Monday, April 18, 2011

Another lovely day in Buenos Aires

Today we took a wonderful walking/public transit tour covering the legend of Carlos Gardel, the main historical political monuments, and an introduction to the buses. Lots of great information on the tour -- highly recommended. I don't think it really helped me feel comfortable hopping on the buses, though. I completely understand how useful the bus routes are here, but I think I will stick to the subway for now. If you zone out and miss a subway stop, you get off, cross the track, and catch the next train in the opposite direction. The ways that a bus ride in a foreign town can go awry are too numerous to count.

After the tour we hit a cafe with our your guide, Jonathan, for some snacks and drinks. Steve, of course, had to get the national beverage, Fernet Branca and coke. Fernet is a highly alcoholic bitter, menthol-y digestif that everyone drinks here for some reason. It rather reminds me of lakerol pastilles - licorice meets eucalyptus with something else thrown in that you can't quite place.

We took a short siesta afterwards (probably Fernet inspired), then went out for the night.  Or rather we attempted to head out for the night but we like to sleep more than most portenos so we were back in bed by midnight.

Before conking out we did finally manage to sample two must-haves in Buenos Aires: steak and ice cream. But not in that order. See, there is an excellent ice cream shop right by our b&b so we got dessert first. Then we hit La Brigada where we split a nice piece of beef, a salad, some potatoes, and a bottle of wine.

I'm still not in love with malbec the way the locals are. Every bottle has been different but has brought to mind the same rather unappealing descriptor for me - "gravelly". Although some do have lovely bold fruit, I can't shake the lingering aroma of a first rain bringing down all the carbon and smog from a month long dry spell. Maybe I haven't had any truly good malbecs yet. So tonight I ignored the waiter's recommendations that were not surprisingly mostly in the $100 and north price range, and went with a cab and malbec blend. It was unremarkable, but not unpleasant and less than $30.

After all the steak and wine and dairy we hailed a cab and rolled ourselves back to the b&b. Time for bed. I'm going to utilize the earplugs tonight. This is one noisy city. The traffic never seems to die down.

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