Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Dog poo here, Dog poo there, Dog poo every-f'in-where!

This topic demands a post all of its own as avoiding (sh) it is part of everyday life and you have to develop extra keen peripheral vision to guide you thru the minefield of droppings in any residential area. Unlike other cities I've lived in, where people are obliged to make sure their dog crap is either cleaned up or at least off the beaten track, the locals here (porteƱos) let their dogs crap anywhere. It only takes a lapse of attention for a split second to find yourself slip, slip, sliding away in a freshly laid K9 fudge brownie. I've 'come a crapper' twice so far and now have a theory that its not crime that deters people from walking after dark but more likely the added danger of treading in 'brown' in the 'black' of night.

Tag: Dog Poop Buenos Aires Argentina


Monday, 13 August 2007

Settling in / Eating / Drinking

The stuff we shipped over arrived a week after we moved in to the new place. The process of getting your shipped goods when they arrive is a tad more complicated than we had experienced before. Basically there is a ton of paperwork to fill out and various offices that need to sign off on this first and eventually you need to go to the depot to pick the stuff up which happens to be beside a 'villa' (shantytown) so Claudia had quite an adventure picking the stuff up. A couple of boxes seem to have gone astray which we suspect actually happened in London but we're thankful the most important things made it.

The Beer.

Argentinian beer, in a word tis 'pish' - Quilmes is the most popular national brand and if I had to describe it I would say think Budwesier with even less character and flavour pretend your taste buds are numbed from chewing half a kilo of jalapeƱos and lemons and you might like this beer (but probably not!). Other bland alternatives Iguana, Palermo, Isenbeck, and the slightly more palatable Warsteiner. I have discovered another almost drinkable brand called Sneider Fuerte which weighs in at a respectable 6% alc volume and causes old women in the supermarket to look on with pity as I pile 6 litre bottles into my trolley as from what I understand, it’s the Buenos Aires equivalent of the homeless mans favourite brew like Carlsberg Gold Export or Tennants Super Strong. My saving grace is that they brew Stella Artois here under licence and although its slightly different from back home and 1 peso per litre more expensive it hits the spot just right.

The Wine.

I keep asking myself how I drank that ol' plonk for 6 to 10 quid a bottle back in London when you can drink an excellent 4 -6 year old malbec or cab sauv for less here. Next to meat, wine is a passion here and its f-in' fantastic. Being an ol' wino at heart, I've dabbled in everything from the low end 3 peso bottle (still quaffable) to the 200 peso vino tinto reserve which would make most people pee in their pants when that bolt of enlightenment hits that the quality is out of this world! nuff said - back yiz go tesco and pretend you never heard this!

The Food.

How not to put on 100 pounds here will be an art. By the looks o' things I'll be supplying Michelin with spare tyres for the next few grand prix's. The food is 'A++'. It takes a lot of discipline to flip the menu page in a restaurant from 'carne' (meat) to something else but besides the steak (which is top notch) the selection you can get in the shops and take home and reheat yourself is impressive incl. empanadas (hot pastries with either meat, chicken, or veg), tartas (like quiche but better variety), pasta (fresh with sauce). Interestingly the fish selection is limited and so far not great. I've been doing the veggie shopping too as the best veg are in the local small veg shops where you queue up and buy by the kilo.


Moving in

We moved into our apartment 2 weeks after we arrived which was pretty quick by all accounts. You can rent a furnished apartment but tend to pay 'tourist' prices. There is a common practice here of 2 tier pricing with a minimum of double for tourists for various things e.g. airfares within Argentina, apartment rentals and pricey restaurants in the tourist areas. There is a constant theme of 'beware' for everybody (incl locals) from everything to counting your change in a shop to taxi rides doing circles (b.t.w. always use a 'Radio Taxi' as some of the non descript taxis take you for everything you've got incl wallet, camera, watch etc!) .
Our apartment was thru an agent where it was necessary to have someone who owns property to sign as guarantee in case you default on the rent so that lucky honour went to Claudia's sister Gabriela. Monthly rental for a 2 bedroom flat is 15% of what we paid for a one bedroom flat in London. The area is Caballito which is smack in the middle of the city (Capital Federal is the name given to the central area of the province of Buenos Aires). Caballito reminds me a little of Manhattan, NY for convenience factor with almost everything you need within a few blocks e.g. laundry, hardware, cinema, supermarket, 24 hour kiosk, excellent patisserie/fresh pasta / deli / restaurants. Notice I don't mention bars as I'll have to cover the nightlife in a separate post.

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