Playa de La Arena

I wanted to take the underground to  Portugalete but Viv was insistent on walking. We walked the East side of the river was boring and we had done it before so we elected to walk the west side. This, in hindsight, was an error. The first part, walking out of the town itself was fine. There were many parks and flower beds, but we soon got tangled up with the new roads. At one point we ended up in a dead-end part of town and had to back track to get back on the route. Then we came close to crossing the river on an arterial road, it was difficult to say the least. We came up behind two guys navigating with their phone and managed to get the drop on them when we took a short cut. Then when finally clear of the main roads we ran out of arrows.  Finally they took us down to the river in Portugalete, a pointless exercise, as we then had to climb back up. Thank heavens for the travelators. We bought some bread and meat at the bottom and stopped for some lunch halfway up the hill.

We stopped again at the top for some coffee and a comfort break.

View from our apartment in Playa de la Arena

The beach at La Arena

Enjoying a beer in Playa de la Arena

This time we did not stop at Ortuella as we had already stopped, maybe on our return. We did stop later just short of Kardeo in a nice spot by the houses with benches for us.

We managed to get an apartment at Apartmentos Playa de la Arena. Expensive for us but a nice luxury and the only place to stay here. Ate later at Maloka Sunset bar, a bit like the sunset bar in Ibiza, but we would not be staying up for the sunset. The need to be out early next day was too great. Viv likes the rice dishes here, but we came very close to getting three of them instead of two. I will have to be careful how I ask in future.


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The start

Since our second Camino I have had a desire to fill in the bits we missed. We missed the whole of the second half of El Norte because I got lots and ended up doing El Primativo. Then for logistical reasons we missed the high “Hospitales” route and did the lower Pola de Allande route. The history lesson that I had in Casa Ricardo inspired me ( Tineo to Pola de Allande 25.7 kilometres ) and I was determined to go over the top. So I booked flights out and two nights stay in Bilbao, and this time a return flight as well.

For some reason on the flight I was terrified, was it perhaps the program I had watched on the crashing Space Shuttles? I don’t know. I just know that I was happy to land despite the rough landing. There were no signs in the airport and I missed the loos. When a lady told me where they were I was just on the escalator. I suppose you should not try running up a down escalator in hiking boots, but I was desperate. Then when I tried to leave the loo the door again had no sign, I panicked when it would not open. How was I to know I should be pushing, not pulling.

The carousel for the bags was not signed either so further delays. Finally outside we were surrounded by autopistas and the GPS was not about to recognize an address in Basque. Time to admit defeat and take a taxi into town. We were running later than planned and there would be enough walking for us the next eight weeks.

Not sure if the guy at Pension de la Fuente remembered us, but we recognised him and already knew our way around the place. So we went out for some beer and then it was time for bed.

The following day we walked to the Guggenheim spent some time exploring the exterior but every source we had said inside was not worth the visit, so we just explored outside.  The Puppy was well worth seeing though, stainless steel  structure and planted with begonias.

We went to look at the Plaza del Torros as these are usually exceptional buildings, this one however was a disappointment. Built in the brutal style of it’s year 1968. Many beautiful buildings here, but this was not one of them. We finally managed to get that frozen yogurt though.

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I need just a bit more money before I go so a trip out is in order. Unusually for a Wednesday there was a queue, but I am in no hurry and am quite relaxed about it. The Argenpur office is one of the very few really efficient places here and the guy dealing with me was through the people in front in no time at all.

I stopped off at the Farmacia on the way back, as Viv wanted some baby oil. I took my number and stood by the counter to the right. The guy there said I should go to the end, then I was called back to the counter to the right. OK, no big deal. I asked for “aciete bebe” blank. I tried a slightly different pronunciation, still blank. “Entiendes aciete?” I tried “Si” she said “Bebe?” I tried, holding my arms in cradle fashion. She nodded, “Aciete bebe?” I tried again, Blank. Fortunately there was a guy who had served me before and directed her to the baby oil. I am sure he just said “aciete bebe” but what do I know. “Ochenta y sinco” she said  I took out $75 pesos, not enough so I offered $100. Then some woman behind me interfered and said that I had it grabbing my money and counting it. “solo Setenta y cinco” I said. I may not be able to pronounce like a local, but I can count. At least I now had what I came out for, but I was in a slightly less good mood than I had been.

Must be last week syndrome, but Viv did not do well in Milonga de Juan, I was having a great time. When he did the announcements he asked for any requests, there was a lot of shouting and I was not sure he heard me. After this there was a milonga and Viv had decided she had enough, she went for a coffee at Giucris. I danced the milonga with Mercedes and intended to follow, but straight after was Biagi. It seems that Juan had heard me and was doing my request, well I could not leave then so I did another tanda. I thanked Juan before I left and spent some time goodbyeing with the ladies.

