Beginning in Buenos Aires

The Floralis Generica, a stunning aluminum and steel sculpture in the Plaza de las Naciones Unidas. The giant flower opens and closes with the sun.

Our Big Adventure has begun! After a miserable experience in getting to Miami, our flight to Buenos Aires on Aerolineas Argentinas departed on time last Thursday, and arrived a few minutes early in Buenos Aires. We somehow lucked out and the two other seats in our row were empty, so we were able to stretch out and sleep for a few hours. That sleep was much needed because we’d gotten all of two hours of it at our hotel in Miami before having to get up again to get back to the airport on time. The flight was nearly nine hours long but very smooth and more comfortable than we imagined (and we were fed twice); clearing immigration was quick and easy as we had nothing to declare; and our taxi driver was waiting for us at the airport to take us to our lovely apartment in the Recoleta neighborhood. The weather had changed a bit when we arrived: it was raining and just 45°F – brrr! We were very glad we had gotten our coats out back in Miami! Once we checked into our apartment we promptly climbed into bed and slept for 15 hours.

Our first task upon getting up on Friday was to get to an ATM for some local currency, and to find a grocery store for some food. Finding a grocery store was the easy part – there’s a lovely supermarket just a couple of blocks from our apartment. We used our debit card to buy some beautiful produce (butternut squash, broccoli, kiwi fruit, bananas, and mandarin oranges), two different cheeses, some sausages, pasta and sauce, a package of crackers, a couple of containers of yogurt, a stick of butter, a bag of coffee, a small bottle of laundry detergent and two bottles of Argentine wine (a Chardonnay and a Malbec). All this stuffed our shopping bag to the max, but cost just $27US – quite a change from Kaua’i prices!

I enjoyed a big matcha latte and an organic pear crumble for an afternoon coffee break. Beautiful pastries and large beverages for the two of us, in a cozy setting, came to just $11, tip included.

After getting all our food unpacked and put away we headed out again to find an ATM, but every one of them around us seemed to be closed or with a sign saying the machine was closed. Here in Buenos Aires ATMs are located in a secure, locked room – you swipe your debit or credit card to get access to the machine – but at some places we couldn’t get into the room, at others we could get in only to be informed the machine was closed. After a few unsuccessful tries, we stopped in a Starbucks (we knew we could use our debit card again) to rest and plot what we were going to do if we could not find a working ATM in the neighborhood. While we were having our coffee, a lovely woman sat next to us who spoke flawless English (and she had never been out of Argentina!) and explained that the Argentine peso had dropped significantly against the American dollar the day before and many Argentinean had panicked and taken money out of their accounts which had drained the ATMs. She told us a few more places to try and we were finally able to get some cash. The maximum allowable withdrawal here is 2000 pesos, about $60US. That was three days ago though and we still have LOTS of money left over, even with a dinner out, stops for coffee in the afternoon, and a visit to a local bakery. The peso’s devaluation has been good for us, but difficult for Argentinians, and although the peso’s value has climbed a little bit in the last couple of days it is still not back to where it was.

The comfortable sleeping/living area of our studio apartment in La Recoleta.

Our small Airbnb apartment (Super Studio in Recoleta II) is lovely, and very comfortable – just the right size for the two of us. Our host, Florencia, had wine and snacks waiting for us when we arrived, which were greatly appreciated. The apartment is in a great location for visiting sites in the Recoleta neighborhood – the famous Cementario de La Recoleta is just a couple of blocks away, for example. As the days pass we’re getting better oriented to where we are and how to get places, and whether it makes more sense to walk or use the subway. The streets are clean (for the most part) and easy to navigate, and Argentinians have been very friendly and helpful, and very patient with our extremely limited Spanish (I can read way more than I can speak or understand). Our challenge today has been to try to do laundry – there is a coin-operated washer and dryer in the basement, but we have no coins and everything is closed today because it’s Sunday and Brett hasn’t been able to get change anywhere. I guess we’ll be doing laundry tomorrow evening. We’re using our time off today though to rest some more and plan the next couple of days’ outings to the nearby Palermo neighborhood. We want to visit two museums and a garden tomorrow, and we’ve booked an affordable photography tour on Tuesday (via Airbnb) through Palermo’s Soho district, famous for its street art.

