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Our Argentina photos

Our photos from Argentina are now online

Just in case it is a typical British bank holiday and the weather´s not as it should be, here´s our Argentina photos to brighten your day taken while we were in the wine region of Mendoza and the capital of Buenos Aires. We really enjoyed our time here. What´s not to like with steaks the size of your arm, plentiful and cheap red wine and lots of tango. Taking photos in milongas is frowned upon (stemming from a time when some men attended with their mistresses instead of their wives!) so we haven´t got any of us dancing. We´ll be back in Argentina this week to see the Iguazu falls and then maybe heading over to Salta if we can find a connecting bus. So there should be some more photos to come.

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Tango in Buenos Aires – our mini guide

Here´s a review of everything tango we did whilst in Buenos Aires. We found that dancing here was much the same as dancing back home, but what made it special for us was the local people we met and chatted to. We hope our tango friends find it useful.

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Learning about all things Argentinian

A tango orchestra playing at the Sunday market. Once our spanish improves we´ll be able to understand the lyrics.

First of all an update on how our spanish is progressing after two weeks of study. Every morning while having our breakfast of milky coffee and sweet croissants, we try and learn topics from our phrasebook and revise vocab we´ve noted down from the previous day. Today we learned how to reference time in the past and future, for example, five days ago, tomorrow night, the day after tomorrow. We´ve been supplementing our phrasebook lessons by occasionally using the online BBC and studyspanish websites. Our reading has progressed best and we can now understand the gist of most adverts, notices, headlines and magazine articles. Our spoken spanish is very hesitant at the minute but we´re trying to practise it in shops and cafes. Worst of all is understanding what people say back to us even when they speak very slowly. This is quite frustrating but we hope it will improve with practice.

One thing we have learned is the spanish for lots of different cuts of beef! The parillas (grills) are everywhere and offer every cut of beef you can imagine, freshly chopped and barbecued over coals to pink perfection. Hefty portions of meat come served with chips and bread. Apart from salads we haven´t seen hardly any veg served while we´ve been here. Just so our mums don´t worry we´ve been shopping at the colourful grocery shops to get our five-a-day.

Argentinians are very sweet-toothed and we´ve become as fond of dulce de leche (caramel sauce) as they are. We´ve had it as a flavour of ice cream, in handmade alfajores (like a millionaires shortbread shaped as a wagon wheel), in churros (a stick-shaped doughnut) and as a pancake filling with a liberal topping of chocolate sprinkles.

More shoes

After our diet of steak, chips, wine and dulce de leche, it is just as well that we´re keeping fit by dancing tango. Last night we went back to the open air milonga just down the road at Plaza Dorrego. Towards the end of the night they played around six different folk tunes and it was nice to see all the locals having a fun time dancing to them. We´re now up to two pairs of shoes each with Lou buying a very nice pair of green suede ones from libertango and Jon a pair of dance sneakers from GretaFlora (mine don´t have flowers).

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Days and nights in Buenos Aires

Since Sunday we´ve settled into a routine of late breakfasts of sweet croissants and coffee, followed by sightseeing intermingled with shoe shopping and then tangoing in the evening. This helps us fit in with Argentinian time, where everything runs a few hours later than British time. We´ve become quite accustomed to having lunch at 3pm and dinner at 10pm.

Recoleta cemetery

In terms of sightseeing, we´ve enjoyed looking around the boutique districts of Palmero and Recoleta. The cemetery at Recoleta is famous for having the tomb of Eva Peron (Evita) and for being the most expensive real estate in the city. There are grand rows of mausoleums in all different styles, we´ve never seen anything quite like it. We also walked out one day along the edge of the river delta where there is a nature reserve that we hope to go back to.

Tango-wise we´ve tried out a few different milongas: La Viruta and Porteno y Bailarin and joined in with the group lessons although it´s difficult to get the most from it as they´re mainly in Spanish. We really enjoyed the live band complete with singer at La Viruta and the younger crowd. We also took a very nice private lesson with Damian (from Damian and Nancy) on Wednesday who told us a few things we already knew were doing wrong and a few things we didn´t. We´ll have to practise; luckily the lounge upstairs has a nice tiled floor and a hi-fi.

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Buenos Aires

The smallest Comme il fauts in the whole shop!

We´ve been having a great time in Buenos Aires since arriving early on Friday morning. We´ve just been finding our feet as we´ve got to know the different districts. Our exploring so far has been linked to the position of different tango shoe shops as we needed to buy shoes before we could go out tangoing! We really liked the Abasto area, past home to some tango music hereos such as Troilo, Pugliese and Gardel, and found that the shoe shops there were a lot nicer and more friendly than in the city centre.

Shoes duly bought, we have been busy trying them out. We´re staying in the San Telmo area and found a local milonga on Saturday night. We´re not used to the late start of 11pm-midnight as this is when we´d usually be heading home but after a nap we were fortified and ready to go. Once there and assigned a table, we were lucky to be joined by two artists who know the local tango scene well and we enjoyed chatting to them and drinking wine in between dances. My new and shiny tango shoes were great to dance in and comfortable from the beginning, but unfortunately suffered from the dirty dance floor and are now not quite so pristine.

Old soda syphons in San Telmo Sunday antiques market

After a late start on Sunday (no more wine at milongas) we walked to the weekly antiques fair and flea market held in Plaza Dorrego, San Telmo. We loved looking around in the sun with lots of bustle and entertainment. We saw a great puppet show and some very dodgy street tango just for the tourists. The market was a great photo-taking opportunity and we were very tempted to buy one of the old glass soda syphons for which the market is famous. After a slice of spinach pie for lunch we headed to an afternoon milonga recommended by one of the artists from Saturday night. It was held in the beautiful art deco dance hall at Confiteria Ideal. It was the most formal milonga we´ve been to yet with segregation of couples and singles into defined seating areas. We stayed for a couple of hours but the late hours of the night before were taking their toll and we also wanted to skype home.

Open air tango in Plaza Dorrego with orchestra and singer

Not to be beaten, after a short relax at our hotel, we headed back to Plaza Dorrego to watch as it transformed from antiques fair to a magical open air tango with live orchestra. We were planning just to watch but the chance to dance in such surroundings was too good an opportunity to miss. There were some beautiful dancers there, plus an appreciative crowd of spectators, and we had a really nice time being part of it.

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