Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde

Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Date Finished: July 31, 2008 #44
Pages: 165
Rating: 3/5

Why why why do I let things get so behind? I've been neglecting my reader this week because most of my spare time has gone into house hunting (which is proving to be futile). I'll be around, I promise--slowly but surely, but I really don't want to write up my thoughts on this book. Really really don't want to. I'd say I'd keep it short, but I've come to learn that I have a tough time taking the red pen to my own writing to cut out the crap that I write. Hopefully this will not be as long as my thoughts on Tess, which frankly turned into a kind of novel. Bleh!!

The Picture of Dorian Gray is about a beautiful young man who sits for his portrait to be painted by a man who idolizes Gray. While Basil has painted a masterpiece, the painting in actuality turns out to be anything but. Upon seeing his portrait, Dorian exclaims:

"How sad it is! I shall grow old, and horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June....If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that--for that--I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!" (19).

First, glad Mr. Wilde's loves his use of exclamation marks as much as I do!! Um...see what I mean? :) Second, thus is the premise of the book. Be careful what you wish for Dorian!! Grrr...there I go again. Mostly at the persuasion of his friend Sir Henry, Dorian begins to enter into a seedier type of lifestyle and as he does so he remains pure and beautiful but his portrait begins to become marred and haunting. The picture becomes a mirror of Dorian's soul to show the horrid darkness it contains.

I half liked/half disliked this book. First the good--I was surprised at how suspenseful this book was! There were several unexpected twist and turns that kept me interested in the book despite some heavier and more boring elements. It contained wonderful character development, and gave fascinating insight into the turn of the century thought. I read parts of this book for an undergrad course years ago and through it first learned the words ennui and dandy. It was an opulent culture that was in for a great big awakening--especially with the onset of WWI.

But, not a fan of the writing style--thank goodness for Modernism!! The writing is incredibly rich and decadent and I found myself skimming through whole pages of descriptions. Sir Henry, Dorian's cohort, is a misogynist and incredibly full of himself (I think that was the point), but I couldn't stand his character and even most of the time Dorian's. I had to roll my eyes at some of their dinner conversations and the topics they discussed. The only other Wilde I've read is The Importance of Being Earnest, which I loved and will read again, but the wit contained in this book was lost to me among the heavy language. Ladi-da. :) Good story, any way.

Monday, July 28, 2008

2 Challenges Finished; 1 New Challenge

While I'm waiting for J. Scott Savage to get back to me with brillant answers to my dull questions for Farworld: Water Keep, I thought I'd waste some time and post about my challenge accomplishments (and temptation). Stay tuned for the review of Water Keep AND a giveaway of a copy of the book!!











In Their Shoes Challenge Finished!

I loved Joy's Non-Fiction Five Challenge so much last year that I jumped on the chance to read even more non-fiction--this time my favorite kind--memoirs and autobiographies. Although each was very different, the only one I hated didn't like was A Million Little Pieces. Don't ask for my rhyme or rhythm to rating these--I've found it incredibly difficult to give ratings to some of the non-fiction memoirs I've read this year. So, I didn't. :)

A Rumor of War (4/5)
Anne Frank Remembered (NR)
Tender at the Bone (4.25/5)
A Million Little Pieces (1.5/5)
A Long Way Gone (NR)
Angela's Ashes (3/5)

Southern Reading Challenge Finished!

I generally love Southern Literature, so not sure what happened here. Maggie was really concerned about me ending on a low note (Welcome to the World), but I'll always be a big fan of Southern Lit and I ain't givin' up on it yet!

All the King's Men (3.5/5)
Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! (3/5)
Mother of Pearl (4/5)



I must be crazy crazy crazy joining this challenge as it pushes me to the brink and won't allow for much wiggle room until the end of the year, but I couldn't resist. I was so sad I missed Bellezza's challenge last year that I rearraged some of my current lists to squeeze in three more books:

Kafka on the Shore - Murakami
Snow Country - Kawabata
Mistress Oriku: Stories from a Tokyo Teahouse - Kawaguchi

Anyone read any of these? I took Snow Country from CJ's list last year and really wanted to read The Woman in the Dunes, but I couldn't find a used copy (Trish is about to go on a strict book budget *pouts*).

