance. We had a blast.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nov 22nd

We awoke this morning on the bus to a wonderful breakfast. First class breakfast consisted of: 2 sugar croissants, a package of dried toast, a stale dinner roll, and coffee. Yum. Again, white starchy food is the mainstain down here.

We arrived to Buenos Aires around 11 am. Although it was cloudy, the humidity was close to 70%. Quite a difference from what we'd been experiencing.

After showering and unloading our goods at Nicole's apartment we took a bus to San Telmo. On Sunday's they have a MAJOR street fair. Probably about 30 blocks long. It gave us another chance to buy authentic Argentine souvenirs.

We joined several of Nicole's friends and shared a wonderful Peruvian dinner. Then spent the night relaxing at home.

Nov 21

Today was our last day in Bariloche. We spent it touring around the city and enjoying the sun. BUT - it was COLD. Even though we were cold, we stopped and had the best Helado (ice cream) in Argentina. It was so amazing. I think that ice cream is a way of life down here. I was glad to be a part of it!

We left town at 3pm. We splurged and rode "first class" on the bus to Buenos Aires. The upgrade was worth it. Our chairs reclined to about 170 degrees and we had a foot rest. Plus, we were given the option of whiskey or wine with dinner. We chose the front seats, so we had the opportunity to watch the beautiful landscape. The "luxury" seats helped make the 20 hour bus ride seem not so long.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Nov 20

It was a sunny - but windy - day. Everything is much prettier in Bariloche when the sun shines. We decided to take a ferry out to one of the islands in the lake. Turns out that all the ferry boats were full. I guess everyone had the same idea on a sunny day!

Instead we rented a car for the day. We decided to drive an hour to Villa la Angostura. It was a wonderful drive along the shoreline of the lake. The scenery was amazing: tall mountains surrounding the edges of the lakes. Snow capped mountains in the background. The poplars were almost fully leafed out.

The town of Angostura was like something from Disneyland. Maybe the area near the bobsleds. We had an great lunch. Roasted lamb. I don´t normally like lamb, but this one left me wanting more! I think it´s the way they slow cook it over a fire.

We drove back to Bariloche and visited Cerro Otto. It is at the top of a mountain and is the base for a ski lift. The view was incredible. It was a bit spooky taking photos with the wind whipping around us. I had to hang on to the camera! Can't wait till we get back to post those photos.

After that we drove to Hotel Llao Llao - a government owned hotel and apparently the most famous hotel in Argentina. It was a beautiful hotel - at least from what we could see from the outside. We were NOT allowed in. We couldn´t even drive up to the hotel. There is a race or derby going on in the area with lots of british looking old cars. The racers were staying at the hotel and their cars were on display. We did get to walk around the cars and take lots of photos.

Tonight´s menu: pasta with red sauce. Yum. Someone asked about carne. Apparently this is the only place in Argentina that doesn´t load you up with carne. I wish the Atkins diet was big down here! I think I might die from all the carbs!!

Nov 19

Very RAINY day.

We decided to do inside stuff because of the weather.

We visited a local museum.

I had my picture taken with Olaf and his son. VERY cute - I even got to hold the baby. Wish I could have spent more time with them. I had to pay 10 pesos to have my picture taken with him. They were part of the town square St. Bernards!

We toured several chocolate stores. We had a few samples and finally purchased ONE item and shared it!

Took the bus to a local brewery - Blest. We had a seven beer sampler and some pizza. It was cool to see them bottling the beer. One guy filled one bottle at a time. Another guy put labels on, one at a time by hand.

We had time to kill before dinner. This was opening day for the movie New Moon. 10 pesos to get in. I wish I had my camera to take a picture of the theater. Look a little worn! The girls in the theater were obviously CRAZY about this series. Lots of screaming teenagers!

Our free dinner was a lot better tonight. Chicken, carrots, sweet potatoes, and bread. Plus I was able to purchase very cheap wine. Actually for $1 per glass it was pretty good!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nov 18

We spent the last 6 days looking at the Patagonia landscape - high desert like, almost no trees, and no mountains. I woke up on our bus around 7 this morning. It was so surreal to look out the window and see the beautiful landscape of the Lake District. Towering mountains, TREES, lakes, FLOWERS. So beautiful. I think the mountains I was looking at are part of the Andes. It's also very strange to see the trees that have recently bloomed since back home the leaves have fallen! The lupine was in bloom. Definitely looks like early spring here.

