Wednesday, March 25, 2009
To get there, I recommend taking the subway to the Retiro station. When you get to Retiro follow the signs from the subway station to the train station and buy a train ticket to Tigre. The train ride takes around a half hour and is very interesting if you like seeing how people live in the suburbs. It's actually a fascinating mix of shacks, old mansions, and regular people houses. You'll get to see lots of graffiti art as well, if you're into that sort of thing (which we are).
When you arrive at the Tigre station (the last stop on the line), if you walk straight out of the station and down the street you will see the boat docks on your left. There are many boat options in Tigre including catamaran eco-tours, not so eco-tours, kayak rentals, and the water taxi. If you go into the tourist center they will help you pick a tour and figure out when they run. The problem with the tours (for us) is that while they may go further into the delta they don't actually stop at any of the islands. So for something like 50cents each we decided to just hop on one of the water taxis.
I actually assumed that the really amazing old wood boats must be tour boats, and that the water taxis would be something ugly, but the wood ones are the taxis. That made me really really happy. Because the taxis are mainly stopping at private islands, you want to make sure and get on one that will take you to a place you can get off. We decided on Tres Bocas, because it seemed the easiest. But that taxi wasn't leaving for an hour so we walked around Tigre a bit.
The actual town of Tigre didn't really excite me. It seemed to be mostly tourist shops and then the amusement park and casino. The Tigre Market is similarly packed with shops selling nicknack's and not a whole lot of food or other things you might want at a market if you actually lived there.
When we got back to the dock it was really hard to tell exactly what boat we were getting on. I recommend annoying the hell out of the man who works on the dock by asking him every time a boat pull up if it's yours. Unless you are smarter than us and can figure out a way to tell what boat is going where.
The views from the taxi were amazing. There are stunningly beautiful old rowing clubs lining the river, funny campgrounds that we promised we'd spend a night at if we ever go back to Argentina, and lots of funky old river houses. The taxi stops frequently, but you'll know when you get to Tres Bocas (it's where the other tourists get off). Once you are there, you can eat at one of the few places to grab a bite. We went to the place right off the boat, because we wanted to eat on the water. While the food wasn't amazing, it was nice to be able to hang out and watch people on the river. Plus there were cute puppies running around that took a liking to me.
I may or may not have lured them all under my table with french fries. Paul was pretty sure I got diseases from them, but I seem to be doing okay.
After we ate we walked around the island. Which is basically all there is to do here. No shopping, no museums, just walking.
It's pretty swampy in the delta, so wear shoes you don't mind getting muddy.
I loved all the houses. Each one was totally different in its own funky way. And there were flowers everywhere. I kind of went insane sniffing them all.
Those red roses were my favorite. I'm not normally a rose person, but those are the best smelling roses I've ever laid my nose on. Mmmm. I spent a good long time trying to figure out if I could propagate a clipping while traveling through Argentina. The answer to that is no--so now I have a lovely dried clipping of the rose.
When you are ready to leave the island head back to the dock. They will give you a schedule of when the taxis back to Tigre happen, but it didn't seem to us that they were actually on time. You might have to wait a bit at the dock, but again, it's pretty so it doesn't seem like such a hardship.
When you get back to Tigre, just head back to the station and do the reverse of how you got there. Again, Retrio is the end of the line on the way back, so if you fall asleep, they'll likely kick you off when you get there. Then again, if you fall asleep you may not have your bag anymore, so I'd force yourself to stay awake, though it can be difficult after a day on the river.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
So...I think I'll just pick places we went and do a quick write-up of each area.
First off--San Telmo. The loft we stayed in (the one I gushed about in my previous post) was located in San Telmo. We stayed there a week, so we spent a lot of time walking around the neighborhood.
San Telmo is one of the older neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. It's supposedly the home of tango, but there is a lot more going on there than just dancing. In fact, one of the things that we didn't due in Argentina was go tango dancing.
Have I mentioned that I was sort of paranoid about going out at night after being robbed our first night? I should point out that while San Telmo sort of gets a bad rap in terms of pickpocketing and other crime, I did not get robbed in San Telmo. I was robbed in Palermo SoHo--the fancy schmancy neighborhood! But walking around San Telmo at night actually felt relatively safe--on par with walking around San Francisco at night.
Cafe San Juan- Cafe San Juan is a family-run, family-friendly restaurant that serves very high-quality food in a relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant is open to the kitchen so you can see the skate bumper stickers all over the fridge and the cooks wearing backwards baseball caps while they cook your amazingly delicious rabbit (or whatever you decide to order). They are cash only, which we didn't realize until we arrived, and since there isn't an ATM nearby we didn't go all out here and ended up sharing an entree to make sure we had enough money to pay for our meal. We had a momentary panic when our shared entree came out with two full portions of the rabbit (we spent a good five minutes freaking out, trying to decide whether something we said in our broken Spanish could have been interpreted as us both ordering the same thing). Turns out they just split their portions very, very generously!
