Thrift shopping in Buenos Aires [YQrtw Day 61 Jun 7]

vintage Juan Perez

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

After yesterday’s frozen knees incident, mom told me I need to get something warm for the winter. (I still have hopes that the weather would not get too bad or that I could just stay indoors while it’s almost-freezing outside.)

I did look around the shops but everything was over A$200 (~S$50) so I didn’t want to get them. In the end, I decided that I should visit the second hand stores for something warm.

I followed the directions on Foursquare and found Juan Perez’s collection center. The real shop’s just a block away.

Juan Perez thrift store
Juan Perez thrift store

When I entered the shop, I was required to put my bags in a safety bag that was locked. This was to stop people from stealing, I suppose.

The shop had a lot of thick jackets. Some of them had fur and some of them didn’t look warm enough. I searched high and low for something cheap. Sadly, the cheapest I could find was A$145 (~S$36).

I also spotted a Le Sport Sac bag for A$180. My second hand bag of the same brand was tearing at some parts.Even though I really wanted that to replace my old bag, I resisted because finding something warm was more important.

In the ned, I did find a coat that I quite liked. It had a A$145 price tag, a little out of initial goal of A$100. I brought the coat to a mirror.

Then I discovered the stairs to the second floor.

The second floor had a cheaper selection. It didn’t take me a long time to find something I like. Guess how much it was. Only A$70 (~S$18).

After the thrift shop, I decided to visited one of the world’s most beautiful bookstore since I was on the same avenue.

Turns out, El Alteneo was only next door to Movistar which I went to yesterday. Based on photos I’ve seen, I imagined that the shop was huge so I was kind of disappointed to find that the size wasn’t that big.

I just walked around the shelves, looking around. I’ll come back another day and soak in the book smells.

Cycling in the park

After a quick lunch, I joined my future Spanish language schoolmates and one of the school’s advisor for some cycling.

Getting to the bike shop took a long while and loads of walking. The bike ride was very nice since we got to see the park.

The weather was beautiful. It didn’t feel like winter at all and I wished that everyday was the same.

Buenos Aires city and nature.
Buenos Aires city and nature.
Don't do this at home. Taking selfies while cycling.
Don’t do this at home. Taking selfies while cycling.
Derailed. I swear the gods of bicycles don't like me. I've had this problem in San Francisco and Hoi An.
Derailed. I swear the gods of bicycles don’t like me. I’ve had this problem in San Francisco and Hoi An.

The advisor walked us back to the main avenue and I walked back to the hostel. DInner was two microwaved eggs, to save on eating expenses.

Cloudy Buenos Aires. The building has Evita on it.
Cloudy Buenos Aires. The building has Evita on it.

#Bilingualsummer achievements

I signed up for a week of beginner’s Spanish at a language school just opposite my hostel. I cannot stand walking in the cold so the distance is very important for me.

At a cafe, the lady helpfully wrote down the Menu of the Day. Seeing the words on paper made it easier for me to understand, although I thought that papa was actually “father” and found out that it stood for “potatoes”.

I also made use of body language. I passed a tuck shop with a “Reload your Movistar” sticker. Like a caveperson, I pointed to the sign and said, “Si?” The rather cute shopperson said “Si” back and I said “veinte” (I actually remember the number 20!).

And that was how I got my phone credit reloaded with body language.

How do you overcome language barriers?

Speechless in Buenos Aires [Day 60 Jun 6]

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

I’ve been on the road for about 2 months and not being able to speak the local language hasn’t been that much of a problem for me.

But when I went out on the streets of Buenos Aires, I realized that not being able to understand Spanish is not an option here.

I figured that English is widely used in Buenos Aires. I keep reading stories about how Spanish-learners kept getting responses in English so I thought I could survive a while with only knowing how to count to 10 and ask for the toilet.

But I found out the hard way that the only place where people would speak to me in English is in my hostel. Dios mio!

I did take Spanish-for-fun lessons in Singapore because of a cheap Groupon. My favourite line from the class was, “What is your favorite color.” I suppose it’s good as a pick up line and for buying presents for people.

Let me summarize my Spanish fails in the next segment which I’ve enthusiastically call:

#Bilingualsummer achievement

If you remember, #bilingualsummer is a self-imposed period of intensive learning of a foreign language.

O Asked for SUBE in Spanish, retreat when didn’t understand shopowner.

O Understood 20% of hostel employee’s speech about heater in the room.

O Didn’t understand anything Movistar employee said about getting a SIM card but understand that I didn’t need to pay anything.

X Keep mixing up gracias with grazie. Damn you Italian.

X Keep trying to use French to replace Spanish. Apparently it does not work.

Other strange things that happened

Being  person who was raised in the tropic, I am defenceless against cold weather. I didn’t realize how cold Buenos Aires could get in winter until I checked my Weather app.

Buenos Aires weather
Buenos Aires weather

Uh oh… Somebody is in trouble.

