January 5, 2008

Buenos Aires and the Beach

¡Feliz año nuevo! When last we spoke, Jared and I were headed to Buenos Aires, eager to finally meet this city we´d heard so much about. After an auspicious introduction (the cab into town was unexpectedly expensive, and our hotel tried to charge us 30% more than the published rate), we began to enjoy the bustling metropolis with the tango beat. With European architecture, unending nightlife, and more steak than we can eat, what´s not to love about Buenos Aires?

We did more apartment hunting than sightseeing in the three days we were in Buenos Aires. After almost three months on the road (you should see our list of cities--it´s coming soon), Jared and I are weary from moving every three days. We rented a room in the Monserrat neighborhood near the city center, and we are looking forward to having a home to call our own for the rest of January. By New York standards, our room in a nine-bedroom row house is a steal: $350 gets us a furnished, sunny room, a functioning kitchen, a spacious rooftop deck, and several friendly housemates. Our house is a mix of international students and a few locals, so we´ll be practicing our Spanish. If you´re going to be in the area this month, please let us know.

We did get a chance to go out until dawn, to sprint across the world´s widest street, and to pose for photos in front of the presidential palace. (Check out our photos of Buenos Aires.) But really, our exploration of Buenos Aires didn´t scratch the surface.

To ring in the new year, Jared and I headed to Punta del Este, Uruguay, the swankiest resort town in all of South America. (Take a look at our photos of Punta.) Our good friends Christina and Pablo Lema were going to be there, and Pablo´s parents graciously hosted us while we were in town. We lived a tough life in Punta del Este: sailing in the morning, sunbathing on the beach in the afternoon, caiprinhas at sunset. On New Year´s Eve, the entire city shot off fireworks for an hour, and we had a perfect view from the Lemas´ terrace. We watched as thousands of Brazilian visitors, all dressed in white, walked down to the water to pay homage to the sea god by walking backwards into the water. At 3am (that´s when the night starts here), we found a party where the champagne was flowing freely. Just as the sun was starting to color the sky pink, Pablo, Christina, Jared, and I called it a night. All in all, it was a perfect (and warm!) New Year´s Eve.

Truth be told, Punta del Este isn´t really our kind of town. It´s full of jetsetters, not backpackers. But it was one of the highlights of our trip. After months away from our friends, seeing Pablo and Christina was like going home for a bit. Pablo´s parents, Alvaro and Susana, made us feel welcome even though they had never met us before. As we left, they sent us with a care package of fruit, a huge ham and cheese torte, and a bottle of wine from land that used to be in Alvaro´s family. Like true parents, they wanted to make sure we had enough food for dinner. We were sincerely touched by their generosity. Alvaro and Susana, muchísimas gracias.

By the way, Uruguay marks the sixth country we´ve visited. Their coast faces the Atlantic Ocean, meaning we have officially crossed South America. Take a look at the map of our travels, which is also visible on our blog.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Julie, if you haven't tried it yet, Cabaña Las Lilas restaurant in Puerto Madero is awesome. Excellent food (lots of), service, cleanliness and a great atmosphere are worth the about $50 you'll spend in your dinner. I think that's how much Orlando and I spent at this restaurant when we were there in Sept 2005. That included a bottle of wine, appetizers, main course and dessert.