We checked into our hostel early. They told us that tomorrow would be rain. So we decided to spend the possibly one "good" day biking around the lakes.

A girl from Buenos Aires asked if she could join us. Sure, we said. I guess we should have asked if she had ever done this before! She was a bit slow going at first. Eventually I asked her if she was shifting the gears on her bike. She wasn't exactly sure how, so she just left it in whatever gear it was in. No wonder she could climb the mountains!

The trip that we did was a 26 km bike ride called Circuito Chico. This literally translate to "circle of HELL". This was the set up for our ride: just arrived here after a 13 hour bus trip. It was a cold day - probably around 48 degrees. There was a "nice" breeze blowing off the alpine lake. It was drizzly to slightly raining. We were dressed in almost all black. Most of the time the roads have NO shoulder. At times the edge of pavement - aka edge of traveled way - consisted of more rubble than pavement. Large tour busses do NOT like to move out of the way. A car would rather hit YOU than a passing vehicle. And, finally, I'm not exactly an exercise enthusiast, and this route consisted of MAJOR hills - both up and down.

With all that being said, we did have an adventure and the scenery was picture postcard beautiful. We were sore, cold, and wet when we got done. The sight of the rental store was beautiful. The hot shower at the hostel was nothing less than a religious experience!

So this hostel includes free breakfast and dinner - which is likely why Nicole chose it. We just finished our first dinner here. I'll try to list everything that they served us at our free dinner - mashed potato (likely from powder) and something "like" chicken fried steak. I think that was it. Yep, that was it. Green vegetables are NOT part of the diet down here. We visited the local market and will supplement our free dinner!

Nov 17

Today was a VERY windy day in Puerto Madryn. Fortunately for us we had already done our ocean excursions because they weren´t taking boats out today. The town is a bit dirty and sandy, so with all the wind it was like a wind storm.

We had the entire day to kill because our bus didn´t leave until 9:30 pm. We wanted to visit the eco-museum, but it just happened to be closed on Tuesdays!

We decided to just sit in a cafe by the beach and drink coffee and enjoy the morning.

Then we felt brave and decided to walk along the beach towards a lookout point. It was a 30 minute walk. At some point we realized that we were being sand blasted! Even with the less than beautiful weather, I realized at some point how cool it was that we were walking on a beach in South America. Beats working!

Lots of other bumming around town and then we got ready for our 13 hour trip to Bariloche.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nov 16th

Today we took it easy in the morning. Coffee and pastry for breakfast.

We drove with our British friends to Penninsula Valdez. We booked ourselves onto a whale watching tour. For $30, we joined 15 others on a small zodiak boat. The bay that we toured in was FULL of whales - moms and babies. Amazing how close we got to them. At one point we thought the whales were headed straight for the boat! We got lots of pictures of whales and whale tails, but none of them jumping. We saw several, but they were off a bit and never when the camera was ready.

After viewing the whales we drove around the penninsula to view a colony of sea lions. They were actually sea elephants. Pretty cool to see, but they are very lazy and I didn´t get too many action shots.

I have to make a comment about our foreign friends that we are meeting. There are quite a few travelers from England and Germany. We are blown away when we talk to these people about their travel plans. I´m lucky enough to have a 3 week vacation, and thought others would be impressed as well. Not really. Most of these travelers have 2, 3, or 4 months of travel. The British couple spent a couple of weeks in Brazil before coming to Argentina. They are here for a couple of weeks then off to Chile. Then Peru. I think after that they are visiting southeast asia. They have to be back to work in February. They take time off from work without pay for these vacations. But I´m not sure how they can afford to travel that long and only work 9 or 10 months each year. We asked them where they´ve travled previously. I think just about every major continent was named - at least once. Kinda makes my trips to the Oregon coast and to Eureka seem a bit boring!

Tomorrow not much scheduled. Perhaps it will be an actual ¨vacation¨ day! Our bus to San Carlos de Bariloche leaves at 9 pm. We´ll spend the day relaxing, touring the town, and maybe see a movie!

Nov 15th

Today is Sunday. Hard to believe that it´s been 10 days that I´ve been on vacation, AND I still have 11 days to go!!

Nicole and I rented a car for two days. We found a British couple to share the car and expenses with, so it made it reasonable to do.

