Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 9: Back to Buenos Aires

Not much to report today. We had an uneventful flight back to BA and then went to see another art museum before heading back to the hotel. We have a fun dinner planned tonight and then in the morning are going to the fair at Plaza Serrano. We fly home tomorrow evening and will be back in Austin on Sunday afternoon.

Thinking very good house thoughts for everyone back home. And let's give some props to the Abuelos for making it this long with the little darling! Can't wait to be back home!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 7 and 8: Out and About in Patagonia

Remember all the drama and angst surrounding reservations – or lack thereof - well, leave it to Juan Traveler to solve that problem!

We headed to town on Wednesday morning determined to figure put some way to do everything we wanted to within our two days. After talking to several of the tour agencies in town we decided to take an afternoon tour of the glacier on Wed and then do the glacier trek on Thursday morning.
The afternoon tour gave us a chance for a morning nap and then we set out to go see what all the glacier hype was about. The was totally worth it. Perito Moreno is out of this world. The glacier is larger than Buenos Aires and flows all the way down to the lake. So, you come around the bend in the road and boom come face to face with a total wall of ice.
The park sports a series of walkways and balconies from which you can sit and watch the ice crack and fall. We saw several pieces fall and splash down into the lake. Words don’t sufficiently describe it – the pictures will do a much better job.
This morning (Thursday) we got up early to do the trek on the glacier. It was so super cool! I was convinced a coupe of times that I was about to die but in the end survived. We hiked around for awhile and then took a nice boat ride around the front of the glacier, rested in the park and headed back to El Calafate.
We had a quite dinner tonight at the hotel and are getting ready to go back to BA tomorrow morning. It’s been an amazing vacation but I am so looking forward to seeing Caleb and being home again.

Totally cool pictures here.

Love to all,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 6: Journey to the Bottom of the World

Now, those who know me well might roll their eyes and think I was exaggerating just a wee bit here. I'm not. Juan has drug me to the middle of freaking nowhere people. And although it's cool in a windy, moon-esque way, it's a bit out of my comfort zone and way, way too far away from my little boy. But, I'm coping and trying to keep the complaining to a minimum. We are seriously at the bottom of the world - closer to Antarctica here than back to Buenos Aires. Yoowza.

Our Tuesday started off well. We managed to hit one more place in BA - el Zanjon - and I am so glad we did. It was a super cool archaeological thingy and we could have spent lots more time there if our schedule permitted. But we were in a rush to get back and head to the airport so off we went.

The flight to El Calafate on Areolineas Aregntinas was not fun. The plane was delayed 3 times and when we finally boarded it was very cramped. The flight down was a bit over three hours and we could see the coast and absolutely no form of human life.

We laded around 7:45 or so, got out luggage and took a taxi out here to the hotel. It's crazy here. Little vegetation, roaring winds and a big beautiful glacial lake. You will have to see the pictures to understand what I'm talking about.

My rant for yesterday (which became evident once we arrived (via a dirt road! hello!) at our nice hotel) is that tour places here in El Calafate do not take or make reservations. The hotel can make a pre-reservation of sort which guarantees nothing. And so we found out upon arrival (after 8pm) that all the tours were full for today. Probably. Because they don't take reservations. Whatever. So, what we'll be able to do on Wed and Thurs is still up in the air. It's actually Wed am now and Juan is pacing around waiting for me to finish to we can take a taxi to town to try and make make some sort of plan.

Will post pictures later.

Love to all,

Day 5: Tren de la Costa

The alternative title of this post is "How many references to Thomas and Curious George can Juan and Jan make in one day".

Do we miss him? Um, just a little.

