¡Buenos Dias from Buenos Aires!

It is Christmas Eve in Buenos Aires (about 95 degrees and rainy) and here is our report on this extraordinary city.

We flew into BA (which is what they call it here) on Monday. The city is huge from the air - 16 million people in the whole area. When you get through baggage and walk outside, you see what you expect is the Atlantic, but wait; it is all brown. Because, it is not the ocean, but the Rio de la Plata, the largest estuary in the world - at some points 120 miles wide! Plata means silver in Spanish. The country, Argentina, is named after argentum, the Latin word for silver. Seems the Spanish thought the brown in the river was from silver. Oops...wrongo! It is only sediment. The name of the city is actually City of Trinidad and Port of Buenos Aires (city founded on Trinity day - Nov 2, and the port has really good air). But of course it is just called Buenos Aires.

Monday we did a city tour in the bus. There are over 1,000 statues and monuments! There are 40+ neighborhoods in the city. 
There are really beautiful areas and of course some very poor, run down shanty town areas. We were constantly warned about pickpockets, but no one had any problem, even walking at night. We are in Recolleta, one of the nicer areas. The architecture is very interesting...a mix of French (many French architects came over to work in the city) plus Spanish plus a local flavor. Palm trees and banyans abound. Perfect weather.

We promised more food details.  We were here on our 35th wedding anniversary so went out to celebrate on Monday evening at a lovely French restaurant called Nectarine. The food was amazing.  We started out with a French sushi roll/amuse bouce of smoked salmon on a pea puree.  Then we moved to our appetizers.  I had tomatoes prepared 5 ways (which was a perfect appetizer given that Wayne does not eat tomatoes so I didn’t have to share)...anyway, tomato foam, heirloom tomatoes, a tomato blini, salad with tomato dressing, and sun dried tomatoes.  Wayne went more inventive with pumpkin capellini served with duck magrait, prunes, and almond and garnished with vanilla oil.  Then, we moved to the main course... I had lamb that surpassed anything in Australia New was served with roasted sweet peppers, with Provence salad served with peas and fava beans in rosemary water.  Wayne had a beautiful pork loin.....served with avocado, shrimp, a green curry foam and hearts of palm tempura.  For dessert, I had dark chocolate roll stuffed with chocolate mousse adorned with mango sorbet and surrounded by dark chocolate and orange drops.  Wayne went for the red fruit cake (though it sounds more romantic in Spanish... gateau de frutos rojas) with a pistachio biscuit, red fruit sorbets, and a cheese cake adornment.  Truly glorious.  But the food adventures did not end with our anniversary.  For lunch on Tuesday we had classic empandas at a locals spot--these are meat and/or chicken turnovers which melt in your mouth they are so delectable...particularly when washed down with beer they are very yummy.  Speaking of beer, the alcohol has truly been flowing.  The wine (Malbec is my favorite) is great and hard to put down. To close out our eating adventures in Buenos Aires, lots of Italians here so we had great pizza for dinner on Wednesday night.  We had a BBQ (with the whole parade of meats) at a ranch for lunch on Wednesday. And how could I forget, the ice cream here is also great.

Forgot to mention (regarding our anniversary) that not only did a dozen red roses magically appear in our hotel room but so did a bottle of champagne with strawberries (which no one is claiming... hmmm).  A special anniversary gift was the yummy leather jacket i purchased (made to fit).... a must not miss stop for several of us on the trip... memories of our Viet Nam experience. 

Moving on to other adventures, a highlight of Tuesday was the tango show.  I never realized how many balletic elements are in tango.  It was really great.  Wednesday morning we went to a ranch at a pampas about an hour out of town.  The horses put on an amazing display but our favorite was the 3 day old pony.  OMG, so cute.  After 5 hours on the ranch we hurried back so that 9 of us could take the Jewish tour of Buenos Aires.  Very interesting.  The Jewish community here is quite strong (not quite as strong as it once was...but strong nonetheless).  We visited the site of the 1992 Israeli Embassy bombing (now a memorial), the Holocaust Museum, an extraordinarily beautiful conservative synagogue in the pretty-much defunct garment district, and a huge shopping mall financed by a group including orthodox Jews, so there was a mezuzzah at each entrance.  This mall also included the only Kosher McDonalds in the Western Hemisphere.  We did a double-take when we walked up to the McDonalds and "Silent Night" came through the PA system. Gotta love those intercultural experiences.  By the way, Buenos Aires truly is a city of immigrants from all over the world with the latest wave from other countries in South America.

Back to the Jewish Tour for a moment.  it is easy when you are caught up in the magic of Buenos Aires to forget that this is a country that sheltered many Nazi war criminals just after the war including Adolph Eichmann.  We marveled at Evan Peron´s tomb and the amazing cemetery where her remains rest but when we heard about her contributions to the Nazi settlement effort here (she flew to Switzerland with several phony passports), we saw things in a different light.

Time to move on... we are leaving for a plane to Iguazu Falls in a few minutes and will report on those in a day of two.

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