Sunday, April 28, 2013

Riding like a Gaucho! Well... sort of.

Our Spanish school organized a trip in the countryside, about one hour from Montevideo, horse riding. I cannot ride, I have been on a horse before but that's all, but I had a wonderful time and did pretty well considering that they gave me the tallest horse! Did you know that in Uruguay you hold the reins with one hand only?  I guess that the other one is for holding mate! 

When we arrived at the farm we meet the horses and our gaucho Ricardo. Roberto, who took us there, also put on a gaucho hat as soon as he arrived, and I really wished that I had one too, just for fun. The kids can ride so they were pretty comfortable, and the horses were very sweet.


It was a good long ride in the country, among cattle and wetlands, splish splash went the horses and dogs, and it was great to be so high up on a horse no getting wet.

After the ride we all had Merienda, afternoon tea, with pastries and coffee and chocolate, and my favourite, a membrillo (quince jam) pie. 

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pasta with Salsa de Zapallitos

In Uruguay I have discovered this vegetable, and I thought of using it to create a pasta sauce before going back to New Zealand (where I guess that I could use zucchini or small marrows??? We'll see).


3 zapallitos
1 tbsp butter
500 ml vegetables stock
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Half cup parsley leaves
salt and black pepper to taste
Parmesan to serve (optional)

Wash and cut the zapallitos, then put in a pan with half of the butter and one garlic clove. Sauté and when the zapallitos start to dry up add the vegetable stock and cover. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed and the zapallitos are creamy. In the meantime finely chopped the last garlic clove with the parsley and cook the pasta al dente. I used egg Farfalle (bow ties), made in Uruguay. Add the remaining butter and chopped parsley to the sauce and season with salt and pepper, then drain the pasta and mix. Serve immediately. 

For vegans just substitute butter with Extra virgin olive oil and parmesan with ground almonds.

Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Friday, April 26, 2013

Buenos Aires

Leaving the port of Montevideo

Buenos Aires is only 3 hours by ferry from Montevideo, up the delta of the Rio de la Plata. I have been here once before, about 15 years ago, and truly enjoyed it. This time I revisited some places, like La Boca and the Teatro Colon (below), and discovered some new ones...

Teatro Colon

... like the new developments in Puerto Madero. In the Port there is even a legendary ship, the Ara Uruguay, now a museum (entry only 2 pesos) and a fantastic experience for the kids!

Puerto Madero
The Ara Uruguay

We stayed in the city centre which is lined with grand buildings and beautiful houses.

If you are in Buenos Aires during a weekend I recommend a visit to the Casa Rosada, the Presidential office. During the week the President and Government workers are there and it is closed to the public, or reserved for visits from foreign presidents and ministers. We had to wait quite a bit, but it was worth it. Visits are free and you can take photos everywhere except for the President's office. The Grenadiers are happy to pose for photos too, with or without your kids! The following photos are all from the  Casa Rosada, and I was surprised to learn that all the Porteños we spoke to have never been inside it (and some didn't even know that it was possible to visit it). 

And of course there are many more places to visit, like Palermo Soho, La Boca and La Recoleta (these were my favourites and I have a post about them here), and in 4 days we covered quite a bit of ground in the city, mostly on foot and by taxi, (taxies are very cheap and easy to find) and took the Subte (metro) once, mostly just for the experience. And we ate huge amounts of pizza! :-)

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Palermo Soho, La Boca, and Recoleta Cemetery

Palermo Soho

Palermo Soho was one of my favourite spots in Buenos Aires. Monica took us there for dinner and it was lively and full of funky restaurants, bars, shops and a night craft market. Arantxa bought some of these hand made spooky dolls and I promised her that I was going to take her back the day after for lunch and a stroll. Eating is easy for vegetarians, (I recommend the smoothies), and there is pizza everywhere (as well as faina for vegans - this is made with chickpea flour)! And pasta, or salads that came in huge bowls! We also went to Palermo Hollywood, another place with good bars and restaurants, but less shops.

La Boca

Unlike Palermo, La Boca is a very touristic place, but definitely a must (in daylight) because it is so much fun to photograph all the colourful buildings, and see the tango dancers in the streets. And for my growing collection of photos of doors and windows!! 

La Recoleta Cemetery

Last but not least: I wasn't sure if to add this or not, but it was one of the most interesting for the kids, especially because they are not used to see cemeteries like the one in Recoleta. They were so happy that we visited it and followed the tour with great interest.

Recoleta is a beautiful area, in many way it reminds me of Milan, and the Recoleta cemetery of the Monumentale (a famous cemetery in Milan).  Free one hour tours are available (tips are welcomed) in Spanish and English, and these are very good tours which give you an insight into the history and the art pieces in the cemetery, as well as the history and culture of this country. I think that some people on our tour were a little shocked and spooked out, especially seeing all the old coffins covered in dust in some of the tombs, and also by the cost of some of the mausoleums (they cost as much as an apartment!). But this is a place where the tourist should go to appreciate the art (and there are some amazing sculptures, like the one commemorating the Argentinian immigrant below), not to judge how people choose to grieve. 

I have published only a few photos here, as I am sure that some people may find it bad taste or strange, but remember that this is a travel blog too, and this a travel destination. The only visible name on a grave in this post is in the last photo; the guide told us the story of this girl, stressing that it may be true or not true (no way for us to know), but is now a very established urban myth. And possibly the most beautiful Art Nouveau tomb in Recoleta.

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yarn (wool) bombs in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Have you heard of yarn or wool bombs? A sort of colourful graffiti/street art done ( usually secretly at night) around objects (or trees) in the streets. These are in Buenos Aires, aren't they cool? Do you have yarn bombs in your city?

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Doors of Montevideo

I love old doors, I have a pin board on Pinterest only for doors (and one for windows too...). In Montevideo there are so many beautiful doors, although they are so high that they are difficult to photograph. Anyway, if you are also a "door pinner" here is my collection!

Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©


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