*Edited: I love this Japanese Challenge already! I won the first prize pack this morning from Dear Bellezza. Check it out: Prize Pack

So, Yay for challenges!! What challenges are you finding it hard to resist right now??

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

Title: Tess of the D'Urbervilles
Author: Thomas Hardy
Date Finished: July 24, 2008 #42
Pages: 369
Rating: 4.25/5

I started this book a little over a month ago, had to put it down for a few weeks, read bits and pieces here and there, and finally read the last 2/3s of it this week. Yesterday I couldn't put the book down, but when I got to the ending I wanted to say every curse word that I could think of (actually not want--I did). WHAT?!?!?!?! I'm going to have to vent about the ending for at least a little bit, but I'll try to avoid too many big spoilers until then.

Tess is the eldest child of a country family, the Durbeyfields, who has recently found out that they are decedents of a noble family line that is otherwise extinct (the D'Urbervilles). The patriarch of the family is wayward and can't fully support the family as he prefers his drink, so Tess is sent to apply to their only other D'Urberville relatives--who incidentally have purchased the name and are not truly related to the Durbeyfields.

Upon meeting Alec D'Urberville, Tess is in a way swept off her feet and makes an ill-informed decision that changes her life. In the aftermath of the consequences, Tess leaves her home to work as a dairymaid where she meets Angel with whom she falls in love. Angel proposes to Tess but she refuses because of her "secret" past, but Angel tries unrelentlessly to convince Tess to marry him. But can Angel handle Tess's secret? Will he be able to forgive her for what she has done in her past? Will poor Tess pay forever for a mistake she made during her otherwise innocent childhood?

I immediately fell in love with Hardy's beautiful descriptions in this book. His sense of place and the way he is able to bring everything alive reminded me a lot of Emily Bronte's use imagery in Wuthering Heights--part of the reason why I love her little novel so much. Even though it took some a lot of time to get into the rhythm of the book, the passages and narrative became easy for me to devour and get lost in. These are things that so far I have not been able to find in Austen's books (although maybe I haven't read enough of them), and I really cherished the richness of this book. This is one that I could read again and pick up a lot--I'm sure I really only skimmed the surface of this one and could learn so much more about the characters as well as some of the social situations in the country during this time period.

Another thing that I really loved about this book is that I could never guess what was going to happen. It would seem that everything was falling into place for Tess and what could Hardy possible write for the next 300, 200, 100 pages, but this book was a continual roller coaster of drama. I'm not sure that I really like Tess--I wish she was stronger than she is. And I never really trusted either of the male characters, Alec and Angel, although at times I really wanted to like one or the other. But even though I wish I could have slapped Tess out of some of her decisions, her despair and heartache were palpable, which made this story real to me.

****SPOILER****
While I thought really highly of the first 350/369 pages (give or take a few sections), when I got to the ending when Tess is with Alec and Angel comes back I couldn't believe what happened! The ending to me didn't fit with the rest of the novel and seemed to me to fit more in a crime novel than a beautiful sweeping tragedy. I was shocked at first when Tess stabbed Alec but then she runs away with Angel as if he had not just abandoned her for over a year (foggy on the time line)? And then the ending at Stonehenge? Really? Honestly, I felt that I was duped and betrayed and taken for a cheap ride. Seriously. Seriously? Basically, I truly loathed the ending of this book. :) Please someone help me understand!!
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Despite the crackpot ending I really enjoyed reading this book. I would recommend it, but I can see how some might be turned off by the long descriptions of the landscape and surroundings and menial daily tasks, etc. But apart from all of that it was a book that drew me in from the beginning and kept my interest all the way until the last page (my taking over a month to read the book has more to do with life than the book--it was too heavy for the busyness that was my July). I don't think I'll be picking up another Hardy book for a while, but this one will certainly stay with me for a long time.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Date Finished: July 20, 2008 #41
Pages: 288
Rating: 3.75/5

