Looking for Shakira…Punta del Este fun

Yesterday we arrived to the country of Uruguay.  If you read Laura´s post you will find out more about our adventures in Colonia, and about the little we knew about Uruguay to start with…like it´s really hard to spell (or maybe just for me).

Today we went to one of the most beautiful beaches in South America, located in the town of Punta del este.  We thought our trip there would be easy since we signed up at our hostel to go on the guided tour…until we found out at breakfast that they never signed us up for the tour.  For our back up plan we decided to just go to Punta del este ourselves.  It was a very delightful day.  We spent our time on the beach, walking along the beach and crossing off the ¨sights to see¨on the visitor map.  A new friend was also made—a stray dog that would NOT leave us alone.  It followed us for about 5 hours..well maybe not that long but we went to eat in lunch and it was there waiting for us when we walked out of the restuarant.  Ridiculous.  Finally we managed to lose it.

Our goal to see Shakira´s house was not met, although we might have saw her several times, if her disguise was sunglasses–Punta del Este is where a lot of famous people have summer homes–like Shakira and Ralph Lauren to name a few.

We are going to see some sights around Montevideo tomorrow then go back to Colonia before leaving Uruguay for Buenos Aires…tomorrow is our last full day left in South America!

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The best ice cream in the world and other findings

We have seen a lot of Buenos Aires the last few days.  Our walking has increased (maybe not the walking speed), our knowledge of the subway system has grown (or maybe we are starting to pay attention more) and today Laura and I even ventured off by ourselves when Miranda was working and we did not even get lost (although there was a lot of map consulting).

Yesterday morning we headed out and I saw this:

Winona is found all over!

We headed over to the Recolata neighborhood of Buenos Aires where we toured the cemetery Evita Peron is buried in, went to a fine arts museum and also Buenos Aires’ version of the cherry and the spoon:

The flower opens during the day and closes at night!

All over the city we see millions of dogs, all who have dog walkers–we are always on the look out for dog poop “watch your step!”  but unfortunately I stepped in some last night.

Our day in Recolata ended with THE BEST ICE CREAM IN THE WORLD!!!  (or that is what the travel video on Argentina told me:

We shared three flavors-- dulce de leche w/ brownie, irish cream and mint!

Our night ended by going to a concert that was part of the World Tango Festival.  Think hipster and Spanish and you have the band.  They were awesome.

After the first night at our hostel Laura and I awoke and explored the Palermo neighborhood, where we covered the Botanical Garden, 3 Lakes Park and the Japanese Garden.  The weather was perfect and we even rented a paddleboat!

Fountains at the magical park

The Japanese Garden, also magical.

We are now preparing for our weekend trip to Uruguay!

Twins, El Tigre and taking on Buenos Aires

Nobody cares about Brett Favre in Argentina, but apparently that is big news back home.

We may not have seen Brett Favre but we did see Carl Pavano (google him they are twins, oh and well Pavano is really a Twin—it’s the stache).  Anyways we saw this look alike at La Bomba de Tiempo– (Drum concert) last night.

Carl Pavano's musical twin

If you have read Laura’s blog you would already know that Monday was our walking day.  We started out first with breakfast at Cafe Tortoni, the oldest cafe in Buenos Aires.  Tango composers used to write their pieces here.  We had a nutritious breakfast of hot chocolate, churros and medialunas

This gave us plenty of energy for our walk–we started by seeing El puente de la mujer:

We then walked across the bridge to a museum and then to the ecological reserve.  The reserve was not as preserve-like as you would find in the states as there was lots of garbage in the swamp.  I wanted to teach them about recycling.  Instead of walking 4 miles in the ecological reserve we walked to a park and had a delightful picnic lunch.  We could even take off our fleece’s and scarves for the first time since arriving since it was so warm!

Today we took the train to El Tigre, about an hour north of Buenos Aires.  We explored the town along the river which was peaceful and scenic (if you consider brown water scenic)…I was excited by the pop culture…

We heard "Total Eclipse of my heart" in Spanish yesterday!

We continued our exploration of El Tigre por rio (by river–the Spanish is coming back!)

Preparing for our boat adventure!As you can see/read we are well on our way to becoming locals!  Numerous people have started talking to Laura and I in Spanish–asking us questions and directions.  We clearly know what we are doing.  Laura and I will soon be developing our skills of the city as Miranda’s apartment manager is not ok with our extended stay, so we will be going to a Hostel for the next two nights before we leave for the weekend trip to Uruguay, kind of inconvenient but it will make us more well-traveled.

We have a busy next few days planned to get the most in over our next few days!

La fiesta without socks and Argentina happenings

Vacation has been really busy…on Saturday Laura and I woke up to, “If you guys aren’t ready on time I’m going to leave without you!”  Miranda was very excited to go to the Estancia (Argentine ranch), as were we because we were ready to go out the door right on time.

A few highlights from yesterday:

  • Arriving to the ranch on a beautiful day!  When we got there we were greeted with empanadas and then went out to see the castle and find the horses.
  • Find the horses–as in we were told they were tied up to trees around the ranch and there would be ranch hands there to help us—it took us a good 20 minutes to find the horses and by then the asado lunch was ready for us.
  • The asado was delicious!  We got to try a variety of meats/cuts and watch folklore dancers perform.
  • We saw a woman try to steal a horse, while not quite sure if she was going to ride off with it but she was riding it unattended and then let her friends ride it unattended.  It was ridiculous.
  • Finally, right before we left we got to ride horses!  My horse was a little out of control and with tips from Laura’s horsemanship days I finally got the hang of riding at the end (although at one point I almost asked to get off)
  • “Fiesta without socks” took place last night—Miranda’s roommates’ friends invited us to their party which started at about midnight.  They also dressed in costumes, which was confusing to us because it is not Halloween.  I think it was mostly called a “Fiesta without socks” because they wanted to keep their floor clean.
  • Today we got to tour La Casa Roasada, the presidential palace, which was beautiful.
  • We also visited the San Telmo street fair where we walked through many vendors and saw many street performers.  I even saw a guy wearing a Twins hat.  In shock I did not actually get to talk to him and ask him about a MN connection.
  • Our last stop was to La Boca, a neighborhood with lots of colorful houses, more street performers and home to La Boca Juniors– an Argentine futbol team.

