I made it! I fell from the sky (not literally... it was actually quite a soft landing) and Argentina opened it's arms to catch me. In other words, I've landed on my feet, good and proper. I arrived yesterday and had a small welcoming committee at the aiport to meet me (you know who you are... and I am very grateful). That was just over 24 hours ago, and in that time I have been made to feel very much at home, so have settled in already. I think I'm going to like it here! :-)
Anyway, to start at the beginning, I thought I would tell you briefly (or not so briefly, knowing my own propensity for unedited waffle) about my weekend in London, because that too was fun, and provided a nice transition from the calm of Sidmouth to the big city action of Buenos Aires. So, chronologically speaking, this is what I've been up to the last few days. I'm getting into the spirit of the siesta (i.e. not doing anything during the afternoon... but instead of sleeping, I'm using the time to keep virtually connected to the outside world). Anyway, from the beginning, here goes:
Saturday 20th November 2010
I made use of the wonderful (and now world-famous) SIS bus service to London Heathrow, with Gareth and Helen for company (thanks guys). It evoked wonderful memories of all the Heathrow runs I've done over the last 3 years (and I'm not even being sarcastic). We even stopped at Fleet Services for old times' sake. No free fry-up this time though (with only one student on the list, it would probably have been pushing it a bit too far).
Upon arrival in London I met up with Tiziano (who was waiting for me when I got there - surely a first for a Southern Italian, being 15 minutes early!). We went to the Saatchi Gallery which was, apart from a couple of exhibits (featuring used sump oil and dried instects respectively), a bit, well, er, to be frank, crap. Still, we had a nice walk through Holland Park and Kensington, looking at various posh pads and posh people. Nice to see how the other half (or rather, the other 0.01%) live.
After returning to the hotel for a shower we met up with Alex and Sara (from Surrey and Puglia respectively, but all connected via Locorotondo), who had been ice-skating in Hyde Park. The walk was rather longer than anticipated (Hyde Park is a bit bigger than Arcot Park, as it turns out), and the corner of Hyde Park devoted to a Christmas-themed fun fair was absolutely heaving (interesting people-watching, mind). After meeting up with the others it was decided (note the use of the passive) to go and get dinner in Covent Garden. It wasn't exactly the evening of pubs and carefully-researched dining in Notting Hill that I had in mind, but I've got to learn to be more spontaneous and anyway it turned out well in the end. I had a lovely lamb steak and the house wine was eminently quaffable. The highlight of the evening for Tiziano was the visit to the Apple Store (Dad - you'd have loved it too), where he managed to get his damaged iphone replaced (which he had been unable to do in Italy), showing us all that the all-powerful Apple customer service machine is alive and well (even in the biggest Apple store in the world). Well done Apple: another satisfied customed (and an impressed bystander)!
Sunday 21st November 2010
After the inevitable sleepless night (excitement unfortunately overrode the very comfortable and quiet hotel room), we met up with Carole, Ed and nephew at the Science Museum (what a load of patronising old tat that is!). I ate the most ridiculously over-sweetened chocolate brownie every made (even Greg Wallace would have turned his nose up at that), which further clouded my judgement. I won't be going back there: even free is too expensive. Anyway, it was nice to see Carole and Ed, even if it wasn't so nice to feel nauseous for the whole morning (I blame the combination of nerves and sugar-intoxication).
We wandered back over to Notting Hill for lunch. The first pub was rammed (Windsor Castle was the name - very atmospheric and cosy-looking), so we moved on. The next two pubs didn't do food, but then we found one (The Churchill Arms) with a Thai restaurant attached, which was a bargain to boot (7 pounds for a massive curry/stir fry). Finally, we wandered along Portobello Road before heading back to the hotel to collect bags and make our way to the airport. After saying the last goodbye to the known it was unknown here I come...
After waffling on for ages, I've run out of time and not even actually told you anything about my first impressions of Argentina. Martin and Juli are about to come over and then I've got an appointment with Axel, Lourdes and Carolina. What a busy social whirl! Oh well, (if you're interested) you'll just have to come back for more later...
Monday 22nd November 2010: please come back for an update
Tuesday 22nd November 2010: it hasn't even finished yet. Be patient!
PS The spell check is in Spanish, so please excuse any misspellings, typos, gross misuse of the English language, or other content liable to offend those of you with more delicate lingual sensibilities (sensitive tongues?). If anyone would like to be my editor, please post your pedantic comments below!