I read this book for the 1% Well-Read Challenge (yay, I can mark off the FIRST book on the 1001 books spreadsheet!! um, not MY first book) as well as the End of the World Challenge. After reading it, I'm not convinced that it entirely fits into the category of End of the World or even necessarily as a dystopian novel as I thought I had read somewhere, but some of my apprehension could be because of the mysterious way in which the novel was written (which also makes it difficult for me to write my thoughts without giving away plot).

In Never Let Me Go, the narrator, Kathy H. takes a retrospective look at her adolescent years at Hailsham, a type of home or boarding school for children who will one day be carers and donors. Kathy reminisces about the teachers, the sales where the students could find unusual items, the different groups of friends, cliques, and clubs, and especially Kathy remembers her relationship to Ruth and Tommy--other students at Hailsham. After the students leave Hailsham, she also talks about how their relationships continued to developed when they lived together at The Cottages in the few years before they met their destinies as carers and donors.

It doesn't sound like much, and to be honest it isn't. When I read The Remains of the Day a few months ago the word "quiet" kept popping up when I wanted to describe the book. I would describe this book in much the same way--very quiet. Throughout the novel--really until the last couple of chapters--the reader doesn't get a very clear picture of what it means to be a donor or a carer and what it is these children will grow up to become. Even when Kathy, Tommy and Ruth are adults it isn't clear what their roles in society are. Ishiguro, however, through all of his subtlety keeps the pages turning almost in a way that is gripping. I clung on to each little piece of information that was divulged and each conversation between the characters that shed a little bit of light on who/what they were.

One thing that bothered me a little bit about the book (and maybe just because I'm impatient--especially this week) is that reading Kathy's narrative was a little like sitting with an old lady who wants to tell you everything about her life but does so in a roundabout tangential way. Kathy was continually saying she wanted to talk about something specifically but would take pages to actually get to her point because she would find herself discussing something else in order to get there. Very circular, but this disappeared near the middle of the book.

Ishiguro is a crafty author of character development, but for some reason I can't figure out what exactly it is that makes his books so compelling--the language is simple, the plots are incredibly mundane, but somehow he finds a way to dissect humanity without being pushy or showy. I would recommend this book, but I did like The Remains of the Day better. Part of this could be because I am exhausted mentally and physically from several weeks of GoGoGo and so it was easy with this book for me to read but not really read (which meant I had to do some re-reading).

Also reviewed by: (Let me know if I've missed your review)
Raidergirl3 at An Adventure in Reading
Joy at Thoughts of Joy
Mrs. S at 50 Book Challenge
Jeane at Dog Ear Diary
Verbivore from Incurable Logophilia
Ramya at Ramya's Bookshelf
Mee
Shootingstarr7

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Two Memes, and Award, and Giveaways!!!

Giveaways first since they are the most fun and easiest to write about:

***Trish from Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin? is giving away 14 books! Go check her out before July 19th!

***Literary Feline from Musings of a Bookish Kitty is celebrating her 2 year bloggiversary with a 14 book giveaway as well. You have until August 2 for hers.

I'm sure there are others but I'm still going through my google reader. When will life slow down!!
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TWO MEMES:

I've been tagged by Amanda at Life and Times of a "New" New Yorker for a Quirkiness Meme

Rules:

1. Link the person(s) who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

Unspectacular quirks, endstop.

