La Leona, Argentina – January 2020 – Three for the Price of One

In our travels across North America we have visited the Badlands in South Dakota, seen fossils in Arizona, and dinosaur bones in Colorado. In Southern Patagonia we had the chance to do this all in one place, La Leona.

And because it happens to be on a 30,000 acre ranch owned by one person, it is very restricted as to who can go there. We arranged a tour through one of the agencies in El Calafate, and were very pleased the next morning to see a mini van come to pick us up. Our group had 7 people, a driver and the guide!

The area is about 1.5 hours north of El Calafate – the scenery was fantastic along the way.











After a long drive up a bumpy dirt road, we got out and took off through the badlands.









It wasn’t long before we came upon the first dinosaur bone. They have been removing nearly full dinosaur skeletons from here for more than 20 years, so what is left are the ‘scraps’.

Still very impressive, they welcome you to touch them, hold them, and examine them – just leave them. They even gave us instructions on how to tell bone from rock – lick them. Or rather, lick your finger and press it against the object. If it sticks it is bone, otherwise it is rock.













There is even interesting vegetation throughout.





Our hike through the badlands continued with our guide Roci, until we reached the ‘petrified forest’. Roci was very knowledgeable and gave an excellent overview of what we were seeing, and how it got to be that way.





It is amazing how heavy small fragments of the petrified wood weighs.





We spent about 3 hours wandering around the badlands, finding plenty of petrified wood, and the occasional dinosaur bone.

What an amazing place, and fantastic day. To be able to see and touch these wonders of nature was great – and with such a small group at that.







































































Buenos Aires – January 2020 – Station to Station Spanish History Tour in Art on the Subway

The Subway Art Tours of Buenos Aires continues with the C Line. This line runs between the two major train stations, Retiro and Constitucion.

We start at Retiro.





There is a direct passage to the Subte from the Retiro concourse.





The first artwork that is seen is by Fernando Allievi. It depicts the harshness and lonliness of living in the big city.










Along the platform are mosaics celebrates diversity in Buenos Aires.





The first stop is Plaza San Martin. The artist Marcela Moujan brought the green space of the plaza into the subway station with this work.





This Neo-expressionist work by Luis Felipe Noe represents the geographical diversity of Argentina: The Mountains, The Pampa and the Jungle.





A collection of eight friezes by Rodolfo Medina celebrate the liberation campaigns that General San Martin lead to free Chile and Peru.









This piece is entitled El Sur, by Luis Fernando Benedit.




When you reach Lavalle Station you begin to get the Spanish history lesson. In this station the landscapes of the Alicante, Valencia, Teruel, Huesca and Zaragoza regions of Spain are celebrated.

















In addition to the murals in the stations the accompanying tile work is unique to each. The overall atmosphere of Diagonal Norte station is of hues of blue.








In this station the regions of Avila, Toledo, Soria, Burgos, Madrid and Aranjuez – with some of the more famous buildings of each city are depicted.





















The Avenida de Mayo station has this mural entitled ‘Spain and Argentina’, with images representing ideas. On the right Argentina is young and promising, on the left is the old establishment of Spain. The female figure in the center represents the strong relationship of the two countries, with the subway construction underneath showing the work to join the two.





The supports in the center of the platform make a perfect picture frame for this Ignacio Zuloaga Zableta mural showing the massive aqueduct.





As we continue to the Moreno station we are greeted with more Spanish landscapes: Bilbao, Santander, Alava, Navarra, Santiago, Lugo and Asturias are all represented on the murals on both sides of the platform.













Again the tile work leading to the platforms is amazing.









Independencia Station – Landscapes here include Seville, Granada, Cordoba and others.














San Juan Station – The Levante region, where the sun rises.








The history lesson is over, we have reached Constitucion – you are now fully in Argentina. The painter and cartoonist Florencio Molina Campos was famous for the characters of the Pampa region.












Welcome to Constitucion Station.






Buenos Aires – December 2019 – Club Atletico River Plate

One of the two most popular soccer teams in Buenos Aires is River Plate. It’s name comes from the era of the construction of the Port of Buenos Aires, when the workers disappeared to play soccer, the boxes they were unloading said the English name for Rio de La Plata – River Plate – and the name stuck.

Their stadium, and museum, is located in the Nunez section of the city.




The team’s logo has been fairly consistent in the 115 years of their existence.





As has their jersey’s.












They are one of the most successful teams, including a recent Libertadores Cup winner.

























The museum has a list of all of the players who ever played for the team listed on the walls.





The museum also has replicas of their stadiums over the years, including the current one.









We went outside with a group for a tour of the real thing.





Including more trophies.





The initials stand for Club Atletico River Plate – CARP!





The stadium is officially known as Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, or El Monumental. At 70,000 seats it is the largest in Argentina, and home to the Argentina national team as well as River.













While Argentina has banned visiting fans from stadiums, the section they used to use is penned off in the upper deck.




It is very close to Aeroparque Jorge Newberry, giving it a ‘Shea Stadium’ feel.





Outside is a massive statue of a soccer player.





The tour guide was informative to most, and helpful to us translating some of the Spanish to English as we walked from stop to stop. Some though were apparently there to keep their husbands happy.





River Plate – In Buenos Aires they are either loved or hated, nothing in between.







Buenos Aires – December 2019 – Casa Rosada

Likely one of the most famous buildings in all of Argentina is Casa Rosada. It is the executive mansion and office of the President.

