Author Archives: Luisa

About Luisa

I am a traveller, a Nonna, and a wannabe Italian!

History, Shoes, and Happy Faces



The Dows-Weinberger team together once again!  Mike’s been to BsAs 4 times so will act as our tour guide.  After our first day of reconnection, catching up on each other’s news, naps for them, we set out on our first day, albeit not together!!

With a nod to some divergent interests, I struck out alone to go tango shoe shopping while the other three did a walking tour of the city.  First—a capsulization of my adventures.

I found myself at the new DNI store, tried a few pairs, and came away with black alpaca.


Open-toe shoes will not be in my repertoire for at least a year, I’ve decided.

I discovered via map that if I walked straight down Anchorena (street) I would reach Recoleta cemetery, our designated meeting place.  Why not? I had time, and walking would allow me to feel like a local. Telma. . .I was continually aware of uneven cobblestones holes, and uneven pavements.  I didn’t fall!!

Window shopping along the way, a shop with hosiery-covered legs in the window got my interest, as a “beginner tanguera” always needs stockings.  What a treat as I went inside to discover an elderly shopkeeper and his shelves of neatly boxed stockings.

9642A124-297C-49B8-B4C2-61C9D16AB4EE.jpegHe spoke not a word of English, and we managed to connect with his insistence that I needed a certain type of lycra pantyhose for tango (I think he spied my DNI bag), and me trying to say that I wanted patterned tights.  I ended up with a pair of lycra and a patterned pair and when I asked if I could do a selfie, he was clearly pleased!


He gave me his business card.


Moving onward toward our meeting place the sun was beaming and I was regretting not bringing my hat.  Not to worrry.  I spied a hat-seller near our meeting place.

The three walkers and I met up under the gum tree as planned, had lunch, and from our window spied the same group walking tour that they had broken away from in the morning.  We rejoined them as they entered Recoleta Cemetery.


La Recoleta Cemetery (Spanish: Cementerio de la Recoleta) is a cemetery located in the Recoleta neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It contains the graves of notable people, including Eva Perón, presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy, and a granddaughter of Napoleon. In 2011, the BBC hailed it as one of the world’s best cemeteries, and in 2013, CNN listed it among the 10 most beautiful cemeteries in the world.  (FromWikipedia)

The architecture was stunning, and Mike led us to the grave of Eva Peron who, as Mike says, would ”turn over in her grave if she knew she was buried among rich people.”


The small church beside the cemetery. . .


Afternoon apertivi on our balcony and then a walk down Santa Fe revealed the “second most beautiful bookstore in the world” El Atanea, a former theater.


One particular title jumped out at us. . .


The world is watching us. . .and not for the reasons we were once proud of.

Buenos Aaaahhhhries


Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Buenos Aires, El Calafate. . .now back to BsAs and a HUGE exhale.  This is where we will be for ONE WHOLE WEEK!  We can unpack, do laundry, and live the life, and believe me we are!!


Our view from our 8th floor apartment right on Avenida Santa Fe.  This AirBnB has it all. . .colonial charm, marble staircases and lobby, a gated elevator like you see in 007 movies, an outdoor balcony, an enclosed balcony, and a WASHING MACHINE!!  And if I told you the price you’d think I was lying because let’s just say to divide it in half for two couples to stay here it costs us less per night than most meals.

But first a last view of the magnificent Lake Argentino. . .


And an aerial look at the city of 15 million. . .


Our very sweet home for the next week. . .

Arrival, unpacking, then off to a milonga at La Viruta, the Armenian cultural center which has a kickass and outrageously fun evening, complete with a tango orchestra and all for the entrance fee of $7.50 pp.


Although the dance floor looks empty, by the end of our evening (11 pm—early by BsAs standards) there were at least 200 people there and we were having all kinds of dance lessons at all levels. . .tango, bachata, rock’n’roll.  We had a near meltdown when we mistakenly got in the advanced tango group, so the intermediate tango instructor had to talk me down off the cliff with “Hey, you’re already here.  Come.  Dance.”  We did and we learned two new steps which we will attempt to integrate.

Yes.  We think this will be our FIRST visit to Buenos Aires.


Icebergs, El Calafate, La Zaina. . .oh my!!


Leaving EOLO behind (BTW, we learned that Eolo is the name of the Greek god of the wind, and this place was aptly named!), we moved into El Calafate town to experience whatever it had to offer.  First, our impressions of the town:  reminiscent of other towns that are adventure-based, this one had 1) numerous outfitters, 2) booking agents for adventures, 3) tourist shops, 4) souvenir shops, 5) did I mention tourist shops!  And it also had chocolate shops, bakeries, gelato.  And WIND.  Lots of it. We were blown off course and found ourselves in a chocolate shop for Don’s favorite, hot chocolate with Bailey’s. . .and as it turns out,mine, too!  It wasn’t overly sweet, which suited my recently honed taste buds just fine.


