Tag Archives: Cordoba

Little luxury’s

We are back at Spanish again. I have my old tutor back, which means I spend more time talking and less time on the theory. This suits me. Although I realize the necessity of the verbs, I need to better understand the basics first.
Viv, it seems is having similar problems. Too many conjugations and not enough comprehension.
Still when the torture is over and we had a rest, we headed off to Sala Siranush. It is always expensive here, so rather than just waste my money we elected to sit en junto.
It seems quite a friendly crowd, although as Canning proved, looks can be deceptive.
The tour group from the UK were here again, and again the men and taxis sat on the opposite side. When one of the ladies came over and asked me to dance, I felt guilty leaving Viv, but after all she was a pupil of mine.
No sooner was I on the floor than Viv had an invite. The same thing happened when I went to the toilet. Maybe we had misjudged this place. Despite its price we may come back. I was still surprised not to be invited to join the tour group though. After all, out of five ladies three of them had been to me for lessons and Viv really wanted to try dancing with one of the taxi dancers.
I think Viv enjoyed the luxury of having me to herself though.
The waiting staff here leave something to be desired. They take payment straight away, sometimes. At others they come back, as the waitress did with us. We had paid for our first drink but the second took her ages . Then she sort of forgot our change, as did I. I had to run back after leaving to collect it.
We left the ladies outside as they took a taxi cab back to their hotel. We did not have that luxury, we had our feet.
Still we stopped at a garage on Cordoba and had a medialuna as we walked. Some luxury’s are cheaper than others.
On our way home we found someone had dumped a water cooler on Salguero. It was too tempting, I took the bottle. It will be a perfect receptacle for our aircon waste water.

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Asado

We have not been getting any emails from the Spanish school. Today in a break in the class, I asked to be put back on their mailing list.
Daniella (The secretary ) told me that there was an Asado today, so I agreed to go.
Not until later did I find it was at Magdelena’s (The Principal) house at eight. This almost certainly meant we would not get to Fulgor tonight.
I devised a plan, we could catch the 106 collective and if it was late, get off at Cordoba y Salguero. The bus carries on from here so I could get off at Cordoba y Araoz for Canning or Ramirez y Malabia for Fulgor. Wherever we would go it would be juntos, it all depended on the time.
We had a great time and Gaston cooked the food beautifully. The time however marched on. We gave a bit of a tango demonstration, but the floor area was very limited and it was slippery. All the time I had trouble staying upright. Everyone seemed impressed, although I think the alcohol helped.
The meat kept coming, and it got too late for Fulgor. It soon became unreasonable to go to Canning as well.
So when we finally left we decided to go straight home.
On Santa fe there was no sign of a 106 Parada. We crossed into Rodreguez Peña and two 106’s came around the corner. I still could not see a bus stop. I looked at the driver as he passed, and threw my hands up in resignation. He looked straight back at me, and I thought for just one moment he would stop. Not a chance, we watched the two busses drive off into the distance.
I checked every Parada and non said 106, so I asked a local couple. “proxima quadra” they said. We had walked almost to Cordoba before we found a bus stop.
It was late and busses get rarer the later you get. Possibly the only two out had already passed us, so we hailed a taxi.
We were picked up by Grandad from “Fools and Horses”. More white hair and beard than Santa Clause. I said to him “Bulnes y Guardia Vieja” just to keep the route simple.
We set off up Cordoba and had a short conversation about a cyclist and cyclists in general. Then he turned right into Mario Bravo “Donde vas?” I asked “Bulnes y Guardia Vieja es izquierda de Cordoba”. He babbled something about his GPS and a taxi firm on Bulnes. I have been given the run around before by taxi drivers and that is why, despite the reasonable price, I prefer not to use them. The meter showed $40 and he knew he was caught, so he said he would fix the price at $40.
After we had done a loop, he passed a taxi place on Mario Bravo y Guardia Vieja, which he pointed out. I declined to tell him that this was also on the left of Cordoba and gave him a $50 note. Well it is only £2.50 and we had an almost free night.
A note for any visitors “Get to know the streets and Watch the Taxi drivers”

