Learning Curve: Taking the Bus

They call buses los colectivos here. The bus system is pretty extensive, with many lines serving the city pretty comprehensively. Each bus route has its own number, colours and bus stop. And disparate routes are part of collectives belonging to several different owners—hence the name. Sounds confusing, but porteños have found a way to make sense of it all with guidebooks like the Guia “T” or the Filcar (which we have). Here’s what we’ve learned:
1. Get the guidebook at a newsstand. Spend some hours on the guidebook. They’re confusing at first, but start to make sense because of osmosis. Swear.
2. Don’t just go to any bus stop. Each bus has its own number and its own stop. These numbers are not obvious and you have to employ the eagle eye for this.
3. Everyone has to flag the bus so the driver knows how many passengers to pick up.

This took us almost a week to get straight. Here, enjoy the fruit of our confusion and embarrassment.

fancy feast (not cat food)

I love cheap Singaporean hawker food which is unprecious and satisfying. On the other end of the foodie spectrum, those molecular gastronomic joints back in NYC always seemed too pretentious for me. Sure, I read reviews and sampled critically good food occasionally. But the restaurants I tried tended to have a home-cooking slant to them. So when Davidson gently persuaded (haha) me to try La Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar while in San Telmo, I was expectedly cynical at first.

We were presented with a 14-course tasting menu that cost AR$140 each. Ouch, but a good deal compared to some David Chang venture. (I do love Momofuku with a passion, so don’t even think I am dissing.)

As expected, the plates were huge and the portions were widdle. But they were so pretty. And I did get pretty full after 14 courses. And now I know what those Top Chef judges mean when they talk about deconstruction. We had deconstructed french fries and they were supes unique in a good way. Nice serendipitous surprise for me—I fished out a magazine about Singapore that was passively sitting on their hipster periodical table. Nicely enough, the restaurant was decidedly low-key looking. The major exclusive crap part was the locked front door, even though you could see through the glass from the outside. I guess the waiter has to deem you worthy. Glad he let us in!

Enough chitter chatter, check out my fave dishes and eat here someday. It is worth every penny, especially if the Argentine peso still exchanges in your favour. Which I think will be the case for a while. So sorry, I can’t even explain what I ate—the chef dictated our tasting menu. Hey, you don’t tell Damien Hirst what kind of shark to show.

new barrio, new pictures

According to our guidebooks, Sunday is San Telmo street & antiques fair day. We’re undoubtedly tourists here, so we follow Time Out Buenos Aires. (Aside: I have never looked in Time Out New York, ever)

I did say San Telmo was grim in a previous post. Let me amend that by saying it has dodgy blocks—we really saw children huffing something from a plastic bag on one street corner. But there is a gigantor street fair full of crafts and tourists, some chic-looking restaurants (a future post on that) and some amazing old buildings—some in disrepair. The landscape reminded us of Cuba, but cleaner.