Copacabana Bars

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 9:45 am on December 29, 2012.  We had the free breakfast and chatted with Mauricio and Stuart. 

It was great staying at their lovely home Casa Verde with the friendly Mauricio and Stuart and their cute dogs. 

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The only downside is that the location is far from the beach.  It’s a 45 minute drive by bus (plus wait time for the bus) to the beach.  We said good-bye to Mauricio and Stuart.

We waited a few minutes for the bus to Copacabana.  It was another hot day out.  I fell asleep on the bus even though it was hot and humid.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I arrived at the new apartment at 1:20 pm.  The apartment is in a great location – about a block away from Copacabana Beach.  We met Elizabeth and her husband who were really nice.  Ivan asked about restaurants nearby and she told us about a few per kilo buffet places.  She mentioned a natural one and Ivan said yes that sounds good.  He asked where it was and she said she could show us.

About 15 minutes later, we left the apartment with Elizabeth to Restaurante Natural Beterraba.  Ivan and I picked food from the buffet selection which did have chicken, salmon and lots of vegetarian foods.  It’s priced R$3.49 per kilogram.  We filled up our plates and then sat down to eat.  The food was pretty good.

We back to the apartment and used the internet. 

At 4:45 pm, we walked to Copacabana Beach.  It was now overcast and not as humid.  The tide went out far onto the beach, so we got wet.. some areas my shorts would get wet.  The water was really cold since the sun had gone in. 

We walked for a long time.  Loud music was playing from a big stage, but then it stopped when we came closer to it.  Near the stage, we saw HUGE waves that would break by the beach.  The waves could really knock you out. 

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Ivan noticed sand art with Santa Claus and girls in bikinis.  It was really quite good.

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We walked further and saw more sand art.  Then, we started walking back to the apartment.

Ivan nipped out to grab sorbet popsicles at Delicias do Cerrado across the street – we had these passion fruit popsicles at the bird park and thought they were delicious.  Ivan got two banana popsicles for him and Lil Dave and an avocado one for me.  They have a big selection of fruit popsicles.  I want to try mango next.

Ivan and I took showers before heading out at 7:15 pm.

We walked to General Osorio’s Square which is outside General Osorio Metro Station for the Rio Walks’ Bar to Bar tour.  We met our tour guide Beatrice and the two older Brazilian ladies who were also doing the tour.  There was supposed to be 7 Spanish people joining us, but they never showed up.  It was nice that it was only four of us since it feels like a personalized tour.

Beatrice was going to take us around bars in the South Zone of Rio.

Our first stop was at the bar Belmonte.  Beatrice recommended the empada which is a pie, sounds similar to en empanada but it’s not even close to one.  Ivan and I got a camarao (shrimp) fechada empada and a bacalhau (cod) aberta empada.  The cod empada looked more like a fish ball. 

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The shrimp empada was my favorite which looked like a muffin, but they both tasted good.  Ivan and I also shared a strawberry caipirinha.  Caipirinha is the Brazilian cocktail made from sugar, rum and lime.  The caiprinha was strong and had lots of strawberries in it. 

We started walking by the beach.  Bea told us that there are certain posts (areas) on Ipanema Beach where different personalities hang out.  Post 9 is where the young hip crowd hangs out.  Between Posts 8 and 9 is the gay spot and Post 10 is for the wealthy people.  Post 11 is where you go to see celebrities and Post 12 is where families with young kids hang out.  Find out more about the posts here.

Beatrice told us how one part of Brazil didn’t want to become independent from Portuguese rule.  One man helped Brazil become independent by playing the trumpet to cheer on the soldiers to keep fighting.  We saw the statue of this man in the street.

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The group went to Garota de Impanema bar which means Girl of Impanema.  The Girl of Impanema lived down the street from this bar.  The song was written at this bar.  Beatrice was planning on taking us here, but it was so busy at the bar that there weren’t any seats available  She told us that the shrimps with marinara and herbs and the crab served in a shell were great dishes at this bar.

Ivan wanted to find a place for espresso.  We went into one café, but it was already closed.  Beatrice knew of a place, so we walked on.

Bea told us that the best ice cream place was Italia.  Ivan thought we should stop and get some.  Ivan and I shared a delicious Belgian chocolate ice cream in a cup.

It was off to our next bar at the bar Devassa.  Devassa means naughty girl.  Devassa is known for the beer that they brew. 

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Ivan and I ordered a caipirante (a special caipirinha) which was supposed to have strawberries, bananas and a touch of cinnamon.. but it came with bananas and mangoes instead.  We also shared the casquinha de siri which is like the crab in Garota de Impanema bar, but it’s not served in a shell. 