A year ago our friends, Doug and Joan, visited el Calafate and they recommended we eat at La Zaina.  According to Joan, “Don’t be afraid when you see the outside.”  She was right.  A corrugated metal structure (large shed?) belied the deliciousness inside.


Our meals were divine. . Patagonian trout for me and lamb meatballs with pasta for Don.  We actually returned there the following night for dinner. When ya got a good thing goin’, go with it.  The second night we shared a bottle of Malbec which Doug had recommended and we were very happy!

Our soft adventure for the following day was a tour of icebergs and glaciers from the comfort of the Captain’s Club.  We set out toward the Upsala Glacier and along the way I asked our cabin steward about the kayaking adventure which we had signed up for and which was cancelled just two weeks ago.  He told me there hasn’t been kayaking for the past year due to the instability of the Upsala Glacier.  It’s melting from the underneath and therefore doesn’t touch the bottom of the lake.  Guess the kayak company took our money (which was refunded in full) just in case the glacier somehow became miraculously stable and they could resume paddling.

The area was beautiful and once again, we had to pinch ourselves to really believe that we were at one of the southernmost areas on the globe.


One of the guys lasssoed a chunk of 500-year-old floating ice which later appeared in our drinks!  Did the captured air bubbles from 500years ago give us a little sparkle?!

Floating by the Speggazzini glacier we were fortunate to see a large calf break off from the bottom, which we were told was quite unusual.  Nearby was a “small” hanging glacier.


So our time in Patagonia was at an end.  We rode the range, hiked (flora and fauna coming up in another blog), explored the town, ate, drank, sailed on lake Argentino, viewed glaciers and icebergs from every possible angle, and got more wind-blown than at any other time in our lives.  No need for hairdryers here; your hair gets “the look.”

We were finished.  One last hug to Francisco Moreno, usually called Perito (explorer, specialist) Moreno for which the glacier is named, a walk around his park, and we were ready to say farewell.




Perito Moreno


Last January we hiked through rain, mud, and rocks to view the Franz Josef glacier in New Zealand and were rewarded with. . .FOG!!! No glacier sighting.  Today we went by bus and were rewarded with. . .


We were able to get up close and personal with Perito Moreno, the third largest glacier in Argentina with a vast ice field of 5 km wide and 20 km deep.  We were TOO OLD to join others who donned crampons and walked on the glacier, although at the actual kiosk of the guy running the crampon crew he looked Don up and down and said, “I think you’re only 55, but the tour is all filled up.”  Advice to all:  DO ADVENTURES WHILE YOU ARE YOUNG!!


A series of walkways led us to various views.  Our bus guide told us to always watch the glacier for calving because “once you hear it, it’s too late.”  It sorta became that old saying, “A watched pot never boils.”  We saw bits of ice fall,  but the mamma glacier bore no calves that we could see, although we heard some.


EOLO packed us a lovely lunch, and a Patagonian sparrow joined us!


Mother Nature once again intrigued us with intricate designs.  What IS it that makes the ice so many shades of blue!


In the late afternoon we returned to EOLO for a swim, and a sniff of wood smoke in the air.  Upon further investigation we discovered dinner!


Oh yes. . . Another wonderful day filled with indelible memories!

The Patagonian Spirit


Daggone.. . .the alarm went off at 2:45 am and we were in a taxi by 3:30 am, enroute once again to AEP airport for a flight to El Calafate in Patagonia.  I hope I never see the guy who sat beside me on the plane (other than Don!) because I know I had the ugly-snort, open-mouth, head-jerk falling asleep routine for the entire flight!

Our destination was EOLO, set on the Patagonian steppe with vast views.  Our first look. . .


With only 17 rooms, this former estancia (ranch) sits on 10,000 acres.  The views. . .the vastness. . .it’s simply Patagonia as I had always imagined it to be.

We arrived at 9 am to find a breakfast table graciously awaiting us, after which we enjoyed a nap and a shower.  Then it was off to explore the steppe on horseback.   In my most romantic, wild notion,  if I had to pick an outdoor adventure that smacked of days gone by, it would be riding horseback in Patagonia.  Here we were, doing it!


Along the way our guide Frederico pointed out the “calafate” berry, similar to a blueberry, for which the town is named.  Cattle bones, a steer carcass, all manner of scrub vegetation, armadillo burrows, large hares, the Patagonian sparrow, a large vulture called “jote de cabeza colarada “ and the wind, always the wind. . . .At one point I discovered tears streaming down my face.  Was it the wind or the sheer magnificence of the experience?

