27 May 2010

A Night at the Opera

Last night we attended the first public performance held in the newly renovated Teatro Colon, regarded as one of the top opera houses and classical music venues in the world for its superlative acoustics. The grand reopening caps almost four years of work on the theatre, which first opened its doors in 1908.

The photo on the right shows the view from our seats, up in the "galeria,'' right below "paraiso," where the cheapest tickets (some less than $1 USD) buy you a place to stand with the best sound in the house.

On the stage below us unfolded the story of La bohème, by Giacomo Puccini. Coincidentally, on June 16, 1896, Buenos Aires was the site of the first performance of this opera outside of Italy. Click here to listen to Anna Netrebko sing Musetta's aria in Act II.

We've already bought our tickets for performances by Yo-Yo Ma on June 11 and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, conducted by Daniel Barenboim, playing Beethoven's 9th Symphony on August 25. We'll be sitting one level down, in the "tertulia." Our tickets for these performances cost $10 each. Casi regalado.

25 May 2010


Two hundred years ago today Argentina began its revolt against Spanish rule. The 2010 commemoration of la revolucion de mayo has lasted for four days. We started off our observations by hanging up our new Argentine flag on the balcony to our living room, following the lead of our neighbors up and down the street.

The official festivities were more elaborate. A lengthy section of Avenida 9 de Julio - Buenos Aires' main avenue - was blocked off for numerous events. These ranged from a parade featuring some 80 groups that have large immigrant groups in the country, lead off by the Arab-Argentine community and Bolivia and including Italy and Spain, the major sources of immigrants to the county, to nightime musical performances honoring the folkloric and tango traditions.

Downpours failed to curb enthusiasm for the celebrations, especially after Argentina won 5-0 over Canada in its last "friendly" this weekend just before leaving for South Africa and the World Cup. We hiked over to the "Paseo Bicentenario" on Sunday and Monday evenings to witness some of the activities, but rain, mud, and overwhelming numbers of people with the same thought in mind did not make for the best viewing experiences.

Today we opted for a calmer celebration at Los Pinos, one of our favorite neighborhood cafes and well known for its locro, a traditional stew served during the "fiestas patrias." Tomorrow night we're headed to Teatro Colon, which has just reopened after almost four years of renovation to restore this architectural and acoustic gem to its orginal 1908 splendor. More on that later.

¡Viva Argentina!

19 May 2010

Celebrating Year 2

Today marks the second anniversary of our arrival to Buenos Aires as residentes rather than turistas. This afternoon we celebrated, as usual, with a nice glass of vino tinto, this time at the outdoor cafe attached to the Museo de Belles Artes. The museum is a nice stroll down Azcuenaga, past the Recoleta Cemetery. A beautiful fall day with lots of warm sunshine after some unseasonably cool weather earlier in the week.

Moving here has allowed us to pursue all those activities we envisioned doing as early retirees, especially traveling, both within Argentina and around the world. It helps that our property taxes are virtually nonexistent compared to what we paid in Texas ($128/year here v. $15,000/year in Austin). We're looking pretty content.

18 May 2010

Las Hormiguitas de La Hormiguita

When we renovated our little 88 square meter apartment, we opted not to include a washing machine in the kitchen in favor of having more storage space and fewer headaches. When the dirty clothes pile up, we march them downstairs and two doors up the street to La Hormiguita, our favorite laundry of the many in the neighborhood. The laundry is open from 8:30 am to 8:30 pm every day except Sunday and certain holidays.

"Las Hormiguitas" (as we call the four friendly ladies who work at the laundry) will wash, dry, and fold all the clothes that fit in one large plastic bag for 14 pesos (about $3.50 USD at the current exchange rate). Much cheaper than buying and maintaining our own machines plus paying for all the washing supplies and the electricity and water. An extra benefit: we get a free "servicio valet" for every seven we pay for. Plus we have a whole set of new friends. In the photo: Sunny, Mariela, Giselle, and Katy (from left to right) right at shift change one day last week. They're always smiling!

12 May 2010


We got back to Buenos Aires earlier this month after two weeks in Texas getting to know our son's future in-laws and taking care of those personal matters that are hard to do from afar. We returned with new friends, lots of wonderful memories of our trip (such nice weather we had!), and, unfortunately, several kilos in excess body baggage. Too many trips to the breakfast bar at our hotel in Fort Worth. Hard to resist those biscuits and sausages . . . also hard to get rid of their tell-tale effects. That plus the fact that we missed our usual work-out schedule meant that our first days back at our gym here were painful. . . but satisfying!

Bull's Gym is 3 blocks north of our apartment, near the intersection of Azcuenaga (our street) and French. It's funkier that other gyms in the city, but also a lot less expensive. We pay 75 pesos each per month for access to all the equipment Monday through Saturday. At the current exchange rate, that's a little over $19 USD per month. Juan and Gabriel (left to right in the photo) are the morning staff. Nice guys.