Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Phipps in Pittsburgh

Our friends the Kramers moved to Pittsburgh in 2000 but we have remained good friends ever since. Robin is home from Sydney for two weeks and was anxious to visit so we drove out. Along with lots of conversation and good meals, the Kramers usually take us to see a Pittsburgh attraction that we haven't seen before.

The Phipps is a conservatory and botanical garden and was created in 1893 by steel magnate, Henry Phipps. The weather was cold and miserable and fortunately, we did not have to walk very far to get into the warm.

A Chihuly hanging. As you will see in other photos, there is plenty of Chihuly glass scattered throughout the gardens.

As usual with these garden blog entries, words are somewhat superfluous so don't expect too much commentary.

Chihuly glass.

My mother loved growing daisies. She would have really enjoyed coming here.

Marianne and Mary.

There is a special butterfly area where they hatch chrysalises.

Curious hanging balls about 2 inches across.

At the entrance to the Cuba exhibit, there was this old car. Notice the small child inside beside the steering wheel.

The fish pond had a glass side so you could view the fish.

These were very red.

It's quite a garden and we were very pleased to have visited it.

And the best part of the trip was meeting up with our old friends. Here we have Robin, Sara and Dani with Larry lurking in the background.

What expressions.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Perfect Argentina - some reflections

I quickly noticed that the word 'perfect' is the most commonly used English word in Argentina and it denotes agreement. The locals don't even realize it until I point it out to them.

While I enjoyed my trip to Argentina, it wasn't as 'different' as the other trips to Egypt, Morocco, Turkey and especially India. It's like going to Spain except all the cities are laid out on a grid pattern. The regions near the Andes are spectacular, but the rest of Argentina appears to be a large flat plain. I'm glad I went since I had never been to South America and so I have now visited all the inhabited continents. When I was growing up I never thought I would accomplish that.

The Argentinian people are very friendly and helpful. The migration of many different nationalities from Europe combined with the original inhabitants has resulted in a very cosmopolitan population. From what I could see, they get on very well together. There are no loud voices or arguments in the streets. Just people getting on with life. I wouldn't mind living in Argentina if I could speak the language and had money.

Economic mismanagement has blighted the Argentinian economy. In recent years inflation has been terrible. When you read reviews on Trip Advisor from more than a year ago, the prices are nowhere near what they are today. Still, it's a very inexpensive country to visit. However, in the first half of the 20th century, the country must have been very wealthy judging by the buildings. It seems that much of the country has agriculture and from on high in the plane, you can see the farms go on for miles.

Hotel accommodation was adequate to very good and relatively inexpensive. I would be more than happy to go back to the more expensive restaurants where the choice of dishes was wider than I expected. I did, however, get the sense that the Argentinian diet is not as healthy as it could be with not enough vegetables or greens.

The standard hotel breakfast always included a croissant, usually stale.

The best breakfast was at my hotel in Mendoza. It had fruit salad to the left, rockmelon and watermelon slices.

Relatively decent orange juice.

Yoghurts and of course, croissants. They also had usual bread and toaster as well as cheese, ham and various jams. The coffee was decent.

I also tried a Milanese which is a piece of flattened meat that is dipped in breadcrumbs and fried. It's like a schnitzel. Traditionally you get a fried egg on top. And chips of course! Really healthy!

Taxis were generally inexpensive and all the drivers were honest and used the meter.

As I have mentioned in some of the prior blog posts, I don't plan to do any more long solo trips because I am getting too lonely, especially at meal times. So probably more of the small group tours will occur. I did look for them in Argentina but most were aimed at trekkers and more active people. Still, I don't plan to stop travelling and blogging. Next is my annual trip to Oz in mid-August.