Thursday, September 25, 2008

Girls in BsAs

Alright so a friend asked me how the women are down here, and well thats certainly not a one sentence answer so I figured i'd do it justice, write up a reasonably long response and post it for all to see.

For those that don't know, things are going great with Kristin, so I'm basing most of this on the exploits of my friends who are single and living down here. Also I don't have too much to say about the girls here in general- yeah there are some v. good looking ones (just like there are in Boston, New York, 441 bathurst st...) but I wouldn't label them the "most beautiful in the world". For those in the 28 and older crowd I will say though that dating a girl significantly younger then yourself seems to be in much more practice here then in North America.

Despite president bushes attempts at otherwise , girls here like americans. I would guess 2 of the bigger reasons are that the average argentinian male is insanely aggressive and makes significantly less money then the travelling north american.

On the topic of them being insanely aggressive, my friend Carol whose studying here told me that the first time she went to a club here, she was dancing with some friends, having a good time and a guy came up to her, grabbed her and starting to make out with her. She pulled back and gave him a slap across the face. The guy looked at her half confused and said "you're not from buenos aires, are you?". Thats actually the norm here. She said since then shes learned that she needs to have a constant guard up to prevent any Argentine from getting to close to her.

I got to see a poor american girl in a bar have to deal with this argentinian guy who had no business talking to her whisper in her ear, smell her hair, even lick her ear at one point until finally a friend pulled him away. The guy said " i only wanted her phone number " and when my friend was like "I dont think she wants to give it to you" he replied "but maybe she will wish she had tomorrow!"

So in general I think argentine girls like meeting guys here who are a bit more passive and are maybe interested in getting to know them a bit before forcefully trying to make out with them.

On wealth, the average Argentine makes about 20k pesos a year. That equates to under 7k CAD or USD, so obviously way less then the average American. As such, its a lot more likely that when girls go to a nice expensive bar/ club there will be more Americans there dishing out money because to them drinks are effectively half off their prices at home then Argentines who want to spend half their paycheck that night.

I would say that not knowing spanish is obviously a big minus but there are a lot of "american bars" here. Overall they're filled with either american or european (there are a ton of British here) exchange students who found out that maybe argentinian guys aren't all they thought they would be, and argentinian girls looking to meet american men.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Time Flies (?)

Suprised its already been a week. I've been doing more spanish lessons- they've been really helpful and I think they are worth it over say straight book learning as I get a lot out of just trying to make simple conversation and listening to my teacher do the same. Its also a bit fascinating to me how you begin to understand what words mean without being given their definitions- your brain is able to construct its context/ definition just through dialogue.

Basically what i'm trying to say in a nice way (to myself) is that I suck at grammar- always have, always will and the only way I'll ever learn a foreign language is by hearing/ talking as much as possible. Outside of classes, if other people are having conversations (ie Brant talking to cab drivers on how we should get home, or with a hostess on where we should go to check out the tigre delta), I definitely have noticed an improvement in my spanish. But i am not at the point where I can talk to people beyond very simple things.

This week I think my classes will be 'spiced' up a bit, as instead of me going to my teachers apartment and getting lessons, we're gonna go to a cafe on Tuesday and an art show later in the week. So that should be cool.

On friday I went to the Tigre delta. Me and my friends took a boat ride which was fun, and just walked around the area. It was nice to get a bit outside the city, and the train ride we took was pretty scenic- there are some mansionesque houses on the outskirts of the city (complete with walls that include guard towers (!!!) as I think train tracks usually are pretty ghetto.

I also included some pictures of the fine dining I've been lucky enough to experience. There are 600+ restaurants within a 10km radius of Palermo, and already I have a few favorites. Sudestada, i've only been to 2x but they have great asian food (singapore dumplings are incredible) and they have a lunch special which includes water or beer, an appetizer (salad or dumplings) and then a bunch of different main dishes ( I went for a vegetarian curry but my friends recommend bison) all for around $10 usd.

On friday night we went to a spanish place, as I was kindof craving Paella- mainly because I hadn't had spanish food in a while and having red meat all the time can feel a bit taxing. Anyways, we went to Azulay which was a bit off the main strip in Palermo hollywood and showed it as it was not busy at all (which set off warning flags in my head that maybe this place won't be that good). But I was wrong, as it ended up being an excellent meal. We got a fixed price menu, where we had 5-6 small plates initially followed by a big plate of paella. The highlights of the meal would be the salad, which had a great vinagrette, the calamari and paella of course. Maybe my only regret was having wine with dinner without seeing if they offered sangria.