So, we snubbed our noses at the ferry to Uruguay and set off on the tren de la costa to see what lie up the river (coast) from BA. We mistakenly decided to walk from the hotel to the train station because it didn't look too far on the map. Ugh. It was hot, humid, smoky and gritty. We were glad to get there and quickly got our tickets for the local train. We took it until it ended and then walked over to the start of the train up the coast. Er river.
So, let's talk about this river for a minute. It's big and runs right outside our hotel. It's lined with fancy stores, nice resturants and lots of high-rise buildings. It's also chocolate brown. Now, I have seen worse as far as rivers go - the Nile and Gangees have nothing on this puppy but still - I wouldn't allow my child within one mile of it. No touching of the water here.
So we got on the train - air-conditioned! yeah! - and swiftly went up the coast (northwest of BA I think? Ask Juan.) until it ended in Delta. Delta is a fun town. The river comes in and then the city diverges into a series of canals with boat taxis and sight-seeing cruises. We chose one that lasted two hours and zigzagged through the canals. We sat in the (totally sweltering and un-air conditioned) resturant area and had a snack and looked at all the vacation houses lining the canals.
We saw some really cool houses. Place I'd love to live in - as long as nobody made me get in the river. Bleah.
After that we headed back to the train and made our way back. We did stop at San Isidro for ice cream before continuing all the way back to BA. And we did decide to take a taxi back from the train station.
We're looking forward to a shower,clean clothes and then dinner. Tomorrow afternoon we fly to El Calafate.Our hotel is supposed to have wi-fi so I'll try and update again tomorrow night.
Pictures here.
Love to all,

Sunday, January 17, 2010

D ay 4:Boca and Beef

We've had a lovely Sunday around here. Slept later than ever - 9:30! Gasp! Had a quiet breakfast and decided to head to the less posh side of town and check out the weekend market and a taste of real Porteno life.

The market was fun. Lots of silver, brass, leather, jewelry, dishes, glasses and other random stuff. We found a Christmas ornament for Nana (which Juan is concerned will be confiscated by Ag on our way back home) and a tiny soccer jersey for Caleb. The stuff cute pictures are made of. We walked around and took in the less ritzy side of BA. We did ask own shop owner for directions to a restaurant we were considering for lunch and he told Juan to go this way and not that way b/c it wasn't safe to walk around there. Yeah, that means it's time to go back to the Hilton people! Adios Boca!

We headed back around 2pm or so and decided to have lunch at a place Ricardo had recommended near the hotel. It was an Asian place and lunch turned out to be pretty good. Juan's risotto was amazing but I didn't care too much for my ravioli. Doesn't sound Asian by that description but it was and had excellent ambiance and air conditioning which was key. It's been in the 90s this week and I'm a little pink despite the 50 proof sunblock. Oh well. So goes life.

After a quick web cam call with the familia we settled down for our now ritual afternoon nap and then made sure we were up by 6:15 or so in time to have the real call with our little one. He looks great and it does my heart good to be able to see him and talk to him even if he's more interested in playing choo choo than talking to mom.

We walked around Puerto Modero after that and it was a lovely way to end the afternoon. We then headed to dinner - as our quest for a REAL steak continued.

Note to my veg readers: Hi Kasey! Hi Angelica! Juan ate some creepy stuff that you may or may not want to hear about. You've been forewarned....

We decided to have dinner at a place recommended by both the book and Ricardo. We had a hell of a time figuring out the name b/c apparently they've had some legal issues with their original name and it took a bit of asking to determine that what we thought it was was really what it was. We set off hoping that we would finally be able to find a good steak after three days of so-so tough beef and nothing that lived up to the hype.

Juan started off by ordering blood sausage as an appetizer. It was gross. Seriously gross. I refused to look at it let alone eat it. He liked it though and kept comparing it to stuffing. How I have no idea. I had an empanada which while was the best we've had yet still has nothing on Mexico.

The steaks were amazing. We finally found what we'd been looking for. Mine was the closest as I've come to finding anything that compares to what I had a Capiche the night we got engaged. And that says something. We shard some french fries and then had a lovely brownie for dessert. We're back in the hotel now and I'm ready for a good nights sleep.

We've decided to forgo Uruguay tomorrow b/c it's $110 pp to go just for the day. It's Uruguay! Hello! Instead we've decided to take the train up the coast and see a little of the outskirts of BA and the coast. Our internet might be spotty for the next few days but I'll try and continue updating here. We leave for El Calafate on Tuesday.

Pictures coming as soon as Juan uploads them.

Love to all,

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 3: Rain y Recoleta

Another good day today. It started off a little wet as we woke up (at 9am! Seriously!) to cloudy skies and light rain. We decided to head to the Museo de Bella Artes first since it was inside and a good way to pass the time until the weather cleared. It was a good museum - a nice collection of old stuff and native Argentinian works. Even a couple of Gauguin who is my favorite.

