El Cementerio de la Recoleta

Michael went off to his class at 8.15 after making me a lovely orange juice for breakfast, along with a slice of wicked caramelised apple cake that Jeanette had made the day before. I wandered down to one of the parks, on my way to Recoleta. The park was full of the howling of dogs and it was dog city: the place was full of dog walkers, managing between 1 and 10 dogs.

Dog walkers

I didn’t get too close! In fact the dogs were very well behaved and apparently it’s quite a lucrative job being a dog walker in Palermo.

From here to the Avenida del Libertador where I was almost killed crossing a 10-lane road. When I started out, there was no traffic coming but by lane 7 I was surrounded by cars on all sides! I had to find a gap and dash across—it left me a bit shaken. The aim of all the walking was to go to El Cementerio de la Recoleta which is one of the major tourist stops in the city. I spent two hours wandering around, snapping away and baking in the midday sun.

There was a massive queue to see Eva Peron’s tomb, which I queue-jumped in traditional Argentinean style!

Stained Glass, Recoleta Cemetry

Recoleta CemetryOwl in Recoleta Cemetry

There were a couple of ‘special tombs’ particularly that of Luis Federico Leloir, the 1970 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry. His tomb, below, is rather grand.

Recoleta Cemetry

Had a brief tour of the Basilica Nuestra Señora del Pilar which was built in 1716–1732 and is a lovely baroque church. I also spent some time trying to photograph the fantastic rubber trees in the park.

Michael met me there at 1 and we walked across to the Buller Brewhouse for lunch. Tried a mixed selection of beer, in miniature pint glasses tat came on a wooden tray. In order of preference (from the tasting) we tried:, Cream Pale Ale, Light Beer, IPA, Honey Ale (though too strong), Stout, Oktoberfest (bleugh).

We wandered across downtown to visit the Muso de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) contemporary art gallery. The building itself was modern and impressive,. The exhibits dynamic and colourful.

In the evening we went with Michael’s friend, Jorge, to eat in a Turkish restaurant, called something like Club Sino, on Ayacucho (hopefully Michael can fill in this gap). The building was an old upper-class home, with a wonderful old lift and a route through the corner of the ground floor where coaches could drive through to drop off people—very grand. The meal was lovely. A belly dander arrived towards the end and did a long floor show, that inevitably involved some people being dragged up to dance and Michael, Jorge and I got away lightly with having her jiggle her tasselled, sequinned, jingling breasts in our faces. It was impressive, but wasted on us (poor woman), Jorge took us on a tour o he city at night by car, which was great. We went out to the new renovated dock area, the Puerto Madero, which was good fun and he showed us his favourite statue in the city, the Fuente de las Nereidas, which was too erotic to be erected in the city so the city council moved it into the quiet port area. Part of the reason for this may have been that the sculptor was a woman, Lola Mora, and rthis was in 1910. He drove us past the Palacio de las Aguas Corrientes, which I’d love to tour, it was tiled by Royal Doulton and is very grand on the outside, and houses water storage tanks on the inside!

Michael and Jorge

Technorati Tags: ,

Exploring Buenos Aires

Overnight there was an impressive electric storm that woke us up with a very loud bang. It poured with rain for a few hours after then and the wind got strong enough that we had to close the windows. Subsequently it looks like the storm damaged wither the modem or Michael’s iBook because the internet speed and reliable were both pitiful.

Michael left for language classes at 8am, and I slept and dozed until 10.30, which will set me up well for the days to come. Took the 152 bus to Plaza Martin and wandered arund the plaza taking photographs.

San Martin Memorial

Plaza Martin, Buenos Aires

Also wandered up a famous pedestrianised shopping street called Florida, which was full of leather shops and people trying to get you to go into the shops to buy a jacket. It was over the top.

Met Michael at his class at 1 and we bumed into one of his friends, Nina. We wandered into Town and had lunch in an excellent small restaurant, the closest thing to the seedy cantina of my dreams that we’ve been in so far. I had a lovely stuffed squash and Michael had a lasagne with lots of spinach in it, followed by pacake con dulce de leche (for Michael) and a strange flan for me (which turned out to be a sponge with lumpy custard!). The whole meal including tip was $21, about £3.50!

