But determined not to be put off by such minor inconveniences, I decided to spend the taxi ride in from the airport enjoying the sights and sounds of a city that is so very different from the Brazilian one we live in. I don't have a problem with São Paulo - in fact, in my own way, I'm even quite fond of the place - but even I have have to admit that it comes way down on the list of the world's most beautiful cities. Way, way down. Buenos Aires, on the other hand, has a reputation as something of a European-style city and is often compared to Paris and as we headed in from the airport I could certainly see why. Except that the Paris I know has never been that quiet barely an hour after rush hour.
|Two eager adventurers ready for a day of walking around places.|
|Fabulous tree-full view from our balcony|
At seven forty-five we sat down in the fabulous Voulez Bar on Avenida Cerviño and asked to order dinner. "Sure", the waitress said with a shrug, "but the kitchen won't be opening until eight, eight thirty or so." Eight thirty? What kind of time is that to eat dinner? My kids eat their dinner at six, having pestered me constantly since five saying that they're starving, literally starving to death and why can't they have a bun and some biscuits as a snack, just to tide them over until I've cooked them something proper? Bloomin' hobbits! Anyway, by nine o'clock Helen was eating a lovely big chunk of cow and I was finishing off some of the nicest salmon I'd had in a long time while James struggled to stay awake and David just gave up and fell asleep on his chair, too far gone even to care about chocolate dessert.
The kids soon sorted themselves out, however, and after the first night were well up to the challenge of late dinners. On our first afternoon I introduced them to the concept of a siesta in the hope that this would enable us all to stay up much later at night, but of course the only one of us who collapsed, drooling on the bed for two hours was me, James and David preferring to use the opportunity to get in a serious dose of extra computer time. Helen, meanwhile was off doing what the Argentines do, which is work all day, eat late anyway, and just spend their entire lives somewhat sleep-deprived.
And of course, we ate out every night. It would have been foolish not to, seeing as how the restaurants were lovely, the food was fabulous and the bill was about half what it would have been in São Paulo. The highlight of the week was definitely the salmon at the Voulez Bar (which I had three times) followed by their chocolate volcano, but even popping in somewhere for a toasted sandwich and a juice was a pleasure when you could sit somewhere pleasant and quiet and not worry about how much it was all going to cost.
It wasn't all food, food, food, however, and we did manage to squeeze in a little bit of sightseeing between all the plates of beef and fish. First stop was the zoo which was, quite literally, at the end of the block we were staying on. I never know whether I should enjoy a trip to the zoo or not. I do love to see the animals, but I can't help feel that maybe this is not the right place for them to be, stuck in a small enclosure, either on their own or with very little in the way of company and unable to run about the way I imagine they would like to given the choice. The children, however, seemed to have no such moral dilemma and were quite eager to wander around spotting their favourite animals.
|One of the more unfortunate creatures - it was over 30 degrees!|
And right across the road from the zoo is the Botanic Gardens. As the zoo had completely wiped out the boys, and as it was so conveniently close to the apartment, I decided to make it a separate trip and we set off on the following morning.
|Two eager adventurers ready for another day of walking around places.|
The plan was to visit the Casa Rosada, the President's official residence, but when we got there the queue to get in stretched all the way along the side of the Plaza de Mayo so we decided to skip it and I settled for a photo of the outside of the building and its unfeasibly large flag. Instead we headed down to the newly redeveloped docks area and took a look around the Buque Museo Fragata A.R.A "Presidente Sarmiento". It's an old training frigate that has been turned into a floating museum and it was great. It wasn't too big, so the kids didn't get tired and bored, and it was full of fascinating objects like guns and torpedoes and some even bigger guns. Sadly, I wasn't allowed to send the boys up to the crow's nest, but I did make sure they got plenty of navigation and gunnery practice. Well worth the 40p a ticket it cost to get in!
We rounded off our sightseeing excursions with a trip to the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales, and while many of the animals at the zoo looked like they might be dead, the ones in here certainly were and the whole museum is basically a collection of skeletons and stuffed animals. Good fun though, except again, there was nowhere to get anything to eat or drink. Or a gift shop. Still, when every other car on the road is a taxi, you're never very far from somewhere nice to get a bite to eat.
|You wouldn't believe how long we had to wait before Dad would let us go for lunch.|
|Protest central - you can just make out the words "Las Malvinas" behind the fountain.|