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Palace de Aguas

We had seen it many years ago, and did not know what it was. When we did find out it was time to go home. So it has been on my places to visit for many years, we just never got around to seeing it.
We got off the subte at Callao and back tracked one street to Riobamba. We passed a similarly grand college building and as we passed, the Palace de Aguas came into view. If anything it was even better from Riobamba than Cordoba. (Full title is Palace de Aguas Corrientes, or Palace of running water)

Palace de Aguas from Riobamba

Palace de Aguas from Riobamba

The entrance is on Riobamba anyway, so we arrived right at the front door, where it said “Museo entrada libre”. So that was good, but once I was inside I did not know where to go.
The ground floor seemed to be filled with counters. It looked like people came here to pay their water bills. Around the corner we found a guard and he directed us to the lift. I felt stupid as there was a sign by the lift which clearly said “Museo primera piso”.
Once on the first floor there was another guard, he wanted a passport or photo identification. This is the first time this on vist that this has happened to us, I really though they had finally dispensed with all this nonsense, so we no longer carried our passports.
I gave him my best Doe eyed look and said “No tengo” so he let us through anyway.
Once inside we were approached by a Guide and she took us, along with another couple, through to the tanks. Everything was in Spanish so I had to translate for Viv. It is all improving my Spanish no end.
Basically the place was built by the British, with bricks made in San Isidro and steel from Belgium. The building is beautiful and decorated with Royal Dolton embellishments. There are four sets of three tanks. The three on top of each other, with manual control of the filling. When It was built it was higher than anything in Buenos Aires and so could supply water to the whole city. The tanks held 7.48 million gallons. (Working from memory here, so forgive me if I am slightly inaccurate.)
The water was pumped from the river and filtered at Recoletta.
The tank room, showing eight of the tanks. The four lower ones have been removed. the remaining six would have been behind us.

The tank room, showing eight of the tanks. The four lower ones have been removed. the remaining six would have been behind us.

The remaining floor, we thought, would make an excellent milonga.
We then had time to look around the museum. Lots of old toilets taps and other plumbing accessories. For me though it was the big pumps that were the highlight. I suppose for Viv it was the old offices.
On our way out I got in trouble for taking a photo of the floor. It seems I was not allowed to take photos where people were paying their bills.
We rested a while in Parque Rodreguez Peña, before taking some refreshment in Viamonte.
Funny but it was more expensive than Palermo, but we found out that hey have Paella Velenciano, it has to be worth a return trip for that.
We managed to get Viv some of her special shampoo on Corrientes and some Yogurt pants, whatever they are.
Quite a successful trip out but I wanted some hamburgers from the local chino. The butcher was not there and everything was put away, because there was yet another power outage.
We took the subte to Nuevo Chique again, and once again I had a great night. Viv meanwhile had an awful seat. I could not see her without standing. So I was surprised to Hear how well she had done. She said she had only missed two tandas.
On our way back to catch our 151 we noticed almost all the shops and bars up to Congreso had generators outside them. The infrastructure here is falling apart.
Never mind our power is still on and so is the other chino. The one that has fresh bread, So while we needed milk, the bread needed us to eat it.
Warm bread for supper……………Hmmmm.