For pictures and more notes on today and yesterday’s activities check out Laura’s blog (just click on merrydays on the side).

We have lots more things planned to see/do the rest of the week so I hope to do some more posting soon!

Learning not to shake hands

Argentina welcomed us with open arms…well except not really.  Apparently handshaking is not the cultural norm in Argentina as I found out when I automatically put out my hand to meet Miranda’s roommate–I had been in the country 8 hours and forgot about the kissing on the cheek!  I’m trying to be less offensive.

We had a safe (but long) flight where our biggest decision was picking out what in flight movies to watch.  When we arrived to the airport Miranda’s friend Diego was there to pick us up with the perfect awkward sign.  He successfully brought us to Miranda’s apartment, although at one point we thought he might have decided to leave us in the middle of the airport (when he really just went to find us a taxi).   The trip to the apartment was lengthy, mostly because traffic here is really terrible but when we got to the apartment we found waiting for us a old fashioned elevator…don’t worry a picture of this will be forthcoming!

After Miranda got home from work we took the subway to the Plaza de Mayo where we saw the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo march, La Casa Rosada and the Cathedral.  We then walked to Avenida 9 de Julio–the widest avenue in the world and saw the Obelisco.

Mir and I at the Casa Rosada:

Laura and I at the widest avenue in the world!

In the evening we walked to El Ateneo Grand Splendid–a bookstore in a restored theater…so cool!

After eating dinner at 9:00 p.m. (Miranda says we have to get on an Argentine meal schedule) we went to bed!

This morning we took a tour with Cultour, the company Miranda is an intern at.  We took the “Traces of Buenos Aires” tour and got more background on the life of Juan and Evita Peron, the Argentine revolutions and saw many interesting places!

They let us take over the CGT for awhile…

…after our meetings were done we headed to our mansion…

We ended the tour by having a lovely lunch with the Cultour group–which included several people who spoke English and were from the US.  We conversed about hostels, our accents, the economic state of the US and blog followings.

Tomorrow we head to the Estancia (ranch)!   Hooray!  It is a balmy 50ish degrees here and has rained off and on so we are praying for great weather for tomorrow’s adventures!

Goodbye (North) America!

Today begins my adventure with my friend Laura to South America!  We are headed to Argentina and Uruguay!  My sister is living in Buenos Aires right now so what better time to go on vacation and visit her!

There are several misconceptions about Argentina and my trip out there:

  • It is WINTER in Argentina right now….meaning it is not 100 degrees…only 60 (people are really confused about this)
  • Argentina IS in South America (some people are even more confused about this)
  • I’ll be gone for two weeks–not back on Monday like my co-worker asked…
  • Yes, this is a trip for our half-birthdays.

Check back often for trip updates/photos/ridiculous stories!

Road construction kicked in the shins (finally)

Google MN road construction and this is what you will see...my main road, first image.

Summer = road construction, I wish it doesn’t but it does.  Everywhere you turn, every street you want to drive down is torn up, detoured or backed up.  If you ever drive on 35W it has been this way for the last 7-10 years.  Take my examples from the past three nights:

Ex. a.) Two nights ago the tradition of Music and Movies in Loring Park was brought back.  It was a beautiful night.  After walking 20 blocks to my car I decided, “hmm I will just the take the freeway home, it has to be better than going down Lyndale and hitting every stoplight.”  Awesome for about 4 minutes before sitting in traffic for 15 at 11:00 p.m.

Ex. b.) Last night I saw “Inception” best movie ever.  Except it was long (now, I’m not complaining) but this once again kept me from beating the closing of lanes down 35.  I partially beat the system by alternate (maybe slower?) routes.

Ex. c.)  Tonight I left my friend’s house at 8:30 p.m.  Perfect timing for driving down 35W and kicking road construction in the shins while listening to “The Chart Show.”

*When the Crosstowns are done I WILL have a celebratory party.  I am not even joking.

Somebody turn off those crickets!

This weekend’s camping trip nearly turned into a fiasco several times, mostly in the preparations, but it turned out to be a fantastic weekend–you know it will be a great weekend when you all pull up to the fast food parking lot with your caravan of cars all playing, “Proud to be an American.”  Sunday morning when we were all sitting around the fire I asked everyone to share their favorite part of the camping trip (yes I was the mom, I even made David’s sandwich), most everyone agreed that the canoe trip and swimming in the river were some of the best times.  One person’s favorite was, “watching Nate and Tiffany tip their canoe, that was pretty funny.”  Yes, one canoe tipped and it was carrying all the valuables.  Bummer.  Jeromie and I dominated the other canoes and came in first place (although nobody else knew we were racing…).

Other memorable times included, the park ranger stopping by our site the second evening to tell us there had been noise complaints and to remind us that there are “many families here who are trying to get some shut eye at 10:00 p.m.”).  We wanted to tell him to turn off the babies, car alarms and crickets…especially the crickets, sheesh we are from the city!

Camping weekend was a win-win-win.  David and Aaron’s giggling and waving as they waded across the river was proof of that.  =)

We also came prepared with lots of marshmallows and chocolate because as you may have heard, any camping problem can be fixed with those.  We were glad we did not actually have to use them to fix any problems, but could eat them.

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