The apartment’s kitchen is well equipped, and even has an outlet that accepts our American plugs (so there are always power cords in the area).

Both Brett and I are thoroughly enjoying the cooler temperatures here in Buenos Aires (less than 60°F today) and being able to get out and walk through the city. We’re both happy to be eating better again, and so affordably too. I’m still fighting jet lag, even with a significant drop in my caffeine intake. It gets a little better every day though and I hope to be fully adjusted just in time to leave for France (lol).

22 thoughts on “Beginning in Buenos Aires

  1. Joy Franks says:

    Lovely studio! What a gorgeous sculpture. Interesting that it responds to the sun. Never heard of such a thing! You seem to be having fun already!! Can’t wait for the next installment. Aloha!! xoxoxoxo

    Like

    • Laura says:

      Apparently there are solar panels that operate the flower’s opening and closing. The scupture also sits in the center of a large pool, and the water reflects off the bottom of the petals in different ways depending on the weather. The sculpture was much larger and more stunning than we imagined – we were glad we took the time to walk down there.

      More coming in a few days. I had the whole day off today to catch up on reading, blogging, posting, etc. I am enjoying this aspect of slow traveling – we don’t feel like we have to be doing something all the time or we’ll miss out.

      Like

      • Joy Franks says:

        Perfect way to enjoy your trip! I hope you come back to Kauai, NORTH SHORE this time!! You’d love it. Cooler, not as humid.

        Like

      • Laura says:

        Joy – the woman we spoke with in Starbucks told us that Buenos Aires is very humid. We wanted to tell her, “Lady, we know humid and this is NOT humid!”

        Kaua’i has not fallen off the list as possible places to settle once we’re done traveling, and we wouldn’t be constrained the next time by location as we were before (i.e. school stuff). Although we are missing our island home, Kaua’i is not at the top of the list any more, at least not while the girls are in school back east on the mainland.

        Like

  2. Jan says:

    So excited for you both. Oh the places you will see and the sights too. Thank you for allowing me to travel with you through your blog. Best wishes

    Like

    • Laura says:

      Thank you for reading along! I’m still pinching myself that we’re here, and have so many more places to see and things to do and try.

      Like

    • Laura says:

      Hi again Debbie! Yes, the entire itinerary was planned several months ago. We saved like mad for about 18 months or so, and paid for all our lodgings (Airbnb) and plane travel up front and are living on our regular income now as we travel.

      Our itinerary is: Buenos Aires (10 days); Montevideo, UR (4 days); Paris (7 days); Normandy (3 days); Strasbourg (20 days which includes a 3-day visit to Lucerne); Bordeaux (10 days); Florence (30 days and includes an overnight visit to the Cinque Terre); Rome (7 days); Lisbon (10 days); Portland (30 days – the girls will meet us here for Christmas); India (7 days – the only tour we are taking); Hong Kong (6 days); Australia (16 days – we start in Perth then will take the India-Pacific cross-continental train to Sydney); North Island, New Zealand (10 days – we’re renting a car to drive around the island); Tokyo (3 months – we’ve rented an apartment near our son’s place); Portland (3.5 months – Meiling graduates from UO in June, and we wanted to be in one place for YaYu to stay for the summer so she can work); and . . . we are now planning to add on three months in England in the fall – more details coming up later about that. After that – we don’t know right now, but we will probably settle down somewhere not yet decided.

      We chose Buenos Aires as our first destination because both of us wanted to visit someplace in South America, and it wasn’t a logical destination from any place else. In other words, if we didn’t start here we probably wouldn’t make it here at all. My mom had traveled to Buenos Aires and Montevideo and enjoyed both locations so we decided to visit them as well.

      Like

      • JJ says:

        Just curious, why did you decide to spend 30 days in Florence? I’ve been there a couple of times and it’s a small city without a lot to do once you visit the main attractions, unless you’re using that as a ‘base camp’ while you explore other areas? I like your idea to visit England. I was there in July and had a great time (stayed in London the whole time though).