1. Like Amanda, I also make up ridiculous songs--not so much make them up as just sing at random. In particular, I sing to my cat, my husband, and my food. Or sometimes just a random word--"meme" is a word I can hear myself singing outloud. Most times (read: all times) it is pure nonsense. And, I'm a horrible singer. ;)

2. I LOVE musicals and listen to them often in the car and sing and cry along with the music. I even have soundtracks for plays I haven't seen yet! My favorites are Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and Miss Siagon (I have seen these three).

3. I have to sleep with covers on at all times no matter how scorchingly hot it is in my bedroom. It is OK to let one foot out of the covers but NEVER both!

4. One of my favorite things in the entire world is a freshly made bed. I LOVE it!!

5. I am deathly afraid of spiders--so much so that a few weeks ago when going to my car after work and seeing one on my roof by the driver door, I actually crawled in through the passanger seat to avoid the spider jumping on my back, biting me, and dying.

6. I'm a food junky and get really moody if I haven't eaten in a while. I have always thought that this was related to being hypoglycemic, which I don't really know that I am, but really, I think I just love to eat. I can tell, though, if I'm starting to get grumpy and always warn hubby--watch out, I'm about to get bitchy if we don't eat soon.

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FIVE THINGS MEME

I was also tagged by Jeane from Dog Ear Diary for the Five Things Meme

What was I doing 10 years ago?
The summer before my senior year of High School--probably at a family reunion in Southern California (Oceanside)

Five snacks I enjoy in a perfect, non weight-gaining world:
Ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, ice cream, double stuffed oreos. :)

Five snacks I enjoy in the real world:
Mints (the lifesaver ones!), hot tomales, crackers, gum (cinnamon at work, mint otherwise), BBQ Baked Lays

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Quit work 2. Cook 3. Read 4. Cook 5. Read :) My life is pretty simple

Five jobs that I have had:
Old Navy Clothing, Carhop at Sonic, Office Manager at Fire Department, Teaching Freshman English at Texas Tech, Account Manager for Equine Event Insurance (not my current job but I am still in insurance)

Three of my habits (soon you will all be thinking I'm neurotic):
--see Quirkiness Meme above. In addition I keep multiple spreadsheets for the same thing--not entirely sure why. Two things I keep spreadsheets for are my books/reading and bills/finances.

I also label the backs of my pictures after I get them developed even if it is obvious when the picture was taken and who is in it (Yes, I have lots of pictures of hubby and myself labeled "Trish and Scott" I guess just in case one day I forget who we are).

I save EVERYTHING. Especially true when we are on trips--which sometimes includes silly things like receipts! so that one day when I decide to scrapbook, I will have plenty of things to include other than pictures. It is absolutely ridiculous!

Five Six places I have lived:
Provo, UT; Toronto, ON; Plano, TX; Rexburg, ID; College Station, TX; Lubbock, TX

Yay! Memes are fun so tag yourself and let me know if you do either/both of these!!!

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EXCELLENCE IN BLOGGING AWARD

There is nothing better than coming home from a trip, feeling bad about neglecting the blogworld, feeling overwhelmed with the housework/workwork that has piled up, feeling like you have to pull your hair out to stay sane to find that people are still thinking about you.

Two EXCELLENT bloggers have given me this award and it made my day(s). I'm cheating and returning the award back to these two. I've loved getting to know these two gals over the past couple of months and I hope that you'll go check them out.

First is Bethany from B&b ex libris. I found her personal blog a few months ago when looking for people's reactions to Salinger's Nine Stories. I started lurking a bit--as she did with my blog, and then one day she told me she was going to start a book blog! I was thrilled! And since then she's started her own challenge (Orbis Terranum), reviewed exciting and different books, and stayed up with me during the 24-hour-readathon. So glad you joined us in this bookblogging world, Bethany!!

Second is Corinne from The Book Nest. Corinne is a new-t0-me blogger (relatively), but she reads such a variety of books that I can always find something that we either have in common or that I want to add to my shelf! Her reviews are thoughtful and her comments are sincere and I look forward to getting to know her better. And, she's a challenge junky like myself!!

