A Vacation Within a Vacation| June 29, 2011
We took advantage of a holiday and a visit from a friend to take big trips on back to back weekends. The first weekend another intern, Anna, and I went to Buenos Aires and the second all four American interns and our Australian and Brazilian friends went to Mendoza, one of the major wine regions in the world. Argentina has a great system of overnight buses for long trips. Each time, we left around 11:00pm, enjoyed a late dinner and movie on the bus and got to our destination early the next morning, if not well rested, rested enough to start the day straight away.
Our first day in Buenos Aires was spent wandering the city and visiting some of the more famous plazas and sights including Casa Rosada, the President’s office. That night we went to a Spanish adaptation of Chicago and were thoroughly impressed by the translation of the songs; they all had the original music and beat but were translated so that the lyrics made sense in Spanish as well. After the show we met up with Stevie and her friend, another NYU law student who has a human rights internship in Buenos Aires. We went to a restaurant specializing in parillada, a sampler of barbecued meats from several parts and types of animals. I quickly found it was better not to inquire into what exactly we were eating or the method of preparation.
The following day was spent visiting the famous Recoleta cemetery and wandering some of the city’s street markets and nicer neighborhoods. We also went to the Fine Arts Museum, where we found out that photography is not allowed, but apparently touching hundred year old pieces of art is (or maybe we just weren’t subtle enough). We had dinner at a low-key, but delicious, pizza place and then headed to the Palermo neighborhood to check out the nightlife. The part of Palermo we experienced was...touristy? Trendy? Flashy? There’s not really a great word to describe the neon lights and 20-somethings covering the streets and endless bars and clubs, but we called it a night pretty early by Argentinian standards (3:30am).
Our final day in Buenos Aires was marked by a trip to the famous neighborhood of La Boca, known for its brightly painted houses and aggressive restaurant employees trying to get tourists to have a meal. After a quick jaunt through the neighborhood and a look at the Riachuelo, an extremely polluted waterway running through the city, we headed back to the antique markets in San Telmo (after a harrowing daytime cab ride through one of Buenos Aires worse neighborhoods). For dinner, we decided to check out the ridiculously nice neighborhood of Puerto Madero. We found a delicious sushi place and had dinner outside, overlooking the river (which, at nighttime and far away from La Boca, actually looks quite pretty) before catching the night bus back to Córdoba.
The following weekend, we arrived in Mendoza ready to check out the city’s many vineyards. After a little confusion, we were finally ready to set off. We rented bikes and set off for the vineyards. We didn’t take into account how cold it would be or how long the tours themselves would take, so we only ended up making it to two places, one where we took a winery tour and had lunch, and another where we sampled liquors, chocolate and a delicious collection of jams and jellies. We returned our bikes and spent a couple hours talking to several other groups of tourists while the lovely owner of the bike rental company plied us with a liberal supply of wine. Our plans to go out were unintentionally derailed by a tazer-wielding, though friendly, couple staying in our hostel, so it was an early night. The following day we wandered around Mendoza and had an amazing dinner at a little Italian place. The meal was so good that we spent the entire walk home wondering if our companion, who was too sick to join us, would believe us if we stopped in a park to eat her takeout meal and later told her we had forgotten to bring her meal home from the restaurant.
We got up bright and early the next morning with the hopes of doing a day hike. We took a bus to a tiny, freezing little town in the middle of nowhere and only then realized we didn’t have a map or any real idea of how to get to the hiking trails. We set out regardless and ended up having a nice walk up to an even smaller town several miles away. We climbed a little hill to get a better view of a statute of Christ and enjoy a picnic lunch, only to find a camera crew already there. Undeterred, we enjoyed a nice lunch while the camera crew whispered under their breaths, glared and tried to take photos around us. We can only assume that we will soon be on the cover of a rising pop star’s first album. After struggling to come to terms with the newfound fame from our photo shoot, we caught a bus back to Córdoba, where nine hours away, we are surely safe from the paparazzi’s cameras.