We wandered to UBA language school tosee where Michael’s first course was held, then past a trade union demonstration to the Plaza de Mayo. Dropped into the Subte Line A at «Peru» to see the old style underground: dimly lit by a row of standard light bulbs with glass shades. Lovely. The Subte carriage was wooden, with the same single bulbs and doors that had to be pulled open manually. We only took the Subte one stop and got out to go to the famous Cafe Tortoni, founded in 1958 and period decorated. I had a cafe cortado, which was lovely. Wandered further up the street to see the Palacio Barolo (nice web site), designed based on Dante’s Inferno, witth he bottom floor being hell and the nest 14 purgatory and finally at the very top paradise! The Building was gothic and lovely.

P2270111

Then, finally, took the 64 bus back home. Michael made me some mate, which will take some getting used to, particularly as there are quite a few rituals about drinking mate.

For the evening we headed back to Plaza Martin and went to Dadá where I had a large and potent gin martini and Michael a Manhattan. The waitress was very nice and very skillfull at selling us a snack that we hadn’t really come in for (and enjoyed). We managed to resist her urges to stay for dinner and walked across town to a place Michael enjoys called Pizza Rey, where I got to try some Quilmes Boc beer (Wikipedia for Quilmes), which I enjoyed a lot (and we got a taxi home!)

Technorati Tags: ,

Trip to the Paraná Delta

Took the amazingly cheap train (30p) to Tigre and the Paraná Delta that Michael visited only a few weeks ago. The train station in Buenos Aires is huge and grand, but now only has two railway lines running from it because of lack of investment. The train journey was fine though and Michael enjoyed his alfajor on the way (picture not posted at his request!).

We didn’t get much of a chance to have a look at Tigre (named so because of the pumas that used to be wild there) because we were in perfect time to take a river boat through the delta to Tres Bocas. We had lunch there at La Rivera restaurant, looking over the muddy brown river water. The delta is cooler than the city, which was enjoyable.

Tigre River Delta

Us on the river delta boat ride

Trip to the Paraná Delta

Tracked our journey back from Tres Boca by GPS (above) and after our river trip we took an hours stroll west along the river from Tigre, and had a lovely ice cream. before headng home.

Watched 2/3rds of The Queen starring Helen Mirren that Jeanette rented. Helen Mirren is clearly in Oscar territory with this film—she was great. Had a glass of red wine with ice while we were watching the film. Cooling wine with ice is quite common in Argentina. Popped out for dinner to a local restaurant near the Botanic Gardens and had a good meal: a tuna salad for Michael and a spinach taggliatelli with lomo for me. We finished The Queen before bed.

Technorati Tags: ,

La Boca for our first anniversary

We took the number 152 bus to La Boca (the mouth) on the River Plate:

Bridge at La Boca.jpg

and wandered by the historic iron bridge and through the colourful streets including the Caminito (main street). The weather was baking hot and so it was a slow wander. We stopped for a whlle to listen to a tango group (tango ‘grew up’ in La Boca) and we were impressed by the bandoneón players, who were concentrating deeply (and certainly needed to as the music is difficult).

Bandoneón PlayerMichael in Cafe in La Boca

We stopped in a cafe for a rest from the heat and pounding the streets, then headed back into town. We were followed by a guy on a moped, who stalked us down the street, looking over his shoulder for about 100 yards. We were heading into quieter, empty streets and didn’t like the attention so gratefully jumped on a bus back into town! To San Telmo in fact.

San Telmo is an old barrio and is full of character. It’s also got a large gay population. We had lunch at a trendy restaurant called

La Farmacia La Farmacia or lafar+cia which Michael explained (with his now impressive Spanish) that “+” is “mas” in Spanish. We had a good lunch there. We started out on the roof terrace, which was blazingly hot and we had to retreat into the air-conditioned interior to recover. We explored a bit more of San Telmo then took the Subte back from Cathederal to Scallabrini Ortiz for a siesta!

In the evening we went out to a lovely parrilla (meat grill) restaurant, recommended by Jeanette, called La Choza at Gascón 1701 in Palermo (La Choza = The Shack). It was wonderful and a real meat feast of grilled chinchulin (stuffed lower intestines, apparently) and riñón (kidneys). We followed this with the best steak either of us has ever had, called a bife de chorizo, which are sirloin/rump steaks. It was fabulous. More about roasts (asados). We topped all this meat of with massive baked custard puddings that left us gasping. We had a lovely wine too, Escorihuela Gascon Malbec, 2004. The whole meal came to 120 pesos, which is about £20 and was certainly the best value and one of the best meals we had in Argentina. It was a lovely night and a great recommendation from Jeanette.

