I remember now why I've never been successful at keeping a diary. The same thing always happens: I miss a couple of days and then I am overwhelmed by the number of things that have happened since I last wrote and I give up. But not this time dear readers! For the sake of all fifteen of you (and my mom, hi mom!) I will recount my epic weekend in several installments.
My two dear New York friends Margaret and Maya came down for a visit on Friday and left yesterday. Sometimes I feel like I should have more things in my life figured out at this point but one thing I feel like I have absolutely nailed is the friend bit. Mine are amazing; smart, funny, well-travelled, loyal and wonderful--the kind of girls who would hop on an international flight for a long weekend. Something we all noticed while were out together this weekend was the seeming lack of groups of women. In New York if you go to any given bar or restaurant at any given time you will see packs of girlfriends everywhere. I like to think that this absence is because all the of the cool girls are off taking fabulous vacations together in Bariloche but maybe it's just not such a thing down here.
the garden at Olsen
One thing I haven't been so keen on down here is the breakfast food. Much like in Europe, breakfast is usually a pastry and coffee as opposed to the eggs, fruit, bread etc that we eat in the US. I have mentioned before that I am serious about breakfast and I'm even more serious about brunch on the weekends. In the spirt of this most sacred of New York activities we found a couple of fabulous spots courtesy of the wonderful blog A Gringo in Buenos Aires (which I highly recommend to anyone visiting): Oui Oui on Saturday and the delicious Olsen Cafe where you can get your huevos revueltos with a side of 'tude (in case you're really missing New York). We spent much of the rest of our time lounging by the pool and seeing some sights. Buenos Aires is like New York in that you simply can not do everything during one visit and we all came with long lists of 'must-dos'; we chose carefully and well.
Neither of them speak Spanish so I got to do a lot of translating (some badly: we had a rather alarming incident with a cab driver wherein I confused the words 'espacio' and 'despacio' causing my friend to slam the door when he'd just asked us to be careful with it). Being with them made me realize how much more Spanish I am picking up than when I first arrived but also cued me in to what I might be missing. My friends pointed out to me that the waiter on Friday night was flirting his face off when I was chatting with him. Really? I asked. I had been so focused on trying to understand the meaning of his words that I had become blind to the million other signals that people send when they speak.
Margaret is really excited about the over the top tea service at the Alvear
Another amusing language related incident took place on Saturday after visiting the magnificent cemetary in Recoleta when we went for tea at the uber posh Alvear Palace Hotel (which trust, skip the Faena and go here if you want to get your luxury living on). As we were waiting to be seated a couple asked the hostess in English for a table she said she apologized but if they didn't have a reservation she would have to seat them inside instead of in the beautiful garden. As we also didn't have a reservation we were disappointed to hear this but content to sit inside. However, I asked for a table in Spanish and somehow miraculously there was space in the garden. Now, I'm not certain that this was because I had asked in Spanish--the whims of hostesses in posh places are always mysterious after all--but I like to think it helped.
Don Julio where you get to sign your empty wine bottle to add to the decor
Saturday night we had a grand adventure that included some delicious steak at a charming local joint called Don Julio, drinks at the Hotel Faena (which I can only reccommend if you really, really like Philippe Stark; two rounds of drinks here was more expensive than the most expensive dinner we had) and some dancing. The other reason the Hotel Faena made it onto my naughty list was because the waitress gave us terrible directions to the nightclub we were heading to and we ended up on a wild goose chase and had to get a cab anyway. We did however inadvertently stumble into one of the more amazing moments of my trip so far: an open air dance party in the middle of the park. The people were doing some Brazilian dance that looked a lot like saslsa but seemed to include quite a lot more hair flipping. A guy explained it to me but I can't recall the name. We stood there watching in awe as though we had stumbled upon a mirage. I got asked to dance and of course I went for it; I even gamely through in some hair tosses. I'm sure I didn't look as good as the Brazilian girls but it was still better than my tango. Why oh why doesn't this sort of thing happen in the US? (Or does it? Tell me where!) Why can't be life be more life my beloved bad dance movies where people just dance in the streets?
We did finally make it to the nightclub and I had my second night of staying out until the sun came up. I still haven't completely recovered but you know, when in Rome! Or as my Brazilian friend Julianna says (a more colorful phrase I think) when you're in hell, you might as well kiss the devil.
More on the epic weekend tomorrow including where to go if you want the best steak of your life en serio.