Tue 3rd May

Non descript eggy cheesy sandwich thing was not the best breakfast ever,but I suppose if you have to prepare it a day in advance and keep it warm for thirteen hours in the back of a plane that’s as good as it gets. I don’t like flying, you might have guessed, but it is a means to an end.

Quarter past nine we arrive at Schipol. Then we need to go through security again. I have never understood why after all the security we have gone through we have to go through more when we get off the plane.

After me telling everyone how great this airport is, it looks like it has changed for the worse. The Asian restaurant requires a mortgage just for one course and our favourite coffee bar is no more.

We found The Rijks Museum. It has moved but still the same quality in the shop and an exhibition of women in art. One painter at the time of Van Gogh was selling her still lives for fantastic amounts.

I also found Murphy’s bar but it is shut. No opening date. We stopped for a rest on the D wing as I sat there a whole host of Japanese passed hazmat suits face masks gloves shields. While face masks are to be worn here, I think this is a bit over the top.

Now my phone is dead. My charger is in the case so not accessible and even if it was I can’t plug it in here. So I invest in a new one. There is a place called travel electronics. I go in and ask for a Samsung charger, it cost me 25 euro. I figure it is OK as I can use it any time I am on the continent. I tried it for fit before I left. In Starbucks I can plug it in. Then I find it is not a fast charger. Still I use it again at the gate while we wait and my phone is over 60% by the time we fly.

All goes well at Manchester and we are soon home. Today was our wedding anniversary.We have to make do with Fish and Chips from The Yew Tree takeaway. Maybe not the finest Anniversary. Meal ever but one I will remember long into the futute.

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Mon 2nd May

Its our anniversary tomorrow, looking at Schipol Airport I cannot see anywhere good for food. Maybe we will have to delay celebrations for a day. Viv is not happy, although she was quite happy celebrating her birthday with the Australians and pizza she was hoping for something more. This time though it is definitely “no me culpa”.

First job is I must shower while Viv puts the bedding in the machine, then I make coffee while she showers. There will be three loads for the washing machine and while the electricals are packed and the bathroom stuff, the second load goes in.

By ten thirty we were all set. Five to and the wash finished. We put the final load in and sent Walter a message that he will have to take it out. Then as we hung up the sheets the taxi arrived. So we had almost no hanging around.

Quite a queue at the airport, but it was only quarter past twelve when we headed for departures. Viv wanted to stop at Hard Rock before we went through. Both of us needed the toilet and there was not one here so we went through.

Usual chaos at security, but this feels more like a regional airport, so despite one guy dropping his tickets in panic we were not delayed long. Down on the concourse we found Natural Market, “alimentos que nos hacen bien,”. We had a hot chicken sandwich and coffee. It was good although not exactly what I had in mind.

Now we have plenty of time, so I have a wander. I notice another place where I could have had an Argentine breakfast. I think what we had may have been better, but it was a shame to miss the last opportunity.

I looked at the aftershave as well, 50 dollars looked a trifle steep to me, I can get it on Ebay for less than £30. Then Viv popped to the toilet and when she came back she said that the board said “boarding” I was not unduly concerned. I stopped for a final visit then joined the queue. It seemed to move quite quickly and soon we were fully installed.

In no time we were in the air. The films have been updated since we flew out so I got to see Belfast and No Time To Die as well as Richard Says Goodbye, a dark comedy about a man dying of cancer, it was a lot better than it sounds. And I saw King Richard, about the Williams sisters,

I get no sleep, I find these seats so uncomfortable. The service was poor as well tonight in the past we had drinks and ice cream at night, this time they just came around with a sandwich. With not enough to drink a sandwich was the last thing we wanted.

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Sun 1st May

Got up to the alarm today, I sat at the computer waiting for check in to open. I was still not allowed.to choose the seats to Manchester, probably because it is too soon. At least I am now booked on the flight to Schipol.

Next job was to order the taxi. Luckily Viv had a note of the people we use and the number is in my phone. I ordered it on line then checked with Whatsapp. We are now all good to go.

Throw some stuff in the cases then out again to Martinez. Our complex order is filled first time. Looks like it is going to be a good day.