Last night we went to Miranda, where my photos show two of the meals (Ribeye steak with a grilled pepper that has a fried egg in it and my cut of lamb) is an awesome steak house. The cuts of meat so far have been better then anywhere else that we've gone and the apple crumble dessert is amazing. Its actually the best apple crumble i've ever had, and it reminds me a lot of the one that I once got at the Ruth Chris steak house. Unfortuantely the last time I went to Miranda I got some mint ice cream that was way too strong on mint, but I won't be making that mistake again :).

In the next week my plans are pretty simple. Plan out my trip to Mendoza a bit more (how many days in each place, go to the South American explorers club for advice/ additional resources, go to Colonia Uruguay on Wednesday for a day trip (if not Wednesday then this weekend), work on my spanish and ramp up the time I spend at the gym.

Anyways, thats all for now. Pictures are of course here.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Buenos Aires update

Alright so its been a while. Okay so heres the deal- I didn't want to make a new post right after the first one, so that brings me to the 8th. And then I was sick, and then my internet cut out. So since then I've been doing a lot. Working a good amount, hanging out with 3 friends here, (i think i mentioned them before)- Daniel from sweden, and Klint and Brant from the mid west. We go out to dinner together pretty often.

I started spanish lessons last week which have been good. Basically you can find anyone here to teach you spanish for very reasonable rates (under $10 usd/hr) but i've decided that it's worth it to get someone better (ie studied english or teaching spanish, is accredited etc etc) given my short period of time here, and the small difference in cost. So anyways, teachers name is Gisela, shes pretty nice and i'm looking forward to expanding my spanish knowledge over the next few weeks.

In terms of seeing the sights, since my last post I've checked out Palermo very extensively, the japanese gardens (which to me looked like something I would've designed at the age of 12 after watching 3 karate kid movies), san telmo and today, Puerto Madero. I didn't get to see enough of San Telmo as I would've liked as i went there with my 3 amigos and we got there a bit late in the afternoon and travelling in an entourage slows you down, but it seemed pretty cool (for those that dont know san telmo was the nicest area of BsAs back in the day but yellow fever made the rich move up to recoleta, but its all cobble stone streets with huge fairs every sunday). Puerto Madero is this waterfront area which unforunatley looks like it could've been transplanted from about 5 other cities i've been to thats on the water- but there was is an "ecological reserve" and it was nice to seemingly depart the city.

Anyways, its 2am here and I gotta get up before 10 to get to my spanish lessons at 11, so good night all and I hope everything is going well.

When I get my internet going I'll post more, I guess the next 2 posts I should make should be

1) Things I've learned in BsAs (cabs, subways, counterfeit money, bar life)
2) Eating in Palermo/ and Buenos Aires

new pictures are here

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Buenos Aires

I arrived at around 9 am. Plane ride was okay- I didn't sleep well cause the seats didn't go back very far but the guy sitting next to me was a really nice old guy who used to work for IBM but is now an antique dealer in nyc. We talked for a bit so I got to learn a bit about that business (seems to have some similarities to my work or that of traders). He also gave me some good advice when I talked a bit about my job and expressing dissapointment that I am not really contributing to society when he told me sometimes you need to gather the necessary tools before you can give back and that is what I am doing.

Anyways, from the airport I took a bus and then walked to the subway. The subway system here is very simple to use and cheap so whenever possible I think i'll use it. The first day I hung out, walked around for a few hours to check out places on the main strip near me (I'm living on the equivalent of Yonge street, I guess). Then I was pretty tired so I took a nap and then set up a rendevous with some other pro poker players who are living in BsAs for dinner.

It was a bit of an ordeal to get up there as I was a bit late to begin with, the subway took longer then expected and then I got lost, but eventually I arrived about 30 minutes late. I met 5 guys- John whose lived in BsAs for 4 years, Evan who has for 2 ( i think ?), Klint and Brant who just got in a few days ago and Daniel who was swedish ( but speaks great english). I had a lot of history and had been in a lot of back and forth games with Brant, so it was interesting to meet him in real life. Nice guy though so it's all good. One thing I must say I was suprised with was the amount of time they all put in actually playing - they all put me to shame. But I guess I have different goals financially/ travelling so its not fair to really compare. Dinner was great- I had 2 glasses of wine, a great steak dish and an espresso that came to about $20 usd. This is pretty typical - most things cost about 1/3 as they "should".

After dinner everyone minus John went out for some beers at a nearby bar. Good times but I was a bit tired so i called it a night at 2 am.

