Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mar del Plata

Churros...The perfect thing to eat right before you get in a bathing suit.. 

The older folks in Mar del Plata love to bake in the sun! 

Sun set in Mar del Plata. 

Matt and I just got back from Mar del Plata, a beach city four hours south of Buenos Aires. During the summer, the wealthy folks head down to Punta del Este in Uruguay and the middle class make their way to this big tacky beach city. It was the perfect weekend to go because sun and highs of 80 degrees were on the the forecast and since it is off-season, we just missed the tourist crowds.  Apparently, Mar del Plata attracts so many people in summer you can't even find a spot to lay your towel on the beach.

We stayed at a hotel that was walking distance to the main beach and plazas. The outside appearance and lobby lived up to it's four star rating but of course the only thing that even closely resembled the website photos of the room was the bedding. We arrived at sunset so just in time to take a stroll on the beach and the surrounding areas. Feeling the sand squeezed between my toes was a good reminder of home and it was so nice to smell the fresh ocean air. We freshened up and headed over to the popular bar and club street to check out the nightlife. I was a little underdressed, being deceived by the humidity during the day, so I didn't really care what bar we walked into. As I warmed up and my belly warmed up, we watched groups of guys scoping out groups of girls. This isn't the first time but I felt like we were surrounded by high school spring breakers. Everyone was so young.  I am getting old, tear tear! Since the drinking age is 18 (and that rule is often overlooked) there are many times at certain bars where I feel like I am at the after-party of a sweet 16 birthday party.

The rest of the weekend we did a lot of laying on the beach, studying Spanish index cards, reading magazines and soaking in the hot sun. I was happy to get away from the city but I have to say that the trip made miss Newport and California more than ever. Maybe I am just spoiled, in fact I know I am, but I couldn't help but wish I was laying on the soft yellow sand in Newport Beach, where the beaches are long and wide and clean. One thing we were very pleased about was finally having access to some fresh seafood. I had to look up the word 'seafood' in my dictionary on the bus over, proof enough that there is little to zero seafood restaurants in BA. We found it very odd when our reception told us if we wanted really fresh seafood we have to take a fifteen minute taxi ride outside the main beach. I guess it shouldn't be a surprise that restaurants in the tourists' radar zones over-charge you for mediocre food. Luckily some friends recommended a couple places outside the city that satisfied our fish cravings.

Sunday night after we stuffed our bellies with calamarri, garlic shrimp and abedejo (white fish) we headed over to the casino where we tried our luck in one of the few games where the language barrier would not be a disadvantage, black jack! I was up the whole time until the last five minutes where I lost all my money. Matt and I agreed we would stop playing when one of us lost all our money. Luckily Matt's winnings made up for my loses and we left $10 pesos richer.

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