Afterwards we headed off to lunch to a place that was known for their empanadas. Yeah, no. They have nothing on Mexico people. We did enjoy a nice plate of french fries however and a slice of lemon pie. After that we headed to the cemetery in Recoleta to check out the crazy architecture and see Evita.

Now, for the record, if my family had a fancy crypt in the middle of the Recoleta cemetery I'd be sure to make sure that the cobwebs were cleaned out and that no glass was broken. It was amazing to see how many graves were unkempt and in disrepair. Note to those families - get with the picture and show a little respect for the dead please. We walked around for awhile and then headed back for our afternoon nap.

The tango show tonight was a lot of fun. The dancers were crazy good and the music was very enjoyable. I was tired by the time it was over (midnight) and very happy to shed the high heels in lieu of my pajamas. We have a quiet day planned for tomorrow and are then thinking of going on a day trip to Uruguay on Monday.

News from home is still good. We've seen Caleb on the web cam each day and although he doesn't seem to care much to talk to us, it does my heart good to see him and know he's ok.

Pictures here.

Love to all,

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 2: Tropical Storms and Pistachio Creme Brulee

I love creme brulee. It's probably my favorite dessert ever. And the pistachio creme brulee we had tonight? Made me seriously consider moving to Argentina for like a full 30 seconds. Wow.

I like it here. Of all the places we've gone on vacation this is by far the most livable. Meaning I really could see myself living here and being happy. We've traveled to some crazy places but none had any "home" potential. This does. No worries, I'm not jumping ship anytime soon. But it feels good here. Normal, understandable (with Juan's help), and just comfortable.

We slept in (woo hoo!) and then had a lovely breakfast in the club. We're nearing tarnished iron status with Hilton as our years of traveling have finally worn off. Luckily though we managed to get a room on the club floor and free breakfast each morning. Love that.

We then took off to see the botanical gardens in Palermo. I was super excited to see the plants and trees. Unfortunately though the gardens are closed due to some major storm last week. We instead headed off to the park, toured the rose garden, took pictures of the meteroite at the planetarium and then went to MALBA to appreciate some modern art. They're showing an Andy Warhol exhibit now. I had no idea he was from Pittsburgh. We spent a few hours there and headed to lunch.

Lunch was our first foray into Argentianian steak. The stuff dreams are made of right? Yeah, no. It was awful. Pretty, they do get points for pretty but the taste was bad. This was a place the book reccomended and I'd picked because it promised goat cheese. No goat cheese though and our meat was so over cooked that it was almost inediable. It was a good learning experience though and we headed back to the hotel for a nap. Yeah buddy - two hour nap every afternoon. Momma is all over that.

Tonight was our super fancy dinner at the French resturant. It was as close to Le Bec Fin as we've come in the last three years. Lovely. A great present from my sweet husband. The meat was amazing and made up for everything we lacked at lunch. And the icing on the cake? Pistachio creme brulee. Wow, just plain wow. I'm a happy girl.

We did get to have a short video call with los Abuelos y Caleb this afternnon. It was good to see C and know he's doing ok. I cried - it's hard to see your baby and not be able to hold him but I'm glad he's doing well at home. Chloe is fine too.

Tomorrow we're off to Recoleta to see how the upper crust lives. And to a tango show for dinner!

Pictures here.

Love to all,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 1: Bolivia or Bust