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The crab was really tasty.  It came with farofa which is toasted manioc flour mixture.  I thought the farofa tasted like what I think sawdust would taste like – not good at all.  We also drank an espresso to wake up a bit.

The group started walking to the Leblon neighorhood which is the wealthiest neighborhood in Rio. 

I asked Beatrice why people wore white for New Year’s Eve. She said that white means peace. People wear the clothing to represent what they want in the New Year. Pink and Red means you want love and Yellow means you want money. Lingerie stores like Loungerie sell packages that include underwear for what you want in the new year like all red or pink lingerie.

The next bar was Bracarense which was voted the best bar in Brazil in 2001.  I’m not really sure why it won since it wasn’t anything special.  The bar is known for the draft beer which is Brahma.  Ivan and I each got a beer – mine was mini sized. 

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Ivan and I shared a cod ball and enjoyed it with the bar’s own pepper sauce.  The sauce was a little spicy.

The group walked to Jobi Bar which is a bar that’s open very late til 5 am.  It’s a bar where lots of people flirt.  It wasn’t anything special and Ivan and I shared a beer.

The next bar was Chico & Alaíde

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Ivan and I shared a tasty passion fruit caipirinha here.

Our last bar was Hipódromo which is located in Gávea.  Ivan and I decided just to get a sparkling water. 

This walking bar tour was fantastic.  Beatrice is so friendly and she’s always smiling.  I highly recommend taking this tour to try some new foods and check out the bars in Rio.  The bars weren’t the fanciest bars, but it’s nice to see the bar culture, try the caipirinha and beer and learn some Rio history.

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Favela Tour

Ivan and I left the house at 1 pm on December 28, 2012.  Lil Dave went to meet up with his long lost monkey cousin who’s a gangster – he’s going to show him around his favela. 

Ivan and I grabbed some snacks at the Hotel Marina Palace.  We were picked up for the Favela Tour at 2 pm.  Our guide was a man named Everaldo.  The bus was filled with English, American and Dutch people. 

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The first favela we went to was Rochina (pronounced ho-sin-ya).  This is Rio’s largest favela with a population of 250,000 people.  It has the good and the bad with the most expensive street in a Rio favela and poor sewage which means unsanitary conditions where lots of people get tuberculosis.  Everaldo introduced us to some of the artists and shops owners in the favela. 

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There was a great view of the Rio from this spot.  We had ten minutes to browse the shops.

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The group went back on the van and went to a house in the favela.  On the balcony, we had a great view of the colorful buildings of Rochina which is situated in the hillside. 

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The group piled back on the van.  Everaldo knew a lot about the favelas.  There are 950 favelas in Rio.  20% of the population in Rio de Janeiro live there – not all the residents are poor with doctors and lawyers living here.  Communities are formed in the favelas to build associations to get services like sewer, garbage disposal, water and electricity.  That’s why you see lots of trash on the streets.  There are gangs and drugs in the favela, but for the most part the favelas are a safer place to live probably since there’s no police here.  Police visit once a year and they will announce the time and date of their visit.  I still noticed two policemen who patrol the area with big machine guns. 

Our next stop was Para Ti community school.  A percentage of the money raised from the Favela Tour is donated to this school.  We didn’t get to see any students since it’s Christmas break.  Kids ages 5 to 15 attend this school.  From the second floor, we saw a nice view of the Villa Canoas favela which was the next place the group was headed to.

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The group got back in the van and we drove to Villa Canoas.  We stopped at a bar where we could buy drinks or a caipirinha.  Everaldo asked that we don’t take any pictures for privacy reasons since we were walking right in the alleys of the homes.  This favela is a lot smaller with 2,500 residents. We walked through the narrow alleyways.  Villa Canoas is a lot nicer than Rochina with a better sewage system. 

Everaldo told us that in the 1800’s, 20,000 veteran soldiers were brought back from a war against the Canudos and had no place to live.  They decided to build houses in the hillside.  Somebody found favela beans in the hills and that’s how the name was coined.  Although, I was looking at favela on Wikipedia and it says differently.. it says that it had to do with Canudos’s Favela Hill — a name referring to favela, a skin-irritating tree in the spurge family indigenous to Bahia.

The Favela Tour was great to learn more about the favelas and actually be able to walk around two of the them.

Afterwards, everybody was taken back to their hotel.  We got dropped off at Ipanema beach and we walked to a square. 

Ivan and I went to a grocery store and picked up toothpaste and razors.  I got some lozenges for my sore throat at a pharamacy.