I saw a massage place in Palermo and when Viv sent me out to give her some peace, I thought I would give it a try. They were fully booked until tomorrow morning. So that’s out for me. Only two thousand for a full hour, I doubt it will still be this cheap next year.

Later I went out again with Viv, hoping for a drink in the sun. The bars on Guardia that were open seemed to have private parties. So we walked back up Humahuaca and tried Naranja y Flor. There were seats outside but there was no sun.  I had a plan B we went to sit in Patio Salguero and I bought some ice cream from Daniel. Individual ices did not look good value so I bought two quartet kilo tubs. In the polystyrene it does not melt so we could eat it slowly.

Later after we had packed we went to Kentucky again. I was hoping to go to the Mexican but this is now Vivs favourite place. We are getting good service now that they know us. It is just a shame they have no black beer and the internet does not work.

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Sat 30th

Well we should have been flying today, so now we have the luxury of a free day. Weekends have never been good milonga wise for us so it’s “a what to do?” day.

We started as usual for weekends in Martinez. To make it clear if I do not qualify it otherwise, I am talking our local on Bulnes y Corrientes, otherwise I would say where it is. The yogurt saga continues, we asked for two yogurt, one without banana. Coffee and medialunas as well. For once we actually got two yogurt, both without banana.  But two for the first time no medialunas though but lets be positive. We asked the mosso for the medialunas and we had our breakfast. Best yet they must be getting to know us.

So we sat for a while Viv reading her kindle book and me trying to catch up on the blog. We had another coffee to keep us going, then went back to use the bathroom and get some more money. Viv also put on some warmer clothes.

We.headed down to Palermo, it was a day for mooching. Viv found a tango skirt in an off street market stall. We were talking about people not listening to musicians, then right on cue there was a fantastic jazz guitarist on the street. We stood and listened for a while, clapping when he stopped. I dropped him a hundred, about fifty pence, but a lot more than the others had left him.

Then we went to Sullivan’s I just wanted coffee and the toilet, but Viv saw the cheese scones. So we had coffee juice and two huge scones each. I noted there was a time that everywhere we went it cost us a hundred, now it is two thousand.

We walked home stopping off here and there. We washed and got ready to go out, but the planned trip to the Mexican was cancelled, we were still stuffed after those scones. I guess we just can’t eat as much as we used to.

At Vivs suggestion we went to 1810 instead. Now normally I would walk along Cordoba and turn down Julian Alvares, but Viv was striding down Salguero. Normally its a quicker route but harder to navigate. I know I should have taken control sooner, but I thought we were OK. I had not checked the address or the route. So when Viv said do you know the number on Aroaz I said no, but I will know it.

The brighter among you will have already spotted the problem, but we had not. We walked down Aroaz then walked back to Gascon. I knew it was not this far up so we set off back down again. At this point Viv said “is it on Aroaz or Julian Alvarez?” doh we walked along Guatamala and there it was.

Usually we have empanadas but still stuffed with the scones we ordered lentejas and salad. “Salad no hay” so it was just lentejas then. Unusually we finished with a pudding.. We could not understand all the options so asked for an English menu. Just like that, still did not understand, there was no real translation for the items we did not know, so we settled on flan. Here it is made in a big ring and you get a segment, it is a lot bigger than your usual small bowl shaped flan, but somehow, we finished.

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Friday 29th

Just one important thing to do today, I must check in on line for the flight. It all went smoothly until I realized I had only checked in for the Manchester flight. I backtracked and.I was not given the option for the Amsterdam flight and I got the message “este vuelo no es disponable” nice that they switch to Spanish when it is a problem.

Well I tried three or four times without success. I tried everything I could think of, then I tried Messenger. It was an automatic response, and it looks like “why have you cancelled my flight” was not on the question list. So I tried internet shouting. “I NEED A NEW FLIGHT NUMBER, NOW, OR YOU WILL LOSE A LOYAL CUSTOMER” Well that got a response. “It looks like we cannot sort your problem, we will connect you to an operator, but it may take some time.

An hour later we went to Martinez for breakfast still clutching my phone. I can get internet there, but it made no difference, I still had no reply.