Our plan was to leave the hostel at 10 am. We finally did at around 12, but with a different car. The first one had a dead battery. I´ve finally come to the conclusion that it isn´t my bad luck on this trip that is causing all these issues, it´s just part of the Argentine lifestyle!!

The four of us left on our traveling adventure. Others had warned Nicole - DON´T drive in Argentina. Crazy drivers everywhere. Things didn´t seem too bad. I wasn´t nervous until our English friend David, the first one to drive, commented on the fact that he had to remember to shift the car with his right hand or else he be rolling down the window! Great! Not only is he having to drive in a strange country for the first time, everything is backwards for him! Fortunately for us we had no accidents!!

After a bit of a drive, me made it to our destination: home to one of the largest colonies of Magellanic Penguins. The weirdest thing was the landscape. The penguins lived near the ocean. But the area reminded me of the high desert. Very few trees and lots of scrubby bushes. I guess not all penguins live in the ice and snow!
This area is the breeding grounds for the penguins. It was amazing to look in all directions at the slightly rolling hills and see small holes in the ground. Each hole represents a nest for the penguins. They were everywhere! The area is well maintained by the Argentine government. There were walkways and strict instructions to stay on them and stay at least 1 meter from the penguins (3 feet! Seemed a bit close).
Our first encounter with the penguins was as follows: we were on the boardwalk walking up an incline. At the top of the hill there was a penguin waddling down the boardwalk with a ranger behind it. The ranger let us know that we needed to step aside to let the penguin pass. The penguin was oblivious to any of us. He just continued walking down the boardwalk like any other tourist. We captured him on video. Can´t wait to see that!

We also got lots of photos of llamas that roamed the preserve.

After the penguin encounter we visited a little Welsh community. We had high tea and pastries. It was probably the most expensive tea ever. Even the Brits commented that they had never spent that much on high tea!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Nov 14th

Made it to Puerto Madryn - after a 24 hour bus ride! Didn´t get as much sleep as I had hoped.

We checked into our hostel. First he showed us the private room that we thought we booked. Very large, had its own fridge, plus a balcony with an extra bed and its own tv. We were just commenting on this "enormous" room when the guy came up and said - sorry, you´re in the dorm rooms. A bit more cramped than our last one and almost no storage space. Oh well. Just a place to sleep.

Tonight we will eat at the asado held at the hostel. 30 pesos for the dinner - just under $10. Hope it´s good.

Tomorrow we head to the penguin colony and Monday we visit the whales.


Nov 13th

We slept in - 10:00. I was feeling a bit better, but still a bit weak from my restless night. We had to pack and check out of the hostel.
Our bus didn´t leave until 3:00, so we decided to explore the town a bit more. I still didn´t feel hungry, but ate along the way to keep my energy going.
We stopped in several stores and bought lots of gifts. It was a relaxing day without any agenda.

We boarded the bus at 3 pm. Lots of time to watch movies, talk, and read.

We transferred to another bus that would take us all the way to Puerto Madryn. We reserved the front two seats - directly above the driver. Quite an experience to have the large windows in front of us. A bit scary when we passed large trucks heading the other direction on this narrow two lane road!

Nov 12th (evening edition)

After a long day hiking on the ice, we headed to the airline office to find out about getting a payment for the delayed luggage. After an hour wait they gave EACH of us 100 pesos. We left victorious - especially since Nicole´s luggage had shown up the night of our arrival.
We shared a wonderful dinner and headed home for much needed rest. Along the way I started feeling a bit uneasy. I thought it was too much food.
We collapsed in bed and I lay there hoping it was just too much food.
After several restless hours, I felt the need to use the restroom.
As I stood there looking at the toilet, I had a sudden urge - to kneel down and "pray". 4 long "verses".
I did feel a bit better. Went back to bed. I spent the rest of the night feeling a bit feverish and worried that the swine flu had found me. I ruled out food poisoning because we had split the meal in half.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nov 12th

Today we had a big excursion planned. Armed with my rented warm clothing, we were off to hike on the glaciers.

I can´t explain how awesome this experience was. We took hundreds of photos. We´ll have to share them when we return. It rained a bit at the beginning. We got to see the ice break away from the glacier several times. Might have caught it on film once.

Today made up for yesterday and made it worth the trip to what is sure to be the furthest south that I will ever go!

