Get Lost in Buenos Aires

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I totally get why people move to Buenos Aires. The city is intoxicating – it is vast, it’s architecture is phenomenal, it’s a melting pot of different cultures from all over the world, but it still maintains its rich history, albeit a fairly modern one. Before I arrived, I had heard that Buenos Aires is like France, like Spain, like New York, and while I understand these comparisons, it’s actually like none of these places; a city wholly unique in every way. And you could easily live here for an extended period of time if not permanently, because as with any of the cities mentioned, there’s just always so much to do – somewhere new to eat or some street to explore that you’ve never walked down.

We spent most of our time exploring this fascinating city, stopping at the must see tourist spots – Recoleta, the Casa Rosada, Plaza de Mayo, the obelisk, Cafe Tortoni to see a Tango show, La Cabrera for steak (more on that in an upcoming post), the San Telmo market on Sunday, Puerto Madera and La Boca. You’ll find all these places in a guidebook, your friends will all recommend them – and I would too, I mean it would be a shame to come all the way to South America and miss these landmarks, but my caveat would be to set aside an entire day or two to just get lost in this crazy city. Just wander and explore, because you will stumble upon the best food, perhaps some interesting people, and the most glorious buildings that are just like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Our many moments of getting lost brought us to Buenos Aires’ oldest bookstore, took us past beautiful churches, let us into a delicious pastry shop, and showed us some of the craziest street art I’ve ever encountered. So my biggest tip for those spending some time in Buenos Aires – get lost.

 

Arriving in Buenos Aires: The Glu Hotel

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After a Xanax induced ten hour nap on the plane to Buenos Aires (guys, I don’t know why I haven’t been taking this shit for YEARS – this was the first time I’ve slept on an international flight, and I was out cold for most of it – such a success!), we landed and went to our hotel. The Glu Hotel came highly recommended by a friend, and we liked it for it’s location, cleanliness, etc. but most of all – the amazing concierge service. We particularly loved this one woman, I think her name was Patricia, who sat us down upon arrival, drank coffee with us and told us all about the neighborhood we were in and the surrounding neighborhoods. She booked everything for us, from our ferry to Uruguay, to our nightly restaurant reservations. She showed us where everything was on the map, told us where to see the best tango show, and didn’t make us feel silly when we asked ridiculously annoying, American tourist questions.

The most amazing anecdote though, came at the end of our trip, when we left Buenos Aires to go to Mendoza. Matt bought this beautiful vintage print of the Boca Junior Soccer Stadium from a crazy looking antique store (read: store full of absoluate junk) in San Telmo, and we were really worried about bringing it on the plane because it wasn’t wrapped very securely. So we decided to carry it on. At 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, when loading up the cab to go to the airport and fly to Mendoza, we apparently forgot to grab the poster since it was separate from the luggage, and left it in the hotel lobby. Which we obviously didn’t realize until we were boarding the plane. Total fail. Matt called the Glu to see if they still had found it – luckily they did, and they graciously offered to hold it for us until we returned to Buenos Aires the following Saturday before our trip back home.

That’s not the end of the story though – when we were unpacking at our hotel in Mendoza, Matt suddenly stopped and looked up in disbelief at me as he realized he left all his American cash (hundreds of dollars) in the safe at the Glu hotel, 1,000 miles away.

I offered no help aside from telling him to go downstairs and call them right away. And guys, when he called, our girl Patricia told him not to worry, she put him on hold, checked the safe, and retrieved his cash. She then held that AND the print for us, all of which was returned when we went back to Buenos Aires the following Saturday, and all valuable items made it safely back to the United States.

So, yes, in addition to having clean, big rooms, delicious coffee, and a great location, the Glu Hotel surpassed all of our expectations. On that day we returned to Buenos Aires and went back to the hotel to see our old friend Patricia, it legitimately felt like home.

Maine: The Lobster

Even though the weather was horrible and rainy for the bulk of our trip, there was one thing we were able to enjoy = the lobster.  I now totally understand why people travel from all over the world just to try authentic, fresh Maine lobster – it not only lived up to the hype, but exceeded our expectations by far.

Lobster #1 = The Lobster Shack, Portland

This was our first legitimate Maine lobster experience.  It was a bit of a drive from our hotel in Portland, but holy hell was it worth it.  The restaurant is nothing fancy on the inside, and the menu consists of “lobster, crab, scallops and lobster rolls,” which made ordering quite easy.  The cool thing about this place was the view – the restaurant is perched above a gorgeous rock cliff and you can look out at the water while eating.  I climbed around on the rocks before Matt almost killed me because he just wanted to eat his damn lobster already.  But you know how I feel about rock formations next to water. I must climb and play!

