Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Argentine Adventure, Part 3: Hotels and Language

This post will cover a couple of different topics, since I don't have a whole lot to say about either of them.


As mentioned in an earlier post, in Buenos Aires we stayed at the Hilton in the Puerto Madero district. This area used to be where cargo ships docked and exchanged loads. There had been cranes and warehouses along the waterfront at one time. Some of that remains - the cranes are now scenic features - but Puerto Madero is now mostly an upscale area with condos, offices, and nice restaurants (mostly catering to the carnivorous crowd).

The Hilton is located just off the water front. The staff there were very friendly, helpful, and all spoke very good English. The lobby is lovely, and the restaurant was pretty good. I completed a survey after we got home and suggested that they could offer more vegan fare. To my surprise, I got a response from them saying that they would be looking into adding vegan items to their menu.

There is a nice exercise room in the hotel, but when weather permits, I'm much happier running outdoors so I can explore my surroundings. While the early spring mornings were quite brisk, nothing prevented me from doing just that. So I didn't get to see more of those facilities than the view through the windows afforded.

It costs extra to use the internet at the hotel, which I thought was a little bit chincy. We ate breakfast in the hotel each morning, and it was quite good. But after staying at Holiday Inn Express hotels so often, it didn't occur to me that it was not included in the price of the room. But these are small issues.

The only reason we chose to stay at the Hilton was because of a special corporate rate I got through my company, but our experience there was such that I'd be happy stay there again.

We stayed at Hotel Rosario when we were in that city. I chose it because it within reasonable walking distance from the office. It is close enough the Río Paraná to go there for a run. It is also conveniently located near the Cordoba pedestrian mall. From what I've been told, Argentina isn't well served by online retailers, and I saw no evidence of the kinds of major discount stores that we have in the US. So the shops and streets along Cordoba were always bustling.
M. playing with the curtains at Hotel Rosario
This hotel and its accommodations were much humbler than the Hilton's. But it does have free internet access and a complimentary breakfast buffet. The latter is a simple affair, with breads, meat and cheese, and your choice of tea or coffee. But we were pretty content with the food, nonetheless.
F. having breakfast at Hotel Rosario
Rosario is a city of historical importance to Argentina, most famously because it witnessed the first raising of the Argentine flag. But it is visited by fewer tourists than Bs As, though that number is growing in recent years. As such, there are fewer English speakers in Rosario. That includes the hotel staff, waitresses, and cab drivers. But even my meager Spanish skills were enough to get by without too much trouble.


What knowledge I have of the Spanish language I owe to two years of studying Castelian Spanish in high school (Hi, Ms. M!). And that remained largely unused until we went on this trip. The strain of Spanish spoken in Argentina is heavily influenced by the large population of Italians. I don't know the language well enough to make many intelligent contrasts, but there were a few things that struck me as interesting.

When saying "good morning," I always heard the singular "buen día" rather than the plural "buenos días" which I was used to hearing. Now that I think about it, the singular makes much more sense. I am told, however, that both forms are used. To say "goodbye," the Argentines say "chau."

The pronunciation of 'll' and 'y' are different in Argentina (and other parts of South America). Except at the end of a word, they make a 'zh' or 'j' kind of sound. When a coworker was teaching me how to drink from a maté, what he said sounded like "zherba maté" rather than "yerba maté."

The consensus there seems to be that Castelian Spanish, as it is now spoken, is a bit silly. I was told that they attempt to keep the language too pure - for example, calling a computer mouse a ratón, which made no sense to my Argentinian colleagues. "It's not a ratón, it's a mouse," they said.

Mexican Spanish, they said, was the most universal. They said that all of the movies with a dubbed Spanish audio track used Mexican accents and dialect.

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