Saturday, January 21, 2012

Taking It All In

 Fundacíon PROA
As much as it seems hard to believe I have been in Buenos Aires for 2 months already, it also seems that Rio De Janeiro was a lifetime ago. Things are going well, my new school is exactly what I needed at this point.  It has given me the opportunity to take all the grammar I have learned and actually use and understand it better. When speaking with people who relocated here I can actually communicate fairly decently.  When speaking with Porteños, I can pretty much hang in there as long as I start the conversation with "Please speak slowly".  The good news is, many have told me that once I leave Capital Federal, people speak at a more natural pace and it will be a little easier to keep up.

I've been seeking out some unique things to do/see in the city and have been to some great places. One of the great spots I stumbled on is a bookstore that is housed in a former theater. Absolutely spectacular. This picture does not do it justice. The stage has been converted to a cafe, you can sit and read in the former theater boxes on either side of the stage, and when you stand above and look down it's just beautiful.

As I will be heading out of BA in about 2 weeks, I've been doing my best to enjoy as much variety in dining as possible.  Argentine cuisine is delicious, but very limited, so this city is probably the last time I will have the opportunity to eat other types of cuisine for quite some time.  About a week ago I had my first "closed door restaurant" experience here and it was fantastic.  Basically, it is a private dinner party at a chef's house.  Five course meal, paired with five wines (for about what you would pay for one dish and one glass of wine in the States). For me, Casa Salt Shaker was a perfect introduction to this semi-underground dining scene because not only was the food absolutely incredible, but since each dinner is limited to only 10 people, the atmosphere was great as well.  Everyone meets and mingles over a cocktail when they arrive and then enjoys dinner together at a one table.  I went with a friend from the UK and we met some great people that night, two of whom we have continued exploring new restaurants with and now have informal "dining club" of sorts along with two other friends as well.  Our second closed door restaurant, Casa Felix, was excellent as well, with a wonderful outdoor garden area for dining, and really fresh ingredients and flavors.  It was different in that you dine at separate tables so it had more of a small restaurant feel to it, but fantastic just as well.  I have one more to go next weekend, Casa Mun, which I am beyond excited about because it is Japanese/Korean cuisine.  Oh how I've missed those flavors! Take a look at the menu:

Champagne Reception: Cave Extreme Extra Brut
(Hot Towel Service)
Shrimp & Caramelized Walnut Salad with Japanese Dressing
Rama Negra Sauvignon Blanc
Shrimp & California Maki Sushi
& Spicy Tuna on Pan Fried Crispy Rice
AVE Premium Torrontés
Momofuku-Style Pork Buns
 Borges Syrah
Sashimi “Bi Bim Bap”
A twist on the Korean favorite ~ sashimi on sushi rice with
vegetables,  spicy sauce & toasted sesame seeds.
Bodega Patritti Lassia Pinot Noir
Chocolate Mousse Cake with Fresh Berries
Green Tea (or optional Johnny Walker Black Label pairing)

Yep... beyond excited!

~ N

Friday, January 6, 2012

City On Fire

The title for this post originally came to me on New Year's Eve when the entire skyline of Buenos Aires was lit up with fireworks.  Since then, the summer heat has officially arrived and that title now has a whole new meaning.

But back to New Year's Eve...  I attended an event in a beautiful building downtown which has a light tower approximately 100 meters above the city.  At midnight, I was standing on the balcony of that tower watching the entire city explode with fireworks.  As far as I could see, it was as if the whole city was being sprinkled with glitter (Katy Jayne - I was definitely thinking of you at that moment)! Absolutely incredible.

Now that January has arrived, I get to "enjoy" the hottest month of the year here.  December was unusually mild so I was lucky but that is all gone now.  It's been in the high 90s this whole week, and will be 103 on Monday.  The saving grace is that it drops significantly at night so once the sun goes down, you can breathe again.

Today I completed the 3rd level of Spanish at the school I've been attending and I will be switching to a smaller, privately run school next week that is only a few blocks from my apartment. The next level at my original school is way too advanced for me and I'd rather work on strengthening the basics. Although I get frustrated, I am definitely starting to see a difference in my communication skills. When I met with the director of the new school, we spoke in Spanish for the better part of an hour so something must be sinking in! I've also been braving the language exchange events that I mentioned in an earlier post which has been really helpful because the everyday back-and-forth conversations are what I need more practice in.

So, in travel news ... the final 2 months of my adventure are officially booked!  On Christmas day I bought a ticket for this coming July flying into Budapest, Hungary and out of Tel Aviv, Israel.  The plan is... Hungary & Croatia, then Turkey, Cyprus, Jordan, and Israel.  I'll be traveling with one of my closest friends so it will be a different experience to finish off my year of travel.  As much as I truly enjoy traveling alone, there are definitely times when certain things remind me of different people and I think - "I wish _____ were here, they would love this".  Well, for those last 2 months, I can turn to someone and actually say that out loud.  (Hahaha, just kidding Randy!) Anyway, I am really excited to travel in such a different region but I'm trying not to think too much about it just yet because I still have several great months in South America ahead of me!

In local news, a good friend from my project in Brazil is arriving in Buenos Aires next week so we'll get to do some touristy stuff together and I'll get to spend some time with "family".  We are also trying to coordinate the dates we both leave the city so that we can head to Iguacu Falls together.  Hard to believe I need to start planning to move on.  It sort of feels like I live in San Telmo.

~ N