Thanks gals for the shoutout!! It really did make me feel great. :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn - Betty Smith

Title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Author: Betty Smith
Date Finished: July 13, 2008 #40
Pages: 483
Rating: 3.5/5

Set during the span of 1901 to 1918, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the coming of age story of a young girl, Francie. While Francie is like many of the other children in her neighborhood in terms of extreme poverty, it immediately becomes clear that Francie is special--she has a desire to make meaning out of her life and move beyond her situation to live out her dreams. The tree that grows outside of the tenement which she lives in becomes a symbol of Francie's life--so unlikely that something can grow on so little but surely does.

Much of this book is a description of the daily lives of Francie and her younger brother Neeley and the struggles that they endure with a drunk father, a mother who works herself to the bone, and the fact that they can rarely make ends meet. In some respects it reminded me a lot of Angela's Ashes, but I really grew to love Francie's spirit and sheer determination to learn all that she can and change her situation. Throughout all of this she is challenged by her peers, her teachers, and even her family; Francie sometimes looses hope, gives up on God, and becomes utterly discouraged, but she proves to be a fighter. In a way it was a good change to read about the lifestyle that Francie grew up in since it seems that so many of the books I have read in this period focus mostly on the well-to-do, educated upper classes. It served as an important reminder that the most crucial part of the early twentieth century for many Americans was not finding the perfect mate.

For the most part I enjoyed the book and the story, but really I felt it was too long. The book covers 17 years (well, a little more if you count the time devoted to the courting of Francie's parents), and while I think that the length of time covered was perfect there were a lot of extraneous details that could have been either briefly covered or left out. Ha ha, I feel like I am not doing this book justice by writing only a few little paragraphs and not even giving any details but there is just so much! Most everything that happens in the book helps shape Francie's character and although at times her growth was not easy to recognize (maybe because the book was so drawn out!), I really loved how everything fit together at the end of the novel.

This book was actually a selection for a first book club meeting (IRL) and am hoping it will be a good one for discussion. There are certainly a ton of different themes that are explored in the book including, of course, poverty, religion, work ethics/unions, class systems, love and male-female relationships, family life, etc etc. Does anyone have any suggestions for a successful face-to-face book discussion?? Are there things that have worked well in your IRL book clubs that you could pass on to a newbie?? I'd love to hear any suggestions you can throw my way. :)

Also reviewed by:
Raidergirl3; Corinne; Kim L.; Laura; Alison

Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! - Fannie Flagg

Title: Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
Author: Fannie Flagg
Date Finished: July 9, 2008 #39
Pages: 467
Rating: 3/5

Dena Nordstrom is finally making it big in TV--she is being recognized for awards and is being offered jobs of a lifetime as journalist/anchorwoman. However, her life feels empty and as of late she has been suffering from panic attacks and stomach problems. When she is ordered to go to a psychiatrist for help handling her stress, she begins to take a deep look at her life and the source of her continual push for success at all costs.

Set mostly in the 1970s, with the exception of a few flashbacks, Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! is Dena's story of self-discovery but also of discoveries she makes about her mysterious past. Dena's father died while fighting in World War II before Dena was born and she and her mother moved around from town to town throughout her childhood as if they were running from something. Dena's mother, too, has passed away although Dena does not like to talk about the details and prefers to keep her life a secret--but could this be because Dena doesn't really know her past or her mother? When she begins to dig deeper into her life will she be prepared for the secrets she will uncover?

Along with Dena there is a cast of characters from a small town in Missouri where Dena's father was from. As Laura from Reading Reflections mentioned in her review of Can't Wait to Get to Heaven, the characters of Aunt Elner, Norma, and Macky were a lot of fun and very endearing. Relatives of Dena, they take her in when she is trying to hide from the present and trying to figure out her past. Also Dena's college roommate Sookie is a hoot--and through these characters I got the true Southern Lit feel that I was hoping for in the novel.