Ivan was hungry since we didn’t have a proper lunch, so we stopped at Koni Store for a snack.  Ivan and I shared a shrimp yakisoba and a salmon sushi.

We wanted to try a caipirinha, so we walked to the beach and found a stall selling the drink for R$10.  Ivan and I each got one and sat on plastic chairs on the beach. 

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My caipirinha was salty and sweet at first, but then the salty flavor went away.  It was quite strong and tasty.

Ivan and I got the 354 bus back to the house and we arrived shortly before 8:30 pm.

Later that night, we went to the Italian restaurant Cozzi Restaurante for dinner.  It’s a mile away from the house.  Ivan and I shared a white fish with shrimp on top and a penne with shrimp and a great arrabiata sauce.  The dishes were pricey (about $20 USD each), but they were a decent portion and tasted great.

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Rio Birds

Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up at 9 am on December 27, 2012.  The power went out in the hostel.  Ivan went to get the free breakfast of cereal.  I went back to sleep. 

We took showers and then packed everything up.

A guy at Hostel Inn told Ivan that we should cross the street and wait for the bus headed to Iguazú Falls on the Brazilian side. 

We walked across the street to wait for the bus.  Two girls were waiting as well.  A taxi driver stopped and asked if we wanted to go in the taxi for the same price as the bus.  Ivan went over and said that was good.  So, we started going, but Ivan recognized the sign that we saw yesterday.  We were actually heading to the Iguazú Falls on the Argentina side.  The guy at the hostel gave Ivan the wrong information.   The driver took the two American girls to the Falls.  He told us that it would be 200 pesos to the Brazilian side.  To get there by bus, it would cost 160 pesos and we would have to transfer twice.  Ivan thought we should avoid the hassle and take the taxi.

The taxi took us to the Argentina Immigration where we didn’t even have to get out.  Our passports were stamped and off we went to the Brazilian Immigration. 

We got out of the car.  Ivan and I had to fill out forms.  The Immigration guy looked at my Brazilian visa and I got a stamp and our entry/exit form was stamped as well.  You have to keep the exit form and give it to Immigration when you exit.

It was great that both Immigration didn’t have a wait and it was very simple.

The taxi arrived at the Iguazú Falls entrance and we noticed two long lines.  Ivan put down his stuff and went in search of an ATM.  Ivan found out that the two lines are for buying tickets and one for waiting for the bus that takes you to the falls. 

We placed our bags in two lockers at the Iguazú Falls entrance.  Ivan and I thought we should try the falls later if the line was A LOT shorter.

We walked across the street to the bird park Parque Das Aves.  Ivan asked the lady at the entrance if the restaurant in the park was better than the restaurant across the street.  She said yes.  In Brazil, most people speak Portuguese.

The menu didn’t have many vegetarian or fish items.  Ivan and I ordered fish croquettes to share and an egg and cheese sandwich for each of us.  Lil Dave got a banana and peanut butter sandwich. 

Ivan read that people spend 3 to 4 hours at the bird park. 

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We spent 50 minutes walking around and saw many types of birds, a few snakes, crocodiles, turtles, flamingos and a variety of butterflies. 

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It’s too bad that there’s not an area where you can feed the birds.. Ivan loves doing that. 

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There wasn’t that much to see so I’m not sure how people spend so long at this park.  The best bird park we’ve been to is the KL Bird Park in Kuala Lumpur in 2009.

Walked back across the street to the Iguazú Falls entrance, but the line was still long.  It would probably be an hour to get on the bus.  Ivan read that most people thought the Brazilian side was boring compared to the Argentine side.  I thought that it would be best if we just left it and went to the airport early.

We got a taxi for 20 pesos to the Foz do Iguaçu Airport which was only 5 minutes away.  Our flight was at 7 pm.  Ivan noticed an earlier flight to Rio de Janeiro at 4 pm.  Since it was 2 pm, he asked the lady at the counter if we could change the flight and she said yes.  There wasn’t even a charge for changing the flight. 

Ivan used the internet while I worked on the blog.

Our plane took off at 4:05 pm.  Ivan and I watched the Christmas episode of Miranda and episodes of Balls of Steel Australia.  The plane landed at 6:09 pm in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

We got our backpacks and got a taxi to the house Ivan booked through Booking.com.  We were staying for two nights with a gay couple named Stuart and Mauricio at Casa Verde.  The English and Brazilian men were so very friendly.  They own two adorable Schnauzers.  The dogs are so cute, I want to take them home with me.

