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Fernet and Coke, Anyone?

ARGENTINA | Friday, 28 January 2011 | Views [1579] | Comments [1]

Buenos Aires is one of the parts of the trip that I had been looking forward to the most, because I had such great memories of the city from the last time I visited. The last time I came to visit my friend Kim and we spent about a week in the city and another week traveling around through Northern Argentina. During that visit I got to know Pablo who I got to know even more when he came to Austin for ACL and then in LA when he was traveling through California.

The first night we didn’t get into town until around midnight because all the buses leaving Mar del Plata were booked up by the thousands of vacationers taking off after the weekend. We had reserved a room at Pax Hostel and were stoked when we arrived and found that our room had AC, a flatscreen/DVD combo and a terrace just steps outside the room. When the guy checking us in showed us our room, he was telling us about the features of the room and said, “and of course, a TV.” He thought it was nothing, but it’s pretty rare when we have a hostel with a TV. On top of all this, we wake up to an amazing breakfast that includes eggs, cereal, bread, and even a juice squeezer that you can use to make fresh orange juice!

One of the main things we wanted to do in Buenos Aires was get tattoos. Brett had been planning his tattoo for a while and wanted to get a big, flaming sun on his shoulder with the Chinese characters for life, love, family, prosperity and wisdom. I thought I’d decided to get the yellow rose of Texas on the top of my foot. Checking out a tattoo shop was definitely on the list for things we wanted to do, but first thing we did that morning was take the subway over to Palermo to go for a jog in one of the many beautiful parks. The first park we found was the botanical garden, so we strolled around for a while looking at the plants and all the stray cats that live there. It wasn’t the greatest place for jogging so we ask around and got pointed in the direction of a really nice park with trails and a pond in the middle. We had a nice jog, but it sure is hot in the middle of the day during the summer! Just after our run Brett started spotting posters for the Dakar rally and we realized that we missed it by one day! Brett was really bummed because he’s been wanting to see a race during our whole trip and it still has happened.

Later that night we had plans to have our first parrilla (amazing Argentine BBQ) at El Bagual’s, a place that Kim took me last time I was in BA. We invited the couple from New York, Gemma and Andy, that we met in Chile and Pablo. El Bagual’s isn’t the fanciest place, but the food and the atmosphere are awesome. Pablo showed up with his friend, Pablo and his brother, Max. I’d never met his brother before, but Brett and I had met Pablo because he was traveling with Pablo in California. We had some awesome beef, grilled provolone, blood sausage (I’m not a huge fan), salad and chimichurri sauce on everything. I’m definitely going to start making chimichurri sauce when Brett and I finally settle down somewhere. It was delicious. Afterwards we headed out to get some ice cream and in my opinion, the ice cream in Argentina is the best there is! Especially the flavors with dulce de leche, which is this super popular caramel-like stuff. After stuffing ourselves, the Pablos and Max took off since they had work in the morning and we went down the street for some Fernet and Coke with Gemma and Andy. For those of you who haven’t tried it, Fernet is a really popular liquor in Argentina that’s imported from Italy and the color and flavor is similar to Jagermeister.

After chatting with Pablo and one of the girls working at our hostel, we found out about a big group of tattoo shops in Bond Street Galleria. We showed up and we were surprised at how many shops there really were! We walked around and talked to artists at different shops and looked at portfolios of work they’ve done. Brett wanted a custom tattoo so we thought it would probably be pretty important to find an artist who could speak some English so he could explain what he wanted. We finally found a shop called Lucky Seven tattoo that we liked best. The artist sketched the tattoo on Brett’s shoulder and my foot so we could see what it would look like. I was really excited about the tattoo right after leaving the shop, but about 15 minutes later I knew I wouldn’t be able to go through with it. I kept imagining myself dressed up in a pair of heels and I just couldn’t put that imagine together with the rose tattoo on my foot showing through the straps of my heels. Brett was on his own for the appointment at Lucky Seven.

That night we met up with the Pablos again for some food and drinks. The first spot we went to was called Bar Unico in Palermo Hollywood. Afterwards, we went a few blocks to another really cool bar to end the night with some more Fernet and Coke. Pablo says that the herbs in Fernet are good for digestion. I like having a good excuse to drink it. : )

The next day it was pouring rain outside. Pablo knew that it was going to rain all day and recommended that we check out the Alto Palermo Mall. The mall was huge and really nice. It had one of the two Starbucks in the city and even though the coffee is more expensive then it is in the States, I had to get one. This was only the 2nd Starbucks I’d had during the entire 6 months of our trip!