After reading and loving Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man last year, I had high expectations for this book that unfortunately weren't met. Overall the writing is pleasant and the story was interesting, but the big surprise at the end was totally out of the blue taking me on a tangent that just didn't seem to fit with the rest of the story. Also, there is a sort-of love story ends up working out perfectly with little development. And the book spans about five years, but the only way the reader would know this is by reading the chapter headers--again the development of the novel doesn't quite fit the time span. All that being said, I'm glad that I read it and hope the next Flagg book I read is more like Daisy Fay in all of its wonderful, sassy quirkiness.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Back from Argentina

Whew! I am back from Argentina (as of 7:00 this morning) and am EXHAUSTED!! I hope to get some rest and be back blogging/reading soon, though. I'm scared to death to even open up my google reader and will probably wipe the whole thing clean and just start fresh. I hate to do it that way, but it is the only way this tired girl can stay sane after being gone for almost a week.

I probably won't blog about my trip here, but I hope to spend some time on the pictures this weekend and will probably post something on my other blog--which I don't keep up with very often--for those who are interested. It was a fabulous trip but I am certainly glad to be home! The picture below is of my mom, sister, and me at a street fair in Buenas Aires--my sister has been living in the city since last September and will be coming home to the states in just a few weeks, so mom and I went to visit her before she comes home.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Buenos Aires Day 4 - Palermo and Home

ADIOS BUENOS AIRES!!!

Since we had to leave for the airport in the early afternoon, our last day in Buenos Aires wasn't quite as full as the others. We had to pick up Kim's friend's luggage to take back to the States, so we went to her flat in Palermo. While in Palermo (seems far from where our apartment was, but Kim insists it is the same barrio), we walked around a street market and ate at a Milanesa. Milanesa is basically thinly pounded meat, breaded, fried, and topped with goodies. Like Chicken Fried Steak upgraded. We had tomato and cheese on top of ours and it was gooooood! It was the perfect last meal in Buenos Aires.

View from apartment

Building Art outside of Kim's Hostel in Palermo

Kim and Trish outside of El Club de la Milanesa

Overall it was an amazing trip. It was so much fun with just the girls and I wish that Brooke had been able to go with us. We had a lot of laughs and made great memories (and ate tons of fabulous food). Buenos Aires is an enchanting city that rivals any other cosmopolitan city I've visited.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Buenos Aires Day 3 - Florida, Plaza de Mayo, La Boca, Tango!

The Day When We Tour the City as Only a Tourist Can (on a bus)

I have to admit. I was a big fat grump at the beginning of Day 3. A late start again. And I'm starving. Not a good combination for me. I didn't want to take any pictures until I got some food in my tummy--but of course we had to stop at every freakin' statue and building along the way. :) At least I look happy...OK--so you can't really tell because we look like ants in this picture. I couldn't even tell you what/who the status is representing. Yes, very unusual for Trish. It looks pretty, though!

And more walking. Can't a girl eat? Finally we land on Florida Street, a famous pedestrian avenue with once again shops and cafes. We parked it at a lovely cafe and order another delicious meal. We had a lot of fun with our waiter who was practicing his English on us and enjoyed the people watching of the busy street.

Calle Florida / Oblelisk

After resting and enjoying, we headed to our bus tour of Buenos Aires. Yes, that sounds incredibly cheesy, but some of the best city tours I've taken have been on some type of vehicle (some of the most memorable as well). And let's face--your dogs would be barkin (i.e. your feet would hurt) if your sister made you walk 10 million miles the day before!!

See how happy we are on the bus:










First stop: Plaza de Mayo. Cristina, the President of Argentina, works in the Casa Rosada pictured below. The Casa Rosada is gated off as there are a number of protesters in the Plaza de Mayo every day. Sure enough we saw a number of banners and picketers (more on that below).









