Spain won

I should have learned from the superclassico, I didn’t.

About half an hour before the Spain/Germany UEFA Cup final I thought I would wander out, find a bar and have some lunch while watching the game. Wrong!

Everywhere the game was being shown was full. I ended up getting a takeaway and watching at home.

Cazuela de Taricos

This morning I took the Subte to the end of the Green line to visit Motocare. They rent motorcycles, mainly Honda TransAlps, to gringos wanting to tour Argentina.

They have a good setup but at a whopping US$90 per day you have to be very determined to travel by motorcycle. I would like to do a motorcycle tour but hesitate somewhat at the price. Imports into Argentina attract a 50% duty makeing motorcycles much here expensive than in Europe. Another option is to buy one and sell it after the trip.

Or take the coach.

Later I walked over to Corrientes to buy a ticket to see Ariel Tarico passing these court buildings on the way.

Ariel Tarico is a young Argentine satarist and his show “Cazuela de Taricos” is billed as the “vuelve el humor polîtico a la calle corrientes”.

I wasn’t sure how much of this I would understand but went anyway.
The venues was at the back of a basement stand up comedy venue. I went to the 21:00 show which was sold out. Around 60-70 people got in.

It was pretty good with a lot of visual elements and a lot of Argentine in-jokes some of which I vaguely understood. The detail in the main escaped me.

On the way home at around 10:45 Corrientes was teeming with people.

Fragata Sarmiento

Plaza San Martin

I often walk through Plaza San Martin on my way home. The area is a lovely part of Buenos Aires.

Tren Bala


The Biblioteca Nacional is only a short walk from my apartment. They are having a free season of silent films, Cine mundo con piano.

Today they showed
Nosferatu with Ana Foutel accompanying on the piano and providing sound effects. I had not seen this film on the big screen. Excellent.


First stop this morning was the British embassy to apply for a new passport. Mine expires in December and to get back into Brazil I need a passport valid for at least 6 months.

The building was not particularly attractive. A bit of a box. Compare and contrast with the lovely French embassy.



Todays was time to renew my lease for another month. The landlord had told me the rent would be the same (US$720 per month). The agent called me at lunch time saying the landlord wanted to put the rent up to US$840 per month and citing the fact that he had installed broadband and the apartment was being serviced.

This ignored the fact that both had been included on the original particulars. After several exchanges we compromised at a US$40 increase and I was left a bit gobsmacked that they all seemed to think this sort of conduct was OK.

Energy Saving

Yesterday Taxi drivers in Buenos Aires blocked Plaza de Mayo in protest at new laws governing bus lanes. There are around 35,000 taxis here and the new law will allow them to travel in bus lanes when carrying passengers but not when empty.

I think they have a point if for no other reason than that it would be virtually imposible to enforce such a law.

Argentina suffers from a shortage of electricity so the use of energy saving bulbs is encouraged. However the cost differential is huge and given the relatively low cost of electricity here changing does not make much sense.

Te Amo Mucho

When I was watching the demonstration yesterday I hadn’t realised that presidenta Kirchner was going to address the huge crowd. Had I known I would have waited.

Todays paper had some photos of the Kirchners embracing after Cristina finished her speech. One was captioned “Te Amo Mucho”. Ahhhh.

I can’t get over the number of paseadores I see every morning. What on earth is the point of having a dog if you pay someone else to walk it.

The interesting thing is that these groups of dogs all seem to get along just fine.


More on Cacerolazos

It was noisy last night. This mornings front page headline in Clarin.

“Masivos cacerolazos de repudio en todo el país.” Clarin does not like the government either.

This was their front page photo today.


Hatem, my classmate from school is returning to England shortly. This morning we met up for a coffee and then went for a wander along Florida street so he could buy some gifts.

Afterwards we stopped by
Cafe Tortoni. The building and interior are lovely with great cultural overtones from the past. I’m not too sure there is much cultural activity now. Just a lot of bored waiters and heaps of tourists.

Cafe Tortoni - Interior Detail

Hatem in Cafe Tortoni

Later in the evening a tried to take a taxi into San Telmo where Hatem was having a goodbye barbecue at his hostel.

Large Cacerolazos (a demonstartion where large numbers of people take to the streets banging sausepans) were in full swing and I had to abandon ship and walk as Avenida 9 de Julio was completely blocked. The Caceroleros tend to be from the wealthier areas and are not big fans of the Kirchner government.