I was not about to waste the day, but fortunately I got a response while Viv was in the shower. My flight had been cancelled and the next available is Monday. Just as well I have my own place and we are still, just, within the 90 days.  So I said OK go ahead and email me the flight details. It seems that Messenger is a social media site and they cannot email. Now I was really angry. We had more back and to and she (I don’t know why I assume it was a she). Finally she realized if she booked me on the flight then I would get email confirmation.

It went right up to the wire, but by two thirty we managed to get out. So we missed half an hour of El Abrazo, but at least we were here and we have a flight.

The dancing went well today, maybe the men realize it is their last chance. It went a bit flat for Viv after an hour or so but then picked up again. One of her favourites Rene introduced us to his son. He wanted to practice his English, but for me the Spanish from Rene is always very clear.

Again by the time Viv was fed up, I was.exhausted. The sorteo started and we escaped to Martinez on Callao. We tried a burger thing with chips. Unusual here to get chips, so we enjoyed it. We did have to move seats though. Here nobody seems to notice the smell of the toilet. We now have mental maps of several places, how to avoid the toilet smell.

We were due to meet Walter at eight thirty and we were running well ahead so we walked back. I have been stubbornly resisting the “hace frio” brigade, but at fourteen and windy, my short sleeves and thin pullover are now not enough. So we decided to go home and change.

As we passed Aport Viv noticed one empty table. She went in and ordered a beer while I went home to change. I donned some thicker trousers and my Kelloggs 30year fleecy jacket, then went back to Aport.

Viv had some Irish Stout, but had seen the Stella Noire. So when she had left and Walter arrived I ordered a Stella, but the kind guy I am, I drunk her stout and saved the Stella for Viv.

Well fortunately, it seems Walter will be OK until Monday. I dread to think what will happen if we have further problems. He is always good company and the music is good in here. We finally left him to walk home saying we will meet again next year.

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Thurs 28th

Took a walk down Salguero just to see what was going on. There were numerous large tree branches down from the storm the other night and one of the electricity poles was badly damaged and being replaced. The diversion signs have gone at our end but the last block to Cordoba is blocked completely. They are digging a big hole no idea what for but by the size of it I would say some sort of drain.

I bought just one apple and banana today. I did not have enough change and had to give him a thousand. I gave them all the loose change and what I already had. I know it looks mean, but they are always short of change and they did appreciate it. I wished them well and promised to see them next year.

We were welcomed warmly as we came to Nuevo Chique and the day started well. The floor took its toll and damaged Vivs sole, but it managed to last out the evening. She danced non stop again. I struggled to keep going, my stamina had reached an end. I thought I would sit out a tanda, but Toolia had other ideas. She was giving me an irresistible mirada, so I had to get up. We were talking as the cortina came on and I was about to escape to the toilet and Biagi came on. Well there is no escape for me when Biagi is on so I carried on. Then came a milonga that Viv just had to do.

Now I could rest, except it was D’ Arienzo no rest again. After this I ran for the toilets. Marcela was amused by the state of me, but I needed a break. After this there were only a couple of tandas and then Pugliese. Viv had her tanda with Miguel then we decided to leave. It took us so long saying goodbye that Marcela was out after the sorteo, then further delay. It really is nice to be that well thought of. Marcela did not even realize that the tourist visa only lasted 90 days. She kept asking why we have to leave.

We left with Geoff and Ann from Austrailia. We all headed for Kentucky on Corrientes and  Parana. We often stop and talk so this was an opportunity to properly catch up. We ate pizza exchanged numbers and made a tenuous arrangement to meet up.

Eating here is always a compromise. There was no black beer so we ordered Moscato. Then they had no salad but we stopped for a pudding and they did have bread pudding.

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Wed 27th

Woke up this morning to find big diversion signs on the corner. I had though this would mean some quiet, how wrong can you be? They have closed Salguero in front of us, now all the traffic must go along Guardia to Medrano, a route already congested. Now we have two gridlocks meeting outside our apartment, with two whistling policemen who cannot be heard above the car horns.

Got myself a final haircut this morning. It has gone up now 700, less than three quid if you are checking.  Well why pay more than double at home. The older guy did it this time, Viv agrees that it is a better job.

Viv has started packing away so not much fun stuff until tonight.

