Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Going Underground In Buenos Aires

Tuesday felt like another sultry summer day in Argentina. Took my first ride on the crowded Buenos Aires subway. You know you're in trouble when the first thing that comes to mind when you board the train is the slogan from that old soap commercial: "Aren't you glad you use Dial? Don't you wish everybody did?

A ride on the subway is very cheap here though. Less than a buck. Taxis are also very reasonable too. The most expensive cab ride has been about $6.

Yesterday we visited the Eva Perón Museum in the Palermo section of town. It's a small museum that basically tries to tell the story of her life although it's a little short on exhibits. Most interesting items on display are her personal effects and clothing. There are also a few a videos playing in continuous loops.

These days we think of the funeral of Princess Di as being the "gold standard" of memorials to the famous. Richard Mineards over at the Montecito Journal may disagree, but it looks to me like Perón's funeral in 1952 would have topped Di's. It was 14 days long.

Had my best lunch so far yesterday at a place called La Josefina in the Palermo district. It's across the street from the Eva Perón Museum.

There I had three huge beef empenadas. (If I had known they were going to be that large I would have only ordered two). The place was beautifully decorated and they had a wood burning stove in the kitchen. Lunch for three people, including drinks, was less than $30.

For dinner we followed the recommendation of a cab driver and ate at El Palacio de la Papa Frita on Avenida Corrientes. Inside it kind of reminded me of Harry's Plaza Cafe without the photos on the wall in that it had probably been around since the '50's or '60's and the decor had never been updated.

But the food was phenomenal. My son and I both ordered the top sirloin steaks. They must have each been 32 ounces and they melted in your mouth when you ate them. Allison, the vegetarian, had the gnochii which she described as surprisingly good. The total bill for the three of us including beer; $56. Back home at some restaurants a single steak could cost you $60.

Most businesses here, including street vendors, seem to take US dollars which is a good deal for us tourists. No commission fees when converting your money at the bank. No foreign transaction fees when using ATM's or credit cards. And the local businesses seem to offer a better exchange rate than the banks do.

One of the reasons I enjoy traveling in Latin America is that I get to use my Spanish. Not that it's very good. However there are three phrases in particular that I've mastered:

Uno mas cerveza por favor. (One more beer please.)

Donde esta el bano? (Where's the the bathroom?)

La cuenta por favor. (The check please.)

* * *

For the record. Here is the word-for-word transcription of the question and answer on Monday's edition of Jeopardy! involving the Santa Barbara News-Press.

In 2007 a judge ruled that a Santa Barbara newspaper had illegally fired workers for trying to join this.

The answer:

What is a union.

The contestant with the correct response eventually went on to win the game.

And by the way, it was the $400 question in the "Double Jeopardy! round."
© 2009 by Craig Smith and