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Polvo de Caro

This electric bill is causing problems way above it’s weight. The Coreo again has no power, I remember there being a hoo ha of astronomic proportions at home when the Post Office was shut for one afternoon, here it has been shut for three days now because of a power cut and no one seems that bothered.
I eventually found a PagoFacil but the sign on the door said something of the order “Pay your bills of $40 or more here” mine of course is only $34 so I guess that is out.
Viv needed some face powder and as we were unsuccessful finding Avon se wanted to try the Abasto Centre. We passed Banco Frances and I said she should draw more money, she then dropped the bombshell that she had not brought her card with her.
Needless to say there was nothing in The Abasto at a sensible price so we had to walk back to our apartment again to retrieve her card.
There was little point in going back again so we took the subte to Pueyrredon. Line H is not finished yet and so we could not link here to Santa fe so we got out and walked. Now anyone who has ever used a subte will understand how you can get disoriented when you surface.
We walked along Pueyrredon, I thought and stopped at an HSBC. The Atm refused to give Viv any money. Annoyed I took her card and protested to a member of staff. Fortunately his English was far better than my Spanish, but his understanding of their system was no better than mine. After he tried two machines he gave up and said that there is a Banco Frances two blocks further on.
Again there was no trouble here, I am going to have serious words with my bank when I get home.
When we came out of the bank, to my consternation, I saw a subte sign. “That should not be here on Pueyrredon” I thought. It was at this point I realised we had walked down Corrientes instead and were just following the subte route instead of walking across towards Santa fe.
Time was now too short so we decided to head straight for the school and our asado. We stopped at a kiosco for some drinks and caused chaos, because the fridge was in the doorway and no one could get passed as we tried to decide what to have. The Guy kept shouting “Abri la porta” at me, and queues were forming inside and out.
Eventually we arrived with our precious drinks at about quarter to one, in plenty of time. We spent a pleasant, if somewhat hot hour and a half, on the roof. Eating a range of meats and guzzling down our drinks. Like everyone else we spent most of the time looking for shadows to hide in, from the sun.
My carnivorous lusts sated, we headed off again down Santa fe, in the sun. It doesn’t make good blogging but we found Avon and Viv was able to choose her powder from a catalogue. Apart from the meagre size everything went well.
It was now a bit of a trek home but we found an Ice Cream shop on Cordoba just before Billinghurst. Only Five or so blocks, then we can have a siesta.
As we rush down to the bus stop we see first one 168 pulling away, then another arrived, but our rush to catch it was in vain. There was no way he was stopping.
So when the next one finally arrives, Viv told me she did not have her SUBE card with her. I had enough on my card for three journeys, not enough for four. I was mad this meant we would probably have to walk home.
Obalisco is very busy on a Friday. From my seat it was very difficult to get dances and I usually had to wait until the first track was almost over to get a dance. I could not see Viv at all from where I was and she also did rather badly. To top it all I never managed to attract the waitress and sat there all night without a drink.
When we finally left, we started to walk along Entre Rios and then I saw a Locotorio with a SUBE sign on it. I never expected to be able to charge my card up this late at night.
Of course, as we left a 151 went past. He was stopped for some time but the stop was too far for us to reach in time.
After a while I noticed that there was another stop for the 168/90, so thinking that busses are infrequent this time of night we stood there. Then a 151 flew past, I tried to stop him, but he was going like he had a rocket up his arse.
As there was a queue at this stop we thought it best to wait nearer the 151 stop and eventually another 151 came along.
It was with some relief that we finally arrived outside our door.

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Don’t ask a foreigner for directions

A quiet day we stayed at home to do some cleaning and preparation for the painting to come. We did go out to the supermarket though, as we are out of food and not restocked after Cordoba.
We faced the usual queues, even though we used the rapid queue for 15 items or less we still queued for more than 15 minutes. Then they did not have change, it is a wonder they ever get anything done here.
We got a message from Pauline and Geoff that they were going to Ideal, unfortunately we always go to Fulgor on a Sunday, except in very exceptional circumstances.
Then Viv was suddenly ill, we don’t know if it was something she ate, but it looked doubtful we would get out at all. Thankfully she made a rapid and sudden recovery, so we set off again for Fulgor.
We met Bob and Elsa outside and we entered again to much kissing. Sometimes I wonder if they all completely mad here, us included. They played something about Feliz Año for the Cortina and everyone was clapping, so being as mad as them we joined in. They may be all crazy by they certainly lift our spirits.
I had decided to have an alcohol Marian had already opened a bottle of beer for me, how could I now refuse?
I had never heard of Fernet before Cordoba, tonight I won the sorteo and my prize was a Fernet and Coke. I was going to be staggering home.
Halfway along Humahuaca a delivery guy on a bike asked me for Cordoba y Pueyrradon. I first struggled with my right and left I pointed him in the direction of Cordoba and said it was left, pointing my right hand then said “Lo siento derecha”. Then I realised that as he was driving he could not go down Cordoba. I did not know the right words but I think he understood what I meant. I told him to go down Humahuaca until he came to Pueyrradon.
Later Viv said “can he go all the way down?” and I realised to my horror that the Abasto is in the way. At least I had told him where the two roads were he would have to find his own way. Serves him right for asking a foreigner.

