Showing posts from April, 2010

Milongas in Sydney and Buenos Aires

Got back from BA just in time to organise the Gladesville Milonga de mis Amores! And didn't collapse from jet lag! in fact it was worse going over than coming back. Would love to have gone to the milonga in Bondi Junction to reconnect with Mi Porteno Amigo that was on the night we returned but our plane was late - and at 9pm it was just a little too hard.
So we turned the lights up more than usual at Gladesville - as they do in BA...but otherwise everything ran as usual. The women did not sit on the side of the room waiting, without talking seriously to their neighbour, for the look and the nod (cabaceo) that meant a man wanted to dance with them - which is just as well as like BA milongas there were more women than men; the music was almost strictly Golden Age - which was the same at all 6 milongas I attended in Buenos Aires; there was no standing on the floor for the first 45-60 seconds of every song talking before dancing - Aussies just dance; everyone dressed up, as they do a…

Back to Buenos Aires - and back to Sydney

Our last 2 days in Peru were spent in Urubamba - where we explored the town and found a great restaurant... there are Pisco Sours and Pisco Sours - and these were good! as was the food. On the last day we shopped in Cuzco and visited Saqsayhuaman, a pre-Inca site, and one on the scale of the other Inca sites we have visited. We also shopped and bought ourselves - and our friends and families - baby Alpaca woollen garments at bargain prices. We were also treated to a superb meal at a world-class restaurant in the Museum of Pre-Colombian Art. A few years ago when we first visited Cuzco, such a restaurant did not exist, nor did the bustling traffic. It is now a really busy tourist centre, but it still retains its character, which was very obvious from the window of our hotel where we looked the crowded tiled roofs and busy lives of the local inhabitants.
It was sad to leave but our short stay soon ended and we headed back to Buenos Aires for one night before boarding our plane back to S…

Inca sites, Machu Picchu - Peru is a walker's paradise

It's three days since I've written! We arrived in Cuzco, travelled to our hotel in Yucay - did our best to acclimatise and set off next day for the Inca sites of Moray - where archeaologists have unearthed huge rings of horticultural terraces, used by the Incas to test the climate tolerance of plants; the salt mines at Maras - once again a huge terraced slope this time of salt pans and Ollantaytambo (pictured) - the mind-boggling Inca kingdom of the Emperor Pachacuti. I can't do justice to the Inca empire in this blog - suffice it to say that they have to be seen to be believed, the Incas had a great understanding of the natural world and engineering. The highlight of the trip for every traveller is of course Machu Picchu.
We devote 2 days to travelling to Agua Calientes, the town that feeds tourists up to the site, and set off early by bus to the rail depot at Ollaytaytambo. Seven years ago when I previously visited Machu Picchu one caught the train directly from Cuzco a…

Goodby Buenos Aires, Hello Peru

Our last day in Buenos Aires and the last Spanish conversation for now... (must get back into when I return, I am just beginning to remember so much of it!) It rained for the first time this trip... and we escaped 2 attempts at having our pockets picked. One in busy Florida when I felt my backpack being touched and whipped round with a plastic bag in hand, knocking the person behind who feigned surprise and then disappeared. Now I know you shouldn't wear backpacks in busy shopping malls so I have been mostly wearing it on my front in this situation... thank goodness I was on my guard this time. The next time was on the Subte (the underground train) which we caught because of the rain. A group of business looking types in their 40s were standing near us and when my partner and I didn't get on the first crowded train neither did they. When we got on the second train they pushed and shoved - even though there were only half a dozen people getting on. My partner had his hand on hi…

San Telmo Markets and milonga Club Gricel

The weather in Buenos Aires just keeps coming up warm and sunny and Sunday was no exception. After a late start we headed off to the San Telmo markets passing the Pink Palace - place of famous balcony where Evita addressed the crowd. (We 'forgot' it was open to the public only on Sundays and passed by... if you get a chance don't miss it!).
Markets are big business around the world these days and if like me you occasionally visit one of those in your home town you will be used to seeing many stalls selling the same stuff. Same here. Table after table selling the same tango souvenirs, scarves, useless knicknacks, hats and much more...
We found a great little restaurant - Brasserie Petanque - and stopped for a plate of Canard de Confit (what else in the middle of the day? it was delicious). Then after buy a picture we took a side street and before long found ourselves at the Museum of the Tunnels. Fascinating piece of Buenos Aires' history that the authorities seem to kn…

An Estancia and Los Consagradas en Buenos Aires

Our private bus takes us out past the domestic airport, Aeroparque Jorge Newbery and the brick, wire and cardboards slums known as the villas miserias (literally miserable towns) and into the Argentinian countryside. It is a wide green and flat landscape, with businesses and houses beside the main road - the better neighbourhoods, as in any city, are away from the highway. An hour and a half outside Buenos Aires we arrive at our Estancia. Here some of us will ride horses, some will experience a ride in a buckboard - not for the first time is it a reminder of how much padding one needs and how uncomfortable was this form of travel when it was all one had. This visit is on our itinerary and we are all looking forward to a day in the country, lunch and learning something about life on the properties of the gauchos.
Lunch is an asado (bbq) - of course! The Argentinian barbecue is a big production - sausages, beef and chicken are spread across the racks above the coals and the meal is also…

Milongas, Spanish and great Italian food in Buenos Aires

Thursday and Friday in Buenos Aires were just as busy and today, Saturday, we are off on another adventure. Our Spanish lessons continue - and continue to remind me of everything I have forgotten. Clearly we need longer, but a little is better than none and it will inspire me to continue when we return to Oz. On Thursday evening's event was Nuevo Chique in San Jose. Very popular and very warm friendly - and our evening was made special because tonight I met TangoCherie! Any followers of this blog will know that Cherie also has a tango blog - and she writes about Buenos Aires. We had promised each other that we would get together in BA and tonight we did. It was like meeting an old friend - and we had a fabulous night of dancing, talking and drinking champers!! Nuevo Chique also has the best DJ (in BA I am told) and the music was excellent - Golden Age, and some great pieces I haven't heard. The night ended abruptly when the lights went out! And my trusty little torch came int…