After our coffee we took our things back to the apartment and headed out to HB. We had a salad and sandwich and mucho Cervesa. The Bill when it came was wrong but in my favour.  It left me room for a good tip but was still cheap. Viv seemed to think that it reduced the tip but I said it was $50 tip and $25 stupidity tax against the house. I gave the guy $600 and tried to ask him for $50 change he just said “I speak English”  Is it any wonder my Spanish gets no better?

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We took the subte down into town quite early as we did not want to miss any dancing, this was a mistake, as nothing here opens until Buenos Aires time. My second mistake was heading down Corrientes instead of Diagonal. I always seem to do this for some reason. Still, it only means an extra block and we got to walk past Confiteria Ideal.  Today, for the first time, we saw signs of work going on. The small door in the shutters was open and a guy in overalls was outside having a smoke. He raised no objection when I stuck my head in, so I had a good look. Not surprisingly they have altered nothing but it all looks repaired and new. The ceilings  are freshly painted and the plaster work is picked out in gold. Obviously there was a lot of scaffold and ladders,  but it does look very promising. I just hope that rumours about there being no dancing there are false. I so look forward to returning to this fabulous venue.

It was half ten and only one shoe shop was open, and there was not much in there. Vivs  favourite, Las Marianas, did have opening hours on the door 11:00 – 19:00. This being Argentina, there was no point waiting so we went to look for coffee.  Across the road, on Diagonal, we saw another The Coffee Store, so that was it then. Coffee and medialunas only $70. It is $72 just for coffee in Martinez. We wondered where this chain had sprung up from, but it seems it has been operating as a franchise since 1997. How have we missed it for so long? And these medialunas are to die for.

We got back and the eleven o’clock opening became ten to twelve, but it was worth it. Viv now has two extra pairs for dancing here.

Something happened in Nuevo Chique today, I am not sure what, maybe it is just us. The numbers were right down so dancing was easier, but something was missing. I was quite enjoying it, but Viv left at six thirty to go for a coffee, so, of course, I had to leave after a couple more tandas.

Viv had gone to the new coffee bar underneath, they had all but thrown her out and another guy had been refused “We are closing” they said. I don’t get it, the furnishings and windows must have cost a fortune, surely they need to recover as much money and as quickly as they can. We don’t expect this place to be here next year, and it will all be the governments fault, and the USA and, of course, The IMF Vultures.

Well it’s back to some fresh pasta and Viv’s Bolognese followed by Quilmes Negra. They see me most nights in the Chino, I’m sure they think I am alcoholic.

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Polyglot at fifteen

Well Monday at El Beso is always a bit different, today was no exception. This being the long weekend, I suppose it was inevitable. At the start there were more men than women, this gave Viv some new opportunities and left me, often, into the second track before I got a dance. After a while the numbers increased and it got quite difficult to dance. This was a whole new crowd though and it never got any easier for me. As the numbers increased Viv also had problems, so by six thirty, we were ready to leave.

It was over the road again to The Coffee Store. I got a Whatsapp message off Philippe  saying he would be at my apartment by seven thirty. That is a full hour before we had arranged. Then we got another message that he would be there in ten minutes. When we finally got there he was waiting outside with Walter and his daughter.

We dropped our shoes off and headed for the nearest Peruana. I was impressed with Walters Daughter she is Argentine by birth, but spoke German with him and perfect English with us. At her age I would not have been able to even say hello in Spanish.

As usual the portions were enormous and we drank plenty of beer to wash it down. (Daughter drinking water). As she had school the next day we were home early in time to watch The Pilgrimage on Youtube.

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Ultima Fulgor

Our last Fulgor and suddenly the numbers are up. I think it is the Easter effect, but still, it is encouraging. There were people we have not seen in a long time and a few we have never seen before. It remains to be seen if we will see them again.  Bebe was missing, Marian said she was on holiday, strange that last week she said she would see us.

We stayed longer and danced harder tonight, it is always best to go out on a high. There was a tanda of old D’Arienzo and I just did not recognize it, I asked Roberto and he thought it was Donato, until he checked. I guess even locals do not have perfect Knowledge. It is a long way from the days when he announced every tanda.

Playing this, I am sure I would have recognized D’Arienzo. It was definitely Comm Il Faut, maybe even earlier?

Leaving was a long drawn out affair, we have to kiss all the locals, then explain again that we will not be back until January. Then it was just the long walk home again.

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Good Friday

Well here it is our last Abrazo Tango.  I guess many over did it last week because the numbers were down. That did not stop us having a great afternoon though. We stopped off at Zivals first on the way, I have a list of music that I want. I was not expecting much, I have looked here before. So I was pleasantly surprised to get almost all that I wanted. That left me somewhat short, things have gone up here quite a bit.

Same old story, many of our old favourites missing, but we got many new dances instead.

I had enough left though for our entrada and drinks. Already there are many goodbyes, many we see only here and will not see again. We stopped on the way home for some cake and coffee, this being Good Friday and all. No Easter eggs as the chocolate here is not to our taste, hopefully there will be some reduced price Cadbury’s when we get home.

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