In the afternoon, when the rain cleared up we decided to walk over to the famous Recoleta cemetery, where you can find Evita’s tomb. We got lost on the way and instead found a little barber shop. I think this was meant to be, because Brett desperately needed a beard trim. His beard was like a fro sticking off of his face about 3 inches. During the cut, the barber started making fun of his haircut saying that it was really uneven and his Mohawk wasn’t centered. I let him know that I’d given him the haircut myself and he just kept laughing. Haha… Maybe I don’t have a future as a stylist?

We eventually made it to the cemetery and it was really interesting see all of the above ground buildings that housed the dead from so many of Buenos Aires’ wealthy families. Some of the buildings were really big and from the outside you could see up to ten tombs in each one. Most of the buildings even had stairs leading to a basement with even more storage area. Some of the buildings are in really good shape, but others are really run down with broken windows and dirt inside. Pablo told us that the upkeep is really expensive so some people just don’t want to pay and let them go. From the last time I visited the cemetery, I remembered all the random cats roaming around and nothing has changed, they are still all there!

It was our second to last day and the day for Brett to get his tattoo! Brett’s going to jump in now and tell about it…

As some of you may know, I have one tattoo already on my left calf and have been thinking about this new one on my right shoulder for quite some time. During this trip seemed like the perfect time to get it done. Also, turns out that tattoos are considerably cheaper in Argentina…the whole deal only cost about $150, for sketching and 3 ½ hrs of inking. I was certainly a bit nervous, seeing how it had been almost 10 years since my last one and I really wasn’t sure how much pain to expect. Usually when I’m nervous I like to talk, so it was really nice having Sophia there for most of it…the artist didn’t speak much English at all, so communication with him was limited to my Spanish, which is probably only a few hundred words. He sketched it out on my shoulder, we made a few changes, enlarged it a bit and added a couple things, but for the most part I didn’t have to change much, this guy had really nailed the look I was going for. So, the tattooing begins and it really wasn’t so bad, Sophia even said, “you are really making this look easy”. I suppose I was, there was really only 2 parts of it that were pretty painful. I see it as like a meditational exercise…you just try to block it out or almost mentally transport yourself to a different place.  About 30minutes into it, we had been hearing this clicking sound coming from the other room, sounded like electricity, like if you just swung a bat at an electric fence…so we ask the artist, “que pasa in otro cuarto?” turns out, they do tattoo removal in the same place! How funny, right?! Here I am getting it put on and during that same time, 2 guys came through for removal! Sophia spoke with one of them afterward, he said it was really painful, just like a tattoo I suppose, some places on the body hurt more than others. About an hour and half in, after the outline was done, Sophia was getting bored and took off to go shopping for an hour or so…by the time she got back, it was starting to get more painful because the guy had gone over the same skin 2 and 3 times with the different colors, apparently I wasn’t making it look easy anymore, because within a few minutes I could see tears coming from her eyes! She was supposed to be being strong for me and now she’s crying…oh man…about 25 more minutes was all she take, between the pain and blood, she wasn’t having it and went downstairs to read her book. Probably better that way…another 30minutes or so and all done! I must say, it’s a pretty nice feeling when it’s over. The artist wrapped it in saran wrap (which I later read is not good for the skin) to keep the blood in…I was getting some interesting looks on the subway on the way back to the hostel. I suppose that’s about it so I’ll give back to Sophia to wrap things up. : )

It was our last night in town so we went to meet up with the Pablos and Max for some drinks in Palermo Hollywood again. Drinking in the bars in BA can get kind of expensive, so we came prepared with a Gatorade bottle full of Fernet. The bar they took us to was really nice with a big outdoor area in the back. It’s amazing what a difference it makes to know people in the places where you’re traveling. It was so fun to have these guys to hang out with and they were really nice to take us out every night even though it was during the week and they had to go to work in the morning. When Pablo was taking us home at night he would always give a mini city tour and show us some of the sites… Even more fun once you’ve had a few drinks!

Pablo and Max both work in Puerto Madero and told us that it would be a cool place to check out before catching our bus on the last day. In this area is a canal that comes off of the river and there are lots of bars and restaurants on the water. There is even a building with a giant tree growing inside of it! All and all, a really nice area. The most exciting experience of our trip so far happened before we caught our bus out of BA, but this blog is getting long so I’m going to save it for the next one and end here in Puerto Madero!

Tags: argentina, buenos aires, el bagual, fernet, palermo, parrilla, pax hostel, puerto madero, recoleta, san telmo

Comments

1

Another great blog and pictures you guys! It is hard to believe you are coming down to the last week soon...I'm sure it's a bittersweet feeling!
This another awesome adventure in a gorgeous city!
Much Love,
Mom

  Mom Isis Jan 29, 2011 3:58 AM

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