But I do have enough clothes to layer on so I was quite warm when I went out. What I didn’t realize was that the exposed area between the end of my skirt and knee-length socks would be assaulted by the wind.

I tried not to care and went to sit on a bench in front of the congress building. Then something wet dropped on me. I realized that it was bird poop. I should buy lottery because this means good luck.

Thank goodness there wasn’t anyone around me or I would think that it’s one of the bird poop scams.

I took out some money from the ATM (charged a crazy 0.038% transaction fee–on top of my Singapore bank fee) I had to come back to the hostel and type away until past noon when the sun.

At night, the hostel had a BBQ (A$70). The BBQ pit was enormous and was roasting slabs of meat. Slabs of meat, I repeat.

The strangest thing was that I didn’t have as much meat as I thought I could. Maybe I was still jet lagged or the smell of meat was too much to endure.

Until next time!

Which country did you have the most difficult time communicating with locals?

Glutton in Greece

Greek gyro

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re going to heading to Greece for some happy glutton time.

 

Before I went to Greece, I had no idea what the people ate. I know from the myths that the gods eat ambrosia and nectar but I was pretty much clueless about what the mortals ate.

I imagine they ate a lot of olives since Athena gave the Athenians the olive tree. Is Greek yogurt really greek or is it just a marketing label?

I do like yogurt but I’ve never a fan of olives. It’s just too salty and tiny to be satisfying.

Fortunately when I reached Athens, I found out that Greek food wasn’t all about olives. I even had meals that were so good that I was willing to stay and eat that for the rest of my life.

Pita gyro

Pita gyro
Pita gyro

After I took a bite of my first pita gyro (pork), I knew I could stay in Athens forever and not get bored with the food.

A gyros is a bit like shawarma in Dubai but there is a choice of pork. For the people living in Malaysia and Singapore, a pork pita gyro is  a bit like eating Chinese roasted pork wrapped in a roti canai/prata.

The first place I had a gyro was at one of the shops opposite the central market. The dish came hot. Pita wrapped the roasted meat, french fries and salad so snuggly that I didn’t mind I was eating raw vegetable.

Frappé

Greek Frappé
Greek Frappé

I love drinking coffee. When I found out that it was a Greek who invented frappé, I knew what my default drink in Greek would be.

The Greek frappé is unlike anything I’ve ever drank. The coffee powder, milk powder and syrup are all whisked by a machine with water added in later.

A thick firm foam appears at the top and would not dissolve even after a very long while. If you taste the foam, it is sour but the drink itself is sweet.

What usually happens is that I finish all the liquid and have remaining foam and ice cubes. I wait for these to dissolve or melt before I sip on the sour remains.

[A side note, if I have to drink either only coffee or only tea for the rest of my life, I would choose tea because it is comforting and makes me less jittery than coffee.]

Traditional breakfast

Greek breakfast
Greek breakfast

Can you believe it? I only had one traditional Greek breakfast. I didn’t pay 5 euro extra for breakfast in Athens and I could only have one meal at my hotel on Mykonos because my ferry was leaving way earlier than breakfast time. :(

Greek yogurt with honey
Greek yogurt with honey

Greek salad and feta cheese

Greek salad and feta cheese
Greek salad and feta cheese

I hate eating raw vegetable. When I saw the salad that came to me, I almost pushed it away. Then I spotted a white chunk of something that looked curiously like tofu.

I nibbled on it and found out that it was salty and tasty. Using that unknown white block, I covered the taste of raw vegetable and finished all my bowl. Thank goodness a Greek salad didn’t have a lot of raw greens.

Later I read that the tofu-like food was feta cheese. Clever old me went to Carrefour and bought a pack of feta cheese.

Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that feta cheese on its own is too salty to be consumed as a main meal.

Souvlaki

Greek souvlaki
Greek souvlaki

The Greek version of satay has a lot more meat on a thicker stick but is also more expensive than a regular stick of satay.

Compared with gyro, I didn’t eat that many souvlaki when in Greece. I like it but it’s not as satisfying as roasted pork. Yum yum.

Moussaka

Greek Moussaka
Greek Moussaka

When I had the moussaka, I thought it was like lasagna but parts of the pasta replaced by eggplant.

The large rectangle contained layers of eggplant, minced meat, cheese and pasta. it was as rich as a lasagna that by the time there was only 3 bites left, I had to stuff the rest into my mouth reluctantly.

Greek pies and pastries

At the little cafes, there was always loads of pastries on display. I usually randomly choose any one of them and nod as if I knew what they were.

Greek pastries on display
Greek pastries on display
Spinach pie
Spinach pie

I’ve never really been a savory pastry person so all the pies just tasted normal to me.

Sugared orange

Sugared orange
Sugared orange

At one of the cafes, they served a sugared orange slice. It was delicious! The tangy and bitter orange peel mixes well with the sugar coating.

Coca Cola in Greek

Coca Cola in Greek
Coca Cola in Greek

Even though I want to drink something local with my meal, I always ended up with a Coca Cola because it was the easiest thing to choose.