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Their house is beautiful with lovely artwork done by Stuart and a great pool outside.

Later on, we walked to dinner at Pizzaria Plano B with Stuart and Mauricio.  Ivan and I ordered a pizza with one half with tuna and the other half was mushroom. 

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Lil Dave got a banana pizza.  The pizzas were cut in a checkerboard pattern and we were given little wooden forks to eat it with.  We chatted awhile about traveling, Rio and hypnosis.

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Agva Falls

On December 26, 2012, Ivan and I had breakfast at 6:30 am since there was a stop early in the morning.  The breakfast was crackers, a croissant and little sweet pastries with tea.  Lil Dave had his own bananas for his breakfast.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I went back to bed.  The radio was playing music on the speakers.  I’m glad that it was over Ivan and not me.

The bus arrived in Puerto Iguazú at 12:30 pm, so it was a 17 1/2 hour journey. 

We got a taxi to Hostel Inn.  Ivan checked us in.  He asked a lady if there was an ATM outside of the falls.  There is an ATM inside the falls.  Ivan said that he had to go to the city to get money since it’s cash only for the entrance fee to Iguazu Falls.  One of the staff, a guy, said you should have thought of that before you came here.  It was rude for him to be sarcastic like that. 

We got a taxi to the town for an ATM.  We couldn’t find a place for lunch that sold sandwiches.  Ivan and I grabbed vegetarian empanadas, apples and granola bars at a pastry shop.

It was time to head to the falls.  We got a taxi to Iguazú Falls for 100 pesos.  The guy thought we wanted to go to the Brazilian side and we were nearing the Argentina border and Ivan said No, we want to go to the Argentina side. 

There was an ATM right at the entrance where you drive in – so the guy at the hostel was wrong. 

Ivan bought tickets easily since there was no line probably since it was 3:40 pm.  Ivan asked where we should go first.  The guy suggested that we take the train to the Garganta del Diablo Station and from there walk 1000 meters to the Devil’s Throat Balcony.  Then, we take the train to the Cataratas Station and check out the numerous viewpoints for the different falls.

So, we took the very slow train to the Garganta del Diablo Station.  The walk on the footbridge took us 15 minutes to get to the Devil’s Throat balcony.

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The Devil’s Throat is massive.  Water kept spraying everywhere and I was worried about my DSLR.  There was a full rainbow over the falls.  Here’s a great shot of us with the rainbow for our project. 

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It was a cool sight to see.  Although there was lots of mist so it was a bit hard to see.

We got the train to the Cataratas Station. 

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We walked along the footbridge seeing many of the falls like Salto Dos Hermanos, Salto Chico and Salto Ramirez.  These falls were pretty, but I think the Devil’s Throat was more impressive.

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The Iguazú Falls was a lovely sight.  I still think one of the most impressive things I’ve seen is Halong Bay in Vietnam. 

We got the train back at 5:50 pm.  Ivan and I were thinking of getting the bus back, but weren’t sure when it would show up.  So, we got a taxi back to the hostel.

That night, we went to the seafood restaurant Agva Restaurant for dinner.  Ivan and I shared the river fish croquettes for a starter.  We shared a half bottle of Malbec wine.  Lil Dave got a banana and fish salad. 

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Ivan and I shared the Surubi (local fish) skewers and stuffed Paco (river fish) with grated asparagus, onion jam and heart of palm ragu.  It was a delicious meal.

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Last Day in BA

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked to Puerto Madero on December 25, 2012 which is right by the river.  We walked along the river to find a place for lunch.

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All the restaurants were the same with pizza, sandwiches, burgers and some had Italian food.  We decided to go to TGIF’s.  Ivan and I shared the tasty fried calamari for an appetizer.  Lil Dave had a banana skewers dish.  I had the Jack Daniel’s chicken while Ivan got the shrimp fajitas.  The main courses were average.

It was time to walk around more.  I really like the big yellow cranes right by the water – I think they look cool. 

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Ivan wanted to check out the Fauna hotel which was designed by Philippe Starck.  It was modern and pretty inside. 

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The restaurant in the hotel was about the same prices as TGIF’s and had really cool antique items all around in glass cases.  Too bad we didn’t go here for lunch.

We walked back to Puerto Madero to find a bar.  It was hot out, but at least it wasn’t that humid like the past two days have been.  We couldn’t find a good bar along the river.  We did notice better restaurants than TGIF’s though, but we had gone the opposite directions in search of something.  Oh, well.

We walked back to the center and went to a bar and restaurant which I think was called Junto de 1812.  Ivan got a Stella Artois, Dave got a banana juice and I got a red wine.