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Back to Buenos Aires

We shared a last drink with Roger at the bus station, then it was time to board. there was much man hugging and we waved him goodbye as the bus pulled out.
Our last trip we were downstairs, but now we were on the top. Right next to the girl with the microphone. I really did not know how to react to the bible reading, especially as I could only understand every tenth word or so. I also did not realise when she had gone into prayer mode, at least until she said amen.
The food was ok, at least a lot better than you get on National Express. funny how the serve a cold meal followed by a hot one. We were ready this time though and saved our cake until after the meal.
I was constantly disturbed during the night, by the toll booths, the stops for passengers and the traffic lights. Funnily enough though I still felt rested when we arrived at Retiro.
On leaving the bus we were immediately accosted by Remis drivers. I asked at the booth, “Quanto a Almagro?” “$120” too much we turned away.
We had come down in the heaviest traffic and it only cost us $85, so we went outside to find a taxi.
The taxis would not pick us up from here, we were told to go downstairs. There there was a big queue but it soon dissipated and we were soon in a taxi. Our very first female driver.
I wondered how she would cope, but she seemed totally unfazed by the aggression normally shown to drivers here. In fact she negotiated very smoothly through the tightest of gaps.
She drove us straight up Cordoba, left into Bulnes then right into Guardia Vieja. Perfect route, no detours and very quick.
Only $65 I asked if she had a card as I would use her again but she had non, shame.

While going out for a picture hook Sebastian accosted me, he had a parcel too big to go under the door. It was some decorations sent by Dave and Alma (Thanks) unfortunately they must have arrived after we left, so too late for Christmas. Shame again.

We need some food before we go out and we don’t have a thing in. So it is off to the local amacen for some bread and cheese to toast.
I never quite get the hang of these places. I bought the bread then had to queue for the cheese, then go back to the till to pay. So here we go “Medio kilo Mar del Plata por favor” The girl took the chunk of cheese it weighed 650 grams. It would have done me but no. she went to the back and found another block. I have never seen anything quite so remarkable, she cut a chunk off and put it on the scale. It was not 499.5 or 500.5 but dead on 500 gram. Amazing, and it toasted beautifully as well.
We went back to El Arranque today and enjoyed some excellent dances, they are so friendly there.
By 7:30 though Viv had had enough so I was given my marching orders. We set off for 1810 and some empanadas and lentils.
Sat there by the window we were fascinated by the street scene; an old woman dragging a huge bucket, she seemed to be having some difficulty. She left the bucket opposite where we were sitting and carried on farther down the street. She came back after a while with a broom and proceeded to sweep the road. Then she disappeared again coming back with what looked like some rags. She pushed the rags into the bucket with the broom handle.
It was like she was doing the washing. Finally satisfied she sat and waited, I said “perhaps she is waiting for the rinse cycle”.
Turns out the bucket was, full of water, because then she tipped it over the pavement. She then proceeded to take all her items away.
When we had finished our meal we walked back and found her filling the bucket again from an outside tap.
I have no idea why she did not do what she had to do by the tap, or why she was cleaning the road, or even if she was actually doing any washing. It is all a mystery.

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Last day in Cordoba

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RIMG1400Roger called us in the morning, suggesting we go out for a last walk into town. There is a house there which is the oldest house in Cordoba and filled with items from the very earliest times here.
First though we had a chance to view Rogers Bandoneon. It is a beautiful instrument, that simply begs to be played. I am afraid it did not exactly sound like Troilo in my hands, but it is such a fine thing that even I could not make it sound bad.

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DSCF0500When I could drag myself away we headed off to town.
Our arrival at the house was badly timed and we had only half an hour before closing, so we had to make the most of our viewing time.
The whole house was more or less original apart from the cabinets with what can only be described as museum pieces. Some of the revolvers and pistols were fascinating, though Viv preferred to look at the 18th century bedding.
The building itself was fascinating, but the amount of religious imagery was hard to believe. The beds were quite ornate, with very sparse soft furnishing. Viv was the only one to get into the main salon area, when she came out to call us to see it they locked it up, so we knew we had little time to see the rest of the house.
We decided to go to where we had had pizza the other night for lunch. After some confusion we found the place and sat waiting. Then we waited some more. Just as we thought we would walk away we finally got a waiter. I told him what we wanted but he just left us a menu.
When he came back, I told him again, but before I got to the drinks he said something I did not understand. Roger then told him we wanted beer and agua con gas. Roger has a better ear for the Cordoba dialect he told me the waiter said “gaseosa?” It can be hard enough to follow what they say without them trying to put words into my mouth.
Anyway we waited again, and we waited. Finally as he rushed past Roger shouted “Señor cervesa?”. “si” he said then left us to wait again.
By the time our beer came we were ready to just leave. Good job we are on holiday not lunch break.
Finally our pizza came and it was as good as last time. Or was it the longing that improved the flavour?
Finally satisfied we set off back to have a rest and prepare for the long journey back to Buenos Aires.
Looking forward to our prayers before supper on the bus. Next post Buenos Aires.