Self portraits on our first anniversary

Self Portraits on our Anniversary

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Buenos Aires

Michael’s been in Buenos Aires since 4th January and, with great excitement, I’m off to visit him for a fortnight!

Despite it being long (nearly 24 hours), the journey was easy and dull, dull, dull. I had a quick change in Madrid, where I ended up in a slow queue to get my cabin baggage scanned. I had Michael’s Sigg, filled with water air-side in the UK, and I had to down almost a litre of water on the spot to get it through security (or leave it behind). I think I deserved a cheer for that!

The 12 hour flight to BA was especially dull—Iberia aren’t a great airline. I watched one film which was good called One Good Year . The cabin crew were rather austere, not what I was expecting from South Americans. I ended up in row 50, right at the back of the plane, which was OK until immigration when I was also at the very end of that queue too.

Michael met me at the airport, which was very lovely, and whisked me off back to his pad, where I met his landlady Jeanette. I was pretty frisky when I arrived and had the energy to go our for a late dinner to a local pasta restaurant. I started out lively but most of my energy disappeared during the meal and I could barely get a sentence out by the end. Of course this might have been the effect of half a bottle of Norton Malbec with dinner, which was a bit too jammy, but ok. Michael had a very cheesy pizza for dinner and I had ricotta ravioli with a very garlicy and roast tomato salsa. It was lovely.

Michael in restaurant

Slept very deeply till 8am on our first anniversary of our Civil Partnership and woke with the sun shining through the blinds. It was a very hot day, the hottest day Michael has experienced in Buenos Aires. According to the radio it was 32°C, with an apparent temperature of 39°C because of the high humidity (77%).

Technorati Tags: , ,

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Just back from a great production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream Img4778at the ADC Theatre. It was wonderfully choreographed and directed. The fairies were actresses–ballerinas which made for an active and beautiful atmosphere on stage. The star of the performance was the choreographer, who also played Puck, Sarah Wilkinson. Her movements, facial expressions and energy were mesmerising and she conveyed a wild and impish character beautifully. The cast of the Mechanicals also were amusing and wonderful . This was an ambitious production which succeeded really well. The production also has its own web site.

From the ADC web site:

Lovers, fairies and the worst actors in Athens find themselves roaming an enchanted forest, “ill-met by moonlight” in Shakespeare’s most magical comedy. Between the Mechanicals’ hilarious rehearsals of Pyramus and Thisbee and the prima-donna antics of Bottom the Weaver, we see young lovers chase each other through the trees and fairies dupe one another with spells and enchantments.

Fusing the magic of Shakespeare with ballet and an original score, this production will leave you laughing, tingling, and wondering what’s lurking in the shadows…

Technorati Tags: , ,

Editors’ Symposium

Came back last night from the RSC Editors’ Symposium in Brussels, which was a busy weekend of meetings, workshops and dinners.

I was the ‘Arthur‘ for the 6am coach on Saturday morning that took about 25 of us to Waterloo to take the Eurostar to Brussels. My colleague Emma was the ‘Olive‘ for the 8am coach. The project team running the symposium had made great plans so the travel out (and back) was flawless, which was a relief.

On the way to Brussels on the Eurostar

The symposium was held at the Sheraton Brussels Hotel which was a great hotel (particularly when you are upgraded to a club room with complimentary box of chocs!). After a quick lunch I had a rest for an hour after the early start, then started doing some work for the two Publishing Board meetings that would take place over the two days of the symposium. Down to the bar for drinks and discovered that Stella Artois tastes much nicer in Belgium than in the UK. Had a good meal with never-ending and constantly topped-up glasses of red wine. Ouch!

I felt rough on Sunday morning and breakfast helped only a little. Spent the morning in an Editorial Board meeting for The Analyst and then started the afternoon with Publishing Board Science and Publications sub-comiitee (taking minutes) before moving on to attend a Workshop on Journal Impact and Quality, where I facilitated one of the discussion groups. I had a really pounding headache by this time (probably the red wine but I also blamed it on taking minutes on a laptop!). Had an hour to rest off the bad head, aided by ibuprofen effectively swapped from Claire for my complimentary box of chocolates from my room. We also got a lovely Hotel Chocolat chocolates in a presentation RSC box, which was very impressive (below).

