Travel Blog 2008

“I can’t quite express in words the holiday I’ve just had, the pictures will though. The fun, the chats, the laughs, the one more blocks we all shared. Thank you so much Mike!”

Sharee Bartlett, Auckland, HowdyBA 2008

Sunday 4 May 2008…

And now the end is nigh…

The shoppers are spent….My sensible walking shoes have lost at least 5mm of rubber from the soles, it would be great if a few cm of flubber was lost from the buttocks too, but the evening wines/beers probably put a stop to that. During ‘downtime’ my head is filled with a kaliedoscope of sights and sounds that are BA.

Howie, like the eveready battery, kept us interested, awake, amused and ‘humping’. And what a group of people to be on this journey with, it’s a shame they are mostly ‘bloody


So Howie, Dad, Coach, Jack(Russel) – whatever name you choose to respond to…Thanks mate!

“‘Til the next block

Kim and Shayne xxx

San Lorenzo Futbol

Friday 2 May 2008

Over the slope and now on the way down (back)

Allison and Lacey spend up.

Duaniika gets and argentinian wax…no questions please

Kim and Shayne walk for four hours straight

Sharee gets weird fascination with non-descript glass high rise amidst the belle epoch beauty – go figure …we can’t

And…Howie is proud of his munchkins – last night we all agreed to meet up at boutique hotel with cocktail bar and all howdy’s found their way there under their own steam, map reading and taxi ordering abilities – bravo …we then proceeded to paint the town somewhat reddish, at one point standing in a corner and singing show tunes…

wonderful meal at a restaurant that grows their own produce – as well patagonian lamb, ribs, walnut pasta etc orded as mains accompanied by a ‘bloody wine flight’ ordered by Sharee…

then at the usual hour of 1 am we taxied off to a stately home which is now three floors of bars and restaurant with a huge photo of a man and his bull hanging up – you have to go there to get it i suppose.

Earlier in the day duaniika, sharee, kim and shayne and howie did four hour bike tour with the ‘orange bike’ company around Boca and Puerto Madero…

A HUGE DAY – considering that Kim and Shayne then ‘wandered’ into town and then ended up doing another four hours walking to meet up at cocktail bar.

Thursday 1 May, 2008

Dauniika writing

Today we meandered along the Viaduct Harbour of Buenos Aires. It was a beautiful sunny day and i can finally understand how Argentines can spend their days off lounging in a park kissing or drinking mate. We even had to wait to cross back over the river whilst the bridge was raised (or rather swung) for the BA elites’ yachts.

Half of the city was marching and chanting about workers rights and we were assaulted on every corner by young socialists pushing panphlets and preaching their cause – luckily we are all able to play the “no hablo espanol” exemption card.

Yesterday went to a gorgeous privately owned wine shop and got to stock up on boutique wines that are only available in Buenos Aires. It was great to talk to the English speaking owner and get knowledgeable recommendations on the right wines to buy. And buy we did – Mum and i have both doubled our quota of the New Zealand customs allowance.

Are now off to see a local jazz band – adios!

Massive Spanish lunch followed by long, long, long walk

We have just fallen through the door after walking for 3 hours straight… first it was lunch at Plaza Asturias – old, wooden restaurant filled with old people take a sunday lunch as it’s a public holiday here…outside huge march going on for Worker’s rights – meanwhile inside lunch started with small glass of sherry. we then walked the entire downtown area from Avenida de Mayo to Puerto Madero then back home – warm, early autumn day.

but last night Fernandez Fierro!!! – Shunter was frothing with excitement after the show – nine piece orchestra that still rocks the house or their own warehouse to be exact. Young guys pounding away on strings and squeeze boxes and kicking tango into the 21st century…beautiful.

Lacey was buggered, wasnt’ going to come but was over moon she did. Howie and Shunter waltzed on to ‘lo de roberto aftwards – a small and very old tango bar for tango singers – thank god 5 hours sleep is all one needs in this city.