We walked back to the apartment and arrived at 5:50 pm.  We were supposed to meet the lady outside the guest house at 6 pm.  She came shortly after and let us into the apartment to collect our backpacks. 

We had a great time in BA (Buenos Aires).  There’s lots of fun things to do here.  I really enjoyed seeing tango up close and dancing it. 

Ivan hailed a cab and we piled in and headed to the bus station.  Ivan went to the Rio Uruguay desk to print out our bus tickets, but they wouldn’t do it for him.  How can they not do it when we booked it through them online?  Good thing there was a internet café right by the desk. 

The bus left at 7 pm headed to Puerto Iguazu.  It was another luxury bus.  It was dumb since they have tv screens, but headphones weren’t given out – the sound played on the speakers right above the window seats.  There was no way to turn it off.  The seats were like the Andes Mar bus which were very comfortable and you could recline all the way back making a bed.

We were served drinks with an option of soda, beer or whiskey.  Ivan and I decided to share a whiskey.  A few minutes later, we got bag of pizza chips.

Dinner was served later on.  We got cordon bleu, potatoes, sandwiches, a bread roll and dessert served with red wine. 

Ivan and I watched the movie Anuva hood which is a funny British gangster movie.  We got a glass of champagne before bed.

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Hot Polo

Ivan and I had breakfast at 10 am at the guest house which was a croissant, toast, cereal and tea on December 24, 2012.

We got ready and were picked up at 10:50 am for the Argentina Polo Day.  Ivan and I were going to learn how to play polo today.  It took us 45 minutes to arrive at the El Camino Polo Club.

The staff are really friendly at the Argentina Polo Day.  We were given beef and potato empanadas.  Ivan told them he was vegetarian and he was given cheese and bread.  The group consisted of 9 people and us.  Everybody was also given red wine. 

It was a really hot and humid day.  We walked to the field and watched a polo match.  During the breaks between the 10 minutes of playing, we would practicing hitting a ball with a small mallet.  The ball is made of plastic.  There was an American teacher and she showed me three ways of hitting the ball.  I was good at hitting the ball, but I wasn’t on a horse doing it.  We were served red wine, tap water and more empanadas if we wanted it. 

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We spent an hour watching the professional polo players play.  Sometimes the horses would come off the field and come close to where we were seated. 

The group walked back and it was time for the BBQ lunch.  Ivan was given grilled potatoes, courgettes, onions and a big block of cheese.  It was a really bad having really basic vegetarian food.  Ivan thought they could have ran to the store to get something during the polo match.  I had salad, sausages, steak and grilled vegetables.  There was lots of meat if anybody wanted seconds.  The wine was unlimited as well.  Ivan and I drank the tap water.  I didn’t want to be drunk or buzzed  trying to learn how to play polo.

We learned that most polo horses are female.  If the horses are male, they are castrated first. 

It was an English woman’s birthday so a pan leche cake was brought out with a big white candle on top.  It was too windy for the candle to stay lit, so she didn’t have a chance to blow it out.  The pan leche cake is similar to a fruitcake.  It’s a bit dry and doesn’t have much flavor.

Dessert came out later which was fruit cocktail from a tin (just like the one Dole makes in the USA). 

Next, it was time to learn how to play polo.  Ivan and I were put on our horses.  I’ve never been the best at steering horses.  Ivan’s great on horses though.  I prefer to be on a camel which I’ve actually only done once in India. 

Our mallets are really long and heavy. 

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Mine wasn’t long enough since I’m short.  I had to bend really low to hit the balls.  My horse was really stubborn and I couldn’t steer him at all.  The American lady kept hitting balls near me so I could practice hitting it. 

My horse, which I named Rachel, was following Ivan’s horse which he named Tammy.  Later, my horse was following a horse that was being ridden by an English girl. 

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The mallet was heavy to carry around.  I know for sure I’m not going to be a polo player.  I can barely control my horse and hit balls at a standstill.  Ivan was doing alright on his horse.

At one point, Rachel and Tammy led me and Ivan off the field.  I’m not sure why the gate was wide open for any horse to leave.  The group kept continuing to ride around the field and try to hit the balls.  It would have been fun to play a match or a small game.  We spent an hour on the field.

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It was time to head back.  We were given water or beer.  I felt so sticky from the humidity.  Ivan went to pay the $170 USD per person.  We don’t think it was worth it.  We could have been served bottle water.  Ivan could have been served better vegetarian food.  The dessert could have been something better like a nice strawberry pie or alfajores.  Also, we think that it would have been fun to play a game to make it fun.  It was a fun day out.

