Thursday, December 28, 2017

Evita's Grave, a Melvin, and a Weird Steak in Buenos Aires

Today we went on a really cool free walking tour of Buenos Aires. I love free walking tours so much. It was a really hot sunny day so our giant group of English speakers leap frogged from tree-shade to building-shade trying not to get fried.

I liked our guide because he took the time to dive into a variety of subjects: politics, soccer, economics, the Falklands War, food, art, and a few random stories in between.

Our journey began at the Teatro Colon which he told us was in the top 5 opera houses in the world and it was... I want to say the largest horseshoe shaped theatre in existence? Liberal rag National Geographic ranks Teatro Colon as #3 best opera house in the world, with the better 2 being in Italy.

One fun fact our guide told us was that the acoustics in the building are so finely tuned that each chair is shapely slightly different depending on its position on the floor relative to the stage.

Our guide went on and on about how hard it was to get tickets. We looked at each other, said "cool story bro", then booked a performance of The Nutcracker for tomorrow night. It's hard to stay in the Christmas mood when it's boiling hot out so special measures were necessary.

Another notable spot was where a dude's family built a fancy church, the Basilica of the Holy Sacrament, that they could see from their fancy house. Well the woman whose heart he broke built a massive skyscraper, the Kavanagh Building, in between the two to block his view and get sweet sweet revenge.

In a nice shady park we had a long discussion about the Argentine economy and the strange effects it has had on their currency. For a long time the government had an artificial exchange rate set so it was much more advantageous for a tourist to exchange dollars for pesos on the street with a black market money changer than at a bank.

We were excited to see that Uber was operating in Argentina because it cuts down on a lot of the BS that cab drivers like to pull. We have noticed some longer than usual wait times and I got an explanation for that too. Uber isn't legal in Argentina, and won't work with Argentine's credit cards, so really it's for foreigners. Fine by me. Our tour guide said that drivers will often ask you to sit in the front seat so you look less like an illegal customer.

He said counterfeiting is a problem, and that cab drivers will often try to give you counterfeit bills in change. Uber for me thanks. All of the money problems here really made me appreciate how stable the system is in the US.

This tower was a gift from the local British community and was called Torre de los Ingleses until the Falklands War in 1982 when the name was changed to Torre Monumental.

There was a Falklands War monument nearby guarded by really ceremoniously dressed soldiers.

If you hold a couple of Evita hundos up top to bottom the design continues like wallpaper.

The tour ended really close to our apartment at Evita's grave in Recoleta Cemetery. Apparently after her death she was embalmed by the same guy who did Lenin then put on display. Well when that government fell in a military coup the new crew didn't want anyone to visit her and were too scared to destroy her so they went through years of ridiculous schemes and hiding places before she was secretly buried at the Vatican. Eventually she was dug up and returned to her family's crypt in Buenos Aires. For me to see.

It was so friggin' hot that we stopped for ice cream. You can definitely tell there's Italian influence in Argentina.

We popped over to visit Evan's crew's apartment and had some delicious refreshments.

That Chilean restaurant crossed me when I ordered that melvin and they were unable to deliver so I bought a melon and some white wine and made it myself. The recipe called for powdered sugar but I figured that was unnecessary.

It was afternoon so you know what that means: we headed to a nearby McDonald's and looked over the afternoon menu!

Evan went for those papas fritas cheddar bacon like a boss.

Brandon suggested we pop over to the National Art Museum which surprised me. I thought he was too cool for that sort of thing. It was a good idea though because they had a lot of good stuff. They even had some famous world class artists' work such as Rodin and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Brandon was like "hey guys lets stop and pick up some ultra refreshing super premium AB InBev products on the way home." 

Brandon couldn't decide between the Argentinian Cerveza Quilmes or the Brazilian Brahma Chopp. Luckily they are both made by the same company so we didn't need to choose. Thumbs up to both!

We had a really good dinner at Rodi Bar that night. Argentina is well known for its beef so I thought I could just order whatever steak and it would be good. I was incorrect. I chose the asado de tira for the sole reason that the menu's English translation was "Argentine rib steak". I'm in steak country so who am I to argue?

Well it turns out ribsteak means pile of bones and fat that is physically near to inedible. I gnawed at it for a while without satisfaction.

Despite my poor choice I had a great time. The sides, bread, and wine were all solid so it was impossible to complain. The waiter was playful and accommodating despite the language barrier. On two occasions someone at our table ordered and he just literally thumbed down their plan and picked them something else.

We risked our lives again in the apartment's rickety elevator then called it a day.

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