When we returned at 5 pm to the hostel, the lady said my bag did not arrive. Oh the agony!
I went to our room to have a melt down. Nicole looked on the bottom bunk - almost a more beautiful sight than the glaciers was my luggage!

A warm shower, clean clothes, civilization!
I´d never survive Survivor. I need my belongings!!

We are headed to the town of El Calafate for a well deserved dinner. From what we saw last night, the town is very quaint. It reminds me of a smaller Tahoe. We walked by several restaurants that had a fire pit and animals roasting over the fire. We licked our lips last night, but tonight we will eat like queens!!

We are having a blast. Tomorrow we board a luxury bus at 3 pm. We will arrive in Puerto Madryn the following day around 1 pm. I´ll try to post later.

Nov 11th, aka the worst day ever

So let me just say that EVERYTHING that can go wrong for a traveler did today.

Our flight out to Patagonia was at 8:40 am. We took a taxi to the airport and arrived at 7:40. Perfect timing! Now let me just say one thing. Nicole had me make the reservations while at home. I only knew of one airport, code of EZE, so I thought that was the one that I used. However, when my lovely daughter asked me a couple of days ago which airport and I said EZE, she didn´t believe me because "all" domestic flights are out of Newberry aiport. I looked at the printout of the reservation, and it said Buenos Aires, Pistarini. Not EZE so I played along. This brings us back to the morning of our flight. At 7:40 we checked in to the airport - Newberry. The lovely lady behind the counter said "wrong airport". No discussion from her about what needed to happen. Let me just put this all in perspective. This would be like showing up at the Oakland aiport only to find out that you were flying out of SFO! I (who doesn´t speak spanish) asked my daughter (who doesn´t like confronting people) to "kindly" ask the "nice" lady what the HELL were we to do? She said they can rebook you on a flight at the other aiport.
So we ran to a taxi, told him our flight leaves in 1 hour, and please get us there. After spending $220 pesos (rip off) to get the EZE (also known as Pistarini) airport, we arrived at about 8:39 only to be told too late! We asked about other flights. Guess what? There were other flights - out of Newberry aiport!
We spent another $70 pesos to take a bus to Newberry. They had booked us on a 4 PM flight but said we could try to get on the 12:00. No luck.
To kill some time I decided to call the hostel that we were staying at in El Calafate to let them know when we were arriving. I had booked it online at Nicole´s apartment and wrote down the reservation number and circled the hostel name in my book. The hostel I called said "we don´t have a reservation for you". They put us down for 2 beds. And, they were kind enough to book us for a 7 am trip to the glaciers the next day.
We were on standby for the 2:00 flight. FINALLY! We got on. I asked about our luggage. "No problem"
Have you ever been at the luggage claim when everyone else has left and there are no more bags to be had? Some how our luggage didn´t make it. So ALL the warm clothes I had bought and brought for the glacier hike were not there. They said perhaps it will arrive tonight.
We made it to the hostel. They were SO kind and helpful. I used their internet and found out that I did have a reservation for 2 nights, but it was at a different hostel. We didn´t want to leave this hostel at this point, so I think I´ll end up with charges for 2 places!
We spent a lot of time this evening calling the aiport -still no luggage. We decided to rent clothing for the ice trek. The airport is suppose to reimburse us up to $100 pesos. Nicole´s luggage finally arrives. We are running (literally) around the streets of El Calafate: rent clothing, get money from the bank, get groceries, buy tickets for our next bus trip. Back to the hostel to make dinner and take a warm shower. Still no luggage for me! To bed at 11:30. We have to be ready at 7 am for a trek on the glaciers!

Two days of bad luck. I can´t get any worse - we hope!!

Nov 10th (second half)

After not getting to travel to Urugay, Nicole started a mad search in her apartment for her student visa. Couldn´t find it! She decided to visit the University that she had attended and get a copy of the copy that she had given them. She talked to the attendant at the school. He told her that she might have to pay $300 pesos when she tries to leave Argentina to head home. He suggested that she give them the copy and play dumb and hope they don´t notice that it was a copy. I guess in 2 weeks we´ll find out how that story ends!