Don Ernesto-A casual, but super high-energy, parrilla that seems to cater to both locals and tourists. For the quality of the food, the prices here are amazing. The steak, sausage, salad, and potatoes we ordered here totaled around $30 US, with wine. It's nothing fancy, but it's a steak house, so that's kind of refreshing.
Los Loros-We had our first meal in Argentina at Los Loros--pre-robbery--so I had a wonderful time here. It's a nicer restaurant with prices that match (but will still seem insanely reasonable compared to US prices). The food is elegant and fresh. I'd imagine that if this were in the US they'd be selling it as a seasonal food sort of place. It's got a nice bistro feel and the atmosphere is upscale without seeming at all stuffy. You could show up in jeans and a tee-shirt and nobody would bat an eye.
Origen-This is my favorite lunch and light meal stop in San Telmo. The pizzas and salads are highly recommended. And the food is organic. Very casual with outdoor seating that's kind of wonderful on a spring night.
Pride Cafe-We ate breakfast at Pride Cafe several times while in San Telmo. People in Argentina don't seem to eat breakfast. And they don't take their coffee to go. So knowing about tiny little Pride Cafe was essential to us not having to cook or eat medialunas for breakfast every morning. The food is good, the coffee is excellent, and the staff is really nice. Also, if it's not obvious, they are a GLBT shop so if you are looking for local info on that scene, this is a great resource.
El Federal-This seems to be the go-to place for a beer and a snack in San Telmo. Every guidebook talks about it and it always seemed busy. While I liked the look of the place--it's old and funky--the food was boring and the service was terrible. People all around us were having trouble getting the waiter's attention after sitting for very very long periods of time. And while I don't assume that every waiter in Argentina should know English, this place caters to tourists and this guy seemed annoyed as get-out that we were struggling with the menu. I'd go with a group for a beer or something.
Gibraltar-I love this place. Yes, after getting robbed I was seeking out people I could talk to--and loads of people here speak English (including the Englishman owner). But it's also just a nice, fun pub. Great selection of beer, fun atmosphere, and great pub food.
Mercado De San Telmo-While the Sunday market is a big to-do, the permanent market in the center of San Telmo is also worth visiting. There are several antique stands up daily, lots of food stalls, and other odds & ends. I bought antique buttons here. Lots and lots of buttons.
Feria De San Telmo-The Sunday market is like a craft fair, an antique fair, a market, a series of parades and a music festival all combined into one event. It's amazing. Start early, go all day. I didn't want to leave. It seemed like every time we got tired a new drum group went past and lured us in. Or we found another street of stalls and music we hadn't walked down.
Plaza Dorrego-If you want to see Tango just hang out near the Plaza Dorrego in San Telmo. People perform almost all day long and offer lessons. The woman we rented the apartment from also recommended Torquato Tasso for Tango in San Telmo.
The street art in San Telmo is amazing. One of our favorite things to do was to just walk around looking at it. Though I was mostly afraid to take pictures, as taking a picture of street art is how I got us robbed at gunpoint (did I mention that we were robbed?).
So that's about that. There is a ton of shopping to be done in San Telmo (both at the markets and in shops), but I imagine that you know your own style better than me, so I'm not going to name names. Lots of antique shops, artsy housewares type places, and all sorts of clothing stores. Oh, and stores that sell baby deer chairs.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
While the reality of me living internationally is that after a few months I'd be crying on a daily basis needing to see my family, I have to admit I'm a little jealous of the expats and the perpetually traveling couple. It hasn't helped that I became Facebook friends with several of the people involved and have spent the las four months watching them explore Argentina. I want to go somewhere. Dang house and dog.
So, as a way to put to good use the moping and dreaming that I've been doing about wanting to go somewhere (but not being able to), I figured I'd post a bit more about our honeymoon.
So to start with, I already posted a bit about our stay in Buenos Aires and Iguazu. I'll write more, but that's a place to start if you haven't already read those posts.
One thing I've had several questions about is the loft we rented in Buenos Aires. I don't blame you guys--it was amazing. The building is beautiful. It's in a great location. The loft itself is funky and comfortable. It's a great deal. And the people who rent it will quickly become your friends (if you want that). Who do you think we hung out with the last day we were in Argentina?
I feel strangely territorial about it. Which I think is testament to the fact that as soon as you walk in the door it feels like home. That explains why the traveling couple I wrote about spent the last four months living there (they moved in right after we left), although I think they planned on staying about half that much time.
If the loft is booked, they also have a new pad in the same building. It looks wonderful and is slightly larger than the loft.
Both are $400 US/week (I think), a great deal when you price out how much a nice hotel would cost.
So scram! Go! Book the loft!
(me making a sad face)
And tell Angela that Paul and Katie said Hi!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
In between all of the being sick and the moping, I've discovered Photoshop actions (mostly compliments of Pioneer Woman).
So using her "heartland" action, this photo of Paul, became this:
And this picture of us in front of the steel mill, was done up in Seventies style.