Ivan and I went back in the mini bus back to the apartment. 

Later that night, we went 36 Billares for dinner.  Christmas is celebrated on Christmas Eve in Argentina so not many restaurants were actually open.  Lil Dave had banana ravioli.  Ivan and I shared a salmon salad for a starter.  We both got a trout for our main course.  The food was alright.

At midnight, we heard fireworks going off for Christmas.

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NOLA Brunch

Ivan, Lil Dave and I checked out of the apartment on December 23, 2012.  We got a taxi to the Centro where our guest house was inside a nice apartment.

For lunch, we went to the Scandinavian restaurant Ølsen for their brunch.  The restaurant is very modern and airy with very tall windows. 

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Ivan and I went for the set menu for 105 pesos per person ($21.38 USD).  Ivan got the salmon galvez (smoked salmon), risotto with cereal and fried potatoes.  I got the pollo asado, grilled vegetables and fried potatoes. 

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Our brunch also came with a drink which we chose the great champagne Chandon 187.  Lil Dave decided to go with a cheaper brunch with banana oatmeal, fried bananas and a banana croissant.  The food tasted great.  Our set menu was a great deal since it came with tons of food.

We went to San Telmo and walked around the Sunday market. 

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The stalls were filled with souvenirs, mate cups, art, shoes and clothes.  We saw a few bands playing in street.  San Telmo is known for tango in the street during the night.  We saw an older lady dancing the tango with two different men.  I thought that it was weird that she closed her eyes while she danced.

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It was really hot out so we stopped by a bar for a drink.  Ivan had a Stella Artois while I had a white wine.  A couple started dancing the tango on the stage.

We went back to the apartment where I took a short nap.

Ivan got a last minute reservation at NOLA which is a closed door restaurant.  Ivan and I quickly got ready and got a cab to the restaurant.

NOLA is a New Orleans restaurant that is run by Liza and Francisco in their home.  We were dining with 3 other couples: one from Toronto, Canada, one from Ottawa, Canada and a Sweden couple.  Liza presented the dishes while Francisco was the sommelier and told us about the wine.

The couple from Toronto was a guy named Luke who looked like Jesus with his blonde girlfriend Jackie. 

It was a four course meal. 

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The first course was a lovely gazpacho with shrimp and avocado served with a Torrontes wine.  The next course was okay which was an octopus salad with a rose.  The third course was a braised pork with a creamy polenta with a chili ancho sauce with a Malbec wine.  Ivan got a salmon instead of the pork.  The delicious creamy polenta was spicy with the chili sauce.  Our dessert was a blueberry pie with a Dulce wine.  The food and wine were wonderful.  I highly recommend the NOLA restaurant for a great night out.

After the meal, we went with the other couples to the bar Soria.  Ivan and I went to bar for an espresso at a bar nearby to wake up.  We went back to the bar and chatted with Jackie.

We said good-bye and headed to the gay club Amerika.  Nothing was really going on yet since it was early, so we got a taxi back to the apartment.

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Designer Dancing

Ivan, Lil Dave and I headed to the La Boca neighborhood for lunch.  We strolled around the restaurants to find one that had tango dancing and live music.

We ended up at La Barrica.  Ivan got an anchovy sandwich while I had a tuna sandwich.  Lil Dave ate a banana and honey sandwich he brought.  The restaurant did have tango dancers, but they were more interested and charging money to take pictures with the customers in tango poses.  The band played a song every few minutes with a man singing and then later a woman singing.  It was annoying because the dancers were on the stage talking.  Since it was probably about 20 minutes and still no dancing, I thought that they didn’t even know how to dance. 

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But, they started dancing for one song and then take another break and get more pictures taken.  The dancing was okay – the dancing at Complejo Tango was so much better.

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La Boca is filled with colorful buildings.  We walked around the stalls selling jewelry, mate cups and other souvenirs.

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Next, we got a taxi to Palermo Soho.  Ivan and I did lots of window shopping and we also checked out the designer shops. 

Later that night, we went to the aphrodisiac restaurant Te Mataré Ramirez.  Ivan and I arrived at 8:30 pm for our reservation, but the restaurant was just setting up and weren’t ready yet.  Ivan told the hostess that we’d be back at 9 pm. 

We walked around Palermo Soho to waste some time. 

Shortly after 9 pm, Ivan and I sat down at Te Mataré Ramirez.  Since it’s an aphrodisiac restaurant, the dishes had suggestive names, but they didn’t have any aphrodisiac qualities or look erotic but they didn’t. 

