Day 98: No Mis-Steak

Mon. 19th November 2012

Yachts in the marina in ColoniaIt was definitely a sleepy start to the day. I didn’t sleep very well for some unknown reason (it isn’t that life is stressful at the minute!) and with the hour change, I was slow to get started in the morning. As it turned out, that really didn’t matter as we were still the first people in breakfast. Not being awake is the best excuse I have to offer for letting us be stung on exchange rate from US$ for the hotel bill. Pah! Hey ho, just one of the pitfalls of travel and not the end of the world.

DSC04067After we left the hotel for a last walk around Colonia, it wasn’t just us that was slow to get started in the morning – with quiet streets few shops open and bartenders/owners sweeping up from last night, the whole town seemed to be asleep. Still the sun was shining and so we were able to stroll around the marina and the cobbled streets lost in our own thoughts.

Colonia was nice to visit, but 24 hours was easily enough here. The ferry back to BA was simplicity itself. Check-in and immigration queues were minimal, and we went through quickly. We are accumulating stamps in our passports and are starting to get a little worried as to whether we will have enough space in them. It is hard to know as immigration officials sometimes insist on a new page for their precious stamp and sometimes are happy to add their stamp beside others. Anyway, nothing we can do at the minute and at least our passports will have a tale to tell when we get back.

The Buquebus ferry to take us back to Buenos AiresWhilst we are waiting for the ferry back to Buenos Aires, we start planning our last 3 weeks or so in South America. The time continues to rush by and now we don’t have a Zaida or a Shiry to organise everything for us! In BA, the priorities are steak, wine and tango – but we also quite fancy doing a cycle tour of the city. This sounds like a good way to get around and we have seen good reviews on Trip Advisor. Then, on Thursday we head on down to El Calafate in Patagonia, so we have accommodation and bus transfers on to Puerto Natales and Punta Arenas to organise – as well as trips to the must see sights of Perito Moreno glacier and Torres del Paine park. The laptop will be in demand when we get back to the hotel!

Much more modern - Puerto Madero, Buenos AiresBefore that, though we need to make the most of our time in BA. As the ferry port is in the harbour district (duh!), we take advantage of that and walk along the gentrified docks of the Puerto Madero district. These docks were built in the 19th Century, but then fell in to disuse (we later find out that this is because, they weren’t built with a deep enough channel to accommodate larger ships). They have, however, been part of a development and renovation project over the last 10 years or so and now you have the renovated warehouses full of restaurants on one side and brand new high-rise hotels and office blocks on the other. In the middle you have the yacht club and marina and some old sailing boats which are used as museums.

Puente de la Mujer (Women's Bridge) - Do you see the Tango?Walking around in the sunshine watching the people and the water was a very fine way to spend and hour or so. Even better when we stopped in one of the new restaurants for a bite of lunch!

Christopher Columbus outside the presidential palaceIn the afternoon, there was time (and energy!) for some more sightseeing as we walked back to our hotel. First up was the Presidential Palace, the Casa Rosada (Pink House) made famous by Eva Peron. More surprisingly, the statue at the back of the palace, was Christopher Columbus. The front of the palace faces on to the main square (Plaza de Mayo) where we found out that Argentina and I share a birthday. The revolution that led to Argentina’s independence from Spain started on 25th May 1810.

Metropolitan CathedralAlso fronting on to the Plaza de Mayo, is the Metropolitan Cathedral. As in Rio, this is a cathedral that looks like something else – though in this case, from the outside, it looks like a museum with the pillars at the front. Inside, we get another surprise – in a side chamber, there is the mausoleum of Jose San Martin, the leader of the revolution and the person regarded as the father of the country. The entrance to the mausoleum has two guards in traditional uniform outside and the coffin is on a pillar draped in the Argentine flag.

Obelisk - Avenida de 9 JulioThe final leg of our walking tour (and yes, we are flagging by now) takes us down to the Avenida 9 de Julio, which is massive – supposedly the widest if not in the world then in all of South America. We just about have the energy to take a few photos of the Obelisk in the middle of the avenue. We ought to do a better job of this place at some point!

Great steak!There was never going to be any doubt as to our choice of restaurant for our first full evening in Buenos Aires. It had to be an assador – a steak house. The hard part was choosing which one to go to. In the end we picked Las Nazarenas, and we weren’t disappointed. The steaks were huge – we both went for the 550g rib eye, but that was one of the smaller steaks! More importantly, they were cooked just right and tasted fantastic. It is not often that we have steaks that are better than the Donald Russell steaks we get at home, but this was one of those occasions. As a bonus, I had a Spanish lesson – when the waiter discovered that I was learning Spanish, he tried to help me along. I now know that the Spanish for ‘medium-rare’ is jugoso (juicy)! Another good day, a great evening, and one of our Argentine priorities ticked off!

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