Construction started in 1859, continuing in phases until the 1890s. Prior to that there was a fort on this location dating from the 1500s. The building had served as a customs house and post office before becoming the Presidential Palace.

The same honor guards that man the tomb of San Martin in the Cathedral guard the palace as well, marching back and forth throughout the day.




The Palace is located on the Plaza de Mayo (May).







The courtyard is the home to some excellent palm trees that are 100 years old. Recently one died, and had to be replaced.










The Hall of Busts are of notable Argentinians of the past.













The White Room is used to greet foreign heads of state, as well as the traditional location for the passing of power when a new president is elected, however this year that ceremony moved down the street to the Congress Building.










The tour continued on the 2nd floor.










It took some effort to get tickets to the tour as it is very popular, but well worth the wait.






Buenos Aires – December 2019 – Barracas Barrio

While we had a fail on Saturday with a tour of San Telmo, our day Sunday turned out much better with a tour along with Silvia from Buenos Aires Eclectic of the Barracas Barrio.




We started out at La Casa De Los Leones, the House of the Lions. Home to Eustoquio Diaz Velez, who was a rich land owner in the 1800s. Legend has it that Diaz Velez kept lions on the property, and one night one escaped and killed a boyfriend of one of his daughters.




Across the street is the historic house Ingles Montes.




Many of the buildings along the street have great detail.







Dating from the late 1800s the Santa Lucia Church graces the street amongst the 15 floor apartment buildings.




The area has gone through some gentrification, with these 30 floor apartment buildings standing along side 1800s buildings.




A Buenos Aires staple, the Aguila Chocolate factory was a major neighborhood employer. The company still exists, but the iconic factory is now a grocery store.




As with most Buenos Aires neighborhoods, there is some interesting graffiti.




Lanin Street is so cool I have dedicated an entire posting to it – following this posting.




Plaza Colombia has this great sculpture and flagpole.




While nearby is the spectacular Santa Felicitas Church. Built in German Gothic style it is one of, if not the only, example of this style in the world.




The courtyards are elegant.







The basement has what is known as the Tunnel Museum, with the history of the church and the neighborhood.




They had a collection of nun wardrobes!







Much of the museum was dedicated to the immigrant community.







A local cooking legend, Dona Petrona, was also featured.




The upper level had a nave, but is no longer used as a church – it now serves as a community center.




Many thanks to Silvia for an informative and entertaining tour.






Buenos Aires – October 2019 – Historic Coffee Shops and Bars

In 2000 the city of Buenos Aires passed a law that each October 26 will forever be ‘Day of Buenos Aires Bars’, as on that date in 1894 the famed cafe Tortoni first opened.

As part of this the historic society offered a walking tour of the historic bars and cafes of the city each October 26th.




We started outside the Colonial Bar/Cafe. This building still contains some of the bricks of the original building in the colonial area, made of baked clay and straw. It has been a favorite of journalists and writers during it’s 100 year existence, and has been featured in a number of movies.




The Otto Wulff Building is directly across the street from the Colonial Bar. It is not known so much for the very stylish Starbucks on the first floor, but rather the building itself.

Designed by Danish architect Morten Ronnow, it is one of several in the city with his signature look.




The columns of human figures are known as atlantes, and represent the arts and crafts used in the building.



During a 2012 remodeling, the wooden door was restored to it’s original splendor.



While not officially part of the tour, we passed by the Rey Castro. It is a ‘Disco Dinner Show’ theater, that transforms into a bowling alley, then a full blown disco. Oh yeah – it has absolutely nothing to do with Cuba or Castro.



The El Querandi is one of the original Tango Bars of the city, located in the historic neighborhood of San Telmo.



They believe in keeping the tradition alive, while offering a high end dining experience.



The Puerto Rico Cafe is also on the list of ‘notable bars and cafes’. Originally opened in 1887, it moved to this location in 1925.



Their medialunas are excellent (a long tour required a snack!)




The Liberia de Avila is the oldest bookstore in Buenos Aires, dating from the early 1800s. In 1926 the old building was destroyed, and this one was construction, but the bookstore remains.



Our guide lead us on to the most famous cafe of all…




The Cade Tortoni! There is always a line of tourists out the door.




The Castelar Hotel dates from 1929, and in those 90 years has hosted everyone from artists to revolutionaries. Even the construction of the hotel is controversial, as they flaunted the Avenida de Mayo height regulations by tilting the roofline back, to add a 14th floor.




Our tour finished outside the second oldest bar in the city, the Ibiera. Dating from 1897, it too hosted radicals, and other politically minded people. Many of them had exited Spain during a war, and settled in BA. Today the corner is known as the ‘most Spanish corner of Buenos Aires’, with the numerous Spanish restaurants and bars.

While the tour was in Spanish only, it gave us a good overview of the history of the bars and cafes of the city, and we came away with a few more Spanish words.






Buenos Aires – August 2019 – Various Views of the City

Some random views of the city.

Sunrise over the port.



A walk through the historic financial district.





The view of a school out from my 6th floor office window.



Where out of nowhere the window washer dropped down from above on this sketchy looking seat.



The Argentina relief on the Torre Monument.



The plaza in front of the Torre Monument.



Views from the top of the aforementioned monument.







Subway Art.



The Hall of Lost Steps at the Law School of The University of Buenos Aires.





The Floralisa Generica – a giant metal flower that opens and closes throughout the day.



Views from the 31st floor.





Sunrise on my last day in town for this trip. The more time I spend here the more I want to come back.