Monday, March 09, 2009

No Tears Shed Here

Greetings from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I guess you could say that I'm here on spring break. Not to worry. No compromising photos (perhaps someone out there is disappointed?) and I really can't get into much trouble here. Not with "The-Most-Downloaded-Woman-on-Craig-Smith's-Blog" here with me and my son, "The Ivy Leaguer" about to join us later today.

It was a long plane ride to get here. LAX to Atlanta was about 4 hours. Then Atlanta to Buenos Aires was another 10. And the plane was full. There may be a recession on but it doesn't seem to be stopping anyone from traveling internationally.

This is my first time venturing below the equator. It's summer here with the temperature in the high 70's to mid 80's every day. The evenings are quite pleasant though.

The highlight of our sight-seeing on Sunday was a visit to the Casa Rosada (Pink House) which is the presidential palace.

It's best known for its balcony where Eva Peron appeared to address adoring throngs of Argentines. Madonna also appeared on the balcony and sang Don't Cry For Me Argentinain the movie "Evita." A casting that reputedly was not well received among the locals.

As recently as 1983, Argentina was a Banana Republic, ruled by military dictators. Then came an economic boom followed by a devastating crash in 2001 and a slow but sure recovery. What was one of the most expensive cities in the world prior to the crash has now become one of the best bargains on the globe.

If the light at the end of the tunnel of our own economic downturn means you can finally get a decent bottle of wine in a restaurant for under $10, then maybe there is an upside to the recession. For our first dinner in Buenos Aires, we followed the recommendation of Daily Sound columnist Leslie Westbrook and ate at Sotto Voce.

The only thing that one could possibly complain about were the mosquitos that nipped at us as we dined sitting outside along the waterfront. But if you ask for a can of "Off" the waiter will bring it to your table.

Otherwise, it was an excellent meal for under $40 which included a bottle of wine.

Our second dinner wasn't quite as good. Taking a tip from the Lonely Planet guide to Buenos Aires we tried Cafe Tortoni which promised a Tango performance to accompany our meal.

We arrived at 10 pm to eat in advance of the 11 pm Tango show. After dinner and desert we sipped the remainder of our wine. By 11:30 still no tango show. We asked one of the waiters what the story was: "Oh, it was cancelled."

The food was passable, but not great. Hillary Clinton had dined there though back in 1997. In fact they had a newspaper article and a note she had written on display in the restaurant. In it she wrote about enjoying "the ambiance and the delicious meal." In other words, she was a diplomat long before she was the Secretary of State.

BTW. Restaurants here don't open for dinner until 8 pm. The guidebooks say don't bother showing up to a club before 2 am. In other words, Argentina is no country for old men. I don't figure to be seeing the inside of any clubs.

I've posted a running photo album for this trip here. If you want more frequent updates from Buenos Aires, you can follow me on Twitter.

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Meanwhile, closer to home, former Santa Barbara News-Press editor Jerry Roberts, whose legal battle with the paper's owner, one-time billionaire Wendy McCaw, is approaching its third year, has appealed to his supporters for help.

You'd think the poor economy might have put the brakes on Wendy's willingness to pay lawyers? Evidently not!
© 2009 by Craig Smith and