We set off for Sueǹo tonight but take a different route again. This time we take the B line down to Alem and then the E line back up to Independencia. This seems a more satisfactory route, it takes a couple of minutes longer than the C line route, but we miss the long underground walk and the crush at Diagonal Norte.

Last week in here we had the usual waiter problems, I forgot when I got home, but it was too good to leave out. I asked for a water then another para mi mujer. I pointed Viv out. I got my water but Viv did not I asked again, he asked me where, I pointed to Viv and she waved. By now I was getting annoyed, so I asked for another. It took him an age, then in the meantime a waitress finally served Viv. Now finally my waiter had deigned to get me a bottle. I had to stand up the frantically waving to him that I no longer wanted it.

This week Vivs waitress never asked her to pay and I was able to pay both at the end. Always the last week they get things right.

Vivs harem get up got her a few dances, but she was not putting a lot of effort in, but we still stayed until ten thirty. I followed her to Bar Seddon then realized I had left my glasses. So I left her to order and returned to pick them up.

We walked over to Independencia to catch a taxi again. I don’t know if we were about to get scammed, but the taxi turned early. I asked what he was doing, and he said he was going up Rivadavia. Well we crossed Constitution then up Rivadavia, All the while I gave a running commentary on the route. In the end this new route was only marginally longer and as I always round up, no difference to the price. It just shows though, you have to be aware.

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Tue 26th

There is a shop on the next block. It took us a while to work out what it was selling and even longer to catch it open. Now we have Viv is constantly in there for ear rings. Well today it was the knitted toys she wanted, and what a decision it was. How to choose two out of so many.

We returned the toys to our apartment then set out again. Viv wants some Arab jewelry for Wednesday. So we set off for Scalabrini. We joined it too late and had to back track, but it did not take long to find the place. It was not next door to Canning as she thought,but a block higher up.

We walked in and were asked if there was anything particular we wanted. My Spanish is not good enough for this, so I gave my standard answer “solo mirando”. Then we saw the necklaces hanging, we got him to take down the one we wanted then we found a bracelet. Cheap as chips now. We saw some shawls hanging up, I said we should ask the price, but Viv said no. So we left with what we had. Half a block up there was more construction going on. As we navigated the barriers and planks, it gave Viv time to think. A thinking Viv is a dangerous thing. She decided that as it is her birthday this week I should buy her a shawl. So we went back.

As we could not have black we chose a red one. Then the guy disappeared and came out with a bra to go with the shawl. A step too far for Viv. Although I think she would look good in the full belly dancer outfit, she does not agree.

Nuevo Chique again started quiet. Viv was getting dances then it went barren. Not for long though, and in the end it was a great afternoon. We stayed right until the sorteo then beat a hasty retreat. We missed a 151 and a 90 passed just as we got to the stop. So we had a wait until another stopped.

I jumped on “Corrientes” paid then Viv followed “Corrientes” “no llego” he said “Once” now why I could go all the way and Viv could not I could not figure. “Termino a Once” he said again. I told Viv to just pay and we will see what happens.

Sure enough at Once some got off, the rest of us stayed on. The driver shouted “termino” well we weren’t going any further. At least I was not the only one confused. One lady stayed at the bus stop so we stayed with her. Another 151 was not far behind so we jumped on, unsure whether this would carry on or stop here as well. We need not have worried, this one took us home. This now cost us double bus fare though. Now who do I write to, to claim my 18pesos back?

Unable to decide, we took the easy option and went to Imaginario to eat. The food was the usual OK but the beer was not. It did not taste right, I think we are the only ones drinking this, so we left half the beer and went home for a can. Nobody now seems to serve decent beer, we are running out of places.

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Mon 25

We enter our final week, every milonga, except Tues will be a last. Sad time indeed. Where did that three months go? We have danced till we drop but have done little else this time. Covid fatigue has taken over and old friends have disappeared. Maybe next year more will return.

I saw Lucy this morning at the chino. I told her we leave this week, she said it had gone quickly. But I have seen little of her this time. As for Leo, at least I get some sort of acknowledgement these days, even if it is only a grunt.

ElBeso again today. If Quique Camargo does not recognize Vivien at least Susi remembers us. I now have my name on the table and so does Viv. I don’ t know why it is so hard to spell Vivien, nobody here seems to get it right, but Susi does.

