Monday, 26 December 2011

IATTOUR Dec 19-25

Christmas in Buenos Aires Week III

Today we returned to Puerto Madero after a little more research and finally located the geocache to place a travel bug.  It was the only cache we were able to locate, but gave us another chance to wander through the edges of the park and along the waterfront.  On our way to the cadet-training tall ship, we spoke to a German chap who has been camper-vanning his way through the Americas with his partner and large golden retriever for the past 2 years.  He started in Halifax, traveled across to Alaska and down to Ushuaia before stopping by the waterfront to wait for the trip back home (and back to work after New Year's).  He loved the trip through Patagonia--saw beautiful scenery and almost no one on the way down.  Walking back across to town, I (Elaine) was sprayed by yogurt (a thief's tactic, we had been told), but we kept walking and all was well.  After meandering down Florida Ave and having lunch on Corrientes Ave, we ducked into the Subte just as the monsoons began again.

We kept close to home today as we were waiting forour British friend Lizzie to visit on her way home from the Spanish school in Montevideo.  There are venues and attractions of every sort in San Telmo, so today was "museums and churches day".  We hope to return to one of the churches for Christmas Eve mass with Carmel and Richard.  I was really surprised by a delightful exhibit at the City Museum on Children's Toys.  They had everything from dolls to bicycles displayed in an artful manner and the very welcoming guide seemed thrilled to direct us through. Had lunch in a nice Resto Bar "La Poesia", have their own microbrew beer on tap.  We spent a great evening catching up with Liz and finding out about her recent adventures.

Lunch at La Poesia
As Lizzie's holidays are drawing to a close, we zipped into Boca on the bus to pick up some last minute travel and Xmas presents.  Even though it is very touristy, there are some surprisingly good deals in the less traveled areas (Elaine).  Wandering the streets it became apparent that a cruise ship had disgorged its cargo of "adventurous clientele"; not!.  After negotiating the streets to get away from the various relentless restaurant hawkers, I can safely say, that I do not need to return to this tourist ghetto again on this trip (Tony).  Afternoon siesta's are nice when it is hot; today was hot!  We went out to a nice local establishment for dinner, good thing we picked an inside table as the thunder and lightning started followed by buckets of rain.  It stopped to a drizzle by the time we left.

Get off to a bit of a late start and head off to the Abasto area to tour Gardel's neighbourhood.  As we come out of the Subte, we notice crowd's gathering, TV crew's and lots of police.  I guess this was just another impromptu demonstration which shut down Corriente's street for about an hour, traffic was a mess and lots of short tempers.  We wandered the neighbourhood looking at all the glitzy Tango shoes/clothes and finished up with a tour of the Gardel museum....neat to see good history on his career singing and in movies.  Back to San Telmo as Lizzie had to finish packing and head to the airport for 6 pm.  


We got news this afternoon that Elaine's mom Helen passed away this morning; very sad, but relieved that, as her friend, Dale said: "it was time to lay aside her worn out mind and body and be off on a new adventure".  It was good to speak to all our family and thankful for the very good communications at a time like this to remember Helen in her best years.  A big thanks to all of our friends for their kind notes. After Lizzie left for the airport, we went for long walk in the neighbourhood, then sat to listen to the music, watch the Tango dancers and raise a glass of wine to Helen's memory.

Helen Douglas (Schuetze) beloved mother and grandmother: Anne Schuetze (Thierry Pierret), Carl Schuetze (Cynthia, Dylan, Diane) and Elaine Ethier (Tony, Nicholas, Valerie), sibling: Verna Mikkelson and Gordon Douglas, and ex-wife of Dan Schuetze passed quietly away on December 22nd .  Helen was born in Bella Coola, but spent the past 35 years in Sidney, BC.  She will be remembered for her kindness, creative abilities (owner of Classic Flowers, Sidney), artistic endeavors (SPAC member) and musical talents.  Her family would like to thank the staff at Kiwanis Pavilion for their kind care and attention to Helen.  Donations in her memory can be made to the Alzeheimer’s society.  A memorial will be held at a later date.    

A quiet day of reflection and last local bits of Christmas preparations. We picked up some flowers on Corrientes and squished into the Subte on the way home--certainly a Christmas rush in BA!  Carmel and Richard returned from their excursion to Salta and Iguazu with lots of tales and photos for proof..they had a fabulous time.

Last minute Christmas preparations; dinner, wine, prizes!  Dinner was going to be seafood Paella, so off to the San Telmo market to get the fresh meat, lagostina, and veggies.  An excursion to the Mercado del Progresso to pick up the tapas for this evenings festivities; cheeses, olives, dried fruits, special breads, membrilla dulce; then on the way back muchos vinos- tintos, blancos, rosados...we will be happy campers.  

Mixed into this all was a stroll down Florida street to see all the last minute shoppers, just like at home.  Things wound down quite quickly with everything pretty much shut down by 2 pm.  We got dressed in our finery (as good as it gets) and headed off to the evening Christmas mass.  A shock greeted us on our arrival to the cathedral to see only a paltry assemblage of parishioners (~25) in this massive venue; the clergy almost outnumbered the audience.  It was a nice service,  with music, ritual, etc.  The walk back to Dorego Plaza was done on deserted streets aside from the occasional fire works  blast.  We retired to the flat to indulge in the collected delectable treats.  


At the stroke of midnight, WWIII broke out with fireworks exploding from all sides, this continued for 2 hours.  A quick foray to the street to observe was cut short when rockets started bouncing off the wall near our observation post...time to go to bed.

Sunday-  Merry Christmas From BA

On our way out of the apartment  for a walk, we were shocked to see that many people were setting up for the Sunday San Telmo market; seems that even the biggest Christian Holiday of the year does not slow down this institution.  A leisurely morning stroll by all 4 of us "Pseudo-Portenos", along the Puerto Madero and Parc Ecologica helped clear the cobwebs on this fine Christmas Sunday morning.  Unfortunately the parc was locked down till noon, we guess to keep it from getting burned down with fireworks from the previous evening as there was plenty of evidence scattered along our entire walk.  

mmmmm-panatone for Xmas brekkie!

It was starting to get warm and we were now a bit peckish so we came back to our Pan Dulce (aka Pannetone), fresh fruit and a really nice cup of coffee (thanks Santa Carmel).  Again sated, the ladies were keen to explore the market, Richard and I opted for a siesta.  Later in the afternoon, the first bottle of vino blanco (Torrontes, one of our favorites) was cracked to begin our next few hours of calls, texts etc to friends and family's at home and abroad...ain't modern technology swell!  A few games, chores and a nap.

Out to listen to a bit of street music in the market...some great artists...before beginning the dinner prep....  A great collaborative effort turned out a scrumptious Seafood Paella with all the accompaniments.   Some word and dice games finished off the evening...what a full day with great friends.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!