Returning to Eolo, we asked for afternoon tea/hot chocolate, which of course, appeared.  The old mismatched china lent a feeling of permanence, a reflection of antiquity and solid-ness.


If the landscape is the queen, then EOLO is certainly the ladies-in-waiting.  Elegance and antique furniture, abundant windows, and quiet pervade.



Dinner. . .a cocktail at the bar, a wine chat with the bartender, a table in front of the window. Could today’s beef be the best yet?!


Throughout the day every single staff person greeted Don with “Happy Birthday.”  A sweet cake, candle, and NO SINGING at dinner. . .


Happy Birthday to you, honey.  Seventy is your new 50, and we have many more adventures to experience.  We’re so lucky to be here in the largeness of Patagonia, reflecting the length and breadth of your life and our time together!

2nd half of “A Fine Day”


So our plans for the day included shoe shopping (non-tango type) at a place I found online.  The taxi driver dropped us at the address listed, and there seemed to be NO shop.  Beh!  So we wandered, found lunch, wandered down Santa Fe and then got a taxi (with a guy who had to be in his 80’s and “forgot” to put on the meter until Don told him about it).


This time the shop was open, we were buzzed in, yet there was some confusion over my appointment, which didn’t seem to appear in their book.  Mamma mia!  Hey you guys, this jacket is my CHRISTMAS PRESENT, and I intend to get measured.  But I calmly thought to myself, “These people can create a jacket in 4 hours and we’ll be back here in BsAs, so if worst comes to worst, we can still make this happen.”

So despite a significant language barrier but aided by a photo of a wonderful jacket that Cat found online, I believe I will have a lovely leather jacket waiting for me when we return from our Patagonia jaunt.


They sure seemed to know what they were doing, and it was fun to choose the color and type of leather.


Che sorpresa! I noticed that Don was looking through men’s jackets, and before I knew it, he was trying them on.  He, too,will come home with a lamb skin jacket of a design that we had fun creating. . .a lapel from this style, a pocket from that one, stitching or no stitching for details.


Now if I REALLY, REALLY wanted something elegant, this is what I would buy. . .


It’s chinchilla and is the softest, most scrumptious thing I’ve ever felt (other than my two grand babies!! )

And just look at the chinchilla vest and jacket.  Wowee!!


After all that shopping it was time for a spritz, and aperol was not to be found so had to choose Campari instead.    Love the seltzer bottle!


(Dang . .. can you tell that the weather here is humid?  I’ve got that stupid CURL on my forehead that only appears in high humidity!)

Final activity of the day was the free walking tour around Recoleta.  Our guide, Vicky, was superb, and in addition to seeing the sights we picked up the following interesting bits of information:

*Soybeans are Argentina’s biggest export
*Chamuyo—the Argentine method of over-exaggeration and embellishing any situation.
*Jewish population—10% of the city
*No iPhones or Apple products are sold in Argentina due to government regulations.
*Plastic surgery is included in private insurance and many people get it yearly.
*Most adults go to a psychologist weekly, and it’s just considered something that is normal. BsAs has the highest number of psychologists in the world.
*The French-looking buildings in the city look that way because they ARE French. ALL building materials including lampposts were brought from France.


This fountain was a gift fromSpain and is like the one in Barcelona with the same idea:  If you drink the water you will come back.  Sorta like the Trevi Fountain or straddling the bull mosaic in Turin.  Looks like we’ll be coming back!

The tour concluded near the cemetery where Eva Peron was finally buried after being “unburied” and moved around, even out of the country, for 14 years.  There are a ton of stories about her body during this time, including her fingers and nose being cut off and sold, her body shipped out of the country, being hidden in a home and when the owner thought he heard a prowler got a gun and shot, only to discover he had murdered his wife.  Eva now rests in a small grave.

The big gum tree by the cemetery is 200 years old.  It reminded us of the live oaks in Beaufort with limbs supported by posts, or a random metal man.


Our stomachs were growling so we stopped in at the cafe on the corner, La Biala, formerly haunted by race car drivers. .  .and these guys. .  .


It was a fine day out indeed!

Half of a Fine Day. . .(2 B Contd. . .)


I remember that our kids had a Wallace and Gromit video called “A Fine Day Out” and I always think about it when we have a day like we had today.  After a leisurely waking up with NO alarm, we strolled down Libertador to the Argentine equivalent of our AAA.


We weren’t there to get our license renewed or plan a trip, although we saw the familiar lines of folks waiting to do just that.  No, we had read about the “hidden” auto museum and that’s what we came to see.



Small but a nice collection!

The day had just begun and turned out to be nicely full, but now it’s 9:30 pm and we have a 5 am flight to Patagonia.  Tomorrow’s alarm is set for 2:45 am.

Over’n’out. . . .