Next Stop: La Boca. We were able to get off the bus at La Boca, a small neighborhood of Italian origin. La Boca began as a very poor immigrant section of Argentina and has since become a colorful tourist town. We did pass some very real shanties on the way back to the city, though and at night children come out into the city streets to collect stuff to cart away (called Cartoneros). It's enough to break your heart.
While La Boca, we stopped at the Boca football stadium. Above is a picture of Mom and Kim in front of a statue of Diego Maradona "The Hand of God."










Colorful buildings, street vendors, tango dancers--La Boca is a must see when traveling to Buenos Aires. It s a short bus ride from the city but it is definitely worth the trip.

Once our tour concluded, we made our way back to the apartment, but first we stopped at the Cafe Tortoni, one of the first cafes in Buenos Aires.










After more delicious cafe con leche (serious cannot drink enough of that stuff!!) and pastries, we headed toward the government buildings. To the left below is the Obelisk, to the right is the government building with the protesters camped out front. There was a concert going on when we walked down there. But there was some smelly smoke in the air (you know it!!) and a lot of Communist flags being waved, so we bypassed the party and went back to the apartment.









That night we went to a Tango Club. By then I was pooped and couldn't walk another foot, so I plopped down at the club and enjoyed the dancing. We were under the impression that there was going to be a show, but at 2 am we realized The Band was the show, so we headed home. The Tango is such a beautiful dance and even though I was bone tired I enjoyed watching the couples move around the floor.


Kim and Trish striking some Tango Attitude

Monday, July 7, 2008

Buenos Aires Day 2 - Recoleta, Santa Fe, Puerto Madero

Don't Cry For Me Argentina!!

Since Kim is nocturnal and we didn't get to bed until late the night before, we had kind of late start to our second day in Buenos Aires (chill out Trish!!). Our day began, of course, with food. Jessica met the three of us at a little pizza restaurant around the corner from our apartment and we quickly devoured two pizzas--one with pineapple and ham (yes, we Americans call that Hawaiian) and the other with mushrooms, basil, and tomato. Seriously good pizza!

After lunch we meandered through the neighborhood of Palermo to La Recoleta. Along the way I had to take pictures of the indoor car dealership for Scott. Do they have those in big cities in the states? I guess maybe so, but too cool!


We also stopped to take a picture by this giant mechanical flower sculpture. Kim's not sure what it is for, but Mom kept asking us about it every time we passed it like she had never seen it before, so we had to stop and take a picture. At night it closes up and it is quite beautiful when lit.

Kim, Trish, and Mom on a bridge in front of the Law School

Jessica, Kim, and Trish on the path toward La Recoleta

La Recoleta is a giant above ground cemetery for the Argentine well-to-do. I've never been to a cemetery before that has mausoleums, but I was amazed at this tiny city of tombs. Some are quite strange as you can look in the windows and see the caskets stacked upon each other. We came to La Recoleta, of course, to see Evita's mausoleum.

If you go to La Recoleta, make sure to grab a map because it is incredibly easy to get lost among the different walkways and paths. Luckily everyone else was also looking for Evita's grave, so we all banded together in search. :) Finally we found it, took our pictures, and began to see the songs from the musical. Unfortunately we would be singing these songs for the rest of the day trip.

The highlight of my visit was not seeing Evita's grave, but rather the kitties!! La Recoleta is full of cats and they are so sweet and I wanted to play with them and hold them but Mom scolded me. Look how cute they are, though, chowing down on the food that some kind soul brought for them.

Trish, Kim, and Mom resting at La Recoleta ("Don't cry for me Argentina, the truth is I never left you...")