RSC Belgian Chocolates

The evening was a banquet meal at the Theatre at La Plaza Hotel. The theatre is a 1930’s, rather lavish, movie theatre with an arabic theme. It made a great venue for the banquet, and the food matched the quality of the venue. The starter was lovely wafer-thin salmon, with oil and salt, that was delicious. The main was incredibly rare and tender little racks of lamb. Most people raved about the pudding, which was a hot chocolate baked pudding. The food had lovely touches. We mingled and drank then a group of 26 of us wandered out into the city to find some Belgian Beer.

Dining in La Plaza Hotel

Graham, La Plaza Hotel

We ended up after much flapping at the famous Roy d’Espagne:

The « Roy d’Espagne », built in 1697, was originally the House of the Baker’s guild. The name is due to the bust of Charles II that decorates the façade on the second level. On the ground floor, above the entry, watches Saint-Aubertus, the Patron Saint of the bakers. The house, which suffered much damage during the French Revolution, was renovated to its original state in 1902 under the impulse of the Mayor of Brussels, Charles Buls.

When you enter the cafe you are stared out by a large stuffed horse, which was unsettling! The place had a lovely atmosphere and we had a a couple of rounds of beer. I tried a couple of gueze (lambic ale) which was much less acidic than I was expecting and was lovely to drink. Rob and Sula ordered about 6 plates of cheese and salami, and then the pair of them seemed to scoff all six plates worth. When I came to pay, the waiter said that the credit card machine wasn’t working and I scuttled around trying to scrape together the money to pay ( I was carrying a large cash float) and that’s how I know there were 26 people there (which at ca. €20 a head meant I didn’t have enough!) In the end the waiter owned up that I had been set up my Rob and Sula who’d persuaded the waiter to wind me up. Very cruel. So I paid with card in the end! We made it back in one piece to the hotel for 2am, and I was in much better shape than the night before.

Le Roy d'Espagne, Brussels

Monday morning was a three hour meeting of Publishing Board, which i took the minutes for again on a laptop (but this time this did not induce a splitting headache!). Nice lunch and a bit of packing up before my Arthur duties started again, ferrying 30 staff back to Cambridge. We were not a lively bunch and were glad to get on the bus to Cambridge. Made it back home at 7.30, then shot out for a drink at the Free Press!

Technorati Tags:

It’s a scary play

Fantastic night to see I’ll be back before midnight at the ADC Theatre. The play delivered its promise of being both scary and funny. In fact it had a few jump-out-your-seat moments. The cast were superb, particularly Rory Mullarky and and Tom Williams. Rory’s impressive dance fitness routine was a highlight of the evening.

The play has it’s own web site it’s a scary play. From the ADC web site:

A terrifying thriller with a rubbish title. A director of the sell-out Footlights shows Circus and Grow Up, and the producer of the smash hit Faust: the Panto bring you a ridiculously enjoyable blockbuster of a show. There’s a lonely old house. And a ghost. And the usual strange sounds and signs and stabbings. You know the drill.

This critically acclaimed and much-loved American thriller is jump-out-of-your-seat scary and laugh-out-of-your-face hilarious. Scream, laugh, scream, laugh, scream, laugh, scream, laugh, grab your companion’s chest in terror. That’s what you’ll be doing. So come along and do it.

Just a shame about the title, that’s all.

Technorati Tags: ,

Hang on Mr Bugson

The new play from Tom Sharpe is really interesting—Hang on Mr Bugson, at the ADC Theatre Cambridge.Hang on Mr Bugson

Helen Cripps was good fun as April and Sam Sword was great as Peter, the lonely Doctor. I though initially that the doctor was the real character and that the rest of the cast were imagined, but the programme pointed out a bit more. Essentially it’s about someone (not the doctor) who is mad, and who populates his life with imaginary people. The interactions with these people form the basis for the play , which becomes dark and self-destructive towards the end. There is humour and there are light moments, but hte lasting impression is of madness and the need to control. Quite eerie. Overall, very good.

Technorati Tags: , ,