Saturday, April 16, 2011

Buenos Aires Day 1: Passport bidness & Palermo SoHo

Driving through the city from Retiro to Palermo, we passed a bunch of embassies and beautiful outdoor green areas.  I was staying in Palermo near the US Embassy, close to the Avenida de Libertadores and the zoo.

This was fortunate because my first order of business was to get more pages put into my passport at the American embassy. Apparently, there is a law in every country that says a customs/ border agent can deny you entry into a country if you have less than a certain number of pages in your passport blank for stamps. WTF, right? Read an example here: http://travel.latimes.com/articles/la-tr-spot9mar09

So, being an American can sometimes have its perks. Like strolling up to the embassy and realizing that the line down the street is for people who are NOT citizens, and the window for citizens has nobody waiting for it. So you bypass the line and go right on in. Score.

After paying my US $82 to get pieces of paper sewn into my passport that I had to pick up a few hours later, my #1 errand in BA was accomplished.

My new friends from Mendoza were arriving around 10pm that night and I knew the next day that we'd be going sight-seeing, so I didn't do much. There was a great little café down the street where I got a quiche lorraine, salad and some mineral water called Voulez-Vous Café.  It's on a corner with great outdoor dining. I sat against the wall on a pillow-covered banquette between two patrons working on their laptops. In fact, many people in the café had their laptops. This was strange to me, because I heard how dangerous BA can be at times and that you should be careful where you take your computer. But I guess since it's a nice neighborhood and the clientele are fairly upper middle-class, porteños are comfortable here letting their guard down and Macbooks out.

After my friends arrived, we set out to the trendy neighborhood of Palermo SoHo in search of food. While we didn't end up finding the restaurant we were trying to go to (damn you, Google maps and your wrong information!) we ended up eating at Romario's for pizza. A chain, it had a brick oven and the pizza was surprisingly good.

When we finished our pizza and beer we headed farther into the neighborhood of Palermo Viejo to Congo at Honduras 5329, an African-themed bar that was seriously cool. The back garden seems to go on forever, and the drinks were tasty.  For my first full day in Buenos Aires, it was a great end to a great day.

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