10 October 2013

Day 13--Time to Say Ciao

Since it's a city full of Italians, they all say Ciao when parting, instead of Adios, and it's time to do that.  Flights to the US take more than 10 hours, so they are typically overnight both directions, so we didn't have to even head to the airport until 5pm.  We had a fantastic breakfast at the Sheraton (including a Dulce de Leche-stuffed Medialuna, which was dusted in what must have been cocaine, as the pastry was terribly addicting) and then decided to take a taxi to the top of Calle Florida, the pedestrian-only shopping street not too far away.

As is common in BsAs, there were quite a few protests underway around the city, and their President, Cristina Kirchner, was having brain surgery that day from a hematoma from an earlier fall, so there were a lot of roadblocks set up around the city, which took our Taxi ride from a quick jaunt into a lengthy experience in bad Buenos Aires traffic, which we thought we had already seen.  I'll post some more about traffic in the wrapup.  Eventually the taxi driver gave up when we got a few blocks away from our desired drop-off spot, and recommended we just get out there, so we did, and walked down the pedestrian mall.

The mall was jam-packed with business people, tourists, shop attendants, and the Cambio men.  This is the heart of the black market for US Dollars, where you can get nearly twice the official rate for your US Currency, but since it was the end of our trip, we ignored all 794 we passed by.  Only a few switched to English in front of us, meaning we must have blended in with the natives, at least a little bit.

We meandered in and out of shops, that eventually started repeating themselves in the short 10-block mall, and ducked into the impressive Galerias Pacifico, a Beaux Arts masterpiece built in the late 19th Century to house a grand retailer that didn't survive.  After a few other lives, the building eventually was transformed into a high end shopping mall in the early 90s.  We enjoyed wandering around and getting our last taste of amazing Argentinian ice cream at Freddos, which was perfect.  Their ice cream really is much better than ours, and is scooped out of freezers that keep it at the perfect temperature for being creamy and soft without just turning into soup.

Eventually we make it back to the hotel with a few pesos left, and collect our bags and head to the airport.  It's a long wait to get through all the formalities, but we manage to find a Starbucks at which to spend our last 100 pesos on the drinks we can't get in the states, and settle in for our long flight back home.

One last wrap-up post to come...