Dos días a puro celeste y blanco - futbol

Today Argentina played Ecuador in a 2010 world cup qualifying match. This time we travelled to Estadio Monumental, home of River Plate football club.

Today’s transport was an even worse rent a wreck than yesterday. We were dropped off near the stadium and had to wait half an hour for the tickets to arrive. No surprise that they turned out to be in the cheapest seating section. Price paid A$160, face price A$45. A big premium for a ride in a wreck and a useless guide. Grrr.

Water cannon discretly positioned at the edge of the car park.

Once inside our “guide” had no idea where our seats were. Fortunately the ushers did. ‘El Monumental’ is a large old stadium orignially built in 1938.

Again, the view from our seats was obscured by mesh and razor wire fencing. Another couple of hours in a cattle pen. A large group of supporters from Ecuador were sitting in the tier behind and above us.

The match was an uninspiring 1-1 draw. However the singing from the Ecuadorianos was very entertaining.

The match finished quite late and there was no sign of our transport. With no indication of when or if it was going to arrive I chose to walk home.

It was quite late but the lovely entrance to the
Hippodrome was all lit up.

This was the second time in my life I’ve attended a football match. There will have to be very compelling reasons before I attend a third. Sitting in a comfortable restaurant watching the game on TV for the price of a drink or meal seems a much more agreeable prospect.

Pasiones argentinas -rugby

The headline in the Deportes section of Clarin this morning read ‘Pasiones argentinas - Dos días a puro celeste y blanco”.

I had decided to participate and bought tickets via an agency. However I broke a golden rule here. Never, ever, hand over any money until you know exactly what you are buying and have got it.

I thought I was buying decent seats on the wing with transport and guide included.
Reality was a young Arthur Daley type character who ran a very cheap operation. Transport was a run down old car belonging to a friend. The guide was another friend who had been given a free ticket.

The transport was very late arriving but we made it to the
Velez stadium in time for the start.

Today Argentina played Scotland at Rugby. Far from being seats on the wing we ended up with concrete standing room at one end.

The crowd was good natured and colourful but our section was enclosed by a very high spiked fence. We were like cattle in a pen with no chance of a quick escape if necessary.

High mesh fencing, razor wire and spikes. Not a lot of respect for the paying customer here.

Looking through the mesh and fencing at the wings where I thought we would be sitting. Standing room was complicted by the fact that some wanted to sit while others chose to stand and obscure the field.

In the event Scotland easily won a fairly dull game. Afterwards we waited almost an hour for our transport to show up. Not a good day and galling to know I paid a premium for it. This does not bode well for tomorrow.


Hatem’s last day at school.

He is on the left with our teacher Ivana in the centre.


Starbucks recently opened their first outlet in Argentina nearby in Palermo Alta shopping centre.

In a city that is most certainly not short of cafes and purveyors of coffee they queue to get into Starbucks. Funny old world. Maybe they like the quick service at Starbucks.

Plaza Fijo

This commercial has been running on Argentine TV quite a lot recently. I found it quite funny. Believe it ot not it is advertising a savings account!

The last time I looked there were over 20 clips on youtube featuring individual versions of the ad (or at least the dancing bit).

Mickey Mouse

Wandering through Recoleta on the way home I came across the Mickey Mouse school for infants.

Manzana de las Luces

Manzana de Las Luces is a collection of buildings originally established by the Jesuits around 1621.
They are of great historical interest to Argentina and I took a tour.

Over the years parts of the compex have served many functions including housing part of the University and housing the first city council of Buenos Aires.

Original council chamber.

A large complex of tunnels was constructed under central Buenos Aires, most likely for defensive purposes. Much of the network has been destroyed by modern building works but sections still exist including these underneath Manzana de Luces. Visitors go downstairs to have a look but there is no public access to the tunnels.

Manzana de Luces - Main Courtyard

A church interior in the complex. The caption reads “Nuestra señora de covadonga patrona de asturias”.

Nearby I came across another interesting building dating from 1878. Originally El Banco De La Ciudad de Buenos Aires it is now boarded up and looking a bit sad.

The gargoyles and pillars are quite striking owe something to native south american imagery.

Historic plaque.


The building is for sale and heavily stained by pollution. It badly needs attention and restoration as do many of the fine buildings here.

