Friday, April 4, 2014

Just Me and the Cleaning Crew

I am sitting at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport all by myself, excepting a few maintenance personnel.

Oddly, at this very moment the piece of Muzak playing is "On My Own" from Les Miserables.

I left Buenos Aires this morning on a 9:40 flight that brought me to Miami. From there I had to fly into St. Louis, arriving at a bit after 10pm.

My flight to Chicago leaves St. Louis at 6am, so it seemed kind of silly to book a hotel for about $100 for a a few hours sleep.

I feel fortunate to have been able to use frequent flyer miles--40,000--for this trip into Rio and out of Buenos Aires. If I had to pay cash for airfare I doubt I would've gone on this trip, nor many of my 10 overseas jaunts over the past 15 years.

Bur though the American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer program has been very good, it seems that things are now a lot more constrictive in terms of finding mileage flights, especially if wanting to use the minimum possible required miles.

Hence, having to fly into one New York airport and out of another, as I did on this trip and also my European excursion last year.

And the three-legged return itinerary I am now amidst, even though there were a couple direct flights from Miami that I easily could have caught.

Not only were those flights unavailable to book using miles when I made my plans, but in checking several times before my trip, when I checked in outbound, and in both Buenos Aires and Miami in returning, I couldn't get a seat.

So here I am. Although another passenger in the same predicament just showed up.

Now I don't have the whole place to myself. But maybe I'll try catching a few winks.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

History, Shopping, Grandeur, Art, Tango Combine for a last day in BA

It's 12:30 AM and I just got back from a tango show--observatory not participatory--and I have to wake up in five hours to go to the airport.

So I'll just say I spent some time in the area of Buenos Aires known as La Boca, a cool and kitschy old neighborhood now lined with souvenir shops.

I took a tour of Teatro Colon, an opera house that was truly impressive even after having seen other grand halls in Vienna, Budapest and Rio de Janeiro over the past year.

Also went to the Museo Belas Artes, which  has free admission and a rather impressive international collection.

Then dinner in the San Telmo area and watching tango and hearing music at El Viejo Almacen. It was pretty cool.
And so was this trip. Once again, no rain.

I should be home either late Friday night or early Saturday morning. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Much Smoothapalooza

With the caveat thay I'm writing this while waiting for a cab to take us back to our hotel, Day 2 of Lollapalooza went much better than Day 1.

For starters, we got an outbound cab with no problem (yesterday we had gotten into 2 taxis only to learn they either didn't know how to get to San Isidro or didn't want to take us, then had to go back to order an appropriate one from the hotel).

Since we had our 2-day tickets in hand--plus a wristband for no obvious reason--getting into the Lollapalooza grounds was a breeze.

And now the taxi has come so getting back to the hotel in Buenos Aires should be simple as well.

As for the music, we had 6 performers who ranged from decent to outstanding over nearly 8 hours of continuous music.

Johnny Marr played a strong hourlong set mixing songs from his excellent 2013 album, The Messenger, with Smiths  classics like "Bigmouth Strikes Again,"  "How Soon is Now?" and " There is a Light That Never Goes Out." He also did a great version of "I Fought the Law."

The two younger artists I saw today--British singer Ellie Goulding and American hipsters Vampire Weekend--were fine but served mostly as background music as a lay on our blanket and read a book on my iPhone.

As at Riot Fest in Chicago last September, The Pixies sounded strong but suffered in my eyes by playing a set far to esoteric for a festival crowd. It was nice to hear "Wave of Mutilation" and "Gouge Away," but there was too much I didn't know and that tended to languish.

For the third time in recent years after reuniting, Soundgarden reminded me that they are one of the best hard rock bands that has ever existed, and they still sound on top of their game. They were just fantastic, and the best act I saw over the two days of Lollapalooza Argentina.

Closing out the festival, the Red Hot Chili Peppers also sounded really good. 

I'm finishing writing this from bed and think I'll end here and close my eyes.

But I'll just mention that before the show I went over to Recoleta Cemetery, where Eva Peron and many other notable Argentines are buried. 

I also went into a nearby 18th-century church, a fancy hotel called Alvear Palace and the Hard Rock Cafe which I just happened to come upon. 

I tried to go to the city's main art museum, but it was closed due to a holiday I was unaware of until a taxi driver mentioned it to Paolo; I guess he commemorates the Falklands War.

So no art today, but lots of really good rock. I don't think I'll be attending many more festivals, but I'm glad I suffered through this one.

I don't know if rock 'n roll can really save my soul, but it's definitely good for it.

And did I mention, Soundgarden rocked.

Lollapalooza Takes Awhile to Get Into, Literally

It's late and I'm tired so I'll make this fast.

The infrastructure for Lollapalooza in Buenos Aires was ridiculously bad. 

(continued in the morning)

Although we had purchased tickets months ago, there was no mail option, and we tried the local pick up option only to find it no longer existed. So this required us to pick up our tickets at the box office.

This wound up requiring waiting in line for 3 hours. Yes, 3 f*cking hours!


All the bands we missed should sue Lollapalooza.

The strange thing is we never felt all that crowded once we were inside the grounds, which were on a large horseracing track.

So we were able to rather comfortably sit down and stay in one place for most of the performances.

The first band we saw was Imagine Dragons, who I don't really love but Paolo and Suzanne like, but it was nice just to finally get some music for our time and money and effort.

Lorde was playing at another stage at the same time so I walked over to hear a little bit of her as well.

Then we heard the French band Phoenix.

Nine Inch Nails was the penultimate headliner at one of the main stages and played a powerful set albeit with many songs I didn't recognize.

At the same time and at a stage far too close, New Order was playing. S o sometimes I would drift over there and other times I could just hear them fine between NIN songs.

I should mention here that it was considerably cooler--temperature-wise--than we were expecting with a strong wind, and we were unsure how we were going to get back to our hotel many miles away (the festival took place in the Buenos Aires suburb).

So although the night's last act, Arcade Fire, was terrific we wind up leaving about half an hour early, only to find that the train we were hoping to catch had stopped running hours before.

So we wound up walking blocks throughout San Isidro, a leafy suburb that never felt unsafe, and eventually--as was my original suggestion--wound up at a local hotel where we were able to have them call us a cab. And I think will have the same driver pick us up at the same place tonight.

So hopefully getting in will be a lot easier and getting out. And I'll bring my jacket.

Plus I've already found the full Arcade Fire set on YouTube.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Going 'Round Before Lolla

It is a little after Noon on Tuesday--April Fools' Day--in Buenos Aires. 

I will soon meet Paolo and Suzanne in the hotel lobby to figure out how we're going to get to Lollapalooza and more importantly--hopefully--back.

But because I just as much wanted to sightseeing around Buenos Aires as go to the festival, I made a point of getting out of the hotel at 9 AM to get in a few hours of running around Buenos Aires.

Actually running around is inaccurate as I initially walked to a subway station and  took the metro, then walked a good bit and caught a taxi back.

I saw the Palacio Barolo, a famous ornate building, and the Palacio del Congresso, the Argentine capital that has a Rodin Thinker out front.

I ate at the Café Tortoni, which has existed since 1858, and made my way back to the Plaza de Mayo.

There I walked into the Metropolitan Cathedral, which was quite impressive, and took many more pictures of the Casa Rosada, including from behind it where there is an odd broken statue graveyard of sorts.

Like yesterday I was nothing but impressed with all I saw and experienced and just really wandering around Buenos Aires.

Let's hope Lollapalooza is just as much fun. For those about to rock...