Monday, April 28, 2014

Cabo San Lucas

It had a long time since I visited Cabo San Lucas so I was looking forward to spending a long weekend there. Cabo is located on the Southern most tip of the Baja peninsula.  I was there for work, a sales incentive, so our company booked us at the Pueblo Bonito Pacifica which was a lovely adult-only resort. It was pretty tucked away and had a private beach although the water was too rough so we were not allowed to go in. The last time I stayed in Cabo, I stayed at the One and Only Palmilla. That resort is very tropical with tons of plants, trees and flowers. The Pueblo Bonito resort was more desert than tropical but still a very nice place to relax. 

View from my room.
 Around the resort.

It was amazing how high the waves came in and broke right where you would enter into the ocean.
 By car, it only took about 15 minutes to get to the marina and Marina Boulevard where a lot of the main restaurants and bar are located. Of course, no trip to Cabo is complete without visiting a few of their popular establishments.
Highly recommend visiting Cabo San Lucas and look forward to going back!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Touring Buenos Aires

There are so many wonderful areas within Buenos Aires to visit and with six weeks, I tried to visit most of them. Yes, some definitely are more touristy than others but I didn't mind. On Sundays, the Feria de San Pedro Telmo is one of the most touristy things you could do but great shopping can be done at reasonable prices. They have everything from antiques to amazing art pieces, souvenirs, leather items such as belts and purses, and lots of tango dancers on the streets providing entertainment.
Seltzer bottles are very popular in Buenos Aires. Apparently, the bottles of seltzer in siphon bottles are still delivered to people's doors much like milk used to be delivered in the United States.
Off the main street we enjoyed some a chorizo sandwich, drink and watched some tango dancers perform.
In many ways, Polo has made Argentina famous so when I found out they played between September - November I really wanted to go. We didn't know what to expect since neither of us have been but were excited to check it out. The Campo Argentino de Polo is located in Palermo and was walking distance from our apartment.
As you might imagine the grounds are emaculate and I felt like I was surrounded by the Buenos Aires elite. High end restaurants within the facility and liquor companies showcasing their products in upscale pop-up kiosks.
Time to watch some polo!

The last time we were in Buenos Aires was in 2010 for a long weekend and we visited the neighborhood of La Boca. It was drizzling that day so I wanted to go back and spend some more time.

The famous stadium La Bombonera were Boca Juniors play. The name translated in English is Chocolate Box. From my readings, it says it is due to the shape. The stadiums capacity is 49,000 people.
Down a few streets from La Bombonera is Caminito ("little walkway"). Another huge tourist spot but I loved looking at all the bright colorful houses.
There is a famous bookstore in Buenos Aires, El Ateneo. Located on Santa Fe Avenue, the building actually opened as a theatre in 1919. According to Wikipedia, the theatre has a seating capacity of 1,050 and held a lot of performances, including tango. The bookstore is also named Top 10 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the world.
We decided to attend a tango show before we left. It was a tough decision on which show to see since there are so many to choose from. All of them offer a dinner / show ticket but after reading so many reviews I opted for just the show tickets since the food did not seem to "wow" too many people and the tickets are expensive for mediocre food.

After much research, I chose Esquina Homero Manzi. It is located on the corner of San Juan and Boedo which is famous for the opening verse of the tango Sur, one of the best-loved songs in Buenos Aires and more importantly the corner and name of this restaurant is the author to those lyrics.
 My last weekend in Buenos Aires we went to Puerto Madero. I had heard mixed reviews of the area, mainly nothing really to see and restaurants are pricey but I wanted to at least check it out for myself. This area is definitely more contemporary and is considered one of the safest area in the city and highest property value among other Latin American cities.
There are large open boulevards, river views and trendy outdoor restaurants and bars.
 The Puente de la Mujer, Spanish for Women's Bridge, is a 335-foot-long suspension pedestrian bridge. It opened in 2001 and rotates 90 degrees to allow water traffic
So if you have time, I would highly recommend visiting some, or all, of these places while you are in Buenos Aires. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Exploring Palermo in Buenos Aires

Picking where we stay really depends on how close it is to Scott's office. In Buenos Aires, his office is in the Palermo neighborhood which is divided into several subdivisions. It is the biggest barrio in the city with plenty of boutique hotels, hostels and apartments. Since Scott is here for an extended time, he decided to move into a furnished apartment and asked for my assistance. I have a couple "go-to" sites I always use and would highly recommend. The site I used for here was Airbnb. Other sites I use are VRBO and Roomorama.

