Saturday, January 28, 2017

Buenos Aeries - a Heck of a Town

We met our friends, Roger and Helen, at the Buenos Aeries airport - not a mean trick where two couples are coming from the Northwestern United States and Southeastern United Kingdom.  We managed to get all of our luggage - which was an impressive amount (we had packed for the Antarctic and Summer in Argentina - plus fancy close for formal nights and extra clothes just in case) - and went to the van that was waiting to take us to the hotel.

The hotel was the Hotel Panamericano, an impressive older structure with numerous people to take your requests and sit on them for hours.  Our rooms were not ready, "but would be ready soon - possibly as early as the designated checkin" - which was four or five hours later.

We had just arrived on an overnight over-long flight (16 hours or so, but who's counting), so the thought of actually collapsing in a bed had not occurred to us.

Fortunately, there was a lobby bar in the lobby.  There were also lobby bar people waiting to serve us at the lobby bar in the lobby - or so we thought.  The lobby bar people at the lobby bar in the lobby apparently had other chores to take care of - like talking at the lobby bar, ignoring possible customers and just generally being lobby bar people in the lobby.  They rushed about like rooted plants, unaware of everything.

Finally, one of the lobby bar people in the lobby pretended he had noticed us and he oozed in our direction.  It took some time, but he eventually took our order and disappeared - for a long time.  He reappeared much later without drinks but with nuts, which seemed appropriate.

I went in search of a bathroom, which usually causes drinks to be delivered, questions to be asked, paging me on the intercom and other activity, but even that failed to bring anything.  The lobby bar person at the lobby bar in the lobby eventually showed up with the drinks.  We had those drinks and, even though our rooms were not yet ready (they apparently took a long time to prepare for people like us), the lobby bar person at the lobby bar in the lobby felt that his job was done.

Karen and Helen eventually went to the reception and demanded to see our rooms (or the manager, they were open for suggestions).  This apparently worked since as soon as you could say "I wonder if the lobby bar person at the lobby bar in the lobby has had an injury or is in a coma" we were given our keys and the bell hop person with our luggage woke up and whisked our luggage away (he sort of ambled, in an Argentinian hotel staff person - waiting for the union to go on strike - kind of way).

The room was just that, not quite worth the wait, but it had a bed and a bathroom, so it fit all of the requirements of a hotel room.  We freshened up (as much as possible) and met Roger and Helen to go in search of food.  We did have a very nice meal with a tango-show at a classic restaurant in Buenos Aeries, but this was not that night.

One of the lobby staff people recommended a restaurant close by (I know, we were insane, but we were tired and did not want to go very far).  We should have gone farther.  The place was like an Argentinian cheap diner, but without the class or good food and the service was glacial (probably getting us ready for Antarctica).  The restaurant did allow beggars to enter the restaurant and come to our table asking for money, food, clothes and possibly drinks from the lobby bar person - which was festive and nice.  It made us yearn for third world countries where they limit this activity to the streets.

We made it back to our rooms, which had managed to stay ready for us, and retired for the evening.  Karen said she did not feel well.  I told here we were lucky to still be alive after eating that food.

The next morning, Karen thought that staying in the hotel bed was preferable to anything she had seen the day before - she was even willing to relocate to a different country.  I ignored Karen's sage decision and ventured out with Roger and Helen to see the sights of Buenos Aeries - or "the City of Fair Winds" or "the City that Saint Mary Never Showed Up To".

We walked to a ticket booth for one of the ubiquitous "Hop-on Hop-off" Buses which have taken over the World.  Behind the glass was a ticket booth lady who took our order for three tickets and appeared to process it, and process it, and process it - Roger had been waiting for Helen and I at the bus - with people sitting on the bus waiting for us and a bus driver waiting for us.  The ticket booth lady in the ticket booth made the lobby bar person at the lobby bar in the lobby look like a lightning bolt.  Eventually, tickets were produced and we were shown to a different "Hop-on Hop-off" Bus - since the people and the driver from the first bus wanted nothing to do with us.

We were given little plug-in earphones which provided a commentary of the sights while the bus went through Buenos Aeries.  Actually, it provided a commentary of the sights you would have noticed if the commentary came faster.  True to the Buenos Aeries "provide as little service as slow as possible" - ethic, the commentary told you what sights you had just missed.

The city of Buenos Aeries is lovely - or rather - appears to have been lovely about 30 or 40 years ago.  It apparently became tired of being lovely and decided to see how long the buildings could remain standing if nothing was done to them for decades.

The driver took us around all of Buenos Aeries - I do not think he missed a single corner or street - while the commentary went on with "had you been aware of it, you could have seen the statue to Eva Peron which was constructed 50 years ago and has not been cleaned since, but we passed it about two or three blocks ago".

We tried to Hop-off the Bus and went to a bar for a beer.  This bar was actually a bit dingy on the outside, but quite nice in the inside and the bartender brought the beer and offered seconds - pretty impressive.  Of course, now we had to figure out how to Hop-on the Bus.  The Hop-on Hop-off Bus Company provided us with a map of Buenos Aeries which showed us quite clearly that Buenos Aeries was located in Argentina and the Argentina was in South America.  It was less clear on where you could Hop-back on the Bus - we started walking, waiting, walking some more and finally spotted a Hop-on Hop-off Bus which was leaving, but we figured that another Hop-on Hop-off Bus would appear and we were right - about 30 minutes or so later.

We made it back to the hotel after about five hours - Karen was about ready to send out an alarm at our absence.  I calmed her down and showed here the photos of our trip which convinced her for certain that she had not missed anything.

That evening we had a seriously lovely time at the Esquina Carlos Gardel - a classic old theater which provided a tango show which was quite spectacular, including a live orchestra, and a fixed price all-inclusive dinner.

The next morning we also went to the top of our hotel which had a pool and a lovely view of Buenos Aeries (which looks just fine from far away).  We agreed that we should have just stayed there instead of hopping on and off buses the day before.

We were off to the Seabourn Quest and Antarctica!!!!!

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