And one of the pictures of us in front of an old hotel, that I didn't really like, is much improved with a seventies action.
I'm sure you can do something similar on Flickr, using Picnik, but if you don't want to spring for that, and you already own Photoshop, this is an easy way to edit photos without having to pay anything extra.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Since we were inviting 130 or so people to the wedding, we collected enough dishes for roughly that many folks. That meant 130 dinner plates, 200 or so small plates for dessert and appetizers (we figured not everyone would take their own plate), 130 dinner forks, dessert forks, and knives, some spoons for sugar & coffee stirring, 100 or so coffee cups, and around 250 glasses for water and wine. Crazy!
Collecting the Dishes
First, while we originally wanted just china, after realizing the limitations of that, we expanded our search to dishes that primarily included white, brown, green, and yellow in their patterns. We wanted things that looked vintage, so we mostly avoided things that looked like they'd been created in the last few years.
Second, we rarely bought something that cost more than it would have cost to rent that dish. So that generally meant buying things on sale. Luckily our local thrift stores have frequent sales and color tag 50% of sales daily, so we were able to do this without too much problem. If you are just doing this for aesthetic reasons, you could probably pick up your dishes much faster than if you are also doing it to help your budget. We did sell most of our dishes after the wedding so we made up some of the money that way as well.
Third, we tried to get some of the dishes on Freecycle (for free). That meant driving around town picking things up. Again, if you aren't concerned about cost, you could eliminate this and save time.
Before the wedding, we had to wash all of the dishes. This took two full days. At home, we soaked all of the dishes in big tubs on our lawn. Neighbors thought we were insane hosing off dishes on our lawn, but we found that the sooner we got the price tag stickers off the dishes, the easier it was and our kitchen was too small to unload that many dishes.
Of course you can't really get dishes clean on the lawn, so after a quick rinse and removing the sticker, we would box them up. We drove all the boxes up to my parent's house (where the wedding was held) and a few weeks before the wedding we spent almost a full day running them all through their dish washer before separating them into boxes for each table. You can see pictures of the boxes piled high on the post I wrote about it.
One of the challenges of using mismatched dishes is how to actually use them at the wedding. While I've seen people use one pattern at each table, we decided to mix it up more than that. But we found that it looked not as good (to us) to use both china and stoneware on one table. So we stuck with mismatched china on certain tables and mismatched stoneware on others.
I actually handpicked the specific dishes for each table based on who would be sitting there. Again, crazy.
One of the hardest parts of doing your own dishes is that you actually have to do your own dishes after the wedding. We could have hired someone to do it, but we decided to take matters into our own hands. So on Sunday, after most people had left, we spent the afternoon rinsing off all the dishes, throwing out the broken ones, and sorting them into piles (garage sale, keep, give to friends). Honestly, we didn't wash them that well. We basically rinsed in soapy water, hosed off (yup, the hose again), and dried them in the sun.
We actually use the dishes from our wedding as our house dishes now (and we have some of our favorites of the china saved for dinner parties). It's kind of a nice, daily reminder of the wedding.
And one final note...If we had to do it over we'd rent the silverware. There are 20 knives at every thrift store for every 1 fork. And thrift store silverware isn't cheap and is often kind of gross. Also, some thrift stores package the silverware so you are forced to buy a big bag of knives to get three or four forks. Annoying!
Monday, March 9, 2009
So when you asked if we had a plan for how to keep bugs off our guests, I think my first thought was that I'm the best bug repellent anyone could ask for. They all fill up on me and leave others alone. But obviously we needed a better plan than that, particularly since my parent's have a creek in their backyard that creates a larger than normal mosquito population.
The first thing we did was to have the torches we used to light the yard contain citronella oil. Not the most pleasant smell, but it served its purpose. Second we set up a small table of bathroom supplies near our toilet (tampons, lotion, condoms, and...bug spray). We bought a natural, non-cancer causing, reproductive-harm-inducing, spray from our natural food co-op.
I've tried several natural bug repellents and All Terrain Herbal Armor is the best that I've found. I even took it with me when I went to the jungle on my honeymoon and stayed (mostly) mosquito bite free.
So that's what we did to keep the bugs out. And for the most part it seemed to work. I didn't get a single bug bite all night!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The shoes don't say on them and since the box is long gone I wasn't really sure. Until person number one-hundred or so asked me today and I realized I should stop sending y'all to Anthropologie, begging them to sell you shoes that I'm sure they haven't had in months. So I got my act together and realized they came with a cloth bag that I was sure I didn't toss. I dug around a bit, and Ta Da! I have answers...
The shoes are by UK designer Miss L Fire. And while I didn't see my particular shoes on the website, she makes some other dang cute shoes.
Hope that helps!
Of the blogs I went to for inspiration and motivation to keep going before our wedding, Meg ranks pretty high up there.
Thanks for the love!
PS-I've been blown away by the response to the last post. Thanks for saying hi!
Monday, March 2, 2009
That makes me feel kinda shy.