The numbers were right down and never picked up. Viv recons that they had all used their weekly allowance to see the band on Saturday. Numbers may have been down but Viv was getting most tandas in. I was missing more than her because there were more men than women. Not normally a problem for me but most of the men were taxis. So they had their allocated women, meaning there were probably less than half a dozen free women. It is very hard to tell as they are sneaky and do not sit together.

We have learned to spot the taxis though. The women smile like a cat that got the cream. “Look at this beautiful man I am dancing with”  even had one say “oh he is fabulous”. Well all I can say is “If you are paying, it don’t count”. It’s OK to pay a taxi, I get it, just don’t pretend that you are something special, because we know.

So the feeling this afternoon was different. Viv got dances from men she would not have and in multiples. I too had to have multiple dances. So although we danced a lot, by six we had enough.

We left for a coffee. There is a diagonal street called Discopolo runs from outside El Beso to Callao, on the Callao end is a Martinez. We do not normally come this way but I spotted it on Sunday. They had no filled croissants but they did have pan de queso. So it was with a coffee.

We walked back up Lavalle just for a change and came back to Corrientes at Puerradon, then we carried on up to Kentucky on  Billinghurst. Viv now has a taste for their pizza, it is deep pan and well cooked.

Trouble here is there is no staff training. Last time the girl brought us the salad first and all the condiments. This time was a new lad. He brought us the salad with the pizza. No oil or vinegar then the drinks.

Then Viv had a chocolate mousse, not to be outdone I had sopa ingles. Just to confuse it is not soup and it is definitely not English. It is a layered cake with cream chocolate and dulche de leche. If that sounds heavy, it was. I struggled to finish, but Viv has this anti dulche de leche thing, so I got no help.

Again it was expensive, just over three thousand, a good thousand more than a good parilla. Remember though we had three courses and drinks and it is only twelve pounds.

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Sat 23rd

We set off for a return trip to Comm Il Faut. It was a bright day but only twelve degrees when we set out. Half nine and the subte is quiet but there is a delay between trains. Once out of the subte we tried to walk in the sun, so we did not stay on Uruguay. Viv gets confused when I change streets but I wanted to stay warm.

It was just after ten, and as I expected, nobody was here. I rang the door twice, no reply. So we walked down the stairs again expecting to sit on one of the benches in the passageway. Now service here is better than most Buenos Aires business, it was only five past and the girl arrived as we reached the bottom step.

I had a photo of the shoes, but it was still a difficult choice between two pairs. Then there was the matter of more holes in the straps, the shoes from last week needed holes as well. We were in and out before eleven.

Then there was just the matter of walking home. But first I diverted around to look for somewhere that I could not find. Then to Martinez on Talcahuano. So I ordered a cappuccino, a latte, two medialunas, a yogurt with fruit and a yogurt with cranberries. They still don’t write the orders down. It was no surprise when we only got on yogurt. There was some panic behind the counter, the word frutas came up quite often, but eventually we did get our breakfast.

On the way home I went to the carneceria and Viv went to Farmacity. Philippe had called while we were out but with no data connection I had missed him. Meanwhile Viv was struggling, because they were putting a new floor in Farmacity and all the stock was in a mess, so she returned empty handed.

We are not normally much enamored with tango orchestras in the afternoon, but today Los Reys are on at El Beso. So we will probably leave early.

Viv was off to a good start then tailed off. She picked up again before the band came on. When they started I had said I would dance with her, but she immediately got a dance. So I went off to find someone else. After she had done five tracks she sat down and then I got her up. She was up dancing then for most of the set. I was expecting to leave early but we just carried on. In fact we had arranged to meet Philippe so we had to leave in the end.

We walked up to Kentucky and had some pizza. Viv was impressed, but I had been trying to get her here since we arrived. All I really wanted was the bread pudding, but it was not on. So I had the tiramisu instead. Probably the dearest food we had, but it was three courses and only fourteen pounds worth.

When we finally got internet Philippe had gone to Marielas and wanted us to join him for food. He forgets that we do not have transport here, and anyway we had already eaten. So at nine o’clock, when we were supposed to be meeting for a beer we went home and had one out of the fridge.

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