Tired wee faces yesterday were perky again today …phew…


Wednesday – early evening

What a wonderul day only marred by fact that one of the apartments has had water probs…big time…we are talking no flushing lou for a couple of days …lacey and allison have been bloody saints… ok last night was parrilla night at the Grand Parrilla – starter of small intestine followed by inordinately huge slabs of meats and mashed spud for Allison… great evening made all the more memorable by our own Uriah Heap waiter who ended up tanking badly…

today Malba – wonderful modern art museum where the truly old and wealthy meander over lunch and paintings but tonight! it’s Fernandez Fierro – ‘well keep you posted…

Dauniika has had her hair cut and coloured at very upmarket joint…ok…need to sleep before the evening starts…

Tuesday – late evening report – Kim

Sharee, Shayne and I ripped the apron strings from Howie and were let loose to catch the Ferry to Uruguay. The delightful Colonia had me snapping shots as the other two tried not to snap ankles on the uneven 300 yr old cobbled streets. The extent of our shopping consisted of a key ring, some stones, and some ridiculously priced cafe con leche. Back in BA, Shayne manged to purchase another (very soft/smooth) jacket of the fabric variety…we think he maybe turning into a proper women!

This is one of the apartments (above)

End of Tuesday report from Allison…

First day of colder weather. Leave house to buy leather jacket, end up trawling the shops and find myself in shopping hog heaven. Beautiful Argentine women serve you in skinny size zero jeans. You appear slightly intimidated in your size 12 frame, wearing no makeup, your farmers sweater and feeling like you have ‘daggy gringo’ tattooed on your forehead.

Highlight so far has to be the soccer match. Eighty thousand Argentines chanting songs, shaking arms and gesticulating with their hands. Felt good to be alive – looking out across the polluted skyline, intoxicated on the atmosphere. To the left of you in the next stand are thousands of jumping bodies pulsating to the beat of the drums and trying to out sing the opposing team. You leave feeling somehow lifted from your troubles and wishing you had that sort of passion for something.

Walking along the narrow streets of San Telmo in the morning, dusk or at night has it own special magic. Wherever you let your eye line rest, short or long distance, you are constantly struck by some beautiful vision; you imagine over the centuries the life that has built here.

No intimacy issues in this town: oh no! men and women walk down the streets hand in hand – long necking sessions in shopping malls and yes, the men smell nice too! Hasta Leugo
Suddenly it’s a bit cold…but the shopping is sizzling…

Finally yesterday the females were let loose in Palermo Viejo to shop and they didn’t disappoint – although Shayne Hunter managed to beat all by buying classiest jacket on earth (leather, french design) for NZ$500 – expensive!

A slow day it would have to be said after the visit to the HQ for the Dominican Republic on Sunday ‘morning’… today half group are in Uruguay and other three are hitting Palermo Viejo …again.

Yesterday was basically six hour non stop shopping then hit the dis-used oil refinery to witness what bohemian uni students do most monday night – listen and dance to brazilian, argentine drummers, smoke funny ciggys and enjoy their Monday nights.

Order of mental states,

Allison is returning to the one shop for the ninth time to agonise yet again over ‘that’ red jacket…:should i buy it’?

Shayne has purchased is soft as baby-bottom number leather jacket so is happy…

Lacey is still keeping head down over getting gift wrapped and ready to take then when paying discovered it was like 7 times more expensive than she thought…the shop owners are still drying tears from their eyes at having to reverse the huge visa bill.

Kim is over leather jacket purchase doing very well with bargain and quality and now is eye-ing up other purchases…

Sharee is incredibly very shy on the shopping being the elder stateswoman of shopping…has only carried home six shopping bags…

Dauniika is off having her hair trimmed and coloured and his probably tipping someone with enough cash to put a downpayment on a small farm in Uruguay.

Mike has a voice like Jack Nicholson from…too much talking…impossible!

Monday 28 April 2008…

Time for a quick one…

Football match yesterday went down brilliantly – headed out to very poor part of town to watch the poor people’s opera…the crowd was heaving – drama, action, theatre …can’t explain so won’t. Then dinner at french bistro then a walk on the wild side by heading to seedy salsa discoteque owned by group of black dominican republic dudes… men checked for guns on way in…one of the female members of the party was very taken with the gentlemen that frequent this business…but my lips remained sealed… you cannot keep a good kiwi chick down…

P.S. (Dauniika writing this) we all have hangovers swelling our brains (Mike said “my head is the circumference of Texas”). We are slowly piecing together the events of last night that led us to a drug baron’s hang out. Quite frightening in retrospect but a hell of a lot of fun last night. Off to Palermo to (finally) go shopping today. Pesos are weighing down the pockets…

Sunday 27 April 2008…

Cool town isn’t it a pity, back of my neck feeling dirt and gritty…

Day three of the Howdy extravaganza and eyes are looking tired and bloodshot – lack of sleep in one of the apartments thanks to two days of all night partying downstairs…we are all on standby to leave for one of the biggest football matches of the year in 1/2 hour – San Lorenzo vs Boca (Maradona’s team) – by the way Maradona has just gone to cuba again to have a tummy tuck, this time.