Bolivia? Yup, Bolivia.
Our trip started off well yesterday - no trouble in Austin, Dallas or Miami with the flights or connections. We settled in our fancy first class seats and headed south. Until about 3am in some other time zone that is. ..
I wasn't sleeping well - I know, I know. Leave it to Jan to not even be able to sleep in the fancy seats but whatever, my back was hurting and there was no sleeping to be had. (Unlike my sweet husband who was so totally gone that I could hear him snoring even across the divider and over the roar of the 777 engine.)
Anyway, so I began to notice more activity than usual up front. We had about 2 hrs until landing so I figured they were getting breakfast ready and all that jazz. Nope. Apparently some poor guy in the back was having or about to have a heart attack and they were trying to decide what to do. The pilot came on and said we were turning around and flying 45 minutes north to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Now, if I was having a medical emergency a middle-of-nowhere town in Bolivia would not be my first choice. But, I guess the 45 min trip back vs. two hours to Buenos Aires seemed the best choice. Ironically, there were two doctors on board and one was this guy's daughter. Our flight attendant joked that the guy was thinking that paying her medical school tuition was probably a good decision right about then.
Bolivia was pretty desolate. Basically, we saw dirt roads and a landing strip. They opened the door and a bunch of firefighters and medics ran on the plane all wearing face masks. Pretty entertaining! We were on the ground for about an hour or so. Then we headed on to BA. We arrived about three hours late but safe and sound.
We showered and went out for lunch. We ended up eating with the two women in line in front of us at the restaurant. They were here just for a day and about to fly further south to take a cruise of Antarctica. How fun is that!
Oh, and an FYI to anyone thinking of coming to Argentina. They are now charging a $133 pp Visa fee upon arrival. Surprise!
And for the record my husband’s favorite part of Day 1 was flying over Cuba. He got a kick out of that.
We took a nap and are getting ready to go have pizza for dinner. So, in summary, we're here, first class is pretty sweet, Bolivia is boring and I'm sunburned.

Pictures here.

Love to all,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


We're off to a good start around here....

Yesterday Juan was doing a last-minute run to Sam's as we prepared to leave on vacation. Caleb and I were at home playing our new favorite game entitled "slide fake food down the boy tunnel and giggle a lot". If you haven't tried it then you should. Anyway, our fake food of choice was half of a hamburger bun that my toddler seemed convinced was really a pizza. Odd, because he doesn't like pizza. He slid the "pizza" down the tunnel and it popped up off of one of the metal rings shaping the tunnel and hit me square in the corner of my left eye. I have a nice goose egg and the beginnings of a bruise. Lovely.

Juan was looking for a coat at Sam's. It seems that somehow "we" managed to lose his in the move. No comments on that from the wife, just suffice it to say that we are completely unaware of the location of his coat. And he needs a coat if he wants to go tromping around glaciers. So, as I was recovering my my near blinding he comes traipsing in the back door with his new coat. And I laugh. It's a grey faux suede hoodie of sorts and in it he's a dead ringer for the Unibomber. Seriously.

So how are we going to fare tomorrow at the security check-in at the airport? Me sporting a black eye and sobbing uncontrollably because I've just left my precious baby behind and the Unibomber holding my arm? Just peachy, I'm sure.

And the icing on the cake? Juan says that there are no port-a-potties on glaciers. WTH people! How exactly am I supposed to pee on ice then? Sigh.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Magical Pajamas

So, in my loser blogger-ness, I managed to miss posting on Thanksgiving, Christmas and now New Years. So, for the record:

Happy Thanksgiving.

Merry Christmas.

And wishing you a joyful and prosperous 2010.

Ok, that's done. Now onto the important stuff. Magical pajamas...

My pathetic excuse for not blogging in over a month is lack of sleep. During the month of December Caleb slept through the night exactly 3 times. Out of 31.

We tried various approaches. First, we caved and stumbled down the hall at 4:30 am (it is ALWAYS 4:30 for some bizarre reason) plucked him out of the crib and into bed with us. This was a great plan if you were Juan b/c all Caleb wanted was to lay on my chest and ram his big baby head into my wind pipe and sleep. Not so conducive for Mom's sleep.

The reasoning was that the entire month of December would be rough with grandparents visiting, holidays and general merriment. We thought we could just make it til January and then re-Ferberize after Juan and I got back from vacation. I mean, why go through the drama and wailing to just have to redo it again after we get back?

Well, just going with it worked until the week of Christmas but by then Caleb was waking up 2-3 times a night and screaming for Nana or Mama. Not cool.

So, we Ferberized. That kinda worked but then we all realized that there was a pattern forming. Caleb slept all night when he wore his fleece footie pajamas. He didn't sleep all night when he wore his normal pajamas. Eager to test our theory we tried the magic pajamas two nights in a row. He slept. We slept. Hooray for magic pajamas!

Was he cold? Not snugly enough? Is is a fluke? No clue. But you know who was at Carter's bright and early to buy more fleece footie pajamas the next day right? Yours truly.

We are now the proud owners of 3 pairs of magic pajamas. I'm not going to question what works people. Let's hear it for the fleece footies!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

P.S. I promise frequent updates while we're on vacation!