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First day of 2015

Viv was not for getting up today. Amazing what a bit of Champagne can do.
When eventually I coaxed her to have some porridge she left most of it.
Then Roger called and asked if we fancied going out for some lunch. We had only just had breakfast and were still stuffed with the food from Tito’s last night.
Roger explained that there was a village that was almost entirely Italian and they had the best pasta. Also it would take us an hour to get there so we should be OK by then.
It took us a while to get ourselves together so it all helped to give us time for some appetite.
We drove across some open Pampa and passed many shanty’s. Then on the autopista the police stopped us. It seems on new years day they were just bored and wanted to look at Mirta’s new Toyota. After some banter they sent us on our way.
We noticed that there was not much open anywhere along the route. When we finally got to the Italian village there was nothing, not even a kiosco open.
We stopped at a hotel that looked open, but the food was only for family. After some time we saw a load of cars parked by the road and in between them saw the sign “El Farol” and another that said “Abierto” bingo.
Trouble was this was not pasta but a parilla. We had come this far in search of food so here we were stopping.
Viv was still not hungry so she just had some chips with egg on the top. The three of us elected to have the parilla.
The first course was the steak, and once again I am impressed that nowhere in the world is there steak like Argentine Steak.
Then we had lomo, followed by black pudding, then sausage and finally ribs. all the time I was feeding Viv titbits. At first she was not that interested, but eventually she started to feel much better.
The guy doing the cooking spoke excellent English and we enjoyed a long Spanglish conversation.
I am afraid I failed on the ribs, it was just too much on our second day of meat fest.
After a rest we went to do some more exploring. Without a map it was easy to get lost and we never found what we were looking for. We looped around this side of the city and eventually got back to where we were more comfortable.
We found a small bar, but Viv’s desire for some medialunas was not going to be satisfied. “All the bakers are closed señor” so she had to be satisfied with toast. We had some very nice fresh orange though.

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Año Nuevo in Cordoba

Early in the morning Roger called, to say he would like to take us around the sights and give us a better view of the place.
Well we had our porridge and met him downstairs. After a few false starts we finally set off down the steps and towards town.
When Roger mentioned the bus, we thought he was joking, but he wanted us to see what the Cordoba busses were like. It was without doubt a fine bus, with quite luxurious seats, but I still think we could have walked in the time we waited. still this is no time to complain, he is showing us Cordoba after all.
In town we walked toward Plaza San Martin. Roger stopped to talk to the tourist police, who complimented him on his Spanish. They also told him that today (New Years Eve) is classified as a holiday and as such the tourist information and all the museums are closed.
It looked like being a fruitless day. Never the less we saw many of the sights from the outside and even the old hotel where he stayed on his first visit.
There was not much happening so we set off for Barrio Guemes, which is Cordoba’s equivalent of Palermo. We saw the café Arrabal, which is a famous tango spot. Arrabal was almost the only place open.
So we set off for another spot, whose name I cannot remember. There is a church here supposedly quite important, although non of us knew why. The area was full of bars and restaurants and some entertaining sculpture. There was also a musical fountain, but today is a holiday, so it was not working. (Even machines, it seems, do not work holidays.)
Our next stop was Parque Sarmiento, a lovely spot around a snaking lake. It was spoiled somewhat by the amount of litter in the water. We wandered around and managed to get lost. The snaking lake would not let us out. We decided that our guide was not worth his expensive fee and should refund us forthwith.
When we finally got out we found a nice open air bar and had an enjoyable burger each and shared a litre of beer. This is the life.
After this our guide managed to get us back. We hailed a taxi. I think this is cheating, I am sure Livingston never hailed a cab in his search for the Nile.
We are off to Tito and Carmen’s house for new years celebration. We met Carmen, a friend of Mirta in 2008, she came with us to Tigre.
The house was full of her family, but they all welcomed us, as if we were always part of them. The array of food was unbelievable. We had more pork, goat, veal, lashings of salad and of course muchos vino.
Tito seemed embarrassed when I said that Viv did not like wine and sent his son out to buy some beer.
Everything went well until midnight. They had the obligatory fireworks,(Fuegos artificiales) then out came the champagne.
Viv seemed to quite like the champagne, but, I don’t think she was quite prepared for the effect.
Everyone was quite worried when we said we would walk home “Es peligroso” they all said, but a walk in the fresh air was just what she needed.
We got home without incident. Well apart from the occasional stop for Viv to get her bearings back.
I have to thank Tito and Carmen for a great night, and hope that they have forgiven us for leaving early.
Gods fireworks knock spots of the Fuegos Artificiales. Later in the night we had the mother of all storms. One lightening strike was so close I felt the building shake and I could hear not delay in the thunder clap.
Storms don’t usually bother me, but that one scared the hell out of me.