        As far as where to settle down, I wouldn’t even think about that at this point because you have so many adventures between now and then! But I imagine a lot of that will depend on where your daughters end up settling. Maybe live on the east coast until YaYu graduates?

        Like

      • Laura says:

        Yes, we plan to use Florence as a sort of “base camp” to explore Tuscany. We will doing an overnight trip up to the Cinque Terre, and plan to make a couple of trips to Siena, and visit San Gimignano as well.

        Like

      • Debbie says:

        Wow! I cannot imagine what planning you have done.

        When you’re in Florence, I assume you’ll do some side trips. Let me know if you’ll be visiting Montepulciano and/or Cortona — I can give you some great places to see and visit. Same for Rome, but the info I have for Rome is two WONDERFUL restaurants.

        Happy travels and thanks for sharing.

        Like

      • Laura says:

        We had around a year and a half to plan (and save) before we began our journey. I love planning travel though, so had a good time over the months searching for Airbnbs, airfares, etc. and putting it all together. My goal is always to build a good foundation for wherever we’re going to allow ourselves a bit more spontaneity at our destination.

        We know for sure that we’re going to visit Siena, and probably San Gimigninono, but we could be going to Montepulciano or Cortona if they’re a doable day trip (haven’t gotten that far yet!). And please, send on the name of those restaurants in Rome!! We are going to be staying near to the Vatican – it’s supposedly just a five-minute walk from our apartment, and we have a view of St. Peter’s dome from our balcony (although it will probably be too cold to be outside at that point).

        Like

  3. Laurel Hill says:

    Wow…that sculpture! Very cool. And the studio looks perfect. I am always happy for cooler temps (within reason!). 🙂

    Really enjoyed this post and am happy you were able to update us already. The money situation sounds challenging but great for your budget!

    Like

    • Laura says:

      The sculpture was bigger than we imagined – we had seen it on some posters in town and were thrilled to find it was located not too far from where we’re staying. I hope we can get back to see it when it’s fully opened, although I thought it looked rather stunning in the almost closed position.

      We have been pleasantly surprised by how little we are spending here – we are w-a-y under budget, a good thing, especially before we head to Paris. It’s sad though that our good fortune with the exchange rate is not shared by Argentinians.

      Like

      • Tamara R / My Retirement Project says:

        Laura, we were very pleasantly surprised by the relative affordability of Paris and elsewhere in France. Food is not that expensive, even cheap wine is good there, and take away food is a bargain. I think you’ll be pleased by what you find. Oh, and one tip is to get around by foot down along the river, not the street above it. You’ll be surrounded by locals, and avoid all of the street traffic, both human and auto. Parisians drink wine down there by the river in the evening . . . take two plastic cups and your $5 bottle of good, cheap French wine and join them!

        Like

      • Laura says:

        This is good news – we have been fearing high prices in Paris. We love street food (I’m looking forward to eating crepes and croque monsieurs) and plan to eat most of our meals in the apartment, but we did want to go out at least once or twice and not blow our budget.

        I also love the idea of sitting down by the river with a bottle of wine and our plastic cups – will definitely give that a try, although our apartment is not very close to the river. The weather should still be nice enough to enjoy it though.

        Like

  4. Janette says:

    Your internal time clocks may go crazy once you hit Europe. Changing time zones is always so difficult for me going East. Even returning from Phoenix after a week is tough. Looks like your long sleep and afternoon walks are helping.
    Thank you for sharing the trip.

    Like

    • Laura says:

      My jet lag is definitely a “going east” issue – we moved too quickly across the mainland and I never felt like I could catch up. One of the great things I’m discovering about giving ourselves time in each location is that we can take time off to adjust rather than feel like we have to go-go-go all the time.

      Like

    • Laura says:

      I’ve been enjoying your all your pictures – you’re in Brett’s neck of the woods now – his family (both sides) come from Western North Carolina and the surrounding area.

      Japan in October will be lovely. Prepare yourself for crowds though – fall is a popular time for leaf viewing and other forms of sightseeing. It’s still my favorite season there though, even more than cherry blossom time.

      Like

Comments are closed.