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Tripping in Buenos Aires: The good, the bad and the weird

Image by Gustavo Centurion

My family has gotten the opportunity to stay in Buenos Aires, aka BA, on three very different occasions. The first time driving there was pure chaos. We arrived after dark and traffic was coming from all directions. Taxi drivers were honking with gusto while tailgating within an inch of the rear bumper ahead. Pedestrians crossed the streets with reckless abandon. Huge buses full of people were careening through narrow, winding avenues without trepidation. Motorbikes roared through the city, weaving in and out of traffic, while showing no respect for designated lanes. The street signs are very small and difficult to distinguish. We got off on the wrong exit and had to backtrack while the navigation system rerouted us in Spanish. It took over an hour to find our hotel because the spotty GPS kept taking us around in circles. The cherry on top, when we finally arrived, was the front desk informing us that the nearest parking lot was two blocks away, uphill. 🍒🙄I often sing my husband’s praises because I would never be able to traverse the city’s shifty layout and foreign traffic laws (or lack thereof).🎤 I affectionately refer to it as fight or flight driving. It would be a gamer’s virtual paradise. 🤯🚷🛣😳🚎🚕🛵🚦🎮

We were feeling better the next morning after some rest and an excellent breakfast of pancetta, chorizo, toast, huevos, assorted fruit and pastry. 🥓🍳🍌🍮 Hubby was off to work so baby and I were on our own. There are several restaurants nearby and we ventured out to grab a bite after her morning nap. This was high noon on a Thursday so the populace was hustling and bustling and we were right there in the mix. 👩‍👧🚏Initial daylight impressions are that Buenos Aires and it’s people are very chic. It is considered the “Paris of South America” after all.

We found a sandwich spot down the block for lunch. The friendly cook/waiter greeted us and spoke in English after learning that we were from the US. We ordered an olive spread with chips and a chicken provolone panini. Baby and I took our time to enjoy all of the the briny, melty goodness.🥪👍 Later that evening, we went to a nice restaurant downtown for dinner. I ordered a pollo risotto that was magnifico while Hubby remained loyal to his trusty ribeye.😉🥩🥔 I must say that I’m really enjoying this little siesta from cooking. Trying new dishes can get the creative juices flowing. For instance, I’m now inspired to attempt a risotto from scratch.👩‍🍳🍲💛 On the short walk back to the hotel, I recognized Bob Dylan’s “Girl from the North Country” blaring from a random car passing by. The familiar tune made me feel at home in this strange land. 

The next day, Hubby had the afternoon free so we perused the center mall. He and baby got new jackets because the weather was turning cooler. Seasonal differences with living abroad can present certain packing challenges when you are allotted only one suitcase per person. Summer was just peeking around the corner when we left home. One plane ride later and we will soon be hanging with Jack Frost! ☀️👚✈️🥶🧥

The following day, baby and I needed an afternoon nosh and found a cozy neighborhood cafe. The baristas were very nice in working with me in Spanglish to personalize my coffee order. We settled in on a comfy couch by the window and people watched as we lazily nibbled on our chocolate cake. Baby sipped on juice while I had a cappuccino/cafe con leche. We are quickly acclimating to Argentina time. 🇦🇷🕰🍰☕️🥤Baby and I feel like such big city girls! She loves strolling around downtown, seeing the sights and experiencing the pulse of the people. 👧🏬🌅 

We returned to Buenos Aires about two months later. We also took a side trip to Uruguay which was so magical that it deserved it’s very own post (see Unicorn City). Other highlights from this particular trip include going to McDonald’s and devouring those one of a kind salty fries! ❤️🍟 I must say that the burgers I’ve tasted in Argentina are a little different. I can’t quite put my finger on it but the bread, beef and cheese combo is just not quite like home. 🍔❌🏠 As a consolation, the spicy chicken sandwich was right on!🤙 That evening we went back to the mall to check out the extensive food court provisions. Baby and I shared pesto bow tie pasta and Neapolitan pizza that were both perfection.😘 My husband’s colleague dined with us and treated the table to helado that was simply superb. 🍨✅ Baby and I opted for mint chocolate chip while hubby went for for plain chocolate. Momma also got her a new pair of shoes to roam around the big city with!👟

Business beckons us back to the capital city a few weeks later. It’s certainly not lost on me that baby and I get to enjoy the spoils while hubby toils. 👨‍👩‍👧🍽🌆💼 Although, at this point we’ve been in Argentina a while and are starting to feel a little homesick. Some of the culinary novelty is wearing off and I find myself fantasizing about hot wings and barbecue. I’m searching online for American restaurants and locate a TGI Friday’s on Yelp. We hopped a cab there that very night! 📲😤🚖 Our food was everything that I imagined it would be. We ordered the combo appetizer and practically inhaled the homey spread of spicy hot wings, crispy potato skins and mozzarella sticks dipped in zesty marinara sauce. Num num!!!😋 