The next day (today) I've spent checking out Recoleta. It's a very nice area, but certainly more geared toward residential over say an area full of boutiques and restaurants (which is what i've heard palermo is all about). I'm gonna be moving into my apartment in Palermo Viejo/ Soho Friday, so I think i'll scope out the general area tomorrow. Highlights today would def be the cemetary for the rich of argentina (I saw Evita's grave which supposedly caused a big stir as you need a lot of wealth and social status to get in and she was born with neither) and the big metal flower. Also there was a pretty cool art gallery although certainly a cut below those of NYC, Paris etc. Pictures are UP

Monday, September 1, 2008


Went to NYC as my RTW is based on flights and there were not direct to BsAs from Boston... Regardless it gave me a great chance to hang out for a few nights, stay with my sister and Leon and Noah were around too, so it really felt like stop #1 on what will be a long journey.

Saturday I arrived at around 6pm on a long bus ride (had internet, but using a computer on a bus gives me motion sickness...). I was able to meet up with my cousin from Switzerland, Alex whose here working for an architecture firm and my sister for dinner at a nice italian restaurant in West village. My sister and Alex had been there before and knew the owner of the store, who was really nice and I enjoyed the spaghetti and prosciutto.

Afterwards, we went out for a drink at some kindof dark almost emo'ish place before heading down to meet up with 2 friends from high school, Zander and Sue. We picked up martinis and I got to catch up with Sue, who was a production manager for the show Ugly Betty. Zander just moved into a new place with his gf pretty close by and is looking for work. Anyways, from there we headed to a bar called the 'fat cat' which Jake had mentioned to me from his trip to NYC last year as being a great spot. So we headed down there to meet up with Leon, Noah and Chris and it was pretty cool- had a ton of pool tabes/ ping pong tables. Sue's boyfriend, Andrew is korean so theres some ping pong in his blood so of course we had to get a few games in. The wait was a while, but it was quite funny as he was very excited to play so whenever a table opened up somewhere he'd walk around all of them and alert the waitress who organized it all so we could play. It was fun to play (i represented my high school club etc quite well) and it made me think I might want to have my parents airmail me my racquet when I'm in China and I can try and get some lessons there. But we'll see later on how much travelling I want to do and how often I want to settle into one place and just chill.

From there we went to a bar called Phebe's which was a great spot as it seemed to be packed with a young attractive crowd who all seemed to be having a great time. In general I could say that was just the vibe I got from NYC. Distinctly different from Toronto - which too me would be the closest match, but I came to the conclusion that if you're young, have money and want to meet others like yourself, new york city (and probably this area of west village and neighboring burroughs) is the place to be. We were at Phebe's until probably 3:30 am where we left and found a french fries place where Leon and I picked up some poutine.

Sunday I woke up at around 11 am a little hung over. My sister's friend Rachel, whose a big tennis fan had tickets to the US Open and couldn't use her tickets as she was out of town, so she passed them over to Geneve and I. I again lucked out as I was able to see Roger Federer and Andy Roddick play in the afternoon at Aurthur Ashe stadium. It was just awesome to watch the tennis match and of course see Roger play. I added some pictures. The thing about Roger- that i think people like so much is just how classy he looks when he plays. I have pictures of Roddick serving and his body is a contorted mass and he looks extremely athletic as he seems to put everything he has into hitting the ball 140 mph. On the other hand, I could not take a picture that shows Roger doing the same- his motion when serving or doing anything is just so natural and fluid it is really a sight to see (which of course belies the fact that he serves at around 130 mph).

After tennis, I went with my sister out with a friend of my swiss cousin Claudia, who had just spent 6 months travelling around the united states alone. He was a nice guy and had a lot to talk about and just a general love for America. It was a bit inspiring, as I often here foriegners (read: canadians) talking shit about america. Don't get me wrong- there is much here that is not perfect, but I think the problem is not something you can pass to the individuals who live here.

At around 9pm I then headed to Nobu for a fancy dinner. It was unbelieveable- all the food melted in my mouth but I think it was a bit pricy for what you get (but in my opinion at its price, nothing can really meet my expectations to be a "fair value"). After this Chris had to leave as he is moving into a new place, and Leon Noah and I met up with Zander and his gf to go to a bar in West Village called "Little Branch". It was a former speak easy during prohibition but generally known in this part of NYC of having the best "mixologists" as my sister calls it. It was nice, I have a picture near the end of my pending album from there (no flash was allowed) but it was dark and the drinks strong. I was a bit tired after this day and the last, so from here I went home to get some sleep.

Today has been pretty chill, I got breakfast with Geneve in a little restaurant and then hung out near the water with Alex and Geneve. Now I'm back at Geneve's place and counting down to leaving. Noah and Leon just arrived so I gotta go but take it easy and next time I post i'll be in BsAs!

edit: pictures added from airport terminal. View them HERE