Yesterday it was the Eva Peron Museum – wonderful tour by young Eva fanatic – low on fact, big on myth, Lacey Graham lapped it up… in short a story of dirty wealthy people and Eva and her poor people… but Eva serves very nice kai in her restaurant.

Then it was a stroll down Avenida Libertador passed massive bronze door handles, doorman and cafes… ending up at bar established in the mid 1800’s or pizza and pudding…and beer and all dying to go home until the owner shouted us more beer…

This morning 3/4’s have wandered off to check out the antique market just up the road… how long have i been here…feels like months…

Saturday 26 April 2008

I’m no foody but it was…

it was food from heaven delivered on a bed of something. We headed to the north of buenos aires for our dinner with Diego, his wife Sandra and their private restaurant which operates out of their home. Greeted at the door by Sandra who escorted us out to the small back garden where they grow several native Argentine varieties of fresh herbs that are central to their dishes. Served a mix of white wine, sparkling water and fresh herbs in small shot glasses as an aperitif and met Diego. Super cool young dude who returned last year from working in a super famous Vegan restaurant in San Fran – millennium – and is now lining them up with his ‘restaurante privado’ in Buenos Aires. I don’t where to start with the food other than we received six perfect courses with matching wines that left us gagging for more – potato soup made of small potatoes only found in the Andes mixed with fresh herbs, a fresh sheeps milk tamale, river trout on a bed of i don’t know what – and wines from Salta in the north of Argentina and Mendoza.

Cool people. I am very weary that only on day one we have peaked! As after dinner (around 1pm) we did literally roar in two taxis – one taxi driver yelling in my ear ‘i hate johnny (tony) blair,’ weaving, speeding, juddering, screeching – one of the kiwis says it was ‘like a bloody carnival ride’. Then we strode into a belle epoch run down mansion and watched the Friday night tango meet until 3:30 am…it was still going strong when we left.

It’s now only day 2…

Friday 25 April, 2008

The kids are alright…

I thought i was going to get a ride to the airport with Jesus…but Hector was the driver who turned up in the people mover – and little kiwis arrived safely rocking out on the back of their heels as kiwis tend to arrive anywhere…certainly a different walking style from the flight from Rio that arrived just prior…even Hector commented.

So quite a nice sight to see the bunch of Aucklanders and Wellingtonians all first time to South America greet the latin vibe…after allocation of apartments started with ‘film set’ opening to the tour via beers in Plaza Dorrego with a couple doing lovely relaxed ‘free form’ tango in plaza lined with trees and belle epoch buildings – big thing they can’t get over is how men and woman hold hands affectionately in the street and the sight of young men kissing each other on the cheek.

First evening was dinner of tapas at an old Spanish restaurant where the waiters always speak with a Spanish accent… octopus, paella etc.

As intrepid, inquisitive travellers these are a brilliant bunch – so today after breakfast we walked from the British built turn of the century train station at Retiro uptown to Recoleta – a different world from San Telmo…taking in the mall of the rich and false lipped, the monument with lit flame and 24 hour live guards to those fallen at the Battle of the Malvinas (Falkands), the Sun Newspaper would say ‘gotcha’ (as in the English sunk the General Belgrano) and the ex-home for the Pope which is now a very, very, very upmarket hotel. (as no doubt it always was…just for a guest of one)

Half Howdy’s to put it bluntly buggered from little sleep, other half are bullet proof and all have agreed to hoon uptown tonight for a cocktails at ‘Home’, the boutique hotel part owned by Nick Seymour – bass player for Crowded House – and a couple from Ireland – one pure Irish name of Patricia O’shea who is pure Argentine.

then off to dinner at the private restaurant the New York Times described as the freshest approach to latin food in a long time. (read vegetarian, i believe).

