Sunday, 12 January 2014

BA: Back again!

After a bumpy ride across the water from Colonia we were back in BA again, this time staying with Cat's friend Jo in Palermo. Palermo and it's surrounds are very typical Argentine - this is where the real portenos (BA residents) live and play.

We arrived early on Saturday night and made it out for dinner in a funky Italian restaurant - Trattoria Il Ballo Del Mattone - with DJ! But he still couldn't keep me awake past midnight and everyone else was just getting going by then...

Sunday was brunch day - we headed to Malvón, a really cute little brasserie type place where they had a special brunch menu that included a 'cocktail' home made cornbread muffins and a taster pot of cereal with fruit in syrup. That's before we ordered our actual food!

We both went for a popover - which turned out to be a Yorkshire pudding type thing, opened up and filled with your desired filling - mine was scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and Cat went for the roasted veg with feta. After this we were stuffed! 

There was no room to try the baked goods - although they looked fantastic:

(Pics from the Malvón Facebook page)

All that remained for the afternoon was walking to and sitting in Palermo's famous parks.

The rose garden and trellis with welcome shade!

Paddle boats like bumper cars on the lake - the park was crowded with portenos in large family groups having picnics under the trees, rollerblading and just out for a Sunday afternoon walk.

Monday we headed out to Konex to see La Bomba de Tiempo - a drumming group. We ran into some of the guys from the hostel in Uruguay - so not just a locals thing, but the venue had a great urban vibe that had Cat reminising of Hoxton & Dalston. Everyone really got into the beat - we didn't dance though, you can only drink by the bar where you can't really see the stage and you can't dance with a litre of beer in hand, although Natalie did try #wetfeet.

At least I got to try Fernet & coke again - the popular drink choice for young Argentine's despite it being an old person drink back in Italy where it comes from. I actually preferred it to the first time in Uruguay. The bitterness of the herbal Fernet was better balanced by the coke (drinking it almost neat was not pleasant!) and the sugar + alcohol mix is a little like jäger bombs - also keeps you going all night!

After the show finished we headed to a little tango bar where several different singers regaled us with their mournful songs, it felt like a proper Argentine night out!

On Tuesday Natalie and I headed to La Boca to check out the Ron Mueck exhibition. We didn't make it  to the gallery on our last visit and Natalie needed to check out the colourful streets of painted houses.

Ron Mueck makes incredibly realistic human sculptures using materials such as latex and hair. They are not life size, but scaled differently - some larger than life and some smaller. They are so realistic you want to touch them - but that wasn't allowed :(. It was also worth watching the documentary film that shows how Ron and his assistants make the sculptures - creating individual skin pores and attaching each hair independently to create stubble. I would definitely recommend seeing this exhibition - currently travelling around the world - so perhaps in a city near you soon?!

After the exhibition we picked up Jo and Cat for fish and chips at Chipper (a posh chippy - we had lemon sole and two bottles of a very nice Sauvignon blanc!). Sometimes it's good to have a taste of home and to skip some steak for fish!

We then headed to a proper porteno institution - La Catedral del Tango - where luckily (?) we had missed the 9pm tango lesson completely. So instead we settled in to watch others demonstrate this dance in the hot oregano scented hall (they serve pizzas here hence the oregano). It was a vast cavernous space with lots of little side rooms where instruction could be taken. 

At first we watched and then soon got dragged up by locals eager to share this special dance with us. They were undaunted by our lack of Spanish or dancing technique - although by the time I'd had enough to drink to loose my inhibitions I was a bit too drunk to actually remember any of the moves - but it was fun!! 

The dance itself - especially when you are watching real people with a passion and not professionals - is completely mesmorising. The foot work, the body position - heads together and hips apart, the twisting of the women's hips, completely encaptured my attention. Seeing beginners and experienced dancers all on the floor at the same time makes it look obtainable. And every so often we'd see a couple with complete class - the fancy flicks of the legs seeming so natural and not forced or pretentious at all - so much better than watching it in the tourist areas where it's more like Strictly Come Dancing.

A small snap shot of La Catedral - video on Facebook for friends!

The next day we were off on a 14 hour overnight bus to Mendoza - to better appreciate the Malbec....

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