When we finally went inside the restaurant and sat down with our whole lobsters on the red, cafeteria style tray, we took our first bites and looked at each other with wide eyes.  It must’ve been the combination of how fresh the meat was, the taste of the saltwater that reminded us just how recently this guy was crawling around in the ocean, and the fact that this first bite lived up to every expectation we ever had. Thoroughly enjoying ourselves, we pretty much blacked out for the rest of the meal.

 

Lobster #2 = The Lobster Pound, Ogunquit (Round One)

Our visit to the highly recommended Lobster Pound in Ogunquit would determine our culinary activities for the remainder of our stay in Maine.  Upon arrival, we were directed to a huge tank of lobsters, where a young boy who could NOT be more excited about lobsters herds them around the tank and allows you to pick which one you’ll be eating for your upcoming meal.  We dubbed him “The Lobster Nerd.”  We were really excited about lobsters too, so he really took a liking to us.  He even let me hold our lobster before throwing it into the steamer where it would later become our dinner.  There was something really upsetting yet strangely satisfying about this.  Matt and I each chose a 1.5 pound lobster, both enormous.  We asked what the biggest lobster the nerd had ever seen was, to which he answered, a little over four pounds.  He suggested that the next night, we split a four pound lobster.  And it was decided.

Lobster #3 = Lobster Rolls at The Lobster Shack, Ogunquit

On our last day in Maine, we didn’t want to spoil our appetite for what we knew was to come later, but we still hadn’t tried the highly recommended lobster rolls at the Lobster Shack in Ogunquit.  Despite my best attempts to convince him otherwise, Matt made us share this very delicious lobster roll for lunch.  He was right in restricting us.  Read on.

 

Lobster #4 = The Grand Finale – The Lobster Pound, Ogunquit

We had been preparing for this moment for the 24 hours leading up to it.  When we arrived back at the pound and walked out to the lobster tank, the “Lobster Nerd” had anticipated our arrival. His face lit up when we walked outside, and he rushed to the back of the tank to give us the ginormous lobster he had pre-chosen for us. The crustacean we were looking at was an absolute beast.  When our monster was placed on the scale, he weighed in at five pounds.  The Lobster Nerd told us this was one of the biggest lobsters he had seen all season, and we knew it was meant to be.   We approved him, and about twenty minutes later, he was served to us, and we devoured what was our last, most grandeoise, Maine lobster.  The size of his claw against my hand says it all.

Thursday Sunsets: Israel

I’m not the most religious person in the world, but I am pretty proud of my heritage. When my sister convinced me to go with her to Israel back in 2008, I was skeptical, but it ended up being a pretty life changing trip. It was quite a wake up call to be immersed in a culture where the people didn’t worry as much as we do about wealth or material possessions because they live with the constant threat of going to war or being attacked by one of their surrounding nations. Their patriotism, their respect for each other, their kindness to us, their dedication to their country and incredible pride in being Israeli was completely inspiring. This is a sunset from one of our first nights there. With the Jewish New Year happening right now, I felt this was an appropriate one to post. L’Shana Tova everyone.

Beneath the Matala Moon

Here’s a song that makes me want to hop on a plane and just go ANYWHERE in the world:

Carey by Joni Mitchell

There’s something about the way Joni Mitchell articulates exactly how she felt while in a place she was traveling to, while spending time with the people she met there. She knows exactly how to paint a picture with her words and make you feel like you were there, too.

“Maybe I’ll go to Amsterdam, or maybe I’ll go to Rome,

And rent me a grand piano and put some flowers round my room,

but let’s not talk about fare thee wells now, the night is a starry dome,

And they’re playin’ that scratchy rock n’ roll beneath the matala moon…”

Thursday Sunsets: Rome, Italy

I know Italy isn’t necessarily known for its sunsets, but this was one of the first views I had upon arriving in Rome in March 2009. It was quite the first impression. We stayed right near the vatican so we’d be able to see the Sistine Chapel on our very last day before leaving for the airport. The lovely Hotel Alessandrino was just steps from St. Peter’s Basilica, pictured here:

I also sort of chose to feature this photo today because it was from a trip I took with my two roommates at the time, and next week, one of them is embarking on a whole new phase of her life. So this post is dedicated to Jessica – I hope Shanon brings you as much happiness as we did during our years in JAR.