As Phil stated in the previous post, we had quite a full day yesterday. It seems some days we take it easy and do nothing of any consequence, then there are days where we are constantly on the go. It actually works out pretty well and makes for some really great days. After voting for president and navigating our way through the Buenos Aires bus station, we finally took part in what I most looking forward to while in Argentina–wine!
Thanks to Phil’s diligent research, he found Anuva Wines, a small business dedicated to helping people discover small South American wineries with a personal touch. We found they offer tasting sessions twice daily in English, so we eagerly signed up. The reviews raved about this experience with several people stating it was the best thing they did while in Buenos Aires. They also bragged of the generous pours and refills, often rare at such tastings. The reviews were spot on. We arrived to the Anuva Wine Loft to be greeted by Cara, our hostess. Along with four other visitors, she explained to us the process of tasting wine and the importance of using all the senses. We looked. We smelled. But most importantly, we tasted. Using all Argentinian wines, of course, she started us with a delicious sparkling white called “Hom”. We moved onto a Torrontes (my favorite white wine grape), and then onto the reds. When I think of Argentinian wines, I always think red. She introduced me to a new grape called Bonarda which has traditionally been used with blended wines, but has recently become more popular on its own. She explained to us the importance of sun, temperature, rain and altitude in the wine industry. With the Andes Mountains, Argentina has a the perfect conditions for certain grapes to grow, most especially Malbec. This was easily my favorite wine of the tasting, probably because it is what I often choose to drink at home. We were offered one more red blend, and they all came along with a different food pairing. With each glass Cara offered insights and information…and refills if we so desired. Yes and yes! After we finished, the order forms came out. Of course, we could buy all the wines we tasted (and then some). We could choose to take them with us or have them shipped home. Everyone immediately started filling out the form to have one or more cases sent home. After we had decided which 12 bottles to get, we put the order form away and figured it’s probably best not to make this kind of decision after drinking so much! We settled for taking two bottles with us and we will order more online if we wish (when we are totally sober).
After the wine tasting, we had a short respite before going to our first tango lesson. One of the reasons we chose our hotel, The Tango Suites, is because they offer complimentary tango lessons, at all skill levels, to their guests. Tango is everywhere in Buenos Aires and we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to learn a little bit ourselves. There were two teachers and six students. We kicked off our shoes in order to move more fluidly across the floor. We started merely by walking to the beat of the music, feeling the rhythm. This wasn’t always easy–tango music changes often and there is not a strong back beat. It was difficult to keep in time. After we learned to walk, we paired up and walked with a partner. No touching, just sensing one another’s movements. We slowly graduated to touching arms, then embracing, then traditional dance posture. We took turns leading each other and often changed partners. There was quite a bit of stumbling, and not a little of stepping on toes, but it was great fun. I would love to take another lesson, or maybe even a dance class where we learn lots of different dances. I don’t think Phil had quite the same experience. He seemed to enjoy the walking and the earlier steps of the lesson. Once we got to the embrace and traditional dance posture, he got frustrated and I could tell he was ready to be done with it. If I take future dance lessons, I’m pretty sure I’ll have to find a different partner.
After we finished the tango, we hurried out of the hotel to meet up with Dan, a freelance writer who covers Argentinian futbol. While Phil was attempting to procure tickets to a futbol match, he found Sam and Dan, two futbol writers. When we couldn’t make the game happen, we opted instead to meet for a drink and talk about life in Buenos Aires. Due to the crazy amounts of rain, Sam couldn’t make it, but we were able to meet up with Dan at a pub called Gibralter. We chatted for a couple of hours about life in Argentina, futbol culture and the differences between the UK and South America. Having lived here for 3 years, it was interesting to hear Dan’s perspective. We always enjoy talking to locals and getting their take. We spoke of the overwhelming homeless problem and he explained that compared to other big cities in South America, Buenos Aires is considered wealthy. It is all relative, I suppose. He also shared a few stories about attempted muggings on the street. He was much braver than I would have been, standing up to these would be attackers and refusing to give them anything. In both cases, they walked away. This certainly made me look over my shoulder a bit more on our way back to the hotel.
We have had full and interesting days here in Buenos Aires, but I have to say, I am ready to go. I don’t really like it here. It is a really big city, very spread out and not very well served by the subway. It seems to take 45 minutes to get anywhere. Not only that, part of it just aren’t very nice. It is dirty, with broken sidewalks, graffiti and trash everywhere. And homelessness is rampant, even in the nicest areas. I am very ready to get out of Buenos Aires and head to wine country, which is good because that is exactly what we are doing. Fourteen-hour, overnight bus ride, here we come!