We met up with Nicole´s "friend" Inuk to spend our last night in BA at a good restaurant. According to Trip Advisor, the #1 place was La Cabarara. We were in an area that was new to Nicole. She was doing a great job of following the bus map. At the last minute she said, we have to get off here. Once we jumped off the bus she realized she had left her phone on the bus! GRRR! No phone and we were heading on a two week trip! We got to the restaurant at 8:20 - early for a Tuesday dinner. We were asked if we had reservations. Nope. So we had to wait. At some point, perhaps 9 or so, we asked how much longer. "Just a moment". We sat down to eat at about 10. The only saving grace is they opened champagne and brought out sausage for those waiting. The food was awesome! We ordered one ribeye and it was more than enough for the 3 of us.

To bed at 12 so we could get up early for our flight to Patagonia.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Planes, subways, busses, taxis and walking

Planes: Flying coach for 10.5 hours sucks!

Subways: Very crowded. Throw away any fears about swine flu - if someone has it, you'll get it! And, smelly people will ALWAYS stand near you.

Busses: Cheapest way to get around. The bus that we take will ALWAYS be at 180% occupancy while every other bus you pass will be at 20%. Therefore, plan on standing. There's an art to riding the bus. Since there will never be an open seat, you stand very close to people that have seats. You try to look relaxed, but the entire time you are eyeballing the people with seats and looking for any signs of someone getting ready to get up. If someone is about to get up, you want to be positioned as close as possible to them and attempt to grab the seat when they vacate it.

Taxis: Not so cheap, but more comfortable and quicker. Here's what I learned from my one taxi ride. There are a lot of one way streets down here. And those streets are WIDE - like 8 lanes wide. Even though there are little white lines marked on the pavement, those are just for looks. In the end, the number of "lanes" is equal to as many cars that are willing to drive side-by-side. Machismo rules!

Walking: Be prepared to do a lot of it! The sidewalks down here are ADA compliant - especially if that stands for: ATTENTION, DANGER AHEAD! Those dangers range from major dog droppings, uneven concrete, to just down right holes in the ground.

Nov 10th

So today was supposed to be our trip to Uruguay. We got up at 6:15 am (that's 1:15 am for those of you playing along at home). We left later than needed and had to hurry to the subway station. We arrived only to find out that it was closed. Instead of spending $2.50 (pesos) to take the subway, we took a taxi for $27 (still pretty cheap). The taxi driver told us that the subways were all closed because the operators were on strike (just our luck!)

After waiting in long lines at the ferry station, buying our tickets, being redirected to a different line we found out that Nicole could NOT leave Argentina because her visa expired 2 months ago! We COULD have gone IF she had remembered to bring her student visa :(

Instead we visted Puente de la Mujer (Women's Bridge). It's a bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2001. Pretty much a sundial bridge! The walkway is made of wood planks (teak??). Also, it rotates 90 degrees to allow boats to pass by. I'll post photos so you can compare!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nov 9th

Nicole and I spent the day together. We headed for the center of town where I was able to get my first Starbucks coffee! I decided to try out my spanish by ordering my "regular", a decaf skinny vanilla coffee. Nicole was standing away from me so I could experience the joy of conversing with my Argentine amigos. When I saw the girl pull out two cups and start writing something on each, I knew we were experiencing a communication break down. I pulled Nicole over and she clarified my order!

We boarded a bus to partake in a city tour. For just under $7, we got to sit on the top of a double decker bus and listen to a pre-recorded tour of the city. Very cool. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city with amazing architecture. The European influence is everywhere. We caught a glimpse of their "sundial bridge". Hopefully I get to walk across it before we leave!

There were 12 locations that we could have jumped off at and done some exploring, but time only allowed us 2 stops. It started off as a beautiful sunny day in BA. We visited Boca, where the world famous Boca Jr Futbol stadium is located. Lots of artisans selling their wares. We bought some and I got to taste one of the Argentine favorites: alfajor. It's pronounced alpha-whore. I was a bit concerned, but it was a sugar delight!

Our next stop was the Recoleta cemetary. We grabbed something to eat first. By the time we were done, the weather had changed dramatically, and it was pouring down rain. We had to skip the cemetary and head home.

Nicole and her friends had plans to attend La Bamba - a concert/dance across town. I wasn't up for the drive/adventure. So instead I'm at home getting caught up on correspondence and packing for the next two weeks.

Tomorrow we spend the day in Uruguay. After that we head south to Patagonia for almost two weeks. Hopefully the internet is available and we can share our adventures!

Nov 8th

The second day was much more relaxing. Nicole lives near Chinatown. In the morning we walked to the local market and bought groceries: Nicole is now an accomplished chef and was going to cook dinner for me!