The restaurant was located right on the Puerto Madero so we took in gorgeous views of the skyline while dining out on the  patio. We really indulged and ordered both the New York Strip and rib platter for our mains. The smoky bbq sauce was most excellent on the slightly charred rack of ribs.👏 After dinner, we decided to cruise along the dockside and take pictures. Baby really enjoyed testing her new toggling (toddler jogging) skills on the cobblestone walkways.👶 The experience was just what we needed. I even managed to score a snickers bar and peanut M & M’s for dessert from a corner kiosk. 🍽🌃🍫😁

The next afternoon, baby and I headed to Starbucks for lunch. To my surprise, there was no pumpkin spiced coffee in late September!😱However, my mocha frappe did not disappoint. We also enjoyed a chicken melt on ciabatta bread with cheddar chips and dulce de leche cheesecake. Meanwhile, hubby was sending me videos of a lively protest unfolding nearby. In researching our move to Argentina, I learned that political protests are common and deeply ingrained in the culture. We literally drove through such a demonstration on a Wednesday afternoon. We passed by thousands of people gathered in unison; passionately waving their signs on the way into town. Witnessing a protest in the flesh is invigorating. It’s all too easy to become immune to the news of all the bad things happening around the world. It was moving to see people using their collective voice in a concerted effort to facilitate change. 

The next day, baby and I wanted to soak in some local culture. I found the Centro Cultural Borges within strolling distance of our hotel. The first floor was an auditorium which was confusing because I was expecting an art gallery. I asked a security guard for some guidance but he did not understand the words coming out of my mouth in English or Spanish. A kind lady noticed that I was getting flustered and escorted us to an elevator which took us to the appropriate place. The art display consisted of approximately thirty or so paintings of what I interpreted to be cubist landscapes. Here’s where it gets interesting. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a poster advertising “el Surrealisimo de Tali” on the third floor so we took the same elevator up another flight to check it out. We were immediately intercepted by a female security guard posted outside of the entrance asking for our tickets.🛑✋🎫 I fumbled in broken Spanish to explain that a nice lady showed us where to go and that I never saw a booth to buy tickets. She seemed skeptical at first but then took pity and allowed us to proceed. I was embarrassed about inadvertently sneaking into the exhibit and thanked her profusely for being so understanding. 😔🙏👮‍♀️ 

Upon entering the space, I was immediately captivated by the extremely odd, yet striking images. This Tali was one weird individual but I was intrigued. Some of the pieces were a little, ahem, mature for baby so I diverted her line of sight away from the more risqué works of art. Maybe she won’t tell on me.🤫 I made a point later to pull up the artist online to show hubby and discovered that we were actually admiring the work of Salvador Dali not “Tali!” The D in his signature looked like a T on the advertisements so I got it twisted. Such a fun, strange little art trip!🤪🖼🕌

Afterwards, we ate lunch at a posh, vegetarian spot. We chose a zucchini lasagna and curry soup from the a la carte selections. The staff was very kind to carry my tray while I pushed baby in the stroller. We landed on another couch spot where my little could eat and explore.👍 Both meals were delicious and topped off with a piece of key lime pie representing the perfect balance of tart, creamy confection. The house music was a mix of obscure 90’s American jams which added to the funky ambience.🎶 Hubby ended up having fancy chicken kabobs for a late lunch in the hotel restaurant (meat is a necessity for him). He’s even getting in on the coffee fun which he is normally not a big fan of. Later that night, we had some pizza for dinner at a hip dive that I will describe as….interesting. I got the “Jamaiccan” with ham and pineapple, which was ok, but the sauce was overwhelming with onion.🍊🍊🍊😐 Hubby ordered outside of the box and got a pizza with boiled egg on it. ↗️📦🥚⁉️🙅‍♀️ Verdict: let’s just say I ate a lot of Oreos when we got back to the room. 

Every time we leave Buenos Aires, I find myself reflecting on our experiences during the long ride back to our current abode. The city has a population of almost three million people. It offers a lot of nuanced entertainment and dining experiences. There is plenty of historical architecture to admire as well as ultra modern barrios to explore. There are unexpected quirks and surprises around every corner. However, when you leave the luster of the city lights, you are also faced with sections of extreme poverty. From the road, you can see colorful but tiny shacks with tarps over many of the roofs. There is debris piled jaggedly amongst the streets and houses. These are areas that look like they survived a war. But no matter what the conditions are, there is always a park nearby, neighbors talking and children playing. It warms my heart to catch glimpses of this communal spirit, even amidst unfavorable circumstances. The people of Buenos Aires seem to be very passionate about their community, food, culture and political beliefs. From where I sit, it is a very rich city indeed! ♥️🌃 

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Mood Ring Kitchen

I’m a self teaching home cook and aspiring foodie entrepreneur. I enjoy coming up with creative ways to prepare flavorful food such as snacks, desserts and everything in between. Cooking is a way for me to challenge myself and satisfy curiosities about different ingredients.

The hope is to produce something thoughtful, memorable or every once in a while maybe even wonderful. I enjoy following my “gut” and exploring new recipes that can be comforting, exciting and nourishing. Above all else, I enjoy exploring the emotions surrounding food and writing about those experiences. 😝👩‍🍳👩‍💻

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