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Argentina’s coin crisis

Had it not been for this sign posted at one of the kiosks along the street in Buenos Aires, the whole Argentine coin crisis may have gone without my mentioning it, but it was so amusing I couldn’t resist… There is a major coin shortage in Argentina, which helps to explain why Barack Obama is pictured here pointing out that “there are no coins”.  Businesses never have enough of them and are constantly asking for exact change from customers.  Even when they do have it they hate to part with it.  Apparently, it’s impossible to walk into a bank and get a roll of coins because there is an actual shortage of coins in the country.  I’ve been told two stories as to why there are not enough coins in circulation.  The first is that the government does not produce enough of them and the second is that the metal used to make the coins is worth more than the value of the coin… Which, if either of these, is true I can’t be sure, but we recently met an American couple who told a funny story of being asked to accept candy in place of their change when the grocery store claimed to be out of coins.  They, somewhat jokingly, replied by questioning whether they could return to the store later and use the candy to pay for future purchases…

Palermo, parrilla & los Colorados at the peña

Los Colorados at Peña Los Cardones

They don’t call it the coolest city on the continent for no reason.  Buenos Aires never sleeps.  Restaurants don’t open their doors until around 8pm and even then most people don’t show up for dinner until after 10.  Dinner winds down around midnight, by 2am everyone is headed out to the bars and clubs and that’s where they’ll stay, dancing until the following morning.  The Palermo neighborhood of the city is home to some of the trendiest restaurants and hippest nightlife in all of Buenos Aires. 

Argentines love mate, wine and meat.  Buenos Aires is famous for its parrillas, or steakhouses, and you can find one on just about every corner.  Since no visit to the city is complete without a steak dinner and night out on the town, we headed out this past Friday to sample some of the nightlife.  First  to Lo de Jesus for a late dinner and then out to Peña Los Cardones, a local live music venue, for traditional Argentine folk music. 

Our steaks at Lo de Jesus were so delicious, and affordable, served to us on white tableclothes by waiters in suits, we couldn’t help but go back again the following week. 

   

 

La Boca

Named after its location at the mouth of the Río Riachuelo, the vibrant, working class neighborhood of La Boca was built by Italian immigrants from Genoa.  Brightly painted corrugated-metal buildings line the touristy streets and walkways around the Caminito where local artists display their paintings and street performers entertain the crowds against colorful backdrops.     

San Telmo

There is always something going on in Buenos Aires.  In fact, it’s been difficult to squeeze in enough weekend days in the city to visit all of the various neighborhood fairs and festivals.  The antique fair held Sundays in the San Telmo neighborhood of the city is my favorite.  Antique cameras, musical instruments, furniture, coins, records, metalware, vintage clothing, dresses, handbags, sunglasses from the 1960s, 70s and 80s, vintage matchbooks and the list goes on and on, while craft vendors, street performers and tango shows add to the excitement. 

During our visit this past Sunday we stumbled upon the taping of what I believe to have been the French, or possibly Portuguese, version of the reality TV show “The Amazing Race”.  Despite the fact that I doubt anyone reading this is familiar with this particular show, here are a few photos of the filming:

Recoleta Cemetery

Surrounded by high stone walls, the Cementerio de la Recoleta is where generations of Argentina’s elite are laid to rest in ornate splendor aside lofty statues and behind detailed marble facades.  It’s here that Evita’s gravesite can be found (think Madonna and “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina“).  La Recoleta is Buenos Aires’ ritziest neighborhood – best to visit on the weekends when an outdoor crafts fair is held – though anytime is perfect to grab a seat at one of the many streetside cafés and people watch.  If you’re lucky you just might spot a paseaperro (professional dog-walker) leading a pack of perfectly groomed pups through one of the neighborhood’s perfectly landscaped parks.

Puerto Madero

The renovated dock area of Puerto Madero just east of the city center is Buenos Aires’ youngest neighborhood.  Already a popular destination amoung porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) and tourists, the waterfront is lined with wide pedestrian walkways, expensive lofts, fancy restaurants, trendy bars and some of the city’s nicest hotels.

Che

graffiti in San Telmo