Another gargoyle.

This was taken around 18:00 while I was walking home. A parking lot on Avenida Corrientes in central Buenos Aires on a friday evening. There were at least 10 parking attendants waiting to to assist clients.

Declaración de Guerra al Auto

Yesterday our profersora advised that she had to go to a wedding on friday. To make up the hours we will start half an hour earlier and finish half an hour later.

This meant that I had to catch my
colectivo at around 08:30. Not such a good option as they are a lot more crowded. I let four go by before boarding one with a seat available. My fare for a 30-40 minute ride was 1 peso (£1=6.1pesos). My morning paper, Clarin, usually costs 2 pesos.

There are a lot of colectivos (buses) in Buenos Aires and many are quite old. Most have diesel engines. The air quality reminds me of London in the 70’s.

Clarin reported today that the Gobierno of Buenos Aires had made a Declaración de Guerra al Auto. The city is choked with around 1.7 million cars every day. Measures announced include more parking rectrictions, a reintroduction of speed cameras, dedicated bus lanes and increasing the number of traffic wardens. Sounds familiar.

The credit on my
Personal mobile ran out today. They have a novel way of letting customers know. A recorded message advises that the number being called does not function.

Homenaje al Che

Che Guevara was born in Argentina 80 years ago. There are posters all over the place announcing this and numerous events are planned in tribute to him.

website has full details and some interesting video footage. Judging by the amount of Che material in the bookshops and kiosks here he is still very popular. One can buy Che calendars, t-shirts, magazines and a shed load of books.

There is an imposing Catalan cultural centre across the road from my language school. It flies the European, Calalan and Argentine flags. No sign of a Spanish flag.

El Colón

This morning in Clarin there was a transcript of the short speech made by Daniel Barenboim after the concert last night. He was upset at the fact that the Colon theatre, El Colón, was closed on it's centenary and had a go at those responsible for allowing such a situation to develop. According to this article the renovation has been delayed for two years by unspecified "financing and contracting problems".

El Colón is the most important theatre in Argentina and one of the finest in the world. According to Clarin its acoustics for opera are the best in the world and for classical music it is rated third behind the Grosser Musikvereinsaal in Vienna and the Symphony Hall in Boston.

Construction lasted from 1889 until it opened in 1908. It is now closed for renovation with much of the facade covered by scaffolding. I think it is still possible go on a tour of the interior.

The finale last night which was so enthusiastically sung by the audience last night was the
Himno Nacional Argentino.

A piece
here on the subject of excessive government goes on about security cameras being used to identify the owners of dogs fouling footpaths. Nothing of that sort here in beautiful Buenos Aires. Dogs are allowed to foul virtually any public space and are particularly active on footpaths. Not a lot seems to be done to prevent it. I'm for the cameras on this one.

Luna Park

I didn't look to closely at my ticket and as a result left home 30 minutes later than I should have. My taxi driver asked where I came from and whether I could speak spanish. Despite my answering "very little" he launched into a rant about how bad it was in Argentina under la reina Cristina.

He got me to Luna Park a few minutes before show time. The
Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim started bang on time. Being German they would wouldn't they. Myself and quite a few others had to be seated after the concert had started.

Luna Park is a big shed normally used for sporting events and rock concerts. It is not particularly suitable for classical concerts but with the Colón theatre being closed I suppose there was no other option. Background noise from the sound system was very noticeable during quieter passages.

At the interval I picked up a program. They are free here. The concert was a tribute to the currently closed Colon Theatre which normally hosts classical concerts and was organised by
Mozarteum Argentino. Their website is worth a visit if only to read the names of some committee members.

The program included works by Wagner and Mahler. I enjoyed it as did the enthusiastic audience. This is third concert I have attended in Buenos Aires and on each occasion the audience has been vocal and very enthusiastic in their support of the artists. It certainly makes for a livelier evening. I have been told that Buenos Aires is unique in this respect.

Daniel Barenboim was born in Argentina and received repeated standing ovations along with the orchestra when the concert finished. He then said that normally he preferred to let his music speak but on this special occasion he had something to say. It was in Spanish so I didn't understand it all. He spoke about the centenary of the Colon theatre and it's importance to the arts in Argentina and was repeatedly interrupted by load applause.

At the end the audience, accompanied by Staatskapelle Berlin, sang what I presume was the Argentine national anthem.