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Ivan and I shared the ‘Confused by the aroma of her desire’ which was strips of fresh salmon marinated with vegetable mirepoix, ‘I Know Her Essence She Never the Same’ which is brie and goat cheese brochette covered with corn flour, semolina and mint over a mix of sprouts and ‘I Covet The Beauty That her Short Skirt Suggests’ which is a vegetable lasagna with tomato ragu and white sauce.  The food was just okay.  The lasagna was the worst since it didn’t have any pasta in it and was mostly just melted cheese with cucumber slices.  The names of the dishes had nothing to do with the presentation or the taste of the dishes.  It didn’t make any sense to us.

The nude tango came on which didn’t have much tango at all.  The acts were really short with 3 acts lasting 5 minutes.  It was more like artful erotic dancing.  There were two girls and a guy.  The guy did take off everything, but covered up his goods.  The girls were topless and eventually did take everything off.  Ivan and I were expecting more with the food and the dancing. 

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For dessert, Ivan and I shared the ‘Until You Scream with Pleasure and Pain’ which was a fiery chocolate volcano with a banana center.  It didn’t have much banana flavor at all, but tasted alright.

I don’t think Te Mataré Ramirez worth it for the 220 pesos minimum charge per person that the restaurant charges since the food is below average and the dancing show wasn’t too exciting.

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Empanada Experience

On December 21, 2012, Ivan and I went out at 1:20 pm. 

We were doing The Argentine Experience.  The group consisted of a girl from Seattle, 3 Asian couples (2 of them from Sao Paulo, Brazil and one from Canada) and us.  Our teacher was an English man named Richard from Essex, England with help from an Argentinian lady named Maru. 

Richard showed us how to make our own empanadas.  The ingredients were shredded beef, caramelized Malbec onions, ratatouille and cheese.  You put your ingredients in the middle of the pastry sheet and then close it up by putting the two parts of pastries together in the middle first and then all around the edges.  You can use water on the pastry if it’s too dry.

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Richard then showed us how to make the ridges on the edges with our fingers and not cheating with a fork.  You fold it over once and then keep folding over with your thumb.  Everybody in the group got to make two empanadas.  The group were served a nice red wine.

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Next up was the empanada making contest which was based on creativity.  There was 15 minutes to make our empanada.  I started practicing making an empanada and forgot we were doing the contest.  I didn’t know what to make anyway.  Ivan made a cock and balls. 

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I put boobs on my empanada.  The rest of the group were really creative with such things like making a present, flower, hot air balloon and roses. 

It was time to eat our empanada creations. 

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They tasted quite good!  We also were served grilled vegetables and mashed potatoes with another red wine.  Our creative empanadas came out later.  An Asian girl won the empanada contest by making a pretty flower.

Richard and Maru taught us Argentine hand gestures like don’t be a chicken, be careful or why are you breaking my balls?  It was fun trying to guess what the gestures were and then doing them ourselves.

Richard taught us how to make an alfajor which is a popular confection in South America.  We took a wafer and put a good amount of dulce de leche on it and then you put a wafer on top.  The next step was rolling it in coconut and then dipping it in chocolate. 

The group also learned how to make a cup of yerba mate.  The yerba mate is a similar to an herb tea and is a very popular drink in Argentina.  Traditionally, the same cup is shared among friends and drank through a silver metal straw called a bombilla.  If you don’t want to drink any more mate, you say ‘Thank You’.  We got to make the mate in our own colorful cup.

Richard showed us that you fill the yerba mate cup two-thirds full.  Place a hand over the mate cup and shake it like you’re shaking a cocktail shaker.  Do this step a few times to make sure you get rid of some of the dust.  You move the tea down to create a hole and pour in a little hot water. The kettles actually have a setting for yerba mate.  Richard told us you can stick the straw in the hole and push the tea over and the straw won’t move.  Then, pour more hot water and it’s ready to drink.  Don’t stir the straw in the cup.  Yerba Mate has a really bitter taste which I didn’t really like – some people add sugar, honey or a zest of a lemon or orange.

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The alfajores taste good with the mate. 

This class was tons of fun.  It’s always great to learn how to make things and eat your creation. 

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Richard was a great teacher.  I highly recommend The Argentine Experience, if you ever visit Buenos Aires.

Ivan and I went back to the apartment.  Shortly after, we took a really long nap. 

For dinner, we walked around the neighborhood to find a restaurant.  Ivan, Lil Dave and I ate at Voulez Bar.  Lil Dave got a banana stuffed chicken dish.  Ivan and I shared a salad with mushrooms, avocado, smoked salmon and mango, shrimp ceviche and salmon tartare.  It was a very tasty meal.