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A day in Cordoba

Anyone who knows me, knows that I hate bananas. To be more correct, they hate me. If I eat one, even if I do not know, I will be ill for two days. Strange it is then that I have become obsessed with finding them.
From Roger and Mirta’s apartment, we only have to go down some steps and it is a short walk into town. last night I had the best pizza ever in Argentina, now we intended to explore further this city.
Too early in the day to buy bananas, but we at least now had seen where we could buy some.
Our first stop was the Jesuit Chapel only $10 entrada, but there was not a lot to see for the money. Still it was a cool place to sit and contemplate.
We soon ended up in Plaza San Martin (it seems every town in Argentina has one).
There were more photo opportunities. San Martin, himself, The Cathedral, to name but two. It was hot and we needed Ice Cream, unfortunately there was not any to be found. In the end we found a freezer in the back of a kiosco. On our search though we found a very good food shop and promised ourselves lunch there.
We carried on exploring and as we walked down 25Mayo Viv spotted Gran Hotel Victoria. Well I took some photos and we simply had to go in. There were two girls on reception “Hola?” one said. So I thought why not “Puedemos verlo?” I asked. “Si” she answered. So I just wandered around taking photos. I have to admit, it was nothing like I imagined. The central area was more like a conventillo,, but now they had covered it with a steel roof. (Recently by the look of it).
There was no sign of the sweeping stairways or the Greek statues that I had imagined. Still I was overjoyed to have found myself in this famous place.
We wandered around finding more churches to photograph, then headed back to San Martin.
We bought two bread rolls, the girl took them to the cashier. Then we wanted some meat, the hot cerdo was just too tempting. We had to get a butcher man to cut us some, then that had to go to the cashier. Trouble is that this is not actually the cashier, he wraps it and gives us a bill. Then we had to find the actual cashier, who obviously was not at the cash desk, but the other end of the shop. Viv said ” It will be stone cold by the time we get it”.
Well nothing is ever what you expect here, our “thin” slices were about half an inch thick and they had bone in them. When the meat was ripped off the bone and put in the roll, it was manner. You can’t beat sitting in the sun eating hot dead pig.
While sitting there we were visited by some pigeons. One cheeky chappy sat on the top of the bench, right by my shoulder. I broke off a piece of bread and he quite happily fed right out of my hand. I have never seen feral pigeons quite so tame.
On our first visit here Viv noticed a guy acting suspiciously. Now he seemed to have targeted us, so we headed off down Calle San Martin.
Suddenly there were more Ice Cream parlours than rivets in the Titanic. Then there was that man again, he had passed us while we were looking at the Ice cream and now he was looking suspicious again.
Further down the street and he was still tailing us. He had stopped in a doorway, so I stood in the street and stared straight at him. He knew I was watching him, but he never turned to me. He got the message and we did not see him again. If I had seen him again I was going to take his picture and send it to the police, they are very hot on tourist crime here, I understand.
Anyway we carried on down San Martin until we came to Humberto 1. I realised we had come to far for Viv’s bananas. So we had to back track. We found the Verduria but they had sold out. Now we had to begin the search all over again.
This evening Mirta invited us for supper. In the days when I worked a normal day, it became something of a habit that whatever Viv prepared for supper, I had had the same thing for lunch. Tonight Mirta gave us pork.
Gran Hotel Victoria

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