Clases de Espanol, a meal and a milonga sin musica en vivo

My first Spanish lesson in about 3 years - this morning. It is amazing how much you forget when you attempt to learn a language as an adult and then don't practise it. Of course there are words you don't forget but much that you do, particularly in my case the conjugation of verbs. I will do 10 hours of Spanish while I am here (part of my travel package) and hopefully find a way of maintaining it when I return to Oz, ready for my next visit.
The lesson was punctuated by huge noises of explosions. Common in BA it seems when there is a demonstration on, which seems to be at just about every corner. Rather frightening sound, but apparently harmless!?
Today was a beautiful sunny day in Buenos Aires - temperature between 10 and 21 deg. C so we took a long walk after the lesson and arrived back at our hotel with more CDs (no surprise) and another pair of shoes (not mine this time!)
I had decided to take a local's recommendation of a Spanish restaurant for tonight's meal - mista…

Tango shoes, tango CDs, shopping, shopping, shopping ... in BA

Just in case you didn't read the headline! today we shopped. Part of the options with the package we are on is that we have a guide and a driver for one day's shopping = what a way to go. A local who really knows their way around this great, big city - and a driver who drops you off where you want to shop and picks you up when you've finished. Shades of Julie Roberts shopping with Richard Gere in 'Pretty Woman'.
First stop was shoe shops in BA. Check the links on TangoAustralia = at over 8,000 visits it is our most popular page - and you will find some of them...
We are very close to Suipacha so we skipped those as we can walk to them and they are not what we wanted anyway and headed to Tango Brujo, then NeoTango, Tango Leike and Comme Il Faut. Our other mission was to buy Tango CDs. As a tango DJ I need to keep my collection fresh and there were a number of titles I was looking for... so we visited the Source (not its name but it is a producer of many of the great…

Two days in Buenos Aires

Sunday dawned as another bright and sunny Buenos Day with a morning temperature of 10 degrees. Our plans for the day were a tour of the city for those who hadn't been before - and those who hadn't been for quite a while. We started in the Plaza de Mayo, the main square in the city which is surrounded by beautiful buildings that are part of the city's heritage, including the famous pink palace - the President's palace - where Evita greeted the crowd from the balcony. Our tour took us to La Boca (now a real tourist spot with its unique corrugated iron brightly coloured buildings), Recoleta, Palermo and Puerto Madero (the port) - before we finished at a special restaurant for lunch. The lunch took most of the afternoon - and by the time we returned to our hotel at 5 we were all ready for a quiet evening.
Come Monday we once again set off in the crisp early morning this time for the studio of Andrea Uchitel for 3 hours of tango classes. We took the Subte line A and travelle…

From Calafate to Buenos Aires

Saturday we leave Calafate. Sadly because we had all enjoyed our stay enormously - the area's wild beauty, our extremely comfortable hotel and the friendly locals made our stay. We flew LAN from Calafate to Ushuaia (a place I visited about 7 years ago and found rather sad and boring - but perhaps I overstayed!) and then to Buenos Aires. And back to the excellent Hotel 725 Continental, a seamless transition given the hotel transfers.
A number of Aussie tangueros/as had organised our Saturday night - which was just perfect. Originally we had planned to go to Los Consagradas - but it was closed - so the new agenda was Plaza Bohemia in Maipu until about 9.30 then Club Bohemios in La Boca. Plaza Bohemia (see picture early in the night) I found a soul-less. I will certainly give it another try, but it lacked ambience and I felt sorry for the women sitting like birds waiting to migrate along one wall... I know there are those who think I am a heretic when I say that I think using the caba…

Perito Moreno Calafate's beauty

Friday was another crisp, sunny day what better way to spend it than to explore more of the Los Glacieres National Park. We organised* a car and a driver, Javier, and set off for the Perito Moreno Glacier by land. The drive is about 80 km from our hotel through the rugged often harsh alpine country, passing estancias, caracara (falcons) gorging on roadkill and arriving at the 'balconies' for a walk to the edge of this magnificent mountain of ice. Our aim was to walk from the glacier round to the tourist centre, a distance of just over a kilometre along the edge of the lake. It was a superb walk, interrupted by the occasional pause as we heard the pistol crack of the glacier, sometimes calving in the lake, sometimes deep within the glacier.
On the way back we stopped at La Usina for afternoon tea. An outdoor activity centre and tea house, it is set in beautiful grounds beside a bubbling mountain stream.
We spent the evening in the hotel, having decided that the food there was bet…

Me Gusta El Calafate

Anyone who has ever watched the movie 'Titanic' thinks of icebergs as fierce-some - the first iceberg I saw was yesterday on Lake Argentino and it was a beautiful sky blue, in the shape of an anvil at one end - and it was awesome. Soon we would see bigger and more interesting icebergs - including a huge blockade at the mouth of the section of lake near the Uppsala Glacier which is no longer accessible by water. And we would wait and watch at the Spegazzini and Perito Moreno Glaciers for them to calve and send huge blocks of ice into the lake, but the first iceberg is still special!
Lake Argentino is a huge expanse of water and the glacial fields have only been on the tourist trail for about 10 years. We took the only boat that cruises the lake overnight and takes only a few passengers. It was the perfect way to explore the lake, to visit a number of glaciers, take a walk through the National Park in the late afternoon and watch as the curious Andean condors circled overhead - …