Friday, April 08, 2005

Mendoza to Buenos Aires

Today started relatively early, sometime around 8am. We had breakfast downstairs before heading back to the pedestrian walkway to catch the stores when they are actually open.  We stopped in to buy stamps and mail postcards. Spend $60 on stamps for 15 post cards, which is about twice what we are paying for meals. What a country!

We also found two disposable cameras and bought them, too. I think it came to $80 for both of them, but we definitely weren’t paying for quality. I hope they work out. We’re seeing all sorts of stuff that would have made a nice photo, too bad /link/ our nice cameras were stolen. A little before noon, we checked email and then checked out of the room. A call to the police station yielded a “We’ll call you if we find something.” It sounds so promising.

The hotel hired a taxi for us to go to the airport. There were vineyards surrounding the terminal and two pilots walking around in them. All of the rows of grapes we’ve seen have roses on the end of them.  I think they are being used as soil pH indicators, where the color of the rose translates to a certain pH level.  We checked in for our flight about two hours early, there was no line at all. We had to get business class tickets because coach was full. Lunch was lomitos and beer, in the airport restaurant that really had issues with my credit card. It didn’t scan, there was no paper in the printer, etc.

We’ve made it through our time in Mendoza with almost only our cash, the equivalent of $100 USD. Crazy cheap food. Gifts and hotel were on credit, but the tours weren’t. The wine tour was about $9 USD each. At the end of lunch, we found a huge line at the counter for flight check-in. We boarded our flight leaving from Gate 4 by using Gate 3. It seems that all rules and policies here are more suggestions than regulations.  I spent almost the entire flight catching up my journal.

We arrived at Buenos Aires around 4:30pm. Business class was nice. Kacey had champagne. And Tang. If she had mixed them for Tangpagne, that would have been white-trash gold. We had no problem getting our bags, but I threw out our claim tag and had to retrieve it from the garbage can to get out of the terminal with our stuff. We hired a remise, which is like a private taxi, for around $7 USD to take us to the Hotel Gran Argentino.We loaded up our taxi and a little boy nearly joined us. It seems that we distracted him from his mindless following of his parents. The look of “Who are you?” on his face when he looked up and saw us was hilarious. We sent him on his way to avoid a ‘Home Alone’ moment. I’m not sure if his parents even noticed.

<gran hotel arg pic>

 We checked into the Hotel Gran Argentino, and my first thought was that this place is old. They have a three-person elevator, rather cramped if you have any luggage. We booked a reservation for the /blog/ Boca Juniors game on Sunday , but I had to use my Visa card for the first time in a year because they don’t accept Mastercard. Our room doesn’t have the same feel as /blog/ the last hotel. This one is a little more worn.

We went out to Calle Florida for shopping. It’s a huge pedestrian mall area. I bought a Boca Juniors jersey for the game for only $ARG 45, maybe $15 USD. We keep popping in to and out of stores to get a good idea of what they have: Copper plates, painted tango things, sports jerseys, etc. There seems to be only one or two unique stores and the rest sell the same stuff. But I guess that’s true in just about every tourist area. The lights are out of control. We’re so heavily bathed in bright neon and white lights that our shadows have shadows. We arrived at Plaza San Martin where we had dinner in a corner cafĂ©. I had a pizza that was mostly cheese, so much so that I had to leave a good amount on my plate because I just couldn’t take it anymore.

We returned back down Calle Florida and all of the street performers were gone. Senor Robot, an angel statue, and a few more performers we didn’t watch because that kind of venue is prime hunting ground for pickpockets. It seems that if you are overheard speaking English, a beggar’s hand will surely appear asking to be filled. We got back to our hotel “suite” with no pockets picked, /blog/ for once. I think it’s called a suite because of the 8 ft by 8 ft entrance room with a chair and side table. And that’s how our day ended, and where my inner geek emerges. I filled the sink up and let it drain, just so that I could watch the /link/ Coriolus effect in the Southern Hemisphere.

In case you’re wondering about the women of Buenos Aires, here’s my take. Besides being much shorter than me (by 12-18 inches), not many of them are all that attractive to me. They often wear tight jeans that look like they need a pit crew to change out of. Some of them have nice figures that they’re flaunting, but many of them are trying to squeeze into styles not meant for them. Kind of like back home, there have been a few head-turners but most of those are because of how nicely their outfits complement them. For being the “Paris of South America”, you would think fashion and beauty would be all-pervasive.  Not so. Many of them look artificial, “trying to stay in the race,” if you will. Some should be retired. To be fair, I don’t know if they are also tourists. I’d say they have the same percentage of attractive women as any other major city, but dress in a way to catch guys’ attention. And I can tell you that all the guys are looking. It’s part of the culture. But that doesn’t mean it’s best for society and equality though.

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