Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rosario

Melissa, Rob, and I headed to Rosario last Monday afternoon and arrived in time to meet Esteban (our gracious host) and then head out to do some exploring. Esteban is a friend of Santi's who has stayed at our house a few times with the rest of his band and he has always said that if I wanted to come to Rosario I should tell him and stay with him. Well I took him up on it and brought two friends and in return he gave us a room with two bunk beds and an air conditioner!!

Rosario's location on the map - it is Argenina's third largest city and located in the Santa Fe Province

Our first walk around Rosario was a nice evening stroll that covered the downtown, the main strip of the old city, part of the coast, and a few important monuments. We noticed a few things. Everyone was shopping in the downtown area that resembled Calle Florida here in BA. There were lots and lots of shopping bags, the cafes were full and everyone was walking around with friends. On the main street in the old neighborhood everyone was strolling in their finest and it felt like people got a tiny bit more dressed up there than in BA. And something even stranger was that everyone who was not wearing their finery was in their jogging clothes! It felt like half the city was out running, biking, or doing crunches by the river. There is a beautiful boardwalk just like in Montevideo and as the sunset it was put to good use by joggers and drink goers alike. The restaurants that bordered the river looked a little pricey for us, but beautiful and relaxing.
We then headed to the main monuments of Rosario and were were not disappointed. These monuments gave DC a serious run for its money but then again you can just see for yourself with these photos I've taken from Google:

After we had fit in all the sightseeing we could it was dark and we were hungry. We headed for a large Avenue Esteban had recommended where we could search for a place to eat, and with the advice of two nice ladies we found a parilla that made a pretty good lomo and served up some nice mollejas. Top that all off with a bottle of wine and some inexplicably free glasses of champagne and I was ready for that top bunk and some AC.
The next day was maybe the hottest and most humid day of my life. No exaggeration. Ok, maybe just the hottest, most humid day that I had to spend sightseeing. But it was almost unbearable. Nonetheless we soldiered on and traipsed around dripping and drooping and looking for places with cold air within which we could find some relief. We began at El Cairo, an important bar where intellectuals supposedly gather, for breakfast. We then started walking, and walking and walking. But enough complaining. Here's what we did:
One of the highlights for me was the Villa Hortensia, a old mansion that was rescued by the city after it had been abandoned for 10 years. Located in Barrio Alberdi (swankiest of the swank) and built in 1890, the house was owned by various aristocrats and eventually abandoned. Its the kind of place that you just can't even imagine living in because finding enough furniture for a place that big would be unimaginable. But you can kind of imagine living there, and you can kind of imagine what it would be like to have servants and painted ceilings. You imagine it for a moment and then shake it off cause it ain't never gonna happen. Sigh. A girl can dream....

painted ceilings and a light fixture in Villa Hortensia

Villa Hortensia from the outside

Before seeing my dream Villa we spent an hour or so on the beach that borders part of the Rio Parana. It was not my ideal location after spending Christmas at the white sandy beaches of Pinamar, but Melissa and Rob were excited about the prospects of wearing bathing suits in January so we went. The air was oppressively hot but the people watching was classic (best sighting - very large woman wearing a shirt that said something like "money over bitches" or something equally ridiculous). The river was almost refreshing.


I like the way the city runs along the curve of the river (reminds me of Chicago...I think)

Last but not least we headed to the Contemporary Art Museum located in this here building I've got located below. The silos are empty and the whole exhibit is located in the building on the right. It was a strange museum with very small rooms and very hot stairways. The best parts were these small wooden statues with exaggerated extremities and a dark room lined with black felt that had different colored sewing pins arranged to create pictures of rooms in a house. The kitchen was amazing and had a real looking oven. What will they think of next?


We happily headed to the bus station as the heat began to break, and almost didn't make it as we were two feet away from t-boning the side of an ambulance at an intersection where we didn't have the right of way. But we were ready to get back and to put an end to our incessant cab rides (we didn't have the time or monedas to figure out the bus system). We got lucky and got seats in the first row on the second level of the bus. For those of you unfamiliar with the buses here, the second level of the bus has a giant windshield just like the driver below and the view is amazing. Argentina is very flat and full of plains, so when a storm started brewing we had an awesome view of one of the craziest electrical storms I've ever seen. There was lightening darting across the sky every time I looked. It was amazing until the torrential downpour began and our bus seemed to speed up and I had to move to the back because I couldn't stop picturing my horrific death every time we passed a truck that was for sure about to skid and crash into my corner of the bus. After an hour I was able to move back to the front of the bus, but the awesome power of nature was humbling in its power.
My overall impression of Rosario was that I liked it. Its got most of what BA has on as smaller scale, and the people seem a little more relaxed, a little healthier, and for the most part they are better dressers. I could see how living there would be very nice, but 24 hours was enough for me at this stage in my life. However, I recommend it if you have the time or if you can time a visit with some sort of event.