Tuesday, February 12, 2008

First Full Day in BA (split post) Part 1 - 12 Feb 2008


Today was an exciting day: I went to many gardens, walked around BA, and got a bit lost all in one day. What more can you ask for? I can say that all is good when it ends well!

I started my day by going to Jardín Botánico very close to where I live. Its really a gorgeous garden, reminding me of Jardín Borda in Cuernavaca and Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. This garden has many statues and tons of interesting and diverse plantings. It is free, so I intend on spending time studying and reading there in the future. The cats in this garden are hysterical. I must have counted at least 50 of them while I was there, and people love petting them and feeding them. No wonder there is so many of them. I’d hate to see what they would do with my grandfather’s cat concoction because the people here feed them top of the line food: bread, meat, etc. It’s funny.

Attached to the botanical garden is a school that people can take courses about plants. Depending on the time of year, the classes are different. I find it interesting that most of the annual plantings here are the same that we would use in America: impatiens, petunias, portulacas, et al. Also they plant a huge variety of hydrangea’s that are all in bloom right now. Another interesting thing is that a lot of trees are in full bloom now yielding gorgeous pink, blue, and lavender flowers all over the city.

After Jardín Botánico, I walked down Avenida Sarmiento and saw the Sociedad Rural Agricultura. It seems to be a complex very similar to the Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg, PA. I found out that they have a Farm Show-like exposition in June and July. And I will be able to go to it! I decided to save the zoo for another time and then headed toward the Jardín Japones or Japanese garden.

It’s hard to explain the vast number of parks that exist in this part of Buenos Aires. I assume there must have been some urban planning involved because it would be highly contended land, I would assume. There are vast pristine parks on every side of the streets. Many Argentines stroll with their children or are reading at the many park benches.

Everywhere I go I see Argentines reading. They seem to be reading novels more than newspapers, too. If the number of bookstores, or librarías, are evidence to how much they read, I’d say they read more than Americans! For book lovers, this is the place to be because there are definitely more bookstores here than in New York City. In fact probably in Palermo there are 4 times the number of bookstores than in Harrisburg area. The cool thing is that each bookstore seems to have a specialty: literature, magazines, tourism, children’s literature, gently used, etc. It’s very different than México in this respect.

At a store similar to Borders, I bought a book to read that I was familiar with since it would probably be easier to read in Spanish. Comer en Italia, Rezar en India, Amar en Indonesia, or Eat, Pray, and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was featured on Oprah several months back and I was going borrow Karel’s copy when I got back, but I decided to read it now. So far the book is going well. I think it will be a good book for my while traveling abroad since Elizabeth did traveling after her traumatic divorce. The reading seems to be getting easier, thankfully…poco a poco…

Ok…sorry about that rant, but those that know me understand my constant ranting J. Next I went to Avenida Adolfo Berra (close to Avenida Presidente Figueroa Alcorta) to visit the acclaimed Japanese Garden, or Jardín Japones. This is an incredible place. It is founded by la Fundación Cultural Argentino Japonesa, or the Argentine-Japanese Cultural Foundation and by a small entrance fee into the garden (about $1.50 dollars). There is a pretty large lake with hundreds of koi fish in the garden. The garden itself was very relaxing to sit or walk around. You could buy bread in the garden to feed to the ducks and fish. A girl was feeding the fish, which was when I actually realized just how many fish were in the pond. I took several pictures here of the fish, gardens, and the many bonsai for my Asian Studies friends, aka Beth, Cat and Aubrey. There also was a sushi bar, library, and museum in the garden. (Sushi is all the rage here right now; maybe I’ll muster some courage to try some different varieties).

After the botanical gardens, I decided to walk down Avenida Presidente Figueroa Alcorta toward el Museo del Arte Latinoamericana. I knew I wasn’t going to go into the museum because the guides tell me that it’s free on Wednesday’s. So I’m going to this museum on a Wednesday in the future.

By this time I was getting hungry, and I knew I wanted to go to the famous Cemetery in Recoleta, so I figured I would get something close to there. I ended up eating at a fantastic restaurant called Monaco in Recoleta. They have lunch specials and I got chicken in a leek cream sauce with mashed squashe, red wine (a Malbec), dessert, and coffee for well under $10. This restaurant was a rotiserrie, so the chicken had a great smoky flavor. The desert I chose was a pastry, similar to a cream puff that was filled with ice cream—I chose mixed fruit and lemon ice cream—and it was drizzled with dulce de leche and chocolate. ¡Buenismo! After I left the restaurant, I read in the guidebook that this is one of the best restaurants in BA.

There will be a second part to this post. I will write it at home and then upload it at a cibercafé later.

¡Hasta luego!


Sara Jayne said...

You are making me so hungry for Argentina!! I want to be there so bad...

neagley said...

You really should come! Véngame!

Las empanadas son ricos!