People in Buenos Aires LOVE dogs. You see them everywhere. There are even paid dog walkers. I learned a valuable lesson today: there are lots of street vendors, flower booths, and magazine stands. NEVER buy anything that is low to the ground. I think I witnessed at least 3 dogs relieving themselves on the "goods".

Early afternoon we took the bus to the Sunday street fair. It was like an arts and crafts fair merged with a flea market. It had to be at least 10 blocks long. There was a stage where performances were held. Lots of leather, silver, woven items, food, and PEOPLE! I found various gift items - including Argentine cigars for mi american amigos!!

We rode the bus home. The bus system here is awesome - that is, IF you know where you're going and where the correct bus stand is! Buenos Aires is a very large, sprawling city. Every time we ride the bus, it seems like a 45 minute to 1 hour ride. The cost of that ride? 30 cents! Not bad.

Back at the apartment we decided to go to a local park that was rumored to hold Tango shows at night. So, at 8:30 pm Nicole ventured off. It turned out to be a rumor. We came home and Nicole cooked dinner for us. I think it was close to 10:30 pm when we sat down to eat. Fabulous food!

My goal for day 3 is to eat dinner before 8:00!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Nov 7th - My First day in BA

So, after flying for 17 hours and taking a short siesta, it was time to head out!

My first Argentine experience was to be leg waxing. We went to what looked like a hole in the wall beauty salon, but what turned out to be a 3 story beauty factory! Every nook and cranny was filled with some sort of beauty treatment. My destination was the top floor. Nicole did the translations for me. I thought I was in for the pain of leg waxing, but due to a misunderstanding, I got so much more! I need to learn the Spanish word for “bikini”!

Then we met up with Nicole’s roommate, Melissa, and another friend, Gabby. We went to the local ice cream store. The Argentine ice cream is similar to ours but softer and stronger in flavors. A nice treat on a warm Argentine day! Luckily for me, November 7th is the anniversary of the Argentina Gay Parade, AND Nicole and her friends wanted to take me there. An unbelievable crowd of people attended the celebration. The most unique experience of the event was the numerous “male” attendees that had received implants. Apparently it’s okay to be topless if you’re a “man”. I have photos, but I better save them for a different time! There were several floats getting ready for the parade. The floats were a truck towing a large flatbed with rails with very LOUD sound systems. The idea of the flatbed was to allow people to stand on them, dance, wave to the crowds, etc. Well, what better idea than for us to climb on board?? We truly experienced the excitement of the gay parade. This was so much more than I had hoped for on my first day. After the parade we visited the apartment of another friend of Nicole’s, Inuk from Greenland. Then, since it was around 10 pm, we figured it was time to find a place to eat dinner. We walked to a local diner. I had an amazingly good and large steak sandwich, a glass of wine, and shared fries. The cost? $3.50. Now that dinner was over and it was closing in on midnight, we decided to head to San Telmo and the bar district. We found an outside cafĂ© with live music and flamenco dancers. Once the music stopped, we went inside and upstairs to a reggae bar. After one or two songs, Nicole and I realized that we were exhausted. We rode the bus home (40 minutes) and collapsed. Made it to bed around 3 am.

I hope I survive this trip!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I made it!

After about 17 hours of flight time, I finally arrived in Argentina. No problems on the way down. Nicole was waiting for me at the airport. It was 7:50 am Argentina time, 2:50 am California time. Nicole looked more tired than me!!
Time to take a quick nap before we begin our adventures :)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I leave tomorrow!

I think I've packed everything and then some for the 3 week trek. I guess I'll soon find out! It's been hard to figure out what to pack for both the city life that Nicole wants to share with me and the backpacking through hostels that we'll be doing.

The plane leaves at 7am from Redding. I touch down in Buenos Aires at 7:20am there time - 2:20am our time! I have 3 books and an ipod loaded with a couple of movies.

Hopefully I can trick my body into sleeping during the 10.5 hour flight from Atlanta to Buenos Aires. Nicole has plans to take me out to the bars on Saturday night.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

10 days to go

Welcome to my blog! I have 10 days before I leave for Argentina. I'll be meeting up with my daughter, Nicole, in Buenos Aires. She's been "going to school" down there for the past 5 months. We are going to spend 3 weeks touring in Patagonia together. We'll also find time to visit some of the hot spots in Buenos Aires and take a day trip to Uruguay.