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Blogging Through My Bucket List Most travel is best of all in the anticipation or the remembering; the reality has more to do with losing your luggage. ~Regina Nadelson

Exploring Recoleta and Envying the Dead

ARGENTINA | Sunday, 27 February 2011 | Views [1033]

Friday! Although not nearly as exciting to state as it usually is (I love Spanish classes, even though by the video, I have lots to work on!) it was still nice to know I had the whole weekend to do whatever I wanted. With no tango class on Fridays, I went with Lotje and Bibi for their last full day in Buenos Aires to the famous Cafe Tortoni, the oldest restaurant in Argentina. Located in El Microcentro, the restaurant is a hotspot for tourists and locals alike. A doorman greets you andwelcomes you in by opening a massive door that leads into what could be an immaculate reception area of a theatre. High ceilings and beautiful photos indicate this place is fancy, and the prices confirm it! Sitting down for a cafe con leche and sandwich, I noticed that all the options had jamon (ham). I asked the waiter if it would be possible to just get the fillings (tomato, cheese and peppers) and make a sandwich out of it. The menu is in both English and French but for some reason they listed "peppers" only in English. I completely blanked on the Spanish word (ugh...pimiento!) and tried to describe it. Nodding enthusiastically, the waiter went to convey the order for a condiment sandwich. Returning, I realized the importance of mastering the vocabulary when somehow peppers turned into peas. I had cheese, tomatos and peas in french bread. I'm sorry vegetarians, I totally let you down on this one! I can't even imagine what the waiter must think of what he believes I actually requested be put in a sandwich.

One unusual condiment sandwich and very strong coffee later, I decided to head to a "must-see" spot in Buenos Aires, the Cementerio de Recoleta located where the name suggests, in the posh neighborhood of Recoleta. Arriving, I immediately realized why it's a must-see; I have never seen any cemetery come close to making the dead seem so classy. With some family tombs larger than a small house, I literally walked around with my mouth open. Row after row of incredible monuments were decorated with adornments I would expect to find on the fanciest of European churches. If this was the memorial for someone who can't even appreciate it, can you imagine the lifestyle they led while alive? The highlight was of course, finding Eva Peron's grave. Unfortunately, as important and famous as many of the dead were, I do not know enough about Argentinian history to appreciate them and spent more time thinking how if I were 10, this would be the mecca for hide-and-go-seekers. I had, however, done a little research before I came on Eva Peron (and by research, I read the paragraph insert in my Lonely Planet guide) and so really enjoyed finding where she was buried. She had a very intense and short-lived life and here are the interesting bits:

Making the most of my time in Recoleta, I headed to the beautiful church adjacent to thecemetery and then the Cultural Center where I oddly saw clowns practicing and later performing outside of the Center.

My last stop before heading home was El Ateneo Grand Splendid, ranked one of the top 10 bookstores in the world. It's set inside an old theatre where Carlos Gardel, arguably Argentina's most iconic tango legend, used to sing. I love bookstores (not that you're interested but I'm devastated Borders filed Chapter 11) and I love to read so I was probably more enthusiastic than the average tourist. The place did not disappoint, it's exceptional! The best part is the cafe is on the stage so you can order a coffee, wine, or even lunch and relax in a comfortable chair while checking out your purchases.

Igot back to my apartment at 9:00, just in time to get ready to go to dinner at Pertutti, a restaurant with amazing appetizers including ham and cheese sandwiches the size of abottle top, empanadas and garlic bread. Our "nations of the world" group consisting of Dutch, Brazilian, Serbian, Brit and American diners perfected the Argentinian dining experience and left the restaurant at the prompt time of 1:15am, just in time to head to the nightclub Rumi, opening at 1:30.

My first experience of an Argentinian "Boliche," was that a lot of things were incredibly similar to any club in the U.S or New Zealand (except in New Zealand if you had that many people in one place there wouldn't be any left for the rest of the country!) There were, however, a few interesting differences. The first obvious one is that Rumi, like mostclubs in Buenos Aires, does not open until many bars are announcing last call in America. The most interesting difference I noticed was the music. It started off with at least 50-75% of the songs coming from the U.S (although to be fair, I think it was Michael Jackson night so that upped the percentage). It was exciting that I actually knew the words and was familiar with the songs until...no. No they are not playing YMCA at 3am in a club. A popular club. A club people elected to go to, excitedly. Even more shocking, everyone went nuts. Well, nearly everyone. I can accurately and truthfully state I was so aware of the people who looked uncomfortably confused because I too, was looking around the room wondering what was going on and caught several bewildered looks. Aside from pointing out any adult male in a baseball cap, it was the easiest way I've ever been able to "spot an American" in my life. It might have been the hit of the night and the Y, M, C and A and have never been clearly demonstrated. It was a moment I should have put on video but forgive me, I never fully recovered.

Tags: buenos aires, cafe tortoni, caitie goddard, cementario de recoleta, travel

 

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