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Italian Graffiti

Ivan and I left the apartment at 12:40 pm on December 20, 2012.  It usually only takes 5 minutes to get to the Brazilian Embassy.  But, there was traffic so it took a lot longer. 

I rushed to the Brazilian Embassy on the 5th floor.  There was no line for window 5 and the lady wasn’t behind the window.  I was getting worried since it was 1:05 pm.  I was hoping that she didn’t leave for lunch already.  I waited a few minutes and noticed people walking around in the back office.  I saw her poke her head out.  She was mad and said a la una.  I said there was traffic.  She still wasn’t happy.  All she had to do was grab my ticket and give me my passport which isn’t a big deal.  I was only a few minutes late. 

We went to Libertad Plaza Café for lunch.  Ivan had the salad bar again while I had a chicken sandwich with cheese, pineapple and boiled eggs. 

Ivan and I got a taxi for the meet-up of the Buenos Aires Street Art tour.  Our guide was a man named Matt. The group included us, an Australian girl, an American lady and a German couple.  Buenos Aires is different since a graffiti artist can ask permission to paint on somebody’s private property.  If they’re given permission, then they can start making some graffiti. 

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Matt was very knowledgeable about street art and graffiti having co-wrote the book Textura Dos: Buenos Aires Street Art.  We went to a park that is filled with graffiti, street art and tags on many buildings. 

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It’s illegal to do graffiti here, but owners would have to paint it all the time since the art changes regularly here.

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We saw lots of murals, graffiti, street art, stencils and tags. 

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Matt told us the differences.  There are lots of great street art and graffiti by artists like Blu, Jaz, Pum Pum, Ice, Cof, Oz and Nerf.  The street artist Blu created a video with street art in Buenos Aires – check out the video here.  This was a wonderful tour.  Ivan and I love seeing graffiti in different cities. 

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I highly recommend going to this great street art tour

Ivan and I got a taxi back the apartment.  We used the internet and then took a siesta (nap). 

At 10 pm, Ivan, Lil Dave and I went to the Italian restaurant Guido Restaurant for dinner.  There are two locations, but we went to the closest one to the apartment on Cerviño.  The other location has a crazy owner and no menu.  I thought the other one sounded good, but we didn’t know it was the wrong one until we got the menu. 

Ivan and I started off with cheese with greens and fried onions in a great sauce and anchovies.  The anchovies were tinned and not fresh.  The cheese was delicious.  Lil Dave got a banana pizza. 

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Ivan and I shared a vegetarian pizza and grilled vegetables.  The pizza was awesome – we’re glad since the pizza we’ve been seeing in restaurants look really bad.  It was a wonderful meal.

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Ivan and I each got an espresso before leaving the restaurant.  Lil Dave headed back to the apartment.

Ivan and I got a taxi to Palermo Hollywood which is filled with restaurants, bars and nightclubs.  It was too early to head to the club, so we went to Carnal Bar for a drink.  I had a 2110 while Ivan a drink that sounded like Voltron, can’t remember the name though.

Later, we went to the nightclub Niceto for the Club 69 Gay Night.  The club was playing generic techno with the same beat going on in the background for a long time.  There were dancers on the stage. A round stage with a stripper pole would be moved by somebody around the dance floor while a girl danced around the pole.  Ivan told me later that the performers were transsexuals which I didn’t even notice while we were there. 

The club was filled with a majority of guys.  The club was dark and looked like a warehouse. 

A short dance act was performed on the main stage. 

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It’s so stupid in the girl’s bathroom that you have to give a tip to get toilet paper since there’s none in the stalls.  Some girls would skip the line since they would give the host a tip and get toilet paper.  So, the second time I went to the toilet, I took a paper towel that’s provided for you after you wash your hands.  The host who gives out the toilet paper saw I had it in my hand and she tried to grab it from me.  I wasn’t having that and went to the toilet.  I slammed the door and that pissed her off.  Clubs should provide toilet paper for free.  How annoying!  I came out and she started talking to me in Spanish – I’m sure she was telling me not to use the paper towel for toilet paper and to not slam the door.  I just said I don’t know what you’re saying and walked to wash my hands.

We kept dancing to the repetitive music.  Ivan and I like techno, but this was really bad techno and it was doing my head in.  At one point, a guy started rapping.  Good looking guys from the club started dancing around the rapper.. they were trying to dance to the rap which just looked silly.  After two rap songs, the techno music resumed.  We danced for a bit before heading back.

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