The females are salivating the groovy range of winter boots and are straining at the leash to spend…

Tomorrow it’s guns and football at San Lorenzo stadium – there are seven of us and only six flac jackets…

Thursday 24 April, 2008…

Football and guns…

Ok, I am safely on the ground in Buenos Aires writing this in a lovely airy apartment in San Telmo – the fast improving, ‘left bank’ joint in this city. The weather is perfect 25-28 during day and 18-20 in the evenings. Long may it last.

Easy flight over – surprisingly – light dinner, popped a melatonin – blew up pillow, plugged my lugs, covered eyes,…and got some quality Mike time. Would say 6 plus hours.

Zoomed into town via usual swerving, foot flat to the boards taxi to meet the heavily pregnant Juliana who is the agent for the apartments.
Have checked out both apartments and they are bloody fab – one huge and almost rambling with a roof terrace that looks over San Telmo and the other a very rare find – features with three great sized double bedrooms.

First day on the ground felt great – made myself stay up until 11 pm – by going out for usual great walk from San Telmo to the Microcentro and along Avenida Corrientes where had a pizza and cheap red standing up at one of the great old rough and tough italian pizza joints on Avenida Corrientes that have been there since turn of last century – then to cap off ‘stay up at all cost’ went to a movie at one of the upmarket outfits here. ‘Pasion’ with Clare Danes in it… a stella cast as the pr would say with Vanessa Redgrave, Toni Collette, Natasha Richardson and Glen Close…and Meryl Streep …and it still struggled but in weird way I loved it even though it didn’t know what it wanted to be…

So have now booked several restaurants, re-checked people mover, and penciled in a football game for this weekend– hight drama with all football matches this weekend as only a couple of weeks ago some poor player was shot dead after the game. I understand that there were also general stabbings betweens fans especially those who lost huge amounts of money on sidebets. So has been hell getting coveted tickets – was about to wade up to stadiums and knock on the gates! However, now have tickets to Boca vs San Lorenzo.

Man, wise decision to come down a few days earlier to get things in order…it would have been hard yacka to stumble off plane and go into auto David Niven urbane mode with a whole bunch of newbie to B.A. gringos stumbling behind.

Last night a cool beer in a bar opened in 1909 – cheap red and some empanadas – and watched the old guys playing chess and young students studying… then trotted off to a jazz concert at a local jazz bar. Great evening, especially as my favourite bus – el 10 took me up town and downtown without a bother.

Ok, now the fun begins – off with the driver Jesus to pick up the Wellingtonians and the Aucklanders…

hasta luego…

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3 Responses to “Travel Blog 2008”

  1. Sharee Bartlett May 8, 2008 at 7:37 pm #

    Hey Mike,
    day two, back to the grind stone . All the worse for wear. thanks for the blog, I’m going to be sharing it with absolutely everyone as is the best way to share this experience. I couldn’t quite express in words today the holiday I’ve just had, the pics will though. The fun, the chats, the laughs, the one more blocks we all shared.
    good stuff mate,


  2. Shayne and Kim Hunter May 9, 2008 at 2:39 am #

    Howie. Just a quick email to say thanks for showing us a good time in BA. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. BA was more than we expected and we wouldn’t have seen what we did and laughed as much as we did if you hadn’t been there with us.

    Sharee, Daunika, Allison, Lacey. We enjoyed travelling with you all. We feel fortunate to have shared a wonderful time in such a unique place with a great bunch of people.

    BA will stay in our memories for sure and we will get back there again for sure.

    We look forward to catch up for a reunion in AK sometime and if you are down this way please look us up. There always a bed or more if needed.

    Shayne & Kim

  3. Dauniika May 12, 2008 at 3:11 am #

    Uncle Mikey…

    I’m suffering from Buenos Aires withdrawals! I have to keep fighting the urge to speak pidgeon spanish.
    It was such a grand time and such a wonderful group of people. I miss everyone! Dinner is just not the same without a three hour discussion, as many bottles of malbec, and twice as many decisions then mind-changes on where we shall dine – and then a fourteen block journey to get there (not including the 6 “just one more block” blocks).

    Looking forward to the reuinion guys!

    Dauniika xo

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