Friday, December 10, 2010

15 Things I Learned in Buenos Aires

I haven't been to many countries, but I've been to enough to learn that there are always things you don't expect. For my final blog post about our vacation to Buenos Aires, I've compiled a few of the things I learned in Argentina, along with a few photos that didn't fit anywhere else.

The Bathroom

1. I knew toilets in the Southern Hemisphere swirled in the opposite direction. The surprise? It was difficult to see because the bottom of the bowls are more rectangular than circular.

2. Toilet paper often goes in the trash can and not the toilet. I'm not sure if this is always the case. If I saw a sign, I put it in the trash. No sign, the toilet. Sometimes it went in the toilet even if there was a sign -- old habits die hard. If you hear about a rash of plumbing problems in Buenos Aires, it's probably because of me.

3. If a restroom has toilet paper, soap, good lighting *and* a toilet that flushes, you must immediately mark it on a map and visit it repeatedly. I did not do this but should have. Instead, I had a variety of not-so-fun bathroom experiences -- the worst being no toilet paper (I always carried some in my purse, however), no flush, bad lighting and no (or a small, heavily used bar of) soap.

Monumento a los Españoles

The Street

4. Some intersections have no stop signs or lights, and cars don't take turns.

5. You can't stroll 10 steps without encountering loose tiles or a broken sidewalk. Walk at your own risk.

The Food & Drink

6. Restaurants are the best places to break $100 peso bills. Everyone else gives you the look of death if you try to use them.

7. Coffee shops give you a tiny glass of seltzer water with your order.

8. Drinking fountains don't seem to exist. The only one I saw was in the airport.

9. Residents of Buenos Aires eat late. Really late. Restaurants are just starting to fill up at 8 p.m. They're hopping at midnight.

10. An order of empanadas sometimes comes with a guide similar to what you get here with a box of chocolates. Different crimps indicate different fillings.

11. Buenos Aires loves Stella Artois.

12. But not draft beer.

The Odds & Ends

13. Buenos Aires has palm trees!

14. But no definitive skyline.

View from our apartment.

15. And the biggest lesson: I should always take a winter vacation in a summer destination.

Jardín Japonés

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