 Palermo is also full of restaurants (casual and upscale), pubs, disco clubs and shops all surrounded by beautiful old colonial homes with balconies and huge trees. There is a lot of graffiti in the area, some good and some not so good, so the area also has some 'grittiness' to it. We are staying in the subdivision called Palermo Hollywood. It got its name in the mid-nineties when a lot of TV and radio producers moved into the area.

We live on Nicaragua street in a building that was formerly the Hollywood Suites and Lofts. Our area has all the necessities of the PorteƱo lifestyle - cafes, grocery stores, restaurants, laundry, fruit and vegetables stands and salons.
I can't get over how massive the trees are that line the residential sidewalks.
 Only appropriate that we live across the street from a pub. Not sure it is really an "Irish" pub but they have inexpensive drinks and it is close.
We also spend a good amount of time in Palermo Soho, another subdivision. In my opinion, this area is "trendier" and busier then Hollywood or other areas in Palermo. Restaurant prices are also a tad more expensive, but not too much.
Some graffiti around town.

There are numerous parks and/or gardens in Buenos Aires and we are fortunate to be close to many of them.

This beautiful park is the largest and greenest park in the city. It is very popular for outdoor activities like running, cycling, or just walking around enjoying nature. Originally this land belonged to a famous military leader and governor of Buenos Aires, Juan Manuel de Rosas. On February 3, 1852 (hence the name of the park), he was defeated at the battle of Caseros and the civil war ended. The land then became public property.
Has a small lake where you can rent boats with paddles or pedals.
This garden is in the heart of Parque Tres de Febrero. I could spend a lot of time here just sitting at a one of the numerous park benches, reading or people watching. The garden is full of beautiful colorful roses, expansive green lawns winding paths and a small lake. Luckily for me, spring is the best time to visit Paseo del Rosedal although I am sure any season it would still be enjoyable. Apparently, there are over 1,000 different types of roses and more than 14,000 rose bushes.  

The Plantario is also located in the Parque Tres de Febrero and not hard to miss. Designed to be the planet Saturn, inside the giant dome is an auditorium that seats a few hundred people with regular shows displaying the night sky. Apparently, at night the entire building is lit up in blue and purple lighting. I have not walked over to actually see this but I might before I leave.
JARDIN JAPANESE (Japanese Garden)
Another garden in the area is the Japanese Garden and one of the largest gardens of its type outside of Japan. There is a small fee of 24 pesos ($3.50US) to enter the garden. It was a lot smaller than I anticipated but pretty nonetheless. The garden has a cultural center, restaurant, greenhouse with bonsai trees for sale, big pond with a lot of huge fish, and a cute little red bridge. Not sure it was worth charging 24 pesos but it was peaceful and a nice break from all the hustle and bustle of the city.
Feed me....
Designed by Carlos Thays in 1902, the garden is roughly 18 acres and has over 5,000 exotic and local floras. Yet another tranquil place to relax. For me, I enjoyed all the marble, stone and bronze sculptures made by renowned Argentineans and foreign artists throughout the garden. 
Last but certainly not least is the zoo! I do enjoy going to the zoo but I probably would not have gone if I was here for a short amount of time. This is supposed to be one of the best zoos in Latin America. The day I went it was hot, 86 degrees to be exact, so the animals were not too active. Most of them were sleeping or hiding in the shade.
Orangutan seeking shade and reading the phone book! Hysterical.... 

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