Evita's tomb / Trish and Kim (not sure why I'm making a grumpy face)

After leaving La Recoleta, we headed out for Santa Fe--a major street with fabulous shops and cafes. What Kim failed to mention, however, was that Santa Fe was 10 million miles away. 10 million. I don't think I've ever walked so far in my entire life. :)

But all was good once we reached our destination of El Ateneo: The most beautiful bookstore in the entire world. The bookstore was once a theater, and now the stage is a coffee shop/bakery. So, we marched right up the aisles, order our cafe con leches and meat tray (I don't know what this was really called, but it had cold cuts, cheese, bread, and fruit!) and rested our aching feet while taking in the ambiance of the gorgeous bookstore.

You're jealous. I know you are. :)

After gathering our strength, we headed out into the brisk evening for our next destination. Since we were close to the Casa Rosada (the Argentine equivalent of the White House), we spent a few minutes in Plaza de Mayo (pronounced Maisho). I'll post pictures of the Plaza in Day 3. From Plaza de Mayo, we walked down to Puerto Madero. Puerto Madero is the new trendy spot of Buenos Aires with posh restaurants, hotels, lofts, and clubs. On a Monday night, however, it was quite dead. :)

The picture to the left is the skyline of Puerto Madero. To the right, Kim and me on the bridge leading to the Puerto Madero. Since the district was pretty quiet and we weren't very hungry for dinner, we once again headed to our new favorite haunt: Freddo. So good! Hailed a cab home and the end of Day 2.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Buenos Aires Day 1 - San Telmo and Palermo

BIENVENIDOS!!

When Mom told me she was going to visit Kim in Argentina, I said in my most whiny voice "I wanna go!!" She said, "Well come with me." I didn't think I was going to be able to get the time off work, but I mustered up the courage and things were set into place. There was no way I could pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity--even if it meant I would have to go sans Lovey (aka Scott).

Mom and I left Saturday night with suitcases packed full of winter coats and sweaters despite the 90+ degree weather in Dallas and arrived at 8:30 in the morning, Buenos Aires time. Kim, in true form, was 2 hours late picking us up from the airport, which was very scary since neither Mom nor I speak Spanish. After being on the plane for 10 hours and riding on little sleep we were both exhausted and not very excited about standing around in a foreign country with no way to get ahold of Kim, but when she arrived it was hugs and kisses all around and we embarked into the big city with wide eyes.

We started our adventure by dropping our bags off at Kim's hostel and enjoying a quiet brunch at a neighborhood cafe. After eating our sandwiches and drinking our cafe con leche we were in love with the food of Buenos Aires (of course it doesn't take a lot to please the Kuettel appetite--I'll be talking about food a lot in these posts).

Above: Kim and I on the balcony of our apartment for the week. The apartment is in Palermo, one of the bigger and busier neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. Despite the winter weather there was still a lot of green in the park across the way.


After settling into our apartment, we headed out to San Telmo for the Sunday market. We picked up Kim's friends Jessica (from Austin) and Tibault (from France) at the hostel Kim works at before exploring the goodies at the market. See our coats and scarfs--it was quite chilly, especially compared to Dallas.

The crowded street market street / Me and Kim dancing the Tango.

Street performers--very Bohemian (I can see why Kim loves it here)

While browsing through the goodies it began to rain, so we sought refuge in the best place we could find: Freddo. Freddo, I suppose, is equivalent to a Marble Slab or Cold Stone--but it is the creamiest, most delicious ice cream I've had (yes, it rivals Italian gelatto).

Once it dried out and our tummies were full of yummy goodness, we hailed a cab and headed back to the apartment for a little rest before dinner. Dinner is traditionally served much later in Buenos Aires, so we didn't head back out for dinner until 9:00 pm (which Kim insisted was early!). Kim made reservations at La Cabrera, a fancy Parrilla (pronounced Parrisha--Argentines pronounce the "ll" as an "sh" sound).

Apparently these parrillas are very popular in Argentina, and I can see why. Who doesn't love a giant steak, various tapas, and mouthwatering Malbec wine? Stuffed to the brim, once again with yummy goodness, our first night in Buenos Aires ended and we headed back to the apartment for some much needed sleep.
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